Archive for July, 2010

Can 3D Bring This Generation Together?

I recently watched the Step Up 3D Trailer on line and was struck how dance may be best suited towards 3D photography. The subjects are moving yet can be photographed at close range.  The moves (unlike sports) are rehearsed.

Now it will be awhile before we can actually post something that plays back in 3D but in the short term we just need to use our imagination.  Isn’t that what using a 2D plane to create a 3D image is all about?

Panasonic presents 1st consumer 3D camera


UPDATE 7.28.10

Panasonic officially released details about their much-anticipated consumer-level 3D camcorder, the HDC-SDT750, in Tokyo today. MSRP $1400

The camera comes with a detachable 3D front lens that captures 3D video and images, viewable with a direct HDMI connection from the camcorder itself to a 3D TV or via a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. It shoots in 960×1080 resolution, so can’t be called a full 3D HD camcorder, but its still impressive. Sound is recorded in 5.1 surround, via five separate microphones, and a 3″ touchscreen LCD allows good user control.

The camera sports a detachable large-diameter (46mm) F1.5*3 Leica Dicomar lens.

The release will excite 3D TV manufacturers, who will be hoping that user-generated footage will help bridge the substantial gap available 3D content.

The HDC-SDT750 will arrive on shelves in October, but a Japanese-only version, the TM750, which includes 96GB of internal memory but no 3D conversion lens, will be released on August 20.

Posted 7.23.10

After delivering the world’s first pro quality 3D HD camera earlier in the year,  Panasonic have said they will unveil a new 3D camcorder in Tokyo next week.

Although details are still under wraps, the company has revealed that the successor to the AG-3DA1 will also feature a twin len assembly but at a much lesser cost than the not-insubstantial $21,000 price tag of the original.

Panasonic and other major consumer electronics makers have been pushing 3D televisions in the last few months as the first professional 3D content begins to appear on Blu-ray Disc and via television networks.

The next target for the companies is products that allow consumers to create their own 3D content, which means an affordable camcorder. Next week we will see what they have in store.


Odeon: 50% Of U.K. Box Office 3D Within 3 Years

uk cinema

According to Rupert Gavin, CEO of Odeon & UCI Cinemas, speaking on BBC radio. Odeon is spending £70 million ($107 million) converting screens to digital. Odeon expects to have 500 digital screens installed by the end of summer, with Cats & Dogs and Step Up 3 still to come on 3D.

Odeon’s also holding a 3D live fashion show for Ozwald Boeteng at its flagship Leicester Square site in September. Sashaying up and down the catwalk will be beamed live to other cinemas in Paris, Milan and Tokyo. Designer 3D glasses are sure to follow.                      Source:

Ladies and Gentlemen – Introducing Avid MC vers. 5

For those who would like to demo the latest version of Avid Media Composer vers.5, there will be a reception at Dodge College this Thursday, July 15 with a hands-on opportunity to work with the system hosted by  Keycode Media.

It starts at 6pm for food and drink

Demo starts at 6:30pm in the Folino and moves into separate rooms.

register today to save your spot.

Applications Specialist, Casey Richards, presented the new features that Avid is touting to a crowd of Hollywood editors and post supervisors today. The interface has changed somewhat and the reaction was generally positive as witnessed by the rounds of applause following the introductions.

Drag & Drop Editing Tools

First up was the Smart Tool Set, a small unobtrusive window that reminds one of the original toolbox found on Premiere and subsequently FCP.  With single mouse clicks, editing can be dragged and dropped in the timeline, trims effected and so on.

Audio is New & Improved

Audio waveforms are drawn immediately and there is no re-draw during changes as the information is already cached.  Real Time Audio Support (RTAS) offers sound processing plugins that do not require rendering and can be auditioned and tweaked on the fly. In fact the GUI is now looking and behaving more like a Pro-Tools session with Solo and Mute buttons on each track.  You also have 5 containers in which to drop each audio plug-in and arrange in terms of hierarchy. Stereo Pairs can be embedded in a single audio channel.  Clip Gain and Auto Gain can be accessed right at the track level.

Closed Caption Support

Will Brown of CPC demonstrated their Mac Caption software which integrates easily with Avid.  He showed how an .scc file is formatted and exported using AAF and then simply dropped on the timeline as a data stream.  It can even be edited alongside the picture.  Unfortunately the text windows can not be displayed anywhere in the Avid and he cautioned that trimming and editing the data stream can result in truncated captions. Avid now has the ability to ingest/capture/separate these embedded streams using the Media creation tool and supports AFD, V-Chip and XDS.

Edit Natively using AMA

Using Avid Media Access, Media Composer 5 can handle Red (.R3D), Quicktime (.MOV and H.264), XDCAM, AVCHD, and the latest Canon XF codec which was announced at NAB this year and supports their now famous DSLR cameras such as the 7D and 5D.

