Friday, June 23, 2017

Toolbox

  • Thursday, Jun. 22, 2017
FUJIFILM provides technical service & maintenance support at FIFA Confederations Cup
The FUJINON UA14x4.5B handheld zoom lens
WAYNE, NJ -- 

The Optical Devices Division of FUJIFILM is offering comprehensive support for users of FUJINON 4K UHD and HD lenses at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Taking place now through July 2, the matches are being played in four stadiums across four cities: Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi. A team of FUJINON engineers is on-location in Moscow to provide ongoing technical support throughout the duration of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

FUJINON provides this service to its clients at major sports and entertainment events around the globe.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 21, 2017
Bexel adds 300 Litepanels Astra 6X LED Lights to its inventory
Bexel adds Litepanels Astra 6X Daylight to inventory.
BURBANK, Calif. -- 

Bexel is upgrading its lighting inventory with the addition of 300 brand-new Litepanels® Astra 6X LED panels. The new lights will be key components in Bexel’s ongoing support of customers who require turnkey lighting solutions in any location at outdoor sporting venues.

“The new Astra 6X panels are not only brighter, but they offer the versatility sports broadcasters need to light the announce booth or just about any location for an on-camera shot or interview — the football sideline, the locker room, the basketball courtside, the baseball dugout, or in the pits for NASCAR,” said Lee Estroff, VP, account development at Bexel. “Litepanels lights have been in our inventory for more than five years, and their quality and reliability have made them highly popular with our clients. We’re making this major investment in the Astra 6X to keep our lighting inventory on the leading edge and give our customers the brightness and flexibility they need for any venue and in all types of conditions.”

As announced at the 2017 NAB Show, the next-generation Litepanels Astra 6X LED panel is 50 percent brighter than the first-generation Astra light and six times brighter than Litepanels’ original 1 x 1 panel, which broke new ground in the lighting industry when it was first introduced. Even with its greater intensity, the Astra 6X draws less power than its predecessor, which allows for longer battery run time. In addition to delivering higher-quality color rendering, the panels can be powered by professional camera batteries, making them ideal for productions looking to save power and reduce costs.

Bexel’s new inventory of Astra 6X lights will arrive just as the company’s sports-broadcasting clients gear up for the college and pro football seasons and head into baseball playoffs.

“As always, Pat Grosswendt and the Litepanels team provided outstanding expertise in helping us design this new Astra 6X lighting solution,” Estroff added. “With their help, we were able to figure out a configuration for on-location sports broadcasting that reduces the number of lighting banks needed for the same output, which therefore reduces rental and shipping costs for our customers. Litepanels is a valued and trusted partner.”

  • Monday, Jun. 19, 2017
Post on BBC One’s "Broken" completed in DaVinci Resolve Studio & Fusion Studio
A scene from "Broken"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that picture post on BBC One drama “Broken,” including the conform, grade and VFX compositing, has been completed using an editorial pipeline featuring DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio.
 
From acclaimed screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, Sean Bean plays Father Michael, a Catholic priest presiding over a parish in the North of England. He serves as a confidante, counselor and confessor to a congregation struggling to reconcile its beliefs with the challenges of modern day life.
 
Overseeing postproduction on the six-part drama was LA Productions' post supervisor, Patrick Hall. “Having completed the offline, we moved the project across to DaVinci Resolve. Relinking the ProRes 4444 media, we were able to work natively in 4K during the conform and grade.”
 
The references for “Broken” were pretty bold from the start, according to Hall. “The director and DoP drew inspiration from American reportage photography in the 1960s and 70s, guys like William Eggleston and Steven Shore,” he said. “These photographers spent a lot of time exploring communities in the deep South of America, communities that had very little money, but who had very strong beliefs. It was a fascinating mirror of the characters in Broken, and the story we wanted to tell.”
 
The starting point for the entire grade was a series of five look up tables (LUTs) which allowed Hall and his team to emulate the different styles reflected in the various photographic references.
 
“As with any drama series, one of our greatest challenges was consistency. The emulation LUTs alongside Resolve’s ColorTrace proved particularly useful when it came to delivering multiple versions for international distribution. Copying grades across took seconds, rendering a complicated, time-consuming process relatively straight forward.”
 
