Tag Archives: Adobe Creative Cloud

Review: Dell’s 8K LCD monitor

By Mike McCarthy

At CES 2017, Dell introduced its UP3218K LCD 32-inch monitor, which was the first commercially available 8K display. It runs 7680×4320 pixels at 60fps, driven by two DisplayPort 1.4 cables. That is over 33 million pixels per frame, and nearly 2 billion per second, which requires a lot of GPU power to generate. Available since March, not long ago I was offered one to review as part of a wider exploration of 8K video production workflows, and there will be more articles about that larger story in the near future.

For this review, I will be focusing on only this product and its uses.

The UP3218K showed up in a well-designed box that was easy to unpack — it was also easy getting the monitor onto the stand. I plugged it into my Nvidia Quadro P6000 card with the included DisplayPort cables, and it came up as soon as I turned it on… at full 60Hz and without any issues or settings to change. Certain devices with only one DisplayPort 1.4 connector will only power the display at 30Hz, as full 60Hz connections saturate the bandwidth of two DP 1.4 cables, but the display does require a Displayport 1.4 connection, and will not revert to lower resolution when connected to a 1.2 port. This limits the devices that can drive it to Pascal-based GPUs on the Nvidia side, or top-end Vega GPUs on the AMD side. I have a laptop with a P5000 in it, so I was disappointed to discover that the DisplayPort connector was still only 1.2, thereby making it incompatible with this 8K monitor.

Dell’s top Precision laptops (7720 and 7520) support DP1.4, while HP and Lenovo’s mobile workstations do not yet. This is a list of every device I am aware of that explicitly claims to support 8K output:
1. Quadro P6000, P5000, P4000, P2000 workstation GPU cards
2. TitanX and Geforce10 Series graphics cards
3. RadeonPro SSG, WX9100 & WX7100 workstation GPU cards
4. RX Vega 64 and 56 graphics cards
5. Dell Precision 7520 and 7720 mobile workstations
6. Comment if you know of other laptops with DP1.4

So once you have a system that can drive the monitor, what can you do with it? Most people reading this article will probably be using this display as a dedicated full-screen monitor for their 8K footage. But smooth 8K editing and playback is still a ways away for most people. The other option is to use it as your main UI monitor to control your computer and its applications. In either case, color can be as important as resolution when it comes to professional content creation, and Dell has brought everything it has to the table in this regard as well.

The display supports Dell’s PremierColor toolset, which is loosely similar to the functionality that HP offers under their DreamColor branding. PremierColor means a couple of things, including that the display has the internal processing power that allows it to correctly emulate different color spaces; it can also be calibrated with an X-Rite iDisplay Pro independent of the system driving it. It also interfaces with a few software tools that Dell has developed for its professional users. The mo

st significant functionality within that feature set is the factory-calibrated options for emulating AdobeRGB, sRGB, Rec.709 and DCI-P3. Dell tests each display individually after manufacturing to ensure that it is color accurate. These are great features, but they are not unique to this monitor, and many users have been using them on other display models for the last few years. While color accuracy is important, the main selling point of this particular model is resolution, and lots of it. And that is what I spent the majority of my time analyzing.

Resolution
The main issue here is the pixel density. Ten years ago, 24-inch displays were 1920×1200, and 30-inch displays had 2560×1600 pixels. This was around 100 pixels per inch, and most software was hard coded to look correct at that size. When UHD displays were released, the 32-inch version had a DPI of 140. That resulted in applications looking quite small and hard to read on the vast canvas of pixels, but this trend increased pressure on software companies to scale their interfaces better for high DPI displays. Windows 7 was able to scale things up an extra 50%, but a lot of applications ignored that setting or were not optimized for it. Windows 10 now allows scaling beyond 300%, which effectively triples the size of the text and icons. We have gotten to the point where even 15-inch laptops have UHD screens, resulting in 280 DPI, which is unreadable to most people without interface scaling.

Premiere Pro

With 8K resolution, this monitor has 280 DPI, twice that of a 4K display of similar size. This is on par with a 15-inch UHD laptop screen, but laptops are usually viewed from a much closer range. Since I am still using Windows 7 on my primary workstation, I was expecting 280 DPI to be unusable for effective work. And while everything is undoubtedly small, it is incredibly crisp, and once I enabled Windows scaling at 150%, it was totally usable (although I am used to small fonts and lots of screen real estate). The applications I use, especially Adobe CC, scale much smoother than they used to, so everything looks great, even with Windows 7, as long as I sit fairly close to the monitor.

I can edit 6K footage in Premiere Pro at full resolution for the first time, with space left over for my timeline and tool panels. In After Effects, I can work on 4K shots in full resolution and still have 70 layers of data visible in my composition. In Photoshop, setting the UI to 200% causes the panel to behave similar to a standard 4K 32-inch display, but with your image having four times the detail. I can edit my 5.6K DSLR files in full resolution, with nearly every palette open to work smoothly through my various tools.

This display replaces my 34-inch curved U3415W as my new favorite monitor for Adobe apps, although I would still prefer the extra-wide 34-inch display for gaming and other general usability. But for editing or VFX work, the 8K panel is a dream come true. Every tool is available at the same time, and all of your imagery is available at HiDPI quality.

Age of Empires II

When gaming, the resolution doesn’t typically affect the field of view of 3D applications, but for older 2D games, you can see the entire map at once. Age of Empires II HD offers an expansive view of really small units, but there is a texture issue with the background of the bottom quarter of the screen. I think I used to see this at 4K as well, and it got fixed in an update, so maybe the same thing will happen with this one, once 8K becomes more common.

