General Specialist

2011-01-27

Show Reel 2011 Posted



A quick collection of some of my broadcast work for SVT, including motion graphics, design, 3D, time-lapse photography, set design, virtual sets, visual effects and more. You can view it in full SD resolution on Vimeo.


- Jonas

Labels: , ,

2010-04-10

See What I Find at NAB 2010




I'm at the NAB 2010 show all week, and want to share what I find. Head over to http://generalspecialist.posterous.com/ where I'll post everything that's worth seeing!

PS. If you're at NAB, give me a call at +46-733-970000 or check my Twitter feeds at @hummelstrand and @CasparCG

- Jonas

Labels: , ,

Just Released: Free and Open Source Broadcast Graphics Server

Free and Open SourceWe’ve finally released the new version 1.8.0b4 of the CasparCG system, a broadcast graphics system that plays QuickTime and Flash out to SDI, HD-SDI, HDMI and DVI.
Download installers, source code and tools from http://casparcg.com/

Labels: , , ,

2010-01-20

Great stroll down After Effects' memory lane

Thanks to Matt Silverman for posting this great video with an informal talk by three of the engineers of Adobe After Effects.

SFMOGRAPH - After Effects Team from Matt Silverman on Vimeo.



- Jonas

Labels:

2008-12-11

Patches for After Effects CS4 and Premiere Pro CS4



Don't miss the updates!

After Effects 9.0.1 patch for Mac OS X
After Effects 9.0.1 patch for Windows
Read me file (PDF)

Premiere Pro 4.0.1 patch for Mac OS X
Premiere Pro 4.0.1 patch for Windows
Read me file (PDF)


Here's the goodies from the read me files:


Notable fixes in the Adobe After Effects CS4 9.0.1 patch:

  • Miscellaneous performance improvements with MediaCore video formats.
  • General improvements to Dynamic Link workflows.
  • Mocha AE doesn’t read v210 QuickTime files correctly. (49015)
  • On some systems, the application may suspend rendering when the display turns off due
    to power management or screen saver settings. (49146)
  • All Render Queue items are removed when opening or importing a saved project in which the first item has no comment, but other Render Queue items have comments. (49186)
  • Crash using “Open Layer” when multiple layers are selected if one of the selected layers does not have a source or has a collapsed transformation. (49207)
  • Auto-save is marking a project as saved; user can close project without being prompted to save changes, and multiprocessing can return old frames. (49209)
  • (Windows only) Custom eyedroppers in keying effects pick up wrong colors when clicked in custom thumbnail. (49248)
  • Exposure effect: negative offset values render garbage/underflow in 8bpc and 16bpc. (49294)
  • Puppet Tool: For a 3D layer, results are being clipped to layer bounds. (49267)
  • Importing a still sequence via Recent Footage imports only a single still instead of a sequence. (49265)
  • For some OpenGL effects in 32bpc projects, overbright colors are getting clipped.(1893997)
  • When the “Write XMP IDs to Files on Import” option is selected, MediaCore playback can make some files appear out of sync. (1880742)
  • Application may appear to hang for several minutes “Reading XMP markers from footage” (status message) with files that contain deeply nested metadata. (1874477)



New in the Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1 patch:
  • OMF export
  • Final Cut Pro import
  • Edit in Audition (Windows only)
  • Surcode support
  • AAF import and export
  • High quality motion
  • Third-party support


