Simple, elegant screenwriting.

  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz

Creative Cloud? Give Me a Cloud That Can Cook

I’ve got some time on my hands. Twenty-five hours and seven minutes, to be exact.

I’m working on a new short film that I can’t wait to share with you. But I have to wait, because it’s rendering. This thousands-of-frames-long Adobe After Effects project is rendering really, really fast. But also really, really slow. And so I’m waiting for it to finish rendering on one blazing fast (but agonizingly slow) computer.

When I wrote about the After Effects ray-tracing renderer (which this project doesn’t use, by the way), I think I buried perhaps the most important point way at the bottom:

Along with CS6, Adobe unveiled Creative Cloud, which includes subscription pricing for the Creative Suite applications. But is that really what After Effects power-users need from “the cloud?” What if that subscription also gave me access to a cloud-based render farm that is constantly Backblaze-syncing with my work directories and is ready to instantaneously render my 1,000-frame animation on 1,000 virtual machines at the push of a button?

Then what if Adobe removed the button?

It used to be my dream that After Effects would speculatively render my work in the background, using every ounce of my computer’s processing power. Now I want the same thing, but with Adobe supplying the processors. That would be worth a subscription fee.

The “big iron” days are over. Simplicity is the new powerful. Fast is the new good. The computer is the new hardest working guy in the room. Except it’s no longer in the room.

What I want from my Creative Cloud subscription is access to an infinite render farm that I only pay for when I need it. Adobe needs to productize what my friends at Atomic Fiction have built for themselves—an infinitely scalable, virtual render farm—that they’ve never seen with their own eyes.

What I meant by “removing the button” is that Creative Cloud should be like Tony Stark’s Jarvis. “I rendered those 3,000 frames for you sir, would you like to take a look?” This isn’t new technology I’m talking about—it’s simply smart use of existing technology. Which, by the way, is actually what Adobe’s good at.

I’m not a Creative Cloud hater, and quite frankly I find the backlash against it tiresome and paranoid. But Adobe did themselves no favors by launching their cloud initiative first as a new way of paying, without simultaneously offering new functionality made possible only by a massively distributed architecture.

Want to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of your customers Adobe? Make Creative Cloud not just mandatory, but indispensable. And maybe give it a British accent.

I’ll be waiting.


Taking The Movies Out of The Movies

The Hollywood Reporter, in an article called IBC Wrap: “We Would Be Fools if We Didn’t Learn From ‘The Hobbit’”:

Audience reaction to Hollywood’s first high frame rate movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was decidedly mixed, but frame rates—along with higher resolution, laser light, immersive sound and second screen experiences were very much on the minds of digital cinema leaders last week at the International Broadcasters Convention.

Audiences didn’t like it, so let’s keep talking about it, and other crap that isn’t movies.

“The audience response might have been mixed, but there were many examples of audience numbers increasing because of the technology, and we could charge a premium for the experience,” [Phil Clapp, president of the International Union of Cinemas] said.

So apparently, what we’d be “fools if we didn’t learn from The Hobbit” is that we can charge more money for stuff people don’t actually like.

Exhibitors, here’s how to take more of my money: build more theaters like the ArcLight, where they show movies—just regular movies—and show them well, and charge me whatever you want for tickets.


ARRI Amira

ARRI knows how to make the perfect camera for right now, instead of an imperfect camera for the future.

No one should care about the “in-camera grading.” But everyone should care about 200 fps of “ALEXA image quality” on a camera designed to be used by humans.



Creative Cloud Updates Coming

It’s the little things.

Adobe has revealed what we can look forward to in Creative Cloud updates coming in October. Premiere looks to have done some of what I recommened in terms of integrating SpeedGrade.

After Effects has a slew of handy new features. My favorite big ones are the Mask Tracker and the Detail Preserving Upscale effect. But there are great little features as well, such as masks automatically choosing a color that differes from the background, and new layers being created above selected layers. You can also link properties without manually creating expressions. It’s a very nice update.

But my favorite new feature is one so tiny that you’ll have to scroll all the way to the bottom of Todd Kopriva’s exhaustive blog post to see it:

removal of extraneous warnings regarding missing custom effects

If you used an animation preset based on a custom effect (such as those defined in PresetEffects.xml), you could get a warning that an effect was missing, even though nothing needed for the animation preset was missing.

All of the Prolost After Effects presets have been updated to use the new naming scheme, so once you update to After Effects 12.1, you won’t see any more errors when applying Prolost Burns, Prolost Boardo, or Prolost Stereo Levels.

Thanks for that Adobe!

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