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Category Archives: 8K

Nvidia and Asus offer first laptop with Quadro RTX 6000 GPU

In another new addition to the Nvidia RTX Studio of laptops, the Nvidia Quadro RTX 6000 GPU will power the Asus ProArt StudioBook One, making it the first laptop to offer the Nvidia Quadro RTX 6000 in a mobile solution so creatives can run complex workloads regardless of location.

The Quadro RTX 6000 within the ProArt StudioBook One provides creatives a similar high-end experience as a deskside workstation. The ProArt StudioBook One is able to handle massive datasets and accelerate compute-intensive workflows, such as creating 3D animations, rendering photoreal product designs, editing 8K video, visualizing volumetric geophysical datasets and conducting walk-throughs of photoreal building designs in VR.

RTX Studio systems, which integrate Nvidia Quadro RTX or GeForce RTX GPUs, offer advanced features — like realtime raytracing, AI and 8K Red video acceleration — to creative and technical professionals.

The Asus ProArt StudioBook One combines performance and portability with the power of Quadro RTX 6000 and features of the new Nvidia “ACE” reference design system, including:
• 24GB of ultra-fast GPU memory to tackle large scenes, models, datasets and complex multi-app workflows.
• Nvidia Turing architecture RT Cores and Tensor Cores to deliver realtime raytracing, advanced shading and AI-enhanced tools to accelerate professional workflows.
• Advanced thermal cooling solution featuring ultra-thin titanium vapor chambers.
• Enhanced Nvidia Optimus technology for seamless switching between the discrete and integrated graphics based on application use with no need to restart applications or reboot the system.
• Slim 300W high-density, high-efficiency power adapter for charging and power at half the size of traditional 300W power adapters.
• Professional 4K 120Hz Pantone-validated display with 100% Adobe RGB color coverage, color accuracy and factory calibration.

In other Nvidia-related news, Acer announced its latest additions to the ConceptD series of laptops, including the ConceptD Pro models featuring Quadro GPUs.

In addition to the Asus ProArt StudioBook One, Nvidia announced 11 additional RTX Studio laptops and desktops from Acer, Asus, HP and MSI, bringing the total number of RTX Studio systems to 39.

Scratch 9.1 now supports AJA Kona 5, Red 8K workflows

Assimilate’s Scratch 9.1 now supports AJA Kona 5 audio and video I/O cards, enabling users to output 8K 60p video via 12G-SDI. Scratch 9.1 is also now supporting AJA’s Io 4K Plus I/O box with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The product also works with AJA’s T-Tap Io 4K, Kona 1 and Kona 4.

Scratch support for Kona 5 allows for a smooth dailies and finishing workflow for Red 8K footage. Scratch handles the decoding and deBayering of 8K Red RAW in realtime at full resolution and can now natively output 8K over SDI through Kona 5, facilitating a full end-to-end 8K workflow.

Available immediately, Scratch 9.1 starts at $89 a month and $695 annually. AJA Kona 5 and Io 4K Plus are available now through AJA’s reseller network for $2,995 and $2,495 respectively.

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Apple intros long-awaited new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

By Barry Goch

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC19) kicked off on Monday with a keynote from Apple CEO Tim Cook, where he announced the eagerly awaited new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR.

Tim Cook’s keynote

In recent years, many working in M&E felt as if Apple had moved away from supporting creative pros in this industry. There was the fumbled rollout of FCPX and then the “trash can” MacPro with its limited upgrade path. Well, our patience has finally paid off and our faith in Apple restored. This week Apple delivered products beyond expectation.

This post pro, for one, is very happy that Apple is back making serious hardware for creative professionals. The tight integration of hardware and software, along with Apple’s build quality, makes its products unique in the market. There is confidence and freedom using Macs that creatives love, and the tower footprint is back!

The computer itself is a more than worthy successor to the original Mac Pro tower design. It’s the complete opposite concept of the current trash-can-shaped Mac Pro, with its closed design and limited upgradeability. The new Mac Pro’s motherboard is connected to a stainless steel space frame offering 360-degree access to the internals, which include 12 memory slots with up to 1.5TB of RAM capacity and eight PCI slots, which is the most ever in a Mac — more than the venerable 9600 Power Mac. The innovative graphics architecture in the new Mac Pro is an expansion module, or MPX module, which allows the installation of two graphic cards tied together through the Infinity Fabric link. This allows for data transfers up to five times faster between the GPUs on the PCIe bus.

Also new is the Apple Afterburner hardware accelerator card, which is a field programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware card for accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW workflows. Afterburner supports playback of up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW or up to 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW. The FPGA allows new instruction to be installed on the chipset, giving the MacPro Afterburner card a wealth of possibilities for future updates.

Plays Well With Others
Across the street from the San Jose Convention Center, where the keynote was held, Apple set up “The Studio” in the historic San Jose Civic. The venue was divided into areas of creative specialization: video, photography, music production, 3D and AR. It was really great to see complete workflows and to be able to interface with Apple creative pros. Oh, and Apple has announced support from third-party developers, such as Blackmagic, Avid, Adobe, Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Foundry, Red, Epic Games, Unity, Pixar and more.

Metal is Apple’s replacement for OpenCL/GL. It’s a low level language for interfacing with GPUs. Working closely with AMD, the new Mac Pro will use native Metal rendering for Resolve, OToy Octane, Maxon Cinema 4D and Red.

Blackmagic’s Grant Perry and Barry Goch at The Studio.

DaVinci Resolve is a color correction and online editing software for high-end film and television work. “It was the first professional software to adopt Metal and now, with the new Mac Pro and Afterburner, we’re seeing full-quality 8K performance in realtime with color correction and effects, something we could never dream of doing before,” explains Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty. “DaVinci Resolve running on the new Mac Pro is the fastest way to edit, grade and finish movies and TV shows.”

According to Avid’s director of product management for audio, Francois Quereuil, “Avid’s Pro Tools team is blown away by the unprecedented processing power of the new Mac Pro, and thanks to its internal expansion capabilities, up to six Pro Tools HDX cards can be installed within the system — a first for Avid’s flagship audio workstation. We’re now able to deliver never-before-seen performance and capabilities for audio production in a single system and deliver a platform that professional users in music and post have been eagerly awaiting.”

“Apple continues to innovate for video professionals,” reports Adobe’s VP of digital video and audio, Steven Warner. “With the power offered by the new Mac Pro, editors will be able to work with 8K without the need for any proxy workflows in a future release of Premiere Pro.”

And from Apple? Expect versions of FCPX and Logic to be available with release of the new MacPro and rest assured they will fully use the new hardware.

The Cost
The price for a Mac Pro with an eight-core Xeon W processor, 32GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon Pro 580X GPU and a 256GB SSD is $5999. The price for the fully loaded version with the 28-core Xeon processor, Afterburner, two MDX modules with four AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards and 4TB of SSD internal storage will come in around $20,000, give or take. It will be available this fall.

Pro Display XDR
The new Pro Display XDR is amazing. I was invited into a calibrated viewing environment that also housed Dell, Eizo, Sony BVM-X300 and Sony-X310 HDR monitors. We were shown the typical extreme bright and colorful animal footage for monitor demos. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen more shots of people from a TV show or feature and not the usual extreme footage used to show off how bright the monitor could get.

For example, it would have been cool to see the Jony Ive video — which plays on the Apple site and describes the offerings of the MacPro and the monitor — talking about the design of the product on the monitor.

Anyway, the big hang-up with the monitor is the stand. The price tag of $1,000 for a monitor stand is a lot compared to the price of the monitor itself. When the price of the stand was announced during the keynote, there was a loud gasp, which unfortunately dampened the excitement and momentum of the new releases. It too will be available in the fall.

Display Specs
This Retina 6K 32-inch (diagonal) display offers 6016×3384 pixels (20.4 million pixels) at 218 pixels per inch. The sustained brightness is 1000-nits sustained (full screen) with 1600 nits peak and a contrast ratio of one million to one. It works in P3 wide color gamut with 10-bit depth for 1.073 billion colors. Available reference modes include HDR video (P3-ST 2084), Digital Cinema (P3-DCI), Digital Cinema (P3-D65) and HDTV video (BT.709-BT.1886). Supported HDR formats are HLG, HDR 10 and Dolby Vision.

Portrait mode

The Cost
The standard glass version is $4,999. The nano-texture anti-glare glass version is $5,999. As mentioned, the Pro Stand is $999 and VESA mount adapter is $199. Both are sold separately and have a Thunderbolt 3 connection only.

Pros and Cons
MacPro Pros: innovative design, expandability
Cons: Lack of Nvidia support, no Afterburner support for other formats beyond ProRes and no optical audio output.

Pro Display XDR Pros: Ability to sustain 1,000 nits, beautiful design and execution.
Cons: Lack of Rec 2020 color space and ACES profile, plus the high cost of the display stand.

Summing Up
The Pro is back for Apple and third-party apps like Avid and Resolve. I really can’t wait to get my hands on the new MacPro and Pro Display XDR and put them through their paces.


