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February 02, 2012

Table of Contents

Tutorial: Making Fast and Simple Color Adjustments in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5
Like a Mighty Stream: Webcasting With Ryan Bodie Films
Review: Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher
Apple Adds Multicam, FCP 7 XML Import in FCP X 10.0.3 Update
Blackmagic Design Announces FCP X Support in its Capture and Playback Products
Livestream Announces Integration with NewTek TriCaster
Atomos Announces Testing of the Ninja Field Recorder with the Nikon D4 DSLR
GenArts Announces Sapphire Edge Support for FCP X
Nattress Releases First FxFactory-based AE and FCP Filters
Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle 2 SSD Adds 10-bit Recording and Avid DNxHD Support

Tutorial: Making Fast and Simple Color Adjustments in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

When you compress video for the web, the video can darken and colors can become muted. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to correct color and adjust brightness and color saturation with Adobe Premiere Pro’s Fast Color Corrector. If you’re a Final Cut Pro 7 user, I’ll also show you that Premiere Pro’s tools work very similarly to those that you’re used to and should be much easier to learn than those used in Final Cut Pro X. Let’s take a look.

Figure 1 (below) shows the clip we’ll be working with, which was shot at Streaming Media West in Los Angeles last year. There are two problems: First, the color is a bit off—the sign is white and not brown—and second, my face is a bit too dark. So we’ll fix both of those with the Fast Color Corrector.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 1. The clip we’ll work on, with multiple color issues.

(Go to page 2 of this article to continue.)

Working in Premiere Pro’s Waveform Monitor

Before adjusting brightness in Premiere Pro, open the Waveform monitor by first selecting Window > Reference monitor. The Reference monitor opens with composite video showing; change it to the Waveform monitor by clicking the Output button and selecting YC Waveform Figure 2 (below).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 2. Selecting YC Waveform in the Reference monitor.

The Waveform monitor shows the Brightness value of the pixels on a scale from 0–100 IRE, with 0 being black. (The Brightness value of the black you see in Figure 2 is 7.5.) After the adjustments that we’ll make in the Waveform monitor, the black portions of the image will be close to zero and the whites will be close to 100. You can see my face in the Preview Monitor on the right, which is represented by the clump of pixels circled in Figure 3 (below). If I move the video back and forth, that clump of pixels moves as my head moves, which highlights the fact that the horizontal location of the pixels in the video corresponds to where they’re located in the Waveform monitor. So it’s pretty easy to see exactly what you’re adjusting in the Waveform monitor and that’s helpful for a couple of reasons that we’ll discuss throughout the tutorial.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 3. The clump of pixels representing my face in the Waveform monitor.

Now let’s adjust the Waveform. I prefer to show only brightness adjustments so I’ll deselect the Chroma checkbox at the top of the Reference monitor (Figure 4, below).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 4. Deselecting Chroma so we see only Brightness adjustments represented in the waveform.

I like my blacks to be set at zero IRE, so I’ll click set up and bring the blacks down to 0. I like the intensity set to 100 because it’s easier to read, but these are subjective and you can find the settings that work best for you. When we look at a Waveform, there are two things we care about: First, we want the maximum whites to be up close to 100. Second, we want the blacks to be around zero; once the blacks come off of zero, everything starts to look faded. Whatever adjustments you make, you want to make sure that blacks portions of the image stay at zero, and for a subject in my skin tone range, you want the face to be between 70 and 80 IRE. So when I say the face is too dark, basically what I’m saying is that the values are clumped between 50 and 60 and I would prefer to see them between 60 and 70, or even 65–75.

We need to adjust the face without pulling the blacks off of the 0 IRE value and without boosting the whites way into the 110 or 120 range.

(Go to page 3 of this article to continue.)

Making Simple Color Changes in Premiere Pro’s Fast Color Corrector

But let’s tackle color first. The Fast Color Corrector—which you’ll find under Video Effects—is a very, very simple tool for making simple color adjustments. Click the disclosure triangle adjacent to Fast Color Corrector to reveal the White Balance control. Click the eye dropper and click a pixel in the frame that’s supposed to be white. In our example, the color chip is brown. That tells us that the clip is brownish and corrects for that (Figure 5, below).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 5. The color chip next to Fast Color Corrector shows that the clip is more brownish than it should be.

To boost the adjustment a little bit further, drag the little circle in the color wheel or scroll down in the Effect Controls tab and adjust the Balance Magnitude value, as shown in Figure 6 (below).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 6. Adjusting Balance Magnitude in the Fast Color Corrector

If I want to preview with and without the adjustment applied, as with any filter in Premiere Pro, click the Fx button next to the Fast Color Corrector effect to toggle the effect on and off. You can also do a splitscreen view in the monitor, which is most useful if you do it vertically, which allows you to control the location of the adjustment. In this example, if I set it at about 45 it’s positioned in the middle of my face, and I can see that in the White Balance color chip that it’s yellowish before the adjustment and corrected after.

(Go to page 4 of this article to continue.)

Adjusting Brightness Using Input Levels

When adjusting the Brightness in this image, our sole goal is to boost the clump of pixels called out in Figure 3 to above the 60 line. Still working in the Fast Color Corrector, the tool we’re going to use the Input Levels (Figure 7, below). Moving the marker at the left edge of the Input Levels slider adjusts the black values, the darkest pixels in the image; moving the marker at the right edge adjusts the whitest pixels; and moving the marker in the middle of the slider makes adjustments in the midtone region.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 7. The Input Levels slider in the Fast Color Corrector

As you drag the midtones slider to the right you’ll increase primarily the pixels in the brighter regions. In this example, we’ll see the clump of pixels associated with my face (as highlighted in Figure 3) rise to well over 60, into the 70 range, which is a good value. If we look at the splitscreen view again, we’ll see a clearer split between the corrected and uncorrected versions.

