Category "Misc"

March 30, 2009

Canon using dSLR sensors in camcorders?

Gizmodo has a rumor that Canon will be using the chips from their dSLR cameras in a future XL-H1-style camera. Certainly wouldn't be surprising, but it'll be interesting to see what form this product takes.

Posted by at 11:06 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 21, 2009

Updated Xactis from Sanyo

Sanyo has announced a load of updates to the Xacti line. Engadget has some info, and Sanyo has the press release.

They've added three "traditional" camcorder models (meh) plus brought all of the models in the line up to at least 720p. The high end HD2000 gets higher resolution stills, 1080p60 shooting, plus some software improvements.

 News 2009 01 Img 090121-01-01-A

There's no announcement about when these will hit the US, but hopefully it won't be too long.

Posted by at 10:22 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 25, 2008

YouTube API and quicktime mime types

This is a quick post just in case some poor soul finds it in a google query - it seems that the youtube api no longer accepts video/quicktime as an acceptable mime type for the Content-Type of the mime portion of the client upload payload.

Use video/mov and things will be peachy.

Yes, this was very obnoxious to troubleshoot.

Posted by at 11:33 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 3, 2008

VLC plays XDCam MP4 files

There are a number of file-based cameras out there that record MP4 files, but often those files won't open directly in something like Quicktime Player. However, according to this thread on DVInfo, various versions of VLC will play XDCamEX files directly. Neato.

Posted by at 10:22 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

November 24, 2008

More bad luck with the Zi6

I got my replacement Kodak Zi6 today, and this one has an even more severe offset in the audio (about 12db) than the last one. That's pretty disappointing. On the plus side, it's running a newer firmware build which allows you to disable the annoying chimes.

For now though, I guess the message is to avoid the Zi6. I know there are good ones out there, without this issue, but obviously it's not that uncommon an issue.

Posted by at 1:26 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 30, 2008

Perian: A Cruel Mistress

Perian, the do-everything Quicktime component has been a godsend for Mac users looking to play windows-centric video formats on their Macs. But Perian giveth, and Perian taketh away.

A while back I wrote about how to build your own Perian with only the components you need. Recently, I started wondering whether that was really necessary, or if it was just me being a bit neck-beardish. So, earlier this week I switched Media Mill to a current version of Perian (1.1.2) and removed our DiVX decoder.

An interesting thing happened. I started seeing compressord crashes across the board. The crash logs indicated that it was a thread running Perian that was crashing. What was strange was that this was often happening on files that, as best as I can tell, shouldn't have been decoded by Perian. For example, Quicktime files containing H264 video. While Perian does have a decoder for H264 (which supports advanced-profile h264 unlike Apple's decoder) it shouldn't preempty Apple's decoder in this case.

I haven't gone digging in the Perian codebase to see what's up with all of this, but my initial verdict was that rolling your own Perian, supporting only the codecs you can't decode some other way is still the way to go.

There is a small (very small) part of me that's inclined to setup a custom Perian build server with a nice webserver, wherein you could check boxes for the codecs you want and get a custom component.


Posted by at 1:48 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 22, 2008

Worst Xsan Ever.

I needed to test some allocation strategy stuff, so I threw together a quick Xsan volume on my desktop. This must be the lamest xsan deployment ever:

Xsan Admin  Smelly.Local

Posted by at 1:58 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 2, 2008



Posted by at 4:20 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

Category "Tutorials"

September 22, 2008

Creating a film at 1000fps

Stealing another post from ProVideoCoalition - they have a 'making of' film about the creation of a short film for Vision Research, the creators of the Phantom high speed camera. I'm a sucker for high speed film, so I had to post it. Take a look at the finished product as well.

Posted by at 9:17 AM | Misc | Tutorials

Category "Misc"

August 26, 2008

Comments were broken?

I think comments were broken for a while, so none of you could comment on my AWESOME MIDI CONTROL OF MOTION. That problem is solved, so feel free to commence.

Posted by at 11:04 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

August 12, 2008

What ever happened to the Shake replacement?

Last we heard, Apple was planning to ship their replacement for Shake sometime in 2008. I was kind of expecting that we'd hear something at Siggraph, but Siggraph is underway and there's not even a peep from apple. I wonder if we'll still hear anything this year, or if Apple is going another direction with that project.

