Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Around the library

This is a short showing a tour of the library & some of it's exhibits.  Done with an Android Galaxy 5 cell phone, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.  I had a problem of seeing myself in a reflection of the art on the wall, but I went with it just because it was a test.  Wished I had a better camera, and one that was a bit heavier so I could be a bit steadier.  The phone had no weight to it at all, and I could see every bump, so I slowed down some of the footage to minimize it.    But this was done quick, and cheap, so I'll be testing more out in the coming days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Connectivity in a Digital World

One of the most interesting seminars was called "The evolution of AV Connectivity: Past, Present & Future".  Joe Cornwall from Legrand gave it, and he really did a great job in explaining what was, what is, and what will be.  With the talk being all about 4K, UHD, and even 8K coming to a screen near you it was interesting how he dug through the technical to explain how and why some things have to happen first before the technology comes, but I am told with certainty that this future is coming.

Since the advent of TV, engineers have always sought better resolution of images we are producing.  Now with the advent of 4K our image is more detailed then ever, and of course with the talk of 4K there is 8K.  But a lot is hype because in order to get there there has to be certain changes in our connectivity.

DVI (digital visual interface) died in 2015.  It is no longer manufactured.  HDMI ports have become the norm now.  I remember DVI ports in my old non-linear editing devices and desktop computers way back when.

DVI was one of the most common digital video cables you would see on desktops, and LCD monitors not too long ago.  It was the most similar to VGA connectors, with up to 24 pins and supported analog as well as digital video.  DVI can stream up to 1920 x 1200 HD video, or with a dual-link DVI connectors you can support up to 2560 x 1600 pixels.  The biggest problem with DVI is that it doesn't support HDCP encryption by default, so if your hardware only includes DVI ports, you may not be able to playback full HD Blue-rays and other HD content.

HDMI is the default cable on newer HDTV's, Blue-ray players, Apple TV, and many new computers video cards, and a multitude of other video devices.  HDNI cables and ports are very easy to use, and are almost as easy to connect as USB devices.  No more bent pins; just push and play.  HDMI cables can stream digital video and audio simultaneously over the same cable.  HDMI supports up to 1920 x 1200 video and  8channel audio.  They also support HDCP encryption for the newest HD content.

With UHD we'll need 10 bit color, and both HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 are not fast enough.  HDMI 2.0 maximum data rate is 18 Gb/s, which I'm told is barely fast enough.  It clearly can't support 10-bit color.

Display Port 1.2 and 1.3 are better, with 1.3 being the best, but what I heard a lot about is Super MHL which seems to be the best.   MHL stands for Mobil High definition link.

To explain this I went to Wikipedia for the definition of these ports:

DisplayPort version 1.2 was approved on December 22, 2009.  The most significant improvement of the new version is the doubling of the effective bandwidth to 17.28 Gbit/s in high bit rate 2 (HBR2) mode, which allows increased resolutions, higher refresh rates, and greater color depth.  Other improvements include multiple independent streams (daisy-chain connection with multiple monitors) called Multi-stream transport, facilities for stereoscopic 3D, increased AUX channel bandwidth (from 1Mbit/s to 720 Mbit/s), more color spaces including xvYCC, scRGB and Adobe RGB 1998, and global time code (GTC) for sub 1 us audio/video synchronisation,  Also Apple's Inc.'s Mini display port connector, which is much smaller and designed for laptop computers and other small devices, is compatible with the new standard*

DisplayPort version 1.3 was approved on September 15, 2014.  This standard increases overall transmission bandwidth to 32.4 Gbit/s with the new HBR3 mode featuring 8.1 Gbit/s per lane (up from 5.4 Gbit/s with HBR3 in version 1.2), totalling 25.92 Gbit/s with overhead removed.  This bandwidth allows 5K displays (5120 x 2880 px) in RGB mode, and 8 K UHDTV at 7680 x 4320 ( 16:9, 33.18 megapixels) using 4:2:0 sub-sampling at 60 Hz.  The bandwidth also allows for two UHD (3840 x 2160 px)computer monitors at 60 Hz in 24-bit RGB node using coordinated video timing, a 4 K stereo 3D display, or a combination of 4K display and USB 3.0 as allowed at DockPort.  The new satndard features HDMI 2.0 compatibility mode with 2.2 content protection.  It also supports VESA display stream compression, which uses a visually lossless low-latency algorithm based on predictive DPCM and YCoCg-R*

Super MHL has a max data rate of 36 Gb/s, and is compatible with USB Type-C.  So in order to get 4K and even 8K this all must happen, and I'm told that it will happen, and that this is coming sooner then later.