Barry Goch is a finishing artist at LA’s The Foundation as well as a UCLA Extension Instructor, Post Production. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gochya


Quantum offers new F-Series NVMe storage arrays

During the NAB show, Quantum introduced its new F-Series NVMe storage arrays designed for performance, availability and reliability. Using non-volatile memory express (NVMe) Flash drives for ultra-fast reads and writes, the series supports massive parallel processing and is intended for studio editing, rendering and other performance-intensive workloads using large unstructured datasets.

Incorporating the latest Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) networking technology, the F-Series provides direct access between workstations and the NVMe storage devices, resulting in predictable and fast network performance. By combining these hardware features with the new Quantum Cloud Storage Platform and the StorNext file system, the F-Series offers end-to-end storage capabilities for post houses, broadcasters and others working in rich media environments, such as visual effects rendering.

The first product in the F-Series is the Quantum F2000, a 2U dual-node server with two hot-swappable compute canisters and up to 24 dual-ported NVMe drives. Each compute canister can access all 24 NVMe drives and includes processing power, memory and connectivity specifically designed for high performance and availability.

The F-Series is based on the Quantum Cloud Storage Platform, a software-defined block storage stack tuned specifically for video and video-like data. The platform eliminates data services unrelated to video while enhancing data protection, offering networking flexibility and providing block interfaces.

According to Quantum, the F-Series is as much as five times faster than traditional Flash storage/networking, delivering extremely low latency and hundreds of thousands of IOPs per chassis. The series allows users to reduce infrastructure costs by moving from Fiber Channel to Ethernet IP-based infrastructures. Additionally, users leveraging a large number of HDDs or SSDs to meet their performance requirements can gain back racks of data center space.

The F-Series is the first product line based on the Quantum Cloud Storage Platform.


Red Ranger all-in-one camera system now available

Red Digital Cinema has made its new Red Ranger all-in-one camera system available to select Red authorized rental houses. Ranger includes Red’s cinematic full-frame 8K sensor Monstro in an all-in-one camera system, featuring three SDI outputs (two mirrored and one independent) allowing two different looks to be output simultaneously; wide-input voltage (11.5V to 32V); 24V and 12V power outs (two of each); one 12V P-Tap port; integrated 5-pin XLR stereo audio input (Line/Mic/+48V Selectable); as well as genlock, timecode, USB and control.

Ranger is capable of handling heavy-duty power sources and boasts a larger fan for quieter and more efficient temperature management. The system is currently shipping in a gold mount configuration, with a v-lock option available next month.

Ranger captures 8K RedCode RAW up to 60fps full-format, as well as Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR formats at 4K up to 30fps and 2K up to 120fps. It can simultaneously record RedCode RAW plus Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD or DNxHR at up to 300MB/s write speeds.

To enable an end-to-end color management and post workflow, Red’s enhanced image processing pipeline (IPP2) is also included in the system.

Ranger ships complete, including:
• Production top handle
• PL mount with supporting shims
• Two 15mm LWS rod brackets
• Red Pro Touch 7.0-inch LCD with 9-inch arm and LCD/EVF cable
• LCD/EVF adaptor A and LCD/EVF adaptor D
• 24V AC power adaptor with 3-pin 24V XLR power cable
• Compatible Hex and Torx tools


SGO’s Mistika Ultima integrates AJA’s Kona 5

SGO has integrated AJA‘s Kona 5 audio and video I/O cards into its full finishing and workflow solution Mistika Ultima, providing simplified and optimized 8K production for broadcast clients.

The new Mistika Ultima 8K System provides a realtime finishing workflow for 8K full UHD at 60p, even with uncompressed formats. It is comprised of an AJA Kona 5 card with 12G-SDI I/O connectivity, Mistika Ultima software, an HP Z8 workstation, a high-performance SGO storage solution, and other industry-standard hardware.

Kona 5 is a high-performance eight-lane PCIe 3.0 capture and output card featuring 12G-SDI I/O and HDMI 2.0 output. For OEM partners, the card is supported on AJA’s SDK for Mac OS, Windows and Linux, offering advanced features such as 8K and multi-channel 4K. Kona 5 is also compatible with creative tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro X and Avid Media Composer, via AJA’s proven Mac OS and Windows drivers and application plug-ins. Kona 5 enables simultaneous capture with signal passthrough when using 12G-SDI, and offers HDMI 2.0 output, as well as deep-color and multi-format HDR support.


New codec, workflow options via Red, Nvidia and Adobe

By Mike McCarthy

There were two announcements last week that will impact post production workflows. The first was the launch of Red’s new SDK, which leverages Nvidia’s GPU-accelerated CUDA framework to deliver realtime playback of 8K Red footage. I’ll get to the other news shortly. Nvidia was demonstrating an early version of this technology at Adobe Max in October, and I have been looking forward to this development since I am about to start post on a feature film shot on the Red Monstro camera. This should effectively render the RedRocket accelerator cards obsolete, replacing them with cheaper, multipurpose hardware that can also accelerate other computational tasks.

While accelerating playback of 8K content at full resolution requires a top-end RTX series card from Nvidia (Quadro RTX 6000, Titan RTX or GeForce RTX 2080Ti), the technology is not dependent on RTX’s new architecture (RT and Tensor cores), allowing earlier generation hardware to accelerate smooth playback at smaller frame sizes. Lots of existing Red footage is shot at 4K and 6K, and playback of these files will be accelerated on widely deployed legacy products from previous generations of Nvidia GPU architecture. It will still be a while before this functionality is in the hands of end users, because now Adobe, Apple, Blackmagic and other software vendors have to integrate the new SDK functionality into their individual applications. But hopefully we will see those updates hitting the market soon (targeting late Q1 of 2019).

Encoding ProRes on Windows via Adobe apps
The other significant update, which is already available to users as of this week, is Adobe’s addition of ProRes encoding support on its video apps in Windows. Developed by Apple, ProRes encoding has been available on Mac for a long time, and ProRes decoding and playback has been available on Windows for over 10 years. But creating ProRes files on Windows has always been a challenge. Fixing this was less a technical challenge than a political one, as Apple owns the codec and it is not technically a standard. So while there were some hacks available at various points during that time, Apple has severely restricted the official encoding options available on Windows… until now.

With the 13.0.2 release of Premiere Pro and Media Encoder, as well as the newest update to After Effects, Adobe users on Windows systems can now create ProRes files in whatever flavor they happen to need. This is especially useful since many places require delivery of final products in the ProRes format. In this case, the new export support is obviously a win all the way around.

Adobe Premiere

Now users have yet another codec option for all of their intermediate files, prompting another look at the question: Which codec is best for your workflow? With this release, Adobe users have at least three major options for high-quality intermediate codecs: Cineform, DNxHR and now ProRes. I am limiting the scope to integrated cross-platform codecs supporting 10-bit color depth, variable levels of image compression and customizable frame sizes. Here is a quick overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each option:

ProRes
ProRes was created by Apple over 10 years ago and has become the de-facto standard throughout the industry, regardless of the fact that it is entirely owned by Apple. ProRes is now fully cross-platform compatible, has options for both YUV and RGB color and has six variations, all of which support at least 10-bit color depth. The variable bit rate compression scheme scales well with content complexity, so encoding black or static images doesn’t require as much space as full-motion video. It also supports alpha channels with compression, but only in the 444 variants of the codec.

Recent tests on my Windows 10 workstation resulted in ProRes taking 3x to 5x as much CPU power to playback as similar DNxHR of Cineform files, especially as frame sizes get larger. The codec supports 8K frame sizes but playback will require much more processing power. I can’t even playback UHD files in ProRes 444 at full resolution, while the Cineform and DNxHR files have no problem, even at 444. This is less of concern if you are only working at 1080p.

Multiply those file sizes by four for UHD content (and by 16 for 8K content).

Cineform
Cineform, which has been available since 2004, was acquired by GoPro in 2011. They have licensed the codec to Adobe, (among other vendors) and it is available as “GoPro Cineform” in the AVI or QuickTime sections of the Adobe export window. Cineform is a wavelet compression codec, with 10-bit YUV and 12-bit RGB variants, which like ProRes support compressed alpha channels in the RGB variant. The five levels of encoding quality are selected separately from the format, so higher levels of compression are available for 4444 content compared to the limited options available in the other codecs.

It usually plays back extremely efficiently on Windows, but my recent tests show that encoding to the format is much slower than it used to be. And while it has some level of support outside of Adobe applications, it is not as universally recognized as ProRes or DNxHD.

DNxHD
DNxHD was created by Avid for compressed HD playback and has now been extended to DNxHR (high resolution). It is a fixed bit rate codec, with each variant having a locked multiplier based on resolution and frame rate. This makes it easy to calculate storage needs but wastes space for files that are black or contain a lot of static content. It is available in MXF and Mov wrappers and has five levels of quality. The top option is 444 RGB, and all variants support alpha channels in Mov but uncompressed, which takes a lot of space. For whatever reason, Adobe has greatly optimized DNxHR playback in Premiere Pro, of all variants, in both MXF and Mov wrappers. On my project 6Below, I was able to get 6K 444 files to playback, with lots of effects, without dropping frames. The encodes to and from DNxHR are faster in Adobe apps as well.

