Monday, August 18, 2008

My 48 Hour Weekend

The weekend just past featured the screening the San Diego division of the 48 Hour Film Project, a film festival for extreme film-making (41 films shown all Saturday.) Like last year, CineForm sponsored the event by providing HD projection and up conversion services for all the submitted films. 90% of HD teams even submitted CineForm AVI or MOVs, making our job so much easier -- a thank you goes to all those teams. Also huge thanks goes to Wafian for loaning us a HR-F1 as a mobile playback server. While this unit is normally for on-set or field recording, at has a really neat new feature (in beta) to simplify festival projection. I had wireless access to a play-list, so I could fully control the Wafian's playback while sitting in the auditorium with all the paying customers. I used my laptop to start and stop the projection, jump to particular films, seek to startup frames while the presenters spoke, and select entire playback lists for automated projection. The same can done using any WiFi hand-held like a iPhone. Have you wished to have a remote control that worked in a full movie theater? That the power I had, it was great fun. Looking for forward to next year's innovations.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Updates and Random Stuff August '08

Things continue to happen, but clearly not much on this blog. We have several of high-end projects and partnerships pending, but no news I can break yet. So often I post on technology issues, compression comparisons and pixel format, etc., but now with the base technology so mature, it the business relationships that are coming to the forefront (and I can't talk too much about those.)

Not that haven't been large additions to the code base in the last two months, and the plenty of next generation stuff in the works. The feature we have coined as Active Metadata has been expanded greatly, from a tool only SI-2K cameras could use, to supporting any source that can be encoded to CineForm. It is so crazy cool, potentially turning large sections of the workflow on it head (once again,) now to getting the market to really understand its power, and also dealing with the development feature creep this so easily generates. We need to create several how-to videos to help easily explain all the new stuff--ironic that a video company hasn't produced any online videos in the past.

Well we do produce videos, once per year we enter the San Diego division of the 48 Hour Film Project with a team of engineers and company friends. This is happening next weekend, so expect another post of the result short film in a few weeks. Like last year CineForm with Wafian is doing the HD projection for the entire festival (currently at 41 teams and rising.) Teams can submit HD content using CineForm files, instead of the standard DVD or DV submissions of other cities. Last year a good third of the teams submitted HD shorts in the 48 hours (hope for more this year.) So if your in San Ddiego on August 16th, please come to theatrical premiere.

This will be our fifth year for the 48 Hour, and it is interesting how rapidly the camera technology has developed through the equipment we used.

2004 - Shoot with two JVC HD10Us at 720p30 (first and only HDV camera.)
2005 - Shoot with two Sony HVR-z1Us at 1080F25 (CineFrame mode.)
2006 - Shoot with a way prototype SI-2k (then SI-1920) and Canon XL-H1 for sound and pickup shoots.
2007 - Shoot with two SI-2Ks with one with synced audio.
2008 - Planning on shooting a single SI-2K (learning our lesson the two is not always between than one.)

So we went from a contrasty barely 720p to wide latitude 2K and stayed there (single sensor, through three CCDs, and back to single sensor.) If you're thinking why not shoot Red as a logical progression, honestly they is no place for 4K is this type of project (the development times would kill your post time), plus it is not just resolution now that is defining the quality of the picture (although the larger sensor size would be helpful.) Also it is so much easier to move a 1-2kg 16mm camera and lens through rapid and interesting setups. There are several new technologies being applied this year, but I'll leave that discussion for the postmortem and another blog entry.