Once Was Not Enough: Week in Review Returns
We’re re-introducing “Week in Review” from its hiatus. Why did we stop? We don’t like expending any of our web real estate unless we’re sure there’s a need served. In this case, enough of you have mentioned Week in Review over the past few months that we decided to restart it. What is it exactly? We take a look at the prior week’s pronouncements, product releases, blovations and any other bits that we think would make interesting reading.
This interpretive look back at the past week’s news points up a key aspect of NYCPPNEWS’ approach: we’re in no rush to get the news out. We’d rather take a little more time to mull things over, and consider a product’s good or bad attributes. Finally, we develop our own opinion based on our experience as journalists and creatives in our own right. You won’t find us reposting press releases as “news”.
Each Monday we’ll deliver “Week in Review”, but it’s only on the website to whet your appetite. After a trial period you won’t find it here, but simply subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll deliver it to your in-box once-a-week. We’ll also add in special features over the months that should be fun stuff. So watch this space…and sign up if you want our own unique take on the news. (Look for the sign-up link in the frontpage sidebar.)
Your Future is in the Clouds
Last week saw the 10th annual Cloud Expo turn up at the Javits. There wasn’t much for anyone working in traditional video post, but what was going on at the convention center gave a hint that this is starting to change fast. Using the cloud for video storage was trumpeted by a number of companies in attendance, including HP and Cisco.
Cost has been one consideration for potential users; it’s still cheaper to keep storage on site. But the increasing number of players in the cloud storage market will trigger a rapid drop in costs. Both Amazon and Google, for example, lowered their costs earlier this year for use of their cloud infrastructure. Amazon, a leader in running both programs and storage on its huge S3 worldwide network, dropped prices by up to 13.5%. Meanwhile, the company’s storage service reported a year-over-year growth of 192 percent for 2011.
So while “production in the cloud” is still a bit too much for most facilities to embrace, expect storing and editing your video online to become a real alternative in the coming years.
Currently, however, you need to be aware that companies charge not only for the storage on a per monthly basis but the amount of data transferred in and out as well as the number of requests made on the storage system.
That can get complex. One company at Cloud Expo, Synform, offered up a different, simplified approach to cloud storage. The Seattle-based company’s claim is that the traditional cloud storage model is “broken” as you can buy your own storage and run it locally at a much cheaper level than what you’ll pay to store the same amount of data on line.
So how does Synform make use of local storage? Somewhat similar to how torrent streams work—you know, The Pirate Bay and all that–you can have as much storage as you want but you must offer up some of your own storage and agree to be part of a worldwide network of similar users. How’s it work? You upload your video or other files to the cloud where they’re broken up, the bits encrypted and then sent to other customer’s personal storage. Whether or not you’re comfortable with parts of your files sitting on some unknown person’s storage, you’ll have to admit that’s a pretty unique approach.
A more practical approach to working in the cloud just got a lot cheaper, as Scenios recently announced a free version of their secure network for planning, production, and post. While the New York-based company’s clients include big players such as Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox, you can now create a free account with up to 5GB of storage for one production along with an unlimited number of users.
(I wrote about Scenios a while back when they had just come out of beta )
Instead of having to figure out whether cloud storage works for you, what Scenios offers makes instant sense. Using the company’s servers allows your production to use the ‘net to work collaboratively, share location scout reports, check out dailies together, post call sheets, and more.
Their paid services won’t set you back much either; Scenios Plus, for example, allows users to manage two productions and work with up to 100 GB of cloud storage for only $19 per month. Worth a try.
It’s Big and Loaded: Autodesk’s Entertainment Creation Suite 2013 Arrives
Autodesk’s massive Entertainment Creation Suite 2013 has just been released.
There are a number of powerful new features in the Suite. One we particularly like is the Autodesk FBX 2013 software file-interchange format. It brings a level of interoperability that enables you to establish a live streaming connection between a character in Maya and MotionBuilder. This should speed things considerably.
In our upcoming review, we’ll be checking out the new Ultimate version, which lists for $7995. This full on version contains major apps such as 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage. Softimage was once competitive with Maya before being bought out, and this fully featured 3D modeling, rendering and animation software remains a favorite of many. We’ll also touch upon Mudbox (3D sculpting and painting software); MotionBuilder (virtual production and motion capture editing software); and SketchBook Designer (concept art software).
You’ll also find enhanced f-curve editing, better interoperability between Maya and 3ds Max, more realistic hair in Maya, Bullet Physics, Enhanced After Effects and Photoshop interoperability in 3ds Max, interactive iRay rendering and… Wait a second. The list of new features in the Entertainment Creation Suite is really long and this is supposed to be a short update. So stay tuned for our review, where we’ll have plenty of space to treat everything in depth. In the meantime, check out the software here.
Integrate Green-screened Actors into Virtual Sets with Intensikey
Intensikey is an interesting 3D post-production virtual set system, which launched at NAB 2012. Intensikey allows you to integrate green screen footage of talent (actors, show hosts, news anchors) into 3D virtual sets in an easy-to-use virtual set system.
You can key the footage right inside the software, and then apply integrated camera moves. While we haven’t tested it yet, Intensikey looks promising, and seems to shave hours oaff of what would have taken a much longer time to pull off in complicated 3D and compositing programs.
Intensikey, developed by Eric Pratt, CEO of Virtualsetworks, addresses a need he saw for better functionality in virtual set post-production software. Look for our upcoming review. Want to know more now? Check out Intensikey’s website for more.
AMD’s New Pro Graphics Card Won’t Set You Back Much if You’re Pondering Digital Signage
While it might not be as sexy as working on the latest feature or commercial, many facilities in New York find solid job prospects by focusing on delivering great graphics and video on digital signage. No wonder: With today’s large and relatively inexpensive monitors, dynamic, multi-screen display video walls turn up in hotels, malls, concerts, Times Square and places we can’t even imagine. The need for good production content just keeps growing too as tech gets cheaper and more capable.
Take hardware for example. To capture some of this high-resolution, content rich market—one that had once relied on sluggish embedded graphics technology–AMD jumps in with its FirePro W600 graphics card. Built with power-efficient 28nm Core Next architecture, the card only pulls a top 75W even though it can decode two simultaneous HD video streams at once while pushing out video to six monitors via its mini-DisplayPort connectors. Its modest $599 list even includes 2GB of GDDR5 graphics memory.
Even if you just want to power a few displays in your facility’s lobby, check out what AMD has come up with by visiting AMD for more information.
–By Dan Ochiva and Joe Herman