Archive for the ‘Digital Cinema’ Category

We’re Back and Raring to Go!

After a nearly six month hiatus, the 3D & DIgital Cinema is back on-line. I took a break to tend to some family struggles. Also the Spring semester was one bear of a session with over 40 Senior Thesis projects, 18 Grad Thesis and a whopping 36 Advanced Productions to attend to.

Thank you for your support and patience during what was a very difficult time.

- Scott Arundale

P.S. We will be likely dropping the 3D moniker from our masthead as stereo filmmaking has become very much an integral part of the digital landscape. Also the industry (like the the mainstream filmgoing public) has cooled considerably towards because let’s face it, making 3D movies is more costly, time consuming and frankly a pain in the ass! And as my two lovely daughters remarked about their tastes towards 3D, they wisely observed that it was just a way for the theater to charge more!

That being said we will continue to report on all the trends 3D, 2D or something recorded on a mobile phone. It is all fair game.

Quantel and the Rise of Digital Pt1

After 120 years of entertaining audiences, countless movies and pioneering works on the format, celluloid 35mm film looks to be on the way out as the industry picks up the pace to adopt digital for major motion picture capturing, post and distribution.

This month, the IHS Screen Digest claim that 63% of the world’s cinema screens will be digital compared to 2010 where 67% of global screens were still projecting 35mm. This dramatic increase highlights the speed at which the industry is moving toward to digital innovations.

“Since 1889, 35mm has been the principal film projection technology, however, after 10 years of market priming, movie theaters now are undergoing a rapid transition to digital technology, spurred initially by the rising popularity of 3D films,” said David Hancock, head of film research at IHS.

The rise of digital in distribution

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace was the first major motion picture to be released in digital on June 1999, albeit on a limited number of screens in Los Angeles and New York. In the UK the roots of the digital incursion go as far back as 2005, when 240 digital projectors were given to UK cinemas thanks to the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network initiative. Initially, the digital uptake was slow. It was not until 2009 when digital’s prominence became apparent when, for the first time, eleven 3D productions were released and could only be screened with digital projection technology. However, in late 2009 a game-changing event changed the course of digital cinema adoption – Avatar.

James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster demonstrated that what was once a novelty viewing experience could create a viable case for upgrading theatre projection technology to capitalise on audiences’ new found appetite for 3D productions. Jean-Pierre Beauviala, founder of French based motion picture equipment manufacturer, Aaton claims that stereoscopic 3D has “accelerated the demise of film.”

2010 saw a rapid succession of announcements by major multiplex operators in the UK  switching over to digital. Vue Entertainment, one of the UK’s leading operators of multiplex cinemas, partnered up with Sony Europe to install 4K Digital Cinema Projection Systems across its estates. “The transition to all digital screens heralds a new era for cinema offering greater choice…[and will] deliver the very best possible cinematic big screen experience for our customers,” said Tim Richards Vue’s CEO.

In North America the rollout of 4K digital was announced earlier than Europe, however the conversion pipeline is estimated to take up to five years to implement. The biggest theater operators in the land – Regal Entertainment and AMC both signed deals, like Vue, with Sony to install 4K digital technology to a over 850 theaters, comprising 9,628 screens.

Digital from scene to screen

Digitalization is not only experiencing substantial growth in theaters. The progression from celluloid has not happened in isolation but in unison with the introduction of digital throughout the motion picture pipeline. Over the last few years, Digital Intermediate has firmly established itself as the standard workflow for post production. In production it’s the same story. In the last year ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have scaled down their production of film cameras and have strategically aligned their business on the innovation of digital cameras.

This industry-wide shift has affected the biggest players in the image capture business. Eastman Kodak, the iconic 133-year-old photography firm synonymous with film, has seen its profitability deteriorate due to falling revenue from traditional film. However, after unveiling a new, simplified business plan to focus the company’s efforts on its digital offering, its shares briefly rose up 46%. The strategy was not enough to keep the firm out of the headlines and in mid-January Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors.

