• Monday, Mar. 4, 2019
Avid, FotoKem renew multi-year enterprise agreement
Jeff Rosica, Avid CEO and president

FotoKem has renewed its multi-year enterprise agreement with Avid. Covering Avid video and audio products as well as customer support, the agreement ensures FotoKem will continue to optimize efficiencies from its Avid-based video and audio postproduction workflows.

FotoKem is an independently-owned, full-service postproduction facility serving the worldwide creative community. Since 1963, the company has been a trusted resource for every corner of the entertainment market, providing comprehensive postproduction expertise, high-end solutions and innovative technologies. FotoKem’s workflows include Avid NEXIS®, the media industry’s first software-defined storage platform; Avid Interplay® production management solution; Media Composer® nonlinear editing systems; Pro Tools® digital audio workstations and Pro Tools | S6 modular control surface; and the Avid Artist™ I/O family.

“Our continued enterprise agreement with Avid helps FotoKem keep our focus on bridging the gap between technology and creativity so that, in turn, we can ensure that our customers can focus on delivering their best creative work,” said Jon Mauldin, VP of Technology Non-linear, FotoKem.   

“Avid is very proud of our long-standing relationship with our esteemed customer FotoKem,” said Jeff Rosica, Avid CEO and president. “We’re very pleased to help them to continue to achieve greater cost efficiency and predictability in their operations, while innovating with the latest Avid tools and solutions on behalf of their customers across film and television.”

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
Cooke Optics sets its NAB lineup
Cooke's 50mm anamorphic lens

Cooke Optics will present some never-before-seen lenses from its S7/i, Panchro/i Classic and Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus ranges on Stand C6333 at NAB 2019 in Las Vegas from April 8-11. The award-winning lens manufacturer will also showcase new developments for /i3, the latest version of its /i Technology metadata system that provides detailed lens data to VFX and post-production teams.

The new Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus range has been designed to meet the growing appetite for large format production, while offering the popular anamorphic characteristics including flare and oval bokeh. The 40mm, 50mm, 75mm and 100mm focal lengths are in production, scheduled to start shipping in limited quantities from April 2019, and will be available for demonstration on Stand C6333. The additional lenses in the full range--32mm, 135mm and 180mm as well as a surprise or two--should be shipping by the end of the year. This range is also available with Cooke’s SF ‘Special Flair’ coating, which enables an exaggerated flare that gives yet more choice to cinematographers.

The complete set of Panchro/i Classic lenses is also scheduled to start shipping by NAB 2019, including the recently announced 65mm Macro lens--a 2-1 Macro--which also covers full frame, and the 21mm, 27mm, 135mm and 152mm designed to cover the S/35 image area. Visitors to Stand C6333 will see these lenses for the first time outside Europe.

In addition, the 18mm, 27mm and 180mm lenses from the S7/i full frame spherical range will be featured on the Cooke stand and will be going into production over the coming months.

“The manufacturing team in our Leicester factory continues to work flat out to round out these nascent lens ranges, which are all made entirely by hand,” said Les Zellan, chairman, Cooke Optics. “With nine lens ranges in the Cooke family, we have certainly set ourselves a challenge to meet the ever increasing demand, but we are proud to offer cinematographers such a wide choice of looks that help them tell their stories.”

Cooke will also present /i3 (/i Cubed), the latest version of its /i Technology metadata system that provides detailed lens data to VFX and post-production teams. /i3 firmware now provides distortion mapping - not just a theoretical measurement of spherical lenses of a particular focal length, but of the specific lens in use. Sony is currently working to integrate /i3 into the Sony Venice large format camera.

Cooke lenses will also be present at a number of camera manufacturer and reseller stands at the show.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019
8K Association formed, provides info, resources

The 8K Association (8KA) has been formed, setting among its goals:

  • Promoting 8K TVs and 8K Content to consumers and professionals
  • Helping educate consumers and professionals about the 8K ecosystem
  • Helping secure 8K native content for members
  • Encouraging service providers (especially OTT) to develop 8K offerings
  • Facilitating communication within 8K ecosystem to help with commercialization
  • Developing initial technical requirements for 8K input signals
  • Developing initial 8K TV categories and minimum specifications for image quality

Principal members of the 8K Association include panel supplier AU Optronics (AUO) along with consumer electronics companies Hisense, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and TCL Electronics. Panel supplier Samsung Display is also in the process of joining the 8KA. 

