Tag Archives: Jeff Edson

Assimilate Scratch and Scratch VR Suite upgraded to V.8.6

Assimilate is now offering an open beta for Scratch 8.6 and the Scratch VR Suite 8.6, the latest versions of its realtime post tools and workflow — VR/360 and 2D/3D content, from dailies to conform grading, compositing and finishing. Expanded HDR functions are featured throughout the product line, including in Scratch VR, which now offers stitching capabilities.

Both open beta versions gives pros the opportunity to actively use the full suite of Scratch and Scratch VR tools, while evaluating and submitting requests and recommendations for additional features or updates.

Scratch Web for cloud-based, realtime review and collaboration, and Scratch Play for immediate review and playback, are also included in the ecosystem updates. Both products support VR/360 and 2D/3D content.

Current users of the Scratch VR Suite 8.5 and Scratch Finishing 8.5 can download the Scratch 8.6 open beta. Scratch 8.6 open beta and the Scratch VR Suite open beta are available now.

“V8.6 is a major update for both Scratch and the Scratch VR Suite with significant enhancements to the HDR and ACES workflows. We’ve added stitching to the VR toolset so that creators have a complete and streamlined end-to-end VR workflow,” says Jeff Edson, CEO at Assimilate. “The open Beta helps us to continue developing the best and most useful post production features and techniques all artists need to perfect their creativity in color grading and finishing. We act on all input, much of it immediately and some in regular updates.”

Here are some details of the update:

HDR
• PQ and HLG transfer functions are now an integral part of Scratch color management.
• Scopes automatically switch to HDR mode if needed and show levels in a nit-scale; highlights any reference level that you set.
• At the project level, define the HDR mastering metadata: color space, color primaries and white levels, luminance levels and more. The metadata is automatically included in the Video HDMI interface (AJA, BMD, Bluefish444) for display.
• Static metadata has the function to calculate dynamic luminance metadata like MaxCLL and MaxFall.
• HDR footage can be published directly to YouTube with HDR metadata.

VR/360 – Scratch VR Suite
• 360 stitching functionality: load all your source media from your 360 cameras into Scratch VR and combine it to a single equirectangular image. Support for camera stitch templates: AutoPano projects, Hugin and PTStitch scripts.
• Ambisonic Audio: Scratch VR can load, set and playback ambisonic audio files to complete the 360 immersive experience.
• Video with 360 sound can be published directly to YouTube 360.
• Additional overlay handles to the existing 2D-equirectangular feature for more easily positioning 2D elements in a 360 scene.

DIT Reporting Function
• Create a report of all clips of either a timeline, a project or just a selection of shots.
• Reports include metadata, such as a thumbnail, clip-name, timecode, scene, take, comments and any metadata attached to a clip.
• Choose from predefined templates or create your own.

Assimilate Scratch 8.5, Scratch VR Suite available for open beta

Assimilate is offering an open-beta version of Scratch 8.5, its realtime post system and workflow for dailies, conform, grading, compositing and finishing. Also in open beta is the Scratch VR Suite. Both open-beta versions give users the chance to work with the full suite of Scratch 8.5 and Scratch VR tools while evaluating and submitting requests and recommendations for additional features or updates.

Scratch Web for cloud-based, realtime review and collaboration, and Scratch Play for immediate review and playback, are also included in the ecosystem updates. Current users of Scratch 8.4 can download the Scratch 8.5 open beta. Those who are new to Scratch can access the Scratch 8.5 open-beta version for a 30-day free trial. The Scratch VR open-beta version can also be accessed for a 30-day free trial.

“Thanks to open-Beta programs, we get at lot of feedback from current Scratch users about the features and functions that will simplify their workflows, increase their productivity and enhance their storytelling,” explains Assimilate CEO Jeff Edson. “We have two significant Scratch releases a year for the open-beta program and then provide several incremental builds throughout the year. In this way Scratch is continually evolving to offer bleeding-edge functionality, as well as support for the latest formats, for example, Scratch was the first to support Arri’s mini-camera MXF format.”

New to Scratch 8.5
• Easy validation of availability of physical media and file references throughout a project, timeline and render
• Fast access to all external resources (media / LUT / CTL / etc.) through bookmarks
• Full set of ACES transforms as published by the Academy
• Publishing media directly to Facebook
• Option to launch Scratch from a command-line with a series of xml-script commands, which allows closer integration with post-infrastructure and third-party software and scripts

The new Scratch VR Suite includes all the features and functions of Scratch 8.5, Scratch Play and Scratch Web, plus substantial features, functions and enhancements that are specific to working in a 360 media environment.

Talking to Assimilate about new VR dailies/review tool

CEO Jeff Edson and VP of biz dev Lucas Wilson answer our questions

By Randi Altman

As you can tell from our recent Sundance coverage, postPerspective has a little crush on VR. While we know that today’s VR is young and creatives are still figuring out how it will be used — narrative storytelling, gaming, immersive concerts (looking at you Paul McCartney), job training, therapy, etc. — we cannot ignore how established film fests and trade shows are welcoming it, or the tools that are coming out for its production and post.

