Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Toolbox

  • Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017
Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk spar over the rise of AI
This combo of file images shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Stephan Savoia)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Tech titans Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk recently slugged it out online over the possible threat artificial intelligence might one day pose to the human race, although you could be forgiven if you don't see why this seems like a pressing question.

Thanks to AI, computers are learning to do a variety of tasks that have long eluded them — everything from driving cars to detecting cancerous skin lesions to writing news stories . But Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, worries that AI systems could soon surpass humans, potentially leading to our deliberate (or inadvertent) extinction.

Two weeks ago, Musk warned U.S. governors to get educated and start considering ways to regulate AI in order to ward off the threat. "Once there is awareness, people will be extremely afraid," he said at the time.

Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, took exception. In a Facebook Live feed recorded Saturday in front of his barbecue smoker, Zuckerberg hit back at Musk, saying people who "drum up these doomsday scenarios" are "pretty irresponsible." On Tuesday, Musk slammed back on Twitter , writing that "I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited."

Here's a look at what's behind this high-tech flare-up — and what you should and shouldn't be worried about.

WHAT IS AI, ANYWAY?
Back in 1956, scholars gathered at Dartmouth College to begin considering how to build computers that could improve themselves and take on problems that only humans could handle . That's still a workable definition of artificial intelligence.

An initial burst of enthusiasm at the time, however, devolved into an "AI winter" lasting many decades as early efforts largely failed to create machines that could think and learn — or even listen, see or speak.

That started changing five years ago. In 2012, a team led by Geoffrey Hinton at the University of Toronto proved that a system using a brain-like neural network could "learn" to recognize images. That same year, a team at Google led by Andrew Ng taught a computer system to recognize cats in YouTube videos — without ever being taught what a cat was.

Since then, computers have made enormous strides in vision, speech and complex game analysis. One AI system recently beat the world's top player of the ancient board game Go.

HERE COMES TERMINATOR'S SKYNET ... MAYBE
For a computer to become a "general purpose" AI system, it would need to do more than just one simple task like drive, pick up objects, or predict crop yields. Those are the sorts of tasks to which AI systems are largely limited today.

But they might not be hobbled for too long. According to Stuart Russell, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, AI systems may reach a turning point when they gain the ability to understand language at the level of a college student. That, he said, is "pretty likely to happen within the next decade."

While that on its own won't produce a robot overlord, it does mean that AI systems could read "everything the human race has ever written in every language," Russell said. That alone would provide them with far more knowledge than any individual human.

The question then is what happens next. One set of futurists believe that such machines could continue learning and expanding their power at an exponential rate, far outstripping humanity in short order. Some dub that potential event a "singularity," a term connoting change far beyond the ability of humans to grasp.

NEAR-TERM CONCERNS
No one knows if the singularity is simply science fiction or not. In the meantime, however, the rise of AI offers plenty of other issues to deal with.

AI-driven automation is leading to a resurgence of U.S. manufacturing — but not manufacturing jobs . Self-driving vehicles being tested now could ultimately displace many of the almost 4 million professional truck, bus and cab drivers now working in the U.S.

Human biases can also creep into AI systems. A chatbot released by Microsoft called Tay began tweeting offensive and racist remarks after online trolls baited it with what the company called "inappropriate" comments.

Harvard University professor Latanya Sweeney found that searching in Google for names associated with black people more often brought up ads suggesting a criminal arrest. Examples of image-recognition bias abound.

"AI is being created by a very elite few, and they have a particular way of thinking that's not necessarily reflective of society as a whole," says Mariya Yao, chief technology officer of AI consultancy TopBots.

MITIGATING HARM FROM AI
In his speech to the governors, Musk urged governors to be proactive, rather than reactive, in regulating AI, although he didn't offer many specifics. And when a conservative Republican governor challenged him on the value of regulation, Musk retreated and said he was mostly asking for government to gain more "insight" into potential issues presented by AI.

