Apple and high-end video

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
No inside info, but a few months pondering Apples recent moves.



Ok, this is what I think is going on with Apple in the professional film/video arena...



A lot has been said about Apples purchase of Nothing Real and lately Silicon Grail. Most comments have focused on Apple taking on other software companies. While we most certainly will see Apple comming out with a great compositing solution within a year that will give Discreet and Adobe a run for their money, I don´t think this is the main objective.



I think part of the answer to what is going on can be found in the longstanding rivalry between Panasonic and Sony.



15 years ago Sony and Panasonic battled it out pitting MII against Beta SP. Sony won hands down, leaving Panasonic in the dust. Sony later extended the Betacam family with first Digital Betacam and later Beta SX - which Sony positioned as the next ENG format, and to be the digital replacement for Beta SP. To an outside observer it would seem that Beta SX is where Sony slipped, opening a window for Panasonic that at about the same time began marketing it´s DV based DVCPRO format.



Sony had it´s own "professional DV" format, DVCAM - but, reluctant at first to market DVCAM at professionals (still banking on Beta SX) Sony left the "Professional DV" playing field wide open to Panasonic, and in the late 90´s Panasonic looked like the winner getting a DV based recording format into the professional market.



BUT - Panasonic totally missed the train on one HUGE aspect of the DV revolution - Firewire!



So - when Sony by the end of the 90´s finally gave up on Beta SX (at least for all practical purposes) and started marketing DVCAM as it´s entry level professional digital recording format they had one huge advantage - a "professional" DV based recording format WITH FIREWIRE (iLink) - and all it´s associated goodies like cheap DV-native NLE´s.



Today it seems like DVCAM is everywhere and DVCPRO is nowhere, and that Sony once again has left Panasonic in the dust - basically because Panasonic didn´t believe in firewire.



There is however one important battle still to be fought between Sony and Panasonic - the battle over HD. And this will be the big fight that will determine the positions for a long time.



If you look at Sonys and Panasonics products in the HD market - Panasonic has perhaps the better line up with DVCPRO-HD - essentailly a 100 mb extension of it´s DVCPRO/DVCPRO50 format with backwards compability. Sony is matching this with it´s HDCAM format running at 140 mb. However in-spite of it´s -CAM name, HDCAM is not an extension of it´s DVCAM format - rather it´s the new kid on the block in Sonys old trusted 1/2 inch family, but without backwards compability. Also - Panasonics products are lower priced. Plus - with both DVCPRO-HD and HDCAM beeing compressed formats - Panasonic has the edge with it´s D-5HD uncompressed format witch suplements DVCPRO-HD as a high quality mastering format.



However - Sony has been getting most of the HD-buzz and 24p has all but become synonoms with Sony. Panasonic, probably worried sick that Sony will once again walk away the winners, will do probably anything to secure a front position in the HD battle.



Enter Apple...



At NAB one announcement was more surprising than any - Panasonic will work with Apple to put Firewire into it´s DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO-HD VTRs. Apple will in turn increase it´s support for Panasonic products in future versions of QT and Final Cut Pro.



Let´s think about that - Panasonic, the FireWire non-believers, will now go all out putting FireWire in places it´s not been before.



This, and recent (and not so recent) acqusitions and moves made by Apple paints the following picture of what Apple is up to:



APPLE IS ON A MISSION TO MAKE HD FILM AND VIDEO PRODUCTION THE NEXT DV-REVOLUTION.



It makes perfect sense.



The purchases of various highend film/video companies I think has very little to do with just comming out with a compositing application like After Effects or Combustion. Instead Apple has been aquiring the knowhow to handle Hi rez video (HD). Think about it - this is what Shake and RayZ did best - working with HD (and up) resolution media QUICKLY in software only.



If you wanted to corner the HD market you would need a few things lined up and ready to go:



1. Cameras and VTRs

2. I/O path

3. Something to view your HD content on

4. Applications

5. Computer horsepower



1. Cameras and VTRs - HD production will for the forseeable future still rely on tape based recording formats. Panasonic - eager to do anything to get a head of Sony in the battle over HD will be happy to serve up whatever cameras and VTRs Apple says it needs and put fireWire I/O on them.