Now we’ve got the values where we want them. The blacks are still up around zero so there should be very little fading, and we’ve boosted the whites a bit closer to 100 IRE. The face still looks a little bit washed out and, as we talked about up front, sometimes you want to boost the Color Saturation to correct for that.

I’m wearing a blue shirt and where we started at 100, you really can’t tell what color it is. If we bring the Color Saturation up to 150 you get a nice balance of facial color and blueness in the shirt (Figure 8, below). I probably went a little bit too far to prove my point but compared to where we started, we’ve got much more contrast in the video, we’ve got a brighter face that will withstand compression a lot more effectively, and we’ve got correct colors. So at this point I would probably call this edit done and just move on to my next edit in this project.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 8. Moving the Color Saturation up to 150 brings out the blue in my shirt.

Making Color Adjustments in Final Cut Pro 7

Now if you’ve been working in Final Cut Pro, all of this should look pretty familiar. In FCP 7, your Waveform monitor is on the right. You adjust colors the same way using the familiar color wheel on the left (Figure 9, below). You boost brightness in the midtones the same way and you adjust saturation the same way.

Apple Final Cut Pro 7

Figure 9. Making color adjustments in Final Cut Pro 7

Correcting Color in Final Cut Pro X

On the other hand, if you’re transitioning from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X, you’ll find the tools pretty foreign (Figure 10, below). You’ve got a cramped waveform here that’s kind of psychedelic and a color board instead of a color wheel. Saturation and brightness adjustments are pretty straightforward, though it’s hard to argue that placing all these controls on four separate screens is a huge step forward in interface design.

Apple Final Cut Pro X

Figure 10. Color adjustment controls in Final Cut Pro X

A Familiar Color Correction Paradigm

So that’s it. Premiere Pro makes it fast and simple to adjust the color and brightness of your clips so that they look great after compression and if you’re coming over from Final Cut Pro 7, Premiere Pro uses tools and an interface paradigm that should look instantly familiar.

Next time out we’ll explore how to produce multiple video files for adaptive streaming in the Adobe Media Encoder.

To see more tutorials in our Adobe Production Premium CS5.5 series, go to Page 5 of this article.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites on digital video-related topics. He is chief instructor at StreamingLearningCenter.com and the author of Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5.

Back to Contents...

Like a Mighty Stream: Webcasting With Ryan Bodie Films

When Ryan Bodie made the cover of EventDV in May 2008, the magazine profiled him as a broadcast commercial producer-turned wedding videographer with filmmaking ambitions-specifically, Christian filmmaking ambitions, as evidenced by his emerging Christian film series for young adults, Click Clack Jack.

Nary a word in the article addressed Bodie's current passion, streaming live events, has established his company, Florida-based Studio 26 Productions, as the go-to live event webcast provider in his region and in some key entertainment areas, including-though not limited to-Christian rock concerts and other music shows, ranging from concert series in the spring to festivals in the summer and one-off arena gigs such as the Hillsong United Christian rock show he produced and streamed in August. Bodie estimates that his crew does roughly 80 live events per year, with maybe half of those involving music.

Live webcasting is much more than Bodie's "current" passion. He and his crew have been shooting, switching, and delivering shows live over the web for 7 years now. His projects have ranged from concerts to corporate gigs to conferences, lectures, and more. I had the opportunity to speak with him when on the cusp of a new adventure, a series of live-produced and delivered, MTV Unplugged-style shows featuring popular and up-and-coming Christian rock acts. Designed to be shot, impromptu, in a band's home or rehearsal space, Bodie's new project has the working title "Home Invasion."

Home Invasion

The new show, Bodie says, "came about by accident. A good friend of mine is a DJ who's extremely well known in the Christian radio world. Last year, he was voted Christian DJ of the year." Over the past year or two, Bodie says, he's gotten into the habit of stopping by DJ Jayar's The Joy FM studio when he had guests on such as for Friday cooking shows. "Sometimes I would tape it and sometimes I wouldn't," Bodie says. Two Jayar events he's shot offsite were "celebrity challenge" shows involving Tampa Bay Rays 2nd baseman Ben Zobrist and Christian artist Toby Mac ("Toby vs. Zoby"), which developed a sizeable following on YouTube and Vimeo.

Jayar has "been in the business 15 years," Bodie says, "and he knows all of these artists who come down all of the time. We'd take them out to a local place to eat and hang out and get to know them." Talking to Jayar one night, Bodie recalls, it occurred to him that "what we should do is if someone comes in town is say, ‘Hey why don't you come over tonight and we'll have you guys do an acoustic set. And so we did it. We did it recently with this band named Leland. We just came over unannounced and said, ‘All right, man, live acoustic set, we'll live-stream it. We'll live record it and switch. And we'll see what happens.' So we went to his kid's room, where there were toys, literally, strewn about the entire room. We were stepping on squeaky ducks while we're walking to the chair for this Christian artist to play one of their new hit songs. And so it was just really fun. We had about 10 to 15 kids and people just in the room hanging out. And we shot it and streamed it. And it was very successful. And so we decided, ‘We're going to start doing this all of the time."

Ryan Bodie Films

Not every show happens exactly like the Leland show, Bodie says, but the template for the show is established. "We're not going to shoot every artist in his kid's room' that was a novelty thing. Now we're actually going to do it in a living room or have a little bit more room to work with lighting and my crew, because we were really limited upstairs. But now we're going to start doing this thing where when the artists come in town, and we're going to be either going to them or having them come to us, and do live streaming of two or three of their songs."

