It has been quite a while, but I hope to get back into the habit of posting regularly, now that I have returned to Hollywood. A few items of interest have surfaced while I have been away. Many products that were announced at NAB have finally begun to ship to customers, and we are seeing how they hold up in real production environments.
Convergent Design has begun shipping the first units of their Flash XBR solid state HD-SDI recorder, and announced an even smaller model, the nanoFlash. Many people are planning to use these to increase the record quality of their standard HD camcorders, but I see the most revolutionary application in combining them with an Iconix camera, for and ultra light-weight and mobile HD recording device. I recently used some early beta versions of FFV’s Elite HD recorder that saves HD-SDI to SATA drives in JPEG2000 format. We had some issues, but at the end of the day, it got the job done. The nanoFlash should be much lighter, generate less heat, and have much lower power requirements, allowing it to be used in even more extreme situations for longer periods of time. As a bonus, the MPEG2 MXF files that it saves to its CompactFlash cards can be edited natively on a number of NLEs, including I believe, Matrox AXIO. I am not sure the relationship between this format, and Sony’s new XDCam 422, which is quite similar, besides that the nanoFlash allows higher bitrates.
Apple recently released a free ProRes playback decoder for both OSX and Windows, which is pretty significant. This with allow Final Cut Pro editors to share their footage using this efficient codec with Windows users and Mac users who don’t have Final Cut Pro. Since there is still no way to encode to ProRes on PC, another format is still required to get footage back from the PC to the Mac.
Reading between the lines of some of NVidia’s Nvision, I believe I have acertained the specs on Nvidia’s next top end workstation graphics card. The NVidia Quadro FX 5800 will have 4GB of memory, with a PCI-Express 2.0 interface, for 8GB/sec of bandwidth in both directions. It should have two dual link DVI connectors and one DisplayPort connector, besides the usual Quadro stereo port. It should support SLI Mosaic Mode, using four connections from two cards to support a four quadrant image, which will eventually allow full resolution display of 4K footage in realtime.
Speaking of 4K, Red has announced that Adobe will be releasing a plugin to edit R3D files natively in the CS3 suite of applications. Coinciding with that due to the release of the first version of the Red SDK, Cineform has finally released an “official” version of their Red4K convertor. They have also begun to advocate an offline/online workflow for the first time, under the brand name of Cineform Express. My only comment is, once Adobe supports Red natively, shouldn’t the online be done straight from the R3D files? In a perfect world, a Cineform offline with a relink to R3D files, exported as an EDL to SpeedGrade for color would be the ideal way to do post with Red footage. If only life was that simple; maybe someday it will be.