Tag Archives: NAB 2017

Tips for future NAB-goers

By Jesse Korosi

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The South Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

HP offering new ZBooks and DreamColor displays

By Claudio Santos

I have to admit, even though I consider myself to be a very outdoorsy person, I have a very soft spot for technology. How could I not? Working in post means I often spend more time staring at a computer screen than I do sleeping. Since I don’t plan on changing careers the least I can do is indulge myself and stare at a good computer screen.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with the team at HP for an early look at the new products they have brought to market: the ZBook mobile workstation series and two new DreamColor monitors.

DreamColor Displays
While I spent most of my time working in audio post, I don’t really have a reasonable excuse to be so excited about these monitors, but they seem to have been made with such care that it is hard not to get excited. They DreamColor z24x G2 and the DreamColor Z31x Studio are two new entries in the already well-reputed series of displays that is aimed at color professionals and post houses.

HP Z24x

They are both 10-bit displays with accessible options for color calibrations and great color accuracy. The build of both monitors doesn’t leave anything to desire, and they should be able to perform for years before being replaced. The Z24x G2 is a 24-inch monitor with aspect ratio of 16:10 and native resolution of 1920×1200. The Z31x Studio on the other hand is 31.1-inch and has a native resolution of 4096×2160 (cinema 4K).

While the specs alone seem great, it is the workflow enhancements where the HP displays really shine. The Z31x Studio is aimed at post facilities, which often have an IT department responsible for maintaining and managing the hardware. The display makes this usually boring task a breeze by allowing easy remote management over the network, scripting for profiles and user hotkeys and an API that allows facilities to fully integrate them into their system. It also boasts an integrated colorimeter that is embedded into the frame of the monitor and can be scheduled to automatically calibrate the display during off-hours. In order to tackle the common nuisance of having to manage two different machines from the same desk, the monitor has a built-in KVM switch that make the task of sharing a keyboard and mouse with two different systems absolutely painless.

ZBook Mobile Workstation Series
The ZBook workstations cover a range of sizes, starting at ultra-portable 14-inch all the way up to 17.3-inch machines. They are all very powerful machines that compete with all the best high-spec machines in the market. Once again, what sets these apart is the attention to detail HP put into designing them.

ZBook 17-inch

The whole series supports biometric authentication, with the added safety that the biometric authentication offers security at the BIOS level. This means that even if someone tries to tamper with the OS before it loads they will still have to bypass the biometric system before having access to any of the hardware.

They also offer comforts such as tool less access to the battery and hard drive, and easily expandable RAM, so upgrading/swapping parts shouldn’t be a whole-day ordeal. While I was demoing the laptops, I had the chance to try a VR experience that was being completely powered and rendered in realtime by one of the ZBooks on a HTC Vive. The experience was flawless and there were no obvious corners cut in the geometry or lighting to make a “pretend” demo. I had the impression I could confidently rely on one of the machines to work on VR projects.


Claudio Santos is a sound editor and spatial audio mixer at Silver Sound. Slightly too interested in technology and workflow hacks, he spends most of his waking ours tweaking, fiddling and tinkering away on his computer.

New AMD Radeon Pro Duo graphics card for pro workflows

AMD was at NAB this year with its dual-GPU graphics card designed for pros — the Polaris-architecture-based Radeon Pro Duo. Built on the capabilities of the Radeon Pro WX 7100, the Radeon Pro Duo graphics card is designed for media and entertainment, broadcast and design workflows.

The Radeon Pro Duo is equipped with 32GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory to handle larger data sets, more intricate 3D models, higher-resolution videos and complex assemblies. Operating at a max power of 250W, the Radeon Pro Duo uses a total of 72 compute units (4,608 stream processors) for a combined performance of up to 11.45 TFLOPS of single-precision compute performance on one board, and twice the geometry throughput of the Radeon Pro WX 7100.

The Radeon Pro Duo enables pros to work on up to four 4K monitors at 60Hz, drive the latest 8K single monitor display at 30Hz using a single cable or drive an 8K display at 60Hz using a dual cable solution.

