Boosting Creativity Is As Easy As “DPPO”

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I just returned from the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas and the theme of the event was “The Changing Face of Media & Entertainment.” This topic seems particularly relevant due to the insatiable demand for content via traditional media outlets such as televisions, movie theaters and the myriad of new devices including tablets, smart phones, and gaming devices that are all connected to the internet. This demand is driving tremendous complexity in content creation and distribution, which in turn is placing ever-increasing demands for higher quality and faster delivery.

Dell is helping the industry make this transition by developing some of the most advanced workstation solutions on the market.

We design Precision Workstations to deliver high productivity and reliability using the best components on the market like Intel® Xeon® processors and best in class design features such as the newly released Dell Precision Performance Optimizer (DPPO). With DPPO we have seen performance increases by as much as 61% with some functions in Adobe Premiere. Our advancements in design and build quality have been noticed in the industry with such awards as Videomaker's Best Products of the Year Award for 2012.

DPPO is one of our newest tools for Precision Workstations featuring Intel® Xeon® processors. DPPO can help your system achieve optimum performance for professional media and content creation software such as Autodesk Maya, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and Media Encoder. Having DPPO on your system is like having an IT pro always on hand to ensure your workstation with Intel® Xeon® processors is performing at its peak. 

DPPO has three key capabilities: Automatic Performance Optimization, System Maintenance, and Tracking & Reporting.

We know applications such as Autodesk Maya, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and Media Encoder don’t always follow a “one size fits all” approach and “tweaking” a number of hardware and software parameters can directly benefit the user experience. The beauty of the Automatic Performance Optimization module is this is done automatically. In some cases, we have seen performance increases as much as 61% with some functions in Adobe Premiere. With Automatic Performance Optimization, many features within the BIOS, Operating System, and drivers are compared and adjusted to determine an application profile. The profile contains settings specific to performance and optimization of a particular application. Once the profile is activated and the corresponding application is started, DPPO will change the system to the optimal configuration automatically. You select the profile for the application you are using, and DPPO takes it from there.

With DPPO, you also know that your system will always be up to date. More than just getting updates to the operating system, the System Maintenance module provides the latest drivers and firmware for all the hardware components you have — you can even determine when you want updates and for which parts of your system. 

With the Tracking and Reporting module, information such as the amount of free memory, Intel® processor utilization, and even thermal sensor data is all available over a custom timeframe. You (or your IT department!) can get a fully detailed system report while your workstation is compiling code or rendering frames. DPPO lets you get a glimpse under the hood during the most important times you are utilizing your workstation.

We are very excited to offer the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer to our Precision Workstation customers working in the media and entertainment industry! For more information about the DPPO and how it can boost your creativity, please visit – Dell Precision Performance Optimizer.

