We’ve met the Sony PXW-FS7 and it’s awesome

We’ve met the Sony PXW-FS7 and it’s awesome

Sony threw a curveball at IBC by announcing the PXW-FS7 – a Super 35mm 4K handheld that took everything we liked about the FS700 and stepped it up a notch, challenging even AJA’s none-more-anticipated CION.  Obviously, the first thing we did once we were back in the UK was lure Sony to our office, pump them full of coffee and run off with their prototype. Here’s how it fared…

Ergonomics and build

Not to get everyone over-excited, but a straw poll of the M&E team saw the FS7 labelled as having “the best ergonomics of anything Sony have ever built.” The design is extremely well thought out: the viewfinder is easily repositioned and fits nicely against your eye; the I/O and XLR ports neatly hidden in the body; the whole thing is very modular – it feels very much like a traditional camera out of the box, but can be stripped back if you prefer the ‘boxy’ feel of something like the FS700.

But the real game changer is that hand grip, which we bloody love. It makes balancing the camera (and holding it through long shoots) much easier, allows you to maintain a more natural shooting position, and means you don’t have to rig the camera to the extent that you would expect in order to get the shots you want. And because it’s included with the camera, you can basically take the FS7 out of the box and start shooting.

It would be irresponsible of us to make sweeping statements like “this handgrip will change the world” out here on the internet, but who’s to say what we may have shouted in the privacy of our office kitchen? As our test shooter (and most hirsute consultant) Anthony Corcoran said: “The hand grip balances the whole camera so well, it feels almost weightless. And it puts all the important controls literally at you finger tips. I want one.” See below for an image of the FS7 and its grip reducing Anthony to a gleeful child.

That grip arm is easy to position and has a great range of movement, as demonstrated by this da Vinci-esque publicity shot:

Controls, codecs and cards

To call this camera a PXW version of the FS700 is perhaps oversimplifying, but in terms of use and workflow the two are very similar. The FS7 shoots continuous HD at up to 180fps, giving you super slow motion, and will also record 4K at up to 60fps internally. Its layout and controls are “very Sony”, and if you’ve used a FS700 (or really any Sony camera), you’ll be able to operate this right out of the gate.

Most importantly for anyone who has invested in the FS700 and all its attendant gubbins, the FS7 shoots 2K and 4K RAW in exactly the same way, so you can just whack your IFR5 or Odyssey on the back of this and use exactly the same workflow as you always have.

Anthony would also like to give a special mention to the FS7’s log gamma curves, which include support for S-Log3. This has 18% grey set at a bright level, and so delivers a wider dynamic range than the 1300% achieved by the FS700’s S-log2, effectively giving you 1.5 extra stops. And because the log gamma is close to Cineon log, it’s easier to grade and you’ve got more chance of achieving a classic ‘filmic’ look.

Shooting

While Sony were distracted by the espresso machine, we did manage to sneak off and shoot some test footage, but we’ve been asked not to share it as the footage from the final model is going to be up to five times the quality of the footage produced by the prototype. However, the actual shooting experience was fairly effortless, and having record and zoom controls on the handgrip is great.

Would we recommend it?

Yes. If you’re looking to step up from the FS700, this is the simplest way to do it, and if you’re after a B camera for more high end shoots, the FS7 will slot into your setup quite happily. If you weren’t a fan of the FS700, don’t be put off – the FS7 is seated firmly at the grown-ups table, using pro codecs and generally feeling far more like a traditional camera than its predecessor.

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.

Blackmagic Design’s URSA: One in the hand…

Blackmagic Design’s URSA: One in the hand…

So the Blackmagic URSA ended up on our desks this morning, and team M&E we convened in the office to give it a look. The official verdict is that we’ve received a lot of camera for our money – or would have, if we actually had to pay for demo kit. Not that we’re smug about getting free stuff.

Anyway, here’s consultant James Graham with his verdict…

“As far as first impressions go, the unboxing experience is fantastic, as is the packaging. But then you’d expect that, as you’ve just received a lot of camera for your money.”