Ted Schilowitz from RED Digital Cinema, a camera company that has been digital since its inception in 2005 points out that “you’ve got to be respectful of what film’s brought to the industry. None of us would be at the level we are at now without Kodak, so you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.” Having said that Schilowitz continues “film is becoming less used as it’s reached its retirement age.”

In the second part of our look at the rise of digital, we examine trends in filming and post using the format and speak to industry heavyweights on pushing the boundaries.

http://blog.quantel.eu/2012/02/the-rise-of-digital-in-motion-pictures-beyond-the-tipping-point-for-film-part-1-of-2/

Ring in the New Year and Say Goodbye to Kodak

Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America’s corporate titans.

The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company “does not comment on market rumor or speculation.”

A filing could come as soon as this month or early February, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kodak would continue to pay its bills and operate normally while under bankruptcy protection, the people said. But the company’s focus would then be the sale of some 1,100 patents through a court-supervised auction, the people said.

That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry, drawing engineering talent from around the country to its Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and plowing money into research that produced thousands of breakthroughs in imaging and other technologies.

The company, for instance, invented the digital camera—in 1975—but never managed to capitalize on the new technology.

Casting about for alternatives to its lucrative but shrinking film business, Kodak toyed with chemicals, bathroom cleaners and medical-testing devices in the 1980s and 1990s, before deciding to focus on consumer and commercial printers in the past half-decade under Chief Executive Antonio Perez.

None of the new pursuits generated the cash needed to fund the change in course and cover the company’s big obligations to its retirees. A Chapter 11 filing could help Kodak shed some of those obligations, but the viability of the company’s printer strategy has yet to be demonstrated, raising questions about the fate of the company’s 19,000 employees.

Such uncertainty was once unthinkable at Kodak, whose near-monopoly on film produced high margins that the company shared with its workers. On “wage dividend days,” a tradition started by Kodak founder George Eastman, the company would pay out bonuses to all workers based on its results, and employees would use the checks to buy cars and celebrate at fancy restaurants.

George Eastman and Thomas Edison ca 1920

Former employees say the company was the Apple Inc. or Google Inc. of its time. Robert Shanebrook, 64 years old, who started at the company in 1967 and was most recently world-wide product manager for professional photographic film, recalls young talent traipsing through Kodak’s sprawling corporate campus. At lunch, they would crowd the auditorium to watch a daily movie at an on-site theater. Other employees would play basketball on the company courts.

“We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable,” Mr. Shanebrook said.

Kodak’s troubles date back to the 1980s, when the company struggled with foreign competitors that stole its market share in film. The company later had to cope with the rise of digital photography and smartphones.

It wasn’t until 10 years ago that the mood began to sour, said Mr. Shanebrook. By 2003, Kodak announced it would stop making investments in film. “I didn’t want to stick around for the demise,” he said.

The company and its board have weighed a potential bankruptcy filing for months. Advisers told Kodak a filing would make its patent sale easier and likely allow the company to command a higher price, people familiar with the matter have said. The obligation to cover pension and health-care costs for retirees could also be purged through bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

Those obligations—which run to hundreds of millions of dollars a year—as well as the unprofitable state of Kodak’s new businesses, have made the company undesirable as a takeover target, people familiar with the matter said.

During a two-day meeting of the company’s board, management and advisers in mid-December, executives were briefed on how Kodak would fund itself during bankruptcy proceedings should efforts to sell its patents fall short, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kodak is in discussions with large banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. for so-called debtor-in-possession financing to keep the company operating in bankruptcy court, people familiar with the matter said.

Kodak has also held discussions with bondholders and a group led by investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP about a bankruptcy financing package, the people said.

Should it seek bankruptcy protection, Kodak would follow other well-known companies that have failed to adapt to rapidly changing business models. They included Polaroid Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in December 2008; Borders Group Inc., which liquidated itself last year; and Blockbuster Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by Dish Network Corp. A bankruptcy filing would kick off what is expected to be a busier year in restructuring circles, as economic growth continues to drag and fears about European sovereign debt woes threaten to make credit markets less inviting for companies that need to refinance their debts.

Mr. Perez decided to base the company’s future on consumer and commercial inkjet printing. But the saturated market has proved tough to penetrate, and Kodak is paying heavily to subsidize sales as it builds a base of users for its ink.

