At this year’s IBC in Amsterdam, when Panasonic announced that it had decided not to exhibit next year, the company cited several reasons for its decision, including the fact that customers can get the information they need from the internet, and that the company found it “increasingly tough to find a return in the huge investments we make, when in a changing world there are probably other ways of making the best use of resources, (especially people and time).”Earlier this year, Snell & Wilcox dropped out of IBC, and at the time it raised the question of whether the days of the big trade shows are on the wane.But in spite of Panasonic’s assertion that fewer people are going to trade shows these days, IBC reported a five percent rise in attendance, setting a new record of 42,815.Companies that back out of a trade show can lose their position and booth space when they come back, and the IBC’s marketing and business development director Mike Crimp commented that, “these halls don’t have rubber walls” noting that there is a waiting list for space on the show floor, and the hall has no room left to expand.And overall, it was a healthy show, with some key developments and major announcements.Thomson introduced a major new camcorder and recording system—the Grass Valley Infinity Series. The Infinity Digital Media Camcorder is a 2/3-inch, 3-CCD camera that supports 525, 625, 1080i or 720P as well as SD formats in either 16:9, 4:3 or letterbox aspect ratios. Designed for ENG and EFP, the camera records to new Iomega REV PRO removable disk drives as well professional-grade CompactFlash disks.The system also includes the Infinity Media Recorder, which can connect to existing IT networks via USB, FireWire or Gigabit Ethernet.“The fundamental, basic principal is that this is not a format,” said Scott Murray, director of market development, Thomson Broadcast and Media Solutions. “At every single NAB there are these format wars—D1, D2, D3, D5, Digital Betacam, Betacam SP, IMX. And what happens is the customers have to wholesale adopt this format or that one. So what we wanted to do, since we don’t have a tape revenue to protect, was we decided to screw the whole market up by giving people the ability to choose the recording media they used, the type of compression that’s used and the scalability of the compression that’s used. Those three things make such a huge difference.”The camera supports a wide variety of codecs, including the DV codecs for DVCam and DVCPRO, MPEG-2, (including Long GOP for HDV-type shooting). In addition, it supports the new JPEG 2000 codec.Iomega’s REV PRO drives, which have been available in the IT space for a little over a year, are essentially ruggedized laptop hard drives capable of storing two hours of SD material or 45 minutes of HD video.In the solid-state area, Sony and Panasonic have been dueling it out with P2 and XD CAM.Panasonic announced that it would begin shipping new 8GB P2 cards for its solid-state AJ-SPC700 camcorder in December of this year and introduced a major upgrade to the AJ-HDC27 Varicam, including a newly developed 3-CCD imaging system, 12-bit sampling and dual HD-SDI outputs.Sony meanwhile announced an HD version of its optical media camcorder—the Sony XDCAM HD, which records 1080-line HD pictures using MPEG Long GOP encoding at selectable bit rates of 35, 25 or 18 Mbps.One of the coolest things on the show floor was Kodak’s Vision2 HD System. What is being loosely referred to as “HD film” is a specially developed scan-only film, optimized for use with a telecine. The new stock also features an extended dynamic range and latitude of roughly 16 stops, along with grain and sharpness comparable to Kodak Vision2 500T 5218/7218 Color Negative Film. The film is available in Super 16, and by special order in 35mm.It is married to a special hardware processor called the Vision2 HD Digital Processor, which is basically calibrated to emulate the tones and color characteristics of several other Kodak color negative film stocks. Users can choose from a variety of film speeds and color temperatures, and compensate for over- and under-exposure through a set of drop-down menus.The company is marketing it as a competitive alternative to shooting HD.Cintel’s major news was the commercial launch of diTTo, and the first sale of the new, low-cost film scanner. The unit went to Nordisk Film Post Production, based in Stockholm. The scanner, which sells for $300,000, was designed for smaller boutique visual effects and commercial post houses that normally couldn’t afford a film scanner.Gary Welch, global customer services manager explained, “We wanted to make an affordable, entry-level data scanner. All it needs to do is scan the film to a Cineon format as well as it possibly can. It’s got to be very high quality, but it’s got to do it cheaply. The secret to keeping it affordable is you don’t try to do too many fancy things. So it’s not dual gate. It’s for 35mm film only.”The color correction space has become a bit of a battlefield. The old hardware-based industry veterans like da Vinci and Pandora face increasing competition from a hoard of software-based systems, not to mention those that are trying to bring color on set via a laptop.After a couple years of floundering around, the software-based camp has learned one important lesson: colorists will never accept a keyboard and a mouse as a replacement for a proper control interface. But now that the software folks have clued in to that trick, said Pandora’s technical director Steve Brett, “The goalposts have changed; moving to DI, it’s not just us and da Vinci anymore.”For its part, Pandora is sticking to its hardware roots, with the release of its new PiXi Revolution, which relies on ultra-fast proprietary hardware accelerator boards, which connect over a new PCI Express Interface, enabling artists to work with 2K and 4K data in real time.“We can run the system with a single module and do real-time 2K, but if you want to do twice as many channels, or you want to do 4K, you can put another module in and expand the hardware capability to keep it real time,” explained Brett.da Vinci meanwhile, introduced an expanded product line around its Resolve digital mastering suite, with three distinct hardware configurations and the new PowerGrid acceleration platform. The new Resolve FX, Resolve DI, and Resolve RT systems are each designed to address specific applications.