What's perhaps most surprising about Home Invasion so far, Bodie says, is that his studio is actually making money at it. "It's turning into another revenue for us where we'll go somewhere and bring our equipment and our audio equipment and full-on set up in about an hour. We'll set up all of the microphones, all of the equipment that we need, the lighting, the live-switching stuff. And then we live stream for about 10 to 20 minutes of a few songs. And it's now allowing us to generate extra revenue because it's pretty simple to do and a lot of people want to do it. We're starting to get requests to go places and do this. What started off as just a fun thing to do because I love music is turning out to be a pretty solid web show where we'll start booking guests and interviewing and doing it all live and recording it for archiving on the internet."

Ryan Bodie Films

Bodie's Home Invasion crew currently consists of 2 camera operators and an audio tech. The crew sets up with 3 main cameras and sometimes a GoPro, and Bodie will operate the moving camera. One of the challenges for him, Bodie says, is whether to shoot or handle the switch and run the audio, since he loves to do both. "It kind of just depends on the situation, if I need a shooting fix, so to speak. It depends on how long it's been since I shot something that I liked. Directing and switching is cool, but once we get set up, I love being behind the camera."

Working with the Panasonic AG–AF100

Bodie says it's nice with these smaller shows to have the option of shooting, since that's not the case with arena concerts and other productions/webcasts of that scale. "If we're running a bigger show and I have multiple cameras, then I kind of have to direct because there's so much going on. But if it's just two or three cameras like we've been doing with the web show, then I have the two guys that work for me and they both just shoot and direct. They can live switch. In fact, that's who live-switches all of the local government webcasts we do."

As for gear, Bodie says his company shoots virtually all of its events using Panasonic's AG-AF100 these days because "they'll let us put the DSLR lenses right on them. So we get that great, great low-light look that you get with DSLRs, which saves us on set up time for lighting." With smaller-sensor cameras, Bodie says, "I would need to bring six or seven lights, but now I only need to bring two or three."

As for opting for the AF100s over DSLRs, Bodie says, partly it's the 12-minute continuous shooting limitation that makes it hard to cover live events. "And the other serious handicap with the DSLR is it's extremely difficult right now with the Canon cameras to get a signal out where you can still use your monitor and also be running a good signal back to your switcher. There are lots of factors involved. We've done it. We live-switched the Canon 5D and we were the first people to do it two years ago at WEVA just as a test. It was real low-quality. We weren't doing HD or anything in the live stream. From that date, I've spent the last two years trying to figure out how we can live-stream with the Canons, because I love the look of the cameras. When the AF100s came out, we tested one, and it was just simple, easy, and beautiful. It's one cable coming off of the camera, sending an HD signal-so easy to use, user friendly. The camera is a little heavier, a little bigger. I like the simplicity of the Canons but I'll deal with having a little bit bigger camera." After all, Bodie notes, when Studio 26 started producing live events 7 years ago, " we were using huge shouldermount cams anyway."

Ryan Bodie Films

Many event shooters have been put off by the boxiness of the AF100, and Bodie acknowledges that "it's a weird shape. And it's pretty light despite its shape. Obviously, people can throw it up on a rig and then it's the same as anything else. Once you put a lens up on it and you have that capability of having a Canon lens on there it's almost lie shooting like with the Z1U or Z7 or HVX200."

Webcasting with the NewTek TriCaster

The other key piece of equipment in the Studio 26 live webcasting arsenal is-surprise, surprise-the NewTek TriCaster Studio. Somewhat surprising is that the TriCaster model Bodie owns does not support HD output, but he says 7 out of 10 shows he produces are not streamed in HD. As for HD models such as the TriCaster 300 and 850, Bodie says, "I rent them probably about four or five times a year and they're amazing, I love them. The 300 will do an HD and an SD stream and both record those streams with the clean output or with the program out simultaneously and separate. All my gear is compatible with them, and running the show is the same except for the HD output. I have a client coming up that wants the HD, so I'll rent the 850 or the 300 for their gig."

Usually Bodie will generate all graphics and titles with the TriCaster, although on larger shows with significant IMAG components, he'll use an additional computer for CG and text. "We do a couple of big events a year where we'll have 3 20-foot screens and each screen will have the same or different images on them-sometimes text, sometimes video, sometimes a satellite feed from somewhere else in the world. And we'll also be sending up our signal somewhere else in the world. And so with stuff like that it's just when you go to do the text, I'll just have another computer actually running the graphics, but it still comes through my system real clean."

Ryan Bodie Films

Crewing Webcasts

Crewing events is a lot like streaming in SD or HD—it depends on the client and their budget, and the tendency is often to go smaller in the tough economy. "Typically we run our live events with at least two people, but for the most part I like to have three. And then what I'll do to save the client some money is if we need that fourth, fifth, or sixth person, a lot of times I'll have the client supply them because they might have somebody that would cost them less than it costs me. And I'm not looking to make money off of every single person I have there. Once we have our set base of what we're charging, my sole focus is how to make this look the absolute best it can within that budget. And so if they can bring in people that I don't have to pay I'll use them. They can be my cable pullers. They can run my IMAG that comes in to me from outside, or they can control basically the Extron, which will send the signal to the three different screens. And they'll be on headsets. We'll be directing them, but those are pretty simple tasks. They just require a person to be there to do them."

Getting Audio Right

Another key issue for Bodie, as for any webcaster who does a lot of work with concert events, is getting audio right. "If it's a music gig," Bodie says, "we push to have our own audio guy come in and take their board and take submixes out of their board so that we have full control over all of the audio going to the live stream."

Part of the reason having your own audio tech is so important, Bodie says, is that there can be a world of difference between a mix that sounds good in a live venue and a mix that works in a webcast. "What happens is, when you're mixing for a room there's a lot of variables involved. There's acoustics and links and how many people are in the room. A lot of times, when you mix for a room, you have to bring up the vocals a little bit and you might bring down the instruments a little bit in order to get a good mix. The problem is, if you take that mix and stick it on a CD or out on to the Internet, the vocals are super-loud, and the music isn't as loud, because you don't have that room ambience happening any more. So the vocals are loud. It makes it sound uninteresting and un professional. So when we do stuff like that we like to bring our own audio guy. We'll take some mix out of every one of their channels, run it into his, mix it like he's recording for a CD instead of an in-house event, and send that feed to me."