2. I/O path - There are already HD editing solutions for Final Cut Pro, like Pinnacles CineWave HD. However - it will run you $15.000. Apple will bypass this allowing FireWire to transport an HD signal. Apple has long been rumored to be working an an extention to the current FireWire spec - sometimes refered to as "Gigawire". Also In April 02 Apple acquired Zyante, a company doing things in the FireWire arena.



3. Someting to view your HD content on - Sony has a HD production monitor, the BVM-F24. The monitor lists for $35.000 - ouch - that will put a stop to the ambitions of many HD-wannabees. However, in a somewhat surprising move Apple recently intruduced a new 23" Flatscreen monitor. Surprising because they already had a very similar 22" Flatscreen monitor on the market. Hovever - the new monitor has a much higher resolution of 1920x1200, which is interesting because 1920 is exactly the horisontal resolution for 1080 HD formats. while still pricey - it is still 10X cheaper than the Sony monitor. Also Apple is rumored to have a new monster graphics card in the works. Also remember that Apple bought high end graphics company Raycer in nov 99 without a tangible product surfacing (yet).



4. Applications - Final Cut is ready to go, but, this is where the purchases of Nothing Real and Silicon Grail comes into play. One common trait between Shake and Rayz is it´s ability to handle large files at film resolution QUICKLY. Nice to have if you are focusing on HD and want a HD compositing application. Also, Shake and Rayz technology will filter into FCP to make it snappier handling HD media without outboard hardware.



5. Computer horsepower - With OSX done, Apple can now focus on hardware. Most likely we will see multiple processor Macs (more than two), or a modular "renderfarm" approach. Since Apple has introduced a new form factor with Xserve it is easy to see a 2-4U base rackmount Mac with the option of adding 1U Xserve-like "extensions", add as many as you like...



I also suspect Apple is about to take a "it´s just a bunch of bitmaps" approach to HD video. Let me explain - The traditional broadcast industry has always viewed digital video as beeing more "video" than "digital". One example of this is that digital video editing solutions employs 4:2:2 croma sub sampling in YUV color space - why? Well, the broadcast guys would say, because D1 digital video is defined by SMPTE as having a 4:2:2 sampling structure in YUV color space. OK - fine, but then you are stuck with all the limitations - when really there is no benefit to it. All applications still decode 4:2:2 YUV video into 4:4:4 RGB for processing and then back into 4:2:2 YUV for storage.



Well, what if you said screw SMPTE - and istead handled all your video as 4:4:4 RGB. Then "Video" becomes nothing more complicated but a bunch of bitmapps. And that kind of thinking will open up new possibilities of using "graphic cards" for processing "video".



To this day the power of the graphics card in your mac is more or less a moot point - video is processed either by the CPU or a 3D party PCI-card. But if you were to take (HD) video down the "It´s just a bunch of bitmapps" route - then you could do your "video" processing using the graphics card. And remember - this is something only a computer company could do - the broadcast guys are still holding hands with SMPTE:-)



Well, as the swiss would say - this cheese probably has a few very large holes in it, but it tastes pretty good! So, once again, this is what Apple is up to:



To get ahead of everybody and bring HD video production to the people, and make it the next DV-revolution.



For what it´s worth.



Jack

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Wow..I was completely unaware that DVCAM and DVCPRO were proprietary formats to Sony and Panasonic.



    Well the more support for Apple the better.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    tsukuritetsukurite Posts: 192member
    I had no idea any of the broadcast stuff was happening. Your theory really ties things together well.



    It has seemed that Apple was really on a roll and following a grand strategy, and that it was leading up to something, but Wow!



    The "Wolf" rumor ties nicely into this as well. The only piece I don't see is the G5.



    Course there may not be a need for a totally new CPU to address these needs.



    Great theory.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    osakansosakans Posts: 45member
    Very interesting -- you're obviously well acquainted with the broadcast world.



    The note about video being processed by the graphics card strikes me as exactly on-point. One of the comments that have been made in the past (I believe by Andrew Welch a/k/a moki) is that Quartz Extreme offloads graphics bitmaps to the video card, using a form of virtual memory to keep bitmaps on the card as long as possible, using the card's high-speed memory for compositing.