Of course, the prosaic use of AI will almost certainly challenge existing legal norms and regulations. When a self-driving car causes a fatal accident, or an AI-driven medical system provides an incorrect medical diagnosis, society will need rules in place for determining legal responsibility and liability.

With such immediate challenges ahead, worrying about superintelligent computers "would be a tragic waste of time," said Andrew Moore, dean of the computer science school at Carnegie Mellon University.

That's because machines aren't now capable of thinking out of the box in ways they weren't programmed for, he said. "That is something which no one in the field of AI has got any idea about."
 

  • Tuesday, Jul. 25, 2017
Foundry launches Nuke and Hiero 11.0
Timeline Disk Cache in Nuke Studio: Nuke Studio now has new GPU accelerated disk caching that allows users to cache part or all of a sequence to disk for smoother playback of more complex sequences.
LONDON -- 

Creative software developer Foundry has launched Nuke and Hiero 11.0, the next major release for the Nuke family of products including Nuke, NukeX, Nuke Studio, Hiero and HieroPlayer.
 
As a leading high-end compositing tool, Nuke and Hiero 11.0 align with industry standards and introduce a host of features and updates that will boost artist performance and increase collaboration. 
 
Following its successful beta launch in April 2017, Nuke and Hiero 11.0 will redefine how teams collaborate, helping them to get the highest quality results, faster.
 
Key features for this release include:

  • VFX Reference Platform 2017: The Nuke family is being updated to VFX Platform 2017, which includes several major updates to key libraries used within Nuke, including Python, Pyside and Qt. 
  • Live Groups: Introduces a new type of group node which offers a powerful new collaborative workflow for sharing work among artists. Live Groups referenced in other scripts automatically update when a script is loaded, without the need to render intermediate stages. 
  • Frame Server in Nuke and NukeX: Nuke Studio’s intelligent background rendering is now available in Nuke and NukeX. The Frame Server takes advantage of available resource on your local machine, enabling you to continue working while rendering is happening in the background.
  • New Lens Distortion in NukeX: The LensDistortion node has been completely revamped, with added support for fisheye and wide-angle lenses and the ability to use multiple frames to produce better results. It is now also GPU-enabled. 
  • Timeline Disk Cache in Nuke Studio: Nuke Studio now has new GPU accelerated disk caching that allows users to cache part or all of a sequence to disk for smoother playback of more complex sequences.

Jody Madden, chief product and customer officer at Foundry, commented: “We’re delighted to announce the release of Nuke and Hiero 11.0 with new workflows for artist collaboration and a renewed focus on industry standards.  Nuke, NukeX and Nuke Studio continue to be the go-to industry tools for compositing, editorial and review tasks, and we’re confident these updates will continue to provide performance improvements and further increase artist efficiency.”
 
Nuke and Hiero 11.0 have gone live and will be available for purchase on Foundry’s website and via accredited resellers.

  • Monday, Jul. 24, 2017
Stature Films takes delivery of 1st FUJINON MK50-135mm in North America
​Stature Films shooting in New Brunswick with new FUJINON MK50-135mm lens.
WAYNE, NJ -- 

The Optical Devices Division of FUJIFILM has announced the first North American customer of its recently released FUJINON MK50-135mm T2.9 zoom. Toronto-based Stature Films, best known for its commercial and documentary production, was an early adopter of the first in the MK Series--the MK18-55mm--purchasing two shortly after the lens’ introduction last February. Stature Films now boasts having the first MK50-135mm in North America.

“We bought two MK18-55’s as soon as we heard about them,” said Andrew Sorlie, creative director, Stature Films. “Immediately our previous DSLR lenses started collecting dust. We couldn’t be happier with the 18-55’s performance. We love the richness they bring to our images, and a huge plus is the fact that they don’t breathe. So, when we heard the MK50’s were available, we didn’t hesitate for a second. Given the combined range of 18-135mm and their performance, we knew we’d be able to cover everything we need--wide angles, tight close ups, two-shots--with ease and style. And with just two lenses. We can’t wait to get out in the field and use this new glass on our next project.”