Posted by at 10:57 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

Category "Tutorials"

July 24, 2008

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 | Misc | Tutorials

Category "Misc"

July 22, 2008

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 31, 2008

So, I've been reading the US Code

It's funny, there's an awful lot of stuff in the US code that would surprise most folks.

For example, in the world of video production, folks often talk about how there are certain buildings that are copyrighted, thus preventing their incorporation into videos. Or else folks say, "it's a gray area" ...

One gets the feeling that it's in the best interests of the copyright holder to keep this a "gray area," because confusion leads to capitulation.

Doesn't seem very gray to me.

(a) Pictorial Representations Permitted.— The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

Title 17, Section 120.

I'm working on a more extensive post dealing with some of these issues.

Posted by at 12:18 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 24, 2008

Sinful coder

The Adobe Flash plugin for Quicktime seems to only support movies with a duration of 2^24 milliseconds. That's about 4 hours and 39 minutes. Funny enough, I had reason to compress a 4 hour and 41 minute movie today. The FLV format is supposed to support up to 2^32, using an extended timestamp attribute, but it sure doesn't seem like the plugin makes use of it. After 16777216 milliseconds, we roll back to zero.

Interestingly though, the files are still valid and playable, they just can't be indexed properly by the various FLV metadata injectors. And progressively downloading a four hour movie isn't such a great choice.

The fix? When you're injecting metadata, watch for the timestamp to roll and then just tack on an extra 2^24 to all the timestamps from there on out. It's a bit dirty, but it'll work, since the truth is you're matching timestamps to byte offsets - once you've built your metadata array, the timestamps in video packets don't matter.

Posted by at 2:30 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

November 20, 2007

This is why electronic image stabilization is not a good choice

The camera is sitting on a solid surface. The surface is not moving. But watch the background. The camera has electronic image stabilization turned on, and it's getting confused by my bouncing - it thinks that it must be bouncing, so it tries to compensate. Fail.

Posted by at 1:03 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

September 11, 2007

Screw terrorism, become compositors

Seriously, Al-Qaeda is coming out with some quality compositing. Check out the still from this Times Online article. It's definitely a comp since the dude was dead by the time the still in the background was shot. What a clean key!

 Multimedia Archive 00207 Walidshehri 207000A

Posted by at 8:46 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

August 30, 2007

Tour of an HD TV Studio

EngadgetHD has a really nice tour of an HD production facility, WFTS in Tampa Bay. Plenty of pictures and a bit of gear identification. I still think my cabling is prettier though...

Posted by at 5:23 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

July 11, 2007

Michael Bay talks about ruining my childhood memories

Well, more accurately, he talks about the post process on Transformers.

Posted by at 9:22 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 30, 2007

iPhone review coming

But I've developed a rather nasty case of bronchitis and am sucking down antibiotics, so it might be a bit delayed...

Posted by at 11:55 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 17, 2007

I'm in Beijing

(Or nearabouts - right now I'm in Tokyo)

Dig the travel blog for more info.

Also, for anyone that has installed Parallels 3.0 and found that Cisco VPN doesn't work anymore, check out this thread.

Posted by at 4:07 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

May 4, 2007

What I'm doing with Captioning

As is probably made clear by some recent posts, I've been working on bringing captioning to our web video delivery. Now that we've made it so simple to compress and publish your video to the web, we need to make it just as easy to be ADA compliant with that video. For many folks, that means captioning the video.

First the bad news - no matter which way you cut it, doing proper captioning is time consuming, expensive, or both.

The good news is that it doesn't need to be quite as expensive or time consuming as you might think. Here's a rundown of the options.

First off, you need a transcript of your video. You can type directly into captions, but that process is going to be pretty painful. Realistically, what you want is just a raw text transcript of your video - no special formatting needed. I like the free Express Scribe software for Windows or Mac. If you were doing a lot of this sort of thing, you'd definitely want to get a foot pedal of some sort as well. Or a grad student. Either will work.

Now that you've got your transcript, you need to time it to your video and generate your captions.

If you're the do-it-yourself type, you can get an application like MAGPie and do your own captioning and timing. This is the most time consuming but least expensive option. MAGPie isn't an incredibly intuitive application, but once you get a feel for it you'll be able to produce perfectly acceptable captions. There's also commercial captioning software, like CCaption, which provide more features (like direct embedding) at a pretty steep cost.

