Tag Archives: quality control

Review: Cinedeck’s CineXtools and CineX-Plugins

By Brady Betzel

Since we are now in the final throes of tape-based deliverables (hopefully), file-based deliverables are now king. However, one of the perks of running tape-based network deliverables was the ability to QC your work for a final time before going to the network for an official QC. With file-based deliverables it gets a little trickier. While you definitely should watch your final QuickTime before sending it to the network, time isn’t always on your side and sometimes you have to just send them after export.

This is where tools from Cinedeck can come in to play. Cinedeck offers hardware and software tools. The hardware consists of the ZX, RX2 and HX1. Each has its own unique offerings that can be read about here. Simply put, the Cinedeck hardware acts like a traditional tape deck (even in Avid Media Composer it will be recognized as a Sony tape deck). You can assemble-edit, insert-edit, re-stripe timecode and much more. What really makes these hardware-based products worth their weight is the ability to insert-edit directly into a variety of codecs quickly and without the need to re-wrap the QuickTime.

Whether it is audio and/or video, you can insert just as smoothly as you would with a tape deck. Best of all you can watch your output in realtime for that last round of QC before shipping off your file. The Cinedeck hardware can work with many codecs, color spaces and bit depths. From ProRes to DNxHR, you can insert-edit into almost anything in realtime.

Cinedeck works its magic with constant bit rate (CBR) QuickTimes. You cannot insert edit into variable bit rate (VBR) QuickTimes. So for those wondering, ProRes is inherently a VBR QuickTime. However, with Cinedeck’s software offerings and plugins you can work the same magic as with the Cinedeck hardware, but from your NLE of choice or CineXtools.

CineXtools is a software-based version of Cinedeck that allows you to insert-edit fixes, re-wrap a QuickTime with a new audio layout, or even create blank insert-edit-ready media. This means that after you export a file and receive QC notes back, you can just export the fixed segments and use cineXtools to insert those sections. There is no re-wrapping or re-exporting necessary, saving you tons and tons of time. You can even mix codecs when inserting, so if you have a ProRes HQ master but a DNxHD fix, you can do the insert easily. Going even further, Cinedeck will mix bit rates and color spaces, although mixing color spaces could get problematic.

Audio versioning

Cinedeck has also released plugins for Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere to allow insert editing into QuickTimes directly from your NLE. This is a huge time saver. I can’t overstate how valuable this plugin is if you deal with fixes, versioning or captioning changes. Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve has a function to output their ProRes QuickTimes as CBR, which helps if you also have CineXtools for your insert-edit fixes.

Keep in mind, if you use ProRes you will have to be running these plugins and apps on a MacOS-based system. Otherwise, you will only get PC-compatible codecs like XDCAM or DNxHD/HR. You can sign up for a free trial and download all of the latest versions of the CineXplugins as well watch tutorials here.

Pricing
The Cinedeck hardware can get pricey (tens of thousands of dollars) depending on the options that you add. The CineXtools standalone app can range from $1,495 for the first year (and $480 each year for renewal) to $2,295 for the first year (and $804 each year for renewal). The highest price gets you the CineXtools app, as well as all of the supported codecs for insert-editing capabilities, including AVC-I, XAVC, IMX, XDCAM and the standard ProRes, DNxHD, DNxHR and DPX with the following wrappers: MOV, MXF Op1A and MXF OpAtom.

To insert-edit closed captions you will need to purchase that add-on for $2,995 plus $995 a year for renewal in addition to whichever CineXtools you purchase.

You can read about their pricing structures here. There are some additional offerings available like the $99 daily bundle that allows you to get the tools you need on a one-day basis, which can actually be a great way to work with CineXtools. If you don’t need to QC all the time, you can purchase the tools only when you need them, saving hundreds and thousands of dollars. There is also monthly pricing on the different versions, for instance you can purchase just the CineXtools that works with ProRes for just $39 dollars a month.

Trim extend

Summing Up
In the end, CineXtools and CineX-Plugins will save you tons of time, which equals money if you do a lot of fixing, revisions or versioning. The only problems I’ve had with CineXtools revolve around trying to insert audio files based on in-points. If you have audio stems that match your QuickTime lengths exactly, CineXtools will work. However, I couldn’t get an insert-edit with audio files to match if I had to mark my own in-time on the audio files and a custom in-time on my destination file. For some reason it would never work. Nonetheless, with simple replacement video shots CineXtools is a lifesaver and worth its weight in gold.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Testronic opens second VR test center

Testronic has opened a dedicated virtual reality test center in its Burbank headquarters. The VR test center is the company’s second, as they also launched one in their Warsaw, Poland, location earlier this year, further expanding their full-service QA testing services.

“Consumer VR is in its infancy, and nobody knows what it will become years from now,” said Jason Gish (pictured right), Testronic’s senior VP for film and television. “As VR evolves, consumer eJason Gish, Testronicsmallxpectations will grow, requiring more exploratory and inventive QC processes. Testing VR content has unique requirements, and the integrity of VR content is crucial to its functionality. It is critical to have an understanding of aspects like head tracking and other core VR functions in order to develop a thorough test approach. Issues in VR can not only take you out of the experience, but can cause simulator sickness. Beyond testing for the usual bugs and functionality imperfections, VR is deeply rooted in user experience, and Testronic’s test approach reflects that understanding.”

Testronic was also an early testing pioneer of user experience design (UX), developing one of the first UX labs in the US.

Vidcheck heading to NAB with ‘Vidapps’ for After Effects, Premiere

Video processed with Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro will soon be able to take advantage of Vidcheck’s intelligent “Vidapps-Video” plug-in to correct RGB gamut and YUV levels within the NLE.

Uk-based Vidcheck, which makes automated quality control software with patented intelligent video and audio correction, will be at NAB this year showing the latest version of its Vidchecker and Vidfixer product suites. These have been extended to include a range of video applications (Vidapps) for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, enabling users to check and automatically correct video and audio errors without leaving the Adobe environment.

This means that users of Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro can correct illegal video levels to broadcast safe parameters using Vidcheck’s patented algorithms which correct the video without clamping it. (Clamping being an antiquated means of achieving broadcast safe content that can cause undesirable degradations of the resulting picture).

Vidcheck’s Vidapps-Video provides checking and correction as part of the edit process and is designed to be used as the last stage of post production, immediately before the media is rendered. This approach means the user can be confident that the rendered media will fully comply with the specified requirements before it leaves the Adobe environment.

As part of using Vidapps, an XML report can be generated and saved as a record that QC corrections were done and, if required, be forwarded to the client for the media file. The report can also be ‘skinned’ with the logo and colors of the post house/video editor to make it highly specific and identifiable to them.

Additional Vidapps plug-ins are currently available for audio and photosensitive epilepsy (PSE) checking, and others are in development for introduction later in 2015.

Vidcheck’s core Vidchecker and Vidfixer AQC products are scalable from low-cost versions for post production to sophisticated Vidchecker/Vidfixer Grid systems suitable for larger enterprises. In addition to watch folder automation, Vidcheck’s API has been integrated into many MAM and workflow engine solutions across the industry for seamless addition of complex AQC into any workflow.