UHD/4K and HDMI 2.0

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Many people are looking forward to devices that can send and receive HDMI 2.0 signals. Some manufacturers have said that their HDMI 1.4 hardware may be able to be upgraded to HDMI 2.0 using a software patch - the connectors and cables are the same.

When we do get computers, screens, cameras and recording devices that are compatible with HDMI 2.0, what are the limitations when it comes to the various flavours of UHD and 4K?

The HDMI.org FAQ has the answers:

Does HDMI 2.0 support BT.2020 (rec.2020) colorimetry?
Yes. HDMI 2.0 includes support for BT.2020 Colorimetry with 10 or more bits of color depth.
Video Formats defined in BT.2020 and supported by HDMI 2.0 specification:
– 2160p, 10/12 bits, 24/25/30Hz, RGB/4:2:2/4:4:4
– 2160p, 10/12 bits, 50/60Hz, 4:2:0/4:2:2

What are the 4K formats supported by HDMI 2.0?

4k-over-hdmi2

So if you need the best quality 4K high frame rate monitoring, HDMI 2.0 won't be enough. It also means that higher frequency 4K monitors will need to drop some colour fidelity in UI mode (when using the monitor as an additional screen with NLE UIs) in contrast with playback mode.

Find out more in the HDMI FAQ

 

Tour de Final Cut Pro X for Collaboration

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

It has been three years since Apple launched Final Cut Pro X. Although they marketed it as a new version of their venerable Final Cut Pro application, it was a completely new video editing software.

As the months and years go by, Final Cut is being used on more and more high profile projects.

Here's the next milestone in the history of Final Cut: how a team for UK production company VSquared used four edit suites and a 70TB SAN to produce 21 days of TV highlights shows for the 2014 Tour de France using Final Cut Pro X.

Producer James Venner:

There were some big hurdles to cross, the learning curve would be steep for the editors, EVS would have to be removed from the record path because they showed no inclination to make their files compatible. On the plus side we'd be doing something new, I wanted an edit system that made us re-examine our workflow; rethink why and how we did things and hopefully inject some new creativity. I wanted something that would grow with us over several years.

I didn't want a system that just let us keep doing the same old thing. Time to roll the dice.

Read the full report on how it was done over at FCP.co

More than a "What we did this Summer" report

Some Avid editors will take refuge in the fact that the kind of collaboration available in Final Cut isn't up to their standards of shared content available to multiple editors. Apple's development of Final Cut Pro X isn't about directly competing feature for feature with Premiere Pro and Media Composer as soon as possible. It is about adding features and workflows to Final Cut as flexibly as possible - allowing for years of future improvements to a system that is just starting out.

Apple and third parties can learn much from case studies. Stories like these can be used to close deals when selling post solutions and as a guide for how to set up workflows. Another interesting use is to help Apple and third parties choose what to concentrate on developing next. Some third parties weren't ready to support a Final Cut Pro X workflow whereas new suppliers provided support and more:

We must thank Pierre Chevalier from Softron for not only providing excellent product support, but for also adding a few tweaks to the program which helped us a lot.

Depending on how well Final Cut Pro X does in TV post production, third parties will be wise to ignore it or to invest in supporting it.

As production companies get used to these kind of workflows - better in some ways than the Avid equivalents - Apple can then make the necessary improvements to their applications, operating systems and hardware that will satisfy more and more post professionals.

It is easier to understand how a new feature in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.6 fits into 2015 TV production if the workflows are already there.

Last night a very talented team edited the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Their workflow no doubt included Avid Media Composer. This Tour de France case study puts Final Cut Pro X one step closer to being at the centre of high-end live event TV post production.

 

How many copies of Final Cut Pro? Apple’s numbers

Monday, 25 August 2014

Creative COW forum member Franz Bieberkopf has done some interesting research and rounded up the numbers when Apple have announced how many copies of Final Cut Pro have been sold over the years:

Though I think user numbers are of limited value, it has become a bit of an interest to me (particularly in light of how secretive and vague the various developers tend to be, and in light of the sometimes outrageous claims here). I dug into past announcements from Apple in order to sketch the shape of the numbers that we do know (even including a graph!), and thus the growth curves over the past 15 years.

Read more at the Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate forum at Creative COW.

 

Post problems? Don't blame technology - FCPWORKS on workflow

Thursday, 21 August 2014

An excerpt from on a Red Shark post written by a cinematographer: 

The shenanigans we are seeing now, the re-framing and re-cropping of our work by less talented others, will only become more upsetting and egregious as the pixel counts rise higher. Alas, giving producers, editors and indecisive directors so much resolution invites foul play.  And that is exactly what many of us are experiencing now.

My first reaction to this was "now DPs will truly understand how screenwriters feel," but Sam Mestman of FCPWORKS is more constructive:

On the one hand, I can totally understand where he’s coming from, and he’s totally right. I’ve seen quite a few projects butchered in color correction, and I imagine it must be very difficult to go out and put your heart and soul into shooting/lighting something only to have it completely reworked in a way that’s entirely not what was imagined… and then be credited as if that was how you wanted it. That sucks.