First on the docket for the new MK50-135 is a shoot in the province of New Brunswick for a national ad campaign for the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. Stature Films is also in pre-production on its third feature-length documentary.

Stature Films purchased the MK50-135mm through its local dealer, HDSource. 
 
The entire “MK” series is designed with the “emerging” cinematographer in mind, whether shooting a live event, online programming, documentary, corporate video, wedding, independent or short film production. “MK” lenses are currently designed for E-mount cameras and boast advanced optical performance, ultra-compact and lightweight design, as well as superb cost performance.
 
With a combined focal length range of 18mm-135mm, together the MK18-55mm and 50-135mm lenses cover the most frequently used range utilized by emerging cinematographers. The series offers fast lenses with T2.9 speed across the entire zoom range, enabling a shallow depth-of-field.

Like the MK18-55, the MK50-135 weighs in at a light 980 grams/2.16 lbs with front diameters of 85mm and lengths of 206mm. The MK50-135mm’s minimum object distance (MOD) is 1.2m/3.93 feet. In addition to their lightweight and compact build, the “MK” lenses are purpose-built for the operator. Only one matte box and one filter size are needed between the lenses. Time-saving features include a macro function that allows for a broader range of close-up shooting, and gears for the three rings are positioned in the exact same place, which eliminates the need to re-position accessories when switching lenses.
 
The “MK” lenses are compatible with E-mount cameras with the Super 35mm/ APS-C sensor.

X Mount versions of the MK lenses (with focal lengths of 18-55mm and 50-135mm) used in the FUJIFILM X Series line of digital cameras (with APS-C sensors) are being developed for launch by the end of this year.
 
The MK50-135mm lens is available for $3,999, with deliveries starting this month.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 19, 2017
Dejero Core software updated, will be showcased at IBC
A transmitter with Dejero Core software
WATERLOO, Ontario -- 

Dejero, an innovator in cloud-managed solutions that provide video transport and Internet connectivity while mobile or in remote locations, has announced updates to its Dejero Core software that streamline broadcast clip and asset management workflows. Dejero Core is the software shared by all Dejero transmitters and receivers, and can be seen at IBC2017, stand 12.B42.

Dejero transmitters are often used to record clips in addition to live workflows. Using watchfolders, many broadcasters have defined workflows automating the movement of the clips into their media management tools. The automation eliminates the need to manually move clips and quickly provides access to production staff who need to trim, apply overlays, and other pre-broadcast tasks, as quickly as possible. The latest Core update provides more features than ever to simplify and support the clip workflow.

Clip and file transfer rates have been upcapped to allow fuller bandwidth use for faster transfers. As well, the algorithms for safely managing bandwidth usage across all servers, which prioritize live streams ahead of transfers, have been enhanced to identify and manage any bottleneck, whether at an individual server or the network bandwidth available at the station. 

The new “transfer while recording” operating mode, combined with faster transfer rates, means that a clip can start auto transferring from the field to the server at the broadcast facility while still recording. After recording a clip, the transfer can be completed within seconds of the recording finishing, even with long clips—saving valuable time.

“With these recent software updates, our video transport solutions are even more powerful—enabling clips and assets to be managed more efficiently by crews on the ground and in-house than ever before,” said Bill Nardi, VP of broadcast integration and global support at Dejero. “The beauty of our Core software is that we are able to quickly and efficiently deploy new features and performance enhancements across our customers’ fleet of transmitters and receivers, further extending the capabilities of their equipment.”

These new enhancements can be seen across Dejero’s range of video transport solutions, from the EnGo and GoBox mobile transmitters, rack-mounted VSET encoder/transmitter, and Transceiver to the Broadcast Server. The new features are available now to existing Dejero customers.

  • Monday, Jul. 17, 2017
Miami's WPLG turns to Avid for newsroom upgrade
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID), a global media technology provider for the creation, distribution and monetization of media assets for media organizations and individual media professionals, announced that WPLG, a leading ABC affiliate in Miami, has invested in a story-centric news workflow based on Avid’s comprehensive tools and workflow solutions. Powered by the Avid MediaCentral® Platform, the open, tightly integrated and efficient platform designed for media, the fully integrated workflow enables WPLG’s newsroom and field crews to collaborate seamlessly and incorporate social media content into their broadcasts.
 
