Author Archives: Randi Altman

Bluefish444 supports Adobe CC and 4K HDR with Epoch card

Bluefish444 Epoch video audio and data I/O cards now support the advanced 4K high dynamic range (HDR) workflows offered in the latest versions of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Epoch SDI and HDMI solutions are suited for Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Audition CC and other tools that are part of the Creative Cloud. With GPU-accelerated performance for emerging post workflows, including 4K HDR and video over IP, Adobe and Bluefish444 are providing a strong option for pros.

Bluefish444’s Adobe Mercury Transmit support for Adobe Creative Cloud brings improved performance in demanding workflows requiring realtime video I/O from UHD and 4K HDR sequences.

Bluefish444 Epoch video card support adds:
• HD/SD SDI input and output
• 4K/2K SDI input and output
• 12/10/8-bit SDI input and output
• 4K/2K/HD/SD HDMI preview
• Quad split 4K UHD SDI
• Two sample interleaved 4K UHD SDI
• 23, 24, 25, 29, 30fps video input and output
• 48, 50, 59, 60fps video input and output
• Dual-link 1.5Gbps SDI
• 3Gbps level A & B SDI
• Quad link 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps SDI
• AES digital audio
• Analog audio monitoring
• RS-422 machine control
• 12-bit video color space conversions

“Recent updates have enabled performance which was previously unachievable,” reports Tom Lithgow, product manager at Bluefish444. “Thanks to GPU acceleration, and [the] Adobe Mercury Transmit plug-in, Bluefish444 and Adobe users can be confident of smooth realtime video performance for UHD 4K 60fps and HDR content.”

WWE adds iPads, iPhones to production workflow

By Nick Mattingly

Creating TV style productions is a big operation. Lots of equipment, lots of people and lots of time. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is an entertainment company and the largest professional wrestling organization in the world. Since its inception, it has amassed a global audience of over 36 million.

Each year, WWE televises over 100 events via its SmackDown, WWE Raw and Pay-Per-View events. That doesn’t include the hundreds of arena shows that the organization books in venues around the world.

“Putting this show on in one day is no small feat. Our shows begins to load-in typically around 4:00am and everything must be up and ready for production by 2:00pm,” explained Nick Smith, WWE’s director of remote IT and broadcast engineering. “We travel everything from the lighting, PA, screens, backstage sets, television production facilities, generators and satellite transmission facilities, down to catering. Everyone [on our team] knows precisely what to do and how to get it done.”

Now the WWE is experimenting with a new format for the some 300 events it hosts that are currently not captured on video. The goal? To see if using Switcher Studio with a few iPhones and iPads can achieve TV-style results. A key part of testing has been defining workflow using mobile devices while meeting WWE’s high standard of quality. One of the first requirements was moving beyond the four-camera setup. As a result, the Switcher Studio team produced a special version of Switcher that allows unlimited sources. The only limitation is network bandwidth.

Adding more cameras was an untested challenge. To help prevent bottlenecks over the local network, we lowered the resolution and bitrate on preview video feeds. We also hardwired the primary iPad used for switching using Apple dongles. Using the “Director Mode” function in Switcher Studio. WWE then triggered a recording on all devices.

For the first test using Switcher Studio, the WWE had a director and operator at the main iPad. The video from the iPad was output to an external TV monitor using Apple’s AirPlay. This workflow allowed the director to see a live video feed from all sources. They were also able to talk with the camera crew and “direct” the operator when to cut to each camera.

The WWE crew had three camera operators from their TV productions to run iPhones in and around the ring. To ensure the devices had enough power to make it through the four-hour-long event, iPhones were attached to batteries. Meanwhile, two camera operators captured wide shots of the ring. Another camera operator captured performer entrances and crowd reaction shots.

WWE setup a local WiFi network for the event to wirelessly sync cameras. The operator made edits in realtime to generate a line cut. After the event the line cut and a ISO from each angle was sent to the WWE post team in the United Kingdom.

Moving forward, we plan to make further improvements to the post workflow. This will be especially helpful for editors, using tools like Adobe Premiere or Avid Media Composer.

If future tests prove successful, WWE could use this new mobile setup to provide more content to their fans–building new revenue streams along the way.


Nick Mattingly is the CEO/co-founder of Switcher Studio. He has over 10 years of experience in video streaming, online monetization and new technologies. 