 

“The specs of the camera read impressively. It shoots 4K ProRes HQ at 60p, great for even those Brits who want those extra 10 frames of slow-mo. Then of course there’s 4K RAW and many iterations of ProRes. But if you’re like us, you’ll have read all about that by now, so the main thing we were interested in was getting it on our shoulders and getting a feel for it as a camera. The only thing to do was crack out a Cineprime and our Shape gear.”

“Several things have been said about this camera already, but they stand repeating. Firstly, if you are using it on your shoulder, forget the 10” display. You will need an EVF – something like the Alphatron or a Cineroid EVF 4-RW is perfect, and it’s powered by V-lock batteries. It’s also worth noting that there is a lot going on in the URSA, so it’s a thirsty camera and you will need more batteries than you think you do.”

“There are many ways to operate this camera, and we like this. It will feel at home in many situations. The body can be split into two sides for operation (audio and video), or all functions can be accessed from both, which is a nice feature as you want the camera to work for you in all situations. Many of the menus are the same as what we are used to from other BMD cameras, so there will be no difference there.”

“The machined body feels very tidy in our hands, however, like its predecessors, it’s a camera that needs to be accessorised to a degree in order to get the best from it. We cynically list the best of these along with the camera on our product page, so you can add them to your URSA on impulse.”

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.


Autodesk Desktop Subscriptions: What you need to know

Autodesk Desktop Subscriptions: What you need to know

Our resident licensing expert Kim Beard explains the difference between Autodesk’s new Desktop Subscriptions and your usual common or garden Autodesk licence…

What are Autodesk Subscriptions?

Back in the day, Autodesk only offered one kind of subscription, and it gave you access to support, resources and free version upgrades. Now, that’s known as a Maintenance Subscription and a new player has entered the game: Desktop Subscriptions.

A Desktop Subscription is also termed a Licence, and in layman’s terms it’s a you rent the licence on  an annual or quarterly basis, rather than buying it outright. Rather than buy a licence and then pay an annual maintenance fee, you pay a flat fee every year or quarter, and Autodesk make sure you have access to the latest version of your software.

Does this mean perpetual licences are being phased out?

No! Both perpetual licences and Desktop Subscriptions are available from Autodesk.

Who would want an Autodesk Subscription?

If you’re a new business looking to limit your initial spend, renting your licences for the first couple of years is a cheaper alternative to buying them outright straight away – especially if you expect the number of staff you employ to fluctuate over your first few years of operations. Similarly, any company that takes on extra staff on a project-by-project basis can save by having a core of perpetual licences, then effectively renting any additional ones on an annual or quarterly basis using Desktop Subscriptions.

And, surprisingly, this could actually be a great deal for any of you using Autodesk’s LT range. With the full versions of applications like AutoCAD and Maya, it only takes three to four years for a Desktop Subscription to add up to the price of a perpetual licence. But if you’re using an LT package, the lower subscription fee means it could take up to a decade for a Desktop Subscription to cost you as much as a perpetual licence, by which time your workflow could have changed entirely.

How does the cost compare to perpetual licences?

Buying a full licence of Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya costs £3625 (all prices are SRP), and a Maintenance Subscription to keep your licence up to date will cost £1280 every year thereafter. An annual Desktop Subscription includes maintenance, so will just cost you £1280 per year. Over time, you end up with a cost comparison that looks like this:

So if you’re going to need your licence for any longer than four years, you’re better off buying a perpetual licence. AutoCAD gives much the same result, as a perpetual licence costs £4350 with an annual £595 maintenance fee, whereas a Desktop Subscription costs £1360 annually.
Our helpful graph for AutoCAD LT looks markedly different:
A perpetual licence with Maintenance Subscription costs you £1140 for the first year and £190 thereafter, putting it far ahead of a Desktop Subscription’s £300 annual payment.
Obviously, this is a sizeable investment either way, and we recommend that you drop Kim and the ever-knowledgable autodesk@Jigsaw24.com team a line before you buy, but hopefully our charming graphs have cleared things up a bit.
Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Your guide to AirWatch mobile device management

Your guide to AirWatch mobile device management

We’ve got plenty of amazing partners here at Jigsaw24 – Adobe, Apple, HP and Cisco to name just a few (you can see a more comprehensive list here). But a few months ago we added a new accreditation to our IT belt and became an official AirWatch partner. Never heard of it? Here’s what you need to know…

What is AirWatch?

