Friday, November 16, 2018

Toolbox

  • Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018
Kobe Design University installs Cintel Scanner for film archiving
An archival image from Kobe Design University
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that Kobe Design University has installed Cintel Scanner to archive hundreds of 16mm and 35mm films, some dating back to the 1920s. The project is taking place with the university’s Kobe Planet Film Archive, which collects, preserves and exhibits not only films but also books, posters and equipment related to cinema.

Kobe Design University is an art college founded in 1989 and includes Japan’s largest private film archive. The school has seven departments in total: environmental design, product and interior design, visual design, manga media, fashion and textile design arts and crafts and image arts, which includes courses on films and film production.

Owning more than 16,000 16mm and 35mm films in the Kobe Planet Film Archive, the university focuses on film archive projects, in collaboration with the university’s information library. As a way to contribute to Japanese culture and society, the university digitizes old films archived in the university and in Kobe Planet Film Archive, and also holds screenings using two 35mm projectors and a16mm projector. More than two hundred 16mm films archived in Kobe Design University are currently planned to be digitized, with more than 30 films already digitized with Cintel Scanner.

“Our information library has a collection of about two hundred 16mm films, but after 30 years, the films’ colors are fading and they are entering into the state of decay known as ‘vinegar syndrome.’ The 16mm projector is also too old to be repaired and maintained in a good condition, making it nearly impossible for us to foresee continued screenings in the future. Kobe Planet Film Archive holds many old, deteriorated 35mm films and it was difficult to put them on a projector or even to check the content. That is why digital film archiving became a priority in Kobe, a birthplace of cinema in Japan. And we chose to install Cintel Scanner,” said Prof. Eiji Hashimoto of Kobe Design University.

He explained: “You would need a 35mm projector to watch a 35mm film. However it takes time and effort, and you can’t even rewind or stop a film at will. In addition to that, there are many films whose perforations are lost or which are too curled to be put on a projector. Cintel Scanner is better than projectors in that regard, because it continually and smoothly runs films, without pulling films with strong, intermittent strength. Damaged films can be run slowly, at 4-8 frames per second, so you can digitize old films that you had given up on.”

“We are also using DaVinci Resolve with Cintel Scanner. Using this powerful combination you can digitize silent films from the 1920s, shot with 16 frames per second. After being scanned the digitized data is imported into DaVinci Resolve Studio and rendered into clips of 16 frames per second. That way you can see films at the speed originally intended a hundred years ago. I also like the audio extraction feature, because it supports two types of modulations, density and area. Cintel Scanner is helpful in capturing and preserving not only video but also audio from old films,” he concluded.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2018
Ikegami to focus on HDR at IBC 2018
Ikegami's HDK-73 camera
NEUSS, Germany -- 

Ikegami, known for advanced cameras and production equipment for television content producers and broadcasters, will introduce its latest HDR-compatible range of camera systems and an expanded range of monitors at the September 14-18 IBC 2018 exhibition in Amsterdam. Exhibiting on stand 12.A31, Ikegami will be represented by senior managers from the company’s global network of sales and support offices.

“The 2018 summer of sport encouraged many production companies to invest in High Dynamic Range which enables them to capture images with a much wider dynamic range than previously possible,” said Michael Lätzsch, Broadcast & Professional Video division manager at Ikegami Electronics (Europe) GmbH. 

“Lighting in television studios is carefully controlled to prevent over-exposure of highlights or corresponding under-exposure of shaded areas. Broadcasters televising large public events from locations such as open-air stadiums or theatre auditoriums face the much greater challenge of real-world lighting; from very bright sunlight on white stadium canopies to the darker detail of shaded viewing stands. 

“Our HDK-99 and HDK-73 cameras allow the full dynamic range to be captured within a single exposure setting, eliminating the need to adjust the optical aperture or imaging sensitivity in mid shot. The difference in picture quality is nothing short of stunning when viewed on HDR-compatible displays such as our new HQLM-3125X broadcast production monitor.