Notable fixes in the Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1 patch:
  • Attempting to trim locked tracks results in a crash (#1888355)
  • Crash on Win and error on Mac when using Numpad-Asterisk keys to generate marker when
    playing in Program Pane when Effect Controls pane is closed (#1890626)
  • Crash when the Metadata panel is brought into focus when a DVCPro HD clip is selected
    (#1884633)
  • When a filter/search is applied in the Metadata Panel and then a different asset is selected, the
    filter does not update (#1876954)
  • Custom schema causes Adobe Premiere Pro to crash performing many basic operations,
    starting with New Project (#1888938)
  • Render of transition in imported EDL-based sequence fails; on Mac, causes application to hang
    indefinitely, user must be force-quit application (#1873434)
  • After ASND is saved, an effect is always ON if it turns OFF while playing (#1864978)
  • Crash when attempting to load a project that contains a composition if headless Adobe
    Premiere Pro is serving Adobe After Effects (#1871578)
  • Exporting video as MPEG 4 will create a video file that imports at the incorrect length
    (#1851063)
  • Trimming both ends of a clip, then moving the clip will cause looped playback to be silent, or
    only playback portions of the clip (#1868409)
  • When exporting a timeline containing cuepoints, deleting a cue point via AME Batch-> Export
    Settings, the cue point is still present in the output file (#1866690)
  • Playing an audio-only file in the source monitor will cause the application to lock up (#1887330)
  • Exporting any MT session as 24bit WAV leads to garbled audio – Mac only (#1881684)
  • Adobe Premiere Pro allocates too much memory and reads too much data from disk when
    loading project files on the Mac (#1890579)
  • With camera connected, opening clip from Timeline into Source and selecting File  Debug
    results in a serious error (#1889197)
  • Export to tape is active from DVCPRO HD sequences (#1863718)
  • Application intermittently crashes when exporting a movie (#1868405)
  • Render and Replace of offline clips takes over 20 minutes (#1885273)
  • Application crashes when cancelling “Normalize Audio Track” dialog (#1887615)
  • When an AVCHD clip is inserted into a DV timeline with Scale to Frame Size applied, rendered
    previews of the clip show artifacts during Timeline playback (#1863988)
  • Using scale to frame size in a timeline lowers output quality and softens detail and sharpness;
    typing in scale attributes manually or using Adobe After Effects produces much better results
    (#1527669)
  • Multiplexed MPEG files exported to HD size and then imported back in to Adobe Premiere Pro
    show up as 601 color space instead of 709 color space and hence the colors of the imported
    files are off (#1852977)

Known issues in the Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1 patch:
  • Important note: if you are using the Elemental Technologies RapiHD plug-in, you must update
    to the latest version in order to use Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.0.1. You can update the plug-in
    by visiting the Elemental Technologies web page: http://www.rapihd.com/?q=node/129.
  • Re-installing Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.0.0 after it has been patched will generate an error
    dialog at the end of the installation. This dialog can be ignored.
  • Uninstalling Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 after CS4 is installed will result in AME exports in CS4 to
    fail with ‘Could not read from the source’. Creating a shortcut named Premiere alongside the
    dynamiclinkmanager.exe that points to the Premiere.exe will fix the problem.
  • When converting Final Cut Pro project with Color correction applied, the color correction will be
    incorrect within Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • When converting Final Cut Pro project with Bins, the bins do not appear in Adobe Premiere Pro
    unless selected in the Final Cut Pro xml export.
  • Multicamera enable sequence with HDV clips does not playback as normal; severe drop frame
    or stopping playback occurs
  • Audio in a nested 16 channel sequence does not simultaneously playback all of its audio tracks
    in the Source Monitor.
  • File>Adobe Dynamic Link>Send to Encore selection is available when a 16 channel sequence
    is selected; however, Adobe Encore does not support 16 channel sequences.
  • File>Export>Export to OMF... selection is grayed when the Audio Mixer Panel is selected on the
    Mac.
  • File>Export>Export to EDL... selection is grayed when the Audio Mixer Panel is selected on the
    Mac.
  • 5.1 sequences use output mapping from the stereo channel column of the Preferences>Audio
    Output Mapping dialog when the audio device selected from the Map Output for menu has less
    than 6 channels.
  • All 16 channels of a 16 channel sequence are summed to mono without attenuation when
    exported as media when Audio>Basic Audio Settings>Channels is set to Mono.
  • Both odd and even numbered channels of a 16 channel sequence are summed to both stereo
    channels when exported as media when Audio>Basic Audio Settings>Channels is set to Stereo.
  • 16-channel selection does not appear in the Export Settings dialog Basic Audio Settings
    Channels menu when a 16-channel sequence is selected.
  • All channels of a 16 channel sequence are summed to Ls, Rs and Center channels when
    exported as media when Audio>Basic Audio Settings>Channels is set to 5.1.
  • Setting the Optimize Rendering preference to “Memory” is highly recommended when Max
    Quality or Max Bit Depth rendering is on. These settings are designed for high performance
    systems. Please check Adobe Online Support for recommended system requirements.
  • Loading an existing project with a P2 sequence that is missing media may cause a crash.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro crashes when importing AAF from Avid if it contains references to clips
    with OMF audio (WAVE or AIFF).
  • AAF may not provide consistent results for complex projects in formats other than DV or HDV.
- Jonas

Labels: ,

RED Finally Cuts in Adobe Apps


While RED has published a picture of the Premiere Pro 1.0 box on their RED Adobe CS4 Installer (beta) page, you'll actually need the newly released version 4.0.1 of Premiere Pro CS4 and version 9.0.1 of After Effects CS4.

