The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

Post with the Pros pulled together its most impressive roster yet for our virtual reality showcase. Demos from manufacturers HTC, NVIDIA, HP, Imagineer, Dolby and EditShare were followed by an expert panel led by our very own Jamie Allan, featuring Mike Davis (Creative Director at Alchemy VR), Oliver Kibblewhite (Head of Special Projects at Rewind), The Mill’s Creative Technologist Kevin Young and Halo’s Head of Audio Operations, Richard Addis. 

Highlights of the night included workflow tips from EditShare (above and beyond “use EditShare”, they recommend an Adobe editing workflow aided by Mettle’s SkyBox Studio 2 plugin), previews of of NVIDIA’s upcoming offerings (a VR WORKS 360 Video SDK that enables realtime stitching of 4K; Pascal architecture that’s up to 95% faster than the previous generation and capable of rendering out both ‘eyes’ of content for a head mounted display simultaneously), and the chance to try out immersive content from a range of our customers, as well as sampling content from the manufacturers themselves.

Story telling vs story living

While the VR market is growing massively, it’s still a relatively new medium, and our panel were keen to pin down how it should and shouldn’t be employed. Our experts were cautious of projects that treated VR like a new version of 3D TV rather than a unique medium, insisting that it needs to be applied to projects where “you think ‘there’s no way this could be any better in any other technology’.”

Rewind’s in-house philosophy makes a clear delineation between story telling – linear narrative, often delivered via 360 video – and story living – immersive experiences delivered via devices like Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE, where the user chooses their own path through the world and the creator’s job is to make sure that a) there’s somewhere for them to go and b) it can be rendered quickly enough when they get there.

Know your technology

Another challenge posed by VR, and often not realised by clients, was the cost of post-production. Not only is there a lot more footage to process, as rigs can run up to dozens of cameras, but as Mike pointed out, “A lot of people don’t think about the cost of painting things out of shot [when shooting 360]”. In Richard’s experience, “VR is rarely longer than 20 to 30 minutes, but the time you spend in post is far in excess of what you’d spend on a 60 minute TV show.”

The challenges aren’t limited to post-production, however. Different cameras will have fractionally different start times and colour differences that need to be compensated for; different brands have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to stitching several shots together to make a single VR space, and lengthy testing is needed to find out whether, for example, your actors can walk across one of these stitch lines without their face warping, or if you need to set up very specific marks and limits.

There’s also the fact that stitching the individual camera outputs together to make the final shot can take several days, so a director used to seeing instant playback will have to deal with long delays before they know whether they have the shot they want. (This can be sidestepped by strapping a handful of secondary cameras on top of your rig to give them a very rough onset stitch, according to Oliver.)

Devices and delivery

Richard predicts that over the next few generations, the hardware market for VR – which is currently very segmented – will coalesce, allowing for content to be delivered to multiple devices, or be optimised for one platform “so it’ll be like delivering for PlayStation or Xbox” rather than the current system, in which you need to know your target device and its limitations before you begin pre-production.

Oliver’s hopes for the future include “a target baseline level of controls – your HMD should include some sort of haptic feedback, it should have positional tracking, and you should make sure that you can meet a minimum level of experience, especially for interactive content.”

Is it worth it?

While Mike and the rest of the panel were aware that we hadn’t found “the ‘must-have’ content for home VR, like the Queen’s coronation was for television”, they were adamant that tackling the challenges of VR was worthwhile, and that rather than “3D, which got in the way of TV, which people were already comfortable with”, it offered a unique experience for the viewer that was distinct from any other media they have access to. “People are moved by VR in a way that they’re not by TV,” Kevin told us. “It’s something quite special.”

Here’s the full panel, for anyone interested:

 

 

Want to know more about how we can help you incorporate VR? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Sony introduce new options for Prime and Elite Support

Sony introduce new options for Prime and Elite Support

Most of Sony’s entry level professional camcorders come with two years’ Sony Prime Support Pro, but you can now extend that for up to five years, or swap it for the even better Elite Support. 

Your professional Sony cameras come with two years of Prime Support Pro, entitling you to a multilingual helpdesk from 9am-6pm, an average 14 day turnaround on repairs, and help with all the logistics of your returns and repairs.

Now, you can extend your Prime Support Pro for up to five years total. There is one simple way to do this: give us a call and let us figure it out for you. But your three options are basically:

– Buy an extended warranty of one to three years at the same time as you buy your camera, and this time will be added on to the two years’ support you receive for free.

– At the end of your two free years, you can buy three years’ additional support all at once.

– At the end of your two free years, you can extend your warranty one year at a time for up to five years total.

Prime Support Elite

If you want extended support hours, guaranteed fast-track repairs, loan units, advance swaps and help with any setup that needs to be done, you can upgrade to Prime Support Elite. When you buy your camera, simply let us know that you’d like to upgrade your support, and we’ll exchange your two years’ free Prime Support Pro for two years’ paid Prime Support Elite.

After your initial two years, your Elite support can be extended in one or three year increments for up to five years total, the same as Prime Support Pro.

