Cinegy will highlight a range of solutions at IBC 2021 (Hall 7 Stand A01), including Air 21.9 and Multiviewer 21.11, giving customers and partners an opportunity to learn about new functionality and features first hand. Mike Jacobs, Head of Professional Services at Cinegy will also participate in a panel discussion at the show; the session entitled ‘Cloud-based Workflows – what IP can do for production of content' takes place on Saturday 4 December.
Cinegy Managing Director Daniella Weigner commented: “We are excited to re-connect with our customers, industry friends and colleagues face-to-face and have provided a safe meeting space in which to demonstrate all the innovations and updates we have been busy working on since we last had the opportunity to gather together. IBC 2021 will give our customers the opportunity to find out how we can help them make the transition from traditional workflows to IP and cloud more straightforward.”
Products with recent updates being highlighted at the Cinegy stand include:
Cinegy Air 21.9 - Simplifying the increasingly complex process of playout, automation and file delivery, Cinegy Air 21.9 is an integrated suite of software that acts as a broadcast automation front-end and a real-time video server for SD, HD, Ultra HD (4K), and/or 8K playout. For the ultimate flexibility, users can now play compatible format and mixed resolution content, as well as un-rendered edit sequences, straight to air. The system delivers EAS, Nielsen watermarking and Cinegy Titler channel branding in a single software solution.
Cinegy Multiviewer 21.11 - Customers today must deal with a rapidly growing number of streams from satellite, camera feeds and playout devices. Cinegy Multiviewer streamlines the process, displaying all these signals before analyzing them and raising alerts for any detected signal problems. The latest version offers significant improvements to video scaling performance and support for 8K formats for input devices. Running as a service on COTS hardware, video streams can be received over IP via Ethernet or using standard SDI cards.
Cinegy Capture 21.9 - Revolutionizing the acquisition and transcode process, Cinegy Capture now offers a range of updates and new features, such as cloud-ready architecture, full ingest control via a standard internet connection, support for audio input and WDM input devices, and added RS422 timecode source for SDI boards.
Cinegy Titler 21.9 - A straightforward way to add multiple layers of automation controlled, template-based titles, logos, animated graphics, and more. From simple ticker tapes and lower thirds to multi-layer character animations, Cinegy Titler is packed with advanced effects and features. The solution gives production teams an easy way to make changes on the fly as well as alter elements in a pre-created template. The Cinegy Titler template builder and title designer makes the task of building creative templates quick and easy.
The Cloud-based Workflows – what IP can do for production of content session is scheduled for Saturday 4 December, 15:15 - 16:00, on the Production Stage. Panellists will discuss their future vision of remote and live production, the role that cloud will play along with the benefits it delivers, including cost-efficient scalability, faster rapid capturing speeds and the reduction of investment in proprietary technologies.
Cinegy has appointed ElectronicVerve as its exclusive master reseller for India. ElectronicVerve is a specialist in helping broadcasters and media organizations to design and implement IP workflows, ensuring a smooth transition as customers migrate from their legacy infrastructures. With its IP expertise and its strong relationships in the broadcast, gaming and corporate sectors, ElectronicVerve is strongly placed to help Cinegy meet the needs of a dynamic Indian market.
Founded by Arjun Dhawan, who continues the legacy of the late Mr. Naresh Dhawan, Managing Director of long-time Cinegy distributor Setron India P. Ltd., ElectronicVerve continues a strong history of supporting Cinegy customers in the Indian market.
“We have now irrevocably moved towards a work from anywhere model in our industry, and customers increasingly want – and need – the flexibility to leverage the best talent, regardless of their location, and implement ultra-agile workflows that take collaboration and creativity to the next level,” said ElectronicVerve’s Founder and Managing Director Arjun Dhawan. “IP is the most efficient way that these needs can be met and Cinegy is widely recognized by the market as the premium system. Cinegy delivers an unmatched combination of price and functionality, the entire workflow from acquisition to delivery is based on standard IT hardware and is highly customizable. Additionally, this is a simple plug-and-play solution that anyone with a good basic knowledge can set up and configure.”
With a raft of customer wins in the last year, Cinegy’s Air PRO software-based system for HD and UHD 4K playout automation is establishing itself as the go to for small and medium IP deployments, as well as large enterprise roll-outs. The system currently supports a wide range of industry systems including General Entertainment Channels, Travel & Lifestyle Channels, YouTube Channels, News Channels, Cable and Distribution Hubs, Monitoring Solutions and other applications in India.
