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Andrew Kimery
OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 23, 2015 at 8:16:01 pm

"SMPTE, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, announced earlier this month that they have standardized GoPro's CineForm codec, dubbing it ST 2073 VC-5, the new open standard for video acquisition and post production."

http://nofilmschool.com/2015/06/gopros-cineform-now-industry-standard-codec

Might this become one widely used, cross platform, high quality codec to rule them all? ProRes is becoming ubiquitous but AFAIK it's still not a smooth ride if you are running Windows, and Avid has been doing a lot with DNx but many (most?) people think it's an Avid-only solution even though it's less tied down than ProRes is.


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David Lawrence
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 23, 2015 at 9:42:32 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "Might this become one widely used, cross platform, high quality codec to rule them all? ProRes is becoming ubiquitous but AFAIK it's still not a smooth ride if you are running Windows, and Avid has been doing a lot with DNx but many (most?) people think it's an Avid-only solution even though it's less tied down than ProRes is."

It's great news. I've spent the past year working in Cineform for a stereo 3D short project. Image quality is outstanding and active metadata allows for very efficient workflows.

Unfortunately, with this news comes the EOL of the GoPro Studio Pro and Premium products:

http://cineform.com

The handwriting has been on the wall for some time since it's been a while since the last upgrade and these products are still very buggy on the Mac. It's unclear to me if Cineform active metadata is in the VC-5 spec and what tools will be available to manipulate it in the future. Hopefully it's still supported.

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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:56:39 am
Last Edited By Walter Soyka on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:35:38 pm

I've been a big CineForm fan for a while now, using it daily for years. Seeing it ratified as a standard is very gratifying.

(rant on)

Sadly, I don't have a high degree of confidence that CineForm will unseat ProRes. Without starting a discussion with David of whether the project file is the true digital master, our industry as a whole has ceded control of our output files (what would have traditionally been called masters) to Apple.

It's been the classic frog-boiling scenario, going back to FCP Legend where ProRes was the only way to work. Apple has been freely making hardware (camera/recorder) deals for ProRes, but selectively making software deals (niche Windows developers only). QuickTime has an uncertain future on Windows, and it has a very certainly dim future on Macs. AVFoundation has no support for third-party codecs. Apple apparently requires iTunes delivery to be True ProRes, and they also apparently have some way of detecting whether you're using a licensed or unlicensed (ffmpeg) ProRes encoder.

Apple, like Microsoft in the 1990s, has built a product into an industry standard, and they are now leveraging it to force people to buy Macs [link] for interoperability.

Friends don't let friends master to ProRes.

I've put my money where my mouth is, backing MOX [link], an open-source movie format for video and film production. It's based on a collection of existing open-source technologies in our space, and I hope it ultimately follows the same trajectory that OpenEXR has. Once it's released, I hope you'll join me in adopting MOX where you can.

(rant off)

Getting back to CineForm, the two big advantages I think CineForm has over ProRes and DNxHX is a RAW encoding and direct Adobe support. If a few camera manufacturers start including CineForm RAW, and if Adobe pushes CineForm a little harder as a preferred format in the DVA set, maybe we'll start to see a little movement. Wavelet encoding may be an advantage in some applications, but is probably not a broad advantage outside of RAW.

Big threats are a lack of support from other vendors. CineForm won't go far without a desktop player, or without inclusion in open-source toolkits like ffmpeg. Speaking of the desktop, let's not overlook the importance of QuickLook and FCPX, either. There's a lot of infrastructure and workflow built around ProRes. ProRes is a good codec, and there's not an overwhelming quality difference between them to drive a change.

I wish CineForm lots of luck.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Mathieu Ghekiere
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 12:11:11 pm

Walter, you said:

"It's been the classic frog-boiling scenario, going back to FCP Legend where ProRes was the only way to work."

This is completely untrue. Prores was only introduced with Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6!!). You could before and after, work with DV, HDV, XDCAM, ...
Prores was one of the first good alternatives to having a very high quality HD codec, not too taxing, without the rates of Uncompressed HD.
It was very far from 'the only way to work' ...


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 1:56:55 pm

[Mathieu Ghekiere] "This is completely untrue. Prores was only introduced with Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6!!). You could before and after, work with DV, HDV, XDCAM, ... Prores was one of the first good alternatives to having a very high quality HD codec, not too taxing, without the rates of Uncompressed HD. It was very far from 'the only way to work' ..."

Mathieu, of course what you say above is correct. I should have said "essentially the only way to work" or "the preferred way to work" or the like. I did plenty of DVCPRO HD and XDCAM work back in the day myself.