So for most PC Adobe users, DNxHR-LB (low bandwidth) is probably the best codec to use for intermediate work. We are using it to offline my current project, with 2.2K DNxHR-LB, Mov files. People with a heavy Mac interchange may lean toward ProRes, but up your CPU specs for the same level of application performance.


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.


Nvidia intros Turing-powered Titan RTX

Nvidia has introduced its new Nvidia Titan RTX, a desktop GPU that provides the kind of massive performance needed for creative applications, AI research and data science. Driven by the new Nvidia Turing architecture, Titan RTX — dubbed T-Rex — delivers 130 teraflops of deep learning performance and 11 GigaRays of raytracing performance.

Turing features new RT Cores to accelerate raytracing, plus new multi-precision Tensor Cores for AI training and inferencing. These two engines — along with more powerful compute and enhanced rasterization — will help speed the work of developers, designers and artists across multiple industries.

Designed for computationally demanding applications, Titan RTX combines AI, realtime raytraced graphics, next-gen virtual reality and high-performance computing. It offers the following features and capabilities:
• 576 multi-precision Turing Tensor Cores, providing up to 130 Teraflops of deep learning performance
• 72 Turing RT Cores, delivering up to 11 GigaRays per second of realtime raytracing performance
• 24GB of high-speed GDDR6 memory with 672GB/s of bandwidth — two times the memory of previous-generation Titan GPUs — to fit larger models and datasets
• 100GB/s Nvidia NVLink, which can pair two Titan RTX GPUs to scale memory and compute
• Performance and memory bandwidth sufficient for realtime 8K video editing
• VirtualLink port, which provides the performance and connectivity required by next-gen VR headsets

Titan RTX provides multi-precision Turing Tensor Cores for breakthrough performance from FP32, FP16, INT8 and INT4, allowing faster training and inference of neural networks. It offers twice the memory capacity of previous-generation Titan GPUs, along with NVLink to allow researchers to experiment with larger neural networks and datasets.

Titan RTX accelerates data analytics with RAPIDS. RAPIDS open-source libraries integrate seamlessly with the world’s most popular data science workflows to speed up machine learning.

Titan RTX will be available later in December in the US and Europe for $2,499.


Franz Kraus to advisory role at ARRI, Michael Neuhaeuser takes tech lead

The ARRI Group has named Dr. Michael Neuhaeuser as the new executive board member responsible for technology. He succeeds Professor Franz Kraus, who after more than 30 years at ARRI, joins the Supervisory Board and will continue to be closely associated with the company. Neuhaeuser starts September 1.

Kraus, who has been leading tech development at ARRI for the last few decades, played an essential role in the development of the Alexa digital camera system and early competence in multi-channel LED technology for ARRI lighting. During Kraus’ tenure at ARRI, and while he was responsible for research and development, the company was presented with nine Scientific and Technical Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its outstanding technical achievements.

In 2011, along with two colleagues, Kraus was honored with an Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar statuette for the design and development of the digital film
recorder, the ARRILASER.

Neuhaeuser, who is now responsible for technology at the ARRI Group, previously served as VP of automotive microcontroller development at Infineon Technologies in Munich. He studied electrical engineering at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, and subsequently completed his doctorate in semiconductor devices. He brings with him 30 years of experience in the electronics industry.

Neuhaeuser started his industrial career at Siemens Semiconductor in Villach, Austria, and also took over leadership development at Micram Microelectronic in Bochum. He joined Infineon Technologies in 1998, where he performed various management functions in Germany and abroad. Some of his notable accomplishments include being responsible for the digital cordless business since 2005 and, together with his team, having developed the world’s first fully integrated DECT chip. In 2009, he was appointed to VP/GM at Infineon Technologies Romania in Bucharest where, as country manager, he built up various local activities with more than 300 engineers. In 2012, he was asked to head up the automotive microcontroller development division for which he and his team developed the highly successful Aurix product family, which is used in every second car worldwide.

Main Image: L-R: Franz Kraus and Michael Neuhaeuser.

Assimilate intros media toolkit, Scratch Play Pro

Assimilate is now offering Scratch Play Pro, which includes a universal professional format player, immersive media player, look creator (with version management), transcoder and QC tool.

Play Pro is able to play back most formats, such as camera formats (including Raw), deliverable formats of any kind, as well as still frame formats. You can also show the image in full screen on a second/output display, either attached to the GPU or through SDI video-IO (AJA, Blackmagic, Bluefish444). Users also have the ability to load and play as much media as they can store in a timely manner.

Part of Play Pro is the Construct (timeline) environment, a graphical media manager that allows users to load and manage stills/shots/timelines. It runs on Windows or OS X.

As an immersive video player, Play Pro supports equirectangular 360, cubic/cubic packed 360, 180° VR, stereo, mono, side-by-side or over/under, embedded ambisonic audio and realtime mesh de-warping of 180° VR media. Playback is on screen or through immersive headsets like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and HMDs supporting OpenVR on both Windows and Mac. In addition to playback and CDL color correction, Play Pro can directly publish your 360/180 media to Facebook 360 or YouTube 360.
As a look creator, Play Pro supports 1D and 3D LUT formats of any size for import and export. It also supports import/export of CDLs in both CDL and CC. It also allows you to combine two different LUTs and still add a display LUT on top. A CDL-based toolset, which is compatible with all other color tools, allows you to modify looks and/or create complete new looks.

It can also export LUTs in different depths and sizes to fit different LUT boxes, cameras and monitors. The ability to create looks in production or to import looks created by post production allows you to establish a consistent color pipeline from on-set to delivery. Using the Construct (timeline) environment, users can store all look versions and apply them at any time in the production process.

Play Pro reads in all formats and can transcode to ProRes, H.264 and H.265. For VR delivery, it supports H.264 rendering up to 8K, including the metadata needed for online portals, such as YouTube and Facebook. Users can add custom metadata, such as scene and take information and include it in any exported file. Or they can export it as a separate ALE-file for use further down the pipeline.

As a QC tool, Play Pro can be used on-set and in post. It supports SDI output, split-screen, A-B overlay and audio monitoring and routing. It also comes with a number of QC-tools for video measuring, like a vectorscope, waveform, curves, histogram, as well extensive annotation capabilities through its note feature.

All metadata and comments can be exported as a report in different styles, including an HDR-analysis report that calculates MaxFall and MaxCLL. Action- and title-safe guides, as well as blanking and letterboxing, can be enabled as an overlay for review.

Scratch Play Pro is available now for $19 per month, or $199 for a yearly license.

Lenovo intros 15-inch VR-ready ThinkPad P52

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad P52 is a 15-inch, VR-ready and ISV-certified mobile workstation featuring an Nvidia Quadro P3200 GPU. The all-new hexa-core Intel Xeon CPU doubles the memory capacity to 128GB and increases PCIe storage. Lenovo says the ThinkPad excels in animation and visual effects project storage, the creation of large models and datasets, and realtime playback.

“More and more, M&E artists have the need to create on-the-go,” reports Lenovo senior worldwide industry manager for M&E Rob Hoffmann. “Having desktop-like capabilities in a 15-inch mobile workstation, allows artists to remain creative anytime, anywhere.”

The workstation targets traditional ISV workflows, as well as AR and VR content creation or deployment of mobile AI. Lenovo points to Virtalis, a VR and advanced visualization company, as an example of who might take advantage of the workstation.

“Our virtual reality solutions help clients better understand data and interact with it. Being able to take these solutions mobile with the ThinkPad P52 gives us expanded flexibility to bring the technology to life for clients in their unique environments,” says Steve Carpenter, head of solutions development for Virtalis. “The ThinkPad P52 powering our Virtalis Visionary Render software is perfect for engineering and design professionals looking for a portable solution to take their first steps into the endless possibilities of VR.”

The P52 also will feature a 4K UHD display with 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut and 10-bit color depth. There are dual USB-C Thunderbolt ports supporting the display of 8K video, allowing users to take advantage of the ThinkPad Thunderbolt Workstation Dock.

The ThinkPad P52 will be available later this month.

Testing large format camera workflows

By Mike McCarthy

In the last few months, we have seen the release of the Red Monstro, Sony Venice, Arri Alexa LF and Canon C700 FF, all of which have larger or full-frame sensors. Full frame refers to the DSLR terminology, with full frame being equivalent to the entire 35mm film area — the way that it was used horizontally in still cameras. All SLRs used to be full frame with 35mm film, so there was no need for the term until manufacturers started saving money on digital image sensors by making them smaller than 35mm film exposures. Super35mm motion picture cameras on the other hand ran the film vertically, resulting in a smaller exposure area per frame, but this was still much larger than most video imagers until the last decade, with 2/3-inch chips being considered premium imagers. The options have grown a lot since then.

L-R: 1st AC Ben Brady, DP Michael Svitak and Mike McCarthy on the monitor.

