Author Archives: Amy

JVC GY-LS300CH camera offering 4K 4:2:2 recording, 60p output

JVC has announced version 4.0 of the firmware for its GY-LS300CH 4KCAM Super 35 handheld camcorder. The new firmware increases color resolution to 4:2:2 (8-bit) for 4K recording at 24/25/30p onboard to SDXC media cards. In addition, the IP remote function now allows remote control and image viewing in 4K. When using 4K 4:2:2 recording mode, the video output from the HDMI/SDI terminals is HD.

The GY-LS300CH also now has the ability to output Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) video at 60/50p via its HDMI 2.0b port. Through JVC’s partnership with Atomos, the GY-LS300CH integrates with the new Ninja Inferno and Shogun Inferno monitor recorders, triggering recording from the camera’s start/stop operation. Plus, when the camera is set to J-Log1 gamma recording mode, the Atomos units will record the HDR footage and display it on their integrated, 7-inch monitors.

“The upgrades included in our Version 4.0 firmware provide performance enhancements for high raster recording and IP remote capability in 4K, adding even more content creation flexibility to the GY-LS300CH,” says Craig Yanagi, product marketing manager at JVC. “Seamless integration with the new Ninja Inferno will help deliver 60p to our customers and allow them to produce outstanding footage for a variety of 4K and UHD productions.”

Designed for cinematographers, documentarians and broadcast production departments, the GY-LS300CH features JVC’s 4K Super 35 CMOS sensor and a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount. With its “Variable Scan Mapping” technology, the GY-LS300CH adjusts the sensor to provide native support for MFT, PL, EF and other lenses, which connect to the camera via third-party adapters. Other features include Prime Zoom, which allows shooters using fixed-focal (prime) lenses to zoom in and out without loss of resolution or depth, and a built-in HD streaming engine with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity for live HD transmission directly to hardware decoders as well as JVCVideocloud, Facebook Live and other CDNs.

The Version 4.0 firmware upgrade is free of charge for all current GY-LS300CH owners and will be available in late May.

Bluefish444 releases IngeSTore 1.1, adds edit-while-record capability

Bluefish444 was at NAB with Version 1.1 of its IngeSTore multichannel capture software, which is now available free from the Bluefish444 website. Compatible with all Bluefish444 video cards, IngeSTore captures multiple simultaneous channels of 3G/HD/SD-SDI to popular media files for archive, edit, encoding or analysis. IngeSTore improves efficiency in the digitization workflow by enabling multiple simultaneous recordings from VTRs, cameras and any other SDI source.

The new version of IngeSTore software also adds “Edit-While-Record” functionality and additional support for shared storage including Avid. Bluefish444 has partnered with Drastic Technologies to bring additional CODEC options to IngeSTore v1.1 including XDCAM, DNxHD, JPEG 2000, AVCi and more. Uncompressed, DV, DVCPro and DVCPro HD codecs will be made available free to Bluefish444 customers in the IngeSTore update.

The Edit-While-Record functionality allows editors access captured files while they are still being recorded to disk. Content creation tools such as Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and Assimilate Scratch can output SDI and HDMI with Bluefish444 video cards while IngeSTore is recording and the files are growing in size and length.

Latest Autodesk Flame family updates and more

Autodesk was at NAB talking up new versions of its tools for media and entertainment, including the Autodesk Flame Family 2018 Update 1 for VFX, the Arnold 5.0 renderer, Maya 2017 Update 3 for 3D animation, performance updates for Shotgun production tracking and review software and 3DS Max 2018 software for 3D modeling.

The Autodesk Flame 2018 Update 1 includes new action and batch paint improvements such as 16-bit floating point (FP) depth support, scene detect and conform enhancements.

The Autodesk Maya 2017 Update 3 includes enhancements to character creation tools such as interactive grooming with XGen, an all-new UV workflow, and updates to the motion graphics toolset that includes a live link with Adobe After Effects and more.

Arnold 5.0 is offering several updates including better sampling, new standard surface, standard hair and standard volume shaders, Open Shading Language (OSL) support, light path expressions, refactored shading API and a VR camera.

— Shotgun updates accelerate multi-region performance and make media uploads and downloads faster regardless of location.

