Product Spotlight - 11/05
Issue: Volume: 28 Issue: 11 (November 2005)

Product Spotlight - 11/05

FilmLight has upgraded its Baselight color-grading system with new creative tools, support for the Baselight Blackboard controller, and a four- or eight-cluster architecture built on the new AMD Opteron 880 processors. Slated for release by year end, Baselight V3 includes a new 3D additive and subtractive keyer for isolating areas in different parts of the color space for management within the same matte strip. The system also offers improved audio support for scratch audio and field rendering, and 3:2 pull-down for video grading and deliverables. Other new features include a scene detector to break down long-form content into separate shots for easier grading, grain reduction, OpenFX plug-in support, and more. Baselight V3 system pricing begins at $145,000, and the Baselight Blackboard pricing starts at $48,000.

At IBC2005, Da Vinci introduced three distinct hardware configurations and a new PowerGrid acceleration platform for its Resolve digital mastering suites. The new offerings-Resolve FX, Resolve DI, and Resolve RT-are designed to address specific needs in the postproduction pipeline. Resolve FX, the base-level solution, targets budget-minded studios performing file-based, nonlinear color enhancement, conforming, processing, and clip matching in a digital intermediate work flow. The Resolve FX solution includes Da Vinci’s PowerPlant image processing accelerator, which was introduced earlier this year, and is designed for companies that do not need real-time color enhancement in their work flow.

The Resolve DI system is built for digital intermediate projects such as color-look creations and conforming work, which may not require real-time throughput. The system also includes PowerGrid2, a pair of PowerPlant accelerator boards designed to increase the system’s speed and performance.

The most flexible of the three systems is Resolve RT, offering true real-time image processing in film, DI, and video finishing using PowerGrid3, a combination of three PowerPlant accelerators.

Resolve FX and Resolve DI are expected to ship by the end of 2005, and Resolve RT is now available.

Earlier this year, AMD challenged Intel to a dual-core duel-a live, public battle pitting the two companies’ comparable dual-core processor platforms against each other. Although the challenge has yet to materialize, the threat of an impending duel hasn’t crimped the forward flow of dual-core technology.

AMD keeps powering ahead with its dual-core offerings, recently announcing a new AMD Opteron 880 processor for eight-way and 16-core servers and the Opteron 280 processor for workstations. Many system manufacturers simultaneously pledged their support, with Hewlett Packard, Boxx, and Western Scientific being some of the first to announce new products.

But perhaps the company with the quickest integration of the new AMD Opteron processors into a studio work flow is HP-the company integrated more than 1000 HP xw9300 workstations with AMD Opteron 280 processors into the video games and animation pipeline at Lucasfilm well in advance of the product announcement. HP states its xw9300 series of workstations are built for flexibility in the production pipeline and include support for dual PCI-Express 16x graphics and up to four dual-core processors onboard.

Boxx Technologies’s 7000 series of 3DBoxx workstations and RenderBoxx render nodes, also support the recent AMD Opteron 280 processors. With a choice of Nvidia nForce Professional 2050 or 2200 GPUs with SLI, Boxx’s implementation of dual PCIe 16x delivers elevated graphics performance for animation, compositing, and rendering.

Western Scientific’s workstation and server offerings cut across the entire entertainment community, utilizing AMD Opteron 880 and 280 processors in a variety of solutions-from DI systems to servers. Its Opteron-based product family includes the TeraBlade and KiloCluster high-performance computing clusters, the FusionA64, FusionA8, and Fusion2K rackmounted or desk-side servers, and the FusionSA disk storage.

IBC2005 attendees were among the first to witness The Pablo Suite, Quantel’s latest advancement in color correction technology. Designed by colorists, The Pablo Suite consists of three models-the iQ2 Pablo Suite for HD applications, the iQ2 Pablo Suite for 2k digital intermediates, and the iQ4 Pablo Suite for up to 4 k DI work.

Also making its debut was Quantel’s Zone Magic and Eiger 3.5 solutions. Zone Magic is an enterprise wide extension of the company’s Frame Magic and Split Remote technology on Quantel Sq servers for secure and flexible local and remote media sharing. The solution presents work flow that can span across the room or across the country, creating a bridge for broadcasters with two or more regional locations. Eiger 3.5 is next-generation technology for Quantel’s iQ and eQ systems that features multi-tasking on effects, multi-layer import and off-line effects descriptors, new graphics shapes and mattes, a network conform for DI and animation, and more.

2d3 has re-engineered and updated Boujou Bullet 2, an automatic tracking and matchmoving system for challenging shots. The technology, borrowed from the company’s Boujou Three software, offers a new feature-tracking engine that the company says delivers a tenfold performance increase. Bullet 2 automatically identifies hundreds of features in each frame. The tracker handles temporary occlusions, extreme lighting situations, and radical camera moves, while tracking over many types of materials such as sand, snow, sky, fur, and hair. The software’s polygonal masking tool can be used to isolate individual elements for motion tracking, or remove them from a camera solution using simply drawn animated masks. Other Bullet 2 features include an enhanced target tracker with zoom capabilities, image handling with 16 bit-per-channel image support, and a full range of image I/O. Bullet 2 is compatible with Boujou Three and all major 3D and compositing packages. Single license pricing is $2500; upgrade pricing from Bullet 1.X is $999.