Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Myths of Displays and Monitors

MaximumPC has a fun article on the myths of (useless) monitor controls and more here.

Google's WebM Video Codec .webm

A really nice breakdown of VP8 is here if you're interested. But a summary is thus:

"The spec consists largely of C code copy-pasted from the VP8 source code — up to and including TODOs, “optimizations”, and even C-specific hacks, such as workarounds for the undefined behavior of signed right shift on negative numbers. In many places it is simply outright opaque. Copy-pasted C code is not a spec. I may have complained about the H.264 spec being overly verbose, but at least it’s precise. The VP8 spec, by comparison, is imprecise, unclear, and overly short, leaving many portions of the format very vaguely explained. Some parts even explicitly refuse to fully explain a particular feature, pointing to highly-optimized, nigh-impossible-to-understand reference code for an explanation. There’s no way in hell anyone could write a decoder solely with this spec alone."

"WebM includes:

  • VP8, a high-quality video codec we are releasing today under a BSD-style, royalty-free license
  • Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec
  • a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container"


Google has announced WebM (not a huge surprise given all the rumors) but you can check out the latest FFMpeg version to support it from Subversion here which is a bit surprising.
"WebM is an open, royalty-free, media file format designed for the web.
WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska container."
I'll goof around with it later on (possibly next week) and see what's what but I don't think we'll be editing with it very soon.

"Reversed complexity encoding / Z-frames: A type of frame that in encoding complexity is lower than a regular P-frame but is more compact. The catch is decoding computation needs to be higher. Specific technical approaches might include:

  • a combination of multi-frame processing with Wyner-Ziv coding
  • mixed quality encoding, where the Z-frames are non-reference frames interspersed with regular P-frames and coded at lower quality than the target quality. The decoder recovers a higher quality version of the Z-frames by multi-frame processing using information in the neighboring higher quality P-frames.
  • supplement the information transmitted for the Z-frame with additional helper information to regularize the reconstruction process on the decoder side. This could be a Wyner-Ziv layer, or something different."

Also of interest:

VP8 uses 14 bits for width and height, so the maximum resolution is 16384x16384 pixels. VP8 places no constraints on framerate or datarate.


The Developer Preview releases of browsers supporting WebM are not yet fully optimized and therefore have a higher computational footprint for screen rendering than we expect for the general releases. The computational efficiencies of the VP8 codec are more accurately measured today using codec-level development tools in the SDKs. Optimizations of the browser implementations are forthcoming.
Higher Computational footprint means it's really inefficient at the moment and eat a lot of CPU. Although, they do say in their FAQ:

"If I have a video card that accelerates video playback, will it accelerate VP8?
The performance of VP8 is very good in software, and we’re working closely with many video card and silicon vendors to add VP8 hardware acceleration to their chips."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apple unleashes Ubillos on Final Cut Studio

"In 2007, Final Cut Pro's original lead developer, Randy Ubillos, completely redesigned iMovie '08 to streamline and simplify the iLife title. The changes prompted criticism from existing iMovie users, as the new app didn't do everything the previous versions did. Last January, Apple released an enhanced iMovie '09 version that addressed many of those missing elements in the new app.

The Final Cut Pro team has since been put back under the direction of Ubillos, according to information AppleInsider has obtained, with the aim of similarly improving Final Cut Studio and making it more appealing and useful to the needs of prosumers. Currently, Final Cut Pro is targeted at advanced professionals with a scaled down, less expensive Final Cut Express version sold to users who don't need all of its high end features. Because Apple now primarily sells the Express version, the company wants to rethink Final Cut Studio and scale its overall development to better fit the majority of its customers.

Full story.

Eek. The revised iMovie was an abomination. Hopefully Randy Ubillos won't destroy FCS in the same manner. 


Steve Jobs has apparently said about the upcoming FCS release:

"We certainly do [care about Pro apps]. Folks who left were in support, not engineering. Next release will be awesome."


Clients Knowledge Base

I've been working on a monster of a project and today I receive an email from one of the clients who is using some of the footage for another project that they'd like the b-roll in "beta or jpeg".

I'll get right on that.

Reminds me of the time a client's "graphical engineer" (their term) sent me video exported from Photoshop as a gajillion layered .psd file.


Unshake is a FREE app that tries to make blurred photos a little less blurry. While it'll never clarify a photo like in No Way Out it can help enough to salvage some photos.

Hey, it's free.