View from the front: Platform1

View from the front: Platform1

It may have been a while since Glasgow’s last Platform1 expo, but last week’s mixture of talks, discussion panels and hands-on demos was such a success that we’re already hard at work on a second event for after IBC. 

Huge thanks to everyone who made it, whether that was to deliver a demo or gaze lovingly at the new Z series workstations from HP.

Our Chief Engineer Phil Crawley was one of the stars of the day, kicking things off with a presentation on new networking standards for Fibre and Gigabit Ethernet over copper (key takeaways included the remarkably limited cable runs available for 12G – as short as 10m!), before heading up a panel discussion on the future of HDR, ably abetted by Atomos’s Lewis Brown, AJA’s Kevin King, EIZO’s Victor Aberdeen and LEADER’s Kevin Skalvidge, all offering perspectives on the standards and formats they hope will become part of the standard HDR spec.

EIZO’s CG3145 HDR reference monitor (more on that here) and LEADER’s HDR monitoring scopes were both big hits in our demo area, too. We currently have the CG3145 in stock (there’s usually a 12 week lead time), so if you’d like to get your hands on one sharpish, get in touch with the team on the details below.

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Atomos brought their onset monitor-recorders to add to the HDR solution stack, while we also had kit from Blackmagic Design, Panasonic, Avid, HP. NewTek brought along a fully tricked out, NDI-enabled TriCaster setup gave people the chance to familiarise themselves with video over IP, and learn more about NewTek’s unique, app-based approach to building an IP workflow for your live productions.

One of the roaring successes of the day was Avid’s preview of their upcoming Media Composer | Editorial Management module. It wasn’t quite the final version – Avid tell us they’re not planning on unveiling that until NAB – but it was enough that we can really start to get an idea of how this could impact workflows, especially in smaller facilities.

Sadly, the day is done and we’ve had to give most of the kit back to its respective manufacturers. However, you can buy your own, or get advice on developing your workflow further, if you get in touch with the team on 0141 374 2345, or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

 

 

In case you missed it: Our introduction to PTP

In case you missed it: Our introduction to PTP

Big thanks to everyone who made it to our IP event last week, not least Daniel Boldt (Head of Software Development, Meinberg) and Nikolaus Kerö (General Manager, Oregano Systems) for their insightful presentations. If you need to refresh your memory, you can download the slides here. 

PTP (Precision Time Protocol) is fundamental to the success of any media over IP exercise, and it was reassuring to see technicians and engineers from so many facilities show up to find out more – it’s always difficult to predict how interested people will be in something so deep in the weeds, but IP workflows have gained an incredible amount of traction over the last year, and it was fantastic to see so many people engaging with the future of their facilities.

Say goodbye to genlock

The full slide deck is available here, but to bluntly recap things: PTP replaces genlock when you’re working with media over IP.

In an IP-based workflow, you’re dealing with packets of data, not a synchronous stream of video on a dedicated cable, so traditional syncing methods won’t work. PTP sidesteps this problem by effectively ‘virtualising’ genlock, and using packets of data sent over the IP network to sync devices which are on it.

PTP is a safe bet

PTP is not a new technology; it’s been around for over 15 years, primarily in stock exchanges and other gambling dens, where the precise time of a transaction is incredibly important. The current version, PTP v2, was ratified in 2008, and is also know as IEEE 1588-2008 and SMPTE 2059.

Its move into production and post circles is recent, but it’s gaining acceptance quickly – Belgian broadcasters RTL have seven studios in Brussels that are linked up this way, and Germany’s WDR have also invested heavily. One of the reasons for this rapid rise is that, because internet protocols are so ubiquitous, and have so many applications in industries which are much larger and established than our own, there are already a number of affordable solutions available. We’re not waiting for manufacturers to catch up with demand, and we’re not paying exorbitant prices for niche hardware – readily available off the shelf solutions will get the job done.