To successfully compete in the dynamic and highly competitive Miami news market, WPLG needed to upgrade its aging news infrastructure. With the rise of user-generated content, it needed a unified workflow that would enable crews to access footage on social media sites—whether they’re in the newsroom or the field. As a member of Avid’s preeminent customer community for almost a decade, WPLG turned to Avid and the MediaCentral platform to deliver tightly integrated, collaborative workflows.
 
“Avid’s offerings give us the seamless two-way flow we need between the newsroom and crews in the field—the ability for crews in the field to access tools at the studio, for the studio to push content to crews in the field, and for crews in the field to select content and pull it to themselves,” said Darren Alline, chief engineer at WPLG. “Avid enables all of these different workflows as well as tight integration between our newsroom, production asset management and nonlinear editing systems.”
 
Based on its previous experience with Avid’s “rock solid” and cost-effective shared storage solutions, WPLG has invested in Avid NEXIS®, the media industry’s first and only software-defined storage platform. In addition to the newsroom’s editing team, who rely on the industry-standard nonlinear editing system Avid Media Composer®, WPLG’s creative services team also uses Avid NEXIS for its Adobe Premiere Pro projects.
 
Avid MediaCentral | UX, the cloud-based, web front end to the Avid MediaCentral platform, gives WPLG users a unified desktop environment to access media and work on projects, whether they’re using the Avid Interplay | Production asset management system or Avid iNEWS® newsroom system.
 
WPLG has also engaged Avid Professional Services and Avid Consulting Services to virtualize a large part of its system and train users on all the new functionality of the story-centric workflow. Eliminating the need to have discreet servers for different functions, a virtual environment gives WPLG high availability, high fault tolerance and an easier upgrade path.
 
“As news production evolves, Avid’s story-centric workflow gives news broadcasters like WPLG the most advanced tools and workflow solutions to power seamless collaboration between teams, regardless of whether they’re in the studio or on location,” said Jeff Rosica, president, Avid. “With the MediaCentral Platform, WPLG has the tightly integrated and highly efficient newsroom it needs to succeed in Miami’s competitive news market.”

  • Friday, Jul. 14, 2017
TVU Networks to demo IP-based solutions for live video at IBC2017
TVU One with HEVC
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- 

TVU Networks, known for its live IP video solutions, will showcase its end-to-end IP-based ecosystem of new and current hardware and software products at the upcoming International Broadcasters Convention (IBC). Making their first showing in Europe will be: the currently shipping TVU One mobile transmitter solution with HEVC compression; TVU Router for delivery of over 200Mbps of reliable, stable and high-speed Internet connectivity from remote locations; version 3.0 of TVU RPS (Remote Production System), a cost-effective alternative for live remote, synchronized, multi-camera At-Home video production with frame accurate sync and genlock; TVU Producer, a web-based application for producing and streaming live content to Facebook Live; and API integration with the Associated Press ENPS news production management system and version 6.0 update for TVU portable transmitters.
 
The TVU Networks’ booth will be in Hall 2, Stand B28 in Amsterdam’s RAI Convention Centre. The IBC exhibition runs from September 15-19.

“We’re eager to demonstrate the benefits of our latest IP-based video innovations to our current and potential customers in Europe and throughout the world this September,” said Paul Shen, CEO, TVU Networks. “We’ve incorporated significant enhancements into our product range based on recent customer feedback that optimize the operational efficiency, workflow and automation capabilities of our entire TVU Ecosystem. The efficiencies of IP-based solutions such as in our new and shipping TVU One with HEVC make this a particularly exciting time for those that specialize in IP-based video workflow. The focus of our entire TVU Ecosystem remains to make broadcasters’ operations more efficient through automation and workflow integration.”