“4K UHD is also attracting an increasing level of attention from content producers as a way to maximise the long-term value of their programmes. The HDK-99 delivers a processed output from its control unit, allowing the camera to be used in a mixed-format production environment.

“The SD to HD transition is still in progress after nearly 20 years and it is quite possible that the transition to UHD will take a similar timescale given the practicalities of delivering high bandwidth content to the viewing public. The Ikegami strategy is to support and encourage the highest possible production standards without forcing the pace of technical development faster than broadcasters choose to adopt.”

HDK-99 Full Digital 3-CMOS Full-HD 1080p HDR Camera
Debuted at the April 2018 NAB Show in Las Vegas, the HDK-99 succeeds Ikegami’s very popular HDK-95C as the elite offering in the Unicam HD series. A docking-style camera for portable and studio applications, it employs three 2.6 megapixel high-performance CMOS image sensors delivering high picture quality in HDR at Full-HD 1920 x 1080 resolution with progressive-scan. Processed 4K can be sourced from the camera control unit. 

HLG mode maintains the high contrast required for HDR and conforms to the ITU-R BT.2100 international standard. Noise is less than -62 dB and sensitivity is a high F12. The sensors natively support 1080i /59.94, 1080i/50, 720p/59.94, 720p/50, 1080p/29.97, 1080p/25 and 1080p/23.98.

Also supported are 1080p/59.94, 1080p/50, 1080i/119.88, and 1080i/100 3G HDTV formats. Integral to the HDK-99 is the Ikegami AXII processor which allows fast and precise color matching for live multi-camera applications. A Lens Aberration Correction function minimises resolution loss and colored edging caused mainly by opticallens deviation. 

Quick EZ Focus Assist provides distinct enhancement to the viewfinder signal, enabling the camera operator to make critical focus adjustments. Area size, area color, edge color and display time on the viewfinder are all adjustable from the camera menu.

HDK-73 3-CMOS 1080i HDR Camera 
The Ikegami HDK-73 is a dockable multi-role 1080i high-definition camera designed for SDR and HDR broadcast production. It is available as complete system including CCU, connecting fibre, viewfinder and remote control. Image capture is to 2/3-inch 2.6 megapixel CMOS sensors, each capable of capturing Full-HD 1920 x 1080 resolution images with a dynamic range of 600% in normal mode and an extremely wide 1200% in HLG mode, high sensitivity (F13 at 50 Hz) and high signal-to-noise ratio. The sensors natively support 1080i/59.94 and 1080i/50, as well as 720p/59.94 and 720p/50 scan formats. 

Major features of the HDK-73 include full digital signal processing, advanced digital detail correction with independent horizontal and vertical correction of red, green and blue signals, and optional anti-moiré filtering. Hybrid log gamma processing is operator-selectable for HDR picture origination, enabling high-contrast scenes to be televised with full picture detail across the entire brightness range from highlights, mid-range to shaded areas. 

The HDK-73’s dockable structure allows studio configuration with fibre base stations as well as self-contained operation with a camera adapter for wireless or onsite recording applications. A fibre adapter can be attached directly to the camera head without need for external cables. External devices such as wireless transmission or a solid-state recorder can be attached for standalone operation, making the camera suitable for live sports, news gathering or field production.

HQLM Series and HEM Series Monitors
Ikegami is expanding its range of monitors with six new models:

The HQLM-3125X HDR broadcast master monitor employs a 4,096×2,160 pixel 10-bit resolution LED-backlit double-LCD panel with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a panel brightness of 1,000 candela per square metre. Fully compliant with BT.2020 wide color gamut, the HQLM-3125X incorporates single-channel 12G-SDI x 2, 3G-SDI × 5, 3G/HD-SDI and HDMI inputs as standard features. Square-division and two-sample interleave sources can be connected to the monitor via 3G-SDI × 4.  Viewing angle for critical image evaluation is a wide 178 degrees (horizontal/vertical). In addition to its picture monitoring role, the HQLM-3125X can operate as a waveform monitor and vectorscope. It can also display vertical-interval timecode, eight channel SDI-embedded audio level and closed-caption subtitles.

