Meeting Review Library

June 25, 2009
Special Recognition of Former Rochester Section Chair, Alan Masson

The SMPTE Rochester section convened June 26th to recognize the service of past section chair and active supporter Alan Masson.  Alan and his wife, Alison, are returning to their native Scotland after 5 years in Rochester.  Prior to joining the Rochester section, Alan was Regional Technical Director for Eastman Kodak in Hollywood where he was also very active with the Hollywood section.   Alan will be sorely missed by SMPTE, the George Eastman House, Eastman Kodak and the many other organizations he participated with during this most recent time in Rochester but he promises to continue to champion film preservation and motion picture technology from his new home.  Alan plans to retain memberships with both SMPTE and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA).
 

Photograph: (left to right) Current Rochester Chair Barry Chow with Alan Masson


June 25, 2009
"Historical Films of Rochester & Kodak" by Ed Stratmann, George Eastman House

Branch Manager and Associate Curator of the Motion Picture Collection at Eastman House, Edward E. Stratmann presented what is becoming a annual event, a Rochester/Kodak screening night.  The films are listed below:

TOMPKINS BOY’S CAR  (1922)
16mm original b/w silent reversal positive. New GEH preservation, dupe negative, print on 16mm.

A KODAK HONEYMOON (circa 1920)– slightly incomplete, copy vintage mid-1920’s,  b/w, silent, 16mm positive

THE KODAK DYE TRANSFER PROCESS – 16mm sound Kodachrome reversal. (circa 1950).

TWO KODAK COMMERCIALS – (circa 1970) – 35mm, color sound vintage positives.


April 16, 2009
"Digital Projection at the Little" by Tom Bond, Entertainment Experience

 
The meeting started with a warm welcome by Bob Russell, Executive Director of The Little Theater.  He expressed his excitement to have a SMPTE Section meeting at The Little Theater and have a chance to showcase their new digital projection system.  After his brief comments, Ricardo Figueroa, Section Manager, introduced Thomas Bond, VP of Technology for Entertainment Experience Inc. who then proceeded to give a technical overview of the digital projection system recently installed at The Little Theater by his company.  His presentation focused on some of the technical aspects of the projection system including, projector and player, as well as a description of the section of the market the system had been designed for.  He mentioned that Entertainment Experience tailored their digital projection system design for smaller venues focused on showing special events like operas and sports, as well as independent theaters and schools that demand high quality imaging but don’t require DCI compliance like big movie theater chains do.


Photograph: (left to right) Tom Bond discusses the Little's digital projector; Tom Bond with SMPTE Manager Ricky Figueroa


February 19, 2009
"Digital Film Restoration" by Ed Stratmann, Dan Wagner and Anthony L'Abbate, George Eastman House

 
During this visit to the George Eastman House, the SMPTE Rochester Section was treated to a tour of digital restoration techniques being employed by the preservation staff in GEH's motion picture group.  In part 1 of the tour, Preservationist Dan Wagner gave a demonstration of the digital software for the DIAMONT and DAVINCI REVIVAL Motion Picture restoration systems used at the Eastman House to correct everything from dirt and scratches to color mis-registration.  For part 2, Preservationist Anthony L’Abbate gave demonstrations on how George Eastman House uses PHOTOSHOP and ADOBE PREMERE  to digitally restore titles, tinting and help with motion picture restorations. Finally, the entire group moved into the Curtis Theatre where Ed Stratmann showed three films that had been restored using these digital methods. The films were THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and FELIX THE CAT TRIFLES WITH TIME, two early animated shorts. A newsreel from the 1920s was also shown that had two episodes on sound and sound recording of the time called THE VOICE INVISIBLE and MAKING A RECORD.

 

Photograph: (clockwise from top left) Dan Wagner shows off the DAVINCI REVIVAL, Anthony L'Abbate points out some titling work done in ADOBE PREMIERE, SMPTE Rochester Secretary/Treasurer David Long and Manager Ed Stratmann


January 29, 2009
"DTV Transition" by Kent Hatfield, WXXI

Kent Hatfield from WXXI in Rochester, NY ran through a full discussion of the digital television broadcast transition and the corresponding shut-down of analog television broadcast and how his station is helping to educate the community on the switch.  WXXI actively participates by providing troubleshooting support through a community telephone hotline.  They have also gained approval from the FCC to keep their analog signal on beyond Feb 17, 2009 to provide on-air instruction for those who have not yet received their converter boxes.  Kent walked through the simple installation of a set-top box and provided a live demonstration of the signals being received from WXXI’s own digital transmission.  He also fielded several questions on broadcast signal strength differences and optimum antenna strategies to take full advantage of the digital signal.  Additionally, Kent covered topics on digital compression strategies, broadcast data rates and discussed much of the equipment used in the station to master the signals that go out.  

Past this introduction, Kent and Dave Sluberski from WXXI lead the group on a 1 ½ hour tour of WXXI’s production and broadcast facilities.  WXXI is one of the more active PBS affiliates for the creation of content and the facility houses extremely modern production and post-production equipment for both picture and sound (complete with several studios used for local and national content generation).  The tour included a look into one of the studio spaces, a full visit to the production control room recently renovated at WXXI and a stop at the broadcast control room where PBS content is received and redistributed alongside locally-produced programming.  Kent also lead the group on a full look at the equipment housed in the back of the house at WXXI, being careful to describe the purpose and capability of the major pieces.  To close the evening, Dave Sluberski took the group on a visit to his sound recording studio and his Pro Tools mixing room

 

June 12, 2008
"Integrated Calibration and Management of Color, Tone and Image Structure in a Digital Intermediate System" by Richard Wheeler, Eastman Kodak Company.

 
Richard B. Wheeler, a senior principal scientist with the Eastman Kodak Company, made a PowerPoint presentation on how the now common digital intermediate systems for motion imaging could be improved upon. To make digital intermediate systems even better, more efficient methods for reducing system variability and preserving creative intent are currently being developed and refined.  The presentation was based on a paper written by Nestor M. Rodriguez and Richard Wheeler.  The information presented illustrated a comprehensive method for automatically creating calibration functions that convert color, tone, and image structure into a common exchange space referred to as “Printing Density”.  Once calibrated, the system provides features that allow the user to accurately preserve the color, tone and image structure of existing films or create custom renderings that when displayed on film or digital devices will be faithfully reproduced.

By using the Printing Density system described in Richard’s talk, it does not matter how you capture or create the image.  Electronic, film or Computer Graphic Images can all be managed with this system approach.  In fact, these three image sources can be mixed and matched as needed and the end result can be controlled to such a degree that “inter-cutting” will be seamless.  Simply stated, by using the Printing Density workflow, any origination method(s), postproduction, and any display medium can be accurately managed from beginning to end.

The Powerpoint slides for this presentation can be found at: http://motion.kodak.com/US/en/motion/Hub/why1.htm  (Film Printing Density) and the complete paper will be published in the October 2008 issue of the SMPTE Journal.
 

 

Photograph: Richard Wheeler (L) of Kodak is thanked by SMPTE Manager Darryl Jones.


May 8, 2008
"Dissecting Ditty: The Making of Operation Ditty" - bringing home movies into the 21st century using traditional and digital film preservation methods.
by Taylor Whitney, Preserving the Past LLC and Susan Patrick,  Falcon Films.

