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14 2017 Feb

Sci-Tech Awards Honor Decades of Digital Camera Development

By Debra Kaufman

The 89th Scientific and Technology Awards, first established for the 4th Academy Awards in 1931, were held on February 11, 2017 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Hosted by actors John Cho and Leslie Mann, the 2017 Sci-Tech Awards featured 18 separate awards, given out as citations and plaques to 34 individuals.

A well-written script and comic delivery of the two hosts provoked frequent laughter in a show where the awards are described in dense scientific and engineering terminology. Cho and Mann, who got appreciative laughter for their self-deprecating befuddlement at the text they read off the prompter, hit the mark when they dubbed the Sci-Tech Awards a “secret, private awards ceremony” that turns away the many celebrities who want to attend.

The main star of the evening was digital cameras, which, as Scientific and Technical Awards committee chair Ray Feeney noted, “helped facilitate the widespread conversion to electronic image capture for motion picture production … [and] significantly expanded filmmakers’ creative choices for moving image storytelling.” Two awards – to Sony/Panavision’s Genesis and Thomson Grass Valley’s Viper FilmStream – acknowledged the pioneering work of those companies that built the cameras at a time when the idea of digital cinematography was new and, often, unwelcomed. The Committee then recognized three digital cameras that are in widespread use today, featuring the latest technologies: the ARRI Alexa, RED Digital Cinema’s RED and Epic cameras, and Sony’s F65 CineAlta camera.

In the arena of digital visual effects, which has reached a high level of sophistication and maturity, the Academy honored advances in facial performance capture with awards to several responsible companies and individuals: Parag Havaldar’s work on expression-based facial performance at Sony Imageworks; Nicholas Apostoloff and Geoff Wedig for their animation rig-based system at ImageMovers Digital and Digital Domain; Kiran Bhat, Michael Koperwas, Brian Cantwell and Paige Warner for ILM’s facial performance capture system; and Luca Fascione, J.P. Lewis and Iain Matthews for creating Weta Digital’s FACETS facial animation capture system.

The trend towards production that incorporates heavy use of CGI and animatronics put Steven Rosenbluth, Joshua Barratt, Robert Nolty and Archie Te in the spotlight for their work on the Concept Overdrive motion system, which coordinates real world, virtual and animatronic imagery into a seamless workflow. Brian Whited was honored for designing and developing the Meander drawing system at Walt Disney Animation Studios

Awards more specific to the creation of digital imagery recognized Larry Gritz for his creation of Open Shading Language, which has become “a de facto industry standard,” and several awards to those whose work has improved rendering. Carl Ludwig, Eugene Troubetzkoy and Maurice van Swaaij were awarded for an early rendering breakthrough, with CGI Studio at the now-defunct Blue Sky Studios. The popular Arnold renderer was honored, with awards going to Marcos Fajardo for the “creative vision and original implementation” as well as Chris Kulla, Alan King, Thiago Ize and Clifford Stein for “highly optimized geometry engine and novel ray-tracing algorithms” developed at Sony Imageworks and Solid Angle. Vladimir Koylazov was awarded for “the original concept, design and implementation” of V-Ray, at Chaos Group, widely used for its approach to ray-tracing and global illumination and “its support for a wide variety of workflows.”

An animatronic horse puppet, developed originally for use in “Seabiscuit,” won honors for Mark Rappaport for the concept, design and development, Scott Oshita for the motion analysis and CAD design, Jeff Cruts for developing the faux-hair finish, and Todd Minobe for character articulation and drive-train mechanisms. Digital wireless microphones systems were awarded to Glenn Sanders and Howard Stark at Zaxcom and David Thomas, Lawrence E. Fisher and David Bundy at Lectrosonics.

14 2017 Feb

MTI Film Expands Hollywood Facility to Support HDR

Adds new color grading, editorial and QC resources.

MTI Film has completed a major expansion of its Hollywood facility designed to accommodate growing demand for post-production services and support for HDR content. The expansion includes the addition of two new color grading suites and an editorial finishing suite, all HDR capable. The company has also improved its IT infrastructure, adding significant bandwidth and storage, and installed new monitoring systems throughout the facility. All the moves are intended to address the growing number of television productions requiring HDR delivery as well as the company’s expanded slate of HD and UHD shows.