The HQLM-3120W is a 31 inch 4K/HD production monitor equipped with two 12G-SDI input channels as standard for efficient configuration with 4K equipment such as cameras and switchers. 3G-SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI inputs are also provided as standard. It employs a 4096 x 2160 pixel UHD LCD panel using LED backlight and can reproduce high resolution 4K and 2K images.

Model HQLM-1720WR is a compact UHD HDR monitor equipped with two 12G-SDI input channels as standard for efficient configuration with 4K equipment such as cameras and switchers. 3G-SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI inputs are also provided as standard. It employs a 16.5 inch 3840×2160 pixel UHD LCD panel using LED backlight and can reproduce high resolution 4K and 2K images. Weight is just 9.5 kg.

The HLM-2460W is a 24-inch Full-HD monitor with a 1920×1200 pixel 400 candela per square metre 10-bit resolution LCD panel. It offers very narrow front-to-back dimensions, light weight and low power consumption.  Multi-format SDI. 3G-SDI, HDMI, Ethernet and VBS inputs are provided as standard. The HLM-2460W achieves real pixel allocation without resizing. Its gradation characteristics also make it ideal for a wide range of broadcast applications, including use in monitor walls. A smaller version with similar features, the HLM-1760WR has a 17-inch  display (with a Full-HD 1920×1080 pixel 450 candela per square metre 10-bit resolution LCD panel).

The Ikegami HLM-960WR is a highly compact multi-format LCD monitor with a 9-inch Full HD 1920×1080 pixel 400 candela per square metre 8-bit resolution LCD panel. This models offer very narrow front-to-back dimensions, light weight and low power consumption. The HLM-960WR is economical in power consumption (AC or DC). An optional battery bracket is available. The monitor has a USB connector on the front panel, allowing setup file storage and recall, as well as control-menu navigation via a plug-in pointing device.

  • Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018
Avid makes MediaCentral | Editorial Management available for post workflows
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID) has announced the immediate availability of MediaCentral® | Editorial Management, an all-inclusive collaboration platform that empowers entire teams to take part in media creation workflows. MediaCentral | Editorial Management delivers intuitive media management in a streamlined user interface. With greater integration, speed, and collaboration, everyone from small editorial teams to larger post facilities can benefit from the platform.

Part of Avid’s latest video postproduction workflow innovations, MediaCentral | Editorial Management is a simple-to-deploy asset management tool that enables small-to-mid-size post and broadcast teams to collaborate through secure, reliable and easily configured media workflows from both an integrated panel inside Media Composer®, as well as from a web browser and mobile clients. Enabled by Editorial Management’s new HyperBin architecture, for the first time ever, assistants and producers can create and modify HyperBins, add locators and metadata, create subclips, and perform other asset management tasks—all from MediaCentral | Cloud UX, an easy to use web browser interface, freeing the editor to spend more time creating and less time finding and managing media.  

“Being a mid-sized production studio in an atypical market we need to be as nimble and cost effective as possible, expanding project and media management tasks outside of Media Composer allows our team to collaborate with the speed and efficiency we need to take on demanding jobs under tight deadlines,” said Scott Roy, SVP of post at Trailblazer Studios, which has been beta testing MediaCentral | Editorial Management. “MediaCentral | Editorial Management allows our teams to stay in sync by giving our show runners, story producers and assistant editors the ability to work within the same environment as our editorial team, giving them the tools they need to contribute to the story without ever having to leave their creative applications.”