Over 50 members and friends of the Rochester Section enjoyed a presentation in the Curtis Theatre at George Eastman House on “Dissecting Ditty: The Making of Operation Ditty – Bringing home movies into the 21st century using traditional and digital film preservation methods”. “Ditty”, a home movie comedy about school-girl detectives who are dedicated to maintaining world peace and security, was shot on Super-8 Kodachrome film on location in Montreal in 1967 by Susan Patrick as a teenager, screened for family and friends in a basement theater and then stored in a box for the next 40 years. In 2006, Taylor Whitney of Preserving the Past L.L.C., working with Susan Patrick, began the restoration of this movie. It was transferred to Betacam SP tape at Film Technology Company in Hollywood. Best-light color correction was implemented using a DaVinci color correction system and the signal was passed through a Digital Video Noise Reduction (DVNR) unit to minimize dust and scratches. It was then digitized and edited using Final Cut Pro. Jump-cuts and bad splices were repaired, under-exposed scenes lightened and transitions added. While maintaining the Director’s original intent and the integrity of the era, special effects and titles were added using Apple’s Motion and Adobe’s After Effects. The final product was authored on DVD using Compressor and DVD Studio Pro, for screening. A 40th Anniversary Gala Premiere was held in Toronto on April 7th, 2007.

After the technical presentation, the 26-minute movie was screened, and much enjoyed by the audience. This was followed by a lively Q&A session. The speakers were presented with flowers by Rochester Section member John Weiksnar. A reception for all present was then held at the Rochester headquarters of Preserving the Past, L.L.C., close to George Eastman House.

Photograph: speakers Susan Patrick (L) and Taylor Whitney (R) were presented with flowers by John Weiksnar (C) after their presentation of “Dissecting Ditty” on May 8


April 10, 2008
Screening of Historical Film of Kodak and Rochester

A record attendance of over 50 people attended a screening of historical 35 mm and 16 mm films of Eastman Kodak Company and the Rochester in the Curtis Theatre at the George Eastman House. Edward E. Stratmann, a Senior Preservation Officer at GEH, and a Manager of the SMPTE Rochester Section, selected the films from the many that have been preserved by his department, and introduced them to the audience. The titles were:

The Dedication of the Kodak Research Laboratory (1912)
Lindbergh in Rochester (1927)
Rochester Baseball Team (1923)
Rochester-Cobourg Ferry (ca 1920)
Marcus Loew & Stars in Cleveland and Rochester  (ca 1925)
Rochester War Industries (ca 1941) 
USS Rochester Launched at Quincy, Mass. (1945) 
The Kodak Park Superintendents Club (1949)
Community War Memorial Drive – Rochester (1950)  

The screening was much enjoyed by those attending. This event has become an annual tradition in the Rochester Section.

Photograph: Ed Stratmann of George Eastman House introduces the film screening.


March 20, 2008
Visit to the Media Department, St John Fisher College

This was a media technology demonstration and facility tour conducted by Media Specialists Nathan Sunseri and Matthew Miller of St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York.  The key technology / equipment demonstrated included Extron’s switching equipment, IP Link Products and its web-based Global Viewer control software, also Epson’s network-controllable data projectors. The media equipment / facility tour included the newly completed Wegmans School of Nursing building, recently refurbished Media lab (Mac) and TV studio.

The core of the media technology at St. John Fisher College revolves around the Extron’s IP/web-based control system. The entire campus is outfitted with IP-controllable Epson data projectors; using the Global Viewer software, Media Specialists can see the status of each projector in each room; they can program the on/off time, shut down the projector and do a diagnostic test from any computer on or off campus. If there is a problem with a projector, they often know about it via the alert notification feature through email/cell phone, before the user even notices it.

The attendees were interested in the Global Viewer software and its capabilities. They were also interested in how a typical Professor conducts classes using the available media technology, including use of streaming video, digital audio, PowerPoint, document camera, as well as specialty software/hardware used by the nursing faculty.

Photograph: (l-r) Matthew Miller (St.J.F.C.), Barry Chow (SMPTE Manager) and Nathan Sunseri (St.J.F.C.)


February 20, 2008
Enhanced Image Recording Capability: Novel Light Management Technologies Applied to High Speed Color Negative Film Design, by Merrick Distant, Eastman Kodak Company

Merrick Distant, Hybrid Imaging Scientist, Entertainment Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak Company, made a Powerpoint presentation on the new Kodak Vision3 500T Color Negative Film 5219/7219 for motion picture origination.

The Kodak Vision2 family of films was introduced in 2002 and it quickly earned the reputation of producing excellent image quality for EI 500 speed film.  Since Vision2’s introduction, Kodak has worked on making a good product even better. Advances in silver halide imaging technology and coupler chemistry have resulted in significant improvements for the new Vision3 capture film.  The new imaging technologies in Vision3 film are both evolutionary and revolutionary:

Evolutionary - the new advanced developer and accelerator technology improves signal extraction and latent image keeping while the new high performance coupler technology improves process sensitivity.

Revolutionary- advanced Dye Layering Technology (DLT) enables significant grain volume reduction which results in reduced graininess or noise in areas in low exposure.  The Vision3 film exhibits a 25-30% reduction in grain as compared to the earlier Vision2 film.  DLT enhances the ability to sample the shadows more aggressively.  Sub-Micron Imaging Sensor Technology improves the signal-to-noise ratio in areas of high exposure and is the enabler for contrast management and image discrimination.  The increased exposure latitude of 5219 film is also attributed to the use of Sub-Micron Imaging Sensors in the low-sensitivity layer of each color record.  These sensors are capable of capturing detailed high exposure information.  The Vision3 film’s technology provides more than two additional stops of exposure latitude as compared to the Vision 2 product.  The increased latitude expands the flexibility and utility of film as a capture medium.

Following the presentation of the technical details, two 35mm demo films were projected:  One film featured side-by-side comparison of Vision2 film versus Vision3 film, and the second film demonstrated the Vision3 technology as applied to Super-16 origination.  The films’ images supported the claims, and the audience response was very positive.  The speaker indicated that 5219 film was only the first member of the new Vision3 family of color negative films.

Photograph: (L-R) Merrick Distant, Kodak (speaker), Paul Gilman, Kodak - retired, and David Long, RIT.


January 9, 2008
Photographing a War - World War II, by Thomas W Hope (SMPTE Life Fellow)

Tom Hope, a Life Fellow of the Society,  spoke to an audience of forty in the Curtis Theatre at George Eastman House of his experiences as a young officer in charge of a photographic unit with responsibility for both still- and cine photography in France and Germany during World War II.  Stills were mostly shot using a Speed Graphic 4 x 5 news camera and developed and contact-printed in the unit’s own mobile lab. For most cine work, the Bell & Howell silent 35mm Eyemo camera was used with 100 ft rolls of film. A smaller number of 16mm Kodak Cine Special and B&H 16mm cameras were also used. Cine film processing was done in commercial laboratories in London and Paris.

Tom described the photographic training of his group members and the making of army training films including one on parachuting technique. By the use of high speed (64 fps) filming it was demonstrated that far fewer leg injuries could be incurred by landing with the feet together, rather than apart, which had been the standard procedure taught to parachutists.  Many stills of war situations were shown – gutted European cities, submarine pens, meetings of US, British and Russian generals and the surrender of German generals. Tom and his unit were the witnesses to the horrendous aftermath of the murder of 1,000 Polish slave laborers in Germany, taking photographs which are now in the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. The presentation was followed by a lengthy Q&A session. Those present were able to examine a number of Tom’s photographic albums and other WW II artifacts.  A very well illustrated paper by Tom Hope on this subject appeared in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, July/August 2007, pp. 287-295.

Photograph 1: L-R: Tom Hope, holding his book “Bonding for Life” about the post-war experiences of US troops, with his wife, MayBeth Hope and Dr Patrick Loughney of George Eastman House.

Photograph 2: Tom Hope’s photographic albums and other WW II artifacts were of great interest.

Photograph 3: Tom Hope answers a question after his presentation.


December 15, 2007
RAVA / SMPTE Family Film Screening at Cinemark IMAX Theatre, Tinseltown

Rochester members held their annual joint holiday film screening with the Rochester Audiovisual Association (RAVA) on Saturday, December 15th at the Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Tinseltown, Rochester. There was an attendance of 60 for a screening of “I am Legend” starring Will Smith.   Thanks to Dan Reardon of RAVA for organizing this event on behalf of both organizations.


November 13, 2007
IP Router for Broadcast Applications, by Troy Davis, Utah Scientific

An audience of 17 attended this equipment demo session conducted by Troy Davis, Regional Sales Manager for Utah Scientific, at PBS affiliate WXXI-TV in Rochester NY. The product being demonstrated was the UTAH-400 IP Router, an all new 24 port Gigabit Ethernet Router  with real time control for port priority, security groups (VLAN), port speed, quality of service (QOS) with a tactile control panel, as well as software graphical user interface. The purpose of this router is to increase workflow efficiency in broadcasting and streaming video over an Ethernet network.

Having the tactile control panel allows for more intuitive on-the-fly changes based on the network traffic condition, priority of the content and other needs in order to maintain an efficient traffic flow. There is also a dual 5Gbps uplink ports for multiple units to be linked together. The software includes the configuration setting as well as traffic monitoring and web interface.

The audience reaction to the demonstration was positive; most seemed to be impressed with the tactile control panel and the monitoring and “throttling” capability, but skeptical about its ability to be integrated to an existing data network (an upcoming update will address this issue, according to the speaker), as opposed to building a new network just to handle video streams. Mr Davis was eager to gather the audience’s comment regarding ways to improve the product, as well as possible applications. One audience member, Mark Henry (Kodak) suggested a possible application for the unit as part of the Digital Cinema Solution with Kodak: the router could be used as a distribution control locally in the theater routing of movies, commercials etc from the local server to the various screens at a multiplex theater. Another possible application suggestion by Barry Chow (Genesee Community College) was to integrate the product as part of a video conferencing network for educational facility.

Photograph: Troy Davis, Utah Scientific, demonstrating the Utah-400 IP Router.


October 17, 2007
SMPTE Rochester Section Booth at SBE-22 Expo, Verona, NY

The SMPTE Rochester Section again provided a booth at the Society of Broadcast Engineers SBE-22 Expo Convention at the Turning Stone Casino Resort, Verona, NY on October 17th. This event is attended by many broadcast engineers from Western New York State, as well as students from colleges and high schools in the area, anxious to learn about potential employment in this field. The SMPTE booth provided information about the benefits of membership, with brochures, membership application forms and sample copies of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, as well as a computer display of examples of SMPTE technical standards.

Photograph: the booth was staffed by (L-R) Andy Eggers (Rochester Manager), Alan Masson Rochester Chair, and Darryl Jones (Rochester Manager).


October 11, 2007
Digital Cinema Projection Technologies, by Jose Rosario, Eastman Kodak Co.

Jose A. Rosario, Kodak Digital Cinema Regional Sales Manager, North America, made a presentation to an audience of 25 on the current state of digital cinema and Eastman Kodak’s involvement with the digital transformation of the cinema which has expanded to nearly 10% of  theatre screens in the United States.

Joey’s presentation encompassed enabling technologies, Kodak’s role in Digital Cinema, content types, content preparation workflow, packaging and distribution and 3D content.  The talk illustrated how Kodak provides packaging of content by Laser Pacific, supports distribution, and provides exhibitors with a full network solution for their venues.  Joey included comparisons of two compression standards: MPEG-2 and JPEG-2000 and pointed out how JPEG-2000 has “raised the bar”.  He shared the equations that govern the compression of both MPEG-2 and JPEG-2000.  Content encryption was addressed and the “Public” and “Private” keys were discussed.

The presentation provided an overview of digital 3D presentations which defined how the process works in the context of digital cinema. It was pointed out how 3D is proving to be a driving force in the adoption of digital cinema but several attendees questioned how long this new form of 3D would really last.  (Historically, 3D has not been very successful since its introduction in the 1950’s.)

The formal presentation was concluded by discussing the studios’ position and exhibition’s position on digital cinema, and adoption curves were given to define how quickly digital cinema would replace film exhibition.

Following the formal presentation, Joey treated the audience to a digital projection demo that included both 2D and 3D material.  All images were projected on a silver screen and both 1.85 to 1 and 2.39 to 1 aspect ratios were represented.  The 3D effect was obtained using “passive” eyewear.  A KODAK Cine Server fed a Barco projector for this demonstration.  All viewers were very favorably impressed with the overall image quality of both the 2D and 3D projection.

Photograph 1: L-R: Rollie Zavada (Member), John Klacsman (student at George Eastman House)  and speaker Jose Rosario, Kodak.

Photograph 2: Speaker Jose Rosario (Kodak) and Darryl Jones (Rochester Section Manager) in the Kodak Digital Cinema projection booth.


September 10, 2007
JPEG2000 for Image and Video Distribution by Dr Robert Buckley, Xerox Corp.

The Rochester Section gathered to begin the new season of programs and was privileged to host a meeting featuring Robert Buckley, Research Fellow with the Xerox Research Center Webster of the Xerox Innovation Group in Webster, NY.  Rob is the Xerox representative on the US JPEG 2000 committee and Project Editor for Part 6 of the JPEG 2000 standard.  He provided a wonderful introduction of the subject to a multidisciplinary group of broadcast, educators and motion picture professionals in attendance.

The presentation began with an overview of compression that paved the way to a more detailed technical discussion that was nicely illustrated with tailored examples.  At its core, JPEG 2000 is a wavelet-based method for still image compression.  Rob emphasized the benefits of region of interest encoding and “smart” decoding as well a scaleable architecture where resolution and other quality attributes can be managed by “demand side” applications where you can take as much as needed from the code stream.

Rob concluded with a discussion of how the use of this standard is growing in a diverse range of application areas and is increasingly being adopted by online image collections and for archiving scanned books and images. JPEG 2000 has also been selected as the compression method for the digital cinema industry, and by the Library of Congress for video preservation.   It was great to have the opportunity to see the interaction our diverse audience with such a knowledgeable speaker!

Photo: L-R: Dr Robert Buckley, Xerox Corporation with SMPTE Rochester Section Chairman, Dr. Alan Masson


June 19, 2007
NAB Review and Ad Insertion in the Compressed Domain

The June meeting, which was held jointly with the Rochester Chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) was a review of new technologies shown at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) exhibit in Las Vegas and a presentation from Grass Valley on Ad Insertion in the Compressed Domain. The NAB review was chaired by Art Cosgrove, Eastman Kodak Company, retired.

Mark Henry of Kodak discussed the Digital Cinema Summit, noting that many companies are trying to emulate the “film look”. The worldwide DC screen count has increased from 360 to 2,600 in the last year, out of a total of 150,000 screens. A major driver for the installation of DC projectors is 3-D movies. Mark also talked about Television over the Internet (IPTV) which is expected to require 50 MB/s bandwidth to the home within three years.

Ricky Figueroa of Kodak reviewed the digital cameras shown at NAB. These included the Red Digital Camera which generated a “big buzz” at the show with its impressive specification (single CMOS sensor, 4K with 11 stops dynamic range), and low basic price of $16,000. Sony showed their “Genesis-like” HDC-F23 camera. Dalsa had their Origin II and Evolution cameras (4K, 12 stops, using 35 mm cine lenses) ; Silicon Imaging SI-2k camera using 16 mm cine lenses; the Phantom HD camera from Vision Research with frame rates up to 1000 fps and the Phantom 65, both with the largest pixel size (12.5 um).

John Walsh of WHEC-TV talked about the impact that the demand for mobile, portable and handheld television display via Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) will have on the local TV content provider. Additional UHF channels are being added to satisfy the need for local content demanded by viewers..