“We’ve built a complete HDR workflow,” said MTI Film CEO Larry Chernoff. “We can support productions from the set to screen, and provide deliverables optimized to any network specification including HDR10, Dolby Vision, IMF and AS02.”

MTI Film’s post-production services division has been growing rapidly.  It currently provides post production services for shows Outlander, The Affair, Longmire, Major Crimes, Bates Motel, Good Behavior, The Story of God and Outcast, among others. Its colorist staff has recently grown to five as former assistant colorists Alex Chernoff and Greg Strait have been promoted to colorist joining Tanner Buschman and supervising colorists Steve Porter and Johnnie Kirkwood.  “MTI has always believed in developing talent from within our ranks,” explained Executive Producer Barbara Marshall. “It assures continuity for our customers and engenders an environment where young talent have confidence they will be nurtured.”

The facility’s new color grading suites are equipped with the latest generation Digital Vision Nucoda color grading systems, and the new editing suite utilizes both Avid and Autodesk Flame.  Monitoring includes LG UHD OLEDs, with perfect rec 709 calibration, and Sony BVMX300s for HDR mastering.


14 2017 Feb

Highly Anticipated Sundance Films and Series Created Using Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that more than 45 films and series at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival used its digital film cameras, DaVinci Resolve Studio grading, editing and finishing solution, Fusion Studio visual effects (VFX) and motion graphics software, Video Assist monitor and recorder, and other products throughout production and post production.

Some of the festival’s most anticipated films and series were shot and completed using Blackmagic Design products, including “Carpinteros (Woodpeckers)” which was shot with an URSA Mini 4.6K, “Colossal” that used Fusion Studio for its VFX, and many films such as “A Ghost Story,” “The Big Sick,” “The Discovery,” “The Hero” and “Rebel in the Rye” that were graded using DaVinci Resolve Studio.

Read more here.

14 2017 Feb

Pixspan’s Pixsmover™ Transfers to the HPA Tech Retreat Innovation Zone

With an industry increasingly required to manage more 4K+ image files, Pixspan’s PixMover offers a coveted three-fold solution: fast transmission speeds with reduced storage needs while retaining 100% integrity of every bit per pixel. Pixspan specializes in full-resolution workflow management and with PixMover™ quality, quantity and speed can all be attained.

Rapidly growing file sizes and frame rates are a fundamental part of production workflows, and PixMover ensures the ability to manage them. With simple drag-and-drop features, PixMover makes it easy to save 50-80% on storage and networking resources. Using Pixspan’s Bit Exact Round Trip technology, PixMover encodes much smaller bit-exact copies of their full-resolution images and then restores them – bit for bit – to the original image. PixMover is native to Autodesk Flame, incorporated into TIXEL Network Optimization Software, and enables 4K workflows in existing infrastructures without adding expensive new equipment. It has been implemented by some of the most in-demand vendors, including Dell, ELEMENTS, EMC Isilon, and NVIDIA. Operating on both CPU and GPU platforms, Pixspan offers management of uncompressed camera raw files (EXR, DPX, Cineon, ARRIRAW, Cana Raw etc,) and digital intermediate workflows with speed and efficiency on space and bandwidth-heavy networks.

Visit Pixspan in the Innovation Zone:

30 2017 Jan

YEP Continues Momentum

Jesse Korosi (Director of Workflow Services at Sim) and Jennifer Zeidan (Media Systems Engineer, Industrial Light & Magic) head up the YEP initiative for HPA alongside WIP leaders Laura Thommen, Kari Grubin, and Belinda Merritt; HPA Board Member Loren Nielsen; and HPA President Seth Hallen.

Since the first class of HPA YEPs was announced last September during the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference, we have been collaborating, connecting and designing the road map for our first year of this committee. The next event that will bring YEPs together will be the HPA Tech Retreat. Some of our YEPs will be presenting at the event, while others will be attending the VR seminar, as well as the Supersession. We are working on a number of additional activities over the next few months, which will soon be announced.

27 2017 Jan

What’s in store at the 2017 HPA Tech Retreat. And why it matters.

For more than 23 years, the HPA Tech Retreat has brought community and passionate conversation to the desert as attendees step away from their offices, studios and facilities to investigate and discuss – and often to debate – the rapid onslaught of technological changes that affect how stories are seen, heard and shared. It’s a unique, intimate event exclusively for those engaged in this expanding environment of media.  Over the years, a number of incredibly important advances from companies like Sony (OLED monitors, SE memory), Pansonic (Varicam and 3D), Real D (Ultimate Screen) and so many more have been seen first at the Tech Retreat.