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NAB Day Four: Grab Bag

I went to the show today a little misty-eyed today knowing it will be another year before I can hang out with 100,000 professional video-nerd friends again. So, today I was mainly wandering around looking for interesting things I may have missed. I found a few.  
The one appointment I did have before wandering was with Atomos. It was tough to miss Atomos, as their advertising was all over the inside and outside the building. Their booth featured a near-naked model having her body painted with the Atomos logo, which people could practice recording to on one of the Atomos recording units. I actually found their recorders more enticing. New for NAB were the Shogun and Ninja Star. The Shogun records 4K to removable removable hard drives, SSDs,  or CFast drives with adapter. This recorder features a 7-inch touch screen with 1920×1200 resolution. What sets the Shogun and the other Atomos recorders apart from other recorders is that you can preview and even create a rough cut that you can export as a FCPX XML file. (It can be converted by a third-party program for imported to FCP or Premiere Pro.) MSRP is $1995.
On the other end of their product spectrum is the Ninja Star. This pocket-sized HD recorder does not have an LCD screen, but it can be attached to one. It is for acquiring the highest quality video where size and weight are an issue, such as on a drone. It also records only to CFast media, which is quite expensive at the moment, but in time they should come down. MSRP is $295. I hope to review one of the Atomos recorders in a few weeks.
I finally made it to the Sony booth, since Atomos was saying the Shogun works perfectly with the Sony α7S Mirrorless Digital Camera. The α7S can only record 1080p internally, but can put out a 4K signal over the HDMI to the Shogun. The footage looked excellent. Pricing has not been announced.
Ikan showed PD Movie, a 2.4 GHz wireless follow-focus system that is available in kits from $1599 to $2599. The only other one I saw at the show was from Schneider Optics, in the $25,000 range, so this is a huge cost savings if it does the job.
Matrox Video showed off the Monarch HD ($995), which allows the streaming and recording of HD programming without a computer. While you need a computer to do the initial settings, once they are set, you plug in and stream. (Many pro users will probably team this up with the Matrox MC-100 SDI-to-HDMI converter, which will get an HD- or 3G-SDI source into the Monarch's HDMI input.) You can record a higher bit-rate version of the program for editing on an SD card or via one of two USB ports that you can use with a hard drive or even a USB stick. I think being able to record on to readily available and easily transportable USB drives that many of us already have on our key rings is right up their with sliced bread.
Matrox also showed the VS4 ($1495), a card that can capture four HD-SDI streams to their MPEG-2 I-Frame codec or several others under the Quicktime wrapper. Using the VS4 control software, you can capture an unlimited number of sources by networking several VS4 systems.
Zaxwerks' Pro Animator has always been a favorite of graphics gurus making 3D openers for network programing. The new version being released has been overhauled to take full advantage of the GPU and CPU, allowing for real-time preview for the first time ever. This will show up in the Pro Animator After Effects plug-in at the end of April and in the standalone version at the end of May. The MSRP is $499 for standalone or plug-in versions.
Last but not least for me at this NAB was Digital Anarchy, which was showing Flicker Free ($149) even after the show was officially closed—possiby the last product demo of NAB 2014. The problem with flicker in footage can happen a lot with time-lapse and high-speed recording, as lighting may change between record intervals, or due to something electrical with lighting. Several years ago I used my 60 Hz video camera overseas, where the fluorescent lights were 50 Hz, causing a flicker in the video. There aren't any real settings. You just drop it on a clip and it detects and fixes the problem. This can help a lot of people.
Swag report: Three t-shirts today. Thank you, Zaxwerks, Digital Anarchy, and Rowbyte (I didn't know who they were, but they were sharing the booth with Digital Anarchy and wanted to take home one less shirt. Turns out they make some pretty cool motion graphics tools.) Coolest swag of the day? Zaxwerks pen/flashlight combo. A pen on one side, flashlight on the other. I also found my only tweaker of the show at Markertek. You can't have too many of those little screw drivers. 
Look for some in-depth reviews of some of the items I previewed at NAB 2014, right here at
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NAB 2014 Wrap-Up: 4K for Broadcasters

Without a doubt, the big buzzword at NAB 2014 was, once again, 4K.  While 4K (4096×2160 or higher) has been available to feature filmmakers and commercial productions for years, the broadcast industry has been relatively unaffected due to the lack of cameras and 4K consumer displays. But that has clearly changed.  As leading camera manufactures and consumer television sets adopt the UltraHD format (3840×2160), the broadcast equivalent of 4k, broadcasters are scrambling to prepare for a rapid migration.
However, the transition to UltraHD isn’t just about getting some new cameras and displays. Since UltraHD is actually four times the bandwidth of a 1920×1080 signal, broadcast facilities are quickly realizing that broadcasting UltraHD means upgrading their whole infrastructure, including cabling, routing and switching systems—unless they're lucky enough to have some future-proof equipment. On Monday, Ross introduced the latest software for its Carbonite live production switcher series, enabling 4K resolution as well as higher frame rates and progressive image processing for free.
“These updates make Carbonite the perfect tool for users who want to adopt the very latest full HD progressive standard and make sure their production system investment is protected for years to come,” said Nigel Spratling, Marketing Product Manager for Ross Video. “To upgrade to 3G, users simply download the free software. Once in 3G mode, Carbonite’s MiniMEs can be used for UHD (4K) production by turning on MultiScreen mode.”
Other companies showed their UltraHD solutions, including an impressive demo from Sony and Cisco, who used the Sony F55 camera system with Cisco’s Videoscape AnyRes platform to stream live UltraHD content on the show floor. The demo was shot live from a Time Warner studio in New York, where an F55 camera was shooting 4K. The 4K broadcast was encoded by a Cisco AnyRes Live encoder at 60 fps using HEVC and delivered over an IP network to the Las Vegas Convention Center. According to Sony, this represented the first live public broadcast of 4K content over a cable backbone.
We all remember the painful migration expenses and challenges associated with the upgrade from SD to HD. Clearly, 4K or UltraHD represents the evolution of that continuing challenge. This time around, it’s refreshing to see so many manufacturers not just creating products but focusing on the workflow to provide an end-to-end solution for consumers and content providers. The next few years are sure to be loaded with many glitches and gotchas, making life interesting for those of us on the bleeding edge.
But the reward, in the end, is in seeing our sweat and hard work displayed for the masses in incredibly pristine, 4K resolution, a moment for which I can hardly wait. Especially at the start of football season.
Nathan Adams is a freelance Post Supervisor and Production Technology Consultant in Los Angeles specializing in camera to archive workflows. Nathan is the owner of  Cinematomic, a popular post production company specializing in "facility free" post production for television, theatrical and web projects.
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NAB Day Three: Camera Support and Audio

