• Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019
Cooke lenses capture wildlife for BBC's "Seven Worlds, One Planet"
Lensing "Seven Worlds, One Planet"

DP Mark MacEwen traveled thousands of miles with a set of Cooke miniS4/i lenses to shoot selected sequences featured in the BBC’s latest landmark wildlife series, Seven Worlds, One Planet. The series, which visits all seven continents to document the unique wildlife to be found in each, began airing in the U.K. in October.

“The nature of high-end wildlife filming is a mix of collaboration and individual intuition,” said MacEwen. “Because we are filming animals, usually the fewer people present the better; the chance to capture the behavior takes place individually and is down to the DP’s framing eye. The collaborative part is often in the planning and ongoing story discussions. Things develop and change all the time in nature and often the story you set out to film changes, or you find something better or different. And that’s when the collaborative part really takes shape and is a part of the process I really enjoy. Bouncing ideas and building the story is where a lot of the creativity happens.”

MacEwen, who has over 20 years’ experience in wildlife cinematography, chose the miniS4/i lenses for his sequences to bring the “Cooke Look” in a smaller, more light weight form.

“The look of the Cooke lenses does it all for me, and the way they separate the subject and background and flare is the way I see the world. I also like the way they work on digital sensors--to me, they just help take some of the digital edge off the camera and help keep it looking more organic and natural,” he said. “The miniS4/i’s were great as the size and weight of them allowed me to use them not only for tripod work, but for hand-held gimbal work with animals where I have to hold the MōVI Pro rig for hours, following the animals waiting for the right moment or bit of behaviour. The build quality is also amazing and works so well with the follow focus gear.”

The traveling set included the 18mm, 25mm, 40mm, 50mm and 135mm focal lengths. “For me the 40mm and 50mm were the lenses I used the most,” MacEwen explained. “They give me enough of a focal length to create separation from the background and cut easier between the long lens and primes. Also, longer focal lengths are more useful for wildlife filming as often the problem is getting close enough to the subjects.”

Lighting conditions were extremely varied--from filming lowland gorillas in the jungles of the Congo to shooting elephant seals in Antarctica--but MacEwen was impressed with how the miniS4/i lenses coped. “Heavy use of backlight is frequent. In jungles there is so much contrast and low light, then very strong shadows with bright sun patches--even the modern camera systems struggle with it, so if the lens can help with the contrast or artistically aid in flare, it makes all the difference,” he said.

The RED Helium was the camera choice for the series, which MacEwen praises for its versatility: “The frame rates, resolution and the size mean we can use it as a long lens camera, put it onto small hand-held gimbals or into larger helicopter systems like the GSS/Shotover/GSS. Also we have the ability to use pre roll and so on, which is a huge advantage when trying to film things that may only ever happen once.”

One particular scene from the series sticks in MacEwen’s memory. “I filmed elephant seals fighting for the Antarctica episode. I wanted to try and make the sequences feel and look different to others I’d seen shot, but they are a challenge to film--huge behemoths up to 18 feet long and 8000 pounds. Thousands of them turn up in mating season and the males prepare to fight for their right to breed,” he recalled. “I used the miniS4/i’s on a gimbal to try and get among them, capture the feel of the combat and creatively control the visual scene. But it’s no easy job moving around these monsters. I was frequently having to jump out of the way as one animal charged another, while others charge past you to escape. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.”

Not all challenges are brought by large animals, though. “I’ve been charged by lions, elephants, gorillas and elephants seals all on foot to name a few, but there is one creature that for me tops them all: the sweat bee. It’s tiny but found in huge numbers and is attracted to sweat, so it’s largely unavoidable. It has managed to annoy me for large parts of my career, and it can make even the most hardened person have to drop everything and just run away to get a moment’s respite."

  • Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019
Sony Plays The Field In Minnesota
Camera operator catches the action at Allianz Field with the Sony HXC-4300 HD studio camera.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- 

When Minnesota United Football Club moved into its new home at Allianz Field in St. Paul earlier this year, new cameras for the stadium’s large video wall presentation were on top of the list of must-haves. Resolution quality from the cameras had to reproduce well on the Daktronics 15mm HD board, concourse monitors and 2.5mm Daktronics LED display in the team’s premier Stadium Club. The goal, according to the team’s production engineer, Cole Mayer, is that soccer fans at the stadium see the same video quality or better than they would when watching at home.

The decision was made to purchase four Sony HXC-FB80 HD studio cameras (with HXCU-FB80 CCU units and RCP-1500 panels for remote camera control) and one PXW-X400 shoulder-mounted XDCAM camcorder. The HXC-FB80 is designed for 4K/HDR live production. 