Pricing and availability

Prime Support Pro and Prime Support Elite are available on all professional Sony camcorders. The price varies depending on which model of camera you’ve bought; our full list of prices is available here. Both options are available now, so get in touch with our team on the deals below.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

It’s time to get HDR-ready

It’s time to get HDR-ready

Remember 2010, when we were all very excited about shooting in native 3D? Well, I think we can all agree that that trend is now dying a death, and ceding its Cool Trend crown to High Dynamic Range (HDR) imagery. However, HDR is different. Rather than a hyped up flash in the pan, it’s actually offering something that filmmakers have been clamouring for – a return to filmic production values, without losing the agility of digital shooting. 

So what exactly do you need to know before you wade into the world of HDR content production? Can you shoot it with your current kit? And what does it really mean for your images? We asked our production team to give us the lay of the land.

First, for the newcomers: what is HDR?

So, the human eye has a functional range of roughly 100,000 nit from the darkest to brightest light it can perceive detail in, and the lens of a camera has a similar range. Until now, however, image processing, transmission and display technologies have reduced this range, meaning bright and dark objects that were perfectly visible to the naked eye appeared clipped or burned in a captured image. You could expose for the highlights and lose detail in the shadows, or expose for shadow but lose detail in the highlights, but there was no way to capture detail in both.

An HDR workflow preserves this full range from capture through transmission, all the way to final display, so your final image has the full dynamic range of the human eye, and therefore appears much more realistic and immersive, as shown in our illustration (alas, this will only work if you’re viewing this on an HDR-ready display). You’ll see more vivid colours, and more detail in shadows.

HDR

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 11.29.08

But to give some sense of the scale of this change, the brightest possible pixel on an HDR display is about 40 times what it used to be on an SD display, and when you’re working with an HDR image in post, you can tweak brightness levels pixel by pixel.

However, to get the full effect of HDR, you need more than a camera with a lot of latitude. For example, without support for a wide colour gamut, you won’t see as much colour variation in the newly visible section of your image. Support for high frame rates is also recommended, and you’ll need support for 10- or 12-bit capture too, depending on which version of HDR you’re working with.

There are competing versions of HDR?

Yep. The current frontrunner is HDR10, as it’s been picked up by various gaming platforms. Also popular is the more detailed Dolby Vision. The image displayed by Dolby Vision is ‘scene referred’, which means it varies from scene to scene, working with your display to adjust each image. By contrast, HDR10 is static.

Most consumer displays rely on Hybrid Log Gamma, an electronic-optical transfer function protocol  that combines standard gamma with log to create (wait for it) a hybrid that extends traditional gamma beyond the standard curve. Any TV can display HLG, as it displays the standard gamma. TVs brighter than 100 nits (i.e. most LCDs) will then display more highlight information until it reaches its point of maximum brightness, when it’ll clip.

Which of these is the one my smartphone camera can do?

Neither. The ‘HDR’ advertised on smartphones is actually HDR-I, which uses tone mapping to give the impression that you’re seeing images with a higher dynamic range than you are. This is not the same as the true HDR you’ll be capturing on a pro camera for a production workflow.

So what qualifies a camera as being capable of shooting real HDR?

There are several features that your camera needs to qualify as HDR-capable, but the main ones are:

– 10-bit capture to Log or RAW. As a minimum, your camera needs to support ProRes or DNX 10-bit 4.2.2., but don’t feel like you have to stop there. The more bits the better, really.

– Plenty of latitude. Canon’s C300 MkII is being touted as having 15 stops, which is ideal, but the Sony FS7 and FS5 both have 14, and if you have a C500 in your arsenal, that still has a perfectly respectable 12 stops of dynamic range.

– S-Log3/C-LOG 3 capture capability; if you are shooting RAW and recording to Log over SDI, this needs to be 10-bit. 12-bit CinemaDNG capture is also good.

– Rec2020 gamut support.

Your existing camera may already be able to record S-Log3 with the help of an external recorder. (The Atomos Flame and Inferno series are a good bet for this, as they incorporate high quality HDR-ready monitors so you can see your footage accurately on set.)

Which cameras are HDR-ready?

Several such cameras are on, or at least making their way to, the market, but as we mentioned earlier, our favourites among the current crop are Canon’s C500 and C300 MK II, Sony’s FS7 and FS5, and the Panasonic GH4 and GH5. All of these cameras output a RAW signal that can be recorded as ProRes or DNX with the help of external recorder, and all have LOG gamma encoding.

Apart from a camera and maybe an external recorder, what else will I need?

In order to see what you’re doing with your HDR images in post, you will need a monitor that can support HDR. Currently, the simplest and most affordable are the Atomos Flame and Inferno ranges, which offer on-camera HDR monitoring combined with the ability to play back and edit your footage at full res, making a collaborative HDR workflow possible for everyone on set. If you’ve already invested in a Atomos Ninja Assassin, Blade HD, Flame, Shogun or Shogun Inferno, HDR support is available as a free upgrade, but as their screens only hit 500 nit, you won’t be able to see more than seven or eight stops of dynamic range; the newer monitors are 1500 nit and showcase 10 stops.