One of those tools comes from Assimilate, which is expanding its Scratch Web cloud-platform capabilities to offer a professional, web-based dailies/review tool for reviewing headset-based 360-degree VR content, regardless of location.

How does it work? Kind of simply: Users launch this link vr360.sweb.media on an Android phone (Samsung S6 or other) via Chrome, click the goggles in the lower right corner, put it in their Google Cardboard and view immediate headset-based VR. Once users launch the Scratch Web review link for the VR content, they can playback VR imagery, pan around imagery or create a “magic window” so they can move their smart phone around, similar to looking through a window to see the 360-degree content behind it.

The VR content, including metadata, is automatically formatted for 360-degree video headsets, such as Google Cardboard. The reviewer can then make notes and comments on their mobile device to send back to the sender. The company says they will be announcing support for other mobile devices, headsets and browsers in the near future.

On the heels of this news, we decided to reach out to Assimilate CEO Jeff Edson and VP of business development Lucas Wilson to find out more.

Assimilate has been offering tools for VR, but with this new dailies and reviews tool, you’ve taken it to a new level. Can you talk about the evolution of how you service VR and how this newest product came to be?
Jeff Edson: Professional imagery needs professional tools and workflows to succeed. Much like imagery evolutions to date (digital cinema), this is a new way to capture and tell stories and provide experiences. VR provides a whole new way for people to tell stories amongst other experiences.

So regarding the evolution of tools, Scratch has supported the 360 format for a while now. It has allowed people to playback their footage as well as do basic DI — basic functionality to help produce the best output. As the production side of VR continues to evolve, the workflow aligns itself with a more standard process. This means the same toolset for VR as exists for non-VR. Scratch Web-VR is the natural progression to provide VR productions with the ability to review dailies worldwide.

Lucas Wilson: When VR first started appearing as a real deliverable for creative professionals, Assimilate jumped in. Scratch has supported 360 video live to an Oculus Rift for more than a year now. But with the new Scratch Web toolset and the additional tools added in Scratch to make 360 work more easily and be more accessible, it is no longer just a feature added to a product. It is a workflow and process — review and approval for Cardboard via a web link, or via the free Scratch Play tool, along with color and finishing with Scratch.

It seems pretty simple to use, how are you able to do this via the cloud and through a standard browser?
Jeff: The product is very straight forward to use, as there is a very wide range of people who will have access to it, most of whom do not want the technology to get in the way of the solution. We work very hard at the core of all we have developed — interactive performance.

Lucas: Good programmers (smiles)! Seriously though, we looked at what was needed and what was missing in the VR delivery chain and tried to serve those needs. Scratch Web allows users to upload a clip and generate a link that will work in Cardboard. Review and approval is now just clicking a link and putting your phone into a headset.

What’s the price?
Jeff: The same price as Scratch Web — Free-Trial, Basic-$79/month, Extended-$249/month and Enterprise for special requirements.

Prior to this product, how were those working on VR production going about dailies and reviews?
Jeff: In most cases they were doing it by looking at output from several cameras for review. The main process for viewing was to edit and publish. There really was no tool targeted at dailies/review of VR.

Lucas: It has been really difficult. Reviews are typically done on a flat screen and by guessing, or by reverse engineering MilkVR or Oculus Videos in GearVR.

Can you talk about real-world testing of the product? VR productions that used this tool?
Lucas: We have a few large productions doing review and approval right now with Scratch Web. We can’t talk about them yet, but one of them is the first VR project directed by an A-List director. There are also two of the major sports leagues in the US who employed the tool.

Assimilate Scratch 8.4 targets DITs, post workflows

Assimilate’s latest version of Scratch is now available. Scratch 8.4 is offering new features such as ACES Log, support of the new 10-bit deep-color option in the latest version of OS X, bi-directional editing and improved online content review. According to company CEO Jeff Edson, their goal is “developing realtime tools and a workflow that DITs, post artists and all filmmakers need,” at an affordable price. Scratch 8.4 is available at a range of price points, from $60 per month to $650 per year. Site licenses are also available.

“We provide an extensive toolset for DITs so they can easily work with multiple formats,” says Edson. “They can also do everything, from simple jobs to expanding their skill set to color grade on set, collaborate on looks with DPs, do visual previews and create deliverables. And now with Scratch Web they can do cloud-based, realtime reviews as well.”

The new ACES log-grading option, they say, makes working in ACES as easy as working in any other log-space media. ACES Log gives the Scratch grading tools a more natural feel and response when working with ACES clips, and there’s no need to convert media or add steps to an ACES workflow. Users can just set the Scratch project to use ACES Log, and the Scratch color-space management will take care of any required transforms.

Scratch 8.4 also offers increased conform flexibility so users can now import a partial timeline from an EDL, AAF or XML project and use placeholders for any missing media, all while preserving all the metadata from the conform file. They can easily replace the placeholders at a later time, when the missing media becomes available.