TVU Networks will show its TVU One live mobile IP newsgathering transmitter with integrated H.265/HEVC compression standard. With an established customer base, TVU One with HEVC delivers high-quality IP video transmission performance and features the company’s patented Inverse Statmux Plus (IS+) transmission algorithm to transmit dependable HD quality video with half-second latency even in a moving vehicle. It’s available with embedded modems and can transmit simultaneously over multiple mediums, including cellular, microwave, satellite, BGAN, WiFi, and Ethernet.
 
TVU will also be showing the rack-mount TVU MLink model TE4500 live video transmitter with HEVC and 4K support. TVU MLink provides 3G/4G LTE transmission capabilities to satellite and microwave vehicles. Combining TVU’s Inverse StatMux Plus technology together with HEVC, it delivers a high-quality picture with more efficient compression and less data usage.
 
Another product making its IBC debut will be TVU Router, which can deliver over 200Mbps of secure, reliable, high-speed and untethered Internet connectivity remotely. Now offered as a software option for TVUPack and TVU One users, TVU Router provides an easy way to send and receive IP-based data from a remote location to any other location using the Internet. With TVU Router as a portable field access point, users can transfer and receive files, stream video, search the web, utilize any IP connected device or service to pass data for a high-speed, reliable and secure data connection. 
 
TVU will also demonstrate the latest version of TVU RPS, version 3.0, at IBC. Version 3.0 features the ability to synchronize across multiple unit pairs for additional channels, add a VLAN tunnel to connect any IP device between the field and studio, and includes VoIP support.  TVU RPS enables the production of multi-camera news or sports program in a remote location using mainly a broadcaster’s existing control room in their studio and a public Internet connection from the field to deliver frame accurate, genlocked and synchronized multi-camera remote production.  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 receiver, and the receiver outputs six synchronized SDI outputs.
 
The company will also bring to Europe for the first time its TVU Producer software for web-based live production. Running completely on an existing TVU Transceiver, TVU Producer features a simple Web interface and support for Facebook API.  With it, a producer can work within the same broadcast workflow as a traditional TV producer. Users can seamlessly switch between incoming TVU transmitter sources, SDI inputs and uploaded video slate sources, add a graphic overlay and stream the produced output to Facebook Live.
 
TVU will also highlight new company partnerships at IBC, including its new integration with the AP ENPS news production management system for an advanced newsroom content acquisition workflow. TVU and the Associated Press are partnering to streamline the field newsgathering workflow process with metadata-based linkage of media content to specific news story assignments at the point of acquisition. The integration automates and accelerates transfer and ingest of the linked content to the studio and within newsroom production solutions using a combination of AP technology with TVU’s new Progressive Download feature. This feature automatically mirrors content recorded in high-resolution to the TVU transmitter’s internal SSD - making it immediately available for transfer to editing solutions. 
 
Designed for use with a single IP Ethernet connection, TVU is demonstrating the new TVU Era portable transmitter which enables live video streaming for social media platforms, news pool feeds and web streaming from any stationary location. It supports Facebook Live for live video transmission, and it features: variable bitrate or constant bitrate encoding over public Internet, TVU’s traditional one-button operation for live streaming, and an on-board Lithium battery for extended live recording in the field.
 
TVU will also be demonstrating its current products including TVU Grid, an IP-based switching, routing and distribution video solution. With TVU Grid, broadcasters can switch live IP video content and share live streams between remote locations. TVU Grid removes the walls from broadcast stations, empowering users to distribute or collect content with just the click of a button.
 
In addition, TVU will demonstrate its Command Center web-interface for centralized management and control of all live video content. Other transmitter solutions on display will include the currently shipping TVU MLink rack-mount transmitter with HEVC and 4K support and the TVU Anywhere app for live video transmission using iPhone and Android devices.
 
Version 6.0 for TVU portable transmitters introduces several new features, including Progressive Download. As mentioned above, Progressive Download streamlines field production by sending at high-speed a mirror-image, error-free copy of the camcorder’s recorded content to the studio as it;s being shot, greatly streamlining news acquisition. Also included is an all-new VoIP service running on TVU devices for high-quality, two-way communication between the studio and the field.