“Video postproduction teams face greater pressure than ever before to work faster in higher resolutions like 4K and 8K,” said Alan Hoff, VP, market solutions at Avid. “MediaCentral | Editorial Management is designed specifically to meet the needs of smaller postproduction and broadcast teams working with Avid NEXIS®, giving them enhanced collaborative capabilities, greater control over their media assets, and the ability to stay in complete sync so that they can turn around their projects on time and at the highest quality.”

  • Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018
Broadcasters turn to FOR-A for live world football event coverage
FOR-A FRC-9000 frame rate converter
TOKYO -- 

With almost half the world’s population tuning in to the 2018 world football event, high-resolution and reliable, live video of the games was critical to broadcasters throughout the globe. Some of the worlds’ premier public broadcasters trusted FOR-A to deliver the most pristine imagery in a multitude of formats to fervent fans watching the quadrennial event.

Broadcasters in Japan, Korea and the European continent deployed FOR-A technology to ensure audiences all over the globe received glitch-free views of the entire contest.

Four FOR-A FRC-9000 4K/HD frame rate converters or HD and SD signal conversion one FOR-A MFR-8000 4K/8K routing switcher were used by European broadcasters to supply properly formatted, live coverage.

A premier Japanese broadcaster went with six FRC-9000 frame rate converters for error-free live broadcasts of the month-long contest from Russian to its viewership in Japan.

A broadcaster in Korea selected a total of 18 FRC-9000 frame rate converters for its coverage, with two of the converters being used within a 4K production system, and the remaining providing conversions within an HD system.

“This is the ultimate test for our frame rate conversion technology,” said Takaaki Imoto, sr. general manager of FOR-A Overseas Sales & Marketing Division. “The world football event is one of the most prestigious sporting events covered by broadcasters all over the world. There are many conversions that must be done live to get the properly formatted signals to their destination. It’s a complex task that FOR-A makes look easy for our customers. We congratulate these broadcasters for their spectacular world football event coverage.”

The FRC-9000 4K/HD frame rate converter supports 3G, HD and SD. It provides SD to 3G/HD up conversion; interlace to progressive conversion; conversion with motion compensated processing; optional 4K (UHD, SQD/2SI) support; and simultaneous conversion of two-channel video inputs.

MFR-8000 4K/8K routing switcher features an expanded matrix of up to 256 inputs/256 outputs in a 16U frame. It has a 12G-SDI I/O and gearbox support. It supports 3G-SDI(Level A/B), HD-SDI, SD-SDI and ASI signal input/output with automatic signal type detection.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2018
Dr. Michael Neuhaeuser named exec board member for technology at the ARRI Group
Professor Franz Kraus (l) and Dr. Michael Neuhaeuser
MUNICH, Germany -- 

The supervisory board of ARRI Group with headquarters in Munich, appointed Dr. Michael Neuhaeuser, effective September 1, 2018, as the new executive board member responsible for technology. He is the successor to Professor Franz Kraus who, after more than 30 years of highly successful work for the ARRI Group, joins the supervisory board and will continue to be closely associated with the company.

Kraus, with his vision and many innovative developments, has played a decisive role in the successful development of ARRI over that last few decades. He earned great merits in his tenure especially during the digitalization of the film industry with the development of the ALEXA digital camera system and early competence in multi-channel LED technology for ARRI lighting. During the time Kraus was responsible for research and development at ARRI, the company was presented with nine Scientific and Technical Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its outstanding technical achievements. In 2011, together with two colleagues, he was personally honored with an Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar statuette—the highest award in the film industry worldwide—for the design and development of the digital film recorder, the ARRILASER, which pioneered the development of digital products at ARRI.

