Microsoft Finally Gets Its Commercials Right

There is no doubt in my mind that from a financial point of view PC’s running Windows provide a good value proposition when put up against a Mac. Now don’t get me wrong if you love a Mac because I do most of my work on an iMac which I’ve grown to like because of it’s incredible reliability. I use Windows PC’s and I have some older PC’s and laptops that run Ubuntu Linux. In fact Ubuntu and the entire open source movement actually provides a much better value than Windows and PC’s. The biggest struggles I face in computing are usually related to Windows and often and inability of Microsoft’s
own programs to work with the OS and/or work between each other.

That said I think the commercial (below) really puts the value that PC’s with Windows offers given most people just want their computers to work. I don’t know if its a Microsoft or HP advert but the commercial works for me…. To bad a PC can’t run Final Cut Pro…

Rethinking Blu-ray Authoring

Blu-ray Authouring Station At Ryerson University In Toronto

Blu-ray Authoring Station At Ryerson University In Toronto

Ok, so Blu-ray is not new…. And a variety of programs can now create Blu-ray media…. I know, I know…. I discovered this when I recently had to work myself through the process of shooting at 24p on a Canon HV-20 with the idea of outputting it in 24p using a PlayStation 3. It got complicated on my Apple system. I first had to used Apple’s Compressor to transcode the 24p frames out of the HDV bitsetream, edit it using in Final Cut Pro, run it through Compressor again to create an H.264 stream and and finally write the 24p h.264 stream back to Blu-ray. Yuck!

I found it was much easier using Pinnacle’s Studio 12 (which saw the 24 p stream immediately) and after editing my material it appeared to write it back to Blu-ray as a 24 frame file. Well at least that’s what the Playstation 3 told me.

With that bevy of experience behind me a research project crossed my desk this month that required a Windows desktop system. Windows was required because the Blu-ray authoring software that was being used included a BD Live authoring component. The project gave me the chance to re-invent a Blu-ray authoring workstation from scratch so I thought what I’d do in this blog post and outline what we ended up doing here at Ryerson.

Hardware Goodies

Tiger Directs Bareboneasaurus

Tiger Direct's Bareboneasaurus

One thing I had learned from both Apple’s Compressor and Studio 12 software was that the rendering process was the slowest part of the process, so a good processor is a key element. Since the research included some BD Live authoring (a relatively new programming discipline I guessed) I felt it was best to stay on Intel’s processors for this project so there would be no second guessing around the hardware as this new “black art” was being learned.

In the end it was TigerDirect’s Bareboneasaurus promotion that caught my eye as the base technology for this project. We have people here on staff who love to build computers and when I spotted the 4 core Intel and 12 gigs of DDR 3 memory this had to be the Unit. Not only would the multicore processor decrease rendering time, but the amount of RAM associated with the Bareboneasaurus would be handy in the future for other development activities. The kit (in Tiger Direct speak) consisted of ASUS P6T Intel Socket LGA1366 Barebone Kit – Intel Core i7 920, 12GB Corsair DDR3-1333, 1TB SATA2, Clear Side ATX Mid-Tower, 650W. The price you see above is in Canadian dollars.

For a video card –again in Tiger Direct speak– we chose a XFX GeForce 9800 GTX + Video Card – 512MB DDR3, PCI Express 2.0, SLI Ready, (Dual Link) Dual DVI, HDTV, VGA Support.

For our first monitor we chose a Sceptre X23WG-1080p 23in Wide 8ms DVI LCD Monitor. Although its use would be primarily a VGA monitor, it’s 1080p capability meant it could also double as a 1080 display when checking HD Blu-ray material.

We had an internal LG 6X Super-Multi Blu Ray Writer (Model : GGW-H20L) mounted in a 5.25in Silver eSATA USB 2.0 to SATA Optical Drive Enclosure. The portable unit had found a lot of use in the department writing one off Blu-ray media for display so I ordered a  GGW-H20L specific for the workstation. It’s still not delivered, so they must be hard to come by and that’s why you see the external Blu-ray writer installed as part of the workstation below.

TigerDirect's Bareboneasaurus (Assembled), GGW-H20L) mounted in a Optical Drive Enclosure and a a Sceptre X23WG-1080p

To view Blu-ray media in 1080p and to act as a second production model we the second monitor a Sharp Aquos 32″ 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV (model LC32D64U). We also chose a PlayStation 3 80GB as the Blu-ray player. The project needed an Internet connected Blu-ray player and we thought since SONY updates the software on its PlayStation’s we would be somewhat assured the hardware would work should BD Live firmware or software receive updates.

Sharp Aquos 32″ 1080p Flat-Panel, PlayStation 3 80GB Blu-ray player

Other additional items we obtained were four premium Blu-ray movie titles that BD Live content.

