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Blackmagic Design Announces Ultimatte 12

The world’s most trusted keyer now has one touch keying, incredible new image processing for realistic composites with colors that pop, and 12G-SDI for Ultra HD.

IBC 2017, Amsterdam, Netherlands – September 15, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced Ultimatte 12, a new realtime hardware compositing processor that’s perfect for broadcast quality keying, adding augmented reality elements into shots, working with virtual sets and more. Ultimatte 12 is available immediately from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$9,995.

Ultimatte 12 will be demonstrated at IBC 2017 on the Blackmagic Design booth in Hall 7, Stand 7 H.20.

The all new Ultimatte 12 is more than the world’s best keyer, it’s an advanced real time compositing processor designed for the next generation of broadcast graphics. Ultimatte 12 features entirely new algorithms and color science, incredible edge handling, greater color separation, amazing color fidelity and better spill suppression than ever before.

The advanced 12G-SDI design gives Ultimatte 12 customers the flexibility to work in HD today and switch to Ultra HD when they are ready. Customers get sub pixel processing for amazing image quality and textures in both HD and Ultra HD. Plus it’s compatible with virtually all SD, HD and Ultra HD equipment, so customers can use it with the cameras they already have.

Ultimatte 12 can create incredibly life like composites and place talent into any scene, working with both fixed cameras and static backgrounds, or automated virtual set systems. Imagine presenting the weather, sports, news and entertainment in a cinematic quality environment, all composited in real time. Ultimatte 12 is also perfect for on set pre visualization in television and film production because it lets actors and directors see the virtual sets they’re interacting with while shooting against a green screen.

Ultimatte 12 is designed to be affordable, so customers can use it on even more cameras to increase production quality. For example, when working on live shoots with multiple cameras shooting from different angles, it’s common for the green or blue screen to suffer from variations. The keyers built into live production switchers use the same keying parameters for all cameras, which complicates keying and image quality because each camera sees the green screen a little differently. Ultimatte 12 eliminates this problem with incredible new technology at an affordable price so it’s now possible to add keyers to every camera for the highest possible quality keys. With the power of a dedicated keyer on every camera, Ultimatte 12 is perfect for live broadcast news, weather, sports, virtual studios and more!

Augmented reality is becoming more and more popular. On air talent now interacts with glass like computer generated charts, graphs, displays and other objects with colored translucency on virtually every broadcast television show. Adding tinted translucent objects is virtually impossible with a traditional keyer and the results customers see on television don’t look realistic. That’s because when blue or green is subtracted out of a semi-transparent tinted object, it changes the object’s original color. Now, with Ultimatte 12, customers get a revolutionary new “realistic” layer compositing mode that can add tinted objects on top of the foreground image and key them correctly. This means that the object properly transmits the colors seen through it. Talent can even walk behind it and the tinted colors are accurately preserved, making the shot look completely realistic.

Ultimatte 12 also features one touch keying technology that analyzes a scene and automatically sets over a 100 parameters so pulling great keys is easy without having to do a lot of extra work. Of course, customers still have to ensure the scene is well lit and the cameras are properly white balanced. One touch keying is dramatically faster and helps accurately pull a key with minimum effort, leaving operators free to focus on the program with less distractions, while Ultimatte 12 takes care of the rest.

The incredible new image processing algorithms, huge internal color space, and automatic internal matte generation lets Ultimatte 12 work on different parts of the image separately. It’s like having the power of multiple Ultimatte keyers all working together on the same image. Fine edge detail is preserved where it’s needed the most, like on hair, and transitions between colors or other objects in the scene is completely smooth. Everything is handled by new math and sub pixel processing that’s designed for incredible quality and clarity in both HD and Ultra HD.

When it comes to color handling, Ultimatte 12, has new flare, edge and transition processing to remove backgrounds, without affecting other colors. The improved flare algorithms can remove green tinting and spill from anything, even dark shadow areas or through transparent objects. This means Ultimatte 12 can retain and faithfully reproduce colors that are impossible on other keyers, such as a bright yellow dress in front of a green screen. Unlike other keyers, Ultimatte 12 delivers crisp clear, photorealistic images with vibrant colors that pop!

Ultimatte 12 is controlled via Ultimatte Smart Remote 4, which is a touch screen remote that connects via Ethernet. Up to eight Ultimatte 12 units can be daisy chained together and connected to the same Smart Remote, so customers don’t have worry about adding a video router or hub. Smart Remote 4 features physical buttons for switching and controlling any attached Ultimatte 12. There are also buttons for quickly loading and saving presets, along with a touch screen that provides total control over every parameter. Customers can also create their own custom control solutions because Ultimatte 12 uses a simple, open text based protocol. Simply Telnet into Ultimatte 12, to start developing and testing custom solutions.

