Three Developments in Post I’m Watching (From Afar) at IBC
IBC has been going full swing for the last couple of days and there's been some cool products announced. It would be great to be in Amsterdam in person to walk the show floor, like StudioDaily Editor Beth Marchant, who has been covering the show live in Amsterdam. But those of us who aren't there have to rely on the wonders of the Internet (and our colleagues) to get our IBC fix. Here are my reactions, from a post-production standpoint, to three hot news items at the show.
I don't think Adobe Anywhere was a total surprise. Collaborative video editing is an important tool as we move into the future of video editing. But while watching a preview of this upcoming technology I was struck by how simple it is going to be to use once it ships (probably as a part of CS7). Adobe is clearly pushing Premiere Pro front and center with the Adobe Anywhere technology, since that will most likely be the tool people will use with Adobe Anywhere (it also support After Effects and Prelude). What I like about its simplicity is it's obviously not going to require an editor to do a lot of complex file and project management, just sign into a project and go to work. The demo I saw showed one of the editors working via WiFi on a MacBook Air. Collaboration was easy, the software tracked the versions of the cut that was being made, and it looked like it will let editors just edit. Nice.
There were a couple of things I noted while watching the demo. Adobe Anywhere will be "served," probably the best way to describe exactly where Adobe Anywhere originates from, from an "enterprise" server/hardware system, most likely in a high-end post house or production environment. I'm guessing that more info on exactly what type of setup will be needed to make Adobe Anywhere work will become available as we get close to the product shipping.
To be a bit more specific, I asked my Adobe contacts how Adobe Anywhere might work if you've got an editor editing in one location with all the media for a job sitting on Thunderbolt storage attached to their iMac. Can an editor across country (or around the world) use Adobe Anywhere to collaborate on that media sitting on that local storage? The answer I got was no, as Adobe Anywhere will begin life working off more "enterprise" systems. That might dampen the enthusiasm for some editors, but it's still cool technology. It's just going to require some big hardware to work … at least initially.
The second thing I noted while watching the demo (and you can see this too in the Adobe TV video) is that they are working on a newer version of Premiere Pro not yet in release. Not surprising, since Adobe Anywhere will launch later. I asked about media management improvements in this next version of PPro, since media management is going to be even more important if you're collaborating with others. While there weren't any specifics on what to expect in PPro CS7 (I didn't expect them to divulge too much) it was noted that since all collaborative media will live on a server when working with Adobe Anywhere no editor will be able to touch the actual media. Hence, there's no worry of things getting moved around or renamed. The same can't really be said if you've only got local media on a single editor's Thunderbolt (or FireWire or eSATA) drive. Will Adobe Anywhere evolve to let any editors collaborate off of any system, regardless of where the media lives? Maybe someday, but when it ships there will be some specific (though not proprietary) hardware requirements for Adobe Anywhere to serve up video and effects in real time. So while Adobe Anywhere sounds like it might be one of the best collaborative tools out there when it ships, there are still a lot of questions about exactly how it will work and what you might need to launch it.
RED Meizler Module
The RED Meizler Module, first shown as a sneak peek at NAB, is a $13,000 add-on to the EPIC camera that does a number of interesting things. You can see all the details and pictures over at this thread on Reduser. This thing is of particular interest to post-production as it's going to include Proxy Recording, which lets you record Proxy files "to a RED MINI-MAG card and record REDCODE RAW to side SSD simultaneously." That's something that RED users have been asking for for a long time. The devil is in the details, as many remember the old way the RED ONE recorded what were called proxy files, the little QuickTime reference files that were both pointers and decoders back to the raw R3D files. The EPIC doesn't create those files anymore in camera and many editors, myself included, never liked to use them, instead opting to transcode to offline files for edit.
Then along came the ARRI Alexa which brilliantly records ProRes (and now DNxHD) right alongside ARRI raw files. There are a great many productions never conforming back to the ARRI raw files at all, as the ProRes workflow works so very well. (For more on Alexa at IBC and the ongoing 2K vs. 4K debate, see Beth Marchant's article here.) I think this ease of workflow that ARRI introduced made people scream even louder for something similar from RED and now the Meizler Module will deliver just that.
Hints at the "proxy" formats are all over the Reduser thread from Jarred Land:
I can't tell you all the formats, (except for H.264 and DNxHD) .. but I can tell you some resolutions…720p – 4:2:2 @ 24 & 60fps, 1080p – 4:2:2 @ 24 & 60 fps , 2k – 4:2:2 @ 24 & 60fps, 2k 4:4:4 will become enabled early 2013
It's very cool to see 2K recording in there, and DNxHD as well. Too bad Media Composer can't currently edit resolutions higher than 1080. For me (and others), the question on the DNxHD recording is: .mxf or .mov? Let's hope .mxf. The next question is OP-Atom or Op1a?
That tells us that the Meizler Module will be recording way more than just DNxHD 36 files for offline editorial. 10 bit DNxHD resolutions are the X resolutions like DNxHD 175X for 23.98 fps.
Standalone files ready to edit.. in whichever one of the 3 codecs you chose in resolutions of 720p, 1080p, or 2K
That's good to hear, since those are going to be a great alternative if conforming the raw R3Ds isn't an option.
We can't disclose that till it is finished going through the certification process… Those are the rules and we need to respect them
I think it's safe to assume that third codec is ProRes (we all know that Apple certification can take a very long time). There really isn't any other choice but Cineform. While Cineform would definitely be a very interesting choice, the RED masses would riot if the Meizler Module doesn't include ProRes.
NVIDIA Quadro K5000 for Mac
NVIDIA makes a lot of graphics cards. Unfortunately, most of them haven't made it to the Mac with the exception of a couple, currently the Quadro 4000 for Mac. At IBC NVIDIA showed their latest card for Apple computers, specifically aimed at the older release Mac Pro: Quadro K5000 for Mac. This is a full CUDA-enabled card that is the first card to bring NVIDIA's Kepler GPU architecture to the Mac. Word is that it should run "about two times faster than the current Quadro 4000."
The features of this card look rather impressive as it can do things like drive "up to four displays simultaneously." I think the question many of us in post-production ask when we hear about any new NVIDIA CUDA card is how well will it run Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 with its Mercury Playback Engine and how well it run DaVinci Resolve.
Engadget got a look at the K5000 running Premiere Pro CS6 inside a Mac Pro at IBC. While I don't trust Engadget for comprehensive post-production-based reviews, they did see "11 streams of 1080p video at 30 fps in Premiere Pro (and one overlay of the NVIDIA logo)." Beth Marchant sat down with Greg Estes at IBC to get a deep dive into the card's Kepler architecture and what it will do for post pros while we "wait and see" if Apple will update the Mac Pro with additional I/O and throughput. Personally, I've had great luck with the Quadro 4000 and Premiere Pro, so it'll be fun to see how the K5000 can beat it. I particularly like how Sorenson Squeeze supports CUDA acceleration for H.264 encoding. This more powerful card should speed up Squeeze encodes as well.
The other big CUDA-happy application is DaVinci Resolve. It'll just about take all the GPUs you can throw at it (as long as you're not using the free version), so a big beefy new GPU from NVIDIA can only mean one thing: more nodes! In a prepared statement about the news, Blackmagic's CEO Grant Petty said, "With just one of the new Kepler GPUs our users will be able to work with 4K imagery on their Mac Pros in real time." That's fast. I guess we'll find out later in the year when the K5000 for Mac ships. See here for more details about pricing and ship dates.