Monday, January 23, 2017

Toolbox

  • Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016
RED Digital Cinema to showcase latest in product line at Camerimage
RED's WEAPON® 8K S35
IRVINE, Calif. -- 

RED Digital Cinema will be exhibiting at Camerimage International Film Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from November 12-19. Those visiting RED’s stand can interact with RED’s DSMC2TM cameras including the newest cameras, RED EPIC-W and WEAPON® 8K S35, which feature RED’s new HELIUM™ sensor.

These RED cameras will be featured alongside Dedo Lights and Cooke Optics within the Main Foyer of The Festival Center. This stand will use a mock set displaying the Camerimage Frog Festival Trophies, rarely seen on the exhibit floor or outside the awards. Additional RED EPIC-W cameras will be featured on the Leica and Angenieux stands as well.

  • Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016
Quantum sets lineup for NAB Show NY
Xcellis Shared Workflow Storage
NEW YORK -- 

Quantum will showcase the power of its StorNext platform across the full media life cycle, including production, delivery and archive workflows and content management, at the NAB Show New York at Javits Convention Center from Nov. 9-10.The company’s booth (1119) will feature the converged storage architecture of Xcellis and the benefits that media companies can realize when embedded applications run natively on high-performance workflow storage.

Quantum products at the NAB Show NY will include:

•End-to-End Workflow Support: Xcellis™ Shared Storage Powered by StorNext®   
Quantum will showcase its award-winning Xcellis workflow storage and demonstrate how the unique converged capabilities of this system empower users to boost their efficiency, productivity and creativity in delivering the products and services that drive their businesses. Xcellis consolidates media management, extends connectivity options for both Fibre Channel and Ethernet clients and supports hosted applications in a single hardware system that greatly enhances productivity in collaborative media environments. Working with a growing array of technology partners and application providers, Quantum is continually extending the ways in which Xcellis can optimize end-to-end workflows. Based on the powerful StorNext 5 platform, Xcellis facilitates flexible configuration of performance and capacity. The system supports online work-in-process, ingest and delivery, and archive through Quantum’s portfolio of Lattus object storage, LTO tape and Q-Cloud services. In addition to providing exceptional performance and reliability, Xcellis enables continuous scalability that not only reduces the cost and complexity of storage deployment and maintenance but also enables future expansion in an intelligent, sophisticated manner.

•Xcellis™ Dynamic Application Environment
Xcellis has the unique ability to support embedded applications, which run on the system to deliver valuable functionality while streamlining operations. During the 2016 NAB Show New York, Quantum will showcase this capability, the execution of applications via virtual machines within the storage system and how this approach both reduces the need for dedicated application servers and provides a flexible foundation for future technologies and workflows. A growing number of Quantum technology partners have introduced embedded applications for Xcellis that address tasks such as media asset management, transcoding and QC, provisioning resources in an exceptionally efficient on-demand model.

Tech demo
Quantum will also present a technology demo, showcasing the IPV Curator media asset management (MAM) system running natively on its Xcellis high-performance shared workflow storage system. Deploying Curator and its operating system environment as a virtual machine on Xcellis, users realize advanced asset management capabilities while eliminating the need to invest in and maintain a new server to support the application and its functionality.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
Panavision to showcase Millennium DXL Camera and T Series Lenses at Camerimage
Panavision Millennium DXL 8K Camera
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. -- 

Panavision will showcase many of its newest offerings, including the Millennium DXL 8K Camera and T Series anamorphic lenses at the 2016 edition of the Camerimage International Film Festival, which runs Nov. 12-19 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Panavision is also presenting two workshops, and exhibiting alongside subsidiaries Light Iron, LEE Filters and Panalux. 

Unveiled earlier this year, the Panavision Millennium DXL was developed through an unprecedented collaboration of three companies, bringing together large-format optics and modular accessories from Panavision; an 8K sensor from RED Digital Cinema; and new color science and optimized workflow from Light Iron. Presentations on the DXL will take place each day from Nov. 14-17, with demo footage screening at the MCK. The camera is expected to be available in early 2017 for rent exclusively through Panavision facilities worldwide.

