Posts Tagged ‘red’

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

Synaesthesia beta 4 released…

With much of the film industry sunning themselves on yachts in Cannes,  leaving the rest (i.e. the ones that do the work, right?) behind to work, I’m happy to announce Synaesthesia beta 4 for your pleasure.

Beta 4 comprises some new features and fixes, largely based on feedback from people at NAB last month.

Of particular note is the inclusion (finally) of a preferences dialog. It’s a bit sparse right now, but expect it to get filled up with all sorts of customisable features in the future. One of the noteworthy preferences in there is certainly going to make the DITs and data wranglers amongst you happy: Synaesthesia now has a setting to automatically capture MD5 (read: bulletproof!) checksums for any file you attach to anything. That means you get a checksum for the R3D file you’ve linked to a clip, as well as for the spreadsheet you’ve added to a scene.

Ok so that’s only half the picture, because the real use of having checksums is when you can verify them. Well, Synaesthesia will do that too! Any time you open an attachment in Synaesthesia, it will automatically verify the file for you and flag any differences. This means you don’t have to rely on third-party tools for verifying file integrity any more, which is typically more of a problem over longer periods of time (and ironically when verification is more important). Of course, Synaesthesia can’t fix your broken files, but it can at least give you fair warning of potential problems (you are doing backups, right?).

There’s a few other fixes and other changes in this release, we’ve increased the contrast of text labels so they’re easier to read– I guess not everyone does data entry in the dark (like I do). You should also notice some performance improvements too. As we move towards final release, expect performance to get some serious attention. For all the other changes, check out the release notes for this version.

On another note, after repeated issues with corrupted downloads, we’ve moved to a new server for downloading. Hopefully this will prove more successful, saving you guys frustration, and allowing us to spend more time packing great stuff into the next release.

As always, your feedback is much appreciated. Everyone enrolled on the beta programme will get an email soon, those that aren’t can still sign up.

Posted: May 20th, 2010
Categories: Synaesthesia
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Comments: No comments

Highlights from NAB 2010…

There were a few interesting things to see at NAB this year. Not as varied as previous years have been, perhaps due in part to an absence of many of the prominent companies, but good all the same.

First up, Adobe. Of course they launched CS5, upgrading their entire product line. In total, there are dozens of improvements across the line, but one, seemingly innocuous new bit of technology dubbed “content-aware”. This was first demonstrated to me in the form of a “roto brush” in After Effects. The idea being that you draw a loose selection around a foreground object, and After Effects then determines exactly what it is you are trying to isolate. After a few seconds delay, it automatically redefines your selection to create a very convincing roto matte. And best of all, it does it for all frames in the sequence, not just the current one. There are also controls for fine-tuning, such as to account for soft edges, motion blur and so on. Not sure how feasible this would be for feature visual effects work, but certainly for everyone else it will be a real time-saver.

The most jaw-dropping moment of NAB for me was the demonstration of the content-aware deletion in Photoshop. There was in image of a horse in a field. A selection was drawn around the horse, and the content-aware deletion was applied. The horse was removed from the scene. Let me back that up a bit. The horse was deleted precisely, which is kind of impressive. But more amazing is that rather than leaving an empty space in the image, the “hole” was filled in by interpolating the content (not just the pixels) of the image. By which I mean the fence behind the horse was automatically generated. Even as I think about it now, I still think it must have been some kind of trick. Wow.

Another talking point has been BlackMagicDesign (who recently acquired DaVinci) porting the Resolve grading system for the Mac, and then practically giving it away for under $1000 (although if you want the control surface, that will still cost you an additional $30,000 or so). The technology looks a little dated when compared to some of the heavy-hitters out there, but come on, at this price it’s competing with Apple’s (almost unusable) Color.

Arri was showing off its new Alexa camera, which seems to be taking on the Red One, although at a higher price point (and I’ll skip comparing the picture quality of the two to more knowledgeable people, personally I think they produced quite similar results when all is said and done). And speaking of Red, there were a few glimpses of the new Epic camera at some of the events.

