Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Toolbox

  • Thursday, Mar. 9, 2017
Telestream to acquire IneoQuest
Dan Castles, CEO of Telestream
NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- 

Telestream®, a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, announced its agreement to acquire IneoQuest, known for its video quality monitoring and analytics solutions for content distribution across managed and unmanaged networks. Founded in 2001, IneoQuest is headquartered in Mansfield, Massachusetts, with sales operations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. With this acquisition, Telestream will enable its customers to deliver the highest possible video quality to their viewers on any device. The terms of the deal were not disclosed as both companies are privately held.

With video quality a critical part of the viewer experience, IneoQuest’s analytics solutions help hundreds of media companies and service providers around the world deliver the highest possible quality across any network, managed or unmanaged. Recognized as an industry leader and innovator by Deloitte, Red Herring, Inc., Frost & Sullivan, and others, IneoQuest’s patented solutions continue to set the standard for measuring video quality, quality of service, and viewer experience. 

The recent acquisition of quality control (QC) technology specialist Vidcheck extended Telestream’s portfolio of solutions that facilitate the creation of high quality content by its customers. The addition of IneoQuest technologies will enable Telestream to guarantee the quality of content delivered across managed networks or across the Internet. This acquisition will extend the company’s reach from content creation to content distribution and, ultimately, to the audience.

“When it comes to media processing and delivery, the Telestream brand has become synonymous with quality. With the addition of IneoQuest technology to our existing QC capabilities, our customers will have the ability to monitor quality at any point in the delivery pipeline, making diagnosing and correcting a problem easier than ever before. With IneoQuest solutions, customers will also have access to actionable intelligence that will allow them to deploy content more strategically and gain new levels of confidence that their video is of the highest quality,” said Dan Castles, Telestream’s CEO.

IneoQuest’s solutions can tell customers if content was prepared correctly, and if it was delivered properly over managed and unmanaged networks to their viewers. Remote hardware and software agents placed throughout the delivery network, give dynamic feedback on stream quality all the way to consumption point. If a problem with quality arises, having multiple monitoring points quickly isolates the problem area, allowing quick corrective action.

“Whether a broadcaster, a content provider or a carrier, our customers want to understand where their content delivery networks are most effective, and where they are not. IneoQuest technology provides them with intelligence that allows them to assess the viewer experience at delivery and take immediate, appropriate action,” explained Calvin Harrison, IneoQuest’s CEO.

“IneoQuest’s product portfolio lines up very well with our areas of expertise. Not only are we acquiring award winning-technology and products but also a talented team of people with shared values and a similar culture of innovation. We look forward to building on IneoQuest’s business success and further developing their solutions,” concluded Castles.

The deal is subject to customary conditions and is expected to be completed near the end of the first quarter of 2017.  William Blair & Co. acted as the exclusive financial advisor to IneoQuest. DLA Piper LLP serves as legal counsel to Telestream, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is legal counsel to IneoQuest.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2017
Crawford Media Services opts for Lattus object storage
Crawford's second-generation managed archive, AMBER, uses Quantum's Lattus object storage.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- 

Quantum Corp. (NYSE: QTM) announced that Atlanta-based Crawford Media Services is using Lattus® object storage to build a content repository that supports mass migration of its clients’ legacy content to digital formats and provides ongoing media storage and management. Designed to hold an initial 1.2 petabytes of archived assets as well as content ingested during new projects, the system gives Crawford Media a sophisticated storage infrastructure that cost-effectively accommodates ongoing expansion of the company’s services and customer base.

Increasing Data Footprint Challenges Traditional Archive Approach
At Crawford Media, the mass digitization of clients’ content involves the generation of thousands of media files, all at the high bit rates and large file sizes suitable for production. As its business continued to grow, the resilience limitations of its existing archive architecture became ever more obvious.

“When you are dealing with large archives of media files at preservation quality, you start creating a data footprint and a performance demand that outstrip the capabilities of typical IT departments,” said Steve Davis, executive VP and chief technology officer at Crawford Media. “Our challenge was to develop a digital archive that would become more robust as it grew in size, rather than more fragile. We explored solutions that would allow us to keep large data sets cost-effectively in perpetuity without degradation, and to survive the costs of media and technology refreshes over time. After extensive research and testing, it became clear that object storage with erasure code — and specifically, Lattus — was the ideal choice.”

