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March 2007
Nucleo Pro Energizes After Effects
If you’re an After Effects user working on the newer multi-processor and multi-core machines, GridIron Software’s Nucleo Pro plug-in is a must.
Scaling Footage With Digital Anarchys ReSizer 2.0
Digital Anarchy’s ReSizer 2.0 is a plug-in for resizing footage or up-converting standard definition to high definition in Adobe After Effects and Premier Pro and in Apple Final Cut Pro.
Red Giant Softwares Instant HD
Almost as fast as its name implies, Red Giant Software’s Instant HD scaling plug-in resizes footage quickly, up-converting digital video into a variety of high-definition video formats
Cinescore Simplifies Scoring
Sony Media Software has introduced Cinescore software, a new concept in music creation technology that automatically generates complete custom soundtracks for filmmakers, audio producers and other content creators who require royalty-free music to enhance and enrich their work. 
55mm Version 7.0 Adds 12 Filters
Digital Film Tools released 55mm 7.0, a comprehensive set of digital optical filters for Adobe After Effects and compatible programs, Adobe Photoshop and compatible programs, Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Motion and Avid Editing Systems.
1.5x Tele Converter
16x9 Inc. introduced the EX 1.5X, a top-of-the-line Tele Converter designed to enhance the performance of popular compact high-defintion (HD) camcorders, including the Sony HVR-V1U and HDR-FX7.
DVC ClipRecorder XTreme HD and HD SAN
The ClipRecorder XTreme HD from DVC (Digitalvideo Computing, based in Germany) is an uncompressed digital disk recorder/server for the recording, storage and replay of high-definition (HD) and standard-definition (SD) sequences.
Blu-ray for XDCam
Fujifilm U.S.A., Inc. introduced Fujifilm PD711 for the XDCam Professional Disc System, a Blu-ray-based optical recording disc for use with Sony XDCam and XDCam HD video systems.
Focus Enhancements FS-100 Supports DVCPro HD
Focus Enhancements Inc. has launched its new version 3.0 software for the FS-100 Portable Direct To Edit (DTE) Recorder. Version 3.0 adds native DVCPro HD 720/24p, 25p and 30p recording capabilities, which more than doubles the record time on the FS-100. 
Litepanels Introduces MiniPlus LED Light
The new MiniPlus compact, portable LED softlight offers an upgraded design and new features. Available in daylight (flood and spot) and tungsten (flood) models, the powerful new system provides over 25-percent greater output.

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Nucleo Pro Energizes After Effects

If you’re an After Effects user working on the newer multi-processor and multi-core machines, GridIron Software’s Nucleo Pro plug-in is a must. This productivity enhancement tool optimizes the workflow for these powerful computers by allowing users to render and work in After Effects 7.0 (and above) at the same time while maximizing the full use of all available CPU resources.

GridIron Nucleo Pro is a follow-up to GridIron’s Nucleo, which allows After Effects users to fully utilize all CPUs in a multi-CPU or multi-core workstation when generating previews and renders. Nucleo Pro focuses on greatly optimizing how an artist uses After Effects. Here’s how:

On multi-CPU machines, the Fast Preview and Fast Render features of Nucleo Pro divide the work that is ordinarily performed by After Effects on a single processor and allows it to run in parallel on multiple cores. Nucleo Pro uses the background After-Effects processes to render a subset of the frames in the compositions while utilizing the idle processing power of the additional CPUs.

Nucleo Pro also has Spec Preview. With this function enabled, Nucleo automatically and continuously renders it and fills in the After Effects RAM cache. An added benefit is Nucleo Pro’s ability to detect changes to the composition, thus re-rendering the modified frames. The plug-in also can create cached disk files, or scratch files, of the rendered frames, and when a composition is closed and reopened, the pre-rendered frames will fill in the AE RAM cache automatically.

With Spec-Render, Nucleo Pro automatically and continuously renders the composition while you are working to the final output format, not to AE RAM cache. Again, any changes will be detected, and those frames re-rendered.

