Adobe leads high-quality raw video format initiative

Adobe Systems thinks we can do better with the quality of digital video images. It is also developing a way to search on the audio within video clips.

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show 2008 in Las Vegas this week, Adobe will announce a joint initiative to develop a specification that it hopes will eventually lead to a file format for higher image quality.

Adobe will show a preview of technology that will create a text transcription of the audio within a video clip at editing time.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

The effort is called CinemaDNG, named after the DNG (Digital Negative) raw digital still image format designed by Adobe. The company is working with others in the industry including camera makers and software developers, said Simon Hayhurst, senior product manager for dynamic media at Adobe.

The group’s hope is to have a specification ready sometime this year and to submit it to a standards body to encourage broader industry adoption, he said.

Initially, the specification will only affect “high-end Hollywood and top-end indie” filmmakers because equipment that supports this format would be the most sophisticated and expensive available. But eventually, this format could be used more broadly.

“It lays the foundation for the correct way that you want to do cinema in the future,” said Hayhurst.

Creating a common standard will help accelerate adoption of higher quality imaging, he said.

The advantage of the specification will not only be better resolution, but it will also give more image control to cinematographers and editors. The format can be useful for archiving films which could be reissued with a different look as well.

Adobe intends to support the format in future versions of its video work-flow products, like After Effects and Premiere Pro.

“You want enough space to innovate but have commonality so that you are implementing technology when there is a genuine need for it to be different,” Hayhurst said.

Video to text
Separately, Adobe will give a preview at NAB 2008 of technology that automatically transcribes the audio track of a video file.

For editors, this will allow them to more quickly find passages within a clip based on a text read-out of the audio. The output of the video-editing software will also include that transcribed information.

As a result, viewers of a Web video will be able to search on terms to find a specific location within a video.

For example, a person could search a CNET video review for a product name and a specific feature, such as camera zoom.

Adobe will demonstrate the feature on a version of its Soundbooth audio-editing product under development and on Premiere Pro.

The company intends to support the feature in the next major release of its video work-flow software. There was a two-year gap between the releases of Creative Suite 3 and 2, so the next major version is likely to come some time in 2009.

The transcription information will be stored in XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform), another format developed by Adobe.

“We keep saying that metadata is the most important thing happening in our industry and we want to prove it,” said Hayhurst.

In other announcements, Adobe will announce that it is now natively supporting Sony’s video file format in its video-editing tools.

And it is adding support for H.264 standard, high-definition video format on its Flash encoding software. It added support for H.264 for Flash video playback last year.

Photoshop CS4 64-bit version…for Windows only

The Apple/Adobe relationship has been a tad strained lately. Apple has been less than helpful with providing Adobe necessary information for their development process, and Adobe has taken the stance of ignorance in regards to porting their apps from Carbon to Cocoa.

Adobe’s John Nack wrote that the next version of Photoshop (CS4) would support 64-bit computing, but only on Windows. CS4 on OS X would stay 32-bit.

So why is this a big deal? For a majority of Photoshop users, this just plain will not matter or affect them. But for the Photoshop power-users (who are largely on the Mac platform), 64-bit computing would make a difference to them.

64-bit computing basically allows the application to process huge amounts of memory faster. Ultimately reducing processing time and creating a faster workflow. Nack gives an example.

For example, opening a 3.75 gigapixel image on a 4-core machine with 32GB RAM is about 10× faster.

I can’t say I know many people with a 4-core machine and 32GB of RAM…but the example still stands.

On the other hand, Gruber makes another great point.

Keep in mind that a Canon 1Ds Mark III — which sells at Amazon for $8,000 — generates 21 megapixel images. 3.75 gigapixels is 3,750 megapixels. You probably don’t have images like that.

I feel like a lot of the hoopla surrounding this is more of a principle issue than a real business or technology issue for a lot of people. I can’t imagine the backlash that has come from this is really felt by so many people.

The idea that Photoshop CS4 will run faster on a 64-bit version of Windows Vista makes people more upset than the reality of it. You have to remember that the average copy of Windows Vista is only 32-bit capable. You have to purchase a separate version of Vista to have 64-bit capabilities.

Ultimately I think Photoshop CS4’s 64-bit capabilities just won’t be a big deal. Such a small, concentrated number of Vista users will be using it that I think it will just be forgotten until CS5 with Photoshop supports 64-bit editing on both OSX and Windows.

Buzzword Preview 7 Released

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Buzzword, now owned and operated by Adobe Systems, released its Preview 7. Here are the things you should know about this release:

Editor updates:

  • Background colors in text and table cells. Now you can color the header rows of a table, for example, to make them stand out, or shade just an individual cell to draw attention to its contents. We’ve also added text highlighting. In each case, choose the target cell(s) or text, go to the appropriate toolbar (table or formatting), and click on the additional color picker located there.
  • We’ve also added some other functionality and conveniences in the Editor, like providing a visual sample of each font on our font drop down menu. We’ve also added strikethrough style for formatting. Finally, this version has check box lists – a useful way to keep track of tasks.

System changes:

  • Preview 7 now provides status on each user with whom you’ve shared the document – whether the document has been opened and if so, if the current version was opened or an older version. This is a more profound feature than it first appears, and a great way to ensure that everyone is up to date.
  • We heard that occasionally people had some trouble getting invitations to others via email, especially due to spam filters. In Preview 7, when you first invite someone to a Buzzword document, you can copy the invitation link to your clipboard. So you can email the link yourself, or send via IM.
  • We’ve also added import and export support for the new Word format, .docx, as well as plain text (.txt). We’ve also added the ability to export a Buzzword document to HTML, so you can post your Buzzword documents to web pages or blogs.
  • Finally, the document organizer will now remember the document sort order from one session to the next.

For more comment, please visit them at forum.buzzword.com

[ via Buzzword Blog ]

Bookmark This: 60 Advanced Adobe Photoshop Tutorials

There is a great set of Photoshop tutorials over at dennisplucinik.com that is probably worth a bookmark. I stumbled onto this little gem of a collection somehow and found a lot of the information very useful, if not now, maybe in the future. The tutorials are categories and include movie effects, photo manipulation, vector effects, digital coloring, and more. If you aren’t very advanced at Photoshop at this point, all the more reason to bookmark it and come back later.

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