The company also announces the availability of the Panavision T Series anamorphic lenses. At Panavision’s exhibit, attendees will see the product portfolio, ranging in current focal lengths of 35mm, 60mm, 100mm, 135mm, 150mm, and preview the upcoming additions to the lineup in 50mm, 75mm, 180mm. The lenses build on Panavision’s long tradition of designing and developing high-quality anamorphic lenses for motion picture. They combine new optical layouts with mechanical advances from the G Series, but have a larger sweet spot and focus closer than some of their predecessors. They are also tuned to be compatible with digital sensors without losing any of the imaging characteristics that have become part of the anamorphic grammar.

Camerimage’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Chapman, ASC will be taking the stage at the MCK on Nov. 15 at 11:00 a.m. CET. This event is a highlight of the festival, which is presented by Panavision. Oscar® nominated for his work on Raging Bull in 1981 and The Fugitive in 1994, Chapman’s legacy of film images over four decades places him among the elite of cinematographers. His list of credits includes The Last Detail, Taxi Driver, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Lost Boys, Rising Sun, Primal Fear, Space Jam, Six Days Seven Nights, The Story of Us, The Watcher, Evolution, and Eulogy.

Following Chapman’s seminar, Panavision’s Cinematography Workshop will explore the technical and artistic characteristics of anamorphic and larger format optics. Led by Dan Sasaki, Panavision’s VP of Optical Engineering, the workshop will be held Nov. 15 from 2:00 p.m. CET in the MCK.

Also on exhibit will be the new Outpost by Panavision, a powerful mobile post-production system for on-set or near-set workflows. Originally developed by Light Iron and refined with Panavision’s modular engineering, Outpost’s lightweight, compact form factor provides efficient solutions for both creative tasks, such as look setting and processing tasks, including  verified backups. Outpost helps creatives maximize their schedules with faster than real-time transcodes and same-day editorial deliverables, even for 8K footage. Like the DXL, Outpost is designed with many details and custom modules that can be configured to each production’s needs.

LEE Filters will debut its Cine Filters, a new range of glass neutral density camera filters. Also highlighted at the exhibit will be LEE’s Zircon Lighting Filters designed for LED lighting with new technology that gives them an increased lifespan of up to 200 times longer than standard lighting filters. Attendees can also pick up the latest copy of the famous LEE yellow swatch book, containing all their color effects filters as well as their full range of technical and diffusion filters for cinematography.

Panalux, a provider of lighting rental equipment for film, television, and media production, will display its latest in LED lighting technology. The rental and service provider will showcase and demo the lightweight, battery-powered Panalux LED Flex Light and yet-to-be-released soft box accessory. The bi-color, super-slim Panalux LED Flex Light is bendable and portable. The newest accessory to the Flex Light is a quick-assemble, large-format soft box that produces a beautiful, even soft light that makes the low-consumption Flex Light even more versatile. Also on display will be the Panalux Tektile2 slimline LED panels and Panalux NessLED Kit.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
Blackmagic Design rolls out DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 update
DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Pro Suite
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced a new DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 update for its professional editing and color correction software. DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 features support for importing and exporting projects from the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, as well as additional improvements to Media Composer interoperability, ACES color science and more. DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 update is available now for both DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio customers, and can be downloaded free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.
 
DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 update adds compatibility with the new XML 1.6 format used in the latest version of Final Cut Pro X. That means customers using the new version of Final Cut Pro X will be able to seamlessly send projects to DaVinci Resolve for color correction and finishing and also generate XML’s to export projects back to Final Cut Pro X. In addition, DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 includes PostgreSQL 9.5.2 for compatibility with macOS Sierra.
 
DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 also adds support for ACES version 1.0.2, including the ACEScct color space. ACEScct is a quasi-logarithmic encoding of ACES data to make it suitable for color grading with DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3.
 
This new update also improves interoperability with Media Composer. AAF projects containing dip to color dissolves and certain transformation effects such as flip and flop are greatly improved, making it easier to successfully move projects from Media Composer to DaVinci Resolve for finishing. DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 also improves Dolby Vision XML exporting for mastering and finishing high dynamic range content.
 
