#NABShow Day 03.02 @CodexDigital booth

An evolutionary year at NAB for the guys at Codex Digital, who were featuring two really interesting developments for the company.

Codex thunderbolt dock + Codex review + Vault

20140408-092753.jpg

20140408-092806.jpg

20140408-092818.jpg

Codex has completely revamped their UI which looks really nice, modern and streamlined and added an impressive suite of features. The demo we had showed metadata editing, CDL grading, QC review. The performance from the connected thunderbolt dock was really impressive (500 meg/sec from dock to vault), and the playback control from the little touchscreen on the vault was astonishing when we found out we were looking at 4k playing back. I can see this suite of tools being the first real competition for Colorfront OSD in years.

Codex Action Cam.

20140408-093812.jpg

20140408-093757.jpg

This is really where you see that Codex is a company that has what a lot of other companies are only talking about on their roadmap- a technology platform that allows them to explore products that are outside their ‘core business’ but when you see them make so much sense and that also have that much-sought-after ‘cool’.

These little cameras that they’ve developed can be used as POV angle, witness cam, or to just give your VFX department a slightly offset element to extend plates. You could see how they could be applied for a 3d shoot as well. They are powered directly of an attached Codex Onboard and would give the DP an extra tool to maximize coverage on a shoot.

They look good and are just such a neat idea for the company.

Status

#NABShow 2014 Day 03.01 Black Magic booth

Although it was released last year, I’m still pretty blown away by this little 4k camera.

This year they had far more peripheral devices, stands, mounts etc for it, so it made more sense- you could see how it may work on a proper production.

The ‘talkshow’ galley that they set up to let people use the camera really showed it off well..

20140407-110432.jpg

20140407-110451.jpg

20140407-110444.jpg

20140407-122722.jpg

#NABShow 2014 Day 02.02 Shooting and post for EDR/ HDR #edr @dolby

Panel was: Curtis Clark, ASC (Moderator) Matt Litwiller, Observatory Media Collin David, Observatory Media Travis LaBella, Observatory Media Rick Taylor, Dolby Laboratories

Panel was:
Curtis Clark, ASC (Moderator)
Matt Litwiller, Observatory Media
Collin David, Observatory Media
Travis LaBella, Observatory Media
Rick Taylor, Dolby Laboratories

 

 

 

 

EDR stands for Enhanced Dynamic Reproduction, which is Dolby’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) application. This discussion talked about EDR, in reference to one specific short film that was put through post as an EDR project, Telescope.


images

Telescope was a short film that shot on the F65 and followed an ACES workflow color pipeline (more on ACES here), so was able to adapt during finish to an EDR color and mastering pipeline.

EDR has an extended contrast range, which is viewable on the Dolby Pulsar monitor, which has a 4000 nit response (a nit is a measure of luminance).

EDR mode on the F65 has a theoretical 19 stops of latitude, and is fine within an ACES colour pipeline, which can handle up to a 30 stop dynamic range. There are only a few cameras that can encapsulate this dynamic range- F65 and RED Dragon were chosen for this very specific task.

Both DPs on stage spoke about the fantastic dynamic range, which enables far superior detail in highlights and shadow areas, and both spoke about the fact that the descisions when mastering were about what to leave out, not what you could hope to include. The wide gamut and deep colour saturation gives a very different palette with which to tell the story, and allows a real finesse to the grading of the material shot.

The high latitude allowed for a high degree of practical lighting from the art direction- lighting that comes from the actual set, in this case from the LED buttons in the spaceship and ambient light from the lights that are part of the set. This style of shooting will give cinematographers a greater freedom because they will not need to fill light quite so much- they can rely on the latitude a lot more. This will be a gift to night and low-light shooting.

What has not caught up yet is the on-set monitoring and scopes available, so while it was shot, the film was only monitored down to REC709 color space, discarding a lot of the detail.  In fact, quite a few of the participants said that they did not realize the wide detail and color range available on the EDR shots until they got into the DI and mastering.

This goes right into the politics of workflow- how do you manage expectations and get consensus on the ‘look’ of the film when you can’t view even an approximation of the final product while you’re on set? Dolby is showing a prototype at this NAB show to address this- an onset monitor that displays 2000 nits, and would be priced to be an effective onset monitor. The VFX unit on Telescope was taking 16 bit linear EXR files anyway, so they were aware of the maximum latitude available, even though they do not have the monitoring or compositing techniques to take advantage of this at the moment.