— Autodesk 3ds Max 2018 offers Arnold 5.0 rendering via a new MAXtoA 1.0 plug-in, customizable workspaces, smart asset creation tools, Bézier motion path animation, and a cloud-based large model viewer (LMV) that integrates with Autodesk Forge.

The Flame Family 2018 Update 1, Maya 2017 Update 3 and 3DS Max 2018 are all available now via Autodesk e-stores and Autodesk resellers. Arnold 5.0 and Shotgun are both available via their respective websites.

Boris FX merges with GenArts

Boris FX, maker of Boris Continuum Complete, has inked a deal to acquire visual effects plug-in developer GenArts, whose high-end plug-in line includes Sapphire. Sapphire has been used in at least one of each year’s VFX Oscar-nominated films since 1996. This acquisition follows the 2015 addition of Imagineer Systems, developer of Academy Award-winning planar tracking tool Mocha. Sapphire will continue to be developed and sold in its current form alongside Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) and Mocha Pro.

“We are excited to announce this strategic merger and welcome the Sapphire team to the Boris FX/Imagineer group,” says owner Boris Yamnitsky. “This acquisition makes Boris FX uniquely positioned to serve editors and effects artists with the industry’s leading tools for motion graphics, broadcast design, visual effects, image restoration, motion tracking and finishing — all under one roof. Sapphire’s suite of creative plug-ins has been used to design many of the last decades’ most memorable film images. Sapphire perfectly complements BCC and mocha as essential tools for professional VFX and we look forward to serving Sapphire’s extremely accomplished users.”

“Equally impressive is the team behind the technology,” continues Yamnitsky. “Key GenArts staff from engineering, sales, marketing and support will join our Boston office to ensure the smoothest transition for customers. Our shared goal is to serve our combined customer base with useful new tools and the highest quality training and technical support.”

 

 

NAB: The making of Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’

By Bob Hoffman

While crowds lined up above the south hall at NAB to experience the unveiling of the new Lytro camera, across the hall a packed theatre conference room geeked-out as the curtain was slightly pulled back during a panel on the making of director Jon Favreau’s cinematic wonder, The Jungle Book.   Moderated by ICG Magazine editor David Geffner, Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato, ASC, along with Jungle Book producer Brigham Taylor and Technicolor master colorist Mike Sowa enchanted the packed room with stories of the making and finishing of the hit film.

Legato first started developing his concepts for “virtual production” techniques on Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, and shortly thereafter, with James Cameron and his hit Avatar. During the panel, Legato took the audience through a set of short demo clips of various scenes in the film while providing background on the production processes used by cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC, and Favreau to capture the live-action component of the film. Legato pointedly explained that his process is informed by a very traditional analog approach. The development of his thinking is based on a commitment to giving the filmmaking team tools and methodologies that allow them to work within their own particular comfort zones.

They may be working in a virtual environment, but Favreau’s wonderful touch is brilliantly demonstrated by the performance of 12-year-old Neel Sethi on his theatrical debut feature. Geffner noted more than once that “the emotional stakes are so well done you get involved emotionally” — without any notion of the technical complexity underlying the narrative.  One other area noted by Legato and Sowa was the myriad of theatrical-HDR deliverables for The Jungle Book, including up to 14-foot lamberts for the 3D presentation.  This film, and presentation, was just another clear indicator that HDR is a clear differentiator that audiences are clamoring for.

Bob Hoffman works at Technicolor in Hollywood.

Pixspan at NAB with 4K storage workflow solutions powered by Nvidia

During the NAB Show, Pixspan was demonstrating new storage workflows for full-quality 4K images powered by the Nvidia Quadro M6000. Addressing the challenges that higher resolutions and increasing amounts of data present for storage and network infrastructures, Pixspan is offering a solution that reduces storage requirements by 50-80 percent, in turn supporting 4K workflows on equipment designed for 2K while enabling data access times that are two to four times faster.

Pixspan software and the Nvidia Quadro M6000 GPU together deliver bit-accurate video decoding at up to 1.3GBs per second — enough to handle 4K digital intermediates or 4K/6K camera RAW files in realtime. Pixspan’s solution is based on its bit-exact compression technology, where each image is compressed into a smaller data file while retaining all the information from the original image, demonstrating how the processing power of the Quadro M6000 can be put to new uses in imaging storage and networking to save time and help users  meet tight deadlines.

