Tuesday, January 24, 2017


  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
Facebook's Oculus to start selling hand controllers
This photo provided by Oculus shows a set of Oculus Touch hand-held controllers, expected to go on sale Dec. 6, 2016. (Oculus via AP)

Facebook says it's working to make virtual reality more social as the industry gets more crowded.

With a host of leading tech companies now selling VR products, Facebook's Oculus division is hoping to distinguish its offerings with more interactive and social experiences. At an event Thursday, the company announced a long-awaited shipping date - Dec. 6 - for its Oculus Touch hand controllers, designed to let users make gestures and grasp virtual objects within the simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, donned one of those headsets for an onstage demonstration in which he visited Mars, played virtual cards with two other people, then made a video call to his wife while standing in a digital simulation of his living room.

Zuckerberg said his company has invested $250 million to back developers building new games and other virtual-reality programs for Oculus, and is vowing to double that amount. He also said the company is working on a prototype for a mobile VR headset that doesn't have to be linked to a personal computer, which the Oculus Rift requires, while promising a better experience than current headsets powered by smartphones, like those sold by Samsung and Google.

Other Oculus executives showed a host of new virtual-reality games for their platform and new tools for software developers to build programs in which multiple players can interact.

In addition to Zuckerberg, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and other company leaders spoke during a two-hour presentation, but co-founder Palmer Luckey did not appear on stage. Luckey recently made a public apology for donating $10,000 to a political group that boasted of creating negative social media posts about Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

Oculus has been showing prototypes of its Touch hand controllers since last year, but started shipping its high-end virtual-reality headsets without them this spring. Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau said the controllers will let people do more with the Oculus system, which should increase consumer interest.

But they won't be cheap. Oculus will sell a pair of controllers, with a sensor device, for $199. Oculus says they're designed to be more comfortable and intuitive than traditional video game controllers, which can be purchased for less than $50.

  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
Matthew Goldman to become SMPTE president on January 1
Matthew Goldman

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®) announced that the membership has elected new officers and governors for the 2017-2018 term. Matthew Goldman, senior VP of technology, TV and media at Ericsson, will take office as the new SMPTE president on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Matthew has held a variety of key SMPTE roles that have furthered the Society’s mission, and I am confident that as the new SMPTE president, he will build on Bob Seidel’s excellent work,” said SMPTE past president Wendy Aylsworth, who served as the chair of the Society Nominating Committee. “Matthew and Bob are among the many SMPTE Members who have worked to bolster the Society’s growth leading into and during our Centennial celebrations. The officers and governors elected for the 2017-2018 term — and those who continue in their existing roles — are a broad and strong group who bring extraordinary leadership to SMPTE as we enter our second century of ensuring interoperability across the media ecosystem and, in turn, facilitating the ongoing growth of our industry.”

Goldman, a SMPTE Fellow who has previously held SMPTE board roles including executive vice president, finance VP, and Eastern Region governor, will serve a two-year term as SMPTE president. He succeeds outgoing president Robert Seidel, VP of engineering and advanced technology at CBS, who will continue to serve on the SMPTE Board of Governors as the Society’s past president.

“The influx of IP into broadcasting, the embrace of software-defined networking and processing, and the rise of a fully-connected world are just a few examples of the extraordinary evolution taking place across the media and entertainment industry,” said Goldman. “SMPTE has been working diligently to address the industry’s growth and to provide standards and education programs that are relevant — in concept and practice — to the current and future work of its engineers, creatives, and other professionals. I look forward to this new opportunity, as SMPTE president, to contribute to this important work and to help guide the Society toward ever-greater growth, stability, and success.”

Other incoming SMPTE officers elected for the two-year 2017-2018 term include Patrick Griffis, VP of technology at Dolby Laboratories and SMPTE education vice president, who will serve as executive VP; Richard Welsh, CEO of Sundog Media Toolkit and a former SMPTE Governor, who has been newly elected by the membership to serve as education vice president; and Peter Wharton, VP of technology and business development at BroadStream Solutions Inc., who will continue to serve as secretary/treasurer.