8KA has prepared info and resources for industry education, including an initial frequently asked questions document. 8KA expects to soon publish more documents to allow additional companies to consider joining the organization.

  • Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019
SGO to release Mistika Boutique at NAB 

SGO has announced official release dates of Mistika Boutique, billed as a new, affordable full-finishing software-only solution available through subscription and derived from the hero-suite Mistika Ultima. Available for both Windows and MacOS, Mistika Boutique will be the next product to join SGO’s expanding line-up of natively integrated Mistika Technology solutions and will be launched during NAB 2019 in Las Vegas (April 8-11).

Mistika Boutique offers an extensive spectrum of fully-integrated finishing tools, essential for creating first-class content, including color grading, VFX, Stereo 3D and VR/360o.

“The set of features that form the core of the Mistika philosophy such as unlimited timeline, node stacks and unparalleled processing power, make Mistika Boutique the perfect choice to handle accurate color managed workflows,” shared Francisco Ramos, sr. colorist and HDR workflow specialist. “The way operations are laid out in a Mistika Boutique environment help to intuitively design future proof color pipelines, be it ACES or any other camera native log curve. Mistika Boutique provides enough flexibility to help any post house, no matter the size, to successfully finish projects of the most demanding content providers in the industry.”

Mistika Boutique integrates VFX and color grading tools into the same, unified environment, enabling the possibility to change the parameters at any moment and providing finishing artists with much greater control and flexibility.

Full finishing for immersive content
Mistika Boutique offers a professional immersive reality toolset to facilitate 360 media. Being natively integrated and fully compatible with the industry-adopted stitching software Mistika VR allows a highly efficient workflow by just sharing project metadata which eliminates the need of intermediate rendering.

“At DeoVR, a large amount of VR media is being processed on a daily basis. The very high quality stereo alignments are done with Mistika Boutique - it saves your life if you know what you’re doing and if you don’t, you always get the best help from the team behind it,” shared Ivan Varko, DeoVR visionary.

Free and open beta in March
The pre-release of Mistika Boutique will be available publicly in March 2019. “Everyone can take part in the SGO Open Beta program and help us shape Mistika Boutique software by test-driving pre-release versions and letting us know what they think,” said Geoff Mills, managing director at SGO, adding that joining the Mistika Boutique Beta program will be completely free of charge and open to all.

Leading plug-in developer, Boris FX will support the Mistika Boutique Open Beta Program by providing all testers with a one month fully working license of the Boris FX bundle: industry standard plug-ins for creative look development, title design, planar tracking, and more - Sapphire, Continuum and Mocha Pro.

“VFX artists and colorists using Mistika Boutique have powerful new options for postproduction and finishing,” said Boris Yamnitsky, founder of Boris FX. “We are pleased to work with SGO to ensure that our most popular OFX plug-ins; Sapphire,
Continuum and Mocha Pro all support this new host.”

  • Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019
Leica unveils “ASC 100 Edition” camera
The Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition”
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- 

Leica Camera has created a fitting tribute to the world of cinema with the Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Cinematographers. Comprised of a Leica M10-P camera and a Leica Summicron-M 35 f/2 ASPH. lens, the memorable set offers two specially tailored Cine Look modes built into the camera’s software that make it a focused professional tool for cinematographers and filmmakers. The set also includes a Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder and a Leica M-PL-Mount Adapter that allows the use of almost all PL mount cine lenses available on the market.

In collaboration with some of the world’s most influential cinematographers and members of the ASC, Leica has developed the new Cine Look feature, which provides directors an exceptional visual experience. The “ASC Cine Classic” mode simulates a classic, analog 35mm motion-picture film look, while the “ASC Contemporary” mode delivers the current digital style of contemporary movies. Additionally, aspect ratios that are used in cinematography can also be selected from the camera’s menu. Once activated, the selected aspect ratio is displayed as a bright-line frame in Live View mode. The Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition ” offers cinematographers and directors the freedom to view and assess scenes with any desired lens before filming even begins.  
Founded in 1919, the American Society of Cinematographers is the world’s longest-standing artistic, technical and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of cinematography. Just like Leica, this extraordinary society has influenced and shaped how people of all cultures see the world for more than 100 years.