There is an enhanced noise generator in this new version, which enables better blending of composite elements from different sources into the main scene. Another update includes a new video wall option, which allows users to quickly view and compare a series of versions of a single shot, or compare multiple shots within a timeline in one view. With the new right-view option, they can display all versions on a reference screen or projector for the client and update in realtime while continuing to work on the individual shots on their main UI display. Enhanced XML scripting options let users further extend and integrate Scratch with other tools to create an advanced and fully automated processing pipeline. Additional multilingual options are also available, so in addition to a simple switch from an English to Chinese UI, Scratch now has bidirectional editing capabilities for text in Arabic, Hebrew or other bidirectional languages. This feature is useful for entering any metadata in a Scratch project, as well as for rendering subtitles or adding burn-in text onto output.

The company also announced new features for Scratch Web, including:

– A quick-link option to create a direct link to a publication. Users can restrict that link with an expiration date or protect it with a password.
– The ability end links to clients for content review. The client does not need a Scratch Web account.
– Customizable subdomains that go beyond changing the background of the log-in screen and uploading a logo. Users can create a subdomain to brand a facility.

Jeff Edson talks about Assimilate Scratch/Kinefinity camera bundle

Last week Assimilate announced a partnership with the Chinese camera company Kinefinity, which, says the company, provides a digital filmmaking path from on-set production to post to the high-growth Chinese marketplace, where Kinefinity has a large foothold.

Assimilate says this collaboration offers Chinese filmmakers an all-in-one solution for 2D/3D productions, from image capture with a high-resolution Kinefinity camera (4K, 6K) — which uses the KineRaw codec — to using Scratch tools for on-set data management and dailies and post, including conform, color grading, versioning, compositing, finishing and mastering. A key component of the partnership is the commitment to provide localized tutorials and technical support to the Chinese market.

The partnership also includes Kinefinity becoming a global reseller of the Scratch product line. Kinefinity is now offering a Kinefinity-Scratch bundle for new customers… worldwide. If someone buys a KineMini 4K or KineMax 6K camera, they receive one Scratch product license (a one-year subscription) for free. Kinefinity is also offering current Kinefinity camera owners special pricing for the purchase of Scratch.

In addition, Kinefinity is offering all of their camera customers the ability to acquire further Scratch licenses at a discounted price. (Without the discount, the current global pricing for Scratch 8.3 is one-year rental license at $650 US and a permanent license — including first-year maintenance/support — is $3,000 US.)

Jeff Edson, and milkshake

Jeff Edson, and a milkshake.

On the heels of this announcement we reached out to Assimilate CEO Jeff Edson to find out more.

Your announcement about this partnership emphasized the Chinese market, but you also mention these bundles are available worldwide. Are Kinefinity cameras only available in China?
No, the cameras are available worldwide. Kinefinity is building their channels outside of China, and have a reseller in Europe. But  this is clearly important to Assimilate from the standpoint of the Chinese market. For us this is a key partnership for that market: a localization and local support partner, etc.

In what other countries do you expect this bundle to play a big role?
With the number of digital cameras that keep coming to market — each one with their own set of unique offerings — we see more and more people who are camera neutral. Shooters are trying everything new that comes along, all in the name of creating the best images they can. I think that it is key for all cameras to be honest — a workflow that goes along with their cameras.

We see almost all cinema cameras providing some tool to get people from camera to some point in the post workflow. With the rate at which new technology comes to market, to keep this from becoming all about technology and focused on creating great stories, these kinds of bundles are important, in my opinion.

What are the benefits of this particular bundle for filmmakers? Is it only for the high-end or anyone shooting on any camera?
Kinefinity has a 4K Mini as well as their 6K high-end cameras. I talked a bit about the importance of these kinds of bundles with new cameras and, to be honest, the ability to deliver this kind of bundle helps with the deployment/use/success of using new cameras…so I  believe the target is everyone.

Can you walk us through the workflow benefits of this bundle?
It provides the kind of camera-to-dailies controls/workflow that is key to developing on-set looks and then takes it seamlessly to post and finishing, As you know, Scratch is used worldwide in all parts of the workflow, from on-set to finishing and everything in between. This provides filmmakers the ability to shoot with these new cameras and work in ways they are used to, focusing on the imagery as opposed to technology.

Can users expect other types of bundles like this with other camera makers?
Time will tell…there have been these kinds of conversations with camera vendors for years. For example, our relationship with Red started from day one. They did not bundle, but certainly promoted with us closely.

We have done some special promotions regionally with Sony, specifically in Latin America. It is not a bundle, per se, but it is a very aggressive offering with their F55/F65 cameras in that region. This was also done with Sony in the EMEA market.

At the channel level we have done a bundle with AJA Kona4/Io 4K products (via B&H) as well as announced a bundle with Bluefish444 with their 4K Neutron product. I believe that as all parts of the technology move ahead for 4K and beyond, focusing on workflow is more important than the pieces.

Anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add or elaborate on?
As you know from our history, Assimilate has always been on the front edge of technology in our markets, and the same is true with VR now. This is a market that screams for partnerships between the camera world and tools for finishing.