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Blackmagic Media Express Failure

July 21, 2011 4 comments

About one month ago I posted that we are now using a Blackmagic Decklink SDI card to capture via SDI in some workflows at The Station. Unfortunately it became clear quite quickly that the Media Express 2.3.1 software we were using, for capturing and controlling the decks, had some shortcomings.

Apparently the Linux version of this software does not support capture of VITC information where present. This made creating valid IMX50 (D10) files harder than it needed to be. We would capture the SD content from tape into 10-bit uncompressed at 720×576, then when transcoding using FFmbc, we needed to pad the top of the file with 36 lines of blanking, to create a valid IMX50 at 720×608. This process caused a few problems with the resulting files’ aspect ratio information.

After speaking with the support staff ot Blackmagic Design, it became clear the the Windows and Mac versions of Media Express 2.3.1 do support capture of VITC, just not the Linux version. The relevant API calls are exposed in the freely available SDK, but we would need to build our own application to take advantage of this.

My next hope was that the new version of Media Express would include this additional functionality on Linux. On April 11th 2011, Blackmagic published a press release stating that Media Express 3.0 would be available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The software would be available for free download from their website in June.

Today I went searching for the software but could not find it. Looking on the Blackmagic software download page, the latest Desktop Video download for Linux is 8.0.1 from May 13th, 2011. Clearly this would not include the new 3.0 version, as this file is what I downloaded a month ago to obtain version 2.3.1.

I phoned Blackmagic support again to enquire about where to find Media Express 3.0. They informed me that a beta version of this software was available for Mac platforms, but that was all. They were also unable to speculate regarding a formal release date for the software, nor whether the Linux version would be available at the same time as the Windows and Mac version. All in all, not very helpful.

June finished 21 days ago. I want my Media Express 3.0 software for Linux!

Blackmagic Decklink SDI and Linux

June 24, 2011 6 comments

Almost a year ago, I invested in a central London based post-production company. At the time, I had dreams of pushing open source software solutions into the professional post-production arena. Things haven’t quite worked out as planned, and I’ve made very limited headway on this project. Business imperatives took over and changing a whole ecosystem is a big job. I’ve continued to use Linux on my laptop and happily connect to printers and network drives, but that’s about all.

Recently I had an opportunity to change all that. We needed a tape digitisation solution, separate from our Avid editing suites, for a new project. I’ve know for a while that Blackmagic’s Decklink range of cards work with Linux and were pretty good for capturing from SDI. We purchased the basic Decklink SDI card, re-cycled an old machine onto which I installed Linux Mint Debian and away we went….

Things weren’t entirely smooth from the start. I upgraded the Mint Debian ISO, including the kernel to 2.6.39. This was my first mistake. The card was not recognised with this kernel. Booting into the original 2.6.32 kernel overcame this problem and the card was recognised. I had to download the relevant Linux software from the Blackmagic website, as the accompanying DVD only included Windows software. The available Linux software from Blackmagic included the relevant drivers, firmware and Media Express software. Unfortunately, other advertised items such as the drive speed test and alpha keying utilities are not available for Linux.

Once everything was up and running, it was time to capture. The Media Express 2.3.1 software was pretty straight forward to use. Setting in and out points allowed the software to control the J30 Digibeta deck and content was captured in Uncompressed 10-bit YUV formate. The other limited codec options included Uncompressed 8-bit YUV, RGB and MotionJPEG. This uncompressed file was then transcoded to IMX50 using FFMbc. The whole process seemed to work reasonably well, and I’m just now waiting to send the IMX50 sample off for technical inspection.

Unfortunately, the Media Express software as supplied did not provide options to change the SD captured frame size from 720×576 to anything else. Ideally I was looking for 720×608 so that VITC was also captured. A phone call to Blackmagic revealed that this was possible with the Windows and Mac version of their software, but not on Linux. Their Linux SDK did expose the necessary calls, but the software had not been written to include them. Essentially, if I wanted VITC, I’d need to write a capture utility myself. Somewhat disappointing.

Overall, I’m pleased that we now have an SDI capture solution running on Linux. However, the Blackmagic Decklink card still feels a little half baked and Linux was perhaps only an afterthought for them.

Handbrake 0.9.5 Released

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Handbrake is one of the very few, functionally mature open source video transcoding tools with a decent, usable user interface (of course command line options are still available).
 
Generally the Handbrake development team take a long time between official releases, and v0.9.5 is no exception. This latest version comes more than a full calendar year after the previous milestone release.

While Handbrake doesn’t support a wide range of broadcast video formats, which would be a nice addition for me personally, this is not really their target market. Handbrake does a great job on web targeted and home use video encoding jobs. Ripping Blu-Ray DVDs, encoding for Apple TV2 and advanced finite controls for H.264 transcoding are all now supported in the latest release.

Further details about the release available here.

Discussion thread, specific to this release, available here.

Multi-platform downloads found here.

FFmbc v0.5 Available

November 16, 2010 1 comment

It has been announced as available for a while now, but only recently was the download made publically available again for FFmbc 0.5. Lead developer Baptiste is doing a super job moving this project forward, but really needs the support from more media professionals to fully realise the early promise of this open source, broadcast media focused, transcoding solution.

FFmbc 0.5 download available here.

FFmbc 0.5 feature updates include:

  • Sync on FFmpeg svn r25202.
  • Yadif video deinterlacing filter.
  • Overlay video filter.
  • Fade video filter.
  • HQDn3d video filter.
  • Rename ffmpeg binary to ffmbc.
  • FFmbc is now GPL only.
  • Disable shared libraries.
  • Remove -s resizing output cli option, use -vf scale.
  • 23.98 and 24 fps support in MXF muxer.
  • Mpeg-2 aspect ratio bitstream filter, to change aspect ratio without reencoding.
  • Fix an issue with -async and audiomerge.
  • Fix an issue with the fade filter.
  • Write interlacing information in mov files, fix deinterlacing with quicktime player.
  • Correctly support interlaced in yuv4mpeg and quicktime.
  • Display interlacing when printing information.
  • Fix an issue with resampling and audiomerge.

Categories: FFmbc, FFmpeg, Video Tags: , ,

General Open Source NLE Round-Up

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted any open source NLE updates, and there have been new releases across the board. Here’s a quick round-up of a few noticeable updates.

KDENLive (http://www.kdenlive.org)
Version: 0.7.8
Released: September 14th, 2010
Updates: Improved tools for color correction, improved UI for effects
(you can now adjust some transitions and effects directly on the
monitor), track effects, improved slideshows.

PiTiVi (http://www.pitivi.org/)
Version: 0.13.5
Released: September 21st, 2010
Updates: Periodic backup of the current project file, easy crossfading transitions by overlapping clips, better icon metaphors for link/unlink actions, pixel-perfect icons for various toolbar icons, new “add keyframe” button (and keyboard shortcut), the “missing plugins” installer has been fixed.

OpenShot (http://www.openshotvideo.com)
Version: 1.2.2
Released:
September 21st, 2010
Updates:
Improved Stability, 3D Animated Titles, Custom Transitions, New Audio & Video Effects, Time-line Improvements / Animations, Improved Effects User Interface, Improved Theme Engine, Razor Improvements, Improved Language Support, New DVD Export, Improved Preferences Dialogue, Improved Exporting of different frame-rates.

LiVES (http://lives.sourceforge.net)
Version: 1.0.10
Released: October 15th, 2010
Updates: Backported fixes from development branch.


Lightworks Open Source Available Soon – Not For Linux Yet!

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Earlier today we received an email from EditShare, regarding their open source plans for non-linear editing tool Lightworks. Earlier this year, in April, EditShare had announced their plans to open source Lightworks, asking interested parties to sign-up to receive more information. Today’s email was the first such email from the company!

The good news is that the first open source version of Lightworks will be released to the public on November 29th. The not so good news is that this will be for Windows only, and plans for a Linux version have been pushed back until “late 2011″. Also worrying, from reading between the lines of the press release, is the fact that it would appear a great deal of essential codec support will only be available for purchase from the EditShare/Lightworks online shop.

Full text of the message from EditShare is as follows (take note of those asterix and the little note towards the bottom that says, “Options available through the Lightworks Store”.)

Hello again, from the Lightworks Development Team
It has been an exceptionally busy few months as we move toward the first public release of Lightworks Open Source.

Since the landmark Lightworks Open Source announcement (April 2010), we’ve had over 1700 developers and 20,000 editors sign up for the program. With many new features close to finalization, we have embarked on a comprehensive beta testing program, putting Lightworks through its paces and the feedback we have received so far has been excellent.

Lightworks for FREE … just in time for the holidays!
It is with great pleasure that we take the first step in the roll out of Lightworks Open Source and deliver the free download to you! On November 29th, the free download will be available exclusively to those who have registered. An email will be sent to you with detailed download instructions.

Lightworks developers have been working day and night to develop a variety of enhancements for the new NLE.

Application Features

Capture and Playback
    •    Edit While Capture, Firewire, SD (analogue and digital), HD-SDI with optional I/O cards
    •    Full-screen, real-time SD, HD, and 2K preview playback on desktop display, Dual HD-SDI and DVI for Stereoscopic playback
Editing
    •    Resolution, format and codec independent editing
    •    Edit at 23.976, true 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, or 60
    •    Advanced multicam editing with unlimited sources
Effects
    •    Real-time effects in SD, HD and 2K
    •    Field or frame based varispeeds*
    •    Keyframe graphs
    •    Effects layers with node-based layering tool
    •    Multiple real time primary and secondary color correctors
Tools
    •    Multitrack audio mixer with full bus routing and multiple mixes
    •    Customization templates for Avid and FCP shortcuts
    •    Voiceover tool for adding narration directly to edit
    •    Shot sync – sync two sources for playback comparison
    •    Customizable BITC timecode and film footage overlays
Film
    •    Support for 35mm 3-perf, 35mm 4-perf, and 16mm-20 and mixed film formats
    •    View feet and frames in edit
    •    View keycode and ink number
    •    24-fps EDL import, export and conversion to and from 29.97 fps
    •    Import ALE, FLX, and CSV files
    •    Cut list, change list, optical list, pull list, dupe list
3rd-Party Support
    •    Inscriber Titlemotion, Boris FX, Combustion, After Effects, Premiere Plug-ins, Sapphire, Digital Fusion
    •    Support for any application that can exchange AVI, MXF and QuickTime files
Collaboration
    •    Advanced Shared Projects with real-time review*
I/O Support
    •    QuickTime, MXF, AVI, DPX, DV, DV50, DV100, H.264, Uncompressed, OMF, AAF
    •    Avid DNxHD*, Apple ProRes*, RED*, AVC-Intra*, AVCHD*, XDCAM HD*, XDCAM EX*
    •    Stereoscopic support for independent Left and Right files*
    •    Telecine 29.97i to 24p pull down removal
    •    30fps and 25fps import to 24fps project

New Features
    •    New and intuitive user interface
    •    Basic wizard for user orientation
    •    Avid and FCP keyboard shortcut preferences
    •    Integrated help with indexed Lightworks User Guide
    •    New style ‘bins’
    •    On screen console controls
    •    Full screen video on single or secondary displays
    •    Advanced EditShare Project Sharing*
    •    Native support for Apple ProRes, Avid DNxHD and AVC-Intra*
    •    Native support for RED R3D files and RED Rocket cards*
    •    10bit and 16bit DPX support
    •    H.264 and AVCHD support for DSLR cameras
    •    Stereoscopic import and editorial support*
    •    Stereoscopic output through SDI and DVI (dual stream, side by side, anaglyph)**
    •    Native 2K resolution support
    •    Output through DVI in different resolutions up to 2K
    •    New project browser
    •    Windows 7 support (32bit and 64bit)
*Options available through the Lightworks Store
**SDI Output requires optional I/O hardware

Platform Support
We are still receiving questions regarding OS support for Lightworks. Currently, Lightworks runs on Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit, and Windows XP 32-bit. We are looking to port it to Linux and OSX, but this won’t happen until late 2011.

Minimum Specifications
These are the minimum recommended specifications for running Lightworks optimally:
    •    A PC computer with Intel Core Duo, Intel Xeon, or AMD processor
    •    2 GB of RAM (3GB recommended)
    •    A PCI Express graphics card with 256MB memory or higher
    •    A display with 1024 x 768 resolution or higher (1440 x 900 or higher recommended)
    •    Windows XP Professional SP2 or Windows 7 (32 bit or 64bit)
    •    QuickTime 7.6.6 or later
    •    100 MB of disk space required to install Lightworks
    •    Dedicated media hard drive (7200rpm or higher)

FFMBC 0.4 Now Available

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A little over one month since the release candidate was made available, FFMBC has officially rolled our version 0.4. Lots of useful and interesting updates for our favourite open source video transcoding tool:

- Sync on FFmpeg svn r21845.
- Full support for reading and writing covert art in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- “-coverfile” commandline option to set a cover file. png,jpg,bmp supported.
- Correctly write Quicktime metadata as utf-8.
- Fixed a bug with temporal offset when muxing mpeg-2 long gop in MXF.
- Huge speedup when opening Quicktime and mpeg-4 files.
- Timecode for Quicktime and MXF files can now be set when stream copying.
- Added x264 sources in contrib directory, git 5b86182d1240b441f28462abf3d40b7371de5ba3
- Enable pthreads by default.
- Fixed a bug with interlaced VC-3 decoding.
- Integrate libavfilter. New commandline option -vf, see doc/libavfiter.texi
- Auto-rotate iPhone 3GS files.
- Support lyrics in mp3 and iTunes m4a,m4v,mp4.
- Automatically set current UTC time in created files.
- New AVFMT_HAS_PTS flag in AVInputFormat to specify that format has pts.
- Write and read metadata “reel_name” in mov timecode track if present.
- MPEG TS muxer now produces streams playable by VLC and Quicktime.
For me, the two most interesting updates in this list are the fixed VC-3 bug and the ability to now set timecode when copying QuickTime and MXF files.
FFMBC version 0.4 can be directly downloaded from here.
Categories: FFmbc, Video Tags: , , ,
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