Cinegy Managing Director Daniella Weigner said, “We are delighted to continue our long relationship with Arjun and the team at ElectronicVerve. India is an important market for us and with its rising demand for flexible, scalable IP-based workflows, their IT and IP expertise will be central to our efforts to best serve our customers as they transition from traditional workflows and established ways of working to the intelligent workflows that IP enables.”
ElectronicVerve is currently working on several broadcast projects where Cinegy solutions will feature.
Cinegy GmbH, the premier provider of software technology for digital video processing, asset management, video compression and automation, and playout, has appointed Mikhail Efimov as regional sales manager for Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS (the former Soviet states). He joins Cinegy from Perspectiva, and brings with him many years’ technical and commercial experience in the broadcast industry.
Efimov, a Russian native, is a graduate of the St Petersburg University of Cinema and Television, where he specialised in the acoustics of studios and control rooms. He went on to do postgraduate work in digital video processing as well as audio. He added business experience with his most recent job, at Perspectiva, which works to develop localised systems for the television industry.
“I am looking forward to bringing my technical background to customers’ projects,” Efimov said. “By developing strong relationships with our partners and users, to help them make the most of Cinegy’s software-based products and services for the broadcast industry.”
Daniella Weigner, CEO of Cinegy, said “Russia and Eastern Europe has long been a strategic market for us, and we have had an exciting 18 years of successful business driven by our long-standing partners and clients. Mikhail’s technical, commercial and communications skills are going to push relationships even further forward. He will help our partners and our customers use our innovative technologies to develop world-beating solutions, delivering business advantages reliably and cost-effectively.”
He joins Cinegy, based in Moscow, on September 1, 2021.
C.S. Innovation Technology Deploys Cinegy Air Playout Software to Get Summer Games Action to Viewers Across Thailand.
Bangkok-based C.S. Innovation Technology (CSIT) has deployed Cinegy technology to support production and playout for its client Plan B Media at the Summer Games in Tokyo. A long-time Cinegy partner, C.S. Innovation Technology will rely on Cinegy Air PRO, a comprehensive, IP-based software suite for automated SD, HD and/or Ultra HD (4K) playout, to handle multi-channel playout of live feeds from the event effortlessly and inexpensively. Plan B Media, the exclusive Thai rightsholder for the Tokyo Games, is delivering live feeds of all the action to giant LED screens across Thailand.
C.S. Innovation Technology’s Managing Director Chinnarong Ooragool said, “We have complete confidence that the Cinegy system will match our needs during the live events in Tokyo. This excellent software easily allows us to support full HD online playout and GPU encoding to NVidia, making the workflow faster and more cost-effective.”
The Cinegy Air PRO supports various encoding formats, EAS, watermarking and Cinegy Titler channel branding in a single, software platform. This solution also enables high frame rate Ultra HD formats (50/60p), includes integrated HEVC stream encoding, and allows users to offload HEVC and H.264 stream encoding to a NVidia GPU. Air PRO is also IP-enabled and works in fully virtualized or cloud environments, making it easy for users to control multiple channels, insert regionalized commercials and add graphics and channel branding utilizing these next generation broadcast tools.
Cinegy Managing Director Daniella Weigner added, “We are delighted that our Cinegy Air PRO Bundle will play such a key role in delivering the live action from the games to sports fans across Thailand. Our solution gives CSIT the power to get content on air instantly, eliminating the need for multiple complex processes and interconnecting hardware components. As a result, playout can be handled at a fraction of what it would cost by conventional means.”
Using Cinegy Air PRO, the CSIT team can very easily control multiple channels, insert regionalized commercials and add graphics and channel branding.
Brazilian IT media services company, MDotti Tecnologia, has created a dedicated workflow around Cinegy Capture PRO to support ingest for São Paulo-based television network Rede Bandeirantes’ coverage of the Tokyo Games. Cinegy Capture PRO simultaneously delivers 12 channels of ingest directly to a ZBoox shared storage, allowing the production team to access and edit clips via Adobe Premiere Pro workstations while live feeds are still being ingested.
MDotti Tecnologia created a temporary, parallel infrastructure to handle the Games removing the need for Rede Bandeirantes to re-direct any of its existing infrastructure, which is already at capacity, to support the event.
