Avid announced and shipped an update to Media Composer at the start of NAB. Media Composer 6.5 adds features primarily aimed at broadcasters. One of the most useful additions, a switch to disable hardware like the Matrox MX02 so you can use the audio punch-in tool and other items not available with the hardware in operation - has actually been added for free to Media Composer 6.03 as well as appearing in 6.5.
Blackmagic CINEMA CAMERA
One of the big stars of this years NAB was the Blackmagic Cinema camera - a device that takes interchangable lenses, and records onto a solid state drive in either 1920x1080 (progressive only) Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD, or as a 2K file in RAW DNG format. So this effectively delivers an excellent HD picture in either a not-very-compressed or uncompressed format - and the camera is only£1,995+VAT (without a lens). It also comes with a full copy of DaVinci resolve, Blackmagic's grading program and Ultrascope to give you technically accurate Waveform, vectorscope and Histograms. The camera has recently started shipping although not in very large quantities since Blackmagic is having trouble getting all the parts they need.
The news from NAB is that in addition to a model which takes EF-style lenses (as you would use on a Canon 5D for example) they will produce a new model that takes MFT lenses. The latter version will not be available until the end of the year but Blackmagic are announcing this now so that if you would prefer that model you can decide to wait. Also both the hard drives in this camera and in their HyperDeck shuttle can now be formatted in exFAT format - which is compatible with Windows computers (previously all their hard drive recorders would only work in a MAC format, which means you needed to buy an extra program to make them readable on a PC).
NEW RANGE OF 4K CAPTURE CARDS
Blackmagic also launched a range of capture cards which can display 4K images. 4K is the next step up from HD - there were a lot of 4K devices around at NAB and including some lovely screens showing 4K images coming from the Astra satelite. Being fans of HD we did wonder if we need a better quality image, but 4K on the right screen is gorgeous! Blackmagic now lets you edit and view 4K images using either a Thunderbolt or PCIe card. We have not yet put these items on the website - they will be available in "Q4"; they have typical Blackmagic pricing - the Decklink 4K extreme is £845+VAT - good value for a card with nearly all the inputs and outputs you need and up to 4K resolutions!
DAVINCI 9 FOR GRADING
A new version of Blackmagic's DaVinci has also been released. DaVinci is one of the worlds best know grading programs. There is a free version and a paid version. The free version does a remarkable amount, and has no restrictions like watermarks. It lacks STEREOSCOPIC support and the noise reduction of the full version but in nearly all other ways if fully functional. Version 8 has been available for some time; version 9 is a bit easier to understand and quicker. Ideally you run DaVinci with two graphic cards - one for the interface and a decent nVidia card for the effects work, although it will work with just one good nVidia card installed (like those we ship with our DVC systems).
NEW DRIVER UPDATE
Blackmagic have release a couple of new drivers since the last email newsletter. 9.5.3 worked well with our software. The next update 9.6.1 was not recognised by Avid Media Composer and also gave us audio capture problems in EDIUS (so we did not use it). 9.6.4 has just been released, although we have yet to test it properly. The main additions in the new driver are support for a couple of new devices as well as support for Windows 8.
4 STREAM CAPTURE AND WEBCASTING USING WIRECAST ON PC using Matrox VS4
At IBC Matrox announced Matrox VS4, a four-channel HD-SDI capture card for use with Telestream Wirecast for Windows webcasting software. Wire cast is an excellent piece of software for making live webcasts - mixing video from a variety of sources and then broadcasting them across the web - but you need some way to get the video in, preferably from multiple cameras. This is the job for which Matrox VS4 is designed. It is not an i/o device for working with programs like Adobe Premiere Pro, but it will capture the 4 live feeds as separate files, as well as webcasting them, so you can edit them later.
Matrox MXO2 Dock
Thunderbolt is a new interface which is very fast and lets you connect multiple devices through one simple connection. It was first available only on Apple computers but we are now getting PC motherboards with Thunderbolt built in, which we are testing at DVC. At IBC Matrox announced Matrox MXO2 Dock, which connects to your computer via a Thunderbolt adapter and addes a lot of extra ports - including a large HDMI display, a full-size keyboard, mouse, gigabit Ethernet port, one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, as well as a port to which you can connect a Matrox MXO2. This is especially useful for owners of various Mac books, which are so thin these days they do not even come with a wired network port built-in.