Already in use by hundreds of leading broadcast organizations around the world, the TVU Networks family of IP transmission solutions give 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. 

  • Wednesday, Jul. 12, 2017
ABC's "The Warriors" shot by DP John Brawley using Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K
John Brawley lenses Aussie show "The Warriors"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that the ABC’s Indigenous comedy drama, The Warriors, has been filmed using Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini 4.6K PL as the show’s A camera by DP John Brawley. Brawley also used Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Cameras as secondary cameras on the show. Color correction for the film was completed by Melbourne-based Soundfirm.
 
The Warriors is an authentic, fresh, funny and poignant take on the often public drama and big business of professional sport – touching on universal themes of identity, belonging, success, failure and the lure of fame. It follows the once-great Warriors Football Club, which pins its hopes and dwindling reputation on three untested rookies and a jaded star. For the untested rookies, Maki, Zane and Scottie, sporting success means leaving home and finding a place in an unfamiliar world. The change is particularly pronounced for the season’s number one draft pick, Maki, who swaps the remote Aboriginal community where he grew up for the bright lights of Melbourne.
 
Working with vision, speed and an inherently collaborative nature, John Brawley has developed a reputation as one of Australia’s most talented and sought after DPs. Since graduating with an MA from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, he has built an impressive slate of feature films and television credits, including Queen Of The South, Beautiful Lie, Hunters, Offspring, Puberty Blues, Party Tricks, Underbelly and Hiding.
 
Filmed on location in Melbourne, as well as the remote Kimberley region, authenticity and naturalism were key elements of The Warriors’ production.
 
Brawley explained: “Heightened naturalism is what we were going for. We wanted to observe this story and also be IN the story. We wanted the cameras to be reactionary and engaged. To run alongside the play, not just watching from the sidelines. The Blackmagic 4.6K sensor has a great look and I especially love the way it handles skin tone. You don’t really have to do much to get it to sing. This is the first job I’ve done where I’ve used it as the A camera and haven’t been trying to match it to another camera. When you only have the URSA Mini 4.6K to grade you can take your image almost anywhere.”
 
To ensure authenticity shooting hard hitting game play, Brawley used a number of URSA Mini 4.6K PL cameras, as well as Micro Cinema Cameras, to capture every part of a match and the stars’ reactions during a game. This included views from the ball itself.
 
“The URSA Mini is a very flexible camera. It has a very high resolution sensor that has a really great look of it’s own once you set it up. The A and B cameras were built as hand held cameras, and the C and D cameras were built as production mode cameras with larger lenses, rails, extension viewfinders etc. This enabled us to very quickly change between hand held and production mode within the scene.
 
“We used Micro cameras when we couldn’t physically get a 4.6K camera in there. Like as a replacement for a handheld camera that an actor uses and we need to see the footage. Or for security camera footage. We also used a Micro Cinema Camera where it was built into a hollowed out football so we could give the ‘football cam’ to the actors/footballers and they could pass and kick the football giving us a view of the play we would otherwise never have,” continued Brawley.
 
As many of the cast were first time actors, Brawley tried to cross shoot as much as possible so as to not inhibit their acting and to make sure the priority was always placed on their performance.
 
“We wanted to make sure we always had a priority on performance. A small agile camera like the URSA Mini 4.6K is perfect because you have much longer endurance for operating hand held without really sacrificing your look. Normally smaller and cheaper cameras come with caveats about lower bit depth codecs, but I was able to shoot ProRes 444 which gives us GREAT flexibility in the grade. It means you can handle mixed lighting more, and those times you sometimes can’t fix things in lighting, you have the extra little safety net of fixing it in the grade,” he said.
 
The series was shot in some of Australia’s toughest weather, and Brawley relied on URSA Mini 4.6K’s ruggedness to handle any shot.
 