The company remains a bit player in a printer market dominated by giants like H-P. Kodak ranks fifth world-wide, according to technology data firm IDC, with a market share of 2.6% in the first nine months of 2011.

As the company works on a restructuring plan, a key issue for creditors is whether the printer operations are worth supporting, or whether the bulk of the company’s value is in its patents.

Nortel Networks Corp., a company that also had fallen behind the technology curve, opted to liquidate itself in bankruptcy court rather than reorganize, raising a greater than expected $4.5 billion for its patent trove.

Kodak’s founder, Mr. Eastman, took his life at the age of 77 in what is now a museum celebrating the founder and Kodak’s impact on photography. His suicide note read: “To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?”

Read more:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577140841495542810.html#ixzz1ibOm8KV4

THE HOBBIT checks in with latest report

THE HOBBIT, Production Video #4

James Cameron Looking at Edius 3D Toolset

Broadcast equipment manufacturer Grass Valley has introduced a new 3D toolset for its Edius multiformat nonlinear editing software.

“We see 3D production and post projects increasing around the world,” said Charlie Dunn, executive vp products at Grass Valley. “Now anyone working on an Edius system can instantly add 3D post capability to their arsenal of production tools and generate new revenue by expanding their client base.”

In September, James Cameron and Vince Pace’s Cameron | Pace Group and Grass Valley entered into a strategic alliance aimed at expanding the use of 3D in the broadcast industry through technology development.

As part of the alliance, CPG is currently reviewing the Edius 3D toolset with an eye toward incorporating it into a live 3D workflow, according to the manufacturer.

In December, a 30-day preview of the 3D version of Edius will be available online for testing purposes.

source: hollywoodreporter.com

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing Avid Media Composer 6.0

Full 64-bit power Full 64-bit power

Fast gets even faster with native 64-bit operation, so even when you layer together the most complex effects, things will still feel snappy. Experience smoother playback, faster rendering performance, and better handling with large bins—and say goodbye to the old memory limitations of the 32-bit operating systems.

Experience the "waitless" workflow Experience the “waitless” workflow

With AMA (Avid Media Access), you can instantly access and edit file-based media—including new RED/RED EPIC, new AVCHD, ProRes, QuickTime (including footage from HDSLR cameras), XDCAM, P2, Canon XF, and other formats—without transcoding, importing, or rewrapping files (watch the video). Get a jumpstart on reviewing footage without the wait, and avoid bringing in unwanted material. And as new cameras and formats emerge, manufacturers can create and release their own AMA plug-ins independently from a Media Composer release.

Work with any media Work with any media

File-based media, analog and digital tape, stereoscopic 3D material, film — bring it on. Media Composer offers a wide range of features, workflows, and options that enable you to work with everything, from old-school media to the latest camera technologies. Experience the fastest tapeless workflows in the industry. Capture footage directly from digital cameras. Or add an Avid or third-party video interface to capture from other analog or digital sources. Plus, with support for 4:4:4 HD-RGB color and DNxHD 444, you can work efficiently while preserving the full-quality color detail from beginning to end.

Better performance—and 3D—with Avid hardware Better performance—and 3D—with Avid hardware

For the fastest capture/edit/monitor/output workflows, pair Media Composer with a Nitris DX or Mojo DX video interface and experience hardware-accelerated power that’s second to none. You can now even customize Nitris DX with up to two Avid DNxHD or AVC-Intra chips to fully support stereoscopic 3D and HD RGB 4:4:4 workflows.

Sleek new look and Avid Marketplace Sleek new look and Avid Marketplace

Modern, smart, and sexy. Media Composer has a whole new look, but its familiar editing workflow stays the same (watch the video). Work faster through the tabbed interface (no more window clutter!). Customize window configurations with Workspaces. Browse the Avid Marketplace for stock footage, video and audio plug-ins, software and hardware options, training materials, and more—right from within the app. You can even access user guides and other documentation without having to scour our website.

