There have been a number of interesting announcements at IBC this last week. Adobe has announced a slew of improvements to the various apps available on Creative Cloud. The most significant of which will be Team Projects, when it is released. Team Projects will be asset groups shared between multiple cloud users, with version control and conflict resolution for sequences, to keep editors from overwriting each other’s work. It also creates a project archive, to find and restore previous versions of edited sequences, without manually versioning project files. It appears it also will break down the bloated project file into individual sequences, coming from a shared asset pool that can maintain unique file paths for each user. This will greatly improve media management in collaborative environments, which has traditionally been an issue with the existing architecture. Adobe was also showing off new captioning tools, improved color correction options, and a new visual shortcut editor in Premiere Pro. They have fleshed out the workflows for HDR and VR content, which were both announced at NAB earlier in the year, but with minimal features. When editing VR experiences, multiple camera angles can now be stitched into a single file on ingest, instead of that step being done beforehand in a 3rd party application. After Effects is getting more true 3D capabilities from Cinema 4D technology, and will now be able to playback certain assets in real-time without caching frames.
Since GTC, NVidia has been rolling out a new Pascal based card every month, starting with the GTX1080, followed by the reduced 1070 and 1060, and then topped by the new Titan-X (Pascal). They followed that by releasing mobile versions of the 1080, 1070, & 1060 under the same names, which is only forgivable because they have roughly comparable specs to the desktop versions. (Unlike the Mobile 980, but not to be confused with the weaker 980M, which had no link to the desktop 980.) While NVidia has cleaned up some of the mess they made in mobile GPU naming conventions for the last generation, they turned around and released a new Titan card that is totally different from the Maxwell one, with the exact same name: Titan-X. On the Quadro front, at least the new P6000 makes sense for the Pascal generation.
We see ourselves in a place where UHD has become pretty ubiquitous, and can be recorded and viewed on a cell phone. So the natural question is: what next? One approach is to pursue higher resolution, with 6K and 8K capture options. Another is to smooth out motion by increasing the frame rates to 60 or 120 frames per second. Separately we can increase bit depth and color range to allow HDR imaging. Sony has definitely focused on that last approach, and is showing off all sorts of HDR displays, with some pretty impressive demos. Digital imaging technology has greatly improved in that regard recently, but I still have not wrapped my head around how all of the new HDR developments relate to one another. They are also pushing IP based video solutions, in conjunction with Evertz Aspen standards, and their own IP Live branding.
NAB opens this morning, and as usual, there are all sorts of new announcements to sort through. First off, HP announced a significant change to their Z1 All-In-One workstation. The Z1 Gen3 now offers a 24″ 4K screen, much smaller and lighter than the 27″ of previous generations. It has 2 Thunderbolt3 ports, and dual M.2 slots for fast storage. I can definitely envision this being used on-set by media managers and DITs. The biggest limitation that I see is that the GPU is limited to the Quadro M2000M, with only 640 cores. My laptop has twice that many. Why upgrade from a laptop if not for more GPU power? HP also announced that their high performance Remote Graphics Software can now be used to stream your workstation power to OSX users.
Last week I attended NVidia’s GTC conference in San Jose. I wrote an article about the event for Post Perspective, which can be found here:
Looking forward to heading to NAB. Stay tuned for more updates from that event next week.
I am planning to direct and produce a documentary on freedom. It will present freedom as the opportunity to experience the natural results of your own decisions, and make the case that freedom is more important than life itself. It will examine freedom from political, economic, philosophical, and spiritual perspectives. The production has a production blog at http://www.sharethevalueoffreedom.com as well as a Facebook page, where you can find more info. The current focus is our Kickstarter campaign, trying to raise $20,000 for the production by the end of the month. Be sure to check it out, and share it with anyone you think might be interested.
I recently did some consulting work for Hurlbut Visuals, setting them up with a storage solution and a 10Gb network to share it with. They posted an article about the details of what we did, which might be as useful to my readers as it is to theirs. https://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2016/01/direct-network-storage-solution-post-production-editing-color-grading/
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.
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.
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.