Assistant Editor’s Bootcamp coming to Burbank in June

The new Assistant Editors’ Bootcamp, founded by assistant/lead editors Noah Chamow (The Voice) and Conor Burke (America’s Got Talent), is a place for a assistant editors and aspiring assistants to learn and collaborate with one another in a low-stakes environment. The next Assistant Editors’ Bootcamp classes will be held on June 10-11, along with a Lead Assistant Editors’ class geared toward understanding troubleshooting and system performance on June 24-25. All classes, sponsored by AlphaDogs’ Editor’s Lounge, will be held at Skye Rentals in Burbank.

The classes will cover such topics as The Fundamentals of Video, Media Management, Understanding I/O and Drive Speed, Prepping Footage for Edit, What’s New in Media Composer, Understanding System Performance Bottlenecks and more. Cost is $199 for two days for the Assistant Editor class, and $299 for two days for the Lead Assistant Editor class. Space is on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to 25 participants per course. You can register here.

A system with Media Composer 8.6 or later and an external hard drive is required to take the class (30-day Avid trial available) 8GB of system memory and Windows 7/OS X 10.9 or later are needed to run Media Composer 8.6. Computer rentals are available for as little as $54 a week from Hi-Tech Computer Rental in Burbank.

Chamow and Burke came up with the idea for Assistant Editors’ Bootcamp when they realized how challenging it is to gain any real on-the-job experience in today’s workplace. With today’s focus being primarily on doing things faster and more efficiently, it’s almost impossible to find the time to figure out why one method of doing something is faster than another. Having worked extensively in reality television and creating the “The Super Grouper,” a multi-grouping macro for Avid that is now widely used in reality post workflows, Chamow understands first-hand the landscape of the assistant editor’s world. “One of the most difficult things about working in the entertainment industry, especially in a technical position, is that there is never time to learn,” he says. “I’m very passionate about education and hope by hosting these classes, I can help other assistants hone their skills as well as helping those who are new to the business get the experience they need.”

Having worked as both an assistant editor and lead assistant editor, Burke has created workflows and overseen post for up to 10 projects at a time, before moving into his current position at NBC’s America’s Got Talent. “In my years of experience and working on grueling deadlines, I completely understand how difficult the job of an assistant editor can be, having little or no time to learn anything other than what’s right in front of you,” he says. “In teaching this class, I hope to make peers feel more confident and have a better understanding in their work, taking them to the next level in their careers.”

Main Image (L-R): Noah Chamow and Conor Burke.

postPerspective Impact Award winners from NAB 2017

In early April, postPerspective announced the debut of our Impact Awards, celebrating innovative products and technologies for the post production and production industries that will influence the way people work. Our inaugural awards honor the best new or upgraded gear shown at NAB 2017.

Now that the show is over, and our panel of post pro judges has had time to decompress, dig out and think about what impressed them, we are happy to announce our honorees.

And the winners of the postPerspective Impact Award from NAB 2017 are:

• Adobe — Creative Cloud Suite
• Avid — Media Composer | Cloud Remote
• Blackmagic Design — DaVinci Resolve 14
• Dell — UltraSharp 27 4K HDR Monitor
• HP — DreamColor Z31x Studio Display

“The postPerspective Impact Award celebrates companies that have listened to users’ wants and needs and then produced tools designed to make their working lives easier and projects better,” said Randi Altman, postPerspective’s founder and editor-in-chief. “And all of our winners certainly fall into that category.

“Our awards are special because they are voted on by people who will be potentially using these tools in their day-to-day workflows. It’s real-world users who have determined our winners, and that is the way it should be. We feel awards for products targeting pros should be voted on by pros.”

Obviously, there were many new technologies and products at NAB this year, and while only five won an Impact Award, our judges felt there were other tools that it was important to let people know about as well.

Displays for high-resolution workflows were of special interest to many of our judges. In addition to our winners, they pointed to Sony’s CLEDIS, Bravia and XBR displays; SmallHD’s Focus monitor; Eizo’s Color Edge monitors; and Flanders Scientific’s OLED 55-inch HDR display.

Other gear that caught our judges attention — AJA’s FS HDR with ColorFront; Telestream Wirecast with Cloud-Assist captioning; Avid Pro Tools with Dolby Atmos integration; IBM Watson for post production; Mettle’s 360 Degree/VR Depth plug-ins and Skybox Studio v2; G-Tech’s Thunderbolt 3 Shuttle XL; AJA’s KiPro Ultra Plus; and The Foundry’s Nuke 11 and Elara.

Stay tuned for future Impact Award winners in the coming months — voted on by users for users — from SIGGRAPH and IBC.

