• Monday, Aug. 23, 2021
"The Protégé" graded in DaVinci Resolve Studio
Maggie Q in a scene from "The Protégé." (Jichici Raul/Lionsgate)
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Nu Boyana Post Production deployed Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio pipeline to complete picture post on Martin Campbell’s new thriller, The Protégé.

The film, which stars Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Maggie Q, tells the story of two world class assassins who share a mysterious past. It rejoins the story when Anna’s (Maggie Q) mentor Moody (Jackson) is murdered. She and Rembrandt (Keaton) must form an uneasy alliance and return to Vietnam to track down his killer.

With cinematography by David Tattersall BSC (The Green Mile), Vanessa Taylor delivered the grade.

“It was fantastic to work with Martin and David, both creatives at the top of their game.” said Vanessa Taylor. “They were both on the same page in what they wanted so the grade was easy in that respect.”

According to Taylor, a key focus was guiding the audience through the story, focusing them on specific aspects crucial to plot development. “Your eye will always be drawn to the brightest part of any picture, by darkening or brightening areas, we led the audience through the narrative.”

“We gave a lot of attention to a motorbike scene featuring Maggie Q and Patrick. In the sequence camera angles are shot both forwards and backwards, capturing various color temperatures on the sensor. David and I worked closely on the balancing of this scene. We used a combination of primary and curve tools to achieve a match.”

One scene in particular which presented a challenge had a jungle monastery setting, said Taylor, “We needed to balance the greens out to remove spill reflecting on Maggie Q’s face.

“As soon as I pushed the primary temperature warmer, her lipstick pinged out. This can happen with some lipsticks that contain fluorescent pigments. The digital cameras pick them up, making the lips appear too luminous. I had to key her lips and alter the color of her lipstick to make the correction.”

One feature in particular that Taylor likes about using DaVinci Resolve is the LUT previews. “With the new color managed workflows in Resolve, we’re using LMTs a lot, which is a look file. So, the ability to roll over a clip and load it onto the image you are looking at as a preview is very handy.”

Taylor concluded, “A colorist’s role is primarily to enhance. The more you try to push an image from its natural starting point the more digital the result. What we do is complementary. It’s the most beautiful images that are the easiest to grade.”

The Protégé was released this past weekend.

  • Monday, Aug. 23, 2021
Weta Digital joins forces with SideFX to advance cloud production with Houdini software
Weta Digital CEO Prem Akkaraju
LOS ANGELES -- 

Visual effects studio Weta Digital has partnered with SideFX on a new software service combining Weta’s proprietary tools within SideFX’s award-winning Houdini application. The WetaH partnership will enable unprecedented levels of creativity, allowing artists to take advantage of the deep integration between Houdini and Weta Digital’s award-winning technology.

SideFX is a global leader in procedural 3D animation and visual effects tools in film, advertising, and gaming, with Houdini as the industry standard. This best-in-class collaboration offers Weta Digital’s integrations and extensions of the Houdini workflow, including Weta’s Loki multi-physics solver and high-performance compute paradigm, renowned for driving some of their iconic work in films like Avengers: Endgame, Alita: Battle Angel, and War for the Planet of the Apes.
 
This partnership validates the importance of modern procedural workflows in today’s forward-looking visual effects pipelines. It has an immediate impact on Weta’s cloud service, a new business unit brought to life as part of a vision to unite industry-leading technology players. Years of joint development work and a shared outlook underpin the inclusion of Houdini as a key part of Weta’s vision for how the entertainment industry will evolve.
 
“Partnering with SideFX was essential in realizing our vision for the cloud service, I cannot imagine doing this without them,” said Weta Digital CEO Prem Akkaraju. 
 
“The industry is moving to distributed architectures that will allow our cloud service model to reduce expensive technology barriers, further enhancing the natural strength of Houdini’s node-based procedural workflows and overall position in the market,” added Akkaraju.
 
