Every December, we dig into our weblogs and tally pageviews for stories published at StudioDaily in the last 12 months. The traffic stats reveal what we've been thinking about, and what's been generating discussion, when it comes to product reviews, case studies, NAB news, and other business stories. And they often point toward what will be making news in the next year, too. Here are the stories that drew the most traffic and drove the most discussion this year. (If you missed it, take a look at the rest of the top 10 here.) Enjoy this look back at 2014!
#5 Blackmagic Design Releases Free Version of Fusion 7
The big surprise this year from Blackmagic Design, which relishes its role as a disruptive force in the industry, was a two-parter. Just in time for IBC, Blackmagic snapped up Eyeon Software, maker of the popular Eyeon Fusion VFX compositing software. What came next couldn't have come as much of a surprise to anyone who remembered how quickly Blackmagic dramatically reduced the prices of products it purchased from DaVinci and Teranex — it reissued Fusion 7 as a free download and offered a paid ($995) upgrade to Fusion 7 Studio, which adds Eyeon Dimension's optical flow toolset, Eyeon Generation's asset-management front end, OpenFX plug-in support, and distributed network rendering. But you get a lot in the free version. And that made it one of the most disruptive moves in the business in 2014.
#4 Apple Regains Lost Ground in Pro Hardware and Software
Pro users had started to wonder about Apple's commitment to the professional marketplace as the company increased its focus on iPhones and iPads — gear that certainly comes in handy on a film set, but doesn't exactly deliver the horsepower required to push some serious pixels on set or in post-production. The appearance of a dramatically simplified Final Cut Pro X (some called it iMovie Pro) in 2011 didn't help matters. The company's apparent reluctance to update its aging Mac Pro hardware fed the frustration until Apple finally delivered a Christmas present to video pros everywhere and the first redesigned Mac Pro systems hit the market. Studio's 2014 kicked off with a bang as New York-based filmmakers The Diamond Brothers penned a wildly popular review of the Mac Pro for us, putting the powerful hardware through its paces and charting its performance in an array of real-world workflows. Meanwhile, Apple touted real-world Final Cut Pro X successes such as Detroit's WXYZ TV's decision to upgrade from FCP 7 and TED's Film & Video staff's September move to FCP X. As more and more pro features are added via free Final Cut Pro X upgrades, Apple is regaining some of its lost credibility in the professional market.
#3 The Long, Slow Death of Film Continues
At first glance, 2014 seemed like a pretty good year for film fans. Director Christopher Nolan maintained his status as a high-profile supporter of film with Interstellar, which actually opened early in theaters that could project it from 35mm, 70mm, or IMAX prints. Quentin Tarantino has similar plans to shoot his new western, The Hateful Eight, on 65mm film starting next month, and he ditched the recently purchased digital projector at his New Beverly arthouse and promised to show only film prints in the future. What's more, there was that widely reported story about a number of Hollywood studios making a deal with Kodak to guarantee a level of purchasing that would keep Kodak's film manufacturing lines humming along for the forseeable future. Still, it wasn't all sunshine. Some movie theater operators were ticked off about the Interstellar opening, having been urged by studios over the last decade to junk their film projectors in favor of digital. There was rancor behind the scenes at the New Beverly that resulted in the departure of manager and programmer Michael Torgan, son of the theater's late founder, who said he bought the projector so that the theater could stay current with independent cinema. And we heard from a Rochester-based analyst who was skeptical about a widely reported deal in which a number of Hollywood studios made purchase commitments that would keep Kodak's film manufacturing lines running. Since then, Kodak's CEO Jeff Clarke has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that deals are in place with "all the major" studios, so maybe film really is here to stay — for just a few more years, at least.
#2 4K Is the new 3D … Except It Might Actually Stick Around
3DTV has been on the ropes since ESPN 3D shut down last year, and the format flatlined completely when broadcasters didn't bother to bring 3D cameras to the FIFA World Cup this year. Instead, the long-running tournament was a fertile test bed for high-resolution broadcasting, with three matches broadcast in 4K — and nine World Cup matches transmitted by Japanese broadcaster NHK in Super Hi-Vision 8K (7680×4320) to locations in Rio de Janeiro and Japan. Sales of 4K sets remain slower than TV manufacturers had hoped, but content providers are relatively bullish on 4K. Avid finally enabled its new family of DNxHR codecs for editing in 4K this year, and we spoke with colorist Laura Jans-Fazio about her work grading the second season of House of Cards in 4K for Netflix. And you can rest assured the 4K and 8K production schedules will be even more robust when the 2016 Summer Olympics roll around.
#1 Gone Girl’s Breakthrough for 6K Shooting, Solid-State Storage in Post, and Adobe Premiere Pro/After Effects Workflow
When it comes to cutting-edge technology, the biggest success story of the year was Gone Girl. Gearheads who expected to see director David Fincher helm another envelope-pushing production were not disappointed. Gone Girl was captured entirely in 6K with Red Dragon cameras. The raw footage was debayered using a Redline implementation accelerated by Nvidia Quadro K5200 hardware. It was edited from SSD-based shared storage provided by Open Drives. FusionIO drives cranked through footage at 1.8 GB/sec as it flowed through After Effects to Premiere, where more than 80 percent of the timeline was AE comps. VFX playback and review in 4K took place using output from an HP Z820 over Thunderbolt 2 using AJA's Io 4K. Every company involved in the process got bragging rights for the year. (The cherry on top? It was a pretty good movie, too.) Drawing on reports in StudioDaily and around the web, we summarized many of the film's innovations here.
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