Most of the top-end cinema cameras released over the last few years have advertised their Super35mm sensors as a huge selling point, as that allows use of any existing S35 lens on the camera. These S35 cameras include the Epic, Helium and Gemini from Red, Sony’s F5 and F55, Panasonic’s VaricamLT, Arri’s Alexa and Canon’s C100-500. On the top end, 65mm cameras like the Alexa65 have sensors twice as wide as Super35 cameras, but very limited lens options to cover a sensor that large. Full frame falls somewhere in between and allows, among other things, use of any 35mm still film lenses. In the world of film, this was referred to as Vista Vision, but the first widely used full-frame digital video camera was Canon’s 5D MkII, the first serious HDSLR. That format has suddenly surged in popularity recently, and thanks to this I recently had opportunity to be involved in a test shoot with a number of these new cameras.

Keslow Camera was generous enough to give DP Michael Svitak and myself access to pretty much all their full-frame cameras and lenses for the day in order to test the cameras, workflows and lens options for this new format. We also had the assistance of first AC Ben Brady to help us put all that gear to use, and Mike’s daughter Florendia as our model.

First off was the Red Monstro, which while technically not the full 24mm height of true full frame, uses the same size lenses due to the width of its 17×9 sensor. It offers the highest resolution of the group at 8K. It records compressed RAW to R3D files, as well as options for ProRes and DNxHR up to 4K, all saved to Red mags. Like the rest of the group, smaller portions of the sensor can be used at lower resolution to pair with smaller lenses. The Red Helium sensor has the same resolution but in a much smaller Super35 size, allowing a wider selection of lenses to be used. But larger pixels allow more light sensitivity, with individual pixels up to 5 microns wide on the Monstro and Dragon, compared to Helium’s 3.65-micron pixels.

Next up was Sony’s new Venice camera with a 6K full-frame sensor, allowing 4K S35 recording as well. It records XAVC to SxS cards or compressed RAW in the X-OCN format with the optional ASX-R7 external recorder, which we used. It is worth noting that both full-frame recording and integrated anamorphic support require additional special licenses from Sony, but Keslow provided us with a camera that had all of that functionality enabled. With a 36x24mm 6K sensor, the pixels are 5.9microns, and footage shot at 4K in the S35 mode should be similar to shooting with the F55.

We unexpectedly had the opportunity to shoot on Arri’s new AlexaLF (Large Format) camera. At 4.5K, this had the lowest resolution, but that also means the largest sensor pixels at 8.25microns, which can increase sensitivity. It records ArriRaw or ProRes to Codex XR capture drives with its integrated recorder.

Another other new option is the Canon C700 FF with a 5.9K full-frame sensor recording RAW, ProRes, or XAVC to CFast cards or Codex Drives. That gives it 6-micron pixels, similar to the Sony Venice. But we did not have the opportunity to test that camera this time around, maybe in the future.

One more factor in all of this is the rising popularity of anamorphic lenses. All of these cameras support modes that use the part of the sensor covered by anamorphic lenses and can desqueeze the image for live monitoring and preview. In the digital world, anamorphic essentially cuts your overall resolution in half, until the unlikely event that we start seeing anamorphic projectors or cameras with rectangular sensor pixels. But the prevailing attitude appears to be, “We have lots of extra resolution available so it doesn’t really matter if we lose some to anamorphic conversion.”

Post Production
So what does this mean for post? In theory, sensor size has no direct effect on the recorded files (besides the content of them) but resolution does. But we also have a number of new formats to deal with as well, and then we have to deal with anamorphic images during finishing.

Ever since I got my hands on one of Dell’s new UP3218K monitors with an 8K screen, I have been collecting 8K assets to display on there. When I first started discussing this shoot with DP Michael Svitak, I was primarily interested in getting some more 8K footage to use to test out new 8K monitors, editing systems and software as it got released. I was anticipating getting Red footage, which I knew I could playback and process using my existing software and hardware.

The other cameras and lens options were added as the plan expanded, and by the time we got to Keslow Camera, they had filled a room with lenses and gear for us to test with. I also had a Dell 8K display connected to my ingest system, and the new 4K DreamColor monitor as well. This allowed me to view the recorded footage in the highest resolution possible.

Most editing programs, including Premiere Pro and Resolve, can handle anamorphic footage without issue, but new camera formats can be a bigger challenge. Any RAW file requires info about the sensor pattern in order to debayer it properly, and new compression formats are even more work. Sony’s new compressed RAW format for Venice, called X-OCN, is supported in the newest 12.1 release of Premiere Pro, so I didn’t expect that to be a problem. Its other recording option is XAVC, which should work as well. The Alexa on the other hand uses ArriRaw files, which have been supported in Premiere for years, but each new camera shoots a slightly different “flavor” of the file based on the unique properties of that sensor. Shooting ProRes instead would virtually guarantee compatibility but at the expense of the RAW properties. (Maybe someday ProResRAW will offer the best of both worlds.) The Alexa also has the challenge of recording to Codex drives that can only be offloaded in OS X or Linux.

Once I had all of the files on my system, after using a MacBook Pro to offload the media cards, I tried to bring them into Premiere. The Red files came in just fine but didn’t play back smoothly over 1/4 resolution. They played smoothly in RedCineX with my Red Rocket-X enabled, and they export respectably fast in AME, (a five-minute 8K anamorphic sequence to UHD H.265 in 10 minutes), but for some reason Premiere Pro isn’t able to get smooth playback when using the Red Rocket-X. Next I tried the X-OCN files from the Venice camera, which imported without issue. They played smoothly on my machine but looked like they were locked to half or quarter res, regardless of what settings I used, even in the exports. I am currently working with Adobe to get to the bottom of that because they are able to play back my files at full quality, while all my systems have the same issue. Lastly, I tried to import the Arri files from the AlexaLF, but Adobe doesn’t support that new variation of ArriRaw yet. I would anticipate that will happen soon, since it shouldn’t be too difficult to add that new version to the existing support.

I ended up converting the files I needed to DNxHR in DaVinci Resolve so I could edit them in Premiere, and I put together a short video showing off the various lenses we tested with. Eventually, I need to learn how to use Resolve more efficiently, but the type of work I usually do lends itself to the way Premiere is designed — inter-cutting and nesting sequences with many different resolutions and aspect ratios. Here is a short clip demonstrating some of the lenses we tested with:

This is a web video, so even at UHD it is not meant to be an analysis of the RAW image quality, but instead a demonstration of the field of view and overall feel with various lenses and camera settings. The combination of the larger sensors and the anamorphic lenses leads to an extremely wide field of view. The table was only about 10 feet from the camera, and we can usually see all the way around it. We also discovered that when recording anamorphic on the Alexa LF, we were recording a wider image than was displaying on the monitor output. You can see in the frame grab below that the live display visible on the right side of the image isn’t displaying the full content that got recorded, which is why we didn’t notice that we were recording with the wrong settings with so much vignetting from the lens.

We only discovered this after the fact, from this shot, so we didn’t get the opportunity to track down the issue to see if it was the result of a setting in the camera or in the monitor. This is why we test things before a shoot, but we didn’t “test” before our camera test, so these things happen.

We learned a lot from the process, and hopefully some of those lessons are conveyed here. A big thanks to Brad Wilson and the rest of the guys at Keslow Camera for their gear and support of this adventure and, hopefully, it will help people better prepare to shoot and post with this new generation of cameras.

Main Image: DP Michael Svitak


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.

Red simplifies camera lineup with one DSMC2 brain

Red Digital Cinema modified its camera lineup to include one DSMC2 camera Brain with three sensor options — Monstro 8K VV, Helium 8K S35 and Gemini 5K S35. The single DSMC2 camera Brain includes high-end frame rates and data rates regardless of the sensor chosen. In addition, this streamlined approach will result in a price reduction compared to Red’s previous camera line-up.

“We have been working to become more efficient, as well as align with strategic manufacturing partners to optimize our supply chain,” says Jarred Land, president of Red Digital Cinema. “As a result, I am happy to announce a simplification of our lineup with a single DSMC2 brain with multiple sensor options, as well as an overall reduction on our pricing.”

Red’s DSMC2 camera Brain is a modular system that allows users to configure a fully operational camera setup to meet their individual needs. Red offers a range of accessories, including display and control functionality, input/output modules, mounting equipment, and methods of powering the camera. The camera Brain is capable of up to 60fps at 8K, offers 300MB/s data transfer speeds and simultaneous recording of RedCode RAW and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD/HR.

The Red DSMC2 camera Brain and sensor options:
– DSMC2 with Monstro 8K VV offers cinematic full frame lens coverage, produces ultra-detailed 35.4 megapixel stills and offers 17+ stops of dynamic range for $54,500.
– DSMC2 with Helium 8K S35 offers 16.5+ stops of dynamic range in a Super 35 frame, and is available now for $24,500.
– DSMC2 with Gemini 5K S35 uses dual sensitivity modes to provide creators with greater flexibility using standard mode for well-lit conditions or low-light mode for darker environments priced at $19,500.

Red will begin to phase out new sales of its Epic-W and Weapon camera Brains starting immediately. In addition to the changes to the camera line-up, Red will also begin offering new upgrade paths for customers looking to move from older Red camera systems or from one sensor to another. The full range of upgrade options can be found here.