“In addition to being an incredible editing and color correction solution, one of the things that customers love the most about DaVinci Resolve is that it just works with everything,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “This new update makes it easier and more reliable than ever to move projects from Final Cut Pro X and Media Composer into DaVinci Resolve. Once there, customers can use improved ACES and DolbyVision support to edit, color correct and finish their projects in high dynamic range and at the highest possible quality!”
 
What’s new in DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3

  • Added support for Final Cut Pro X XML Version 1.6
  • Added support for PostgreSQL 9.5.2 on macOS Sierra
  • Added support for ACEScct color science
  • Updated ACES support from ACES 1.0.0 to ACES 1.0.2
  • Improved performance when encoding to MXF XAVC
  • Improved importing of Flip and Flop from AAFs from Media Composer
  • Improved importing of Dip to Color dissolves from AAFs from Media Composer
  • Improved Dolby Vision XML export

Availability and Price
DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 update and DaVinci Resolve 12.5.3 Studio update are now available for download from the Blackmagic Design website free of charge for all current DaVinci Resolve customers.

  • Friday, Oct. 28, 2016
Vicon motion capture technology deployed for "Doctor Strange" 
A scene from "Doctor Strange"
OXFORD, UK -- 

Vicon, the motion capture technology specialist for the entertainment, engineering and life science industries, announced that award-winning UK visual effects company Framestore used Vicon motion capture cameras for Marvel Studios latest superhero film Doctor Strange.

The film follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who loses the use of his hands after a terrible car accident. Battling adversity, Doctor Strange embarks on a journey of healing, while discovering the secrets of an alternate dimension and gaining magical powers on the way. Ultimately, he must decide whether to return to his old life in New York or leave it all behind to protect the Marvel Universe.

Using a 24-camera Vicon system, Framestore undertook three days of stunt performance capture at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, for fight scenes between Doctor Strange and Strong Zealot. Typically, Framestore deploys a 16-camera system, however additional loaned cameras were needed due to the size of the capture volume as many of the scenes involved actors flying on wires both vertically and horizontally.

Framestore managed the capture data using a pipeline that streamed from Blade, Vicon’s precision data capture and processing software, straight into Autodesk MotionBuilder. This enabled the Framestore team to deliver reliable data, and allowed the stunt performers and coordinators to see the characters as they would finally appear on screen and direct stunts based on pre-visualized camera angles.  

“The stunts were very physically demanding, so it was important for the data captured to be accurate and reliable,” said Richard Graham, Capture Lab studio manager at Framestore. “As the scenes involved actors flying on wires, it was important to show the capture in the context of the final shot. The Vicon system allowed us to do this and enabled the animation and VFX supervisors to make decisions in real-time as shooting took place.”

“Comics and fantasy worlds capture the imagination of audiences, but technology is often needed to help bring the pages of comic books to life,” said Imogen Moorhouse, CEO, Vicon. “Offering flexibility and outstanding accuracy and clarity, Vicon technology offers studios like Framestore the best quality data capture software and tools to meet the toughest industry demands and challenges.”

  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016
Marvel Studios' Annie Chang joins Academy's Tech Council
Annie Chang
LOS ANGELES -- 

Annie Chang, VP of technology for Marvel Studios, has accepted an invitation to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, bringing the Council’s 2016–2017 membership roster to 25.

During Chang’s 11 years at Disney, Marvel’s parent company, she has shaped technology standards and strategies, helped research and implement new technologies into feature postproduction and mastering pipelines, and helped the studio transition from tapes to files and launch consumer distribution platforms. A fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Chang also is the co-chair of SMPTE’s 10E Essence Technology Committee and was a five-year chair of SMPTE’s Interoperable Master Format (IMF) standardization project.  Chang joined the Academy as a member-at-large earlier this year. 

The returning Council co-chairs for 2016–2017 are two members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch: Academy governor Craig Barron, an Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor; and Paul Debevec, a sr. staff engineer at Google VR, adjunct professor at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and a lead developer of the Light Stage image capture and rendering technology, for which he received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 2009.