I had a similar UI artifact issue in RedCine player when I full-screened the Window on the 8K display, which was disappointing since that was one of the few ways to smoothly play 8K footage on the monitor at full resolution. Using it as a dedicated output monitor works as well, but I did run into some limitations. I did eventually get it to work with RedCine-X Pro, after initially experiencing some aspect ratio issues. It would playback cached frames smoothly, but only for 15 seconds at a time before running out of decoded frames, even with a Rocket-X accelerator card.

When configured as a secondary display for dedicated full-screen output, it is accessible via Mercury Transmit in the Adobe apps. This is where it gets interesting, because the main feature that this monitor brings to the table is increased resolution. While that is easy to leverage in Photoshop, it is very difficult to drive that many pixels in real-time for video work, and decreasing the playback resolution negates the benefit of having an 8K display. At this point, effectively using the monitor becomes more an issue of workflow.

After Effects

I was going to use 8K Red footage for my test, but that wouldn’t play smoothly in Premiere, even on my 20-core workstation, so I converted it to a variety of other files to test with. I created 8K test assets that matched the monitor resolution in DNxHR, Cineform, JPEG2000, OpenEXR and HEVC. DNxHR was the only format that offered full-resolution playback at 8K, and even that resulted in dropped frames on a regular basis. But being able to view 8K video is pretty impressive, and probably forever shifts my view of “sharp” in the subjective sense, but we are at a place where we are still waiting for the hardware to catch up in regards to processing power — for 8K video editing to be an effective reality for users.

Summing Up
The UP3218K is the ultimate monitor for content creators and artists looking for a large digital canvas, regardless of whether that is measured in inches or pixels. All those pixels come at a price — it is currently available from Dell for $3,900. Is it worth it? That will depend on what your needs and your budget are. Is a Mercedes Benz worth the increased price over a Honda? Some people obviously think so.

There is no question that this display and the hardware to drive it effectively would be a luxury to the average user. But for people who deal with high resolution content on a regular basis, the increased functionality that it offers them can’t be measured in the same way, and reading an article and seeing pictures online can’t compare to actually using the physical item. The screenshots are all scaled to 25% to be a reasonable size for the web. I am just trying to communicate a sense of the scope of the desktop real estate available to users on an 8K screen. So yes, it is expensive, but at the moment, it is the highest resolution monitor that money can buy, and the closest alternative (5K screens) does not even come close.


Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been involved in pioneering new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.

 

Adobe intros updates to Creative Cloud, including Team Projects

Later this year, Adobe will be offering new capabilities within its Adobe Creative Cloud video tools and services. This includes updates for VR/360, animation, motion graphics, editing, collaboration and Adobe Stock. Many of these features are powered by Adobe Sensei, the company’s artificial intelligence and machine learning framework. Adobe will preview these advancements at IBC.

The new capabilities coming later this year to Adobe Creative Cloud for video include:
• Access to motion graphics templates in Adobe Stock and through Creative Cloud Libraries, as well as usability improvements to the Essential Graphics panel in Premiere Pro, including responsive design options for preserving spatial and temporal.
• Character Animator 1.0 with changes to core and custom animation functions, such as pose-to-pose blending, new physics behaviors and visual puppet controls. Adobe Sensei will help improve lip-sync capability by accurately matching mouth shape with spoken sounds.
• Virtual reality video creation with a dedicated viewing environment in Premiere Pro. Editors can experience the deeply engaging qualities of content, review their timeline and use keyboard driven editing for trimming and markers while wearing the same VR head-mounts as their audience. In addition, audio can be determined by orientation or position and exported as ambisonics audio for VR-enabled platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. VR effects and transitions are now native and accelerated via the Mercury playback engine.
• Improved collaborative workflows with Team Projects on the Local Area Network with managed access features that allow users to lock bins and provide read-only access to others. Formerly in beta, the release of Team Projects will offer smoother workflows hosted in Creative Cloud and the ability to more easily manage versions with auto-save history.
• Flexible session organization to multi-take workflows and continuous playback while editing in Adobe Audition. Powered by Adobe Sensei, auto-ducking is added to the Essential Sound panel that automatically adjusts levels by type: dialogue, background sound or music.

Integration with Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock is now offering over 90 million assets including photos, illustrations and vectors. Customers now have access to over 4 million HD and 4K Adobe Stock video footage directly within their Creative Cloud video workflows and can now search and scrub assets in Premiere Pro.

Coming to this new release are hundreds of professionally-created motion graphics templates for Adobe Stock, available later this year. Additionally, motion graphic artists will be able to sell Motion Graphic templates for Premiere Pro through Adobe Stock. Earlier this year, Adobe added editorial and premium collections from Reuters, USA Today Sports, Stocksy and 500px.

Chaos Group and Adobe partner for photorealistic rendering in CC

Chaos Group’s V-Ray rendering technology is featured in Adobe’s Creative Cloud, allowing graphic designers to easily create photorealistic 3D rendered composites with Project Felix.

Available now, Project Felix is a public beta desktop app that helps users composite 3D assets like models, materials and lights with background images, resulting in an editable render they can continue to design in Photoshop CC. For example, users can turn a basic 3D model of a generic bottle into a realistic product shot that is fully lit and placed in a scene to create an ad, concept mock-up or even abstract art.