 

 

NAB First Thoughts: Fusion in Resolve, ProRes RAW, more

By Mike McCarthy

These are my notes from the first day I spent browsing the NAB Show floor this year in Las Vegas. When I walked into the South Lower Hall, Blackmagic was the first thing I saw. And, as usual, they had a number of new products this year. The headline item is the next version of DaVinci Resolve, which now integrates the functionality of their Fusion visual effects editor within the program. While I have never felt Resolve to be a very intuitive program for my own work, it is a solution I recommend to others who are on a tight budget, as it offers the most functionality for the price, especially in the free version.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K looks more like a “normal” MFT DSLR camera, although it is clearly designed for video instead of stills. Recording full 4K resolution in RAW or ProRes to SD or CFast cards, it has a mini-XLR input with phantom power and uses the same LP-E6 battery as my Canon DSLR. It uses the same camera software as the Ursa line of devices and includes a copy of Resolve Studio… for $1,300.  If I was going to be shooting more live-action video anytime soon, this might make a decent replacement for my 70D, moving up to 4K and HDR workflows. I am not as familiar with the Panasonic cameras that it is closely competes with in the Micro Four Thirds space.

AMD Radeon

Among other smaller items, Blackmagic’s new UpDownCross HD MiniConverter will be useful outside of broadcast for manipulating HDMI signals from computers or devices that have less control over their outputs. (I am looking at you, Mac users.) For $155, it will help interface with projectors and other video equipment. At $65, the bi-directional MicroConverter will be a cheaper and simpler option for basic SDI support.

AMD was showing off 8K editing in Premiere Pro, the result of an optimization by Adobe that uses the 2TB SSD storage in AMD’s Radeon Pro SSG graphics card to cache rendered frames at full resolution for smooth playback. This change is currently only applicable to one graphics card, so it will be interesting to see if Adobe did this because it expects to see more GPUs with integrated SSDs hit the market in the future.

Sony is showing crystal light emitting diode technology in the form of a massive ZRD video wall of incredible imagery. The clarity and brightness were truly breathtaking, but obviously my camera rendered to the web hardly captures the essence of what they were demonstrating.

Like nearly everyone else at the show, Sony is also pushing HDR in the form of Hybrid Log Gamma, which they are developing into many of their products. They also had an array for their tiny RX0 cameras on display with this backpack rig from Radiant Images.

ProRes RAW
At a higher level, one of the most interesting things I have seen at the show is the release of ProRes RAW. While currently limited to external recorders connected to cameras from Sony, Panasonic and Canon, and only supported in FCP-X, it has the potential to dramatically change future workflows if it becomes more widely supported. Many people confuse RAW image recording with the log gamma look, or other low-contrast visual interpretations, but at its core RAW imaging is a single-channel image format paired with a particular bayer color pattern specific to the sensor it was recorded with.

This decreases the amount of data to store (or compress) and gives access to the “source” before it has been processed to improve visual interpretation — in the form of debayering and adding a gamma curve to reverse engineer the response pattern of the human eye, compared to mechanical light sensors. This provides more flexibility and processing options during post, and reduces the amount of data to store, even before the RAW data is compressed, if at all. There are lots of other compressed RAW formats available; the only thing ProRes actually brings to the picture is widespread acceptance and trust in the compression quality. Existing compressed RAW formats include R3D, CinemaDNG, CineformRAW and Canon CRM files.

None of those caught on as a widespread multi-vendor format, but this ProRes RAW is already supported by systems from three competing camera vendors. And the applications of RAW imaging in producing HDR content make the timing of this release optimal to encourage vendors to support it, as they know their customers are struggling to figure out simpler solutions to HDR production issues.

There is no technical reason that ProRes RAW couldn’t be implemented on future Arri, Red or BMD cameras, which are all currently capable of recording ProRes and RAW data (but not the combination, yet). And since RAW is inherently a playback-only format, (you can’t alter a RAW image without debayering it), I anticipate we will see support in other applications, unless Apple wants to sacrifice the format in an attempt to increase NLE market share.

So it will be interesting to see what other companies and products support the format in the future, and hopefully it will make life easier for people shooting and producing HDR content.


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.

GTC embraces machine learning and AI

By Mike McCarthy

I had the opportunity to attend GTC 2018, Nvidia‘s 9th annual technology conference in San Jose this week. GTC stands for GPU Technology Conference, and GPU stands for graphics processing unit, but graphics makes up a relatively small portion of the show at this point. The majority of the sessions and exhibitors are focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

And the majority of the graphics developments are centered around analyzing imagery, not generating it. Whether that is classifying photos on Pinterest or giving autonomous vehicles machine vision, it is based on the capability of computers to understand the content of an image. Now DriveSim, Nvidia’s new simulator for virtually testing autonomous drive software, dynamically creates imagery for the other system in the Constellation pair of servers to analyze and respond to, but that is entirely machine-to-machine imagery communication.

The main exception to this non-visual usage trend is Nvidia RTX, which allows raytracing to be rendered in realtime on GPUs. RTX can be used through Nvidia’s OptiX API, as well as Microsoft’s DirectX RayTracing API, and eventually through the open source Vulkan cross-platform graphics solution. It integrates with Nvidia’s AI Denoiser to use predictive rendering to further accelerate performance, and can be used in VR applications as well.

Nvidia RTX was first announced at the Game Developers Conference last week, but the first hardware to run it was just announced here at GTC, in the form of the new Quadro GV100. This $9,000 card replaces the existing Pascal-based GP100 with a Volta-based solution. It retains the same PCIe form factor, the quad DisplayPort 1.4 outputs and the NV-Link bridge to pair two cards at 200GB/s, but it jumps the GPU RAM per card from 16GB to 32GB of HBM2 memory. The GP100 was the first Quadro offering since the K6000 to support double-precision compute processing at full speed, and the increase from 3,584 to 5,120 CUDA cores should provide a 40% increase in performance, before you even look at the benefits of the 640 Tensor Cores.

Hopefully, we will see simpler versions of the Volta chip making their way into a broader array of more budget-conscious GPU options in the near future. The fact that the new Nvidia RTX technology is stated to require Volta architecture CPUs leads me to believe that they must be right on the horizon.

Nvidia also announced a new all-in-one GPU supercomputer — the DGX-2 supports twice as many Tesla V100 GPUs (16) with twice as much RAM each (32GB) compared to the existing DGX-1. This provides 81920 CUDA cores addressing 512GB of HBM2 memory, over a fabric of new NV-Link switches, as well as dual Xeon CPUs, Infiniband or 100GbE connectivity, and 32TB of SSD storage. This $400K supercomputer is marketed as the world’s largest GPU.

Nvidia and their partners had a number of cars and trucks on display throughout the show, showcasing various pieces of technology that are being developed to aid in the pursuit of autonomous vehicles.

Also on display in the category of “actually graphics related” was the new Max-Q version of the mobile Quadro P4000, which is integrated into PNY’s first mobile workstation, the Prevail Pro. Besides supporting professional VR applications, the HDMI and dual DisplayPort outputs allow a total of three external displays up to 4K each. It isn’t the smallest or lightest 15-inch laptop, but it is the only system under 17 inches I am aware of that supports the P4000, which is considered the minimum spec for professional VR implementation.

There are, of course, lots of other vendors exhibiting their products at GTC. I had the opportunity to watch 8K stereo 360 video playing off of a laptop with an external GPU. I also tried out the VRHero 5K Plus enterprise-level HMD, which brings the VR experience to whole other level. Much more affordable is TP-Cast’s $300 wireless upgrade Vive and Rift HMDs, the first of many untethered VR solutions. HTC has also recently announced the Vive Pro, which will be available in April for $800. It increases the resolution by 1/3 in both dimensions to 2880×1600 total, and moves from HDMI to DisplayPort 1.2 and USB-C. Besides VR products, they also had all sorts of robots in various forms on display.

Clearly the world of GPUs has extended far beyond the scope of accelerating computer graphics generation, and Nvidia is leading the way in bringing massive information processing to a variety of new and innovative applications. And if that leads us to hardware that can someday raytrace in realtime at 8K in VR, then I suppose everyone wins.


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.

A Closer Look: Why 8K?

By Mike McCarthy

As we enter 2018, we find a variety of products arriving to market that support 8K imagery. The 2020 Olympics are slated to be broadcast in 8K, and while clearly we have a way to go, innovations are constantly being released that get us closer to making that a reality.

The first question that comes up when examining 8K video gear is, “Why 8K?” Obviously, it provides more resolution, but that is more of an answer to the how question than the why question. Many people will be using 8K imagery to create projects that are finished at 4K, giving them the benefits of oversampling or re-framing options. Others will use the full 8K resolution on high DPI displays. There is also the separate application of using 8K images in 360 video for viewing in VR headsets.

Red Monstro 8K

Similar technology may allow reduced resolution extraction on-the-fly to track an object or person in a dedicated 1080p window from an 8K master shot, whether that is a race car or a basketball player. The benefit compared to tracking them with the camera is that these extractions can be generated for multiple objects simultaneously, allowing viewers to select their preferred perspective on the fly. So there are lots of uses for 8K imagery. Shooting 8K for finishing in 4K is not much different from a workflow perspective than shooting 5K or 6K, so we will focus on workflows and tools that actually result in an 8K finished product.