Blu-ray titles with BD Live Content

Blu-ray Titles with BD Live Content

One nice item we got with the PlayStation was the PlayStation Blu-ray remote control. After several botched attempts trying to access Blu-ray disks via the PlayStation 3 game controller the remote control actually  streamlines access to the disc features. In a way its funny that Bluetooth was chosen for PlayStation 3 but unlike standard infrared remotes, it can be used without having to point directly at the PlayStation system.

SONYs Bluetooth Remote Makes the BD Live Content Work

SONY's Bluetooth Remote Makes the BD Live Content Work

No Blu-ray blues with the hardware in this installation…..


DSLR Baseplate Kits are Making DSLR Cinematography Practical

Making DSLR Cameras For Cinematography Practical....

Technology like Zacuto’s DSLR Baseplate Kits are making practical DSLR camera’s so they can be used in cinematography. Cameras like the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D Mark II  are impacting the industry so much, it’s to the point that the RED Digital is redesigning the Scarlet into a DSLR type camera.

While most “full bodied” video and film camera types are watching with interest it appears a real revolution is going on in this space so one needs to take note.


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Panasonic DMC-GH1 Micro 4/3 digital camera – Hybrid Photo Digital Cinema Camera

The pricing Panasonic’s new DMC-GH1 Micro 4/3 digital camera has just been revealed by SlashGear. The camera will go on sale in Japan on April 24th, priced at around 150,000 yen ($1,530).

The camera will shoot 24 frame 1080P and is amongst a bevy of new hybrid DSLR cameras that are becoming available that take advantage ofD SLR lenses.

One nice feature of this camera is that it maintains focus as one zooms. The video below demonstrates this functionality


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Sony’s Field Emission Technologies – FED technology worth watching closes its doors

According to an Engadget report SONY’s spinoff Field Emission Technologies is closing its doors. The company was youting the technology as a replacement for CRT monitors used in high end broadcast and film for critical evaluation. The technology had actually captured some buzz amongst the TV and Film engineering community.

Don’t know what the future of the concept is so if it’s a RIP scenerio I’ve included a couple of video’s on FED technology below;


Want to know about some of the New Technology you’ll see at NAB 2009 – Check out the technology at HPA Technology Retreat 2009

JVC Monitor That Converts 2D Images To 3D

JVC Monitor That Converts 2D Images To 3D

The Hollywood Post Alliance describes their 15th annual technology retreat with the slogan “Now more than ever! Arm your Brain”. Well if you don’t think te info “Arms your Brain” the minimum it can do is arm you for NAB 2009. While I can’t do a full report on this event since I wasn’t at the event, here are some one line highlights from various postings I have read.

Panavision SSR

Panavision SSR

  • Panavison showed a new version of their solid state dockable recorder called the SSR-2. The SSR-2 records 42 minutes of uncompressed 4:4:4 or 84 minutes of uncompressed 4:2:2 HDSDI data.
  • Sheau Ng, VP, NBC Universal of NBC Olympics talked of content protection via fingerprinting
  • AboveNET’s  high-seed fiber optic private network for motion picture, TV and media content creators.  AboveNet offers high speed connectivity between studios involved in content creation and AboveNet owns the fibre.

    Alioscopy autostereographic display

    Alioscopy autostereographic display

  • Alioscopy demonstrated a 3D display that required no glasses.
  • Adobe’s RED 4K R3D RAW files imported natively and working in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro
  • Rabbit Holes demonstrated 3D Motion Holograms

    3D codec for theaters that will deliver 2K images

    3D codec for theaters that will deliver 2K images

  • TDVision Systems demonstrated a 3D codec that allows theaters to deliver a full 2K 3D image to movie theater screens
  • Apple’s prototype of a plug-in that enables 3D stereoscopic editing
  • Digital Vision showed Turbine 2009 and Nucoda 2009 that will be launched at NAB
  • Bright Systems BrightClip Recording Technology that intelligently places media files in a manner that supports performance stability
  • Rob Kobrin noted that by 2012, one-third of all disk storage sold will be to the media and entertainment market
  • JVC demonstrated a 3D LCD monitor that can convert 2D images to 3D
  • Digital Film Technology OptiPin optical pin registration system for the Spirit 2K/4K/HD family
  • Steve Weinstein noted that Hulu, YouTube and other over-the-top TV solutions are breaking cable and satellite.
  • Graham Jones of NAB talked how ATSC 2.0 promises to deliver new services that include 3D, 1080/60p, and ITV
  • JVC’s GYHM 100 handheld and GYHM700 shoulder camcorders that natively record the file format used by Final Cut Pro.
  • 23.2 percent of U.S. households had HDTVs as of November 30, up from 12.8 percent according to Nielsen Research
  • Fully one-third of US households don’t watch HD programming according to independent studies from Frank N. Magid Associates and Leichtman Research Group
  • JVC showed two prototype 3D HDTV monitors both using polarized passive glasses.
  • Mark Schubin noted most viewers watching HD are tuned to sports, with political content in second place, followed by awards shows and sitcoms. HD dramas did not make the list.
  • MTI Film showed Control Dailies DA which ingests Red, Panasonic P2, Panavision Genesis and ARRI D21 material and is able to place this footage on the same timeline.
  • Polled ATSC members on important features thought that an ATSC standardized advanced video codec and non-real-time services were top of the list, while stereoscopic 3D ranked 18th out of 26 features.
  • Panasonic showed a wireless metadata entry system for the P2 cameras
  • Panasonic also showed a Varicam 3700 4:4:4 full 1080P resolution camera with master quality AVC-1 recording and external uncompressed recording.
  • Between 15 and 20 million US homes rely on over-the-air TV and 6.5 million of them aren’t ready for DTV
  • Sarnoff introduced a new Visualizer Digital Video Test Pattern that tests for compression, lipsync, color matrix mismatch, field dominance and chroma motion.