Tips for future NAB-goers

By Jesse Korosi

Depart from the traditional flashing lights of Las Vegas, the ringing of slot machines and the smell of stale cigarettes and you may find yourself at the NAB show. Boasting over 103,000, this year’s NAB brought together media, entertainment and technology experts from around the globe.

 

Sim Digital always attends NAB, where we get inspiration for how we will continue to move ahead with new technology and industry trends. We have been growing as a company at an incredible rate — from the small team we once were only about 10 years back to our current crew of 400 and taking on the biggest jobs the industry has to offer. To ensure we keep this momentum, we need to keep our eyes on the fads and determine what technology is actually going to stick and choose which of them to become a leader in.

The convention center is massive! Therefore, do not make the same mistake I did the first time I went and walk into any entrance not knowing the types of vendors are in each hall. You could find yourself lost within radio or live broadcast land for an hour before finding your way out. Without proper maps and documentation, it can be a little overwhelming!

Download the NAB Show App on the App Store
This app will allow you to type in the booth number for any booth you want to hit and will draw a line across the NAB floor to navigate you. Without this map you are looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, as it’s unfortunately not as simple as one might think to look at the booth number you’re standing at and figure out which way to go by counting. I tried that my first year and it was a nightmare.

Wear Comfortable Shoes and Book Meetings!
While there are a ton of booths and opportunities to just walk in and chat with anyone, it is very important to book your meetings well ahead of time! The first year I went, I did not book any meetings and I just showed up at booths. Because of this I often had random sales people greeting me. They were, of course, equipped to show me the new products they were showcasing. However, if I wanted to talk about the mechanics of how their hardware actually worked and the metadata management end of things, this was a no-go!

Rather than just looking at my meetings as an opportunity to see new products, I tend to look at this as an opportunity to jam-pack meetings into a few days of NAB that would otherwise take a month to schedule. As an example, this year I had meetings every 30 to 45 minutes all day, every day I was there! To prepare for this, my team and I from Bling — part of the Sim Group group of of companies —sent a simple e-mail to the vendor requesting the meeting. Within this e-mail, we explained why we wanted the meeting and requested a person who could answer our questions.

We also offered up sample material for the vendors to have on hand. An example of this would be our meeting with The Foundry (left) this year. I knew I wanted to go over VFX color science and pipelines so I forwarded on some sample media, including CDLs, LUTs, stills and anything else they would need to prepare for our meeting. This way, when we showed up, their artist had everything pre-loaded, they knew what we were there to talk about and within 30 minutes we had a super-productive meeting and were out the door.

For my team at Bling, we try not to think of this as only an opportunity to see new products, but to also get this one-on-one training. As a dailies lab, we are often supporting visual effects workflows, as any time a VFX vendor submits a shot back to editorial that does not properly match the original dailies color or framing, we are often the first call that the client makes. Considering this, it was great to get this one-on-one time at NAB with a company like The Foundry. Not only did our team get some hands-on time with Nuke, mirroring workflows our clients run, but we also came up with some very exciting concepts to elevate our VFX pull workflow to a new level.

Bring an iPad as a Visual Aid
I usually try to think about each meeting I have and ensure that if pictures of my office, gear, workflow diagrams, etc. may help as visual aids, I have them with me on a big enough screen to easily share.

Book Meetings Based on Hall Location
All of my South Upper hall meetings are together, etc. The last thing you want is to be running from one end of the massive facility to another, over and over. So this is something to keep in mind considering how much of an affect this will have on your ability to cram in as many meetings as possible.

The South Hall

With many members from the Sim team present at NAB, we were able to divide and concur the show floor. We certainly found many products that caught our attention and will be on our radar moving forward.

Aside from just new hardware and software, however, NAB this year has inspired a lot of workflow innovation that we are very excited to pursue. My team and I combined up our time at NAB with our annual planning session in a house off the Vegas strip. I feel it is very common for companies to have their technically minded crew buried in their daily routine, keeping up with the onslaught of work and never properly disengaging to reassess where the company has gone, what you are doing right and what could use some re-direction.

The executive-level staff may do this at other companies, but wouldn’t it be better if you had the technical creative minds who are dealing with the company’s challenges hands-on every day lead some of this charge? Or is this a task too heavy for this level position? That to me is what is very exciting about Sim — we do this every year and trust our people to make these calls. Combining this with the creative energy we were able to get from NAB brought our innovation concepts and technical strategies to a whole new level, which I am very excited to soon reveal!

