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Silhouette Roto 2.0 Announced

Just under a year since version 1 shipped, Silhouette FX are shipping a substantial upgrade in version 2 of Silhouette Roto. The new version includes a new layering and grouping system so there are fewer keyframes to set manually. Silhouette Roto 2 is a free upgrade to existing owners.

The layers/grouping feature enables individual layers to have their own tracking and stabilization information, meaning that keyframes only need to be set when the shape of the object changes. Users will be pleased that this reduces the number of key frames required.

Version 2 also adds support for look-up-tables for processing 10 bit log files. This is in addition to the existing support for floating point images like those from the OpenEXR™ format.

Other highlights of the new version are:

  • Projects can be set to save at user-determined intervals;
  • Tracker data can now be imported and exported;
  • Apple Shake 4 shape export has been added to support for Shake 3.5;
  • Full keyboard customization is available;
  • New workflow integration capabilities via Python scripting; and
  • Support for Silhouette Paint (See Hub/BuZZ news July 27).

Version 2 comes with a price increase to US$595 for the stand-alone version and US$495 for the plug-in version. Together they can be purchased for US$695. Plug-in support is provided for Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro. The plug-in works on Mac OS X and Windows systems. The stand alone application is also available for Linux.

Silhouette FX, LLC will be exhibiting at SIGGRAPH 2005 in booth 2051

RE:Vision Effects releases RE:Flex 3

RE:Vision position RE:Flex as an intuitive morphing and warping tool that works inside the host application. RE:Flex uses RE:Vision’s proprietary technology that combines manual feature-matching with automatic image registration. The drawing and masking tools from manual feature-matching are those from the host application (where available). After manual feature-matching, RE:Flex 3 uses the new tracking from RE:Vision’s Twixtor product to align the non-handmatched parts of the image, reducing the amount of manual work required.

New features for Version 3, other than auto-align mentioned above:

  • Floating point image support in Apple’s Shake;
  • New anti-aliasing settings that uses less memory (although it slows down with this setting), with the old method still available when speed is more important than quality;
  • MipMapping – an option that gives better filtering results;
  • Render-only pricing for Adobe After Effects 6.0 or later.

Pricing depends on host application and upgrade pricing is available for current RE:Flex customers.

Movie Studios agree on digital distribution standard

Although the major Hollywood studio agreed on Wednesday to common technology standards for digital projection and storage systems it will likely be late 2006 or early 2007 before widespread installations are in place. Nobody is yet saying who will pay for the transition, costing around US$150,000 per cinema, however the studios stand to save significantly. Because the studios will be saving, the cinema owners are looking for the studios to subsidize the cost of installing digital projection.

A 35mm print costs $1-2,000 and is frequently showing wear and tear, in the form of scratches, after the first few showings. Digital distribution costs is estimated to cost around $300 per movie per cinema complex delivered via satellite or high-speed cable. A digital "print" does not deteriorate so the thousandth showing is as pristine as the first. Studios claim that digital distribution will reduce piracy but little piracy comes from "borrowed" movie prints.

Both studios and cinema owners hope to avoid the chaos of competing standards that occurred when digital audio was introduced with many competing technologies.

Shareholders approve Pinnacle acquisition

The purchase by Avid Technology of Pinnacle Systems took one step closer to completion when shareholders of both companies approved the deal on Wednesday, July 27th. As the deal has already been approved by American regulators, the European regulators are the only hurdle remaining.

The completion of the deal will give the combined company a full range of broadcast solutions to selling into the television, network and cable production and broadcast plants. This area has been the strongest for Avid over recent years and the combined product range will strengthen Avid’s position in this important market.

With the Pinnacle purchase Avid gains a consumer market with 12 million Pinnacle Studio customers. Although Avid have attempted consumer products in the past, they have not had the success of Pinnacle Studio. Avid will also gain the professional Liquid product ranges, which would seem to conflict with Avid’s own editing products. In past acquisitions Avid have kept the unique brands of it’s acquisition and co-branded with itself. If the Liquid products, particularly Liquid Edition, are taking sales from companies other than Avid, then it would make sense to keep them active.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pinnacle shareholders get 0.0869 Avid shares and $1 cash for each share of Pinnacle stock. That values the deal at 6.2 million share and $71 million in cash. At today’s Avid share price of approximately $41.50, the total value of the deal is around $327 million.

einstein's legacy introduces FrameVault

With a an intuitive, single-window interface reminiscent of Apple’s iTunes, users can organize their QuickTime-compatible movie clips into playlists and libraries in FrameVault from einstein’s legacy.

FrameVault’s playlist playback is much smoother than similar features in iTunes and can play to full screen across multiple monitors – perfect for those HD clips! FrameVault is a fully features tool that can also create and deliver chapter-based movies and transfer video (record) to external devices.

FrameVault’s key features are:

  • Video Asset organization – in a single window, easy to use interface;
  • Custom viewing experiences – sequence movies (playlists), change speed and onscreen appearance without modifying the media;
  • Beyond Full Screen – FrameVault enables full screen to extend across multiple monitors to fill the entire desktop;
  • Delivery – the included Portfolius Technology (another development from einstein’s legacy) provides the ability to combine a Playlist’s clips into a single cross-platform, chapter-based movie useful for delivering educational or training materials, presentations or even video podcasting; and
  • External device support – where Playlists can be transferred to a variety of external devices like camcorders, DVD recorders, broadcast devices, or digital processing equipment by simply plugging in the device and selecting the appropriate output.

FrameVault compliments and extends the recording capabilities in QuickTime 7’s Pro Player. FrameVault can be purchased now from einstein’s legacy for US$75. The downloadable demonstration version will work for 10 days without registration.

AJA to host Digital Production BuZZ/Inside Mac Radio at Siggraph

AJA will be hosting the Digital Production BuZZ/Inside Mac Radio live shows from their booth at Siggraph 2005 to bring the highlights of Siggraph to listeners around the world.

The Digital Production BuZZ’s Chief BuZZmeister Philip Hodgetts and Inside Mac Radio’s Scott Sheppard will interview representatives of the most innovative and exciting companies at Siggraph 2005 to bring the latest news on Digital Production, Post Production and Digital Distribution live from the show floor.

"We’re proud to be asociated with AJA because they’re one of the leading manufacturers of high quality and cost effects video hardware for the professional broadcast and post production markets", says Digital Production BuZZ, Chief BuZZmeister Philip Hodgetts.

The shows will come live from the AJA booth, 1918 at Siggraph between 2-3pm Pacific Tuesday 2nd to August 4th, 2005. The shows will be available in the Digital Production BuZZ podcast shortly after the live show. (In iTunes search for "BuZZ" to subscribe to the podcast.) Individual episodes can be downloaded from the archives at the Digital Production BuZZ website.

Adobe Photoshop: Getting Started: Adding Photos to your DV Projects Fix the image resolution and make it NTSC safe

Chapter: Paint, Draw and Design

Topic: Preparing Stills for Video

Digital photographs can add a lot of visual appeal to your video editing projects. Digital photographs can add to the story, and even help to make transitions from one scene to another. While you could build a slideshow in an image editor and convert that slideshow to a video that you can drop onto the Timeline/Storyboard of your editing application, sometimes it is only one image that you need to add to your project.


Synthetik Studio Artist: Studio Artist Workflow: Autorotoscoping – Part 2 Working with source movie alphas

Chapter: Visual and Creative Effects

Topic: Visual Style

In our last jaunt through Synthetik Studio Artist, we took a look at a basic workflow for automatic rotoscoping. The goal was to create a hand-painted effect over a live-action QuickTime movie. This time around we’ll look at a method for working with source footage that contains an alpha channel, including how to set up Studio Artist to deal with alphas, how to use alpha-based masks and incorporate them into a Paint Action Sequence and how to output a final movie with a new alpha channel.


Apple Compressor: Frame Interpolation in Compressor 2: Using 'Optical Flow' to retime video

Chapter: Distribution

Topic: Encoding for Web or ROM

I’ve never written much on the topic of Compressor, Apple’s companion utility that ships with Final Cut Studio. Compressor is, as its name implies, a compression tool (for audio and video), and, as such, it’s always been sort of a no-brainer. Drop in a file; pick your settings; and export the transcoded/compressed movie or sound file. Now, though, in version 2, it has a few extraordinary features worthy of explanation, including its new-found Optical Flow features, which use advanced algorithms for format conversions, including NTSC to PAL, PAL to NTSC, SD to HD, etc.


Silhouette FX announces Silouette Paint

Silhouette FX has announced Silouette Paint, a high dynamic range 2D pain add-on for the highly acclaimed Silhouette Roto application. Silouette Paint is designed to handle the demands of motion picture and television visual effects. It incorporates an innovative approach to high dynamic range paint. Silhouette Paint uses a multi-layered approach to non-destructively apply color, tint, erase, blemish, mosaid and grain brushes in 8 bit, 16 bit or floating point clipos.

Silhouette Paint’s clone brush features are especially powerful. To more exactly match a foreground element, paint sources (clean plates, for example) can be transformed on-the-fly by rotation, scaling, and corner pinning in addition to being offset in time or XY space. Silhouette Roto is designed for image restoration, dust removal, wire and rig removal or creative paint applications. It includes tracking features to track paint to image content.

As an add-on to Silhouette Roto Version 2, Silhouette Paint is tightly integrated with Roto’s shape features such as motion tracking, variable edge softness and realistic motion blur. Brushes can be automatically applied to shape layers which are themselves automatically match moved. Blemishes, for example, can be automatically erased over time with minimal set-up by attaching the blemish brush to a rotoshape tracking the blemish itself.

Silhouette FX will be previewing Silouette Paint at Siggraph (August 2-4) in Los Angeles in booth 2051. Silouette Paint requires Silouette Roto and costs US$495. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.