“We shot in some very difficult conditions for the seventh episode where we travelled to Warmun in the far north west of Australia. Daily temperatures there easily get to mid 40’s and the cameras weren’t at all troubled by the heat and dust. In fact over the 8 weeks of shooting we had no failures or glitches at all. The cameras didn’t skip a beat and we were shooting easily 5-6 hours of rushes every day,” said Brawley.

  • Monday, Jul. 10, 2017
Take me out to the screen: VR baseball a hit
In this Friday, July 7, 2017, photo, Dennis Milman reaches to catch a virtual ball at the All-Star FanFest in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- 

Nicholas Montes put on goggles and a catcher's mitt and crouched.

The 13-year-old will never catch a 104 mph pitch from Aroldis Chapman. But at the All-Star FanFest, he felt what it's like to be Buster Posey snagging virtual strikes.

"It like I was actually in the game. When I was catching, I felt the ball move and everything," the 13-year-old from Miami said enthusiastically Sunday. "And then when I saw it go in my glove, I tried touching the ball, but I felt the remote control thing. So it was pretty cool."

Developed by GMR Marketing, the Esurance Behind The Plate With Buster Posey VR Experience allows fans to "catch" fastballs, curveballs and sliders from a generic pitcher at velocities ranging from 86-93 mph.

"I've always said that I thought it would be cool for the average fan to either step in the box or like this get behind the plate and get the same sense of what it's like to see a 90-plus, 95-mile an hour fastball coming your way," Posey explained last week.

Esurance Insurance Services Inc., a subsidiary of Allstate Corp., became a sponsor of Major League Baseball in 2015 and signed Posey as a brand ambassador. The company had a 180-degree photo experience at the 2015 FanFest in Cincinnati, then provided 360-degree videos of fans taking swings last year in San Diego.

In a dual setup at FanFest, which opened Friday and runs through Tuesday, people get to signal for three pitches over about 90 seconds as Posey's recorded voice offers tips. They can choose the pitch type by pointing their glove toward an icon on the screen, triggering a sensor. When a pitch is successfully caught, the person hears and feels the mitt snap.

"It is as real as it can be," Danny Devarona, a 48-year-old who coaches youth baseball in Miami Lakes, said after taking his turn.

Commercial and social media content was shot over two days during spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Posey's San Francisco Giants train. Posey's voice-over was recorded after the season started.

"Are you ready? All right, let's see what you've got," Posey's voice tells fans. "This guy throws a nasty curve. The trick is to keep your glove below the ball and your eye on it. ... Keep your chin down and be ready to slide to your right, because this one might hit the dirt."

"Nice job! Right in the pocket," he tells fans when they succeed.

"Yeah, that was a tricky one," he says when they fail.

Based on PITCH f/x data, breaks of 38-to-52 inches are simulated.

"Fans will receive a social-sharable video for them that they can then distribute to their friends," said Kristen Gambetta, Esurance's brand partnerships manager. "With VR, there's something really entertaining about seeing people's facial reactions and kind of seeing their movements and how they react to having a ball flying at their face."

Several thousand fans were expected to put on the electronic "tools of ignorance" over the five days. And unlike real catchers, they won't have to stuff sponges in the glove to absorb the impact.

"Let's just say I'm pretty impressed. I don't think I can ever catch or hit for that matter a Major League Baseball curveball," said Pablo Souki, a 38-year-old from Venezuela who lives in Miami. "That was pretty eye-opening."
 

 

  • Friday, Jul. 7, 2017
Cooke Optics to bring lens innovations to IBC 
Cooke's S7/i 50mm lens
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Cooke Optics, manufacturer of precision lenses for film and television, will bring its latest lens developments to Stand 12.D10 at IBC2017 (9/15-19 in Amsterdam), including the S7/i and Panchro/i Classic ranges as well as two true front anamorphic zoom lenses for the Anamorphic/i series.
 