AirWatch is a mobile device management solution that can handle iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices – one of the few solutions that can cater to all three platforms, plus Symbian and several other smaller players. It’s a suite of solutions that allows your users to connect to your network and systems, edit documents and share files all with complete confidence that their work is secure.

While they’ve been in the news recently thanks to a buyout by VMware, the AirWatch team have been  successfully securing devices since 2003, and are still very much in charge of their own ship.

What are the key benefits of AirWatch?

Secure access to email, WiFi and VPN networks User authentication using AD/LDAP is backed up by certificate based access to all your other services and networks, plus secure distribution of documents and apps. It even meets FIPS Publication 140-2 compliance standards for data protection.

Improved visibility AirWatch constantly monitors which devices are connected to your network and makes sure no unauthorised devices or blacklisted apps have found their way on. This is all reported back to your AirWatch admins, who can then block access to services, lock and wipe any lost or stolen devices and more.

Simple, secure document sharing AirWatch Secure Content Locker lets employees distribute sensitive documents using a 256-bit SSL connection. Your admin team can block certain types of user or device from viewing these documents, turn off functions like copying and pasting, and even automatically wipe documents from devices.

VPN on demand With AirWatch VPN On Demand, your team can specify that users must use a VPN to access certain networks or file systems. Every time a user tries to log in, AirWatch will generate a secure VPN tunnel in the background so that they can access the system seamlessly and securely.

Best of all, AirWatch does all this on a single, scalable platform that supports all kinds of devices running different operating systems. No matter how many mobile devices you have or how disparate they are, you’ll only ever have to manage one AirWatch system. This scalable, centralised management has made it popular with organisations like multi-site businesses and NHS Trusts.

Who’s using AirWatch?

Prominent UK names include Pentland Brands, Ted Baker, Roland, Fastjet, Colliers International and several NHS Trusts and emergency services groups, while in America their clients include Best Buy, Goodwill and the Bank of Canada. Many of them offer glowing testimonials here on the AirWatch site. CIO magazine have also given it their seal of approval.

How do I get started with AirWatch?

If you think you’re ready to go, you can download a 30 day free trial here.

For more information, get in touch with our team 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.

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Casper Suite version 9.4 adds BYOD tools and Android support

Casper Suite version 9.4 adds BYOD tools and Android support

JAMF Software have just launched version 9.4 of their Casper Suite device management tools. The major addition is Casper BYOD, which brings iOS and Android management tools to the Suite in order to better support – you guessed it – bring your own device programmes.

JAMF’s goal for this round of updates is to help end users become more productive and self sufficient, and to that end they’ve added self-service and BYOD tools that are designed to be simple, lightweight and easy for users to access without help from technical staff. Here’s the key info…

Casper Self Service for Mac, iPad and iPhone

JAMF have added new features to their self service toolkit, allowing users without admin access to download software and App Store apps, install eBooks, receive notifications from central IT and auto-configure their own email, contacts, calendars and WiFi/VPN profiles – all without having to raise a helpdesk ticket.

Users on iOS devices can now use the native Casper app to access self service functions, allowing them to download apps, files, eBooks, web clips and more, as well as configuring their email, calendars, contacts and WiFi and VPN settings, so they get a more seamless experience when moving between their desktop computer and any mobile devices.

Big benefits for IT here include the ability to send out push notifications and, hopefully, a massive reduction in the number of helpdesk tickets you have to handle. JAMF have made sure that configuration information still stays central, though, so you can have visibility over who is using which WiFi or VPN profile (and who’s tried to jailbreak their device) even if you’re not configuring it directly.