When it comes to post-production, we can’t in good conscience recommend grading on anything less than DaVinci Resolve. Its ability to power through high resolution and frame rate files without slowing down or falling over is going to be extremely necessary if you’re going to be tackling HDR, and it features the industry’s most advanced and sensitive HDR toolkit. The ability to grade a project for multiple colourspaces at the same time is going to come in handy until you’re delivering HDR 4K all the time, too.

Will my current infrastructure be OK?

To be honest, that depends how much 4K work you’ve done so far, and how many changes you’ve made to accommodate it. That 10-bit workflow with its attendant file sizes and frame rates means you’re going to want to be working on a 10Gb Ethernet network, rather than the standard 1GbE.

You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of high capacity storage both at your facility and on set. One of the reasons we’re so keen on Atomos devices is that they’ve teamed up with G-Technology to develop the Master Caddy range. These high capacity SSDs can slot into any compatible Atomos recorder to capture your footage, then be removed and inserted in to an adaptor that makes them compatible with G-DOCK and ev series storage from G-Technology, so there’s no need for you to invest in proprietary recording media that’ll only work with one of your cameras (you’ll get better speeds and capacities this way, too).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

ADAM unveil all-new Audio S Series monitors

ADAM unveil all-new  Audio S Series monitors
As an ADAM reseller partner, we’re buzzing about this one. They’ve unveiled their new flagship reference monitoring range – the S Series – featuring a new DSP engine for crossover optimisation and much more!

The S Series is ADAM’s latest flagship range of reference monitors. It’s made up of five models: the S2C, S3H, S3V, S5H and S5V. (The H and V are for horizontal and vertical, and let you know which orientation your speaker is optimised for.)

They key thing to know about the S Series is that these speakers don’t share the same off the shelf technology as your average loudspeaker – the list of custom technologies ADAM have developed is extensive, and includes new woofers and mid-range drivers; new waveguides for the tweeter (and mid-range driver on the S5); a new DSP engine to optimise crossover; voicing options and expansion capabilities.

The result of all these technologies? Accurate frequency response and consistent dispersion, so you hear more detail in bass and mid frequencies. The S Series has a wider frequency range than its predecessors, giving you more bass extension, more mid-range information and a higher maximum output level, all with less distortion. Let’s take a look at the models.

ADAM S Series SV2 nearfield monitor

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.44.59
A two way near field monitor designed for small to medium sized rooms, the SV2 boasts a 7″ bass driver that covers the 35 Hz to 3 kHz range with low distortion and a wide dynamic range. It features ADAM’s S-ART tweeter, which was developed in tandem with their new HPS waveguide technology to give precise imaging and a generous sweet spot.

The tweeter is handled by a 50W Class A/B unit, while a 300W Class D amplifier drives the woofer, giving you a combined output that’s capable of SPLs of up to 120 dB per pair.

The S Series’ custom-designed DSP optimises the loudspeaker crossovers to create linear responses for the entire range, as well as providing user equalisation and in-room tuning/voicing functions. The DSP also handles the limiter-based high-frequency driver protection, processes the signals from the AES3 digital inputs, and will in time facilitate various expansion options. Software updates can be carried out with ease via the associated USB port, which also allows users to connect computers and control the speakers’ DSP functions via a software front-end.

S3H midfield monitor

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.51.23
Building on the success of the S3A and S3X-H, the new S3H features dual 7″ bass drivers, each powered by separate 500W Class D amplifiers, which offer flawless reproduction of frequencies all the way down to 32Hz.

The S3H features ADAM’s new DCH, a 4″ hybrid dome/cone mid-range driver powered by a 300 W Class D amplifier which handles audio above 250Hz and below 3kHz. Frequencies above 3Hz are routed to a combo S-ART treble driver, HPS waveguide and 50W Class A/B amplifier, resulting in transparent, three dimensional sound with an extensive sweet spot.

The S Series’ custom-designed DSP optimises the loudspeaker crossovers to create linear responses for the entire range, as well as providing user equalisation and in-room tuning/voicing functions. A unique feature of the S3H’s DSP options is a built-in factory EQ preset that emulates the response of ADAM Audio’s legendary S3A monitor. The DSP also handles the limiter-based high-frequency driver protection, processes the signals from the AES3 digital inputs, and will in time facilitate various expansion options. Software updates can be carried out with ease via the associated USB port, which also allows users to connect computers and control the speakers’ DSP functions via a software front-end.

S3V midfield monitor

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.55.37

The SV3 is a three-way studio monitor designed primarily for midfield applications, although it’ll also work in more compact environs.

To handle bass frequencies from 32 Hz to 250 Hz, it uses ADAM’s brand new 9″ Extended Linear Excursion (ELE) LF driver, which incorporates the ADAM Symmetrical Magnet Assembly and delivers powerful, accurate low end extending right down to sub-bass levels.

Mid-range and HF are handled with precision by a new 4″ DCH mid-range driver and a S-ART folded ribbon driver, which work with a new HPS waveguide to offer high frequency reproduction with an extremely broad sweet spot, highly detailed imaging and a natural sounding sense of depth.

