News for September 2011

Synaesthesia Beta 14 released…

Lots of fixes and tweaks in this version. I’ll let the release notes speak for themselves on the majority of fixes and additions, but I want to focus on one little button:

check out

You’ll now see this button in the Reel Breakdown and throughout the Asset Manager. The purpose of this button is one of the reasons I created Synaesthesia in the first place, and it’s a considerable milestone for it to be included.

Here’s the scenario: during the lifetime of a production, reels (and other assets) that are created will be sent out to post facilities, loaned out to people, and so on. How do you keep track of all of this? Until now, you could do this by simply changing the reel’s (or asset’s) location. The problem is, that doesn’t tell you where the item belongs.

With the check-out system, you still have the original location stored, but there’s a record of who it was checked out to, and when. Nothing earth-shattering, but useful when you later try to track down that reel that’s gone missing. And it’s as easy as going to the reel breakdown and clicking a button (or via the Asset Manager).

Checked out location info

Also, Apple today released Final Cut Pro 10.0.1 which has a brand-new XML format. So expect support for that in the next version of Synaesthesia (maybe…).

Current Synaesthesia users will be notified of the new version when running the application during the next few days, otherwise it can be downloaded as usual.

Synaesthesia has been in beta now for almost 2 years, and I believe, is almost production-ready.

Posted: September 21st, 2011
Categories: Synaesthesia
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Highlights from IBC 2011…

James Cameron hates gurus. He imagines them in white lab coats, telling people what they can’t do. On the other hand, him and Vincent Pace want your money in return for certification.

In a nutshell, Cameron Pace Group is trying to become the authority on all things 3D. Their idea is that everything from the workflow and kit used during a shoot, through to the consumer equipment used to playback 3D content will be branded with their logo, much in a similar way to THX and audio equipment. Will they be successful? Well their showreel is certainly impressive.

Adobe has acquired IRIDAS, they of the wonderful SpeedGrade software. Looks like Adobe could be dipping its toe into digital intermediate waters at last. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve is now available for Windows (in addition to Mac and Linux). Filmlight’s Baselight is now available as a plugin for The Foundry’s Nuke, which is a nice idea, especially considering that their Final Cut Pro plugin may turn out to be a waste of time.

The Foundry themselves were introducing a new workflow tool, Hiero. It’s the first stand-alone conforming system I’ve seen (that wasn’t just a cut down grading system at least), and there’s a beta programme if you want to take a closer look.

One of the more interesting products (although not a new one) was Colorfront’s On-Set Dailes. It will ingest and output any format under the sun, has a gorgeous interface, and is the only digital dailies system that I know of that will do sound sync. If you are involved with dailies in any capacity, take a look at it.

There were several “alternatives to FTP” on offer, like TixelTec and FileCatalyst, boasting high-speed transfers, but conveniently neglecting to point out that the transfer speed is almost entirely limited by the lowest speed of either party (oh yes, and FTP is simple and also free to implement). On the other hand, the FileCatalyst Webmail system, which is designed to be a user-friendly front-end to file transfers, is worth a look.

Finally, anyone interested in where colour grading might be going next, should take a look at Bakery Relight. It’s a system for 3D animation rather than post-production, With more work being done in 3D, and with advancements in 2D-to-3D technology, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see tools like that in the grading suite.


Posted: September 18th, 2011
Categories: News
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A call for open formats…

The following is taken from a post to the Telecine Internet Group:

Wanting around at IBC this year, one thing stuck me more than anything else. There are now more proprietary capture formats than ever before.

This isn’t anything new, after all video has a long and unsavoury history of competing formats, much to the chagrin of everyone who backed HD-DVD for instance. But with digital formats becoming dominant, this has reached fever pitch. And I would argue, it’s completely unnecessary at best, and at worst it’s completely detrimental to the industry.

RED gives no impression that their business model is anything other than packaging for a proprietary format. But they give you tools to work with it, that are for the most part pretty good, but also available for free. You can gain access to the SDK, but only if you are willing to sign an NDA. incredibly, this is the most accessible of all the formats. Silicon imaging want to charge you $1000+ just to decode footage shot on their cameras. And the new champion of digital camera formats, ArriRaw, is completely unsupported for the most part. I spoke to someone about the long awaited SDK, only to be told that it is actually available, but only to select Arri partners. Whatever the hell that means. And it goes on and on with the likes of Sony, Panasonic ad naseum.

Granted, this is nothing new. But what I don’t understand is why we as professionals dealing with the ramifications of all of this continue to do so with smiles on our faces. Everyone is excited at the Arri stand this year. The footage looks great. That is more important than the ability to post the footage, as perhaps it should be. But given the footage from the camera is so good, why limit the ability to properly work with it? Why shouldn’t I be able to take my ArriRaw files into any post-house, regardless of the grading system or infrastructure used. Surely this would be best for Arri et al?

And worst of all, why do we, as the hapless victims of this situation, continue to allow it to happen? Why do we continue to evangelise a technology that is ultimately detrimental to our day to day lives? The visual effects industry managed to find a common ground with OpenEXR, I can only hope we might one day do the same.

Posted: September 11th, 2011
Categories: Opinion
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Comments: 2 comments