The Council’s 22 other returning members are Wendy Aylsworth, Academy vice president John Bailey, Rob Bredow, Lisa Zeno Churgin, Elizabeth Cohen, Douglas Greenfield, Don Hall, John Hora, Jim Houston, Rob Hummel, Randal Kleiser, Academy governor John Knoll, Beverly Pasterczyk, Cary Phillips, Joshua Pines, Douglas Roble, Milt Shefter, David Stump, Steve Sullivan, Academy governor Bill Taylor, Academy governor Michael Tronick and Beverly Wood.

Established in 2003 by the Academy’s Board of Governors, the Science and Technology Council provides a forum for the exchange of information, promotes cooperation among diverse technological interests within the industry, sponsors publications, fosters educational activities, and preserves the history of the science and technology of motion pictures.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016
Director/producer/writer John Ridley shoots with URSA Mini 4K
John Ridley (photo courtesy of ABC)
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that director, producer and Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) is using the URSA Mini 4K digital film camera on several television and film projects, including the TV miniseries “Guerrilla” currently filming in London.
 
Ridley often has a spontaneous shooting style for which the URSA Mini 4K comes in handy. “My experience thus far with the URSA Mini 4K has been exceptional,” he said. “It is an amazingly versatile piece of equipment that allows me to not only use it in every phase of production, but to do so in a variety of ways.”
 
Using the URSA Mini 4K for previsualization (previz), Ridley notes that the camera’s efficient user interface allows him to “run and gun” with his thoughts focused on the scenes that he is building, rather than the complexities of filming. “I’m a freak for shooting before shooting, but I have found historically there were few, if any, offerings that had the durability of professional equipment, but that were also intuitive enough creatively so as not to collide with spontaneity,” he explained. “Importantly, I didn’t want a piece of kit I had to lug around in hopes I might need it. With an emphasis on the ‘Mini,’ the URSA Mini’s form factor allows it to be ever present. Even the tools that facilitate the greatest creativity can’t be of use when they are not at hand.”
 
In his role as director on various film and television projects, Ridley is known to grab a camera himself to capture additional footage. “The URSA Mini 4K’s ability to grab and go has also allowed me to use it as a fill-in B camera that I’ve self-operated during production,” he said. “With the camera in hand, I’ve been able to record additional footage on the move without impacting our principle photography.”
 
Ridley added, “On days when a true second unit proves to be as financially prohibitive as the workload is demanding, the option of using the URSA Mini 4K has proved to be invaluable. Though camera operating isn’t my primary skill set, with the URSA Mini 4K, I’ve gotten the shots I’ve needed and done so with broadcast quality that has cut seamlessly into our project.”
 
As a self-taught camera operator, Ridley appreciates the URSA Mini’s ease of use, but is quick to note that the camera suffers no loss in ability when he has handed it off to well-seasoned camera technicians. “The camera is remarkably adept and ‘tweakable,’ allowing it to capture the best images in a variety of lighting conditions, from harsh to lowlight,” he said. “In post, as well, the workflow is as basic or demanding as the user wishes it to be. I have turned shot footage around in minutes to use in previz, and I have also put it through a post gauntlet that has had to pass international QC. In all instances, I have not been disappointed.”
 
Ridley concluded, “The URSA Mini 4K is a serious cinema camera with serious capabilities, and in less than a year, it has become an integral part of my creative process. I look forward to further exploring the camera and testing its seemingly endless potential.”

  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016
VITEC to demonstrate streaming solutions at SATIS
VITEC's PX Media Library
PARIS -- 

VITEC, known for advanced video encoding, decoding, and streaming solutions, will highlight its PX Media Library, EZ TV IPTV Solution, and complete line of portable encoder and decoder appliances at SATIS 2016 in stand 3-E33 at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from Nov. 15-17.

