IBC: 8 New Technologies to Watch in Hollywood

ARRI Amira - H 2013
Courtesy of ARRI

ARRI Amira - H 2013

AMSTERDAM – With 1,400 exhibitors plus a conference, it's impossible to cover all that the International Broadcasting Convention offered this year. However, as The Hollywood Reporter begins its wrap-up coverage, here’s a snapshot of eight of the new or developing technologies worth keeping an eye on if you work in Hollywood. We’ve covered a range of devices for cinematographers, sound, editing or VFX pros. Check THR’s Behind the Screen on Thursday for more IBC round-up coverage.

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AJA: 4K Io

Aimed at bridging 4K and HD workflows, AJA previewed Io 4K, a video I/O device customized for Thunderbolt 2 technology and 4K work.

Developed in conjunction with Apple, this “problem solver” connects with Thunderbolt 2–enabled devices such as the new Mac Pro, and offers an additional Thunderbolt 2 port for daisy-chaining other peripherals such as high-resolution displays and storage.

ARRI: Amira Camera

ARRI made news at IBC when it unwrapped Amira, a new shoulder-mount digital camera for documentary work with the same sensor and many of the same features as ARRI’s Alexa. It includes 14 stops of dynamic range and can capture up to 200 frames per second. Amira records Rec 709 or Log C images using ProRes LT, 422, 422HQ or 444 codecs to in-camera CFast 2.0 flash memory cards. It also comes with preloaded 3D LUT-based looks that can be applied on set during the shoot. Alternatively, productions can custom-build their own LUTs in external grading systems, load them into the camera during prep and modify them in-camera while filming.

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Avid: S6 control surface

Avid unwrapped the S6 control surface for sound mixers and editors, introducing a new modular design and the ability to customize the surface. It is, of course, compatible with Avid’s Pro Tools. It will be available at a variety of prices beginning in Q4 (M10 configurations start at $21,995 and M40 configurations at $43,480).

Dolby: PRM-4220 Professional Reference Monitor

Dolby Laboratories debuted a new model of its Professional Reference Monitor, the PRM-4220. New hardware features include HDMI 1.4 and Display Port 1.1 interfaces. The model is also slimmer and one-third the weight of the earlier version PRM-4200, which received an Emmy in 2012 and is used in numerous Hollywood area postproduction facilities.

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Quantel: Stream-based Workflows

Quantel has introduced what it refers to as “stream-based” workflows -- a concept aimed at moving "beyond the limits of files" to allowing footage and edited programs to be accessed, edited and distributed from anywhere.

The company’s plan is to effectively stream clips rather than copy files when frames are moved. High-resolution frames are transferred only when necessary, as a background task to reduce workflow latency.

The first Quantel product to incorporate a “stream-based workflow” is QTube InterSite, a broadcast system that with “stream-based workflow” capabilities could enable users to edit and publish anywhere as long as the system is connected with a high-latency WAN that supports at least 200 Mb/sec. Plans are to incorporate this feature in additional Quantel products, including its postproduction tools. (In related news, at IBC Quantel also unveiled Pablo Rio 2KO, a new model of postproduction system Rio that runs on a lower cost PC platform. It’s available as a turnkey system or as software-only product.)

The Pixel Farm: PFTrack technology demo

The Pixel Farm previewed an upcoming feature for its PFTrack system that the company’s VFX product manager Daryl Shail describes as a low-cost alternative to LIDAR scanning.

It is being developed so that a production member could take stills of a location with an iPhone, then use PFTrack to effectively match the pixels in each of the stills to create a 3D point cloud for the entire environment. The target for availability is early 2014.

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SGO: Mamba FX

SGO -- maker of the Mistika postproduction system used for the 48 frames per second and stereoscopic 3D postproduction on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit -- revealed that it’s developed a compositing system called Mamba FX. It hasn’t announced final pricing, but is offering the software at an introductory rate of $299, which includes access to the beta version.

It also works with Mistika, meaning that Mistika could provide the conforming, finishing, grading and client-review tools while numerous Mamba FX systems could share Mistika's storage and file system. It seems logical to assume Jackson’s Park Road Post will be among those testing this software.

Solectrix: SinaCam basic

German company Solectrix is one of the few companies that demoed innovation in stereo 3D production tools. Its SinaCam is a lightweight, two-head, 3D HD remote camera for capturing action by remote control. IBC saw the debut of SinaCam basic, a single camera head based on the same technology and designed for outside broadcast. According to the company, the images produced by the cameras can be matched closely to those produced by the ARRI Alexa, with an eye toward making it a valuable B-camera on Alexa shoots. This is no surprise as Solectrix's founders contributed to the engineering of the original Alexa's digital core. Word is that they are back at work for their German neighbors, helping to create a 4K camera (which Arri has confirmed is in development but has not yet previewed).