Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Phish 3D concert film, a CineForm Neo 3D project

Please check out Studio Daily's great writeup on using Neo3D within FCP to edit and online Phish 3D

This film was finished well before Neo3D v5 was out, but thanks to an excellent partnership with the editing team, Don Wilson and the crew at Evergreen Films, we were able test out the upcoming features and develop new tools to help make this project happen. Special credit for Craig Davidson, our lead Mac developer, who is mentioned in the article as "They had a code-writer at our disposal." CineForm does it best to be every film-makers off-site "code-writer". :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Camera licensing for compression

The recent archive on by Eugenia Loli-Queru has created quite a stir, revealing that camera licensing from MPEG-LA (for MPEG2 and AVCHD encoding) is for "personal use and non-commercial" applications despite the professional nature of the cameras for which this restriction seems to be attached. This was then picked up by Matthew Jeppsen at In both articles CineForm is mentioned, fortunately in a positive light, so I decided to have a go at the subject.

We (CineForm) are an MPEG LA licensee (just like everyone else in the video business) as we decode MPEG2 and AVCHD (H.264) sources when converting them into our format. These decoder licenses are straightforward, and are not expensive - after all decoding of distribution formats is to be expected and widely available. Yet a video camera that encodes to a distribution format seems to be burdened by an ill-fitting license model (wasn't it already burdened by ill-fitting compression ;) .) An MPEG2/H.264 encoder can be used for one off encodes (non-commercial use) or for producing a bit-stream that is going directly out cable or satellite (which we should expect to have a greater license fee.) When patent holders joined MPEG-LA (a good idea to have one licensing clearance house) they were thinking of an asymmetric system, one encode per million decodes (satellite to cable box.) Cameras changed that by introducing many more encoders, and this model emerged after MPEG-LA was established (we were all shooting analog or maybe DV back then.) If you wanted a truly professional camera-friendly license, MPEG-LA would have to go to all the patent holders to re-negotiate -- that is not likely to happen. The camera vendors chose a license from the existing MPEG-LA agreements that is the least onerous to them.

Well that is my total guess on the subject. I'll extend that guess as I believe that camera owners/shooters are not what MPEG-LA was setup to seek licensing from, and those users are not likely to be a source for additional licensing fees in the future.