This limited-edition release is a modern take on Oskar Barnack’s original vision of the “Ur-Leica” prototype camera as an aid to cinematography, now reiterated in the unique design of the Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition.” Reduced simply to the essentials, blacked-out engravings on its black chrome surface accentuates the camera’s minimalistic feel which is further emphasized with the body leathering, similar to that of the Leica SL. The gold-colored anodized finish of the Leica Summicron-M 35 f/2 ASPH. lens reinterprets the brass lens of the original “Ur-Leica” in a contemporary way. The unique aesthetic of the Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition” is also complemented by the ASC logo on the top plate.

The combination of the included electronic viewfinder, M-PL-Mount Adapter, Cine Look pre-sets and aspect ratio options enables the use of the camera as a director’s viewfinder, making it an extraordinarily versatile and useful tool for filmmakers. And together with the Leica FOTOS App, location scouting can be made much easier, as results can be shared and discussed immediately with everyone involved in the filming project.

The Leica M10-P “ASC 100 Edition” will be available in autumn 2019.

  • Friday, Feb. 15, 2019
Amazon's exit could scare off tech companies from New York
In this Nov. 7, 2018, file photo traffic moves along 44th Drive in Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York. According to experts analyzing the e-commerce giant's sudden cancellation of plans to build a massive headquarters in New York City, Amazon's decision to walk away could scare off other tech companies considering moving to or expanding in the city. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Amazon jilted New York City on Valentine's Day, scrapping plans to build a massive headquarters campus in Queens amid fierce opposition from politicians angry about nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and the company's anti-union stance.

With millions of jobs and a bustling economy, New York can withstand the blow, but experts say the decision by the e-commerce giant to walk away and take with it 25,000 promised jobs could scare off other companies considering moving to or expanding in the city, which wants to be seen as the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.

"One of the real risks here is the message we send to companies that want to come to New York and expand to New York," said Julie Samuels, the executive director of industry group Tech: NYC. "We're really playing with fire right now."

In November, Amazon selected New York City and Crystal City, Virginia, as the winners of a secretive, yearlong process in which more than 230 North American cities bid to become the home of the Seattle-based company's second headquarters.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded the city's selection at the time as the biggest boon yet to its burgeoning tech economy and underscored that the deal would generate billions of dollars for improving transit, schools and housing.

Opposition came swiftly though, as details started to emerge.

Critics complained about public subsidies that were offered to Amazon and chafed at some of the conditions of the deal, such as the company's demand for access to a helipad. Some pleaded for the deal to be renegotiated or scrapped altogether.

"We knew this was going south from the moment it was announced," said Thomas Stringer, a site selection adviser for big companies. "If this was done right, all the elected officials would have been out there touting how great it was. When you didn't see that happen, you knew something was wrong."

Stringer, a managing director of the consulting firm BDO USA LLP, said city and state officials need to rethink the secrecy with which they approached the negotiations. Community leaders and potential critics were kept in the dark, only to be blindsided when details became public.

"It's time to hit the reset button and say, 'What did we do wrong?'" Stringer said. "This is fumbling at the 1-yard line."

Amazon said in a statement Thursday that its commitment to New York City required "positive, collaborative relationships" with state and local officials and that a number of them had "made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward."

Not that Amazon is blameless, experts say.

Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, said the company's high-profile bidding process may have stoked the backlash. Companies usually search for new locations quietly, in part to avoid the kind of opposition Amazon received.

"They had this huge competition, and the media covered it really aggressively, and a bunch of cities responded," Parilla said. "What did you expect? It gave the opposition a much bigger platform."

Richard Florida, an urban studies professor and critic of Amazon's initial search process, said the company should have expected to feel the heat when it selected New York, a city known for its neighborhood activism.

"At the end of the day, this is going to hurt Amazon," said Florida, head of the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute. "This is going to embolden people who don't like corporate welfare across the country."

Other tech companies have been keeping New York City's tech economy churning without making much of a fuss.

Google is spending $2.4 billion to build up its Manhattan campus. Cloud-computing company Salesforce has plastered its name on Verizon's former headquarters in midtown, and music streaming service Spotify is gobbling up space at the World Trade Center complex.

