NAB 2007 From the Sidelines

The Apple and Mac application user community basked in the announcements from The National Association of Broadcasters 2007 Electronic Media Show (NAB2007). Participating in the NAB2007 show from a distance gives one an opportunity to forage the web for podcasts, webcasts, blogs, and news from the show. Final Cut Studio 2 will once again transform the industry with an impressive toolset including the new applications Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack Pro 2, Color, Cinema Tools 4, and Compressor 3, along with stalwart applications DVD Studio Pro 4 and LiveType 2.

The Final Cut Studio 2 suite introduces long requested features like surround sound, 3D support, and a post production HD codec, which Apple calls ProRes 422. Apple leveraged its intellectual property acquisitions like Shake and Logic to bolster it’s core Final Cut Studio 2 products. As Final Cut Pro burst the barriers to afford HD, Apple Color may just open the door to color grading for the rest of us. Previous systems working on 2K digital intermediates like Autodesk Lustre, IRIDAS SpeedGrade, and Silicon Color FinalTouch started at $24,995 and with control surfaces and hardware requirements easily topped $100,000 value, but Apple in its pursuit to make high end production tools affordable, decided to include Color, based on the FinalTouch acquisition, in the Final Cut Studio for no premium beyond the $1,299 asking price (upgrades begin at $499).

Other developers like Avid, Adobe, and Autodesk have various product support for Mac OS X, but none can compare to the value and tight integration of the Final Cut Studio 2 bundle.

For your Listening, Watching, and Reading Pleasure

Software Announcements
Apple Final Cut Studio 2
Adobe NAB2007 Webcast
Microsoft NAB2007 Site

Hardware Announcements
Panasonic NAB2007 USA Site
Panasonic NAB2007 Global Site
Sony Virtual NAB2007 Tradeshow
Sony NAB2007 Global Site

Color Grading Software
Apple Color
IRIDAS SpeedGrade
Autodesk Lustre
Autodesk IBC Lustre Demonstration

Post Production Codec
Apple ProRes 422 White Paper
Avid DNxHD
CineForm CineForm Intermediate

NAB2007 Blogs
Avid Savannah College of Art and Design Blog
Zoom-In NAB2007 Blog
HD for Indies Blog
Digital Content Producer NAB2007 Blogs
FreshDV Video NAB2007 Blog
CineForm Insider Blog

NAB2007 Podcasts
Digital Production Buzz NAB2007 Podcasts
fxguide NAB2007 Day 01 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 02 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 03 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 04 Podcast

NAB 2006 Wrap-Up

2006 ushers in the year of affordable high quality high definition (HD) capture, edit, and output, with all the pieces finally becoming widely available. Camera manufacturers large and small showed off their wears to the marketplace. The very largest electronics vendors had monstrous booths with entry pavilion theaters with breathtaking visuals. Sony Electronics featured their 4K SXRD projectors with a spectacular 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution. Sony showcased the 70 mm film Baraka, by Ron Fricke, with scenes of Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey) and volcanoes. Matsushita Electric Industrial under their Panasonic brand headlined the versatility, workflow, and color accuracy of the AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD solid state camcorder. NHK showcased the North American premiere of Super Hi-vision with an astounding 7680 x 4320 pixels, for a near IMAX experience with digital cinema.

The entry into the HD realm starts with 720p, followed by 1080p, and then reaches into the stratosphere with 2K, 4K, and 8K systems. JVC previewed the GY-HD200U a 720p camcorder and Panasonic celebrated the 720p and 1080p AG-HVX200 camcorder. Sony delivered on the 1080i XDCAM HD series, and RED digital cinema promoted a future 4K RED ONE camera.

On the post production side, Mac based editing solutions include Avid and Apple. Compositing software is more diverse with Apple Shake, Boris FX Blue and Red, Autodesk Combustion, and Adobe After Effects. With the rapid move toward Universal applications and Intel based workstations, every software vendor is rapidly moving toward the PowerPC and Intel binaries, but no one faster the Apple Computer. Already Final Cut Studio and very soon Shake will be fully qualified on the Power Mac G5 series, MacBook Pro series, and future platforms.

NAB HD 2006 poster
NAB HD 2006 poster
apple NAB 2006 booth HD
apple NAB 2006 booth HD
panasonic NAB 2006 booth AG-HVX200
panasonic NAB 2006 booth AG-HVX200
century optics NAB 2006 booth fisheye adapter on panasonic HVX200
century optics NAB 2006 booth fisheye adapter on panasonic HVX200
DSC labs NAB 2006 booth test charts
DSC labs NAB 2006 booth test charts
RED digital cinema NAB 2006 booth RED ONE prototype
RED digital cinema NAB 2006 booth RED ONE prototype
las vegas strip looking west from wynn
las vegas strip looking west from wynn

Only Final Cut Studio

Final Cut Studio 2 Box

Earlier this month Apple Computer revealed a new direction in the Final Cut Studio roadmap. In view of the release of the Adobe Production Studio, Apple made a majority of their Pro Applications into an all or none bundle. Previous editions of Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Soundtrack Pro stood as individual applications, but as of now are available only as part of the $1299 Final Cut Studio integrated suite. Shake, Logic Pro, and Aperture continue to be sold as stand alone tools.

Apple also announced the introduction of the Universal version of Final Cut Studio available by the end of march 2006 for a $49 upgrade fee, just in time for NAB in Las Vegas. Historically, Apple has used the NAB show in late April to showcase the development of the Final Cut Studio. In 2004, Apple and Panasonic stunned the high definition world with the introduction of the DVCPRO HD native codec into a Final Cut Pro timeline. In 2005 apple revealed Soundtrack Pro, and a tighter fusion of the Final Cut Studio applications. 2006 should be an interesting time for Apple as they prepare their software for both powerPC and Intel chip architectures.

Final Cut Studio box image courtesy of Apple.

Apple Delivers First Intel Mac

It’s 2006 and the wait is over for the next generation Intel and Apple products. The many months of anticipation brings some interesting news. Intel used the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as it’s launching point for the Core Duo processor, based on the Pentium M processor. The two cores can process information simultaneously, or used by the operating system to extend multitasking for rapid media creation.

The Core Duo was designed for high performance, but at low power, extending the life of a portable computer, or reducing the cooling load on a lightweight desktop. At CES 2006, Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel, announced the rapid adoption of the Core Duo technology. It took Intel one year to ship the first one millionth Pentium processor, but plans to ship the one millionth Core Duo processors in just three weeks.

Core Duo will land in Microsoft Windows PC’s, the new media platform called VIIV, and the newest family of Apple Computer products called MacBook Pro and iMac. In previous incarnations of high penetration desktop and laptop computers, the highest volume processors included the Pentium and PowerPC lines of chips, but with Apple coming aboard the Intel train, only AMD stands alone.

In June 2005, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, announced that every version of Mac OS X since its inception has been compiled and performance tested to run of both PowerPC and Intel processors. In order for Mac developers to reap the full benefits of the Intel transition, a new type of application called a Universal Binary will have to be delivered, which will have the ability to run natively on either a PowerPC or Intel architecture. Applications from legacy PowerPC systems will run using a code translation technology called Rosetta.

At Macworld 2006, Apple released the Core Duo iMac and Core Duo MacBook Pro. Each machine shares the same family of graphics engine, the ATI Radeon X1600 GPU, and both have memory expandable to 2 GB. Both systems have a built in iSight cameras for video conferencing, quick snapshots, or rudimentary podcasting. The performance increase from previous systems is astounding, with at least 2X performance increase on the iMac and perhaps as much as 4X increase on the MacBook Pro as compared to the PowerBook G4. Apple has two major product leaps.

macworld 2006 intel universal binaries
macworld 2006 intel universal binaries
macworld 2006 apple booth banner
macworld 2006 apple booth banner
iCES 2006 intel keynote dual core advantage
iCES 2006 intel keynote dual core advantage
macworld 2006
macworld 2006

High Performance & Energy Efficient Computing

In the history of computation, electrical power consumption has been on the bottom of the stack in the marketing campaign of Intel, AMD, IBM, and other semiconductor chip fabricators. We’ve all heard about the MHz and GHz wars between Pentium, Athlon, PowerPC, Itanium, and Opteron computer processors. Over the last decade the performance of microprocessors has gone up many fold, usually exceeding Moore’s Law, and likewise following Rock’s Law.

The marketplace of ideas contracted as processor companies folded, or merged. Today we have three major high performance high volume microprocessor manufacturers, and a new era of computing at each. IBM uses the Power Architecture, Intel has the Xeon line, and AMD has the Opteron line of 64-bit (sometimes called x64) dual-core chips. Several factors facilitated the move to multi-core, but the greatest achievement was the move from 130 nm production to the 90 nm process.

Working in such a small production environment allows multiple processors on a single die, which essentially permits nearly double the performance on a dual processor configuration. In the future expect more than two cores on a die, but at the electrical power expense of a single core. In 2006, chip vendors hope to move to 65 nm processes, that will allow even more cores onto the same space as the older 130 and 90 nm designs.