Mobil High-Definition Link (MHL) is an industry standard for a mobile audio/video interface that allows consumers to connect mobil phones, tablets, and other portable consumer electronics (CE) devices to high-definition televisions (HDTV's) and audio receivers.  MHL-enabled products include adapters, automotive accessories, AV receivers, Blue-ray Disc players, cables, DTVs, media sticks, monitors, projectors, smart phones, tablets, TV accessories, and more.  MHL is a consortium made up of leading companies in the mobile and CE industries, including Nokia, Samsung, SIlicon Image, Sony, and Toshiba.*

In the meantime producers, and content providers produce at the highest resolution that their budgets can accommodate for.  Drilling down this far into 4K or 8K can be a bit mind numbing, but the seminars kind of brought a clarity to the technology.  The big thing now is being 4K compliant.  The consumer market seems to be driving this with the advent of home theaters, yet when it comes to the commercial market companies need to iron out problems that exist such as speed, security, and connectivity throughout it's IT and A/V infrastructure.  It is only a matter of time that this will happen, and that the future is right around the corner.

Digital technology improves at a much faster rate then analog, and because of this you can't take advantage of the improvements in digital without creating a whole new standard and by doing so back wards compatibility goes out the window.  But isn't that how it always is, and was.  Anyone remember 8-track?  Anybody?

* taken from Wikipedia

Friday, November 13, 2015

Content and Communications Expo 2015

This last week I had the opportunity to head on over to NAB/CCW Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York.  Two days of seminars and meeting manufacturing and service vendors of all types. Each year there is new and different technology appearing on the video production landscape This expo is an excellent place to learn and catch up with technology.

The expo has something for everyone.  Engineers, filmmakers, advertisers, broadcasters, IT and A/V specialists can all come away with something here at the expo.

Being an A/V specialist I came across a plethora of technology which may help me in the future.  The expo is also a good place to talk to others who are in the same field as you and also people who share their problems and solutions to various scenarios that may be of value to you professionally. The industry changes  rapidly and there are an assortment of problems we all face. IT wrestles with their problems and A/V has their own to deal with , and sometimes the two departments can clash because of different priorities each department has.  IT is concerned about bandwidth and security, while A/V is all about access to different type of media through different types of devices, and compatibility of equipment.

Here at the expo you'll be able to listen and talk to other professionals who tackle these types of problems everyday.  There is also the the non-technical here as well as well.  The challenges to broadcasters to build audiences has become challenging in the past few years.

The ever shrinking advertising budgets, and how one captures an audience in the 21 century that is fragmented and yet savoy too many of the tricks of the trade. So thee is a lot to see and hear, and trying to see it all is an impossibility.    Broadcasters discuss numbers as to ratings and try to wrestle with an audience share that is shrinking due to the many different types of platforms that the public now enjoys.   The best way to see this expo is go to seminars and workshops that you personally deal with throughout your professional day.

While there I made plenty of notes, and will try and sort them out here.  I found some really awesome things in the film making arena that in the A/V field that answered some of my questions.  The expo is usually held in November and it is a good place to catch up with colleagues.  

All I can say is that the staff and the people who help put on the expos were great and very helpful.    Susch topics as "producers on producing", "the art of cinematography" "the merger of AV and IT:" and the evolution of AV connectivity" were seminars that were revealing, inspiring, and informative.  My only complaint was that there was so much to see that sometimes I missed other seminars because I was already at one which was at the same time.    So I hope you'll follow me these next few days as I try to sor \t it all out.  Thanks and see you on the flip side.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What it really costs to make films....

The following article is insightful and something I'v e been talking about for years.  You can still shoot on film, and make it affordable.  I took it even further and finished on film due to the fact that I had the equipment.

I edited my film on and off for around 5 years.  Pretty long time, but when one needs to pay the bills and get jobs to pay those bills one does not have the time to consistently work on his or her project,

Take a look at the article.  It's well done, and has some good points in it.  Thanks Jacob Dodd for writing it.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)

What can be said about Jurassic world that hasn't been said by other critics.  my youngest son said it in one word: "AWESOME".  We have enjoyed the series throughout the years, but I asked my boys which do you like, and they all go back to the original.  The others felt like repeats of the same they said, and my boys aren't half wrong.  When Jurassic Park came out way back in 1993 we as an audience had not seen anything like the film.  The effects were breathtaking, and the creatures were very real looking.  That is because a lot of hard work went into the effects.  Some of the CGI was groundbreaking.  So how does one out do the original?  Simple, you don't even try.

Jurassic World is a movie that is unlike the others.  It's new.  The story picks up more then 20 years latter and tries to spin it's own tale.  It seems as though Jurassic World the amusement park has been running for 20 years and without one incident.  What the other films were trying to say about dinosaurs has been ignored, and that is NOT bringing them back is what we should do.  Instead mankind has ignored the warnings and what actually happened on the island and instead built their theme park.  Of course we come in just as the proverbial poop is going to hit the fan.

Everything is bigger in Jurassic World, and why not.  The filmmakers had to bring it big or go home, and I can tell you that they brought it home.  The writing is typical, and the characters are a bit one dimensional.  Some critics have even said that it is a bit chauvinistic since the female protagonist runs around in high heels and is a career minded women who does not know her nephews ages, but I beg to differ.  In the end she comes through and risks life and limb to save her nephews and our hero, so the argument doesn't hold too much water for me, and did not interfere with me enjoying the film myself.