Equipped with three 2/3-inch Exmor CMOS sensors, the cameras capture full HD picture quality.  With a sensitivity of F13 and a corresponding signal-to-noise ratio of just -60 dB, the cameras are ideal for low light reproduction. The PXW-X400 offers advanced picture quality and enhanced networking features with a built-in wireless module.

The Sony system cameras affixed with Canon lenses are placed in various positions throughout the stadium – one Sony HXC-FB80 with a Canon XJ80x lens underneath the large video wall and one Sony HXC-FB80 with the same Canon lens in a far corner of the stadium. The remaining -FB80s, equipped with Canon KJ20x8.2B lens, are placed in center and left field.

With a resolution of 2304x456 pixels, the large video display at the south side of the stadium required cameras with the resolution of the HXC-FB80 and PXW-400. 

The infrastructure at the new Allianz Field is also wired for SMPTE fiber, so a camera that is plug and play in that environment is another must-have. “We use SMPTE fiber at the stadium for our connections, and the -FB80 has SMPTE fiber built right into the camera body, so it’s just plug and play,” explained Mayer. “It’s just one cable into the camera, and the camera control, viewfinder and the lens is powered up. It makes set up and tear down during game days a breeze.”

The Sony CCU units are integrated with the team’s RTS intercom system over SMPTE fiber connection so once plugged into the camera, the headsets are plug and play as well. “Side communication is never an issue,” said Mayer.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019
Madrid’s Pigmento Shows Resolve
A suite at Madrid-based Pigmento Color Grading
MADRID, Spain -- 

Post house Pigmento Color Grading in Madrid has switched to Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio as part of a facility upgrade for HDR color correction and IMF format delivery.

Founded by Fernando Martinez and Pepe Abellàn, colorists with more than 20 years of audiovisual finishing experience, Pigmento has rapidly formed a reputation for delivering a boutique, tailored service to both broadcasters and OTT clients throughout Europe. The team’s credits include episodic features such as The Pier, Locked Up and Emmy Award winning Money Heist, which has gone on to be a global success.

Spurred by increasing client demand for Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and IMF ready workflows, DaVinci Resolve Studio has now been installed as the primary online, grading and mastering solution within Pigmento’s two state of the art grading suites and two additional support workstations for conform, VFX pulls and deliveries.

Featuring Intel’s Dual Xeon SuperMicro processors paired with NVIDIA Tesla K80 and RTX2080ti graphics cards respectively, the grading suites feature Sony BVM-HX310 and Dolby PRM 4220 reference monitors and DaVinci Resolve Mini Panels for control. Underpinning the setup is 180TB of shared storage, with a 600TB NAS for backup.

Plans are already in place to undergo a full renovation to add two more suites, for 4K projection and HDR respectively, by the end of 2020.

“Before every new show we’ll review our workflow, upgrading where necessary to ensure Pigmento continues to attract the best opportunities from future clients,” said Abellàn. “We used alternative finishing tools in the past, but weren’t happy with their development speed, specifically when it came to adoption of new technologies like HDR and IMF. Clients expected us to deliver to these new standards, but our team felt a lack of support from a software perspective. We began researching alternatives and Resolve consistently came out on top.”

Martinez noted, “The transition to DaVinci Resolve has been seamless for us. Not only from a technical perspective, thanks to a simple and well organized interface, but also the global community of users and Blackmagic support team have been invaluable, helping find answers whenever we have an issue.” 

  • Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019
Redshift update integrates Cinema 4D noises and nodes

Maxon, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, animation and rendering solutions, and Redshift Rendering Technologies, Inc., developers of GPU-accelerated rendering software, have announced that the latest release of Redshift 3.0.12 includes native support for Cinema 4D noises and deeper integration with Cinema 4D, including the option to define materials using Cinema 4D’s native node-based material system. 

Cinema 4D noise effects have been sought after among other 3D software packages because of their flexibility, efficiency and visual appeal. Native support in Redshift means that Cinema 4D noises can now be accessed by the users of other DCC applications utilizing Redshift as their rendering solution. Procedural noise allows artists to easily add surface detail and randomness to otherwise perfect surfaces. Cinema 4D offers 32 different types of noise and countless variations based on settings. Native support for Cinema 4D noises means Redshift can preserve GPU memory while delivering high-quality rendered results.