“We researched many solutions and Cinegy Capture PRO was the one that met all our needs, giving us the reliable ingest, multi-destination and collaborative capability that are essential when managing a project of this magnitude. The licence rental model that Cinegy offers also fits to our needs allowing us to spin up capability for events as needed,” commented Lucas Maia, Operations Director at MDotti Tecnologia. “Supporting the live event from Tokyo would not have been possible with Rede Bandeirantes’ existing capability so renting the workflow for the event allowed us to deliver an effective, but low-cost solution.”
Cinegy Capture PRO delivers cost effective, centralized ingest and is built from the ground-up as a totally independent ingest tool. It combines many of the industry-leading components developed for other Cinegy products to unifying the process of ingesting material and generating edit or web proxies. The solution can be used as an application by any user on the network thanks to the simple yet powerful cross-platform control client. Cinegy Capture PRO runs on a standard PC with the addition of one or more SDI cards.
Using the system, the Rede Bandeirantes team is able to record to multiple storage systems simultaneously, ingest live streams in real time XDCAM with edit while ingest capability. Cinegy Capture PRO is also hardware agnostic, allowing it to work seamlessly with MDotti’s regular workstation of choice.
Cinegy Managing Director Daniella Weigner said, “We are very proud of the key role Cinegy Capture PRO is playing in bringing the exciting live action from Tokyo to viewers in Brazil. In any large live sports production environment, a fast turnaround is critical as audiences don’t want to see something on social media before they see it on the big screen. Our Capture solution turns the traditional acquisition and transcode process on its head to deliver a fast, easy, collaborative workflow that is cost effective and straightforward to deploy.”
Rede Bandeirantes plans to turn to the same workflow, supporting five channels of ingest, for a new live show in the coming months.
By Adrian Pennington | IBC 365 | Published 5th March 2020
As more media organisations enforce home working, could the spread of the coronavirus hasten the transition to remote production?
While the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc and hysteria across the globe, the epidemic has accelerated the deployment of remote-working software to such an extent that many businesses may never look back.
“What has changed in the last few weeks is that working remotely is no longer a work-life balance argument, or a nice-to-have, it is now a question of business continuity,” says Daniella Weigner, owner, Cinegy. “Crisis is forcing change right now. This is a catalyst. It is also a major opportunity to get change done.”
By David Davies | IBC 365 | Published 25th June 2020
Implementing some degree of cloud-based playout has been a marked trend for a while now, but this year’s momentous events are certain to accelerate developments, writes David Davies.
In the context of the profound changes that have impacted most aspects of broadcast workflows during the past few years, it was surely only a matter of time before playout underwent a similar quiet revolution. That has now arrived in the form of cloud-based playout, which opens the way for broadcasters to enjoy greater flexibility and cost-efficiency, either as a sole platform or as part of a hybrid playout infrastructure that typically includes on-premise facilities.
By Jenny Priestley | TVBEurope | Published 23rd March 2020
How modern archive systems can help media companies make the most of their legacy content
As numerous linear TV schedules shudder to a halt with the cancellation of live sport, or postponement of production on continuing dramas, broadcasters are looking to alternative programming to fill the sizeable void left behind.
TVBEurope asks three experts how modern archive systems can help media companies make the most of their legacy content.
“If broadcasters already have them in place right now filled with the relevant metadata, this allows them instantly to call up content and build new schedules around themes or topics to captivate the audience,” explains Jan Weigner, CEO at Cinegy.
“Better yet, if archive systems were also used during the production, new programming can be created out of the existing raw material. This is perfectly illustrated by BBC NHU’s Planet Earth series archived raw footage, which was ‘gold mined’ for dozens of other projects. The same can be done for documentaries in general, but also educational content, training, reality TV, other unscripted formats as well as news and sports.
“This of course requires keeping more material in the archive than only just what went into the first aired programme,” Weigner continues. “As storage is getting increasingly cheaper and video compression better, while the range of formats and platforms that need to be served increases, it is a wasted opportunity to not keep as much of the original raw footage as possible. Or to vary a popular phrase: One man’s B-roll is another man’s new programme!”
With many members of staff now working from home, how easy is it for production teams to access digitised archive content? According to Jeff Braunstein, director of product management at Spectra Logic, this is where the Cloud can shine: “The use of Cloud is becoming more and more a part of the storage and workflow landscape,” he explains. “Storage management software supports movement of files to popular Cloud platforms, be it for Cloud-based workflows or disaster recovery purposes.
