Posts Tagged ‘Hiero’

The Hiero we deserve, not the Hiero we need…

The Foundry’s Hiero launched last month, after a public beta period. Described as “a pipeline in a box”, perhaps the best way to think about is a bells & whistles conforming system.

Here are some of the things it can do:

  • Conform media
  • Transcode or rename media
  • Track versions (to some extent)
  • Generate NUKE scripts

It’s fully extensible through python, so in theory a lot of features can be customised to specific workflows. Quite frankly, I would have killed for this on almost every production I’ve worked on. It would have made a lot of data management chores a breeze. There are a few notably absent features, such as the lack of scene detection, and the extremely limited notation functionality, but that will happen in time no doubt.

The Foundry view Hiero as a kind of post-production hub, managing shots coming in, and shots going out. A client can view the latest overall version of a show, before going into a grading room. On one hand this is a necessary step: colour grading is less often about colour and more about asset management and versioning. This fulfils a crucial need: to have a stage that exclusively deals with editorial issues prior to grading.  So with Hiero, the production team goes over to the Hiero system, reviews visual effect versions, checks editorial issues, delegates more work and so on. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.

For starters, who’s responsible for maintaining this hub? In general, the production team would lack the expertise required to manage the process, and in any case, from their perspective, they are paying everyone else to ensure the various pieces fit together. At the launch event, there were talks by people who’d been using it at visual effects houses The Mill and Framestore. But even these are edge cases: it would be extremely unlikely to have a single facility responsible for doing the bulk of the post work on a major film. On a typical film, The Mill might be handing off a bunch of effects to a DI facility elsewhere, and not really care how it fits in with elements from other sources (let alone that the production might not want the Mill having such a level of control over the film). Likewise, the DI facility will expect to just conform everything in the grading suite, as they always do. There wouldn’t be much benefit to adding another link in the chain.

So it could fall to a third party, who would coordinate everything, but then who is going to pay for such a service? I agree with the principle of Hiero, and I’d argue that someone should be paying for such a service. But if there’s one thing we know about post, it’s that people hate having to change their workflows.

So where does that leave us? Currently Hiero is around $5,000 for a node-locked license, and that prohibits it from being considered a utility a freelancer could invest in, or that a facility would pay for “just in case”. I hope that the Foundry can crack this problem, because it can arguably make post easier for all of us.

The Foundry offer a 15-day trial of Hiero, as with all their products.

Posted: April 9th, 2012
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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
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