Orad's Morpho 3D is a turnkey, on-air graphics creation system designed to integrate a wide range of media assets into a platform that is geared for ease of use. Morpho 3D is delivered in a 2RU rack-mountable chassis, called the DVG 2U. This allows for real-time graphics rendering and incorporates a linear keyer that can play video clips in almost all formats, including AVI, QuickTime and MPEG. The interface allows the user to build multi-layered 3D graphics pages with drag-and-drop ease and send the graphics sequences out to air, all on one platform.
Orad's Morpho 3D is technically well engineered, while also incorporating a powerful user interface that is easy to use. To accomplish this, the rack-mountable chassis actually contains two separate computer systems running two operating systems. A Linux operating system is used to perform the graphics rendering and play-out, while a Windows XP operating system supports the user interface. The advantage of this architecture is that the Linux system can perform rendering and CPU-intensive tasks with unfettered speed, while the Windows XP operating system supports the Morpho 3D interface as well as other popular applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and PowerPoint. The separation of operating systems on independent drives also shields the Linux OS and the core of the system from possible virus attacks.
Morpho 3D is HD/SD switchable with an SDI video input, two SDI outputs and VGA preview capability. It's compatible with virtually all of the HD and SD formats and frame rates currently in use.
|Graphic produced with the Orad Morpho 3D |
While Morpho 3D is engineered to perform with peak technical efficiency, Orad has concentrated on developing a user interface and workflow that allows for easy integration of a wide range of graphic assets. One can import Photoshop layers, 3D Collada files, video clips in a variety of formats, and almost any other photo or graphic element available. Text contained in a database, such as an Excel file, can be accessed and converted into a text crawl. RSS feeds can be similarly accessed from the Internet and incorporated into the graphic pages. The system can also convert any form of text to 3D.
The key feature of Morpho 3D is the user interface which simplifies the creation of complex graphics by building on the page-based architecture of traditional 2D character generators. The Morpho 3D interface is divided into four regions, with each handling specific stages of graphics creation.
Pages are created in the Storyboard section. This section also provides control for ordering and sequencing the individual pages. The timing, duration, in and out effect and overall order are controlled in this section.
The Preview Window shows the composite result of all combined graphic elements. But it's also a place where graphic elements can be dragged, dropped, resized and positioned for placement. This feature makes the creation of multi-layered graphic pages fast and intuitive.
The Media Manager section displays all of the available graphic elements that can be added to the page. Many elements and objects are shipped with the system, and one can add as many as desired to create a customized library of assets. A convenient feature of the Media Manager section is that any of the displayed graphic elements can be simply dragged into the Preview Window to add it to the page.
The Feature Editor section is where one performs all off the fine-tuning and creative manipulation of each graphic element. You can instantly convert 2D text to 3D and design the look with parameters such as bevel shape, color, texture, shininess and opacity. You can even create a light source and alter the direction it shines upon the graphics. The color controls are very detailed and include full RGB control as well as hue and saturation. One can easily change color values by sliding the mouse along a color gradient scale or using an eyedropper as a color picker.
Morpho 3D provides advanced control over the playout of the pages and other elements. You can predetermine the sequence and timing of graphic pages, or use a customizable playback controller to maintain exact control of graphic placement live, in real-time. Subtitles can be placed live or through timecode based subtitle files. And Morpho 3D is multi-lingual, supporting all of the widely spoken languages in the world.
A new feature with the 2.0 release Morpho 3D is an innovative tutorial and help function that walks the user through essential operations by pointing to areas on the interface and describing how to use them.
Morpho 3D arrives in a fairly compact 2RU rack-mountable unit. Set-up was fast and fairly straightforward. The only additional equipment I needed was a computer monitor and an HD monitor to view the play-out.
As when testing anything, I tried to see how much I could do without referring to the manual. This proved to be a little frustrating until I read enough of the manual to understand the workflow. Within an hour, I was creating my own rather impressive graphics pages and sequences.
The process starts by creating a new page. But what I found very nice about the arrangement is that the Preview Window becomes the Page, and I could drag any graphic element, object or text into the window and start working with it.
In my first attempt, I dragged a photo, a ball, and blank 3D text into the Preview Window. I then resized the elements and typed in some text. I was easily able to rotate the text in any direction in 3D space using the controls in the Feature Editor section. I could also change an object's size or orientation by placing the mouse on the desired control and moving it up or down. I prefer this method to using number values, although you have that option as well.
Another nice feature is being able to control the entry and exit motion of each individual element within the page. Or I could create a new page with separate elements and control the entry and exit motion of the entire page. This provides more flexibility. For example, I designed my first page so that the photo slowly zoomed to fill the screen while the ball rolled in from one side and the text flipped down from another. I adjusted the timing of the elements and achieved a useful and advanced dynamic graphic. But I also had the option of isolating each element on separate pages, which would give me the ability to alter the final timing on command, if that is better suited for the on-air application.
With an Internet connection, I was also easily able to access RSS news feeds and add them to my graphics page. I placed the feed on the screen and made the words crawl across the screen in any placement I desired. Another nice feature is that I could instantly convert the 2D RSS feed to 3D to make the look more compatible with my other 3D graphics.
|Fast Facts |
Creation of 2D and 3D video graphics
Easy to use operator interface, easy creation of advanced 3D pages, powerful rendering engine
MSRP from $18,000 (SD) to $25,000 (HD)
Orad USA | 201-332-3900 | www.orad.co.il
Once I developed my graphics pages, sending them out to "air," was very easy. The first step was to "load" the finished pages to the DVG 2U, which essentially is just rendering the work and saving it in the Linux section of the unit.
I found two ways of playing my page sequence to air. One was to simply go to the top menu and select Playback and Start Storyboard. The other was to open up the Playback Controller. This opens up a separate window that allows you to play back specific pages from your page sequence, or alter the order. The advantage is that it gives you the freedom to break away from the sequencing that you previously designed and perform page sequencing on the fly.
Another handy feature allows users to instantly go back into editing mode while in the "on-air" mode, in case any last minute changes are needed or desired.
As I experimented with Morpho 3D, the thing that impressed me the most was how easily I could create very advanced 3D pages. The design power is very impressive because it incorporates advanced modeling tools similar to ones you find in 3D compositing software. For example, I could create 3D text and have intricate control over the color, surface reflection, texture, position in space and the light source that illuminates the image. Animating motion in 3D space is easy to accomplish. And there are dozens of presets that determine the entry and exit paths of any chosen object. These are imaginative and cover almost any kind of conceivable motion. Also, you can control the speed of all entry and exit paths to accomplish advanced motion on your graphics with ease.
Orad's Morpho 3D is an advanced on-air graphics solution the combines flexible, easy to use graphics creation tools with a powerful rendering engine. The result is that you can create complex graphic sequences that integrate all types of 3D and 2D graphic elements, animate them, and then play them to air quickly and easily. The system is also very user friendly and includes effective built-in help features which enable the designer or operator to become proficient in a very short amount of time.
Geoff Poister, Ph.D., is a member of the Film and Television faculty at Boston University and a regular contributor to TV Technology.