“Ultimatte has been the world’s highest quality broadcast keyer for 40 years,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “We’re excited about taking this incredible technology to the next level! Ultimatte 12 is no longer just a simple keyer, it’s an Ultra HD realtime compositing engine designed specifically for the needs of today’s live broadcast, television and film production needs!”

AVAILABILITY AND PRICE

Ultimatte 12 is available now from Thunder Powered Solutions for US$9,995. Ultimatte Smart Remote 4 is also available now from Thunder Powered Solutions for US$3,855.

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Blackmagic Design Announces Fusion 9 with VR


Incredible new VR tools, planar tracking, state of the art keying and more, along with a new low price of only $299 for Fusion 9 Studio!

SIGGRAPH 2017, Los Angeles, California – August 1, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced Fusion 9, a major update to its visual effects, compositing, 3D and motion graphics software. Fusion 9 has been designed to support the latest workflows and features new VR tools, entirely new keyer technology, planar tracking, camera tracking, multi user collaboration tools and more.

Fusion 9 is available today and will be demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2017 on the Blackmagic Design booth #907.

Fusion 9 is a massive new release with a VR toolset that makes it indispensable for virtual reality projects. Customers get a full 360º true 3D workspace, along with a new panoramic viewer and support for popular VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Working in VR with Fusion is completely interactive. GPU acceleration makes it extremely fast so customers can wear a headset and interact with elements in a VR scene in realtime. Fusion 9 also supports stereoscopic VR. In addition, the new 360º spherical camera renders out complete VR scenes, all in a single pass and without the need for complex camera rigs.

The new planar tracker in Fusion 9 calculates motion planes for accurately compositing elements onto moving objects in a scene. For example, the new planar tracker can be used to replace signs or other flat objects as they move through a scene. Planar tracking data can also be used on rotoscope shapes. That means customers don’t have to manually animate motion, perspective, position, scale or rotation of rotoscoped elements as the image changes.

Fusion 9 also features an entirely new camera tracker that analyzes the motion of a live action camera in a scene and reconstructs the identical motion path in 3D space for use with cameras inside of Fusion. This lets customers composite elements with precisely matched movement and perspective of the original. Fusion will auto analyse the shot and calculate lens focal length and lens distortion.

The new delta keyer brings state of the art image science to Fusion’s keying tools. In addition to new image science and processing, delta keyer features a complete set of matte finesse controls for creating the cleanest possible keys while preserving fine image detail. There’s also a new clean plate tool that can smooth out subtle color variations on blue and green screens in live action footage, making them easier to key.

For multi user collaboration, Fusion 9 Studio includes Studio Player, a new application that features a playlist, storyboard and timeline for playing back shots. Studio Player can track version history, display annotation notes, has support for LUTs and more. The new Studio Player can output via Blackmagic DeckLink and UltraStudio devices, making it perfect for customers that need to see shots in a suite or theater for review and approval. Remote synchronization lets customers around the world synchronize Studio Players in multiple locations. In addition, Fusion 9 features a bin server so shared assets and tools don’t have to be copied onto each artist’s local workstation.

Fusion 9 Studio also gives customers unlimited network rendering. This means that large studios working on complex shots and high end visual effects heavy feature films no longer have to pay a license fee for each render node. Customers simply purchase and install Fusion 9 Studio on all of their artist workstations and then install it on as many render nodes as they need, without any additional charges or ongoing maintenance costs.

In addition to all of the new features, Fusion 9 has more GPU and OpenCL acceleration, making it faster than ever. Fusion 9 also works with additional formats and file types such as DNxHR, MXF and more. This makes it suitable for use in an even broader range of workflows and provides seamless integration with DaVinci Resolve files.

Blackmagic Design also announced a price reduction for Fusion Studio from $995 to only $299. It costs less than most annual cloud based subscription plans, making Fusion more affordable than ever before. This new low price makes it easier for DaVinci Resolve users to add Fusion Studio to their suites and get incredible keying, paint, compositing, tracking, motion graphics, titling and more.

Because Fusion does not require a subscription or a connection to the cloud, customers don’t have to worry about it being automatically updated in the middle of a job. Customers can upgrade when they wish, such as after the completion of a major job. In addition, Fusion systems don’t have to be connected to the internet, so they can be isolated to eliminate the possibility of hacking. Customers also don’t have to pay monthly, so once Fusion is purchased it will keep working until customers choose to upgrade in the future.