Work with 3D Work with 3D

Edit stereoscopic 3D material as quickly and easily as you do with standard 2D footage, with a full set of new features and workflows. Capture, edit, and manage the complete 3D end-to-end workflow. Mix and match 2D and stereoscopic 3D clips on the same track. Plus, work with full frame and frame-compatible sources, full-fledged editing tools, video effects, and more.

Go hands-on with Artist Color Go hands-on with Artist Color

Accelerate your color correcting and grading with Artist Color (watch the video). With its highly responsive feel, you can keep your eyes on the picture instead of the interface while you make adjustments. And since you can tweak multiple parameters at once, you dramatically gain more speed and efficiency to complete time-consuming tasks quickly.

Mix in surround sound Mix in surround sound

You want your audio to sound as spectacular as your video looks. Now you can record, edit, and mix studio-quality audio in up to 7.1 surround—right in Media Composer. Not only that, you can share mixes with Pro Tools editors (using AAF), and even record and monitor audio using a host of Avid audio interfaces. (watch the video)

WHATS NEW

  • Get better performance and speed to handle complex editing, now that Media Composer is a 64-bit app (Still need 32-bit? Learn more about Media Composer 5.5)
  • Work with the Avid or third-party hardware you want—with Avid Open I/O, third-party manufacturers can now make their I/O hardware work with Media Composer
  • Manage and edit stereoscopic 3D projects with a comprehensive set of editorial tools and workflows
  • Take hands-on control of all color correction and grading functions with Artist Color (watch the video)
  • Create 5.1 and 7.1 surround mixes directly within Media Composer, or import from Pro Tools
  • Work more creatively with audio with new mixer features and support for additional Pro Tools hardware
  • Work more easily and efficiently—but not differently—with the sleek and sexy new user interface (watch the video)
  • Get full native ProRes support on Mac (encode and decode) and Windows (decode only) for easy integration into any ProRes workflow
  • Instantly access, screen, and edit AVCHD clips and RED EPIC footage through AMA
  • Accelerate your RGB 4:4:4 workflow with Avid DNxHD 444, which delivers exceptional image quality in a low bandwidth format
  • Conveniently purchase stock footage, plug-ins, and more through the Avid Marketplace
  • Get direct access to user guides and documentation from within the interface
  • Access additional ancillary data when working with XDCAM HD material
  • Work more easily with animated effects with many keyframe editor improvements
  • Get Avid FX (Boris RED), Avid DVD, and Sorenson Squeeze in all versions of the software
  • Manage multiple licenses more easily with unified licensing

http://www.avid.com/us/products/media-composer?intcmp=AV-HP-S2

Will Scorsese’s Hugo be the first 3D movie to win Best Picture Nod?

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – This was supposed to be a weekend when ground zero for Southern California movie lovers was Hollywood, site of the AFI Fest.


But Martin Scorsese exerts a gravitational pull all his own. So on Saturday afternoon, the action shifted to downtown Los Angeles for a couple of hours, where the Regal multiplex drew nearly 1,000 fans and industryites eager for a look at Scorsese’s 3D adventure “Hugo,” which had previously screened only in a work-in-progress version at the New York Film Festival.

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Throw in a post-screening Q&A with Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, production designer Dante Ferretti, cinematographer Robert Richardson, composer Howard Shore and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato, moderated by director Paul Thomas Anderson, and you had a three-hour slice of movie nirvana (plus 39 Oscar nominations and a dozen wins on one stage).

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And in a way, movie nirvana is what “Hugo” aims to be. An adaptation of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” a children’s book by Brian Selznick, in Scorsese’s hands it is less a children’s story than a knowing and glorious tribute to early cinema from a master moviemaker who also happens to be a master movie-lover.

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The film will be an odd duck to market: It’s partly an adventure tale about a kid who lives in a huge Paris train station, and partly a (fictionalized) story about the silent film pioneer Georges Melies (played by a marvelous Ben Kingsley).

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Not a kids’ movie, not an art film, not a typical Scorsese effort and not necessarily an Academy movie (more on that in a minute), “Hugo” is instead a big shiny ball of imagination, invention and cinematic wonder.

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And a few hours after the downtown screening, a big room full of folks who presumably love the movies gave “Hugo” their own stamp of approval. The film had its official Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening on Saturday night — and according to a couple of members in attendance, the response was extremely positive, with sustained applause and a strong buzz in the room afterward.