I'll agree with the one dimensional characters, but the story is epic, and it is very entertaining.  What else do you need for a summer movie.

All the performances were good, and I know other critics have harped on it.  I really don't think it has a problem.  The story rolls right along, and yes the one dimensional characters are a there, but the movie runs two hours and ten minutes.  For me it's all about the pacing, and the movie works for me.  The audience I saw with it didn't have a problem with the film.

I do believe that this film shows us that we humans still don't learn form our mistakes and when even when we think we're in control we're not.  Several times the characters say that they are animals not just products, but it seems to fall onto deaf ears.  In the end the animals save the humans, not the other way around.  Nature is stronger.  I don't know if anyone got that message but it seems lost on some.

If I was the filmmakers I wouldn't sweat it.  Already the film seems to be breaking box office records, and is fast on its way to one billion in gross.  So I'm sure the studio is laughing all the way to the bank.

So as Mel Brooks would say let the merchandising begin.....

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

It looks like the summer movie blockbuster season is opening up early with the opening of "Avengers: Age of Ultron".  The second Avengers begins with a promising opening.  It seems that the Avengers are once again battling the forces of Hydra.  From there the story develops into creating another baddie named Ultron.

The film is fun, and works well, but the one problem was that it seemed overly long when it didn't need to be.  The theater was packed, and everyone seemed to enjoy it, but there were some younger children in the audience that seemed bored when there was no action on the screen, so the movie may not be geared to them particular.  But then why does the studio gear the merchandise to small kids.  

I enjoyed the movies little jabs at itself.  The humor in it was funny, and it endeared us to the characters.  Such as Captain America's purity, or the Hulks anger issues, or even Iron man's love of one-liners and even Thor's good looks.

Like I said my one criticisms  is the length.  But I do love the characters, and the one thing this movie sets up is the next Avengers movie, with a different cast with some regulars still present.  Marvel Studios is following the comic.  It was well known that the Avenger's roll call changed a lot in the comics so Marvel is staying true to the comic.   Overall it's a good outing, and if you have children who are fans then it's a no-brainer to go see it with them.

Joss Whedon is a heck of a director, and he produces a well crafted film.  It's my hope that Whedon continues, and doesn't get bored with the franchise.  Whedon brings love of the characters to the movie, and we the audience care for them.  I believe this is why this film will resonate with its audiences.  It is no mistake that Whedon comes from a writing background.  He has worked on and produced some of the better quality TV shows on this decade where character development is deeper then in movies because it can establish character within several episodes.  Here he does it within a movie, and though a bit long it does work in my opinion.  We already have some character development in the previous movies so the audience knows what to expect, but to Whedon's credit he builds on it.  It's a strong film, and one audiences should enjoy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

I won't give out too much details about the movie for those who still want to see it.  With over 100 million copies of the trilogy sold and the books being translated into 52 languages I would think there is a built in audience for this movie.  So no matter what the critics say people are going to go see it and so this review really won't matter, but as a movie does it stack up to others of it's genre.  That genre being the erotic film.

Erotica is a genre that dates back a long way.  From books, to films the genre has been a popular one and a very lucrative one too.  The film tries to be, but it isn't at all erotic.  There is a scene in the film where our heroine (Dakota Johnson) and (Mr Grey) sit at a piano and are whisked away in a passionate embrace, which is as close to erotic as the film gets.

But to say that this film is devoid of any redeeming value is a lie.  Ms Johnson's performance is what makes the film.  She does a good job at conveying her characters interest in Mr. Grey's obsessions, but it is Johnson's ability to portray her character as a strong and independent character who is set afire by her awakening desires.  She is what makes it interesting.  I totally agree that the film could have been edited a bit better.  just as the characters are getting interesting we find ourselves at the end.  The end is unsatisfying, and we the audience are left up in the air.  I realize that this is part of a trilogy, but the book stands on it's own, and is not dependent on the second or third book.  Instead they explore a different period in the characters lives.  The movie does not do this and by leaving the audience hanging it make the film weak.

There are a lot of other films that I really could are better.  I would think this to be a romantic film with S&M as a theme on how broken we as human beings can be, and how puritan we as a society are, but the film treats it like a gimmick.  It cheapens it, and makes the film not as good as it should be.

Dakota Johnson does a lot here to make us feel for the character she plays and she does a fantastic job at it.  Jamie Dorman tries to do the same and he does his best but there is little for him to work with.  Dorman's character is a caricature of a wealthy troubled millionaire.  He tries his best at what the screenplay allows him to, but we still don't get who he is.  It is only at the end when there is a conflict that we see or have a clue to what his character is really like.

Listen if you're a fan you'll see the film despite the reviews, but from what I am told there is more depth in the book about the characters then there is in the film.  Again Ms Johnson's performance is quite good,  and just alone I recommend the film.

It's not a bad date movie.  It certainly will make the dinner or late nightcap conversation a bit more interesting.