Neuhaeuser previously served as VP of automotive microcontroller development at Infineon Technologies in Munich. He studied electrical engineering at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, subsequently completed his doctorate in semiconductor devices, and can look back on an international career of 30 years in the electronics industry. Neuhaeuser started his industrial career at Siemens Semiconductor in Villach, Austria, and also took over leadership development at MICRAM Microelectronic in Bochum. He joined Infineon Technologies in 1998 where he performed various management functions in Germany and abroad. Some of his notable accomplishments include being responsible for the digital cordless business since 2005 and, together with his team, having developed the world’s first fully integrated DECT chip. In 2009, he was appointed to VP and general manager at Infineon Technologies Romania in Bucharest where, as country manager, he built up various local activities with more than 300 engineers. In 2012, he was asked to head up the automotive microcontroller development division for which he and his team developed the highly successful AURIX product family.

  • Monday, Jul. 23, 2018
DaVinci Resolve Studio deployed for editing, grading and audio post on Elton John projects
Chris Sobchack
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that DaVinci Resolve Studio and DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel are being used by video director John Steer and on-tour postproduction specialist Chris Sobchack for end-to-end post on a variety of video productions for Grammy-winning legend and singer/songwriter Elton John.

A Micro Studio Camera 4K is also used on tour, in conjunction with a Micro Cinema Camera, Video Assist and Video Assist 4K to shoot interview and behind-the-scenes (BTS) footage, along with HyperDeck Studio Pro and HyperDeck Studio Mini to record the live performances, and MultiView 4 to monitor camera feeds. Teranex Mini and UltraStudio Express are also used to send camera signals to the video wall on stage.

“While on tour, John and I are responsible for shooting and post on a variety of video productions, such as content for Elton’s YouTube channel, clips for broadcast television and award shows, packages for fan clubs and VIPs, dedication videos, and more,” said Sobchack. “It can involve archival footage, current tour footage and new footage that we, or outside video production companies, shoot, such as interviews and BTS, so we rely heavily on DaVinci Resolve Studio in post to bring everything together, often on very tight deadlines.”

The process involves taking tour footage with reference audio tracks from the sound engineer and deconstructing the footage, along with archival elements, BTS and newly shot footage, into component shots for editing, grading and audio sweetening all in DaVinci Resolve Studio. According to Sobchack, audio post can be as simple as compression and leveling, or as complex as getting some or all of the multi-track files the team records each night to augment, or even create a complete studio mix. “I’ll also add and keyframe audience microphones to enhance the live ambiance or use the Fairlight page to minutely fix any visual sync issues,” he noted.

For editing, Steer splices the archival footage, BTS and newly shot footage with the raw footage from the tour’s live shows. “I handle the offline edit, while Chris handles the online, and that’s where DaVinci Resolve Studio works so well, as we can work simultaneously by sharing files back and forth,” he said. “I also use DaVinci Resolve Studio to make copies of the whole show in a lower resolution, so we have a backup viewing copy. We use DaVinci Resolve Studio to put together everything from video idents to full songs from the show while we are on the road touring, and I find it so intuitive and easy to use. Also, with Fairlight, it’s so easy to sweeten the audio, and its features keep expanding.”

As Steer noted, Sobchack is responsible for online editing, grading, audio editing and sweetening, and delivery.

“During the live performances, the lighting is constantly changing, and overall, the footage is darker than what’s needed for broadcast or the web, as the concerts are lit for the human eye rather than for a camera. My main objective is to retain the flair of the live show’s lighting design, but also be able see Elton’s face. I also have to make the performance footage cohesive with any BTS or newly shot footage,” explained Sobchack. “In DaVinci Resolve Studio, I use gradients, vignettes on faces, HSL qualifiers and Power Windows to brighten things up and meld the radically different colors in the shots.”

He continued, “I also reframe shots on occasion and rely on DaVinci Resolve Studio’s temporal noise reduction. Since we don’t shoot in light that is really video project-friendly, when we make the kinds of adjustments we need for broadcast, especially if it’s being up-resed for a prime time network for instance, this feature can take a shot from a zoomed in camera that was 60 yards away from the stage and make it look perfect.”