Ten governors, two of which are incumbents, were elected to serve in SMPTE Regions around the world. The re-elected governors include Andrew G. Setos, CEO of Blackstar Engineering, who will continue to serve as a governor for the Hollywood Region, and Douglas I. Sheer, CEO and chief analyst at DIS Consulting Corporation, who will again serve as a governor of the New York Region. 

Newly elected governors for the 2017 – 2018 Term:

François Abbe, president and founder of Mesclado, will serve as a governor for SMPTE’s Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Central and South America Regions.

Brian Claypool, vice president of business development at Barco, will serve as a Central Region governor.

Christopher Fetner, director of engineering and partnerships at Netflix, who has previously served as governor-at-large, will now serve as a Hollywood Region governor.

George Hoover, chief technology officer at NEP Group, will serve as an Eastern Region governor.

Michal Koetter, vice president of digital media systems at Turner Broadcasting, will serve as a Southern Region governor.

Gary Mandle, senior product manager for Sony North America, will serve as a Western Region governor. 

Masayuki Sugawara, executive engineer at NEC Corporation, will serve as an Asia-Pacific Region governor. 

François Vaillant, executive director of engineering and infrastructure at CBC/Radio-Canada, will serve as a Canadian Region governor. 

Officers who were not up for re-election and who continue to serve on the SMPTE Board of Governors Executive Committee include SMPTE Standards Vice President Alan Lambshead, retired from Evertz; Finance Vice President Paul Michael Stechly of Applied Electronics Ltd.; and Membership Vice President William C. Miller of Miltag Media Technology, LLC.

Governors who were not up for re-election and who continue on the SMPTE Board of Governors include Dan Burnett of Ericsson (Southern Region); Randy Conrod of Imagine Communications (Canadian Region); Bruce Devlin of Dalet (UK Region); John Ferder of CBS, Inc. (New York Region); Siegfried Foessel of Fraunhofer IIS (EMEA and Central and South America Region); Patricia Keighley of IMAX (Hollywood Region); John Luff of HD Consulting (Eastern Region); John Maizels of Entropy Enterprises and Productions (Asia-Pacific Region); and Mark Narveson of Artegis Law Group, LLP (Western Region).

Newly elected officers and governors will be introduced to the SMPTE membership at the Society’s Annual General Membership Meeting, which takes place in Salon One of the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m., in conjunction with the SMPTE 2016 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2016). The SMPTE 2016 Welcome Reception will immediately follow in the Ray Dolby Exhibit Hall. Both the Annual General Membership Meeting and Welcome Reception are open to all attendees of SMPTE 2016, including those with exhibits-only passes.

  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
TVU Networks to showcase RPS, other technologies at Rocky Mountain Expo

TVU Networks will highlight its latest IP-based live video solutions at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Video Expo (AVX) on October 26-27 at the Crowne Plaza Dia in Denver. TVU Networks will exhibit in Booth #508.

The company will also present a session on low-cost, remote synchronized multi-camera IP video production using an ubiquitous Internet connection during the conference. The session, to be presented by Matt Keiler, a senior business development and relationship management professional at TVU Networks, will cover the benefits of an innovative technology that uses a broadcaster’s existing studio control room infrastructure and public Internet connection for live, multi-camera production from the field. His session, “Low Cost Remote & Synchronized Multi-Cam Live IP Video Production,” will take place on October 26 from 2:15-3:00 in the Longs Peak Pavilion during the show. Keiler will also discuss advances in IP based live video acquisition, transmission and distribution as part of his presentation.

TVU Networks will showcase its recently introduced, award-winning Remote Production System (RPS). TVU RPS is a cost-effective alternative solution for live, remote, synchronized multi-camera news and sports coverage. It enables the production of a live, multi-camera program in a remote location using mainly a broadcaster’s existing control room in their studio and a public Internet connection from the field. The TVU RPS transmitter encodes up to six synchronized SDI sources and transmits high-quality and low-latency IP video from the remote location to a studio-based TVU receiver, and the receiver outputs six synchronized SDI outputs.