“This is such an exciting time for new generations of Houdini artists,” says Cristin Barghiel, VP of product development at SideFX. “Partnering with the visionary minds at Weta Digital will enable us to bring the efficiency and sophistication of Houdini’s procedural workflows to the broadest possible artist base. Now even the smallest studio will be able to access production-proven tools out-of-the-box, for VFX and beyond.”
 
WetaH offers Weta Digital’s years-long R&D commitment to Houdini to the entire user community.  Architected and stress-tested by artists in service of the industry’s most visionary storytellers, WetaH will unlock the untapped potential of Houdini and the Houdini Engine across many facets of the pipeline. WetaH will enter private beta in Q4, alongside WetaM, as part of Weta’s software service, offering professional and prosumer tools to artists across the global entertainment industry. 

  • Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021
Adobe to acquire Frame.io in deal valued at $1.275 billion
Adobe's Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive VP, Creative Cloud
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- 

Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Frame.io, a cloud-based video collaboration platform. With over a million users across media and entertainment companies, agencies, and global brands, Frame.io streamlines the video production process by enabling video editors and key project stakeholders to seamlessly collaborate using cloud-first workflows. The combination of Adobe’s creative software, including Premiere Pro and After Effects video editing products, and Frame.io’s review and approval functionality, will deliver a collaboration platform that powers the video editing process.

Whether it’s the latest binge-worthy streaming series, a social media video that sparks a movement, or a corporate video that connects thousands of remote workers, video creation and consumption is experiencing tremendous growth. Video teams must produce an ever-increasing volume of content, and each video project requires various stakeholders, including video editors, producers, agencies, and clients. Today’s video workflows are disjointed with multiple tools and communication channels being used to solicit stakeholder feedback. Frame.io eliminates the inefficiencies of video workflows by enabling real-time footage upload, access, and in-line stakeholder collaboration in a secure and elegant experience across surfaces.

  • Collaboration is the next wave of creativity: Digital collaboration is now the foundation of all creative endeavors. Adobe’s acquisition of Frame.io brings Adobe Creative Cloud’s collaboration services to video and builds on recent innovations for creative collaboration including Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries, Cloud Documents, Design Systems in Adobe XD, Adobe Stock, and Adobe Fonts, all of which together with Frame.io, will make it easy for teams to collaborate across Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and other Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
  • Video workflows must empower all stakeholders: With the combination of Frame.io and Adobe, Creative Cloud customers, from video editors, to producers, to marketers, will benefit from seamless collaboration on video projects with Frame.io workflow functionality built natively in Adobe Creative Cloud applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Photoshop.
  • Innovation benefits the video ecosystem: Frame.io customers and partners will benefit from the company’s robust plug-ins and third-party application support along with the innovation generated by the combined Adobe Creative Cloud and Frame.io teams. With the addition of Frame.io, Adobe Creative Cloud’s commitment to enabling collaboration across all stakeholders of creativity extends beyond Adobe’s applications to the growing number of third-party applications across the creative ecosystem.

“We’ve entered a new era of connected creativity that is deeply collaborative, and we imagine a world where everyone can participate in the creative process,” said Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive VP, Creative Cloud. “With this acquisition, we’re welcoming an incredible customer-oriented team and adding Frame.io’s cloud-native workflow capabilities to make the creative process more collaborative, productive, and efficient to further unleash creativity for all.”

“Frame.io and Adobe share a vision for the future of video creation and collaboration that brings together Adobe’s strength in video creation and production and Frame.io’s cloud-native platform,” said Emery Wells, Frame.io co-founder and CEO. “We’re excited to join Adobe to continue to drive video innovation for the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, agencies, and brands.”

Upon close, Frame.io co-founders Wells and John Traver will join Adobe. Wells will continue to lead the Frame.io team, reporting to Belsky. The transaction, valued at $1.275 billion, subject to customary purchase price adjustments, is expected to close during the fourth quarter of Adobe’s 2021 fiscal year and is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Until the transaction closes, each company will continue to operate independently.

  • Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021
Facebook launches virtual-reality work app for meetings
In this April 14, 2020 file photo, the thumbs up Like logo is shown on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) -- 

Facebook is trying to pull in workplace users with a new virtual-reality meetings app called Horizon Workrooms.