Revolutionising OB at Sony

If it wasn’t initially developed for the media industry, what kind of benefits can PTP really deliver? Well, for one thing, Sony’s most recent research has found that you can half the weight of an OB truck by wiring it for PTP and IP transfer rather than relying on SDI, simply because it requires so much less cabling. This makes your OB setups faster, easier and cheaper to produce and to run.

And of course, there’s the fact that you no longer need to keep your equipment in one place. PTP will sync any device on your network, even if it happens to be on the other side of the country at the time, rather than in the studio with you, and it’ll work for both audio and video production.

Want to know more?

As always, you can get in touch with our team on the details below, and they’ll be happy to answer any additional IP questions you may have. We’re also running a tech breakfast on 31st January around AES67 and IP workflows for audio production, which might be of interest, and one on the fate of SDI on 13th February.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The view from the front: Avid User Group Cymru

The view from the front: Avid User Group Cymru

Last night we hosted the Avid User Group Cymru’s annual Christmas meet-up, featuring a Q&A with Avid specialist Øystein Riise Næss and news of workflow automation tool (and Avid Alliance Partner) ContentAgent from Owen Walker. 

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who made it – there was a real community atmosphere, and it was great to see people sharing resources they found useful with other local Avid users. (The popular ones, for those who didn’t get them down on the night, were Freddy’s Big List of Relevant Avid Links, the official Avid Blogs and the Avid Editors of Facebook group.)

Coming soon from Avid

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Key points that we kept coming back to during Øystein’s informative Q&A included the very welcome return of PhraseFind and ScriptSync, the imminent arrival of Media Composer | Editorial Management, which promises logging, rough cut and asset management capabilities for producers and loggers who don’t have a Media Composer licence. There was also a recap of the improvements Avid have made to the audio tools available on your timeline.

Avid are still in the process of redesigning their audio interface, and one of the best things about the Q&A was that our members got to lodge their requests directly with an Avid specialist in person (though if you have any more, send them in and I’m sure we can pass them on).

We also got an exclusive preview of the newly-remodelled title tool in Media Composer, which looks fantastic following its recent redesign, and the chance to try out some of Avid’s new hardware options, including their latest video over IP solutions.

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Want to know more about ContentAgent?

Workflow automation toolkit ContentAgent was a new find for a lot of our attendees, but there was a surge of interest following Owen’s presentation. If you had a question that wasn’t answered, we’d recommend taking a look at the ContentAgent overview here, or getting in touch on the details below if your query is more specific.

Next from Avid User Group Cymru…

It was great to get the gang back together, and we hope to host more meet-ups in the very near future so that our local Avid user community can stay in touch. With that in mind, we’d really appreciate it if you could take this quick, five question survey to let us know what you’d like to see, and which Avid partners you’d like to hear from next time. Similarly, if there are any websites of platforms where you’d particularly like to see the AUGC make an appearance (Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack), let us know in the comments.

If you want to know more about Avid workflows or ContentAgent, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

View from the front: Televisual Creative’s Future of Post forum

View from the front: Televisual Creative’s Future of Post forum

If you needed a sign that the times are indeed a-changing, look no further than Televisual Creative’s Future of Post forum. The event, in which leading lights of the post community came together to puzzle out the challenges and opportunities posed by HDR workflows and IP connectivity/remote working, drew CTOs and technical leads from over 50 of Britain’s top post houses, eager for insight into these two scorchingly hot topics. 

We were official sponsors of the event (along with Avid, Quantum, Rohde & Schwarz and AJA) so our team were out in force, with M&E Operations Director Graham McGuinness and M&E Sales Director Rupert Watson chairing the connectivity and HDR panels respectively, and Jigsaw24 engineer Phil Crawley took to the stage to interview Dolby’s Ian Lowe about the unique remote workflow employed at the Dolby Theatre (which also hosted the event).

For those of you who missed it (or even those of you who want to relive the heady thrill of hearing about double utilisation), here’s a quick recap of what happened.