But I don't think this refutes the "ProRes, Stealth Assassin" idea. FCP used to have native camera support for popular formats alongside ProRes -- but eventually FCP stopped directly supporting native formats. Instead, Log and Transfer workflows made transcoding to ProRes the best option by far for working in a modern tapeless world.

FCP made ProRes a de-facto standard, and now Apple, keeping ProRes proprietary, wields enormous power over the industry. It's plunged us back into another format war: Apple with ProRes, Avid with DNxHx, maybe Adobe with CineForm... this is not a thing that users need. We should be pushing for open standards and documentation for the formats we rely on.

We'll never have complete interoperability between applications; their differing feature sets ensure that. However, we can and should have basic interoperability on media essences.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Herb Sevush
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 2:23:05 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Friends don't let friends master to ProRes."

I would be giddy with joy if DNx or Cineform became an acceptable deliverable for PBS, but at the moment it's still ProRes all the way. Which chains me to the Mac platform and OSX, exactly the way Apple envisioned. Were it not for that, I'd be spec'ing out my next PC workstation.

While ProRes is fine, Quicktime still blows - but until a sizable number of distributors are willing to see that the emperor has no clothes - what's a mother to do?

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 3:01:35 pm

[Herb Sevush] "I would be giddy with joy if DNx or Cineform became an acceptable deliverable for PBS, but at the moment it's still ProRes all the way. Which chains me to the Mac platform and OSX, exactly the way Apple envisioned. Were it not for that, I'd be spec'ing out my next PC workstation."

Sure, you have to deliver ProRes. But for the folks who do have a choice, I think pushing ProRes is a very bad decision for the industry in the longer term.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone at PBS had a friend who didn't let them master ProRes?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 7:30:59 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Wouldn't it be nice if someone at PBS had a friend who didn't let them master ProRes?"

It would just chain you to something else, like Avid, Adobe, Episode, or something.

So either way, you are chained to something be it a platform or NLE or codec.

The void that ProRes filled, was there for the taking. Camera codecs simply weren't (and aren't) good enough for post, or too computationally expensive, or stuck in 32bit, or thin raster, or proprietary, or whatever.

No one else stepped up. Avid could have made this really easy and released a version of DNxHD that made Avid mxf on a Mac really easy without having to buy an entire Avid suite to do it. Adobe seems like they could have been in a position to purchase/license/develop a mezz codec, but seemed against that nature very early on.

And now with this, and if it garners any sort of mass adoption, you will have to buy or subscribe to a piece of software that will allow you to make Cineform media despite it being ratified and open source.

I think camera makers could be the ones that would make this a reality. Someone like Blackmagic, or any RAW recorder could make Cineform a truly viable option.

You MOX link is busted, Walter.


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Herb Sevush
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:18:51 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "It would just chain you to something else, like Avid, Adobe, Episode, or something."

I don't see why a video codec needs to chain you to anything.

Apple and Avid (originally) wanted to chain you to something - software in Avid's case, hardware in Apple's. There's no reason a video codec has to be more proprietary than a still's codec - it just turned out that way historically.

DNx would work right now - cross platform, high quality, scalable, with fairly broad industry acceptance - but ProRes took the lead when Avid was being proprietary about DNx and the distributors don't care that ProRes isn't fully cross platform, that's the producer's problem so why should the distributor's care.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:43:07 pm
Last Edited By Jeremy Garchow on Jun 25, 2015 at 2:58:54 am

[Herb Sevush] "don't see why a video codec needs to chain you to anything.
"


Because if you can't use or create it easily in your programs of choice, you have to use another program to make your deliverable. If Smoke can't export Cineform, you'll have to export something out of Smoke to a program that can make a Cineform AVI, so you'll be reliant on whatever that program is, just for example.

Open source and SMPTE ratified doesn't automatically mean the world is suddenly going to be better.



[Herb Sevush] "that's the producer's problem so why should the distributor's care.
"


Because I still believe that there are people in this world who give a shit about other people in this world.


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:47:12 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Because if you can't use or create it easily in your programs of choice, you have to use another program to make your deliverable. If Smoke can't export Cineform, you'll have to export something out of Smoke to a program that can make a Cineform AVI, so you'll be reliant on whatever that program is, just for example. Open source and SMPTE ratified doesn't automatically mean the world is gong to better."

Yes, this. Apple has made it quite easy for anyone to READ ProRes -- but they control very strictly who gets to WRITE it, so now they can force Herb to buy a Mac.