Workrooms lets people meet remotely in a virtual space populated by avatars. It's an app for Facebook's headset, which costs at least $300 and weighs a pound. 

People without a headset can join with a video call. Up to 50 people can be on the call, but only 16 can be in the VR space with avatars. For the full VR experience, users need to have a Facebook account.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a fan of the  "metaverse," a vague concept that encompasses augmented and virtual reality with new ways of connecting. He expects it to be the next stage of how people experience the internet. 

Virtual reality has never really taken off, even during the pandemic, when remote work became the norm for millions of office workers and made the videoconferencing service Zoom a household name. 

  • Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021
Canon's new offerings include 4K UHD camcorder, 8K resolution zoom lens
Canon's XF605 4K UHD professional camcorder
MELVILLE, NY -- 

Canon U.S.A., Inc. is launching the XF605 4K UHD professional camcorder, slated to become available in mid-October, and the 8K resolution 10×16 KAS S, a new portable zoom lens for 8K broadcast cameras that feature a 1.25-inch sensor. The new lens is scheduled for release in late October..

The new XF-series professional camcorder comes equipped with a 1.0-inch CMOS sensor and the ability to record 4K/60p/4:2:2/10-bit/HDR video to dual on-board SD card slots. Equipped with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF1, the XF605 achieves high-speed and high-accuracy focusing, and is the first XF-series model to include Eye Detection AF, as well as improved face and head detection, enabling more accurate and stable tracking of subjects. The new camcorder also includes new video transmission functionality, making it an ideal tool for broadcast journalists.

Featuring a Canon L-Series lens with 15x zoom, 3-ring operation, a 1.0-inch CMOS sensor, and a DIGIC DV7 image processor, the XF605 allows for the capture of in-camera HDR video. Users also have the ability to leverage a high frame rate of up to 120 FPS when opting for Full HD recording. Canon Log 3 recording is also available, to provide additional color latitude. Weighing more than 21 ounces less than the XF705, (which is more than a 25% reduction), the XF605’s compact body is also 10% shorter in both length and height.

In addition, the camcorder provides professionals with a more intuitive user experience through features such as Direct Touch menu operations and touch-panel playback. By way of the newly released CTM2 mobile app for iOS, the XF605 can connect and transfer recorded video data via cable3 or wirelessly to compatible iOS devices and transfer proxy footage, audio, and metadata to servers at broadcast stations or other locations, thus making possible faster and more efficient workflows for broadcast operations. The camcorder features built-in Wi-Fi/Ethernet connectivity for Browser Remote, IP streaming, and FTP transfer. What’s more, the camcorder is also the first XF-series model to feature USB Video Class, allowing use as a webcam without the need for a third party HDMI to USB adapter.  

The XF605 is equipped with a new multi-accessory shoe. By connecting the XLR microphone adapter CA-XLR2d-C4 (sold separately) developed by TEAC Corporation, up to four channels of XLR input can be used together with the audio input of the XF605. This enables flexible audio recording workflow. 

The Canon XF605 4K UHD professional camcorder carries an estimated retail price of $4,499. 

Portable zoom lens
The new lens was designed to meet the ever-growing demand in recent years for ultra-high-resolution video production equipment, especially in such fields as sports broadcasting and documentary filmmaking. Furthermore, the new 8K lens cements Canon’s commitment to next-generation and innovative lens technology for a variety of content creation industries.

The lens features a fast constant aperture of f/2.8 across the entire zoom range that spans 16mm at the wide end to 160mm at the telephoto end, a zoom magnification of 10x. This combination of aperture speed and zoom range is ideal for events such as sports and live broadcasting, which often involve frequent changes in focal length, in order to provide immersive and high-resolution imagery with colorful and vibrant appearance. The Canon 10×16 KAS S lens is equipped with lens elements such as fluorite, UD lenses, Hi-UD lenses1 and wide-diameter aspherical lenses that help to reduce chromatic aberrations, spherical aberrations and other effects that could diminish image quality. Canon utilized its optical simulation technologies, honed and improved through the company’s history to determine the ideal placement of lens elements. What’s more, high-precision manufacturing operations and assembly technologies help to optimize manufacturing consistency for this type of lens class. Together, these features and procedures allowed for Canon to develop a lens with an image that is clear and sharp from the center to the periphery throughout the entire zoom range.