The show wrapped at the end of last month. New products and road maps have been revealed and now the real question is: What will everyone do with this new information they gathered?

What Impressed
There were many updates that struck home for me, such as FilmLight making a Baselight student version; Blackmagic’s new panels; a new HP Dreamcolor and new HDR monitors from Sony and Flanders; AJA’s new KiPro Ultra Plus; Avids DNxIQ; Pro Tools native Dolby Atmos mixing and Nexis support; Blackmagic’s Resolve 14, Web Presenter, Ultra Studio HD Mini; and ColorFront HDR upgrades.

I figured that there would be a big focus on VR this year, as well as HDR, which was in fact the case. However, one thing that was very exciting to me was the focus on computer learning. This is an area I feel is going to continue to expand and gain more presence in the back-end architecture of software we use every day in post production. GrayMeta had a great demo of their new product. Check out what they do.


Jesse Korosi is director of workflow services at Bling Digital, is a member of the Sim Group family of companies, which supplies production equipment, workflow and post solutions.

Behind the Title: Sibling Rivalry director Gerald Ding

NAME: Gerald Ding

COMPANY: Sibling Rivalry

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Sibling Rivalry is a creative studio that combines immersive storytelling with a distinct design sensibility. It was founded by Joe Wright, Mikon van Gastel and Maggie Meade in 2011.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Directing a commercial, short film or music video is similar to being a chef at a restaurant. You handpick a team of individuals based on their specific talents to execute the vision you have in mind. It’s up to the director to bring out the best performance from each person working on the film for it to become what you imagined.

House of Marley

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think the misconception about directing is that you’ve got to be difficult to work with if you want to be respected in this industry. I don’t believe that. I think how you present yourself and treat others is just basic common sense and respect. You can find your way of communicating what’s important to you while staying focused on the bigger picture.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
When there’s a genuine mutual respect and trust between the artists you’re collaborating with; it really elevates the project and raises my expectations because it evolves into something greater than what I first imagined it as.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My least favorite part of the job is not working!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
The time that I can get a coffee in my hand.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d like to think I’d still be making something that I could show or share with my friends.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I think the excitement of watching films as a kid never left me. I still remember each film and how it affected me, and I loved talking about them after and retelling the stories I had seen. I got into directing so I could tell my own stories, but now the process of making a film is more exciting to me than watching one.

I got into directing through animation because I saw Akira as a kid and wanted to be an animator. As a character animator you’re stoked on just owning a sequence or portion of the film, but eventually I just wanted to work on the whole story and got into directing.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
HPE Tech Actually, G-Dragon x Airbnb Superstar Superhost, Google Android Handshake and House of Marley The Get Together.

Tech Actually

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I’m currently working on a short documentary about this female fighter; we just filmed a portion of it in Belarus. It’s nowhere close to being finished right now but there’s a lot of great talent involved and it’s a story I’m really excited about.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My 35mm film camera Fuji Klasse S film camera (RIP, I’m sorry I broke you), my future Contax T3 35mm point-and-shoot and my Miele washing machine (it’s a life goal after years of renting apartments in New York).

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram

CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Filming on set I don’t listen to music unless it’s a part of the scene. I always have hip-hop and RnB in my head but when I’m writing treatments or scripts I usually listen to Frank Ocean or some sad girl pop. I don’t know why, but it works.

THIS IS A HIGH-STRESS JOB WITH DEADLINES AND CLIENT EXPECTATIONS. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I just try to do my best each time and show up prepared because it’s a privilege for me to be here and I embrace all of it, good and bad. I’ve been training in Brazilian Jiu jitsu for quite some time so hard sparring with your friends is a great way to get rid of stress (as well as your ego).

What was new at GTC 2017

By Mike McCarthy

I, once again, had the opportunity to attend Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose last week. The event has become much more focused on AI supercomputing and deep learning as those industries mature, but there was also a concentration on VR for those of us from the visual world.

The big news was that Nvidia released the details of its next-generation GPU architecture, code named Volta. The flagship chip will be the Tesla V100 with 5,120 CUDA cores and 15 Teraflops of computing power. It is a huge 815mm chip, created with a 12nm manufacturing process for better energy efficiency. Most of its unique architectural improvements are focused on AI and deep learning with specialized execution units for Tensor calculations, which are foundational to those processes.

Tesla V100

Similar to last year’s GP100, the new Volta chip will initially be available in Nvidia’s SXM2 form factor for dedicated GPU servers like their DGX1, which uses the NVLink bus, now running at 300GB/s. The new GPUs will be a direct swap-in replacement for the current Pascal based GP100 chips. There will also be a 150W version of the chip on a PCIe card similar to their existing Tesla lineup, but only requiring a single half-length slot.