Nucleo Pro also takes care of one of the more frustrating aspects of After Effects: the render lockout. When renders are performed within the After Effects Render Queue, you are locked out of After Effects and left to stare at the computer screen until the render is completed. Nucleo Pro’s Background Render feature provides its own Background Render Queue. Items go to the After Effects Render Queue as they normally would. However, once the “Render” button is pressed, Nucleo Pro will transfer the queued items on the AE Render Queue to the Nucleo Pro Background Render Queue and render the items in the background while, most importantly, allowing you to continue work on a composition or project.

Another nifty effort in speeding up the render (and, ultimately, project workflow) is the Commit to Disk option. Layers in the timeline that are complete take up valuable render time when previewing. Nucleo Pro allows those layers to be rendered to disk, and when the render is complete, the selected layers in the composition are nondestructively replaced with the rendered footage item.

So, the big question: just how much faster can After Effects renders be with Nucleo Pro? I ran some comparison renders on an AMD Opteron 64 dual-2GHz-processor dual-core system with 2GB of RAM and maxed out the Nucleo Pro settings because I wanted speed without any sacrifice in quality. I had a 15,932-frame project consisting of standard-definition, 525-line 50i DV footage with a total of 42 adjustment layers of various color correction, Magic Bullet looks, film-damage emulation and hard mattes. The standard After Effects render of that material to an uncompressed QuickTime file took 10 hours and 1 minute. With Nucleo Pro enabled, that same render took only 5 hours and 53 minutes.

In bumping up 720p HD footage to 1080 resolution in After Effects, a render to an uncompressed QuickTime file of 1,405 frames took 19 minutes 31 seconds. With Nucleo Pro, that was accomplished in 13 minutes 08 seconds. Clearly, the savings in time will add up.

On a short, 418-frame 1080 25p HDCam clip, I animated a Knoll Light Factory flare, some radio waves and spiraling motion text and performed some color corrections. Without Nucleo Pro, the clip rendered out in 12 minutes 12 seconds. After engaging Nucleo, that clip was spit out in 7 minutes 26 seconds.

There is one caveat, however, when it comes to rendering effects based on temporally dependent plug-ins. Because this type of plug-in requires the results of a previous frame to render the current frame, those frames will be rendered without the aid of Nucleo Pro, resulting in no performance gain.

In short, if you are an After Effects 7.0 user, even for the most basic tasks, GridIron’s Nucleo Pro plug-in is a must … unless you really enjoy thumb-twiddling. GridIron Nucleo Pro — $495 per workstation — supports Adobe After Effects version 7.0 on both Windows and Mac OS X. (GridIron’s original Nucleo — $149.95 per workstation — supports Adobe After Effects version 6.5 and 7.0 on both Windows and Mac OS X.)

by Douglas Bankston 

contact info:  
www.gridironsoftware.com
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Scaling Footage With Digital Anarchys ReSizer 2.0

Digital Anarchy’s ReSizer 2.0 is a plug-in for resizing footage or up-converting standard definition to high definition in Adobe After Effects and Premier Pro and in Apple Final Cut Pro. ReSizer has two algorithms for scaling — simply labeled “Better” and “Best” — and users can control how much these algorithms sharpen or smooth the footage. (Technically, there are four algorithms, but “Fast” and “No Filtering” are primarily for speed and compositing purposes.) With these adjustable algorithms, aliasing, or stair-stepping, can be minimized in the up-converted footage. The Best (Smooth) quality tends to look more softened, while the Best (Sharp) setting has Advanced slider adjustments to allow for softness and smoothness fine-tuning. ReSizer can scale footage up to 800 percent via sliders, though you can bypass these and specify the exact pixel dimensions you need, and many common HD and film resolutions are included in a Preset Manager.

In using After Effects, Digital Anarchy recommends applying ReSizer to a solid layer, rather than the source footage itself, because in some cases After Effects may re-scale the footage to account for differences between the aspect ratio of the composition and the footage, which would partially defeat the effects of ReSizer. However, this won’t happen in a solid layer.

Also, ReSizer works only with progressive footage, and the plug-in includes a Deinterlacer, though Digital Anarchy suggests using it only if your host’s deinterlacer isn’t up to snuff. After Effects’ deinterlacer has always been a good one.

