News for the ‘Articles’ Category

Second Light Tech Lab lecture slides…

Below are the slides from the lecture Jon Thompson and I gave at the FACT centre in Liverpool on June 19, 2012 to a small group of enthusiastic students. The event was organised by First Light, and the students still have several more interesting lectures to look forward to.

Jon talked a great deal about getting into the industry, as well as many great anecdotes from his time in the industry. We talked about our work together on Earth and The Bengali Detective. For my part, I covered post-production, the benefits and pitfalls, and how it applies to any size production.

Posted: June 22nd, 2012
Categories: Articles
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Standard data transmission speeds…

The following table shows the data transmission speeds of common interfaces.

Note that you should always use the slowest interface for reference. So for example, if you copy a file across a gigabit ethernet to a drive connected via USB 2, you should refer to the USB 2 speed only.

Also bear in mind these are theoretical maximums, and real-world speeds will vary greatly. For example, although 802.11g has the same theoretical speed as 802.11g, the latter is far more stable in the real-world.

Posted: June 15th, 2012
Categories: Articles
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In memory of Scott Lust…

My good friend and colleague Scott Lust passed away last month, aged 33. Tragically it was a fatal asthma attack that claimed him so early, something he had battled with his entire life. At any point, he could  easily have been described as a writer, researcher, actor, rights activist, musician (at one point he sang on stage with Prince) and comedian, but more than any of that, he was a great friend.

As well as having known each other for over half our lives, we also worked together on several projects, most notably “Films by Surreal Road”, an attempt to utilise digital production and distribution to create independent low-budget films. That didn’t work out well enough to be commercially viable, but it was a great experience, and the test films we created, which Scott either wrote, produced or starred in (putting his acting skills to great use), still live on.

Scott was always on a personal crusade to try and right injustice, and in 2008, around the time Surreal Road switched its focus to software development, he had decided that he wanted to turn his attention to far more noble causes, such as supporting human rights, and in particular, protecting privacy in an age where the subject is becoming increasingly important and complex. So it was that he enrolled into a college and started studying for a Law degree, which he would have completed by next summer.

It’s weird to have so much of his history recorded somewhere, what with both of us having been technophiles, and his love of writing. I still have thousands of emails from him (a great many of them being multi-page monologues) going back to 2003, when we came up with the company name, Surreal Road (looking back now, I can see that we also considered such exciting names as “Pupil of Dilation” and “Bloodshot Eye”), as well as the everyday ones he sent me that showcase his special brand of dark humour and sum him up better than anything I can come up with, such as:

30/03/2003: oOPS, I just woke up two days late.  It’s not entirely my fault though.  I have a fucking bug or summink again and spent the last day and half stuck in a fucking dream about hamsters in pink skirts only to wake up in solidyfied sweat.  Mum says its sunday but im not quite sure I believe her.

not to mention the countless voicemails he left me that I saved over the years because they were so damn entertaining. Each of these little treasures will no doubt provide me with a great source of nostalgia in the future and I’m glad to have kept them.

Scott Lust, c.2004

We will miss you.

Posted: May 25th, 2011
Categories: Articles
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Common Digital Audio Formats…

The following table lists key characteristics of common digital image file formats.

Format Bit-depth (per sample) Sampling rate (kHz) Channels Lossy compression Lossless compression Embedded metadata
PCM Wave (WAV)*
MPEG Layer-3 (MP3) 48 2
x
x
Vorbis (OGG) 200 255
x
PCM Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF)*
x
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) 32 1,048.57 8
x
x
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) 192 48
x
Microsoft Windows Media Audio (WMA) 24 96 8
x
x
x
Dolby Digital AC-3 (AC3) 16 48 6
x
Dolby TrueHD 24 96 14
x
Digital Theater System Coherent Acoustics (DTS) 24 48 6
x
DTS-HD Master Audio (Stereo mode) 24 192 2
x
DTS-HD Master Audio (Multichannel mode) 24 96 8
x

*Wave and AIFF are container formats that are used in conjunction with various audio codecs, which may impose limits on each property.

Posted: October 15th, 2008
Categories: Articles
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Common Digital Image Formats…

The following table lists key characteristics of common digital image file formats.

Format Bit depth (per pixel) Color model Lossy compression Lossless compression Layers Alpha channels Embedded timecode Additional features
Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) Various Various
x
x
x
x
Supports all feature of TIFF specification, various metadata
xAdobe Photoshop Document (PSD) Various Various
x
x
x
Supports vectors, parametric image operations, color profiles, other metadata
Kodak Cineon (CIN) 30 Logarithmic RGB, linear RGB
x
Can store key numbers, other metadata
CompuServe Graphical Interchange Format (GIF) 8 Indexed RGB Supports animation, keyed alpha
SMPTE Digital Picture Exchange (DPX) 24, 30 Logarithmic RGB, linear RGB
x
Supports all features of Cineon specification
JPEG 24 Linear RGB
x
x
JPEG-2000 Various Various
x
x
x
Supports color profiles, other metadata
TIFF Various Various
x
x
x
x
Several variants of the TIFF format are available, such as LogLuv and Pixar, allowing for different dynamic ranges, supports color profiles, other metadata
OpenEXR 48 Logarithmic HDR
x
x
Covers 9.6 orders of magnitude with 0.1% precision, can store key numbers, other metadata
Radiance 32 Logarithmic HDR
x
Covers 76 orders of magnitude with 1.0% precision
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) 24 Linear RGB
x
x
Targa (TGA) 24 Linear RGB
x
Windows Bitmap (BMP) 8, 24 Linear RGB
Posted: October 15th, 2008
Categories: Articles
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