Archive for September, 2006

Camplex intros Pro-XHD live camera control system

Digital Content Producer has the scoop on a new offering from Camplex, a live shoot camera control system called the Pro-XHD.

“Using a single Cat-5 cable, the Pro-XHD’s dockable camera adapter conveys the camcorder’s HD analog component video to the production control center, along with SD composite video, operator intercom, and camera program audio. Delivery of the SD video signal allows the user to use a conventional SD (rather than HD) composite video monitor for preview. Over the same Cat-5 cable the Pro-XHD control unit simultaneously sends operating power to the remote camcorder, along with intercom and camera tally signal.”

Note that this is not a remote control system, it is designed for multi-camera shoots where each camera has an operator. No word on pricing.

A first look at Canon XH G1 footage

A DVXuser member at IBC managed to get a tape into Canon’s new XH G1 HDV camcorder and came away with some footage. Obviously it’s not a controlled test, and there are a lot of variables that we don’t know about…but initially, I personally think that it looks a bit grainy. It will be interesting to see how the camera performs in the hands of those with time to do side by side controlled tests.

Apple announced iTV today, a set-top box that will wirelessly stream audio and video content from another computer. Expect the device in 2007. Mark Cuban has a good take on the announcement.

Of course, geeks and homebrew enthusiasts have been doing this for quite some time now with the MythTV project. The Myth developer team just released another version recently. The interface and program guide is impressive.

In other Apple news, they added Movies to the iTunes store and updated the Shuffle, Nano and iPod Video with a few minor revisions.

For what it’s worth, one of the announced software upgrades is CoverFlow, previously a 3rd party app that Apple just recently bought out and rolled into iTunes.

This demo of a multi-touch sensor equipped screen is nothing short of amazing. Watch specifically at the 5:00 and 7:45 minute marks, the examples given there make me salivate at the potential for use in Motion Graphics. Instead of keyframing things painstakingly, why not create them in a much more natural fashion? The learning curve would be simpler, and the process of creating much more dynamic. As demonstrator Jeff Han states several times, there is no manual.

Note that Sony Vegas just included a new “draw your keyframe vector” type feature in version 7. Imagine capabilities like that in software, only more dynamic and married to something like this user interface. That would be amazing.

RED on RAILS: RED ONE image gallery

HD For Indies posted pics of the RED ONE camera prototype configured with the RED-RAIL kit mockup. Seeing it on someone’s shoulder for the first time, it looks like a pretty hefty rig.

New Core 2 Duo iMacs benchmarked

Apple’s new iMac line that is equipped with Core 2 Duo processors has been benchmarked. The results show a 10% to 20% improvement over the Core Duo iMac.

(Via Engadget)

Amazon Unbox links and commentary roundup

Scott Kirsner @ CinemaTech has summary and comments on Amazon’s new Unbox movie download service, and his predictions on where (legal) movie downloading will go in the next few years.

Mark Cuban at Blog Maverick comments on the service, and the financial concerns of studios. He believes this is a niche market.

“This aint the music business. This aint 3 minute songs that download in under a minute and allow users the option of getting the 1 song they like instead of a package of 10. IF movies were sold in prepackaged albums of 10 movies. Maybe. If movies were 3 minutes in length. Maybe. If watching on a computer or on an Ipod was as good an experience and often better than watching on the smallest TV in the house, maybe. But its not.”

Slashdot has some discussion on the service, here’s a few of the more insightful observations:

“No Subtitles? …As a hearing impaired person, I rely on subtitles extensively. Basically, you don’t even get the basic “features” of the DVD, or even regular cable show.”

“Amazon Unbox WON’T play on ordinary DVD player, won’t play on my almost-spiffy almost-new Mac Mini, won’t play on my wife’s PC (Windows 98), wouldn’t have played on the Hewlett-Packard PC my daughter’s family uses (WIndows 2000 Home Edition) before it crapped out a few months ago, won’t play on the spiffy new Mac Mini she replaced it with, apparently won’t play on any portable video device… …is time-limited, and costs about the same as straight DVDs.”

“It’s simple. People want to download movies. Paying for it is not the issue, as many people will say. It’s just plain old availibility…
…That’s where this service comes in. They set up a mini-theatre in your house with some control (although, they own the process and restrict its use). This is what people don’t like. But, it also means its happening. For Amazon to get this far, means that the industry recognizes the need. It’s a large step, though perhaps not large enough for the consumers. The point is, it will happen. Eventually. And the more the industry holds back, the more piracy will pound them on the side.”

