News for October 2005

Digital intermediates book images available online…

The images and diagrams featured in the book “Digital Intermediates for Film & Video” are now available for viewing online from this website.
More information…

Posted: October 30th, 2005
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GraphicsMagick Tames DPX…

GraphicsMagick
A short while ago, I posted an item about GraphicsMagick, the freeware image processing application.
The DPX image format, widely used across the digital intermediate industry as the primary file format for most applications, comes in many different flavours, despite being heavily standardised. Although even many high-end commercial digital intermediate systems (let alone other freeware packages) are unable to interpret certain implementations of the format correctly.
Developer Bob Friesenhahn tells me that he is been experimenting with a large number of files, including esoteric formats such as “YCbCr in Printing Density”, and that GraphicsMagick is already able to correctly identify and process many of the different formats, making this a must-have utility for any facility working with DPX files.
Says Bob:

Please let me know if you hear that YCbCr files with Cb/Cr swapped is a problem which is so common that it is easily solved via a GUI checkbox so no-one thinks twice about it. I suspect that it is because the DPX 2003 specification describes how 10-bit RGB files have their samples in reverse order in the 32-bit word. So if the same rule is (improperly) applied to YCbCr files, then Cb/Cr will be
swapped.

If anyone can help (or test out some of the other implementations of the DPX format), let us know.

For more information, or to download the program, see http://www.graphicsmagick.org

Posted: October 27th, 2005
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Digital Intermediates Book Finally Shipping!…

Digital Intermediates book
After several false-starts with the printing process, the book “Digital Intermediates for Film & Video” is now shipping.
Apologies to all who have been waiting a long time for it.
More information…

Posted: October 27th, 2005
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Disney’s gung-ho piracy antidote…

Disney
In a intriguing (or do I mean ridiculous?) statement Disney has announced that it is teaming up with Cinea to provide a solution to the screener piracy solution. Every so often, big distributors send out free “screener” copies of movies to potential voters (for the Academy awards, BAFTAs, that sort of thing), typically on DVD. The problem is that these can easily fall into the hands of pirates who then make copies of the films. We’ve seen several crazy ideas to try and solve this problem in the past, such as DVDs that self-destruct, but the latest idea really does take things to a whole new level.
The proposal is to give out DVDs that cannot be played on regular DVD players
Hmm. But then how will anyone watch them? Simple, say Disney, along with the DVDs, we’ll hand out 12,000 of Cinea’s DVD players that can play them!

In collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cinea has distributed the SV300 model of its S-VIEW DVD player to nearly 12,000 of the collective voting members. Recipients of the Cinea S-VIEW players simply need to install the player as part of their home entertainment system, as they would install a regular DVD player, and make a phone call or go online to register with Cinea. Cinea encrypts each disc with a code unique to each member. The Cinea
disc delivered to each member will play only on the Cinea S-VIEW DVD player registered by that member. A Cinea encrypted disc cannot be viewed on any other DVD player or computer.

Wow! Now before anyone starts thinking that it’s a massive waste of money, consider this: The 12,000 recipients of Disney’s DVD players are the people who vote on whether or not Disney’s films will win any Oscars.

I’m not that cynical though. I think it will be a waste of money, and here’s why:
* Piracy will continue regardless. There are other avenues for pirates to get copies of films.
* Every form of copy-protection to date has been broken.
* How many of the 12,000 can actually be bothered to replace their DVD player with the one Disney gives them? We’re talking for the most part about film critics and people in the industry. My guess is that either they’ve already got a top-range system, or else they don’t have time to set this up. And who can really be bothered to go online to authorise watching a film?
* The total cost of this exercise will doubtless be added to the annual estimation of profits lost to piracy. I imagine next year we’ll see yet another increase in those estimated profit losses.

I think the best thing to come out of this though, is that now the film industry has to invent an even more hilarious method to beat piracy.
Quantum encryption anyone? Or how about DVDs coded to your DNA?

Read on for the full press release…
Read more »

Posted: October 24th, 2005
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Autodesk acquires Alias…

Well, the big news today (especially in the 3D industry), is that Autodesk announced that it has bought rival Alias for $182 million. Alias is renowned for is 2D sketching and drafting software, as well as its 3D CAD/CAM systems, but is probably most famous for its Maya 3D animation software, used to create some of the most stunning visual effects in the film industry. Autodesk on the other hand has spent several years trying to push its own 3DS MAX animation software, but has not really had as much of an impact in the visual effects industry, and is instead the tool of choice for games developers.
So it seems to be a classic case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em”. The acquisition process is expected to take 4-6 months, but it is unclear what will become of Alias’s products, whether they’ll be continued as individual projects, or more likely, if we’ll see them combined with Autodesk ones.
see also Autodesk’s page on the subject
I’ll be at the 3DS MAX roadshow in London, tomorrow, so maybe there’ll be some more news then.

Posted: October 5th, 2005
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