“Broadcasting organisations can leverage this software to create a multi-tier private Cloud to store a copy of frequently accessed assets on online disk, and archive infrequently or rarely accessed assets indefinitely on the Perpetual Storage Tier (which can consist of Cloud, object storage disk, and tape). This enables sharing content globally by utilising the public Cloud’s inherent infrastructure to make content available to disparate users and sites worldwide.”
But what if a broadcaster doesn’t have content stored in the Cloud? Are there fast turnaround options/solutions for providers sitting on a hoard of legacy content but who lack, perhaps, a fit-for-purpose archive or MAM system?
“It depends on the type of content and where that content sits, but there are many fast turnaround options based on content discovery and media indexing tools,” says Julian Fernandez-Campon, CTO at Tedial. “These are modern MAM solutions that allow a quick scan and bulk ingest of content into the MAM without moving it while generating some basic information. It can also create a proxy to provide first access to content, which can be enriched later with AI or any other automatic analysis tools.”
“There are no miracles especially if the content is still on tape,” adds Weigner. “File-based material can be imported with the speed being largely scalable. Tapes on the other hand are normally ingested in real-time, but this can also be scaled to some extent. The bigger problem is that if the content is still on video tape then you are fighting a losing battle against technology extinction and availability of playback equipment to make this happen at all. In this regard celluloid-based content is the lesser problem, but of course needs to be telecined as well (and maybe in UHD this time around).”
Of course, any drastic changes to profitable scheduling will have a financial impact for the providers. What are the monetisation options for the distribution of archive content through linear and OTT channels to help media companies maintain revenue?
“There are many and they will depend on the target audience,” says Fernandez-Campon. “With new OTT platforms, it’s possible to monetise media by creating focused channels or a series of content for specific target audiences, that cannot find what they want on other platforms. We have seen this in some productions on platforms like Netflix where series or documentaries are published to engage a specific sector.”
“The monetisation options are almost binary. If you don’t know what you have and can’t access it in real-time you stand to make no money at all,” says Weigner. “If you have real-time access to all your content and it is all digital already, you can slice and dice and package and sell it in dozens of different ways immediately. If it just sits on some shelves, no matter whether is on video tape, celluloid, data tape, or so on, it is just dead data.”
By Adrian Pennington | InBroadcast | Published 14th April 2020
A review of technologies enabling production companies and broadcasters to deliver high quality content to viewers while optimising costs, resources, and eliminating travel.
Whilst the world grapples with the emergency outbreak of the coronavirus, we are seeing not only how people modify their behavior but will see how businesses must modify theirs. Events being canceled, travel being scaled back and replaced with teleconferencing. Many corporations have sent staff home to work where it is possible to do so.
This is all made possible because we as a society have already have much of the technology to facilitate flexible working. Give your office-based staff a laptop and access to the internet, and they are ready to sit in their home office or at their kitchen table.
“What has changed in the last few weeks is that working remotely is no longer a work-life balance argument, or a nice-to-have, it is now a question of business continuity,” says Jan Weigner, CEO, Cinegy. “The crisis is forcing companies to reevaluate their ways of working and finally act upon it. The technological infrastructure is in place and we have the tools ready to go – from acquisition over production to distribution, all can be handled remotely and / or in the cloud.”
With bases in the UK, mainland Europe, Middle East, Australia and North America, Never.no’s teams are able to service regional customers without the risk of the virus affecting workflows or production needs. Bee-On is its cloud-based audience engagement platform runs on AWS for access anywhere with a web browser and internet connection, “so there is no need for production teams to be managed under one roof,” CEO Scott Davies says.
“Individual projects can be pre-planned and packaged with audience generated content and dynamic visualisations prior to delivery / broadcast of live or pre-recorded content. Viewers continue to watch, more-so during a crisis, so content producers need to continue programming and deliver captivating content, with audience engagement a priority – Bee-On can help deliver this.”
He adds, “We’re seeing a need for packaged end-to-end solutions that utilise cloud-production and seamlessly integrates ‘off-the-shelf’ graphics and compatibility with native broadcast graphics for a wide range of programming, such as news, live events and popular chat shows. Gone are the days where production is managed and delivered from one hub.”
Demand for Quicklink’s video call management system has never been higher, according to CEO Richard Rees. The firm is releasing a completely browser-based cloud supported workflow with automated Panasonic PTZ camera and lighting.
