… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1082: Thunderbolt 4 is Coming!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Thunderbolt 4 won’t be any faster, but it will be a lot more flexible.

The Thunderbolt logo.

Topic $TipTopic

When Thunderbolt first came out in 2011, it was a niche interface specifically designed for media creators. Why? Because Thunderbolt is optimized for large files, while USB is optimized for smaller files. Since most people using computers are more likely to be browsing the web, word processing or creating spreadsheets, USB was the perfect protocol for them. Plus, it was cheap.

However, Intel and Apple, the two co-creators of Thunderbolt, were not standing still. Currently, all Macs come bundled with Thunderbolt 3. In July, Intel revealed more of what will be in Thunderbolt 4.

As a reminder, Thunderbolt is considered a “universal” solution because it’s capable of delivering fast transfer speeds, charging and video output over a single connection. Thunderbolt 4 is compliant with USB4, DisplayPort and PCIe Express standards, and is compatible with previous-gen Thunderbolt and USB products.

According to LaptopMag.com, “Thunderbolt 4 isn’t any faster than Thunderbolt 3 when it comes to maximum transfer speeds but it brings additional capabilities. Among those is the ability to connect to two 4K monitors or a single 8K monitor as a minimum requirement, an upgrade from the single 4K output offered by Thunderbolt 3. 

“Maximum data transfer speeds remain at 40 GBps but can now be achieved using a 2-meter universal cable. For comparison, USB4 matches Thunderbolt at 40 GBps but has a minimum requirement of 20 GBps. Additionally, Thunderbolt 4 will introduce accessories with up to four Thunderbolt ports.  

“As well, Intel is requiring one Thunderbolt 4 port to drive power to thin and lightweight laptops that need less than 100 watts to charge. PCs will also need to let you wake them from sleep by touching a mouse or keyboard when they are connected to a Thunderbolt dock.”

Thunderbolt 4 devices should be released before the end of 2020.

EXTRA CREDIT

Sections of this article were taken from LaptopMag.com, written by Philip Tracy.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1037: On-set Wireless Video Monitoring

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

On-set video monitors can save time and improve collaboration.

(Image courtesy of Teradek.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at Teradek, who make wireless video monitors, created a blog illustrating the benefits of wireless video monitors on-set. Not just for the director, but other key production team members as well. Here’s an excerpt.

NOTE: Here’s the link.

Wireless monitoring is critical to many roles on set; but let’s face it, not everyone has access to one. In fact, on many productions big and small, priority for monitoring goes to the Director and DP, leaving other critical members to fend for themselves in an overcrowded video village with just a few monitors.

The goal, then, is to find a solution that lets everyone see the shot without having to fight for that premium video village real estate. That’s where personal wireless monitors come in.

The biggest benefit is allowing every member to see the shot so they can adjust their roles accordingly, making for a much more collaborative set. Another is being mobile, allowing the crew to maneuver around set with ease and remove as many obstructions as possible.

The seven roles that could benefit most are:

  • Director
  • 1st AC
  • Gaffer
  • Script Supervisor
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Clients & Executives
  • Boom operators

While only a select few people on set absolutely need zero-delay monitoring, by helping to cut production time, you end up saving tons of money.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #965: Thoughts on the Mac T2 Chip

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Apple T2 chip provides more than simple system security.

The Apple T2 chip

Topic $TipTopic

We first heard about Apple’s T2 chip with the release of the 2017 iMac Pro. Apple’s support pages wrote:

“The Apple T2 Security Chip is Apple’s second-generation, custom silicon for Mac. By redesigning and integrating several controllers found in other Mac computers—such as the System Management Controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller—the T2 chip delivers new capabilities to your Mac.

“For example, the T2 chip enables a new level of security by including a secure enclave coprocessor that secures Touch ID data and provides the foundation for new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. And the T2 chip’s image signal processor works with the FaceTime HD camera to enable enhanced tone mapping, improved exposure control, and face-detection–based autoexposure and auto white balance.”

But, what you may not know is that the T2 chip also provides hardware-based encoding, such as 8-bit HEVC (i.e. the “Faster” setting) when encoding files using Apple Compressor. For those familiar with hardware-based H.264 encoding using Intel CPUs, Apple’s expectation is to have comparable results regardless of which hardware is used.

The T2 will become even more important to video creators as Apple shifts to Apple silicon-based systems in the coming year.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s a Apple KnowledgeBase page from Apple with more details.