The company will also show its popular TVU One mobile newsgathering solution - which allows broadcasters to fully leverage the versatility that a small, lightweight IP video transmitter brings in the field without sacrificing performance, feature functionality or picture quality. TVU One features TVU Networks’ patented Inverse Statmux Plus (IS+) transmission algorithm, Smart VBR technology, and the TVU.264 video codec.

AVX 2016 will feature manufacturers, workshops and speakers, with a focus on staying ahead of technology’s steady curve and demonstrate emerging technologies in television, mobile, digital signage, and the Internet.

Already in use by hundreds of leading broadcast organizations around the world, the TVU Networks family of IP transmission solutions gives broadcasters and organizations a powerful and reliable tool to distribute live video content to broadcast, online and mobile platforms. The TVU Networks suite of solutions has been used to deliver professional-quality live HD footage of a number of important events around the world including the World Cup, both Summer and Winter Olympic Games, U.S. presidential elections, natural disasters, the 2013 Papal conclave, the Super Bowl, the 2015 Papal visit to the United States and several international sporting events. 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016
Google gets aggressive with new phones, other gadgets 
Clay Bavor, Google vice president of virtual reality, talks about the Daydream View virtual-reality headset during a product event, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Google launched an aggressive challenge to consumer electronics giants like Apple and Samsung on Tuesday, introducing a new line of smartphones called Pixel and other gadgets designed to showcase a digital helper the company calls "Google Assistant."

The new devices represent a big push by Google to make and sell its own hardware, instead of largely just supplying software for other manufacturers. At a starting price of roughly $650, the new Pixel phones are aimed at the same markets as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy flagship phones.

During a press event Tuesday, Google executives showed off a series of gadgets in rapid succession. Its new Home device is a sleek internet-connected speaker that's designed to respond to voice commands, like Amazon's popular Echo. A new virtual reality headset called Daydream View will work with the new Pixel phones and other devices based on Google's Android software. The company also unveiled a new Wi-Fi router and an update to the company's Chromecast streaming media device.

In announcing the new Pixel phones, Google executives touted features like a powerful camera, a long-lasting battery - and a dedicated headphone jack, which Apple recently eliminated from its latest iPhones. The Pixel phones will be sold in two screen sizes - 5 inches and 5.5 inches - and three colors: black, silver and blue.

But they're clearly hoping the new Pixel phones and other devices will be distinguished by their use of Google's software. A central element of all the new gadgets is the Google Assistant, which uses artificial intelligence to deliver what CEO Sundar Pichai described as "a personal Google for each and every user."

Pichai said the company's goal is to let customers interact "naturally and seamlessly" with artificial intelligence through devices like the Home device and their smartphone.

Still, while Google showed its new Assistant performing a variety of impressive tasks, analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy cautioned that similar services, which include Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana, don't always live up to their early promises.

On the other hand, Moorhead said in an email that Google was smart to emphasize the performance of the new smartphone cameras, since "consumers care about this a lot." But he said other features in the new phones didn't seem that much different from what Samsung and Apple have offered in their latest devices.

The products announced Tuesday also underscore Google's hope that its products and services will work better if the company designs its own hardware and software together - something Apple has long done.

That's also a model that Microsoft has begun following, with its own brand of Surface tablets and laptop computers that use Microsoft's Windows software. But analysts warned that Google runs the risk of alienating partners like Samsung, LG and other companies that sell competing Android gadgets.

Android now powers the majority of smartphones sold around the world. But Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, has increasingly been adding more of its own software - even its own Samsung Pay mobile wallet - on the phones it sells. Another big rival, Apple, has built its own services, such as online maps and its own Siri personal assistant, to replace Google's apps on the iPhone.

Google, which is best known for its widely used internet search engine, makes most of its money from online software and digital ads. But it's putting more emphasis on hardware as it competes for consumers' attention with other leading tech firms.