Matrox Monarch — Professional Video Streaming and Recording Appliance
Another new announcement was Matrox Monarch, a professional video streaming and recording appliance. It is essentially an H264 encoder in a small box, which will record an RTP-, UDP-, or RTSP-compliant H.264 stream from any full resolution HDMI input while simultaneously recording high-quality MP4 or MOV files to an SD card, a USB 2.0 flash drive or hard disk, or network storage, so you can simply do live webcasting over a network (via the built in ethernet port) and at the same time record a full quality version of the picture in H264 format.
Support for Telestream Wirecast 4.2 for Windows with Entire Line of Matrox MXO2 Capture Devices
As menitoned above, Wirecast is a great application for making live web broadcasts. In addition to their new VS4, Matrox are also going to add capture support into Wirecast for the entire MXO2 range. Support for Wirecast 4.2 for Windows will be part of Matrox driver release 7.2 which will be available to registered users as a free download from the Matrox website in November 2012.
MXO2 LATEST DRIVERS
The latest drivers for the MXO2 are working well in Premiere Pro 6.01 and the recently released Premiere Pro 6.02. 6.02 fixes a few bugs in Premiere as well as adding support for more graphic cards. Normally when a Premiere update is released we need new drivers from hardware manufacturers, however this has not been the case with 6.02; the Premiere update works with the existing 7.02 drivers. We have also been using the latest nVidia drivers, 301.42.
What are Matrox plans for the MXO2 in Premiere and Avid in the future? Make it work as well as possible in both programs, and also have one driver which is suitalbe for use with Avid and Adobe. At the moment they recommend one driver for use with Avid and a different one for Premiere Pro.
Matrox MXO2 Mini Max offer set to end 30th September
The MXO2 Mini Max has been on special offer since March and the offer is due to end at the end of this month. The Mini Max is normally £599, but is currently £420+VAT - which makes it only about £100 more than buying a non-MAX version of a Mini..
What does the extra MAX give you?
Fast H264 encoding - better than realtime on a modern system. A modern 2011 pin system can actually encode H264 very fast with Premiere Pro - an hour can be encoded in about 1½ hours. The MAX can do the same file in 50 minutes (this is assuming you have a Mercury Playback card which is rendering all the effects really fast as well).
However the advantage is not just the extra speed. When encoding, the MAX does all the work, which means your computer processor is free to do other things, whereas when Premiere is encoding the processor will be working hard, meaning everything else slows down.
You can also capture live into H264 - either the correct kind of files for Blu-ray or progressive MP4 files. This is done using a special Matrox H264 capture program rather than Premiere Pro. We actually use this when filming parts of our tutorials as it saves space and the pictures are extremely good quality. You also have the option, when capturing MP4 files, so capture a full resolution Matrox I-frame file at the same time. You can use the MXO2 scaling abilities to convert HD to SD or 1080 to 720 as you capture as well, all in high quality. All for another £100, while the offer lasts.
The MXO2 Mini Max will work on Mac or PC, and will Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Avid Media Composer.
GRASS VALLEY NEWS
Grass Valley were not showing off anything new for EDIUS, although there were a lot of other devices and software like the broadcast STRATUS system which were getting interest.
With EDIUS 6.5 you need new versions of your plug-ins. The plug-ins that came with EDIUS 6 will not work in 6.5 so you need to buy new versions if you want to carry on using them, and you will need new versions of any other plug-ins you have bought. The EDIUS 6.51 update solved a lot of the teething troubles of the first release and EDIUS is working very well. However some of the plug-ins are not working 100%. In particular the only NewBlue plug-ins which work and are certified are Titler Pro, and Colour Fast (if used from within Titler Pro - it does not work properly on its own).
ProDad have released updates from Mercalli and Vitascene 2 that work pretty well, although not 100% we are told.
Vistitle 1.86 or Vistitle 2 work very well in EDIUS 6.51.
VISTITLE 2 AVAILABLE
We have not been able to get upgrades from Vistitle 1 to Vistitle 2 as yet - which is pretty much the same for everyone across the globe! There is a company in the US, called Safe Harbor that has been able to supply the upgrade to some of our customers.
However, if you buy a Vistitle PromoPack from us you will get a free update to Vistitle 2 direct from the manufacturers. We have done this with several customers already and it has worked really well. Videostar, the makers of Vistitle have also been very helpful.