“This release is the first achievement of our collaboration since Maxon’s acquisition of Redshift in April of this year,” said David McGavran, CEO of Maxon. “It shows commitment to not only our Cinema 4D community, but the industry as a whole as we bring Cinema 4D noises to all applications supported by Redshift.”

Redshift 3.0.12 provides content creators deeper integration of Redshift within Cinema 4D. Redshift materials can now be defined using Cinema 4D’s nodal material framework, introduced in Release 20. As well, Redshift materials can use the Node Space system introduced in Release 21, which combines the native nodes of multiple render engines into a single material. Redshift is the first to take advantage of the new API in Cinema 4D to implement their own Node Spaces. Users can now also use any Cinema 4D view panel as a Redshift IPR (interactive preview render) window, making it easier to work within compact layouts and interact with a scene while developing materials and lighting.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019
PIX and CODEX brands to unite under X2X Media Group
Marc Dando

PIX and CODEX are to be brought under a single unified brand identity with the establishment of the X2X Media Group. This brand consolidation will further strengthen the Group’s offerings to the entertainment industry, leveraging the two companies’ reputation for pioneering innovation and engineering strengths under a single umbrella while maintaining their strong identities and their independent routes to market. 
“Since PIX acquired CODEX in April we have been working hard,” said Marc Dando, chief design officer, X2X. “Bringing us together, integrated as a single brand is a reflection of the impressive level of synergy achieved between the teams and this will be further echoed in the tools we are bringing to leading creatives, filmmakers, and studios around the world.”
The resulting X2X Media Group:
·     Is an entertainment technology company that partners with clients to enable creative flow across the production life cycle.
·     Offers a suite of secure communication and content management solutions.
·     Leverages the strengths of two award winning product lines and R&D teams.
·     Will work on developing innovative new solutions that bridge the gap between on-set production and post.
“The production landscape is changing rapidly, and the evolution of our toolsets addresses real world needs,” commented X2X CEO Eric Dachs. ”As X2X Media Group, we are dedicated to providing the industry with a fast, secure, global and collaborative ecosystem that enhances both creativity and cost-effectiveness.”

X2X headquarters will remain in San Francisco, while the company expands its engineering operations in Wellington, Odessa, Budapest, London, and Royal Leamington Spa, along with additional sales and support offices in New York and Los Angeles.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019
Genius Produced shop uses Blackmagic Cameras for immersive eLearning workflow
K. Rocco Shields, founder of Genius Produced
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that Los Angeles based production company Genius Produced utilizes a Blackmagic workflow to produce immersive educational and instructional design content for elearning. The productions use Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K and Studio Cameras, along with ATEM Television Studio Pro HD and DaVinci Resolve for a complete Blackmagic Design production to post workflow.

Filmmaker K. Rocco Shields founded Genius Produced in 2012 off of the success of her award winning short “Love Is All You Need,” which focused on the harmful effects of bullying, homophobia and prejudice. The film became an inspiration and model for how the company would operate moving forward. Genius Produced quickly staked a claim as an industry leader in producing content for top universities and organizations around the world.

The company has a base of operations in a 15,000 square foot facility in Culver City, California that encompasses the full workflow of filmmaking, from development and pre-production through post. Shields was drawn to the Blackmagic workflow early in the company’s growth. “We used to use DSLRs for everything, but it was a terrible crunch for our post production process,” said Shields. “Filming was difficult with the ‘Frankenstein’ component of these other cameras.”

With the release of the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera 4K, the company’s entire workflow was revolutionized.

Today, the company still utilizes the original Cinema Cameras, which Shields noted, “have certainly lasted the test of time,” and now augment them with Blackmagic Studio Cameras and Micro Studio Cameras 4K. In post, the company relies on DaVinci Resolve Studio for color and finishing, appreciating the ability to shoot in film mode for maximum dynamic range.

Beyond scripted content, Genius Produced also works heavily in the area of live production, with projects that cover live performances, presentations, lectures and more. The company also uses all of their Blackmagic cameras in conjunction with their ATEM Television Studio Pro HD switcher, giving their directors the same high image quality but in a live format. The studio moves quickly, with projects moving from set to set, and the compact size allows the team to move equally fast. “We feel this combination of high quality, but compact size is a life saver,” said Shields. “It’s the only way to maintain efficiency and integrity of process during our live productions.”

Along with steadily producing quality educational content, commercials, documentaries, and other high concept projects, Genius Produced has gained a reputation for creating transcendent, socially conscious feature films, including the previously completed feature length adaptation of the viral-sensation “Love Is All You Need”, as well as an upcoming historical biopic about legendary aviator and Hollywood stunt pilot Pancho Barnes. These projects, and the remaining films in Genius’ slate of original content have proven that the Genius Produced style of filmmaking can be powerful and effective regardless of the medium. “At our core is a focus of inclusiveness, support and acceptance, which pervades every level of the company. We couldn’t justify supporting a strong message of acceptance and inclusion in our work and not do the same in our business.”