If that's not your thing though, there's a really cool service from a company called Automatic Sync Technologies which will take your video and your transcript and use text-to-speech to sync them up. I've been doing some testing with it and it seems really reliable. That's what I used to time the captions for my demo. It's not a free service, but the pricing is incredibly reasonable. If you don't have a transcript, you can pay an additional fee to have them transcribe the video as well.

Once you've done the captioning, you'll end up with a timed text file. Here's a sample. This is in the DFXP format which is used by the new Flash CS3 captioning tool, as well as various other flash plugins. Other video formats have their own captioning formats. The new quicktime release (7.1.6) claims to add support for captioning, though I'm not clear on what that actually means yet.

My development site for Media Mill now supports taking these timed files as transcripts, which will automatically be displayed when viewing Flash videos. I'll make this feature live once I've done some more cross-platform testing and finished up a few additional new features.

Anyways, that's a quick rundown on the world of captioning, from my perspective. It's really not that painful, and I strongly encourage you to check out the Automatic Sync Technologies website.

Posted by at 5:31 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

April 13, 2007

Award winning student project

I just wanted to highlight a really nice piece by a student, Deb Moe, which recently won the "Get it on Record" contest.

Dig it.

I'm off to NAB tomorrow, hopefully I'll have mass quantities of posts.

Posted by at 5:29 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 28, 2007

Media Mill info

I'm giving a little presentation tomorrow at the VRA25 conference. To that end, I wanted to post links to a couple different bits of Media Mill info, in case folks come looking.

Media Mill
QTInfo Video Info app
Media Mill Blog

Posted by at 4:22 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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.

Picture 3-1
Here's the video as it exists in Final Cut Pro initially

Picture 2-1
Here's the video that comes back from Motion

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 ...

Posted by at 2:19 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 21, 2007

Podcast 5

Hey, it's up. It sounds better. Woo.

Posted by at 12:32 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 14, 2007

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.

Posted by at 10:26 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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.

Posted by at 10:19 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

Category "Tutorials"

January 29, 2007

Color voodoo

The process by which real life turns into digital video is, by all accounts, pretty arcane. Not necessarily because of bad design decisions (though there are plenty of those) but just because real life is very complex, and our tiny little brains haven't figured out great ways to capture it.

In any case, color sampling and color spaces is an area that trips up many folks in this field. You've got analog ranges, digital ranges, 8bit, 10bit, 12bit, and then you've got color profiles on the computer to contend with. has a two part article (part 1, part 2) dealing with color spaces in video. Take a look if you're at all interested in understanding why your image changes colors when you move it from Photoshop to Final Cut, or from your Mac to a PC. Keep in mind though, that all of this happens separate of the color subsampling step. The detail lost by going to 4:2:2 or 4:2:0/4:1:1 is independent of the latitude lost due to color space conversion.

Posted by at 11:23 AM | Misc | Tutorials

Category "Misc"

Pan's Labyrinth VFX

FXGuide has an article up about the VFX in Pan's Labyrinth. It's a film I really hope to see soon. It sounds like there was a fair amount of practical work done on the set - from the trailer, I was sort of expecting that every shot would be a VFX shot. It's worth reading to just to learn about all the tools that were used. I'm not well schooled in the world of 3d, but I'm always interested to hear people talking about the ways in which one renderer can be worlds above another. A lot of kung foo going on there.

Posted by at 11:17 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 27, 2007

I dun made a podcast

Mike, Dave and I finally got it together to record a podcast. I've posted the results over on my .Mac site. So, I present to you the first very episode of the Mike, Dave and Colin Show. We cover html compression, leopard APIs, health care reform and a few other topics. Don't worry, they'll get better in the future...

Posted by at 1:04 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 22, 2007

Making of the 'Children of Men'

I'm going to check out 'Children of Men' tomorrow, but I've heard it's a remarkable film. In the meantime, there's a making of video available, as well as a more in-depth article from FXGuide. They've done some pretty remarkable stuff with long takes and creative use of practical photography. Cool.

Posted by at 1:11 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 20, 2006

Greatest Email Ever

This has nothing to do with video, but I just got this email from my polisci professor and can't stop laughing. The paper was about Iraq policy ...

Hi all,

We have one final exam paper that doesn't have a name. The paper has no title page, all the class info in the upper left-hand corner of the first page, and the first sentence reads: "The strapping hero stands, sword in hand, ready to slay the mighty dragon; two powers evenly matched."