TelescopeScifiShortFlyingLinestsr01

Dolby uses the Dolby Vision system in order to create the various format deliverables, and this system was able to land onto the many different colour spaces required for a full deliverable list.  The grade was still done in P3 colour space, and regulated by ACES. In fact, during this process, the ACES RRT (Reference Rendering Transform) needed to be adjusted, as it rolled off dramatically at 14 fL (foot Lamberts), but the EDR had a nmuch higher latitude, beyond this point. Now because of this process, the new RRT gives an extended head room within the RRT to allow for EDR images.

“The beauty of aces is that it allows for these issues with new formats to be resolved, so it is a constantly evolving workflow tool”– Curtis Clarke

 

The promise of this style of shooting is only just being exploited. The panelists imagined, for example, a horror film shot completely in the low end, deep blacks of an image, and what this could do for storytelling. This was a major thread of the talk from every panelist- that these techniques need to support the storytelling. This is just the start, and you can imagine just how a new generation of filmmakers will take advantage of the new latitude- a generation that had never known that 9 or 12 stops in image latitude was the limit anyway.

 

#NABshow 2014 Day 2.01- Distributive Creativity

Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love ‘the cloud’..

Speakers: Josh Rizzo, Hula Post (Moderator) Joe Beirne, Technicolor/ Postworks NY Ramy Katrib, Digital Film Tree Matt Schneider, Technicolor/ Postworks NY

Speakers:
Josh Rizzo, Hula Post (Moderator)
Joe Beirne, Technicolor/ Postworks NY
Ramy Katrib, Digital Film Tree
Matt Schneider, Technicolor/ Postworks NY

A great session, that spoke to a lot that’s going on in post production and computing at the moment.

 

We’ve had 100 years of filmmaking, 30 years of computing and a 10 year timeframe to integrate them together, with some successes and some failures. The inevitable total merge of these processes is, that catch-all concept, ‘the cloud’. But in this context, the cloud just really means centralized networked storage, combined with the ability to bring creative and technical processes to that storage.

In this environment, Post Production is facing extreme competition from clients that can and will hire commodity machines to get work done at lower prices. The post facility needs to be smarter than just a place of for-hire rental, and needs better technology than the client can source for themselves.

OpenStack

OpenStack

Ramy Katrib from Digital Film Tree took up this theme by talking about OpenStack, an open source cloud project initiated by Nasa and Rackspace. Openstack gives the ability to set up an open cloud environment, that is “like Amazon & Azure, but way cooler”. It gives the ability to set up storage and networking in the same place, is highly scalable and avoids vendor lock-in. And because it is open source it engenders what Ramy called “Co-opetition”: a platform that is used among highly competitive entities, who develop individually and share common technology at the same time.

In Openstack, you can have many ‘stacks’ that are geographically distributed but appear as one storage block. It has intelligence to distribute and sync files to all parts of the stack- in this case, Production Office, Studio Archive, VFX, Editorial may all be separate stacks, and OpenStack works out what files are needed where.

Simple stack

 

Each stack in the whole can have all data, or a security-restricted part of the whole relevant to the work being done at that location.

Metadata is replicated through all parts of the OpenStack, and then heavier data is drip-fed based on bandwidth and delivery time. The files are allowed to form relationships with each other through the many users and applications interacting with the files, to build a ‘community of data’. The data is managed by rules and algorithm- applications still need to be developed to support decision making on large data sets. An archive information management client that I’ve been working with refers to the principle of ‘disposition’- determining what’s valuable in a near archive, what gets moved into deeper, longer-term archive, and what gets deleted and disposed of- this process will be managed by humans presiding over smart algorithms in the future.

Joe Beirne finished by speaking about a principle that is coming through education now with astonishing results- the Flip Classroom. The students do the homework with teachers during the day, and then go home to listen to the lectures online. This same principle is now being applied most to the post facility- it’s only the really intensive data-crunching work and work that required calibrated environments that needs to be done indoors, at the facility. Everything else can be done away from the facility- distributed processed brought to storage.