Dolby Vision

The IP/connectivity session kicked off with Televisual’s James Bennett interviewing Jigsaw24 engineer Phil Crawley and Dolby’s Ian Lowe about their unique remote access workflow, in which colourists in the Dolby Theatre remotely access the workstations and data back at their facility via a GUI. This gives them access to the theatre’s uniquely powerful display capabilities and acoustics for their grading and mastering, while ensuring that they obey strict data security requirements.

In order to achieve a system that had no compression, no latency, the ability to handle all flavours of 4K and HDR and the ability to support remote control of end points, Dolby are using quad-link 3G SDI carried over fibre provided by us and euNetworks, and, through a combination of dark fibre and optical multiplexers they’re confident they can maintain the bandwidth needed to handle uncompressed, no-latency 4K HDR footage – without any of the artefacts that they saw using other solutions – in their Theatre and Home grading environments.

They’re already linked to three of London’s top post houses, and have used the remote grading systems on films including Fantastic Beasts and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

The key to remote working

Following on from Dolby’s unique workflow, we joined Daniel Napier, Technical Director of Halo Post, Avid’s Territory Sales Manager Patrick Nelson, Dolby’s Senior Sales Manager Ian Lowe and Oliver Pennington, Head of Engineering at global fibre providers Sohonet for a panel discussion of the current state of play when it came to remote workflows.

Avid are looking to strengthen their support for remote workflows within Interplay, while Dolby are looking to extend access to their facilities and Daniel Napier and the team at Halo have managed to centralise the machine rooms of all their facilities, so that artists can remote in from any location. As a side effect of this Halo have seen first hand one of the most widely discussed benefits of remote working: every suite in their facility can now be multi-purpose, as artists are no longer dependant on specific rooms to do their work, and they can also double utilisation of any given space by having one user working in the room while someone else accesses the same resources virtually.

Key technology recommended by the panel included dark and CWDM fibre (the cost of which is falling), the importance of Teradici when it came to standardising KVM over IP (we’d suggest you look at our preferred solution, Amulet Hotkey, which uses the Teradici’s Tera2 chip set), and the variety of methods, many of them developed in-house, that people had come up with for remotely accessing and logging footage.

HDR in post

After another barnstorming James Bennett interview (this time with Molinare CTO Richard Wilding), our Sales Director Rupert Watson hosted the standing-room-only HDR Post panel, which featured Wilding, Technicolor London’s Head of Technology Phil Oatley, and product specialists representing AJA, Atomos and Quantum, as they discussed the HDR workflow early adopters like Molinare are using, and the technology that helps them handle the sheer volume of data created.

Richard revealed that Molinare are now working with files that are up to 36 times the size of those you’d see in a traditional HD workflow – existing infrastructure is struggling to cope, and moving assets around is a constant challenge. There’s also a very real technology lag between the solutions available for grading film, and the solutions for delivering subtitles and captions, which are still tweaked by eye.

Also emphasised was the importance of working closely with production crews, who are also dealing with new standards – just as platforms have very different, specific mastering guidelines, their kit lists leave out key cameras and monitors, meaning many crews are developing their HDR workflow with unfamiliar kit.

Demo time!

Also out in force to feed people’s palatable appetite for new knowledge about HDR were Atomos, who shot the below video at the event. They brought along their SUMO HDR monitors, paired up with a Canon C300 Mk II and ready to test (sadly the footage in the video is filtered through YouTube, but believe that it was beautiful on the day).

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in more talks like this, take a look at our upcoming events or sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you up to date with new events as they’re announced. For more information, get in touch with our team on the details below.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

A recap of our Evening with Neil Davidge event

A recap of our Evening with Neil Davidge event

We recently welcomed producer and composer Neil Davidge to our Soho service and customer experience centre for an exclusive talk about his long and varied career. Neil, best known for his work with Massive Attack, went into detail about the band’s classic album Mezzanine, his past film, TV and video game projects (including Clash of the Titans, Trouble the Water and Halo 4), his experiences using Pro Tools (since 1994!), and his current film and audio album project, Slo Light. We’ve included a brief recap of some of the topics below… 

Beginning with his musical background, Neil first talked about how he came from a musical family, his influences and his early studio equipment (going from 8 track to 16 track), and learning the gear. He also touched on working with lots of different artists around Bristol, doing remixes, editing and helping people produce.