Assuming that Nvidia puts similar processing cores into their next generation of graphics cards, we should be looking at a 33% increase in maximum performance at the top end. The intermediate stages are more difficult to predict, since that depends on how they choose to tier their cards. But the increased efficiency should allow more significant increases in performance for laptops, within existing thermal limitations.

Nvidia is continuing its pursuit of GPU-enabled autonomous cars with its DrivePX2 and Xavier systems for vehicles. The newest version will have a 512 Core Volta GPU and a dedicated deep learning accelerator chip that they are going to open source for other devices. They are targeting larger vehicles now, specifically in the trucking industry this year, with an AI-enabled semi-truck in their booth.

They also had a tractor showing off Blue River’s AI-enabled spraying rig, targeting individual plants for fertilizer or herbicide. It seems like farm equipment would be an optimal place to implement autonomous driving, allowing perfectly straight rows and smooth grades, all in a flat controlled environment with few pedestrians or other dynamic obstructions to be concerned about (think Interstellar). But I didn’t see any reference to them looking in that direction, even with a giant tractor in their AI booth.

On the software and application front, software company SAP showed an interesting implementation of deep learning that analyzes broadcast footage and other content looking to identify logos and branding, in order to provide quantifiable measurements of the effectiveness of various forms of brand advertising. I expect we will continue to see more machine learning implementations of video analysis, for things like automated captioning and descriptive video tracks, as AI becomes more mature.

Nvidia also released an “AI-enabled” version of I-Ray to use image prediction to increase the speed of interactive ray tracing renders. I am hopeful that similar technology could be used to effectively increase the resolution of video footage as well. Basically, a computer sees a low-res image of a car and says, “I know what that car should look like,” and fills in the rest of the visual data. The possibilities are pretty incredible, especially in regard to VFX.

Iray AI

On the VR front, Nvidia announced a new SDK that allows live GPU-accelerated image stitching for stereoscopic VR processing and streaming. It scales from HD to 5K output, splitting the workload across one to four GPUs. The stereoscopic version is doing much more than basic stitching, processing for depth information and using that to filter the output to remove visual anomalies and improve the perception of depth. The output was much cleaner than any other live solution I have seen.

I also got to try my first VR experience recorded with a Light Field camera. This not only gives the user a 360 stereo look around capability, but also the ability to move their head around to shift their perspective within a limited range (based on the size the recording array). The project they were using to demo the technology didn’t highlight the amazing results until the very end of the piece, but when it did that was the most impressive VR implementation I have had the opportunity to experience yet.
———-
Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been working on new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.

Nomad Editing adds Nate Cali

Santa Monica’s Nomad has added editor Nate Cali to its roster. Cali, who will be based out of the Santa Monica office, has edited campaigns for Nike, Reebok, Red Bull, Taco Bell, Capital One and Funny or Die. Cali edits on Adobe Premiere.

Most recently, he was freelancing out of Saatchi LA working on Toyota. Prior to that, while he frequently worked out of the Optimus Chicago office and spent a lot of time there, he was based out of Optimus LA, where he moved up the ranks from assistant editor to a partner in the company. He also spent time at Union Editorial.

While at the Los Angeles Film School, he studied under Danford B. Greene, who cut Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. “My mother was a stand-up comedian,” he says. “I always knew I wanted to cut comedy. Danford taught me how to make people laugh by highlighting reactions instead of actions.”

“I feel so lucky to have a career that requires me to collaborate with other people who have the same passion and drive as I do. I connect very well with people who care deeply about their work. I love working on cars and extreme sports projects and while I think the flashy stuff is cool, I’m most interested in bringing the best emotions out of a piece. I want people to feel a personal connection to that spot.”

Flash memory at NAB 2017

By Tom Coughlin

Flash memory is still serving a supporting role in most media and entertainment applications, except content capture. This is where it dominates. Outside of content capture, a little flash can go a long way to accelerate many media apps. Things like metadata storage and search using flash memory provide a big ROI.

Flash as a high-performance storage tier is becoming more common for M&E aggregated storage systems, particularly for content delivery. On the other hand, flash memory is starting to show up in workflows as primary storage on workstations used for very high frame rate and 8K uncompressed video processing for operations such as color correction and final conform.