However, this is not the fault of the resolution, RAW, or improvements in technology. The fault lies with the way that departments work together, and it’s my biggest pet peeve in the entire industry.

No one talks to each other.

Sam then goes onto to explain how the many little descisions made by different departments go towards increasing the cost of post production. 

An article that's well worth reading, and saving for when you need to explain the advantage of hiring someone who will take responsibility for the whole workflow.

 

 

Televisual Production Technology Survey 2014: Editing Software

Thursday, 21 August 2014

As part of a survey of '100 senior production staff' Televisual asked about what post-production software they use.

Televisiual2014

 

Great news for Avid.

Who will step up?

Although this looks like bad news for Final Cut Pro X fans, I'm surprised it is used by ten of those surveyed. 

…the FCPX upgrade which alienated many users. “We always edited FCP until Apple produced a useless upgrade version,” says one indie head of production.  Respondents score FCPX poorly in terms of workflow, support and feature set – but highly in terms of price.

If post companies find X is too limited 'in terms of workflow, support and feature set', then fewer companies will being using it next year.

Would higher usage amongst this group of 100 companies result in bigger sales to the many professionals who would find Final Cut Pro X useful? If X gets more high-end features that would be a sign the business of these 100 execs matters to Apple.

It also falls to third parties to provide better workflow consultancy and support options - if they still think there's a large enough potential market for Final Cut.

If you think what they said is relevant to your buying choices, go to the Televisual site to see what the 100 said about compositing, grading, 4K and cameras

Thanks to the MotionVFX mBlog for pointing me in the direction of this survey.

 

Apple bugfix updates for Final Cut Pro X, Motion & Compressor

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Apple have updated their video Pro Apps to fix bugs found in previous versions. Apple list the following changes: 

Motion 5.1.2, Compressor 4.1.3 and Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3

Fixes reliability issues when burning a Blu-ray Disc or creating a Blu-ray disk image

Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3

  • Colour corrections pasted between clips are retained during Share
  • Effects applied to clips in the Browser in prior versions of the app are retained when adding those clips to the timeline
  • XML round-trip imports correctly when using gap clips
  • Improves reliability of automatic library backups
  • Imrpves stability when skimming growing clips in the Browser

The small (1-pixel) fault in the Divide, Arrows and Color Panels transitions hasn't been fixed in 10.1.3.

Before updating installed applications, I suggest you archive the current versions in case you need to go back. Control-click each application icon in the Finder and choose the Compress command from the context menu. Rename the .zip file with the name of the application and the version number.

You should also back up your libraries, because the file format has changed with version 10.1.3, which means that if 10.1.3 turns out to have problems, you won't be able to open libraries edited with 10.1.3 in 10.1.2:

file-format-change

No hidden feature updates found yet

In previous bugfix updates, Apple has sneaked in some new features and made small improvements. This time Apple haven't added any commands to the list of commands that can be added to custom keyboard shortcuts. There are no changes to the text that is shown in dialog boxes. UI code for the English version hasn't changed, but some bugs have been fixed in the UI code for the other languages that Final Cut supports: German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Chinese.

To get the free update, go to Software Update in the Apple menu. More on using the App Store to update applications.

For the full rundown on the new features in June's big Final Cut Pro X update read my post on 10.1.2.

 

 

Apple patent: Media compilation generation

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Apple have been assigned a patent concerning the creation of video compilations based on individual preferences. 

The present disclosure is directed to a online video parsing application for parsing one or more videos and for performing one or more actions on particular portions of the videos. For example, the online video parsing application may identify portions of interest within particular videos. A "portion" of a video refers to at least a subset of content included within the video, and may be designated by a time interval. The video parsing application may process any type of video, and any type of video portion. The online video parsing application as discussed below may be implemented using any suitable combination of software, hardware, or both.

In some embodiments, the online video parsing application may create a compilation of video content. Compiling will be understood to mean concatenating, or arranging in series, videos or portions of videos thereby forming a new video. Compiling video, portions of video, or combinations thereof, may provide a technique for delivering desirable content to a user. In some approaches, compilations may be generated based on user input, may be manually assembled by a user, or both. For example, a user may specify content of interest by manually selecting portions of online videos. The user may also input keywords, preference information, any other suitable indicators, or any combination thereof to the online video parsing application for searching video content. In some approaches, the online video parsing application may generate compilation videos using, for example, information provided by the user, automated processes, or both.

8812498-compilations-content

The idea depends on tagging parts of online content. This could be done by their creators, third parties, or by software. Individuals could profit from being curators who discover and tag content well.

Users would be able to specify how long they want their compilation to be: from a few minutes to a continuous feed. 

I've written before about how iTunes Radio could more than a service that plays music content, but to make a custom radio station based on the full range of content a person might find interesting. Looks like Apple will be able to do this with other forms of media.

PS

The patent refers to 'online video' as 'podcast.' As podcasts can be audio or video podcasts, I wrote this post replacing the word 'podcast' with 'video' or 'online video.' One trick when applying for patents is to get protection for ideas in such a way that the competition don't think the idea applies to them.