Ed Wright of WXXI-TV and SBE introduced Tom Dennett of Grass Valley Inc, who described the technology for Ad Insertion in the Compressed Domain as part of the 3-phase roll-out of digital television. Already many people are watching digital transmissions, with the analog shot-off rapidly approaching in 2/2009. MPEG-2 encoding is expected to be used for some time, with MPEG-4/HD coming later.

Photograph: L-R - Mark Henry (Kodak), Ricardo Figueroa (Kodak), John Walsh (WHEC-TV), Tom Dennett (Grass Valley)


May 08, 2007
Digital Restoration of Film is the Way to Go, But Don’t Forget Your Analog Conservation Techniques!

Mr. Gerard de Haan, R&D Manager for Cineco/Haghefilm Laboratory in Amsterdam, Netherlands discussed and showed examples of many out of the ordinary projects they have done for George Eastman House over the years. Mr. de Haan talked about the digital methods employed including using the Diamant and Fusion programs, which can provide correction of unsteadiness, brightness flicker, dye fading and even replacement of damaged or decomposed frames. However, he also stressed that the best photo-mechanical methods can be easier and less expensive than digital techniques and can be used in conjunction with digital if necessary. Wet-gate printing is routinely used with scratched and damaged elements. The Desmet Color process allows early tinted and toned films to be restored onto modern color print film using flashing and special exposure techniques in the printer.

35mm restoration prints were shown, illustrating the use of digital restoration of 22mm, 28mm and 35mm film and Spirograph discs: “The Fairy Godfather”(1916) (unsteadiness); “Visages d’Enfants”(1925) (correction of decomposing frames); “A Daughter of Israel” (1915) (severely-warped 28mm); 1953 Japanese feature “Shin Heiki Morogalare” (yellow dye fading, which cannot be corrected simply by adjusting printer lights). The restoration of a 1909 Spirograph disc with its spiral of images required special software to be written to digitally scan the disc on a rostrum camera with a rotating stage.

Photo L-R: Gerard de Haan (Haghefilm, Amsterdam), Mark Henry (SMPTE Rochester Chair); Ed Stratmann (George Eastman House and SMPTE Manager); Juan Vrijs (Haghefilm)


March 30, 2007
Efficient JPEG 2000 VBR Compression with True Constant Perceived Quality for Digital Cinema

Paul Jones provided a dozen members and friends of the Rochester Section a wonderful paper on how Variable Bit Rate Encoding could be used in Digital Cinema by incorporating threshold-viewing distance as the image quality metric in order to provide true constant perceived quality. In this approach, the wavelet coefficients are quantized using a human visual system model so that there are no detectable compression errors when a movie is viewed at the specified viewing distance (or at any greater distance). Instead of using a vague PSNR value as the quality specification, this method uses a simple physical parameter that unambiguously specifies the viewing conditions under which visually lossless quality will be obtained. The compressed codestream includes only the minimum information that is needed to ensure visually lossless quality, so coding efficiency is high.

Compression times are also significantly reduced as compared to typical VBR systems, which results in a more efficient workflow. The quality, computational efficiency, and compression efficiency of this VBR system was emphasized.

 

Photographs: Paul Jones, Kodak, making his presentation.


March 05, 2007
Preservation Screening at the George Eastman House

SECTION: Rochester, NY
MEETING DATE(S): February 28th, 2007
ATTENDANCE: 26
LOCATION: George Eastman House

SPEAKERS: (include company affiliation)

  • Dr Patrick Loughney, GEH
  • Edward Stratmann, GEH
  • Michael Champlin, KBTV

Description:

This meeting was re-scheduled from February 14th because of a major winter storm on that date. The meeting took place in the Curtis Theatre of George Eastman House with an attendance of 26 members and visitors. New member Vincenzo Pirozzi was welcomed.

Dr. Patrick Loughney, Curator of Motion Pictures at George Eastman House, welcomed the group and outlined the program, a screening of four rarely-seen historic films made by Eastman Kodak Company and Rochester Journal American News. The films had all been preserved by George Eastman House and Cinema Arts laboratory. They were introduced, and the preservation procedures described, by Ed Stratmann, Associate Curator of Motion Pictures, Preservation and Mike Champlin of KBTV. The titles were: “Concerning $1000.00” (Eastman Kodak Company, 1916, silent), a Kodak demonstration film preserved from an experimental two-color nitrate 35mm Kodachrome original; “A Movie Trip Through Filmland” (DeFrenes & Co., 1921, silent), a documentary about early film manufacture at Kodak, preserved from two 35mm tinted and toned acetate prints; “The Flute of Krishna” (Eastman Kodak Company, 1926, silent), a charming dance film preserved from an experimental 35mm nitrate color positive; “Rochester Centennial” (Rochester Journal American News, 1934, sound), a newsreel of Rochester items including many shots of local buildings, events etc now long gone, preserved from a 35mm nitrate positive.

Photograph L-R: Dr Patrick Loughney (GEH), Michael Champlin (KBTV) and Edward Stratmann (GEH)


January 18, 2007
Temporal and Chromatic Sampling Artifacts in Digital Intermediates and The Effect of Single-Sensor Color Filter Array (CFA) Captures on Images Intended for Motion Picture and Television Applications

The Section Meeting was held January 10, at the Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester NY. In reprise presentations Richard Wheeler and Gabriel Fielding from the Entertainment Imaging Division of the Eastman Kodak Company provided two complementary programs original prepared for the October SMPTE Technical Conference.

In the first presentation “Temporal and Chromatic Sampling Artifacts in Digital Intermediates” authored by Gabriel Fielding & Paul W. Jones, provided important background concepts related to temporal and chromatic artifacts in the digital capture. This provided a foundation for the second talk and really helped the group appreciate the impact of various types of reconstruction techniques .

In the second presentation “The Effect of Single-Sensor Color Filter Array (CFA) Captures on Images Intended for Motion Picture and Television Applications” by Richard B. Wheeler & Nestor M. Rodriguez. Comparisons of desirable attributes and unwanted artifacts produced by various single-sensor and multiple-sensor camera designs were used to consider key trade-offs in the design of systems. Dick helped the group understand how resolution, sharpness, aliasing, reconstruction errors, CFA artifacts, sensitivity (speed), and dynamic range interact to produce perceptual differences in modern projection systems.

The program was well attended with a great cross section of the Rochester Imaging Community including several first time visitors!

Photograph: L-R: Richard Wheeler & Gabriel Fielding (Kodak) with Rochester members (and Kodak retirees) LeRoy DeMarsh and Roger Morton


December 19, 2006
Holiday film screening w/ Rava

The annual family film screening for members of the SMPTE Rochester Section and RAVA – the Rochester Audio Visual Association - attracted an attendance of 65 to the Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Tinseltown in Rochester. The film was the animated comedy feature “Happy Feet” about Emperor penguins in Antarctica. The audience enjoyed both the film content and the beautiful animation quality on the large IMAX screen.


November 15, 2006
Tour of the Eastman Nitrate Vault

On November 15, 2006 the monthly SMPTE meeting was held at the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center, George Eastman House in North Chili, New York. Here is where the International Museum of Photography and Film holds its collection of approximately 27,000 reels of cellulose nitrate motion picture film, and on this evening, opened its doors to the SMPTE group.

Patrick Loughney, Motion Picture Department curator; Deborah Stoiber, nitrate vault manager; Edward Stratmann, associate curator; and Christina Stewart, curatorial assistant were on hand to give a tour of the facility, which lasted for about one hour. Breaking the large attendance into three smaller groups, the George Eastman Staff was able to show everyone all areas of the Conservation Center. Deborah gave a brief history of the building and collections, and showed the mechanical room, including how the air exchange system is monitored and checked. Ed showed four different types of early color film, including three-strip Technicolor tests from GONE WITH THE WIND, Multi-color, Cinecolor and an early sound Kodachrome test made at the Eastman Theatre here in Rochester.

Also on hand were some of the earliest examples of cinema, including the McKinley Inauguration Parade from 1897. Christina was in the vaults, showing our guests the structure and safety features of the building, as this was designed to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 40 regulations. She explained how the collection is organized and stored, as well as showing highlights from the vaults. Guests were able to see such treasures as the original camera negatives for GONE WITH THE WIND, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS as well as where THE WIZARD OF OZ is stored. As the vaults are kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 30% Relative Humidity, everyone could appreciate the work and effort made to keep these films in the best environment for long term care. Patrick was on hand to answer any questions given, where we learned that some of our visitors were here from places such as Philadelphia and Syracuse.

Photographs:

1. Ed Stratmann of GEH (on right) shows an original nitrate element from the vault.

2. Christina Stewart of GEH (at rear) in one of the nitrate vaults with members.

3. GEH staff, L-R: Ed Stratmann, Associate Curator; Deborah Stoiber, Nitrate Vault Manager; Christina Stewart, Curatorial Assistant; Dr. Patrick Loughney, Motion Picture Curator.


November 01, 2006
IBC – International Broadcasters Convention - Report

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Kodak Office, 343 State Street, Rochester, NY

Art Cosgrove, past Rochester Section Chairman and Governor, gave a review of the new broadcast technologies shown at IBC-2006 which he attended in Amsterdam on behalf of Kodak. An underlying theme this year was the support for a broad range of display technologies, from 2-inch screens on handheld devices, up to 600-inch screens for “eCinema” (as Digital Cinema is known in Europe), using the slogan “Here, There and Everywhere”.

The HDTV introduction is not as advanced in Europe as it is in the U.S. On the basis of empirical testing, the EBU is recommending 720p/50 as the best current HDTV emission format, 1080p/50 as the potential next-generation HDTV emission format and 1080p/50 as the desirable next-generation HDTV production format.

Electronic Cinematography cameras from seven manufacturers were shown, including a new camera from NHK for Ultra High Definition Television, UHDTV (32 megapixels) and the “Red Camera” 4K prototype. Although all cameras were doing some business, Art reported that they were still struggling in competition with 35 mm film in terms of dynamic range, speed, bit handling and archiving.

For Digital Cinema, a compliance testing process is under development. An international exhibitor group of 15 organizations is creating a certification program for DC equipment.

Storage technologies continue to advance, with holographic recording prototypes to be available by year-end from In-Phase Technologies and Maxell with a capacity of 300 GB on a 5.25-inch disc and transfer at 160 Mbps. Media stability does not seem to be a high priority, however, with a product shelf-life of 2 years and an archival life of 30+ years quoted, on the basis of limited stress testing, and with concerns about interchange of both hardware and software. Keisoku Giken showed a solid-state hard-disk RGB recorder with a capacity of 3.5 TB or 18 minutes of uncompressed UHDTV.

IPTV – Internet Protocol distribution of television – deployment by the Telcos is sluggish in Europe apart from France, Italy and parts of Asia. Microsoft’s TV IPTV Edition integrated software platform - for the delivery of broadcast-quality video and integrated TV services over broadband networks - is being trialed by Alcatel in France.

Small-Screen Low Bit-Rate Services including hand-held digital television receiving devices are being developed for the European DVB-H standard, with tolerance to moving reception devices. Smaller screens require fewer image samples e.g. 176 x 144 samples per frame and lower bit-rates and potentially lower temporal rates.

The BBC Research & Development Dept was showing DIRAC Pro Compression Technology using wavelets, motion compensation and arithmetic coding for a wide range of resolutions from QCIF (176 x 144) to HDTV (1920 x 1080).

Photograph: Art Cosgrove


September 14, 2006
Data Archiving on Recordable CD and DVD Media

Date: Tuesday, September 12th
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Kodak Office, 343 State Street, Rochester

The new season opened with a well-attended meeting on the topic “Archiving on CDs and DVDs” by Steven L. Mizelle, President of KMP Media, Rochester NY. Mr Mizelle explained that standard recordable CDs and DVDs can have a very limited lifetime of as little as two years as a result of the use of inexpensive cyanine dyes and an aluminum or silver reflecting layer. The dyes can fade rapidly when exposed to light and the reflecting layer can tarnish in the presence of oxygen and humidity in the air.

New Gold CD-R and DVD-R discs from Kodak have predicted lifetimes of 300 years and 100 years respectively under recommended storage conditions, as predicted by accelerated keeping tests using the Eyring model, similar to the well-known Arrhenius test. The phthalocyanine dye used in the gold CD-R and the metal-azo dye in the gold DVD-R (different spectral requirements) are much more resistant to ultraviolet light fading, as can be demonstrated by covering half of a disc with duct tape and placing it inside a window. Older types of disc suffer severe fading within a few days while the gold discs are essentially unchanged. The use of a 99.99% (24 karat) gold reflecting layer ensures that tarnishing cannot occur.

Mr. Mizelle concluded with recommendations for the correct storage and handling of CDs and DVDs including the NIST recommendation of storage at 39-68 F (4-20 C) and 20-50% Relative Humidity.

Following his presentation, Mr. Mizelle answered many questions from the 21 member audience.

Photographs:

1. Steven L. Mizelle, President KMP Media.

2. L-R: Ken Repich (Kodak), Kent Hatfield (WXXI-TV), Steven L. Mizelle (KMP Media), Ed Wright (WXXI-TV)


May 29, 2006
Reception & Dinner with Former Presidents

Rollie Zavada, former SMPTE Engineering Vice President (1974-81) and long-time member of the Rochester Section, arranged a reception hosted by Eastman Kodak Company Entertainment Imaging Division and a dinner for local members to meet with the group of Former Presidents and Special Guests during their annual reunion which took place in Rochester this year. It was held at a restaurant in picturesque Schoen Place beside the Erie Canal in historic Pittsford Village. The visitors included Blaine Baker, Gordon Ballentyne, John Barry, Si Becker, Harold Eady, Maurice French, David George, Carlos Kennedy, Fred Remley, Bob Smith, Bill Smith, Charlie Jablonski and Erwin Young, as well as many spouses. Rollie Zavada and Mark Henry, Chairman of the Rochester Section welcomed the guests on behalf of thirteen local members attending. An enjoyable evening was spent with many long-time SMPTE friendships renewed.

Click Here to view pictures from the event

Alan Masson
Manager
SMPTE Rochester


May 25, 2006
Student Chapter ends its year with Rochester Chapter

This past Tuesday, the SMPTE Student Chapter ended its academic year with a joint meeting with the local Rochester Chapter of SMPTE. Here is the review of the meeting as submitted to SMPTE Headquarters:

On Tuesday, May 23, 2006, a small group of attendees was treated to a discussion regarding an experimental project that was wrapped just this past year. This project, affectionately known as Campus Capers, which was originally written by over 30 individuals, was produced at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation (SOFA) and was the first project that was wholly produced in a collaborative environment with students working alongside industry professionals and faculty/staff members of the School.

Daniel Kuba, a Senior at SOFA, discussed the logistics associated with coordinating a large crew of both faculty/staff members as well as students and the many changes that the script underwent during the pre-production phase of the project. He also introduced the board members who represented the major departments that worked on the production.

John Kelly, a Junior at SOFA, relayed what it was like working alongside veteran DP Arnie Sirlin. He discussed the many techniques that were utilized on set to provide the look of the finished project. Kelly examined the strengths and weaknesses of Panasonic’s DVX-100A and how it was utilized in a multicamera environment during the course of production. He also provided details about the many visual effects shots that were originally conceived by himself and his classmates in Sirlin’s Visual Effects Cinematography course.

Kelly and Mark Justison, a graduating Senior at SOFA and the visual effects compositor for the project, discussed why certain technical decisions were made during production and the impact those decisions had on the visual effects in post-production. Justison, who learned the Shake Compositing system for this project, talked about the benefits of Shake’s nodal layout compared to the timeline layout of compositors like Adobe’s After Effects.

Caitlin Miller, another graduating Senior, was responsible for taking the more than 10 hours of production footage and synchronizing it with the multitrack audio provided by Gregory Madore’s sound team. She utilized several portable hard drives to store and transport the media while she was working on the project and discussed the technical hurdles that she had to overcome during production as the Production Designer on set and in post-production as the Lead Editor.

All of the student board members agreed that they developed tremendously during the making of this project. They also collectively saw the value of working side-by-side with industry professionals. The Rochester Section of SMPTE was extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to speak with some of the film industry’s newest professional members.

The Local Chapter looks forward to working with RIT's Student Chapter again next year.

Gregory W. Madore
The Webmaster of SMPTERochester.


April 16, 2002
Kodak's Enhanced Theatrical Experience

A concentrated group of one dozen was privileged to hear Darryl Jones, Eastman Kodak Company, Entertainment Imaging, present “Enhanced Theatrical Experience” in Kodak’s own Theater on the Ridge. Jones, who has operated everything from carbon arc projectors to digital cinema, shared his ample knowledge of projection and film format history on the way to describing the future of cinematic image quality.

“The bigger the negative, the better” was the quote that opened the presentation, leading to the assertion that theaters—and, to a degree, printing— are the weak links in motion picture imaging. Digital intermediate steps have helped printing in recent years. Projection, though, stands to benefit from initiatives like Kodak’s “ScreenCheck” which sends a team to handle projection training, cinema evaluation, and cinema operations. Among other cinema analytical tools that address luminance, contrast ratio and steadiness, Jones discussed illumination. SMPTE recommends 12–22 fL at the center of the screen with 16 fL as the target and 20% fall-off from center to corner. Most theaters are lucky to reach 6–8 fL, Jones quipped.

After a comprehensive review of widescreen formats and lenses from the 1950s to present, Jones showed a video analysis of Kodak’s patented “Quicker” intermittent Geneva mechanism. The star-shaped device achieves full pulldown in only 60o of rotation thanks to special machining of its contours, allowing an 18% increase in lamp exposure and a smaller shutter. This augmented efficiency was evident in a demonstration that closed the event. Inside the theater, Jones projected 70mm trailers from a “Quickermittent” equipped projector using a lamp rated at only 2.4k instead of 7k.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


May 08, 2001
The Making of Hand Drawn and Digital Cartoons

The setting for our May program was Rochester’s legendary, movie-theme decorated Animatus Studio (www.AnimatusStudio.com) where twenty-one attendees were lucky to find seats for “The Making of Hand Drawn and Digital Cartoons.”

Fred Armstrong, Animatus founder and animator since 1974, introduced Dave Puls, creative director, and Mike Boas, webmaster/Flash animator. The business began in 1989 with an Oxberry 16mm, 35mm and Super 35 Super Filmmaker camera for the production of television commercials and industrial films. Armstrong reminisced about Super 8 film and U-matic tape, recalling how their Lion Lamb frame-by-frame recorder met needs until they moved to their more stable PC- based platform with in-sync Speed Razor and a DPS PVR board.

That same compact studio space—including what Armstrong calls his “cast iron camera museum”—also boasts five networked workstations for a broadened offering of productions. Along with their traditional commercial work, Animatus is putting together the Flash animated “Dinner Dogs” musical short for children and the self-stylized, hand-drawn cartoon “Derf” for more mature audiences. From storyboard to animatic to exposure sheets, Derf the misbehaving Viking takes shape through the use of up to 100 layers in Celmation AXA animation software with lipsync kept intact with traditional “bar” sheets. The Animatus Studio staff conducted several separate demonstrations of these projects for the overflow crowd on hand.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Membership Chair)


March 13, 2001
Changeover to the 16:9 World: Transition and the Solutions Offered

Thirty spectators squeezed into a former handball court in the new WHEC-TV annex for the program “Changeover to the 16:9 World: Transition and the Solutions Offered.” Championed by Section Manager Kyle Luther of The HD Group, the meeting began with a functional display of their Panasonic DVCPRO HD line and featured Steve Romain, Regional Sales Manager for Ross Video, Limited, a Canadian manufacturer of switchers, keyers and terminal gear. Romain addressed the dilemma of what to do with all of our thirty-year-old, 4:3 legacy footage in dual aspect ratio production. Their new “Aspectizer”—a hardware/software, high-quality Aspect Ratio Converter with 1/164 of a pixel resolution—performs internal aspect ratio conversion on either the input or output of the ITU-R BT.601 switcher. Both the original and the converted images are available within the switcher concurrently, allowing simultaneous 4:3 and 16:9 production.

On the topic of station economics, Romain outlined the problem facing broadcasters when a DTV channel must be added at a minimum of cost in equipment and no increase in operating expense. He cited the problem of juggling sources, e.g., production truck feeds or home video footage, in the larger scheme of combining 4:3 and 16:9 in real time. Cropping the 4:3 or using “curtains” on a 16:9 display are some solutions, as is choosing 14:9 letterbox that almost fills the screen, “windowboxing” with black bars on all sides, or Pan & Scan to fill the picture height.

The topic of downconverting HD to 601 SDI and then “Aspectizing” for broadcast answered the concern of few current choices in economical HD switchers. New revenue streams are also possible by placing 4:3 with one or two content filled “sidebars” in 16:9, easily possible via the Ross equipment that was on hand. A demonstration of this at the Synergy Series DTV switcher, Romain and Demo Artist Grant Lofthuse presiding, concluded the evening.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


February 01, 2001
2001 International CES Show Review

For one marathon day in Las Vegas, Director of Engineering Kent Hatfield, WXXI TV 21, attended CEA’s 2001 International CES®—the world’s largest annual technology trade show. He brought his observations to our section meeting with his PDA serving as a teleprompter for notes on particular products that caught his attention. The concept of the Personal Video Recorder as an established product category appeared in UltimateTV from Microsoft. This is the disk-based, intelligent front end system that combines digital video recording, live TV controls, interactive TV, Internet access and DIRECTV programming in one box. Storage in the 30-hour range offers S/N somewhat better than VHS, probably using MPEG-4 or a variant.

Sencore Electronics pushed popular adoption of DTV one step closer with a line of “servers” for displays in consumer markets. One example of this shift away from analog was to show HD pictures on an HD display in a point of sale situation using their HDTV995 ATSC Signal Source. Hatfield also noticed their AT953 ATSC Stream Station for its ability to record, play and send MPEG-2 at up to 60 Mbit/s via hard disk.

The Samsung product line stood out among DTV sets and receivers. Displays on hand included plasma and fLCD, the latter with less contrast than plasma but at 1/3 to 1/4 the price. The company looked favorable in its effort to bring their patented “Tantus” LCD Optical System technology to consumers—a 50", 720P, 68dB S/N image was possible using a modest 100W lamp reflected off the 3- LCD engine.

Hatfield commented on a range of other products, from automotive video displays to household appliance network- ing to professional DV . . . and even the comical demand for D cells in new portable devices. But he wrapped on a more serious note, that neither the 8-VSB standard nor COFDM works flawlessly, meaning that no matter what volume of consumer electronics exists, “. . . we haven’t struck gold yet as TV broadcasters.” Whether the solution is Must Carry for cable or a good outdoor antenna, DTV delivery has issues remaining.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


November 14, 2000
Practical Applications for Broadband Networking in Broadcasting

A concentrated audience gathered at WXXI-TV21 in Rochester for the program “Practical Applications for Broadband Networking in Broadcasting.” Project Manager Barry Gostomski, System Sales for Broadcast Server Networking, Panasonic Broadcast and Television Systems Company, presented at this joint meeting with the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

Gostomski explained the impetus for going digital in today’s marketplace: moving program material losslessly, faster than real time, and with simultaneous I/O file transfer. Beyond copying or moving files, FTP sets a new paradigm in which the frame rate is now defined by the bandwidth of the network and the receiving device, no longer the transmitter. The varieties of broadband networking he covered included SMPTE 259 SDI/SDTI, ATM, Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, IEEE 1394 and HIPPI.

The Panasonic Digital Newsroom Automation system reflects the push toward “cart-free” operation and integration of station operations. A typical newsBYTE networked, disk-based workstation connects to a DNA system configuration via a Fibre Channel 1-Gbit/sec FTP, allowing playout to air even before file transfer completes. Interconnection to third-party newsroom automation and archival systems facilitates multiformat HD/SD playback, particularly with the AJ-HDR150 VTR with SDI input.

The presentation concluded with Gostomski covering some practical considerations for deployment, mention- ing the switch from analog to a server-based system recently installed at the ABC affiliate in Buffalo. There the DNA server went online before its scheduled inauguration and has been on the air ever since.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


October 10, 2000
23rd Annual Student Film and Video Festival for New York State Students

23rd Annual Student Film and Video Festival for New York State Students

See our Gallery for pictures from this event.

On September 12, 2000, the winning entries were screened and awards were presented to this year's winners.

NONFICTION (Video)
First Place:
SEARCHING FOR PAPA
Joseph Bellavia
Rochester Institute of Technology

EXPERIMENTAL
First Place
TV Dinner
Scott Zarzycki
Rochester Institute of Technology

ANIMATION
Honorable Mention
Haunted Carnival
Yu Fang Lin
Rochester Institute of Technology

ANIMATION
Second Place
Feminist Creation Myth
Evelyn Zehraoui
Rochester Institute of Technology

ANIMATION
First Place
Render Out
Po-Chun Lin
Rochester Institute of Technology

FICTION
Honorable Mention
Pressure
Andrew Brumbaugh
SUNY Fredonia

FICTION
Honorable Mention
The Garden
David Heinemann
Columbia University

FICTION
Second Place
Crossover
Gustavo Mercado
CUNY New York City

FICTION
First Place
H & G
Amalia Zarranz
Gustavo Moraes
Columbia University

Film and Video Festival Committee:
Kathleen Slavin
Vincent T. Slavin
Honorable Judges
Art Cosgrove
Kathleen Slavin
Vincent T. Slavin
David Stern
Timothy Stoeffel
John Weiksnar
Barry Zimmerman

Special thanks to the following individuals and institutions for their contributions to this year's Student Film and Video Festival:
The Students
Howard Lester
Vincent and Kathleen Slavin
Walter Dixon
Eastman Kodak Company
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Rochester Section
Rochester Audio Visual Association
Rochester Institute of Technology
Vincent T. Slavin Production


Hollywood Comes to Rochester: Digital Special Effects in the New Millennium

The Alcove Room at the Kodak Theater on the Ridge held a capacity crowd for the program “Hollywood Comes to Rochester: digital special effects in the new millennium.” Steve Wright of Kodak’s Cinesite, one of the leading producers of visual effects and other imaging services for major motion pictures, has crafted 3D animation, compositing and digital cel animation for notable movies including “Batman,” “Air Force One” and “Mission: Impossible II.”

His explanation of digital special effects techniques began with the topic of film scanning and the 4K spatial resolution and 10-bit data needed to capture 100 percent of the negative’s information at nominally 50MB/frame on the Cineon Lightning scanner. Kodak monitor calibration helps to view the color accurately, although working proxies downsampled to one-quarter or one- eighth resolution reduce system requirements. Color correction can match layers in a composite, color time shots in a sequence, or create printer light simulations— all using 10-bit log color to prevent banding and main- tain accuracy in the blacks and tops of the signal. Compositing has improved in recent years with matte extraction and despill operations handled in software either by Ultimatte or third party keyers. Geometric transformations, motion tracking (in 2D and 3D) and speed changing via Cinespeed vector analysis and frame interpolation are all routine procedures now, to which Wright cautioned against overuse with the quip “Friends don’t let friends morph.” Film recording (via CRT or laser) and digital mastering to D6 rounded out the presentation topics.

Wright concluded the program with a demo reel and live demonstration of the Cineon image compositing and manipulation system he uses to achieve his magic, including its “flow graph” node-to-node interface that ripples changes to all subsequent effects. An extended Q&A session with plenty of input from students visiting from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House made this a memorable meeting.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


June 08, 2000
Glass-to-Glass—DTV Demo

In conjunction with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the Section held a special meeting in the studios of WXXI-TV21. The "Glass-to-Glass" walkthrough and demonstration of a DTV chain marked a first for Rochester and succeeded as an innovative, hands-on paradigm for other chapters to follow.

Introduced by Section Chairman-elect Vincent T. Slavin, WXXI Director of Engineering Kent Hatfield dubbed himself "Mr. Wizard" in his role overseeing the day-long installation of equipment. The spectacular array, beginning with HD camera, spanned switcher, microwave link, format conversion, excite, encode, transmission, decode and display. Transmitting on channel 16—but allocated to the WXXI DT designation "21-1"—the ½-Watt, indoor exciter signal emanated from a mere Radio Shack bow tie antenna pinned to a studio curtain. Reception via a set-top loop antenna located a few meters across the room allowed attendees to manipulate freely and simulate multipath. Attempts to foil the 8-VSB scheme resulted primarily in macroblock distortions to a DVCPRO-100 1080i sourced image and its station ID "bug," inserted into the transport stream by a single ADC encoder. The encoder also resolved lip sync.

The event, which drew visitors from as far as Albany and Buffalo, continued with individual presentations by manufacturer representatives and vendors. On hand was Panasonic, Hitachi, Fast, Inscriber Technology, JVC, Videotek, Ross, ADC, Tektronix and LeBLANC Broadcast. Personal demos and question/answer sessions concluded the event as atendees circulated among the displays.—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


May 09, 2000
National Association of Broadcasters Roundtable Review

The Eastman Kodak Company "Theater on the Ridge" Alcove Room was the venue for the Section’s third annual National Association of Broadcasters 2000 Roundtable Review. Several of our members plus the regional representa-tives from major equipment manufacturers reviewed the hottest topics of NAB as our own Dr. Frederick J. Kolb moderated.

Arthur Cosgrove, Eastman Kodak Company, began by discussing telecine progress. The Philips/Kodak Spirit datacine continues its high ranking while the Voodoo promises 1080p/24 uncompressed capture in 25p, 48sF, 50sF, 50i and 60i. Shadow is a low-cost, 3-sensor model with Zeiss lenses and 16- and 35mm gates, and the Spectre virtual datacine preserves film by scanning to disk in one pass. John Cerquone, Cer-Tec, highlighted Sony and its new MPEG-based platform. Editable and shippable through the plant, MPEG IMX is a 50Mbps, I-frame system with legacy ½" playback. He mentioned the designation SDTI-CP, short for "content package," being close to passing the Technology Committee and becoming D10.

William Kennedy, Panasonic, recapped the DVCPRO-100 HD rollout, complete with new cameras priced competitively against analog. The euphemistic term for tape, "Heritage Assets," became relevant in the Media Ark’s capability of housing 7,200 DVCPRO cassettes for over 20,000 hours of storage.

Arte Machia, Philips DNS, dwelled on transmission—both web-based and streaming. With MPEG-4 looking to be the choice for 10Kbps–1Mbps A/V services over IP, he described the Clevercast encoding station and its capability to use existing transport and multiplexing formats. Jan Pazral, WXXI (PBS), asserted that four days is not enough at NAB. Regarding datacasting, Dotcast "data over television" sends 4–5 Mbps over NTSC while Burst.com provides faster than realtime in bursts. He also noted the Ikegami HD/SD HDK-790D/79D camera and Kaleido-QC PC-based integrated monitoring and control by Miranda. John Walsh, WHEC (NBC), closed the discussion with the comment, "Right now as broadcasters, we have an extraordi-nary opportunity to make bad choices." His concern over controlling the DTV bitstream was the reason but ATSC "splicing" and logo insertion equipment from IBM, Divicom and Agilevision should ease the transition.—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


March 14, 2000
Overview of the Chandra X-ray Observatory

Well beyond the scope of terrestrial or even satellite television, this atypical program featured an overview of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The presenter was Keith A. Havey, P.E., Senior Project Engineer with Eastman Kodak Company’s Chandra Program, Image Acquisition Systems. Havey’s team played an integral role in the analysis, design and construction of the x-ray telescope launched on Space Shuttle mission STS-93 in July, 1999.

Eastman Kodak Company hardware on the mission included: a 24 to 48" diameter High Resolution Mirror Assembly (HRMA) of four nested hyperboloid and four nested paraboloid glass surfaces for channeling x-rays to a receiver; a 26-foot cylindrical Optical Bench Assembly, the largest composite structure in space; miscellaneous mechanisms and contamination covers; and thermal and mechanical control electronics—including 26 heaters— to maintain a mirror cavity average temperature require-ment of 69.8 ± 2.5°F.

Havey explained that assembly in a Class 100 clean room and support structure accounted for one third of the hardware cost. Alignment tolerances of 1.3 microns were maintained on the iridium-coated HRMA, allowing for optical resolution of a stop sign from twelve miles. In orbit, however, the x-ray capabilities of Chandra have astonished us with views of galaxies, nebula and quasars up to six billion light years away.

Havey concluded the presentation with a video depicting the wide range of institutional and industrial collaboration on the project. For instance, while TRW manufac-tured the Chandra spacecraft and its high resolution CCD array was sourced from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn State, the observatory is controlled by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics .

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


January 20, 2000
Digital Microwave Solutions for STL and ENG Applications

Originally posted in January, 2000

WXXI-TV21 provided the venue for "Digital Microwave Solutions for STL and ENG Applications" by Nucomm, Inc. , manufacturer and marketer of broadcast microwave products and systems for both fixed and portable applications. John J. Cerquone of CER-TEC, Inc. , representing their product line in Upstate NY, PA, MA, RI, NH, VT and ME, opened the program by introducing Nucomm National Sales Manager Bill Dumm.

Beginning with STL systems, Dumm covered the digital modulation formats in use: QPSK, 8PSK, 16QAM and 8VSB. Their 3RU Dual Stream Plus DS Series DTV System uses 8VSB to transport both analog NTSC (with five audio subcarriers) and ATSC data at 19.39 Mbit/sec within a single 25 MHz RF channel (6.80–7.125 GHz/12.75–13.25 GHz). The optional "Flexi-Mod" multi-format modulator allows QPSK, 8PSK and 16QAM for net data throughput of 30, 48 and 64 Mbit/sec, respectively, with forward error correction and adaptive equalization.

Concluding with ENG systems, Dumm covered the 2 GHz band update issue—specifically, the seven pro-posed 12.1 MHz channels in docket ET 95-18—hung up over relocation costs and overdue since August, 1999. Nucomm, aware of the reduced quality of a 12.1 MHz channel, believes that COFDM will be the standard for ENG and has allied with NEC Corporation to develop systems. Dumm explained the merits of COFDM in modulating their MMPT6 Series NEWSCASTER Digital Ready Mast Mount ENG/OB Transmitter System (1.3–15.4 GHz), their PT/RX6 Portable Tripod Mount Transmitter and Receiver, and their CR6 Digital Ready Central Receiver.

—Originally written by John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


November 16, 1999
3D Flat Panel Virtual Window™ Displays by Dimension Technologies Inc.

The Alcove Room at the Kodak Theater on the Ridge was the venue for an audience of thirty to view 3D Flat Panel Virtual Window™ Displays by Dimension Technologies Inc. of Rochester . Vice President of Technology Jesse Eichenlaub spoke about patenting his autostereoscopic display in college and going on to establish DTI in 1987 to address the isometric "2½D" perspective CAD drawings used by many engineers. Eichenlaub explained the progression to images that involve the appearance of real depth without the use of colored, polarized or flickering eyeglasses. DTI’s advanced LCD enhancement technology creates visual depth cues— both monocular and binocular—through the use of parallax transmission, the illumination of the transmissive image forming device (LCD 1) via light lines for every second pixel column (LCD 2). Simultaneous left/right image presentation with the left eye view on odd columns and right eye view on even columns creates discrete "viewing zones" for several users to view 3D simulta-neously. DTI markets 12.1, 15 and 18.1" displays for conventional data and 3D (under software), resolutions to 1280 x 1024, and both analog RGB and NTSC inputs. Their next-generation desktop display concept will offer eight or more perspective views on 480 Frame/sec LCD offering 3D images akin to a hologram.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)


October 12, 1999
Multichannel Audio Systems at Dolby Laboratories

Over two dozen attendees greeted Kenneth R. Hunold, Dolby Laboratories, to speak on three primary facets of their multichannel audio systems. Hunold’s experience includes working twenty-five years as an engineer at ABC and earning an Emmy for his involvement with the Calgary Winter Olympics. The presentation, held in WOKR TV13 Studio B, summarized the history, specifications and merits of each of the three related surround sound technologies. Dolby Surround began in the home market via two-channel VHS, Laserdisc and TV broadcasts as a four-channel, matrix-encoded scheme compatible with mono, stereo and Pro Logic decoded surround sound configurations. Its 4-channel mix combines discrete left, center, right and surround inputs using the Dolby SEU-4 Surround Encoder. Recently Dolby has introduced the new DP563 Surround Encoder, a device equipped with digital I/O and the capabil-ity to pre-mix 5.1-channel audio for 4-channel matrix encoding.

Dolby Digital, in its early days on Laserdisc known as AC-3 for "Audio CODEC 3," is a discrete, non-matrixed, 6- channel perceptual coding technology that is the standard for ATSC DTV. Also used in DVD video and some DVD-ROM titles, Dolby Digital’s popular "5.1" designation results from the sixth, low frequency effects channel occupying only one tenth of the original bandwidth. Its low data rate results from <8:1 to 12:1 compression using hearing threshold limitations and frequency domain masking. Metadata can include channel information, dialog normalization and dynamic range control through the DP569 Multichannel Dolby Digital Encoder.

Dolby E, unlike Dolby Digital which allows for only one encode/decode cycle, is a higher bit rate, cascadable post-production and distribution process that claims to offer up to ten cycles without audible degradation. The "5.1 + 2" system allows up to eight channels of encoding/decoding plus SMPTE time code on either a single pair of AES/EBU channels or stereo digital tracks at 1.92 Mbits/sec. The DP571 Dolby E Distribution Encoder and DP572 Decoder allow editing through identical video and audio frame rates—a feature Dolby Digital’s 32ms frames cannot match—and also multiplex metadata into the audio stream. Hunold added that Dolby licenses additional varieties of surround sound, including Surround EX for the rear of theaters, Virtual Surround for space-challenged markets and Dolby Headphone for airline passengers. The corporation does not have any specific Electronic Cinema products yet but has used Dolby Digital and Dolby E products with HD D-5 VTRs for Electronic Cinema applications. In addition, Dolby Surround EX has been used with disk-based multi-track audio recorders for e-cinema productions.

—John P. Weiksnar (Rochester Section Manager/Membership Chair)