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April 26, 2006

REDdy freddy?

Here's what I considered the possibilities for what RED is all about:

1) It's a total scam, just for fun. (unlikely)
2) They're serious, but will miss their goal time.
3) They're serious, but will under-deliver.
4) They're doing this in the hopes of being bought out dotcom-style.

One need only pause for a second to get a sense of the scale of their problem. At 4k, 12bit, 4:4:4, 60p, your data rate is in excess of 2gigabytes (BYTES!) per second. A duallink, 4gig fiberchannel connection tops out around 1gigabyte/sec. The fastest RAID array I saw at the show, which had 42 drives in it, could sustain 750 megabytes/sec.

So, they'd need an interface that could push that much, and an array that could write that much. Even Infiniband can't do it in a single link connection (I don't know if infiniband does dual link).

They also claim that the sensor will be upgradable to higher resolutions in the future. That would imply that the backplane and everything else internally can handle even HIGHER datarates. I'm just not convinced - though I always leave open the possibility that I'll be proven wrong...

Posted by at 7:06 PM

Evertz makes me happy too!

I've been hunting for a good sync generator that can give me standard NTSC black, along with Trilevel sync for feeding HD. Videotek doesn't have anything in that realm, Tektronix can do it for around $10k, but today I found Evertz. They make the 5600MSC, which does everything I need, plus can be synced against GPS and then feed an NTP signal out to the rest of your network. I'm waiting for a quote, but I believe it's about half the cost of the Tektronix solution.

Posted by at 7:01 PM

Yamaha makes me fall in love all over

Made an exciting discovery at Yamaha today. The My8 AES/EBU input/output card for the DM1000/DM2000 line, along with the O2R96, allows you to time your audio console against your house black burst. Even better, it'll then pipe out properly timed wordclock, so you can actually have synced digital audio.

This makes life about a million times easier for people doing digital audio in video facilities. I could throw out a whole half rack of AES/EBU retiming units!

So, anyone want to get me a couple DM1000s?

Posted by at 6:56 PM

April 25, 2006

More NAB

Actually, it wasn't a terribly exciting day at NAB - wandered through the central hall to look at all the grip gear, poked around a bit.

The coolest demo I saw today was Silicon Color's FinalTouch. Absolutely amazing color correction software to do realtime correction up to 2k with roundtripping to Final Cut Pro.

I'll post some more thoughts later, right now I need some crazy food.

Posted by at 10:12 PM

April 24, 2006

More thoughts from day one

Got to play with the new Macbook Pro 17" machines today. They're absolutely killer. The price is amazing - for only $200 more than the 15", you get more ram, more disk a bigger screen and firewire 800. Now, just give me a 13.3"!

Haven't been able to find anyone at Sony who knows anything about their new HDV decks, but I'd like to find out if they support 24f.

Haven't found Tektronix yet either. Anyone know where they're at?

Haven't seen much that has totally blown my mind, but I'm also a very jaded little boy. I'll journey to the central and north halls tomorrow, so I can drool on dollys and cranes...

Posted by at 9:05 PM

NAB Day One Update

Been trying to post all day, but for whatever reason ecto doesn't want to submit a post over a VPN connections. So, here's my summary of day one, condensed into one post.

Sometime this week, Apple will ship an update for Final Cut Pro to support Canon 24f and JVC 24p. They're running it in all the booths right now, calling it a community preview. There is talk of a major Apple announcement at 5pm tomorrow, though it's not clear whether it'll be anything more than "5.1.1 is shipping!"

Focus has announced a Firestore FS-C designed to work with the XL-H1. Their explanation of how it differed from the FS4pro was rather... ambiguous. No update on support for Quicktime within the FS4ProHD, aside from "It's coming soon!"

RED is an absolute joke. As in, I'm pretty sure they're just toying with the video industry. Their booth, which involved a tent that you had to swipe to enter, contained some milled metal "prototyped" that appeared, as best as I could tell, to be completely random. They had some posters talking about how they'll be supporting killer formats, but it sure seemed like more smoke and mirrors.

Biggest diss of the day (aside from one I'm not allowed to discuss) is Avid showing a screenshot of the iTunes video store, saying "most of these shows are cut on Avid!"

More later!

Posted by at 7:24 PM

April 23, 2006

Safe arrival in Las Vegas

I've now arrived safe and sound in Las Vegas. I'm going to see about live-blogging from the conference starting tomorrow, but for now, I'm off in search of food.

(My wonderful hotel view of... the back of the strip...)

Posted by at 4:24 PM

April 19, 2006

Dear On2: Please join us here in 2006

Let me preface this by saying that On2 has been a consistently friendly and helpful company when contacted with questions. That said, their FlixExporter Quicktime plugin, for generating flash videos within Quicktime, is really 1990s. The biggest problem is that it isn't multiprocessor aware - it'll only peg one chip at 100%.

Second, the interface has a major heaping of ugly.

Third, and perhaps not On2's fault, the exporter cannot be used to distribute compression across compressor nodes. This may be a limitation imposed on all export components, so perhaps I should be angry at Apple.

Anyways, seeing as I've just been wrapped up in Flash video all day, I figured I'd make a post about it ...

Posted by at 4:44 PM

April 18, 2006

It's me!

Someone said I should post a picture of myself so y'all can recognize me at NAB. Follow the jump for me!


I'm flying in Sunday, and I'm at the Monte Carlo. Where are you?

Posted by at 2:21 PM

April 17, 2006

More cool stuff from the Pixel Corps

Check out Macbreak Episode 2: Video Compression for a nice walkthrough of Quicktime's compression options. Also, I recommend a new series from Alex Lindsay, This Week In Media, a sort of insiders show on media topics.

Posted by at 10:38 AM

April 13, 2006

Looking for a sync gen

We had a Videotek sync generator go out on us a month ago. It's been sitting at Videotek since then, and yesterday I got word that they couldn't reproduce (or, consistently reproduce?) the problem, and were shipping it back. Bummer.

So we're in the market for a new sync gen. I'm thinking either going with a fairly basic Videotek VSG-201D which is pretty much a direct replacement for the model we had, or else a Tektronix TG700 decked out with the analog burst and digital signal generators. The advantage of the Tektronix is that it does trilevel sync for use with HD. The disadvantage is that I'm guessing it's about 10x the cost.

Who else makes a decent sync gen? I guess I should just wait till next week to sort it out ...

Posted by at 9:24 AM

Macbook Pro Stomps a Dual G5?

Creativemac has some benchmarks up of a Macbook Pro (2.16) running Final Cut Pro 5.1 versus a Dual g5 running 5.0.4. The short story is that the Macbook Pro holds it own, and in some cases absolutely stomps the G5. Not terribly surprising - I'm a bit surprised the G5 did as well as it did actually.

I'm going to be seriously bummed if Apple doesn't give us some more Intel products at NAB. I had a vision the other night of a 13.3" Macbook in industrial blue. Please Steve?

Posted by at 9:15 AM

April 10, 2006

Announcing: Synergizer

Hoorah! You can download it! Synergizer for OSX Synergizer for Windows XP

You need to know the IP address of your Synergy. The username and password default to the Synergy defaults, though you can modify them in the preferences. You also need to have Quicktime installed. Should work on any Synergy MD or MD-X, though I've only tested it on my 2MD.

Why would you want to use it? Well, first off, it's your only option on the Mac. Secondly, it allows you to upload any image file format (jpeg, gif, PSD, whatever), and it'll take care of getting it into the right format for the Synergy. Drag and drop, easy peasy, hoorah!

Edit: Apparently the Synergy doesn't like ampersands and whatnot. I'll fix that in the next release, for now just name your files appropriately.

Posted by at 11:02 AM

Texas HD Shootout

Mike from HD For Indies put together a gigantic HD camera test down in Austin. He's got some blurbs up at his site, and there's also some thoughts here from Zane Rutledge.

I think their initial conclusions are pretty much in line with what I'd predict - the XL-H1 has the highest resolution of the sub-cine-alta pack, the HVX200 has the most organic picture, the JVC is nice but flawed and the Sonys look like Sonys. These are the sort of tests I want to be doing here...

Posted by at 10:52 AM

April 6, 2006

Ok, not that mad anymore

So, even though Apple wasn't able to help me ("We don't support the command line") I got my question answered on the Discussion forums. Apparently Batch Monitor doesn't properly deal with the -clustername command, so you have to use -clusterid with the full tcp:// URL.


I'll post Synergizer tomorrow - it seems to be working pretty well internally. 'Course, I don't imagine anyone else with a Synergy actually reads these boards...

Posted by at 3:28 PM

April 4, 2006

What does $700 in professional video support get you?


Thanks Apple.


Posted by at 12:11 PM

April 3, 2006

Reverse Engineering a Synergy

The Ross Synergy MD and MD-X lines of production switchers have a pretty cool ability to load images over the network and play them out through what Ross calls a "global store." This is a pretty cool feature for doing image playout, as it doesn't require extra equipment, and gives you three scriptable channels of images. With extra software upgrades, you can also play animations using this feature.

There are few downsides, from my point of view. The Synergy requires specially formatted TGA images. Furthermore, the included software for moving images from a computer to the Synergy only works on Windows, and cannot reformat images internally. With that in mind, I decided to write my own interface software. Wanna know how? Click the link.

The first issue to deal with is that Ross had little interest in providing me with any protocol documentation or source code. Not surprising really, but it meant I needed to do a bit of investigation. Luckily for me, the Synergy is built on an open platform (Linux) and makes use of industry standard protocols for the transaction. Here's an ethereal dump of an upload. I was already logged in when I initiated the transfer, but then logged in again at the end.

Picture 1

So, we can see a few things are happening. The image is being appended with _0000 and then uploaded over FTP. Then, an XML file is being sent. Next, we jump over to HTTP and call a couple URLs, then download an XML. You'll also see the username and password information at the end of the dump.

That's all pretty straightforward. The only stumbling block is the XML file that gets uploaded. Luckily, it's pretty straightforward as well, if we change our filter a bit to look at the ftp-data traffic.

Picture 2

Really pretty straightforward - just a description of a file, with lots of extra settings that don't concern us at this point.

So, now we know how to post the image to the Synergy, and how to make the Synergy aware of the new files (those http calls). Next we need to get the images into a format that the Synergy understands.

The TGA files required need to be 24bit or 32bit (with an alpha mask). If you're running your Synergy in SD, you should also take into account the pixel aspect ratio. RLE compression is OK. Also, for whatever reason, TGAs generated by The Gimp won't work.

One unfortunate thing I've discovered is that if you ask the Quicktime API to do your conversion to TGA for you, you'll get different results depending on the platform. On Windows XP, you'll get 24bit targas, whereas on OSX you'll get 32bit targas, with an empty alpha. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a bummer.

So, throw together a bit of Targa resizing and FTP/HTTP code, and you've got yourself a really nice replacement for Image Mover. I call mine Synergizer, and will post it in a few days, once I'm relatively sure it won't destroy your $100,000 switcher ...

Posted by at 9:46 AM