Small High Performance Laptops

Posted by Mike McCarthy on September 22nd, 2014 filed in Hardware News, Product Reviews
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I have been in the market for a new laptop for a long time. As much as I love my Sony Vaio Z1, it doesn’t have USB3 or DisplayPort support, and there were some driver support issues with newer applications. But it was very challenging to find a new solution that packed that much computing power into a system that small. I was used to being able to get 8 hours of battery life out of my 3lbs laptop, while still enjoying a 1080p screen, with the option to use a GeForce 330M in my video apps. A discrete NVidia GPU was non-negotiable, to use Adobe CS and Resolve, as well as the increasingly rare 3D game I might play. Integrated mobile broadband, DVD burner, and noise canceling earphones were just bonuses.
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IBC 2014 Announcements

Posted by Mike McCarthy on September 17th, 2014 filed in Hardware News, Software News
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As always, Blackmagic Design had a number of new products to announce at IBC.  But their biggest news to release, was their acquisition of Eyeon Software, makers of Fusion 7.  I have never used Fusion myself, but I have heard of it over the years, usually because it was one of the supported applications of the hardware I was using.  Based on the description, it appears to be an After Effects competitor, in both the motion graphics and compositing space.  It will be interesting to see where that partnership goes, but I foresee integration with DaVinci Resolve, which just had an 11.1 update released at the show.  The other new product that stands out, is their Smartview 4K full resolution SDI monitor.  It has built-in LUT color processing support, and Teranex based resolution scaling.  It will be interesting to see how good the panel in that is when it is released in December.
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New HP Workstations Released

Posted by Mike McCarthy on September 8th, 2014 filed in Hardware News, Product Reviews
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I recently had the privilege to attend HP’s press event for the release of their new product lineup, in Ft. Collins CO. I got to see all of their new products in action, and tour the labs where they develop and test those products. I was quite impressed by the amount of engineering that goes into their box, which is what really sets them apart from the competition. I built many systems from scratch before buying my first professional workstation. I still have an XW8600 under my desk at home, and I have no intention of buying any tower in the future that doesn’t come from that Ft. Collins facility.  Laptops are a different story though, since there are more factors to “weigh.”

Most of my insights on the products HP released are summed up in an article I wrote for, so you can find those details here. I will be digging deeper into high-end laptop options soon, since I am in the market for a new one myself in the very near future.  So stay tuned for more info on that front shortly.

NAB 2014 Wrap Up

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 10th, 2014 filed in Hardware News, Industry Status
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Blackmagic Design had a variety of new products on display at NAB.  The single most interesting one from my perspective is their new film scanner from recently acquired Cintel.  Everything I hear is always “film is dead.”  If that is true, why would anyone be interested in buying a film scanner?  And while we can now scan our own film for $30K, how are we going to get it developed.  The previous process that I am accustomed to, is to send your exposed negative to the lab, and they send you back an HDCam-SR tape, or a stack of DPX files.  Instead, getting the negative back to scan on your own doesn’t seem very appealing.  I imagine that it is aimed at customers who have a lot of existing film on hand, which was processed in the past, that they now want to digitize.  But is there really that big of a market for that?  It will be interesting to see.
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NAB 2014 First Look

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 7th, 2014 filed in Hardware News
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I find myself in Las Vegas once again, attending my tenth NAB convention.  There is no doubt that 4K and UltraHD will be the primary themes this year, with many new products updated to operate at those higher resolutions.  Cameras have actually been available in that range for many years now, as have the software solutions.  The missing pieces have been on the display and delivery side, so that is where I expect to see the most significant advances.
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Need For Speed

Posted by Mike McCarthy on March 12th, 2014 filed in Workflow Ideas
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In my role at Bandito Brothers, I have been working for the last year on the film Need for Speed, which releases in theaters this Friday.  This has been a very different project from our last one, Act of Valor.  Having the backing of a major studio like DreamWorks makes for a totally different production process.  After bootstrapping nearly ever aspect of Act of Valor for four years, Need for Speed has been a much shorter project start to finish.
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Adobe Creative Cloud

Posted by Mike McCarthy on June 20th, 2013 filed in Software News
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Adobe finally released the much advertized “Creative Cloud” version of their applications this week.  The most significant aspect of that change is that significant software updates can be released on a much faster cycle.  The other big change is that instead of buying a permanent license for a specific application, users buy a monthly subscription to access all of Adobe’s software, to be downloaded and installed whenever they need it.  Contrary to what the name implies, the software doesn’t actually get hosted from the cloud, only the installers do.  Similar to previous versions of Creative Suite, owning a single license allows software to be installed on two systems, and anything beyond that will require juggling activations.
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4K Video Over 6G-SDI Connections

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 21st, 2013 filed in Hardware News, Industry Status
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We began seeing the first products supporting 6G SDI announced at NAB this year.  I heard this was coming, but didn’t fully grasp the significance of it until looking around the show floor.  Hardly anyone is using dual-link 3G connections, presumably for 1080p60 in full RGB, and basically all 4K work is done in RGB, so going from four cables to two isn’t that helpful.  But broadcast applications with QuadHD frame-sizes is where this new technology is going to be key.
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