Introducing – Tools for Cinema Quality Assurance

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Cinema Test Tools for the Non-Technical Manager 

Cinema Test Tools is a free resource for the cinema industry, tuned most particularly for the non-technical manager. The tools include several DCPs, all with interesting means of testing the sound and picture quality for the interested by lightly trained staff. The lessons on sound and light are written to provide a foundation to communicate with the technician who must respond quickly and well to the information that they discover.

The key is a free Online Managers Online Walk Through Checklist that correlates with the many DCPs. It helps bring an understanding of the many nuances of the auditorium's situation in a straightforward way. 

Lens Tangents | DCinema Acquisition

Capture – with lens or microphone, perhaps moving electrons around with a stylus, or perhaps conversion from an analogue form. Regardless, the beginning is acquisition.

What Means, New SMPTE Pink Noise...and How?

SMPTE ST-2095-1 is a new standard for Pink Noise. It took a great deal of work by a great number of clever people, a lot of listening and testing and tweaking. The cool thing is that it isn't made with a lot of transiticators, but rather, with digits. This is THE Digital Pink Noise Standard.

Pink Noise has been one of those things that has always been around, and people don't think much about it. Flick a switch, and there it is. But it took a sophisticated circuit to do right, and it wasn't always implemented the same...or even well. That is much less likely now because with the standard is a python script that is very easy to implement.

The equipment that you rely upon may already use it. For example, the great audio tools set named Audio Tools from Studio Six Digital, has already implemented it.

But what if you just want to make some of your own? That is the point of this post – to give a few tips on how to create a usable Pink Noise .wav file using the python script that is delivered with the SMPTE Calibration Pink Noise Standard ST-2095-1...and with luck and permission, attached as a download here.

Since the programming language ‘python’ is installed as a standard part of the Mac computer, that is what you'll see with the drawings and instructions following. There are also some pictures of the basic use of the Audacity, the free and Open Source audio tool. Audacity is available for Windows, but the pictures are from a Mac.

Just to be clear:

1) Python and Audacity are both freely available for Windows and Linux and Mac
2) Allowing for normal directory adjustments, the commands are the same whether used on a Mac or Windows or a Linux based computer. In Windows, of course, one uses the ‘cmd’ window instead of a 'Terminal', and one can’t use cut and paste on the Windows system as one can with Terminal on the Mac and Ubuntu (pointing out only one of several usable versions of Linux OS.)
Windows Python Installer: <https://python.org/downloads>
Audacity downloads are at: <http://web.audacityteam.org/download/>

1) Download the SMPTE Python File

One source is the SMPTE Documents website.

2) Prepare the Computer

On your Mac computer, in Finder, click “Command-Shift U” to go to 'Utilities' folder.
Drag the .py file to Utilities folder; authenticate with your password when asked.
While still in Finder, click “Command-Shift O” (O as in Opal) to go to 'Documents' folder.
Create a new Folder (Cmd-N) and immediately type "pink_noise", then Return to name it.
Open the 'pink-noise' folder with Cmd-O or double click.

3) Using Terminal to Create Some Noise

Do “Command Spacebar”, then type “Terminal”. When ‘Terminal’ appears, click “Return”
In Terminal, type “python " including a trailing space.
From the Utilities folder, drag the 'ST-2095-1-generator.py' icon to the Terminal window.
Add a space
From the top of the previously opened ‘/Documents/pink_noise’ folder, drag the folder icon to the Terminal window.
Add a slash bar and a file name for the pink noise file to be generated: e.g., "/48_10_1.wav"
The line should look something like:

python /Applications/Utilities/ST-2095-1-generator.py Documents/pink_noise/48_10_1.wav

Hit “Return", then wait until the script tells you how long the process took and the RMS value.

Go to ‘Documents/pink_noise folder’ to see the new .wav file. Click once, hit Space bar to listen.

If you are unfamiliar with the techniques detailed above, all that dragging and dropping is used to avoid figuring out –and mistyping – the paths to the documents. Terminal is kind enough to let you drag a file and it fill in the data.

4) To Modify file duration, channel numbers and bit rate

In Terminal, click up arrow which brings up the previous command.
Hit left arrow to the Capital "D" in Documents. Type "-d 20 ", or the desired length in seconds.
Note the space. Make certain there is only one space in between the '20' and the 'D'.
Hit the right arrow to 2nd underscore in the .wav file name. Hit "delete" 2 times. Type "20".
Hit "Return" to create the 20 second file.
The following command will create a .wav file that has 6, 30 second channels of 96k pink noise.

python /Applications/Utilities/ST-2095-1-generator.py -d 30 -c 6 -9 Documents/pink_noise/96_30_6.wav

The six channels in that example will play simultaneously. To create a file that will play the channels consecutively, or to change the levels or add a Fade In or Fade Out, or trim the lengths (a 10 second request will create a file longer than10 seconds), it is necessary to use an audio editing program. While many are available, the examples used below are for the well regarded, free and Open Source program, “Audacity” .

5) To install Audacity

Open a browser page to: http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/
Click the "Download" button
Double-click on the .dmg file, which will open an Audacity Install window
Drag the Audacity folder to the Applications folder.

6) To Open .wav File In Audacity

In the 'pink_noise' folder, Right-Click or Control-Click on the .wav file
Roll down to "Open with". Select "Open with Audacity”
audacity_opn_with
Click "OK" to "Make a copy of the files before editing (safer)
audacity_copy_yes
You should see a single channel of pink noise that is a little shorter than 22 seconds.
audacity_one_channel
To Cut or Fade Out from 20 seconds, with the "I-bar" selected, click, hold and drag to the right.
audacity_choose_panel
To Cut:
Leaving the last 1.8 seconds selected, hit 'Delete'.
To Fade:
Leaving the last 1.8 seconds selected, pull down from 'Effects menu' (at top) to 'Fade Out'
Click Command-A to select the entire track

To quickly add channels of the same modified sound:
Click “Command-D” three times to create 8 channels
Click "X" in upper left corner of any track to eliminate one track.
audacity_kill_channel
Good practice, but not mandatory:
Name the channel by pulling down the box to the right of the 'x'.
Note: The fourth channel will always be the LFE channel
channel4_lfe_always_rename

7) To Sequence one track after the other

Click Cmd-A to select all the tracks.
Pull down the menu "Tracks" to "Align Tracks" to "Align End to End"
'Click Cmd-F' and 'Shift-Cmd-F' to get the entire set of tracks in the window.
Slip/Adjust tracks as desired.

8) To Export to broadcast WAV file use as .wav or for use as DCP

Pull down 'File' to 'Export Audio'. (Cmd-Shift-E)
Name file as desired, but definitely change the name or directory.
In 'Format' pull down to 'Other uncompressed files'.
Click 'Options';Select 'Header: WAV (Microsoft)'; Encoding: 'Signed 24 bit PCM'; Click 'Save'

9) To make channels Rotate…and LFE play last (See N.B. following Technique)

In Advanced Mixing Options: Click the 2nd box down on left. It will get a red outline
Click 'Channel: 3' on right side. A connection will appear.
Click 'Channel: 2' on right side. Connect it to 3rd box down on left side.
Click on connection bar between 3rd box on both sides to remove it.
Do the same to swap RtSurr and LftSurr for Channels 5 and 6 - have real fun with 8 channels.
audacity_mixing_options
Click ‘Save’. The Next panel is metadata which is not supported in .wav files; Click ‘OK'
NB: This technique only works if all channels have identical signals! If, for example, the LFE channel were increased by 10 dB before the Export, following the above Export example will create a Right Surround that is 10 dB too hot.

10) Verifying the .wave file

Go to /pink_noise folder and open new file in Audacity using the “Open As…” technique described previously. If you merely double-click on the .wav file, iTunes will likely import it and play it for you.
audacity_verify
This is what it should look like when complete. It will play out L, C, R, RtSurr, LftSurr, LFE
Now that the .wav file is open, filters can be applied or levels can be adjusted.

11) To add level to a channel

Select – carefully select – the audio portion of the track, then pull down ‘Effects’ to ‘Amplify’, then put in the number of dB to add (or -dB to subtract).
Do your best not to amplify the silence. But it is possible that you will not be able to avoid ‘grabbing’ a small portion of it.

You must export again to create a .wav file. When you “Save” in Audacity, you are creating an Audacity specific file set, not a playable .wav file.

But if you already have saved the .wav file so it plays channels in the proper order, then you don’t need to swap them on export again.

There is more potential in using the Audacity program, but this should serve the basic needs.

Please send document corrections or suggestions via the Contact Form. Thanks.

NAB 2018 Info

Dates: April 7 – 12

SMPTE/NAB Cinema Days: April 7 – 8, Saturday and Sunday before

CinemaCon: April 23 – 26

Use Code LV8875 to register for a pass.

If U B M&E – Free 100TB | Caringo

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PRESS RELEASE                         
 
Caringo Offers No-Cost 100 TBs of S3 Accessible, Secure Scale-Out Storage to M&E Firms
 
Company removes security and cost barriers to entry for M&E firms wanting the benefits 
of object storage with no upfront cost
 
Austin, TX, August 29, 2017 –Caringo, a scale-out cloud & object storage platform company, today announced that it is offering at no-cost a full-featured 100 TB Swarm licenses to qualified Media & Entertainment (M&E) firms that are struggling to store, manage and protect their ever-growing library of digital assets while keeping them securely accessible. Qualified firms include but are not limited to recording studios, content creation and post-production houses, broadcasters, and studios.

“IT execs in the M&E space are under extreme pressure to provide long-term accessible storage and instant search and delivery to customers and viewers,” said Adrian Herrera, Vice President of Marketing at Caringo. “The cloud isn’t a viable option for many because of security and cost concerns. The solution to this is using the same technology that powers major clouds—object storage, secure in their data center. With our announcement today, we are making it easy for qualified firms to get started by offering 100 terabytes of storage for free.”

The complimentary 100 TB license and integration consultation is immediately available to qualified M&E firms. Interested parties can visit https://www.caringo.com/MandE/ for more information. 

Field-hardened, vetted and tested for over a decade to the highest standards of data integrity and reliability, Caringo Swarm serves as the foundation for securely accessible digital asset libraries and storage services for a wide range of government, telecommunications, education, corporate and entertainment organizations including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, BT, iQ Media, Johns Hopkins University, British Telecom, NEP and hundreds more worldwide. Swarm installs on any mix of standard storage hardware, transforming it into a limitless and seamless pool of storage resources with asset protection, lifecycle management, search and security built in. 

The result is a solution that easily integrates into media production and post, distribution and archive workflows, delivering up to a 75% reduction in storage TCO through unique hardware, operational and workflow efficiencies including:

  • Industry-leading hardware and server utilization for your content. Use up to 95% of hard drive space and 100% of drive bays for digital assets. 
  • The ability to automatically add performance or capacity in 90 seconds and continuously upgrade hardware without downtime or disruption to asset accessibility.
  • Automated policy-based protection to optimize for rapid access or data center footprint delivering enterprise-grade durability while defending against ransomware attacks.
  • Cross-platform collaboration and access enabled by Write/Read/Edit via HTTP, S3 or NFS interchangeably. 
  • Rapid asset retrieval and instant delivery via integrated search with the ability to add custom metadata.

Caringo Swarm is the ideal solution for M&E firms looking to balance the industry expectations that storage should be free and assets should be immediately accessible from any device.  

Follow Caringo
LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/company/caringo-inc-
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaringoStorage

 
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About Caringo
Founded in 2005, Caringo is committed to helping customers unlock the value of their data and solve issues associated with data protection, management, organization and search at massive scale. Caringo’s flagship product, Swarm, eliminates the need to migrate data into disparate solutions for long-term preservation, delivery and analysis—radically reducing total cost of ownership. Today, Caringo Swarm Cloud and Object Storage Platform is the foundation for simple, bulletproof, limitless storage solutions for iQ Media, Texas Tech University Systems, NEP, the Department of Defense, the Brazilian Federal Court System, City of Austin, Telefónica, British Telecom, Ask.com, Johns Hopkins University and hundreds more worldwide. Visit http://www.caringo.com to learn more.

 

Update: Serif Affinity Designer and other Mac Vector Graphics Programs

While searching for a new workflow into the 4K 2020 world, the program Affinity Designer was tried. The website has a Free Trial download, and it was quickly found that the rare 16 bit TIFF export was there. Joy.

OmniGraffle doesn't have 16 bit export and they are a bit overpriced, perhaps by double. They are like the Volvo of software companies...such a great reputation that if there is any problem one thinks that it must only be happening to you. (Not that they have real problems outside of needing AI to tell the user what their Export size and detail really means and charging an extra arm for the Pro version.)

Keynote doesn't have 16-bit TIFF export and they have several other problems with exporting, regardless of how precisely great the drawing features are. For example, a 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 QuickTime export can only be done in 30 frames – which may transform well, but not perfectly and who wants the agro. Also, if you try to make a 4096 x 2160 export...well, you can't. You are limited to 3840...so, two jumbles making it hard for for cinema workflow. Not only is the TIFF export only 8-bit, but it will often mistakenly and incorrectly anti-alias a set of close single pixel white lines – close like, separated by a pixel of black, turning them into grey spectacles, I can tell they've had their fun, and ...AND, somehow, a pdf export cuts off a row or 2...very depressing. Your author wakes every morning by going to the App Store and hoping for a new version that will cleanse the taste of people who continue to say that Keynote is not meant to be a professional program...even though it is used all over the world by professionals using 4K projectors and importing into FCPX and Motion.

There are a few other programs with trial versions, most with only 8 bit per channel export, and who knows about the ones that don't. Pixelmator looked very interesting, but it is more cumbersome to work with than Affinity Designer. Autodesk has bought up iDraw and renamed it "Graphic", so maybe there is some high def hope from there soon. Perhaps Sketch has it down with 16 bit, but like most subscription-ware, no trial. Inkscape has some promise though the UI is still in flux and can't be judged. It and GIMP are open source and free, so they have a lot of interest.

Read more ...

Subcategories

Storage. It wasn't that long ago that trying to get a 9 Gig RAID working on a sophisticated LAN was monumental, if not impossible. 9 years perhaps?

Now, terabyte drives are here. Enough to go with holographic storage soon?

There is a thrust for acquisition to take on some of the aspects of post. We are way to conservative for something fancy like that. But, we'll let you modern people talk about it.

Camera, but virtual. 

Film has higher resolution, no matter what that means. It is important.

We are hoping that we won't be talking much about how many electrons in the full well capacity, but we might...never know. There is just so much new coming out, that cameras and their accessories need a whole category by themselves...and here it is.