The S7/i Full Frame Plus prime lens range is designed to cover the emergent full frame cinema camera sensors, up to the full sensor area (46.31mm image circle) of the RED Weapon 8K. The new lenses--which, like all Cooke lenses, feature the beloved “Cooke Look”--are available in 18, 25, 32, 40, 50, 75, 100 and 135mm. All Cooke S7/i Primes have a true T2.0 aperture and cover 35/Super 35mm, Full Frame and beyond. They have a common fixed front diameter of 110mm, with a focus drive gear of 140T x 0.8 mod and an iris drive gear of 134T x 0.8. A nine-leaf linear module iris assembly is fitted into the Cooke S7/i lenses. The average weight of an S7/i lens is approximately 3.5kg. Test footage from the new lenses can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/213668636
 
The Panchro/i Classic range is a modern redesign achieving the same look and feel as the beloved original Speed Panchros. With newly designed housing and PL mounts, the Panchro/i Classic lenses are lightweight, making them ideal for handheld, drone and Steadicam® work. 

Cooke will also present its front Anamorphic/i zoom lenses. The 45-450mm Anamorphic/i zoom lens has specifications featuring 10x zoom front anamorphic, T4.5-22, 5’10” MOD from image plane and 3’11” close focus from the front of the lens. The 35-140mm Anamorphic/i zoom offers a unique combination of attributes allowing shooting from very wide angle to telephoto with a 4x zoom ratio and 2x Anamorphic squeeze. It features T3.1-22 aperture and anamorphic oval bokeh. The colour and depth of field characteristics of both zooms are matched to the rest of the Anamorphic/i prime range.
 
Visitors to the Cooke booth will additionally see the Anamorphic/i SF lens range, featuring a coating that gives cinematographers even more options for anamorphic character with enhanced flares and other aberrations, and still retaining the oval bokeh.
 
Cooke will also present lenses from its leading Anamorphic/i, 5/i, S4/i and miniS4/i ranges, and the Sony E and micro 4/3 mounts for miniS4/i and Panchro/i Classic lenses that enable users of these cameras to benefit from the “Cooke Look.”

  • Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017
IABM announces board of directors' election results
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK -- 

IABM has announced the results of its biennial election of board directors. IABM was established over 40 years ago by its members and remains controlled by them, and the board is both made up of members and voted for by members. The IABM board is responsible for the overall strategy of IABM, setting, reviewing and changing as necessary the policies of the association, which are then implemented by the IABM team. The members’ board also exercises overall financial control.

The membership of the new IABM members’ board reflects the international make up of IABM’s membership; the newly elected members are:

  • Dr Jörg Pohlman – ARRI
  • Kevin Usher - Avid
  • Nicki Fisher – Clear-Com
  • Muriel De Lathouwer - EVS Broadcast Equipment
  • Andreas Hilmer - Lawo
  • Alison Pavitt – Pebble Beach
  • Tim Felstead – SAM
  • Esther Mesas – Tedial
  • Anna Lockwood - Telstra 
  • David MacGregor – TSL

The newly voted-in members join five remaining members (elected by the outgoing board for continuity): chair James Gilbert of Pixel Power, past-chair Jan Eveleens of Axon, Marco Lopez of Grass Valley Group, Glenn LeBrun of Imagine Communications and Peter Sykes of Sony. In addition, the chairs of the APAC and North America IABM regional councils – Dennis Breckenridge of Elevate Broadcast and Michael Accardi of CueScript respectively – also have seats on the board. Vice chair Graham Pitman, IABM CEO Peter White and finance director Lucinda Meek complete the lineup.

“The members’ board plays a vital role in the continuing success of IABM, and the new board is a powerhouse of industry knowledge that represents the widest interests of the membership,” said Peter White, IABM CEO. “I’m looking forward to leveraging every ounce of its experience to keep driving the association forward with new ideas and initiatives to deliver ever more value and support for all our members.”

“It was pleasing to have so many nominations, creating a truly international board with members from all over the globe representing so many sectors of the broadcast and media industry,” added Lucinda Meek, IABM finance director. “It is also wonderful to be joined by so many women – a clear reflection of the balance of the industry today.”