Casper BYOD

The biggest change in Casper Suite v9.4 is the appearance of Casper BYOD, a lightweight management interface that will let IT teams manage iOS and Android BYOD deployments unobtrusively. It includes tools that allow you to remotely wipe corporate data and settings, remotely lock devices, enforce encryption settings and passwords, and inventory devices and their data from a single, central console.

The key thing here is that wipes and inventories only cover corporate data, so ends users can rest assured that their private data is their own, and they’ll receive notifications whenever the IT team takes action that may affect them. They also get to keep all their personal preferences and settings (as long as they meet the company’s security requirements, such as mandatory passwords).

Casper Simplified Enrolment

Finally, Casper Suite v9.4 includes a vastly simplified process for enrolling users. It requires far fewer steps than before to set up, and users can be enrolled automatically as soon as their device is detected on the corporate network.

If you’re free later, JAMF Software are running through all the changes in a webinar at 2:00pm Central time (8:00pm UK time.) Sign up for the Casper Suite v9.4 launch webinar here.

Want to know more about managing your Macs and mobile devices? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or at sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

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Adobe tools for the computing curriculum

Adobe tools for the computing curriculum
Michael Gove may be gone, but the 2014 computing curriculum lives on, replacing traditional ICT lessons with a more practical (and, let’s face it, more useful) focus on problem solving, computational thinking, and coding.

We’re big fans of this development, but a lot of the schools we deal with have mixed feelings. Staff like the computing curriculum in theory, but don’t think they have the skills or equipment to teach it effectively, especially when it comes to integrating coding into the rest of the curriculum.

Luckily, there’s no need for you to start crowbarring turtle graphics into GCSE art lessons. There are tools out there that can help you give your students a more technical understanding of creative technology, without taking the focus entirely from art, design or whatever else you’re trying to teach – and if you’re using Adobe software, you may well have most of them already.

Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Edge and Muse
Of Adobe’s current crop, the programs you want to focus on for teaching creative coding are: Dreamweaver, which allows students to design and publish web pages; Fireworks, for prototyping and optimising web and app designs for different devices; Edge Animate, a tool for animating Photoshop and Illustrator-created graphics using HTML5; and Muse, a simple, mostly drag and drop interface for creating simple websites.

All of these programs are intended to help non-technical designers, which actually comes in really handy when you move them to the classroom. The focus of the lesson stays on your subject, rather than it becoming a fully-fledged IT lesson, students who are less technically able can use the shortcuts in the software to ensure they can still participate fully, while those who are more confident can use CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript and PHP to push their designs further, or use this as an opportunity to focus on user experience design and usability and how this should inform their IT work. Here are a few of the goals we reckon Adobe can help you hit…

Working with a range of applications and devices
The holy trinity of InDesign, Fireworks and Dreamweaver all contain tools that’ll let you remodel work for different screens, browsers, tablets and phones. This is a great starting point for conversations about responsive design and the changing IT landscape – how are people accessing content? What new things do students need to consider, as developers, as a result of that? How do they make sure they have a design that is simple enough to translate, but still engaging and interesting? Do they know how to build swipe functionality into mobile versions of their content?

It also means that when you send them out into the working world, they’ll be used to taking these (very important) factors into consideration, and have experience with a wealth of devices to draw on – both great pluses for any job-seeking student!

Creating, re-using, revising and repurposing digital artefacts
The interoperability of all your Adobe software makes this one a breeze. Images you’ve created in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign can all be added to web pages using Dreamweaver or Fireworks, and you can encourage students to repurpose their content for different devices. For example, they can create a web page for desktops, a mobile version that anyone on a smartphone can see, and an app version (complete with touch controls) for anyone who’s looking at the content on a tablet.  You can make this even easier by using Edge Animate to create a series of templates that students can work with or modify, or encourage them to create and share their own.

Self-expression and developing ideas through ICT
“Design and build a web site” pretty much hits this on the head, and that’s what Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Muse allow students to do. They can combine creative work they put together in Photoshop, InDesign, Flash or Edge Animate with functionality they’ve developed using CSS3, HTML5 and jQuery tags in Fireworks and Dreamweaver to create a fully featured, multi-platform project with as much functionality as they can pack in, with tools like W3C validation on hand to make sure they stay focused on creating user-friendly, accessible pages that meet professional standards.