“A journalist could sit at home and interview someone located elsewhere live to air while a colleague edits the video online (in Adobe Premiere) and in realtime,” says CEO Richard Rees. “That edit could be passed to a control room for wider channel distribution. The whole environment is now virtualised. We believe this is the future.”
VSN has added new capabilities for remote interoperability to its VSN NewsConnect web plugin for news production. This were on the cards for a NAB release but recent events have made them more relevant.
VSN NewsConnect, which brings together a number of third party tools required for news production, now enables users to control multiple studios in different locations, even if the systems used in the studios are different.
“What this means is that a journalist can simply send a news item to any studio and NewsConnect will automatically ensure that the delivered content matches the format requirements of the receiving devices,” said Patricia Corral, marketing director. “This remote interoperability is very useful in enabling news to be repurposed to the requirements of local broadcasters without worrying about technical compatibility.”
Pixel Power’s work is currently mainly based around large projects for refurbishment or replacement of playout and production infrastructure; projects with long timescales, so the current viral outbreak isn’t yet causing any major changes in demand.
“Our technology can be virtualized and deployed in data centre or public cloud, with remote access operation from anywhere in the world,” explains James Gilbert, CEO. “This is not something that can be done as an impulse reaction to the current situation - this capability has to be architected and designed into the product from the beginning.”
Once the outbreak subsides, the evolution of remote, decentralised working practices is likely to accelerate. “The industry is already moving towards remote, decentralised working practices because of the ecological and economic benefits,” Gilbert says. “The ability of staff to work from any location is core to that concept and whilst it is an obvious advantage during the current outbreak where staff may be required to, or choose to, work from home, I do not feel the pace of change will be accelerated - there are already enough drivers for it.”
Collaborative workflows with someone sitting next to you or on the opposite side of the world is in the DNA of storage solutions specialist GB Labs.
“We’ve fostered cloud integration for years and therefore, have always offered a remote workflow,” says Dominic Harland, CEO/CTO. “Obviously, there will be many other challenges with this ongoing situation, but GB Labs is confident that accessing content securely and quickly will not be one of them.
He thinks current events will accelerate solutions to enable a faster response to any future crisis. “The next two/three months is not long enough to develop, test and bring to market anything exceptional, but we are definitely looking at developing new products and new solutions. Whether this becomes a real-world advantage that the customer will want to buy after the outbreak subsides, well, that’s a different question.”
Each Bridge Technologies product has transformative potential in the field of remote broadcast and production, but none so more than its Widglets API. This leverages the full value of data collected by its VB440 - video, audio and ancillary - not only for network performance monitoring but also for a multitude of other workflows and applications. Full motion, colour-accurate, ultra-low-latency video, for example, can be made available from any source to any application or user.
“Being browser based, all that is required is a laptop and a network connection,” explains
Tim Langridge Head of Marketing. “Each geographically dispersed user receives feeds from multiple cameras with multiple waveform vectorscopes and streams via a single HTML5 video monitor view. Not only does this result in incredible technical improvements in production and improved decision making, but also logistically frees up immense amounts of room in OB vans or MCRs – making them more efficient, affordable and adaptable.”
Blackbird has seen a significant increase in sales enquiries since the containment phase began. “Enterprises need effective technology solutions to enable their workforces to operate efficiently whilst working at home or remotely,” says CEO, Ian McDonough. “Blackbird is a fully featured video editor available in any browser and can operate at low bandwidth. It's the perfect solution for the majority of live and file-based video production workflows.”
Essentially Blackbird can be used by anyone, any time, anywhere and this flexibility is enormously attractive to enterprises looking to drive massive productivity efficiencies through their operations. It also runs on bandwidth as low as 2Mb/s which is ideal given the pressure in traffic over the network – a situation which has caused Netflix and YouTube to throttle back their bitrates.
“As teams become used to de-centralised video production and enterprises enjoy significant infrastructure savings together with a flexible globally distributed workforce untethered to source content, we anticipate an accelerated adoption of Blackbird,” McDonough adds.
For live sports workflows, there are few production partners more experienced than Gravity Media. In February it wrapped its 2000th remote production, in this case of a Pac-12 Networks’ broadcast of the USC Trojans 65-56 win over the Washington State Cougars.
This impressive number includes ‘At Home’ centralized productions that were undertaken under the Proshow Broadcast (acquired by Gravity Media in July 2018) and Gearhouse Broadcast brand.