The lens also features a high-performance digital drive unit powered by the high-resolution 16-bit absolute value encoder digital drive unit that has a proven track record of use with 2/3-inch 4K broadcast zoom lenses. This makes possible high-precision position detection, which is vital for productions that incorporate virtual imaging systems.

 

  • Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021
HPA Engineering Excellence recipients include Arch Platform, Autodesk, The Foundry, Mo-Sys Engineering
Hollywood Legion, the venue for the HPA Awards in November
BURBANK, Calif. -- 

The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) Awards Committee has unveiled the winners of the 2021 HPA Awards for Engineering Excellence.  The HPA Awards, including the HPA Award for Engineering Excellence, will be bestowed on November 18 during a live gala at the Hollywood Legion.

The winners of the 2021 HPA Award for Engineering Excellence are:

  • The Arch Platform - Arch Platform Technologies. The Arch Platform allows users to spin up powerful cloud-based digital content creation facilities for visual effects, post-production, virtual production and other collaborative creative endeavors in under an hour.
  • OpenColorIO v.2 – Autodesk. Autodesk has led a major rejuvenation of the widely used open source project OpenColorIO, the first major upgrade in the decade since its original release. The new version, OpenColorIO v2, includes the following contributions from Autodesk: Development of state-of-the-art color processing technology; Leadership of the re-birth of the project and help in transitioning it successfully into the Academy Software Foundation; and greatly improved support for ACES, providing the industry with a free open source ACES implementation capable of very high quality real-time processing and complete support for the Academy/ASC Common LUT Format (CLF).
  • Nuke – The Foundry. Nuke® is a node-based compositing toolkit that gives artists the power and flexibility to create with confidence. Flexible, efficient, feature-packed, and highly customizable, this toolset delivers film-grade results fast for compositors, lighters and animators.
  • NearTime – Mo-Sys Engineering. NearTime from Mo-Sys Engineering is a workflow for virtual production, meeting the key requirements of cast and crew to see the full effect of the shot on-set in real-time, delivering a higher-quality version of the shot, completely automated, and in a timescale which matches the practical requirements of the production – "near-time."

Honorable mention was awarded to Colorfront LLC for Colorfront Streaming Server and Deluxe for Deluxe One Dub.

The HPA Awards recognize creative artistry and innovation in the professional media content industry. A coveted and highly competitive honor, the Engineering Excellence Award rewards outstanding technical and creative ingenuity in media, content production, finishing, distribution, and archive.

The process to be considered for an HPA Engineering Excellence Award included a pre-recorded video presentation, followed by a Q&A with the judging panel and the submitters. Judging took place online again this year, with a blue-ribbon panel of judges.

HPA Awards Engineering Committee Chair Joachim Zell said, “This year’s entries showed us again that the companies from our industry are creating innovative, thoughtful products and solutions for new problems, some of which were brought on by the circumstances of the past year, and others addressing non-pandemic problems. Judging day presentations reminded us of the breadth and depth of expertise and creativity in our industry, showing us what is possible for us to accomplish. Congratulations to the winners, and all the entrants, all of whom have much to be proud of.”

  • Monday, Aug. 9, 2021
Autodesk unveils an updated Bifrost
Imagery from Bifrost (courtesy of Lee Griggs)
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- 

Autodesk has debuted a feature-rich Bifrost update targeted at simplifying the creation and delivery of complex simulations and custom effects via real-time tool feedback and a host of new enhancements. New Bifrost features include virtual sliders for fluid port changes, unknown nodes to easily fix broken graphs, more expressive simulation graphs, and terminals--now out of beta.  