The Radeon Pro Duo’s distinct dual-GPU design allows pros the flexibility to divide their workloads, enabling smooth multi-tasking between applications by committing GPU resources to each. This will allow users to focus on their creativity and get more done faster, allowing for a greater number of design iterations in the same time.

On select pro apps (including DaVinci Resolve, Nuke/Care VR, Blender Cycles and VRed), the Radeon Pro Duo offers up to two times faster performance compared with the Radeon Pro WX 7100.

For those working in VR, the Radeon Pro Duo graphics card uses the power of two GPUs to render out separate images for each eye, increasing VR performance over single GPU solutions by up to 50% in the SteamVR test. AMD’s LiquidVR technologies are also supported by the industry’s leading realtime engines, including Unity and Unreal, to help ensure smooth, comfortable and responsive VR experiences on Radeon Pro Duo.

The Radeon Pro Duo’s planned availability is the end of May at an expected price of US $999.

Sony’s offerings at NAB

By Daniel Rodriguez

Sony has always been a company that prioritizes and implements the requests of the customer. They are constantly innovation throughout all aspects of production — from initial capture to display. At NAB 2017, Sony’s goal was to further expand benchmarks the company has made in the past few months.

To reflect its focus as a company, Sony’s NAB booth was focused on four areas: image capture, media solutions, IP Live and HDR (High Dynamic Range). Sony’s focus was to demonstrate its ability to anticipate for future demands in capture and distribution while introducing firmware updates to many of their existing products to complement these future demands.

Cameras
Since Sony provides customers and clients with a path from capture to delivery, it’s natural to start with what’s new for imaging. Having already tackled the prosumer market with its introduction of the a7sii, a7rii, FS5 and FS7ii, and firmly established its presence in the cinema camera line with the Sony F5, F55 and F65, it’s natural that Sony’s immediate steps weren’t to follow up on these models so soon, but rather introduce models that fit more specific needs and situations.

The newest Sony camera introduced at NAB was the UMC-S3CA. Sporting the extremely popular sensor from the a7sii, the UMC-S3CA is a 4K interchangeable lens E mount camera that is much smaller than its sensor sibling. Its Genlock ability allows any user to monitor, operate and sync many at a time, something extremely promising for emerging media like VR and 360 video. It boasts an incredible ISO range from 100-409,600 and recording internal 4K UHD recording at 23.98p, 25fps and 29.97p in 100Mbps and 60Mbps modes. The size of this particularly small camera is promising for those who love the a7sii but want to employ it in more specific cases, such as crash cams, drones, cranes and sliders.

To complement its current camera line, Sony has released an updated version of their electronic viewfinder DVF-EL100 —the DVF-EL200 (pictured)— which also boasts a full 1920x1080p resolution image and is about twice as bright as the previous model. Much like updated versions of Sony’s cameras, this monitor’s ergonomics are attributed to the vast input from users of the previous model, something that the company prides itself on. (Our main image show the F55 with the DVF-EL200 viewfinder.)

Just because Sony is introducing new products doesn’t mean that it has forgotten about older products, especially those that are part of its camera lines. Prosumer models, like the Sony PXW-Z150 and Sony PXW-FS5, to professional cinema cameras, such as the Sony PMW-F5 and PMW-F55, are all receiving firmware updates coming in July 2017.

The most notable firmware update of the Z150 will be its ability to capture images in HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) to support easier HDR capture and workflow. The FS5 will also receive the ability to capture in HLG, in addition to the ability to change the native ISO from 2000 to 3200 when shooting in SLog2 or SLog3 and 120fps capabilities at 1080p full HD. While many consider the F65 to be Sony’s flagship camera, some consider the F55 to be the more industry friendly of Sony’s cinema camera line, and Sony backs that up by increasing it’s high frame rate capture in a new firmware update. This new firmware update will allow the F55 to record in 72, 75, 90, 96 and 100fps in 4K RAW and in the company’s new compressed Extended Original Camera Negative (X-OCN) format.