Practically applying IT skills to a range of creative projects and media
CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript/jQuery and PHP are all used throughout Adobe Dreamweaver, Edge and Fireworks, so students can practise working with a range of languages and optimising that content for different devices, browsers and screen sizes. Adobe’s preference for very visual interfaces that offer a code-free way to edit page elements means that students who are less technical can get a clearer idea of which parameters affect which page elements, then tackle the code itself once they’re more confident.

So how so you plan these lessons?
One of the best things about Adobe’s education offering is that it includes access to the Adobe Education Exchange. This is an online portal packed with training programs, curriculum advice and lesson plans to help you get the most out of your Adobe software.

Both Adobe experts and other teachers can contribute, so it’s a good way of gauging how other schools are embedding technical and creative skills across the curriculum, and the resources are guaranteed teacher-friendly. You can even download sample files showing how to complete different types of project, such as creating your own textbooks or building multi-page apps.

It also includes resources for the 10 week Adobe Train the Trainer course, a series of self-paced lessons that act as continuing professional development for Adobe users.

 

Just want to code? Here are some of our top apps to try…
Cargo-Bot (Two Lives Left, free) – This former Jigsaw24 App of the Week teaches programming by asking students to create simple routines to activate a robotarm. Great for gauging pupils’ coding skills when they enter KS3!

 
Codea  (Two Lives Left, £6.99) – The programming app used to make Cargo-Bot, Codea allows you to create apps, games and simulations directly on to your iPad. It includes visual editors as well, so is perfect for beginners who want to grasp the basic concepts before moving on to more complex coding.
 

Scratch 2 Games (David Phillips, 69p) – If you’re using the web version of Scratch to teach students coding, these video tutorials on game creation are a must for teachers and students. 
 

Codeacademy’s Hour of Code (Codeacademy, free) – This app encourages pupils to work through the vocabulary and grammar of coding as if they’re learning a language. They take on one small step at a time, building on previous knowledge, and are introduced to the concepts and terminology behind their favourite apps and websites.
 

Want to know more about your Adobe options? Get in touch us on 03332 409 333 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest education info, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.  

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Avid’s new upgrade plan: what you need to know

Avid’s new upgrade plan: what you need to know

Attention all Avid users: the software giants are saying goodbye to their current upgrade model, and are giving you until 1st January 2015 to move to the latest version by taking out one of their new annual support plans. Here’s what you need to know.

How the new plan works

First off, this isn’t a subscription model. When you buy a new licence of Media Composer, Symphony or NewsCutter, it’s yours and you own it forever. However, the only way you can get access to updates and new versions is by signing up for Avid Support, which costs £190 ex VAT and needs to be renewed annually. This cost gives you access to any and all updates Avid release for free, plus basic tech support. If you stop paying for Avid Support the licence will still function, but if you want to access any new features you will have to pay for a new licence.

Who needs to buy Avid Support?

If you bought Media Composer 8, Media Composer 7 or NewsCutter 11 between 1st April and 29th April 2014, you’ll have been automatically enrolled in Avid Support, and don’t have to do anything until next April, when you’ll need to pay to renew it for another year. All new licences purchased since then will have been automatically enrolled on Avid Support.

Everyone else will need to buy Avid Support before 1st January 2015, or you’ll have to buy new licences. If you’re using an earlier version of Media Composer, signing up to Avid Support will give you access to the latest version at no extra cost.

If you buy add-ons like the Symphony option for Media Composer, these will be covered by your initial Avid Support contract.

In case our aggressive hyperlinking hasn’t already clued you in, you can purchase Avid Support here on our site.

What if I have an existing support plan?

If you have a current Expert Plus or Elite support contract with Avid, then your Media Composer licences will automatically be enrolled in Avid Support, and you just need to renew then annually from now on.

What if I need to buy new licences?