Day three had me back in Central Hall, looking at products to complete a camera kit—including tripods, camera/audio bags, field monitors, lenses and a few other things.
While everyone is talking about 4K cinema cameras on one hand and POV/GoPro-type cameras on the other, it is easy to forget there is still a segment in between. Canon hasn't forgotten the videographer/newsgatherer. They introduced the XF200 and XF205. They both record to dual CF cards in a 50Mbs XF codec, and can also record a low-bit-rate proxy video to an SD card, four-channel audio, 20×1 lens, 1 million dot viewfinder, and infra-red recording. The 205 adds Ethernet and Wi-Fi and HD-SDI. The XF200 MSRP is $3900 and XF205 is $4400, but the street price is expected to be about $3499 and $3999.
While it was hard at times to ignore the spectacle of GoPro's very loud booth, there was another POV camera company in the hall called RePlayXD. Unlike GoPro's boxy plastic body, the RelayXD “Prime X” is a 3.8” tube made out of machined aluminum. It has a clear lens protector that can be replaced for $2 if damaged. (On a GoPro that would be very costly.) It is waterproof to 10 ft/3 meters out of the box without any special enclosure. It records 1080p at up to 60fps and 720p at 120fps. It comes with three different mounting options and a 4 GB miniSD card to get you started for $299.
This year one of my favorite equipment bag makers, Petrol, was swallowed up by Sachtler and isn't showing anything new. One of Petrol's designers went to the new Orca bag company. Orca’s bags have a number of distinctive features. All camera bags, backpacks, and audio mixer bags have aluminum frames, making them very crush resistant. Like some Petrol bags, all camera bags will have LED lights inside to help you in dark areas. The backpacks have a USB power tap on the shoulder strap, connected to a rechargeable battery in the pack. This allows you to charge or power a mobile phone or tablet if you can't recharge it in the field.
Anton Bauer introduced a new Digital Battery series and Performance Charger. The batteries have a new blue/gray color scheme and are optimized for today's digital camcorders and cinema cameras. The new charger is 40% more efficient, using less power. Sachtler introduced its own batteries, which are almost exactly the same except they are purple and gray and have the “V-mount” connector instead of Anton Bauer's AB stud mount.
Sachtler also added a line of accessories to the Ace tripods that includes a matte box, base plate and focus assist. The focus assist is unique in that you can set two hard focus points for a rack focus. By using this, the focus puller won't have to worry about overshooting the mark.
K-Tek, best known for boom poles and Nautilus mic mounts, introduced a new Stingray line of audio mixer bags, Stingray 1 and Stingray 2.The two bags accommodate popular-sized mixers and feature a crush-proof, modular design that helps keep all of the cables neat while allowing easy access to all components.
A newer lighting company called Lumos introduced the Hawk 150 LED Fresnel light. It puts out the equivalent of a 1000-watt tungsten light, but only uses 150 watts of power. It has no fan, for quiet operation, and built-in dimmer and focus control as well as DMX connectivity. I tested it by shining it on the dark ceiling of the convention hall that was about four stories up. The illumination from the Hawk 150 was bright and obvious.
Nexto DI showed the NSB-25. This unit features two removable hard drive/SSD caddies and a changeable flash media slot. It comes with P2 and SxS slots, but other slots can be purchased separately. It features a 7-inch display and an HDMI port that allows you to play back the transferred footage with sound. MSRP is expected around $3000.
Small HD was showing the new DP7-Pro series of three monitors. They are all 7-inch and mountable on cameras, with built-in waveform and vectorscopes, but what makes them really unique is that you can start your color grading process in the field, on the monitor. You save your LUTs to an SD card that allows you to transfer it to most color-grading systems.
Swag Report: Two t-shirts. Thank you, K-Tek and Blackmagic Design; I can put my laundry off a couple days. Coolest swag? Pocket screwdriver with four heads/flashlight/level from K-Tek. The “Holy @%#*^, I cant believe anyone would give away anything so useful as swag award” goes to Markertek. They gave away car cigarette-lighter-to-USB adapters for charging cell phones and tablets. I recently bought and use some of these!
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NAB Find: Wayin Broadcast Integrates Social Media into Broadcasts