The Red workflow provides full, half or quarter debayering and allows for the inclusion of custom look up tables (LUT). MC5 can import RMD, RLX or RSX files, thus eliminating the need for Red Cine. It should be noted that the native footage can not be shared on ISIS or Unity environments without first consolidating (rewrapping) using MXF.

Mix & Match Frame Rates and Resolutions

Like AMA this is not a new feature but one that Avid continues to promote.  After years of intolerance on behalf of the project settings, the fine folkes of Tewkesbury (soon to be Burlington, Mass) have come up with a “swiss army knife” solution, meaning broadcast quality real-time conversion, with the ability to adjust frame interpolation and pull-down. Impressive although the green dot is always a little intimidating.

Support for External HD Display

Avid has partnered with Matrox MX02 Mini to provide for an inexpensive solution to the HD client monitoring problem.  Avid goes to great pains to stress that this is an “output only” device even though other applications can utilize the input functions. Instead they point out the firmware update on the Nitris DX box which now enables the second video spigot and allows for full-quality 4:4:4 HD-RGB color space processing in Media Composer using dual HD SDI connections.

The Bottom Line:

This upgrade is a must have.  They claim it is software based and does not require any acceleration, although the Nitris DX figures prominently in most profe$$ional solutions.  Avid has managed to place the shot across the bow against what FCP has had to offer and places the ball firmly in Cupertino’s court as to who can provide the most robust professional solution.  I, for one, am glad to see that Avid’s marketing dollars have FINALLY been spent where it was needed most, which is software development.  For too many years they have ignored Hollywood, believing that the global market would carry them to further success.  Game on!

Yanks to destroy Mariners in tri-dimensional broadcast

Review of the game broadcast can be found here

DirectTV steps up to the plate on July 10th and 11th. Now is the time for Best Buy to start hustling those 3D displays and play the game in stores, despite the lack of content.

Element Technica introduces ultra-compact Neutron 3D rig

Element Technica has developed an ultra-small Neutron 3-D rig for stereoscopic video capture using small jibs, Steadicams, portable cameras and point-of-view positions.
The Element Technica 3-D Neutron rig can be used to mount the smallest 2/3in or 1/3in imager HD cameras.

The Neutron is designed to accommodate lightweight 3-D camera packages. Live sports and entertainment productions demand smaller, less obtrusive cameras for point-of-view camera angles where the camera must fit into tiny and sometimes dangerous spaces.

The Element Technica 3-D Neutron rig has the ability to mount the smallest 2/3in or 1/3in imager HD cameras. Though smaller and lighter than Element Technica’s Quasar 3-D rig, it provides the same assembly and operation, ability to integrate with standard stereoscopic production controls and the ease of changing camera configuration quickly between side-by-side and beam-splitter modes.

Like the Quasar, the Neutron can be configured into both over/through and under/through beam-splitter modes. Whether a production chooses to employ the larger Quasar, the very small Neutron or the upcoming medium-sized Pulsar, the crew will be able to assemble and align each rig in less than 30 minutes, and convert from side-by-side to beam-splitter mode, or vice versa, in less than 10 minutes, according to Element Technica.


Flash takes a stab at 3D

In its latest push to remain relevant in the online video market, Adobe is going to add a new layer to its Flash standard: a 3D layer.

Adobe has posted information on its official blog about a session at its developer conference in October called Flash Player 3D Future.
The session will “dive into the next-generation 3D API coming in a future version of Flash Player,” according to the session info.

3D computers are just beginning to make their way to consumers, but 3D content is still sparse. Among the first content available are a handful of high-end PC games and streaming video, like Nascar’s recent online broadcast of its first 3D race.

“I tell you, some serious stuff is coming for 3D developers,” wrote Adobe’s Thibault Imbert.

Flash is on the edge of irrelevance ever since Apple nixed Flash support on the iPad and instead relies on the alternative, new HTML5 standard.

The session will be October 27 in Los Angeles.


The gig is up! Network viewership is way down.

Americans avoided television in historic levels over the past week.

CBSNBCABC and Fox together had the smallest number of prime-time viewers last week in two decades of record-keeping, the Nielsen Co. said. Given the dominance of the big broadcasters before then, you’d probably have to go back to the early days of television to find such a collective shrug.

The first week of July tends to be among the slowest weeks of the year in television, anyway, with families more engaged in barbecues and fireworks. The problem was magnified this year because July Fourth came on Sunday, largely knocking out one of a typical week’s biggest viewing nights.

Together, the four networks averaged 18.9 million viewers last week, Nielsen said. During the season, “American Idol” alone usually gets a bigger audience than that.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” is emerging as the summer’s most popular show, with its two original episodes last week the only programs to top 10 million in viewership, Nielsen said.

While the biggest broadcast networks are suffering, the Spanish-language Univision is stepping up. Among the closely-watched 18-to-49-year-old demographic, Univision finished second only to Fox in prime-time last week.

It’s not World Cup soccer that is behind Univision’s success, it’s the prime-time telenovelas “Soy tu Duena” and “Hasta Dinero Separe.” Those soaps accounted for eight of the 20 most-watched programs among 18- to 49-year-old viewers of all languages last week, Nielsen said.