Integrating Quantum Technology to Crystalize AMBER
The integration of Lattus with Crawford’s existing archive approach was the final step in the development of the company’s second-generation managed archive, AMBER. Named after the prized substance that preserves prehistoric specimens even today, AMBER provides a level of immunity to system failure and data corruption not previously achievable. Like its namesake, AMBER is extremely effective for long-term preservation of digital data. Crawford’s second-generation archive offers peace of mind for organizations concerned with long-term security and access for their content.

According to Davis, a key factor in his selection of Lattus was the level of robustness, availability and immunity to failure it provided, which he saw as “impossible to achieve with simple replication.” Lattus’ self-healing and self-migration capabilities preserve the integrity of media files, and it offers seamless, infinite incremental scaling with no downtime.

“One nice thing about the Lattus approach, in particular, is that the growth increments are very manageable and very flexible,” Davis explained. “You don’t have to conform to a certain hard drive form factor or size to expand the system. The system simply uses capacity as you add it, becoming more robust as it gets bigger.”

“The advantages of erasure code for an archive are overwhelming,” Davis continued. “Unparalleled data integrity, immunity to entropy, a smaller data footprint than replication, high immunity to system failure, automatic rebalancing of data, and media refresh as the archive grows. With Lattus, AMBER offers our clients the extremely high levels of data durability and data integrity they need in their digital media archives.”

Along with Lattus, Crawford Media deployed Quantum’s Artico™ archive appliance, which incorporates Quantum’s StorNext® data management to move content to and from Lattus automatically while maintaining full access to the files. In addition, StorNext enables the company to write to tape for its clients.

In short, Quantum’s integrated, multi-tier storage solution enables Crawford Media to capitalize more easily and cost-effectively on new revenue-generation opportunities.

“When storage-as-a-service is your business, you need an underlying infrastructure that enables you to onboard new clients and new data as aggressively as possible,” said Davis. “With Quantum’s strong technology and support, we enjoy confidence in the overall archive and its integrity over the long term. That’s peace of mind we’d never get by assembling components ourselves. The reliability of the system keeps our cost points stable, which in turn gives us the freedom to offer better services at a competitive price.”

  • Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2017
Umedia launches integrated Vancouver studio with Baselight
A scene from "Hello Destroyer," color graded by Umedia's Andrea Chlebak.
LONDON -- 

International production and post group Umedia has opened a facility in Vancouver, B.C. The space in Canada is the company’s fifth studio, incorporating high-quality visual effects services with finishing services. The Vancouver office has installed a powerful Baselight TWO grading and finishing suite.

The 10,000-square-foot Vancouver studio will house approximately 35 artists and is designed to fully support digital intermediate and editing suites plus production offices, and comprises a 4K screening theatre with an 8m screen, Dolby 3D and Dolby Surround 7.1. The theatre is linked to the Baselight network, which includes a Baselight ASSIST preparation workstation along with the Baselight TWO system.

Umedia has signed Andrea Chlebak as supervising colorist, formerly of Digital Film Central Vancouver. Chlebak has been using Baselight for a decade and is a frequent collaborator of director Neill Blomkamp, having completed creative color for his last two feature films, Elysium and Chappie. Chlebak and Umedia’s finishing team are focused on designing intuitive workflows across the facility, enabling filmmakers to access high quality solutions and services: from development and on-set supervision, through to finishing and delivery.

“We believe that Baselight best supports the quality and type of collaborative experience we want to offer our clients,” Chlebak said. “It has a responsive grading toolset, an elegant and integrated control surface, and shot-by-shot color space monitoring.”

“Baselight’s non-destructive grading and finishing capability empowers us to work smoothly with our clients, as well as with each other,” she added. “The result is that we will be able to deliver consistently creative, cutting edge product.”