8K Production
The first thing you need for 8K video production is an 8K camera. There are a couple of options, the most popular ones being from Red. The Weapon 8K came out in 2016, followed by the smaller sensor Helium8K, and the recently announced Monstro8K. Panavision has the DXL, which by my understanding is really a derivation of the Red Dragon8K sensor. Canon has been demoing an 8K camera for two years now, with no released product that I am aware of. Sony announced the 8K 3-chip camera UHC-8300 at IBC 2017, but that is probably out of most people’s price range. Those are the only major options I am currently aware of, and the Helium8K is the only one I have been able to shoot with and edit footage from.

Sony UHC-8300 8K

Moving 8K content around in realtime is a challenge. DisplayPort 1.3 supports 8K at 30p, with dual cables being used for 60p. HDMI 2.1 will eventually allow devices to support 8K video on a single cable as well. (The HDMI 2.1 specification was just released at the end of November, so it will be a while before we see it implemented in products on the market. DisplayPort 1.4 exists today — GPUs, Dell monitor — while HDMI 2.1 only exists on paper and in CES technology demos.) Another approach is to use multiple parallel channels for 12G SDI, similar to how quad 3G SDI can be used to transmit 4K data. It is more likely that by the time most facilities are pushing around lots of realtime 8K content, they will have moved to video IP, and be using compression to move 8K streams on 10GbE networks, or moving uncompressed 8K content on 40Gb or 100Gb networks.

Software
The next step is the software part, which is in pretty good shape. Most high-end applications are already set for 8K, because high resolutions are already used as backplates and for other unique uses, and because software is the easiest part of allowing higher resolutions. I have edited 8K files in Adobe Premiere Pro in a variety of flavors without issue. Both Avid Media Composer and Blackmagic Resolve claim to support 8K content. Codec-wise, there are already lots of options for storing 8K, including DNxHR, Cineform, JPEG2000 and HEVC/H265, among many others.

Blackmagic DeckLink 8K Pro

The hardware to process those files in realtime is a much greater challenge, but we are just seeing the release of Intel’s next generation of high-end computing chips. The existing gear is just at the edge of functional at 8K, so I expect the new systems to make 8K editing and playback a reality at the upper end. Blackmagic has announced the DeckLink 8K Pro, a PCIe card with quad 12G SDI ports. I suspect that AJA’s new Io 4K Plus may support 8K at some point in the future, with quad bidirectional 12G SDI ports. Thunderbolt 3 is the main bandwidth limitation there, but it should do 4:2:2 at 24p or 30p. I am unaware of any display that can take that yet, but I am sure they are coming.

In regards to displays, the only one commercially available is Dell’s UP3218K monitor running on dual DisplayPort 1.4 cables. It looks amazing, but you won’t be able to hook it up to your 8K camera for live preview very easily. An adapter is a theoretical possibility, but I haven’t heard of any being developed. Most 8K assets are being recorded to be used in 4K projects, so the output and display at 8K aren’t as big of a deal. Most people will have their needs met with existing 4K options, with the 8K content giving them the option to reframe their shot without losing resolution.

Dell UP3218K

Displaying 8K content at 4K is a much simpler proposition with current technology. Many codecs allow for half-res decode, which makes the playback requirements similar to 4K at full resolution. While my dual-processor desktop workstation can playback most any intermediate codec at half resolution for 4K preview, my laptop seems like a better test-bed to evaluate the fractional resolution playback efficiency of various codecs at 8K, so that will be one of my next investigations.

Assuming you want to show your content at the full 8K, how do you deliver it to your viewers? H.264 files are hard-limited to 4K, but HEVC (or H.265) allows 8K files to be encoded and decoded at reasonable file sizes, and is hardware-accelerated on the newest GPU cards. So 8K HEVC playback should be possible on shipping mid- and high-end computers, provided that you have a display to see it on. 8K options will continue to grow as TV makers push to set apart their top-of-the-line models, and that will motivate development of the rest of the ecosystem to support them.


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.

Blackmagic embraces 8K workflows with DeckLink 8K Pro

At InterBee in Japan, Blackmagic showed it believes in 8K workflows with the introduction of the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high-performance capture and playback card featuring quad link 12G‑SDI to allow realtime high resolution 8K workflows.

This new DeckLink 8K Pro supports all film and video formats from SD all the way up to 8K DCI, 12‑bit RGB 4:4:4, plus it also handles advanced color spaces such as Rec. 2020 for deeper color and higher dynamic range. DeckLink 8K also handles 64 channels of audio, stereoscopic 3D, high frame rates and more.

DeckLink 8K Pro will be available in early January for US $645 from Blackmagic resellers worldwide. In addition, Blackmagic has also lowered the price of its DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G — to US $895.

The DeckLink 8K Pro digital cinema capture and playback card features four quad-link multi-rate 12G‑SDI connections and can work in all SD, HD, Ultra HD, 4K, 8K and 8K DCI formats. It’s also compatible with all existing pro SDI equipment. The 12G‑SDI connections are also bi-directional so they can be used to either capture or playback quad-link 8K, or for the simultaneous capture and playback of single- or dual-link SDI sources.

According to Blackmagic, DeckLink 8K Pro’s 8K images have 16 times more pixels than a regular 1080 HD image, which lets you reframe or scale shots with high fidelity and precision.

DeckLink 8K Pro supports capture and playback of 8- or 10-bit YUV 4:2:2 video and 10- or 12‑bit RGB 4:4:4. Video can be captured as uncompressed or to industry standard broadcast quality ProRes and DNx files. DeckLink 8K Pro users can work at up to 60 frames per second in 8K and it supports stereoscopic 3D for all modes up to 4K DCI at 60 frames per second in 12‑bit RGB.

The advanced broadcast technology in DeckLink 8K Pro is built into an easy-to-install eight-lane third generation PCI Express for Mac, Windows and Linux workstations. Users get support for all legacy SD and HD formats, along with Ultra HD, DCI 4K, 8K and DCI 8K, as well as Rec. 601, 709 and 2020 color.

DeckLink 8K Pro is designed to work seamlessly with the upcoming DaVinci Resolve 14.2 Studio for seamless editing, color and audio post production workflow. In addition, DeckLink 8K Pro also works with other pro tools, such as Apple Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects, Avid Pro Tools, Foundry’s Nuke and more. There’s also a free software development kit so customers and OEMs can build their own custom solutions.

 

MammothHD shooting, offering 8K footage

By Randi Altman

Stock imagery house MammothHD has embraced 8K production, shooting studio, macros, aerials, landscapes, wildlife and more. Clark Dunbar, owner of MammothHD, is shooting using the Red 8K VistaVision model. He’s also getting 8K submissions from his network of shooters and producers from around the world. They have been calling on the Red Helium s35 and Epic-W models.

“8K is coming fast —from feature films to broadcast to specialty uses, such as signage and exhibits — the Rio Olympics were shot partially in 8K, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be broadcast in 8K,” says Dunbar. “TV and projector manufacturers of flat screens, monitors and projectors are moving to 8K and prices are dropping, so there is a current clientele for 8K, and we see a growing move to 8K in the near future.”

So why is it important to have 8K imagery while the path is still being paved? “Having an 8K master gives all the benefits of shooting in 8K, but also allows for a beautiful and better over-sampled down-rezing for 4K or lower. There is less noise (if any, and smaller noise/grain patterns) so it’s smoother and sharper and the new color space has incredible dynamic range. Also, shooting in RAW gives the advantages of working to any color grading post conforms you’d like, and with 8K original capture, if needed, there is a large canvas in which to re-frame.”

He says another benefit for 8K is in post — with all those pixels — if you need to stabilize a shot “you have much more control and room for re-framing.”

In terms of lenses, which Dunbar says “are a critical part of the selection for each shot,” current VistaVision sessions have used Zeiss Otus, Zeiss Makro, Canon, Sigma and Nikon glass from 11mm to 600mm, including extension tubes for the macro work and 2X doublers for a few of the telephotos.

“Along with how the lighting conditions affect the intent of the shot, in the field we use from natural light (all times of day), along with on-camera filtration (ND, grad ND, polarizers) with LED panels as supplements to studio set-ups with a choice of light fixtures,” explains Dunbar. “These range from flashlights, candles, LED panels from 2-x-3 inches to 1-x-2 foot panels, old tungsten units and light through the window. Having been shooting for almost 50 years, I like to use whatever tool is around that fits the need of the shot. If not, I figure out what will do from what’s in the kit.”

Dunbar not only shoots, he edits and colors as well. “My edit suite is kind of old. I have a MacPro (cylinder) with over a petabyte of online storage. I look forward to moving to the next-generation of Macs with Thunderbolt 3. On my current system, I rarely get to see the full 8K resolution. I can check files at 4K via the AJA io4K or the KiPro box to a 4K TV.