For the week, CBS averaged 5.6 million viewers in prime-time (3.7 rating, 7 share), NBC had 4.7 million (3.0, 6), ABC had 4.5 million (2.9, 6), Fox had 4.1 million (2.5, 5), ION Television had 1.1 million (0.7, 1) and the CW had 950,000 (0.6, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.5 million prime-time average (1.8 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1 million (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 800,000 (0.4, 1), Estrella had 190,000 and Azteca 150,000 (both 0.1, 0).

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.8 million viewers (5.2, 11). ABC’s “World News” was second with 6.7 million (4.6, 10) and the “CBS Evening News” had 5 million viewers (3.4, 8). NBC’s victory margin was undoubtedly stretched because Thursday and Friday night results were not included in the network’s average because the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

A ratings point represents 1,149,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of June 28-July 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday, 9 p.m.), NBC, 12.94 million; “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 10.23 million; “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 9.77 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 9.75 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 8.84 million; “Wipeout” (Thursday), ABC, 8.74 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 8.28 million; “Wipeout” (Tuesday), ABC, 8.24 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 8.18 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8.07 million.


Mad Max returns in 3D with no mention of Mel

The folks at Slashfilm, citing a recent interview with Fury Road director George Miller in the Australian publication, Inside Film , have confirmed that the upcoming Mad Max sequel will be shot in 3D using, “‘revolutionary new technology’ developed by Miller himself based on technology originally developed by DALSA Corporation.”

In an interview with the source, Miller is quoted as saying, “We are doing 3D on Fury Road shooting with real 3D cameras. Seven years ago we were going to shoot in 3D but the technology in cinemas wasn’t geared for it then.” There remains the possibility of two Mad Max sequels .

There has been no mention of Mel Gibson’s participation in the latest iteration of Mad Max, we would assume due to his current battle with his Russian common law wife over custody of his youngest child.

Mad Max: Fury Road is just the latest production to confirm that it will be shot using 3D, hot on the heels of director Michael Bay stating that Transformers 3 will also be shot using similar camera technology.


YouTube aims to be 800 lb. gorilla of broadcasting

Not content to dominate online video viewing, yesterday YouTube unveiled new initiatives for viewing on both TVs and mobile devices. Taken together they demonstrate how aggressive YouTube plans to be in the 3-screen viewership era.

First up, YouTube introduced the beta version of “Leanback,” the new 10-foot experience that it introduced at the recent I/O conference. With Leanback, you only need to use the 4 arrow keys and Enter key on your keyboard to navigate the YouTube experience. Video plays in full-screen mode and in automatically in HD when available.

There are different options for what content Leanback delivers: if you have set up subscriptions, it will give you a feed of those videos; in addition, if you’ve connected your YouTube account to your Facebook account you’ll also get a feed of videos your friends are watching/sharing; alternatively, if you’ve done neither YouTube will simply give you the most popular comedy, entertainment, news, etc. You can also easily search and browse.

It is easy to envision Leanback being a couch potato’s nirvana: just fire up Leanback and sit back and have all the day’s most interesting videos begin unspooling. As Will Richmond wrote in in early June, he continues to believe Leanback is a whole new “channel” experience and will give Google TV, when it launches, a huge tailwind.

“YouTube was a superb acquisition for Google. The deal looks more strategic by the day, especially in light of Google’s intensifying battle with Apple.”

Meanwhile, YouTube also rolled out a newly upgraded experience for mobile phones yesterday. The new site at promises to be faster and also more mobile-friendly, with larger buttons and additional features included from the web site. The effort builds on the mobile site YouTube has offered for several years. YouTube also revealed that playbacks grew by 160% in 2009 and are now up to an astounding 100 million per day. More interestingly, YouTube appears to be trying to migrate users away from the YouTube mobile app which Apple has offered on the iPhone for a while. YouTube is promising web site updates will be followed quickly on the new mobile app, “unlike native apps which are not updated as frequently.”

With the new Leanback and mobile initiatives YouTube is continuing to evolve from its roots as just a user generated content web site. YouTube appears to be firing on all cylinders: hitting a record 14.6 billion views in May, landing big-time advertisers like VISA/Toy Story 3 and Xbox’s Kinnect and adding popular premium content like World Wrestling Entertainmentnew project produced by Ridley Scott. YouTube’s biggest day is still ahead of it, when it will no doubt take center stage in the high-profile launch of Google TV later this year.


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If you are a tech head, cinema-phile, movie geek or digital imaging consultant, then we'd like to hear from you. Join us in our quest to explore all things digital and beyond. Of particular interest is how a product or new technology can be deployed and impacts storytelling. It may be something that effects how we download and enjoy filmed entertainment. It may pertain to how primary and secondary color grading will enhance a certain tale. The most important thing is that you are in the driver's seat as far as what you watch and how you choose to consume it.