The second annual State of the Edit Report asked edit system manufacturers who are exhibiting at NAB to comment on where editing is today, and where post production is headed in general.
When this question was put to Giles Baker, group product manager for editing workflows at Adobe Systems, he said, “There are two major trends coming at us over the next couple of years. The first is the evolution of tapeless acquisition and editing. We see this as a great opportunity to build more efficient workflows throughout post production, as people are rapidly moving away from tape for either production or archiving.”
The second new trend is the introduction of affordable megapixel cameras like the Red One.
“The idea of being able to shoot 35mm quality images on a camera costing less than $20K is really exciting,” Baker said. “Since our Premiere Pro application has an open SDK [software development kit] any developer can build extensions to the editing workflow. Companies like CineForm have already created an intermediate wavelet codec that allows for very high-resolution editing.”
| The introduction of affordable megapixel cameras like the Red One is a new trend.|
Baker sees this workflow evolution also extending to delivery.
“At Adobe we are developing tools for encoding and streaming video, and with the Flash-based Adobe Media Player we have one of the widest means of distribution of Web video available today. One of the great strengths of Adobe Media Player is that it can use all the metadata gathered throughout a production. This makes us a rich set of data available that can make everything more productive.”
SMOKE AND FLAME
New developments in online finishing are paramount for Bruno Sargeant, TV industry manager at Autodesk Media and Entertainment.
“These days the online editor is being asked to do more than ever before,” he said. “That includes effects creation, color correction and compositing and this is the road we are going down with Smoke now that many capabilities from our Flame effects system have been integrated into it. In addition, to be successful the online system has to be able to handle all the new formats coming at us so we can create a complete end-to-end data pipeline.”
To achieve this level of power, Autodesk has chosen Linux as their platform of choice.
“It is more open to customization,” Sargeant said. “I was talking to a film company that uses multiple operating systems and found only 20 percent of their IT resources had to be devoted to Linux while 80 percent went to all the others. But the important thing is that to the operator, what is under the hood should not be something they have to be concerned with. In the competitive world of online editing, having a reliable, multifunctional tool is all that counts. And that is what Autodesk is trying to provide.”
HUNGRY FOR HORSEPOWER
Steve Wise, director of product marketing for desktop and enterprise solutions at Thomson Grass Valley is aiming to stay one-step ahead.
“Now that we have given Edius support for P2, XDCAM EX and Rev Pro, our goal is to stay ahead of the advent of new formats,” said Wise. “We were also the first to be able to edit AVCHD natively, and now that Blu-ray has won the HD disc wars, we are looking to be able to author in its format as soon as we can, perhaps with third party partners.”
Wise said this year’s NAB will provide be a valuable opportunity to show the flexibility of Edius software.
“The plethora of digital broadcasts and standards has surprised many people,” he said. “But there is a broad understanding that because everything is now predominantly ones and zeros, transcoding features high on everyone’s shopping list.”
Keeping up with a changing industry can test an NLE’s operational competence.
“Lack of bandwidth is something that everyone thought would be solved by increasing processor speed,” Wise said, “but in actual fact it has not. JPEG2000, AVCHD and AVC-Intra are all hungry for PC horsepower, so while we can edit these formats natively, there is still a need for intermediate codecs when editing on lower-spec PCs.”
TIME TO UPGRADE
“With the advent of HD production and broadcasting, high definition has become the dominating factor in post,” said Boris Yamnitsky, founder and president of Boris FX, “which means everyone is looking to upgrade their equipment. This includes developing support for the latest HD formats like XDCAM and P2 while maintaining the expected level of performance in a workflow requiring mixed formats.”
This could create chaos on the timeline, but Media 100 was the first to be able to mix and match codecs in the same project.
“For all practical purposes, that means that our customers have to be ready for new formats while still handling legacy material as they are bridging the HD/SD gap,” Yamnitsky said. “We have to pay close attention to the interchange capability of different post-production systems as the options from different manufacturers all have to play in the same game.”
This collaborative workflow concept requires post systems to emphasize their cross platform interactive functionalities.
“Our Boris Native Plug-ins work in the native interface of third-party host applications,” he said. “In addition, our Custom Plug-ins like Red and Blue allow editors to apply effects directly to clips in the host’s timeline. This greatly increases productivity without requiring an extensive new learning curve.”
Mark Horton, marketing manager for post production at Quantel said the most interesting trend in editing these days is the extent to which it has become commoditized.
“People don’t need an extensive engineering background for offline editing with so many inexpensive software NLE systems available today,” Horton said.
However, Quantel sees a new challenge that top post pros are going to have to face when it comes to finishing.
“The interest in stereoscopic 3D production is a hot topic,” Horton said, “and 3D requires the kind of high-end systems that we just happen to make, such as our new Sid, which is designed specifically for stereo 3D post.”
Editing 3D also requires adopting a new grammar in the language of post, including considerations of how the 3D effect changes from shot to shot.
“This can influence the way a whole scene will look in 3D, which may be considerably different from the mono version and edit systems designed to post it need to be able to master in both configurations,” Horton said. “Since organizations such as the NBA and TV broadcasters like the BBC are already conducting test presentations of 3D. We think this will become a major opportunity for the most powerful of post-production systems.”
NEED FOR SPEED
“What everyone is moving toward in today’s post production is speed,” said Michael Bryant, director of product marketing at Sony Creative Software. “The whole production and consumption cycle has been compressed. That includes not just moving from capture to editing, but also from editing to online download delivery. With all the source standards available today, our VP of technology Dave Hill likes to call this ‘multidef production’ meaning our Vegas Pro 8 system can handle multiple flavors of both SD and HD.”
Sony has been a major proponent of the disk-based AVCHD format, and as Bryant said, Vegas Pro 8 software can even edit it in the field directly from an AVCHD camcorder’s hard drive.
“In some cases, that camera’s recorder might actually be faster than the HDD in your laptop,” he said.
But with the expansion of delivery options, today’s NLE also needs to be able to output in a variety of formats.
“That’s why our Vegas Pro 8 software includes high quality two-pass VBR MPEG-2 encoding for DVD, broadcast and other delivery media,” Bryant said. “It’s all related to that need for increased speed that is driving the post-production industry.”