Shields has already begun an upgrade of systems, starting with the URSA Mini Pro G2 and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, but is pleased that even her oldest gear is still so reliable, after all these years. “With Blackmagic products we are able to attain the quality and look of traditional formats without compromising or disrupting our workflow and processes. Our entire business model is reliant on flexibility on-set and during postproduction,” said Shields. “No matter how much planning goes into a shoot, we are always going to want to test the waters in another direction.”

  • Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019
ftrack acquires Cospective, developer of the Academy Award-winning cineSync

ftrack, creator of the production tracking and media review platform for creatives, has acquired Cospective, creator of the Academy Award and Emmy-winning synchronized remote review tool cineSync.

ftrack and Cospective have enjoyed a close working relationship since 2015, and have already developed a deep integration that links ftrack with cineSync. This acquisition enables Cospective and ftrack to work even more closely in the pursuit of better, faster, and simpler workflows. Together, the companies will bring new innovations to market, strengthen the review capabilities of the ftrack ecosystem, and capitalize on the industry-leading technology that Cospective has built over the past 14 years.

Fredrik Limsäter, CEO at ftrack, commented, “Cospective shares ftrack’s aspirations in creating better workflows for creatives; together, we can complement one another’s work and build even better, more efficient products for the industry.”

Rory McGregor, CEO at Cospective, stated, “Having collaborated with ftrack over many years, we know the company values our products, our customers, and the way we work. ftrack is committed to cineSync’s continued growth and to offering the same service that our customers have come to expect. ftrack also presents new opportunities to add features, to grow the Adelaide team, and to develop review solutions for modern workflows.”

Cospective will remain based in Adelaide, Australia and will continue to develop and support cineSync and Frankie, including maintenance of integrations with third-party software vendors. 

In the short term, this acquisition will enable Cospective to offer around-the-clock, 24-hour product support via the global ftrack organization. In the longer-term, the acquisition will supply Cospective with additional resources to further develop features and workflow solutions with a clear focus on media review and approval. For ftrack, access to the cineSync team will drive new technologies and innovation, strengthen the review capabilities within the ftrack product suite, and further develop the broader ftrack ecosystem. 

Cospective has made a name for itself as a synchronized media review solution for film studios, TV networks and VFX houses, including Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Technicolor, Deluxe, Netflix, HBO, MPC, Framestore, ILM, and Double Negative. cineSync’s media review platform has proven pivotal on notable projects such as Game of Thrones, Inception, Interstellar, Ready Player One, The Walking Dead, Justice League, Jurassic World, the Fast and the Furious films, multiple Bond films, and every entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Monday, Nov. 4, 2019
SMPTE, IABM enter into collaborative agreement

SMPTE®, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and IABM, the international association for broadcast and media technology suppliers, have entered into a new collaborative agreement to share knowledge and expertise across their memberships. In the first stage of the agreement, members of each organization are now able to take advantage of the other’s training courses at discounted rates.

“A knowledge exchange with IABM makes a great deal of sense for both of our organizations,” said SMPTE executive director Barbara Lange. “IABM’s strength is in business knowledge and research, while SMPTE brings expertise in standards-based technologies--a synergy that will add great value for our respective communities.”

The collaboration will also give certain SMPTE members privileged access to executive-level IABM Business Intelligence via an exclusive portal and webinars, and IABM members will be able to access SMPTE webcasts. As part of the agreement, SMPTE and IABM will continue to explore further areas of collaboration to benefit their members.

IABM’s training offering includes a wide range of on-site standard and bespoke courses as well as a number of e-learning courses covering the latest technologies. 

SMPTE’s comprehensive training offering includes both instructor-supported and self-learning virtual courses as well as webcasts and podcasts through its well-established online platform. 

“I’m delighted to be working with SMPTE to enable relevant sharing of knowledge and expertise across our combined membership,” said Peter White, IABM CEO. “Collaboration is not just the latest buzzword--it underpins the future success of both the supply and buying sides of the broadcast and media industries. We see media companies increasingly coming together to form alliances in the search for digital speed, scale, and geographical reach, and the same thing is happening on the supply side.”