“Fusion is an incredibly rich and powerful tool that Hollywood’s top visual effects and motion graphics artists have been using for years,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “Fusion 9 adds the the new features and tools customers have been asking for, supports more formats and newer workflows than ever before, has even more GPU and OpenCL acceleration, and a new dramatically lower price! This makes Fusion even more accessible than ever before. Plus, the new collaboration tools and free unlimited network rendering will change the way large studios work!”

About Fusion

Fusion is the world’s most advanced compositing software for visual effects artists, broadcast and motion graphic designers, and 3D animators. Over the last 30 years, Fusion has been used on thousands of Hollywood blockbuster movies and television shows. Fusion features a powerful node based interface, a massive range of tools, incredible VR and 3D support, GPU accelerated performance, unlimited network rendering and more.

For visual effects, Fusion features a node based interface for compositing, a true 3D workspace, keying and matte tools, rotoscoping, tracking and stabilization, vector paint, time remapping and more. In addition, customers can import 3D models and scenes from other applications so elements can be composited, lit, and rendered all in the same application. Fusion also includes 3D objects, realistic lighting and shading, stereoscopic 3D tools, deep pixel compositing, volumetric effects such as fog and mist, and support for multi channel render pass workflows.

Fusion is also used for high end broadcast design and motion graphics. Customers can quickly create 2D and 3D titles, import 3D logos from applications like Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Maya or even import and extrude 2D vector files from Illustrator and other applications. Fusion has a complete spline based animation system, replicated object animation tools, 3D particles with physics, vector paint, expressions and macros, and more. In addition, customers can import and animate Photoshop files and even use Python or Lua scripting to automate the creation of broadcast graphics such as weather, sport scores, program listings, news headlines and more.

Fusion Versions

Fusion 9 gives customers integrated 2D and 3D compositing and motion graphics. Fusion features paint, rotoscope, titling, animation, multiple keyers including Primatte, an amazing 3D particle system, advanced keyframing, GPU acceleration, and support for importing and rendering 3D models and scenes from other applications. Technical support is available via the Blackmagic Design community forums.

Fusion 9 Studio adds advanced optical flow image analysis tools for stereoscopic 3D work, VR tools, retiming and stabilization, support for third-party OpenFX plugins, unlimited distributed network rendering, and Studio Player along with a bin server for studio wide multi user collaboration that lets you track, manage, review and approve shots on complex projects.

Pricing and Availability

Fusion 9 is available free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website. Fusion 9 Studio is available for $299 from Thunder Powered Solutions and other Blackmagic resellers worldwide.

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Blackmagic Design Announces Summer Special Price for Video Assist and Video Assist 4K

Limited offer lets customers buy Blackmagic Video Assist for only US$395 and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K for only US$595!

Fremont, California – June 27, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced a new summer special promotion for Blackmagic Video Assist and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K. During this promotion, customers can save US$100 on the purchase of a Blackmagic Video Assist, and US $300 on the purchase of a Blackmagic Video Assist 4K. That means Blackmagic Video Assist can now be purchased for only US $395 and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K can be purchased for US$595 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide while stocks last.

The Video Assist summer special makes it easier than ever for customers to add professional monitoring and broadcast quality recording to any SDI or HDMI camera. With the new summer special pricing for limited stock, customers will be able to buy a Video Assist for each of their cameras.

The Blackmagic Video Assist family of products gives customers better monitoring and higher quality recording than is available on many cameras. Older cameras often feature custom and hard to use file or tape formats, while lower cost consumer cameras often have poor quality file formats and small screens, limiting their professional use. Blackmagic Video Assist solves this problem because it works with every type of camera from DSLRs to older tape based camcorders, and even the latest digital film cameras. Customers get a large professional on set monitor, along with 10-bit broadcast quality ProRes and DNxHR recording.

In addition to professional monitoring and recording, the Blackmagic Video Assist 4K model will also support powerful built in scopes such as a waveform monitor, RGB parade, vectorscope and histogram in the upcoming Video Assist 2.5 Update, along with extremely high fidelity audio recording and microphone inputs.

“Video Assist is an incredibly versatile tool and has become an indispensable part of everyone’s production kit,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “It’s the perfect portable field monitor and recorder, and now customers can get them at an even lower price so they can add them to all of their cameras while stocks last!”

BLACKMAGIC VIDEO ASSIST 4K KEY FEATURES

* 7 inch LCD touch screen with 1920 x 1200 high resolution monitor.
* Professional 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes or DNxHD recording up to Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p30
* Dual high speed UHS-II SDHC card recorders use readily available, inexpensive SD card media.
* Dual recorders allow non-stop recording and provide a backup if one fails.
* 2 mini XLR connectors with 48V phantom power for connecting microphones.
* -128dBV electrical noise floor for high quality audio recording.
* LANC connection for remote control.
* Auto start/stop recording using HDMI or SDI triggers.
* Includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12V DC power input.
* Full compatibility with editing software such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X, Avid and Premier Pro.
* All in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
* Includes 6G-SDI input allowing it to be used as an Ultra HD monitor.



BLACKMAGIC VIDEO ASSIST KEY FEATURES

* 5 inch LCD touch screen with1080p high resolution monitor.
* Professional 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes and DNxHD recording in HD.
* Includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12V DC power input.
* Full compatibility with editing software such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X, Avid and Premiere Pro.
* All in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
* Includes 6G-SDI input with downconverter allowing it to be used as an Ultra HD monitor.

AVAILABILITY AND PRICE

Blackmagic Video Assist is available for US$395 and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K is available for US$595 during the Summer Special promotion, with limited stock now available from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

PRESS PHOTOGRAPHY

Product photos of Blackmagic Video Assist and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K, and all other Blackmagic Design products, are available at www.blackmagicdesign.com/press/images

ABOUT BLACKMAGIC DESIGN

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com

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The beginning of Apple’s High Sierra…

As terrible as the pun “Hi-C era” may be, the significance for creative professionals of this period in Apple history should not be underestimated. With macOS High Sierra, we are ascending into a new level of both hardware and software that should prove to be both liberating and empowering for Apple’s base. But the journey won’t come without its share of technical bumps along the trail.

Apple’s introducing a new file system in High Sierra appropriately titled “Apple File System.” While this holds the promise of unifying the file system for both mobile and desktop devices in Apple’s product line, it could add further complication to cross-platform workflows for many creative pros.

HEVC, the latest video encoding standard, has been around for years now. But without hardware and software support in your device, it has been largely underutilized by the consuming masses. Now Apple is rolling out support in both the OS and in the Mac, so this could prove a tipping point for content providers to begin leveraging this encoding standard. But there are no guarantees that if you build it into the OS the content will come.

VR is a buzzword, but how many people are seriously spending time using it? Apple’s made its first big push into VR with High Sierra, and many industry leaders appear to have signed on for the ride. But will this technology go the route of 3D and leave over-eager developers and early-adopting consumers holding the bag?

The current centerpiece of Apple’s hardware for creative professionals is the upcoming iMac Pro which is scheduled for release in December. The High Sierra/iMac Pro combination brings a level of power and productivity for creative professionals that has been missing since the introduction of the redesigned Mac Pro. This time, Apple has positioned the product carefully to avoid confusion in the minds of the professional community as it has been made clear this is not a replacement for the Mac Pro, but the iMac for which professionals have been asking.

For those who want a truly customizable desktop PC, Apple’s left us waiting to see what their next redesign effort at the Mac Pro will be. But by the time that product hits the market, we may well have seen the era of High Sierra draw to a close.

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DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel Review – A Local Austin Colorist’s Perspective

As a Blackmagic dealer, I’m always interested in getting clients’ opinions on the latest gear. Back in March when the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel was first announced, Brandon Thomas, a local colorist at TBD Post here in Austin was one of the very first to purchase and get his hands on a unit. I asked him to give me his thoughts after having some real-world experience with the panel. Here’s what he had to say:

“A lot of people have already written some great reviews about the Mini, so I won’t go through everything, but I’ll give some thoughts as a colorist who’s been using the Elements for years, and feel that the Mini is a wonderful step up for Resolve users.

The Mini borrows a lot of ideas from the $30k Advanced Panels, and feels very solid. The balls, rings, and knobs all feel expensive. The integration between the panel and the software is already strong, and only going to get better with future updates. You’re typically one or two button presses away from any function. On the Elements, add a click or two.

A standout feature for me is having tactile control over all the different curve tools. Prior to the Mini, I would often resort to entering a decimal value for a curve adjustment, as getting there with a mouse or Wacom wasn’t as precise as I wanted. Being able to make multiple hue or sat adjustments simultaneously has been a big timesaver.

One of my other favorite features is being able to quickly jump into the Log or Offset modes. In Offset mode, the right trackball will adjust RGB offsets and the left and middle wheels control tint and temperature, which can be really useful for small or large adjustments with poorly balanced material.

A hidden gem is the PREV MEM button, that will revert a shot to the way it was when you landed on it.

There’s a fair amount of retraining involved when coming from another panel, but I feel like I was running full speed on the Mini within a couple of days. I use XKeys as well, so part of the retooling was reprogramming the XKeys to get the most out of the Mini. UI clicks bring up tools on the panel, which makes the XKeys/Mini panel combo incredibly powerful.

One personal downside of the Mini for me is that I prefer having the keyboard between me and the panel. While ergonomically it may not have been ideal on the Elements, that wasn’t an issue. With the Mini, it’s a little bit of a stretch to get the furthest buttons unless my wrists are resting on the edge of my desk (which gets old fast). The easy solution is moving the keyboard to the side, but I’m a little stubborn, so we’ll see how things go.

Obviously the Blackmagic panels will only work with Resolve. While Resolve is a lynchpin in our shop, we use a whole slew of other tools that the Element panels are able to interact with, and the Mini cannot.

After a few weeks, I’m still very happy with the move to the Mini, and don’t regret a thing. If you’re grading often, the curve functionality alone make the Mini the best affordable panel for Resolve today.”

Brandon Thomas
Partner / Post Supervisor / Colorist
TBD Post
www.tbdpost.com

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Blackmagic Design Announces Remote Bluetooth Camera Control for URSA Mini Pro


New API makes it possible for customers to create remote camera control applications for URSA Mini Pro on their iPads, phones, and laptop computers.

NAB 2017, Las Vegas, Nevada – April 24, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced a new open protocol for URSA Mini Pro cameras that will allow customers to create their own remote control solutions via Bluetooth. The protocol is being demonstrated at NAB, with the API and sample code anticipated to be released to customers free of charge in June 2017.

The remote bluetooth camera control test application and API will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2017 booth at #SL216.

All URSA Mini Pro cameras feature built in bluetooth, but it hasn’t been enabled until now. The built in Bluetooth will allow customers to send and receive commands from up to 30 feet away. To make the new Bluetooth support even more flexible, Blackmagic Design has developed a new open protocol and is publishing a developer API, along with sample code, for customers that wish to build their own camera control solutions.

A demonstration iPad app and sample code will be provided to customers that want to use this feature. The iPad app allows customers to create digital slate applications that feed metadata, such as scene, shot, take information and even full script lines to multiple cameras on set while shooting. Common remote control of camera settings like frame rate, format and shutter angle are all possible from the demo app.

With a fully open API and developer support for URSA Mini Pro Bluetooth, customers can go well beyond the demonstration app. They can build an iPad application to remotely adjust camera settings and motorized lenses while the camera is mounted on a crane. Technically skilled customers could even build an application that uses the camera’s built in DaVinci Resolve color corrector so that images can be graded live during a shoot.

New workflows are also possible. A great example of this is that customers can mount Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinders on multiple URSA Mini Pro cameras to create a live multi camera shooting scenario, however instead of connecting to a switcher, the iPad can trigger all cameras to record to their internal media with matching metadata. This means the media can be later edited using DaVinci Resolve 14 multicam editing to work as fast as live production, however with the accuracy of post production. That’s faster, lower cost and higher quality editing than was easily possible in the past.

“URSA Mini Pro has been received extremely well by our customers,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “Customers love the broadcast features and controls, the built in ND filters and interchangeable lens mount. Now, the possibilities are truly endless because customers are going to have the tools they need to build completely custom remote control solutions of their own design using the new Bluetooth support!”

Availability and Price

Camera 4.4 update, which will support the URSA Mini Pro bluetooth API and sample code will be available in June 2017 as a free download from the Blackmagic Design website for all existing URSA Mini Pro customers.

About Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com

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Ok Apple – let’s rethink the Mac Pro…

So today the news broke that Apple is “completely rethinking” the Mac Pro. Phil Schiller gathered some members of the press together for an unusual meeting where he confessed Apple missed-the-boat for many professionals with the 2013 Mac Pro cylinder, and is now in the process of redesigning it.

This news comes just a day after I wrote a post comparing Apple both to an abusive spouse as well as a drug dealer preying on children. And I have to say, I feel my comparison is as accurate today as it was yesterday. You don’t get to treat a segment of customers with a pattern of neglect for YEARS and think you can wipe it all away with a single press release.