V-Ray acts as a virtual camera, letting users test angles, perspectives and placement of their model in the scene before generating a final high-res render. Using the preview window, Felix users get immediate visual feedback on how each edit affects the final rendered image.

By integrating V-Ray, Adobe has brought the same raytracing technology used by companies Industrial Light & Magic to a much wider audience.

“We’re thrilled that Adobe has chosen V-Ray to be the core rendering engine for Project Felix, and to be a part of a new era for 3D in graphic design,” says Peter Mitev, CEO of Chaos Group. “Together we’re bringing the benefits of photoreal rendering, and a new design workflow, to millions of creatives worldwide.”

“Working with the amazing team at Chaos Group meant we could bring the power of the industry’s top rendering engine to our users,” adds Stefano Corazza, senior director of engineering at Adobe. “Our collaboration lets graphic designers design in a more natural flow. Each edit comes to life right before their eyes.”

Review: Lenovo ThinkStation P410

By Brady Betzel

With the lukewarm reaction of the professional community to the new Apple MacBook Pro, there are many creative professionals who are seriously — for the first time in their careers — considering whether or not to jump into a Windows-based world.

I grew up using an Apple II GS from 1986 (I was born in 1983, if you’re wondering), but I always worked on both Windows and Apple computers. I guess my father really instilled the idea of being independent and not relying on one thing or one way of doing something — he wanted me to rely on my own knowledge and not on others.

Not to get too philosophical, but when he purchased all the parts I needed to build my own Windows system, it was incredibly gratifying. I would have loved to have built my own Apple system, but obviously never could. That is why I am so open to computer systems of any operating system software.

If you are deciding whether or not to upgrade your workstation and have never considered solutions other than HP, Dell or Apple, you will want to read what I have to say about Lenovo‘s latest workstation, the P410.

When I set out on this review, I didn’t have any Display Port-compatible monitors and Lenovo was nice enough to send their beautiful Think Vision Pro 2840m — another great piece of hardware.

Digging In
I want to jump right into the specs of the ThinkStation P410. Under the hood is an Intel Xeon E5-1650 v4, which in plain terms is a 6-core 3.6GHz 15MB CPU that can reach all the way up to 4.0GHz if needed using Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. The graphics card is a medium-sized monster — the Nvidia Quadro M4000 with 8GB of GDDR5 memory and 1664 CUDA cores. It has 4 DisplayPort 1.2 ports to power those four 30-bit 4096×2160 @60Hz displays you will run when editing and color correcting.

If you need more CUDA power you could step up to the Nvidia M5000, which runs 2048 CUDA cores or the M6000, which runs 3072 CUDA cores, but that power isn’t cheap (and as of this review they are not even an option from Lenovo in the P410 customization — you will probably have to step up to a higher model number).

There is 16GB of DD4-2400 ECC memory, 1TB 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s SSD (made by Macron), plus a few things like a DVD writer, media card reader, keyboard and mouse. At the time I was writing this review, you could configure this system for a grand total of $2,794, but if you purchase it online at shop.lenovo.com it will cost a little under $2,515 with some online discounts. As I priced this system out over a few weeks I noticed the prices changed, so keep in mind it could be higher. I configured a similar style HP z440 workstation for around $3,600 and a Dell Precision Tower 5000 for around $3,780, so Lenovo’s prices are on the low end for major-brand workstations.

For expansion (which Windows-based PCs seem to lead the pack in), you have a total of four DIMM slots for memory (two are taken up already by two 8GB sticks), four PCIe slots and four hard drive bays. Two of the hard drive bays are considered Flex Bays, which can be used for hard drives, hard drive + slim optical drive or something like front USB 3.0 ports.

On the back there are your favorite PS/2 keyboard port and mouse port, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, audio in/out/mic and four DisplayPorts.

Testing
I first wanted to test the P410’s encoding speed when using Adobe Media Encoder. I took a eight-minute, 30 second 1920×1080 23.98fps ProRes HQ QuickTime that I had filmed using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, did a quick color balance in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 using the Lumetri Color Correction tools and exported a Single Pass, variable bit rate 25Mb/s H.264 using Media Encoder. Typically, CUDA cores kick in when you use GPU-accelerated tools like transitions, scaling in Premiere and when you export files with GPU effects such as Lumetri Color tools. Typically, when exporting from tools, like Adobe Premiere Pro CC or Adobe Media Encoder, the GPU acceleration kicks in only if you’ve applied GPU-accelerated effects, color correction with something like Lumetri (which is GPU accelerated) or a resize effect. Otherwise if you are just transcoding from one codec to another the CPU will handle the task.

In this test, it took Media Encoder about six minutes to encode the H.264 when Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (CUDA) was enabled. Without the GPU acceleration enabled it took 14 minutes. So by using the GPU, I got about a 40 percent speed increase thanks to the power of the Nvidia Quadro M4000 with 8GB of GDDR5 RAM.

For comparison, I did the same test on a newly released MacBook Pro with Touch Bar i7 2.9Ghz Quad Core, 16GB of 2133 MHz LPDDR3 memory and AMD Radeon Pro 460 4GB of RAM (uses OpenCL as opposed to CUDA); it took Media Encoder about nine minutes using the GPU.

Another test I love to run uses Maxon’s Cinebench, which simply runs real-world scenarios like photorealistic rendering and a 3D car chase. This taxes your system with almost one million polygons and textures. Basically, it makes your system do a bunch of math, which helps in separating immature workstations from the professional ones. This system came in around 165 frames per second. In comparison to other systems, with similar configurations to the P410, it placed first or second. So it’s fast.