Finding the right combination for your footage will require some test outputs, and there isn’t one global setting that will work for an entire project. ReSizer’s effects depend on the subject matter of a clip or scene. In testing the up-converting of some standard-definition PAL material to HD in After Effects, I found that the footage held up fairly well when sized from 525 to 720, particularly in close-ups with actors. Wider shots required some experimentation to find the right balance of sharpness and softness. (Too sharp and the background began to buzz.) Up-converting to 1080, the “screen door” effect really began to rear its head. I found 720 to be the most pleasing and the highest I could scale without significantly diminishing image quality. If you can deliver a 720 HD project instead of 1080, all the better.

However, different footage will yield different results. For example, in converting a couple of 1280x720p originating clips to 1920x1080, I found it to be a tough call between the Better and Best algorithms. One clip followed a man running up a building fire escape and featured plenty of vertical and diagonal lines and edges and diagonal shadows. With this clip, any over-sharpening was readily apparent in the form of aliasing, so the sharpening slider had to be toned down. The other clip featured a lit candle and an actress’ face in a dark room. The Best algorithm looked “best” on this clip only because the edges of the face were slightly sharper. Still, this plug-in could save you a ton of money in up-conversion (and even down-conversion) fees at a post house.

Digital Anarchy’s ReSizer 2.0 is priced at $149. ReSizer 1.0 users can upgrade for $99. ReSizer 2.0 works in After Effects 5.0 and higher, Premier Pro 2.0 and Final Cut Pro 4.0 and higher.

by Douglas Bankston

contact info:

Digital Anarchy (415) 586-8434

 
www.digitalanarchy.com
info@digitalanarchy.com
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Red Giant Softwares Instant HD

Almost as fast as its name implies, Red Giant Software’s Instant HD scaling plug-in resizes footage quickly, up-converting digital video into a variety of high-definition video formats. Five simple controls make the application of the plug-in fast: Output Size, Filter Type, Sharpness, Quality Settings and Antialiasing.

To be as quick and easy to use as possible, the plug-in is applied directly to the source footage, eschewing the creation of an additional layer that Digital Anarchy recommends for its ReSizer plug-in. According to Red Giant’s Sean Safreed, by changing the Interpret Footage effect to make a standard-definition original come in as square pixels (720x480 square) and then dialing in a custom size for the up-converison in Instant HD’s custom size control, a very slightly sharper output will be generated but is nearly unnoticeable. (Remember, sometimes “sharper” isn’t always preferred when up-converting.) “We decided to trade an imperceptible quality difference for ease of use,” Safreed notes.

Instant HD only works with progressive footage or interlaced footage that has been converted to progressive. Instant HD can resize (up and down) footage types from Web cam to HD and aid in panning and scanning. 525 PAL footage converted to 1280x720 (really 900x720) looked good as long as the sharpening was minimized. (Too high and the Sharpness and Antialiasing settings seemed to be fighting each other.) Up-converting to either 1440x1080 or 1920x1080 brought about the “screen door” effect, and any up-tick in the sharpness setting was magnified for the worse. Results really depend on the type of clip and subject matter involved. The SD material I selected just didn’t hold up to 1080 converison. 720 was its limit before falling apart. And it was difficult to tell if After Effects’ pixel aspect ratio scaling was affecting the results.

The 1280x720p HD candle clip looked very nice up-converted to 1920x1080, with a good balance of smoothness and sharpness on the edges of the actress’ face and in the candle flame’s surrounding glow. The Quality control made the biggest difference with the 720p-to-1080 clip following an actor running up a fire escape with lots of diagonal and vertical edges. The number of edges and angles necessitated Sharpness to be set at 5 or lower. (Yes, 6 made that much difference.) With Quality set to 20, the edges had just the right smoothness to them. With Quality set to 10, the definition and color of those edges started to chunk up a bit. Now, too much Antialiasing actually degraded these lines. Basically, what this means is that you’ll need to do testing, testing, testing on small samples of your clips. However, you’ll be able to avoid a hefty up- and/or down-conversion bill from the post house.

Red Giant is working on preserving the ease of use of Instant HD while avoiding any scaling artifacts in After Effects and should have this update, along with the ability to handle direct interlaced upconversion, by the end of March.

Priced at $99, Instant HD works with Adobe After Effects 6.0 or later and Premiere Pro 1.5 or later, as well as with Apple Final Cut Pro 4.1 or later.

by Douglas Bankston

contact info:

Red Giant Software (260) 918-4505

 
www.redgiantsoftware.com
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Cinescore Simplifies Scoring

Sony Media Software has introduced Cinescore software, a new concept in music creation technology that automatically generates complete custom soundtracks for filmmakers, audio producers and other content creators who require royalty-free music to enhance and enrich their work. Cinescore software provides content creators with a broad palette of musical themes that can be customized to match the specific moods and genres of the surrounding work. After users select a basic “Theme,” the Cinescore music-generation engine creates music that can be shaped to fit. The music’s time and tempo, intensity, variation and repetition can be easily connected with associated video or voiceover down to frame-level accuracy to create the perfect soundtrack without requiring any specialized musical knowledge or technical skill. Cinescore software comes complete with a core music repertoire, but can be augmented with a series of professionally produced and recorded Theme Packs to ensure a unique sound regardless of the scale of the project or projects. 

Behind this program’s streamlined and familiar-looking Sony Media Software interface, the full range of Cinescore features include real-time enhanced editing during playback and ripple editing functions that allow changes across multiple tracks simultaneously.

Key features include the ability to automatically generate music to fit the project or section length; a selection of 20 fully customizable Themes in multiple genres with the option to purchase alternate Theme Packs; and 16-bit/44.1kHz music quality. User-defined setting yield diverse musical results, and custom variations can be created and saved, including multiple song ending types for the generated media and hint markers to control changes in tempo, mood and intensity. More than 300 sound effects and audio transitions are included. The video scoring track has a real-time video preview window.

Other features include an audio sweetening track; real-time editing during playback; interactive “Show Me How” tutorials; volume and pan envelopes; audio time stretching; track markers and regions; CD audio extraction; external monitor preview; unlimited undo/redo; and project media bins. List price is $249.95. Additional Theme Packs are available for $99.95.

contact info:

 
www.sony.com/mediasoftware
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55mm Version 7.0 Adds 12 Filters

Digital Film Tools released 55mm 7.0, a comprehensive set of digital optical filters for Adobe After Effects and compatible programs, Adobe Photoshop and compatible programs, Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Motion and Avid Editing Systems.

55mm 7.0 adds 12 new filters as well as tuning existing filter algorithms. Chromatic Aberration, Color Infrared, Cool Mist, Defringe, Double Fog, Edge Glow, Old Photo, Pencil, Split Tone, X-Ray, and the new Two-Strip and Three-Strip filters are just some of the highlights of 55mm 7.0. The Three-Strip and Two-Strip plug-ins were created under the direction of Academy Award-winning visual-effects supervisor Rob Legato, who used the process to great effect in The Aviator. The Technicolor Two-Strip process was the first stab at producing color motion pictures and consisted of photographing two black-and-white images simultaneously using red and green filters. This look creates an odd but pleasing hand-painted look where faces appear normal and green takes on a blue-green quality, while the sky and all blue picture elements appear cyan.

55mm consists of digital optical filters meant to simulate popular glass camera filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain and exacting color correction, as well as natural light and photographic effects — all in a controlled digital environment. The set of plug-ins includes Black and White, Black Mist, Bleach Bypass, Blur, Center Spot, Chromatic Aberration, Color Compensating, Color Conversion, Color Correct, Color Grad, Color Infrared, Color Spot, Cool Mist, Cross Processing, Day for Night, Defog, Defringe, Depth of Field, Diffusion, Double Fog, Dual Grad, Edge Glow, Enhancing, Faux Film, Flashing, Fluorescent, Fog, F-Stop, GamColor Gels, Gels, Glow, Gold Reflector, Grain, Halo, Infrared, Kelvin, Lens Distortion, Light, Light Balancing, Low Contrast, Mist, Mono Tint, ND Grad, Night Vision, Old Photo, Overexpose, Ozone, Pencil, Photographic Filters, Polarizer, Printer Points, Rack Focus, Radial Exposure, ReLight, Rosco Gels, Selective Color Correct, Selective Saturation, Silver Reflector, Skin Smoother, Soft Effects, Split Field, Split Tone, Star, Streaks, Strip Grad, Sunset/Twilight, Telecine, Temperature, Three-Strip, Tint, Two-Strip, Ultra Contrast, Vari-Star, Vignette, Warm/Cool, Warm Black Mist, Warm Mist, Warm Soft Effects and X-Ray.