With its non-marketing approach, the Tech Retreat has brought years of thoughtful analysis to bear, and this year’s Tech Retreat program under the tutelage of Mark Schubin promises to be a stunner.  Sessions include The World’s First 8K/4K Regular Broadcasting, AI/Machine Learning, a Remote and Mobile Production panel, and Production in the Cloud.  Tuesday’s supersession, programmed by Leon Silverman, Jerry Pierce and Seth Hallen, focuses on the changing patterns of consumption, which impacts everything. Sessions include How today’s technologies are changing the relationship between content creators and content consumers; Speaking of Consumption Devices: Bringing Home the Bits; and Do You See What I see: Who is Watching and on What?.

Launching big this year is TR-X (Tech Retreat eXtra), a full afternoon of engagement with the thought leaders and experts from two critical domains. The Virtual and Augmented Reality session, chaired by Marcie Jastrow (Technicolor Experience Center) and Lucas Wilson (SuperSphereVR), will explore the changing VR landscape in the context of rapidly growing integration into entertainment applications. Speakers include representatives from Technicolor, Jaunt, Digital Domain, Radiant Images, MPC, Subtractive, 8i, and Magnopus. A second TR-X session, chaired by Madeleine Noland, will focus on the latest developments in ATSC.

Because the HPA Tech Retreat is envisioned as an escape for the attendees, there are abundant opportunities to step out of a session and have a drink, a coffee, or even an ice cream bar with the speakers and your colleagues.  Have a question?  The person who can answer it, or at least discuss it, is bound to be close by. The atmosphere has always been the secret of the event’s power and appeal: while the sessions feature amazing topics and speakers, it is empowering to continue those conversations one-on-one or in small groups, into the evening. The Innovation Zone, which filled up early, will feature opportunities for Tech Retreat attendees to meet more than 50 companies doing work on the leading edge.

From AI to VR to ATSC and HDR, it’s at the Tech Retreat.  And so are your friends.

Full information about the supersession, the Tech Retreat program, and TR-X, are available online.

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26 2017 Jan

WRAL-TV Selects Xytech’s Mediapulse to Keep Its Lede

WRAL, one of the country’s most respected and innovative television stations, has selected Xytech MediaPulse to manage the station’s production and news activities. MediaPulse plays an important role behind the scenes at WRAL, helping to schedule reporters, photographers, anchors, engineers, creative services personnel and their activities, as well as equipment and trucks. MediaPulse also supports scheduling of master control for the station.

WRAL is the flagship of the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation and a recognized trailblazer in the broadcast industry. In 1996, the FCC awarded WRAL the first experimental HD television license in the United States, and the following year it was the first in the U.S. to broadcast a live sports program and newscast in high definition. In 2000, WRAL became the first TV station in the world to produce and air an all-HD broadcast, including the graphics, live shots and news. Last year the station switched to NBC from its long-standing affiliation with CBS.

WRAL’s focus on innovation continues with the selection of MediaPulse to optimize efficiency and transparency, and to automate and analyze its operational activities along with a news operations staff of 120. WRAL covers major events including tournaments and elections where numerous personnel and a large pool of equipment need to be planned, organized, scheduled and tracked over multiple days. All those operations run on MediaPulse. Additionally, WRAL Creative Services production work and the station’s engineering staff are better scheduled and tracked through MediaPulse.

Pete Sockett, WRAL director of engineering and operations, said, “WRAL Raleigh, alongside two sister stations in the Capitol Broadcasting family, is now capable of racking daily assignments of newsroom personnel, trucks and equipment for story coverage with MediaPulse. We are planning on better management and tracking of resources with reduced resource conflicts, improved maintenance scheduling, enhanced staff communications and, in the end, an overall ability to better analyze how the station can operate most efficiently, productively and profitably.”

Xytech is the industry leader in facility management software for the broadcast, production, media services and video transmission industries. Its products are currently facilitating operations in some of the world’s most dynamic companies and leading broadcast environments, such as ABC, Lifetime, Scripps, Sinclair Broadcasting, Univision, CBS Television City, WGBH, RDS, TV Globo and Nebraska Educational Television.

