Tuesday, March 20, 2018


  • Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017
Are consumers ready to give augmented reality a try?
This photo provided by Ikea demonstrates Ikea's augmented reality app called IKEA Place, on an iPhone, allowing a user to superimpose virtual images over real-life settings. The app allows shoppers to see how furniture will look in their living room or other space before buying it. (Ikea via AP)

You might have gotten a taste of "augmented reality," the blending of the virtual and physical worlds, as you chased on-screen monsters at real-world landmarks in last year's gaming sensation, "Pokemon Go."

Upcoming augmented reality apps will follow that same principle of superimposing virtual images over real-life settings. That could let you see how furniture will look in your real living room before you buy it, for instance.

While "Pokemon Go" didn't require special hardware or software, more advanced AR apps will. Google and Apple are both developing technology to enable that. Google's AR technology is already on Android phones from Lenovo and Asus. On Tuesday, Google announced plans to bring AR to even more phones, including Samsung's popular S8 and Google's own Pixel, though it didn't give a timetable beyond promising an update by the end of the year.

As a result, Apple might pull ahead as it extends AR to all recent iPhones and iPads in a software update expected next month, iOS 11. Hundreds of millions of AR-ready devices will suddenly be in the hands of consumers.

But how many are ready to give AR a try?

Of the dozen or so apps demoed recently for Android and iPhones, the ones showing the most promise are furniture apps .

From a catalog or a website, it's hard to tell whether a sofa or a bed will actually fit in your room. Even if it fits, will it be far enough from other pieces of furniture for someone to walk through?

With AR, you can go to your living room or bedroom and add an item you're thinking of buying. The phone maps out the dimensions of your room and scales the virtual item automatically; there's no need to pull out a tape measure. The online furnishing store Wayfair has the WayfairView for Android phones, while Ikea is coming out with one for Apple devices. Wayfair says it's exploring bringing the app to iPhones and iPads, too.

As for whimsical, Holo for Android lets you pose next to virtual tigers and cartoon characters. For iPhones and iPads, the Food Network will let you add frosting and sprinkles to virtual cupcakes. You can also add balloons and eyes — who does that? — and share creations on social media.

Games and education are also popular categories. On Apple devices, a companion to AMC's "The Walking Dead" creates zombies alongside real people for you to shoot. On Android, apps being built for classrooms will let students explore the solar system, volcanoes and more.

Virtual reality is a technology that immerses you in a different world, rather than trying to supplement the real world with virtual images, as AR does. VR was supposed to be the next big thing, but the appeal has been limited outside of games and industrial applications. You need special headsets, which might make you dizzy if you wear one too long.

And VR isn't very social. Put on the headset, and you shut out everyone else around you. Part of the appeal of "Pokemon Go" was the ability to run into strangers who were also playing. Augmented reality can be a shared experience, as friends look on the phone screen with you.

While AR shows more promise than VR, there has yet to be a "killer app" that everyone must have, the way smartphones have become essential for navigation and everyday snapshots.

Rather, people will discover AR over time, perhaps a few years. Someone renovating or moving might discover the furniture apps. New parents might discover educational apps. Those people might then go on to discover more AR apps to try out. But just hearing that AR is available might not be enough for someone to check it out.

Consider mobile payments. Most phones now have the capability, but people still tend to pull out plastic when shopping. There's no doubt more people are using mobile payments and more retailers are accepting them, but it's far from commonplace.

Expect augmented reality to also take time to take off.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017
Thinkbox releases Deadline 10
Deadline 10

Thinkbox, an Amazon company, has announced the availability of Deadline 10, the latest version of the compute management software that makes render farm workflows behind 3D modeling and graphics applications more flexible by enabling customers to access any combination of on-premises and cloud-based resources for hybrid workflows. Deadline 10 is the first release to offer customers access to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Spot Instances that can significantly reduce the cost of running rendering applications, and help customers increase compute capacity on the same budget. Customers can also purchase by-the-minute render time in the AWS Cloud through Thinkbox’s Marketplace. Deadline for Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, Arnold, an Autodesk offering, and Chaos Group’s V-Ray can all be purchased in the marketplace. Deadline 10, including support, is offered at a lower price of $48.00 per year.  (Perpetual licenses are available upon request.) To get started, visit www.thinkboxsoftware.com/sales.  

Deadline 10 integrates with the AWS Cloud to enable customers to expand their render farms--whether on-premises, cloud, or hybrid--simply and securely. To ensure that all the appropriate assets are available in the cloud, Deadline synchronizes with local servers and manages the data transfer before rendering begins, tagging accounts and instances for bill allocation. With flexible third-party licensing options, Deadline 10 customers can purchase software licenses from the Thinkbox Marketplace, bring their own licenses, or leverage a combination of the two to grow render farms elastically from the AWS Cloud. 
“Thinkbox has a long history of streamlining rendering for media and entertainment companies, and Deadline 10--our most flexible and cost-efficient release yet--empowers customers to render without limits,” said Chris Bond, founder of Thinkbox Software and director of product management, Amazon EC2, at AWS. “Becoming part of the Amazon family has helped us scale out, and we look forward to continuing to enhance the product’s on-premises, cloud-based, and hybrid compute management capabilities.”