All licences will include one year’s worth of Avid Support, and you’ll be prompted to renew in a year.

What if I choose not to sign up for Support before 2015?

You’ll still be able to use your existing Media Composer licences, but you won’t be able to update them or add Avid Support to them in future. If you wake up on 2nd January 2015 and realise that sweet merciful Zeus, you did need that licence after all, you’ll have to pay for a full, new licence. This will set you back far more than £190, so we strongly advise you to purchase Avid Support here, now, so you know you’re covered.

Isn’t there also a subscription model?

Yep. For those of you who don’t need to own your software licences outright (maybe the number of licences you need changes from project to project, maybe you only need Media Composer for a specific period), Avid now offer annual and monthly subscription plans from £429 ex VAT a year. You pay a regular fee to rent your software, and lose access to it if you miss a payment.

It’s also worth nothing that a Media Composer subscription comes with a load of extras, including access to Symphony, NewBlue Titler, Sorenson Squeeze Lite, Boris Continuum Complete Lite and a 30 day trial of iZotope Insight.

If you want to move your existing perpetual licences to a subscription model, Avid will let you cross grade for £340 ex VAT, after which you’ll have to pay the usual £429 annual fee.

What are the options too convoluted to discuss here, and who should I contact to find out more about them?

There are two other things we think you should consider. First, Avid are now offering networked and floating licences, designed to help artists in a single facility to collaborate more fluidly. Second, if you’ve been on an elderly version of Media Composer and are about to take out support to get the latest version, it’d be a good idea to check your hardware compatibility. We provide Avid accredited turnkey systems, so it’s a good idea to give us a call and discuss your options before switching versions (our contact details are 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.

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MOTU retire 2408 PCIe range after 15 years; announce networkable, Thunderbolt successors

MOTU retire 2408 PCIe range after 15 years; announce networkable, Thunderbolt successors

MOTU have announced a new range of professional interfaces that take over from the now-discontinued 2408/24IO/HD192 range. Offering the same high channel count, the new interfaces offer Thunderbolt connectivity instead of PCIe, with USB 2.0 also present.

The new interfaces also offer a first in this area: AVB Networking, which not only lets you connect multiple interfaces to a single computer, but also allows for the creation of a full audio network of interfaces and computers, where audio can be streamed from any source to any destination. The routing of the entire network can be controlled by a web app running from a computer, tablet or phone.

The MOTU AVB range

There are four products in the AVB range:

MOTU 1248: 32×34 interface with 4 mic preamps, 8 line level, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU 8M: 24×24 interface, 8 mic preamps, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU 16A: 32×32 interface, 16 analogue line level inputs and outputs, 16 channels of ADAT, Thunderbolt and USB 2.0.
MOTU AVB Switch: Dedicated 5 port AVB switch.

Any of the interfaces can be connected directly to any other via a single ethernet cable, but for further expandability the AVB switch lets you connect up to five together, or four with an uplink to another switch. Any of the interfaces connected to a switch may also be connected to a host computer of its own, with all attached computers being able to see all the connected interfaces.

What are the advantages of MOTU AVB?

Host access through Thunderbolt or USB. MOTU are the first to combine AVB networking with Thunderbolt and USB 2.o connectivity. MOTU AVB networks do not require PCIe slots. Instead, you can conveniently connect your host computer(s) through USB or Thunderbolt.

Support for multiple computer hosts. A MOTU AVB network can host as many computers as can be physically connected, with complete access by all hosts to all connected devices and audio streams. All computers and all network devices run in sync with each other, resolved to the network’s master clock.

256 channels of host I/O. Over Thunderbolt, MOTU’s AVB interfaces support 256 simultaneous channels of audio I/O (128 in plus 128 out).

Over 512 streams of network audio. MOTU’s AVB network can stream over 500 channels of audio throughout the network. Each MOTU AVB device can broadcast eight 8-channel network streams and simultaneously listen to eight 8-channel network streams.