X-OCN
Sony’s new X-OCN codec continues to be a highlight of the company’s developments as it boasts an incredible 16-bit bit-depth despite it being compressed, and it’s virtually indistinguishable from Sony’s own RAW format. Due to its compression, it boasts file sizes that are equivalent to 50 percent less than 2K 4:3 Arriraw and 4K ProRes 4444 XQ and 30 percent less than F55 RAW. It’s considered the most optimal and suitable format for HDR content capturing. With cameras like the F5, F55 and its smaller alternatives, like the FS7 and FS7II allowing RAW recording, Sony is offering a nearly indistinguishable alternative to cut down on storage space as well as allow more recording time on set.

Speed and Storage
As Sony continues to increase its support for HDR and larger resolutions like 8K, it’s easy to consider the emergence of X-OCN as an introduction of what to expect from Sony in the future.

Despite the introduction of X-OCN being the company’s answer to large file sizes from shooting RAW, Sony still maintain a firm understanding of the need for storage and the read/write speeds that come with such innovations. As part of such innovations, Sony has introduced the AXS-AR1 AXS memory and SXS Thunderbolt card reader. Using a Thunderbolt 2 connector, which can be daisy-chained since the reader has two inputs, the reader has a theoretical transfer speed of approximately 9.6Gbps, or 1200MBps. Supporting SxS and Sony’s new AXS cards, if one were to download an hour’s worth of true 4K footage at 24fps, shot in X-OCN, it would only take about 2.5 minutes to complete the transfer.

To complement these leaps in storage space and read/write speeds, Sony’s Optical Disc Archive Generation 2 is designed as an optic disc-based storage media with expandable robotic libraries called PetaSites, which through the use of 3.3TB Optical Disc Archive Cartridges guarantee a staggering 100-year shelf life. Unlike LTOs, which are generally only used a handful of times for storing and retrieving, Sony’s optical discs can be quickly and randomly accessed as needed.

HDR
HDR continues to gain traction in the world of broadcast and cinema. From capture to monitoring, the introduction of HDR has spurred many companies to implement new ways to create, monitor, display and distribute HDR content. As mentioned earlier, Sony is implementing firmware updates in many of its cameras to allow internal HLG, or Instant HDR, capture without the need for color grading, as well as compressed X-OCN RAW recording to allow more complex HDR grading to be possible without the massive amounts of data that uncompressed RAW takes up.

HDR gamma displays can now be monitored on screens like the Sony FS5’s, as well as higher-end displays such as their BVM E171, BVM X300/2 and PVM X550.

IP Live
What stood out about Sony’s mission with HDR is to further implement its use in realtime, non-fiction content, and broadcasts like sporting events through IP Live. The goal is to offer instantaneous conversions to not only output media in 4K HDR and SDR but also offer full HD HDR and SDR at the same time. With its SR Live System Sony hopes to implement updates in their camera lines with HLG to provide instant HDR which can be processed through its HDRC-4000 converters. As the company’s business model has stated Sony’s goal is to offer full support throughout the production process, which has led to the introduction of XDCAM Air, which will be an ENG-based cloud service that addresses the growing need for speed to air. XDCAM Air will launch in June 2017.

Managing Files
To round out its production through delivery goals, Sony continues with Media Backbone Navigator X, which is designed to be an online content storage and management solution to ease the work between capture and delivery. It accepts nearly any file type and allows multiple users to easily search for keywords and even phrases spoken in videos while being able to stream in realtime speeds.

Media Backbone Navigator X is designed for productions that create an environment of constant back and forth and will eliminate any excessive deliberation when figuring out storage and distribution of materials.

Sony’s goal at NAB wasn’t to shock or awe but rather to build on an established foundation for current and new clients and customers who are readying for an ever-changing production environment. For Sony, this year’s NAB could be considered preparation for the “upcoming storm” as firmware updates roll out more support for promising formats like HDR.


Daniel Rodriquez is a New York-based cinematographer, photographer and director. Follow him on Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/realdanrodriguez.

My NAB 2017 top five

By Brady Betzel

So once again, I didn’t go to NAB. I know, I should go, but to be honest I get caught up in my day job and my family, so usually I forget about NAB until the week before and by that time it’s too late to pull off. I’m hoping to go next year, like really hoping I make plans.