“Autodesk customers have benefited from Deadline and Thinkbox’s artist plug-ins,” said Chris Bradshaw, sr. VP, Media & Entertainment, Autodesk. “With the integration of our products into the Thinkbox Marketplace, our customers can tap into Deadline and the AWS Cloud for their rendering workflow.” 

  • Monday, Aug. 28, 2017
Fraunhofer HHI digitizes people; VR technology will be showcased at IFA, Berlin
Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute's 3D Human Body Reconstruction technology in action.

Scientists at Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) have developed a method by which the realistic image of a person can be transmitted into a virtual world. The 3D Human Body Reconstruction technology captures real persons with multiple cameras at the same time and creates naturally moving dynamic 3D models. At this year’s trade fair IFA in Berlin from Sept. 1-6 (Hall 26a, Booth 219a – Deutsche TV Plattform) Fraunhofer HHI will show this camera technology.

Fraunhofer HHI researchers have developed a camera system that films people with a perfect three-dimensional impression. The core of this system is a stereo camera: Just as people do it with their two eyes, the camera records the person with two lenses. This stereoscopic vision results in distances being estimated well, because both eyes look at an object from a slightly different angle. The result is a three-dimensional impression. Recording a person in detail from all directions takes more than one camera. Fraunhofer HHI is currently using more than 30 cameras to map a human. Each camera only captures a part of the person. The challenge is to merge the individual camera images together so that a realistic overall picture is produced.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a leading organization for applied research in Europe. Its research activities are conducted by 69 institutes and research units at locations throughout Germany. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft employs a staff of 24,500, who work with an annual research budget totaling 2.1 billion euros. Of this sum, 1.9 billion euros is generated through contract research. More than 70 percent of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s contract research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and from publicly financed research projects. International collaborations with excellent research partners and innovative companies around the world ensure direct access to regions of the greatest importance to present and future scientific progress and economic development.

The system includes more than just the camera technology. The researchers have developed algorithms that can quickly extract depth information from the stereoscopic camera images. This is necessary in order to calculate the 3D form of a captured person. The computer calculates a virtual model of the human, which is then transferred into the virtual scene. The cameras perceive the surface shape with many details. In this way even small wrinkles, e.g. on the clothes of the person, can be shown. The model has a natural and realistic appearance.

The fusing of the 3D information from the various camera images only takes a few seconds. The system transmits the three-dimensional dynamic model of a person rapidly into Virtual Reality. A person can move freely in a dedicated capture area. The virtual image portrays every gesture and movement realistically.

  • Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017
"Le Bureau des Légendes" delivered in Ultra HD 4K with DaVinci Resolve Studio
A scene from “Le Bureau des Légendes"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that its DaVinci Resolve Studio and DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel were used to complete picture post in Ultra HD 4K on the third season of award winning Canal+ French drama series, “Le Bureau des Légendes.”
Postproduction for the 10-part series now available on Amazon Prime was completed at Paris-based Digital Factory by freelance colorist Guillaume Lips. “Not only did we grade the entire series from beginning to end in Resolve, but we also delivered in Ultra HD 4K for the first time,” he shared.
The turnaround for completing the DI on each episode was incredibly tight according to Lips. “With only two days to complete an episode, our workflow needed to be both fast and efficient. Not only did Resolve’s realtime performance provide first-class shot tracking but it also meant that we could work with the project native materials in 4K.”
While the main unit captured to ProRes 4444, there was a whole raft of smaller cameras used by the production’s second unit to shoot the action scenes. “Resolve’s extensive format and multi-codec support proved invaluable,” explained Lips. “We carried out a basic technical grade to adjust contrast levels and correct for the differences in color space and that gave us our starting point for the final DI.”
When grading scenes from Syria, Lips drew on DaVinci Resolve’s extensive toolset and a series of power windows to unlock the rich deep tones and add a large amount of contrast while still retaining enough detail in the highlights and shadows.
“In order to achieve that, I used the HDR capabilities in Resolve to finesse the midtones,” he said. “And when it came to skin tones I wanted to bring back as much softness as possible to mitigate any over-definition resulting from the 4K delivery which Resolve proved highly adept at handling.”
Lips concluded, “As an experienced colorist I have worked with a lot of different grading systems in my career and I firmly believe that DaVinci Resolve remains one of the very best in the market today. Used alongside the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel you have a very efficient way of working, which allowed me to complete the grade on this particular project in record time.”

  • Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017
FilmLight boosts Baselight for Avid functionality and efficiency with 5.0 at IBC
Baselight for Avid

Color science and grading specialist FilmLight is showcasing the latest release of Baselight for Avid, its high-productivity plugin that brings color control and preview to editing workstations, at IBC2017 (Amsterdam, September 15-19, stand 7.F31). With Baselight for Avid and FilmLight’s render-free, metadata-driven workflows, editors always see the latest grade, and can make their own adjustments to it without leaving the Avid environment.