Exceptionally low network latency. Standard AVB network latency is 2 ms. MOTU AVB network latency is an astonishing 0.6 ms, even over 7 “hops” (switches) and hundreds of metres of cable. By comparison, Cobranet has variable (unpredictable) network latency in the range of 5 ms. (We should point out that these figures came from MOTU, not the Jigsaw24 test lab.)

Star configuration. MOTU AVB employs a star network configuration. This is much more flexible than daisychain scenarios, which require dependency on all devices in the chain.

Web interface. MOTU’s AVB system can be controlled from MOTU’s control software, which runs within any web browser running on any networked laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Wireless control. MOTU’s AVB system can be controlled wirelessly through its web interface from any networked wireless device, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

One-click synchronisation. Click the “Become Clock Master” button in the MOTU AVB web app for the MOTU device you choose as the clock master, and all other devices on the network immediately resolve to it.

Thunderbolt connection to host computer. MOTU’s core system interfaces (1248, 8M, 16A, etc.) can connect to the host computer with Thunderbolt, which allows full access to the entire MOTU AVB system network, streaming 128 channels of audio in and out simultaneously, even at high sample rates, thanks to Thunderbolt’s extremely high bus bandwidth capacity.

See the full MOTU AVB range here. For more information, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest audio news, follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.   

Customer stories: Gifford Hooper and HoverCam

Customer stories: Gifford Hooper and HoverCam

Aged 13, Gifford Hooper built his first model helicopter in order to get aerial shots of his school for a geography project. Fast forward a few years (and models) and he’s an Oscar-winner and one of the world’s leading aerial filming camera operators.

Back in 1979, Gifford Hooper’s school geography department wanted aerial photos of the school, prompting him to build and operate a model plane with a 35mm clockwork camera so that he could get the necessary shots.

35 years and a few generations of technology later, Gifford is now the proud owner of an Academy Award™, having pushed the aerial shooting envelope with Hawkeye and HoverCam. His work can be seen in 24 Hour Party People, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Finding Neverland and 28 Weeks Later.

Hovercam Showreel 2010 from Gifford Hooper on Vimeo.

Can you still remember your first big break?

It was in 1990, when a riot broke out at Strangeways. I got in touch with ITV news and explained I could get them shots they’d never seen before, so they were very excited and ended up commissioning us to film the rooftop protest live – the first time a live  TV broadcast relay had been achieved from a civilian drone. That was also the first time I worked with Philip George, with whom I went on to found HoverCam. I’ve moved on since then am now working with a different set up and crew.

How has your kit changed since then?

When we started working together as HoverCam, we had a 16mm Beaulieu, a S16mm ARRI SR and an ARRI IIC with Cinematography Electronics’ crystal motor base. The first big change was when turbine engines became reliable, because the extra power let us carry bigger payloads and better guidance systems. With the advent of digital cinematography we’ve been able to move to smaller RED cameras, which make life a lot easier.

What drives your changes? Are you always looking to improve, or do you look at the setup on a job-by-job basis?

We’re always trying to improve, although if the client wants something exotic then a flying machine will have to be built for that project. Technology, reliability and safety are the main driving forces behind our changes.

What drives your choice of camera when it’s your choice?

Image quality, size and weight are the biggest issues. When it comes to image quality we have to test different cameras for rolling shutter issues and well we can electronically communicate/integrate with the camera to control its functions remotely. If we have to use a bigger camera, we look at what can be stripped off it without it losing functionality – in some cases we’ve physically cut parts off the camera.

Which camera has generated the most issues when it comes to aerial shooting?

All cameras have different issues to get over, but I guess when we used to shoot full frame 35mm motion film, we had to modify the camera gates, machine different lens adapters and install our own video assist cameras and remote controls. Nowadays all this involves is programming different protocols to talk to the camera’s electronics.

Are you working on the rig at the moment?

The most recent development is a new GPS autopilot system that I’ve implemented, dual autopilot controls for redundancy, new integration of camera controls with the GPS systems. It’ll allow for safer flying and new motion control possibilities.

What’s the most challenging shoot you’ve undertaken?