Pricing is $245 for Adobe Photoshop and $495 for Avid Editing Systems, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion, Autodesk Combustion and Eyeon Digital Fusion; upgrade pricing is available for existing customers. 55mm is available for download or purchase at www.digitalfilmtools.com.

contact info:  
www.digitalfilmtools.com
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1.5x Tele Converter

16x9 Inc. introduced the EX 1.5X, a top-of-the-line Tele Converter designed to enhance the performance of popular compact high-defintion (HD) camcorders, including the Sony HVR-V1U and HDR-FX7. The 1.5X simply threads onto the front of the camera lens, adding 1.5x magnification, moving the focal range into the telephoto direction. 

When teamed with the HVR-V1U’s internal 1.5x digital extender, the EX 1.5X combines to produce a full 2.25x telephoto effect. The original camera lens focal length of 3.9-78mm shifts to 14-175mm, or the equivalent of a 35mm-format still lens with a range of 135-1683mm. The new 16x9 Inc. attachment also offers significant zoom-through ability. When used with the internal extender, the Tele Converter lets operators zoom nearly 12.5x before vignetting.

The lightweight (21 oz), and compact (68mm long) production tool mounts to the front of the HVR-V1U and HDR-FX7 lens via an easy-to-use 72-62mm step-down ring (included at no charge). The Tele Converter’s 72mm screw-in rear threads allow it to work equally well with Sony HVR-Z1U and HDR-FX1, Canon XH A1, XH G1, XL H1 and XL2, as well as with Panasonic AG-DVX100B camcorders. For professional shading solutions, the unit comes with a round, lightweight hood. The EX 1.5X lens front is threaded to accept either the complimentary hood, 86mm glass filters or a combination of filter with the hood front-mounted for even greater light control.

The 16x9 Inc. EX Collection is engineered and built in Japan for optimum optical performance. The 1.5X features an innovative, technically advanced design employing an elegant assembly of five multi-coated elements. Low-dispersion glass reduces chromatic aberrations and provides professional images with exceptional crispness and clarity. Suggested retail price is $875.

contact info:

16x9  (661) 295-3313

 
www.16x9inc.com
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DVC ClipRecorder XTreme HD and HD SAN

The ClipRecorder XTreme HD from DVC (Digitalvideo Computing, based in Germany) is an uncompressed digital disk recorder/server for the recording, storage and replay of high-definition (HD) and standard-definition (SD) sequences. The ClipRecorder XTreme HD can be used in 4:2:2 (single-link SDI) and in 4:4:4 (dual-link SDI) modes. Data is stored natively on a standard NTFS file system.

As with the high-end ClipRecorder XTreme 2K, the Cliprecorder XTreme HD supports all common file formats like DPX, Cineon, TIFF, YUV and QuickTime. The most significant difference between XTreme HD and XTreme 2K is XTreme 2K’s ability to record and replay in HSDL in 2K resolution. The internal Disk Array, consisting of 15K SAS Disks, has a capacity between 293GB up to 1,176GB, which means up to 94 minutes of HD in 4:4:4 DPX.

The new ClipRecorder XTreme HD SAN is a 2K/HD I/O Server for SAN installations. Instead of the internal Disk Arrays the ClipRecorder XTreme HD SAN has a dual-link 4-Gigabit FibreChannel interface and can be combined with a SAN like Bright Systems or DataDirect. For “single user” applications, DVC offers FibreRAID Strorage from Axus.