I'm assuming this is a final exam and not a review of "Eragon," so please send an email to me and the two TAs (Cc'd above) if this is your paper.

Posted by at 12:56 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 16, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean Effects Work

ILM has launched a website about the effects work in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest. It's a bit cheesy, but hey, it's a Saturday.

Posted by at 3:06 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 7, 2006

Apple Patent for Dynamic mpeg encoding

Macnn has a post about a recent patent granted to Apple for dynamic field/frame encoding of MPEG. It's not terribly exciting, but I figured I'd comment since I've seen some other sites mischaracterizing it.

Basically, when you have interlaced video, you get better codec efficiency if you compressed each field separately, instead of compressing a frame made up of two fields combined. The reason is pretty straightforward. A field is more or less a picture of your scene, taken once every 60th of a second. So, two sequential fields can be very different if there's fast motion or the camera is moving. MPEG encoding works in terms of macroblocks - 16x16 blocks of pixels. If there's lots of continuity among the pixels in that block, you'll get good compression. However, if every other line in that block is totally different, you'll either get terrible compression or have terrible quality. So, with interlaced video, field based compression is great. With progressive video, or animation, or other non-interlaced video, you'll get better efficiency with frame-based encoding.

That's great if you're able to tell the compressor in advance about the source video. However, with many video codecs, it's not easy to programatically determine whether the video is interlaced or progressive. It gets even worse when both formats are mixed within a single video!

What Apple's patent proposes is a compression process that dynamically selects between field-based and frame-based encoding with each macroblock. The only bit that really matters is the discrete cosine transform on the luminance macroblock. So, Apple does two DCTs on the macroblock (actually double that, but then it gets confusing), one treating the block as if it were field based, and one treating it as if it were frame based. Because a DCT can easily be vectorized, you can do multiple DCTs in parallel. Then you just check to see which block has the most zeros and use it.

With H.264, the entropy encoding (CABAC or CAVLC) takes far more CPU than the DCT, so this is a pretty clever way to get better efficiency with a really simple addition.

Rock on.

Posted by at 7:34 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

December 1, 2006


I totally forgot to post the cake that some of the student crew made me for my birthday. Thanks everyone!

Image 022

Posted by at 2:34 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

November 24, 2006

Film School in a Box

Stealing shamelessly from DVGuru today - Check out Film School in a Box. They're selling harddrives preloaded with all the footage from a 90 minute film, with 9 camera angles for every scene. They've set it up as a multicam project in Final Cut, so that you can go through and cut the film in the way you want, with the angles you want. I think this is a pretty cool concept as a way to learn about story telling through editing. You can do it all in realtime. Slick.

Posted by at 1:15 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 22, 2006

I've been Living a Lie

All this time, I thought I was working with HD. You know, the beautiful HD images produced by our $9,000 Canon XL-H1s, or a $25,000 Sony F350.

I was wrong.

You see, I was reading Wired tonight, and stumbled upon a Canon ad which explains that their new HV10 shoots in "True HD," because it has a 1920x1080 imager. Everyone else is just a poser.

Time to throw out the XL-H1s I suppose. Or maybe not.

You see, the HV10 is an HDV camera. Which means that the signal it puts to tape is 1440x1080. Just like all 1080i HDV cameras. Some 1080i cameras (Sony HVR-V1U) have chips that are actually lower in resolution than 1440x1080. Some, like the XL-H1 and the XDCam have chips that are exactly 1440x1080. It seems nobody else has deemed it necessary to build a camera that images at a higher resolution than it records. Wonder why?

Posted by at 11:51 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 19, 2006


Since I know a lot of folks are interested in various levels of podcast recording, you might be interested in Just stumbled upon it, but it seems to have some decent information.

Posted by at 4:10 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 6, 2006

Doing the XDCamHD Math

I'm still interested in the XDCamHD product line, and have been doing a bit of investigation regarding lens choices. Both Canon and Fujinon have a few lenses available to work with the 1/2" chips used by the XDCam.

Half-inch is a bit of an odd size for a CCD sensor, so I didn't have a good sense of how to compare focal lengths on the lenses. Most of them have a wide angle of 5.5mm-6.7mm, and I wanted to know if that would be "wide enough."

Read on to follow my exciting adventure!