The FCP user group, although a fun night out, was desperately lacking any talk of Final Cut Pro (with more time devoted to talking about Avid than Apple!), however there was an interesting concept presented, which was the notion of using the iPad as a control surface for grading (or anything really), which I completely agree is an excellent application (of an otherwise questionable product).

Finally I want to thank everyone I spoke to about Synaesthesia. Based on those conversations, I’ve got a couple of new short-term plans for new features. I’m not going to reveal too much now, but one area I will be focussing on is methods for verifying data transfer, and the other is to do with different workflows. Demoing the software on a rusty old laptop also revealed that I need to spend some time looking at speeding up certain processes, so there will be a big push on that too.

Posted: April 16th, 2010
Categories: News
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Synaesthesia Beta 2 Released…

I’m pleased to announce the release of beta 2 of Synaesthesia. All the reported bugs in beta 1 are fixed, and there are some great new features that make the application even more useable.

What’s new in this release? Well, according to our statistics, 89% of you use Final Cut Pro, so integration with Synaesthesia is a big priority for us. In this version, you can export clips to Final Cut Pro XML. (To do this, go to the clips tab of a breakdown, select the clips to export, and click export). When you import the XML into FCP, the exported clips will be added to a new bin, along with all the metadata Synaesthesia has for that clip, such as the scene, take, editing format and so on. And speaking of exports, it’s now possible to export screenplays (as text) and sequences (as EDLs).

FCP development is still ongoing, so expect a lot more in that area in future releases. Also new in this version is tighter RED camera integration. Whereas beta 1 would only retrieve RED metadata from files with RED’s software installed, beta 2 eliminates that restriction entirely. So when linking a clip to a file (via Clip Breakdown > Digital > Linked File), just point it at the R3D file and let Synaesthesia do the rest.

Some processes in Synaesthesia can be quite complex (and therefore lengthy), and so the latest version also includes feedback in the form of progress bars, so you can be confident that it is doing something, rather than just hoping it hasn’t crashed.

You can check out the release notes for more details on the other improvements and fixes. As always, the best way to send us feedback is from the software itself (Help > Send Feedback).

If you have already been accepted into the beta programme, you should be receiving an email soon with a link to download the latest version. If you have not yet enrolled in the beta programme, you can still apply to take part now.

Posted: March 29th, 2010
Categories: News, Synaesthesia
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Comments: 1 comment

Fix It In Post available for pre-order…

Fix It In Post coverMy latest book, “Fix It In Post” is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Thanks to everyone who let me pick their brains over the course of the last few months.

The blurb:

“Finally!  A well-written software agnostic guide to fixing common problems in post ranging from shaky camera to film look!”

—Jerry Hofmann, Apple Certified Trainer; FCP Forum Leader, Creative Cow; Owner, JLH Productions

Fix It In Post provides an array of concise solutions to the wide variety of problems encountered in the post process. With an application-agnostic approach, it gives proven, step-by-step methods to solving the most frequent postproduction problems. Also included is access to a free companion website, featuring application-specific resolutions to the problems presented, with fixes for working in Apple’s Final Cut Studio suite, Avid’s Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as other applications.

Solutions are provided for common audio, video, digital, editorial, color, timing and compositing problems, such as, but not limited to:
* automated dialogue recording, adjusting sync, and creating surround sound
* turning SD into HD (and vice-versa) and restoration of damaged film and video
* removing duplicate frames, reducing noise, and anti-aliasing
* maintaining continuity, creating customized transitions, and troubleshooting timecodes
* removing vignettes, color casts, and lens flare
* speeding shots up, slowing shots down, and getting great-looking timelapse shots
* turning day into night, replacing skies and logos and changing camera motion

Fix It in Post: Solutions for Postproduction Problems