film, tech

Creativity Inc.

A few great quotes from the excellent book by Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.

“There is nothing quite like ignorance combined with a driving need to succeed to force rapid learning.”
“Believe me, you don’t want to be at a company where there is more candor in the hallways than in the rooms where fundamental ideas or matters of policy are being hashed out.”

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film, tech

Academy Award for OpenColorIO

At this year’s Academy Scientific And Technical Achievement Awards show, OpenColorIO was among 19 other winners. If you haven’t heard of OpenColorIO, it’s a color management framework that makes managing color for cinema and video much more straightforward for engineers and artists alike. It’s been adopted by most of the major 2d and 3d applications for our business and has been a bit of a game-changer in terms of simplifying color workflows around the world.

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Disecting a Hard Drive

When I was in 5th grade I dissected a frog. Today we dissected a hard drive.

We found an old 80gb hard drive and decided to turn it into a learning experiment this morning. My girls had never seen a hard drive outside of a computer before and hadn’t particularly thought about what caused the sounds a computer makes when it’s loading something.

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Slow moving

It turns out, we cannot be trusted to pack a box.

It started simple enough with a goal to pack our CD’s for our upcoming move. The first distraction was sorting through the CD’s to make sure to avoid moving anything we’re never going to listen to again–naturally it would be a terrible waste to move a few 3 ounce objects for nothing. Now however, it has digressed into sorting them into “his” and “hers” collections, digitizing every album that made it through the first gauntlet and finding appropriate digital artwork to go with each and every CD. This, for music we mostly haven’t thought about in the last 7 years.

The above snapshot is my stack that remains to be digitized tonight. Part of it actually.

At this rate, we’ll be ready to move in about 10 years. But, we will be very organized.

film, tech

Stereo Workshop

Last week a number of the supervisors from Imageworks took a few hours to get hands-on with the latest stereo rigs and equipment. Stereo Supervisor Rob Engle led the group through some prepared material and facilitated a discussion that continued through the morning.

Many of the supervisors at Sony Pictures Imageworks have already worked on one or more stereo films. This made the discussion and the experimenting with the rigs all the more interesting.

Academy Award winning VFX supervisor Scott Stokdyk at the stereo controls. Even if you know exactly how you want to dial the inter-axial and convergence, it takes a bit of rehearsal to get used to the controls.

After a few hours on stage, the team returned to the screening room to review the results and talk about the merits of the various experiments.

It’s rare to be able to get that kind of group together in a room for a few hours to discuss and experiment with the latest in an evolving technology. Certainly one of the perks of my job.


Aperture: Stuff I’ve Learned

After a few days playing with a trial version of Aperture I’ve learned a few things. I’m a long time user of iPhoto and Picasa. More recently I’ve been testing Lightroom and Aperture and I’m starting to consider a full-time switch to Aperture. Here are some of the things I’ve needed to learn.

Deleting Photos

Sometimes you want to delete a photo–not just remove it from the Aperture library. In Picasa, you hit the Delete key and the photo is gone for real. It’s slightly more complicated in Aperture, which also offers more flexibility.

In Aperture, you can rate a photo as a “Reject” by taping the “/” key. Then, one you’ve selected all the Rejects from your project, go into the browser mode and hit Ctrl-8 to show all the rejected photos. Then, you can delete them by selecting them all and trash them with Cmd-Delete (or from the main menu File->Delete Master Image and All Versions.)

Almost done. To remove them for real, select the Trash project in the Library and either use the keyboard shortcut or the right mouse button over the Trash to empty the trash.

Aperture will prompt you about whether you want to move the referenced files to the trash–in my case I use a referenced library so this is important to keep checked if you want the files on disk actually deleted.

The final step would be to empty the System Trash to recover your disk space. Or leave it there in case you change your mind.

Making it go fast

My first impression of Aperture’s speed was not good at all. Importing my library of photos was slow. Waiting for them to “process” was much slower (20+ hours). Then, I dared to quit the program and was greeted by this message which got stuck here and never went away:

A Force Quit was my only resolution and Aperture handled that with grace. I do have 65,000+ images in my library and I did some tests importing a hundred images at a time and Aperture seemed to perform fast enough on those imports given a couple of tricks:

  1. Time Machine likes to back up the Aperture library while Aperture is using it. This is very slow. While I’m testing, I’ve simply asked Time Machine not to backup my Aperture library. Not ideal, but much faster.

  2. Browsing between images would sometimes take up to 2-4 seconds. This was similar to my experience with Lightroom–but Picasa is almost always instant. I wrote to Apple’s Aperture Support not expecting much response, but what surprised when they quickly directed me to this little gem:

That’s the Fast Preview button. When it is down, you can browse through your library instantly, you just can’t color correct an image. A marked improvement. There must be some real good reason they don’t automatically turn that button on and off for you in the background depending on whether you’re doing a color correction in the software, but I can’t think of why.