We asked our experts which technologies they were keeping an eye on in 2018, and their answers were pretty much unanimous: VR and AR are going to come on apace; you’re all going to need to get comfortable with CWDM to maximise your infrastructure investments; you’re going to love IMF delivery and there are a few key changes to your Avid workflow…
Virtual reality finds its niche
2017 was the year everyone and their cousin learned the difference between VR, AR and 360, as various vendors, manufacturers and platforms tried to corner the market for this new technology. However, much of the hardware and software that has existed until now has veered between magical and cumbersome, hampered by a lack of standardisation, the sheer volume of data involved and a patchy understanding on the part of corporate clients on how best this should be implemented.
However, we think 2018 is the year that VR and AR are going to come into their own. Practitioners are finding better applications, first generation cameras and software are becoming more stable, and people are zeroing in on how to create compelling content in a reasonable timeframe and for a manageable cost.
The key thing, though, is to make sure you have the storage and infrastructure to handle the amount of footage involved. This is often more than you need – even at a very small scale, VR requires a huge amount of throughput and space. To find out more about developing your setup, get in touch.
CWDM fibre and the remote MCR of the future
While we’re on the topic of storage, it’s worth taking another look at Phil’s Tech Breakfast presentation on Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing (CWDM, the process by which you can put many, many signals over single fibres and maximise return on your investment in fibre). It’s a topic our engineers have been asked about again and again in 2017, and things don’t look to settle down in 2018, as our appetite for data over distance shows no sign of diminishing.
(You can watch the part one Phil mentions here.)
Offering distances of up to 80km and an excellent signal to noise ratio (28dBs with the best optics), single mode fibre allows you to transmit more data on your single mode fibre in areas where it is difficult or prohibitively expensive to add more cores of fibre (for example, if your campus fibre network crosses a local authority boundary, you’ll have to pay tax on every cable you lay in perpetuity).
We’re acutely aware of its usefulness, having employed it to set up the Dolby 4K cinema net in Soho last year. This lets several Soho facilities remotely connect to the control panels and ultra hi-res Eclipse projector in Dolby’s cinema facility in order to grade their work at a resolution they’d be unable to support internally.
In more general use, it’s one of the technologies that’s allowing central London facilities to combat ever-increasing rents by relocating their MCR to a datacentre and converting that space into something more revenue-generating. The other technology that’s helping on this score is KVM over IP, in which your workstations, storage and servers are remotely located, and can be accessed by anyone with a keyboard, display, mouse and internet connection. This has been popular in corporate and finance sectors for some time, but we’re finally seeing it reach a point where it’s a viable solution for high-end video work, and it’s only set to become more popular in 2018.
Interoperable Master Format (IMF) delivery
IMF is a flexible framework that allows you to take a ‘mix and match’ approach to the delivery of file based assets such as images, audio, technical metadata and subtitles. Designed to make the delivery of final masters easier by providing an SMPTE-approved framework for the contents of your master, it’s proved popular with customers who maintain long term archives, as you can save space by only saving the differences between versions of your initial assets, rather than saving multiple whole versions, and can combine multiple cuts and language versions into a single master.
The rise and rise of HDR
2017 saw lots of customers enquiring about high dynamic range (HDR) – one of the four improvements that UHD Television brings, the others being increased resolution (aka 4K), wide colour gamut (aka WCG or Rec.2020), and higher frame-rates (all the way to 120 frames/sec).
Modern TVs are capable of much brighter whites and consistently good blacks, so we need a system to exploit that and give us a much richer range of light values. To many eyes HDR is the most compelling aspect of UHD-TV, and it will come as no surprise that there are competing standards. Dolby have their PQ (aka Dolby Vision) which is derived from their work in digital cinema; Sony have their Slog3 cameras and the BBC/NHK (the UK and Japanese state broadcasters) have Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG). In addition, TV manufacturers have HDR10 and now HDR10+, and each one of these systems has its own benefits in acquisition, post, production and delivery.
It seems like it’s all to play for, but here at Jigsaw24 we have been paying attention and have a stable of products to suit different production requirements. The Leader LV5490 test set is the best piece of equipment we’ve found so far for HDR shooting, grading and delivery to Netflix, Amazon and the BBC.
And as always, Avid have big plans…
And while we’re always excited to talk about cabling, we’d be remiss if we didn’t catch up on what Avid have been up to. They’ve already announced that they’re going to be rolling out MediaCentral | Editorial Management next year, and there is also a host of updates coming to Media Composer.
We don’t have a firm release date for the full updates, but we know that it will include NDI support, so you can stream content directly from Media Composer to a client; a brand new 4K capable title tool and background save.
There’s also the looming release of Media Composer Cloud VM, which will allow you to virtualise your Media Composer seats. This means they can be stored and managed centrally, with editors in various locations accessing the necessary software and computing power remotely using any hardware they have to hand, rather than having to wait for (or find space for) a dedicated workstation.
While there is an initial outlay involved (you have to invest in a VM stack and you still need to pay for your Media Composer licences), but the resulting flexibility and long term hardware savings mean that if you need need to be able to adjust your workflow quickly, this is well worth the investment – particularly if you find yourself adapting your workflow to clients often, regularly take on freelancers to hit deadlines, or need a low cost way to give clients access to the edit if they can’t afford to rent a suite, or you don’t have one to spare.
Unlike other virtualisation solutions, Avid give you access to the full version of Media Composer, without any features cut, so working on a virtual version is no different from working on a dedicated workstation. We’re currently running proof of concept trials with our key customers, so watch this space for updates as more info becomes available!
As always, if you want to pick through how you any of this might affect your workflow or book your place on one of our accredited Avid training days, you can always get in touch with the team on the details below.