    The thought would then be, I guess, to have the video card do its compositing, not to the frame buffer, but to an output buffer that's then pulled off the card and used in the video editing/compositing program.



    I'm keeping my fingers crossed...
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Jacknusa post is one of the best thought out that I've seen on AI. Pulling all the different items together is more than logical and would be a big money maker for Apple.



    Let's hope that most of this is on target
  • Reply 5 of 18
    sybariticsybaritic Posts: 340member
    Great post. Could you elucidate on some of the swiss cheese holes that you foresee?



    I imagine that the payoff for Apple will be considerable. It seems they've been dreaming big in Cupertino??let's hope you're right.



    ___________________

    waiting in nashville
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Let's not forget the fact that Apple is pushing Superdrives (available at both the consumer and professional levels), perhaps with the knowledge that its customers will soon be producing digital video in greater capacity.



    WHICH is why I *still think* Apple _really_ wants a Superdrive in the Powerbook (like me!)



    -- PEte
  • Reply 7 of 18
    amitofuamitofu Posts: 59member
    I do a lot of work with DV and this theory has me really excited! I am curious what you think it will take for Apple to be able to treat video as "just bitmaps?"



    The problem is that copying video over FireWire is just copying bits. So, in order for Apple to be able to treat video differently Panasonic would have to record video differently. Both companies would have to "screw SMPTE." This will also require a new tape format.



    The alternative is if Apple can convert a 140MB video signal on the fly when transferring video to/from a camera.



    I think you are dead on about Apple positioning itself in the HD market. I hope that Apple is able to use its relationship with Panasonic to pull a "we control the hardware and software" for both the computers and the cameras. If Apple is able to do this it will make editing HD easier than believing all the Apple rumors on this site <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" /> (Hmmm... Paradox?)
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Jack,



    That's a pretty good guess on what Apple might have up it's sleeve. However I would take it a bit further. First off, I think it's prudent that we think beyond the mere Broadcast Arena. If you think of the fact that 35mm motion picture film runs at 24 frames per second, then these little tidbits here shore up some of the camera holes you mentioned in your post: The first progressive scan 24fps cam below 4k.



    <a href="http://www.panasonic.co.jp/bsd/sales_o/dvworld/html/ag-dvx100.html"; target="_blank">http://www.panasonic.co.jp/bsd/sales_o/dvworld/html/ag-dvx100.html</a>; and also: <a href="http://www.supervideo.com/24p.htm"; target="_blank">http://www.supervideo.com/24p.htm</a>;



    Also, now it is true that the 23" Cinema Display is great for showing a HDTV signal. However, any computer monitor that is capable of displaying close to the HDTV resolution (1920 x 1080) would also suffice being that computer monitors are Progressive scan. Viewsonic is releasing soon two devices to allow you to use a computer monitor to view a progressive scan HDTV signal that cost not much over $100.



    Lastly, on the Software side of things, Cinema Tools is the package that specifically allows FDP to handle 24 FPS material. I suspect you already know this stuff but I thought i'd post it anyway.



    Hey, we're talking 24 frame per second progressive scan movies. We're living in exciting times.



    Junkmein
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Well,

    This was quite a post! I definately see some great stuff coming out of Apple's graphics properties (Raycer, Nothing Real, Silicon Grail, Prismo, etc) and can see the connection to Panasonic/Sony, but one thing I definately do not see (at least not yet) is this technology run by a run-of-the-mill Powermac G4.

    Apple won't release G5s at MWNY (of this I'm sure) but will come out with some nice G4s in the meantime. Yet even these machines won't play nice with the kind of rendering necessary for these heavy hitters in graphics.

    The fruits of these properties will have to wait until the G5 surfaces, or until Apple gets some serious clustering going on. Not necessarily "Wolf" as is discussed elsewhere, but it would be silly for Apple to push a 42U rack of XServes as "630 gigaflops of processing power" unless they were planning on a solution to tie them together. I don't see Wolf coming to being for the most of us, at least no time soon, but as with the Xserve's hardware monitoring software, I'll bet a clustering solution to bundle in the racks is planned or ready to go. I see Steve & co. going after Hollywood's heavy hitters, including himself (at Pixar) so they need a render-farm machine.