“From Terms of use:
Removal of Software. If you uninstall or otherwise remove the Software, your ability to view all Digital Content you have downloaded to the Authorized Device will immediately and automatically terminate and we reserve the right to delete all Digital Content from that Authorized Device without notice to you.
So why would I buy this?”

DVGuru has also reviewed the service and posted a detailed review of the experience.

At CNET, Tom Merritt says “I do not recommend you try Amazon Unbox” and explains his concerns with the software installing itself as a windows service and phoning home without warning.

Another Unbox user simply states “It sucks” and outlines why he believes the service will fail.

The bottom line? Unbox is getting beat up by the technical crowd, and at least initially it seems that the service may not be the panacea that the movie industry is looking for.

Blackmagic has announced a cross-platform expansion card that enables capture from HDMI enabled camcorders, and output/monitoring via HDMI.

Guess which company just released two HDV camcorders that sport shiny new HDMI output ports? I’ll give you a hint…the manufacturer’s name starts with an “S” and it ryhmes with “pony”…

Now, we still don’t know if the HDR-FX7 and HVR-V1E camcorders output HDMI before HDV compression. But if I had to speculate randomly at this point, I’d guess that Sony got it right and spits out a beautiful uncompressed image from the HDMI port. I seriously doubt that this oh-so-conveniently-timed announcement is just coincidence.

“With Intensity, you can now capture and playback full resolution HDTV uncompressed video…Totally eliminate HDV & DV compression quality problems, and render much cleaner graphics while retaining deeper color and image detail. If you need lower data rate editing, you can also select from a range of professional compressed video capture modes.”

Folks, it sounds to me like you can HDMI tether a camcorder to your PC or MAC with the Blackmagic card installed, and ingest straight-up uncompressed HD. Nifty.

The new card is scheduled to be available October 15th and will cost you around $250.
Thanks, Dan!

Red 4K IBC screening footage

Someone at the Red Digital Cinema 4K footage screening at IBC captured the whole thing on video and posted it at YouTube. It just feels wrong to watch 4K images in highly-compressed flash…but I know you’ll want to see it anyway.

RED Digital Cinema screens 4K footage, updates website

Mike Curtis had opportunity to screen some 4K footage at IBC, shots from the RED ONE Digital Cinema Camera Mysterium sensor. The footage was actually shot at nearly 5K, and shown on a Sony 4K projector.

“I got to see the full res, projected at 4K footage…and expletive free words cannot describe how good it looked.”

“…tack sharp. Amazing dynamic range. Totally film like depth of field. Great color and skin tone. More later.”

I noticed that RED also updated their website, and have included lots more renderings of the RED-CAGE and show various mounts and configurations. There is also a workflow page that outlines how RED-Cine software will handle processing of the REDCODE RAW VBR wavelet compressed or uncompressed RAW footage.

In the workflow diagram, they note that the 10-bit LOG REDCODE VBR wavelet compressed 24fps footage weighs in at 27MB/s, with 12-bit Linear Uncompressed RAW 24fps clocking in at 323MB/s. Looks like Graeme has been busy…

Sony launches HVR-V1E 25P HDV camcorder

Sony has announced at IBC the new HVR-V1E camcorder. The V1E utilizes three true progressive scan CMOS chips to deliver either 1080/50i or 1080/25p HDV video onto MiniDV tape. Let me say that again…that’s 25p at the full 1920×1080 resolution. This is a very interesting development, I don’t think anyone saw this one coming.

“The HVR-V1E has newly incorporated the “3 (three) ClearVid CMOS Sensor” imaging technology. Coupled with Sony’s Enhanced Imaging Processorâ„¢ (EIP), these sensors provide high sensitivity, low noise and a wide dynamic range to achieve high-quality images. The ClearVid CMOS Sensor also eradicates picture smear and has 4 times high speed scanning capability enabling “Smooth Slow Rec” function.

The Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens features Extra-low Dispersion (ED) Glass and a 20x optical zoom lens with F2.8 at the tele-photo end for greater light sensitivity and long-range image acquisition for maximum shooting flexibility. A Digital Extender feature also enables the tele-photo focal length to be extended by around 1.5 times to a maximum of 1100mm at 35mm conversion.