The benefits of this remote approach are obvious, with REMIs offering a cost-efficient modern workflow that is operationally flexible and durable. By centralizing the control room, video switching, audio mixing, graphics, replays and show production can all be done ‘At Home’ in the broadcast centre. This means that smaller, more affordable purpose-built mobile units can be used at the venue. Only video and audio acquisition hardware such as engineered cameras, microphones and announcer headsets, as well as comms hardware, a transmission interface and engineering support are required on site.
Company president Michael Harabin, says, “The potential for creating quality programming at an attractive price has never been greater, and we now have over 2000 proof points that showcase its consistent effectiveness and our ability to deliver.”
Sweden’s Intinor specialises in helping companies overcome the challenges of remote production. “As we are currently in lock-down of travel for personnel, the benefits of remote production could be felt all the more keenly,” says Daniel Lundstedt, regional sales manager. “Instead of having to arrange for operators to travel on location, broadcasting companies could instead work with local talent with equipment all that needs to be shipped rather than staff members.”
Intinor is already able to make going live, from anywhere, very easy, without marshalling a small (but expensive) army to make it happen. It’s all down to the “supreme mobility” of its Direkt link remote production pack. With an Intinor Direkt receiver or router in a control room, captured audio and video from a camera or mixer connected to a backpack can be streamed over public internet to a Direkt router and then re-streamed using other protocols, transcoded or outputed to SDI or NDI.
Mobile Viewpoint has a heritage in remote production solutions, especially for live streaming. CEO Michel Bais says the company has proven to reduce costs for production companies by not having to send a wealth of resource to an event.
“As we see companies trying to reduce their carbon footprint, it has emerged that it is not only cost savings that are driving these innovations,” he tells InBroadcast. “In line with this philosophy, we have developed remote cameras that allow sports games to be live streamed but without the need for a camera crew or an onsite production team.”
With the IQ-Sports Producer, an entire field of play can be recorded with a single 4x4K camera, while AI is used to create a virtual zoom of the play by automatically following players and the ball. Games can be live steamed in real time and with different format versions depending whether it is for web streaming, or for higher quality broadcasts requiring HD-SDI workflows, all at a fraction of the cost of an on-site production team.
vPilot is another AI driven solution from Mobile Viewpoint that can be used for remote newsrooms. A combination of cameras using 3D sensors and audio cues means round-table discussions can bet set-up without the need for a camera team or an onsite director. “Both IQ-Sports Producer and vPilot can be managed remotely with cameras that can be semi-permanently installed to create quality and cost-effective programming,” Bais says.
Net Insight’s plug and play solution Nimbra extends the production workflow to reach remote venues anywhere on the globe, with the same ease of operations as for traditional in-house productions. Users include
Nimbra is a high-quality multi-service media transport over IP platform supporting both native video and audio in addition to standard IP/Ethernet. Built-in video processing, low-latency JPEG 2000 and MPEG-4 encoding as well as unique features for equipment control and synchronisation makes it a great choice for remote production. Users include SVT and TV2 Denmark.
“100 percent reliability is key for remote live production and our solution offers mechanisms to assure the content is delivered with perfect quality regardless of network issues,” the company states. “Enterprise customers can use the solution to deliver live video content to support internal communications and working remotely.”
All of Cinegy’s software solutions lend themselves to flexible working practices. “We have long been a proponent of virtualization and IP – and what is the cloud if nothing more than using someone else’s computer, hosted somewhere else? Says Weigner.
“Give your office-based staff a laptop, access to the internet and access to Cinegy software– locally or in the cloud, and they are ready to remotely produce content using Cinegy Desktop, remotely playout content with Cinegy Air; remotely monitor channels with Cinegy Multiviewer. Whether our customer is at home or at another location and needs to set-up a pop-up channel in the cloud, doesn’t matter.
“Our customers who already embraced our workflows are more prepared and ready to deal with the new business practices that are emerging,” he argues. “Being ready for this business process change is markedly harder than being ready for a technology change. In this case, circumstances are dictating that there must be change. The barriers are being lowered and it is time to embrace it.”
By Adrian Pennington | Creative Planet Network | Published 13th April 2020
There’s no escaping the fact that 8K is four times as many pixels as 4K but recording 8K is easier and less expensive than you think.