Marketing the Webcast Business

One issue Bodie has dealt with in his business is volume. While his company currently does about 80 live shows a year, it used to do more-"taking every gig that comes to town"-and Bodie found that pace difficult to sustain because it didn't leave him time to market and promote the business, keep the new business flowing in, and keep the notion of streaming events foremost in his potential clients' minds. "You start doing that and all of a sudden you think, ‘Oh man, I haven't stayed up with my promotion contacts.' The next thing you know, they're not either using you or they're not broadcasting that event. They're thinking, ‘Oh well, he hasn't called and we'll just save some money this year."

In addition to maintaining the marketing side of the business, Bodie's role on-site also involves keeping one eye on the event at hand and one on the future. "This year, I've been at most of the events, not necessarily working the live switch, but testing the streaming options and testing cameras. I'll be there running the live stream and a separate one, trying out another company, trying out another streaming service, trying out another camera just to take advantage of the lighting and everything else that's on the music to see if I really like that camera or that service or that system."

Venue and Bandwidth Issues

And these are constantly changing and evolving elements of the live event webcasting business, Bodie says—it's in the nature of working so many different venues and types and doing streams for different audiences that the approach will vary. "The biggest hurdle is if they're doing it on a budget you are tied to your weakest link. And in this case, you'd be tied to your weakest viewer bandwidth. So you've got to determine that. Who are you expecting to watch? Who do you care that's watching? If you don't care that your 65-year-old grandmother with a dial-up connection is watching, then we don't have to worry about her. Most people nowadays have at least 1-1.5Mbps download. We've been able to do higher-quality streams over the last year or two because the weakest link is a lot stronger now."

The second thing Bodie determines, he says, is, "What will our upload speed be? What are we working with? If I can only stream up 500Kbps," he sais, it doesn't matter what kind of bandwidth the audience's connections support. "The stream will be choppy because I'm not putting up a very high-quality stream. So we run a couple of speed tests and a ping test at the event location to determine how much information is lost on the way up. And once we run those, we say, ‘We can use your line or we can't use your line if we want to do what you want to do.' If they want to do an HD signal, we almost always bring our own line in. And if they're in a weak area, we have to bring our own line in, and that's pretty simple too. We just use whatever the local internet provider is. So we'll pay an installation fee of anywhere from $50 to $100. You can usually get it waved if you talk them out of it. And you just get it for a month. So for about $100 or $200 you have one month of service and you're the only one using that dedicated line, and you've gopt the highest-quality stream you want to get. And so at a lot of our events," he continues, "like the music and lecture series we do January through March at Holley Hall and the Player Theater, we run our own lines for those."

Bodie acknowledges that those events weren't always webcasts, but the tide has turned in recent years to where webcasting events have become the norm for his business, and producing for DVD has become an afterthought at best, and often out of the delivery equation entirely. Until a year or two ago, he says, streaming was always "an upsell because there were just so many factors involved in it that were out of our control. Now we actually get requests for streaming, where before we'd say, ‘We're going to live stream. We'll give you a DVD when we're done and you'll walk away with a live-switched event and it's going to be great. But just so you know, if you want to monetize this we can add an extra feature and add a webcast to it and it would cost X.' Now, it's the opposite. People are saying, ‘Hey, can you live stream this?' and we'll say, ‘Yes, and would you like to upgrade and get the DVD archive when we're done too?' It means we bring less equipment because recording equipment takes up a ton of space the DVD actual stuff and the rack mounts and stuff. The DVD that I give them is just an archive that they'll keep forever at their offices. But they hire us for the web stream."

Back to Contents...

Review: Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

I'm glad I waited before upgrading my SD video switcher to an HD model. Part of what made me wait was that my regular live-switch clients were still webcasting in SD resolutions, but the other part was that none of the other HD video switchers on the market had the mix of features that I required at such an attractive price point. When Blackmagic Design announced its ATEM Production Switcher line at NAB 2011, I knew the timing was right for me to seriously consider moving the last of my SD productions to HD.

It also didn't hurt that some of my clients were starting to ask about HD IMAG (live feed to projectors) and HD webcasting, but what sealed the deal for me was that I was able to sell my gently used Roland LVS-800 SD switcher for $2,000 on eBay and the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher that I had my heart set on was only $2,495. That's not a typo—the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher costs less than many new SD switchers, including the one I was replacing it with.

The ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher is an 8-input HD switcher that has 4 HDMI and 4 HD-SDI inputs. Legacy analog video inputs are also a nice touch, as is the breakout cable for 2-channel XLR inputs and outputs. Program outputs are available in HDMI or HD-SDI and there are two analog outputs-one HD/SD-switchable and the other permanently downconverted to composite SD-and finally a downconverted SDI output. On top of that there are preview outputs, three Auxiliary outputs, a USB 3.0 output, and your choice of HDMI or HD-SDI Multi-View outputs. Having a variety of inputs and outputs is extremely important for event video producers as you never know what will get thrown at you at the last minute and it is nice not to have to carry around an arsenal of converters, just in case.

I'm not going to cover off all of the inputs and outputs on this switcher as there are just too many but I did want to expand on a few of them. The Aux outputs are like having a second, third, and fourth bus. So in addition to the program output, you can output three additional video feeds, which can be assigned, to increase the number of program outputs, or to output one (or up to three) of the inputs. This feature is really useful for live audience filming, IMAG with computer presentations, and webcasting when you require more than just one output.