Colorist Society International launches for color pros

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

At the opening of NAB, motion picture and television colorists Jim Wicks and Kevin Shaw announced Colorist Society International (CSI), the first the first professional association for colorists devoted exclusively to furthering and honoring the professional achievements of the colorist community. A non-profit organization, CSI represents professional colorists and promotes the creative art and science of color grading, restoration and finishing by advancing the craft, education, and public awareness of the art and science of color grading and color correction.

The Colorist Society International is a paid membership organization that will seek to increase the entertainment value of film and digital projects by attaining artistic pre-eminence and scientific achievement in the creative art of color; and to bring into close alliance those color artists who desire to advance the prestige and dignity of the color profession as educational and cultural resource rather than a labor union or guild.

“The colorist community has been growing for quite some time,” says Shaw. “We believe that a society by, for, and about colorists is long overdue. Current representation for colorists is fragmented and we feel that the industry would be better served with the coherent voice of the Colorist Society International”

Jim Wicks

Jim Wicks

Wicks added, “The notion of a colorist society is not farfetched. In much the same way, directors, cinematographers, and editors — the artists that we work closely with — have their own professional associations, each with similar mission statements and objectives.”

Membership is open to professional colorists, editor/colorists, DITs, telecine operators, color timers, finishers, and color scientists. Corporate sponsors and members from alliance organizations, such as cinematographers, directors, producers, are also welcome.

NAB 2016: My pick for this year’s gamechanger is Lytro

By Isaac Spedding

There has been a lot of buzz around what the gamechanger was at this year’s NAB show. What was released that will really change the way we all work? I was present for the conference session where an eloquent Jon Karafin, head of Light Field Video, explained that Lytro has created a camera system that essentially captures every aspect of your shot and allows you to recreate it in any way, at any position you want, using light field technology.

Typically, with game changing technology comes uncertainty from the established industry, and that was made clear during the rushed Q+A session, where several people (after congratulating the Lytro team) nervously asked if they had thought about the fate of positions in the industry which the technology would make redundant. Jon’s reply was that core positions won’t change, however, the way in which they operate will. The mob of eager filmmakers, producers and young scientists that queued to meet him (I was one of them) was another sign that the technology is incredibly interesting and exciting for many.

Lytro2“It’s a birth of a new technology that very well could replace the way that Hollywood makes films.” These are words from Robert Stromberg (DGA), CCO and founder of The Virtual Reality Company, in the preview video for Lytros’ debut film Life, which will be screened on Tuesday to an audience of 500 lucky attendees. Karafin and Jason Rosenthal, CEO at Lytro, will provide a Lytro Cinema demonstration and breakdown of the short film.

Lytro Cinema is my pick for the NAB 2016 game changing technology and it looks like it will not only advance capture, but also change post production methodology and open up new roles, possibilities and challenges for everyone in the industry.

Isaac Spedding is a New Zealand-based creative technical director, camera operator and editor. You can follow him on Twitter @Isaacspedding.

Sony’s new PXW-FS5 camera, the FS7’s little brother

By Robert Loughlin

IBC is an incredibly exciting time of year for gearheads like me, but simultaneously frustrating if you making  it over to Amsterdam to see the tech in person. So when I was asked if I wanted to see what Sony was going to display at IBC before the trade show, I jumped at the chance.

I was treated to a great breakfast in the Sony Clubhouse, at the top of their building on Madison Avenue, surrounded by startling views of Manhattan and Long Island to the East. After a few minutes of chitchatting with the other writers, we were invited into a conference room to see what Sony had to show. They started by outlining what they believed their strengths were, and where they see themselves moving in the near future.

They stressed that they have tools for all corners of the market, from the F65 to the A7, and that these tools have been used in all ranges of environmental conditions — from extreme cold to scorching heat. Sony was very proud of the fact that they had a tool for almost any application you could think of. Sony’s director of digital imaging, Francois Gauthier, explained that if you started with the question, “What is my deliverable?” — meaning cinema, TV or web — Sony would have a solution for you. Yet, despite that broad range of product coverage, Sony felt that there was a missing piece in there, particularly between the FS7 and their cheaper A7 series of DSLRs. That’s where the PXW-FS5 comes in.