The S3V’s built-in amplification is generously specified, comprising Class D units for the bass and mid-range drivers (500W and 300W RMS respectively) and a 50W Class A/B amplifier for the S-ART tweeter.

Offering flawless reproduction of audio frequencies between 32Hz and 50kHz, the S3V is a standout offering for anyone demanding highly accurate imaging and localization from their reference monitors.

S5H main monitor

ADAM S Series S5H
This powerful main monitor is custom designed for expansive studios and control rooms. It features two ELE bass drivers, designed exclusively for the S Series, which feature ADAM’s proprietary Symmetrical Magnet Assembly to guarantee low frequency audio remains tightly controlled and distortion-free at all times.

Mid-range frequencies are handled by ADAM’s new hybrid DCH and a 4″ MF driver developed by ADAM for the S Series, which combines the benefits of cone and dome drivers in a single unit.

These work with the S Series’ S-ART driver (ADAM’s tightest ever folded ribbon tweeter) to produce a powerful but unfatiguing sound with a palpable sense of depth.

The S5H also features ADAM’s new Mid-range and High-frequency Propagation Systems (MPS and HPS), designed to deliver stable, wide-ranging dispersion that allows more than one person to work in the loudspeakers’ sweet spot simultaneously.

The S Series’ custom-designed DSP optimises the loudspeaker crossovers to create linear responses for the entire range, as well as providing user equalisation and in-room tuning/voicing functions. The DSP also handles the limiter-based high-frequency driver protection, processes the signals from the AES3 digital inputs, and will in time facilitate various expansion options. Software updates can be carried out with ease via the associated USB port, which also allows users to connect computers and control the speakers’ DSP functions via a software front-end.

S5V main monitor
ADAM S Series S5V main monitor
The vertical version of the S5H, the S5V offers all the raw power you’d expect from a high class reference speaker, but also reproduces full bandwidth, high resolution audio with complete accuracy and clarity.

Using the same ELE and SMA combo as the S5H, the S5V’s 12″ bass driver offers a quality of reproduction that ADAM say is unequalled in its accuracy, dynamic range and freedom from colouration.  A 4″ DCH MF driver with ADAM’s unique hybrid dome/cone structure handles the mid-range, while ADAM’s S-ART folded ribbon tweeter produces breathtaking highs and ensures the most delicate detail in the sound field is reproduced.

As with the S5H, the S5V features new MPS and HPS technology, to stabilise dispersion and ensure that more than one person can be working in the speakers’ sweet spot, as is often necessary in larger rooms.

A Class D 700W amplifier drives the S5V’s bass unit, with further Class D designs providing 300W and 100W to the DCH mid and S-ART treble drivers respectively.

Combining the legendary precision of ADAM Audio’s proprietary drivers with the power of the company’s amplification, the S5V is a reference monitor for truly discerning audio professionals at work in the most expansive listening environments.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Adobe buyers’ guide: Which licensing plan is right for you?

Adobe buyers’ guide: Which licensing plan is right for you?

Choosing an Adobe plan can be a confusing process. Subscription or perpetual? Annual or extended term? Is it better for you to purchase in bulk or to purchase over time?  

To try and make things a bit clearer, we’re going to break your licensing options down based on something you’re more likely to know: which apps you need access to. Knowing whether you need the full Creative Cloud suite, can manage with a stripped down version or just need to update your PDF workflow will go a long way to help you find the right plan for you.

Stocks Taylor Benson have been using Apple hardware "almost since year dot"

If you need Creative Cloud…

You need to involve yourself in the VIP licensing program, which is the only one that can provide Creative Cloud Complete or Creative Cloud Single Apps. Called the ‘Value Incentive Plan’, this is a subscription model that gives you access to the software itself, any updates as soon as they are released, mobile apps, and an Admin Console for managing multiple licences.

Using VIP, you can purchase Creative Cloud for teams or Creative Cloud for enterprise.

Creative Cloud for teams is designed, unsurprisingly, for small work groups and design teams. Users get access to extra online storage and collaborative tools that are not available to individuals. Team licences can be assigned to an individual (named licensing) or a device (device licensing) if you are an educational institution. The licences are owned by the company, not the end users, and can be reassigned to new users as needed.

Creative Cloud for enterprise is designed for larger deployments, and comes with extra management and security tools, which you can read about here.

VIP offers three subscription term options – annual, extended and three year commit.  The annual subscription is for 12 months paid upfront, so you’d renew annually.  The extended subscription can be chosen when you sign up to VIP and allows you to pay upfront for up to three years if you are a business, or four years for education and government.

Finally, the three year commit option is available when you qualify for VIP Select, and means you pay a set price  in return for maintaining your licence quantity over three years (commercial and government customers also get increased discounts).  You achieve VIP Select status when you buy ten or more licences (fifty for education).  As well as giving you the option to sign up for three year commit, it also gives you volume discounts on all purchases.

