July 28, 2006
Telestream has released Flip4Mac 2.1, which is a Universal Binary. So, Macintel users, rejoice, you may now watch WMV videos!
July 27, 2006
Media about Media
I wanted to plug a couple bits of media related media that I find interesting. If you're looking to learn more about the field, there are some great podcasts out there that will keep you informed and offer you tips from industry professionals.
First off, This Week in Media, from Alex Lindsay of the PixelCorps. This is a weekly discussion show about news from the industry. It's fairly non-technical in nature, and is a good resource for keeping up on broader trends.
Next, the VFX Show, also from Alex Lindsay. This is a weekly indepth look at the visual effects work on recently release movies. This is a great one if you're interested in the post-production workflow.
Finally the Television Broadcast Two Minute Drill (upper right hand corner) is a daily show which covers recent press releases and other industry news.
I've also been enjoying watching the Clerks II "Train Wreck" videos, which chronicle the creation of Clerks II. Not Safe For Work though.
Canon HD Wide Angle Lens Announced Again?
In among the new camera news yesterday, there was a second press release from Canon about the HD wide angle lens for the XL-H1. It's been given a price ($2999) and a ship date (November) but doesn't seem to have been otherwise changed from the previous release about it, back 'round NAB. So, yeah. Exciting?
July 26, 2006
Canon announces XH cameras
The XHG1 is essentially an XL-H1 without an interchangeable lens, but with a few updated features. The XLA1 also strips out the "jackpack" features.
This is very exciting as a complement to the XL-H1. The form factor looks good, you get all the quality of the XL-H1, and you save a few bucks. Sure makes the Z1U look a lot less tempting.
July 24, 2006
AMD buys ATI
AMD announced today its intent to buy ATI, a move that could have some interesting ramifications in the industry. It will be very interesting to see what sort of impact this has on Intel/ATI relationships - does it push more vendors into the Nvidia camp? I'm not sure it's such a great thing for consumers - the graphics industry is already far too homogenized. And hey, huge mergers between established companies always work out for the best, right?
July 21, 2006
Announcing QTInfo for public distribution
Perhaps this should go on the other blog too, but what the heck.
I'm making available the source for the QTInfo project which does a lot of the heavy lifting on the backend of Media Mill. This was my solution to break down the wall between PHP and Quicktime. It's a RealBasic project (rb2006r3) and makes use of the MonkeyBread plugins.
I wanted to note a few things which make the project interesting. Follow the jump for extreme geek content.
First off, it's a console application. After you build it in RB, you'll get a .app bundle, but what you really want is the binary executable named QTInfo in Contents/MacOS. Run that from the command line, and you'll get some usage information.
The next interesting thing is that it's not really a console application. (Hu?) You see, console applications in OSX can't access the Quicktime API, because it lives up in the Quartz neighborhood. So, this is an application that looks like it's a console app, but is actually talking to QT.
Because it's not really a console app, I have to write output to the terminal using System.debuglog. This means that, even though you see the output in your terminal, the output is really being written to stderr instead of stdout. You can always redirect the stderr to stdout by appending 2>&1 to the end of the command line.
Anyways, so what does it do? There are two switches, --getinfo and --getthumbnail. Getinfo will give you back the filesize (necessary for me because PHP can't filesize() files over 2gb), the framecount, the horizontal resolution, the vertical resolution and the framerate. Read the code for a discussion on getting the framerate - I try my best to get an accurate rate, but some files are very confusing.
The --getthumbnail switch takes in information about whether the video is anamorphic or not, how big you want the thumbnail to be, and optionally where in the video the thumbnail should come from. By default, it'll fetch a frame 1/3rd of the way into the video. The frame gets written (as a jpeg) to /tmp, and QTInfo returns the filename.
Video names must be specified with a complete path. It will also intentionally fail on MPEG-1 files and text files. You could turn that off in the isMovie() method.
Obviously it's not a full featured application - it's just enough to do what I need it to do - verify videos, get metadata, and generate thumbnails. But perhaps it will be a useful starting point for someone else.
Since I know you can't get enough of my semi-gramatical ramblings, I've launched another new blog, dedicated to news and updates about the Media Mill project. Check it out:
July 20, 2006
M. Night Shaylfjdalfjdalalfjds Budgets
The Smoking Gun has an interesting writeup on the movie budgets of M. Night Shyamalan's productions, up to the current "Lady in the Water." Perhaps of most note to this audience is the complete rundown of the budget for The Village, which really helps show the details of what goes in to a major production.
July 19, 2006
YANHF (Yet Another New HiDef Format)
AVCHD was announced a while back, but today saw the release of the first (to the best of my knowledge) shipping camera using that format.
So, just when you were thinking that HDV, HDCam, DVCProHD, XDCamHD and the rest weren't confusing enough, here's a new format.
The cameras that have been announced are the Sony HDR-UX1 and HDR-SR1 (thanks Engadget) . The UX1 records to DVD, whereas the SR1 records to a built in disc. Surprise Surprise, the DVDs that you record will be playable in BluRay players, along with a computer (with special software).
As you might guess from the name, AVCHD uses MPEG-4 (AVC/H.264) to record your HD content. So, if you thought HDV was a pain to edit, get ready for a new load of fun.
To be fair, these cameras are very squarely aimed at the soccer-mom set - folks who want HD content to watch on their 50" plasmas when the family comes over for a visit. But frankly, I have nothing good to say about these cameras. Internal disks are the wrong way to go, in my opinion, as you've now got a fairly fragile, non-expandable bit that you're tied to for recording. Similarly, recording to a DVD format, especially in a proprietary DVD format, is rather disappointing.
Of course, I don't play soccer.
JVC HD110U arrives (HD100U version 1.0.1?)
Minor story, but worth noting that JVC has announced the HD110U HDV camera. As best as I can tell, it's not much more than a software update for the existing HD100U. I really hope that's not the case, or else there are sure to be some annoyed HD100U owners out there.
I know there's not much incentive for manufacturers to add features to hardware they've already sold, but it does bug me when something that could be delivered as a firmware update becomes a whole new product. I'm rather suspicious that this was largely the case with the DVX-100/A/B, and plenty of other cameras. I hope that mentality changes as the Camera/Computer wall continues to collapse.
Check out Conduit
Anyone who's into compositing should check out Conduit, a new plugin for Motion from dvGarage (which is essentially the PixelCorps). It adds nodal compositing to Motion, so that you can do Shake-style node trees to build your composite, but take advantage of Motion's realtime playback. The interface is well done, if not entirely HIG-complient.
In any case, if you're at all interested in high-end compositing, this is a great way to jump in. While the cost is less of an issue now that Shake is only $499, the interface of Conduit is much less overwhelming, so you can focus on wrapping your brain around nodal composites instead of learning an antiquated interface.
One imagines that whatever product succeeds Shake will be very similar to this.
July 12, 2006
Just when I thought I wouldn't have anything to blog about, I find a bug in Compressor. Hoorah!
Make a cluster. Doesn't have to include other machines, but it has to be a real cluster, created in QAdministrator. Read the docs if you don't know how to get this far.
Submit a job to the cluster using the Compressor 2.1 "Video for iPod" preset.
Listen to the silence of your missing audio track!
Audio track is fine if you submit it to "This Computer" but disappears as soon as you submit it to a real cluster. Tested on an xServe, an iMac and a Macbook.
As a minor aside though, if you want to run jobs simultaneously in Compressor (which Apple says can't be done) take a look at the qmasterprefs command line program. Particularly this bit (using qmasterprefs -list):
-service "Compressor Processing" on instances 1 autorestart off unmanaged off
Changes the instances to whatever you want, rebuild your cluster and marvel at the simultaneous processing!
July 11, 2006
I'm back, catching up. Luckily it seems like not much happened in the world while I was gone...
I'll get a real update together tomorrow.
July 2, 2006
Probably no updates this week
I'm out of the office this week, suffering through a week at a villa outside of Florence. Pity me.