“At this year’s SATIS, we will demonstrate the PX Media Library, a timesaving meta-solution that enables media professionals to seamlessly tag, edit, manage, organize, and share media files,” said Jean Visconte, sales director, France, VITEC. “Attendees can also stop by the booth to see how our EZ TV IPTV Solution allows local and remote users to watch external and locally produced content anytime, anywhere and on any screen. Finally, we will exhibit our new MGW Ace Decoder which — when paired with our MGW Ace Encoder — creates the industry’s first entirely portable, hardware-based end-to-end 4:2:2 HEVC encode/decode solution.”

Taking center stage, VITEC’s PX Media Library streamlines media management and allows users to take advantage of proven solutions for a variety of applications, including sports, content delivery, broadcast, film, science, and government. The open system is easily adaptable to industry-specific workflows. Fresh, intuitive user interfaces along with customizable, easy-to-configure workflows keep users ahead of the competition by enabling them to stay organized in today’s media-crowded world.

A broadcast-grade centralized system, VITEC’s EZ TV IPTV Solution is designed for rapid integration with existing enterprise networks. EZ TV’s intuitive content management portal makes it easy to set up live TV channels, stream in-house content and recordings, and establish an access-controlled IPTV service to any user via LAN or WAN. EZ TV is the ideal solution for corporate video-over-IP applications and digital signage projects for sports and entertainment venues.

Delivering broadcast-quality decoding of HEVC streams up to 1080p60 4:2:2 10-bit, the MGW Ace Decoder supports the most demanding and diverse video streaming use cases. It offers a robust panel of best-in-class connectivity options and two pairs of audio decode capabilities, with a unique, flexible FPGA architecture that supports ongoing video improvements up to 4K60p. When the MGW Ace Decoder is coupled with the MGW Ace Encoder, the devices become the industry’s first entirely portable, hardware-based end-to-end 4:2:2 HEVC encode/decode solution.

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
NATAS unveils recipients of 68th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards
Comcast's Tony Werner has been named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award
NEW YORK -- 

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced the recipients of the 68th Annual Technology & Engineering  Emmy® Awards that will take place on Saturday, January 7th, 2017.  This event marks the eleventh consecutive year that the Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards have been presented during CES. The reception and presentation will take place in the Monet Ballroom at The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“From our beginnings in 1948, the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards always recognized the talented and innovative leaders and companies that have made our industry possible,” said Bob Mauro, president, NATAS.  “As we all enjoy the new world of television on our laptops, tablets and smartphones, we take time tonight to honor those that have the vision of seeing the seemingly impossible and making it a reality.”

“The National Academy’s Technology and Engineering Achievement Committee is pleased to honor these technology companies and especially happy to honor, Tony Werner, president of Technology and Product at Comcast Cable with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career,” said committee chairman, Robert P. Seidel, VP of CBS Engineering and Advanced Technology and chairman, Engineering Achievement Committee, NATAS. “Over the last twenty-five years, Tony has been one of the leaders in the digital revolution in video, voice and data services in our industry delivering world-class products to consumers and companies alike.”

The individuals and companies that will be honored at the event follow.

2016 Technical / Engineering Achievement Awards

Live Production Technology Beyond HD to Achieve Non-Interpolated Video for Instant Replay

  • Evertz
  • EVS
  • FOR-A

Concept of Opto-Electric Transduction

  • Telcon (Alcatel Lucent-Submarine Networks)
  • Society of Telegraph Engineers (Institute of Engineering and Technology)
  • Siemens

Development and Standardization of Media Object Server (MOS) Protocol

  • Media Object Server (MOS) Group

 
System for Executing Targeted Household Advertising on Linear Television

  • Invidi Technologies
  • Visible World

Pioneering Invention and Deployment of Fiber Optic Cable

  • Corning
  • Bell Labs/Western Electric (OFS)

Pioneering Technology to Automate the Digital On-Line Assembly of Broadcast Content

  • IBM Corporation
  • Laser Pacific/SCAA (Technicolor)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Tony Werner
Tony G. Werner serves as president of Technology and Product for Comcast Cable.  In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Technology and Product organization, including innovation, development and operations. The Technology and Product team leads the design and development of Comcast’s customer-facing products, including the X1 Entertainment Operating System, second-screen apps, and ultra-fast home Internet and Wi-Fi. The organization also leads software development, systems engineering, next-generation access networks, cloud computing, technical operations and R&D within Comcast.