For many, the idea of recording 8K video understandably conjures up images of unmanageable files sizes, long transfer times, huge piles of hard drives, and slow proxy workflows not to mention a black hole in the budget.
What’s more, with the biggest showcase for 8K TV—the Tokyo Olympics—delayed, the demand for content delivered in 8K is likely to stay in the bottle a little longer.
Leaving aside for one moment the fact that HDR and HFR are far more valuable than resolution to the consumer’s eye, there are benefits to an 8K production which an increasing number of projects are taking advantage of.
Mank, directed by David Fincher and lensed by Erik Messerschmidt, ASC, was acquired 8K using the RED Monstro in monochrome; and Money Heist, the Netflix drama which in season 4 is shot at 7K to accommodate HDR in a 4K deliverable, are just two of the most recent.
You can’t sell productions made in less than 4K to Netflix and other streaming services now. One day soon, some will mandate 8K to begin with and Netflix will have its fair share in the bank.
Even if the final output is only going to be 4K/UHD, shooting in 8K gives you many options in post that you do not have when starting in 4K. These include downscaling, cut/crop (pan/scan) or headroom for VFX.
“Before making the decision to capture a project in 8K, producers and cinematographers need to consider the project’s long-term goals,” says Bryce Button, director of product marketing, AJA Video Systems. For instance, capturing in 8K makes a lot of sense if there will be future use for the material.
“And even if not currently working in 8K nor planning to move to 8K in the future, 8K acquisition can also be hugely beneficial for capturing background plates for VFX and for virtual sets in live broadcast,” Button continues. “Having a larger raster for the background gives producers the confidence that as they zoom, pan and tilt around the background video plate or set, they’ll be delivering the cleanest possible imagery.”
When selling your shots, for example to stock footage outlets, 8K still manages to command considerably higher prices and is much rarer, so there is a chance to sell more and make more money at the same time. 8K is still a unique selling point and as Barry Bassett, the MD at London-based camera rental house VMI puts it, “That means bragging rights.”
“If you can acquire in 8K, there is no good reason not to do it,” urges Jan Weigner, Co-Founder & CTO at broadcast and post software developer Cinegy. “This is the same question that we were supposed to ponder when the switch to 4K happened. Currently camera rental cost for 8K can be higher, but in terms of total production costs, your budget would have to be seriously constrained or require many simultaneous cameras to not be able to shoot in 8K.”
Producing in 8K is no different to 4K: The availability of hardware to capture, edit and store 8K makes the high-resolution format unavoidable. There are also now tools to answer the demand from HD SDR to 8K HDR, and everything in between.
“All the necessary parts of the 8K puzzle are in place,” says Atomos CMO Dan Chung.
All current NLEs handle 8K, at least if you are using the latest version.
The main cost that will hit your pocket are camera rental/purchase and the proper lenses to go with it. RED cameras are pretty much the only option for an 8K TV or feature workflow but there should be healthy competition at the rental houses. Other options, such as Sony, Ikegami and Sharp 8K TV cameras might use the latest 8K Canon lenses and that can be costly.
Canon’s announcement, in February, of an 8K DSLR was a game-changer in that respect. “Not so long ago if you wanted to shoot 8K anywhere near affordably you had to shoot RED,” Chung remarks. “Now you can do so on a prosumer camera. Canon has clearly laid down a marker that others are sure to follow.”
Details including price, release date and even sensor are sparse but Canon says the full-frame EOS R5 will feature a blistering 20fps electronic shutter, dual memory card slots, and a Body Image Stabilization function to provide shake-free movies.
“There’s a misconception that 8K is vastly more expensive than it actually is,” says Button. “Generally, moving to 8K is an incremental cost, especially if you’re already working in 4K or have worked in stereo 3D. The biggest expense often comes with storage and moving large volumes of data, but the strides made by the industry to support 4K and S3D have provided a strong foundation to support the data needs that 8K workflows require.”
Recording and Monitoring Options
By nature, 8K is a massive format and is therefore inherently data-intensive. As such, in certain circumstances, it may be advantageous to avoid shooting a fully uncompressed 8K video and instead seek out codecs that keep data sizes manageable where the balance between data size and perceived quality is preserved.
“As with any project, it’s crucial to always start with the end in mind,” advises Button. “If uncompressed footage is a necessity for everything from video effects needs to deep color work, uncompressed will always offer a range of advantages.