The system requirements aren't exactly designed for the famed "soccer mom's" of this world; you'll need to have a 3.0 GHz quad-core system, at least 8 GB of RAM and a 64-bit OS such as OS X or Vista 64 if you want to work comfortably, but using lower resolutions with lesser machines will work as well.

Dave Helmly has posted a video workflow (but could someone please help the guy with the design?)

- Jonas

Labels: , , , ,

2008-12-04

RED's Latest Line-up

The December 3rd updates to RED's earlier announcements seem to be moving in the right direction. However, I can't really figure out if we will be able to get a 2/3-inch Cinema Scarlet sensor with interchangeable lens mounts.
If we can mount 3rd-party lenses to it, with a REDhandle, a viewfinder (BombEVF?) and a recording module the price would presumably be in the vicinity of the $3,750 of the 2/3-inch 8X Fixed Zoom complete kit.

- Jonas

Labels: , ,

2008-11-14

Why the RED cameras won't be seen at pool parties

If RED was aiming their new Scarlet to be a "DSLR killer," they missed the mark, unfortunately.

I love what RED is doing to the dinosaurs of the camera business, but I was hoping that a Scarlet would replace my prosumer gear and give me new possibilities. Unless the Scarlet with the fixed lens is dirt-cheap I don't see me getting it.

Instead RED's proposed system may well be a revolution for motion camera design principles with the sensor being decoupled from the rest of the gear, but this current design won't mean anything for me based on these factors:
  1. Stills resolution
    For still images the 2/3" Scarlet's resolution is just 4.9 mega-pixels where at least 8 MP or more was needed to become a usable alternative to any cheap DSLR. You need to go up to the S35 sensor to get 13.8 MP.
  2. Movie resolution
    No doubt this is where all RED systems excel, and the 2/3" sensor's 3K sounds like a sweet spot where the data rate is still manageable while you will still have the ability to crop or down-sample to HD / 2K. However, I'm pretty happy to get 1080p out of my cheap rig or from a Nikon D90 or a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (which are just the first versions of what will surely become standard features of traditional DSLRs.)
  3. Frame rate
    The great 120 fps frame rate available in the 2/3" sensor drops down to a mere 30 fps in the other Scarlet sensors (unless you crop in on the sensor and loose resolution and DOF,) which is a bit of a disappointment. Being able to over-crank to get beautiful slow-mo has always been a dream of mine...
  4. Lenses
    You also need to go up to the S35-sized sensor to be able to attach readily available still camera lenses from Nikon and Canon, which suddenly brings us to the next point:
  5. Price
    Just the S35 sensor and mount for still lenses bring the price up to $7,000, without a viewfinder or any accessories. That's a far cry from something that a prosumer could justify spending on a camera body, considering Canon's and Nikon's bodies which go for under $2,500. If you get the 2/3" sensor you need to get new lenses with special mounts.
  6. Shallow depth-of-field
    The 2/3" sensor is so small (see Stu Maschwitz's sensor cheat sheet) that you won't get the cinematic shallow depth-of-field and bokeh that we all love, without putting a DOF adaptor and additional lenses in front of the 2/3" Scarlet. A super-16-sized sensor is way better most current video cameras (many features have been shot on super-16,) but it's not comparable with the size and look of a DSLR, even those with APS-C-sized sensors like the Canon 30D.
I was hoping for "3K for $3K": a camera body that would do 2K or more at at least 75 fps with a still camera lens mount and shallow depth-of-field-look, and at least same stills resolution that my old Canon 30D had. I guess I'll have to wait another couple of years...