Despite higher costs, New York City remains attractive to tech companies because of its vast, diverse talent pool, world-class educational and cultural institutions and access to other industries, such as Wall Street capital and Madison Avenue ad dollars.

No other metropolitan area in the U.S. has as many computer-related jobs as New York City, which has 225,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington, Boston, Atlanta and Dallas each have a greater concentration of their workers in tech.

In the New York area, the average computer-related job pays roughly $104,000 a year, about $15,000 above the national average. Still, that's about $20,000 less than in San Francisco.

Even after cancelling its headquarters project, Amazon still has 5,000 employees in New York City, not counting Whole Foods.

"New York has actually done a really great job of growing and supporting its tech ecosystem, and I'm confident that will continue," Samuels said. "Today we took a step back, but I would not but the nail in the coffin of tech in New York City."

Boak reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bernard Condon in New York and Chris Rugaber in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019
Cooke Anamorphic/i primes translate into a virtue for "Vice"
Amy Adams (l) and Christian Bale in a scene from "Vice" (photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)

Over the 50 years chronicled in Adam McKay’s Vice, cinematographer Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS had the challenges of photographing actors playing characters twice their age--with intense prosthetics, makeup and hair--while also making a potentially dull series of office-based scenes into a visually interesting story for audiences. To accomplish this feat, Fraser relied on Kodak 200T and 500T film and Cooke Optics’ Anamorphic/i prime lenses.

“When it all comes down to it, this is a procedural film shot in lots of office spaces, and that can be very visually boring,” said Fraser. “And while Adam [McKay] has proved that he can make the most boring subjects entertaining--like The Big Short about the 2008 housing collapse that’s based on a very dry book--I had to make Vice as visually engaging and interesting as his script. I had to make it ‘sing’ properly, but with no one noticing.”

Fraser doesn’t have a discernable style while shooting, aiming for the opposite of that. “It’s one thing to have an eye, but avoiding a specific style...that’s the ideal scenario,” explained Fraser. “While Cheney took great pride in being very methodical, he lacked political charisma. What he was able to do was to be the puppet master and pull the strings of government from the background to achieve his ultimate goals. From a cinematographer’s standpoint, this had to be simple and classic--and balance the look against the more jagged styles of Adam and Hank [Corwin, the editor].”

A fan of Cooke lenses all the way back to the start of his career, Fraser tested the Cooke Anamorphic/i primes, looking for consistency through the range, with the warmth he enjoyed from his long-time use of Cooke spherical lenses.

“For Vice, the Cookes worked very well,” said Fraser. “There’s a mix of prosthetics, hair and makeup that’s unique. Just look at any scene with those prosthetics. You’ve got Christian Bale who’s in his 40s and 180 pounds playing Dick Cheney at 75 and 260 pounds...plus Amy Adams playing Lynne Cheney in her late 60s. They’re playing almost double their ages under unflattering fluorescent lighting a lot of the time. The combination of lenses and film format absolutely came into play. I had to find the perfect combination that was sharp enough to resolve, but soft enough and earthy enough to be beneficial to the prosthetics, makeup and hair. The Cookes helped to give me that look.”

Used for approximately 70 percent of the film, Fraser had the full set of Cooke Anamorphic/i primes, but primarily used the 50mm, 75mm and 100mm.

“The underlying technology of the lenses is perfect,” said Fraser. “They always lined up. And that’s really important when shooting on film as you wouldn’t know about a lens failure until the next day. But they were technically tip-top. My focus puller could guarantee marks, regardless of the temperature or environment.

“In the end, I got exactly what I was hoping for and needed,” Fraser concluded. “A family of anamorphic lenses that delivered exactly what I’ve loved for years with Cooke’s spherical lenses — consistency and warmth.”

With six Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture, and a win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy by Christian Bale, Vice has also been nominated for eight Academy Awards, six BAFTA awards (winning Best Editing) and two SAG Awards.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019
Blackmagic Design forms strategic partnership with the USC School of Cinematic Arts
A student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts taps into resources from Blackmagic Design
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has formed a strategic partnership with the USC School of Cinematic Arts to provide Blackmagic hardware and software to the school over three years. The products will be used by USC students studying filmmaking and post production, while broadcast production students will now have the opportunity to work with UltraHD in the school’s television station, Trojan Vision.

