Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CineForm on a Chip

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.

8 comments:

SalaTar said...

And we all thank you for what you do....

Mike Hedge said...

David!!! very exciting. good seeing you at HDEXPO.

RED mini with Cineform RAW, onto 16GB CF cards? at 2k? with c mount lenses?

wow....

sorry if I'm getting ahead a bit.

Rob:-] said...

I read about CineForm’s (Preliminary) Direct-to-Disk Recorder here:
http://studiodaily.com/main/news/8782.html

I think you've got a good idea here. Here's the comments I left on that web site.

AUDIO
BNC connectors. I can always add a $0.75 BNC to RCA adapter if I don't have BNC cables handy.

VIDEO IN
How about HD-SDI to get 4:2:2 from... say... the Sony PMW-EX1. (Can you get 4:2:2 from the HDMI? I've read that it may have uncorrected errors.) More recording time for the dollar than SxS cards.

PRODUCT SUGGESTION
How about a box to read the Sony PMW-EX1 SxS cards, transcode to CinaForm and store on two hard drives. I want something that GUARANTEES that all the files on the SxS have been stored on TWO separate disk drives or, if it fails it tells me. (No silent failure.) Oh, and you might as well make it work for P2 cards as well.

Best regards,

Rob:-]

Anonymous said...

I would be ever so happy if Cineform HD and RAW became standard acquisition formats in consumer camcorders. The push for a chip seems like the logical way to go.

Best of luck, and keep us posted on the cameras it makes it into!

-Steve

Anonymous said...

If you guys sell your company like MainConcept just did I hope you go with Adobe!

Jack Kelly said...

Hi there,

Just wondering if there is any news regarding the plan to put Cineform RAW onto a chip?

Many thanks,
Jack

David said...

Hardware design is ready for implementation, but the first vendor has not come forward yet. We are a small company so we can't fund completing it without a fincial commitment from a partner.

Jack Kelly said...

Hmm... perhaps you could ask for a slot at a fabrication facility for Christmas? What with the looming recession and decreasing demand for IT products, you might be able to pick up a whole fab for tuppence in 2009 ;-)

But seriously, I wish you the best of luck. RED needs some competition in the large-sensor RAW cinema camera market.