As multi-camera recording has not been feasible on the tour, the footage also has burned in transitions, so when grading, Sobchack picks a cut point from shot A to shot B and implements an animated color transition using keyframes, ensuring the first frame of shot B matches the last frame of shot A. “Instead of using primary wheels, I use levels, and being able to jot down numbers and easily match them using the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel is great. The panel not only adds a great tactile feel to my workflow, but since it has both dedicated and soft, page-specific knobs, it really lets me dial in and drop down to exact values, which helps with getting everything to match really quickly,” added Sobchack.

He concluded, “John and I have our regular tour duties on top of the video production work, so there’s no time for transcoding and bouncing between programs. DaVinci Resolve Studio is a one-stop-shop that gives us the capability to go from media ingest all the way through to final output in one system, and that capability is huge.”

  • Friday, Jul. 20, 2018
Avid Customer Association Vote yields insights into technology priorities
Avid CEO and president Jeff Rosica
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid and the Avid Customer Association (ACA) have announced the results of the 2nd annual ACA Vote. The ACA Vote gives TV, film and music professionals a uniquely powerful hand in influencing Avid’s future offerings. The results help prioritize Avid’s product and innovation roadmap for 2018 and beyond, while calling attention to its customers’ most pressing requirements and concerns. The findings on emerging technology and new business requirements also provide valuable understanding of the media industry’s plans and challenges related to multiplatform content delivery, remote production, 4K/UHD, multichannel/immersive audio, and file-based/tapeless workflows.

“Each year, the ACA Vote uncovers the most important needs of Avid’s customers—and indeed the industry as a whole,” said ACA co-chair Richard Friedel, EVP and general manager for Fox Networks Engineering & Operations. “The results help Avid identify where it needs to focus its efforts and contribute to the ongoing dialogue between Avid and the ACA so that we can work together to address the most pressing industry challenges.”

This year, more than 4,800 people working in all aspects of media and representing over 3,500 organizations in 117 countries participated in the vote. Their collective input ensures that Avid is focused on helping them to secure their most promising opportunities while fostering deeper collaboration between Avid and its customers.  ACA leadership and Avid appointed Devoncroft Partners, a leading media technology research provider, to help expand the efforts of surveying, capturing and analyzing revealing opinions from the community on evolving business dynamics, emerging trends, and technology directions that are important to the media industry.

Major Findings
The ACA Vote revealed that across all sectors—broadcast, video and audio—the top three technology trends facing media companies are multiplatform content delivery, remote production and 4K/UHD. Broadcast and video professionals exclusively (not audio professionals) also consider 4K/UHD, file-based/tapeless workflows and high dynamic range (HDR) to be significant trends.

  • 56.9% indicate that multiplatform content delivery is the most important trend because it allows content to be available on all distributed platforms, with 17% believing it provides the potential for new revenue streams.
  • 9.8% of respondents believe multiplatform content delivery helps retain consumers’ attention, while 9.2% believe it helps them achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

According to respondents, remote production is the second most important trend:

  • 22.6% of voters indicate that remote production saves costs compared to on-premise event production.
  • 17.4% believe remote production better utilizes technology infrastructures at existing facilities.
  • 13.9% say remote production improves the quality of event production capabilities.

4K/UHD is another trend that continues to be top of mind for media companies:

  • The majority of media professionals (47.9%) believe that viewer demand for 4K will make it a necessity to remain competitive.
  • Nearly 20% of respondents believe 4k/UHD adds image quality in the production process, while 19.7% perceive it helpful to futureproof content.

The ACA Vote results also showed meaningful UHD penetration across several categories, including encoding/transcoding, graphics and branding, production servers and video editing.

According to report findings, the most significant obstacles to achieving goals within these trend areas were cost and interoperability. When looking at end users’ budgets and their plans to allocate resources over the next 12-18 months:

  • 50% say they will upgrade audio capabilities.
  • 25% say they will invest in cloud services and technology.
  • 25% say they will upgrade their infrastructure for 4K/UHD operations.