In recent years, Google has sold smartphones and tablets under the Nexus brand, which it launched in 2010 as a way to show off the best features of its Android software. But it put relatively little effort into promoting those devices, which have mostly ended up in the hands of Google purists.

The new Pixel phones will be sold online, through retail chains like Best Buy and various wireless carriers around the world, although the company said it has an exclusive deal with Verizon in the United States.

Like the Pixel phones, the Home device uses the digital Google Assistant service, a voice-activated personal butler that can search the internet, play music or perform other useful tasks. Google Assistant is the company's answer to similar concierge services from rivals, including Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana.

Google said the Home device will sell for roughly $130 online and at electronics retailers starting next month. Along with answering questions and playing music, the device can be used to control streaming video through Google's Chromecast device, at voice command.

Home-based systems like the Echo are taking on more importance as voice technology has improved, said analyst Julie Ask of Forrester Research. "You can't assume somebody is going to go sit down at a computer or pick up a phone and type in a question anymore," she said.

Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun contributed from New York

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016
IABM provides overview of its Annual International Business Conference and Awards
John Ive

IABM, the international trade association for suppliers of broadcast and media technology, announced the outline program for its Annual International Business Conference and Awards event, which takes place on December 1-2 2016 at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. 

This year’s conference includes several innovations, key among which is the integration of end-users. The conference, running under the banner ‘Transformation and Collaboration’, reflects the tipping point the broadcast and media industry is at right now as new technologies, changing viewer habits and new delivery mechanisms have come together to fundamentally redefine the entire media ecosystem across supply, production and delivery. The conference aims to equip delegates with the knowledge, business tools and relationships to keep ahead of the market and succeed. 

IABM’s recently announced partnership with the AIB is bringing end-users into the heart of the conference alongside broadcast and media technology suppliers, enabling the latter to better understand the business imperatives and technology needs of their customers. 

The conference opens on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 1, with two concurrent masterclasses--a new development for this year. The first is an AIB Technology Masterclass and the second covers sales and marketing in the digital age. More details of these masterclasses will be released over the coming weeks. 

The afternoon of Dec. 1, and morning of Dec. 2 are given over to plenary sessions which look at key aspects of how to succeed as the ground continues to shift under the industry’s feet as disruption continues to fundamentally change the industry. End-user requirements are at the heart of this, and conference sessions will include presentations from luminaries such as Corey Bridges of LifeMap Solutions and Burning Bridges (and previously VP marketing at the Cameron|Pace Group), Martyn Suker, ITV head of production innovation, and Christina Mixon of Mixon Digital, experts in audience engagement on digital platforms. 

The dinner and awards presentation take place in the evening of Dec. 1, providing another excellent networking opportunity for delegates. 

“This year we have expanded the conference to bring end-users into the conversation and added some valuable new streams too,” said Conference co-chair, John Ive, IABM’s director of technology and strategic insight. “To help achieve this, I’ve brought in Saleha Williams, executive producer, Clarity Ctreative, as my co-chair and executive producer, whose vast experience of delivering high-value conferences in our industry has been enormously helpful in defining the new shape for this flagship event as well as engaging influential speakers. 

“Our aim for the conference is to give delegates a 360° view of the fundamental changes that are taking place right now in the media industry and equip them with the knowledge, support, leadership and services they need to do business in this time of unprecedented change. Add that to the unique, high-level networking opportunities this event offers with peers and end-users, and it adds up to a ‘must attend’ opportunity for our members,” Ive concluded. 

Delegates can review the conference program and book places via the IABM website here.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016
Marshfield Community TV turns to Broadcast Pix
MCTV production manager Leslie Zules (left) and executive director Jonathan Grabowski show off the PEG organization’s Broadcast Pix Granite X integrated production switcher.

When Marshfield Community Television began serving the Marshfield, Mass., community in 2008, it operated from a 1,000-square-foot facility using hand-me-down analog SD equipment from the local cable company. Today, MCTV operates from a 3,000-square-foot facility in Marshfield High School, where students and local volunteers to produce a variety of programming with Broadcast Pix Granite integrated production switchers and other HD equipment.