“Initially I just wanted to be making music as much as I could, then you get to a point where you need to pay the bills,” Neil said. “Then you wake up one morning and your girlfriend says ‘I’m pregnant’, and you realise the responsibility’s on you. So for quite some time I got stuck into doing pop production, and would constantly be trying to find the emotional centre of this pop song, listening to the lyrics and talking to the singer. But they just want the song to be as catchy and loud as possible, so I was constantly disappointed at how deep I could actually go.”

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Producing Massive Attack – Mezzanine

That depth Neil was looking for may have come after meeting Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja; Neil explained how he met 3D and started working with Massive Attack. “I got a phone call saying ‘Hey, do you fancy working on an album with us?’. Initially, they just needed someone to help them record and get some ideas down. I was thinking it was going to be three weeks’ work, three months’ work, and it ended up being three years’ work!”

But while working on Mezzanine, Neil wasn’t really thinking about just how special the album would become. “There were moments when I did something and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s great’, but it’s always very much in the moment when you feel that, and then the next day you listen to it and it doesn’t really have the same connection. But then you listen to it another three months later and realise that actually it was really good. That’s the bizarre thing about creativity, it all depends on your state of mind. It was very much the same with 3D – he’d come into the studio one day, we’d listen to the sketches we’d been working on and then think that everything was rubbish and we had to start again. At one point, we recorded ten hours of music over the course of two weeks, spent six months working on it, trying to make it into an album, then ended up throwing it all away and starting from scratch!”

Neil then touched on the technical side of producing Mezzanine, the different systems and platforms used, and the changes in his creative process. “I started on the Atari ST because that had been my setup, but I was plonked in Massive Attack’s new studio and they had this Mac with Cubase Audio sat there. I didn’t really want to touch it, but as it started to appear that it was going to take a lot longer than three months, I thought I’d dive in. I felt really unlocked by the ability to record stuff then cut it around and turn it into something completely different. It was quite a revolution as I’d always felt quite frustrated in the studio working straight to tape – having Cubase Audio was like ‘Oh my God, I can completely change this performance’.”

Working in TV, film and games

Following his work with Massive Attack, Neil then began scoring and composing, working in TV and film: “After Mezzanine was released, I couldn’t watch a film or TV show without hearing a track from the album – or something that sounded eerily like it! I always felt an affinity with film and TV anyway, I’m very visually-led anyway. Emotions and colours and smells are what music is to me, so the idea of doing film and TV scores seemed obvious.”

Neil also composed for Halo 4, one of the biggest selling games series of all time. “I did find [Halo] quite challenging, I don’t know how composers score for games and make it really connect with an audience,” Neil said. “You have to just have a really good team, and everyone on the same page. I’d be writing a piece of music to four lines and a few pictures that would make the audience know the person just from the piece of music. If I sit there and read a script for a TV series and think it’s quite humorous but really dark at the same time, I can start imagining this sound world, with these cavernous drums and crazy jazz and electronic driving stuff. Then I see the rushes and think it’s a different show!

“With games, it’s even more so, as everyone has their own impression and it’s not until the final moment when everything comes together that you really know what it is. For Halo, I was involved for a long time, but some of the guys were working for a big period before I came on, and a big period after I left and handed all the music over, by which point it had turned into something different. If I did it again, I think I would want to be involved right from the beginning and see it right to the very end, because I’m trying to communicate something for an audience so they get an experience and understanding of the characters when they play the game or watch the TV show.”