So there or not, I was paying close attention to the announcements that came out of new products, and even updates to older products. Let’s be real, other than doing some face-to-face networking, you can really get the same if not more info by lurking online. Below are five announcements that really got my attention.

Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 14
Blackmagic saw that this year’s Resolve update from 12.5.5 to 14 is so good they skipped 13. There was a significant drop in the DaVinci Resolve Studio price from $999 to $299, while adding features that many of the top NLE/color correction software dogs are lacking.

The beauty of Resolve is that it is first and foremost an industry-proven color correction powerhouse, one that is used on many of the top movies and television shows in the industry.

They are also expanding their footprint laterally to encompass professional audio as well as professional video. In Resolve 14, Blackmagic has added a Fairlight audio page to allow for a much more Pro Tools-like editing experience within the same Resolve app we have all grown to become extremely excited about. In my mind that means that at a professional facility, or your own garage, you can have a editor/colorist sitting with a re-recording engineer to review a movie or a show with the client at the same time.

The Fairlight page within Resolve 14.

As long as you have two separate workstations, the colorist and audio mixer can be addressing notes on the same sequence inside of Resolve 14 because of the newly updated collaboration enhancements. The Audio mixer or colorist could then refresh their sequence to update it with any changes the other had made and see them immediately reflected.

I haven’t gotten my hands on this update in a proper environment to test out the collaboration functionality, but the timeline comparison and review features seem like a godsend to anyone who does any sort of conform work. It is the beginning of Blackmagic’s path toward Avid Media Composer’s lock on the industry with their sequence and project sharing.

On Twitter, Blackmagic’s director of DaVinci software engineering, Rohit Gupta answered my question about whether EDLs and AAFs will fall in line with the timeline review. He said it will work “irrespective of how you create the timeline. So it will work with EDL/AAF too.”

Clip, sequence and bin locking are the future for collaborative workflow inside of Resolve. I would love to see how someone uses these features in a large collaborative environment of 10 or more editors, sound editors and colorists. How does Resolve 14 handle multiple sequence updates and multiple people knocking on a bin? How does Resolve work on something like an Avid Nexis?

Moving on, while I’m not an audio guy I do realize that Fairlight is a big player in the pro audio industry, maybe not as sizable a footprint as Avid Pro Tools in the United States, but it still has its place. So Blackmagic inserting Fairlight technology, including hardware compatibility, into Resolve 14 is remarkable.

The Resolve 14 update seems to have been focused on everything but the color correction tools. Except for the supposed major speed boost and options like face tracking, Blackmagic is putting all its eggs into the general NLE basket. It doesn’t bother me that much to be honest, and I think Blackmagic is picking up where a few other NLE players are leaving off. I just hope they don’t spread Resolve so thin that it loses its core audience. But again, with the price of Resolve 14 Studio coming in at $299 it’s becoming the major player in the post nonlinear editor, color correction, and now audio finishing market.

Keep in mind, Resolve 14 is technically still in beta so you will most likely run into bugs, probably mostly under the Fairlight tab, so be careful if you plan on using this version in time-critical environments.

You can find all of Blackmagic’s NAB 2017 updates at www.blackmagicdesign.com, including a new ATEM Studio Pro HD switcher, UltraStudio HD Mini with Thunderbolt 3 and even a remote Bluetooth camera control app for the Ursa Mini Pro.

SmallHD Focus
There was a lot of buzz online about SmallHD’s Focus monitor. It’s an HDMI-based external touchscreen monitor that is supposedly two to three times brighter than your DSLR’s monitor. People online were commenting about how bright the monitor actually was and about the $499 price tag. It looks like it will be released in June, and I can’t wait to see it.

In addition to being a bright external monitor it has a built-in waveform, false color, focus assist, 3D LUTs, Pixel Zoom and many more features. I really like the feature that offers auxiliary power out to power your camera with the Focus’ Sony L Series battery. You can check it out here.