“The Avid Customer Association continues to take important strides to give anyone in the media industry a voice that can positively influence the direction of the industry and Avid’s technical contributions,” said Avid CEO and president Jeff Rosica. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve delivered two major waves of product innovations based on last year’s ACA Vote, and we’ll begin to deliver on these latest voter priorities with the next big wave we’ll be announcing at IBC 2018.”

  • Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2018
Why is Facebook keen on robots? It's just the future of AI
This photo shows Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist. Facebook is announcing several academic hires in artificial intelligence, including Carnegie Mellon researcher Jessica Hodgins, who's known for her work making animated figures move in more human-like ways. (Facebook via AP)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Facebook announced several new hires of top academics in the field of artificial intelligence Tuesday, among them a roboticist known for her work at Disney making animated figures move in more human-like ways.

The hires raise a big question — why is Facebook interested in robots, anyway?

It's not as though the social media giant is suddenly interested in developing mechanical friends, although it does use robotic arms in some of its data centers. The answer is even more central to the problem of how AI systems work today.

Today, most successful AI systems have to be exposed to millions of data points labeled by humans — like, say, photos of cats — before they can learn to recognize patterns that people take for granted. Similarly, game-playing bots like Google's computerized Go master AlphaGo Zero require tens of thousands of trials to learn the best moves from their failures.

Creating systems that require less data and have more common sense is a key goal for making AI smarter in the future.

"Clearly we're missing something in terms of how humans can learn so fast," said Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist, in a call with reporters last week. "So far the best ideas have come out of robotics."

Among the people Facebook is hiring are Jessica Hodgins , the former Disney researcher; and Abhinav Gupta, her colleague at Carnegie Mellon University who is known for using robot arms to learn how to grasp things.

Pieter Abbeel, a roboticist at University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of Covariant.ai, says the robotics field has benefits and constraints that push progress in AI. For one, the real world is naturally complex, so robotic AI systems have to deal with unexpected, rare events. And real-world constraints like a lack of time and the cost of keeping machinery moving push researchers to solve difficult problems.

"Robotics forces you into many reality checks," Abbeel said. "How good are these algorithms, really?"

There are other more abstract applications of learnings from robotics, says Berkeley AI professor Ken Goldberg. Just like teaching a robot to escape from a computerized maze, other robots change their behavior depending on whether actions they took got them closer to a goal. Such systems could even be adapted to serving ads, he said — which just happens to be the mainstay of Facebook's business.

"It's not a static decision, it's a dynamic one," Goldberg said.

For Facebook, planting a flag in the hot field also allows it to be competitive for AI talent emerging from universities, Facebook's LeCun said.

Bart Selman, a Cornell computer science professor AI expert, said it's a good idea for Facebook to broaden its reach in AI and take on projects that might not be directly related to the company's business — something that's a little more "exciting" — the way Google did with self-driving cars, for example.

This attracts not just attention, but students, too. The broader the research agenda, the better the labs become, he said.

AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2018
Foundry unveils Nuke 11.2
Nuke 11.2
LONDON -- 

Creative software developer Foundry has launched Nuke 11.2, bringing a range of new features and updates to the compositing toolkit. The latest instalment of this cutting-edge series will let artists work quicker than ever before through upgraded UI features and performance capabilities, alongside a new API for deep compositing that can increase the speed of script processing.

Jeff Ranasinghe, VFX supervisor, commented: “Faster playback performance, UI updates such as drag and drop user knobs, and masks on Smart Vectors, all come together to make the experience far more gratifying and productive. With Nuke Studio, it’s great to see what was always an inspired concept become even more complete as the workhorse for production projects.”