MediaPulse offers broadcasters and production facilities the ability to more efficiently track their resources and costs in real time. The platform provides WRAL and other stations with better management and staff decision-making by making important information available. MediaPulse Sky enables anytime-anyplace browser interface, and the MediaPulse iOS app facilitates efficient time entry and schedule access via mobile devices.

Greg Dolan, COO of Xytech, noted, “WRAL is one of the most successful and technically progressive local television stations in the country, pioneering important technological advancements while broadcasting local news in a major regional market. They continue to lead the way for local news stations and for all stations covering national events. Their choice of MediaPulse to power their operations is something we are terrifically proud of.”

Sockett concluded, “WRAL has a history of innovation and we’ve consistently been first in broadcast technology trends. As a busy station in a busy market, we must perform and analyze our operations in the most efficient way possible and that includes getting reporters and equipment to sites in a timely, effective manner. The reality of local broadcasting demands extreme functionality. The strength of MediaPulse in WRAL’s operations is being demonstrated to us daily and we’re delighted to work with the great team there to fully realize the benefits of this powerful platform.”

Learn more HERE.

26 2017 Jan

Interra Systems Launches ORION-OTT at BVE

interra_logo_500Interra Systems will be exhibiting at BVE (stand N-29), demonstrating comprehensive, integrated, and intuitive QC/monitoring systems. A key highlight will be new HEVC and 4K support across all of the company’s products, including ORION real-time content monitoring and video analysis systems, VEGA media analyzers, and BATON automated, file-based QC.

BVE will mark the launch of Interra Systems’ ORION-OTT, one of the industry’s first software-based over-the-top (OTT) solutions for realtime monitoring of adaptive bitrate (ABR) content for multiscreen service delivery.

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26 2017 Jan

MTI Film Continues to Streamline Film Restoration with DRS™Nova 2.3

Digital film restoration software adds new features for tracking, stabilization, de-warping, dirt mapping and more.

MTI Film recently announced the release of DRS™Nova 2.3, a significant update to its industry-standard software for digital film restoration. The new release includes a host of new and enhanced features created in response to requests from restoration professionals worldwide.  All are aimed at making such tasks as dust-busting, image stabilization and de-warping faster and easier.

“We listened to people who use the product every day,” said MTI Film Director of Product Development Randy Reck. “This latest release is focused on streamlining routine tasks and making the software more responsive to the way artists work.”


New features of DRS™Nova 2.3 include offset tracking for image stabilization. It allows users to track objects even when tracking points move beyond the boundary of the frame. The feature makes it simpler to stabilize shots with camera movement or complex motion. The same functionality will soon also be available for de-warp operations.

Other improvements include:

  • Mouse magnifier. Pan, zoom in and zoom out via a mouse button.
  • Mouse preview. View import frames in reveal or clone mode.
  • Dirt map generator. Generate dirt maps utilizing data from the alpha channel of a film scanner.
  • Stabilization and de-warp presets. Save used settings and perimeters for routine tasks.
  • Improved clip import. Import large files faster.
  • Streamlined management for OpenEXR files.

MTI’s original DRS™, released in 1997, was the industry’s first restoration software and revolutionized the process of restoring films through an integrated suite of tools for addressing dust, debris, scratches, mold, warping and a host of other problems quickly and seamlessly. MTI Film software is currently used worldwide by motion picture studios, post production facilities, film archives and others seeking to restore motion pictures, documentaries and other archival material to pristine quality.

26 2017 Jan

Avid Innovations Address Key Industry Collaboration Challenges

Pro Tools 12.7 update, Marketplace ‘in-app’ access and Avid Artist Community partner integrations deliver empowering collaboration features to thousands of creatives

Avid recently announced several key innovations to the MediaCentral® Platform to address some of the industry’s most pressing collaborative challenges. Continuing to accelerate the pace of innovation to help music professionals, developments to the Avid Marketplace and partner integrations to the Avid Artist Community, along with a brand new Avid Pro Tools® update, will allow artists, producers and engineers to create, distribute and optimize media with the most comprehensive workflow solutions.

“Competition in the music industry is growing more intense, and artists and media professionals need resources that will elevate their work, gain them greater exposure and promote their name in the global marketplace,” said Avid Chairman and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. “The industry is embracing our vision of a collaborative media network, and we’re pleased to introduce further innovations that will continue helping our users to maximize the value of their media.”

Read more here.