Atomos Sumo
Another external monitor that was being talked about was the 1,200-nit Atomos 19-inch Sumo, a self-proclaimed “on-set and in-studio 4Kp60 HDR 19-inch monitor-recorder.” It boasts some heavy specs, like the ability to record 4K 12bit Raw and 10-bit ProRes/DNxHR — plus it’s 19 inches!

What’s really smart is that it can double as an HDR grading monitor back in the edit suite. It will map color formats Log, PQ and HLG with its AtomHDR engine. Technically, it supports Sony SLog2/SLog3, Canon CLog/CLog 2, Arri Log C, Panasonic Vlog, JVC JLog, Red LogFilm Log formats and Sony SGamut/SGamut3/SGamut3.cine, Canon Cinema, BT2020, DCI P3, DCI P3+, Panasonic V Gamut and Arri Alexa Wide Gamut color gamuts. While the Sumo will record in 4K, it’s important to note that the monitor is actually a 10-bit, 1920×1080 resolution monitor with SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs.

The Atomos Sumo is available for pre-order now for $2,495. Get the complete list of specs here.

Avid Everywhere
This year, Avid Media Composer editors saw a roadmap for future updates like an updated Title Tool that is higher than HD compatible (finally!), an advanced color correction mode and Avid Everywhere based on the MediaCentral platform.

If you’ve ever seen an app like Avid Media Composer work through the cloud, you will probably agree how amazing it is. If you haven’t, essentially you will log in to Media Composer via a web browser or a light on machine app that runs all of the hard processing on the server that you are logging in to. The beauty of this is that you can essentially log in wherever you want and edit. Since the hard work is being done on the other end you can log in using a laptop or even a tablet that has decent Internet speed and edit high-resolution media. Here comes that editing on the beach job I was wanting. You can check out all of the Avid Everywhere updates here.

In addition Avid announced Media Composer First — a free version of Media Composer. They also released an updated IO – DNxIQ, essentially with the Thunderbolt 3 update along with a live cross-convert .

Sony a9
With all eyes on Sony to reveal the most anticipated full frame cameras in prosumer history — a7RIII and a7SIII — we are all surprised when they unveiled the 24.4MP a9. The a9 is Sony’s answer to heavy weights Canon and Nikon professional full-frame cameras that have run the markets for years.

With a pretty amazing blackout-free continuous shooting ability alongside an Ethernet port and dual SD card slots, the a9 is a beauty. While I am not a huge fan of Sony’s menu setup, I am really interested to see the footage and images come out on the web; there is something great about Sony’s images and video in my eyes. Besides my personal thoughts, there is also a five-axis in-body stabilization, UHD (3840×2160) video recording across the entire width of the sensor and even Super 35 recording. Check out more info here .

In the end, NAB 2017 was a little lackluster in terms of barn-burner hardware and software releases, however I feel that Blackmagic has taken the cake with the DaVinci Resolve 14 release. Keep in mind Blackmagic is also releasing updates to products like the Ursa Mini Pro, new Hyperdeck Studio Mini and updates to the ultra-competitive Blackmagic Video Assist, adding ever-valuable scopes.


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.

Life is but a Streambox

By Jonathan Abrams

My interest in Streambox originated with their social media publishing capabilities (Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitter). I was shuttled to an unsecured, disclosed location (Suite 28140 at The Venetian) for a meeting with Tony Taylor (business development manager) and Bob Hildeman (CEO), where they were conducting user-focused presentations within a quiet and relaxing setting.

The primary use for Streambox in post production is live editorial and color review. Succinctly, it’s WebEx for post. A majority of large post production facilities use Streambox for live review services. It allows remote editorial and color grading over the public Internet with Mezzanine quality.

The process starts with either a software or hardware encoder. With the software encoder, you need to have your own I/O. As Bob mentioned this, he reached for a Blackmagic Design Mini Converter. The software encoder is limited to 8 bits. They also have two hardware encoders that occupy 1 RU. One of these can work with 4K video, and a new one shipping in June that uses a new version of their codec and works with 2K video. The 2K encoder will likely receive a software upgrade eventually that will enable it to work with 4K. All of their hardware encoders operate at 10 bit with 4:2:2 sampling and have additional post-specific features which include; genlock, frame sync, encryption and IFB audio talkback capabilities. Post companies offering remote color grading services are using a hardware encoder.