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(Attendance, though, was not as high as it had been for some other recent Academy screenings, including “The Help” and “Moneyball.”)

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Back at the downtown screening earlier in the day, Scorsese was introduced by Anderson as “the heavyweight champ.” The director used some of the 40-minute Q&A to detail the intricacies of filming in 3D, which he said was “arduous but most of the time a good deal of fun.”

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Shooting in 3D slowed down his usual workflow, Scorsese said, though he and Schoonmaker ended up editing the film switching between 3D and 2D monitors,. He dismissed worries about the move toward 3D, and said that the technology is “just another element to tell a story.” And, he added, it’ll likely be followed by more and newer elements.

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“We’re all headed, if everything moves along and there’s no major catastrophes, we’re basically headed toward holograms,” Scorsese said. “Why can’t you have (a) 3D (movie where) Hamlet comes out into the middle of the audience and does ‘to be or not to be?’ They do in the theater. Why can’t you have it in a movie theater, or at home?”

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In the meantime, he said, he’s simply using the tools that are now available to deliver what moviegoers always wanted to see. ”The first time images started to move, immediately people wanted color, sound, big screen and depth,” he said. “And that’s just what we’re doing now.”

Star Wars Phantom Menace 3D Trailer

With Recent Deals, OTT Distributors’ Content Strategies Are Crystallizing

Amid the drama and headlines surrounding OTT distributors (e.g. Netflix price increases and Qwikster decision, on-again/off-again Hulu sale, etc.), these companies’ content strategies actually seem to be crystallizing, with each trying to stake out a somewhat distinct value proposition for their users. True, there is still plenty of blurriness between them, and each appears reluctant to be pigeon-holed, but recent deals suggest how each OTT distributor is positioning itself.

Below is a summary of the content strategies of most of the major OTT distributors (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, Walmart/VUDU, iTunes and Blockbuster) with a catchphrase that best describes their approach:

Netflix - “Rerun-TV, but please don’t call us that” – Earlier this year, when Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was asked if he felt pressured by Netflix’s growing array of content deals, he half-jokingly replied, “What used to be called ‘reruns’ on television is now called Netflix.” At the time the comment seemed like it diminished Netflix, but eight months later it is quite accurate (in fact on last week’s earnings call Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it wasn’t an unfair characterization, though he wouldn’t want to labeled this way). Netflix is increasingly about catalog serialized programs, picking up where traditional syndication left off; recently it obtained the rights to CW programs and today renewed Disney-ABC programs.  When the Starz deal expires in a few months the movies available on Netflix streaming will look even older and more obscure, the Dreamworks’ movies don’t appear until 2013 and originals like “House of Cards” are still a question mark. All that means Netflix’s deep catalog is increasingly going to define the streaming service.

Hulu - “Catch up on broadcast TV programs, no DVR required” – Just when you thought you mastered your DVR’s controls, Hulu is essentially saying “don’t bother.” After obtaining the rights to CW’s current season episodes last Friday, Hulu now has all the broadcast networks except CBS available. And if you want quicker/deeper access, Hulu Plus offers that too. Beyond broadcast, Hulu has also snagged some cable programs (most notably “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”), independent content (with surprising success in anime), and is also showcasing some of its own originals (e.g. Morgan Spurlock’s “A Day in the Life”). Hulu’s owners have decided to hang onto their stakes, rather than bank a short-term gain. Now the question is will Hulu get further resources to break out of its broadcast catch-up positioning?

Amazon - “Fired up to beat Netflix in streaming” – Amazon seems more serious than ever about being a streaming contender, and is employing a Netflix-like strategy for content acquisitions, recently signing up Fox, and today Disney-ABC, in a remarkably similar deal to one Netflix itself announced (so much for exclusivity!). I was critical of Amazon’s decision to include video in its Amazon Prime shipping service which reduced its visibility, but more recently the company’s decision to introduce the Kindle Fire “iPad killer” means that having great content is now a lot more important. Amazon has very deep pockets and could broaden its content acquisitions driving up prices for other OTT players.