- Jonas

Labels: , ,

2008-10-09

Learn VFX from the Masters of the Universe


The world's best supervisors including John Knoll, Scott Squires, John Dykstra, Pablo Helman, Dennis Murren, Mike Fink, Ken Ralson and Kim Libreri are part of a course in the new term at fxphd.com. Imagine learning stuff from the people behind such milestones as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars I to VI, Wargames, Back to the Future, The Abyss, Indiana Jones, Terminator 2 & 3, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean and many more of the films that have shaped the last decades.


You already know how much I can recommend fxphd, and the new term is even better than the last one. Make sure you look at the overview movie.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term starts on October 13 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

I've been swamped with work, so I still have a couple of courses left from the last term to watch (a tip: convert the classes so you can watch them on a portable media player of your choice; I watch classes in bed while waiting for the kids to fall asleep.)

This new term I'll be taking the DIT course, the new RED course and either Mark Christiansen's AE course or Tim Clapham's AE+C4D course. I wish I had time to dig into the Fusion course as well, but we'll see how it goes.


Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

Labels: , , , , , ,

2008-10-08

Watch and Embed YouTube Clips in High Quality

The term "High Quality" has to be taken with a bucket of salt when we're talking about YouTube, but there's an easy way to at least lessen the compression artifacts, which is especially useful for full-screen viewing. Even a lot of clips that don't have the "Watch in High Quality" link on the page actually exists in a less compressed version.

If you are watching the clip at YouTube.com, just add &fmt=18 at the end of the URL. The easiest way to do this is the create a bookmark in your browser's toolbar. Just bookmark any site and then replace the URL of the bookmark's Location with this simple JavaScript: javascript:window.location+="&fmt=18";
Every time you're at YouTube you can just click the bookmark to see the clip with less compression (if it's available, otherwise the standard clip will play.)

See the difference for yourself:


If you embed videos, you can do the same thing and even embed a larger version, but you have to append &ap=%2526fmt%3D18 to both URL's in the code, plus change the sizes in both places to 480 by 360.





You can also watch YouTube videos with QuickTime embedded player if you'd like, and easily download the clips (if you have QuickTime Player Pro.)


- Jonas

Tip of the hat to My Digital Life and Tobias Lind.

Labels: , ,

2008-08-29

ProRes 422 Codec Finally Cross-platform (Sorta...)

Before you get all excited about the Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder 1.0 for Windows, let's remember that you can only render to ProRes 422 if you're on a Mac and have Final Cut Studio 2 installed. If you don't you'll be in the same boat as the Windows users and will need to install the Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder 1.0 for Mac.

So, for true cross-platform goodness you'll still be better off with the free (and in size and quality similar or better) Avid DNxHD codec that also supports an alpha channel.

ProRes 422 White Paper

- Jonas

Labels: , , ,

2008-08-16

After Effects CS4 Will Not Work on PPC Macs

The next version of After Effects (CS4) is dropping support for PPC Macs. While this may upset some people, I think it's better to spend development effort on new features and an improved software rather than supporting legacy hardware.

A cheap PC or Mac that will run AE just as fast or faster than an old top-of-the-line PPC Mac costs under $600. If you don't want to upgrade your hardware you'll need to stay on After Effects CS3 (but remember it won't be sold anymore once CS4 is shipping.)

Read more about the reasoning behind focusing on the newer platforms on Product Manager Michael Coleman's blog.

- Jonas
Photo by Dan Dickinson

Labels:

2008-08-13

Importing RED (.r3d) Files Into After Effects CS3 and Premiere Pro CS3

UPDATE 2: It's been a long wait, but it now looks like the plugins will be released on Nov 20th 2008.

UPDATE: Here's a sneak peak from Adobe with RED including workflow videos.

According to Jim Jannard of RED, they will soon release a plug-in that will let users of Adobe After Effects CS3 and Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 import the raw files from the RED camera(s).

- Jonas

Labels: , , ,

2008-08-04

Building a Pro Camera Crane / Jib, part 1

I was once told that my favorite interest seemed to be collecting hobbies. That may be truer than I'd like to admit, and for the last six months I've added yet a new project to all my previous (unfinished) tinkerings.

I have a Basic Stamp micro-controller and USB programming board left over from another project that I never finished. One day I realized that a fun use for it would be to build a joystick-controlled pan/tilt camera head that could be placed on the end of a camera crane.