There’s more to this than simply improving the product. Over the last 7 years, Apple has steadily dismantled their entire system of support for professionals. What the consumers of Apple products may not realize, around the introduction of the iPad, Apple began to re-assign their Apple creative professionals away from the Mac channel and into unrelated iPad sales. The professional VAR channel was left with no representation inside Apple (who was busy prioritizing Apple stores) and the entire professional community built around Apple began to crumble.

Fixing the Mac Pro is simply one piece of a bigger puzzle Apple needs to reassemble. Regaining the trust of large creative customers in Hollywood and around the country that Apple who were left in the lurch holding on desperately to their discontinued Xsan systems and Final Cut 7 workflows is not easy, if not impossible.

But hey, I’ll play along out of nostalgia for the Apple I once knew and loved. Here’s a short list of things Apple should consider in their Mac Pro redesigned:

  1. Shape: make it rack mountable. A least design in the option for rack ears. Many professionals are on the road or on set and need to mount their Mac Pro alongside the rest of their gear.
  2. Make it customizable and upgradable – and that includes processor upgrades. Add plenty of expansion slots – Thunderbolt 3 is great, but daisy chaining critical components is not elegant and can be downright unprofessional.
  3. Keep it flexible for running multiple operating systems. If you want a walled-garden or your own OS – great. But don’t forget the need to run other environments. You aren’t the only game in town and professionals appreciate manufacturers who recognize the value of their competition.
  4. Prioritize internal storage and memory. Large internal RAIDs and maximum amounts of memory are a must.
  5. Plenty of ports – old and new. Connectivity is king.
  6. Build sharing into the design. Not only do professionals remotely log into their systems, but when they work on them locally, they often need to share storage via NAS and SAN. Why not innovate in this area?

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more features I’d like to see in the redesign, but I think this is a good start. I just wonder if Apple will still be relevant by the time their new Mac Pro arrives in 2018.

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Stop shooting (up) Apple ProRes!

I remember sitting in the audience at Apple’s NAB dealer meeting in 2007 when they announced ProRes to the public. It was an exciting time – a golden age for Final Cut users. But only a year later, Apple discontinued their Xserve RAID product, followed by the discontinuation of Xserve, and by 2011, Apple dealt the ultimate blow to video professionals with the launch of Final Cut Pro X.

Much like hanging around with a continually abusive spouse, it can be difficult to admit our relationship with Apple simply isn’t healthy for our long-term wellbeing. Apple has shown no signs of changing its ways, and last year killed QuickTime for Windows. Like a drug dealer preying on school children, it is clear now that Apple introduced ProRes into the video world for one purpose – addicting users and forcing them onto Apple’s hardware – no matter how out-of-date and under-powered current Macs have become.

Apple’s never supported encoding ProRes on Windows – only decoding for playback, that was certainly a sign of their intentions. Now they’ve removed decoding completely for Windows 10 users.

I simply can’t stand by and watch as Apple continues this pattern of abuse. So, as a former ProRes user and addict, I encourage you to stop shooting up Apple’s crack codec! “Apple user” has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.

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Texas sales tax exemption for film & video production equipment purchases

If you don’t already know, the State of Texas offers a sales tax exemption on items and services essential and used or consumed during the production of a motion picture, commercial, television project, corporate film, infomercial, or video game.

Thunder Powered Solutions accepts purchases claiming this exemption, but did you know that you can request a refund on qualifying purchases from the Texas Comptroller’s Office? That’s right – even if you are just learning about this exemption, you can file to get back the sales tax you already paid after the purchase.

To find out more information, check out the Sales Tax Exemptions page at the Texas Film Commission website here: http://gov.texas.gov/film/incentives/sales_tax_exemptions/

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Apple, Innovate or Get Off the Throne!

As any creative professional knows, Apple’s Macintosh dominates our industries. Video, design, publishing, music – most creative studios are Mac-based.

But the last seven years or so have not been very kind to creative pros. For the most part, they’ve been filled with seemingly endless waiting only to have hopes of renewed attention dashed when Apple finally announces disappointing product updates.

As I lamented this today with a client who recently decided to make the switch back to Windows after many years on the Mac, I was reminded of how Apple has managed to tie our hands simply because the thought of ending the relationship with Apple, which started with such passion and promise, is seemingly impossible due to their dominant market position. We’re such a loyal group we hang onto our beloved Mac systems far longer than is healthy for our business needs.

In that spirit, I issue this desperate plea: Apple, innovate or get off the throne!