“The Broadcast Pix is very user friendly,” said Jonathan Grabowski, executive director of MCTV. “Everyone gets it. It’s not overwhelming. You can create real professional programming without putting in tons and tons of work.”

A nonprofit PEG (public, educational, government) organization, MCTV supports three local channels on Comcast and Verizon FiOS, supports two studios at the high school, and funds the Marshfield Student Broadcasting program.  The facility was opened for the Fall 2014 semester.

Studio A, anchored by a Granite X switcher in its control room, features three JVC ProHD cameras, professional set pieces, and a cyc wall. It is devoted to school projects during the day, but is available for volunteer use in the evenings. Studio B, used almost exclusively by volunteers, has much more limited space and set decoration. It is equipped with three Sony HD PTZ cameras that are controlled through a Granite 2000 switcher.

MCTV is also responsible for live video coverage of meetings of the Board of Selectmen, a three-member group that serves at the town’s executive branch of government. When the group’s Hearing Room was renovated last year, MCTV upgraded its operations with a Mica™ 1000 integrated production switcher.

“We needed something that could control four cameras, plus switching and graphics,” Grabowski said. “Based on our needs, we decided to go with the Mica.”

The Mica resides in the back of the room, where a high school intern gains hands-on experience by switching, adding clips and graphics, and controlling the room’s four Sony PTZ cameras through the Mica. According to Grabowski, MCTV is considering a fourth Broadcast Pix switcher for another upcoming government facility upgrade.

Broadcast Pix’s integrated toolset was an important selling point for MCTV. Directors can drag-and-drop clips, effects, and graphics from the facility’s EditShare asset management system directly into the switcher using the built-in Watch-Folders file management system. Students also use Rapid CG, Broadcast Pix’s optional software, to streamline scoreboard graphics and incorporate social media content into programming.

Once the staff was comfortable with the new switchers, MCTV began using the integrated BPView multi-view to create customized, basic visuals across two monitors for its volunteer directors in Studio B. For Studio A, the multi-view is customized across three screens, with one screen devoted to camera previews and program, another dedicated to the Granite’s built-in clips and still stores, and a third for graphics.

There are about 150 students in the digital telecommunications program, some of whom produce Before the Bells, a daily school news show. Plus, with fiber across the school campus, MCTV is able to route camera feeds back to the Granite in Studio A for live coverage of sports, graduation ceremonies, and other activities.

Under the public umbrella, MCTV produces a large variety of original programs and series with about 60 volunteer members. A local middle school librarian, for example, produces a talk show about young adult literature, but there are also programs that discuss sports, news, and politics. “We’ve worked really hard to build up the community media in the town,” Grabowski said.

  • Monday, Oct. 3, 2016
Thinkbox Software releases Frost MX 2.0
Screenshot of Frost MX 2.0 inside Autodesk 3ds Max 2017 showcasing the Region of Interest feature. Waterfall dataset courtesy of Adam Guzowski of Evermotion.com.

Thinkbox Software announced the availability of Frost MX 2.0, a major update to the fast and flexible plug-in for Autodesk® 3ds Max. A go-to tool for meshing particles and fluid simulations for many artists, Frost MX 2.0 nearly doubles the performance of previous releases, integrates more deeply with Chaos Group’s V-Ray and introduces new workflow improvements for greater ease of use. Thinkbox has also launched the beta for Frost MY 2.0, the Autodesk® Maya version of the plug-in. 

With up to twice the speed in particle meshing modes, Frost MX 2.0 allows artists to increase productivity and complete jobs more quickly. Its integration with V-Ray v3.1 and higher enables customizable particle scattering for distributing and rendering millions of mesh instances in Custom Geometry meshing mode. The new V-Ray Instancing mode leverages dynamic memory allocation to render millions of high-resolution meshes with very low memory overhead. Frost MX 2.0 continues to support all Custom Geometry features in V-Ray Instancing mode, including particle channel propagation, material and shape ID controls, animation timing offsets and motion blur from particle velocity. Coupled with the advanced particle generation and Magma data channel manipulation capabilities offered by Thinkbox’s Krakatoa MX, which is available at no extra cost via the License-Free mode, the V-Ray Instancing feature offers a whole new world of power and flexibility to Frost users.

