Tuesday, 29 May 2012

3D Particles in Nukex.

I'm working on a simple 3D promo clip which was shot in 20 minutes - 4 passes of a classical guitar piece - filmed before a concert - no time, and little space or room for direction or set build.

I've decided to create some 3D particles and "place" them within the 3D space as background, mid ground and foreground layers. I tested some simple particle files from a 2D source ( Particle Illusion) and, whilst they worked, and you can set the Z depth position, the particles themselves are 2D and therefore appear as a flat "plane" rather like a 2D caption panel positioned in Z. Obvious of course, but often this can work as an intentional effect, but if you want real 3D immersion, then the particles themselves need to be filmed with a Stereoscopic rig and emitted in 3D space.

So, let's look at doing this in Nukex.

Simple Stereoscopic Camera set up using the 
built in Snowbox particle generator.

Settting up this simple stereo rig and choosing the basic IO between the cameras will depend on perceived depth, the size of the source plane and the distance from the cameras to the subject. With an anaglyph viewer node it is easy to check the overall depth of the scene. It is also to be accepted that parallax and convergence can be adjusted in final post. My two cameras look like this:

3D view of cameras looking down and through the
falling snow particles

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So today, my TD10 wings it's way back to Amazon for a refund - Sony wanted me to pay for a repair as the camera came from Amazons "Warehouse Deals" section and was described by Sony as "second hand" therefore falling under the Amazon Warranty. I will in fact buy another unit from them, as right now the TD10 is even cheaper! 
This really is surprisingly good customer service from Amazon, no quibble at all, I simply asked them how to proceed with my warranty with them, and they said send it back for a refund! They added " It doesn't need to be shipped in its original box!"
I'll let you know how this proceeds....
Shock - Amazon received my camera in one day, free collection service and have refunded my account - what excellent service - now to buy a new one - I'm not going for the TD20 - too expensive for a domestic item - so today I ordered a new TD10 from Amazon - it "should" be OK, but at least it is "new" and is therefore covered by Sony's full guarantee.

Monday, 21 May 2012

How to Split Stereo MVC files that have been imported by Sony PMB software to seperate left and right channels using Sony CMU.

If you use Sony PMB software to import files from say a TD10 to your edit system, and then find you want to split the files into separate L&R streams, you will find that PMB imported files will appear as "unsupported" in Sony CMU and will be skipped.

I prefer to use Edius to split files, however, CMU is free, so..

1) Open your source file folder, locate each xml file for each clip, they will be named: file number.m2ts.modd - one for each clip. 

2)Rename the extension for each xml file with the extension: file number.cmuprops

3)Now set the default programme to open the xml file as Notepad

4)Now open the first xml file and edit the last string in the file as per the pictures below. All we are adding is CMU 2.0 to the last but one string.
change .m2ts.modd file extension to .cmuprops

add "space CMU space2.0"

should look like this, then save in notepad.
Open CMU software and process away! If you are nervous doing this, save a copy of the original xml extensions.

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Monday, 14 May 2012

After rooting around the net I find this issue with the TD10 is pretty common, and that Sony don't appear to have the capacity to re adjust the camera, some report that the engineers are not able to view the right and left outputs and compare them - so having built a stereoscopic camera, they do not have the means to view the output? CRAP.

Still in limbo here, no word from Sony "have they received my camera yet" meanwhile I looked at Joseph's files here: TD 1 clips which are raw files from his JVC TD1 which look very good indeed - 

One must always remember that the "Base View" ( traditionally the left eye ) is the full specification part of the MVC coded file, whilst the right eye is the "Dependent View" which by the nature of MVC coding is relatively "additionally lossy" compared directly to the Base Stream - this shows as softer chroma and luma detail, but will not be responsible for focal errors.

My next question is: "does the Sony HXR-NX3D1E NXCAM Professional 3D Compact Camcorder - which houses the same optics, produce the same poor results?"

Time to get one on test and find out. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Damn, Issues with the TD10 - I have a disparity in focus and detail, between the two eyes of the camera. After shooting last week, I've started to post the job, and, after running some AE camera rig tests, I was shocked to see that the right "eye" is seriously out of focus. So here we go, reset the camera, re rerun the 3D auto lens adjust - works pretty much like the EX series of cameras, creating a LUT (look up table) so it knows the focal curve of each lens. Well I simply cannot get it good - the two lens' are behaving differently, so maybe a back focus issue here - looks like a visit to the Sony workshop is due, the camera is 6 months so still in warranty - I also checked turning off the steady shot - no difference there either


These two images are close ups taken from the time line showing what each lens sees at the same time, notice the coding artifacts. If I manually adjust the focus to bring the right lens into focus, the left is then soft. There are also detail differences with the right channel displaying poor, smudgy chroma encoding as well as a softer noise floor - so all in all, the two channels are well out of line.

Also, if I set the manual focus control to full Infinity - everything is soft - not right at all.

P.S I also checked the data rates of the MVC from the camera - both streams are max 28Mbs - seperated right and left streams using Sony CMU are both the same 13.7Mbs so no difference in the stream capabilities at all.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Post Audio Sync and Playback.

Here's a thing - working with music, I often have to synchronise the visuals from a  "Live" performance, in a recording studio or concert, with the final master audio from, say, a final production master or CD. Then a client wants to view the edit, and doesn't think the audio is spot on - why? 

Computer screens have two kinds of delay, one is called the panel response time, given in milliseconds, it tells you how long it takes the panels pixels to transition from black to white and black again - typically many panels would take 25 ms to transition - this is a long time, creating smeared movement, especially on panning or horizontal moving objects. So, the faster the response time the better - now we see many panels around 5ms which is great.

The other delay in picture output is created by the processing delay - how long it takes for the panel and its associated electronics to process the incoming signal and present it to the viewer. Typical values are 25 - 50 ms - now this is a lot and very noticeable, the other aspect to this is that almost no manufacturers  add this information to their spec. sheet. 

High end audio amplification equipment often has an audio delay which is user adjustable to sort this out, but of course laptops and the like do not, so you need to employ a video player which 1) allows you to adjust the audio delay and 2) A test signal to set this up. Media Player Classic is a great free player for two reasons, not only can you easily set the required delay, but it also has V sync settings and a "tear" testing set up to rid you of those awful horizontal tear lines on computer 60Hz screens when viewing 50Hz frame rate material. See the images below that show settings and there's a link to a test file which consists of white flashes and audio beeps to help align the sound and picture on your system.

There is a small .wmv sync test file here: Sync Test File.  If you opt for an external audio delay unit, I'd highly recommend this one as it is optical audio fitted with toslink connectors - it is also reasonably cheap at £79  Audio Delay unit

What HiFi say: "Few things in AV are as annoying as lip-sync errors. It makes all movies seem badly dubbed. And if your amp hasn't got the facility to fix it, you're stuck. Unless you get this JS Tech digital audio delay unit. It's a simple box with just three connections: an optical in / out plus a power supply input. The unit is easy to use: the two buttons on the front adjust the delay up to 340ms."

Saturday, 5 May 2012

I managed to get my MX02 CS5.5 plugin to work with AE CS6. I'm not sure if this will work with other Matrox cards but it probably will. This is a non supported hack, but appears to work fine for now.

Open: programmes files/adobe/AECS5.5/support files/plugins and locate this little file: mveaepreviewcs5.aex  Copy and paste this file to the identical AECS6 plugins folder, then rename the file mveaepreviewcs6.aex Start AECS6 and voila

This is not an approved method, but will work until the new drivers are released. Please undertake this at your own risk.
Still looking for a way to access the Matrox with PPro - but not much hope as so much has changed.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Today I'm installing Adobe Master Collection CS6 to see if the newer versions of PPro and After Effects have anything to add to the CS5.5 versions capabilities.

First up was AE6 - easy install, opens RED files without issue, tested with Sony EX, and whilst the conform takes a little while, it is pretty swift on this host.

Installed a few plugins - NEAT noise reduction works fine, my Matrox MXO2 output unit appears not to work, I'll try and move the drivers from the CS5.5 folders, but I hold out little hope until matrox release CS6 drivers for this handy box. I also have both HD Storm and a Spark card which produce infinitely better quality, Canopus and now GV are very very good in the hardware department, but, GV are awful at offering drivers to allow Photoshop, AE etc to find a path through these excellent cards to your monitor - in fact there are CS4 drivers from Grass Valley, but nothing newer - bummer.

aaah, I see Matrox intend to release new drivers "within a month" of the official Adobe CS6 release date which is end of May 2012 -

I'm starting to search for Stereoscopic goodies in AE....can't find much new, Premiere Pro is MUCH better - playback is very smooth, even compared to Edius which outstrips everything in the real-time stakes, however 3 layers of transparent AVCHD 1080 50i is the max at full resolution monitoring whilst Edius can manage 4 layers for 25 seconds before the really useful "playback buffer" empties - this is all 4 layers, semi transparent with full HD to external monitor. There appears to be no added stereoscopic facilities within PPro CS6 so edius is still KING - even though the trial period has run its course, leaving Vegas to mop up those that need to cut 3D. Well, there is always Power Producer 10 from Cyberlink - utterly awful, unstable and so forth, but it does edit 3D and will burn 3DBD discs (Profile 2)

Back to AE CS6 - the new camera tracker actually works fairly well, considerably quicker and simpler than Nukex, although as ever, the Foundry products are far better appointed, if you can get you head around Nuke and your pocket is deep enough!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sad days coming, Grass Valley have closed the 3D preview thread on their Edius Forum - removing the platform for 3D discussion of the upcoming release of Edius 6.5, which will "contain" the 3D capabilities.

Just because the 3D Preview build 8 expires on May 5th, they have, in their great wisdom, decided that we have all said our piece and provided them with loads of free beta testing resources to boot. I'm glad to receive their "thanks" but not so happy to be kicked out the door in such a way.

RIP Edius 3D until it is unearthed at a later date!