Since my other hobby is photography of the still variety, I have a pretty good sense of the lenses used in that realm. I shoot with a Canon Digital RebelXT, which has a sensor that is slightly smaller than 35mm film. Because of this, the Rebel (and most other "affordable" digital SLRs) has some amount of magnification as compared to a 35mm still camera.

Let me try to explain why. If you have a lens which is designed to project an image onto a 35mm piece of film, but instead project that image onto a smaller surface, you essentially get a center crop of the image. It's the same image you'd get on the 35mm film if you were to zoom the lens in a bit. In the case of the Rebel, it's a 1.6x zoom factor. Think about it for a bit, it makes sense.

When picking lenses for the Rebel, it's helpful to convert them into "real" 35mm numbers. For example, a while ago I purchased a 12-24mm Tokina lens. This is in the category of "ultra wide angle," and is very nearly a fish-eye. When you do the 1.6x math though, it's the equivalent of a 19-38 lens when shooting to 35mm.

Anyways, this same math applies to video, more or less. Things get a bit fishy because of the different aspect ratios, but we can deal with a center crop of a 16:9 image and get approximations - at least, I'm pretty sure we can.

So, I broke out the ol' whiteboard pen and started doing some geometry and algebra and whatnot.


Just a bunch of triangles, since we know the ratios of the two sides, you can use algebra to find the scaling factor, then do Pythagoras to get the diagonal. Or work backwards from the diagonal. 35mm in film refers to the horizontal, chip dimensions in video refer to the diagonal. Exciting!

After churning through all the math, I came up with the XDCamHD, with its 1/2inch chips, having a 4.25x magnification factor. So, that 6.4mm Canon lens is actually the equivalent of a 27.2mm 35mm lens. So, still moderately wide.

And that's what I wanted to know.

Posted by at 4:47 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

October 5, 2006


Oh man. Puns.

DVGuru has a great little post about some freebie fonts for movie credits, as well as box templates for DVD cases. They're a bit tricky to download on the Mac though - control click the links, do "save linked file to desktop," then rename the file to be just .rar, instead of .rar.txt. Then you can double click it and all is well. See, I added value to the post, instead of just shamelessly copying DVGuru. +1 for me.

Posted by at 11:33 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

September 26, 2006

Off Topic: Espionage Anyone?

So, every day I read through the press releases from a bunch of the companies in this field - Sony, Canon, Panasonic, etc. So, today I came across the Canon PC170 personal copier. There may be similar things out there, but this is just so cool.

So here's my plan: I'm going to get some sunglasses, a nice suit and a PC170. Then I'll sneak into the base of the evil supervillian and escape with the plans for the moon rocket. Muahahaha.

Step one: sunglasses.

Posted by at 9:17 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

August 21, 2006

I'm not dead, the world's just boring

IBC is in a few weeks, and it seems like everyone is in silent mode leading up to that. There really hasn't been anything worth discussing in the last few days. Shrug...

Posted by at 1:24 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

August 14, 2006

Mini-Shootout Stills

I'm still gathering up the footage - I may have found a way to get some of my variable bitrate XDCamHD stuff into a format I can use, but it'll take another day to sort that out. Similarly, it'll be about a week until the 16mm is back from the lab. In the meantime, here's some photos and some thoughts.

DSC02278.JPG DSC02282.JPG DSC02286.JPG

DSC02293.JPG DSC02295.JPG DSC02303.JPG


Overall, each HD camera showed strengths and weaknesses. I think that the Sony F350 (XDCamHD) really does belong in this group, because it's essentially a bulked up HDV camera. You get larger chips and better processing, but it's still 4:2:0 at 25mbps. Frankly, if someone is willing to consider the F350 a "professional" camera, they should consider the Canon XL-H1 just as professional.

We were using the Fujinon 17x lens, and I found it to be remarkably terrible. I'm not sure if we just had a bad example, but the chromatic aberration was even worse than the XL-H1. I need to investigate this further, if I'm going to give any consideration to purchasing one of these cameras. Because they use 1/2" CCDs, there is a much smaller group of native lenses available. You can get an adapter to go to 2/3", but I'm not sure what drawbacks that might have.

I'll post more thoughts and video tomorrow.