“As a stock footage house, other than our occasional demo reels, and a few custom-produced client show reels, we only work with single clips in review, selection and prepping for the MammothHD library and galleries,” he explains. “So as an edit suite, we don’t need a full bore throughput for 4K, much less 8K. Although at some point I’d love to have an 8K state-of-the-art system to see just what we’re actually capturing in realtime.”

Apps used in MammothHD’s Apple-based edit suite are Red’s RedCineX (the current beta build) using the new IPP2 pipeline, Apple’s Final Cut 7 and FCP X, Adobe’s Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop, and Blackmagic’s Resolve, along with QuickTime 7 Pro.

Working with these large 8K files has been a challenge, says Dunbar. “When selecting a single frame for export as a 16-bit tiff (via the RedCine-X application), the resulting tiff file in 8K is 200MB!”

The majority of storage used at MammothHD is Promise Pegasus and G-Tech Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 RAIDs, but the company has single disks, LTO tape and even some old SDLT media ranging from FireWire to eSata.

“Like moving to 4K a decade ago, once you see it it’s hard to go back to lower resolutions. I’m looking forward to expanding the MammothHD 8K galleries with more subjects and styles to fill the 8K markets.” Until then Dunbar also remains focused on 4K+ footage, which he says is his site’s specialty.

2017 HPA Engineering Excellence Award winners

The HPA has announced the winners of the 2017 Engineering Excellence Award. Colorfront, Dolby, SGO and Red Digital Cinema will be awarded this year’s honor, which recognizes “outstanding technical and creative ingenuity in media, content production, finishing, distribution and/or archiving.”

The awards will be presented November 16, 2017 at the 12th annual HPA Awards show in Los Angeles.

The winners of the 2017 HPA Engineering Excellence Award are:

Colorfront Engine
An automatically managed, ACES-compliant color pipeline that brings plug-and-play simplicity to complex production requirements, Colorfront Engine ensures image integrity from on-set to the finished product.

Dolby Vision Post Production Tools
Dolby Vision Post Production Tools integrate into existing color grading workflows for both cinema and home deliverable grading, preserving more of what the camera originally captured and limiting creative trade-offs.

SGO’s Mistika VR
Mistika VR is SGO’s latest development and is an affordable VR-focused solution with realtime stitching capabilities using SGO’s optical flow technology.

Red’s Weapon 8K Vista Vision
Weapon with the Dragon 8K VV sensor delivers stunning resolution and image quality, and at 35 megapixels, 8K offers 17x more resolution than HD and over 4x more than 4K.

In addition, honorable mentions will also be awarded to Canon USA for Critical Viewing Reference Displays and Eizo for the ColorEdge CG318-4K.

Joachim Zell, who chairs the committee for this award, said, “Entries for the Engineering Excellence Award were at one of the highest levels ever, on a par with last year’s record breaker, and we saw a variety of serious technologies. The HPA Engineering Excellence Award is meaningful to those who present, those who judge, and the industry. It sounds a bit cliché to say that we had a very tight outcome, and it was a really competitive field this year. Congratulations to the winners and to the nominees for another great year.”

The HPA Awards will also recognize excellence in 12 craft categories, covering color grading, editing, sound and visual effects, and Larry Chernoff will receive the 2017 HPA Lifetime Achievement award.

Designed for large file sizes, Facilis TerraBlock 7 ships

Facilis, makers of shared storage solutions for collaborative media production networks, is now shipping TerraBlock Version 7. The new Facilis Hub Server, a performance aggregator that can be added to new and existing TerraBlock systems, is also available now. Version 7 includes a new browser-based, mobile-compatible Web Console that delivers enhanced workflow and administration from any connected location.

With ever-increasing media file sizes and 4K, HDR and VR workflows continually putting pressure on facility infrastructure, the Facilis Hub Server is aimed at future-proofing customers’ current storage while offering new systems that can handle these types of files. The Facilis Hub Server uses a new architecture to optimize drive sets and increase the bandwidth available from standard TerraBlock storage systems. New customers will get customized Hub Server Stacks with enhanced system redundancy and data resiliency, plus near-linear scalability of bandwidth when expanding the network.

According to James McKenna, VP of marketing/pre-sales at Facilis, “The Facilis Hub Server gives current and new customers a way to take advantage of advanced bandwidth aggregation capabilities, without rendering their existing hardware obsolete.”

The company describes the Web Console as a modernized browser-based and mobile-compatible interface designed to increase the efficiency of administrative tasks and improve the end-user experience.

Easy client setup, upgraded remote volume management and a more integrated user database are among the additional improvements. The Web Console also supports Remote Volume Push to remotely mount volumes onto any client workstations.

Asset Tracking
As the number of files and storage continue to increase, organizations are realizing they need some type of asset tracking system to aid them in moving and finding files in their workflow. Many hesitate to invest in traditional MAM systems due to complexity, cost, and potential workflow impact.

McKenna describes the FastTracker asset tracking software as the “right balance for many customers. Many administrators tell us they are hesitant to invest in traditional asset management systems because they worry it will change the way their editors work. Our FastTracker is included with every TerraBlock system. It’s simple but comprehensive, and doesn’t require users to overhaul their workflow.”

V7 is available immediately for eligible TerraBlock servers.

Check out our interview with McKenna during NAB:

Comprimato plug-in manages Ultra HD, VR files within Premiere

Comprimato, makers of GPU-accelerated storage compression and video transcoding solutions, has launched Comprimato UltraPix. This video plug-in offers proxy-free, auto-setup workflows for Ultra HD, VR and more on hardware running Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

The challenge for post facilities finishing in 4K or 8K Ultra HD, or working on immersive 360­ VR projects, is managing the massive amount of data. The files are large, requiring a lot of expensive storage, which can be slow and cumbersome to load, and achieving realtime editing performance is difficult.

Comprimato UltraPix addresses this, building on JPEG2000, a compression format that offers high image quality (including mathematically lossless mode) to generate smaller versions of each frame as an inherent part of the compression process. Comprimato UltraPix delivers the file at a size that the user’s hardware can accommodate.

Once Comprimato UltraPix is loaded on any hardware, it configures itself with auto-setup, requiring no specialist knowledge from the editor who continues to work in Premiere Pro CC exactly as normal. Any workflow can be boosted by Comprimato UltraPix, and the larger the files the greater the benefit.

Comprimato UltraPix is a multi-platform video processing software for instant video resolution in realtime. It is a lightweight, downloadable video plug-in for OS X, Windows and Linux systems. Editors can switch between 4K, 8K, full HD, HD or lower resolutions without proxy-file rendering or transcoding.

“JPEG2000 is an open standard, recognized universally, and post production professionals will already be familiar with it as it is the image standard in DCP digital cinema files,” says Comprimato founder/CEO Jirˇí Matela. “What we have achieved is a unique implementation of JPEG2000 encoding and decoding in software, using the power of the CPU or GPU, which means we can embed it in realtime editing tools like Adobe Premiere Pro CC. It solves a real issue, simply and effectively.”

“Editors and post professionals need tools that integrate ‘under the hood’ so they can focus on content creation and not technology,” says Sue Skidmore, partner relations for Adobe. “Comprimato adds a great option for Adobe Premiere Pro users who need to work with high-resolution video files, including 360 VR material.”

Comprimato UltraPix plug-ins are currently available for Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Foundry Nuke and will be available on other post and VFX tools soon. You can download a free 30-day trial or buy Comprimato UltraPix for $99 a year.

Post vet Katie Hinsen now head of operations at NZ’s Department of Post

Katie Hinsen, who many of you may know as co-founder of the Blue Collar Post Collective, has moved back to her native New Zealand and has been named head of operations at Aukland’s Department of Post.

Most recently at New York City’s Light Iron, Hinsen comes from a technical and operations background, with credits on over 80 major productions. Over a 20-year career she has worked as an engineer, editor, VFX artist, stereoscopic 3D artist, colorist and finishing artist on commercials, documentaries, television, music videos, shorts and feature films. In addition to Light Iron, she has had stints at New Zealand’s Park Road Post Production and Goldcrest in New York.

Hinsen has throughout her career been involved in both production and R&D of new digital acquisition and distribution formats, including stereoscopic/autostereoscopic 3D, Red, HFR, HDR, 4K+ and DCP. Her expertise includes HDR, 4K and 8K workflows.

“I was looking for a company that had the forward-thinking agility to be able to grow in a rapidly changing industry. New Zealand punches well above its weight in talent and innovation, and now is the time to use this to expand our wider post production ecosystem,” says Hinsen.

“Department of Post is a company that has shown rapid growth and great success by taking risks, thinking outside the box, and collaborating across town, across the country and across the world. That’s a model I can work with, to help bring and retain more high-end work to Auckland’s post community. We’ve got an increasing number of large-scale productions choosing to shoot here. I want to give them a competitive reason to stay here through Post.“

Department of Post was started by James Brookes and James Gardner in 2008. They provide offline, online, color, audio and deliverables services to film and television productions, both local and international.

Quick Chat: Josh Haynie Light Iron’s VP of US operations

Post services company Light Iron has named veteran post pro Josh Haynie to VP of US operations, a newly created position. Based in Light Iron’s Hollywood facility, Haynie will be responsible for leveraging the company’s resources across Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans and future locations.