Flash for Content Capture
First let’s look at some flash memory trends and announcements from the 2017 NAB Show. According to Coughlin Associates’ 2016 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment survey, flash memory is the clear leader in professional video camera media, increasing from 19% in the 2009 survey to 54% in 2016, while magnetic tape shows a consistent decline over the same period. In particular, magnetic tape declined from 34% to 2%. Optical disc use between 2009 and 2016 bounced around between 7% and 17%. Film shows a general decline with 15% usage in 2009, down to 2% in 2016. The trend with declining film use follows the trend toward completely digital workflows.

Pro cameras using flash memory include those from Arri, Canon, Grass Valley, Ikegami, Panasonic, Panavision and Red. These cameras use flash memory modules for content capture. There are various flash card formats supporting today’s professional video cameras. These are in various physical formats from SD card to compact flash.

Shortly before NAB 2017, Lexar announced a 256GB pro 1000X microSD UHS-II (U3) card for rapid capture and transfer of multimedia content. With UHS Speed Class 3 (U3), this card is ideal for high-speed capture of extended lengths of 4K, 3D and 1080p full-HD video. Capable of recording up to nine hours of 4K video, this card is also perfect for shooting action with an aerial camera since they require multiple memory cards for extended use. The new card comes with a microSD UHS-II USB 3.0 reader to dramatically accelerate workflow with high-speed file transfer up to 150MB/s.

Sony introduced two external video recording SSDs for docking to camcorders or high-performance DLSRs. The SSDs have a longer lifetime than typical solid-state media. Using Sony’s Error Correction Code technology, the 960GB G Series SSD achieves up to 2400TBW (terabytes written), while the 460GB drive can reach 1200TBW, resulting in less frequent replacement.

According to Sony, the 2400TBW translates to about 10 years of use for the SV-GS96, if data is fully written to the drive an average of five times per week. When paired with the necessary connection cables, the new G Series drives can be removed from a recorder and connected to a computer for file downloading, making editing faster with read speeds up to 550MB/s.

LaCie (Seagate) introduced its LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 that offers high-speed Thunderbolt 3 interfaces (offering up to 40Gb/s data rates and up to 100W of power) with a two-drive RAID with capacities up to 20TB. The product will be available this summer.

LaCie

The unit includes a docking capability with front-facing SD and CF flash memory card slots for transferring content from pro cameras. It has a USB 3.0 hub for charging a phone or for connecting to a shuttle drive or a digital camera to off-load content. The unit can connect the 2big to high-resolution displays using a DisplayPort connection. The USB 3.1 port enables interfacing with USB-C and USB 3.0

Flash and Media Workflows
Besides content capture, there were several other announcements and demonstrations of flash-based workflows and content delivery at NAB this year.

DDN believes there are spot solutions where flash makes sense in M&E, including scratch space and DPX workflows. The use of flash memory in M&E could increase if the prices go down. Avid saw flash memory as part of a tiered-storage infrastructure. Flash memory is being used as primary storage in HP workstations for color correction or finishing (conforming content), as well as for 8K video productions. The current shortage in flash memory is extending lead times for orders — the biggest issue is the transition from plane to 3D flash and poorer yields for now.

JMR

JMR introduced its extreme performance JMR SiloStor NVMe SSD, a full-length, half-height PCIe 3.0 x8 drive that adds up to 8TB of high-availability storage to any server, computer or workstation using the latest V-NAND technology. It occupies a x16 PCIe slot and may be connected via Thunderbolt PCIe expansion to those computers offering this capability. The cards will come in 2TB, 4TB and 8TB versions. Sequential read speed is > 4,000 MB/s and write speed is > 3,000MB/s.

Flash Memory for Content Delivery
Dell EMC showed how to create scalable on-premise or hybrid cloud IPTV/OTT delivery platforms using Dell EMC’s All-Flash Isilon as the storage repository. The company was also doing demonstrations of high-speed uncompressed 4K editing with the All-Flash Isilon.

Quantum

Quantum showed an interesting table comparing HDDs and SSDs for streaming content. Because of the trade-offs for capacity costs, compressed content streams were less expensive for SSDs while the uncompressed content can be more expensive for SSDs than HDDs unless higher capacity SSDs are used. As a consequence the company’s all-flash StorNext 4K array can supply a greater number of streams than a HDD-based system (at a price of course).

NGD Systems and EchoStreams were at NAB debuting a 96TB 1U storage appliance. The1U server’s storage capacity is based on four Catalina NVMe solid-state drives from NGD Systems. It features four removable full-height PCIe NVMe SSD add-in card slots and optimized for media streaming applications.