Blackmagic ATEM
Shawn Lam running switching a live event with the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E

The USB 3.0 feature, while only recently activated via a firmware update and untested by this reviewer, is also very exciting for me as it would allow me to record my Aux 1 output via USB 3.0 cable, to a computer for a quick client handoff, probably via external hard drive. The software on the recording computer is Blackmagic Media Express 3 (included with purchase) and it allows uncompressed or compressed intraframe recording. It even allows me to webcast the output on a computer or laptop without adding any additional hardware but the thing I'm finding out about the ATEM 1 M/E is that there are so many possibilities that with every new update I uncover additional functionality. Right now I currently record my program out on an external recorder, like my ATOMOS Ninja, or to a computer equipped with an HDMI capture card, like the Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro.

I also really like the multiview monitor outputs as they allow me to see all of my inputs and outputs on a single display. In my case, I'm using a 1920x1080 computer monitor. In the past I've had individual preview monitors for each input but this takes a lot of extra time and cables to set-up and it can be challenging to calibrate each monitor. Using a multi-view output makes quick work of color matching as you can see everything on one monitor. The multi-view monitor also puts a red border around the live input and a green one around the preview input.

Now I have to admit initially I was a bit confused with the naming mechanisms of the broadcast panel and production switcher, so I'm going to explain which is which. The Production Switcher is a panel that you plug all your i/o's in and out of, while the Broadcast Panel has the t-bar switcher and all the controls. Every configuration requires the Production Switcher but the hardware Broadcast Panel can be substituted with the ATEM Software Control Panel, available for free on both Mac OS X and Windows.

Performance in Testing
I tested both the ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel ($4,995) and the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher but in the end I decided to only keep only the Production Switcher as I found the software panel fit my current needs, although it was nice to know that I could always buy or rent that component at a later date if I found the need for it.

I operated the software control panel from my laptop, which connects to the Production Switcher with an Ethernet cable. This is the same way the Broadcast Panel connects and it is possible to connect all three at the same time (the panel has two Ethernet connections), which then allows you to customize the display and input names on the multi-view monitor. The software panel interface looks much like the hardware control panel but instead of pressing buttons and sliding bars, you use your mouse. At some point I'd like to try the software panel on a tablet PC or touchscreen monitor to see what that experience is like as well.

The ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher is a very thin 2 rack-unit panel. It is so thin that when I mounted it in a shallow 2 RU Gator case, the case was still too deep for the unit, which made connecting cables difficult, especially without a flashlight. The other problem, which was more with the case then the switcher, was that the aluminum fins, which serve to dissipate excess heat, were too long for me to mount the switcher backwards in the case and still put the lid back on. I haven't done so yet, but I plan on getting a custom case built because I haven't seen any off-the-shelf solutions that are just right.

The image quality on the ATEM 1 M/E is absolutely amazing, as it should be for a 10-bit digital HD video switcher. The really nice thing for me about having HD switching technology is that I can now run computer presentations (such as PowerPoint) straight into my switcher for my own mix, in HD, along with my video inputs, and output any of the inputs or the program out, again in HD, to a projector. I never liked mixing in SD with computer inputs because the resolution was just too low (and non-square pixel). The result is that you could never read the computer presentations once they were mixed in SD and their aspect ratio (usually 4:3) often dictated my aspect ratio. Now I can have it all-HD video in, HD computer in, and even if they're sending me a 4:3 computer input, it doesn't matter too much as there is enough resolution that my viewers can still read the text, even when I output to 720P.

UltraScope
When I first sat down to write this review I wasn't yet aware of the latest firmware update and as it turns out all of my concerns had been addressed. In a previous firmware update SD output that was added as this was lacking after the initial release but the most recent update enabled the USB 3.0 output. In addition to adding more external recording options, it allows monitoring with Blackmagic Design's UltraScope software (a $695 value, included for registered ATEM owners, PC-only).

The UltraScope solves one of my biggest problems with the ATEM 1 M/E as I tested it: There was a lack of audio controls. Initially I was surprised that there are no VU meters, headphone outputs, or levels that can be adjusted, which made mastering audio levels a guessing game. So my workflow consisted of recording the audio on an external recorder, such as the Zoom H4N, or connecting a soundboard feed directly into the webcast encoding computer and/or video camera. I also found that HDMI audio would sometimes make its way through the 1 M/E input to the output and sometimes not. So needless to say I didn't feel that on the ATEM 1 M/E it was possible to record audio with the levels of controls I required.

Blackmagic ATEM
The ATEM 1 M/E with multiview monitors in the field

Fortunately, the UltraScope has an audio view so that you can see each of the individual channels of audio. I'm not sure if there are any audio controls though but perhaps we'll see this in a future firmware update. The UltraScope display adds a Parade Display, Waveform Display, Component Vectorscope Display, Histogram Display, Audio Metering Display, and a Picture Display.

Other Features, Other Versions
On the video side my only complaints are that 24P and 30P formats are not compatible and 30P just happens to be my frame rate of choice on my Sony NEX-FS100 video cameras. So when I use the ATEM 1 M/E I have to change my camera to 1080 60i. Every switcher has some delay; the ATEM 1 M/E's can be as low as 1 frame on syncronized HD-SDI inputs and 2 with HDMI. There are so many really cool features that I don't yet require but when I need them the ATEM 1 M/E is ready. These include titles straight from Photoshop, two media players, a transition keyer for stingers/DVE, and a bunch of upstream, downstream, chroma, and linear/luma keyers.

Blackmagic ATEM

One of the features that I currently miss is an intercom system with tally lights. Blackmagic Design has announced two products that will solve this need, but at the time of this review they were not yet available. The first is the ATEM Camera Converter and the second is the ATEM Studio Converter. Think of the Studio Converter as an intercom base station and the camera converters as belt packs, but instead of XLR cable connecting them, they connect with optical fiber. They also transmit HDMI or HD-SDI video both ways, including a tally signal to the camera operator so she knows when she is live. Optical Fiber cable can run up to 28 miles without signal loss, which is dramatically more than the few hundred feet limit on traditional cables.

