February 27, 2007
Final Cut to Motion roundtripping
So, I've been playing today with a little issue that occurs when roundtripping video between Final Cut and Motion. This is the situation in which you select a clip in your timeline in Final Cut, right click on it and select "send to Motion Project." Then, you do your Motion work and save the project. When you return to Final Cut, your video clip has magically updated with the composite from Motion. Hoorah!
However, there's a little glitch that occurs with color rendering during this process. The signal going to Motion doesn't match the signal that comes back. Here's an example, taken from an 8bit uncompressed timeline.
If you look at the histogram and RGB parades, you'll see a pretty big difference in the images. This isn't a huge deal in most cases, but I was recently working on a shot that had a heavily saturated green component. There is a very definite shift in both white balance and luminance.
I called ProVideo Support, and they actually reproduced the problem and promised to report it. That's a first ...
February 21, 2007
More video training podcasts
We're posting some more video training podcasts. To get the rss feeds, check out the previous post, or if you'd like to subscribe via iTunes, click below.
Thanks go to Mark Heitke, Deb Moe and Tim Nelson for their work on these videos.
Hey, it's up. It sounds better. Woo.
February 20, 2007
Affordable Studio HD on the Horizon?
It's February, but we're already in the run-up to NAB. Sony had a deluge of press releases today. Among them was one in particular, about the new HDC-1400 studio camera. It looks to be an HDC-1500 that only does 1080i60 and 720p60 and lacks a few other features. Suggested list is $65,000, which is about $30,000 under the list for the HDC-1500.
Along the same lines, Panasonic recently announced the AK-HC3500. Spec-wise, it's right in the same ballpark, though it lacks 720p support. No pricing has been announced, but I'd guess $50k.
It's really exciting to see studio HD cameras coming down to the sub-$100k range. Getting to the point of being able to have a whole camera system (camera, lens, viewfinder, CCU, RCP) for less than $100k will be a big deal. Depending on what retail is on either of these models, it may not be far off.
February 19, 2007
First episode of Gear Media Tech
I missed this a couple weeks ago, but the first episode of Gear Media Tech is out. GMT is a new video podcast from Leo and the Pixel Corps. The first episode is about mixers. It's worth a watch, but don't assume that everything they say is gospel. Particularly the whole latency / balanced thing, the phantom stuff and the EQ stuff. Meh.
February 15, 2007
Final Cut Update
Apple pushed FCP 5.1.3 today. Looks like a very minor bugfix release, but perhaps it has super secret hidden features!
Free tapes from Sony
I was going to ignore this promotion from Sony, but I did a bit more reading and realized it's actually a pretty sweet deal. If you've purchased any high end HDV camera between August 1, 2006 and now, you can get 5 free HDV Master tapes. That includes the Sony cams (Z1U, A1U) as well as the Canon XH and XL cams and the various JVC models. Sweet! Now, to find those invoices ...
Iditarod shot on P2
All that aside, I'm a bit confused. It seems to me that P2 is about the worst possible format for this type of shooting. They shot 140 hours of footage. On a format that can get at best about 25 minutes per 8gig card, that seems like a really painful way to shoot. I understand that the no-moving-parts thing is nice in -40 degree weather, but wow, it seems like that'd be a hard shoot to pull off without a limitless supply of P2 cards.
February 14, 2007
Quantum Computing for the Sudoku-Playing-Masses
MacPro blue screen on wake from sleep
Just a little note to tuck away for future reference. I added another 2gigs of ram to my MacPro yesterday, and found that it would no longer wake from sleep. I'd just get a blue screen that wouldn't go away. I ended up solving it by manually reseting the SMC via the button on the motherboard. I think that the issue occurred because I didn't unplug the computer while swapping the ram. Because of this, it was never without power for the requisite 15 seconds that it takes to drain and flush the SMC normally.
In any case, after resetting the SMC, all seems well. I think.
February 13, 2007
Hey, it's online. And it's actually ok. Woo.
AACS not cracked (again)
Another day, another round of misleading headlines (gotta love digg) about the destruction of AACS. I spent some time this morning reading to the specs, so I now have a pretty good idea of what's going on.
The reason for this latest round of headlines is that a new hacker over at doom9, arnezami, has been digging deeper into the different keys used by AACS. Up until this point, if you wanted to make a decrypted copy of an HD-DVD or BluRay disc, you used PowerDVD or WinDVD on your Windows computer, did a memory dump, looked through the dump for the title key, and went about your merry way. Folks have even written tools to make this memory dump / hunt process automatic.
In the long term, this isn't a particularly sustainable solution. The AACS folks will just revoke the device keys for PowerDVD and WinDVD, forcing users to download updated versions. The updated versions will take more care to hide the title key, and despair will spread throughout the pirate community.
With this bleak future in mind, arnezami went investigating alternatives. What he found is the Processing Key, which is essentially an AES'd combination of the device key and the appropriate elements of the Media Key Block. Don't worry if I've lost you, this bit isn't all that important. The processing key doesn't inherently reveal which device key it is spawned from.
The processing key is a major chunk of the decryption process. It is a universal decryption key for all titles, with a big caveat that I will mention later. In order to make use of the processing key, you also need the Volume ID. This is essentially a 128bit string that is unique for each HD-DVD or BluRay title. According to the AACS specs, it should be random, though it appears that many replicators haven't been following this quite to the letter - the Volume ID for Serenity for instance is "SERENITY ". Clever.
Unfortunately, recovering volume ids isn't proving to be significantly easier than recovering title keys at the moment. The volume ID is stored on a special part of the disc which can't be read directly via software. In order to recover it, you have to nicely ask the drive to read it and pass it along. For now, that means using a USB sniffer to watch the bus traffic as your software player retrieves the volume ID. The AACS spec actually has this circumstance accounted for as well, with a specification for bus encryption of the volume ID transfer, but nobody has implemented this process yet.
So, what's this mean? Is AACS destroyed? Afraid not. If someone can come up with a clever, self contained mechanism for retrieving Volume IDs, it may make widespread HD-DVD/BluRay ripping easier, as there won't be any need to hunt for an already decrypted title key. Barring that however, you'll still need to find or be told the volume id before the processing key is of any use to you. At that point, why not just find or be told the title key and skip a few steps?
Truth be told, the only circumstance in which having the processing key is useful is if the AACS folks really don't know which player generated the key, and thusly don't know which player to deactivate. However, since the AACS folks do know all of the device keys that they've assigned, it should be pretty easy for them to calculate all the various processing keys and come up with the renegade player. And even if that weren't the case, I don't think they'd have qualms about just revoking all of the device keys for the software players on the market, forcing an update with better security.
Realistically, AACS will only be truly dead if someone comes up with a master list of all of the device keys (leaked from the AACS folks). The encryption itself isn't under threat - AES with 128bit keys isn't going to be brute forced any time soon. However, if talented hackers can keep making trouble by figuring out ways to rip these discs, it may eventually become cost prohibitive to keep deactivating device keys. When folks start sniffing hardware keys from expensive home theater units, it'll get even more interesting. Maybe it's time to just give up on this DRM thing?
3GSM is where the fun is
The big 3GSM trade show is going on right now, so there are tons of fancy new cellular handsets dropping. If you're into that sort of thing, I suggest you take a gander at Engadget Mobile. iPhone or bust!
February 12, 2007
Before anyone emails me about this...
Every now and again someone will ask me why we don't support RealVideo encoding on Media Mill. The answer is because we can't. However, there's an article up on Kenstone right now that seems to imply otherwise. Most of what the article covers is in line with the way we handle non-Quicktime formats on Media Mill, but the Real plugin bit is a off. Their plugin doesn't work in 10.4, and doesn't support intel. Even if it did, I don't believe the Real plugin ever worked within Compressor.
As Real says here, "There are no plans on the schedule for fixes or feature enhancements to the plug-in. Community members and developers seeking compatibility with Tiger 10.4 and/or with desire to enhance the plug-in, are invited to download the plug-in source for fix and further application development. " I.E., Don't get your hopes up.
EFPLighting.com - Wow!
FresHDV pointed me to EFPLighting.com, a site dedicated to teaching field lighting. Some of it is a bit higher end than the things we do around the University, but that's all the more reason to check it out. If nothing else it gives you an overview of what is possible. Dig it.
Rent a High-Speed Camera!
A few months ago, I researched purchasing a high-speed video camera. I stopped researching when I realized that they run $50,000 and up. That's why I'm excited to see that AbelCineTech is now renting Phantom high speed cameras. If only I lived on the coasts...
February 7, 2007
Video Training Podcast
I'm super excited about this - a few of the student staff at the studios are working to produce a series of video tutorials. We've just put the first tutorial online - a basic overview of a light instrument. We've got a large list and are hoping to start churning them out routinely.
The podcast will be available from the iTunes Store in a day or so, but for now, you can subscribe to them by clicking below.
Hey All - Podcast 3 is up. Hoorah.
Canon HV20 Review (In Japanese)
It's interesting to learn that it supports the xvYCC color space over HDMI, which has a significantly broader spectrum of viewable colors, as compared to sRGB. There are a number of displays hitting the market now that can take advantage of the wider range of colors, so it's nice to see devices capable of outputting it.
February 6, 2007
Jobs on Music
Apple.com has published an article written by Steve Jobs called "Thoughts on Music," discussing the current state of online music sales, DRM, and the world of copyright. Very interesting - nothing new per se, but very interesting to hear it coming from the head of the biggest online music store.
February 2, 2007
Hey All - Episode 2 of the Mike Dave and Colin show is available. This one is slightly more tolerable. By episode 50 we'll have it down pat.