OTHER THINGS AT IBC
IBC is 11 large halls of video equipment. We always pop over for one day - arriving about 8 in the morning and then returning home in the evening, so get round most of the halls. Here is a selection of other things we saw of interest:
3D SCREENS THAT DON'T NEED GLASSES
One thing that stops people adopting STEREOSCOPIC screens are the glasses you need to wear, so many manufacturers are working on perfecting glasses-less 3D. Sony had two screens on their stand - a 47" inch, which would let you see a 3D image from 9 different angles, and a 24" screen which took a different approach. Although the 47" picture was nice we still think that the 3D picture using a screen with glasses is better. The 24" screen was more interesting because it had a novel approach. It was designed for one person, and the screen tracked the person's head to make sure that the picture was always displayed at the right angle. This actually worked amazingly well - although only for one person at time. The screen also contained an i7 computer with a decent nVidia 640 graphic card, and they were using Power DVD to play the footage. This screen/computer will be available in a couple of months we were told.
Although not the perfect answer to glassless 3D it is amazing how much development there is, and how fast it is progressing!
As mentioned above 4K is the next step on from HD and it looked brilliant. You could almost think you were looking out a window - in fact if you could make a glasses-less 4K 3D screen you probably would think you were looking out a window! We suspect you will be hearing a lot more about 4K in the coming years.
A new version of the 3D program Cinema 4D was on show with some great new modelling tools which let you sculpt your 3D models on the computer screen - as opposed to the usual method of drawing object meshes and then combining them. It also looks easy (for a 3D program).
NEWTEK TRICASTER 8000
We used to sell the Newtek Tricaster but have not done for some time - largely due to changes in staff and the company - however after seeing the TriCaster 8000 in operation we may start selling it again. TriCaster is a live mixer using which can combine camera feeds, graphics, computer screens and video, put everything inside a virtual set (you can even design your own) and let you broadcast it, live. The facilities are really quite amazing! You can read more on the TriCaster here: http://www.newtek.com/
PANASONIC PROFESSIONAL AVCHD CAMERA
A new Panasonic AVCHD camera caught our eye at the show. It records onto SD cards, does a great picture, even in low light, and has all the controls you would expect as well as XLR audio. To us it is the logical successor for people using the Sony AE1 - similar size, but better pitcure quality and card based. The RRP is £1,495. although the "street price" will be about £1,300.
Windows 8 coming soon
You may have seen some information about Windows 8 - the soon to be released latest version of Microsoft's operating system. The official launch date is 26th October. Windows has evolved and Microsoft has added a new front end which makes it work a lot better on tablet PCs and smart phones. The obvious goal with Windows 8 is to have the same operating system on everything that you use, which should make life easier all round.
Actually underneath the new front end it is remarkably similar to Windows 7 - we have even been able to install Windows 7 software and deviced into Windows 8, which have then worked properly. Adobe and Black Magic have release software which is compatible with Window 8 already, and obviously everyone else will follow suite, although we do not know how long this might take.
Is Windows 8 better than Windows 7?
Quite a lot of people hate Windows 8 already. When we tried it this was our first reaction - for a start Microsoft have got rid of the start menu so you have to use their new front end (which used to be called Metro but is having a late name change because of a lawsuit from a German company). This is initially annoying, although actually not too bad when you get used to it (in our opinion). The fact that Windows does not completely shut down as well (unless you find these settings and turn them off) is also annoying and causes problems if dual booting between Windows 7 and Window 8. On the other hand there are small advantages - the back up facility is better for example. After using Windows 8 for sometime (there have been freely available public test versions for a few months) we are beginning to like it.
Should we wait and get Windows 8?
The short answer is no, in our opinion. The new stuff is nice but when it comes to a desktop PC there not any real difference in performance or abilities between Windows 7 and Windows 8. On top of that any new operating system is bound to have more bugs than an established one. When it is finally shipping and programs work with it we will be using it because we would not see a good reason not to; of course some great reason may appear as the o/s settles in but on the basis our use so far Windows 7 is just as good as Windows 8 for video and it is tried and tested.
David Vincent Clarke Ltd
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David Vincent Clarke Ltd
Unit E7, Knoll Business Centre
Old Shoreham Road,
Hove, Sussex, BN3 7GS
Tel: 01273 205700