I also feel it is important to note that Blackmagic Design also has two additional models, the $995 ATEM Television Studio and the $4,995 ATEM 2 M/E. The Studio has fewer features, including only 6 inputs and no aux outputs and the 2 M/E has 16 inputs and 6 aux outputs.

Last thing, ATEM was the name of Egyptian Mythology's creator god and means completion. For me, this is fitting, as the last SD holdout in my workflow was live switching, and now I'm complete-or I will be, as soon as I get some more advanced audio controls.

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Apple Adds Multicam, FCP 7 XML Import in FCP X 10.0.3 Update

Apple® today released Final Cut Pro® X v10.0.3, a significant update to its revolutionary professional video editing application, which introduces multicam editing that automatically syncs up to 64 angles of video and photos; advanced chroma keying for handling complex adjustments right in the app; and enhanced XML for a richer interchange with third party apps and plug-ins that support the fast growing Final Cut Pro X ecosystem.

Available today as a free update from the Mac® App Store™, Final Cut Pro X v10.0.3 also includes a beta of broadcast monitoring that supports Thunderbolt devices as well as PCIe cards.

Final Cut Pro X v10.0.3 includes a collection of groundbreaking new tools for editing multicam projects. Final Cut Pro X automatically syncs clips from your shoot using audio waveforms, time and date, or timecode to create a Multicam Clip with up to 64 angles of video, which can include mixed formats, frame sizes and frame rates. The powerful Angle Editor allows you to dive into your Multicam Clip to make precise adjustments, and the Angle Viewer lets you play back multiple angles at the same time and seamlessly cut between them.

Final Cut Pro X builds upon its robust, one-step chroma key with the addition of advanced controls including color sampling, edge adjustment and light wrap. You can tackle complex keying challenges right in Final Cut Pro X, without having to export to a motion graphics application, and view your results instantly with realtime playback.

In the seven months since launch, the third party ecosystem around Final Cut Pro X has expanded dramatically. XML-compatible software like DaVinci Resolve and CatDV provide tight integration for tasks such as color correction and media management. The new 7toX app from Intelligent Assistance uses XML to import Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X. In addition, some of the industry’s largest visual effects developers, including GenArts and Red Giant, have developed motion graphics plug-ins that take advantage of the speed and real-time preview capabilities of Final Cut Pro X.

Broadcast monitoring in Final Cut Pro X is currently in beta and allows you to connect to waveform displays, vectorscopes, and calibrated, high-quality monitors to ensure that your project meets broadcast specifications. Final Cut Pro X supports monitoring of video and audio through Thunderbolt I/O devices, as well as through third party PCIe cards.

Pricing & Availability
Final Cut Pro X v10.0.3 is available from the Mac App Store for $299.99 (US) to new users, or as a free update for existing Final Cut Pro X customers. A 30-day free trial of Final Cut Pro X is available at http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/trial. Full system requirements and more information on Final Cut Pro X can be found at http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro.

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Blackmagic Design Announces FCP X Support in its Capture and Playback Products

Blackmagic Design today released Desktop Video 9.2 beta 1, a software update for its capture and playback products that adds broadcast monitoring support with the new Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 update.

Desktop Video 9.2 beta 1 for Mac OS X is available for download now and is free of charge for all Blackmagic Design customers. This update includes support for all current DeckLink, Multibridge, Intensity and UltraStudio models.

Broadcast monitoring in Final Cut Pro 10.0.3 allows video output to external monitors and other equipment using the SDI, HDMI or analog video outputs from Blackmagic Design video hardware.

Desktop Video 9.2 beta 1 includes a new control panel for selecting the video output format from Final Cut Pro X for output to devices such as broadcast quality monitors, HDTVs and projectors, so you can see exactly what your master will look like in television colorspace.

Desktop Video 9.2 beta 1 also includes Media Express 3.1 beta. Media Express provides capture, logging and management of video files to Final Cut Pro X compatible formats including ProRes and uncompressed video. Media Express features timecode accurate video capture from professional VTRs with RS-422 control, the ability to log additional metadata and to create custom bins for managing all project video media.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 includes XML 1.1 for exporting primary color grades to DaVinci Resolve. This improved XML support makes it easier to move projects from FCP X to Resolve as any primary color changes carried out during editing can now be imported and applied automatically within Resolve. Once a project has been color graded with DaVinci Resolve it can be reopened simply within Final Cut Pro X for any further editing.

“We are extremely pleased to provide immediate support for the new monitoring feature in Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. “Now working with Final Cut Pro X is even better since our customers can accurately view projects on whatever monitor they choose and can ensure that their final output meets crucial broadcast standards.”

Availability and Price
Desktop Video 9.2 beta 1 for Mac OS X is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design support page at http://www.blackmagic-design.com/support.

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Livestream Announces Integration with NewTek TriCaster

Livestream today announced a new plugin for NewTek TriCaster™ that provides a streamlined workflow for live content producers. The plugin was developed using the NewTek TriCaster SDK, and provides H.264/AAC encoding, one click HD 720p multibitrate encoding, along with playback compatibility for iPhone® and iPad® – all without the need for an external encoder. The Livestream plugin is pre-installed when the TriCaster is upgraded to rev.4. Registered TriCaster owners may upgrade by visiting register.newtek.com. To learn more about the plugin or watch a demo video of how it works, visit: Livestream.com/tricasterplugin.

“We’re excited that Livestream is the first to embrace the TriCaster SDK,” said Andrew Cross, NewTek CTO. “Our goal was to open TriCaster to developers who will make it even easier for live content creators to produce and deliver dynamic programming across all platforms. This development on the part of Livestream shows their commitment to leadership in this industry.”

NewTek TriCaster and Livestream have been used to deliver an extraordinary range of high profile live programming, from the ESPN X Games, to the Facebook Town Hall meeting with President Obama.