“To meet modern production demands, today’s artists need nimble tools that help them work faster and more creatively,” shared Jocelyn Moffatt, industry marketing manager at Autodesk. “This Bifrost update has been designed to help artists create sophisticated simulations and photoreal effects with ease.”

New Bifrost features include:

  • Virtual Sliders: New virtual sliders allow fluid ports to be adjusted in real-time with dynamic constants and F-curves to be edited live. With feedback port preservation, artist simulations stay intact during graph edits, pausing, and unpausing, while the ability to edit live simulations shortens time between iterations.
  • Unknown Nodes: Broken Bifrost graphs can now be fixed with unknown nodes, allowing artists to work more confidently. Users can now also merge JSON files into single large files, which facilitates faster loading in as little as two seconds. Faster loading further improves time to first pixel in the first Arnold render in a session.
  • More Expressive Simulation Graphs: Artists can now use fields and arrays to directly drive simulation parameters, making simulation graphics more expressive, readable, and artistically directable.
  • Aero and MPM Enhancements: Aero’s post-simulation now only requires a single connection, simplifying refinement workflows. The required data can be cached with the volume to perform a post-simulation refinement from disk, without the original simulation scene. This update has also improved MPM Cloth performance and simulation stability, as well as animation cloth and shell properties.
  • Adaptive Volumes: Maya’s viewport display of adaptive volumes features significant enhancements, and volume adaptivity can now be accessed on simulation compounds to improve performance for input meshes that require conversion. Non-adaptive volumes also now use the adaptive algorithm for accelerated conversions.
  • Alembic and OpenVDB Improvements: The Alembic integration now supports writing and reading for more Bifrost user data and corrects the handling of quarternions and matrices. Bugs with writing OpenVDB have also been corrected for a more robust interaction with the ecosystem of OpenVDB readers and writers, and sparse OpenVDB files can be converted to adaptive Bifrost volumes.
  • Terminals: With steady improvements since the initial release, terminals are now out of beta and ready for production. Terminals now also work in loops, enabling each iteration to add geometry to a scene.

“These new Bifrost features are so beautiful, especially feedback port preservation. We can change the parameters of the downstream node at any time and the simulated node will not be reset, which is great,” shared Bifrost artist Bruce Lee. “The new method of initializing source attributes is so easy to use and powerful. This is the tool the artist wants.”

Bifrost is available for all Maya users.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021
NBC selects Sony resources for Olympics
Sony's HDC-3500
TOKYO -- 

NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, selected Sony Electronics to provide broadcast and production equipment for its production of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, held in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23–August 8. 

NBC Olympics’ crews are using nearly 100 Sony cameras to capture footage at event venues and record athlete interviews, press conferences, and other assignments that require studio and portable recording and capture. A selection of the Sony cameras, including the HDC-3500, are being used for IP-enabled transmission, while the rest will operate in SDI. The camera roster also features  Sony’s HDC-5500 and HDC-3500 4K/HDR, high-frame rate studio cameras for slow-motion replay footage, along with XDCAM® camcorders including the PXW-Z750, PXW-Z450, PXW-X400 and PXW-Z280.

NBC Olympics is deploying several of Sony’s production switcher models--including the flagship XVS-9000 4K/3G/HD IP-ready switcher and the XVS-8000 and XVS-6000 4K/3G/HD video switchers designed for IP- and SDI-based production. Many of the switchers are being used in an IP-based environment and several will be designated for 1080P HDR production.

The switchers handle feeds from each sports venue to NBC Olympics’ production facility inside NBC Olympics’ International Broadcast Center in Tokyo, as well as originate HD cable coverage across NBCUniversal’s various networks and platforms. NBC Olympics is also using hundreds of Sony’s professional monitors.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021
"All Rise" addresses pandemic concerns with Blackmagic
On the set of "All Rise"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Season 2 of CBS’ legal drama All Rise was shot using multiple Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks to maintain safe protocols during the pandemic. Cinematographers David Harp and Amanda Treyz faced a unique mandate as prep commenced on season two of the series in August of 2020. The pandemic was in full swing, and the idea of shooting a series on set, with actors and crew spending long hours in close proximity simply was not an option.