Streambox uses a proprietary ACT (Advanced Compression Technology) L3/L4 codec and LDMP (Low Delay Multi Path) protocol. For HD and 2K contribution over the Public Internet, their claim is that the ACT-L3/L4 codec is more bandwidth- and picture quality- efficient than H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), and JPEG2000. The low, and most importantly, sustained latency of the codec is in the use of LDMP (Low Delay Mutipath) video transport. The software and hardware decoders have about two seconds of latency, while the web output (browser) latency is 10 seconds. You can mix and match encoders and decoders. Put another way, you could use a hardware encoder and a software decoder.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), which is used for HTTP data transfer, is designed to have the receiving device confirm with the sender that it received packets. This creates packet redundancy overhead that reduces how much bandwidth you have available for data transmission.

Recovered packets in FEC display artifacts (macro blocking, buffering) when network saturation becomes problematic during playback. This does not generally effect lower bandwidth streams that use caching topology for network delivery, but for persistent streaming of video over 4Mbps this problem becomes apparent because of the large bandwidth that is needed for high-quality contribution content. UDP (User Datagram Protocol) eliminates this overhead at the cost of packets that were not delivered being unrecoverable. Streambox is using UDP to send its data and the decoder can detect and request lost packets. This keeps the transmission overhead low while eliminating lost packets. If you do have to limit your bandwidth, you can set a bitrate ceiling and not have to consider overhead. Streambox supports AES128 encryption as an add-on, and the number of bits can be higher (192 or 256).

Streambox Cloud allows the encoder to connect to the geographically closest cloud out of 10 sites available and have the data travel in the cloud until it reaches what is called the last mile to the decoder. All 10 cloud sites use Amazon Web Services, and two of those cloud sites also use Microsoft Azure. The cloud advantage in this situation is the use of global transport services, which minimize the risk of bandwidth loss while retaining quality.

Streambox has a database-driven service called Post Cloud that is evolving from broadcast-centric roots. It is effectively a v1 system, with post-specific reports and functionality added and broadcast-specific options stripped away. This is also where publishing to Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Twitter happens. After providing your live publishing credentials, Streambox manages the transcoding for the selected service. The publishing functionality does not prevent select users from establishing higher quality connections. You can have HQ streams to hardware and software decoders running simultaneously with a live streaming component.

The cloud effectively acts as a signal router to multiple destinations. Streamed content can be recorded and encrypted. Other cloud functionality includes realtime stitching of Ricoh Theta S camera outputs for 360º video.


Jonathan Abrams is Chief Technical Engineer at NYC’s Nutmeg Creative.

A virgin’s view of NAB

By Nolan Jennings

I have a confession: I am 28 years old, have lived in Los Angeles for over six years and had not been to Las Vegas until this past week. My naiveté concerning Las Vegas is generally a well-kept secret among my millennial peers, who seem to consider a debaucherous Las Vegas weekend a requisite validation of 21st century American life.

In addition, this was my first experience attending the National Association of Broadcasters convention (NAB). The simultaneous exposure to these two monolithic experiences was almost too great to bear, but I can happily report that I am safely back in Los Angeles, giddily recalling all of the incredible experiences I had over the course of the past four days.

Below, I’d love to share with you some background on how I arrived at NAB, and a few of the cool things I witnessed there.

How I Got There: An Introduction to Blue Collar Post Collective
I would not have been able to attend NAB without the wonderful generosity of the Blue Collar Post Collective (BCPC). For those not aware, BCPC is an organization of post production artists. Initially founded in New York City, BCPC has branched out to Los Angeles in recent years, and now boasts a bi-coastal membership representing every facet of the post industry.

Here I am (center) with the two other BCPC members who were sent to NAB: Eugene Vernikov and Tara Pennington.

BCPC hosts networking events as well as educational seminars, connecting various arms of the industry in order to promote awareness across all the various spectrums of the post industry including editorial, motion graphics, VFX, colorists, etc. If you haven’t been to one of these events, do yourself a favor and go to their website or sign up on the BCPC Facebook page to learn more and find their next one.