Every NAB I try to discover at least one small company Introducing the next runaway success. This year, I discovered Wayin. Their product, Wayin Broadcast, is the most thorough, intuitive and efficient tool I've seen yet to manage social media feeds for production. 

Wayin Broadcast gives production companies a comprehensive tool to ingest and manipulate social media feeds and the associated metadata, then display posts, tweets, and/or related material as live production graphics.  Using a proprietary algorithmic filter, Wayin is able to retrieve relevant terms and hashtags organically surfacing from online social conversations, so users get a better picture of the whole discussion happening in the Twitter-verse.
Using this extensive pool of cloud based data, Wayin then creates impressive real time graphics for air using JSON, XML, RSS or by integrating directly into industry standard hardware graphics systems including VizRT, Chyron and Ross Xpression.
In an era where social media often directs the events on screen, Wayin seems to have created an intuitive tool to distill the truly relevant information down to digestible elements for broadcast graphics. I am excited to see a small company like Wayin really deliver such a huge product. And they did it right, by announcing their product and their first client simultaneously at the beginning of NAB: Wayin was the chosen partner to power social media interaction with the Weather Channel's Americas Morning HQ broadcast.
Wayin Broadcast can be seen in the Sprockits, AccuWeather and VizRT booths (as an integrated solution), as well as in their own booth in last row of the Lower South Hall.
Nathan Adams is a freelance Post Supervisor and Production Technology Consultant in Los Angeles specializing in camera to archive workflows. Nathan is the owner of  Cinematomic, a popular post production company specializing in "facility free" post production for television, theatrical and web projects.
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NAB Day Two: (Mostly) Post-Production

Today I concentrated on mostly the post-production side of the industry in the upper and lower floors South Hall of the LVCC.   I'm sure I must have done six or seven miles walking, a good part due to being given wrong booth numbers or not being informed of changes. The sole of one of my shoes started to come apart and crack, so I had to head to a shoe store after the show before dinner.