Summing Up
Flash memory is providing valuable point solutions for media and entertainment professionals, the most prominent being digital camera media. In addition, as the price of flash declines and as higher bandwidth content drives the industry flash memory is serving additional uses as primary or tiered storage to ensure low-latency access to media assets.

At the upcoming 2017 Creative Storage Conference on May 24 in Culver City, you can learn more about the use of flash memory in M&E, the growth in VR content in professional video, new metadata management technologies, including machine learning, and how these demands will drive digital storage demand and technologies to support the high data rates needed for captured content and cloud-based VR services.


Tom Coughlin is president of Coughlin Associates. He is the founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference. He has also been the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit.

The A-List: Director Ron Howard discusses National Geo’s Genius

By Iain Blair

Ron Howard has done it all in Hollywood. The former child star of The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days not only successfully made the tricky transition to adult actor (at 22 he starred opposite John Wayne in The Shootist and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), but went on to establish himself as an Oscar-winning director and producer (A Beautiful Mind). He is also one of Hollywood’s most beloved and commercially successful and versatile helmers.

Since making his directorial debut in 1977 with Grand Theft Auto (when he was still on Happy Days), he’s made an eclectic group of films about boxers (Cinderella Man), astronauts (Apollo 13), mermaids (Splash), symbologists (The Da Vinci Code franchise), politicians (Frost/Nixon) firefighters (Backdraft), mathematicians (A Beautiful Mind), Formula One racing (Rush), whalers (In the Heart of the Sea) and the Fab Four (his first documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week).

Born in Oklahoma with showbiz in his DNA — his parents were both actors — Howard “always wanted to direct” and notes that “producing gives you control.” In 1986, he co-founded Imagine Entertainment with Brian Grazer, a powerhouse in film and TV (Empire, Arrested Development) production. His latest project is the new Genius series for National Geographic.

The 10-part global event series — the network’s first scripted series — is based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and tracks Albert Einstein’s rise from humble origins as an imaginative and rebellious thinker through his struggles to be recognized by the establishment, to his global celebrity status as the man who unlocked the mysteries of the cosmos with his theory of relativity.

But if you’re expecting a dry, intellectual by-the-numbers look at his life and career, you’re in for a big surprise.

With an impressive cast that includes Geoffrey Rush as the celebrated scientist in his later years, Johnny Flynn as Einstein in the years before he rose to international acclaim and Emily Watson as his second wife — and first cousin — Elsa Einstein, the show is full of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

We’re mostly joking, but the series does balance the hard-to-grasp scientific theories with an entertaining exploration of a man with an often very messy private life as it follows Einstein’s alternately exhilarating emotions and heartlessness in dealing with his closest personal relationships, including his children, his two wives and the various women with whom he cheats on them.

Besides all the personal drama, there’s plenty of global drama as Genius is set against an era of international conflict over the course of two world wars. Faced with rising anti-Semitism in Europe, surveillance by spies and the potential for atomic annihilation, Einstein struggles as a husband and a father, not to mention as a man of principle, even as his own life is put in danger.

I talked recently with Ron Howard about directing the first episode and his love of production and post.

What was the appeal of doing this and making your scripted television directorial debut with the first episode?
I’ve become a big fan of all the great TV shows people are doing now, where you let a story unfold in a novelistic way, and I was envious of a lot of my peers getting into doing TV — and this was a great project that just really suits the TV format. Over the years, I had read various screenplays about Einstein but they just never worked as a movie, so when National Geographic wanted to reach out to their audience in a more ambitious way, suddenly there was this perfect platform to do this life justice and have the length it needed. It’s an ideal fit, and it was perfect to do it with National Geographic.

Given that you had considered making a film about him, how familiar were you with Einstein and his life? How do you find the drama in an academic’s life?
I thought I had some insight, but I was blown away by the book and Noah Pink’s screenplay, and everyone on the team brought their own research to the process, and it became more and more fascinating. There was this constant pressure on Einstein that I felt we could work with through the whole series, and that I never realized was there. And with that pressure, there’s drama. We came very close to not benefiting from his genius because of all the forces against him – sometimes from external forces, like governments and academic institutions, but often from his own foibles and flaws. He was even on a hit list. So I was really fascinated by his whole story.