Lenovo Performance Tuner
While the low price is what really sets the P410 apart from the rest of the pack, Lenovo has recently released a hardware tuning software program called Lenovo Performance Tuner. Performance Tuner is a free app that helps to focus your Lenovo workstation on the app you are using. For instance, I use Adobe CC a lot at home, so when I am working in Premiere I want all of my power focused there with minimal power focused on background apps that I may not have turned off — sometimes I let Chrome run in the background or I want to jump between Premiere, Resolve and Photoshop. You can simply launch Performance Tuner and click the app you want to launch in Lenovo’s “optimized” state. You can go further by jumping into the Settings tab and customize things like Power Management Mode to always be on Max Performance. It’s a pretty handy tool when you want to quickly funnel all of your computing resources to one app.

The Think Vision Pro Monitor
Lastly, I wanted to quickly touch on the Think Vision Pro 2840m LED backlit LCD monitor Lenovo let me borrow for this review. The color fidelity is awesome and can work at a resolution up to 3840×2160 (UHD, not full 4K). It will tilt and rotate almost any way you need it to, and it will even go full vertical at 90 degrees.

When working with P410 I had some problems with DisplayPort not always kicking in with the monitor, or any monitor for that matter. Sometimes I would have to unplug and plug the DisplayPort cable back in while the system was on for the monitor to recognize and turn on. Nonetheless, the monitor is awesome at 28 inches. Keep in mind it has a glossy finish so it might not be for you if you are near a lot of light or windows — while the color and brightness punch through, there is a some glare with other light sources in the room.

Summing Up
In the end, the Lenovo ThinkStation P410 workstation is a workhorse. Even though it’s at the entry level of Lenovo’s workstations, it has a lot of power and a great price. When I priced out a similar system using PC Partpicker, it ran about $2,600 — you can check out the DIY build I put together on PCPartpicker.com: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/r9H4Ps.

A drawback of DIY custom builds though is that they don’t include powerful support, a complete warranty from a single company or ISV certifications (ISV = Independent Software Vendors). Simply, ISVs are the way major workstation builders like HP, Dell and Lenovo test their workstations against commonly used software like Premiere Pro or Avid Media Composer in workstation-focused industries like editing or motion graphics.

One of the most misunderstood benefits of a workstation is that it’s meant to run day and night. So not only do you get enterprise-level components like Nvidia Quadro graphics cards and Intel Xeon CPUs, the components are made for durability as well as performance. This way there is little downtime, especially in mission-critical environments. I didn’t get to run this system for months constantly, but I didn’t see any sign of problems in my testing.

When you buy a Lenovo workstation it comes with a three-year on-site warranty, which covers anything that goes wrong with the hardware itself, including faulty workmanship. But it won’t cover things like spills, drops or electrical surges.

I liked the Lenovo ThinkStation P410. It’s fast, does the job and has quality components. I felt that it lacked a few of today’s necessary I/O ports like USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

The biggest pro for this workstation is the overwhelmingly low price point for a major brand workstation like the ThinkStation P410. Check out the Lenovo website for the P410 and maybe even wander into the P910 aisle, which showcases some of the most powerful workstations they make.

Check out this video I made that gives you a closer look at (and inside) the workstation.

Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Behind the Title: Billboard Magazine video editor Zack Wolder

Name: Zack Wolder

Company: Billboard Magazine

Job Title: Video Editor

What does that entail?
I edit behind-the-scenes videos of magazine cover shoots, as well as on-site event coverage for music festivals, award shows and industry conferences. I also create branded content pieces, multi-camera studio performances and mini docs.

What are typical projects you work on?
Recently my focus has been on branded content and mini docs.

Can you name some?
I’m currently working on a video series for Sour Patch Kids. Each video features a different artist staying at The Patch House, talking about their upcoming tour/album and it usually features a short performance. The Patch House is a space provided by Sour Patch Kids for artists to stay, relax and create while on tour. One was for artist Raury (pictured). It’s about Raury writing the theme song for the Heaven Sent chute-less skydive that Fox aired at the end of July.  It was presented by Stride Gum.  This video follows him while he meets the skydiver Luke Aikins and does a jump with him.

What is the typical turnaround on these?
Turnaround time varies from project to project. The behind-the-scenes videos for the magazine are sometimes turned around in two to three days, while I have about a week for the more narrative pieces.

How do you manage and deal with the challenges of quick turnarounds?
It’s all about being organized and well-managed. The first thing I do is listen to the interview in its entirety while making a few notes. My goal is to get a good understanding of the story so I don’t have to fully watch it again. Note taking is essential. After the first pass-through I usually have a story mapped out in my head and know how it will unfold. Then I skim through the b-roll, just to get an idea of how much there is, the quality and variety.

Zack cutting on-location at a music festival.

These few steps typically take a few hours; it all depends on the length of the interview. My goal is to have a complete story edit with a music bed done by the end of day one and maybe start a b-roll pass. The first half of day two is filling in with b-roll, and the second half is some basic color correcting. Day three is for revisions.

What editing system do you use? Any plug-ins? What about storage?
I use the Adobe Creative Cloud, mainly Premiere Pro, After Effects and SpeedGrade (I have not yet updated to the newest version of Premiere, which removes the direct link to SpeedGrade function.)

I don’t use many plug-ins other than Twixtor and a few free transition plug-ins that I’ve found over the years.