In addition to educational seminars, they are now offering the Professional Development Accessibility Program (PDAP), which assists folks like me who would not otherwise be able to take advantage of opportunities like NAB. Through this program, myself and two other talented post pros were able to travel to Las Vegas, stay there for four days and take advantage of quite literally every opportunity available.

PART 1: Arrival
We touched down at McCarran International Airport. I exited the gate and was immediately confronted with slot machines. Slot Machines! In the terminal! Any illusions I had about my peers’ exaggerations of Vegas were immediately decimated. Thus initiated, I hired a cab to take me to the front steps of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The car pulled up, and I was struck again by Vegas bravado. A giant window wrap advertising DaVinci Resolve 14 covered the entire face of the South Hall. Hoards of attendees streamed toward the entrance sporting their NAB badges. I emerged from the cab and trepidly joined them, holding my backpack close and clutching my pre-registered badge.

Once inside the South Hall I headed for a talk hosted by Rob Legato, the three-time Oscar-winning VFX supervisor whose most recent win was for John Favreau’s adaption of The Jungle Book. Say what you will about the movie in a narrative construct, but I dare anyone to challenge its visual sophistication. Legato talked candidly about the process required to bring the movie to life and showed extensive clips that revealed the extent of previs that preceded actual production, which was completed entirely on sound stages in downtown Los Angeles.

In particular, he emphasized the advent of virtual previsualization, and the benefits this process can provide to not only big-budget productions, but also micro projects due to the ease of use and rapidly sinking costs of HD cameras and previs software. The chance to witness those evolutions in Legato’s talk was a quantum leap forward in my understanding of the current state of affairs in post.

Following Legato’s presentation, I attended talks and classes with experts in various fields, such as motion graphics, virtual and augmented reality, and machine learning before finally checking into my hotel and attending a BCPC meet-up.

Part 2: NAB’s Show Floor
On the morning of day two I returned to the convention center and began to truly acquaint myself with the show. NAB is roughly divided into three types of experiences.

You could arguably spend your entire time walking the show floor (and accumulating thousands of Fit-bit steps). The variety of technology was absolutely astounding, and experts from each company was on hand to answer any questions you might have. The VR and AR demonstrations were some of the most fun to play with. Studios such as Digital Domain and companies like Nokia with its Ozo camera are making some terrific advances in the field, particularly in the realm of live-event VR broadcasting.

Another stand out was Adobe and its Character Animator, an animation application that uses facial recognition technology to animate an illustration based on the acting you perform in front of your computer’s camera. If you have a creative cloud subscription, this comes bundled with After Effects, and I highly recommend playing around with it. You don’t need any experience with animation in order to have a blast playing with Character Animator.

The Classes
There were also many classes taught during NAB, covering everything from HTML 5 animations to motion graphics to assistant editing in TV/film and beyond. The classes were taught by experts in their respective fields who were all very happy to answer questions and talk after the sessions were done.

I spent much of my time learning the various tools used in documentary editing, After Effects tricks and how video can be creatively and interactively incorporated into HTML 5 using cinemagraphs and other techniques. I knew many of the instructors from online tutorials and sites such as School of Motion. It was a very nerdy sort of star-struck feeling.

The Panels
Earlier I mentioned Rob Legato’s talk on The Jungle Book. His presentation was extraordinary, but it was only one of many amazing panels. Stand-outs included the editorial team from the new movie Logan, who spoke at length about their experience working on the movie. From pre-production to dailies ingest to test screenings to final delivery, their insights into the art of editing were enthralling. They showed several clips and discussed the various stages of the cut, as well as the discussions and even arguments that occurred over certain choices made in the edit. For an assistant editor such as myself who aspires to work on a project like Logan, this was a very special experience.

Other panels covered the emerging distribution landscape in VR entertainment, the cinematic innovations required to bring Ghost in the Shell to life, and a presentation of Big Little Lies hosted by Avid. These talks were indispensable elements of my NAB experience, and I’ll be going over the notes I took for months to come.

