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Trend Spotting/IBC Preview

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Every September, film and video techies from around the world converge on Amsterdam for the giant IBC show, where they can partake of that city’s easygoing pleasures as they conduct business.And IBC seems to get bigger every year. Even Panasonic’s decision last year not to exhibit at IBC 2006 had little impact on the show, which starts on September 8. In fact, IBC’s organizers have had to carve out an additional 500 square meters of floor space for a new Hall 12—mainly by eliminating a food court. In addition, the Training Zone has been moved off the show floor to free up some prime real-estate in Hall 7.IBC reports that these changes would “come close to clearing the waiting list for space.” Growth is being fueled by new technologies. For example, IBC’s “Mobile Zone” will double in size this year, reflecting a new gold rush as broadcasters and cellular providers worldwide vie to provide content on mobile devices.In the post world, 4K is coming on like a freight train, and at the same time, more advanced DI tools are trickling down to the HD world with the introduction of tools like Quantel’s Pablo HD, and Autodesk’s upcoming Lustre Station HD—described as a cost-effective version of the company’s color grading system.With a string of recent major orders under its belt, including the sale of three 4K Pablo on iQ systems to Burbank’s Modern VideoFilm, (bringing Modern’s total up to six systems), Quantel CEO Ray Cross reported that, “We’re experiencing high double-digit year-on-year sales growth and our R&D department is absolutely flying.”The company will introduce a new HD version of Pablo—its nonlinear color correction system. Pablo HD will offer all of the features of Quantel’s 2K and 4K Pablo systems, but at an entry-level price.Quantel will also introduce its new v3.6 software running across its eQ, iQ and Pablo product range. The new package, which is free to existing customers with support contracts, introduces many new features designed to enhance the systems’ editing, effects, color correction and workflow tools.Also on tap at IBC: Quantel’s Revolver—a new color-manipulation software application that will come standard across the Pablo range. The company claims it will eliminate the need for time-consuming keying tasks.Autodesk Media and Entertainment has decided to drop all reference to the name Discreet, so the new release of Lustre will be called Autodesk Lustre 2007. The company is introducing a new colorist’s control surface at IBC, along with Lustre 2007, which features GPU-accelerated color grading and better collaboration with Autodesk products.One area that’s really bustling in terms of development is automated dirt and scratch removal. Driven by faster processors, software-based dust busting tools are getting more sophisticated and reliable.The Pixel Farm will be showing its PFClean 2.0, a resolution-independent film review and clean-up system for dust busting, scratch removal, grain management and image restoration. Users can choose between automatic or manual toolsets and the system can run several different platforms, including 64-bit operating systems and Apple Mac Intel workstations. The system is nondestructive allowing decisions to be made right up to the final delivery. Extensive batch effects processing mean tasks such as grain reduction and matching, 3D image stabilization and clean-up can be automated and distributed over multiple processors.Digital Vision will start offering a new time-based licensing scheme for its DVNR image-processing workstation, giving production facilities the opportunity to license Digital Vision’s Motion Compensated Grain, Dust and Color Correction functionality for periods between one day and a year. The company will also show its new 17-Processor Nucoda Workstations.Meanwhile, as reported here last month, infrared dust-busting techniques are becoming somewhat controversial, with Kodak trying to introduce a $25,000-a-year licensing scheme for its Digital ICE technology, based on a patent portfolio it acquired in 2004.ARRI will introduce its implementation of Digital ICE as an option for its Arriscan. In addition to the RGB illumination unit, the scanner uses additional infrared illumination to detect scratches, dust and dirt.This defect image is used as a basis for sophisticated image correction algorithms in Kodak’s Digital ICE, which runs as an embedded software application in the scanner.FilmLight will show its new Northlight 2 film scanner, which also uses an infrared technique. But FilmLight seems to reckon that its technology falls outside of Kodak’s patents.The Foundry will show its Forge automated dirt- and dust-busting software working in conjunction with FilmLight’s infrared dust-busting tools at the FilmLight booth. Forge can be integrated into a scanning pipeline alongside a scanner with an infrared dirt-detection pass, automatically producing clean plates and reducing the need for operator-assisted dirt removal.The Foundry will also show Tinderbox 4, which includes a new collection of 18 visual effects plug-ins for Adobe After Effects users, including Colourist, for automatic color correction and balancing; Cartoon, to give images a hand-drawn cartoon look; and Fire, for generating animated flames.Cintel, on the other hand, is avoiding infrared technology, and instead focusing on its new Dust/Scratch Concealment Option (D/SCO). It will be shown running on the company’s diTTo 2K and 4K film scanner.D/SCO, which is based on the company’s proprietary Oliver technology, gives users a controllable amount of optical correction in the scanner itself. And since it doesn’t use infrared, it’s able to handle black-and-white film as well. It also has the