Saturday, April 6, 2013

SMPTE Examines Distributed Postproduction for Cinema


Postproduction workflows are evolving from a localized, tightly integrated and highly controlled process to one where production and post may occur collaboratively and with creative individuals scattered around the globe.
In the session “Distributed Post Production for Cinema: Technologies, Issues and Business Opportunities,” held Saturday at the Technology Summit on Cinema, Mark Lemmons, CTO T3Media encouraged delegates to 'think big' and recognize that cloud technology can benefit production today from raw storage to transcoding.
“We need to recognize that some big challenges are being tackled right now in the cloud including archive integrated production,” he said. Lemmons highlighted work T3Media completed for Paramount Pictures in which film scans of 4K DPX files were placed for long term storage in a cloud hosted by T3Media but protected behind the studio's firewall.
"The cloud can be used today for storage of high value and high resolution files," he said. "I would though encourage questions to be asked of cloud platform providers about the long term costs storage."
Former EFILM VP Engineering and now CTO Blendo, Gary Thomson described his oversight in successfully establishing a secondary DI facility including waveform monitoring and color correction for Fox Studios 8 miles from its main Hollywood campus.
"What do filmmakers and creatives want when they work in diverse locations?" he asked rhetorically. "The main thing is that they want to finish an entire film with audio co-located with visuals. You can't practically move an audio facility but you can replicate a DI suite in a virtual environment fairly easily and inexpensively using dark fibre connectivity."
The ability to work internationally and remotely using very high resolution media continues to be demonstrated in a series of projects at CineGrid, a community of networked collaborators which uses the 10Gb fibre network Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF), originally designed for high energy physics research.
Co-founder Lauren Herr explained that since 2005 CineGrid has tested point to point transmissions of HD and 4K including 4K bidirectional live telepresence. It has also conducted a live shoot using a Dalsa 4K camera in Prague, which was debayered in San Fransisco and resent to Prague for grading while the colorist was located in Toronto.
Recent experiments have included remote collaboration with media at 4K 60p; realtime stereographic treatments; realtime film restoration and live uncompressed 4K 10-bit streaming over IP between Prague and San Diego.
Herr showed film of a demonstration held last December in which a director in San Diego directed an actor against green screen in Amsterdam with live composites rendered by a supercomputer at another site in Amsterdam in real time and all in uncompressed HD over IP.
“One of the main learnings in all of this is the importance of the human networks that underpin the fibre networks," said Herr. "Collaboration is a human activity, the social dynamics are very important to consider and not trivial to solve.”
In remote collaboration, he said, it's not enough to have face to face telepresence but necessary also to have additional channels for context such as screens which make it clear that both parties are looking at and describing the same thing.
“U.S government departments have already begun rolling out 100Gb networks and while there are still places where there are bottlenecks, such as in the last mile, the direction of travel is clear," Herr stated. "Media students will have to learn how to work over these networks because that is the way the world will work in the future.”

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