Both new models, the ClipRecorder XTreme HD and XTreme HD SAN, are based on the latest Intel technology with Dual Core Xeon processors, 2GB RAM, a frontside bus up to 1,333MHz, Dual-Gigabit Ethernet and Dual-DVI interface. Both new models have RS422 Master/Slave control and emulate all common VTR/DDR protocols like 9-pin, Louth and Odetics.

contact info:

DVC/Digitalvideo Computing GmbH, +49 8152 93010

 

 
www.digitalvideo.de
info@digitalvideo.de
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Blu-ray for XDCam

Fujifilm U.S.A., Inc. introduced Fujifilm PD711 for the XDCam Professional Disc System, a Blu-ray-based optical recording disc for use with Sony XDCam and XDCam HD video systems. The Fujifilm PD711 offers 23.3GB capacity on a single disc, very fast transfer rates of up to 144Mbps, and an advanced hard coating. 

The Fujifilm PD711 boasts rewriteable recording material that enables 72Mbps data transfer per head (144 Mbps with 2 heads) for fast random data access, with certain hardware/software configurations generating rates of 86/172Mbps. The discs are optimized for capturing 1080i video and up to four tracks of high-quality audio. These discs also allow users to capture large volumes of metadata and record more than 60 minutes of HD video at 35Mbps, 90 minutes at 25Mbps and over 120 minutes at 18Mbps when used in the XDCam HD system.

The high-sensitivity phase change recording material delivers stable recording and playback from the Fujifilm PD711, and discs are readable over 1,000,000 times. The XDCam system requires precise, high-density recording, so the discs utilize a unique hard coating to minimize dust adhesion and surface scratches, ensuring enhanced durability and reliable playback. Additionally, the discs are packaged in a durable and dust-resistant cartridge, are resistant to heat and humidity and are resistant to X-rays, which means that they are ideal for use in extreme field recording environments.  These features enable a long media life and long-term media storage, so with proper handling and appropriate environment the discs have a potential archival storage life of more than 50 years.
    To learn more about the full line of Fujifilm professional recording and storage solutions, visit www.fujifilmusa.com/proav.

contact info:

 

 
www.fujifilmusa.com/proav
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Focus Enhancements FS-100 Supports DVCPro HD

Focus Enhancements Inc. has launched its new version 3.0 software for the FS-100 Portable Direct To Edit (DTE) Recorder. Version 3.0 adds native DVCPro HD 720/24p, 25p and 30p recording capabilities, which more than doubles the record time on the FS-100.  In addition, version 3.0 adds native QuickTime DVCPro 50 and DVCPro HD recording capabilities, which allows for direct import of clips into Apple’s Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing application.

When recording native frame rates, users can more than double the record time on the FS-100, from 100 minutes to more than 200 minutes. By recording only the required frames, the bit rate for DVCPro HD recordings drops to as low as 40Mbps. While camcorders such as the Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 camera/recorder do not output a stream via FireWire when set to native frame modes (pN), the FS-100 processor is capable of achieving the same native support by only recording the required frames when set to regular 720/24p, 25p and 30p modes. QuickTime support also includes up to four channels of digital audio.

The 3.0 upgrade is available to existing FS-100 owners directly from the Focus Web site for $39. All new FS-100 units manufactured after February 1, 2007, ship with version 3.0. For more information on Focus Enhancements, visit www.focusinfo.com.

contact info:  
www.focusinfo.com
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Litepanels Introduces MiniPlus LED Light

The new MiniPlus compact, portable LED softlight offers an upgraded design and new features. Available in daylight (flood and spot) and tungsten (flood) models, the powerful new system provides over 25-percent greater output. The MiniPlus snap-on rechargeable battery pack now features a convenient five-step bar graph “fuel gauge” and improved charge indicator that displays charging status and the remaining battery power when the light is in use. A fully charged battery provides 2+ hours of MiniPlus use.

The MiniPlus snap-on base plate has been redesigned for lighter weight and more versatility. Additionally, a new deluxe, detachable ball mount with integrated hot shoe allows for multiple configurations — on the base plate, camera hot shoe, or with other types of mounting hardware.

By using Litepanels’ new optional Remote Dimming Module, operators can override the MiniPlus onboard dimmer at distances up to 25', an invaluable capability when the situation calls for adjustments in intensity made away from the light fixture itself.

Litepanels’ ultra-efficient LED lighting systems have luminous, soft directional output, cool running operation and dimming from 100 to 0 percent with minimal color shift.
   

contact info:

Litepanels (818) 752-7009

 
www.litepanels.com
info@litepanels.com
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