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Kollaborate Transfer 1.2 released with improved queue management

Last week we released Kollaborate Transfer 1.2, an important update to our free Kollaborate uploader.

This update adds lots of improvements to queue management and greater performance and stability when dealing with large batches. We also fixed a couple of issues where the queue could stop processing if one of the files failed.

In addition, the ability to choose whether or not a file should be automatically revised is now back, based on user feedback.

We were made aware that due to an issue in the software update mechanism in version 1.1.5, some users may not be prompted to update when running the older version. If you do not see an update prompt, please download the new version manually.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Monday December 8 2014 9:35 AM to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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Pro Media Tools 1.3.4 released - Video Check matte detection and more

We've just released Pro Media Tools 1.3.4, a minor update to our suite of media management tools.

Video Check matte detection

If your video is supposed to have a matte on it, Video Check can determine if it is the correct aspect ratio. It can flag up frames where the matte is missing or the wrong size.

Other Video Check improvements include a reduction in flash frame false positives and the fact that detected problems are now listed by timecode instead of frame number.

Gamma Shift Detector improvements

We've improved support for extreme gamma shifts, added timecode displays for each video plus many other UI tweaks.

The app will also now display an error if you try to compare a black or almost entirely black frame, prompting you to select a different one where a gamma shift can be detected.

QT Edit improvements

We've added new Quick Tasks to help you automate disabling or removing audio tracks in batches. We've also added a timecode field to help you navigate through a movie.

Pro Media Tools is an essential toolkit for media professionals. To find out more view the feature list, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Thursday December 4 2014 11:11 AM to DR News, Front Page News, Utilities
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Apple adds MXF support to QuickTime applications

Yesterday Apple released Pro Video Formats 2.0 (an apparently renamed version of Pro Apps Codecs), which is a set of professional codecs to coincide with the FCPX 10.1.4 update with MXF integration.

The release notes imply this only adds MXF support to FCPX, Motion and Compressor, however it is actually much broader than this. It adds MXF reading to any application on the system that uses the QuickTime APIs.

You can test this by taking an MXF file on your system (such as from an Avid_MediaFiles folder), right-clicking and choosing to open in QuickTime Player 7. This will work in any app that uses the QuickTime 7 APIs and does not require the latest version of OS X.

There are however some limitations:

  • You cannot QuickLook MXFs
  • You cannot encode to an MXF container
  • The files do not open in QuickTime Player X or any app that uses AV Foundation (this includes CinePlay)
  • You cannot edit metadata (QT Player forces you to save to a .MOV)
  • Some metadata was appearing garbled for me

We would also recommend users do not use MXFs with any of our apps that make changes to movie files. So Edit Detector will work fine but QT Edit will not.

This update will appear for anyone with Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5 or Compressor 4 installed on your system. If you don't have these apps and still want the MXF functionality, I recommend buying Compressor from the App Store for $50.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Wednesday December 3 2014 9:19 AM to Apple, Software, QuickTime
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How to protect your video content

Sometimes it is necessary to protect video content against unauthorized redistribution. Here's an overview of the main ways of doing this.

Visible Watermarking

This involves placing text or a logo over the video to show the name of the company owning the content.

Pros

  • Simple and free
  • Doesn't require specialist software to create or view
  • Its obvious visibility provides a deterrent
  • Difficult to remove if placed in an area that cannot be cropped out

Cons

  • Disrupts the movie
  • Does not provide any physical protection mechanisms
  • No feasible way to tie a movie to a particular person
  • May increase movie encoding times

Invisible Watermarking

Some companies offer invisible watermarking by tagging content with a fingerprint. One such example would be Digimarc Guardian.

You would tag the movie and give it to the end user, then if it appears on a file-sharing website you can download it and read the tag to find out which user shared it.

Pros

  • Quick to apply to an existing movie without re-encoding
  • Can be tied to a specific user
  • Does not disrupt the movie

Cons

  • Requires specialist software to create and view
  • Does not provide any physical protection mechanisms

Content Protection Plugins

Browser plugins like Flash and Silverlight offer their own Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection systems.

Pros

  • A lot of control over exactly what the user can and cannot do. For example, you can make a movie unplayable after a certain time period.
  • Offers a physical protection mechanism

Cons

  • Requires a plugin, which may cause problems with less tech-savvy users
  • May not be playable on mobile devices
  • May be too expensive for smaller publishers (Adobe does not publish Adobe Access pricing)

HTML5 Content Protection (Encrypted Media Extensions)

This uses web technologies to allow content protection without the need for a plugin. It is frequently misunderstood as a protection mechanism in itself, but in actuality it is just a means of linking HTML5 web video with existing third-party protection systems, so a lot of the pros and cons of plugins still apply.

Pros

  • No plugins needed
  • A lot of control over exactly what the user can and cannot do. For example, you can make a movie unplayable after a certain time period.
  • Offers a physical protection mechanism

Cons

  • Currently very little browser support
  • Needs to be integrated with an existing DRM system
  • Expensive

Streaming

Streaming a file can make it difficult for users to download it, and for someone people this is all that is needed. This can be achieved with proprietary technologies like Adobe Media Server or HTML5 technologies like HTTP Live Streaming.

Pros

  • Difficult to download files
  • Fast playback times
  • Additional features can be added like automatically changing playback quality to match the user's connection

Cons

  • Requires preparation of the files in advance
  • Can still be downloaded by tech-savvy users with specific software
  • Some technologies require a streaming server

So which is best? That entirely depends on the content you are trying to protect.

  • If you are trying to prevent a paying viewer from sharing a movie, DRM is the best way to go.
  • If you are trying to prevent clients from using work in progress media without paying you, visible watermarking and/or streaming may be best.
  • If you are trying to prevent a movie being leaked before its release, a combination of physical preventions, user tracking and deterrents may be required.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Monday November 24 2014 9:35 AM to DR News, Analysis, Tutorials
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CinePlay 1.1.4 released - new navigation controls plus UI tweaks

Yesterday we released CinePlay 1.1.4 for Mac, a minor update to our professional video player.

Many of the changes in this version are the result of customer feedback including:

New navigation controls

Fast-forwarding / rewinding can now go up to 16x speed, pressing Shift+Left/Right Arrow moves 1 second forward or back and Cmd+Left/Right Arrow switches between files in a playlist. If no playlist is currently open it goes to either the start or end of the movie.

Type to navigate to timecode position

Instead of having to click on the timecode to enter a new timecode position to navigate to, you can now simply start typing the numbers over the video and the timecode position dialog will automatically appear.

UI changes

The Info dialog now shows the timecode start position for each timecode track in the movie and improves the way audio codecs are displayed.

Dragging the playhead now shows a popup with the current timecode. We've also enlarged the video timecode overlay based on user feedback.

This is a small subset; there are several additional changes listed in the changelog.

CinePlay for Mac is an essential professional replacement for QuickTime Player X. It's free for cloud use and there is also an iOS version available.

To find out more, view the feature list, watch the overview video, read the user manual or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Friday November 21 2014 1:00 PM to DR News, Front Page News, Utilities
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10 Useful Avid Console Commands

Avid Media Composer features a little-known Console window that allows you to enter commands to tune performance, improve debugging and enable hidden features. Many of the commands are aimed at plugin developers but here is a list of several that are generally useful.

To access the Console, go to Tools > Console. Note that many commands will need to be re-applied the next time you launch Media Composer.

Allow editing over network drives

By default Avid will only recognize locally-attached hard disks. You can switch off this limitation to enable editing over a network share. Note: do not let others access the project at the same time.

AllDrives 1 - Switches it on
AllDrives 2 - Switches it off

List installed AMA plugins

Displays a list of installed AMA plugins and their version numbers. Plugins can also be enabled, disabled and removed through our Plugin Manager app.

AMA_ListPlugins

Cache audio before playback

Specifies how many seconds of audio to cache before starting playback. If you are getting ADM_COREAUDIO_UNDERRUN or similar errors, you may benefit from increasing this number. You can also decrease it on a fast computer to reduce the time taken to begin playback.

audiopreread [number in seconds]

Set still image default frame duration

When importing an image via the Import dialog the length can only be specified in seconds. This command allows you to specify it down to a frame.

Cmd_setimportslidelength [number in frames]

Conform imported QuickTimes to current sequence frame rate

This applies a rudimentary conform feature by overriding a movie's frame rate with the rate of the project. This can also be done with QT Edit.

IgnoreQTRate 1 - Switches it on
IgnoreQTRate 0 - Switches it off

Cache multicam frames

Multicam playback is very taxing on a computer because it requires the playback of multiple video and audio streams at once. To help improve this you can increase the number of frames Avid caches before playback starts.

multicampreload [number of frames]

Rename media files to match clip names

Renames media files using the clip names specified in the bin. So 001V01.C4BV01.C9E214DBCCD3C.mxf becomes MyClip.V1.MyMovie.mxf.

Warning: This can potentially unlink precomputes (render files) and cause issues if you have to export an EDL or otherwise send the project to someone else. Not recommended in a shared environment.

renamemediafiles

Load precomputes into a monitor

Allows precomputes (render files) to be loaded into a monitor for playback and editing. You'll need to make precomputes visible in the bin before you can do this, by going to Bin > Set Bin Display and ticking Rendered Effects.

subsys monpane debug

Set timecode break threshold

This sets the interval at which to detect timecode breaks, in frames. Setting it to a high number might miss some timecode breaks; setting it to a low number might cause false positives. The default is 6.

TCBreakTolerance [a number between 2 and 12] 

Toggle between PSF and progressive

Outputs video as Progressive Segmented Frames (PSF) instead of pure Progressive. Useful for compatibility with certain displays that don't support Progressive at higher resolutions or frame rates.

TogglePSF 1 - Switches PSF on
TogglePSF 0 - Switches Progressive on

Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday November 18 2014 9:14 AM to Video Editing, Avid, Tutorials
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Managing frame sequences in Batch Renamer

There are many tools for batch renaming, including Finder in OS X 10.10 Yosemite, however most of these tools are not built with film and TV workflows in mind and therefore don't understand or operate well with image sequences.

Batch Renamer in Pro Media Tools has several features that make it invaluable for image sequence workflows.

Detect frame gaps

Did you render the correct portion of the clip? Did you copy every file you intended to? Batch Renamer allows you to check for missing frame numbers to help spot such issues.

Edit sequences

If you need to remove a shot, delete its frames and then use the Close Number Gaps option to renumber the other frames to fill in the gap.

Offset / reorder frame numbers

Did you render out with the wrong start frame? Choose Offset Frame Numbers to add or subtract a number of frames from each file. Alternatively, drag the files in the window to get them in the desired order manually then choose Reorder Frames.

Pad frame numbers

If you rendered out with the wrong frame padding (leading zeroes) it's easy to change this in Batch Renamer.

Reverse sequences

Need a VFX shot to play backwards without re-rendering it? Choose the Reverse Frame Numbers option.


Batch Renamer is just one tool in the Pro Media Tools suite. Other popular tools include QT Edit, for batch-editing the properties of QuickTime movies (changing metadata, timecode, managing tracks) and Video Check, for locating faults in a video (flash frames, long frames, audio peaks).

To find out more about Pro Media Tools, check out the features page, watch the overview video, read the user manual or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Wednesday November 12 2014 9:57 AM to Software, Visual Effects, Tutorials
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Pro Maintenance Tools 2.0.27 released - improved Premiere project repair

Pro Maintenance Tools 2.0.27 is a minor update to our suite of tools to maintain, optimize and troubleshoot your editing system.

Improved Premiere project repair

Project Repair now analyzes the structure of an Adobe Premiere project before repairing to try to predict the likelihood of success. If it knows the project is unsalvageable it will be able to provide a more helpful error message. It's especially useful at letting you know when the project file was truncated in the middle of saving so only half of the data is there (yes, this can happen - we recommend Pro Versioner as a way of rescuing your data).

Other changes


  • System Toolkit - Added the ability to reset Adobe plugin blacklists
  • Plugin Manager - Improved Adobe CC 2014.1 compatibility
  • Preference Manager - Improved Adobe CC 2014.1 compatibility
  • Crash Analyzer - Fixed an issue that may cause it to erroneously say a newer update is available when submitting a log
  • Updated Crash Analyzer definitions
  • Various other bug fixes, tweaks and improvements

Pro Maintenance Tools is an essential toolkit for media professionals that is used by freelancers and major studios alike. To find out more, view the feature list, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday November 11 2014 8:01 AM to DR News, Front Page News, Utilities
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Pro Media Tools 1.3.3 released with improved flash frame and gamma shift detection

We've just released Pro Media Tools 1.3.3, a minor update to our suite of media management and processing tools.

Improved flash frame detection

We've updated Video Check to more reliably detect subtle flash frames (e.g. a partial frame or a second frame that is almost identical to the first), as well as increasing the default flash frame sensitivity for first-time users of the app.

Improved Gamma Shift detection

We've overhauled Gamma Shift Detector to use a different detection method which can more reliably detect pixel-based gamma shifts.

Video Check speed improvements

We temporarily disabled the Instances feature in the last Video Check update to make the app more reliable while we were waiting for our new architecture to be implemented. Now that this is in place we've re-enabled the feature which has resulted in a significant performance boost.

This is a small highlight of the changes; you can read the full list here.

Pro Media Tools is an essential toolkit for media professionals. To find out more, view the feature list, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Thursday November 6 2014 10:53 AM to DR News, Front Page News, Utilities
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Kollaborate Server 1.2 released with Kollaborate Encoder 1.0 Beta

We've just launched a major new version of Kollaborate Server, our in-house cloud workflow platform.

Server Encoding

Kollaborate Encoder is an add-on that encodes incompatible videos uploaded via the web interface on a separate server. Encoding is fast because the encoder runs on your internal network and has direct access to your Kollaborate Server storage location.

Your Kollaborate Server license includes one Kollaborate Encoder license, although an unlimited number are supported and Kollaborate Server will automatically send jobs to the server with the lowest number of items in its queue. Currently there is no way to purchase additional licenses but this will be coming soon.

Kollaborate Encoder is considered beta so we recommend exercising caution when using it in a production environment and we welcome all feedback.

Kollaborate Server 1.2 also features the changes from Kollaborate 1.2, including:

Favorites

Favorite a file or comment to refer back to later. This is useful for creating to-do lists.

Custom Departments and Positions

Custom departments and positions can be added on a per-project basis, allowing you to create private storage areas only a few users can see.

Alias overhaul

Aliases have been redesigned and can now be linked to all past and future revisions of a file or just a particular revision.

Other changes


  • Non-admins can now approve files in their departments if the Approval permission is set (for some user types including Client and Agency Rep, this is set by default). To change this, click the dropdown next to a user on the Team page and click Permissions.
  • Navigate between files directly from the player and click a file's thumbnail in the Files page to preview it
  • Replace a file - upload a new copy while keeping all comments and links intact
  • Hide download button option when creating a link (note: this does not prevent users from downloading but makes it less obvious)
  • Right-click menus - instead of clicking the dropdown next to each user, file, project, task or comment, right-click to show the same menu
  • New comment export options - CSV and EdiCue
  • Many bug fixes and tweaks

Kollaborate Server is an in-house cloud workflow platform that connects with Digital Rebellion products to allow you to share files and collaborate with colleagues and clients on your project. For those who prefer a simpler setup, a cloud version is also available.

To find out more, read the feature list and FAQ, watch the overview video or register for the free 15-day trial (no credit card needed).

Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday November 4 2014 11:11 AM to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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