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more about Apple’s custom chips.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #935: 8K is Coming – Time to Get Ready

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

8K is an issue of when, not whether. This article can help.

The Canon EOS R5 (8K video camera)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Larry comments: Jourdan has compiled an excellent discussion of shooting and editing 8K, even 12K, media. Are file sizes bigger? Yes, absolutely. Are images better? Also, yes. The issue is nuanced, but this is a short blog that’s worth reading.

Jourdan writes:

Believe it or not, there will come a day when filmmakers and video professionals look back at 8K and laugh. Not because 8K was such a hot topic, but because we’ll have moved on to 16K or higher! Seriously, if you look back at how the news of 4K cameras was handled, you’d think the video world was about to collapse under the weight of the increased pixels and file sizes.

Instead, we’ve all largely learned to embrace 4K, as it has truly been a game-changer in how video professionals and filmmakers frame their shots, manage their workflows, and handle post-production.

Even though the first 8K televisions were unveiled in 2019, 4K television is only recently starting to find its footing — sort of. The technology has been adopted by half the households in the US, and according to an article in Forbes, most people can’t tell the difference between 4K and 8K televisions in the first place.

His article (linked above) covers:

  • The Upsides of 8K
  • The Challenges of 8K
  • 8K for Visual Effects
  • Should You Shoot 8K

Larry summarizes: His answer is: Yes, but that doesn’t mean you need to switch to 8K immediately. However, 8K is coming and we need to get ready.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #940: Just How Fast is Apple Silicon?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Apple silicon is hardware optimized for running software.

Topic $TipTopic

Jim Turley, writing for the Electronic Engineering Journal takes a deeper look at the upcoming Apple silicon transition and how an ARM CPU is able to run x86 software. This is an excerpt.

First, the basics. Apple has gone through at least five different processor generations by my count. The company started with the 6502, then 68K, PowerPC, x86, and now ARM. It’s always used ARM for its iDevices – iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc. – since the very first iPod almost 20 years ago.

What’s remarkable is that all three architecture changes supported the previous generation’s binaries. Users won’t be able to tell the difference. It just works.

How well does it work? Well enough that Apple’s emulation beats other systems running natively. Surprisingly, the DTK’s x86 emulation is faster than some real x86 processors.

The consensus is that Apple didn’t need to mess around with the ARM architecture – at least, not the visible parts of it. Instead, the company likely optimized its microarchitecture: the underlying circuitry that implements the programmer-visible parts

Apple is uniquely qualified to create an effective binary translator. The company has done it twice before, always in software. The initial results suggest that it’s pulled off a hat trick, even without any hardware assists. Rosetta 2 running on A14X should be even better.

EXTRA CREDIT

This article is well-written and well worth reading for additional detail and commentary.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #941: Deep Dive into Metal on Apple Silicon

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Apple silicon seriously leverages the GPU.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple released a developer video focuses on the benefits and performance of moving to Apple GPUs for upcoming Macs. Hosted by Michael Imbrogno, Manager, CPU Software and Domenico Troiano, Engineer, CPU software, this presents how Apple silicon will improve graphics-intensive apps and games. Here’s the link

Apple’s Description

Apple Silicon Macs are a transformative new platform for graphics-intensive apps — and we’re going to show you how to fire up the GPU to create blazingly fast apps and games. Discover how to take advantage of Apple’s unique Tile-Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR) GPU architecture within Apple Silicon Macs and learn how to schedule workloads to provide maximum throughput, structure your rendering pipeline, and increase overall efficiency. And dive deep with our graphics team as we explore shader optimizations for the Apple GPU shader core. We’ve designed this session in tandem with “Bring your Metal app to Apple Silicon Macs,” and recommend you watch that first. For more, watch “Harness Apple GPUs with Metal” to learn how TBDR applies to a variety of modern rendering techniques.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #942: An Overview of Apple Silicon

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Apple silicon is both a sea-change and a continuation of past practice for Apple.

Topic $TipTopic

To get this discussion started, here’s Apple’s press release announcing the move to Apple silicon.

Next, the team at iMore provided some analysis of what Apple Silicon means and what’s coming. Here’s the link.

Finally, to put this transition into better perspective, four years ago Bloomberg profiled Johny Srouji, senior vice president for hardware technologies at Apple. He’s the man supervising the team building Apple silicon. While the Bloomberg article preceded the announcment of Apple silicon by several years, the article is prescient as we consider the coming transition to Apple silicon.

I think you’ll enjoy reading it. Here’s the link


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #863: What HDMI 2.1 Means for 8K and HDR

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The new HDMI standard supports future image quality growth.

Image courtesy of TV Technology.

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at TV Technology released an article on “What HDMI 2.1 Could Mean for 8K, HDR” This is an excerpt.

James Carter and Henry St. Leger write:

What is HDMI 2.1? The new standard for HDMI was confirmed back in November, 2017, but has yet to trickle down into mass-market television hardware. When it does, though, it will mark a big step for both the AV industry and home viewers wanting to get the most of their TV series, films, broadcast, and games consoles.

When High Definition Multimedia Interface (or HDMI) first arrived on the scene, everyone rejoiced at no longer having to use bulky SCART connectors, or those confusing component video cables, ever again. Instead, HDMI offered high definition video with a connector that was just a little bigger than a standard USB plug.

…The headline feature here is support for 8K content at 60 fps, but there are also a number of minor features that add up to a much more capable standard such as support for Variable Refresh Rates, Dynamic HDR, and Quick Media Switching, which should make it faster than ever to change between the devices attached to your television.

Here’s the link to the full article.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #790: Why Use Fluid Tripod Heads

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Fluid heads support smooth pans, tilts and tracking.

A Manfrotto fluid tripod head

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in Better Digital Photo Tips.com. This is a summary.

What is a fluid tripod head exactly, do you really need a fluid tripod head and how does this kind of tripod head work? Here are some answers.

A fluid head is designed to create smooth pans, tilts and tracking. If you shoot stills, it isn’t truly necessary, but for video, it’s essential. These heads, made for tripods and monopods, contain a fluid chamber within its design, to dampen the sudden movements and vibrations of the camera, in order to get smooth video pans and smooth tracking.

A friction head is not the same as, though cheaper than, a fluid head. Friction heads use a series of plastic washers to smooth the movement.

Here are a few features of fluid head tripods that you need to be aware of.

  • COUNTERBALANCE. A system in a fluid head that allows your camera to remain at the angle you leave it set.
  • FLUID DRAG. Grease or oil material, that is trapped between plates within a sealed pack, that acts as torque dampers instead of using friction to create drag.
  • HANDLE LENGTH. The longer the handle, the easier it is to make subtle, smooth movements. One trick to make a cheaper head work better is to slide a small PVC or other light-weight pipe over the handle to extend its length.
  • TENSION CONTROL. The ability to adjust both panning tension and tilting tension
  • WEIGHT. Heavier heads can handle heavier cameras. It’s that simple.

The article, linked above, includes multiple videos illustrating the difference fluid heads make, along with details on what to look for when buying one.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #774: The Best A-cam and B-cam Combos

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Three high-quality, lower-cost camera combos.

The Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro camera.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Speaking from experience, when I worked in-house with a video production company, there were often times when I needed at least a couple of cameras for a shoot. In many cases, these are A-camera and B-camera setups, where your A-cam is your high-end option for the majority of your filming, while your B-cam is usually your slightly lower-end camera, used for off-angle coverage and pickup shots.

Here are three combos to consider.

  • Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and the BMPCC 4K. While the URSA Mini Pro has been a solid A-camera (4.6K, ProRes 444 + 422 recording) cinema workhorse since 2017, the real variable in this equation is Blackmagic’s new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, which is a popular B-camera companion that boasts many of the same specs but at a fraction of the price.
  • Canon C300 and the Canon 5D. I spent years shooting on the Canon C300 — and both the Canon 7D and Canon 5D. Most of my career has been run-and-gun videography (and sometimes photography, to boot), so a reliable camera like the 5D or 7D has been invaluable. Meanwhile, Canon’s C300 has been a very solid cinema A-camera offering — a favorite of documentary filmmakers and corporate video producers (also for its reliability and favorable color science).
  • Sony FS7 and Sony A7 III. Going full Sony for your A-camera/B-camera setup may be your best image capture option. The Sony FS7, with its Super 35mm-sized CMOS sensor, is one of the most diverse and multi-functional A-cams on the market. Combined with the full-frame Sony A7 III (or perhaps the Sony A7S II), you should get the best of Sony’s sharp and crisp color science, and superior low-light performance, for more uncontrolled and vérité-style shoots.

EXTRA CREDIT

This article also includes more specs, pricing and links for more information.