Production Slate

Article excerpt

Trends Favor New Technology

Telezign, Pixar Unite

Telezign Computer Animation/ Design, a division of National Video Center, has formed a strategic relationship with Pixar for new product development. As a Pixar planning site, Telezign will receive advance copies of new technology and products and integrate them into its animation production environment; Telezign will then give feedback on features that will enhance the capabilities of the software for broadcast and commercial design. At Pixar's invitation, Telezign has also joined the new Pixar Design Network, in which advertising, magazine, product, and interactive media designers use Pixar products to create design solutions.

Telezign's Emmy Award-winning designers will integrate Pixar's Academy Award-winning RenderMan technology into graphic design projects, and develop unique uses for RenderMan in animations.

For information: Alyse Dickman, (212) 564-8888.

New Digital Division

Steadi Systems Inc. has announced the formation of its new Digital Technology Division, offering sales, training and rental for desktop production and nonlinear film editing systems and desktop video systems.

In conjunction with this new division, Steadi Systems' corporate headquarters also features a Digital Technology Center to display and demonstrate this new equipment. The company's goal is to provide clients with a full spectrum of products that will take them from film transfers to dailies to an offline master cut. In the area of offline editing and desktop postproduction, Steadi Systems has expanded its product line to include the Lightworks Editor and Avid's Film Composer. The company also has added an extensive line of hardware and software for desktop video, desktop preproduction and pre-visualization, postproduction and video production graphics.

Steadi Systems is currently an authorized Macintosh dealer. In addition to offering the Macintosh Quadra 950/ 800840AV, its available product line includes the Hewlett-Packard ScanJet IIc, Sony Mavigraph Color Printer, Apple LaserWriter Pro 630, Optima Tape Backup Systems and JVC CD-ROM Burner. It also offers an extensive line of monitors, including Mitsubishi Diamond Scan 20-inch, NEC, Apple, Radium 20-inch Intellicolor, and SuperMac 20-inch High-Res Color.

For information: Steadi Systems Incorporated, 1014 N. Highland, LA, CA 90038, (213) 461-6868. New York: (212) 974-7666. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: 02.438.1541.

Editing Service

Laser-Pacific's new online editing service for television, SuperComputer Assembly, delivers digital show masters at less cost than conventional online analog composite editing. It is not limited to any particular tape format, and is fully compatible with any digital component and high-resolution HDTV standards.

The service also permits greater scheduling flexibility, allowing producers to gain as much as a full day on their postproduction schedules. The service is already in use on such prime-time series as Birdland, Phenom, Matlock, Mad About You, Babylon 5, Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, as well as a number of television movies.

The Supercomputer Assembly system's proprietary software fuels an IBM PVS computer and two massive hard disk storage arrays. Based on information provided by the offline editing systems, the audio and video needed for the final master is digitally captured from videotape machines onto the disk arrays at high speed. Once on the disk arrays, the finished program is output to a videotape machine in real time.

In developing the Supercomputer Assembly process, Laser-Pacific took the concepts of parallel computer processing and digital nonlinear editing and melded them into a unique application. The system allows for mass simultaneous digital capture, resulting in an acceleration of the assembly process. A typical one-hour episodic television show, which takes from eight to twelve hours to assemble in a conventional online suite, can be completed in two to three hours using the Supercomputer Assembly.

For information: Laser-Pacific Media Corporation, 809 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038, (213) 462-6266.

Getris Demo Suite

Metropolitan Entertainment, a video postproduction facility in Hollywood, has established a demonstration suite in the United States for the Frenchmanufactured Getris animation systems. Getris Images manufactures a wide line of computer graphics animation systems, including the Studio Venice series for high-end applications and the lower-priced Eclipse series. Metropolitan's animation division, Hollywood Animation, will be using Studio Venice for its animated projects, which include the nationally syndicated cartoon series The Bots Masters.

The newest release of the Studio Venice software includes features such as morphing, which allows users to take increased advantage of real-time image manipulation and compositing, and dynamic paint, which utilizes complex user-defined macros, complete paint sequences and procedures that can be repeated or set into motion to create effects impossible or too tedious to perform manually.

For information: Metropolitan Entertainment, 1680 N. Vine St., #600, Hollywood, CA 90028, (213) 856-7060.

Digital Sound for 16mm

FSU's Film Conservatory has developed a digital soundtrack system for 16mm film. The system, believed to be the first successful application with 16mm projection technology for public presentation, is similar in quality to that produced in the recent 35mm and 70mm theatrical release of Jurassic Park, which employed a digital CD-ROM system.