But even these calibrated environments can now be built wherever a client wants. Once the data is everywhere, school is out.

 

#NABshow 2014- Day 01 Future Of Cinema

NAB day 01- Post Summit

Thanks to my good friends at Fox Searchlight, I was given a flex-pass for the summit in the weekend leading up to the National Association of Broadcasters trade show- the tech geek out orgy that is NAB.

These posts are meant to serve as a highlights reel of what I thought was interesting.

IMF- Interoperable Mastering Format. 

The IMF is one of those things that has been spoken about for two or three years, and is not becoming a reality. The IMF was first proposed a number of years ago, and a group of studios and interested parties took it up to SYMPTE to put a standard together much in the vein of what the DCI committee did for Digital Cinema recently.

The IMF is proposed to be a ‘Grand’ master format that encapsulates all of the various language and subtitle elements that make up an international master group, but in one package. It intends to do this without repeating or duplicating content- so for instance you would store your dialogue and fx tracks, and turn on and off the enclosed english, french, german dialogue tracks for every suitable market.

Annie Chang’s video below explains it much more succinctly, and is the basis of her presentation at NAB.  I think it’s a great idea that each studio didn’t invent their own format, but rather worked together through a standards committee to get this work done.

Already IMF compliance has been announced by Amberfin, Colorfornt, DVS, Fraunhoffer and others.

One of the biggest drawbacks that Annie stated was that she wanted DAM and MAM systems to also recognize and  be able to use the IMF elements contained in the package.

 

More on IMF here…


FAT Choi

The Fox boys and I hit Fat Choy for lunch- it’s a little out of the way, in a local casino, and doesn’t look like much, but it’s the most amazing American diner/ asian fusion I’ve had- and I’ve not had that before. Check it out, and try the duck and pork belly bao- usually a fluffy bun but kinda served like a burger. Awesome. Shout out to Scott Jackson, who knew the score.

 


 

S. Jackson lookin' all futuristic.

S. Jackson lookin’ all futuristic.


Laser Projection

This was an interesting demo on what’s possible with laser projection, especially for 3D. At the time I was watching it, it sparked an interesting conversation on Facebook between myself and stereographer friend of mine Marcus Alexander, who has done far more stereography that I have:

  • Ben Baker We’re knee deep in a conversation about the regulatory environment for lasers at the moment, and on laser ‘speckle’.. All in PowerPoint 1-d.. no images as yet.
  • Marcus Alexander PowerPoint. The future of visual presentations.
  • Ben Baker This is interesting- a ‘6primary’ color system- 3 for each eye- and glasses tuned to laser wavelengths.
  • Ben Baker This is now barco’s presentation. Still no images to look at..
    Marcus Alexander That hopefully means better news for DI – the filtration is a killer. Also opens up for more facilities to get things wrong – set the primaries per eye!
  • Ben Baker The promise is more consistent light both across the screen and over time it seems. A lot of them are talking about dci-compliance, so I wonder if there needs to be a specific laser projection master made. Probably does. Crap.
  • Ben Baker The thing is that the manufacturers are all pitching it to the exhibitor crowd, who only bought 2k dlp’s three years ago, and have no appetite for more purchases. Also I think the ‘3d bump’ in ticketing has died down a lot now.
  • Marcus Alexander It better have. As for mastering – it’s definitely studio specific and even then – they all have their preferences.
  • Ben Baker Yup- Christie guy said it all is colour timed specifically for 14fL
    Marcus Alexander Nice. It’s then simply a need for chains to buy it to make it the standard or else we are back into a world of calibrated environments are the approval. General distribution is a severe difference
  • Ben Baker Just saw the demo- trailers for Frozen, Hobbit 2. It was pretty impressive. Sharp, deep, bright. No separation at all that I saw, and I’m sitting way to the left up the front. The HFR hobbit looked better than I saw on a dlp in a cinema I must say.
  • Marcus Alexander That’s good to hear. Perceptual sharpness for post converted movies is a must and there’s obviously the issues with screen brightness.

So, that was day one. apart from sitting by the gondola in the Valazzo under an artificial sky, watching artificial gondoliers sing artificially to their marks in the boat, somehow having a romantic experience while rowing through a shopping mall.

Such is vegas.

Until Tomorrow..

Faux-romantic