YouTube - “Indies-R-Us” – Last Friday, YouTube finally announced the first batch of independently-created original programs, as part of its $100 million investment in higher-quality content. Under Google’s ownership, YouTube had already moved a long way from its UGC roots, but despite incessant rumors that it would become a bidder for Hollywood shows and movies, YouTube is instead trying to nurture its own content that it hopes will be appealing to major advertisers, as well as audiences. That’s not to say Google won’t be opportunistic; it reportedly dangled a $4 billion offer in front of Hulu’s owners in the recent auction, but was rebuffed due to aggressive demands. With more resources than anyone, Google can pursue any strategy it chooses to.

iTunes - “King of the non-subscription world” – Outside of subscriptions, the electronic sell-through (EST) and rental market has remained relatively small (my estimates here), but iTunes is clearly the king. iTunes benefits from its integration and branding with hundreds of millions of Apple devices, and so for the foreseeable future its dominance should remain unchallenged, with Microsoft Zune Video Marketplace and VUDU well behind it. With rumors of an Apple television circulating, it remains an open question whether Apple will at last pursue a subscription model to support this new device.

Walmart/VUDU - “Best access to HD movies and TV shows” – Under Walmart’s ownership, VUDU has stayed consistent, emphasizing 1080p HD movies concurrent with their DVD release and more recently TV shows, through a growing array of connected devices. Just like iTunes, VUDU is exclusively rent or own, with no subscriptions available. VUDU has begun to get leverage from Walmart through promotions like $.99 specials, which broadens its user base. With the subscription field so crowded, it’s hard to see VUDU going beyond its roots; rather it will benefit as DVDs diminish.

Blockbuster - “DVDs and streaming for DISH subscribers” – DISH cautiously introduced its new Blockbuster Movie Pass service, emphasizing DVD availability and some streaming, but making it available solely for DISH subscribers. No doubt it will be untethered soon enough, colliding with Netflix and Amazon, but only if DISH is willing to spend aggressively to gain more content.

Beyond these OTT distributors, it’s also worth noting what’s happening in the traditional pay-TV ecosystem. The premium networks, HBO, Showtime and Starz all seem committed to their pay-TV partners, not allowing their content to leak out onto OTT streaming services (though DVD is OK). HBO has taken the lead with its HBO GO app, which Showtime and Starz are expected to mimic shortly. EPIX, with limited pay-TV distribution has been the only premium network to make an OTT deal, with Netflix. Movie output deals are still important in the premium category, but original series increasingly define their brands.

Last but not least, pay-TV operators themselves continue to roll out VOD services and more recently TV Everywhere. Lacking a robust ad insertion capability, VOD viewing remains strongest for content from premium networks. TV Everywhere continues to be deployed, but faces 5 big challenges as I recently wrote. More broadly, the question remains whether pay-TV services might eventually spend more aggressively and/or demand under their retransmission consent agreements exclusive streaming rights to both broadcast and cable programming, putting the squeeze on all the OTT distributors.

Although the landscape remains very fluid, when you cut through the noise, each OTT distributor appears to be settling on its own content direction.

article by Will Richmond videonuze.com

Walter Murch on the demise of FCP

Chris Portal attended the Boston Supermeet of the Final Cut Pro Users and reports:

Walter Murch, a long time Final Cut Pro user, and editor of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part III, The English Patient, Cold Mountain, Tetro, among many other films, headlined the Boston Supermeet on Thursday October 27, 2011. It marked his first public appearance since the launch of Final Cut Pro X.

Hemingway & Gellhorn is his latest project for HBO, and is edited on Final Cut Pro 7. The film is a celebration of the tactility of film, yet a film that wouldn’t have been possible without the digitization of film. It uses archive material existing on a wide variety of film mediums, all with different grain sizes, in which actors are dropped in digitally, while trying to preserve the grain of the original element. The film takes you on a roller coaster ride diving in and out of this world, going into the grain and sprockets, and out into the digital world.

His Final Cut Pro project consisted of 22 video tracks and 50 audio tracks, combining sound elements ranging from 8 tracks of dialogue, to 24 tracks of mono and stereo sound effects with and without low frequency enhancements (LFE)!!