“Because Resolve is offered in a choice of configurations, studios just entering the digital intermediate arena can invest in a Resolve FX or perhaps a Resolve DI system knowing they can upgrade to Resolve RT later as their need for faster processing and expanded toolsets develops,” said da Vinci director of marketing Tony Fox.The company also debuted version 4.0 of the 2K Plus software, which features a new interface developed in collaboration with DVS to drive that company’s popular Clipster. When sizing changes are made to an image with the Clipster, the size and position of PowerWindows in the 2K Plus will be updated automatically.Meanwhile, in the software camp, FilmLight introduced the new version of BaseLight v.3.0, which uses the new dual-core AMD Opteron processors, boosting processing speed across the whole Baselight range. On the new hardware, Baselight 2 performs like a Baselight 4.“Effectively it doubles the performance of every Baselight for a minor amount of money, because it’s standard PC hardware,” said Andrew Johnston, sales and marketing manager of FilmLight. “All of our customers can upgrade. It’s one of the beauties of the PC-based system: you just follow the PC curve.”The company was also showing its Blackboard control interface. “We’re getting a great reaction to it, and we’ll ship our backlog of orders in the next few months. It’s winning be
cause it looks great, and it’s something people can see themselves sitting in front of for 12 hours a day,” said Johnston.Quantel introduced its Pablo Suite—built on the company’s QColor color grading system, (with lots of feedback from colorists). It is designed as a complete color correction environment, leveraging the company’s EIGER software and iQ or eQ hardware along with the recently developed control interface.Quantel is offering three Pablo models: The eQ Pablo Suite is for HD applications; the iQ2 Pablo Suite handles 2K digital intermediates and the iQ4 Pablo Suite is for everything up to 4K DIs.The company demoed 4K playout with realtime pan and scan running off the iQ4 Pablo Suite—quite a feat in terms of processing power.It’s a market where Autodesk Media & Entertainment has also been building a loyal customer base with its Lustre digital color grading system. Hot on the heels of the release of Lustre 2.6 at Siggraph, the company announced that an additional 15 post houses all over the world had adopted Lustre as their DI color grading system.Digital Vision, which purchased Nucoda earlier this year, announced a new collection of software-based image enhancement tools called the Nucoda DVO (Digital Vision Optics) Station, which incorporates Digital Vision’s image enhancement tools (popularly known as the DVNR) as well as the effects, editorial, and conforming tools included in the Nucoda Film Cutter system.Until recently, Digital Vision’s image enhancement algorithms have only been available in hardware and utilized standard video I/O formats. The new DVO Image Enhancement software tools work at any resolution from SD video to 4K data. The DVO Image Enhancement software will also be available as an add-on option for customers with the Nucoda Film Cutter and Nucoda Film Master systems.Arri announced that its D-20 electronic cinematography camera will be hitting the streets soon. “Not only is the camera being manufactured now, but it will be available for rental through Arri rental outlets from next month,” said Bill Lowel, Arri’s product manager for digital cameras.“People often ask, ‘what are you doing with a digital camera? Isn’t that shooting yourselves in the foot?’ I reply, ‘clearly no, because Arri is quite convinced that film and digital have a place in the market.’ We see film cameras and digital cameras as the two legs we stand on,” said Lowel. “Happily, the DI process provides a common platform where material captured on film and digital can be merged and matched.”The camera will initially be available through Arri rental houses in Munich and London. Later this year it will be available in New York through Arri-owned CSC.The main news from Avid was that the company had completed its acquisition of Pinnacle, shoring up its position in the broadcast space, as well as adding a whole new division for Avid—consumer video. The company hopes to be able to cross-pollinate its consumer video division (which will retain the name Pinnacle), with its professional editing platforms, and reach a new generation of video enthusiast who may one day graduate to the professional world.Digital Rapids introduced its new CarbonHD 1.0 system—a software application that runs on the company’s DRC-5500 capture system, giving playout capabilities and DDR functionality. It features format conversion on the fly during ingest, or output, HD or SD SDI video, as well as enabling users to create playlists with multiple clips and edit in and out points of clips in the play list.The Toronto-based company also introduced Copper 1.2, an update to its secure digital media delivery system for dailies. The upgrades are designed to optimize network performance with features like tuneable rate control which enables users to fine-tune how the system utilizes bandwidth—scaling back when the network is overloaded, or aggressively using as much bandwidth as possible.Celco introduced the newest digital film recorder in its product line, the Firestorm 2—a low-cost, high-speed film recorder that utilizes Celco’s new XCRT Advanced Imaging Technology. The new recorder will output film at 1.8 seconds per frame, 30 percent faster than the original Firestorm. It incorporates Celco’s FilmOut Pro Advanced Digital Film Recording Software. The system is also capable of imaging to intermediate stock and high-speed output of any resolution up to 4K or higher for larger-format purposes such as 65mm.Imagica introduced its new digital film scanner, the Imager HSX High Speed Scanner, which scans 35mm motion picture film to 4K/2K, 10-bit DPX data files for digital mastering, digital archive and DI applications. Combining a newly developed CMOS sensor and an LED illumination light source, IMAGER HSX High Speed Scanner scans 35mm motion picture film at the speed of 1 frame per second for 4K and 3 frames per second for 2K.
Written by Scott Lehane