Whoever it was, back in the mists of ancient history, that first developed the concept of a map has a lot to be thanked for. Imagine a world without maps where you navigate by putting one foot in front of the other without care for the overall consequences – as long as you get to your destination:
No individual step matters and no individual step is better or worse than the one before or after it – but when viewed as a whole, the route through the pit of snakes might be less good than the route through the vineyard and wine tasting region (in my opinion – however an ophiophilist may disagree).
Why should we need a map for our business operations?
Thinking about our day-to-day business operations, the same is true of shooting progressively (in film mode) and displaying on the TV. The value chain involves many small steps. No individual step is a bad one, but a series of them can take you a long way off the safe course.
Today, we live in a world with electronic capture devices that are, by design, progressive devices. We live in a world where the majority of content is viewed on flat screen devices that are, by design, progressive. We live in a world where legacy TV transmission systems and working practices that grew up around them are, by design, interlaced.
There are very good, historical reasons why North America uses a frame rate of 30/1.001 frames per second and Europe uses a frame rate of 25 frames per second and Hollywood distributes its movies at 24 frames per second. These traditional, professional frame rates and interlace standards can be largely ignored when putting consumer generated material on a consumer video sharing site because affordable consumer devices are able to shoot video, compress video and display it whilst largely ignoring the entire professional TV chain. They have it easy!
Back in the days when Dallas was being originally aired on television, there came a time when the film workflow changed to a “shoot on film and edit on videotape” process. The pictures looked just fine when played full speed at the original 29.97fps, but when conversion to 25fps was attempted with the technology of the day, the temporal artefacts were awful.
Simplifying a complex world with a clear vision
The world of media is, therefore, a complicated place where vast tracts of history have obscured the reasons why we do things. Imagine, now, that we’re shooting a movie and common sense has prevailed and we’re shooting it progressively at 24 frames per second. While shooting and while creating the original version of the movie, everything is good and we end up with a high quality piece of content.
There are many examples today where common sense does not prevail and a production company focussed on a TV release of their HD material might perform their post-production at video frame rates despite the fact that the content was shot at film rates. In a world with sufficient budgets where everyone is well educated and there is enough time to produce content correctly we should be able to eliminate this source of degraded material entering the media value chain.
In the real world, modern working methods and commercial pressures increase the likelihood of broken mixed-cadence material appearing in file-based workflows. There are a number of techniques involved in removing those cadence problems and in changing frame rates in general and these each have their pros and cons.
At AmberFin, we have developed a method of adaptively switching between different conversion mechanisms within a file-based workflow, providing the ability for user control of conversion policy on a file by file basis as well as the ability to review and modify automated decisions within a QC environment.
So let’s get back to maps. Anyone who has found themselves in an unfamiliar country with a new map, first has to figure out where they are, where they want to get to and what the optimal route is. In today’s busy and increasingly deep-tech commercial world of file conversion, our customers often find they have content (they know where they are) that they need to make progressive picture to generate revenue (they know where they want to get to), but there is no map and there is no choice of routes. You buy one product and hope for the best.
At AmberFin we’re trying to change that. With our educational blog and Mixed Cadence White Paper, we’re trying to show you the map of what good conversion looks like. We’re also introducing a new technology family called (AT)3 that puts you in control of creating the best output pictures without having to understand the complex algorithms inside. To find out more about (AT)3 book an appointment to see us at NAB 2014.
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