Posted by at 5:06 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

August 11, 2006

Synergizer Update

I just updated our Synergy 2MD to the version 5 software. One of the major upgrades from version 5 is that you can add images to the still store via WebDAV, and you no longer need to deal with XML files and database updates. Just throw the file on the frame and it works.

Because of this, I wanted to post an update to Synergizer which supports the new revision. I still find this tool useful, as I don't like having to manually convert my images to the proper TGA format before uploading them. With Synergizer, it's just drag and drop. If you're running the older software revision, visit this post for a version that will work. As always, let me know if there are features you'd like. Synergizer for the Mac Synergizer for Windows

Posted by at 6:25 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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.

Posted by at 9:13 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

July 26, 2006

Canon announces XH cameras

Stealing from HD4Indies on this one - Canon has announced two new HDV cameras, the XHG1 and XHA1.

Xhg1 586X225

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.

Check out dvinfo's FAQ and summary as


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.

Posted by at 10:48 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

July 21, 2006

Another blog!

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:

Posted by at 2:40 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

July 12, 2006

Compressor Bug

Just when I thought I wouldn't have anything to blog about, I find a bug in Compressor. Hoorah!

Step 1:
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.

Step 2:
Submit a job to the cluster using the Compressor 2.1 "Video for iPod" preset.

Step 3:
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!

Posted by at 2:37 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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.

Posted by at 3:15 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 21, 2006

The Typist (Trailer)

Here's a 640x360 H264 encode of the trailer for The Typist.

Here's a full res 1920x1080 version. Right click and save to your computer, rather than trying to watch it in a browser.

Posted by at 11:30 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 14, 2006

It's been 6 months, why is 24F still a nightmare?

I can't comprehend why Canon hasn't pushed forward industry support for 24F. It's absolutely ludicrous that 6 months after the launch of the Canon XL-H1, the major editing packages can't edit it, and none of the decks can play it. Why Canon, why? Part of introducing a new format involves supporting said format. Instead, 24F is being left to die, used only by those willing to spend hours tweaking and testing.


Posted by at 2:22 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 13, 2006

Howdy to the efnet buddies

I've been really bad about reading comments, but just looked back and saw that some folks from way back in the day posted. Hi Stalyn and Ignitor! Crazy...

Posted by at 10:42 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

June 6, 2006

Got 5.1, yay!

Got my copies of Final Cut Studio 5.1 today. Been poking around a bit and there are definitely some nice things. Compressor in particular seems a bit less weird. I need to play around a bit more to get a sense of what has changed.

Still digging out from being gone for a few days - the sheer excitement of being stranded in a field in Texas with a broken down UHaul has overwhelmed my urge to blog. (It was an interesting weekend)

Posted by at 3:17 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

May 27, 2006

Wireless Tally Lights

It's project time! We're shooting a project right now in which many of the crew end up watching a monitor in a room separate from the shoot. This often means that the crew doesn't know when tape is rolling and when it's not. Now, wouldn't it be convenient if there was a tally light that could be placed anywhere within reason to alert the crew?

Read on...

It amazes me that nobody seems to make a wireless tally light. About the best I've found is a wireless X10 kit that you could plug a light in to, but that would require an AC jack. So, new project.

I've been shopping at qkits, and here's what I've ordered:
A 2 relay wireless receiver (at least one relay is latching, I'm hoping they both are)
A 2 channel wireless transmitter
A pack of LEDs
An LED flasher kit
A project box
and some assorted parts

The hope is that I can just tie the standby and on-air LEDs into the relays on the receiver, throw it all in a box with a 9volt battery, and then place it anywhere within about 30meters of the little key-fob transmitter. I'll post pictures as it comes together...

Posted by at 12:34 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

May 25, 2006

Calculating Valid Chroma?

Does anyone have a good method for determining whether chrominance is legal, based on YUV values? I can go with RGB if need be as well. Best I've found is that the three RGB channels shouldn't average to greater than 75% of 255 in 8bit sampling, but I'm not really convinced that's accurate. Aren't the values in some way weighted based on the hue?


Posted by at 2:18 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

May 12, 2006

Heading to Austin

I'm off to Austin for a few days to help a friend move. Everyone says Austin has an abnormally large population of hipster video folks, so I'm looking forward to being immersed.

If Apple releases the Macbook on Tuesday, I'll surely blog it. Otherwise, I'll check back in next week.

Posted by at 9:43 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

May 4, 2006

Fell off the face of the planet

Yeah, so I disappeared.