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Adobe Acrobat DC

The best way to get Adobe’s all-conquering PDF program is through the ‘Value Incentive Plan’, a subscription model that gives you access to the software itself, any updates as soon as they are released, mobile apps, and an Admin Console for managing multiple licences. This is the same model used to purchase Creative Cloud, and like Creative Cloud, Acrobat DC it can be purchased for teams or for enterprise.

Opting for a VIP subscription is better than buying Acrobat outright, as the subscription model gives you access to extra services and features not available in the perpetually licensed version (i.e. the version you can buy outright), including support for syncing PDFs across mobile devices, electronic signing within business apps and the ability to photograph any document with your iPad camera and convert it instantly to a PDF.

If you only need the desktop version of Acrobat and think you can do without the extra features, you can buy a perpetual licence via Adobe’s Transactional Licensing Program (TLP) or Cumulative Licensing Program (CLP).

The TLP is ideal if you want to place a large, one-off order. There is no contract and no membership requirement. You simply make one large transaction, and get better pricing the more licences you buy.

The CLP is for organisations who make purchases on a regular basis. You sign a two year membership deal, and get points for every Adobe purchase you make. The more points you accrue, the better your discount. The only thing to bear in mind is that in order to be able to join the CLP, your initial purchase needs to be worth 5000 Adobe points (the equivalent of about 12 commercial Acrobat Pro licences).

Adobe’s latest release of Acrobat DC supports Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Horizon and Microsoft App-V via the VIP named user model.  Windows Terminal Server is restricted to perpetual.

Big stock – the zebra test

Adobe Stock

If you’re a Creative Cloud customer you can choose to add an Adobe Stock subscription to your VIP membership.  The VIP model is the only one that can provide Adobe Stock, and it is only available as a team option.

Other packages

If you’ve not seen what you want here, you’re probably after something that’s only available on the TLP or CLP. The Elements range of apps (cut down versions of Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere Pro), Adobe Captivate, FrameMaker, FreeHand, PageMaker and ColdFusion, as well as tools like Adobe Meta Server, Tech Communications Suite and Font Folio, are all available on standalone perpetual licences, but not through any of the subscription options.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 251 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Your guide to better backup: RPO and RTO explained

Your guide to better backup: RPO and RTO explained

There’s nothing this blog likes better than jargon-busting, and today we’ve got two key backup acronyms in our sights: RPO and RTO. 

First off: what do they stand for?

RPO stands for recovery point objective. It refers to the last point in time you can afford to restore to. So for example, if one of your systems relies on a static database, the RPO for that database could be hours or even days – you can work as well from last week’s data as from yesterday’s. If you run an online store, though, your RPO will be to the last transaction, which could be seconds ago.

RTO stands for recovery time objective. This is the amount of time your key systems can go down for without your business being adversely affected. For example, if your server crashed on Thursday and you could afford for it to stay offline until the end of Friday without losing any business, your RTO would be a day. If you can’t afford to ever have your systems go offline, then your RTO is zero.

Why should I worry about them?

RPO dictates how redundant your storage, infrastructure and backup need to be. The lower your RPO, the more redundancy you need to build into your organisation.

Your RTO dictates the type of backup and data replication that you need. For example, restoring from a tape archive can take days, so if your RTO is less than that you may want to use disks for archive storage instead, and make sure you have a good offsite data replication solution you can work from.

Data replication is just another word for backup, right?

Not quite. Data replication is a mirror copy of your data that you can access instantly in the event that your primary system goes down. Data stored there is in a format that end users can use immediately. One customer of ours, for example, has a copy of their main server hosted in the cloud, and if their internal network goes down, key members of staff can just log into the cloud version of the server and keep working. Replicating your data is expensive as you need twice as much storage, but massively reduces the time it takes you to get back up and running.

A backup is a copy of your data that is unconnected to your live system, is probably kept in a format that your end users can’t access immediately, and needs to be restored before it can be accessed. There is no instant access to a backup copy.

Glad we cleared that up. How do I calculate my RPO and RTO?

Well, your RPO is simply the amount of data you can afford to lose and still function as a business, so you’re going to to need to sit down with a copy of your backup schedule and make sure that it gives you access to the data that you need. One thing to bear in mind is that where your backups are is almost as important as when they were done – if you make backups every day but only take them offsite at the end of the week, a flood would destroy a week’s worth of backups, not a day’s worth. If keeping your RPO down in a priority, it’s better to invest in more media and move your backups offsite every day (you might consider using the cloud rather than physical drives to control the cost of this).

Your RTO is based on a range of factors, including: how quickly downtime will lead to you losing money; how quickly downtime will cause a loss of customer faith and see you lose customers to rivals; which business practices are dependent on which systems (the RTO for systems with a lot of dependants is less than that of systems with few dependants); how critical those dependants are (the RTO for critical dependants is lower that that of non-critical ones).

If I’m backing up a lot of data, how do I make sure I maintain my RTO?

This is an increasingly common question. Rich media files can be huge, which means you can end up with multi-terabyte file and email servers to back up every day, which can actually take longer than a day to do. This backup deficit is, obviously, deeply bad from a data recovery point of view.