I don't see Apple adopting a competitor to ProRes as a first-class citizen in their media system. We gave them too much power.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 3:04:09 am

[Walter Soyka] "Yes, this. Apple has made it quite easy for anyone to READ ProRes -- but they control very strictly who gets to WRITE it, so now they can force Herb to buy a Mac.

I don't see Apple adopting a competitor to ProRes as a first-class citizen in their media system. We gave them too much power."


It seems like ProRes was a great codec that filled a void, and was fairly easy to use if you had a Mac. It pretty much took over organically. Do you think Apple knew it would be as ubiquitous as it is? Sure, now they are protectant of the Mac ecosystem, but was ProRes created for that, or was it created to get better performance out of some really doggish codecs and make FCP6 and 7 move more quickly in an HD world, at a pretty great quality (which of course serves the Mac system)?


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 12:17:40 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "It seems like ProRes was a great codec that filled a void, and was fairly easy to use if you had a Mac. It pretty much took over organically. Do you think Apple knew it would be as ubiquitous as it is? Sure, now they are protectant of the Mac ecosystem, but was ProRes created for that, or was it created to get better performance out of some really doggish codecs and make FCP6 and 7 move more quickly in an HD world, at a pretty great quality (which of course serves the Mac system)?"

ProRes was certainly created to fill a void, but now it's used to bolster the Mac platform [link].

I'm not sure I see anything wrong with Apple trying that, but I think it's ridiculous that we as an industry are going along with it. Something like the MPEG LA consortium would be better for our mastering codecs: a patent pool to protect the contributors' IP, fees to compensate them, and universal "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 4:01:18 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I'm not sure I see anything wrong with Apple trying that, but I think it's ridiculous that we as an industry are going along with it. Something like the MPEG LA consortium would be better for our mastering codecs: a patent pool to protect the contributors' IP, fees to compensate them, and universal "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing."

Quoted from the post:

"Apple gives developers the SDK for free, but before they get it, they have to present a detailed case on how allowing their product access to ProRes will benefit the Mac platform as a whole."


I wonder what the specific language is? We all know that Apple wants to know what you are doing with their development platform with an application process. Is that wrong? Of course the cynical side of us says that that just be used for harm, or to be self serving to Apple's needs. What if this process is actually to maintain a semblance of quality so that if you are going to develop for ProRes, that it will be official?

Europe is way ahead of US broadcasters on this, and have been standardizing around certain containers and formats for a long while, and is going even further with HD. Ironically, I think Apple finally embracing MXF and making it near native to the platform (not quite but almost) will do more to help further standardization in the States. I can export many flavors of MXF right from professional Apple video products easier than ever. Adobe Media Encoder can also help here, but this doesn't mean we are all going to be working in AVC-I 100 all of the time.

I think this kind of development costs money that isn't necessarily recoverable (to Herb's point) and does little to further a feature set in a video application software. AS-11 and the like, as deliverables, is also now easier than ever.

I think the kind of action you are calling for is already in place. Someone just has to step up and say "no more .mov!". I just don't see Apple beating down the door of broadcasters and distributors saying , "you must accept ProRes.mov!". What do they care?


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 4:11:07 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Of course the cynical side of us says that that just be used for harm, or to be self serving to Apple's needs. What if this process is actually to maintain a semblance of quality so that if you are going to develop for ProRes, that it will be official?"

If the process were about maintaining a semblance of quality for ProRes, I wouldn't expect language like "benefit the Mac platform as a whole."


[Jeremy Garchow] "I think the kind of action you are calling for is already in place. Someone just has to step up and say "no more .mov!""

Yes. All I am saying is that we should think about what we're doing when we default to ProRes.


[Jeremy Garchow] "I just don't see Apple beating down the door of broadcasters and distributors saying , "you must accept ProRes.mov!". What do they care?"

Apple is a distributor. A big one. What are their delivery requirements?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 6:24:24 pm

[Walter Soyka] "If the process were about maintaining a semblance of quality for ProRes, I wouldn't expect language like "benefit the Mac platform as a whole."
"


That language was from someone's forum comment that seemed to be alluding to what the agreement says. What is the actual language, or is that the actual language?

[Walter Soyka] "Apple is a distributor. A big one. What are their delivery requirements?"

That shouldn't be a shock? Why would want to accept anything less if you were Apple? I can't play DNxHD on my BluRay Player no matter how hard I try. Damn you, Sony!

And Apple isn't saying that you need to edit your entire program in ProRes, it just needs to make the final file in ProRes, and if you don't have a Mac for that, I am sure with minimal fees, you could find a service to transcode your movie to ProRes. It's a lot cheaper than having to buy an HDCam (or D5 or SR) deck to make HDCam masters.