Recently Chlebak completed the final color grading on the feature film Hello Destroyer, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.  Hello Destroyer’s director Kevan Funk and cinematographer Benjamin Loeb spent two weeks finalizing the grade in Umedia’s new state-of-art theatre. “The film includes a lot of close-ups and low light, so grading it in a cinematic environment was essential,” said Funk. “Umedia gave us access to the best resources and facilities, so we could immerse ourselves in the film and make confident decisions on the final look of each scene.”

Another of the drivers for the Vancouver center is to allow remote working with other Umedia facilities and their international clients. The Baselight Linked Grade (BLG) workflow from FilmLight, in which all grading and finishing decisions are non-destructive and a complete decision tree is contained in a compact metadata file, is the ideal platform for global collaborative working.

The Vancouver studio is led by Peter Muyzers, CEO, previously COO of Image Engine where he helped launched the company’s film division. Muyzers, together with head of finishing David Hollingsworth, previously head of picture at Park Road Post Production, believe in keeping the grading process simple and creative. The flexibility of Baselight in terms of project set up, conform speed, and rendering/mastering options along with comprehensive color pipelines, all helps to streamline collaborative conversations and workflow design. Specifically in Vancouver, the offering for full-fledged Baselight-centric workflows is a unique advantage.

Muyzers concluded: “With long-standing relationships of many of our key team members, we find FilmLight a very supportive partner--they take a personal approach with their customers, and are eager to take on problem solving or facilitate unique workflow challenges.”

  • Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017
Nick Dance Shoots "The Replacement" with Cooke lenses
Nick Dance, BSC, shoots "The Replacement"
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Cooke Optics, manufacturer of precision lenses for film and television, announced that The Replacement, the new three part drama that started on BBC 1 on February 28, 2017, was shot with Cooke S4/i lenses by Nick Dance BSC.
 
Written and directed by Joe Ahearne and starring Morven Christie and Vicky McLure, the unsettling drama follows the story of a woman who falls pregnant just as she lands a big contract at work. Her maternity replacement, Paula, seems ideal at first – enthusiastic, competent and personable – but as Paula shadows Ellen through the last few months of her pregnancy, Ellen begins to worry that Paula has another agenda. 
 
Dance, who also recently shot the BBC’s Poldark with Cooke glass and ARRI ALEXA cameras, said that Cooke S4/i’s are his "go to" lenses. “The S4/i’s tend to be my first choice, as this range generally covers most requirements,” he said. “I find the Cookes more forgiving than other lenses, especially when shooting digital; the focus roll off is closer to the look when shooting on film. Although the story needed to feel real and naturalistic, we still wanted the female protagonists to look as good as possible but keeping it believable, and these lenses do this.”
 
Shooting in Glasgow meant that the weather and lighting conditions could change in an instant but, Dance said, a combination of Cooke lenses, ALEXA cameras and the colorist, Sonny Sheridan, made it work. 
 
“The lenses greatly contributed to this as the contrast holds through all lighting conditions,” Dance said. “We did embrace lens flare, especially in the story when paranoia sets in, and the lenses handle this well - the image remains solid and doesn't blow but has a beautiful subtle flare and bokeh.”
 
The main set, the architects’ offices, also posed a major lighting challenge as it features almost 360 degree plate glass windows and walls. “As the window was massive, it was not possible to ND, and also we would be shooting throughout the day, so it would be tricky and time consuming to remove ND when the light starts to drop or the weather changes,” added Dance.  “I didn't want to over-light the interior, and using big lamps would cause more reflection issues, so less was definitely more in this instance!  We soon discovered what worked and what didn't, and the lenses helped me greatly with holding contrast with all these challenges. I have to say it was all worth it as the natural reflections gave us extra depth and texture that otherwise we wouldn't have had with flat solid walls.”

  • Friday, Mar. 3, 2017
Blackmagic Design unveils new control panels for DaVinci Resolve
The Davinci Resolve Micro Panel
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced two new portable hardware control panels for DaVinci Resolve, its professional editing and color correction software. With professional editing becoming extremely popular in DaVinci Resolve, these new control panels are designed to allow color correction workflows to be mixed in with editing workflows, while introducing new levels of quality in affordable hardware control panels.
 