What you want to do is take a tiered approach. Get everything you’re keeping ‘just because’ or which isn’t used regularly over to an offsite archive, and back this up as infrequently as is safe (every month, for example). Then, you’ll only need to do daily/hourly backups on current files and live projects, which will be far faster and be less likely to have a negative impact on day to day user experience.

You can also use a tiered system to reduce overall costs. Rather than keeping everything on the most redundant possible storage, identify your critical systems, medium priority systems and low priority systems, and build in appropriate levels of redundancy and data protection for each.

Want to know more about ensuring you can meet your RTO and RPO? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email solutions@Jigsaw24.com. or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

Print in the digital age (or, why you should care about catalogues in 2017)

Print in the digital age (or, why you should care about catalogues in 2017)

Over the last few years, digital marketing has made its way to the heart of most companies’ marketing strategies. Whether you were won over by the instantaneous nature of social channels, the ‘stickiness’ of video content or the eye-popping possibilities afforded to us by recent advances in VR, chances are print is no longer the most exciting part of your marketing strategy. Which is odd, because it still works. 

As recently as mid-2015, the DMA were reporting direct mail response rates were nearly 600% higher than for digital channels, and it’s still pulling ahead of digital channels in this year’s report (heads up: it’s a paid paper). And research by Royal Mail has shown that, regardless of which age group you look at, 26.7% of consumers say that they’ve purchased something as the result of direct mail in the last year.

So why is direct mail still working?

A popular theory is that unlike, say, emails and social media notifications, which some consumers are receiving an almost overwhelming number of, well-crafted print pieces have rarity value. Their very unusualness makes them eye-catching and memorable, meaning your messaging stays front of mind for longer.

And if you combine this with personalisation – one of everyone’s predicted hot trends for 2017, as it leads to a rumoured lift in profits ranging from 31% to 10% depending on who you ask – you can use print to make a lasting impact on your audience.

Even the cost per acquisition, a metric that you’d assume would get increasingly shaky for print as online advertising becomes better targeted, has stayed reasonable thanks to the shift to digital printing and a variable print workflow, which allows greater economy at smaller scales. You can even provide different areas of your organisation with templated documentation that they can personalise for customers and then send to print on an as-needed basis.

This means you can supply customers or groups with uniquely targeted content and still have money left over to invest in other channels, something that’s reflected in the fact that 52% of DMA respondents are now combining at least three channels on any given campaign. A highly personalised print piece can be used to generate initial impact, then transition customers over digital channels such as email and social. It also provides an element of trustworthiness – we’re all more likely to open the brochure of a company we don’t know than click on their pop-up add – that can translate to more ready engagement on the consumer’s part once you’ve moved them to the digital pipeline.

Streamlining print production

While many of us are already cutting print costs by opting for digital over offset printing, it’s also worth bearing in mind that streamlining in-house production can bring down the cost of print media by making things more efficient in-house.

Centralised, accurate data, a streamlined approvals amends process and easy-to-use team management tools all help make things run more smoothly. Seeing them combined with PIM and CRM functionality in tools like MatrixCMS is likely to become increasingly common as we see the demand for content become more immediate and the number of channels content is duplicated to increases. After all, why update your catalogues and web platforms separately when you could drive them both from the same system?

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Adobe Acrobat DC adds virtualisation support for Citrix, VMware and Microsoft solutions

Adobe Acrobat DC adds virtualisation support for Citrix, VMware and Microsoft solutions

Virtualisation – the process of hosting applications and desktops on a server and then pushing them out to end users’ devices – is an increasingly popular way to make sure your end users have access to all the data and apps they need, on every device they use, whenever and wherever they’re using them.

CIOs and IT managers love this as it allows them to enforce permissions (based on your log-in, you can be shown a desktop with the correct apps and access for your role), distribute apps (they just update the server rather than updating every device manually) and generally save the IT department time, money and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.

But there has always been one dark shadow in the bright new world of virtualisation, and it has been this: a lack of proper PDF workflow support. So far, end users in virtual environments have had to work with a cut down version of Acrobat, stripped of many of the features available in the subscription-only version.

No longer.

The full, subscription-only version, Adobe Acrobat DC, has added support for leading virtualisation platforms from Citrix and VMware. (It already supports Microsoft App-V.)

End users in virtualised environments can now enjoy the benefits of subscription licensing, including access to the latest product features and updates as soon as they are released, access to mobile and e-sign features, and easy licence management via the admin console.

But the brightest shaft in this sunbeam we call news is support for secure, named-user access to Acrobat DC via Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and VMware Horizon. This means IT managers can deploy the software to multiple systems, but only specified, named users will be able to access the app or desktop at any given time. Admins will be able to track their Acrobat DC licences centrally, and add or remove named users at any time.

To find out more about deploying Acrobat DC in your organisation, get in touch with our team on 03332 409 251 or at adobe@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Buyers’ guide: Apple notebooks

Buyers’ guide: Apple notebooks

Not sure whether you need a lightweight 12″ MacBook, the versatile MacBook Air or the power of the MacBook Pro (with or without its shiny new Touch Bar and Touch ID)? Here’s a run down of the key specs – and some user comments – to help you decide one way or the other.