Through the partnership, Blackmagic Design will provide URSA Broadcast cameras and URSA Mini Pro cinema cameras, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K switchers, ATEM Camera Control Panels, HyperDeck Studio Pro recorders and DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini Panels.

“Blackmagic is known for providing high quality equipment that filmmakers and other content creators find accessible,” said Elizabeth Daley, Dean of the School of Cinematic Arts. “We are thrilled our students get to use Blackmagic Design tools because we know that means they will be better prepared for the work environments they will encounter after graduation.”

The partnership with Blackmagic Design will provide a major upgrade to the equipment used by USC students who create programming for Trojan Vision, the School of Cinematic Arts’ award-winning television station that airs to homes across Los Angeles, and online.

Greg Vannoy, who oversees Trojan Vision, said: “While we broadcast in HD, the upgrade gives us full Ultra HD capability, which we feel creates a better learning facility for our students.” The studio, which is located in the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, will now have URSA Broadcast cameras, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K switchers, ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panels, ATEM Camera Control Panels, and a massive array of routing components, as well as HyperDeck Studio Pro recorders, transforming the facility into a modern teaching environment.

“We are thrilled that some of the media industry’s most talented young creators will be consistently learning on and using our products and we are excited to see what they end up creating,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design.

Beyond the broadcast equipment, the partnership provides DaVinci Resolve Micro Panels for students studying color grading. Students will have access to DaVinci Resolve Studio and instructors will have DaVinci Resolve Mini Panels for use in their classes. A number of URSA Mini Pro cinema cameras will be used for student productions.

“It’s important for our students to learn in an environment that closely resembles the industry,” said Meri Weingarten, Director of Digital Media & Technology at the school. “We know this will improve their skills.”

“We are excited to offer the URSA Mini Pro to our students. Blackmagic has done a great job creating a compact, multi-purpose camera that captures a beautiful image,” said Vannoy. “We are always interested in the newest and best tools the industry is using and we’re excited to see what our students do with the URSA Mini Pro.”

  • Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019
ARwall adds sr.-level talent, advisors
Raymond Mosco

L.A.-based AR studio ARwall has expanded with the addition of sr.-level talent and entertainment industry advisors well known for their expertise in design, engineering, and XR. Their growing personnel roster boasts a board of production industry vets and experts, including Digital Domain EP for VR, AR and interactive John Canning, ITV Alliance CEO Allison Dollar and General Immersive CEO/founder Raymond Mosco. ARwall’s cumulative new talent has helped pave the way for companies including Apple, Facebook, Oculus, Microsoft Hololens, Survios, Disney Studios Technology Group and Microsoft TV. 

Mosco is a veteran of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, focusing on how immersive technology will shape the future of storytelling. Mosco has held notable positions at Apple, Facebook, and Oculus. In 2014 he traveled the world providing over 1M initial impressions with the Oculus Rift. Since then he has guided startups and deployed immersive technology for organizations including TED, GE, Sundance, and Hulu. Mosco brings his lead generation know-how to ARwall, using his abundant knowledge in immersive tech and startup business savvy to continue to promote the company for the most influential audiences and potential clients. 

Among the staffers coming aboard ARwall is UI/UX director Stephan Dube who’s  worked in software technology and video games for over 20 years, and most recently with Survios, designing interfaces for VR and console titles and mobile applications. His credits include Archangel, Werewolves Within, DC Universe Online, World of Tanks, Splinter Cell Blacklist, and Defiance.

  • Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019
Katrib joins Advanced Imaging Society's Board
Ramy Katrib

The Advanced Imaging Society (A.I.S.) has added Ramy Katrib, CEO and founder of DigitalFilm Tree, to the non-profit’s Board of Governors. Founded in 2009 in Encino, Calif., the A.I.S. includes major M&E studios and technology companies like DreamWorks Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Warner Bros., Marvel, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBC Entertainment, Fox, Dolby Labs, and DTS Inc.

“A.I.S. represents a focus on the imaging side of our industry and the technologies that will be in play now, and into the future,” said Katrib. “A.I.S. continues developing relationships with members who are already applying the latest concepts in production, like game-engine motion capture and other advancements where traditional production techniques, like lighting and imaging, are now commingling with ever advancing game engine cinematic capabilities.”

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