Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Embedding CineForm compression algorithms in hardware may seem like an odd direction to go for a software company, particularly as we pride ourselves in offering very high performance software-only compression. Plus, software compression is getting easier, too, as CPUs continue their upward performance trend. When we first started HD capture in 2003, the quality modes we offered were lower than we recommend today (used on Dust to Glory, so still very nice) , and were designed for the fastest dual Opteron machines available at that time. Because the performance of Intel CPUs has risen rapidly in the last four years, we've allowed the visual quality of our compression algorithms to climb further as we take advantage of increasing compute power. Today, we offer greater quality on modern home dual-core PCs or fast laptops than we did four years ago on the fastest workstations money could buy.
Yet while Intel is delivering plenty of performance, our compression is still excluded from the embedded battery-operated market, such as camera-attached DDRs (see one DDR concept) or CineForm compression in RAW and HD cameras. (I feel we would be inside Red One if we had CineForm RAW in hardware back then.) While the Silicon Imaging camera (SI-2K) uses CineForm RAW software compression, much of the battery life is used to support a high-end mobile/embedded PC. Smaller cameras and smaller/lightweight DDRs need compression in silicon, so that is what CineForm is now pursuing.
For those thinking, "Why do I need CineForm hardware when I can get hardware compression for MPEG2, AVCHD, MJPEG and JPEG2000?" The answer is: for the same reason you use CineForm today. None of those formats are appropriate for editing and post production; all were designed with different purposes in mind, and all have some of the following issues: 8-bit only, slow decompression, long GOP structure, multi-generation compression loss, color sub-sampling, etc. CineForm was designed for post-production, so a CineForm compressed DDR or camera would suit the indie filmmaker far more than a FireStore or other camera-based compression. CineForm has become a very high-quality native acquisition format, making the issue of transcoding moot.