Digital Intermediate Gear at NAB
No Groundbreaking New Tech, But Vendors Make 4K Attainable
Resolve 6.2 is in beta and headed for a May release. This version supports color grading of native Red RAW files with the R-series color enhancement systems, along with direct access to Red .r3d files via the just-introduced Digital PowerHouse, which allows users to read Red RAW files from shared storage and then decode, de-Bayer, grade and record to tape without rendering. Digital PowerHouse is available in three different software-and-hardware configurations, based on da Vinci’s R-200, R-300 and stereoscopic R-3D and R-4K color grading systems.
Also of interest: da Vinci showed a technology demonstration of Resolve running on a Macintosh notebook and discussed a technology concept “in the labs” for 16K. Also in the testing phase is remote grading, with identical assets-but not necessarily identical grading machines-in two places.
Gamma & Density announced, also at the da Vinci booth, that an upgrade of its 3cP on-set color correction system for cinematographers is available in a number of different configurations. The company now offers, in collaboration with da Vinci Systems, a means for exchanging color information via the ASC DCL and Red camera RAW files. In addition to Red support, the new version 3.1 includes support for motion clips in addition to still images; support for DPX, Cineon, and TIFF image sequences; real-time playback of motion footage; and dailies generation with optional burned-in timecode and smart slates.
The focus for Autodesk was the TV market, with the announcement of the Flare, a creative companion to the Flame, and a secondary emphasis on the 3D stereoscopic pipeline. But there was still some relevant DI news, with the 2009 Extension 1 releases of Autodesk Lustre and Autodesk Incinerator color-grading software.
Also relevant to the DI process, Autodesk added Redcode Raw support across its product line. For conversions from the Red file format to DPX files, Autodesk enabled distribution of the transcoding to multiple devices, making it very fast. More specific to the DI world, Lustre can transcode Redcode RAW media on the fly, enabling the colorist to transcode and grade in real time.
Digital Vision showed the next release of its software, 2009.0. “It has a number of new features including enhanced support for stereoscopic 3D grading and an automated tracker,” says Richard Antley, sales manager for the Americas. “Now you draw the shape, hit one button, and it tracks the object.” The new version also adds support for Turbine, which is DV’s background rendering accelerator. Turbine decodes Red raw material and offers all of DV’s image processing tools, increasing speed up to 500 percent.
The company showed some new image-processing tools, including a de-flicker tool for restoration and remastering and manual paintbox tools for manual restoration. Digital Vision also announced new versions of its automated grain reduction and scratch-and-dust-removal tools. The company is moving forward on both a dailies version and an on-set version. “It’s part of a conceptual change,” says Antley. “We’ll be able to provide Digital Vision technologies from set to dailies to finishing to restoration and remastering. We’re there all the way through the process.”
Digital Vision also announced it will show support for Arri’s raw file format, ARRIRAW, launching at IBC.
Assimilate demonstrated its latest version of the Scratch Digital Process Solution, Scratch finishing module, Scratch-Red 4K digital workflow, and the Scratch stereoscopic 3D workflow. “Our digital workflows have had regular updates based on customer requests and input,” says CEO Jeff Edson, noting “ease-of-use” with real-time 4K and stereoscopic 3D pipelines. In partner booths, Assimilate showed Scratch in round-trip sharing of the same color information among Adobe Premiere and After Effects; integrated with Bluefish’s Lust 2K for video deliveries; on the EditShare shared storage solutions (XStream Series) for real-time DPX and Red 4K workflows across DI gear; connected to a Facilis Terrablock shared-storage solution; and on Rorke’s high-speed storage solutions.
Arri announced its intention to develop and sell a new texture-control software tool for DI and mastering facilities. Powered by Pixel Strings, a patent-pending, high-performance GPU-based motion-estimation engine developed by Cinnafilm, the toolset adds interactive control of grain and noise levels to the toolbox. The software is designed to run on a dedicated workstation with Fibre Channel or Gbit Ethernet connections to a DI facility’s SAN. Cinematographers will be able to control image texture, mixing and matching the grain of film and digital media. Arri is working with Cinnafilm on a software development and licensing agreement. Cinnafilm and Digital Film Central, a DI facility in Vancouver, originally developed the technology.
The Spirit is alive, despite the Thomson sell-off of this division. It’s been rescued by DFT Digital Film Technology, a post-production solutions company headquartered in Germany. DFT announced at the show that Sony Pictures Technologies has committed to buying the new Scanity film scanner for various data workflows. The Scanity, which was shown for the first time at NAB, scans 4K resolution at 15 fps. Film is scanned once and stored as data files for future use.
The Scanity utilizes time-delay integration line sensor technology for very fast and sensitive film scans. A new precision roller gate, continuous-motion capstan film transport, and touch-free optical pin registration are suitable for handling fragile, shrunken and legacy film stocks. The Scanity uses LED light sources, dedicated hardware processors, and fewer, less expensive third-party components, which keeps operational expenses low.
Isilon, which has been around since 2000, is optimizing its products for DI applications. “We’ve improved our software so we’re better in the DI environments,” says Brad Winett, senior director of business development. “Everyone is looking for shared-storage environments, and the SAN can be a pain point for a lot of companies because DI is a very demanding environment. You have to be really diligent in managing those environments so that there are no hiccups. And it’s hard to do SANs because they’re complicated and have lots of moving parts.”
Isilon’s biggest value point, says Winnet, is that the OneFS units are, “out of the box, dead simple to install and scale. It only takes a minute to upgrade one of our installations to add more storage capacity and performance,” he says. “It usually takes weeks to get shared storage up and running and there’s a lot of tweaking and tuning that needs to go along with this. We’re trying to take the complexity out of shared storage in DI.”
JMR Electronics, which provides scalable storage systems for video and data-intensive applications, showcased its new high-performance RAID storage solutions, part of its BlueStor family. In particular, JMR’s patented PeSAN RAID system is aimed at content creation, video on demand, video editing and 2K/4K DI applications. A single 16-bay 3U RAID array with up to 16 to 32 TB raw capacity using the latest in SATA-2 HDDs (or 4.8 TB using SAS HDDs), delivers over 1,400 MB/s. For collaborative or multi-stream SD/HD and 2K/4K DI workflows requiring higher performance, BlueStor PeSAN-powered RAIDs can achieve up to 4,000 MB/s and be expanded to over 4,000 TB. President/CEO Josef Rabinowitz announced that post facility Advanced Digital Services in Hollywood installed 128 TB of JMR Electronics’ BlueStor PeSAN AID storage systems.