However, he notes, many projects – whether for broadcast or other delivery methods – may be better served using codecs specially designed for editing and grading, where media and workload savings on workstations can be incredibly advantageous.
“Apple ProRes, for example, has been tuned to specifically provide resolution details and color depth that are more than acceptable while providing the appropriate media bandwidth storage and minimizing CPU strain.”
In terms of monitoring, 8K displays are just beginning to surface, but are still scarce but as Weigner points out so are inexpensive, cinema quality, reference grade HDR 4K screens.
“You could use UHD/4K monitors or TVs and just zoom in when necessary,” he says. “Brand name 8K TVs sized 65” or even 75” can be bought well below U$3000 and they usually have a decent enough image that can be tuned manually to meet certain TV production demands.”
AJA offers audio and video I/O solutions like the KONA 5 to facilitate downconversion and monitoring of 8K content on 4K displays in real-time, whether for editing or other tasks. AJA says it is working very closely with major NLE and color grading companies to ensure that its Desktop Software and KONA I/O cards provide a seamless 8K creative experience whether working on macOS, Windows, or Linux workstations.
For many projects, the codec will be defined by what the camera produces, unless one uses an external recorder.
The Atomos Neon line of cinema monitors and recorders come with a 4K master control unit but the firm has additionally announced an 8K master control unit, which can upgrade every Neon to an 8K recorder. The unit allows for recording and monitoring 8K video at 60 fps. Both, ProRes and ProRes RAW are supported straight from the camera sensor.
“If you go 8K you need ProRes RAW since this allows you to get a manageable file size and all the benefits of working with raw data,” says Chung.
Users of RED camera will be familiar with Redcode RAW, the proprietary recording format. Redcode is always compressed – there is no uncompressed version, claimed by Red to be visually lossless, and there’s no chroma subsampling or color space attached to the R3D RAW files. Visually lossless is usually good enough for any type of post-production including green screen work.
For example, using a Weapon Helium or Monstro at 8K 24fps to a 240GB Red Mini-Mag would record on average 259Mb/s and just 16 minutes record time (per mag). Upping the compression to 10:1 would double the record time and halve the bitrate. At the highest compression of 22:1, the figures would be 59Mb/s and 69 minutes. You can calculate your own figures from the Red website: https://www.red.com/recording-time
Netflix recommend a Redcode value of between 5:1 and 8:1. UK rental house Proactive has done some useful groundwork on recording 8K with newer Red cameras like the Monstro, Helium and Gemini.
It concludes that the majority of productions shooting Red use 8:1 as it offers “a fantastic balance between quality at the highest level, and practical data rates for the production to handle.”
The big surprise though, finds Proactive, is that if you use the Monstro in 8K at 8:1 as your standard compression level, it actually becomes much more manageable than the raw formats from Red’s competition, even some Prores formats. This becomes even more obvious when you go down to the 5K Gemini sensor. It found that at 8:1, the Gemini actually has smaller file sizes in 5K 16-bit RAW than the Sony Venice does in 4K XAVC-I which isn’t a RAW format.
Cinegy’s codec, Daniel2, specifically targets 8K and higher resolution production. Weigner claims it is up 20x faster than Apple ProRes or AVID DNxHR.
“With Daniel2, 8K production is as fast and easy as HD production, albeit requiring considerably more storage,” he asserts. “But since the days of HD we also have seen storage costs decrease massively while storage speed, thanks to the advent of SSDs, has increased dramatically. Put these factors together allows 8K production on inexpensive laptops or computers costing well below $2000 with standard NLE software such as Adobe Premiere.”
Weigner says that he edits 8K on a three-year-old Dell laptop without any issues or speed problems. This, of course, uses the Daniel2 codec accelerated by GPU inside Adobe Premiere and exported using H.264 or HEVC for distribution using Cinegy’s GPU accelerated export plugin.
“This may not satisfy high-end workflows, but will be sufficient for the average news, sports, even documentary production,” he says. “Editing these long GOP formats is much tougher. But depending on the NLE, the use of on-the-fly proxies or render caches and hardware acceleration by using graphics cards this does not need to be the case.”
Arguably, making a production in 8K will future-proof it to mitigate any risk and make it more attractive for sale in the long term.
“In the end this all depends on the type of production and how many cameras are needed and how much you will shoot using which codec and so on,” Weigner says. “Making clever decisions to begin with will reduce a lot of pain, headaches and ultimately cost.”