VFX for the prime time drama was composited and rendered using Blackmagic Design’s Fusion Studio.
 
“We had around 90 VFX shots across the series and then many more flares and OFX plugins which we introduced directly through Resolve,” said Hall. “In fact, we even relied on Fusion Connect during the offline assembly edit which afforded us the ability to send VFX shots into Fusion during the offline process as a rough cut. That was incredibly useful once we came to the conform as we were able to simply tweak those early Fusion files based on the online material.”
 
LA Productions carried out a range of VFX work including the generation of 3D rain particles and sky replacements. “Our production crew shot all of the train footage used on the series in one go. That presented continuity issues when using it across the series. It was our job to make it fit,” Hall explained. “In several instances we needed to add rain to the train window. We did that using Fusion’s particle generator and then applied motion blur to soften those effects and match with the original footage.”
 
Hall concluded, “DaVinci Resolve and Fusion is an incredibly powerful, node-based workflow that is incredibly quick and very simple to use once you know how. I don’t know of any workflow that’s quicker and more efficient for the conform, grade and VFX on a prime time television drama.”

  • Monday, Jun. 19, 2017
Digby Davies named CEO of VER
Digby Davies
GLENDALE, Calif. -- 

VER, a global provider of production equipment and engineering support, has announced the appointment of Digby Davies as CEO. 

Davies has nearly 30 years of industry experience, including 11 as COO and then CEO of technology services provider PSAV. He has a unique perspective as a former VER client.
 
“It was the experience I had as a ten-year VER customer that enticed me to be part of this global, growing company,” said Davies. “For me, what sets VER apart is its culture of above and beyond service, relentless  problem solving, consistently hiring the best people in the industry, and always providing added value. My goal is to preserve this culture for our 1,600 employees and our clients.”

  • Friday, Jun. 16, 2017
NY Fox affiliate WICZ-TV becomes 1st FOR-A ClassX graphics solutions customer
The ClassX premium graphics suite of products.
CYPRESS, Calif. -- 

FOR-A® Corporation of America announces that Vestal, N.Y. based Fox affiliate, WICZ-TV, has become its first ClassX graphics solutions customer. FOR-A and Italy-based ClassX recently entered into a joint partnership that names FOR-A the exclusive dealer of the ClassX premium graphics suite of 2D/3D character generation and live motion graphics and playout software in North, South and Central America. The agreement also gives users the ability to integrate ClassX’s powerful and cost-effective suite of graphics with FOR-A’s live production switchers.

WICZ-TV has purchased three ClassX real-time broadcast graphics products for content graphics creation, playout and social sharing. WICZ-TV’s new production package includes the ClassX CastaliaCG software to easily create broadcast graphics animations. The station has also purchased the ClassX LiveBoard for powerful, reliable broadcast graphics playout, along with the SocialServer for intuitive, easy social network interaction. WICZ-TV is integrating its ClassX software solutions with the station’s broadcast news ticker created by Ontario-based company Bannister Lake, called Super Ticker.

“Our intent in using our new ClassX CastaliaCG with the Super Ticker is to easily display the data from the character generator into our on-air graphics tickers for things like school closings, weather warnings, and more,” explained Mike Melnyk, chief engineer, WICZ-TV. “We began using our new ClassX suite a few months ago, and they’ve proven to be effective tools for our productions. I feel like we’ve only begun to tap into its full potential, but I’m already impressed.”

  • Friday, Jun. 16, 2017
Thailand's Spring News upgrades to PlayBox Neo
Spring News, Thailand
BANGKOK, Thailand -- 

Thai television news broadcaster Spring News has upgraded its playout system to a latest-generation AirBox Neo from PlayBox Technology. The project was completed in partnership with GBS Alliance, a Singapore-based broadcast system integrator with subsidiary offices in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

“We have operated with AirBox as the core of our broadcast playout system for many years,” commented Spring News’ director of engineering and information technology Tawatchai Homhual. “AirBox and its various elements form the nucleus of an extremely reliable system. Our operators like the logical and versatile user interface which lets them achieve their goals quickly and easily. The system is very flexible to configure, highly reliable and supported online by PlayBox Technology from its European headquarters as well as here in Bangkok from PlayBox Technology Thailand.”