    MPEG-4 h.264

    MPEG-4 h.264

  • EBU tests have found that MPEG-4 h.264 encoders have reached a 50% bandwidth savings vs. MPEG-2.
  • The most pessimistic forecast calls for 18 million 3D-ready TV sets in homes by 2012
  • SmartJog showed global electronic delivery of Digital Cinema Packets between distributors used for DCP mastering and servicing facilities.
  • SONY’s 4K 3D projector can handle up to a 55-foot wide screen with 4.5 ftL of brightness.
  • BBC are working on developing 3D production that employs 2D cameras and synthetically creates a 3D experience
  • Snell & Wilcox introduced “Film Tools” conversion technology for the Alchemist HD Standard Converter.
  • Pete Putnam noted that in recent months he has seen an increase in emails from consumers who are cutting the cable chord, saving money, and spending their days watching over-the-air television and videos downloaded via the Internet.
  • Dr. Stephen Jolly BBC researcher noted that 120 Hz LCD TVs are becoming common and 180/200/240 Hz models are being exhibited.  300 Hz is may be the goal as its easy to convert to 50/60 Hz and is compatible with mains frequencies. It would finally unify our different TV standards.
  • Chris Cookson, president of Sony Pictures Technologies noted that Five years from now when we look at what type of bandwidth, processing power will be available, what the price of storage and components that will be available,  it’s imperative that by that time we are more automated and data centric than today.”
  • Sony Electronics showed an HKSR-5804 option for the SRW-5800 videotape recorder that  turns the VTR into an uncompressed data recorder for 2K/4K DPX files.
  • The ATSC and the Consumer Electronics Association are  working to make TV receivers less prone to lip sync woes.

I got these bullets and shots from;


Mark Schubin (Right)

Finally I understand that many of these links originated from Mark Schubin. I just tweeted something about him that occurred outside of HPA 2009. Mark Schubin’s “The Fandom of the Opera” captured at the December Toronto Section SMPTE meeting. It made the “big time”.


Wanna be a NAB 2009 Reporter?

Larry Jordan FCP Guru

According to Final Cut Pro Guru Larry Jordan Digital Production BuZZ, which I believe is Larry’s podcast, has been selected as the Official Podcast of the 2009 NAB Show this year.

That’s great news as Larry has been one who has put much into the Final Cut Pro community. However as these things go its being done on a minuscule budget and Larry is looking for a few reporters to help him out. Right now volunteer but if he gets enough sponsors he’s looking at remuneration.  The podcast is sure to get a lot of play so this would be a good opportunity for someone who wants to raise their profile a bit or promote their podcast or blog within the community.

The details of how you can participate are as follows from his newsletter;

If you would like to be part of this effort, and are already planning to be at NAB, send an email to She will let you know what we need.

As of today, we can only use volunteers. However, we are working to get sponsors and as soon as money starts coming in, I’ll be able to pay you for your time.

Break a leg…..


Red Digitals Scarlet Shot – Said To Be For NAB 2009

Is This An Image From Scarlet? Reds Cost Effective Digital Cinema Camera.

Is This An Image From Scarlet? Red's Cost Effective Digital Cinema Camera.

This image has appeared on the ProVideo web blog. It’s said to be an image from Scarlet, Red Digital’s new camera that’s listed on their site starting at $3000.00 U.S.

Too bad RED is not at NAB.


Torrent Droid – A New Form Of Automating Torrent Downloads – Scan Barcodes, Get Torrents

A post this week on TorrentFreak demonstrates how sophisticated torrent downloads are becoming with new technology. A technology called Torrent Droid destined to hit the download circuit in the next few weeks. Using Torrent Droid one only needs to photograph the barcode using your mobile smartphone on any standard media product. Once the barcode is detected by the software it can then be instructed to initiate the medias download on a home torrent computer.

This is pretty wild technology


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How To Build An Inexpensive HDTV Antenna

Below is a great video on how you build a great and inexpensive HDTV antenna. It has complete instructions and even shows you the tools you need. According to the author the one demonstrated in the video operates better than store bought amplified antennas.

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If you like this video you can also check out a video by this link where Jim Lipka makes them for refugees.