Ordinarily, a 16mm film employs a soundtrack printed optically alongside the film, next to the picture - a system "with which the FSU Film Conservatory has been extremely frustrated," remarks Dr. Brad Albers, Deputy Director of the Conservatory.

In February of last year, Dr. Albers, engineer David Gray, filmmakerin-residence Frank Patterson and technical support assistant Sean Dunham began to develop a digital audio playback system capable of combining digitally rendered film soundtracks in a doublesystem style with a reasonable level of reliability.

In the system they engineered, the digital soundtrack is recorded separately onto a high-capacity computer hard disk, from which the sound is reproduced in double-system synchronism with the picture film in the motion picture projector.

Technically, the complete prototype system employs a relatively straightforward series of off-the-shelf interfaces which convert the tachometer output of the 16mm projector into the time code stream required by DigiDesign's SMPTE slave driver. DigiDesign's Pro-Tools software package, in turn, is synchronized to the SMPTE slave driver's output. The completed soundtrack for a film is stored as a mixed Pro-Tools file on a relatively large (1.2 gigabyte) hard disk drive.

For information: The Florida State University, School of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4021, (904) 644-8747.

3-D Scanner

Kreysler and Associates in Petaluma, CA recently worked with the Larson Company in Arizona to create life-sized models of dinosaurs for an exhibition in the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta. Albertosaur, Talaraurus, Erythrosuchus, and Hadrosaurus models were scanned with Cyberware digitizers, and full-scale versions of the monstrous creatures emerged, one towering nearly 25 feet high.

The Cyberware rapid color scanner enables a computer to record the shape of an object, be it a hand, foot, or dinosaur model, in a scanned format within seconds. The scanner reads 15,000 three-dimensional points per second, resulting in an image with a resolution as fine as 0.5mm. The scanned object produces a geometric model which can be manipulated in many ways within a software application. The scanning software allows users to control the model for use with popular 3-D applications such as CAD programs.

Face to Face is another company that relies on Cyberware to produce 3-D replicas of a variety of people and objects. Their specialized process begins with a Cyberware scan, 2-D photographs, vacuuming techniques and their own distortion technology. A photograph is laid over a milled model to create an uncannily realistic replica of the original object. Among other projects, Face to Face produces billboards, some with mounted 3-D car models, and bus shelter advertisments.

For information: Cyberware, 8 Harris Court, #3D, Monterey, CA 93940, (408) 373-1441, FAX (408) 373-3582.

Applications Interchange

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Lucas Digital Ltd. announced that they are now official sponsors of the Open Media Framework (OMF) Interchange. In becoming OMF sponsors, the Lucas companies, which include Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, and Lucasfilm Ltd., are solidifying their plans to develop all-digital postproduction environments within their facilities.

"Based on the Lucas companies' years of experience in the film, entertainment, visual effects and audio postproduction industries," stated George Lucas, "we are well aware that one of the single biggest barriers to creating a seamless postproduction environment for artistic freedom lies in the current level of difficulty users encounter when trying to exchange digital media between proprietary applications and computer systems. OMF provides the solution to this problem. We believe that the implementation of OMF-compliant products throughout our postproduction facilities will ultimately improve the creative process and greatly reduce the time and cost of completing projects."

OMF Interchange is a standard file format that encapsulates all the information required to transport a variety of digital media between heterogenous platforms and applications, as well as the rules for combining and presenting the data. The goal of OMF is to provide an improved creative environment for end-users involved with digital media productions and free them from existing platform and application limitations hindering the exchange of project information between digital audio, video, film, animation and graphics applications.

Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm Ltd. have identified projects in each facility where the implementation of OMF-compliant products will be tested. Following these tests, Lucas companies will begin actively encouraging vendors of additional products used in the facilities to integrate OMF support. The OMF Toolkit, from Avid Technology, will be used to integrate support into the targeted products. The OMF Toolkit is a software package that lets developers easily add support for OMF to any digital audio, video, graphics or animation application.

For information: Lucasfilm Ltd., P.O. Box 2009, San Rafael, CA 94912-2009, (415) 662-1800; Avid Technology, (508)640-3158.

Digital Betacam Services

Audio Plus Video International (APVI) is now offering digital betacam services in both NTSC and PAL. Digital betacam is a component digital format developed to offer the benefits of D-1 at a cost-effective alternative. The units are capable of analog and serial digital I/O's and audio channels three and four are insert capable.