This describes the break from the GHz run-up, instead of a single 10 GHz chip, produce quad-core 2.5 GHz chips with equal or better performance, and at at least a quarter of the electrical requirements. Today, Xeon processors take 110 W per core, Opteron 90 W per core, and PowerPC 55 W per core. A new metric is being developed called performance per watt, and multiple system integrators are working on the problem with next generation chips.

Sun Microsystems is first out with a low power dual-core dual-processor system, the 1U Sun Fire X4100 Server, which also reduces power consumption by using SAS 2.5 inch hard drives. Anticipate other vendors like Dell, IBM, and even Apple Computer to explore energy efficient designs to reduce electrical consumption from carbon combustion fuel generating stations.

In the coming months Apple will most likely release a dual-core Xserve G5, along with a future Intel based Xserve. Apple currenty ships a dual-core Power Mac G5 Dual workstation and soon to release the quad-core Power Mac G5 Quad.

IBM power microprocessor
IBM power microprocessor

Mac News Sites

Apart from Apple Computer, very many Mac news resources exist on the web. Review this short list of the top sites for your daily Mac technology and information frameworks for your workflows and pipelines.

Daily Mac News
MacBidouille in English
The Mac Observer

Technology News
DMN Newswire
impress PC Watch

Mac Forums
Creative Cow
Digital Video Information Network
2-POP forums
DMN Forums

Window vs. Mac War Over?

Using computers and information technology (IT) in general comes at a great price. It may consume electricity, human power, or intellectual curiosity. To become good at using something, usually takes many repeat failures and certainly many hours of study and operation.

In the IT space, just two major companies control the worldwide computer desktop: Microsoft with it’s Windows operating system, and second runner up Apple Computer with Mac OS X. Sure, niche players like Sun Microsystems Solaris, Red Hat Linux, or SUSE Linux are available, but are not being distributed on millions of desktops every fiscal quarter. So far there have been at least six releases of Windows counting all the way back from Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Microsoft recently announced Windows Vista, to be released sometime in early 2007. All of these operating systems has evolved from the earlier release, and as the adoption rate increased worldwide, so did the various problems.

Apple Computer has released five Mac OS X products: Mac OS X Cheetah, Mac OS X Puma, Mac OS X Jaguar, Mac OS X Panther, and Mac OS X Tiger. Apple recently announced Mac OS X Leopard, to be releases sometime in future, probably in mid 2007. In the early days of desktop computing, there was a rapid one-upping, as each company bundled features, services, and support to hold parity. Prior to Mac OS X, under the Mac OS Classic environment (i.e., Mac OS 8 or Mac OS 9) there was competition, but with the release of Mac OS X, and especially after Mac OS X Jaguar, Apple pulled ahead and had never looked back.

The investment in Mac OS X is paying off now, as very high level support is now included in the operating system for OpenGL, content creation, and visualization unheard of in previous releases.
Apple Computer Mac OS X Development Milestones
Date Event
12/20/1996 | Apple Announced NeXT Deal
09/13/2000 | Mac OS X Beta Available
03/24/2001 | Mac OS X Cheetah 10.0 Available
09/29/2001 | Mac OS X Puma 10.1 Available
08/24/2002 | Mac OS X Jaguar 10.2 Available
10/23/2003 | Mac OS X Panther 10.3 Available
04/28/2005 | Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 Available
Q2/Q3 2007 | Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 Available

With added services also came added security. There is not a single instance of a Mac OS X virus released in the wild to take down Mac machines. On the Windows platform, it’s a regular spectator sport to see how many machine go down on a weekly basis due to spyware, malware, and computer viruses.

Operating system viruses and spyware cripple machines on the Windows side consistently. Antivirus and antispyware tools are not just available, but essential subscription based software to get the machines up and running on a daily basis. In a hypothetical scenario (actual hardware prices are today very competitively priced when performance is compared, i.e., oranges to oranges), if a company saves 10% to 20% on the initial purchase of commodity x86 hardware (or AMD), capable of running Microsoft Windows software, and in the course of the machines life gets hit not by one virus, but by multiple viruses, how much money was actually saved? It may be that the liabilities associated with the commodity hardware and a ubiquitous operating system like Windows actually cost 50% more than a Apple Power Mac G5 or iMac G5 networked system, when the cost of virus software, added security programs, salaries of MCSE technicians and engineers, and the regular system corruptions due to hackers and virus authors are taken into account.