As far as NLEs, Avid was promoting “Avid Anywhere,” its cloud-based service that gives users a number of options for collaboration for both Media Composer and Pro Tools. Media Central Platform allows for the use of third-party hardware and software.  Pro Tools allows for collaboration with other musicians all over the world right in the software. It also allows you to tag files for usage rights and even purchase. Avid Marketplace allows searching for elements, but you can also have a cloud-based storefront where you can market elements, services or develop your own application.
Adobe showed major updates of its CC suite of programs.  In many Premiere Pro and After Effects filters, there are now built-in track mattes, which can be extremely helpful.  The software can now play back one stream of Red 4K footage at full resolution using GPU debayer without need of a Red Rocket card for acceleration.
Another NLE that is slowly emerging from the shadows is Blackmagic Design's Davinci Resolve 11, with regular and lite (free) versions set for summer release.  Once considered by many as just a color-correction tool, the last few releases seem to be making it more and more like an end-to-end editor. The new update will see 70 new features, including JKL editing, dual-monitor support, audio cross fading, and collaborative editing that will allow multiple editors and colorists to work on the same timeline at once.
For NLE plug-ins, Boris FX's BCC9 is a major update, with several new filters like Chroma Key Studio that helps you with less than perfect green screen footage and a light group that includes really good artificial lights as well as a “laser writer” that carves titles with a “laser beam” that will be showing up in many productions. Several effects to stylize your footage to look like vintage 8mm film or two-strip color, among others, work really well. For the first time, BCC includes 23 new transitions, which will be found in the NLE's transition bin. A browser will allow you to preview your footage with the actual effect before applying it. It also has a history palette that keeps track of what you try, in case you want to go back to previous settings after trying another.
Red Giant also debuted their new Universe, a collection of really useful and creative effects. Some are free and some you are charged for.  Free filters are usually useless, but not here. I was shocked to see how many of the free filters, like Glo Fi, Masked Blur, Zoom Blur, and most others, were really useful, as were the premium standards like Toon It, and Knoll Light Factory.  This is definitely a universe worth exploring.
You need to put the NLE on something, and HP was showing some new add-ons to their Z family of workstations to help work with 4K footage. For internal storage, HP showed the Turbo Drive (pictured, above), which is a 256 or 512 GB SSD ($499 / $899) on a PCIe card that has 1 GB/sec throughput.  Multiple cards can be put in a RAID configuration for even faster speed.  For fast external storage you can add a Thunderbolt 2 card to attach to external thunderbolt drives, as well as other peripherals.  For viewing, HP has a new 27-inch Dreamcolor monitor that can be calibrated without a  computer for $1499 and, for the more budget-conscious, there is a new 24-inch Dreamcolor without the built in calibration for just $599.
Dell showed the Dell Data Center workstation meant for a server room (not  your office) to be used over a network for doing remote work. Using their secure VM ware, you can use one of their inexpensive mobile workstations with a Core i5 CPU while harnessing the power of the Xeon based workstation in the server room.
Storage wise, LaCie, recently acquired by major drive manufacturer Seagate, had some large external drives to show off for Thunderbolt connectivity.  The “5big” has up to 1050 MB/s  of  up to 30TB of storage for 4K editing.  It is hardware RAID 5/6 with hot swap, starting at $2499. They also showed the “8big Rack,” a 1RU enclosure eight-drive, Thunderbolt 2, RAID with up to 1330 MB/s and full component redundancy. This is expected later in the year; no pricing is available yet.
CalDigit also had some Thunderbolt 2 RAID set ups, the T4J and T4R, both of which are capable of handling up to 16 TB in four drive units, RAID 0,1 and JBOD, while the T4R is also capable of RAID 5.  CalDigit said their Thunderbolt units were were some of the first to work with HP's Thunderbolt enabled work stations.
Livestream showed three switcher units that can be used for live-switching live streamed programs.  The HD 51 includes five HDMI SDI inputs and control surface for $7999, HD510 includes five HDMI / SDI inputs, control surface and touch screen interface for $9999, and the HD1710 has 17 HDMI / SDI inputs and control surface for $29,999, with an optional expanded control surface for $6000.  You can mix and match different resolutions, do ISO recording, playback roll-ins and add graphics. They have a number of options for using their streaming service, starting with a free limited plan.
An interesting technology was being promoted by the HD Base T (HDBT) Alliance. This is a group of 100 companies including Samsung, LG, and other major display makers working on transmission of not only audio and 4K video but also power, over existing CAT-5 cable installs, to HDBT enabled monitors. Just one cable for audio, video and power? That is very interesting.
My day three report will look at camera support and other production tools.
Swag Report:   Swag of the day: boomerangs from Telstra. (I think they were an Australian satellite company.) The kids will love 'em! Most useful swag: sample roll of Tec Nec gaffer tape. No t-shirts today! How did that happen? What is the world coming to…?
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