Don Ash, PlayBox Technology president, added, “This upgrade moves Spring News forward from standard definition playout on a Windows XP server platform to 1080i high definition on Windows 7, installed at the channel’s headquarters in Bangkok and operated from the master control room. The Neo product series adds a lot of new extra features including UHD compatibility. With its annual support maintenance contract, Spring News 19 has access to ongoing enhancements to AirBox Neo and all other modules in the Neo product series as these continue to develop. That is a great way to stay future-proof in today’s fast-developing broadcast media world.”

Supporting UHD, HD and SD playout, AirBox Neo is designed for 24/7 unattended operation and can also be operated manually, including the ability to handle live-to-air throughput. Parallel outputs enable the running of two or more SDI or IP streaming SD/HD feeds simultaneously. Changes to the playlist can be made during an on-air session. Clips in the playlist, except the one which is currently playing, can be trimmed, edited or repositioned. Playback order can be performed seamlessly without stopping the current playout session. Live productions are facilitated by a live show clipboard which allows insertion and/or execution of various events or live streams.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 14, 2017
Grass Valley upgrades St. Louis Blues’ video control room
St. Louis Blues' video control room at the Scottrade Center.
MONTREAL -- 

With a hockey season that lasts more than half the year, in addition to ongoing concerts, performances and much more, the facility managers of the St. Louis Blues home Scottrade Center had limited time to replace the outdated broadcast equipment in the arena’s video control room with more integrated, future-ready solutions. Knowing they needed an efficient provider, St. Louis Blues selected Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, to upgrade the video equipment in their home arena in three months from order to install, prior to the start of their 2016-2017 season.

Grass Valley outfitted the improved video control room with a complete solution, including the 3M/E Karrera K-Frame S-series production switcher, three LDX 86 WorldCam cameras for HD/3G acquisition, an LDX 86 XtremeSpeed camera for 6X HD and 1X/3X 3G acquisition, an LDX C80 Compact WorldCam camera for hard to reach and remote applications, XCU Universe XF base stations, six Densité 3 Frames for housing audio and video signal processing modules, eight  Kaleido-Modular-X Multiviewers, two K2 Dyno Replay Systems with ShareFlex capability, an NVISION 8500 Hybrid Series router with 144x144 matrix and an NV9000 controller.

“Our goal was not only to have one primary provider for our video equipment, but that this provider could deliver flexible, easy-to-use, long-term solutions to meet the specific needs of the St. Louis Blues and the needs of the other diverse events hosted at the Scottrade Center,” said Chris Frome, senior director of event presentation, Scottrade Center. “From the start, the team, management, fans and even sponsors noticed the difference in quality of experience with Grass Valley’s solutions. It has improved the arena experience and has given us the time and tools to create more quality content for arena visitors.”

Sports-centric solutions were of the utmost priority for facility managers as they decided on a provider. The K2 Dyno Replay System fit the bill, offering multi-channel replay, including super slow-motion, and an easy-to-use interface, as well as remote access to highlights and clips through ShareFlex. Grass Valley’s Karrera K-Frame S-series switcher also allows for highly creative, versatile sports content production with 3 M/Es, a large number of input/outputs and multiformat support, including 1080p and 4K UHD. In addition, the wide range of LDX 80 and LDX 86 Series cameras, from compact to high-speed, allows for the capture of crisp, multi-angle footage that fans expect, on the ice and off. 

No matter the event, facility managers also sought to ensure the production team had top-of-the-line equipment that improved workflows on already hectic game nights. Transitioning from an outdated analog control room to an HD-ready room with Grass Valley, game night producers can easily import and export content via the network, integrate animated transitions with a multi-functional digital switcher and efficiently create engaging replays and highlight packages.

“The St. Louis Blues and the Scottrade Center are an integral part of the city’s entertainment industry,” said Kyle Luther, VP of sales, North America, Grass Valley. “Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the arena each year to see their favorite team play or artist perform, and our video control room solutions give the production team an opportunity to take the fan experience to the next level.”

With the upcoming upgrade of their video and LED boards, the St. Louis Blues plan to take the capabilities of their new Grass Valley Karrera K-Frame S-series switcher even further to sync their video boards, ice projection systems, lighting systems and more in the upcoming season.