If you have any questions left at the end, you can always get in touch with our team on 03332 409 306 for more advice, or enjoy a live chat with one of them over on our website.

12″ MacBook

macbook_12

Apple’s entry-level notebook is the 12″ MacBook. The smallest, lightest and goldest of the Apple notebook range, the MacBook was introduced in 2015 and was the first of the Apple line to feature a range of innovations, including the USB-C standard, the Force Touch touchpad, and a lighter ‘butterfly’ keyboard. The USB-C standard incorporates power, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort standards into a single, versatile port (you will need to buy an additional adaptor to ensure all your non-USB-C devices can still connect to your MacBook).

This versatility makes the MacBook a great notebook for anyone who has to wear multiple hats, or who is moving between locations and needs to be able to slot in to whatever working environment they find. Its silent, fanless design and light touch keyboard are ideal for anyone who does most of their typing on the train and would to keep things to a polite volume.

As it is the smallest notebook in the range, MacBook doesn’t quite have the power to handle big data or creative tasks, but if you’re mostly going to be doing admin and general office work, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Ideal for: Office and admin work, mobile workers who need functionality beyond that of an iOS device.

Width: 13.1mm.

Weight: 2lbs.

Display: 12″ Retina display with 2304 x 1440 resolution.

Processors: 6th generation Intel Core m3, m5 and m7 processors.

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515.

Storage: 512GB flash storage and 8GB RAM.

Battery life: Up to 10 hours.

Cost: From £1035 (£1242 inc VAT)

Buy now

MacBook Air

macbook_air

The MacBook Air has been with us since 2008 and, though it may no longer be the lightest in the lineup, it’s still got a lot to recommend it to your mobile workforce. With up to 12 hours’ battery life, it’s the most long-lived of all the Apple range, and with a 8GB RAM and Intel i7 processors, it meets the minimum requirements for most creative apps.

Granted, it might struggle to run more than one at once, or handle higher end work, but it’s ideal for managers or those who are more involved in the approvals process than actual creation, but may need to access and annotate native files.

But it’s not just for mobile workers – it’s more than a match for common office and productivity apps, and if you’re called into a meeting, you can just pick up your MacBook Air and head down, hooking up to the room’s display (either wirelessly over AirPlay and Apple TV, or through a wired Mini DisplayPort connection) to share with the group.

It’s worth noting that the MacBook Air is the last in the Apple notebook lineup to not feature any USB-C ports, so perhaps not the best if you want to futureproof your Mac estate. However, the Air’s reliability and lifespan make it a solid investment if having the latest ports isn’t a priority for you.

Ideal for: Anyone who needs to run applications on the move when a tablet just won’t cut it – so salespeople, client-facing consultants and other staff in the field, for example. Will also work for creatives in a pinch.

Width: 17mm.

Weight: 2.96lbs.

Display: 13″ widescreen display.

Processors: Fifth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000.

Storage: Up to 512GB flash storage and 8GB RAM.

Battery life: Up to 12 hours.

Cost: From £785 (£942 inc VAT)

Buy now from Jigsaw24

MacBook Pro

The most recently reinvigorated of all the Apple notebooks, the MacBook Pro now comes in three flavours: a 13″ MacBook Pro with no Touch Bar, and 13″ and 15″ models with Apple’s Touch Bar and Touch ID technology built in.

While each model has different internal specifications, there have been a few improvements made across the board. The latest generation of Retina display has a 67% higher contrast ratio and can hit up to 500 nits brightness. It uses the P3 colourspace, which means it can display 25% more colours than standard RGB, giving you access to far more greens and reds.

To complement this, the MacBook Pro range boasts between 103 and 130% faster graphics performance than the previous generation, depending on which model you choose. You’ll also experience up to 76% faster 4K rendering, up to 130% faster realtime 3D graphics performance, and 103% faster performance when you’re gaming – all of which are ideal for creative users.

The MacBook Pro’s speakers have also been given a polish, and have twice as much dynamic range, more than twice as much bass and 58% more volume, so they’ll fit right into any audio workflow.

All models use the new Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB-C standard, which boasts all the benefits of the USB-C standard found on the 12″ MacBook, but also incorporates the high speed (40Gbps) Thunderbolt 3 connection. This means that you can plug your MacBook Pro into any of your Thunderbolt peripherals, including up to two 5K displays, and transform it from a lightweight, portable notebook to the centre of a creative workstation.

However, the most obvious addition to the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar, a Retina quality touch strip that replaces the function keys. As well as offering a touch alternative to your function keys, the Touch Bar offers contextual shortcuts to make everything from sending email to adjusting settings in Photoshop easier and quicker. You can now keep one hand on the trackpad and the other on the Touch Bar and edit your image without having to break off and use keyboard shortcuts or a tablet.

There’s also added security thanks to the addition of Touch ID, Apple’s biometric authentication system. You can now use two factor authentication, sign in using your fingerprint, or switch users by tapping Touch ID.