Under Werner’s leadership, Comcast has completed major platform developments, including DOCSIS 3.0, the Digital terminal Adapter/all-digital transition and the X1 platform.  . In 2015, Comcast became the first company to connect a gigabit-class DOCSIS 3.1 modem on a customer-facing network.

The Technology and Product organization also designs and builds new X1 features like Kids Zone, the Sports App and X1 Voice Remote.

Prior to joining Comcast in 2006, Werner served as sr. VP and chief technology officer for Liberty Global, Inc., in Englewood, CO, where he led the company’s global strategy for video, voice and data services. He has more than 25 years of engineering and technical management experience, having also held senior management positions with Qwest Communications, Aurora Networks, TeleCommunications, Inc. (TCI)/AT&T Broadband, Rogers Communications, Inc., and RCA Cablevision Systems.

Werner serves as president and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Foundation (2015-16 term).

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
Robots at center of China's strategy to leapfrog rivals 
In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 photo, the Ares, a humanoid bipedal robot designed by Chinese college students with fundings from a Shanghai investment company, is displayed during the World Robot Conference in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING (AP) -- 

The Canbot can say its name, respond to voice commands, and "dance" as it plays Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Other robots China is displaying at the World Robot Conference can play badminton, sand cell phone cases and sort computer chips.

China is showcasing its burgeoning robot industry at the five-day exhibition in Beijing, part of a national effort to promote use of more advanced technologies in Chinese factories and create high-end products that redefine the meaning of "Made in China."

Apart from the cool factor, China's sweeping plans to upgrade its factories and production lines depend on building and better using advanced robots. Automation is crucial for industries facing rising labor costs and slowing growth in the work force thanks to the "one-child" policy era and aging of the population.

China will have to make big strides to leap ahead of Germany, Japan and other nations whose robots are generations ahead.

Infinities International Group, based in eastern China's Shandong, advertises its Canbot U-Partner as a service robot that could be programmed to run in shopping malls, restaurants and banks. But it's modeled on the "Pepper" robot made by Japan's SoftBank.

Nearby, Peng Zhihui and Luo Binyi stood with "Ares," a human-sized robot they designed with exposed metal arms and hands and a wide range of uses in mind, from the military to performing basic tasks in a home.

Peng and Luo, both 24, developed the mannequin-like Ares while attending college in southwestern China's Sichuan province. A Shanghai investment company pitched in some funding.

"Many robots aren't very useful right now, but will show their true value when they are used in homes in the future," Peng said.

Thousands of factories in southern China's industrial centers which long were manned by low-cost migrant workers, are now turning to robots. China has become the world's top consumer of industrial robots and will soon have the most commercial robots in operation of any country. Foxconn, the Taiwanese firm that assembles Apple's iPhones in China, has installed 40,000 robots in its factories.

China made robotics a focal point of its recent "Made in China 2025" plan, and has set national goals of producing 100,000 industrial robots a year and having 150 robots in operation for every 10,000 employees by 2020, a figure known as robot density. Currently, China ranks 28th in the world for robot density, behind Portugal and Indonesia. Chinese suppliers sold about 20,000 robots last year to local companies.

"There has never been such a dynamic rise in such a short period of time in any other market," the International Federation of Robotics said in an analysis of China's robot industry published earlier this year.

Steve Wyatt, head of sales and marketing for Switzerland-based ABB Robotics, said his company employs more than 1,600 people in China and has seen its sales in China grow by a factor of 50.

But the country remains behind in terms of the complexity of tasks Chinese-made robots can handle, Wyatt said.

Chinese appliance maker Midea Group recently announced it was purchasing almost all of German industrial robot manufacturer Kuka.

Wing Chu, a senior economist at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said China will continue to seek foreign expertise to advance in robotics as part of a broader effort to transform its economy.

"In the longer term, China wants to upgrade all its industries," he said.

Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.