Event organizers, content owners, celebrities, and artists around the world use Livestream's social broadcasting tools to engage and grow their audiences on the Web, mobile devices, and connected TVs. The result has been more than one billion video minutes streamed each month to the growing community of 20 million monthly viewers.

With TriCaster, anyone can simultaneously produce, live stream, broadcast, project and record HD and SD network-style productions. A single operator or small team can switch between multiple cameras, virtual inputs and live virtual sets, while inserting clips, titles and motion graphics with multi-channel effects. TriCaster is used by sports organizations, schools, broadcasters, houses of worship, webcasters, government agencies, and others to provide a new level of extended programming and content to their audiences.

TriCaster users can begin using this plugin with their Livestream Premium account."

For those not already using Livestream, visit http://www.livestream.com/gopremium to sign up and join the top event producers on Livestream’s award-winning platform. Livestream Premium offers recording in the cloud, global delivery, privacy, an ad-free viewing experience, and full white label players.

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Atomos Announces Testing of the Ninja Field Recorder with the Nikon D4 DSLR

Atomos, the creator of the award-winning field recorders Ninja and Samurai, announced initial testing of the Ninja with the new Nikon D4 DSLR camera proves the combo is a real game-changer. The Nikon D4 is the first FX-format DSLR to output an uncompressed, clean HD signal over HDMI.

"Thanks to Nikon, the Atomos Ninja is the killer product we designed it to be. We take our hats off to the D4 for its ability to deliver perfect sensor images over HDMI. Our goal of creating smarter production tools for creatives is becoming a reality.

"Ninja and Nikon D4 are the ultimate bang-for -buck combination for recording high quality images, in 4:2:2 Apple ProRes, directly to HDD, or to SSD if you prefer. We even include a monitor and extra audio inputs so you can play back your recorded footage instantaneously for review." said Jeromy Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Atomos.

The Atomos Ninja is an attractive field recorder designed in collaboration with Apple which allows recording of pristine, uncompressed images straight from the HDMI connector of your DSLR or camcorder directly to Apple ProRes. All while you're recording. The Ninja implements Apple ProRes in hardware to give you real-time, 10-bit recording anytime, anywhere. It takes advantage of low-cost, modern technology by utilizing HDMI-capable pro-video and consumer camcorders as well as DSLRs. Many features from Atomos are designed with real productions and real situations in mind, to create smarter workflows, keeping the highest quality but also keeping running costs low. The Ninja was designed with a long battery life and Atomos' unique continuous power technology (patent pending) means that you never have to interrupt a Ninja recording to swap power cells.

Julian Hollingshead, NPS Business Support Executive at Nikon UK says: "The Nikon D4 camera is the ultimate tool for professional photographers thanks to its high ISO capabilities, incredible speed and responsiveness and advanced video capabilities that give both photographers and videographers the multimedia output options they require.

He adds: "We've responded to the changing needs of our customers by incorporating new features such as an audio monitoring socket, on-camera audio level monitoring and a clean uncompressed HDMI which can be maximised using the Ninja field recorder."

The Nikon D4 is Nikon's flagship Digital SLR that has been designed for photographers looking for the ultimate digital SLR camera. Equipped with a 16.2-megapixel FX-format sensor, phenomenally high ISO and Nikon's powerful EXPEED3 image processing engine, the new model offers uncompromised performance and unrivalled versatility in extreme lighting and environmental conditions. Every aspect of the new Nikon D4 DSLR has been designed to emphasize rapid response and seamless operation to help professional photographers consistently capture incredible content.

Pricing and Availability

Ninja is currently available for $999 USD / €795 / £695. See http://www.atomos.com for details.
The Nikon D4 will be available in late February 2012 for the suggested retail price of $5999.95 / £4799.99. See http://www.nikon.co.uk for details.

About Atomos

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GenArts Announces Sapphire Edge Support for FCP X

GenArts® Inc., the global leader in specialized visual effects software for the media and advertising industries, today announced the availability of Sapphire Edge for Final Cut Pro X professional video editing application from Apple. Sapphire Edge empowers Final Cut Pro X editors to efficiently apply cutting-edge visual effects in a streamlined editorial experience without compromising the quality of the final result. Sapphire Edge delivers the same professional visual effects as its high-end counterpart Sapphire, and is designed with the busy, modern editor in mind. By extending the modern workflow introduced in Final Cut Pro X, Sapphire Edge visual effects software enables broadcast, film, and online video editors to produce more engaging stories in fewer steps, saving valuable production time and money.

Sapphire Edge’s sleek interface complements Final Cut Pro X with key tools that better serve the needs of today’s editor, including effect-based transitions and visual browsing. As part of Apple’s third-party editing ecosystem, GenArts provides revolutionary tools to editors so they can preview looks on their footage and use them as-is or customize them easily to meet their project goals.

“Today’s editors and storytellers need the power of visual effects to produce breakthrough content and build relationships with their audiences,” says Katherine Hays, CEO of GenArts, Inc. “They need an inspired, impactful way to express themselves that resonates with their viewers, without sacrificing productivity or sinking significant resources into the process. We worked with Apple to ensure Sapphire Edge works with Final Cut Pro X to deliver the best of both worlds.”

“Using Sapphire Edge with Final Cut Pro X transforms the experience so editors can apply premium visual effects in a more intuitive workflow to quickly create higher quality, better performing video,” continues Hays. “Now, nothing can limit your creative vision.”

About GenArts

Established in 1996, GenArts, Inc. provides groundbreaking visual effects to motion graphic artists, compositors, and editors in post-production houses and broadcast networks globally. Recently, the company expanded capabilities to give video creators from all experience levels the tools to create an array of high-tech effects for indie productions, wedding videography, advertising, video games, films, and more. The company’s product portfolio leverages the GenArts SolutionTM to provide industry-leading Sapphire, intuitive videographer tool Sapphire Edge, and a diverse number of complementary Sapphire Accents. The GenArts Solution extends the technology used by customers like Framestore, The Mill, ABC, BBC, and ESPN to businesses of all sizes and budgets so they too can create high-quality visual effects.

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Nattress Releases First FxFactory-based AE and FCP Filters

Noise Industries' latest partnership with Nattress Productions brings a finer degree of image control to the editor through Levels and Curves, a filter pack that allows users to color grade in film-log space. The new curve-based color adjustment plug-in, available now on FxFactory 3, is compatible with Final Cut Pro® 6, 7 and X; Motion 3, 4 and 5; and Adobe® After Effects® CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS5.5. Offered at 29 USD, users can download a free trial version of Nattress Levels and Curves from http://www.nattress.com/?q=LevelsCurves.

Nattress Levels and Curves feature highlights include:

  • Film-Log Space – Editors have all the benefits of fine control over the tones in an image and film-like contrast handling.
  • On-Screen Curve Display – The on-screen curve display helps editors fine-tune curve and/or level adjustments. The curve display can easily be turned off when footage adjustment is completed.
  • Library of Presets – Users can quickly apply popular level corrections, or create and save custom presets to use again and again. 
  • Levels – The Black and White level inputs and outputs can be easily set, plus gamma curve control allows for fast and functional levels control.
  • Curves RGB – Individual control over the RGB channels in an image is made simple. The control set is duplicated for each channel allowing for precise control over image tones and colors.
  • Curves Luma – Users can work on the luma component of an image only. When a user adjusts luma curves, it only alters how bright or dark the tones of the image appear; color and saturation are not affected.
  • Curves - Curves work in RGB space equally across all three channels. As contrast increases, so does the perception of image saturation.

More Information on Levels and Curves: http://www.nattress.com/?q=LevelsCurves 

Levels and Curves Tutorial

Users can learn more about Nattress Levels and Curves by watching the online tutorial at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsoELkmPDV0 

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Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle 2 SSD Adds 10-bit Recording and Avid DNxHD Support

Blackmagic Design today released a new version of its popular HyperDeck Shuttle Solid State Disk recorder. HyperDeck Shuttle 2 replaces the existing model and adds broadcast quality 10-bit recording and playback to the Avid DNxHD format for the same low price of $345. 

HyperDeck Shuttle 2 is shipping now and available from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide. HyperDeck 2.0 software public beta is available to download now from the Blackmagic Design web site. Any customer who has HyperDeck Shuttle 2 can download this software update to add DNxHD compressed recording. 

HyperDeck Shuttle now records the highest quality uncompressed or compressed video formats onto common low cost SSDs in the smallest possible size! HyperDeck Shuttle is small, affordable and battery powered so it’s perfect as a field recorder. For direct camera mounting, HyperDeck Shuttle Mounting Plate can be added to provide multiple pre drilled 1/4” and 3/8” mounting holes. 

HyperDeck Shuttle

HyperDeck Shuttle turns low cost cameras into high end broadcast cameras because it allows video file recording to bypass the camera's compression by recording from SDI and HDMI directly to 10-bit uncompressed QuickTime or Avid DNxHD MXF formats. SSDs are cheap and fast, and can be plugged into an eSATA dock for instant access to the media files, so are the most flexible recording medium available. 

DNxHD is a broadcast industry standard for media files and adding native support for this compressed video format into HyperDeck Shuttle will allow dramatically longer recording times, lower media storage costs, and provide full file format compatibility with Avid Media Composer systems. All media is recorded in MXF format that’s immediately available for all Avid Media Composer systems and leading video applications including Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. 

SSDs

SSDs are the latest computer disk technology that features flash storage in a low cost and small 2.5" size. Using SSDs with HyperDeck Shuttle provides video recording with blazing fast speed, low power consumption and totally silent operation. This is a perfect replacement for mechanical tape based acquisition and also eliminates complicated and expensive disk arrays. With no moving parts, SSDs are unbelievably robust and can handle shocks and vibrations that would destroy conventional hard drives or videotapes. 

With SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs, HyperDeck Shuttle works with virtually every camera, deck or monitor and effortlessly plugs into monitors or televisions for instant on set preview. HyperDeck Shuttle can also be used as a video playback source for digital signage systems or connected to a live production switcher for recording events and then used for live playback! 

“Recording DNxHD files straight to disk now costs less per minute than recording to professional tape plus it’s the most efficient workflow possible,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “A 64Gb SSD is less than $100 and will record 50 minutes of the highest quality DNxHD video! This update means that both HyperDeck Studio and HyperDeck Shuttle customers can record broadcast quality DNxHD files for less than $2 a minute!”

HyperDeck Shuttle Key Features

  • Capture and playback with Solid State Disks in uncompressed and compressed 10-bit quality.
  • 10-bit capture and playback of uncompressed QuickTime and compressed Avid DNxHD MXF files.
  • SSD is removable for editing, and changing to blank disks.
  • 3 Gb/s SDI input using mini coax SDI connector and HDMI input. Auto selects.
  • 3 Gb/s SDI output using mini coax SDI connector and HDMI output.
  • Power supply connection also recharges battery.
  • USB connection for software updates and settings.
  • Machined out of solid block of aluminum for maximum strength and attractive design.
  • File compatibility with Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve and more.

HyperDeck Shuttle 2 Availability and Price

HyperDeck Shuttle 2 is shipping now and available from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide. HyperDeck 2.0 software public beta is available to download now from the Blackmagic Design web site. Any customer who has HyperDeck Shuttle 2 can download this software update to add DNxHD compressed recording.

About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and film restoration software for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability, while the company’s DaVinci EmmyTM award winning color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including stereoscopic 3D and 4K workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. For more information, please check http://www.blackmagic-design.com.

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