UK technology on display at NAB: a glimpse at what some British companies brought to the show - NAB Report - Brief ArticleBob Pank
LAS VEGAS -- UK suppliers have traditionally offered much for the post industry and the new line-up at NAB served to show their continuing support -- and then some. Contributions from the recently acquired companies PSP Digital and Post Impressions helped propel the Snell & Wilcox (www.snellwilcox.com) expansion into post. PSP has added directly to the switcher range, offering both HD and SD operation in compact 8-input/1-ME and 16-input configurations, which complement the existing S&W product line. Moving beyond supplying their renowned "black-box" technology, there are now some system solutions offered. The realtime RGB 2K-thru-SD capable Spirint disk recorder, originally from Post Impressions, has been integrated into several applications, including color grading with Pandora. Add in the HD6200 every-which-way standards converter and this makes up the new Piccaso grading system developed to grade trailers for Star Wars: Episode II.
In a new slant, Splicer is network applications editing software, which runs on Java and requires no direct access to a "suite" or "bay" as the GUI can be displayed and operated from anywhere on the network. Splicer reads EDLs and AAF files, is primarily aimed at conforming work and includes control for both Spirint and the HD6200 converter. The latter includes aspect ratio conversion (ARC) which handles 4:3/16:9 conversions as well as programmable pan and scan.
2001 saw the introduction of significant new powerful tracking and keying tools from two British companies: Mokey (www.mokey.net) from IS Distribution and Boujou from 2d3 (www.2d3.com). Both have enjoyed early success and now have evolved to version 2. The Mokey 2, which automatically removes foreground elements, both responds to feedback and improves the GUI. With the continual display of results as they are processed, it is more interactive. Processing speeds are improved by 20 to 40 percent so there are also changes" under the hood."
Much praise has already been heaped on the automatic 3D camera tracking of Boujou -- but Boujou2 offers yet more. Again, there is more under the hood with a re-engineered tracking engine that can track through variations of lighting affecting feature identification, and even into murky dark areas that lack much detail. Also, operation can be more hands-on allowing expert intervention to produce the best of human and software input. In an industry-first, lens correction tools allow dealing with compositing issues resulting from lens distortions. Look out for Pixel Dust to be shown at SIGGRAPH, which will be a realization of some of the technology demos seen over the last months. These should include Clean Plate for the removal of selected foreground objects.
In the space of just two years, 5D (www.five-d.com) has moved from plug-in supplier to a solutions provider offering a range of equipment to serve many post requirements. The Cyborg effects editor moves up to V.2 and makes available multi-resolution compositing on a single timeline. There is an extended effects range, including a perspective camera with shutter, depth-of-field and focus control, hardware accelerated lighting and 3D object support.
5D is devoting much attention to workflow at all levels. For example, broadband streaming for online reviewing, approvals and ordering is taking-off big time -- hence the presence of Beam.tv (www.beam.tv) on the 5D booth. A direct connection between Colossus, 5D's grading and mastering solution (now shipping), and Beam.tv has much appeal. Beam.tv takes over where The Mill's highly successful emill (audio and video viewing up to full res) left off, adding more power and the extra sophistication needed in this rapidly growing market. Easier management tools and a simplified cost structure have proved popular. For example, one tool, Web Sync, allows appending comments to any frames. The comments can then be searched for and related to the correct frames. There are already many users and partners not just in London and Europe but around the globe. One of the services allows viewing, selecting and ordering a clip. The higher rez material is then streamed to a local partner, recorded to tape and delivered within ab out an hour.
5D has also created a meaningful integration with ITK's (www.innovation-tk.com) Millennium Machine telecine. Operating in data mode this connects with a 5D Commander realtime record and review system (now at V2) over an HDSL link. ITK itself unveiled a new aperture corrector which, managing director Stuart Hunt comments "was designed to minimize the visibility of film grain in the image without compromising sharpness."
Continuing the telecine track, Cintel had its new DSX telecine on display, offering scans at 4K, 2K, SD and HD. A major feature of DSX is its inclusion of OSCAR (Optical Scratch Concealment And Removal), a reatime electro-optical system to remove the effects of surface contaminants, such as dust and scratches. Simply put, this is an optical wet gate system, without the harmful fluid.
Pandora International (www.pandora-int.com) announced its Pogle Evolution control panel offering more intuitive and user-friendly ergonomics. In addition to dedicated knobs and soft keys, there is an integrated Wacom touch tablet. The panel continues development. Meanwhile, MooreMegaDef offers several new layers of sophistication for the PiXi and MegaDef color correctors. These include a dual primary color corrector with up to two windows and a dedicated vignette layer featuring three windows.
The report would not be complete without mention of Quantel's launch of generationQ -- a clean sweep and an entire new product range (see page 20 for full story).This bold step reflects Quantel's ability to estimate market needs and offer what's required. In an ideal world this would happen every year or so but the industry is only treated to such step-functions about once a decade. Previous decades produced Henry and Hal, Mirage and Paint-box, before that the practical video ADC itself. Enough said!
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