Been working feverishly on the Media Mill project to meet my end of the semester deadline. Check out the link if you don't know what it is, and post in the comments if you'd like to know more.

Posted by at 3:30 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

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 | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 30, 2006

Go watch TikiBar TV

I'm not one to advocate drinking, but anyone interested in video production should watch some episodes of TikiBar TV. You can subscribe to it in iTunes if that's your bag.

Why the recommendation? It's one of the most beautifully shot and composited video podcasts, plus it's clever and funny. Plus, the folks making it actually went to film school, yet it's not pretentious tripe.

Check out their forums as well, particularly the FAQ forum, to get some insight into their workflow.

Posted by at 9:14 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 29, 2006

Universal Final Cut?

So, Macrumors says Final Cut Studio is universal now. I can't seem to find anything on Apple's site confirming that...

Any bets on whether Final Cut Universal actually works?

Posted by at 2:20 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 28, 2006

Check out the PixelCorps

Initially, I wasn't quite sure what to think about the Pixel Corps, Alex Lindsay's digital post production guild, but having heard him speak more on This Week In Tech, MacBreak, and DL.TV, I'm really getting interested.

The gist is that they're a worldwide group of folks interested in film/video production and post-production. They offer training, real world opportunities, and discounts on software. It seems like they trend almost exclusively towards the technical side of things, giving people the tools and the knowledge of how to use them.

Alex is also a serious video geek - anyone who gets giddy over 4:4:4 dual-link HD-SDI is all right with me.

Anyways, if you're interested in the technology side of things, I highly recommend browsing the PixelCorps website, to see whether it might be a good fit for you.

Posted by at 10:43 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 24, 2006

Writing my own FTP client...

So, Navdeep Bains helped me immensely by updating his FTPKit ftp socket class to support large files (bigger than 2gigs), but I kept running in to problems - resume was broken, queues were broken, etc. Since I didn't have access to the source, it meant going round and round with Navdeep, and while he was incredibly helpful, it just seemed problematic. So, I'm writing my own class. And that's why I'm not posting here. Because I'm stuck in a horrible world of uint64 bugs and reading RFCs...

Posted by at 4:12 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 14, 2006

Ross sent me an MD Chassis

So yesterday a very bewildered Fedex guy (having navigated through our little snow storm) came to my office saying that he had a big box on a pallet for me. It turns out that it was a spare chassis for a Synergy MD switcher. Which I haven't requested, yet was addressed to me. And I seem to be the only one who finds this odd.


Edit: Ok, apparently it's a replacement chassis so that I can swap our cards around and then take advantage of a software upgrade. They just forgot to let me know...


Posted by at 9:56 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

March 8, 2006

Focus almost gets it right!

On the third try, I received three FS-4ProHD 80gig Firestore recorders. They're all NTSC too! All three work, but one came with a faulty charger. So, that makes us 2 for 9 I guess. Hrm.

Anyways, they work pretty well as far as I can tell. I'm going to try and do a full review on Friday.

Posted by at 4:52 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 27, 2006

Even ugly days look pretty on an XL-H1

I had an XL-H1 out this weekend for some test shooting, but unfortunately only got to use it on Sunday, which was rather gloomy. In any case, I've posted an H264 of some footage from around the river, which at least gives you a sense of the depth of field and the range of the zoom. Click on the image to take a look.


If you're on a Mac with Final Cut Pro and want to see the original footage, control-click here and save it to your disk.

Posted by at 4:36 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 24, 2006

What's Slow Shutter all about?

When I was at Sony's XDCam HD show and tell the other day, they spent a ton of time pimping "slow shutter" as a feature. Essentially it lets you clock the shutter speed slower than the framerate, to allow for better sensitivity without gaining up the signal, at the expense of less fluid motion. But ... The XL-H1 does that, and I believe a number of other cameras do to. Does anyone know if Sony is actually doing something special, or are they really just pimping old news?

Posted by at 3:03 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 23, 2006

I'm on hold right now

So, calling Apple with a question about running Compressor on an xServe.

Me: "I have a question about running Compressor on an xServe"
Him: "Who makes Compressor?"
Me: "You do. It comes with Final Cut Studio"
Him: "We're not selling Final Cut Studio right now"
Me: "???"
Him: "???"

Now he put me on hold to punish me. Fun.