Well they all have their ups and downs – in aerial filming, all shots are challenging, that’s why they’re the icing on the cake. The hardest things are action sequences in feature films, when you have lots of cast and crew who have to be in the right place at the right time. This isn’t a crane that you can just leave in one place while adjustments are made to the set or actors, so you have to rehearse everything without flying first.

Is there a shot that you’re most proud of?

Working on feature films is the best work to have, but I guess working on commercials with huge budgets means you get to go to some amazing places. We filmed a soft drinks commercial in the Maldives, I think it was for Japanese TV. The shot called for a small beach island with one palm tree and a couple drinking the soft drink, they are on sun loungers and have a kite flying above them giving them shade. Our shot was an aerial view of the complete island surrounded by sea, the couple on the sun loungers with a kite flying close to the aerial camera in the foreground.

To achieve this we had to assume there would be no wind to fly the kite, so that was tethered to the ground and lifted up by a smaller model helicopter. Then we positioned the aerial filming helicopter above the kite. Because the complete island and the sea surrounding it was in view, we couldn’t operate the helicopters from the island and had to build scaffold towers in the sea instead.

Are there any moments where things have gone drastically wrong?

In the early days, mechanical faults where our biggest challenge. The machines had to be completely stripped down and rebuilt overnight while the film crew slept, so we could have a fresh working machine for the morning. We got very little sleep on film shoots! The biggest technical problem we ever had was filming a hotel commercial in Thailand – we lost power and ditched the helicopter in the empty pool. This was back when we were shooting film, so could pull the camera out, strip it, dry it, clean it, grease it, reassemble and test it, then carry on with the shoot with our second machine.

You’ve just won an Academy Award™, which must have felt amazing…

It was awesome, and a complete shock. It’s very nice to have fellow filmmakers acknowledge your many years of hard work.

But looking forward from that, where do you see aerial filming going next?

The market for drones for aerial filming is booming. This is a fantastic time for the market, with lots of computer controlled drones and high quality small cameras. Our systems are all electronic now, so we have fewer mechanical problems to deal with. Usability and reliability are up 100 fold compared to 25 years ago.

Do you see any downsides?

Unfortunately, this leads to some rogue use of technology. A lot of people doing this for the first time are unskilled in aerial filmmaking and flying, and I think a lot more training needs to be done. For example, a lot of people are unaware that it’s illegal to fly without a CAA licence for commercial filming. Even if you’re only doing it as a hobby, you have to abide by the CAA air navigation order.

So your advice to young aerial cameramen is to know the law?

Well your first starting point is to learn how to fly a model RC plane and helicopter to give you a good understanding of flying, start asking for help from people who have being doing it for 30 years. Then obtain the licence for commercial aerial filming work from the CAA.

Looking to get started? We can’t issue pilot’s licences, but if you’re wondering which cameras to invest in, give the team a call.

To find out more call 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

Adobe Illustrator CC gets GPU-acceleration for the first time

For creatives relying on the magic of Illustrator CC’s vector graphics, you’re about to find the creative workflow a far smoother experience. Thanks to graphics processing giants NVIDIA, Illustrator is able to take advantage of GPU-acceleration for the first time. The technology to applaud for getting your GPU out of it’s armchair is NV Path.

NV Path is an extension of OpenGL, and the result of work between NVIDIA and Adobe. NV Path offloads path rendering onto the GPU, leading to increased fluidity when zooming and panning around your resolution-independent creations.

Previously, Illustrator performance was served up entirely by the CPU, often leading to stuttering, spluttering and an interrupted creative process. Unlike their 3D cousins, 2D artists haven’t had access to the GPU until now. When Illustrator CC is able to perform 10 times faster, you’ll wonder how you got by.

While all this sounds like a technical marvel (and it is!), Illustrator CC’s central mission is to get your imagination onto the screen and beyond with the least resistance. News of this stutter-killing advancement will delight 2D artists, whose creative impulses won’t be held back by an overworked CPU.

For users with the winning combination of Creative Cloud and an NVIDIA GPU, NV Path enabled Illustrator CC is available now.

For more information, call 03332 409 306 or email on at adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook