Tag Archives: HPA Tech Retreat

HPA Tech Retreat takes on realities of virtual reality

By Tom Coughlin

The HPA Tech Retreat, run by the Hollywood Professional Association in association with SMPTE, began with an insightful one-day VR seminar— Integrating Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality into Entertainment Applications. Lucas Wilson from SuperSphere kicked off the sessions and helped with much of the organization of the seminar.

The seminar addressed virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR, a subset of AR where the real world and the digital world interact, like Pokeman Go). As in traditional planar video, 360-degree video still requires a director to tell a story and direct the eye to see what is meant to be seen. Successful VR requires understanding how people look at things, how they perceive reality, and using that understanding to help tell a story. Some things that may help with this are reinforcement of the viewer’s gaze with color and sound that may vary with the viewer — e.g. these may be different for the “good guy” and the “bad guy.”

VR workflows are quite different from traditional ones, with many elements changing with multiple-camera content. For instance, it is much more difficult to keep a camera crew out of the image, and providing proper illumination for all the cameras can be a challenge. The image below from Jaunt shows their 360-degree workflow, including the use of their cloud-based computational image service to stitch the images from the multiple cameras.
Snapchat is the biggest MR application, said Wilson. Snapchat’s Snapchat-stories could be the basis of future post tools.

Because stand-alone headsets (head-mounted displays, or HMDs) are expensive, most users of VR rely on smart phone-based displays. There are also some places that allow one or more people to experience VR, such as the IMAX center in Los Angeles. Activities such as VR viewing will be one of the big drivers for higher-resolution mobile device displays.

Tools that allow artists and directors to get fast feedback on their shots are still in development. But progress is being made, and today over 50 percent of VR is used for video viewing rather than games. Participants in a VR/AR market session, moderated by the Hollywood Reporter’s Carolyn Giardina and including Marcie Jastrow, David Moretti, Catherine Day and Phil Lelyveld, seemed to agree that the biggest immediate opportunity is probably with AR.

Koji Gardiner from Jaunt gave a great talk on their approach to VR. He discussed the various ways that 360-degree video can be captured and the processing required to create finished stitched video. For an array of cameras with some separation between the cameras (no common axis point for the imaging cameras), there will be area that needs to be stitched together between camera images using common reference points between the different camera images as well as blind spots near to the cameras where they are not capturing images.

If there is a single axis for all of the cameras then there are effectively no blind spots and no stitching possible as shown in the image below. Covering all the space to get a 360-degree video requires additional cameras located on that axis to cover all the space.

The Fraunhofer Institute, in Germany, has been showing a 360-degree video camera with an effective single axis for several cameras for several years, as shown below. They do this using mirrors to reflect images to the individual cameras.

As the number of cameras is increased, the mathematical work to stitch the 360-degree images together is reduced.

Stitching
There are two approaches commonly used in VR stitching of multiple camera videos. The easiest to implement is a geometric approach that uses known geometries and distances to objects. It requires limited computational resources but results in unavoidable ghosting artifacts at seams from the separate images.

The Optical Flow approach synthesizes every pixel by computing correspondences between neighboring cameras. This approach eliminates the ghosting artifacts at the seams but has its own more subtle artifacts and requires significantly more processing capability. The Optical Flow approach requires computational capabilities far beyond those normally available to content creators. This has led to a growing market to upload multi-camera video streams to cloud services that process the stitching to create finished 360-degree videos.

Files from the Jaunt One camera system are first downloaded and organized on a laptop computer and then uploaded to Jaunt’s cloud server to be processed and create the stitching to make a 360 video. Omni-directionally captured audio can also be uploaded and mixed ambisonically, resulting in advanced directionality in the audio tied to the VR video experience.

Google and Facebook also have cloud-based resources for computational photography used for this sort of image stitching.

The Jaunt One 360-degree camera has a 1-inch 20MP rolling shutter sensor with frame rates up to 60fps with 3200 ISO max, 29dB SNR at ISO800. It has a 10 stops per camera module, with 130-degree diagonal FOV, 4/2.9 optics and with up to 16K resolution (8K per eye). Jaunt One at 60fps provides 200GB/minute uncompressed. This can fill a 1TB SSD in five minutes. They are forced to use compression to be able to use currently affordable storage devices. This compression creates 11GB per minute, which can fill a 1TB SSD in 90 minutes.

The actual stitched image, laid out flat, looks like a distorted projection. But when viewed in a stereoscopic viewer it appears to look like a natural image of the world around the viewer, giving an immersive experience. At one point in time the viewer does not see all of the image but only the image in a restricted space that they are looking directly at as shown in the red box in the figure below.

The full 360-degree image can be pretty high resolution, but unless the resolution is high enough, the resolution inside the scene being viewed at any point in time will be much less that the resolution of the overall scene, unless special steps are taken.

The image below shows that for a 4k 360-degree video the resolution in the field of view (FOV) may be only 1K, much less resolution and quite perceptible to the human eye.

In order to provide a better viewing experience in the FOV, either the resolution of the entire view must be better (e.g. the Jaunt One high-resolution version has 8K per eye and thus 16K total displayed resolution) or there must be a way to increase the resolution in the most significant FOV in a video, so at least in that FOV, the resolution leads to a greater feeling of reality.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality create new ways of interacting with the world around us and will drive consumer technologies and the need for 360-degree video. New tools and stitching software, much of this cloud-based, will enable these workflows for folks who want to participate in this revolution in content. The role of a director is as important as ever as new methods are needed to tell stories and guide the viewer to engage in this story.

2017 Creative Storage Conference
You can learn more about the growth in VR content in professional video and how this will drive new digital storage demand and technologies to support the high data rates needed for captured content and cloud-based VR services at the 2017 Creative Storage Conference — taking place May 24, 2017 in Culver City.


Thomas M. Coughlin of Coughlin Associates is a storage analyst and consultant. He has over 30 years in the data storage industry and is the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide.

HPA Tech Retreat takes on VR/AR at Tech Retreat Extra

The long-standing HPA Tech Retreat is always a popular destination for tech-focused post pros, and while they have touched on virtual reality and augmented reality in the past, this year they are dedicating an entire day to the topic — February 20, the day before the official Retreat begins. TR-X (Tech Retreat Extra) will feature VR experts and storytellers sharing their knowledge and experiences. The traditional HPA Tech Retreat runs from February 21-24 in Indian Wells, California.

TR-X VR/AR is co-chaired by Lucas Wilson (Founder/Executive Producer at SuperSphereVR) and Marcie Jastrow (Senior VP, Immersive Media & Head of Technicolor Experience Center), who will lead a discussion focused on the changing VR/AR landscape in the context of rapidly growing integration into entertainment and applications.

Marcie Jastrow

Experts and creative panelists will tackle questions such as: What do you need to understand to enable VR in your environment? How do you adapt? What are the workflows? Storytellers, technologists and industry leaders will provide an overview of the technology and discuss how to harness emerging technologies in the service of the artistic vision. A series of diverse case studies and creative explorations — from NASA to the NFL — will examine how to engage the audience.

The TR-X program, along with the complete HPA Tech Retreat program, is available here. Additional sessions and speakers will be announced.

TR-X VR/AR Speakers and Panel Overview
Monday, February 20

Opening and Introductions
Seth Hallen, HPA President

Technical Introduction: 360/VR/AR/MR
Lucas Wilson

Panel Discussion: The VR/AR Market
Marcie Jastrow
David Moretti, Director of Corporate Development, Jaunt
Catherine Day, Head of VR/AR, Missing Pieces
Phil Lelyveld, VR/AR Initiative Program Lead, Entertainment Technology Center at USC

Acquisition Technology
Koji Gardiner, VP, Hardware, Jaunt

Live 360 Production Case Study
Andrew McGovern, VP of VR/AR Productions, Digital Domain

Live 360 Production Case Study
Michael Mansouri, Founder, Radiant Images

Interactive VR Production Case Study
Tim Dillon, Head of VR & Immersive Content, MPC Advertising USA

Immersive Audio Production Case Study
Kyle Schember, CEO, Subtractive

Panel Discussion: The Future
Alan Lasky, Director of Studio Product Development, 8i
Ben Grossmann, CEO, Magnopus
Scott Squires, CTO, Creative Director, Pixvana
Moderator: Lucas Wilson
Jen Dennis, EP of Branded Content, RSA

Panel Discussion: New Voices: Young Professionals in VR
Anne Jimkes, Sound Designer and Composer, Ecco VR
Jyotsna Kadimi, USC Graduate
Sho Schrock, Chapman University Student
Brian Handy, USC Student

TR-X also includes an ATSC 3.0 seminar, focusing on the next-generation television broadcast standard, which is nearing completion and offers a wide range of new content delivery options to the TV production community. This session will explore the expanding possibilities that the new standard provides in video, audio, interactivity and more. Presenters and panelists will also discuss the complex next-gen television distribution ecosystem that content must traverse, and the technologies that will bring the content to life in consumers’ homes.

Early registration is highly recommended for TR-X and the HPA Tech Retreat, which is a perennially sold-out event. Attendees can sign up for TR-X VR/AR, TR-X ATSC or the HPA Tech Retreat.

Main Image: Lucas Wilson.

Leon Silverman steps down, Seth Hallen named new HPA president

In a crowded conference room in Indian Wells, California, during the HPA Tech Retreat, HPA founding president Leon Silverman literally handed the baton to long-time board member Seth Hallen. The organization has also taken on a new name, the Hollywood Professional Association. More on that later.

Hallen, who joined the HPA board in 2007, is SVP of Global Creative Services at Sony DADC New Media Solutions. Silverman, who helped found the organization, will continue to serve on the board of directors in the newly created role of past president.

“It is a distinct honor to continue the important work that Leon has undertaken for this organization, and I am clearly dedicated to making the next phase of HPA a great one,” said Hallen. “Enabling our industry to evolve by fueling our community with ideas, opportunity and recognition remains our goal. I look forward to working with our incredibly talented and dedicated board and continuing our collaboration with our colleagues at SMPTE, and the staff, volunteers and community that are the heart and soul of HPA, as we build upon the work of the past 14 years and look toward the future.”

The HPA, which is now part of SMPTE, also announced newly elected board members, including Craig German, SVP Studio Post at NBCUniversal Media; Jenni McCormick, executive director of American Cinema Editors (ACE); and Chuck Parker, CEO of Sohonet. Newly elected board member Bill Roberts, CFO of Panavision, will assume treasurer responsibilities as Phil Squyres steps down from the post he has held since HPA’s founding. Squyres will remain on the board.

Wendy Aylsworth, past president of SMPTE, was named SMPTE representative. Barbara Lange serves as executive director of SMPTE and HPA. The new Board members join Mark Chiolis, Carolyn Giardina, Vincent Maza, Kathleen Milnes, Loren Nielsen and VP Jerry Pierce on the HPA board.

In commenting on the new HPA name, executive director Lange noted, “The nature of the work and responsibilities that our community is engaged in has changed, and will continue to change. After carefully exploring how to address this growth, it became clear that Professional more accurately and inclusively identifies the creative talent, content holders and global infrastructure of services, as well as emerging processes and platforms. As an organization, we are dedicated to seeing beyond the horizon to the wider future, and bringing a wide array of individuals and companies into the organization. Our new name and identity makes that statement.”

Ncam hires industry vet Vincent Maza to head up LA office

Ncam, makers of camera tracking for augmented reality production and previs, has opened a new office in Los Angeles, and they have brought on Vincent Maza to run the operation.

Maza spent much of his career at Avid and as an HD engineer at Fletcher Chicago. More recently he has been working with the professional imaging division of Dolby and with data transfer specialist Aspera. He is also a member of the board of directors of the HPA (Hollywood Post Alliance), now part of SMPTE. He will be in Indian Wells, California next week representing Ncam at the HPA Tech Retreat.

“2016 is going to be a great year for augmented reality and we believe we will see a huge uptake in people using it to make television more engaging, more exciting and more challenging,” commented Maza. “Ncam’s camera tracking technology makes augmented reality a practical proposition, and I am very excited to be at the heart of it and supporting our US presence.”

Ncam’s tracking system is able to achieve all six degrees of movement in camera location: XYZ position in 3D space, pan, tilt and roll, so even handheld cameras can be precisely tracked with minimal latency.

Broadcasters have embraced augmented reality with Ncam, including CNN, ESPN, Fox Sports and the NFL. This same technology is used to provide directors and cinematographers with realtime visualization of effects shots. Recent movies using the technology include, Avengers Age of Ultron, Edge of Tomorrow and White House Down.

Talking future workflows and future archives

By Tom Coughlin

This year’s HPA Tech Retreat, which took place in February in Indian Wells, California, had some interesting presentations and displays, pointing the way to the future of media and entertainment. But before I dig into some general observations and an update on the future workflows and archive solutions that were on display, I will share this: You likely have already heard that the HPA is now part of SMPTE, but the more recent bit of news is the organization is changing its name from the Hollywood Post Alliance to the Hollywood Professional Alliance. Ok, now let’s get to the tech talk…

In the CES Review at the HPA Retreat, Peter Putnum pointed out that there weren’t as many TVs on display as Continue reading

HPA Tech Retreat unveils updated sessions schedule

The Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA) has announced the final schedule for the 2015 HPA Tech Retreat, which is happening February 9-13 in Indian Wells, California. It’s the yearly gathering in the desert of where post pros and engineers talk technology and business strategy.

“As we enter our 21st year, the Tech Retreat continues to be one of those events you can’t afford to miss. The mix of topics, technology and top industry minds makes this event a yearly check-in with industry gurus and deep thinkers that seem to gather at the HPA every year in the desert,” says HPA president Leon Silverman. “Making the pilgrimage to the HPA Tech Retreat seems to provide so many of us with a check on the pulse of the entire industry.”

Here is a look as some of the speakers and sessions, but for a complete 2015 HPA Tech Retreat schedule click here. There are over 45 sessions presented during the course of the Retreat.

Highlights include:
•    The HPA Supersession – A full day of sessions focused on a shifting industry. Just when we thought we had mastered the transition to the “digital age,” we’re seeing new and fundamental shifts.
•    Keynote – Not Your Father’s Post
•    Cyber and Content Security: Time for a Strategy Change
•    Sensory Stimulation
•    Next-Generation of Cinema: New Technologies and Techniques: What they Mean for Filmmakers
•    Understanding the New Acquisition
•    From Snowflakes to Standards: Maintaining Creative Intent in Evolutionary Times
•    Drones for Dummies
•    The Annual Broadcasters Update
•    Personalized and Immersive Sound
•    DDP and IMF
•    The Cloud Demystified
•    Utilizing Fingerprinting Technology for Shot Matching
•    Enhancing the Creative Palette
•    Automatic Content Recognition

Among nearly 100 speakers, the lineup includes:
•    Wendy Aylsworth, Warner Bros.
•    Bill Bennett, ASC
•    Stephen Beres, HBO
•    Sara-Duran Singer, Netflix
•    John Fithian, National Association of Theater Owners
•    Barbara Lange, SMPTE
•    Carolina Lavatelli, Internet of Trust
•    Pete Ludé, Real D
•    Theresa Miller, Lionsgate
•    Loren Nielsen, Entertainment Technology Consultants
•    Daryn Okada, ASC
•    Vikram Phatak, NSS Labs
•    Bob Seidel, CBS
•    Skip Pizzi, NAB
•    Andy Shenkler, Sony DADC New Media Solutions
•    Leon Silverman, HPA
•    Masayuki Sugawara, NHK
•    Larry Thorpe, Canon
•    Mario Vecchi, PBS
•    Erik Weaver, Entertainment Technology Center at USC

In addition to the sessions there is a demo room where attendees could check out the latest gear. Plus the daily breakfast roundtables are popular as well. Check out this one from last year being run by Steven Poster, ASC.

Registration for the HPA Tech Retreat is strongly recommended. The Tech Retreat is a limited attendance event and seating is approaching capacity and expected to sell out. It is still possible to register, but pre-conference registration closes Monday, February 2, 2014, after which time only onsite registrations will be accepted, and those registrations are space-permitting. Full-conference as well as one-day registrations are available. Registration includes conference sessions, breakfast roundtables, lunch, demo room and social events.

Wohler bringing Tachyon Wormhole 2.0 to HPA Tech Retreat

Wohler Technologies has updated its Tachyon Wormhole version 2. This joint venture from Wohler and Cinnafilm provides automated file-based retiming and standards conversion in a single appliance. They will have the product on display at the upcoming HPA Tech Retreat taking place in Indian Wells, California, next month.

Wohler’s RadiantGrid Intelligent Media Transformation Platform provides the processing engine for the Tachyon Wormhole appliance, which runs Cinnafilm’s Tachyon algorithms. Tachyon Wormhole enables a plus or minus run-time adjustment of media assets by content owners or broadcasters while preserving the overall viewer experience including not only video and audio quality, but also closed caption integrity. By shortening or lengthening the run-time of program content, providers can meet the time requirements of a network without undertaking time-consuming, hands-on editing. (Check out postPerspective’s interview with Performance Post on how they use the system.)

Some Details
Among the updates to Tachyon Wormhole is segmented retiming. Rather than retime the file as a whole, operators can use timecodes to designate certain regions or segments of a media file to be retimed. In this manner, users can also exclude certain segments from retiming. For example, this functionality would allow the operator to prevent an opening credit sequence from being adjusted.

The new release of Tachyon Wormhole also will include an application-specific user interface that gives users a straightforward mechanism for preparing and launching a retiming project.

Tachyon Wormhole is available directly from Wohler and from a select network of value-added resellers. The new version 2 release is available now.

The Tachyon Wormhole product received an HPA Engineering Excellence Award last year.

Image: Hardik Shah, a Wohler quality assurance engineer, working with the new interface.

 

Where warmth, technology meet: HPA offers up Tech Retreat schedule

The yearly pilgrimage to the desert for engineers and post pros, the HPA Tech Retreat, is taking place in Indian Wells, California, from February 9-13.

There will be sessions on technology and trends, a small exhibit floor, breakfast roundtables where small groups get to focus on a particular topic or tech, and mingling… lots of mingling. And for those of you coming from colder climates, there will be sunshine and warmth. Not a frozen pile of snow in sight.

Here are some highlights of the Retreat, but click here for a full schedule:

Monday, February 9
Preregistration. Physics, Optics, and Electronics of Image Sensors is a pre-retreat course offered by Charles Poynton.

Tuesday, February 10
The day-long HPA Supersession kicks off the Tech Retreat with Shift Happens: Not Your Father’s Post, led by Leon Silverman with Michael Cioni. Even as some stability returns, fundamental changes continue in the creation, finishing and distribution of content. The Supersession takes a thoughtful look at these changes and ultimately offers insight about how to be prepared for them.

After the Supersession, the Demo Room opens its doors with a cocktail reception.

Wednesday, February 11
The highly anticipated annual Broadcasters Panel returns, as well as sessions including a CES Review; A Year in Review from Mark Schubin, From Smartphones to Cinema; Extended Color Gamuts; Contemplating the Expanding Canvas with Bill Bennett, ASC alongside other leading cinematographers; the Future of Cinema and many others.

Thursday, February 12
Sessions focused on topics as diverse as Maintaining Creative Intent; The Cloud Demystified; Role of Nonlinear Coding of the Television Image from NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories; IP or not IP; and Drones for Dummies are among the many offerings in a day filled with panels and presentations.

Friday, February 13
As the week draws to a close, compelling presentations continue with Lightfield Capture and Post Update with Siegfried Foessel; Enhancing the Creative Palette While Preserving Intent from Camera to Consumer; the SMPTE Update; and more. The day closes up with a post-HPA Tech Retreat session, How The Great Depression Led to Cloud Computing.

“The Tech Retreat is not just a conference where the latest, greatest, most important and interesting technology and topics are displayed, presented, discussed, debated and sometimes even refuted — it is the closest thing to adult geek summer camp (held in the Palm Springs winter) that one can imagine,” says Leon Silverman, president of the HPA. “Come for the topics, stay for the people who can change your life. For the past 21 years, the Tech Retreat has truly been a place to meet the movers and the shakers right before they make their moves.”

HPA Tech Retreat Blog: the cloud, storage, metadata, more

By Tom Coughlin

Object storage is the key technology behind most cloud storage offerings and there were a number of exhibits at last week’s 2014 HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, California, offering cloud-based storage of M&E content.

Zadara Storage is offering SAN/NAS-as-a-Service solutions with a Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA). The VPSAs offer iSCSI block or NFS/CIFS file storage. The user keeps the keys that allow Continue reading

HPA Tech Retreat Blog: A display made for humans

By Tom Coughlin

Indian Wells, California — At the 2014 Hollywood Post Alliance Retreat (http://hollywoodpostalliance.org), the session on “Better Pixels: Best Bang for the Buck” gave some interesting insights on how we can make better displays — displays made for humans. Continue reading