Those who make the best compilations win!

 

 

Final Cut vs. Premiere: Speed/quality tradeoff?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Quality

A suprising article by Noam Kroll provides evidence that the quality of Adobe Premiere Pro CC's H.264 exports are noticeably worse than those from Final Cut Pro X:

After seeing this I can confidently say that I will not be compressing to H.264 using Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder any more. The image from Premiere is so much blockier, less detailed, and muddy looking, not to mention that the colors aren’t at all accurate.

In fact I even did another output test later on with Premiere Pro set to 20,000 kbps and FCP X only set to 10,000 kbps and still the FCP X image was noticeably higher quality, so clearly something is up.

I took Noam's two stills and used the Difference transfer mode and a Levels adjustment layer in Adobe Photoshop to show how different Noah's two encodes:

264-ecoding-diffs-sm

Click for larger version.

Speed

Larry Jordan has written an article that compares export times between Apple Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder using higher bandwidth codecs:

Adobe Media Encoder more than holds its own with Apple Compressor in terms of speed, image quality, and flexibility. The results of this test are striking!

Interestingly, Larry found that that Adobe Media Enocder was much better at preserving quality at low data rates.

Recently Divergent Media posted a video to show how fast their EditReady encoding application is. It compares EditReady with Adobe Media Encoder, Apple Compressor and Telestream Episode. 

You might want to spool to the end. Interesting result - but after seeing Noam's post, perhaps the resulting encodes weren't all of the same quality.

I suppose different situations will need different workflows: sometimes speed will be more important than quality, somethimes it will be the other way around.

Up until now Adobe may have spent more time making encodes look good when using non-H.264 codecs. The good news is that they are very responsive with their Creative Cloud updates, so they are very likely to take a look at this. 

 

Final Cut Pro X Virtual User Group - August Meeting

Friday, 15 August 2014

In June 2014, Alex Lindsay of Pixel Corps hosted the first Final Cut Pro X Virtual User Group. 

The broadcast was over two hours long and was based around onine questions. As well as having original staging, the hosting page shows what questions were asked, and the playback application can jump to he specific plave where the questions were answered.

The next Final Cut Virtual User Group meeting was on Thursday 15th August. 

Joining Steve Martin and Mark Spencer of Ripple Training this time was Noah Kadner of FCPWORKS, Chris Fenwick of The Final Cut Pro X Grill podcast, and Mike Matzdorff, first assistant editor on Hollywood feature films such as Volcano, Meet Joe Black, Fight Club and Focus.

The show page shows what questions were asked, and you can jump to each answer by clicking them.

The After Show

The after show isn't included on the show page, but there was some  interesting talk - including about who Apple listens to when it comes to creating new versions of Final Cut Pro.

Alex Lindsay talked about Apple's take on early versions of Final Cut:

We have this software, and we're going to prove it you can build it on top of QuickTime. Version 2 was ‘How do pound Avid into the ground?’ [...] What I heard was that if Steve [Jobs]'s head had spun around and and fire came out of his eyes they would not have been surprised when he found out about Avid [dropping the Mac and becoming PC only]

Alex went on to describe who Apple turned to when working out what to add to Final Cut 2 and 3. Then the discussion turned to Apple's decision to drop Final Cut Pro 7 and start from scratch and how that affected Apple, Avid and Adobe.

[Update: Although the after show video was available for a short while, the version on the FCVUG page no longer includes it - a previous version of this post suggested that you could watch the after show too] 

 

What’s next for Mac Pro graphics cards?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

If Apple update the Mac Pro this year, there's a very good chance that as well as introducing faster CPUs, they'll offer faster graphics cards. The FirePro D300, D500 and D700 in last year's Mac Pro are manufactured by AMD. AMD have spent the last few months updating the FirePro cards they make for PCs. The specifications of these new cards show how much more AMD can do for the same money.

The cards in the MacPro are custom made for Apple, but there are some rough equivalents between the D-series and the PC W-series. For example the D300 has similar specifications to the W7000. 

The W7000, W8000 and W9000 first appeared in 2012. The PC equivalents of the D300, D500 and D700. This year Apple may base their new Mac Pro GPU cards on more recent AMD cards.

Here is a table edited together from tables on the AnandTech site. The table is divided into three groups - representing low-, medium- and high-end Mac Pro options. Each group shows the original AMD card, the Apple-specified Mac Pro card and the 2014 update of the 2012 PC card.

CPU-cards-table-a

Click to see more detail

At each level AMD have at least doubled the VRAM, added 40% more stream processors. The W8100 and W9100 have wider memory buses (so more information can be transferred for each command) and many more transistors.

Although Apple can specify any number of stream processors, clock speeds or VRAM, these more recent cards show what AMD considers is the low-, medium- and high-end when it comes to PCs. For Mac owners perspective, they show how much card for a similar amount of money AMD can now make compared with the cards in the Mac Pro and 2012.

Find out about the W7100W8100 amd W9100 by reading more at AnandTech