Haynie joins Light Iron after 13 years at Efilm, where, as managing director, he maintained direct responsibility for all aspects of the company’s operations, including EC3 (on-location services), facility dailies, trailers, digital intermediate, home video and restoration. He managed a team of 100-plus employees. Previously, Haynie held positions at Sunset Digital, Octane/Lightning Dubs and other production and post companies. Haynie is an associate member of the ASC and is also actively involved in the HPA, SMPTE, and VES.

“From the expansion of Light Iron’s episodic services and New York facilities to the development of the color science in the new Millennium DXL camera, it is clear that the integration of Panavision and Light Iron brings significant benefits to clients,” says Haynie.

He was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer some of our questions…

Your title hints Light Iron opening up in new territories. Can you talk about this ? What is happening in the industry that this makes sense?
We want to be strategically located near the multiple Panavision locations. Productions and filmmakers need the expertise and familiarity of Light Iron resources in the region with the security and stability of a solid infrastructure. Projects often have splinter and multiple units in various locations, and they demand a workflow continuity in these disparate locations. We can help facilitate projects working in those various regions and offer unparalleled support and guidance.

What do you hope to accomplish in your first 6 to 12 months? What are your goals for Light Iron?
I want to learn from this very agile team of professionals and bring in operational and workflow options to the rapidly changing production/post production convergence we are all encountering. We have a very solid footing in LA, NY and NOLA. I want to ensure that each unit is working together using effective skills and technology to collaborate and allow filmmakers creative freedom. My goal is to help navigate this team though the traditional growth patterns as well as the unpredictable challenges that lie ahead in the emerging market.

You have a wealth of DI experience and knowledge. How has DI changed over the years?
The change depends on the elevation. From a very high level, it was the same simple process for many years: shoot, edit, scan, VFX, color — and our hero was always a film print. Flying lower, we have seen massive shifts in technology that have re-written the play books. The DI really starts in the camera testing phase and begins to mature during the production photography stage. The importance of look setting, dailies and VFX collaboration take on a whole new meaning with each day of shooting.

The image data that is captured needs to be available for near set cutting while VFX elements are being pulled within a few short days of photography. This image data needs to be light and nimble, albeit massive in file size and run time. The turnarounds are shrinking in the feature space exponentially. We are experiencing international collaboration on the finish and color of each project, and the final render dates are increasingly close to worldwide release dates. We are now seeing a tipping point like we encountered a few years back when we asked ourselves, “Is the hero a print or DCP?” Today, we are at the next hero question, DCP or HDR?

Do you have any advice for younger DI artists based on your history?
I think it is always good to learn from the past and understand how we got here. I would say younger artists need to aggressively educate themselves on workflow, technology, and collaboration. Each craft in the journey has experienced rapid evolvement in the last few years. There are many outlets to learn about the latest capture, edit, VFX, sound and distribution techniques being offered, and that research time needs to be on everyone’s daily task list. Seeking out new emerging creative talent is critical learning at this stage as well. Everyday a filmmaker is formulating a vision that is new to the world. We are fortunate here at Light Iron to work with these emerging filmmakers who share the same passion for taking that bold next step in storytelling.

Red shipping Epic-W and new Weapon cameras

Red Digital Cinema is shipping two new cameras — the Red Epic-W and the newest Weapon. Both feature the compact design of the DSMC2 form factor, as well as the new Helium 8K S35 sensor. Helium, Red’s latest sensor technology, allows for higher resolution in an S35 frame while maintaining the dynamic range found in the Red Dragon sensor.

The Epic-W 8K S35 captures 8K full-frame motion at up to 30fps, produces ultra-detailed 35.4 megapixel stills and offers Super 35 lens coverage. Epic-W is capable of data speeds up to 275 MB/s and is priced at $29,500 (for the camera Brain).

red_weapon_8k_s35The Weapon 8K S35 is the latest option in the Weapon line of cameras, featuring data speeds up to 300MB/s, the ability to capture 8K full frame motion at up to 60fps, and a sensor upgrade path to the Red Dragon 8K VV. It is available for the same price as the Weapon 6K with Red Dragon sensor, at $49,500 for the Brain.

“From the very beginning, we’ve strived to not only develop the best imaging technology on the planet, but also make it available to as many shooters as possible,” Says Jarred Land, President of Red Digital Cinema. “The Weapon remains our premier camera… and now comes with the option to either go with the 8K Helium sensor or 6K Dragon sensor.

Red is offering special pricing on these new cameras for registered Red camera owners — as well as those that have placed a deposit for Red Raven and Scarlet-W — starting at $14,500 for the Epic-W. Click here for more info.

In related news, Red has pre-announced that it will introduce an improved image processing pipeline, including new color science, in the coming weeks. These improvements will be available in-camera on all Brains with a Helium sensor, and will be available to all footage shot on Redcameras in post production. The new image processing pipeline will be made available soon via free firmware and software upgrades.

All of Red’s DSMC2 cameras shoot simultaneous RedCode RAW and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD/HR.

IBC 2016: VR and 8K will drive M&E storage demand

By Tom Coughlin

While attending the 2016 IBC show, I noticed some interesting trends, cool demos and new offerings. For example, while flying drones were missing, VR goggles were everywhere; IBM was showing 8K video editing using flash memory and magnetic tape; the IBC itself featured a fully IP-based video studio showing the path to future media production using lower-cost commodity hardware with software management; and, it became clear that digital technology is driving new entertainment experiences and will dictate the next generation of content distribution, including the growing trend to OTT channels.

In general, IBC 2016 featured the move to higher resolution and more immersive content. On display throughout the show was 360-degree video for virtual reality, as well as 4K and 8K workflows. Virtual reality and 8K are driving new levels of performance and storage demand, and these are just some of the ways that media and entertainment pros are future-zone-2increasing the size of video files. Nokia’s Ozo was just one of several multi-camera content capture devices on display for 360-degree video.

Besides multi-camera capture technology and VR editing, the Future Tech Zone at IBC included even larger 360-degree video display spheres than at the 2015 event. These were from Puffer Fish (pictured right). The smaller-sized spherical display was touch-sensitive so you could move your hand across the surface and cause the display to move (sadly, I didn’t get to try the big sphere).

IBM had a demonstration of a 4K/8K video editing workflow using the IBM FlashSystem and IBM Enterprise tape storage technology, which was a collaboration between the IBM Tokyo Laboratory and IBM’s Storage Systems division. This work was done to support the move to 4K/8K broadcasts in Japan by 2018, with a broadcast satellite and delivery of 8K video streams of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The combination of flash memory storage for working content and tape for inactive content is referred to as FLAPE (flash and tAPE).

The graphic below shows a schematic of the 8K video workflow demonstration.

The argument for FLAPE appears to be that flash performance is needed for editing 8K content and the magnetic tape provides low-cost storage the 8K content, which may require greater than 18TB for an hour of raw content (depending upon the sampling and frame rate). Note that magnetic tape is often used for archiving of video content, so this is a rather unusual application. The IBM demonstration, plus discussions with media and entertainment professionals at IBC indicate that with the declining costs of flash memory and the performance demands of 8K, 8K workflows may finally drive increased demand for flash memory for post production.

Avid was promoting their Nexis file system, the successor to ISIS. The company uses SSDs for metadata, but generally flash isn’t used for actual editing yet. They agreed that as flash costs drop, flash could find a role for higher resolution and richer media. Avid has embraced open source for their code and provides free APIs for their storage. The company sees a hybrid of on-site and cloud storage for many media and entertainment applications.

EditShare announced a significant update to its XStream EFS Shared Storage Platform (our main image). The update provides non-disruptive scaling to over 5PB with millions of assets in a single namespace. The system provides a distributed file system with multiple levels of hardware redundancy and reduced downtime. An EFS cluster can be configured with a mix of capacity and performance with SSDs for high data rate content and SATA HDD for cost-efficient higher-performance storage — 8TB HDDs have been qualified for the system. The latest release expands optimization support for file-per-frame media.

The IBC IP Interoperability Zone was showing a complete IP-based studio (pictured right) was done with the cooperation of AIMS and the IABM. The zone brings to life the work of the JT-NM (the Joint Task Force on Networked Media, a combined initiative of AMWA, EBU, SMPTE and VSF) and the AES on a common roadmap for IP interoperability. Central to the IBC Feature Area was a live production studio, based on the technologies of the JT-NM roadmap that Belgian broadcaster VRT has been using daily on-air all this summer as part of the LiveIP Project, which is a collaboration between VRT, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and LiveIP’s 12 technology partners.

Summing Up
IBC 2016 showed some clear trends to more immersive, richer content with the numerous displays of 360-degree and VR content and many demonstrations of 4K and even 8K workflows. Clearly, the trend is for higher-capacity, higher-performance workflows and storage systems that support this workflow. This is leading to a gradual move to use flash memory to support these workflows as the costs for flash go down. At the same time, the move to IP-based equipment will lead to lower-cost commodity hardware with software control.

Storage analyst Tom Coughlin is president of Coughlin Associates. He has over 30 years in the data storage industry and is the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide. He also  publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report.