Key features for Nuke 11.2 include:

  • New API for deep compositing. Foundry tests have delivered 1.5x faster processing with a new API for deep compositing which manages memory efficiently. Larger scripts have scope for even faster processing speeds. Nuke 11.2 also includes updates to the DeepExpression node and the ability to use Nuke’s metadata nodes within a deep stream.
  • Faster node and user parameter creation. In this instalment, the Nuke Tab menu and UI for creating user knobs have been enhanced to improve user experience for some of the most common tasks: adding nodes and creating Gizmos.
  • The updated Tab menu allows artists to find nodes using partial words, set “favorite” nodes and organize them via a weighting system. These improvements add up to substantial time savings when building scripts with a large number of nodes.
  • A new UI allows user knobs to be linked between nodes by simply dragging and dropping. Artists can add, rearrange or remove user parameters using the same interface. This replaces the drop-down menus for picking user knobs, dramatically speeding up the setup of Live Groups and Gizmos and reducing the average number of clicks required from seven to three.
  • Smart Vector live output and mask input. The Smart Vector toolset is now even faster to use and more effective in shots with occluding objects. Smart Vector and Vector Distort have been optimized for the GPU, allowing users to generate Smart Vectors on the fly and preview the result without needing to pre-render the vectors. A new mask input allows artists to identify areas of motion to ignore when generating the Smart Vectors and warping the paint or texture. As a result, the Smart Vector toolset can now be used on shots with occluding objects with less laborious manual clean-up, speeding up the use of the toolset in more complex cases.

Upgrades for Nuke Studio
Nuke Studio now benefits from an updated project panel UI, providing the artist with new visual controls for managing and organizing complex projects. For quick visual reference, artists can assign colors to items in the project bin and the timeline, based on file type and other parameters accessible via the UI and python API.

Artists can also set the poster frame for single or multiple clips in the bin or from the viewer: useful when working with clips that have black frames or slates at the start. These improvements will help artists to visually distinguish between different file types in a far easier way.

Nuke 11.2 brings improved sorting and searching features to Nuke Studio, allowing artists to easily arrange project bins in custom orders. Artists can also search through project items using multiple keyword and file metadata with keywords, or through all metadata. This improved functionality of the project panel will aid artists managing larger projects.

Christy Anzelmo, sr. commercial product manager at Foundry, commented: “With Nuke 11.2, we’ve listened to our customers and built on the features introduced in previous Nuke 11 releases. Our focus has been on improving artists’ day-to-day experience and speeding up time-intensive tasks like deep compositing. This release will help teams tackle complex VFX work faster.”

Nuke 11.2 goes live today and will be available for purchase--alongside full release details--on Foundry’s website and via accredited resellers.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2018
Caledonia Investments acquires majority stake in Cooke Optics
Les Zellan
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Caledonia Investments plc, a self-managed investment trust, has acquired a majority stake in Cooke Optics. The current Cooke Optics management team, including chairman Les Zellan, CEO Robert Howard and COO Alan Merrills, remains in place, and day-to-day activities at the Leicester-based company will continue unchanged.

“We have been experiencing a sustained period of growth, and the time was right to look for a new investor to help us develop further,” said Zellan. “Caledonia, another historic British company, has a reputation for long-term investment and for supporting management teams to grow their businesses. With a strong financial partner in Caledonia, Cooke is in an excellent position to continue designing and making more of our coveted lenses for the film and television industry.”

The lineup of Cooke lenses is designed from the ground up, not repurposed from existing components, and every lens is hand crafted in the Leicester factory.

Cooke’s most recent developments include the acclaimed S7/i full frame lens range which correctly anticipated the current large format trend; the Panchro/i Classic range which replicate the beloved look of vintage Speed Panchro lenses but with modern housing, mounts and glass; and the Anamorphic/i SF range that adds more exaggerated anamorphic attributes including lens flare and oval bokeh. The company is also behind the lens metadata standard, /i Technology, which captures valuable lens information for use on-set and in postproduction.

The latest Cooke lens ranges will be on display on Stand 12.D10 at IBC 2018, held in Amsterdam, Netherlands from September 14-18, 2018.

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