  • Monday, Jun. 12, 2017
The Africa Channel taps WCPMedia Services for global marketing
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Africa Channel, based in L.A., is currently using WCPMedia Services’ cloud-based media management platform in marketing content to broadcasters, streaming services and other distribution outlets worldwide.

The Africa Channel recently launched a production arm, TAC Studios, to produce original lifestyle programming about contemporary African life, and to market its existing library of premium content. The WCPMedia Services platform allows TAC Studios to set up secure virtual screening rooms to share content with current and potential customers.

“Our customers are able to log in and enjoy a high-quality experience on their desktop, tablet or mobile device,” explains Bill Admans, technology consultant to TAC Studios. “The quality is equivalent to watching shows on a streaming service, for example."

TAC Studios' clients include broadcasters, streaming services and VOD operators in Africa, Europe, Australia and the United States. Its current lineup of programming includes the lifestyle series Africa Everywhere, the food show Africa on a Plate and the adventure reality series First Time Africa.

Admans says that TAC Studios selected the WCPMedia Services platform because its intuitive design made it easy to deploy and operate. “Setting up screening rooms to match the individual needs of our customers is fast, efficient and easy,” Admans notes. “We can upload shows and the associated metadata quickly, and without overburdening our resources.

The platforms Swiss bank level security was another essential ingredient. “It’s a secure screening environment,” Admans says. “We can feel comfortable sharing our content. The platform gives us full control over our marketing. We know who is viewing our content, where and when.”

Admans adds that WCPMedia Services also provides responsive training and support. “WCPMedia has been very responsive in helping us determine our needs and in training our staff,” he says. “As an operation with customers around the world, we also needed a partner who can support us 24/7.”

  • Thursday, Jun. 8, 2017
SMPTE publishes key reports on Time Code standard
Howard Lukk
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- 

SMPTE®, the organization whose standards work has supported a century of technological advances in entertainment technology, has published two documents, the Time Code Summit Report and the Material eXchange Format (MXF) Time Code Study Report. Both reports offer valuable insights into how the SMPTE Time Code™ standard (ST 12-1 Time and Control Code) can evolve to serve as a more useful tool in media production.

“SMPTE Time Code is used extensively throughout production and postproduction. With the evolution of media technology since its introduction in 1975, it is showing its age in some areas,” said SMPTE director of engineering and standards Howard Lukk. “We are exploring ways to improve Time Code. The results of the Time Code Summit Report provide a better understanding of the drawbacks in its current use, in and beyond the conventional audio/video community, and of the direction we need to take in developing a new standard. At the same time, we’re using the MXF Time Code Report to clarify Time Code in MXF and how facilities can work with it more efficiently.”

The Time Code Summit Report presents the methodology and findings of surveys performed at the Time Code Summit, a series of focus groups held in London, New York, and Los Angeles. The report summarizes user requirements that must be addressed by any new Time Code standard, particularly the proposed Time Labels standard to address the radical changes brought about by the industry’s integration of Internet Protocol (IP), the push to higher and variable frame rates, and other factors testing the limits of the existing Time Code standard. The report also includes an explanation of the study effort, the survey questions asked and answers provided, and the dialogue that occurred at each summit.

The MXF Time Code Study Report focuses on the current usage of Time Code within the MXF file format. Since the creation of MXF in 2004, Time Code has been stored within MXF files in many ways — sometimes as metadata, and sometimes as actual Time Code values from a tape or stream. This report is the result of two years spent investigating current MXF Time Code practices and documenting findings. The report considers applications that need to write MXF files with Time Code and applications that need to read MXF files containing Time Code. It examines the three core requirements highlighted by the study group: MXF should be able to store multiple Time Code values per frame, and they should all be identical; store multiple Time Code values per frame, though they may be from different sources and have different values; and include the appropriate Time Code in audio-only files.

Both SMPTE reports are now available here

  • Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2017
SIGGRAPH 2017 VR Village sets lineup
The VR Village will feature "Neurable: Brain-Computer Interfaces for Virtual and Augmented Reality"
CHICAGO -- 

SIGGRAPH 2017, the world’s leading annual interdisciplinary educational experience showcasing the latest in computer graphics and interactive techniques, will host a highly diverse array of new Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) projects from around the world during its upcoming annual conference. SIGGRAPH 2017 marks the 44th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, and will be held July 30–August 3, 2017 in Los Angeles.

A relatively young program within the SIGGRAPH conference, VR Village  features VR and AR installations that are both content-driven and highly interactive. The venue offers attendees the ability to explore the fascinating potential of brand-new VR and AR formats for shared experiences, engaging audiences, and powering real-world applications in health, education, entertainment, design, and gaming.

While previous years’ VR Village contributions included art, real-world applications, and simulations, the 2017 program focuses on diversity — both of the storylines featured within the projects as well as the diversity of creators and producers who are presenting content.
 
Denise Quesnel, 2017 VR Village chair, said, “Our jury selected content for this year’s VR Village that would be ‘hands-on’ and that focuses on the experience itself rather than the technology. In this way, we will be offering conference attendees the chance to explore the capabilities and functionalities of each project in context. Projects that include performative elements and social experiences will be featured, along with multi-user experiences that are highly collaborative.”
 
Quesnel added, “We made a conscious effort for diversity – we tried to normalize our content to be as diverse as possible. We believe that diversity in content, and diversity of contributors, helps facilitate perspectives and opportunities that are of great benefit to attendees. The experiences that will be seen at this summer are not only outstanding examples of VR and AR, but can only be experienced in SIGGRAPH’s unique VR Village space.”

Highlights of the 2017 VR Village include:

Neurable: Brain-Computer Interfaces for Virtual and Augmented Reality 
Ramses Alcaide, Adam Molnar, and Michael Thompson of Neurable
The product of neuroscientific insights and advanced machine learning, Neurable interprets user intent, bringing new degrees of freedom to virtual and augmented reality. It poses the question: “What if you could use your brainwaves to control your computer and virtual environment?” This installation does just that.
 
Out of Exile   
Eren Aksu of Emblematic Group
“Out of Exile” is the true story of Daniel Ashley Pierce, who was violently attacked by his family when confronted about his sexual orientation. The room-scale VR experience is a powerful parable of the hostility faced by many in the LGBTQ community.
“Emblematic Group does incredible work in the realm of VR journalism, and drawing attention to underrepresented communities and their stories. Emblematic
Group participated in the first VR Village in 2015, so it is great to see their team back at SIGGRAPH 2017,” said Quesnel.  
 
Digital Playgroundz: Demonz I.
Jakub Roček, Daniel Gregor, Ordřej Prucha, and Josef Kortan of INITI.org
Digital Playgroundz is an interactive and augmented-reality system that displays large-scale applications on flat surfaces (walls) in various spatial configurations, with no limits on the number of users or size of the interactive area. 
Coming all the way from Prague in order to premiere a custom interactive and multi-user experience at VR Village, the folks at INITI.org make not only incredible art, but their own innovative technology to create scalable experiences.
 
HOLO-DOODLE
Terrence Masson, School of Visual Arts; Ken Perlin, New York University; Daffy London; and, Laura Dohrmann
HOLO-DOODLE is a VR hangout that brings the VR experience of being a naughty robot killing time to life. The attraction makes its world premiere at SIGGRAPH 2017.
Quesnel noted, “This team is made up of some CG and interactive techniques all-stars, and it really shows in the vision of this project. Personally, I’ve never
seen anything quite like the social, creative, and technically proficient experience they are demonstrating. This is going to be incredibly original and unique for SIGGRAPH attendees.” 
 
IRIDiuM+: Deep-Media Storytelling With Non-linear Light-Field Video
Maggie Kosek and Kenny Mitchell, Disney Research, Edinburgh Napier University, The Walt Disney Company; Babis Koniaris, David Sinclair, and Fraser Rothnie, Disney Research, The Walt Disney Company; 
Lanny Smoot, Disney Research
This presentation depicts techniques and the creation process of a deep-media immersive experience with synchronized tactile, audio, and light-field visual techniques to realize a non-linear story in virtual reality.
“I feel this work by Disney Research not only demonstrates the state of where immersive realities are today, but IRIDiuM+ aptly presents what the future can be,” said Quesnel. “This multi-sensory experience is incredibly inspiring, combining remarkable new techniques with brand-new, non-linear storytelling.” 
 
Registration for SIGGRAPH 2017 is now open. Pass levels with access to the VR Village include: Full Conference, Select Conference, and Exhibits Plus.