IBC 2015 News

Posted by Mike McCarthy on September 13th, 2015 filed in Hardware News, Software News, Workflow Ideas
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So with IBC opening this week in Amsterdam, there are a few new announcements worth noting.  Now that 4K is old news, and supported by most products, regardless of who is actually using it, HDR is the new buzzword.  That is a little more complicated than just upping the pixel count, so it will be interesting to see how this impacts existing workflows.

Adobe of course has a new iteration of  upcoming updates for the Creative Cloud applications.  Premiere now supports HDR media and color space, especially with the Lumetri toolset, which is now also available in AE.  It supports H.265 files which are the big new thing in 4K, as well as DNxHR and OpenEXR sequences.  Media Encoder has a lot of new audio options, especially for broadcast formats, and can now export and publish directly to Youtube and Vimeo among other sites.  They also have improved tools in Premiere and Audition for adjusting the length of video and audio assets.  On the video end, they have a new optical flow frame interpolation tool, and with audio they have Remix which adjusts the length of musical elements while maintaining the “musicality” of the original asset.

AJA has a few new products on display.  The FS3 brings their line of Frame Synchronizers into the world of 4K.  It scales HD and SD content to 4K at maximum possible quality.  The Corvid HEVC is a hardware encoding card for 4K signals or up to four independent streams of HD.  It encodes to HEVC (also known as H265) in realtime, up to 60fps.  It also supports file to file encoding, so maybe someday I will be able to use one to encode my PPro 4K timeline export, otherwise it has a very different target market from where I work.

Blackmagic Design released new versions of Resolve and Fusion, that were originally announced at NAB, and a few other minor product revisions.  Canon is demonstrating a functioning 8K camera in their EOS Cinema line, but it is a long way from release, and they have a future 8K display that we can look forward to as well.  While I am all for 4K, I am not sure how I feel about 8K.

Sony has a couple of new cameras.  The PXW-FS5 records XAVC from a Super35 sensor to SD cards in smaller professional camcorder form-factor.  The A7sII is an update to their popular full frame DSLR, with a 4K sensor instead of pixel binning from a higher res still sensor.  The larger pixels also give better low light sensitivity.  I have been a Canon guy since Act of Valor, and I really like my 70D, but I may have to check out the Sony’s when it comes time to upgrade.

NAB 2015 News and Analysis

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 15th, 2015 filed in Hardware News, Industry Status
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AJA has a couple new mini-converters they are releasing, but most of their news is in the form of software updates. They have new software partners, new unified installers and features for their desktop products, and continued progress on their CION camera which is now shipping. They can route and capture CION’s raw data over 3G-SDI hardware, which offers some pretty slick new workflow possibilities, albeit in a narrow set of potential use cases.

Across the aisle, Blackmagic Design has a slew of new products they are showing off. There are all sorts of new variations to their URSA camera line, and some smaller ones as well. There are new versions of Resolve and Fusion, with Resolve getting multi-camera editing and multi-track audio features. There are new 12G SDI routers, recorders and Teranex converters, as well as their Thunderbolt I/O interface for Avid, with hardware support for encoding H265 or ProRes. DNxHR will be an option in the future, similar to how Avid’s previous hardware was designed.
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HP Professional Display and Workstation Updates

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 13th, 2015 filed in Hardware News, Industry Status
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HP has a couple of new products to show at NAB that are relevant to digital film makers. The most significant one by far, is the new UHD Dreamcolor monitor, the Z32x. This product has been anticipated for years, and is still a few months away from being released to the public this summer, but we do have some specific details. It will be a 31.5″ panel with a 3840×2160 native resolution. It will support HDMI 2.0, as well as various Displayport and DVI options. It will also support quad panel HD for viewing 4 independent images from the various inputs simultaneously. The price has not been announced, but the HP Dreamcolor line has a history of offering high end displays at mid level prices. They aren’t low budget products, but they are much more reasonable than other options with similar features.
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Pre-NAB Product Announcements

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 12th, 2015 filed in Hardware News, Software News
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There are all sorts of new releases across the industry that are being announced before the NAB show even begins in Vegas. While I will do a bit more research after the show opens, here are a few of the things that have already caught my eye. Canon has a variety of new 4K products, including their new DP-V2410 24″ full 4K reference monitor. They also have two new 4K cameras to go with it, the tiny XC10, and the Cinema EOS C300 Mark2. Both cameras record a new 4K XF-AVC format to CFast cards. XF-AVC is an H264 based compression format, in an MXF wrapper, with various color and resolution options. It can record UHD or 4K at up to 30fps at 10bit 4:2:2. It can also record HD or 2K at 120fps and up to 12bit 4:4:4 color. The new C300 is $16K, with a faster sensor for less rolling shudder, and a maximum bitrate of 410Mb for 4K material. The XC-10 with it’s 1″ CMOS sensor is limited to 310Mb XF-AVC, and is expected to be around $2500.
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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 PostPerspective.com, 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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