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Herb Sevush
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 9:17:00 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Open source and SMPTE ratified doesn't automatically mean the world is gong to better."

It doesn't mean the world "is" going to be better, but it doesn't mean it can't. Like I said, other than historical happenstance, I don't see why video codecs "have to be" any more proprietary than still photo codecs. They are, but they don't have to be. At this point in time DNx would not chain me to anything, but for historical reasons I don't have that choice.

[Jeremy Garchow] " I still believe that there are people in this world who give a shit about other people in this world."

Yes, but Citizen's United notwithstanding, corporations are not people. Corporations have a legal obligation to maximize their revenue even if it means screwing every last person on earth. They are in the business of business, and absent a fiscal reason for them to change, they won't. If enough big, important producers band together and pressure them to change they would react to that, but my bitching about ProRes deliverables isn't gonna be the tipping point.

I love your optimism just the same.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Andrew Kimery
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:00:37 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Corporations have a legal obligation to maximize their revenue even if it means screwing every last person on earth."

Not to hijack the thread (in this forum? Never!), but the history behind this is interesting. It's something that I've just started reading up on but as I understand it so far there is no law on the books in the US that says this. There have been lawsuits when shareholders (or business partners) feel wronged, but those are handled at the state level and they have been inconsistent over time and geography so a unified precedent hasn't been set.

It seems to be a bit of a self-fulling prophecy that has been repeated so much that it is accepted as fact. Not too surprising since for heads of corporations it's the ultimate get out of jail free card, "I would love to do X, Y or Z but I can't because I'm legally responsible to maximize value for the shareholders."

[Herb Sevush] "...but my bitching about ProRes deliverables isn't gonna be the tipping point."

The solution is obvious. We must get Taylor Swift involved!


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 3:21:28 am

[Herb Sevush] "It doesn't mean the world "is" going to be better, but it doesn't mean it can't. "

Of course it could be, and it could have already happened but it hasn't. I think the reason hat a lot of codecs are closed is that they represent a certain amount of intellectual property. Codecs have traditionally been differentiators. I don't know if you saw that M100 discussion a while back, but M100 had a few killer codecs back in the day, and it made working with M100 an advantage.

[Herb Sevush] "Yes, but Citizen's United notwithstanding, corporations are not people. Corporations have a legal obligation to maximize their revenue even if it means screwing every last person on earth. They are in the business of business, and absent a fiscal reason for them to change, they won't. If enough big, important producers band together and pressure them to change they would react to that, but my bitching about ProRes deliverables isn't gonna be the tipping point."

But it might be. If you can't deliver ProRes.mov, and all of sudden no one could deliver ProRes.mov, why would distributors not make a change?


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 24, 2015 at 8:40:50 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "It would just chain you to something else, like Avid, Adobe, Episode, or something."

Not if it were an open standard. Then Avid, Adobe, Episode and whatever else could all use the same thing.




[Jeremy Garchow] "I think camera makers could be the ones that would make this a reality. Someone like Blackmagic, or any RAW recorder could make Cineform a truly viable option."

I'm of two minds. CineForm RAW is part of it -- but CineForm RAW acquisition doesn't necessarily lead to CineForm RGB/YUV post. Adobe pushing CineForm is possibly the best bet on the desktop, but only if other interoperability pieces fall in line.




[Jeremy Garchow] "You MOX link is busted, Walter."

Thank you. I fixed it. And here it is for posterity:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mox-file-format#/story

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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David Cherniack
Who acquired Miraizon?
on Jun 25, 2015 at 9:46:48 am

Not to go too far off topic but does anyone know who bought the company? It's been a bit of a mystery since January.

For those who are unaware Miraizon was developing a high performance Prores codes for Windows. Version 2 was getting there with multi-threading speed then suddenly in January they announced they had been acquired by a large company and stopped sales abruptly. Then AFAIK, silence.

My speculation has wandered through a few companies but has largely favoured Apple because a) it's the kind of thing they would do to shut down any threat to their Prores hegemony and there is no b). Taylor Swift should have a post company.

All in all I'm a fan of fnord (Brendan Bolles) and hope MOX catches on like OpenEXR.


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT: CineForm now a SMPTE standard
on Jun 25, 2015 at 2:44:48 pm

For a little context around SMPTE standard codecs, let's review the others:

VC-1: Windows Media 9
VC-2: Dirac
VC-3: DNxHD
VC-4: 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 extensions to VC-1 (I think)

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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