FS5-FS7The FS5
The FS5 is a brand-new camera that struck me as the FS7’s little brother. It sports a native 4K Super 35mm sensor, and we were told it’s the same 12 million-pixel Exmor sensor as the FS7. It records XAVC-L as well as AVCHD codecs, in S-Log 3, to dual SD card slots. The FS5 can also record high frame rates for both realtime recording and overcranking. The sensor itself is rated at EI 3200 with a dynamic range of about 14 stops. Internal recording is 8-bit 420 (at 4K — HD is 10-bit 4:2:2), but you can go out to an external recorder to get 10-bit 4K over the HDMI 2.0 port in the back. The camera also has one SDI port, but that only supports HD. You can record proxies simultaneously to the second SD card slot (though only when recording XAVC-L), and either have both slots sync up, or have individual record triggers for each. There is a 2K sensor crop mode, as well, that will let you either extend your lens, or use lenses designed for smaller image formats (like 16mm).

Controls-on-FS5

Controls on the side of the FS5

Product manager Juan Martinez stressed the power of the electronics inside, clocking boot time at less than five seconds, and mentioned that it is incredibly efficient (about two hours on the BP-U30, the smallest capacity). Additionally, he added that the camera doesn’t need to reboot if you’re changing recording formats. You just set it and you’re done.

The camera also has a new “Advanced Auto Focus” technology that can use facial recognition to track a subject. In addition to focus tools, the FS5 also has something called “Clear Image Zoom.” Clear Image Zoom is a way to blow up your picture — virtually extending the length of your lens — by first maximizing the optical zoom of the glass, then cleanly enlarging the image digitally. You can do this up to 2x, but it can be paired with the 2K sensor crop to get even more length out of your lens. The FS5 also has a built-in variable ND tool. There’s a dial on the side of the camera that lets you adjust iris to 1/100th of a stop, allowing the operator to do smooth iris pulls. Additionally, the camera has a silver knob on the front that allows you to assign up to three custom ND/iris values that you can quickly switch between.

In terms of design, it looks almost identical to the FS7, just shrunken down a bit. It has similar lines, but has the footprint and depth of the Canon C1/3/500, just a bit shorter. It’s a tiny camera. In like fashion, it’s also incredibly light. It weighs about two pounds — the magnesium body has something to do with that. It’s something I can easily hold in my hand all day. Its size and weight certainly make using this camera on gimbals and medium-sized drones very attractive. The remote operation applications become even more attractive with the FS5’s built in wireless streaming capability. You can stream the image to a computer, wireless streaming hardware (like Teradek), or your smartphone with Sony’s app. However, you can get higher bit-rates out of the stream by going over the Ethernet port on the back. Both Ethernet and wireless streaming are 720p. With the wireless capability, you can also connect to an FTP, enabling you to push media directly to a server from the field (provided you have the uplink available).

It’s also designed to work really well in your hand. The camera comes with a side grip that’s very repositionable with an easily reachable release lever. Just release the lever, and the grip is free to rotate. The grip fit perfectly in my palm, with controls either just under where my fingers naturally fell or within easy reach. The buttons included the standard remote buttons, like zoom and start/stop, but also a user definable button and a corresponding joystick, for quick access to menus.

Handgrip

Top: handgrip in hand, Bottom: button map

Top: the handgrip in hand, Bottom: button map

The grip is mounted very close to the camera body, in order to optimize the center of gravity while holding it. The camera is small and light enough that while holding it this way without the top handle and LCD viewfinder it’s reminiscent of holding a Handicam. However, if you have a long lens, or a similar setup where the center of gravity alters significantly, and need to move the grip up, you can remove it and mount an ARRI rosette plate (sold separately).

The FS5, without top handle or LCD viewfinder

The FS5, without top handle or LCD viewfinder

The camera also comes with a top handle that has GPS built-in, mounting points for the LCD viewfinder, an XLR input, and a Multi Interface hot-shoe mount. The handle also has its own stereo microphone built into the front, but the camera itself can only record two channels of audio.

Sony has positioned this camera to fall between DSLRs and the FS7. The MSRP is $6,699 for the body only, or $7,299 with a kit lens (18-105mm). The actual street prices will be lower than that, so the FS5 should fit comfortably between the two. Sony envisions this as their “grab and go” camera, ideal for remote documentary and unscripted TV or even web series. The camera is small, light and maneuverable enough to certainly be that. They wanted a camera that would be unintimidating to a non-professional, and I think they achieved that. However, without things like genlock timecode, and its E-mount lens mount, this camera is less ideal for cinema applications. There are other cameras around the same price point that are better suited for cinema (Blackmagic, RED Scarlet), so that’s totally fine. This camera definitely has its DNA deeply rooted in the camcorder days of yore, and will feel right at home with someone shooting and producing content for documentaries and TV. They showed a brief clip of footage, and it looked sharp with rich colors. I still tend to favor the color coming out of the Canon C series over the FS5, but it’s still solid footage. Projected availability is November 2015. For a full breakdown of specs, visit www.sony.com/fs5.