White continued, “With the pace of transformation in our industry only continuing to accelerate, it makes great sense for two of the industry’s top organizations to work together in a partnership to deliver a richer experience for SMPTE and IABM members and help them stay at the leading edge of our rapidly changing business. This agreement is something of a milestone--it marks the beginning of an ongoing collaboration across a number of activities and the start of what we envision to be a long-term partnership.”

  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
Directors Cut upgrades to Baselight for HDR and 4K
Andy Elliott

Independent London post house Directors Cut Films, owned and operated by its creative staff, has invested in a Baselight TWO color grading workstation with a Blackboard 2 control panel. Directors Cut works primarily in premium long-form television, as well as drama series, documentaries and feature films, with increasing interest in 4K and HDR.

“Being owned and run by ex-editors, we know what is required to meet and exceed expectations in post,” said sr. colorist Andy Elliott. “We felt it was the right time to invest and embrace HDR and 4K workflows. HDR in particular produces much more of a positive visual impact, with real benefits in the immersive experience for the viewer.”

Recent projects graded by Elliott include biographies of Cher and Elton John, an investigation of the Bauhaus for BBC4, and Sir David Attenborough’s call to action Climate Change: The Facts.

Elliott pointed out that such programs frequently bring together footage shot on multiple different cameras and formats, often in less than ideal circumstances. The task for the colorist is to integrate all of the footage as well as create a coherent look that reflects the story the director wishes to tell. That makes the speed and power of the upgraded Baselight suite an important asset.

“The pace at which I can get through a film has improved, so I have more time to refine the look,” stated Elliott. “And with the AAF workflow, the grade is not ‘baked in,’ so it is infinitely tweakable if needed. If there is, say, an additional interview, the grade can be lifted from another shot and dropped onto the new one, straight on the editor’s timeline. This is really useful in current affairs, where we can be right up against tight transmission deadlines.”

Directors Cut, based just outside Soho, the traditional home of the London post industry, is built around the experience and creativity of its staff. More than 30 suites in the facility are all connected through central networks with over 256 terabytes of shared storage. The company continues to invest in new technology, today focusing on the growing importance of editing and delivering in 4K--a focus that led to the investment in Baselight. 

  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019
Swiss pay TV network expands live sports broadcasting with Blackmagic Design
A Teranex Mini converter
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that Teleclub, Switzerland’s leading pay TV network, has implemented an Ultra HD video playout system, built around a Blackmagic Design 12G infrastructure, to support an increased volume of linear and pay per view (PPV) live sports channels.

The network recently expanded its output to offer more than 83 channels, including eight in Ultra HD, broadcasting in German, French and Italian, and covering a wide range of sports including top flight European and national football leagues, ice hockey and others via its IPTV platform.

“We needed to double Teleclub’s capacity to feed additional HD and UHD PPV channels, studio production facilities, as well as additional commentary and graphics elements,” said Remo Val, system and software engineer, Teleclub. “When we considered our Ultra HD requirements, it was clear that a single link 12G-SDI network would ensure we had enough capacity in our server rooms and keep cabling and signal distribution hubs as streamlined as possible.”

18 ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4Ks have been installed, with each one serving two of the HD or Ultra HD channels, with a separate M/E attributed to each channel. Each switcher is paired with a video/CG server, developed inhouse at Teleclub using DeckLink Quad 2 capture cards and Caspar CG, for live video playout. One further ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K delivers playout for an HD multiplex channel.

Val explained that the system is controlled by a bespoke control dual playlist interface.

“The operator opens an event from our database, and the client generates all the specific content into a playlist, for example live or studio input, lower thirds, sponsor logos. The software controls the ATEM, the CG server and the audio engine to provide whatever the next item is in the playlist, so an operator can deliver an entire live event with one button.”

The facility also includes a new studio and 26 commentary boxes, with 12 Smart Videohub 40x40 12Gs in place to sub-switch monitors located around the channel’s production headquarters in Volketswil, near Zurich, including VIP lounges and a spectator bar. “There must be more than 250 Blackmagic Micro Converters, as well as Teranex Mini converters, working as the production center’s digital glue,” explained Remo. “It was an important consideration to demonstrate the network’s expansion throughout the production hub itself, so wherever you are in the complex, you can see the scope and scale of Teleclub’s broadcast output.”

“Simply put, we could not have realized this project without Blackmagic Design,” concluded Val. “The open API, together with the capture cards’ price point allowed us to design a flexible and reliable playout solution, and one that could be specifically built around a powerful, futureproofed 12G infrastructure that will enable us to continue to bring the best of sports broadcasting to our viewers.”

MySHOOT Company Profiles