The Past Week in Review: June 27, 2011
We search for the more interesting and provocative news and views of the past week…just so you don’t have to.
Image: The superhero Captain Marvel owes his power to the ancient sorcerer Shazam. The company Shazam plans to bring interactive TV to the mainstream. You decide if it’s magic or not.
This week we look at a software app that came too soon, worries about a lack of courage, and hardware that just might solve your production problems.
Apple Got It Wrong….or Not.
If you ever read sites dedicated to post production, you’d be hard-pressed to miss over this past week the controversy kicked up over the release of Apple’s Final Cut X. This completely rewritten version of the program has unleashed more strongly divided controversy then any Apple product in many years.
Version X has been called everything from a revolutionary rethinking of nonlinear editing to iMovie Pro, and thus a stab in the back to professionals who have staked their businesses on what they had imagined was an app that would change slowly enough to accommodate their businesses.
In Filmmaker magazine, David Leitner acknowledged the rough spots but praised the daring vision of the new version, telling magazine editor Scott Macaulay
“I’ve had problems with FCP X too, but since when is the unfamiliar a comfortable ride?”
David praised Gary Adcock’s Macworld review of the new software. I’d agree. Adcock, who has run Chicago’s Final Cut Pro user group, offers up an in-depth look that covers the most salient features. The writer says that Apple is breaking new ground, and that the app challenges the “whole mindset of what it means to be a working professional video editor.”
The needs of the professional editor are just what author Danny Greer has in mind in his article at the Premiumbeat blog. The article, headed Final Cut Pro X: The Missing Features, specifically lists those items that were missing in action in the latest version including no XML import and the inability to open projects saved in previous FCP versions.
If you want an extremely detailed point-by-point interpretation of what FCP X can do, head over to Richard Harrington’s site. The long-time editor, author, teacher, trainer gives an even-keeled review, which is much needed. Harrington takes the whole app apart and reconciles what a number of top critics have said so far. Very useful if you stay with it.
In the days of analog television, Long Island-based Chyron long remained one of the most profitable character generator manufacturers precisely because of its slow pace in updating and changing its product line. While other character generator manufacturers would badmouth the company for its old-school product, Chyron knew it was more important for its users–especially the producers of news and sports programming–to have a stable, slowly changing product.
With that stability, producers always knew they could find someone to operate the Chyron–its name soon became synonymous with lower third character generation–in whatever town they were in. Know the market that you want to have buying your product I suppose is the point of the story. Apple has made just such a decision in regards to the professional editing community.
In a refreshing bit of straight talk at this year’s Cannes International Festival of Creativity, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg made critical comments about the level of creativity–or the lack of same–that bedeviled Hollywood today. As he is quoted in this AdAge article, Katzenberg said that the moviemaking business was offering the public the “worst and least creative work product in a decade or more.”
Meanwhile, Filmmaker’s Scott Macaulay takes note of this talk by Graham Taylor at the Los Angeles Film Festival on independent films past and future. Taylor calls the current state of independent film entrepreneurial film, and illustrates how he finances a film: by shooting 10 minutes worth and cutting together a trailer to present in an RV parked at Sundance. Cocktails included.
Disagreements over copyright enforcement heat up as high-tech entrepreneurs and investors recently signed a letter urging members of Congress to reject the PROTECT IP Act.
According to this article in Ars Technica, the PROTECT IP Act (or PIPA) is being pushed by Hollywood and the recording industry. The law would establish a blacklist of “rogue sites” and ISPs and other intermediaries would be forced for the first time to block access to them.
Tough Summer for 3D?
We’re still seeing a small yet constant stream of negative comments on the prospects of 3D film. In this Times article entitled As 3-D Falls From Favor, Director of ‘Transformers’ Tries to Promote It, Michael Bay is portrayed as undertaking a charm offensive to help push his new summer blockbuster Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which debuts this week.
In this AdAge article, “comedies and dramas filmed in the old-fashioned two-dimensional format” such as Fast Five and Bridesmaids are said to be leading the summer box office over 3D.
Jeff Bock, an analyst with Los Angeles-based Exhibitor Relations Co. blames the “3-D rush jobs we’ve had over the past two years” for the consumer’s lack of enthusiasm.
Production websites are kicking the tires on both new hardware and all the gear that was introduced at April’s NAB convention but is finally shipping in quantity.
Website Digitalarts Online offers what it claims as a world exclusive report detailing an impromptu test of apples thunderbolt technology. Thunderbolt, a high-speed port being built into new Macs that replace FireWire connections, offers up to a theoretical a top speed of 10 Gb per second.
At a Final Cut Pro Supermeet in Kensington, London, the test featured an external LaCie The Little Big Disk RAID array (striped as raid zero, but what the heck it’s just a test) connecting to a MacBook Pro. Using AJA System Test configured for transferring 16GB of 4K frames, the average read speed was an astonishing 835.5MBps with an average write speed of 353.1MBps.
Compare that to an average desktop systems fitted with a RAID array which might deliver speeds of 83.9MBps (read) and 77.2MBps (write), and you can see why this new technology will loom large for new edit systems, even those based around notebooks like the MacBook Pro.
David Leitner offers a useful review of AJA’s Ki Pro Mini, an Apple ProRes recorder/player. Calling it like having “an HDCAM deck in the palm of your hand”, Leitner sees a future where such small decks, as well as its larger sibling the Ki Pro, will replace expensive HDCAM decks at film festivals and other venues that need top quality playback at prices that are much, much lower than that of Sony’s product.
The Abel Cine blog offers a useful list of lenses and accessories for Sony’s new NEX-FS100 camera. The single sensor camera-which prices around $6000-is attracting much attention; some spot it as a less expensive yet still capable device that compares favorably with Sony’s more expensive F3 and the RED One.
The Future of All Media?
Blogger Phil Leigh forecasts a future in which all media –whether print, audio, or video–will become interactive. Leigh is responding to the funding of Shazam by top venture capitalists to create “a form of interactive television advertising based upon the company’s music recognition technology.” Liz Gannes at All Things Digital goes into more detail here.