The new DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel are true professional grade hardware control panels that feature three exceptional quality high resolutions trackballs, precision machined control knobs, illuminated buttons and much more. Hardware control panels are critically important for professional color correction because the colorist needs to “hold the image in their hands” as they manipulate multiple parameters at once to create new and highly stylized looks, or even make very subtle natural changes.
 
The incredibly small USB powered DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is available now for $995, while the larger but compact and portable DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel with built in LCD screens and dozens in instantly accessible menus is available now for $2,995.
 
First , there are three workflows that require support. The first workflow is for professional colorists in dedicated color correction suites, the second is for editing systems that change between editing and color, and the third is for editors that need to edit and color at the same time. The first workflow for dedicated color correction suites is already handled by the large DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, so the two editing based workflows are the problems the development team needed to solve.
 
The second issue the design team needed to solve was quality. No customer wants a “cheap” low quality panel because they’re going to spend hours working on it every day. While there are cheap panels on the market, what customers need is an extremely high quality panel that’s smaller in size that they can use on these workflows. Also, smaller panels are easy to move between locations and allow freelance colorists to take their own panel as they move between systems and jobs at different companies. This means that quality and durability are one of the most important aspects for these new DaVinci Resolve control panels.
 
The smaller DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is not much larger than a computer keyboard and is powered from the USB connection. It’s perfect for placement next to a computer keyboard so the editor or colorist can easily move between the keyboard and control panel as they edit, allowing simultaneous grading and color correction. The larger DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel includes the same powerful features but also adds LCD screens with dozens of menus allowing fast access to most of the advanced color grading features of DaVinci Resolve. This makes the panel more suitable for workstations that switch between editing and color correction, but it is still portable enough to be easily moved between workstations around a facility. The mini panel has enough features that a colorist will be able to do professional work on any DaVinci workstation that it’s plugged into.
 
Both the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel provide fluid, hands-on control that allows colorists to be more creative because they can adjust multiple parameters at the same time, allowing them to quickly create looks that are simply impossible with a standard mouse and keyboard.
 
When it came to developing these new control panels, the two overriding problems the design team had to solve were workflow and quality.
 
In addition, many clients and DOPs have complained about not being able to achieve “film looks” from digital film cameras. By increasing the access to features in the primary color correction it greatly enhances the subtle creativity that achieving film looks requires. So with the design of these new panels, enhancing the control over the primary color corrector tools was critical.
 
Both panels include a row of 12 knobs that provide access to the most powerful primary correction features, making it easy to experiment and try new combinations. The primary knobs can be used to control Y Lift, Y Gamma, Y Gain, Contrast, Pivot, Mid-tone Detail, Color Boost, Shadow, Highlight, Saturation, Hue Rotation and Luminance Mix. With direct access to dedicated knobs on the control panel for these primary color correction controls, we hope to inspire a new creative revolution in the look of images for film and television.
 
In addition, the new panels have a range of transport and grading control buttons on the right side of the panel that put the most important and commonly used commands at the colorist’s fingertips, so they can work faster without having to hunt through menus or palettes to change a setting.
 
All of the DaVinci Resolve hardware control panels feature a consistent layout that makes it easy for professional colorists to move between the new panels and our traditional DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel. Many of the controls are in the same position and the trackballs are large and designed with a similar professional feel so any existing DaVinci Resolve colorist should feel completely at home on the new panels.
 
The new control panels feature an elegant and durable machined aluminum body with professional, high resolution balanced trackballs. The trackballs provide RGB balance adjustments for lift, gamma and gain, each with a master level control set via a movable outer trackball ring. The other control knobs are custom designed and precision machined to provide super fine control over adjustments. They can also be pressed to quickly reset a parameter. Illuminated buttons make it easy to see which controls are active, even in a darkened room. The DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel model adds two high resolution screens that display information and parameter settings for the currently selected tool and additional control buttons for DaVinci Resolve features.
 
Product Summary
The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is a super small hardware control panel that’s well suited for editing workstations and on-location use. It includes 3 high resolution weighted trackballs, 12 control knobs for advanced primary color correction, 18 dedicated navigation and transport keys, and more.
 
The DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel is a compact hardware control panel that’s ideal for adding color grading to any workstation, and for freelancers that need to take their panel with them when traveling between facilities. The DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel features 3 high resolution weighted trackballs, 12 control knobs dedicated to the powerful primary color correction tools, 18 dedicated navigation and transport keys, and an upper deck with two 5” screens, 8 soft knobs and 8 soft buttons, dedicated keys for switching tools, working with nodes, grabbing stills, navigating the timeline and more.
 
The DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini panels both feature USB-C for working with today’s most advanced computers. For computers with conventional USB 3.0 connections, a USB 3 to USB-C cable is included. The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is fully powered over USB so it can be run directly from a laptop in the field, making it ideal for on-set grading. The DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel features an AC and broadcast industry compatible 4 pin XLR 12V DC power connections. The mini panel also includes built in ethernet so users can connect it to their DaVinci Resolve workstation using either USB or their network. The ethernet also supports PoE so it can be powered via the network connection from a PoE compatible router. 
 
“There is a massive, growing number of DaVinci Resolve users working on all different kinds of productions” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “These new DaVinci Resolve control panels give editors and colorists a completely new way to add emotion and impact to their images. We designed these exciting new hardware control panels to inspire colorists at every level with stylish design, extremely high quality and features that boost creativity. We believe these new panels will let customers do things creatively that are simply impossible with a mouse and keyboard!”
 
Availability and Price
The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is available for $995 and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel is available for $2,995. Both panels are available now from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2017
Facebook's Oculus cuts price for Rift's VR headset by $100 
In this Jan. 6, 2016, file photo, Yining Hou uses the Oculus Rift VR headset at the Oculus booth at CES International, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

It has gotten cheaper to explore virtual reality on the Oculus Rift headset.

The device, made by a company owned by Facebook, now sells for $499. That's a 17 percent markdown from its previous price of $599. The Rift's touch controllers are also being reduced by $100 to $99.

Those costs don't include a high-powered computer that needs to be connected to the Rift.

The discounts mark the latest effort to lure more people into trying out virtual reality, the artificial worlds that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes will eventually reshape technology and culture. Facebook bought Oculus for about $2 billion as part of Zuckerberg's effort to realize his vision.

The Rift remains more expensive than Sony's Playstation VR headset that sells for $399. HTC's Vive headset costs $799.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017
Xsens Indie Program opens up access to mocap
An educational session on Xsens motion capture.
ENSCHEDE, Netherlands -- 

Xsens, an innovator in 3D motion tracking technology, has announced the Xsens Indie Program, a new initiative designed to democratize the use of its Hollywood-grade motion capture solutions.

The Xsens Indie Program has been launched to support inspiring up-and-coming talent. It will provide indies, student teams, young studios and game devs with access to Xsens’ production-grade mocap technology at an entry-level budget.

Those that qualify (one of the requirements being, for example, that a studio generate revenue no greater than $750,000 over the past fiscal year) receive a free Xsens software subscription for one year, and only need to cover the cost of the affordable Xsens mocap hardware, resulting in huge savings across the board.

Over the last 10 years, Xsens has delivered state-of-the-art mocap solutions to the triple-A game development industry and leading VFX studios across the globe. Xsens mocap systems have powered numerous high-end productions, including Independence Day: Resurgence, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, FIFA, and much anticipated titles LawBreakers and Hellblade. 

Dominika Osak, producer at Badi Badi, commented: “The Xsens Indie Program gives us the luxury of capturing anywhere, without having to rent out a stage or employ a huge team of technical operators. We can accomplish what larger studios are doing with less space, less equipment, and in a shorter time frame. The benefits cannot be overstated.”

Hein Beute, director of product marketing at Xsens, said: “We understand that for small studios and indie developers, cost of entry to high-end mocap solutions can be a barrier to quality creative output. The Xsens Indie Program has been designed to make it easier for smaller studios to access Xsens triple-A quality mocap solutions on a budget, delivering the stories they really want to tell.” 

Xsens’ inertial approach to mocap includes full-body, wearable mocap MVN suits and straps. While conventional mocap systems use marker-based systems, Xsens records the motion data of the performers’ movements. The flexibility of this approach enables actors to better focus on their performance. Xsens’ system is billed as being much better suited to on-location mocap shoots than traditional approaches. It excels in rough, rugged and uneven capture areas, and is incredibly robust, eradicating restrictions when stunts are needed, or if actors want to push their performances to the limit.

For more info and to apply for the program, click here.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017
Oscar nominees, winners tap into Avid creative tools
Tom Cross, ACE, cut "La La Land"
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID) congratulates its award-winning and nominated customers on their achievements at the 89th annual Academy Awards®. Many of the films recognized by the Academy were crafted using Avid’s advanced creative tools and production workflow solutions, powered by the Media Central® Platform. This year, all nominees in the Best Picture category relied on Avid innovations including winner Moonlight

In the Best Film Editing category, all nominated editors—including winner John Gilbert, ACE for Hacksaw Ridge, Joe Walker, ACE for Arrival, Jake Roberts for Hell or High Water, Tom Cross, ACE for La La Land and Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon for Moonlight—cut their films using Avid Media Composer® the industry’s most trusted editing solution.

Tom Cross, ACE, who was nominated for Best Film Editing for La La Land and won the award in 2015 for Whiplash, said, “It was a dream come true to collaborate with director Damien Chazelle again, but to be honored with another Academy Award nomination for La La Land just means so much. Avid Media Composer gave me the creative tools to bring Damien’s vision to life for this romantic, magical, awe-inspiring film I’m so proud to have been a part of.”

Best Sound Editing nominees Sylvain Bellemare for Arrival, Wylie Stateman for Deep Water Horizon, Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright for Hacksaw Ridge and Tom Ozanich for Sully, and Best Sound Mixing nominees Kevin O’Connell for Hacksaw Ridge, and Stuart Wilson and Christopher Scarabosio for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story all used Avid Pro Tools® digital audio software to bring the sounds of their nominated films to life.

Sound mixer Kevin O’Connell, who won the award for Best Sound Mixing for his work on Hacksaw Ridge, said, “Despite shrinking post-production schedules and budgets, the demand for an Oscar-worthy soundtrack has never been greater. My Avid Pro Tools | S3 control surface and Pro Tools help make that possible.”

All five nominated songs for Best Original Song were created using Pro Tools, including winner "City of Stars" (Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul), "Audition" (Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), "Can’t Stop the Feeling" (Justin Timberlake, Max Martin Karl, Johan Schuster), "The Empty Chair" (J. Ralph and Sting) and "How Far I’ll Go" (Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Composers who were nominated for Best Original Score and relied on Avid’s music notation software, Sibelius®, include Mika Levi for Jackie, and Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka for Lion.
 
“We are thrilled and humbled that our distinguished client and user community, which consists of many of the most celebrated filmmakers across the globe, has embraced Avid’s comprehensive creative tools and production workflow solutions to create the most critically acclaimed films of the year,” said Avid chairman and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. “We congratulate all of our customers on their outstanding achievements during this year’s awards season and look forward to our continued close partnership and collaboration.”

  • Monday, Feb. 27, 2017
Framestore deploys PixStor in London, NY, L.A.
A scene from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (image courtesy of Warner Bros. Studios, Heyday Films and Framestore)
SURREY, England -- 

Pixit Media, known for storage solutions built specifically for media workflows, announced that Oscar-, Emmy-, and British Academy Film Award-winning creative studio Framestore has deployed Pixit Media’s PixStor software-defined scale-out storage solution at its Los Angeles, London, and New York sites as central production storage for the advertising part of its business. The deployment gives Framestore guaranteed performance and consistency across all three sites, a cost-effective and simplified approach to disaster recovery and business continuity, and a modular infrastructure that is easy to manage and expand to support multiple workflows.

“We’ve tried many flavors of NAS and SAN offerings, and we were really impressed with Pixit Media’s PixStor. It provides speed and quality of service while giving us the freedom to purchase our own hardware,” said Beren Lewis, Framestore’s global head of integrated advertising technology. “With PixStor, we get exactly the right balance of everything we need — guaranteed performance, the ability to control hardware costs, and the reassurance that we have a partner that really understands our workflow and applications — all in a model that we can easily reproduce globally.”

Renowned for its postproduction and visual effects work on blockbusters such as “Gravity,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and movies in the Marvel franchise, Framestore is also behind the advertising campaigns for global brands such as Intel, Stella Artois, BMW, and Samsung. Seeking to push the boundaries of what is possible from available technology, Framestore chose PixStor not only to meet the exhausting demands of its current commercial-production workflow, but to grow and adapt with the business and its ambitious expansion plans. 

In Framestore’s case, the PixStor solution combines Pixit Media’s media expertise and file-system tools with best-of-breed hardware components, such as NetApp E-Series storage arrays and network infrastructure from Mellanox Technologies for the back-end storage network. Each of Framestore’s sites uses multiple NetApp E-Series E5660 storage arrays with a mixture of 10K SAS drives and larger-capacity SATA drives, for a total of about 500 terabytes of usable storage per site. 

Large broadcast production workgroups and boutique 4K facilities, which have zero tolerance for dropped frames, rely on NetApp E-Series. Operations can choose between RAID resiliency schemes, including Dynamic Disk Pools that dramatically reduce disk rebuild time, provide more consistent performance, and eliminate the need for hot or cold spares. Use of flash in hybrid arrays optimizes support for ancillary transcoding and rendering workflows. “Phone-home” features alert NetApp of potential disk failures before a hard disk fails, allowing the vendor or systems integrator to replace the drive without any impact on the production workgroup.

With the PixStor systems now online in three locations, Framestore is next planning to take advantage of the solution’s built-in intelligent sync tools to implement lightning-fast disk-to-disk copy for disaster recovery and business continuity.

“We’ve earned our customers’ trust through our consultative approach, proven technical competence, and added value,” said Ben Leaver, CEO, Pixit Media. “The fact that Framestore is one of those customers is significant because it is one of the largest and most prestigious companies in the industry. This deployment is a real endorsement of what we offer the market.”

Pixit Media will demonstrate the PixStor solution using the NetApp E-Series storage array at BVExpo on Stand J15 in Hall S1-8. Also, at the 2017 NAB Show, ATTO Technology will demonstrate the E-Series storage array in Booth SL9611.

  • Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017
Autodesk scores awards season wins on two high-profile fronts
A scene from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm Ltd.)
SAN FRANCISCO -- 

In the Best Visual Effects category of the Academy Awards, all five nominees--Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story--were created with help from Autodesk Maya and in some cases, additional Autodesk offerings including: Autodesk 3ds Max, the Autodesk Flame Family, the Arnold renderer and Shotgun Software. Outstanding visuals for all five films were produced by thousands of talented artists working out of visual effects studios across four continents, with work spanning previsualization, visual effects, virtual cinematography, post-production, color grading and more.

Additionally Autodesk recently scored an Motion Picture Academy Scientific and Technical Achievement Award. The honor was presented to Marcos Fajardo, Alan King and Thiago Ize for the Arnold renderer, a modern ray tracer designed to efficiently render the complex geometry in computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation and visual effects films. The technology was awarded for its highly optimized geometry engine and novel ray-tracing algorithms, which unify the rendering of curves, surfaces, volumetrics and subsurface scattering, and marks the 10th Sci-Tech Award presented to scientists, designers and technologies from Autodesk.

“The amazing display of artistry in the Oscar-nominated work each year consistently raises the bar, and we’re proud to have lent a hand in providing the technology for artists to bring amazing stories and visuals to audiences worldwide,” said Autodesk SVP Chris Bradshaw. “Autodesk congratulates all of this year’s nominees and appreciates the many studios that used Autodesk offerings to contribute to this year’s Academy Award-nominated films. And to see Arnold, our newest addition to Autodesk Media & Entertainment, earn a Sci-Tech is icing on the cake.”