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ATI Crossfire

In a preview of the next generation of GPU technology, ATI showed their Crossfire technology at the Computex show in Taiwan this week. CrossFire ties two graphics cards together, on an approved PCI Express motherboard with three ways of balancing the load between the two cards. The load can be shared by splitting the screen, rendering alternate frames on each card or using a Supertiling mode.

CrossFire is moderately restrictive and definitely "next generation". It requires an approved Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire-based motherboard using the PCI-Express architecture. The PCI Express architecture puts Graphics cards on the same high speed bus as memory, processor and Input/Output. This means that more than one graphics card can exist on the same system.

With an approved CrossFire motherboard and CrossFire Graphics card, any Radeon X800 PCI Express series card can be used in the configuration – the second card does not have to be a CrossFire card.

Even though the CrossFire architecture requires a PCI Express motherboard, most of the graphics compositing is done with direct connections using a DVI/DMS combination cable. This is similar to the approach taken by NVIDIA with their "Double Graphics Processing", which also relies on a PCI Motherboard (SLI-capable in this case) and two identical NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT, or 6600 GT cards linked together.

MXF Import Component for Final Cut Pro

The MXF Import Component for Final Cut Pro 5, from Flip4Mac, provides direct ingest of MXF content from Sony XD format devices – camcorder, PDW-1500 Deck and eVTR IMX MPEG VCR. The term "ingest" is used deliberately as XDCAM connects via ethernet for ingest – neither digitize nor capture! File transfer is performed over 10/100/1000 Bast T Ethernet connections.

Flip4Mac’s MXF Import Component supports both XDCAM DV and MPEG IMX variations on MXF. Both media formats are wrapped in the MXF wrapper. The MXF wrapper – Material eXchange Format – adds metadata information about the media along with the media. MXF metadata is a subset of AAF – Advanced Authoring Format – metadata focused on source media metadata needs.

MXF import is an important option for Final Cut Pro as the MXF format is being widely adopted in television production. Without support in Final Cut Pro, the editing software would be cut out of consideration for many episodic television shows.

The MXF import component produces a .mov file that can be used for editing in Final Cut Pro from the MXF source.

With the Flip4Mac MXF Import Component you can:

  • Select single or multiple files
  • Rename files
  • Browse Sony devices like a computer device.

The Import Component requires OS X 10.3.9 and QuickTime 7 or greater. The MXF Import Component has a list prices of US$495.

QuickTime 7.0.1 available

QuickTime 7.0.1 includes several bug fixes, as you’d expect from a .0.1 release. For Final Cut Pro Studio users there are improvements related to compatibility there, which would make it a recommended update for Final Cut Pro Studio users. The update includes a Security "enhancement" of unspecified nature. Security enhancements are always recommended updates.

Updating to QuickTime 7 will overwrite the QuickTime Player and require a new Player "Pro" key to be purchased. Rename your QuickTime 6 Player, if you have a Pro key for the Player (so-called "QuickTime Pro") before updating and it will retain the Export and Editing features under QuickTime 7. However, the editing an export features are greatly enhanced in QuickTime 7 Player, making a new Pro key recommended. Final Cut Pro Studio automatically installs a QuickTime Player Pro key.

Digigami ships MegaPEG.X Pro HD 3

In a move against the tide in the industry, Digigami have shipped an encoder for High Definition MPEG-1, which is, according to Digigami CTO, Gen Kiyooka "…the de-facto High Definition Desktop video delivery standard". MPEG-1 is considered the lowest common denominator vidoe standard, pretty much guaranteed to play anywhere, the ability to use it for High Definition work opens up new opportunities for standardized delivery.

Digigami explain that a HD version of MPEG-1 was ratified in the early 1990’s with frame sizes up to 4000 x 4000 pixels and frame rates of 60 fps. Digigami also asserts that the standard MPEG-1 decoding in Macintosh and Windows systems will support HD MPEG-1 decoding, although I would not want to bet the success of a project without testing on target systems.

MPEG-1 is not computationally intensive to decode, so even early G4 and Pentium 3 systems can play it back. Digigami have found that 1280 x 720 at 24 fps can be encoded at less than 5 Mbits/sec average, which is very competitive with H.264.

Digigami’s MegaPEG.X Pro HD 3 certainly pushes the standard for MPEG-1 encoding for standard definition and now High Definition.

ATI adds H.264 decoding to Graphics Card

At the Computex show in Taiwan, ATI have been previewing their R520 Radeon card featuring H.264 playback with hardware acceleration. This card is not yet available and is currently only slated for PC release, but it is indicative of the direction of GPU functionality is headed.

The demonstration showed High Definition 25 Mbits/second H.264 decoded on the GPU hardware of the Radeon 520 in a Pentium 4 3.6 GHz system. H.264 is particularly heavy in its decode requirements – Apple specify a 1.8 GHz G5 as the minimum specification for H.264 High Definition playback, although acceptable performance for 720 P H.264 playback can be had with dual 1.25 GHz G4 machines. No single processor G4 or G3 plays HD H.264 material adequately.

H.264 playback is important in the future as both HD DVD and Blu-ray high density optical discs have specified H.264 as one of the supported video formats, along with MPEG-2 and VC-1. Using hardware acceleration for decoding frees the CPU for other processing tasks.

ATI expect to have an H.264 accelerated player available by the end of 2005 and may bring the H.264 acceleration to older GPUs.

Adobe Photoshop: Spot Healing in Adobe Photoshop CS2: Part 1 – Simple blemish removal

Chapter: Paint, Draw and Design

Topic: Paint or Draw Basics

Forget the Clone tool and Healing brush for blemish removal. The latest advance in this process is the new Spot Healing brush introduced in Photoshop CS2. Designed as a sort of one-click quick fix, the Spot Healing brush is, nevertheless, an extremely powerful tool that will allow you not only to clean up simple flaws in your subject, but also resurface large, complex areas and even remove objects altogether from your images.†


Autodesk Combustion: Combustion 4 Everyone – Part 4: Timewarp Time remapping made easy

Chapter: Compositing Tools and Techniques

Topic: Speed Effects

Combustion 4 now includes Timewarp, a fully functionally time-remapping operator that has the ability to keyframe time changes.† With Timewarp you can speed up, slow down, freeze, or even play footage backwards cleanly and easily.† If you are familiar with time remapping in other applications, then this feature should be easily recognizable.† If you are not familiar with this concept, follow along to see how it works.

TAGS: remap, time

Adobe After Effects: Sapphire Tutorial for Final Cut Pro and After Effects

Chapter: Visual and Creative Effects

Topic: Visual Effects Training

This tutorial contains a sampling of some of the main effects that comprise Sapphire Plug-ins.† Once you become familiar with these and their associated parameters, we hope you’ll be more confident and knowledgeable in dealing with the rest of the effects in the package.


GenArts Sapphire: Sapphire Tutorial for Final Cut Pro and After Effects

Chapter: Visual and Creative Effects

Topic: Visual Effects Training

This tutorial contains a sampling of some of the main effects that comprise Sapphire Plug-ins.† Once you become familiar with these and their associated parameters, we hope you’ll be more confident and knowledgeable in dealing with the rest of the effects in the package.


So, you want to get your feet wet, but not your camcorder

Chapter: Image Acquisition

Topic: Camera Mounts

You’re a scuba diver and you want to start shooting underwater video to entertain your friends and associates, enter film festivals and competitions or simply to extend the diversity of your shooting skills.