Sony PSZ-RA6T

Sony PSZ-RA6T

However, that wasn’t all Sony showed. The FS5 is pretty neat, but I was much more excited for the other thing Sony brought out. Tucked away in a corner of the room where they had put an FS5 in a “studio” set-up was a little download station. Centered around a MacBook Pro, the simple station had a Thunderbolt card reader and offload drive. The PSZ-RA drive is a brand new product from Sony, and I’m almost more excited about this little piece of hardware than I am about the new camera. It’s a small, two disk RAID that comes in 4TB and 6TB options. It’s similar to G-Tech’s popular G-RAIDs, with one notable exception. This thing is ruggedized. Imagine a LaCie Rugged the size and shape of a G-RAID (but without that awful orange — this is Sony-gray). The disks inside are buffered; it’s rated to be dropped from about a foot and can safely be tilted four inches in any direction. It supports RAID-0, -1 and JBOD. To me, set at RAID-1, it’s the perfect on-set shuttle drive. It even has a handle on top!

Overall, I saw a couple of really exciting things from Sony, and while I think a lot of people are really going to like the FS5, I’m dying to get the PSZ-RA drives on set.

Post production professional, specializing in dailies workflows as an Outpost Technician at Light Iron New York, and all-around tech-head.

IBC: Adobe upgrades Creative Cloud and Primetime

Adobe is adding new features to Adobe Creative Cloud, including support for Ultra HD (UHD), color-technology improvements and new touch workflows. In addition, Adobe Primetime, one of eight solutions inside Adobe Marketing Cloud, will extend its delivery and monetization capabilities for HTML5 video and offer new tools for pay-TV providers that make TV Everywhere authentication easier and more streamlined.

New video technology coming soon to Creative Cloud allows tools that will streamline workflows for broadcasters and media companies. They are:

  • Comprehensive native format support for editing 4K-to-8K footage in Premiere Pro CC.
  • Continued color advancements with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) workflows in Premiere Pro CC.
  • Improved color fidelity and color adjustments in After Effects CC, as well as deeper support for ARRI RAW, Rec. 2020 and other Ultra HD and HDR formats.
  • A touch environment with Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC and Character Animator optimized for Microsoft Surface Pro, Windows 8 tablets or Apple trackpad devices.
  • Remix, a new feature in Audition CC that adjusts the duration of a song to match video content. Remix automatically rearranges music to any duration while maintaining musicality and structure, creating custom tracks to fit storytelling needs.
  • Updated support for Creative Cloud Libraries across CC desktop video tools, powered by Adobe CreativeSync. Now, assets will instantly appear in After Effects and Premiere Pro.
  • Destination Publishing, a single-action solution in Adobe Media Encoder for rendering and delivering content to popular social platforms, will now support Facebook.
  • Adobe Anywhere, a workflow collaboration platform, can be deployed as either a multilocation streaming solution or a single-location collaboration-only version.

Primetime, Adobe’s multiscreen TV platform, is also getting an upgrade to support OTT and direct-to-consumer offerings. The upgrade includes:

  • Ability to deliver HTML5 content across mobile browsers and additional connected devices, extending its reach and monetization capabilities.
  • An instant-on capability that pre-fetches video content inside an app to start playback in less than a second, speeding the startup time for video-on-demand and live streams by 300 and 500 percent, respectively.
  • Support for Dolby AC-3 to enable high-impact, cinema-quality sound on virtually all desktops and connected devices.
  • Support for the OAUTH 2.0 protocol to make it easier for consumers to access their favorite pay-TV content. Pay-TV providers can enable frictionless TV Everywhere with home-based authentication and offer longer authentication sessions that require users to log in only once per device.
  • New support for OTT and TV Everywhere measurement — including a broad variety of user-engagement metrics — in Adobe Analytics, a tool that is integrated with the Primetime TVSDK.