13″ MacBook Pro without Touch Bar

macbook_pro_13

Ideal for: Anyone who’d like a MacBook Air but is worried that it’s not future-proof enough.

Width: 14.9mm.

Weight: 3lbs.

Display: 13″ Retina display.

Processors: Dual-core Intel Core i5 processors.

Graphics: Intel Iris graphics 540.

Storage: Up to 256GB flash storage and up to 8GB RAM.

Battery life: Up to 10 hours.

Cost: From £1199 (£1438.80 inc VAT).

 

13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID

macbook_pro_15

Ideal for: Creatives who don’t like to be tied down, heavy duty office and data work.

Width: 14.9mm (13″), 15.5mm (15″).

Weight: 3lb (13″), 4lb (15″).

Display: 13″ or 15″ Retina display with 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Processors: Dual-core or quad-core Intel i5 or i7 processors.

Graphics: Intel Iris 540 graphics (13″), Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB or memory (15″).

Storage: Up to 2TB flash storage and up to 16GB RAM.

Battery life: Up to 10 hours.

Cost: From £1947 (£2336.40 inc VAT).

Buy Now

 

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Wacom update lineup with Cintiq Pro, Intuos Pro and Intuos Paper

Wacom update lineup with Cintiq Pro, Intuos Pro and Intuos Paper

Wacom have announced three new additions to their lineup: an updated Intuos Pro and new Intuos Pro Paper, both available now, and the Cintiq Pro, which should be joining us later in the year. 

Intuos Pro Medium and Intuos Pro Large

new_wacom_intuos_pro

First things first: users of the Intuos Pro Small tablet, we’re sorry but there’s no new version of your tablet. This selection of updates is only available for the medium and large tablets.

Medium and large tablet users, there’s a lot to be happy about. The new Intuos Pro comes with the new Pro Pen 2, a new stylus that’s four times more accurate than the previous generation of Pro Pen and boasts 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity – more than any other stylus/tablet combo on the market. This should result in a more natural and responsive drawing experience with virtually no lag and natural tilt support. Handily, it doesn’t need batteries or charging, running instead on Wacom’s own peculiar brand of sand magic (resonant inductive coupling, apparently).

The tablets themselves are now just 8mm thick, managing to be slimmer and more compact than their predecessors while maintaining the same size active area. As usual, both models come with a Touch Ring, eight customisable ExpressKeys and on-pen slider switches so that you can have your favourite shortcuts right at your fingertips. The active area still features support multitouch gestures (don’t worry, the palm rejection is still excellent).

If you’d like to update, you can now. The Wacom Intros Pro Medium is available for a very reasonable £274 ex VAT, while the Wacom Intuos Pro Large will set you back £374 ex VAT

Intuos Paper Edition

intuos_paper

If you prefer to start work on good old fashioned paper, the new Intuos Paper Edition is for you. It combines an Intuos Pro tablet with a Paper Clip, which affixes to the top of your tablet and tracks pen strokes made with your Wacom Finetip Pen (don’t worry, this is included).

As you draw with your Finetip Pen, the Clip saves each stroke as an editable file which you can subsequently open in your creative software of choice. If you want the digital version of your drawing to be made up of Photoshop-friendly layers, all you need to do is tap a button on your tablet to start a new layer as you’re drawing.

The Intuos Paper Edition can hold up to 200 multi-layered drawings before you need to transfer them to your computer, which can be a Mac or PC. Once you’ve transferred the sketches to your computer, just remove the Clip, pick up a Wacom Pro Pen and edit them as you would any other digital drawing.

The medium Wacom Intuos Paper Edition is available now for £316 ex VAT, while the large version is available for £416 ex VAT

Wacom Cintiq Pro

wacom_cintiq_pro

Wacom’s latest addition to their Cintiq lineup comes in two sizes: the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13, which has a 13.3″ display, and the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, which very logically has a 15.6″ one. Both are compatible with Mac and PC computers, and can connect via USB-C, or via Mini DisplayPort and USB using an adaptor (which Wacom kindly include with the tablet so you don’t have to fork out twice).

This time around, the display is an sleek edge-to-edge etched glass surface, which leads to a slimmer, swisher design and a more realistic ‘pen on paper’ feel. The 13″ model has an HD screen while the 16″ has a 4K resolution one, and they’re colour accurate for 87% and 94% of Adobe RGB respectively.

Like the new Intuos Pro and Intuos Paper Edition, the Cintiq Pro ships with the ridiculously sensitive Wacom Pro Pen 2, which boasts 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support and virtually no lag.

The Cintiq Pro has a built-in kick stand, and an optional Wacom Stand with three levels of elevation is available for anyone who wants more flexibility. There are no on-tablet ExpressKeys, but anyone who prefers physical buttons to the Cintiq’s touchscreen controls can invest in a Wacom ExpressKey Remote.

The Cintiq Pro 13 is due to ship later this month, with the Cintiq Pro 16 to follow in February. UK pricing is to be confirmed, but we’ll let you know when we do.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook