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July 30, 2008

Kodak Zi6 Pocket Camera

Wow, no idea how I missed this a few weeks ago. Kodak announced the Zi6, a 720p, SD-based pocket-sized digital camcorder that retails at $180.

Has the same flip-out USB connector and built in editing software that you find on the Flip, includes rechargeable batteries, a bigger screen and uses removable memory. Even if the quality is just moderately crappy, this could be a winner.

 Eknec Documents D4 0900688A80924Cd4 Zi6 Fl-Bf Black02 250X200

Posted by at 2:40 PM

Olympic Broadcasting Porn

There's an article up at the Beijing Olympics site with some pictures of the master control room for the upcoming olympics. I'm a sucker for stuff like this.

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I see P2 VTRs and XDcamHD VTRs. I'm looking forward to tuning in.

Posted by at 2:12 PM

Sanyo HD800 on the way - Santa, please?

Sanyo launched the Xacti HD800 in Japan this week, and it's hopefully headed for the United States before too long. Electronista has an article with some hands on shots, or you can read a translated version of the japanese page via google.

It's essentially an update to the HD700, which is the evolution of the HD2 and HD1. It maintains of the smaller form factor of the bulk of the Xacti line, rather than going with the bulky look of the HD1000. You get 720p with an 8 megapixel sensor, and much improved noise reduction.

I'm a big fan of the quality of the HD1000, but I've missed the smaller form factor of the HD1. This looks like the perfect balance.

 Esta Content 0807 Sanyoxactihd800-Lg1

Posted by at 9:40 AM

July 29, 2008

YouTube audio compression (volume, not bits) smashing up sound

Slashdot ran a story a few days ago, discussing the new audio compression filter YouTube seems to be using on content. Essentially, they're trying to get everything into a single intensity range to, presumably, make jumping between videos on YouTube a bit more pleasant. However, like anyone who uses a compression plug in for the first time, they've over done it. Waaaay over done it.

There's a thread on YouTube's forums discussing the issue, and a fellow named 'ccalam' has posted a video demonstrating what happens with and without the compression.

The fix, until YouTube does something, is to mix in some constant volume high frequency noise, which will get stripped during the bit-compression phase, but which misdirects the audio compressor enough to keep your actual audio safe.

I can sort of understand what YouTube is up against, as this is an issue I struggle with on Media Mill as well. There are lots of things I can do to make really bad videos look and sound better, but those same things will make good videos look and sound worse. You always try to walk the line between both extremes, but you always wish you could do more.

Posted by at 9:16 AM

July 28, 2008

Review of the Steadicam Pilot

Although it's a month old, I hadn't seen this review of the Steadicam Pilot by Charles Papert. It's very well written and in-depth - I wish there were more reviews of this quality on this sort of equipment. The Pilot seems like a great choice at well under $4000. Not quite as sexy as the $10,000 Sachtler Artemis, but hey...

 Articles Camsupport Papert Missionarybig

Edit: A good tip when linking to a review is to link to the review. Fixed that..

Posted by at 3:54 PM

July 25, 2008

XDcam EX + FileVault = Fail?

I was using an XDCam EX on a MacBookPro today and getting very strange results - copying the BPAV folder from the SXS card to the internal drive resulted in totally corrupted video in both the Clip Browser and XDCam Transfer. When I tried copying the BPAV to an external drive, there were no problems at all. The laptop had FileVault enabled. I'm beginning to wonder if FileVault interferes with the XDCam software in some way.

More testing is needed, but it's very curious.

Posted by at 4:19 PM

July 24, 2008

A load of Batman stories

I haven't had a chance to see 'The Dark Knight' yet, but StudioDaily has three really excellent articles about the post process that the movie went through.

For those that don't know, large chunks of the movie were shot on IMAX and in fact in an IMAX theater the film switches between 35mm and IMAX shots. This was the first hollywood film to integrate significant IMAX, and the post workflow is pretty incredible - my favorite quote:

“Filmmakers increasingly want us to work in 4K, and that used to be a big deal,� he says, and then laughs. “After working on 5.6 and 8 resolution, 4K is proxy resolution.�

Anyways, check out the articles:
Delivering 8K VFX Shots for the Dark Knight
IMAXimizing the Dark Knight
Marrying IMAX and 35mm in The Dark Knight

Posted by at 10:48 AM

Flash Video Bitrate Calculator

Adobe has a little web app to help you figure out the right bitrate to use when encoding flash video, either Sorenson, On2 VP6 or H264. I poked around a little bit and it seems right in line with my normal assumptions. Might be handy for folks struggling to get good quality video on the web.

Posted by at 9:43 AM

July 23, 2008

XDCam NLE workflow guides

Sony has posted a collection of guides to using their XDcam products with various non-linear editing applications.

I didn't see any amazing secrets revealed in the Final Cut guide, but it's a nice document to have.

Posted by at 9:04 AM

July 22, 2008

Lessons in Bad Dialog Design - From Apple!

I just purchased a season pass for Dr Horrible from iTunes, using a machine other than my desktop.

iTunes prompted me with this dialog box:

Picture 3

Wow, someone should really write a set of interface guidelines for stuff like this.

Here's a tip - if the bulk of the dialog box has to explain what will happen when the user clicks each of the buttons, you probably haven't done a good job. What it should be, and what 99% of other Apple applications would do, is "Would you like to make this computer automatically download all of your iTunes Season Passes?" with a button saying "Yes" and a button saying "No."


Posted by at 10:43 PM

I can spraypaint over the Nvidia logo too...

This press release from Pixellexis/Ambric Silicon caught my attention today. Pixellexis are the folks who tried to raise a buzz at NAB this year with their RedBox external processing unit. Every time I went by their booth, it was a bit empty. As Mike said, "I'm not sure I'd start a company based on the idea that computers will never get faster."

In any case, the press release talks about the new Ambric Silicon chips they're using, which have 300+ cores in a single die. Which sounds suspiciously like a commodity GPU. With OpenCL in the near future (and far cooler than the public info would have you believe), it's hard to imagine dropping serious cash on a proprietary secondary processing unit.

Posted by at 10:59 AM

So why was the opening scene of Casino Royale so macroblocky?

Sony has announced a new multicodec HD encoder for BluRay authoring. Starting at $55k, it's a bit of a splurge for the hobbyist, but I bet it comes in a very attractive box.

High end compression tools do some amazing stuff though, like the ability to customize compression parameters on a frame-by-frame basis, after the encode, without re-encoding the rest of the stream. Sexy.

Posted by at 10:46 AM

Best Demo Sources

CEPro has a slideshow of 35 great CD/DVD/BluRay discs for demoing your home theater system, selected by "industry professionals."

Yeah, I'm procrastinating this morning.

Posted by at 9:37 AM

July 21, 2008

Pond5 launches stock video site

Just a plug for some friends - Pond5 has officially gone live. They're a stock video site, where any videographer can sell their content at prices set by the videographer. You get 50% of the profits, customers can get great footage at HD resolutions, with even higher end formats coming soon.

If someone with an EX1 were looking to make some money without too much extra effort, it's not a bad option.

Posted by at 3:27 PM

Get embedded SDI timecode into FCP via AJA

Anyone who's used one of AJA's capture cards knows that, while the AJA control panel shows embedded SDI timecode, Final Cut Pro can't read it, and thus you're stuck using RS422 even when you don't need control. DigitalVideoEditing has a quick little tutorial on using AJA's capture tool to work around that issue. Neato.

Posted by at 3:23 PM