APVI, a Video Services Corporation (VSC) company, operates three facilities in Northvale, NJ and midtown Manhattan. Their services include standards conversions and duplication to all video formats. International postproduction services include NTSC/PAL multi-format editing, multi-standard digital film-to-tape transfers and video restoration. Audio capabilities consist of restoration, music and effects rebuilds, synchronization, layback, Automatic Dialogue Replacement and sophisticated audio-for-video editing. APVI also offers the 13 system utilizing a TK 3:2 to provide PAL standards conversion of NTSC-originated videotapes with a quality comparable to an original PAL film transfer.

For information: Audio Plus Video International, 240 Pegasus Ave., Northvale, NJ 07647, (201) 767-3800, FAX (201) 767-4568.

Expanded Film Services

Fuji Photo Film USA Inc.'s Professional Motion Picture Products Division has Consolidated operations at its Hollywood Technical Communications Center. The facility now offers warehousing of negative motion picture products, order services, sales and technical support, and a lobby and work area for Fuji Cine Club members.

For information: Fuji Photo Film USA, Inc., (714) 372-4303.

Editing Facility Opens

Zoo Production Services, a 24-hour Avid and offline rental facility, has opened in Hollywood. In addition to the three Avid 4000 and linear offline suites, the Zoo offers two screening rooms, client lounges, conference room areas, phone and fax service, convenient parking and complimentary breakfast.

Optional services include dubbing, sound services, Avid assistants, shipping, deliveries, and arranged meals.

For information: Zoo Production Services, 1027 N. Cole Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038, (213) 468-1399, FAX (213) 468-1385.

Upcoming Events

Various dates throughout year: Sony Institute of Applied Video Technology Workshops, Los Angeles. Most can be brought on-site to your location. For information: Peggy Bado, (213) 462-1982.

March 1: Deadline for entries. Movies on a Shoestring: 36th Annual Rochester International Film Festival, Rochester, NY. For information: (716) 288-5607.

March 3-10: The Asian-American International Film Showcase, Bay Area. For information: (415) 863-0814.

March 5: "Pixels, Pictures, and Perception: the Difference and Similarities Between Computer Imagery, Film and Video," an all-day tutorial conducted by SMPTE, New York City. For information: (212)757-4580.

March 4-13: Santa Barbara International Film Festival. For information: (805) 963-0023, FAX (805) 965-0557.

March 6-10: SIPI Professional Imaging Show sponsored by the Salon International des Professions de l'Image, Paris. For information: Richard Perry and Associates, 35 Holland Terrace, Teaneck, NJ 07666, FAX (2011833-4743.

March 15: Deadline for entries. The International Electronic Cinema Festival Chiba-Montreux 1994, June 6-12, Chiba, Japan. For information: Viacom International Inc., (212) 258-6363, FAX (212) 258-6354.

March 15-20:32nd Ann Arbor Film Festival, Independent and Experimental 16mm Film, Ann Arbor, Ml. For information: (313) 995-5356.

March 18-20: Robert Bordiga's Nuts & Bolts Production Seminar, New York City. For information: (800) 755-PROD.

March 20-24:48th Broadcast Engineering Conference, 4th HDTV World Conference, and 2nd NAB MultiMedia World Conference, in conjunction with NAB '94, Las Vegas. For information: (202)429-5478.

March 30-April 1: International QuickTime & Multimedia Conference and International Film Festival, San Francisco. For information: Sumeria, Inc., (415)904-0808.

April and May: "The World in the Box: from Camera Obscura to Audiovision," exhibit on projection techniques and the development of photography from the 17th Century to the present. Strauhof Museum, Zurich, Switzerland. For information: 0041.01.482.92.92.

April 3-10: Euro-American Festival International, Universal Studios Florida and other Florida locations. For information: Dale Olson and Associates Public Relations, (213) 932-6026, FAX (213)932-1989.

April 12-14: New Media Expo, the Future of Interactive Information, Los Angeles. For information: New Media Expo '94, 300 First Avenue, Needham, MA 02194-2722, FAX (617) 449-2674.

April 12-14: Replitech International (conference and expo for duplicators and replicators of video and audio tape, optical disks and floppy disks), Munich, Germany. For information: (914) 328-9157, FAX (914) 328-9093.

April 25-29: Video Expo/Image World Chicago. For information: (800) 800-5474 or (914) 328-9157.

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