After 30 minutes with a search engine I realized that buying a ready-made crane was out of the question, as the ones I found cost several thousand dollars. Working at a TV broadcaster I have first-hand access to professional jibs and saw that they weren't as mechanically complicated as I had initially thought. I imagined the hard part would be controlling the camera head with a joystick. As the build have progressed I have come to understand that I had seriously underestimated the amount of mechanical work required.

My initial plan was to built a jib with a total length of 3 meter, based on that I found two light and sturdy metallic pipes (25 mm in diameter) in a local hardware store. These would be used as a parallelogram so that the camera head would always be vertical no matter how the jib was raised or lowered. With an arm of that length it would also be easy to fit the jib inside a car.

As the project has progressed I've abandoned these pipes for two reasons. Firstly I've found it hard to fasten the six ball-bearings to these pipes, since they aren't very sturdy and I wouldn't be able to make holes in them without weakening them too much. And secondly, I got megalomania and realized I wanted a longer arm that could still be stuffed into a car, so I decided to abandon the cheap pipes and go with two 3 meter long pieces of rectangular aluminum tube that could be assembled into a 5 meter crane. An added bonus is that the length of the arm can be shortened if necessary.

Using a single arm means that I need to use two pulleys with a wire between them. One pulley will be fastened to the camera head and the other to the tripod mount.

Without a sturdy tripod as a base, the jib would become wobbly and unstable. Luckily I found a great Manfrotto tripod with a fluid video head and detachable dolly wheels on Swedish ebay. You can't complain about the price: $200 including shipping!

To attach the arm to the tripod I've bought a heavy construction bracket used for securing wooden beams. All I had to do was to chop off the protruding flanges and drill a hole for the tripod mounting screw. I'll even be able to use the pre-drilled holes to fasten the axle!

The controller is housed in the clear acrylic case from an iPod Shuffle and is made up of a 9V battery, a Basic Stamp BS2p24 and a Pololu DC Motor Controller. Power to the motors come from an external 6V lead-acid battery that will be used as part of the counter-weight on the arm. The joystick is from a Sony PlayStation 2 and I'm using three potentiometers that will be used as separate pan and tilt speed adjustments plus a zero-point sensitivity adjustment. The code is still pretty rough, but I've added a routine that sets the zero-point of the joystick at boot time. I'll publish the source-code when everything is working, if anyone's interested.

As a camera I'm using my Canon HV-20 with a RedRock Micro M2 lens adapter with a used follow-focus (thanks to ebay again!) Unfortunately the HV-20 doesn't have a LANC port so I'm using a 5 meter long optical fiber to send the IR remote signal from the back of the jib. A bit of a hack, but this is a rebel-style jib after all!

Yes, I know that with only one joystick I don't yet have focus control, but based on previous experience I've chosen to complete version 1.0 before adding any more features. The motor controller can only be connected to two motors, but with my follow-focus I can easily attach a servo to the gear and control that directly from the Basic Stamp.


- So what will it be used for? you ask. Well, now we get into serious denial-territory. I've tried to justify the time and money spent so far with being able to sell really cool shots at iStockPhoto from our upcoming trip to the Norwegian coast , but lately I've come to terms with the fact that I just need the challenge.


I'll keep posting with more pictures as I get closer to final assembly!


- Jonas

Labels: , ,

2008-07-22

Even More Great VFX Courses

I've been on a long vacation, so I haven't had a chance to write about the new term. I won't bore regular readers who already know how much I can recommend fxphd.

Here's a complete list of available courses. The term started on July 14 2008, but you can join later and have access to all the classes you've signed up for.

If you want to know more about fxphd, take a look at the fxphd Tour Movie. There's also a great FAQ.

I think I'll choose AFX302 - After Effects Masters, C4D202 - Cinema4D and After Effects in Production and DRK301 - VFX and Indie Films.

Oh, if you enter humlan in the Referring Member field on the signup page, I'll get an extra class, which would be really nice. Thanks in advance!

- Jonas

Labels: , , ,

2008-05-11

Phun and Typography 2.0

Not enough distractions? Here's a couple of ways to seriously kill your productivity:


Phun: Real-time Physics Sandbox




FontStruct: Online Typography Editor


And when you're done, make sure you watch Animator vs. Animation part 1
and Animator vs. Animation part 2.
- Jonas

Labels: ,