The new release, while still providing sophisticated, professional color grading within the familiar Avid environment, brings even greater efficiencies from the Baselight platform. A new visual timeline allows the user to see and move easily between shots. Combined with the new relational navigation tool, which allows users to narrow down material very quickly and move between shots with the same clip or tape name, navigation is both seamless and simple. 

The popular Baselight workspaces tool is also available in Baselight for Avid 5.0, allowing users to customise their screen and arrange panels within the Baselight UI according to their individual needs and preferences. 

Beyond navigation and layout, the addition of relational grading replicates Baselight’s powerful multi-shot grade application, by allowing grades to be copied and imposed on shots defined by the same category, such as clip name, bin name, camera and so on. 

The latest version also brings the new grading tools introduced in Baselight 5.0 into the Avid workspace. This includes the revolutionary Base Grade concept from FilmLight, which gives the artist access to a set of controls that accurately mimic the way the eye appreciates color, rather than the traditional lift/gamma/gain approach. Also featured is the texture equalizer, which can be used for skintone fixes: giving the editor the ability to clean up skin issues without handing the shot off to a colorist is another huge productivity boost. Other new functionality includes perspective tracking for grading windows, gamut tools for moving between color spaces, and denoise.

Baselight for Avid is part of FilmLight’s unique unified approach to color management. The raw images are retained throughout, with the grade captured in metadata in the FilmLight BLG format. Any device, from Prelight ON-SET or the Daylight dailies tool through Baselight for Avid to the full colorist suite, will interpret the BLG metadata and impose the latest version of the grade in real time.

“What our users have told us, very clearly, is that the FilmLight BLG workflow is hugely productive--and they want to use it more,” said Martin Tlaskal, lead developer, FilmLight. “They want editors and other users of Baselight plugins to have the same functionality that the colorist has, and see precisely the same grade, however rich and sophisticated. This new version of Baselight for Avid achieves just that. This is another huge step forward for collaborative workflows, helping facilities work more productively and achieve a better, more dynamic final result.”

FilmLight will be showing its full range of grading and color management systems on stand 7.F31 at IBC, and will be highlighting the productivity gains of the BLG render-free workflow. Baselight for Avid can also be seen at the Avid booth, 7.J20.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017
SMPTE unveils awards recipients for 2017
SMPTE 2017 Progress Medal recipient Paul E. Debevec

SMPTE® has revealed the outstanding individuals who will be recognized with 2017 awards as part of the SMPTE 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2017) in Hollywood, California.

This year, the Annual SMPTE Awards Gala will take place on Thursday, Oct. 26, and will feature a red carpet, reception, and dinner in the Hollywood Ballroom of the Loews Hollywood Hotel. In addition, Fellows elevations will be conferred at the SMPTE 2017 Fellows Luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Honorary Membership is the Society's highest accolade. It recognizes individuals who have performed distinguished service in the advancement of engineering in motion pictures, television, or in the allied arts and sciences. Honorary Members who have passed away are named to the SMPTE Honor Roll, which also posthumously recognizes individuals who were not awarded Honorary Membership during their lifetimes but whose contributions would have been sufficient to warrant such an honor.

Renville "Ren" H. McMann Jr. (1927 – 2015) will be inducted into the Honor Roll in recognition of his award-winning leadership in the development of television and imaging technology. McMann held more than 36 patents for inventions that include the electronic video recorder, the electronic image enhancer, the color camera system, and the magnetic scan conversion techniques used by NASA to bring color television images from the moon to viewers around the world. He was the principal inventor for and a major participant in projects such as the development of the CBS Minicam Mark VI, the first handheld color TV camera. A tireless and curious engineer, McMann made many contributions to the advancement of color television signal processing and image gathering technology. Along with those contributions, his pioneering work in the field of high-definition television systems has garnered worldwide recognition.

The Progress Medal is the most prestigious SMPTE award, and it recognizes outstanding technical contributions to the progress of engineering phases of the motion picture, television, or motion-imaging industries.

SMPTE is presenting the 2017 Progress Medal to Paul E. Debevec in recognition of his achievements and ongoing work in pioneering techniques for illuminating computer-generated objects based on measurement of real-world illumination and their effective commercial application in numerous Hollywood films. Techniques from his research have been used to dramatic effect in films such as the "The Matrix" sequels, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "District 9," "Avatar," "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," and "Life of Pi." Debevec is also a pioneer in high-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging and co-author of the 2005 book "High Dynamic Range Imaging: Acquisition, Display, and Image-Based Lighting," now in its second edition.

The Camera Origination and Imaging Medal recognizes significant technical achievements related to inventions or advances in imaging technology, including sensors, imaging processing electronics, and the overall embodiment and application of image capture devices. David S. Corley will receive the award for his five decades of continuous innovation in measurement and calibration tools for image acquisition, display, and color correction.

The David Sarnoff Medal recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of new techniques or equipment that have improved the engineering phases of television technology, including large-venue presentations. The award will be presented to Phillip Bennett in recognition of his significant contributions to the broadcast industry with his work in video effects, still stores, and digital standards conversion during the dawning of the digital video era. Over the years, Bennett has developed many groundbreaking products for broadcasters, including the very successful Ampex Digital Optics (ADO) digital video effects system and one of the very early digital disk recorders.

The Digital Processing Medal recognizes significant technical achievements related to the development of digital processing of content for cinema, television, games, or other related media. Michael A. Isnardi will receive the award for his contributions to the art of digital video delivery systems, including video encoding, re-encoding, and quality evaluation. Isnardi's body of work includes one of the first advanced television systems proposals, encoder, compressed-domain watermarking the first real-time Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG), Emmy® Award-winning MPEG Compliance Bitstreams, compressed-domain bit rate reduction, salience-based compression, and JND evaluation of JPEG 2000 for digital cinema applications. His current work includes sub-Nyquist compressed sensing and skin-tone analysis algorithms.

The James A. Lindner Archival Technology Medal, sponsored by James A. Linder, recognizes significant technical advancements or contributions related to the invention or development of technology, techniques, workflows, or infrastructure for the long-term storage, archive, or preservation of media content essence. The 2017 award will be presented to James M. Reilly for his more than three decades of contributions to image preservation and sustainable preservation practices. In 1985, Reilly founded the Image Permanence Institute, a non-profit, university-based laboratory devoted to preservation research — the world's largest independent laboratory with this specific scope. As its founder and director, Reilly studied the mechanisms of film deterioration and developed technology, techniques, and preservation strategies to lengthen its life in storage.

The Samuel L. Warner Memorial Medal, sponsored by Warner Bros., recognizes outstanding contributions in the design and development of new and improved methods and/or apparatus for motion picture sound, at any step in the process. The award will be presented to Mark Robert Gander in recognition of his contributions to the design and development of cinema loudspeaker systems. Gander has brought a comprehensive perspective to these efforts and has been responsible for every aspect of bringing a new loudspeaker design to market, from transducer engineering through logistics of manufacture and distribution to the signature marketing of the JBL Professional cinema product line. In his four decades devoted to the highest fidelity cinema sound reproduction, Gander has influenced cinema loudspeaker design industrywide.

The Technicolor — Herbert T. Kalmus Medal, sponsored by Technicolor, Inc., recognizes outstanding contributions that reflect a commitment to the highest standards of quality and innovation in motion picture postproduction and distribution services. The award will be presented to Joseph Goldstone for his innovations in the design and implementation of hardware and software to perform the accurate analysis and characterization of photochemical film processes, including film printing, which have been used in color management systems by the motion picture industry. Goldstone's early work involved the creation and refinement of film scanning and recording processes used for visual effects (VFX) creation at Digital Domain and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). He was a pioneer in incorporating color science theory into digital production and postproduction workflows, and he is currently working on digital image processing for the ALEXA camera systems at ARRI. Goldstone is a key contributor to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) and serves on several SMPTE Technology Committees (TCs): TC-10E DG Dynamic Metadata for Color Transforms of HDR and WCG Images, TC-32NF-40 DG HDR and WCG Signaling on Streaming Interfaces, and TC-31FS DG Constrained DPX for HDR.

The Workflow Systems Medal, sponsored by Leon Silverman, recognizes outstanding contributions related to the development and integration of workflows, such as integrated processes, end-to-end systems or industry ecosystem innovations that enhance creativity, collaboration, and efficiency, or novel approaches to the production, postproduction, or distribution process. The award will be presented to Randy Ubillos in recognition of his role in establishing the foundation of accessible and affordable digital nonlinear editing software that fundamentally shaped the industry landscape and changed the way visual stories are created and told. Ubillos' revolutionary work with creating and designing lower-cost editing software such as Final Cut Pro® and Adobe® Premiere® shifted the film and television industry toward a more inclusive future, giving storytellers of diverse backgrounds and experience levels the ability to tell their stories and rise as filmmakers, technicians, engineers, and key players in every facet of media and entertainment. His work significantly enhanced and transformed the world of postproduction, popularizing and commoditizing file-based workflows while removing significant barriers to the creative editing process for millions of users worldwide.

Each year, one SMPTE Journal Award is presented to the author of the most outstanding paper originally published in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal during the preceding calendar year. The SMPTE Journal Award will be presented to Sean T. McCarthy for the article "How Independent Are HDR, WCG, and HFR in Human Visual Perception and the Creative Process?" published in the May/June 2016 issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.

Two Journal Certificates of Merit will be presented to:

  • Katy C. Noland for the article "High Frame Rate Television: Sampling Theory, the Human Visual System, and Why the Nyquist–Shannon Theorem Does Not Apply," published in the April 2016 issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.
  • David Long and Mark D. Fairchild for the article "Observer Metamerism Models and Multiprimary Display Systems," published in the April 2016 issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.

The Student Paper Award recognizes the outstanding paper prepared and submitted by a Student Member. The paper receiving the Student Paper Award will be published in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.

The 2017 award will be presented to Elizabeth DoVale, a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, for her paper "High Frame Rate Psychophysics: Experimentation to Determine a JND for Frame Rate."

Jonathan Bouchard, a student at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada, will receive an honorable mention for his paper "Quality Control of Stereoscopic 3-D Compositing Using Half-Occlusion Geometry."

The Presidential Proclamation recognizes individuals of established and outstanding status and reputation in the motion picture, television, and motion-imaging industries worldwide. Mark Schubin will receive the award in recognition of his five decades of contributions to the television technology industry. An internationally recognized expert with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, Schubin has worked in every aspect of television production, including design, manufacturing, lighting, sound, camera, editing, distribution, as well as talent, and his projects have spanned every continent of the globe. Today, he supports the broadcasting of Metropolitan Opera (The Met) productions to cinemas and televisions around the world. Schubin is an active SMPTE Life Fellow and a sought-after resource in educating the industry on the history and current state of motion-imaging technology.

The Excellence in Standards Award recognizes individuals or companies that have been actively involved in advancing the Society's standards activities and processes. Johann Safar will receive this award in recognition of his continuous participation in SMPTE's standards work for more than 30 years. Safar has contributed to the development of countless standards related to the compression and formatting of multimedia content for storage on analog and digital media, as well as the development of Time Code, ancillary data formatting and mapping. He is a careful reviewer of SMPTE standards, with a focus on ensuring harmonization and compatibility of interrelated standards across multiple technology committees. Safar's dedicated performance in the SMPTE Standards Community has resulted in a high quality of professional standards documents.

The Society Citation recognizes individuals or companies that have actively been involved in specific Society engineering or editorial functions. Elizabeth "Betty" Migliore will receive this award in recognition of her 45 years of service with SMPTE and her contributions to the standards program. A dedicated and loyal staff member, Migliore joined SMPTE in November of 1972 as secretary to the staff director of engineering. Over the years, she has been steadfast in supporting SMPTE's standards work as engineering assistant and standards publisher, roles in which she actively supported document preparation for the SMPTE Technology Committees. In these roles, Migliore participated in advancing SMPTE's standards publishing process from typewriter to CD-ROM to PDF and the digital library.

The Citation for Outstanding Service to the Society, which recognizes individuals for dedicated service for the betterment of the Society over a sustained period, will be conferred upon four SMPTE Members:

Merrick Ackermans, for his contributions to and leadership of the Atlanta Section and the Southern Region. A long-time contributor to the Atlanta Section and four-term governor of the Southern Region, Ackermans has devoted much time and effort to producing quality Section events. His extensive involvement has included participation in everything from proposing engaging topics, securing speakers, and organizing facility and audio-visual logistics to contributing his knowledge as a speaker and facilitator.

Herbert Jay Dunmore, for his contributions as Member and manager of the Washington DC SMPTE Section and as the Student Chapter advisor of the Loyola University Maryland Chapter since its founding in 2012. Dunmore has continually promoted learning between the Student Chapter and the Section through hosting an annual meeting and seminars, exposing future professionals to the creative, business, and technical realms of television production.

John Walsh, for his dedication and service to the SMPTE Australia Section over the past decade. Walsh has served on the board of the SMPTE Australia Section since 2005, taking on the additional roles of membership chair and Section meeting lead. He has also been an active member of the organizing committee for the biennial SMPTE Australia Section conferences. Walsh is a dedicated Section member, always working behind the scenes to ensure the success of the Australia Section meetings.

David Wheeler, for his many contributions to the Australia Section, especially the SMPTE Australia Conferences. Wheeler was a member of the Conference Papers Committee for the SMPTE 2013 Australia Conference and served as chair of that committee for the 2015 event with 16 sessions and 52 presentations spanning four days.

The Louis F. Wolf Jr. Memorial Scholarship is designed to assist students in furthering their undergraduate or graduate studies in motion pictures and television, with an emphasis on technology. The 2017 scholarship will be awarded to three SMPTE Student Members:

  • Trevor Canham, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Emily Faw, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Catherine Marie Meininger, Rochester Institute of Technology

Twelve new SMPTE Fellows also will be recognized during the Annual Awards Gala. The 2017 SMPTE Fellows announcement is forthcoming.

  • Monday, Aug. 21, 2017
Sony FS5 deployed for an inspiring peak performance in "True North"
"True North"

The Workshop’s True North is an inspiring documentary about Sean Swarner, who in 2002 became the first cancer survivor to reach the top of Mount Everest.  He’s kept climbing ever since spreading his encouraging message of hope.  In a span of five years, the two-time cancer survivor with only one functioning lung scaled the Seven Summits, the highest mountains in each of the seven continents. 
Swarner’s journey started at the age of 13 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given two months to live.  He beat the odds and went into remission 10 months later, only to be diagnosed with Askin’s Sarcoma two years later and told he had two weeks to live. Once again, Swarner overcame adversity and resisted expectations to continue sharing his infectious spirit.
But defying the odds and topping the Seven Summits wasn’t enough to satisfy Swarner.  Two years ago, he set out to accomplish another goal by conquering the North and South Poles to complete The Explorer’s Grand Slam.  In 2015, Swarner checked the South Pole off his list and in April 2017, after summiting the North Pole bearing a flag with the names of over 2,000 people affected by cancer, he became an official member of this exclusive club. 
True North’s Tom Caamano, director/producer, and Igor Kropotov, DP, chose Sony’s FS5 as their primary camera to document this unimaginable achievement.  During the nine-day journey, which saw temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, the two asserted “the Sony FS5 was definitely the right camera for this shoot.”  In addition, the team summiting the North Pole, which included Kropotov and second camera operator Corbin Johnson, used two Sony α7S IIs for stills and support. They paired all the cameras with Sony’s complementary 18-105mm zoom lens for longer telephoto shots and brought an 11-18mm lens for an extremely wide angle.
Kropotov, who had previously used Sony’s cameras including the FS5, is no stranger to shooting in remote and cold climates including Nepal and Siberia.  It is no wonder he “jumped at the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to the North Pole and be a part of an amazing documentary centered on Sean, an inspirational and strong-willed person.” 
The crew kept their equipment list limited, bringing only Sony’s FS5, two α7S IIs, 10 additional batteries, two lenses and more than a dozen 128GB Sony SD cards for this journey.  ”We had to be very conscious of our camera’s size and weight, since it had to easily fit in our sled and we had weight restrictions when flying in the helicopter,” Kropotov said.  “Alternately, I’d strap it around my neck and it wouldn’t weight me down.  We appreciated that the camera doesn’t require a lot of accessories to make it operational.  The FS5’s small and compact size, coupled with the quality of the image made it the best tool for the job.” 
The team opted to shoot HD (1080x720) to ensure they had enough media and batteries to stay up and running for nine days, and to stay “self-sufficient without the need to carry hard drives or laptops, which allowed us to rely solely on SD cards.” 
Kropotov praised the FS5’s slow motion capabilities, saying it added a “meditative element” to the documentary.  He described how he used the camera to capture a classic shot of a mug of hot water being tossed into the air and immediately turning into ice droplets.  He felt slow motion helped to illustrate the “emotional weight of traveling to the North Pole.”
Kropotov also appreciated the camera’s distinctive neutral density filters. “Because there’s 24 hour sunlight on the North Pole and the reflective white snow is so bright,” he said, “the ISO was generally pretty low and we used the ND filters to give us that depth of field and it worked extremely well.”
As with any shoot in punishing environments, the crew was up against a lot of unknowns.  A challenge which the FS5 was up for was producing a natural and realistic image despite the flat terrain and persistent landscape of blinding white snow, in addition to the 24-hour sunlight. 
Kropotov did experience some issues due to the intense temperatures and likened carrying around a camera in the extreme cold to storing it in a freezer and immediately shooting with it upon removal – only way colder.  Other concerns included a lag in the image and the ability for the LCD monitor’s liquid crystals to freeze in the bitter cold. 
He also quickly learned how to keep the extra batteries warm and fully functional by storing them in his sleeping bag overnight and chest pocket during the day, using his body heat to keep them operational; “otherwise they’d wind up being ice cubes by the end of the day,” he said. The crew also had to contend with condensation, which froze immediately to their faces, eyelashes and even the camera, causing the buttons and lenses to fog if not handled properly. 
Kropotov also learned the importance of preparing the camera to his desired settings in advance of leaving the tent, since “there’s no tinkering or changing settings possible, and if something falls off the camera, you have to wait until the end of the day when you’re inside the frigid tent to fix it.  Everything has to be on point in terms of where it’s located and stationed and how the settings and switches work with ISO and light balance.  Because of the constant sunlight and temperature, we didn’t want or need to significantly manipulate these settings over the course of the day.”
Despite some minor cracking and freezing, Kropotov asserted, “The FS5 held up really well and if I were to do it all over again, I would most certainly take the FS5 with me again – it was great.”
Between Sony’s 18-105mm lens and the 11-18mm lens the team brought, they were able to capture a variety of scenarios and vantage points using just two lenses.  Kropotov explained, “Sometimes it’s not ideal to switch lenses in the field, so our choices had to be varied and flexible. There’s a lot of talk about the condensation settling on the glass and the sensor, but that never seemed to be an issue, which contributed to our decision not to switch out lenses very frequently in the field.”
He continued, “The idea was to use the 11-18 inside the tent to get wider shots and also to fully capture the landscape without veering too far off our path.  We were also able to get wide shots, to show a sense of scale of the Arctic Ocean, and shooting in the helicopter gave us a wide field of view.  One of the film’s concepts is to bring these survivors and people affected by cancer who are named on the flag on this journey with us.  The wide angle shots conceptually capture the constant feeling of movement and allow viewers to follow Sean and have a visual sense of what carries him through this journey.” 
Caamano described the team’s intentional form of storytelling. The distance between Sean and the sled he pulls is about four to six feet,” he said.  “We wanted the viewers to experience that distance throughout the entire documentary and feel like they’re in the sled with the team’s supplies and Sean’s symbolic flag.  When Sean’s going to get his check-up or visiting people at hospitals before his trip, we opted to have the camera the same distance behind him and use those same prime lenses to keep the vantage point consistent.  Then, when we made the transition to the North Pole it was a seamless extension of his day-to-day journey.  We like to say that six months beforehand, when Sean got the first signature on his flag, that’s when the trip to the North Pole really began, so we wanted to keep that uniformity in our point of view.”
Kropotov spoke about the benefits of using all Sony cameras saying, “We wanted to keep everything in the Sony family because it allowed us to use the same system.  Lenses and other accessories were interchangeable and our videos and stills looked great. If I was shooting with the FS5, I would have an α7S II underneath my layers and ready to swiftly capture a lead.  The Alpha cameras were a key element of our shoot and the ability to quickly draw it out and produce a quality image was great.  Another reason we chose it to be our secondary camera is because it is an integrated system with no cables and less buttons, which means less opportunity for failure.”
Caamano described other elements of the documentary, many of which were shot using Sony’s F5 camera and matched perfectly with the FS5 footage.  “Prior to his excursions, Sean met with cancer patients and people who are at the darkest points in their lives,” he said.  “When he meets with them he tells his story of overcoming hardship, and when he leaves, these people are at a different point.  They’re feeling more positive.  They’re feeling more inspired.  And we’re sitting back as a fly on the wall and documenting this amazing story to encourage and motivate others. It’s a privilege for us as filmmakers to witness something so genuine and inspiring and see how many people Sean is affecting.  And we get to put faces to those names on the flag and follow up and see how they’re doing.”
In the end, the journey was an overwhelming success and Swarner is now one of few on the elite list of people who have accomplished the Explorer’s Grand Slam, and he has the video diaries to prove it.  Caamano jokes, “I think Sean has run out of places to go, so the next journey may have to be into space!”
True North is now in postproduction and will air nationally on American Public Television in the fall. 

  • Monday, Aug. 21, 2017
ASC Technology Committee upgraded to Motion Imaging Technology Council
Curtis Clark, ASC accepts the Sci-Tech Award for the ASC CDL in February 2013, along with (l-r) Joshua Pines, David Reisner, David Register, and Lou Levinson (not pictured). (Credit: Aaron Poole/©A.M.P.A.S.)

The ASC Technology Committee has been renamed the ASC Motion Imaging Technology Council. Established in 2003, the Committee has helped organize efforts to study and assess subjects ranging from digital cameras and lens optics to motion imaging workflows, advanced color management, virtual production techniques digital archiving and more recently virtual reality.

“During our past 14 years of proactive motion picture and TV industry engagement, the ASC Technology Committee has played a significant leadership role in guiding the evolution and development of key motion imaging technologies to better support our filmmaking art form,” noted Chairman Curtis Clark, ASC.

“Many of our industry partners and supporters, along with users of our technologies, have suggested that the Committee’s name does not sufficiently convey the scope and influence that our activities have had on important motion imaging technology developments,” he continues. “In response to that input and after careful consideration, we have decided to change the Committee’s name to the ASC Motion Imaging Technology Council (MITC) — or ‘My Tech.’ We believe this better represents the expanded scope of the work we are doing and our widely recognized role as industry leaders — influencing the advancement of motion imaging technologies in ways that best serve the creative interests of filmmakers while emphasizing the cinematographer’s contribution to the art form.”

Clark added, “Our Subcommittees will now be designated Committees of the ASC Motion Imaging Technology Council. We will continue to encourage our Committees to work in a coordinated manner, combining their expertise on topics of wide interest and concern, including ACES, HDR, digital motion picture camera developments, look management, virtual production techniques, lens developments, DI, motion imaging workflows, projection and display technologies, archiving, as well as advanced imaging.”

MITC’s latest reports on a variety of technological issues will be published on in the September issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal as part of the 2017 SMPTE Progress Report.

  • Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017
Playbox Technology demos at IBC to feature its CloudAir and Neo platforms
Playbox Technology's CloudAir platform

PlayBox Technology will demonstrate complete broadcast playout solutions leveraging its cloud-based CloudAir and server-based Neo platforms at the upcoming IBC-2017 exhibition in Amsterdam from Sept. 15-19. Hybrid configurations combining the strengths of both platforms will also be shown.

“Broadcasters today are demanding speed and flexibility in the way they set up and manage their services,” said Don Ash, president of PlayBox Technology. “Partnership agreements between PlayBox Technology and an increasing number of communication service providers have made CloudAir more accessible than ever to existing and would-be broadcasters throughout the world. CloudAir eliminates the need for channel managers to wait for new technical hardware to be delivered, installed and commissioned. Available on a fast-startup software-as-a service basis, CloudAir forms a basis for highly efficient broadcasting via terrestrial, satellite and dedicated cable wherever and whenever these are the channel management’s preferred delivery media. It makes the process of starting a new channel as simple as making a phone call, either direct to their preferred service provider or via the global network of PlayBox Technology support offices.”

“CloudAir also gives content owners the ability to start purely IPTV-based channels at very short notice, accessible to online viewers in any country.  IPTV channels can be operated to a published schedule or as viewer-specific time-buffered video-on-demand,” added CEO Pavlin Rahnev. “Channel managers can control the whole process of branding and playout via a secure link from a desktop or even a laptop computer. They can upload content via the same link ahead of transmission while retaining the freedom all broadcasters appreciate to add late-breaking stories such as news as additions to the playout schedule. Entire channels can be operated this way without managers needing to own, accommodate and maintain dedicated hardware. We will also be demonstrating the ease with which CloudAir can be integrated with our established Neo server-based product series to form a hybrid of onsite and offsite channel management and playout resources. An increasing number of Neo customers are already seeing the advantages CloudAir offers as a remote disaster-recovery solution and as a medium for single-event OTT or full 24/7 fast-startup television channels.” 

Among new CloudAir features making their IBC debut will be a transcoder capable of handling multiple file wrappers and formats including MPEG PS/TS, MXF, QT, AVI, MP4, GXF, MPG2, H.264, ProRes, DNX HD and MJPEG. Also being introduced to European broadcasters are an enhanced graphics editor template preparation interface, improved playlist editing, advanced playlist export to EPGs and automated linking of stored assets.

A new addition to the Neo platform, Neo TS IP Stream Delay, will make its maiden exhibition appearance. Occupying a standalone 1U chassis, Neo TS IP Stream Delay provides fully transparent delay of IP transport streams such as DVB/ATSC MPEG broadcast-quality compressed video and audio for single or multichannel time zone shift and disaster-recovery applications. Designed for fully automated operation, it can be configured with multiple input channels and multiple delayed outputs. Each input also has one zero-delay output. All operating parameters are easily adjusted via an integral web-based user interface, including channel-specific time delay in 15 second increments. Maximum delay duration depends on input bit rate and storage capacity. Additional features include programme information display of MPEG-compliant transport streams plus automatic error logging.

Over 40 new features for other modules in the Neo series will be introduced at IBC2017. These include the ability to integrate ProductionAirBox Neo closely with the Associated Press ENPS news production system via MOS gateway. Among other additions to the capabilities of PlayBox Neo are extended control features, expanded file handling capabilities, greater input and output connectivity and Microsoft Windows 10 compatibility. These have all been implemented within an informative and intuitive graphic interface which is familiar to operators around the world.

PlayBox Technology Limited is an international communications and information-technology company serving the broadcast and corporate sectors in more than 120 countries. Over 17,000 TV and branding channels are powered by PlayBox Technology Limited broadcast solutions. Users include national and international broadcasters, start-up TV channels, webcasters, DVB (IP/ASI) TV channels, interactive TV and music channels, film channels, remote TV channels and disaster recovery channels.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017
Timeline Television to showcase its IP 4K HDR OB truck at IBC
Timeline Television's newest OB truck

Snell Advanced Media (SAM) announced that Timeline Television’s newest OB truck--the first IP 4K HDR truck in Europe--will be featured on its stand (#9A01) at IBC 2017. The truck, UHD2, seamlessly handles fully uncompressed 4K/UHD, IP and HDR.
A state-of-the-art, triple expanding OB truck, UHD2 is home to a range of SAM technology including two Kahuna IP production switchers, IP Multiviewers and with SAM’s IP infrastructure technology providing the backbone. Also in the truck for IBC, SAM’s LiveTouch 4K/UHD replay and highlights system will be used for demonstrations.
Timeline’s UHD2 is designed to support 32 Sony 4K cameras. Its two Kahunas enable SDR and HDR to be run simultaneously along with down converted HD outputs. The set-up allows production teams to work in VSF TR03 (SMPTE ST 2110 draft)--the first time this has been done in an OB truck--enabling Timeline to work with video and audio as separate essence flows within an IP workflow.
Daniel McDonnell, managing director at Timeline Television, said, “We worked closely with SAM to design a workflow based on the latest IP infrastructure and HDR technology available, providing customers with a highly scalable solution that can meet complex production requirements without the need to add additional OB support. Given the increased number of 4K cameras and replay positions that we wanted to support, IP made perfect sense and SAM’s technology even more so as it afforded us the maximum flexibility and scalability.”
Robert Szabó-Rowe, EVP and general manager, live Production and infrastructure, SAM, commented, “We’re really excited to have Timeline’s award winning UHD2 truck on our stand at IBC as it’s a tremendous showcase for our technology and testament to our close partnership with Timeline in delivering true market innovation. The truck offers a great opportunity for visitors to IBC to experience how IP is being used today in a real life scenario.”
Timeline Television’s McDonnell will be presenting a detailed case study on UHD2 within the IBC IP Showcase theatre (E106/107).