What most surprised you about Einstein once you began delving deeper into his private life?
That he was such a Lothario! He had quite a complicated love life, but it was also that he had such a dogged commitment to his principles and logic and point-of-view. I was doing post on the Beatles documentary as we prepped, and it was the same thing with those young men. They often didn’t listen to outside influences and people telling them it couldn’t be done. They absolutely committed to their musical vision and principles with all their drive and focus, and it worked — and collectively I think you could say the band was genius.

Einstein also trusted his convictions, whether it was physics or math, and if the conventional answers didn’t satisfy his sense of logic, he’d just dig deeper. The same thing can be said for his personal life and relationships, and trying to find a balance between his career and life’s work, and family and friends. Look at his falling in love with his fellow physics student Mileva Maric, which causes all sorts of problems, especially when she unexpectedly gets pregnant. No one else thought she was particularly attractive, she was a bit of an outcast as the only female physics student, and yet his logic called him to her. The same thing with politics. He went his own way in everything. He was a true renaissance man, eternally curious about everything.

In terms of dealing with very complex ideas that aren’t necessarily very cinematic, it must have helped that you’d made A Beautiful Mind?
Yes, we saw a lot of similarities between the two. It really helped that both men were essentially visualists — Einstein even more so than John Nash. That gave us a big advantage and gave me the chance to show audiences some of his famous thought experiments in cinematic ways, and he described them very vividly and they’re a fantastic jumping-off point — it was his visualizations that helped him wrap his head around the physics. He began with something he could grasp physically and then went back to prove it with the math. Those principles gave him the amazing insights about the nature of the universe, and time and space, that we’ve all benefitted from.

I assume you began integrating post and all the VFX very early on?
Right away, in preproduction meetings in Prague, in the Czech Republic, where Einstein lived and taught early in his career. We had our whole team there on location, including our VFX supervisor Eric Durst and his team, DP Mathias Herndl, our production designers and art directors and so on. With all the VFX, we stayed pretty close to how Einstein described his thought experiments. The one that starts off this first episode is very vivid, whereas the first one he has as a 17-year-old boy is done in a more chalk-board kind of way, where he faints and can barely hang on mentally to the image. All the dailies and visual effects were done by UPP.

Where did you do the post?
We did all the editing and sound back in LA.

Do you like the post process?
I love it. I love the edit and slowly pulling it all together after the stress of the shoot.

It was edited by James Wilcox, who’s done CSI: Miami and Hawaii Five-O, along with Debby Germino and J. Kathleen Gibson. How early was James involved and was he on set?
Dan and Mike weren’t available. It’s the first time I’d worked with James and he’s very creative and did a great job. He wasn’t on the set, but we were constantly in communication and we’d send him material back to LA and then when I got back, we sat down together.

The show constantly cuts back and forth in time.
Yes, I was fascinated by all those transitions and I worked very closely with my team to make sure we had all that down, and that it all flowed smoothly in the edit. For instance, Johnny Flynn plays violin and he trained classically, so he actually plays in all those scenes. But Geoffrey doesn’t play violin, but he practiced for several months, and we had a teacher on set too. Geoffrey was so dedicated to creating this character.They both looked at tons of footage of Einstein as an older man, so Johnny could develop aspects of Einstein’s manner and behavior as the younger one, which Geoffrey could work with later, so we had a real continuity to the character. That’s a big reason why I wanted to be so hands-on with the first episode, as we were defining so many key aspects of the man and the aesthetics and the way we’d be telling the whole story.

Can you talk about working on the sound and music?
It’s always huge to me and adds so much to every scene. Lorne Balfe wrote a fantastic score and we had a great sound team: production sound mixer Peter Forejt, supervising sound editor Daniel Pagan, music editor Del Spiva and re-recording mixers Mark Hensley and Bob Bronow. For post production audio we used Smart Post Sound.

The DI must have been important?
It was very important since we were trying to do stuff with the concept of time in very subtle ways using the camera work, the palette and the lighting style. This all changed subtly depending on whether it was an Einstein memory, or a flashback to his younger, brasher self, or looking ahead to the iconic older man where it was all a little more formal. So we went for different looks to match the different energies and, of course, the editing style had to embody all of that as well. The colorist was Pankaj Bajpai, and he did a great job.

What’s next?
I plan to do more TV. Remember, I came out of TV and it’s so exciting now. I’m also developing several movie projects, including Seveneves, a sci-fi film, and Under the Banner of Heaven which is based on the Jon Krakauer bestseller. So whatever comes together first.


Industry insider Iain Blair has been interviewing the biggest directors in Hollywood and around the world for years. He is a regular contributor to Variety and has written for such outlets as Reuters, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.