The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

CAT | Video Technology

I had time to do some export testing from Premiere Pro CC and Final Cut Pro X 10.1. Definite proof that second GPU is being used, and worth it!

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There as been some discussion – and a little panic – as the news has leaked out from developers that “QuickTime is deprecated”. What does that mean and what affect will it have on video professionals? When an OS API (Application Programming Interface) is deprecated, developers are warned to not write any new code using that API, because at some future (usually unspecified) time, the API will go away and the code won’t run.

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Buried in John Siracusa’s excellent review of OS X Mavericks is this little gem:

Modern Macs with integrated GPUs get some nice improvements in Mavericks. Any Mac with Intel’s HD4000 graphics or better can now run OpenCL on the integrated GPU in addition to the CPU and any discrete GPU.

It’s that little bold bit that makes it special! With OpenCL increasingly taking up the load of general computer processes previously forced on the CPU, the more we can take advantage of the GPU power already installed.

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I have conflicting thoughts about 4K for production and distribution. At one level I’m convinced it’s being pushed on us by equipment manufacturers when there is no real demand: at another I know from experience that there are some non-obvious advantages to 4K. But one thing is clear: the push to 4K is not about a push to improved quality.

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After Terry Curren’s round up of last year’s Hollywood Post Alliance Retreat I decided I should attend this year. While I was working on marketing for Lumberjack – our real time location logging tool – I got an email from the HPA offering spaces in the demo room during the retreat. It was immediately obvious that this was the time and place to reveal what we’ve been working for the last 8-9 months.

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So curiosity took me through Ars Technica’s look at the Romney campaign’s technology – Romney campaign got its IT from Best Buy, Staples, and friends- and got down to the heading Picking a few things up at the Apple Store and see that Apple picked up a decent customer in the campaign. (more…)

Good editing, they say, should be invisible. Great audio not only enhances the picture but a well designed soundscape takes the project to a whole other level. Similarly, we never notice the work of the “finisher”, or colorist (although at the most basic level) – or even the editor – who makes sure that all shots are balanced, and consistent.

It’s not something you notice, until a show comes along so bad that it affects the enjoyment of the show. These two shots are just one of the many, many, examples from the same show where shots are gray and washed out, or overly contrasty. Even when they are purportedly the same set up.

With just one shot between them, this is typical of the jarring jump in levels. They’re on green screen with the backgrounds matted in – very obvious when the hair line just gets blurred because, well, doing a decent key was too hard?

I know budgets are tight, but seriously, the rarely-great-but-never-this-bad color match feature from FCP X would be better than this!

These are stills extracted from a digital file, not screen shots. What was seen on the screen had slightly different gamma (not surprisingly) but otherwise was just as jarring.

On the International Media User Group (IMUG) an email group, Eric Darling of eThree Media posed a common question, essentially betting against the success of Final Cut Pro X in the “post production industry”. Not surprisingly, I disagree. I believe that, ultimately, Final Cut Pro X is the fastest professional NLE and that will be the reason it eventually dominates.
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At StreamingMedia.com   wrote:

It came as no surprise to anyone working in our industry that MPEG DASH and HEVC were the talk of this year’s IBC in Amsterdam — at least in the Connected World area of the show in Hall 14, in which IBC cordons off those of us whose interest in the synergy between broadcast and online comes firmly from the online angle.

What was a bit surprising, however, was the degree to which both the DASH delivery scheme and the HEVC codec (also known as H.265) were discussed as faits accomplis and debated as either “it’s about time” standards or a combined one-two punch that would be the death knell of innovation in the online video technology space.

I’ve discussed HEVC (High Efficiency Video codec) a.k.a H.265 before. MPEG-DASH is a new streaming media format. Given that a large percentage of delivery has moved to a real-time delivery over HTTP then a consistent real time delivery format is desirable as a standard. MPEG continues to refer to the standards body – the Motion Picture Expert Group – while DASH referrs to Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP. This is very similar to what Apple and others are using now for HLS (HTTP LIve Streaming, which is also adaptive).

So we’re looking at an evolution into the next generation of MPEG codec with a newly standardized real time delivery format. I like standards, particularly when there aren’t too many! This one feels very real:

But the combination of MPEG DASH and HEVC created a perfect storm in which it was quite clear that for every vendor in our space who feels that any sort of standard is anathema to the advance of both technological invention and capitalist progress, there are just as many who feel like agreeing upon a standard delivery system and corresponding codec will actually enable greater innovation to occur on different fronts. The fact that word came out just prior to IBC that the French government had “mandated” the use of MPEG DASH in all connected televisions gave ammunition to the anti-standards contingent — which, of course, includes a subset that also happens to be anti-European, or at least Francophobic. (As Siglin also reported, the reality is quite a bit more nuanced — the requirement applies only to France’s TNT 2.0 HbbTV connected TV scheme.)

Streaming Media are putting on a special MPEG-DASH mixer at the Streaming Media West Show in two weeks.

One thing that fascinates me are numbers: not for their own sake, but for what they reveal. While re-reading John Buck’s excellent Timelines2 (recommended reading for anyone who is interested in the history of the NLE, volume 2 takes us just past the release of Final Cut Pro 1) I came across some interesting numbers, particularly juxtaposed with a Beat.tv post titled Adobe Claims “Industry Leadership” in Video Editing with 2.5 Million Users. Remembering that Apple have claimed 2 million “seats” of Final Cut Pro (1-7). And I’m pretty sure Avid have sold a few copies of Media Composer, Sony copies of Vegas, and Grass Valley aren’t in the Edius business for giggles. So, somewhat more than 2 million NLE users in our modern world. (more…)

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