Executive producer Michael Robin suggested to Harp the prospect of using Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras. Harp had only limited experience with the cameras but had always been impressed by the quality of the images they produced, and he knew it was time to embrace something new. “We had to come up with a system that enabled us to divide the cast and crew into pods, and limit our exposure to one another,” said Harp. “To do this we went from a three or four camera show to a 27-camera show, all with Pocket 6Ks.”

While the first season was shot traditionally, season two would be produced very differently, though it was critical that the look of the show remain of the same quality. Finding a safe way to continue was important, and both the crew and cast adapted quickly to the new paradigm. 

The solution was to place Pocket Cinema Camera 6K cameras on a variety of remote PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) heads, Ronin 2 systems, remote sliders or Steadicam. The remaining cameras, up to 13, were locked off in various positions. “The Pocket 6Ks were affordable enough that we could have multiple bodies,” said Treyz. “We could get wide shots and close ups at the same time.”

The set was filled with cameras on stands, all non-operated. “Basically, every angle that could be conceived of as necessary was photographed, usually in two setups,” added Harp.

The added feature of shooting at a high resolution proved to be valuable and gave the filmmakers flexibility in post. “The 6K capture gave us a lot of options,” said Treyz. “We could shoot a medium close up and if the director wanted a closeup, the editor could extract the framing they wanted.” For Harp, the quality of the image was equally pleasing.  With the unique setup, only the dolly grip and the Steadicam operator were required physically on set with the cast. The director, cinematographer and camera assistants were able to step in as needed, reducing the danger of crew and cast  forced together. 

  • Monday, Aug. 2, 2021
Zoom to pay $85M for privacy miscues at start of pandemic
This April 18, 2019, file photo shows a sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead of their Nasdaq IPO in New York. Zoom has agreed to pay $85 million, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, to settle a lawsuit alleging allegations its videoconferencing service’s weak privacy controls opened too many peepholes into its users’ personal information and made it too easy to disrupt their meetings during the early stages of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Zoom will pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that weak privacy controls opened too many peepholes into the personal information of users and that it was too easy for outsiders to disrupt video meetings during the early stages of the pandemic.

The proposed agreement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Oct. 21 in San Jose, California. 

Millions of people in the U.S. who have used Zoom since March 31, 2020 could be eligible for a slice of the settlement that was reached over the weekend. The payment amounts are expected to average $34 or $35 for those who subscribed to Zoom's paid version, and $11 or $12 for the overwhelming majority who used the free version, based on estimates in court documents. 

Zoom was bedeviled by security issues early last year after stay-at-home orders transformed the company's videoconferencing service from a niche product into a cultural phenomenon. Almost overnight it became the go-to venue for business meetings, schools, social gatherings and, in a deadly global pandemic, funerals.

The lawsuit alleged that the Silicon Valley company violated the trust of millions of people by sharing the personal information of users with platforms like Facebook, Google and Microsoft-owned LinkedIn. The case, which consolidated 14 different lawsuits filed since March 2020, also targeted the disruptive practice of "Zoombombing" — a term coined to describe hackers who broke into videoconferencing meetings being held by others. 

The company in a prepared statement Monday said that it acted quickly to tighten security after reports of Zoombombing began to surface. 

"We are proud of the advancements we have made to our platform, and look forward to continuing to innovate with privacy and security at the forefront," Zoom said Monday. The company didn't acknowledged any wrongdoing in the settlement.

Security concerns did not prevent Zoom from permeating the daily lives of millions during the pandemic. 

The Zoom's annual revenue quadrupled last year to nearly $2.7 billion and it ended April  with 497,000 customers that employed at least 10 workers and subscribed to the premium version of its service, up from 81,900 customers before the pandemic hit the U.S. Its stock price has tripled and traded close to $380 Monday. 

The lawyers that pursued the case are seeking $21.25 million, or 25% of the $85 million settlement fund.

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