“The latest version of Frost is a massive leap forward in terms of speed. By stripping away much of the computational burden traditionally associated with data-heavy particle meshes and fluid simulations, we’re enabling artists to work more dynamically and see their work come to life more quickly,” said Chris Bond, founder, Thinkbox Software. 

Additionally, the new Region of Interest option in Frost MX 2.0 lets users easily define a custom bounding box region that can be applied to Viewport meshing for faster previews while adjusting settings of complex particle data sets, to remove unwanted areas in Render-time meshing, or both. A dedicated Frost menu bar has been added to 3ds Max’s main menu for faster access to major features such as creating Frost objects, auto-adding new sources to a Frost object, accessing the Log window, and mass-changing the meshing mode of selected Frost objects. 

Frost MX 2.0 is available for 64-bit versions of 3ds Max from 2012 to 2017, and requires an updated license. To request an evaluation, purchase a new license or renew an existing one, click here. For beta access to Frost MY 2.0,  contact Thinkbox by clicking here

  • Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016
Barry Gibb’s VR live stream captured with Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4Ks
Blackmagic Design's Micro Studio Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design announced that six Micro Studio Camera 4Ks were used by live virtual reality (VR) production specialists 360 Designs to capture and live stream an interactive, 360-degree experience with Bee Gees legend Barry Gibb.
In anticipation of the October release of his upcoming album, “In The Now,” award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Gibb invited fans to join him virtually and in person at Miami’s legendary Hit Factory Criteria studio for an intimate performance. During the exclusive rehearsal, Gibb performed brand new material from his upcoming album, as well as classic Bee Gees songs, and also hosted a Q&A. The entire event was live streamed in 360 degrees on YouTube and www.BarryGibb.com/360, giving fans around the world a better than front row seat to this special performance.
In order to capture the 360-degree performance, Alx Klive, founder and CEO of 360 Designs, used six Micro Studio Camera 4Ks, as part of two Mini EYE™ 3 Professional 360 Camera rigs, with three cameras per rig. One rig was situated on a motion track near Gibb, which allowed for remote movement of the 360 camera setup. The other rig was positioned next to keyboardist Doug Emery, providing an alternate 360 viewpoint for the audience.
360 Designs also used several of Blackmagic’s DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G and DeckLink SDI 4K capture and playback cards as part of its live stitching technology, a number of Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio Pro broadcast recorders to record ISOs and then live stitched output and several Blackmagic Mini Converter Sync Generators to synchronize the Micro Studio Camera 4Ks for 360 capture.
360 Designs used its own live stitching, switching, grading and encoding boxes, which feature the DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G and DeckLink SDI 4K cards, to produce the one hour live stream and has used similar setups to live 360 stream from the Oscars red carpet, among a range of other high profile events.
“Over the past 15 months, we’ve built a rock solid broadcast technology workflow for live 360 video that leverages the 6G-SDI 10-bit capabilities of the Micro Studio Camera 4K, as well as our in-house expertise in designing and manufacturing 360 camera rigs and stitching equipment, to provide the highest possible standard of live 360 video with utter reliability,” said Klive. “Coming from a broadcast background, we designed a system that works within broadcast standards and 6G-SDI. For us, this is the only way to go as these events become larger and higher profile.”
He continued, “We had an incredibly talented team, and everyone involved in the production, from the engineers, to the musicians, to Columbia Records and Sony Music, all came together to create a unique and emotional experience for Barry’s fans. We didn’t just want to create another 360 experience; we wanted an intimate, live event where 360 was the focus instead of an add-on to traditional 2D production. Thanks to Barry’s enthusiasm for the project, we were able to plan ahead and design the production to work well for 360. We were able to get the Micro Studio Camera 4Ks much closer to the action than ever before, which was unprecedented and made a huge difference to the quality of the output.”
“This is an incredible technology which immerses you completely in the performance itself,” said Gibb. “Pretty scary really when you’re being streamed around the world, but as kids Maurice, Robin and I always had to perform on live television. You could never previously record anything. Hats off to the 360 Designs team.”

  • Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2016
SMPTE Time Code Summits to define industry standard
Howard Lukk

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®) will host a series of Time Code Summits to gather user community feedback that will contribute to the creation of a new “Time Label” standard. As the next-generation standard to SMPTE Time Code™, widely viewed as one of the most important standards in the audio/video industry, the new Time Label standard will address the continuing, new, and emerging requirements of handling media across the cinema, broadcast, theatrical, music recording, concert, live entertainment, and theme park markets.

Innovative media techniques such as higher-frame-rate (HFR) video and media over internet protocol (IP) are testing the limits of the original SMPTE Time Code standard, first introduced in 1974. The time has come to revise the standard to keep pace with new technologies and workflows. With a better understanding of how today’s professionals are using Time Code on a daily basis, SMPTE will be positioned to enable an efficient move into Time Labels.

“If your job depends on Time Code, then you have something to gain by attending one of our Time Code Summits,” said Howard Lukk, director of engineering and standards, SMPTE. “These meetings mark a significant step toward building a new version of what is arguably one of the most widely used SMPTE standards. They will play an essential role in ensuring that we receive the feedback from a broad range of users to create an improved standard that will stand the test of time. We encourage the user community to take advantage of this unique opportunity to contribute to the standards-creation process.”

The first Time Code Summit will be held on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. The second Summit will take place on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at BT Tower in London. A third Summit is planned for New York in November, with more locations in consideration. The Summits are hosted by Lukk with support from the local SMPTE Sections. 

At each SMPTE Time Code Summit, the Society will provide an overview of what is possible today with current standards, conduct an electronic poll that will collect answers from users to a series of questions about their requirements, and then hold a free-form discussion about any further requirements or considerations. The results of each Summit will be assembled and integrated into a report delivered to the SMPTE Working Group on Time Labeling and Synchronization (WG 32NF80). An aggregate report is also planned for the industry at large.

  • Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016
Animal Logic selects FilmLight Baselight as end-to-end finishing solution
Animal Logic worked on "The Lego Movie"

Digital animation and visual effects studio Animal Logic has installed two Baselight grading systems in its Sydney head office. The company--with credits ranging from The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge to Captain America: Civil War and the series of LEGO® movies--also maintains operations in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Animal Logic has replaced its existing DI suites with a Baselight TWO grading system as well as a Baselight ONE, each with Blackboard control panels. There is also a Baselight ASSIST station for file preparation and rendering of final deliverables, and all systems are linked to a 160TB FLUX Store, FilmLight’s high-speed media server with full multi-GPU rendering options.

“Baselight has always been in Animal Logic’s peripheral vision. There is an increasing sense that it has become the new industry standard with a very reliable toolset that most colorists can just jump on and use,” said Alex Timbs, head of IT at Animal Logic. “This proven toolset, combined with the FLUX Store, provided a turnkey solution entirely configured by FilmLight so we could just slide into production with ease.

”And having one trusted company handling software releases, hardware and complex storage,” he added, “means we can shift the focus away from experimenting with and problem-solving different hardware and back to our creative work.”

Bram Tulloch, global editorial and DI engineer at Animal Logic, agrees with the importance of Baselight as the finishing tool, which also brings efficiencies through FilmLight’s BLG workflow. 

“Our requirements are very different from the traditional VFX pipeline - we’re not dealing with live action content so we require more from our solutions,” he said. “We tend to work towards a photoreal look in almost everything we create, and that certainly requires a very complex and accurate set of tools. Baselight gets things through the pipeline faster, and the BLG workflow offers everyone the ability to get involved in the DI from the early stages.”