ability to output a defect map of dust and scratches in the alpha channels of a DPX file for other applications downstream, such as MTI’s Correct, Pixel Farm’s PFClean or even Kodak’s Digital ICE.The company will also be showings its new image-stabilizing system, STEADY, which runs on Cintel’s imageMILL processing platform, delivering real time SD and HD sub-pixel image stabilization.da Vinci’s booth will be featuring its Resolve digital mastering suite in all three configurations: FX, DI, and RT. With one of the company’s PowerPlant processor boards, Resolve FX is designed as an entry-level system. Resolve DI with two PowerPlant boards, is designed for more demanding DI work, and Resolve RT is the company’s top-of-the-line system, designed to take advantage of the its PowerGrid, to deliver real-time, multilayered color correction on full film-resolution images.The FX demo will also feature da Vinci’s Revival integrated into the system, giving colorists direct access to image restoration tools as they work. In addition, the company will show its new “virtual telecine” system called Splice, designed for the da Vinci 2K and 2K Plus. Splice allows colorists to conform, transform, grade, arrange, and deliver images in any order, in real time. Operating as a front-end for the da Vinci 2K, Splice presents itself as a new device on the 2K control panel and provides operators with the telecine-style controls.On the acquisition front, Red, which has made a lot of promises about a dirt-cheap camera that can do everything from 1080P up to uncompressed 4:4:4 4K at 60 fps, will have a booth at IBC, but don’t expect to see a prototype. The company has caused quite an uproar in the industry with its claims, and many argue that Red’s marketing and hype far exceeds it’s capability to deliver, while others have been willing to put down a deposit, and give the company the benefit of a doubt.It remains to be seen what exactly the company can deliver, but Red claims to have begun testing its “Mysterium” image sensor, and at press time, company founder Jim Jannard was promising to show some of its t
est footage at IBC.Red will again be taking refundable deposits on its hypothetical camera, as it did at NAB. Dalsa, the only company with a bona fide 4K camera at the moment, won’t be at IBC.Bluefish444 will introduce its new Rage N|Code HD, an affordable real-time encoding HD MPEG-2 video compression system that offers plug-and-play acceleration of MPEG-2 encoding inside many third-party software applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro 2 and Autodesk Cleaner XL.Bluefish444 will also announce a range of new single-link SD uncompressed I/O videographics cards supporting multiple operating systems.Blackmagic Design will be supporting the new Intel-based Mac Pro Systems. The company is offering a free software upgrade for all Blackmagic Design PCI Express-based video capture cards. Customers will be able to use any PCI Express-based DeckLink card or Multibridge editing system with these new Mac Pro systems.“The processor to memory speed of these new systems is dramatically higher than that previously available on the Mac platform. This allows more video effects, more layers, and more complex design work to run real time, while providing much higher performance for uncompressed HD and uncompressed 2K feature film rendering,” explained Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design.AJA Video will be demonstrating support for Apple’s new Mac Pro line in its Io, IoLA and IoLD product lines. New v3 software for the PCIe based KONA video cards, including the KONA 3, KONA LHe and KONA LSe, will be also be available adding Mac Pro support. Digital Rapids will introduce its new Stream Transcode Manager, an automated job management and load balancing system for media transcoding. Working in conjunction with multiple transcoding nodes, the system manages large jobs involving multiple media files.The company will also introduce v2.3 of its Stream Software, which provides control of inputs and outputs from a single interface for StreamZ, SD video encoding and streaming system, and its high-end, StreamZHD HD/SD systems. The new Stream Software offers options for deck control, GPI triggers, watch folders, batch modes, clip lists, DVD output, email notification, FTP distribution, and template-based log files.ScheduALL is demonstrating its new suite of browser-based products for the company’s resource management system. WebScheduler gives remote-access users the ability to create, search, request and modify scheduled work orders and detailed events across an entire facility network. WebLibrary allows users to view, update, and request media assets from the ScheduALL Media Manager library system.Holographic data storage developer InPhase Technologies will exhibit its 300GB Tapestry storage drives at the Maxell Europe booth. The company is also working on a 3TB holographic storage autoloader, a holographic video recorder (HVR) and a holographic ROM (H-ROM) handheld video playback device.Compositing software developer eyeon, will be showing its Fusion 5.1, (currently in beta testing). The new release includes a host of enhancements, including support for formats like 3DS, OBJ and FBX file formats. With the company pledging “universal platform support,” the new version will be available for Windows, Linux and Intel-based Macs.Media 100, a division of Boris FX, will introduce its new Media 100 version 11.5. New developments are targeted at performance enhancements and support for tapeless workflows. Highlights of the 11.5 point release include support for FireWire devices, P2 cameras, and SDI audio as well as improved Boris Red, BorisFX and Graffiti integration with faster rendering.

Written by Scott Lehane

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