For storage, we have a large EditShare server set up in the office. We have another, slightly smaller EditShare unit that we bring to the larger festivals and conferences. For smaller events we use LaCie and G-Tech G-RAID drives.

Are you asked to do more than editing on some of these? If so, what are you asked to do.
Mostly editing. For festivals I tend to help plan the post workflow. I recently planned a simple workflow for our Hot 100 Festival, which includes six editors (one offsite), a DIT and 13 cameras.

 

Updates to Adobe Creative Cloud include project sharing, more

By Brady Betzel

Adobe has announced team project sharing!! You read that right — the next Adobe Creative Cloud update, to be released later this year, will have the one thing I’ve always said kept Adobe from punching into Avid’s NLE stake with episodic TV and film editors.

While “one thing” is a bit of hyperbole, Team Projects will be much more than just simple sharing within Adobe Premiere Pro. Team Projects, in its initial stage, will also work with Adobe After Effects, but not with Adobe Audition… at least not in the initial release. Technically speaking, sharing projects within Creative Cloud seems like it will follow a check-in/check-out workflow, allowing you to approve another person’s updates to override yours or vice-versa.

During a virtual press demo, I was shown how the Team Projects will work. I asked if it would work “offline,” meaning without Internet connection. Adobe’s representative said that Team Projects will work with intermittent Internet disconnections, but not fully offline. I asked this because many companies do not allow their NLEs or their storage to be attached to any Internet-facing network connections. So if this is important to you, you may need to do a little more research once we actually can get our hands on this release.

My next question was if Team Projects was a paid service. The Adobe rep said they are not talking the business side of this update yet. I took this as an immediate yes, which is fine, but officially they have no comment on pricing or payment structure, or if it will even cost extra at all.

Immediately after I asked my last question, I realized that this will definitely tie in with the Creative Cloud service, which likely means a monthly fee. Then I wondered where exactly will my projects live? In the cloud? I know the media can live locally on something like an Avid ISIS or Nexis, but will the projects be shared over the Internet? Will we be able to share individual sequences and/or bins or just entire projects? There are so many questions and so many possibilities in my mind, it really could change the multiple editor NLE paradigm if Adobe can manage it properly. No pressure Adobe.

Other Updates
Some other Premiere Pro updates include: improved caption and subtitling tools; updated Lumetri Color tools, including much needed improvement to the HSL secondaries color picker; automatic recognition of VR/360 video and what type of mapping it needs; improved virtual reality workflow; destination publishing will now include Behance (No Instagram export option?); improved Live Text Templates, including a simplified workflow that allows you to share Live Text Templates with other users (will even sync Fonts if they aren’t present from Typekit) and without need for an After Effects License; native DNxHD and DNxHR QuickTime export support, audio effects from Adobe Audition, Global FX mute to toggle on and off all video effects in a sequence; and, best of all, a visual keyboard to map shortcuts! Finally, another prayer for Premiere Pro has been answered. Unfortunately, After Effects users will have to wait for a visual keyboard for shortcut assignment (bummer).

After Effects has some amazing updates in addition to Project Sharing, including a new 3D render engine! Wow! I know this has been an issue for anybody trying to do 3D inside of After Effects via Cineware. Most people will purchase VideoCopilot’s Element 3D to get around this, but for those that want to work directly with Maxon’s Cinema 4D, this may be the update that alleviates some of your 3D disdain via Cineware. They even made mention that you do not need a GPU for this to work well. Oh, how I would love for this to come to fruition. Finally, there’s a new video preview architecture for faster playback that will hopefully allow for a much more fluid and dynamic playback experience.

After Effects C4D RenderAdobe Character Animator has some updates too. If you haven’t played with Character Animator you need to download it now and just watch the simple tutorials that come with the app — you will be amazed, or at least your kids will be. If you haven’t seen how the Simpson’s used Character Animator, you should check it out with a YouTube search. It is pretty sweet. In terms of incoming updates, there will be faster and easier puppet creation, improved round trip workflow between Photoshop and Illustrator, and the ability to use grouped keyboard triggers.

Summing Up
In the end, the future is still looking up for the Adobe Creative Cloud video products, like Premiere Pro and After Effects. If there is one thing to jump out of your skin over in the forthcoming update it is Team Projects. If Team Projects works and works well, the NLE tide may be shifting. That is a big if though because there have been some issues with previous updates — like media management within Premiere Pro — that have yet to be completely ironed out.

Like I said, if Adobe does this right it will be game-changing for them in the shared editing environment. In my opinion, Adobe is beginning to get its head above water in the video department. I would love to see these latest updates come in guns blazing and working. From the demo I saw it looks promising, but really there is only one way to find out: hands-on experience.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Top 3: My picks from Adobe’s Creative Cloud update

By Brady Betzel

Adobe’s resolve to update its Creative Cloud apps on a regular basis has remained strong. The latest updates, released on December 1, really hammer home Adobe’s commitment to make editing video, creating visual effects and color correcting on a tablet a reality, but it doesn’t end there. They have made their software stronger across the board, whether you are using a tablet, mobile workstation or desktop.

After Effects and Stacked Panels

I know everyone is going to have their own favorites, but here are my top three from the latest release:

1. Stacked Panels
In both After Effects and Premiere you will notice the ability to arrange your menus in Stacked Panels. I installed the latest updates on a Sony VAIO tablet and these Stacked Panels were awesome!

It’s really a nice way to have all of your tools on screen without having them take up too much real estate. In addition, Adobe has improved touch-screen interaction with the improved ability to pinch and zoom different parts of the interface, like increasing the size of a thumbnail with a pinch-to-zoom.

In Premiere, to find the Stacked Panels you need to find the drop down menu in the project panel, locate Panel Group Settings and then choose Stacked Panel Group and Solo Panels in Stack, if you want to only view one at a time. I highly recommend using the Stacked Panels if you are using a touchscreen, like a tablet or some of the newer mobile workstations out there in the world. Even if you aren’t, I really think it works well.

Premiere Pro and Optical Flow

Premiere Pro and Optical Flow

2. Optical Flow Time Remapping
Most editors are probably thinking, “Avid has had this for years and years and years, just like Avid had Fluid Morph years before Adobe introduced Morph Cut.” While I thought the exact same thing, I really love that Adobe’s version is powered by the GPU. This really beefs up the speed of the latest HP z840 with Nvidia Quadro or GTX 980 Ti graphics cards and all their CUDA cores. Be warned though, Optical Flow (much like Morph Cut) works only in certain situations.

If you’ve ever used Twixtor or Fluid Motion in Media Composer, you know that sometimes there is a lot of work that goes into making those effects work. It’s not always the right solution to time remapping footage, especially if you are working on content that will air on broadcast television — even though Optical Flow may look great, some content will fail certain networks’ quality control because of the weird Jello-looking artifacting that can occur.

After Effects and the Lumetri Color Panel

3. Lumetri Color inside of After Effects
While you might already have a favorite coloring app or plug-in to use, having the ability to take clips from Premiere to After Effects, while carrying over the color correction you made inside of the Lumetri panels, is key. In addition, you can use the Lumetri effect inside of After Effects (located under the Utility category) to quickly color your clips inside of After Effects.

Overall, this round of updates seemed to be par for the course, nothing completely revolutionary but definitely useful and wanted. Personally, I don’t think that adding HDR capabilities should have taken precedence over some other updates, such as collaboration improvements (think Avid Media Composer and Avid’s Shared Storage solution, ISIS), general stability improvements, media management, etc. But Adobe is holding true to their word and bringing some of the latest and greatest improvements to their users… and causing users (and manufacturers) of other tools to take notice.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim Murray Productions. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.

Review: Adobe Video CC 2015 Updates

By Brady Betzel

The big update to the Adobe Video collection is here. It features some heavy hitters in terms of offerings. If you really want to see what the fuss is all about, go and update your Adobe apps, read this write up and get to playing…NOW!

One addition to the line-up that I think is very important to the future of the Creative Cloud ecosphere: Libraries. These aren’t FCP X libraries or LightRoom libraries; the new Creative Cloud libraries are basically a way to share common assets between Adobe apps, including their new iOS app Hue CC — I’ll get to that shortly.

A big gap in Adobe Premiere’s data sharing offerings is the ability to rival Avid’s ISIS collaborative working environment, with sequences being worked on concurrently between teams of editors. However, this is one step in that direction, and I hope they will continue to evolve this concept to eventually work in an internally networked environment where teams of two or 50 can work on the same Premiere, After Effects or Speed Grade projects concurrently. While you can share moving media in libraries, it’s just that…a library, not a way to share projects or sequences.

Adobe Hue's Look Library

Adobe Hue’s Look Library

Hue
Something that really got me to bite on this Adobe update was the addition of the iOS app Hue. Simply put, you take a picture with your iPhone or iPad in the Hue app (which is connected to your Adobe Creative Cloud login via the Libraries), and the app interprets the light and colors and creates a swatch. This swatch can then be applied to footage in Premiere, Premiere clip or After Effects. Imagine if you are witnessing a beautiful sunset in Hawaii with great purples, reds and oranges — take a pic in Hue, choose those colors you like and later on, or immediately, apply it to your footage. This is a great way to take advantage of current technology.

Premiere
In the past, Premiere had been thought of as the NLE in the back of the room, usable but never quite at the level of FCP or Avid. Over the past couple of years that view has changed and the tool has not only gained traction, but, in my opinion, has started to pass the competition… in some aspects. These days I use Premiere as the Swiss Army Knife in my post toolbox. It can open practically every video codec and resolution and decipher many XMLs or AAFs from other NLEs, coloring suites and VFX software packages. Oh and it’s an editor too.

The latest update to Premiere Pro has added some awesome preset “workspaces.” At the top is now a menu that gives you the options for different workspaces such as Editing, Effects and Color. These are basic preset workspaces that actually work quite nice. They open common windows that make sense when working in certain modes like color correction. You can delete, create or even modify existing workspaces if you like. While it’s really just a reimagining of preset workspaces, I think it really helps someone to jump right into using Premiere to its fullest abilities without having to fumble around finding where different windows are.

Premiere Pro's Workspace editing

Premiere Pro’s workspace editing

Up next is Premiere’s addition of pseudo-live scopes and consolidated color tools directly inside of Premiere in the new Color workspace. (After reading this breakdown you may ask yourself, “Will SpeedGrade be around much longer?” I’m really not sure if Adobe imagines Premiere to become more of a Resolve or not, but it seems like a logical progression.)

The new color workspace and tools are referred to as the Lumetri Color panel and Lumetri Scopes. In previous versions of Premiere we had scopes, however they wouldn’t play in realtime, which if we are going to be honest really makes color correction difficult. The newly updated Lumetri Scopes update live while playing a video clip or sequence. I did notice some lag when playing a sequence (I tried both a 1080p and a 4K clip with the same results) — it seems to be a few frames. I went one frame at a time down the timeline and even once I stopped, the scopes continued to update.

For this review by the way, I am working on a Lenovo W550s mobile workstation that contains an Intel i7 2.6GHz processor (two cores, four threads), 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia Quadro 620M. It’s not a slow computer but it also isn’t an HP z840, so take from that what you will. Software scopes are nice for a quick reference, but if you are doing constant scope referencing (which you probably should be), you may want to take a look at Scope Box or an external hardware scope.

Some things I would love to see in the future would be to have the ability to zoom in on the vectorscopes and reference under “0” in the RGB Parade, as well as have the ability to dock individual scopes into different windows. If I had the luxury of three monitors, and my system could handle it, I would love to have the scopes docked on the third screen. Those are nit-picky wishes I guess, but Premiere is on its road to glory so why not get all the details sorted out.

Before I leave Premiere, under the new color workspace and inside the color panel are the same curve panels and new Hue/Saturation tool, which can be very handy, as well as a basic color correction tab where you can do things like input your LUT or do some basic exposure correction. Adobe has introduced a newly renovated three-way color corrector, and if combined with a nice color panel like the Tangent Element would operate nicely. (I wasn’t able to test this, but keep an eye on this space for an upcoming Tangent Element panel review.) Inside of the Creative tab is where you can load a look or dial in your own creative grade. Overall, this is a phenomenal addition to the already vast toolset of Premiere.

CharacterAnimator_TimelineTracking

Character Animator
There is a game changing app that Adobe is releasing called Character Animator. At the moment it is a separate app that can track your (and your friends’) facial movements and, in realtime, apply them to a puppets’ facial features with little programming knowledge. It really is as simple as that. You can go much deeper but for this review I will just say it’s amazing and you must try it for yourself to really understand what it can do.

You really get the feeling of how powerful this will be in the future. You turn on your webcam and you are controlling a puppet just by talking. I can’t say enough how amazing this is. Really, just download a trial of it already! I got caught up, playing with it for hours. Even my wife, who leaves the nerdy tech stuff to me, was blown away, and it’s really easy to use. Of course, you can dive in deeper and get super complicated if you want to.

After Effects
A huge update to After Effects in this latest release is the ability to preview while adjusting parameters in the timeline. While I couldn’t get it to continue playing while I was adjusting the parameters, once I stopped adjusting it did continue playing. So it’s not like you can adjust a curve while video continues to roll; it will stop for the time you are adjusting and pick up when you stop adjusting. It is still an awesome and needed feature.

AfterEffects_CreativeCloudLibraries AfterEffects_FaceTracker_DetailedTracking

The new Face Tracker is something I find intriguing. I quickly tried to track a face and was able to get the outside of the face — one eye and the mouth — to adequately track, however, one eye didn’t lock on. It was pretty accurate when it worked, but it didn’t always work. You can quickly see how your workflow will speed up if you have a lot of very tight face blurring or eye color changing to do. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good track on faces that weren’t facing towards the screen.

Adobe Media Encoder
I wouldn’t be doing my reviewer duties if I didn’t mention a few of the Adobe Media Encoder updates in this latest release. First off, I love Adobe Media Encoder, it’s fast and has pretty much every option I need. In this release Adobe has added Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus support, QuickTime Channelization and rewrap (think one QuickTime with multiple types of audio layouts, eliminating multiple QuickTime deliveries — this sounds awesome to me!), MXF-wrapped JPEG 2000 format and Time Tuner.

Time Tuner is a weird one for me. While in theory it sounds great, I just don’t see it being used in many broadcast workflows. Time Tuner allows the encoding operator to shorten or lengthen a QuickTime based on time or percentage. Often networks require strict total run times when delivering master show files. For instance, if a network requires the total run time of your show to be 42:10 and the final edit is 42:00 for whatever reason (often indecision), what are you supposed to do if you absolutely can’t cut content to meet your total run time? Well Time Tuner is designed to rescue you… that is, if you don’t care where that time is stretched (or shortened) in your QuickTime. It is limited to plus or minus 10 percent of your total run time, so it isn’t completely crazy.

MediaEncoder Dolby Digital_SurfacePro

The issue I have is that 90 percent of the time the act structure of a show is specific, i.e. the act breaks must be :10 or acts must all start or end on zero frames, meaning you can’t arbitrarily add or remove video without destroying the exact start and stop of content. It’s possible you could luck out, but I wouldn’t gamble on that. On a positive note, I have seen shows that have alternate deliverables (often for international delivery) that don’t have strict time requirements, in addition to not having act breaks. In that instance, this could save your butt if you need an additional :30 of content.

Remember that all the program is doing is essentially speeding up or slowing down your content over the course of the entire QuickTime. If you are incrementing or decrementing only a little, then it will probably not be noticeable. However, if you are pushing the 10 percent stage, it might not be acceptable. I tested this on a 19-second and 14-frame QuickTime that I needed to be at an even 20 seconds. The result looked great — I didn’t visibly notice a difference — however the time it took to encode with Time Tuner was expectedly longer, about 1-2 seconds per frame additional. This will add up over an hour-long piece of content.

Summing Up
The latest updates to the Adobe Creative Cloud video apps are really laying the groundwork for some great advances in production and post production technology. The new Character Animator is simply amazing, even if you and your kids just play around with it for now. I can’t even fully understand the future implications of this tracking technology.

Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro

The latest updates to Premiere are furthering its advancement in the race between the major NLE contenders. Premiere added a feature called Morph Cut to this latest update (think of it as an updated and more advanced version of Avid’s Fluid Morph). If you have an interview shot where the person stumbles over a word and you want to cut it out, Morph Cut tries to stitch together the cut by searching the video for similar frames and/or morphing the footage to try and look seemless — keep in mind the circumstances have to be almost perfect for this to work correctly, and if they aren’t perfect it looks like a mistake or glitch. Features like this remind me that Adobe is listening to their customers and even if the feature isn’t for me personally, they are pushing the boundaries to make great apps that work together beautifully and address many concerns of its users.

After Effects features greatly improved preview functions in addition to Face Tracker, which could come handy in the right circumstances. SpeedGrade, Prelude, Audition and Media Encoder all had various updates but the real advancement is Creative Cloud Libraries. Adobe has gotten their feet wet with true team collaboration by integrating a live library between Adobe apps via the Creative Cloud, allowing access to different assets between apps (and can be contributed to by multiple creative cloud users). Hopefully, there will be a time when this includes large amounts of video in the team-based environment where users can work on the same project simultaneously with proper file locking, much like Avid Media Composer and its ISIS collaboration.

I leave you with these top three highlights: Adobe Premiere’s interface has been updated and improved with the integration of color correction toolsets; Adobe After Effects’ preview engine will now run while you are making adjustments; and Adobe Hue (formerly known as Project Candy) allows for interesting use of real life color palettes by way of an iOS app to be used in Premiere and After Effects through Libraries.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously he was editing The Real World at Bunim Murray Productions. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.

Bluefish444 intros Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo cards, bundles with Scratch

Bluefish444 is offering its Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo high-bandwidth SDI video I/O card, which brings video formats to the Epoch 4K Neutron range that accommodate 4K/2K high-bandwidth workflows. Introduced at the 2015 NAB Show, Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo features Quad Link 3G SDI, 3G/1.5G/SD SDI input or output, 4K/2K/HD/SD HDMI preview, 4K/UHD high-frame-rate 50/59/60 fps SDI, tri/bilevel genlock, eight channels of AES/EBU audio input and output, two channels of analog audio monitoring output, RS422 machine control and auxiliary genlock connection.

The company has created an upgrade path for existing Epoch 4K Neutron customers who do not initially need the Turbo’s advanced 4K/2K video mode support. Those customers can buy the Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo upgrade board anytime within two years of purchasing their Epoch 4K Neutron video cards. Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo and the Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo upgrade boards are compatible with both the Bluefish444 cross-platform SDK and the Bluefish444 retail installer, which supports popular Bluefish444 and third-party software.

In related news, Bluefish444 announced the immediate availability of an Epoch 4K Neutron and Assimilate Scratch v8 software bundle.

For the bundle, Bluefish444 has redesigned the Epoch 4K Neutron card with a low-profile, half-height form factor to integrate into a wide range of chassis, from low-profile servers to small-form-factor computers to low-profile Thunderbolt expansion chassis. The full-height shield option allows for integration in more traditional workstation computers and provides additional I/O requirements, such as AES/EBU, RS422 machine control, and domestic analog audio monitoring. Epoch 4K Neutron supports 3G SDI I/O configurations for 4K SDI workflows. An HDMI mini connector provides a lower cost 4K/2K/HD/SD HDMI monitoring preview and allows for color-critical monitoring on consumer HDMI displays supporting Deep Color.

Epoch 4K Neutron supports Scratch v8 features such as 4K 30fps HDMI monitoring, 8-bit/10-bit/12-bit SDI monitoring, 4K/2K/HD/SD mastering and monitoring, stereoscopic SDI output, 12-bit-precision color-space conversions, and many more. The Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo upgrade path enables previews of 4K 48/50/59/60 fps SDI signals and stereoscopic 2K/HD 60 fps 12-bit SDI signals.

In Related News
Also at NAB, Bluefish444 announced it has added support for greater-than-HD video formats in Avid Media Composer 8.3, enabling advanced SDI/HDMI video output with Epoch 4K Neutron Turbo, the Epoch 4K Neutron range, and the Epoch 4K Supernova/S+ range of video cards. At the same time, the company has developed support for Avid Pro Tools 12, enabling video output with Epoch 4K Neutron, Epoch Neutron, and the Epoch 4K Supernova range of video cards. SDI and HDMI video preview capability will enable audio editing with real-time, synchronized video on pro displays and projectors. A free software upgrade for Avid Media Composer 8.3 users and a free driver upgrade for Avid Pro Tools 12 users will both be available from the Bluefish444 website in the second quarter of 2015.

Finally, Bluefish444 will support the latest updates to Adobe Creative Cloud when it becomes available in spring 2015.

Adam Epstein talks about his Cutting Edge Post Production Tour

By Randi Altman

If your job involved editing a short film for Saturday Night Live each week, sometimes needing to turn the job around in less than 24 hours, how would you spend your summer vacation? On a beach? Sleeping?

Well, not if you are Adam Epstein. Last weekend, the SNL film unit editor started his 32-city Cutting Edge Post Production Tour. This Emmy-nominee will be zig-zagging the country, with a couple of stops in Canada, sharing tips, stories and examples of his work, until the third week of September when the new season of Saturday Night Live begins.

Why in the world? Well, he got the idea from co-worker Alex Buono, the DP on SNL’s film unit, who did a Cinematic Lighting tour last summer. “It went really well and he had a great time,” Continue reading