Post Magazine

July 2013

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post positions The coming 4K UHD TV revolution T By Neil W. Smith CEO LumaForge West Hollywood …. and its implications for post. he media and entertainment industry has always responded well to technology driven business change. The advent of talkies, color, TV, HD, VFX, digital acquisition and file-based workflows all had a dramatic impact on the way content was shot, posted, delivered and distributed. Hollywood has a knack for adapting and chasing the money. But those unruly hooligans from Silicon Valley are threatening to head south and smash the grip that traditional Hollywood has held for over a hundred years. At the Apple Developer Conference in early June, Apple announced their new Mac Pro system. Among its many innovative design features was the inclusion of Thunderbolt 2 and the ability to drive three 4K displays simultaneously. Not only does the new Mac Pro support OpenGL4, it also includes HDMI 1.4 and is all set to deliver content to the next generation of 4K TVs. 4K, or more accurately Ultra High Definition TV (UHD TV at 3840x2160 pixels resolution), is coming to a living room near you. UHD TV manufacturers are rushing 4K displays into local and online stores. International standard bodies have ratified the HEVC (High Efficient Video Coding, aka H.265) compression standard and OTT (Over The Top) streaming vendors like Netflix are gearing up for 4K service delivery. Google is working hard on its own VP9 compression technology that will be incorporated into Chrome, and YouTube and Apple are gearing up to be ready for 4K displays. BIG FILES UHDTV is four times more data than HD, and though the new HEVC/VP9 compression algorithms promise significant improvements in both spatial and temporal compression, it is still not clear what the overhead is going to be on delivering 4K content into the home. Nonetheless, if HEVC/VP9 manages the two to three times reduction in file size without a corresponding decrease in image quality, then at least we have a realistic and affordable means of transmitting 4K content from A to B. But how is post going to handle all that 4K/ UHD content? Of course, there will be many approaches to dealing with the 4K post pipeline, but one of the alternatives we've been demonstrating in our "Desktop 4K" workflow training events is to take existing technologies and adapt them to the demands of 4K post processing. Fast, efficient and reliable storage is required to handle the large volumes of data 42 Post • July 2013 involved in delivering 4K content. The evolving Thunderbolt technology from Intel offers tremendous price/performance benefits. Existing 10Gb/s Thunderbolt is about to be superseded by Thunderbolt 2 at 20Gb/s providing not only high-speed storage networks but also 4K capable monitoring — Thunder- magic DeckLink 4K Extreme HD SDI card; the 4K HD SDI card connects to a $495 Blackmagic HD SDI to 4K HDMI converter box that is connected to the $1,499 50-inch Seiki UHD TV. At NAB 2013 we demonstrated a 4K SAN based workflow using exactly the same components, but this time running over bolt 2 is both a data and video transmission technology that companies like Apple are rapidly incorporating into their ecosystem. Software companies like Apple, Blackmagic Design, AJA and Adobe already have 4K capable desktop tools that allow for realtime processing of 4K files. Combine those 4K software tools with Intel's fourth-generation Haswell CPUs and you start to see the implications of Moore's Law on Hollywood. In our image intense processing industry, GPUs supply an ever-increasing percentage of the horsepower needed in the image processing pipeline, and new GPUs from ATI and Nvidia will only extend the price/performance power curve. Above is a photograph taken from one of our 4K workflow training sessions held in May. Look closely and you will see from left to right, the following: a 50-inch 3840x2160 image displayed on a $1,499 Seiki UHD TV, a 27-inch Retina Display IPS LED iMac displaying a 2560x1440, and a 20-foot 2K resolution image projected from a Barco DLP projector Nothing too remarkable about that until you look under the hood and find that all equipment in our 4K workflow can be obtained from your local Apple store or online retailer like B&H at street prices. For example, Apple's FCP X costs $299 and runs on an iMac connected to the $479 Magma 1T PCIe expansion box hosting the $995 Black- a 20Gb/s PCIe storage RAID from ExaSAN using Apple's Xsan software. MOORE'S LAW The combination of Moore's Law-driven hardware and COTS (Commercially available off the shelf) software is going to re-shape the landscape of 4K post. Things are going to get faster, cheaper and better. What we do and, more importantly, how much we get paid for doing it is also going to change. 4K UHD TV is the new publishing industry. Using existing 4K desktop tools, posting 4K is no more difficult than posting HD. The combination of Thunderbolt 2, 4K IPTVs and set-top boxes incorporating HEVC/VP9 decoders are going to enable the 4K home. Fast and robust 4K post-pipelines with these new cost-effective 4K desktop toolsets are available now. Hollywood is about to experience the full force of Moore's Law and the disintermediation of content creation and content consumption. 4K will herald in both a new era of viewing experience as well as new business models and value creation. Apple clearly moved the 4K goal posts with their announcements at WWDC. Disruption will be the order of the day. In 2005 Neil Smith set up Hollywood DI and LumaForge to capitalize on the transition to digital acquisition and file-based workflows.

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