-1 for Apple.

Posted by at 11:46 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 17, 2006

(rant) Flash Video Makes my Head Hurt

I really appreciate how easy Flash video has made doing in-browser video distribution. Look at the ways that sites like Google Video and CNET have integrated video without worrying about plugins and whatnot. However, creating the content is as painful as viewing it is easy. I've been using the On2 compression tools, which one would imagine would be quality (seeing as they created the codec) and I'm not sure I've ever dealt with a slower, more awkward application. Similarly, just trying to learn about the process for creating content is a maze of folks wanting to sell tutorials or player skins or assorted other things which don't help me.

Also, I'm frankly unimpressed with the Flash8 codecs. There was such buzz about how the codecs were much improved and on par with the rest of the industry, but they're just not. I did the same video with the same specs (resolution, bitrate, etc) with QT7's H.264 and the difference is incredibly vivid.

I think this is motivating me to put together a little video codec shootout of my own. I appreciate what Doom9 has done in the past, but they're primarily concerned with pirating DVDs, not delivering content on the web.


Posted by at 2:02 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 15, 2006

I spent some time this morning trying to understand wavelet compression. While Discrete Cosine Transformations are fairly straightforward and logical, wavelets appear to consist of voodoo. It's sort of like string theory, except without Brian Greene. Finally, after much googling and gnashing of teeth, I found this site which explains the process in a very understandable way. I'm still trying to chew through the math behind it all, but at least now the process makes sense. The end result is that wavelets are very cool, and I encourage anyone with an interest in compression to read the linked article. If someone wants to explain the math, that'd be even cooler.

So, I guess I need to buy another domain now...

Posted by at 11:26 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

February 9, 2006


Trivia Question: What did I forget to order? Follow the jump for a hint...


Posted by at 1:10 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 31, 2006

StickyPod review delayed, Canon XL-H1 Rocks

Sorry that the StickyPod review didn't make it up today. It was delayed due to the unexpected, but much appreciated, arrival of a loaner Canon XL-H1. (Thanks Pat!)

I'll have more thoughts on the StickyPod up tomorrow, and I'll have some XL-H1 thoughts up on Thursday. I love the XL-H1!

Posted by at 5:02 PM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 17, 2006

Adobe Announces New Updates

Adobe has announced updates to much of their production software. New versions of After Effects, Premiere, Encore and Audition were announced, as part of something called the Production Studio. My thoughts after the jump.

First off, Adobe has a very annoying website. While I would rank them lower down the "annoyance scale" than folks like Dell or Sony - there's a special bit of angst reserved in my heart for those two. But come on - links to a new product from your company homepage should not take me to the store to buy the product, they should take me to a page where I can learn why I should buy the production. And what is this, 2003? Navigating with drop downs and a "Go" button? C'mon.

That said, the new software looks like a pretty major leap forward for Adobe. It appears they've gotten serious about their interface design, and I must say it looks a lot better, if not a bit too similar to another product. They're obviously taking Premiere Pro more seriously as a competitor to Final Cut Pro and Avid. They've added proper support for uncompressed formats, native HDV support, multicam cutting and an abundance of other features.

As someone who has supported Premiere in the past, I can only hope the updates are as serious as they look to be. The thought of cutting 4k in Premiere is enough to terrify little children, but I won't judge until I've actually seen it.

The updates to After Effects look a bit more incremental, though the new interface is again, a major plus. It doesn't look like it's a Universal Binary (Apple likes to capitalize that phrase...) on the mac, but that's not particularly surprising.

Both products are advertising Macromedia FLV export support, presumably to remind us that they bought Macromedia. It's a good thing though - FLV is a great "quick and dirty" video delivery format. Of course, Flash already comes with the exporter and you need Flash to do useful things with the FLV, but hey ...

All in all, I think it's a pretty significant update. I look forward to learning more.

Edit: Just to be clear, I don't personally think that the updates to Premiere put it on par with FCP and Avid. Just saying that it's getting closer...

Posted by at 8:54 AM | Misc

Category "Misc"

January 4, 2006

Booked for NAB

So, after writing about what I hoped to see at NAB, I decided to actually get the trip booked. So, I'll be there Sunday-Wednesday (23rd - 26th), staying in the Monte Carlo. Anyone else going? Want to go to Nobu with me?

Posted by at 3:57 PM | Misc