Part 3: Vendors
Through the auspices of Blue Collar Post Collective as well as postPerspective, I was able to meet with a few particular vendors who gave me a comprehensive tour of their new products.

One of these was Christie, In the world of post, there is always a heavy focus on the tools that allow us to create wonderful content, but there is often little attention paid to the tools that shepherd that content into the eyes of audiences around the world. What good is a finely crafted story if it never reaches an audience, or reaches an audience in the wrong way? Christie offers an impressive line-up of industry leading projectors. If you have doubts as to the quality of their product, look no further than James Cameron’s endorsement. He’s using their RGB laser projection series to ensure his images are up to snuff.

JMR have been creating storage solutions for years, and their innovations continue to push the boundaries of speed and mobility for post pros. As an example, their Lightning LTNG-XD-8-MMDT uses a Mac mini integration to power an extremely fast and portable system that can provide up to 64TB of native disk storage capacity for your DI cart or other on-site production workflows.

I was lucky enough to attend Canon’s NAB 2017 dinner, where Canon showed its guests their new Compact-Servo lenses — 4K Super 35mm lenses that deliver the quality of cinema lenses at a fraction of the price and with all the ease of use that you typically associate with photography lenses. Additionally, they showed footage of the aurora borealis shot in Alaska, and the images they were able to get in an incredibly low-light environment were astounding, with extremely little noise in the image. I personally have been using Canon DSLRs for years, and this presentation convinced me that my love for Canon won’t be ending anytime soon.

Part 3: Au Revoir
The finale in my NAB experience was the 16th Annual Las Vegas SuperMeet, with presentations by Blackmagic, Adobe, HP and many others. These presentations were punctuated by raucous raffle announcements, with winners running up to the stage with their ticket in hand, jumping and screaming in delight as they walked away with some seriously valuable prizes, including a full DaVinci Resolve system.

These events were impressive, but the highlight for me was an interview with Dody Dorn, ACE, editor of many of my favorite films, including Memento. Her insights into the craft of editing were extraordinary. She focused entirely on character and storytelling, answering questions with a sense of humor and humility that belied her extreme talents and accomplishments.

I walked away from the SuperMeet wishing I could stay at NAB for the entire week. Unfortunately, duty called. I was on my way to the airport, back to Los Angeles where a list of director notes sat in my editing bay, ready to be addressed. I can’t emphasize enough how impactful the NAB experience was. My perspective on our industry shifted radically, and my knowledge base expanded more in four days than over the past year. I look forward to returning next year, the year after that, and so on. Au revoir NAB — see you next time.
——-
Nolan Jennings is an LA-based assistant editor currently working on Season 5 of The Fosters or Freeform.

FilmLight shows new versions of color tools at NAB

FilmLight was at NAB demo-ing Version 5.0 of its color tools. The upgraded toolkit maintains a consistent user experience across the Baselight color grading and finishing system, Baselight Editions, Daylight and FilmLight’s new on-set application, Prelight.

“We are delivering 5.0 everywhere, bringing a new level of color control and creative possibilities from the very start of a production right to the final deliverables,” says Wolfgang Lempp, CEO of FilmLight. “And, importantly, color and artistic intent are accompanying all deliverables precisely and with minimum effort, be it for HDR and SDR or even 360 VR grading.”

Version 5.0 introduces Base Grade, which mimics the way the eye sees color to yield a more natural feel. Version 5.0 also includes some new VFX features, such as paint, perspective tracking, warping, depth keying and relighting.

FilmLight’s new Prelight On-Set, a Mac OS app for preview and grading, brings color control and the FilmLight BLG (Baselight Linked Grade) metadata system to shoots.

With Version 5.0, Baselight Editions, the plug-ins for Avid and Nuke 5.0, now include Base Grade functionality as well as color tools, such as midtone contrast and filters for denoise and deflicker. In addition, Baselight for Nuke includes boosted functionality in the Version 5.0 BLG that enables the tool to act as a multi-input node in Nuke. In this manner, BLG files can refer to multiple input images and OpenEXR channels.