The Foundry’s Katana Embraced Around the World

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Thu, 12/13/2012 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

Over the last few months The Foundry’s look development and lighting tool Katana has been adopted by a growing number of studios of all sizes around the globe. The software which was originally developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks is showing a truly global presence and the list of clients now also includes Mikros Image in Paris Fido in Stockholm Newbreed in Montreal and most recently the famous Tippett Studio in Emeryville California. Sanjay Das CTO at Tippett Studio says “We really looked at Katana as a game changer for us. Pipeline is key to our operation and we need to push shots through it fast. Katana fits the mentality of the way we work. It provides us with industrial strength architecture and is a great foundation to which we can add our own tools. Once integrated it will replace around 50 percent of our existing pipeline and in the long term we expect it will improve our efficiency by at least 20 percent. This kind of streamlining means that Katana will literally pay for itself.” Fabrice Macagno CTO at Mikros Image says “Katana is going to help us to have a more pragmatic approach to the lighting pipeline and at the same time we expect for it to give lighting artists a smoother and a more intuitive working environment especially with the node based workflow. With Katana in our pipeline we will be able to handle large datasets to work in a full asset driven lighting workflow in a collaborative context and to improve the tools available to lighting artists.” Mikros is already using Katana on the CG feature Astérix and the Land of the Gods. Newbreed in Montreal and Fido in Stockholm are two of the growing number of boutique-sized studios to pick up Katana.   Hubert Maston CG supervisor Newbreed Visual Effects says “Katana fulfilled all of our principal requirements regarding look development and lighting work and was very easy to integrate. Katana helps artists to spend all of their time working on what is most important; the final image. And this only results in better looking pictures. Katana has been a fantastic accelerator in our pipeline development schedule and enables us to handle volume and complexity in much more efficient manner and by extension increase our productivity. It makes us able to tackle much more complex work and much bigger volumes than in the past.” Newbreed will be using Katana on the upcoming Alex Aja directed feature film Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe.   Fredrik Limsäter CTO at Fido in Stockholm says Katana is the missing piece to our 3D pipeline puzzle and is now the tool that glues together all our different 3D departments such as animation hair and cloth FX and lighting. The asset based workflow fits extremely well into our pipeline. We have been able to easily integrate our production and asset management with Katana and have our artists pulling assets from FTrack our asset management system. The ability to manipulate a scene graph on demand is a huge benefit to our lighters.” Finally Bill Collis CEO at The Foundry says “Katana has been undergoing rapid in-house development at The Foundry. Its widespread adoption at a range of facilities is testament to the quality of the software. The way Katana streamlines and simplifies the process within facilities is really changing the way that teams are working to deliver lighting and CG elements. Artists find it easier more intuitive and less frustrating and facilities are discovering the cost benefits of choosing a package that ends up paying for itself in a relatively short period of time. The organizational structure Katana enforces allows them to reduce costs and become more efficient than ever before.” Pictured: the cast of Astérix ,3762
Fujifilm Unveils News Cabrio PL Lens,2012-12-14,Fujifilm has introduced the PL 85-300 Cabrio lens a PL Mount zoom lens in the Premier PL digital cinematography family that builds on the popularity and success of its predecessor the PL19-90mm Cabrio (Model ZK4.7x19).  While the PL 85-300 is similar in size and weight as the PL 19-90 its longer lens makes it ideal for shooting documentaries nature and wildlife and car commercials among other demanding production scenarios.  The PL 85-300 offers a focal length of 85-220mm at T2.9 and 300mm at T4.0 with 200-degree focus rotation. Designed using the latest optical simulation technology the PL 85-300 Cabrio not only offers exceptional optical performance in the center of the image but in the corners of the frame as well.  Like the highly acclaimed PL 19-90 Cabrio the PL 85-300 is equipped with the same indispensable features including flange focal distance adjustment a MOD of 1.2m   a macro function for objects as close as 97mm (3.8-inches) and covers a 31.5mm diagonal sensor size The digital servo’s 16-bit encoding assures operators that all lens data output—such as the position of the zoom iris and focus—is extremely accurate and the lens supports Lens Data System (LDS) and /i metadata formats. Like the PL 19-90 Cabrio the new PL 85-300 features an exclusive detachable servo drive unit making it suitable for use as a standard PL lens or as an ENG-style lens.  And the PL 85-300 can be controlled using cinema industry standard wireless controllers as well as existing Fujinon wired and wireless units.  The other Premier PL Mount Series lenses are available in 14.5-45mm T2.0 18-85mm T2.0 24-180mm T2.6 and 75-400 mm T2.8-T3.8 ranges. “We designed the new PL 85-300 and the entire Premier PL zoom lens family to give professional cinematographers and videographers the utmost in features and versatility.  We believe that a wide array of choices help them match the right lens with the unique demands of their high-end productions ” said Thom Calabro director marketing and product development Fujifilm North America Corporation Optical Devices Division. “Versatility means that videographers accustomed to shooting ENG-style will be right at home with a servo attached to the lens while cinematographers who shoot projects like feature films and commercials can opt to shoot without it ” Calabro explained.  “Cinematographers will also like that this lens accepts industry standard cine motors and matte boxes.”   ,3763
IBC Now Seeking Entries for the IBC2013 Innovation Awards,2012-12-14,Call for entries are now open for the IBC2013 Innovation Awards which celebrate the best of collaboration and technology. “Our awards are so highly sought because they reflect what is really important in the industry today ” said IBC’s Michael Lumley the chair of the Innovation Awards judging panel. “To transform a media business creatively technically or commercially you need more than just good technology you need to drive it through your business fulfilling a real definable need. If you do that you will make a real difference in your organization – and maybe win an IBC Innovation Award.” The unique nature of the IBC Innovation Awards is that they do not go to technology companies for new products but instead to end users – broadcasters production companies and media organizations – who bring together the best of innovation to achieve their goals. Some entries will be made by technology companies who are proud of what they have delivered but frequently the nominations come from the end user who wants to share their success with their peers. So in recent years nominations have come direct from organizations as diverse as TV Globo in Brazil RIA Novosti in Russia and Turner Broadcasting in the USA. “The awards also reflect the changing nature of the industry ” added Lumley. “Last year all three Innovation Awards were won by new media applications rather than conventional broadcast systems. We celebrated a companion app video on demand via XBox and a video server network to capture and replay sports action for the referees.” There are three categories in the IBC Innovation Awards: for the most innovative projects in Content Creation Content Management and Content Delivery. In 2012 they were taken by FX UK for its companion app to The Walking Dead by American motor sport NASCAR for its video capture and replay system and by Channel 4 in the UK for its delivery of the 4OD video on demand service through the Microsoft XBox using the Kinect controller. There is also a Judges’ Prize. The panel of international editors and consultants who review the entries may choose one of the category winners or may give their award to another project which has impressed during the year. In 2012 the Judges’ Prize went to FIMS the joint initiative between AMWA and EBU to develop a standardized platform for connectivity in file-based architectures. Entries for the IBC2013 Innovation Awards should be submitted by February 22 2013. To find out more about the IBC Awards and to submit your entry to the IBC2013 Innovation Awards please visit ,3765
JVC Releases Firmware Upgrade for GY-HM600 Camera,2012-12-14, JVC Professional Products Company has announced a firmware upgrade for the GY-HM600 its handheld ProHD camera. The upgrade adds new features and boosts camera performance. The firmware upgrade improves camera’s autofocus and signal-to-noise ratio as well as its flash band compensation which minimizes or eliminates banding during recording when an external flash is in use. New features include preset shooting modes which provide optimized settings for common shooting scenarios: standard mode for ideal lighting conditions and extended mode with maximum gain for ENG image capture in difficult lighting conditions. In addition the GY-HM600 now offers AF assist functionality in auto focus mode. Current GY-HM600 owners can download the file (version 0104) from The firmware is loaded using an SDHC card (Slot B) and instructions are included with the file. Cameras currently being shipped from dealers or directly from JVC already include the firmware upgrade. ,3768
Kaleidescape Signs Multi-Year Deal with Warner Bros.,2012-12-14, Kaleidescape has signed a multi-year agreement with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to offer films for purchase. In addition the company will upgrade all Warner Bros. titles purchased through the Kaleidescape Store to UltraViolet in March 2013 – enabling users to enjoy their collection across their various devices.  This agreement also enables a Kaleidescape owner to convert Warner Bros. titles that were previously imported to their Kaleidescape movie server to UltraViolet or to upgrade their Warner Bros. titles from standard definition to high definition – both for a small fee. UltraViolet is an industry wide initiative that was launched last year in the United States. It gives consumers the ability to buy and collect movies and TV shows from any authorized retailer and download or stream the content to a wide range of connected devices such as compatible Internet-connected TVs Blu-ray players smartphones and tablets. More than seven million consumers have registered for UltraViolet to unlock their digital film and television libraries and enjoy a more convenient and accessible entertainment experience. We couldn't be more excited about working with Warner Bros. and offering this extensive catalog of well-known and well-loved titles to our customers said Michael Malcolm founder chairman and CEO of Kaleidescape.  In addition the inclusion of UltraViolet in our service will give owners of Kaleidescape movie servers a whole new way to enjoy their content. Through this licensing agreement Kaleidescape System owners will initially have the ability to buy thousands of Warner Bros. titles via the Kaleidescape Store including the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings.  When UltraViolet functionality is launched in March 2013 available titles that are purchased now will be automatically upgraded to UltraViolet at no additional charge.  These titles can then be easily accessed through UltraViolet compatible applications including Flixster – one of the most popular movie discovery applications available.  With over 60 million downloads of the app to date Flixster makes finding managing and enjoying movies and TV shows simple. Kaleidescape is well-known for its user-friendly system that lets consumers access and watch movies from their home collections with the touch of a button said Thomas Gewecke president Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.  Now their users have the same one-touch simplicity with purchasing new movies electronically.  UltraViolet will extend its ease-of-use further with automatic upgrades for purchased titles and even more ways to watch movie libraries both at home and on the go. Kaleidescape visit ,3769
Lost Medallion to Open in March,2012-12-14,The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone from MeThinx Entertainment is slated to open in theaters nationwide on March 1 2013. The film stars Alex Kendrick (Courageous  Fireproof and Facing the Giants) with Mark Dacascos (Iron Chef Hawaii Five-O) and features themes of friendship teamwork and good overcoming evil all while teaching kids the truth of their tremendous value. The film was written directed and produced by bestselling author and owner of MeThinx Entertainment Bill Muir (The Crossing Invisible Enemies) and is based on a series of fictional novels of the same name also written by Muir and released in 2011.  A brand new version of the novel co-written by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kendrick is slated to hit shelves in conjunction with the 2013 theatrical release. The Lost Medallion was filmed primarily in Thailand with an all-star production team including cinematographer Brian Baugh (The Ultimate Gift  To Save a Life) as well as producers Kevin and Bobby Downes owners of Downes Brothers Entertainment (Like Dandelion Dust  The Visitation) Mark Burman (The Heart of Christmas In the Blink of an Eye) Michael Scott (The Mark Me Again The Encounter) and producer/editor Phillip Moses (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland The Mist Fantastic Four Spider-Man 3). Other producers include Jamie Muir Wych Kaosayananda and Executive Producer John Duke.  MeThinx Entertainment has also brought on board Charlie and Suzette Schafer of Purpose Driven Sales to oversee the church and marketing efforts theatrical release TV and DVD distribution and licensing. Organizations and ministries across the nation such as Awana gmc TV Youth for Christ Church Web Works Equipping Kids and J12 are partnering with The Lost Medallion to bring high level awareness and support to this film. The Lost Medallion ,3770
Turning Atlanta into New York for Necessary Roughness,2012-12-14, Bill Wages ASC is glad to be shooting USA’s Necessary Roughness on location in his hometown of Atlanta Georgia instead of commuting to far locations. Necessary Roughness is a series about a female psychologist whose main practice is the fictional NFL team the New York Hawks. “Atlanta for New York ” Wages laughs. “You gotta love Hollywood’s creativity.” “Actually we really do get a lot of mileage out of the various local locations ” he says. “Since she treats other sports and show business patients we end up with a wide variety of subjects – and an even wider variety of challenges. We average 50 to 60 setups per day. One day I’ll be shooting a football game and the next a rock-and-roll concert. Because of the amount and range of set ups my support is crucial. There is no room for error. That’s why I chose OConnor’s 2575 – and no gear heads.”

 Wages says he has never seen a shot that he can’t do with the 2575. “But I’ve seen a lot of shots that a gear head couldn’t do. Sure there’s a place for both but with a large package like ours (four Alexas) I have no room for excess so the OConnor 2575 fluid heads were it.” While shooting football scenes Wages goes for documentary-style shooting that is rather free form. “It’s very intuitive. No restrictions even when we point almost 90-degrees up and down. My A-camera operator Steve Andrich shoots for the NFL so he knows how to follow a passed football with a 500mm lens and fill the frame. He never loses it with the OConnor. Try it with a gear head. Not possible.” Wages really puts OConnor into challenging positions. To get a very low angle he will hang the head and camera upside down on the dolly to get right to the ground. “Comes in handy when tracking player’s feet as they run ” he says. “I know the OConnor isn’t designed for this but it gets the shot.” And in post the image is inverted with a push of a button. 

Sometimes he brings in his OConnor 100 “once owned by Fouad Said (his name is engraved on it). It was used on the original I Spy ” he laughs. “This thing is so strong that when I’ve used it on other projects Joe Dunton has built a side-sling rig for me to allow the camera to sit beside the head just above the ground for an extremely low angle. I’ve put a Panaflex with an 11-to-1 and 1000 foot magazine on it with no problem. This is a tremendous amount of torque – on a 50-year-old piece of equipment. You simply can’t hurt it.” ,3771
Qube Cinema’s Server Media Block Pass DCI Compliance Test,2012-12-14,Qube Cinema’s XP-I digital cinema server and Xi 4K Integrated Media Block have passed the DCI Compliance Test Plan. CineCert conducted the testing. To pass the CTP the Qube XP-I streamed 2K and 4K DCP content to the Xi IMB embedded in a Barco DP4K-32B DCI-compliant projector. The Qube XP-I server now joins the Qube XP-D server which achieved DCI certification earlier this year. “The performance and dependability of Qube servers and the Xi 4K IMB that exhibitors have come to expect has been validated ” said Rajesh Ramachandran president and CTO of Qube Cinema. “Achieving DCI compliance reinforces our commitment to provide postproduction facilities and exhibitors with the means of creating and showing the best 4K and HFR content.” The XP-I server is capable of streaming up to 1 Gbps of data from a single DCP to two synchronized Xi 4K IMBs imbedded in two projectors for pristine 4K 3D cinema at up to 60 fps (30 fps per eye) and in 2K 3D at up to 240 fps (120 fps per eye). The XP-I streams data through a dual Gigabit Ethernet interface to the Ethernet-based Xi 4K IMB ensuring that there is no limitation on the distance between the server and projector. The Xi 4K IMB is installed in numerous commercial locations worldwide with DLP Cinema projectors from all of the TI OEMs and supports HD 2K 4K and 3D content in DCI-compliant formats. The modularized third-generation Qube XP software gives a common user experience for setup operation and maintenance of both the XP-I and XP-D servers. This allows XP-D users to upgrade easily to the XP-I and Xi IMB to accommodate 4K resolution and higher frame rates. With their high bit rate throughput and unique ability to work transparently with dual projectors the XP-I server and Xi 4K IMB are also ideal for giant screen exhibition. ,3772
Survey of Film Festival Organizers Brings Digital Transition into Focus,2012-12-14,Film is dead at least according to a survey of film festival organizers that Quvis Technologies CEO Kenbe Goertzen discussed recently at the International Film Festival Summit in Austin Texas. As a whole film festival organizers say that they do most of the judging in digital formats and believe that digital formats specifically a Digital Cinema Package offers the best viewing experience for their audience. “Film festivals across the world are undergoing the digital conversion and there is a lot of concern amongst the film festival community about how digital cinema will affect submission and exhibition processes ” said Goertzen. “The conversion to digital will offer huge benefits for indie filmmakers and festival directors alike and the International Film Festival Summit is the best place to learn more about how to take advantage of these new digital technologies. “The mission of the Summit is to provide festivals and by extension filmmakers with access to the latest technology trends and developments in our industry ” said Laurie Kirby executive director of the International Film Festival Summit. “The International Film Festival Summit is the only event entirely devoted to professional development of executives who work in the film festival community.” With all cinemas expected to convert to digital projectors by 2015 Quvis set out to gain insight from film festival organizers – both large and small – into their preferred viewing format of film submissions. The survey which was conducted by Quvis and co-sponsored by the IFFS shed light on the film festival submission and exhibition processes particularly which digital format is preferred and why. Highlights of the survey results include: Film festivals prefer digital quality submissions. When asked to rank the most common to least common method for submitting films for display film reel was selected as the least common. When choosing between digital streaming DVD Blu-Ray Disc or film reel film festival organizers voted DCP as the format offering the best viewing experience. With the costs of making films on the decline and more avenues to distribute work more filmmakers are self-distributing films further supporting the hypothesis that film festivals are alive and well. While traditional theatrical distribution is still the most common way for filmmakers to distribute their films after a film festival paid digital and self-distribution are emerging as two popular distribution formats. A summary of the Survey findings can be found on the Quvis website