Neil then went on to talk about working in Avid Pro Tools, before a Q&A session with the attendees. “Just getting in [Pro Tools], editing audio around and tuning things is a massive thing for me. These days, I’m working a lot in TV, and I build what I call these ‘spotting sessions’, where I have the whole episode and I’ll be cutting together various sketches and overlaying them very much like a music editor would, building up a collage of a score. But I’ll also be writing in that same session, putting strings in and some extra beats, mixing and matching with various bounces, time stretching and pitching bounces around. Essentially I can spend maybe four days working on an episode, throwing in fresh ideas, and after that I can have written 40 minutes of music. It’s a really nice way of working, it’s been developing over a long period of time, and I feel like it keeps getting fresher, and I keep blurring the lines between writing and editing and mixing.”

– Missed our Evening with Neil Davidge event? Be sure to keep an eye out for all our upcoming events over at our Events page.

Jigsaw24 Events

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.

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.

Thanks for coming to our SEO Social!

Thanks for coming to our SEO Social!

Thanks to everyone who made it to our fourth Digital Creatives event, the SEO Social!

Thanks in particular to our DC regular, Iain Seers from Watershed Consulting, for getting the night started in style, Bing Ads’ Adela Popilkova for her insights on SEO layering, and Stephen Kenwright from Branded3 for sharing their success stories.

If you want a refresh of the key points (or if you couldn’t make it), you can always email events@Jigsaw24.com to request a copy of the night’s presentations.

If you were wowed by the reps from Extensis and Adobe but have sadly misplaced their cards, you can always get in touch with sales@Jigsaw24.com to request more information on any of the solutions you saw.

For those of you who were taken by Acronis’ Mac PC integration solutions, we offer free trials of  Acronis Access Advanced and Acronis Access Connect.

If you need anything else, just 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

We were proud sponsors at the Production & Post Forum

We were proud sponsors at the Production & Post Forum

If you were at BAFTA on Wednesday night, you might have spotted our Soho team cheering along – and you’ll have almost certainly seen our extremely subtle and not at all aggressive promotion of our new Soho office… 

Powered by Broadcast magazine, the Production & Post Forum brought together some of the industry’s leading lights to talk workflow, delivery standards, funding, career progression and how to make your footage look as cool as Peaky Blinders, among other things.

As well as plastering the place with our logo, bags, and drinks tickets (we like attention) we also sent along our M&E team to see what they made of things. Here’s what they had to report…

Kim Beard, Post-production Product Specialist

“Hugo Blick was worth getting into central London by 9am for, which is the best review you can give anyone. A lot of his talk focused on The Honourable Woman as it was his latest, and it was interesting to see the UK and US trailers side by side – they looked like they were for completely different genres. It was interesting to hear how he balanced having many masters – most of his productions run at a deficit and rely on international sales to make money, so he ends up answering to a lot of people – but still manages to have his own vision of each project.”

Lauren Irwin, M&E Marketing Manager

“Stephen Lambert spilling Gogglebox’s secrets was probably my favourite bit. I’ve never actually seen Gogglebox before the clips they showed us in the forum (which were hilarious – everyone was laughing). I guess I was quite pretentious about it and thought, “why would I watch someone watching television?” but it was really interesting to see the relationships and the fact that they hadn’t auditioned people, they’d found them by hanging around places and looking for the sort of people they wanted on the show. This seemed to be a running theme, too – Dan Adamson from Firecracker Films had gone with the same angle for their new show Quiz Night,  which films pub quizzes around the UK. It was just really great to hear that they’re creating more compelling television that their audiences can relate to.

“Seeing Richard Merrik set up a radio mic in three seconds was good too – a fast way to point out that it pays to get the professionals in because it is actually really hard to do (I know, I’ve had to muck around doing it at Uni and it is a nightmare with different clothing material).

“Gabriel Tate was a really compelling chair on the conversation with Hugo Blick and asked really engaging questions.”

What was your Forum highlight? Let us know @WeAreJigsaw24 or on our Facebook page. For more information about any of the tech you saw, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com