Tag Archives: John Stevens

Cobalt Digital’s card-based solution for 4K/HDR conversions

Cobalt Digital was at NAB showing with card-based solutions for openGear frames for 4K and HDR workflows. Cobalt’s 9904-UDX-4K up/down/cross converter and image processor offers an economical SDR-to-HDR and HDR-to-SDR conversion for 4K.

John Stevens, director of engineering at Burbank post house The Foundation, calls it “a swiss army knife” for a post facility.

The 9904-UDX-4K upconverts 12G/6G/3G/HD/SD to either UHD1 3840×2160 square division multiplex (SDM) or two-sample interleave (2SI) quad 3G-SDI-based formats, or it can output SMPTE ST 2082 12G-SDI for single-wire 4K transport. With both 12G-SDI and quad 3G-SDI inputs, the 9904-UDX-4K can downconvert 12G and quad UHD. The 9904-UDX-4K provides an HDMI 2.0 output for economical 4K video monitoring and offers numerous options, including SDR-to-HDR conversion and color correction.

The 9904-UDX-4K-IP model offers the same functionality as the 9904-UDX-4K SDI-based model, plus it also provides dual 10GigE ports to support for the emerging uncompressed video/audio/data over IP standards.

The 9904-UDX-4K-DSP model provides the same functionality as the 9904-UDX-4K model, and additionally also offers a DSP-based platform that supports multiple audio DSP options, including Dolby realtime loudness leveling (automatic loudness processing), Dolby E/D/D+ encode/decode and Linear Acoustic Upmax automatic upmixing. Embedded audio and metadata are properly delayed and re-embedded to match any video processing delay, with full adjustment available for audio/video offset.

The product’s high-density openGear design allows for up to five 9904-UDX-4K cards to be installed in one 2RU openGear frame. Card control/monitoring is available via the DashBoard user interface, integrated HTML5 web interface, SNMP or Cobalt’s RESTful-based Reflex protocol.

“I have been looking for a de-embedder that will work with SMPTE ST-2048 raster sizes — specifically 2048×1080 and 4096×2160,” explains Stevens. “The reason this is important is Netflix deliverables require these rasters. We use all embedded audio and I need to de-embed for monitoring. The same Cobalt Digital card will take almost every SDI input from quad link to 12G and output HDMI. There are other converters that will do some of the same things, but I haven’t seen anything that does what this product does.”

Quick Chat: The Foundation’s Gareth Cook

By Randi Altman

Not long ago, two industry veterans put their heads together and came up with a plan for a boutique-type post house that would offer clients the technology and workflows required for today’s productions in a comfortable and accommodating atmosphere. The result was Burbank-based The Foundation, which offers offline rentals, on-set, near-set and traditional dailies, online editing, color correction, visual effects, titling and delivery services for TV, OTT content, music videos, commercials and features. Whew!

Let’s dig in deeper with managing partner and senior colorist Gareth Cook, who over the past 20 years has worked at Technicolor, Laser Pacific Media Corp., MTI Film and Ascent Media. His credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. His partner, Cliff Dugan, has spent over 25 years in the television and film industry focusing on post. Prior to The Foundation, Dugan was VP of technical sales at Technicolor, EVP of Laser Pacific’s television division and VP of sales and marketing at Ascent Media Group.

Your staff is made up of industry veterans. Who are they, and how did you come together?
Our team has an extensive background in post, from the days of film to the development of today’s file-based workflows. It might sound cliché, but the foundation of The Foundation is really our staff. As a new company, it is very important that we have the right team. Our core group has worked together a lot over many years, and we’re thrilled to be able to “get the band back together.”

In addition to myself, the team includes our other managing partner Cliff Dugan, who is heading business development; senior editor and technical director Dan Aguilar, who is a multiplatform editor and VFX artist; and our director of engineering, John Stevens, who is always looking to push the envelope of technology to increase efficiency and enhance a client’s experience.

How will The Foundation differ from the facilities you have worked at in the past? Did you sort of build your own “ideal” of a studio?
We really did. The Foundation is something Cliff and I wanted to start for several years — a boutique facility with big power. That means that we’re delivering high-quality services but also flexible enough to adjust as our clients need us to. We spent a lot of time planning and searching for the right partners, and we found them in Sixteen19 and Vortechs. We like to say that The Foundation is “powered by” Sixteen19, which has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London and Vancouver and provides location-based dailies, DI color and VFX and Vortechs, which is based in Los Angeles and has grown from an Avid rental and support company to a provider of post solutions.

Why is now the time to start something new?
Today’s technology allows us to offer the same services as the larger facilities, but within a more client-friendly environment.

Can you talk specifically about what gear you use?
Truthfully, equipment is equipment, but it’s how John and Dan put everything together that makes The Foundation unique. For example, every bay can access each piece of equipment, whether it’s Resolve, Avid, Flame, Smoke, etc., so if an editor finds a color “pop” during a session, he can access the Resolve and correct the issue. Or the colorist can step in make the correct right there in the edit bay. The guys have done an incredible job setting this place up.

Can you name some recent projects you’ve worked on and what you did?
We finished the color correction on The Real O’Neals for ABC, which premiered March 8, and we did VFX and color for Cinemax’s Banshee and Quarry. We’re currently doing the post for The CW’s iZombie, a CBS pilot called Furst Born and the new 20th Century Fox series, Shots Fired.

What haven’t I asked that’s important?
Our location! We’re located right across the street from Warner Bros, and half a mile from Disney, Universal and The Burbank Studios.

Meet The Director of Engineering: John Stevens

NAME: John Stevens

COMPANY: Hollywood-based MTI Film, LLC (http://www.mtifilm.com, @MTIFilm)

The official line is: MTI Film is a full-service post facility providing dailies, editorial, visual effects, color correction and assembly for film, television and commercial projects. MTI also boasts a new DI theater that is fully calibrated and capable of 4K play back.

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