The HVR-V1E has a range of advanced professional features, including:
*A timecode preset function
*A TC Link to synchronize time codes between multiple cameras
*Two XLR microphone inputs for independent sound recording
*A Camera Profile feature to adjust the camera settings of multiple cameras for multi-camera operations.”

(Via DVXuser)

Sony Vegas 7 specs officially announced

Sony has announced the specs and features of Sony Vegas 7. We previously mentioned some of the specs that were leaked in advance of the IBC show in Amsterdam. There are a number of improvements, you can read the whole enchilada here.

A few features of note:

*Improved native HDV 1080i .m2t playback performance and improved memory handling for HDV 1080i longform projects
*Comprehensive XDCAM support. All SD and HD XDCAM formats are supported
*Improved DeckLink implementation includes support for current-generation DeckLink PCI-e and PCI-x cards
*Support for AJA SDI cards (requires Xena LH, LHe, LS, or LSe card).
*High-quality H.264 AVC/AAC import and export (including iPod and PSP presets)
*I-frames insertion at marker positions when rendering MPEG-2 (also used in DVDA 4)
*Audio engine improvements, less latency, more realtime tracks, better VST plugin support, Cinescore and BWF support.
*Freehand envelope drawing on the timeline (you “draw” the velocity, opacity, pan, or volume curve, and it smoothly keyframes for you)

In the “Hello 2006″ category, here are some improvements that are way overdue:

*Improved video preview — now includes auto-fit to preview window, simultaneous internal / external preview
*Ability to save, recall, and share custom window layouts
*Improved snapping includes color-coded visual snap indicator and the ability to snap to event edges on other tracks
*Enhanced keyboard customization

(Via DVGuru)

The crew over at the Sony HDV Info forums were right on the money with their speculation. Sony just announced the new HDR-FX7 3-CMOS based HDV camcorder, and the Sony HDV forum got all the major details right.

As usual, Camcorderinfo has excellent details on the new offering from Sony, this detailed comparison chart lays out all the details on the Sony FX7, FX1 and Z1U, the Canon XH A1 and XH G1, the Panasonic AG-HVX200, and the JVC GY-HD110U.

The FX7 has a weird hodge-podge feature set that I find a bit confusing. Things like 6 assignable preset buttons (the FX1 has 3), a 20X zoom (a first for Sony’s “prosumer” lines), HDMI out, and Auto Focus Assist. The don’t offer the CineFrame modes on this camcorder…does that have something to do with the CMOS sensors?

I’m a little confused by this latest Sony offering. It’s not really a replacement for the FX1 in the sense that it offers the same feature-set, but it’s not really a complete departure in design either. A somewhat odd bird, in my opinion. It is also priced about $800 more than I had expected. I find the price tag is a little rich for the features it offers, particularly considering that the LUX rating is a step down from the CCD-based FX1 (4 lux for the FX7 vs. the FX1′s 3 lux rating).

Compared to the pricing and features available on the Canon XH A1, I wonder how attractive buyers will find the HDR-FX7?

FresHDV is proud to be a sponsor of the 2006 Designer Wedding Challenge Event that will take place September 29-30, 2006. The Challenge features multiple Competition categories, including Videography, and top selections will receive monetary awards.

It is the intent of The Designer Wedding Videography Challenge to highlight for discerning brides quality videography for their wedding event. The Competition is designed to increase bridal awareness to the industry?s top videographers. The top three selections will be awarded $2500, $1500 and $1000 for first, second, and third places, respectively.

Videography Competition entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of Wedding and Event Videography industry leaders. This years entries will be evaluated by the following industry innovators:

Rick Henshaw, Cineastfilms
Jenny Lehman, Jenny Lehman film & video
Spencer Lum, Iris Cinema
Joel Peregrine, Wedding Films
David Robin, Boulevard Video Productions
David Williams, DVideography

High-end Cinema Camera System pros and cons

Mike Curtis has a long and very informative essay on high-end/cinema camera system pros and cons. He dishes on the good and bad concerning the Panavision Genesis, Dalsa Origin, Thomson Grass Valley Viper, ARRI D-20, Silicon Imaging, and Red ONE camera systems. All Mike’s personal observations of course, but if you know the guy you will read it and take note.