Post Innovations Rule at NAB


(click thumbnail)Rob Schoeben introduces Color, professional color grading for the Final Cut Pro editor.Once again, post production was the arena in which most of the exciting announcements at NAB2007 in Las Vegas came together. Thankfully, representatives from major manufacturers were willing to give me some personal insights into the most fascinating new products on the convention floor.

Apple is known for staging some of the most boisterous press conferences on the NAB circuit. This year, when they finished announcing upgrades to the new Final Cut Studio 2 software, including the new Final Cut Pro 6 editing application, even reporters were applauding.

But a top contender for Most Awesome was a new component simply called “Color” that began life as Silicon Color’s Final Touch until Apple purchased the technology last October. During a one-on-one interview with Rob Schoeben, vice president of applications product marketing at Apple, said that this is far more than just an advanced color corrector. In fact, Schoeben said he was convinced U. S. editors should start adopting the more international term “color grading” to appreciate Apple’s new Color and its eight layers of secondary color correction.

“The look of a project’s color is as important to film or video editing’s creative power as sound design,” Schoeben said. “Color correction is where it starts, but the other 98 percent refers to the way you can completely change the way a shot feels. That’s what you get from our new Color.”

Apple also demonstrated how AJA Video’s new iO HD breakout box can help import files as big as 2K into Final Cut Pro 6 over FireWire 800 (IEEE-1394b). iO HD also supports Apple’s new ProRes 422 codec that provides production-quality 10-bit, 4:2:2 HD in SD file sizes.

“The lines are kind of interesting between what is HD and higher resolution formats. The way that stuff is being captured on camera these days is amazing and we want to make sure any Final Cut editor can work with it,” Schoeben said. “That’s where ProRes 422 becomes such an important technology, regardless of how far up the definition of HD, 2K or 4K you go. We fully expect cameras to continue to advance, and we’re going to be here making sure the Final Cut editor can take advantage of all the new gear.”

Schoeben estimated there are more than 800,000 Final Cut editors around the world. That growth is not going to be hurt by the fact the new Final Cut Studio 2—even with the impressive new Color—will be selling for the same price as the original Final Cut Studio released two years ago.


The good folks at CineForm won some much-deserved recognition at NAB2007 for having finally broken the barrier separating Windows and Macintosh workflows by bringing out the first cross-platform compatible encoding software. It’s called Neo and comes in HDV (1440x1080), HD (1920x1080) and 2K (2048x2048) versions designed to run on either a Windows or Mac computer.

“Neo is focused to support all post-production software,” said David Taylor, president of CineForm, “and although the capabilities of each OS are slightly different, our intent is to keep the feature set roughly equivalent on any NLE. But the files it encodes are guaranteed to be completely cross-platform compatible no matter where they were created.”

This all became possible for CineForm when Apple adopted the Intel processors, and CineForm soon developed a QuickTime wrapper for their codec. Neo will create either QuickTime or AVI files on a PC and QuickTime on the Mac OS. Trial versions of Neo for Windows became available right after NAB on the CineForm Web site (, and Neo on Mac OS version should be out by June.

“Our customers typically have a mix of computing platforms, and the CineForm Intermediate codec inside NEO will let them leverage the strengths of either one,” Taylor said. “It’s like Microsoft Word for Windows and Microsoft Word for the Mac. The platforms are different but the files can be seamlessly exchanged. Now editors can also do that with digital video.”


Avid Technologies wanted everyone to know that even though almost all of TV’s primetime shows are posted on their systems, they still want to talk with everyone else. In fact, there were 270 partners, including over 50 software manufacturers, showing collaborative efforts at the massive Avid booth.

“We think we are one of the most open companies at NAB this year,” Graham Sharp, vice president and general manager of Avid’s Video division said. Then he singled out one of the new features of Version 2.7 software for the Media Composer line of NLEs, called “ScriptSync.”

“Renewed innovation through introductions like ScriptSync are keeping us at the forefront of the editing industry,” he said.

Without question, ScriptSync has to be seen in action to appreciate its usefulness. ScriptSync is a phonetically based voice-recognition system that automates the tedious task of aligning multiple takes with dialog lines in a script. Feature film editors have long been accustomed to working with a “lined” script, where each take is associated with the line of dialog from that particular scene. Now that kind of logging can be done for you in a fraction of the time it previously required.

Say you are working on the latest remake of “The Purple Pimpernel.” First you import the printed script into the Media Composer editing application, then you fire up ScriptSync and run your source material. Calling upon some technology licensed from Nexidia, ScriptSync listens to the audio and phonetically identifies the words so that, for example, every time someone says “Pimpernel” the associated take is flagged and that word is aligned with the text.

ScriptSync’s underlying technology is flexible enough to handle even a character actor’s heavy accent, and it can also deal with up to eight foreign languages. Multiple cameras? No problem. You will see the audio waveform from each camera streaking down the side of the script with all identified words marked in each take.

The most immediate application for ScriptSync is to streamline the shot selection for feature films. But what editor who has been faced with notebooks of scribbled transcripts from a talking heads documentary shoot wouldn’t welcome some relief by automatically cross-referencing shots with words? ScriptSync answers a lot of editing prayers.