The 2017 HPA Tech Retreat, in Indian Wells, CA, drew a sold-out crowd that gathered in dark rooms to hear about the latest developments in production and post. For more detail, see our stories on sessions discussing the upcoming ATSC 3.0 broadcast transition and data security for online digital media. Here are a few more details from the sold-out technology event that didn't quite fit into our previous coverage.
Extending Cloud Services to New Departments and Content Types
Walden Pond CEO Wendy Aylsworth moderated a panel on “pitfalls and epiphanies” in the cloud. Avalanche founder Joshua Kolden, the architect behind C4 (Cinema Content Creation Cloud), an open-source framework for production in the cloud, said his system has created an “absolute identification” of assets and is now focusing on cloud production workflows.
SyncOnSet CEO Alex LoVerde spoke about his cloud solution for web and mobile, which is designed to help productions track and manage assets for departments including costume props, set decoration, makeup, hair and locations. “Cloud computing is really helping in the space,” LoVerde said, noting that software provides greater security for critical data.
Avid Solution Integration Architect Gurparkash Saini described Avid’s Pro Tools audio cloud collaboration, which he said is used by an average of 600 projects at any given time. The software, which relies on AWS, lets collaborators access shared tracks and offers global and track-based automatic or manual change sync, in-app instant chat and notifications with transaction log, and online/offline working using local project caches.
And Pixvana CTO Scott Squires discussed a 360-degree video creation system that leverages the cloud to manage footage for up to 24 digital cameras shooting HD at 30p to 60p. “The creation of 360 videos also uses computational photography [and] vision algorithms, all of which are compute intensive and can be offered in the cloud,” he said, noting that the company is also building a post-production pipeline to take advantage of the cloud.
“When we think of the cloud, we’re usually focused on data security," Squires said. "We talk about architecture and encryption. The conversation brings us back to standards at studios or trade organizations, which in many ways are the bare minimum. We have to think about ways to innovate beyond the bare minimum.”
File Delivery Specs for North America
The Digital Production Partnership, or DPP, began as a U.K. initiative, founded by the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, to focus on "Internet-enabled" content creation and distribution. Chris Lennon, president and CEO of MediAnswers, described a recent strategic partnership between the North American Broadcasters Association and the DPP. “The DPP did a lot of great work, but this is the U.S., not the U.K.,” says Lennon. “We knew we could learn and plagiarize some of their work, which is what we did.”
The results, he says, are “commonly defined, standards-based file delivery specs,” published with appendices addressing more specific administrative details. “We were able to make it work for the North American market to achieve a level of interoperability,” Lennon says. He reports that the work is continuing to “simplify what could have been a daunting structure,” including on air-ready masters, choices for file delivery and safe areas within the media frame, as well as quality control and library master specifications.
Light-Field Imaging: Still a Future Technology
Light-field data workflow was a topic of discussion from Fraunhofer Institute’s Dr. Siegfried Foessel. “Light-field is the collection of all light rays in space to form a light field,” he said. “By using two eyes, turning and moving the head around, we get a 3D impression of the environment." Light fields are described by 5D or 7D plenoptic functions (7D adds time and wavelength to the dimensions of position and direction described in 5D functions). The question, Foessel said, is how to capture the lightfield as densely and granularly as possible.
Foessel described two different methods for capturing the light field: the microlens array with one sensor (insect eye) and main lens with multiple sensors and microlens arrays (as employed by Lytro). Both capture methods have their strengths and weaknesses, said Foessel, noting that light-field processing is a new work item in standardization bodies, with applications including depth-based visual effects. “You need standardization and development of algorithms,” he said.