Another piece of the workflow was the integration of Filemaker Pro, which he uses to gain a different insight into his film. Using a dependency diagram of sorts, he associates every shot to a specific scene, what music and effects should belong to it, etc. It’s not a time line in any way, but more a view of all the relationships between your media assets.

As far as other equipment Walter used on the project, he used 2 Arri Alexas, outputting to codex materials. The codex downloaded into a ProRes 1280 LT, DPX “negative” (to do the final color timing), and H.264 with internet via PIX (to share assemblies with HBO). There were 5 editing stations, using an XSAN with 28 TB on XRaid running XServe.

There were 1862 shots in the finished film:

  • 482 visually manipulated
  • 227 visual effects
  • 255 repositioned or blown up

While there used to be a rule of not blowing up an image beyond 120% to avoid introducing noise and grain, with the Alexa footage, he was able to take the film and blow it up 240% without being noticeable.

He used FCP7, which he acknowledged may be the last time he uses Final Cut Pro. He considers many professionals to be at a juncture where we need to come to terms with what the software can do in the time the film is being developed.

Walter was in Cupertino when Final Cut Pro X was first dangled in front of a few editors. It was a beta version, and Apple highlighted things like 64 bit support. After that initial exposure to FCPX, he dove into making a film, and it wasn’t until June when FCPX was published that he revisited it. He quickly looked at it, and said he couldn’t use it, wondering where the “Pro” had gone. It didn’t have XML support which he depended on, the ability to share projects on a raid with people, etc. He was confused and wondered what was happening.

He wrote Apple a letter asking what was behind everything that was happening, especially since they had end-of-lifed the current version, as well as a list of things he needed. Like a report card children often get, without XML, Walter explained to Apple that FCPX “did not play well with others”. The lack of tracks was another killer for him. While he doesn’t really need to work with 50 tracks, he does need to leverage the ability to selectively raise or lower the levels very specifically.

Walter sees there having been a shift at Apple over the last 10 years. They have benefited from the professional market, and we all have made a lot of noise about Apple, but starting with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has broadened out into a mass-market creature, wanting to democratize capabilities even further.

While Walter is encouraged by the updated FCPX version last month, he hasn’t used it on any real work yet, so he is cautiously optimistic (and still traumatized he says). “Do they love us? No…I know they like us….but they keep saying they love us??”

Things wrapped up with a Q&A, mostly comprised of questions attendees had submitted that evening prior to his talk. A few interesting ones were:

Q: When is it time to walk away from the work?

A: ”When you see dailies, that is the only time you are seeing the images for the first time. There will be no other time for a first. It is the closest you can get to experiencing what the audience will experience. It’s a precious moment. I will sit and watch the dailies in the dark, holding a computer where I’ll type anything the image makes me feel or think, in order to preserve that first moment. Doing so will help clear the fog down the road when you’re feeling you’re getting lost.”

Q: How do you know if a scene works or doesn’t?

A: ”A scene may work on its own, but not in the context of the movie. It can be very dangerous to preemptively strike a scene from a film before you’ve seen the entire film. You can say you don’t agree with where the scene is going, but you don’t know if in the larger picture it may still have a shot.”

Q: Is there one piece of advice you can impart to sound designers?

A: ”Always go farther than you think you can go. Try to bend the literalness. Literalness doesn’t light the fire in the audiences mind. Levitate the film. Ignite the imagination.”

Q: Thoughts on 3D?

A: ”In 2D, your eyes focus on the plane of the screen while they converge towards the plan of the screen, but when you have something coming out of the screen in 3D, you not only need to focus on the screen, but you also need to converge on the detail protruding out of the screen. The mind can do it, but we’re not programmed for it. It requires processing many frames before your mind figures it out, and by then you’ve missed information. It’s analogous to the moment when the fan on your computer starts up.”

Q: If you didn’t use FCP, where would you go?

A: “I’ve used Avid in the past, so I know it well. There are some very good things that Avid has, but I’m also curious about Premiere since I’m interested in technology.”

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About 3D & Digital Cinema

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.