    This is getting long so I'll sum up. No consumer or even pro-sumer software coming from Shake/RAYZ, etc for a while. Not to be run on current hardware. G5 or Xserve cluster. And of course none of it is nearly ready to go as a new Apple product yet (except MAYBE Raycer, but from what I hear (deep grapevine) that is still in development).

    Food for thought. :cool:
  • Reply 10 of 18
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    <a href="http://www.canondv.com/gl2/index.html"; target="_blank">Canon announces GL2 </a>
  • Reply 11 of 18
    cindercinder Posts: 381member
    See?

    Kormac wasn't kidding.



    It's all about HD.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    sizzle chestsizzle chest Posts: 1,133member
    But the Canon GL2 has nothing to do with HD.... for that matter, even the Panasonic cam, despite being 24p, is standard def.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    kormac77kormac77 Posts: 197member
    To Jacknusa: Your post was one of the best in this forum !



    To add some fuel, here is what I post before.



    <a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=000472&p=3"; target="_blank">http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=000472&p=3</a>;



    =================================================

    posted 01-06-2002 11:05 AM

    ------------------------------------------

    Part 3

    Steve bring Product manager from Aliace/Wavefront to show new Maya.



    Thank?s to Dual Raycer chip?s capability, it show the best speed and quality in any platform.



    Then he bring Manager from Finalcutpro to show how fast the rendering of HDTV Editing can be done.



    He bring



    posted 01-06-2002 11:05 AM

    ------------------------------------------------

    Part 3

    Steve bring Product manager from Aliace/Wavefront to show new Maya.



    Thank?s to Dual Raycer chip?s capability, it show the best speed and quality in any platform.



    Then he bring Manager from Finalcutpro to show how fast the rendering of HDTV Editing can be done.

    -------------------------------------------------



    <a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001548"; target="_blank">http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001548</a>;



    =================================================



    posted 04-18-2002 12:51 AM

    ---------------------------------------------

    I was a little bit busy now. I will post more soon after this Saturday.

    However, I have a little time to write more about what I was saying.



    First. To vinney57, you nailed it !

    ( Is this correct expression in English ? )



    The key point is that it is DV based codec compressed.



    Here is chart for your understanding.



    <a href="http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic3/262ctab.htm"; target="_blank">http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic3/262ctab.htm</a>;



    In here, you can see DVCPRO HD is 1:6.67 compressed.



    As Matsu and King Chung Huang said before, Uncompressed 1080/60i need 150 MB/Sec and need a storage of about 500 GB/hr. Which is TOO Expensive !



    But when you apply the compression, 150MB/sec became 25MB/sec or less, 80GB/hr!



    And the 480/60P DVCPRO50 has compression rate of 1:3.3 and it will be no problem for the Firewire.



    And if APPLE follow Panasonic trend of using 720/60P or even 720/24P, the requirment will be much less than what it is.



    The main problem is that current Firewire can not handle this speed !



    The next Gen Firewire, which is Gigawire, has different connector.



    <a href="http://www.zayante.com/p1394b/"; target="_blank">http://www.zayante.com/p1394b/</a>;



    ( Look at this very carefully. Who's site it is !)



    P.S.: See the page 56 to 72 of PDF "p1394b1-33.pdf"



    But Don't worry! Be happy! It can connect current firewire device with conversion cable and it will be compatible with current DV Camcoders too.



    However, it can use 1.6Gbps/sec speed upto 100m!



    And better part is that it only use general CAT-5 Cable ! Which you use with every 100Mb Ethernet-cable ! It is cheap and it is proven too!



    And using with Plastic fiber-optic or Glass fiber-optic, it can reach 1.6Gbps/sec and up to 3.2 Gbps/sec over 100~500m,( With repeater, 5KM ).



    So you will ask me proof. In this NAB, Panasonic has DVCPRO HD B/D for Firewire and it had THE NEW Connector in it!

    ( If I can find the picture, I will post it. )



    The people who will implement this is already in APPLE !



    <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2002/apr/04zayante.html"; target="_blank">http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2002/apr/04zayante.html</a>;



    ( YES. The same people who made 1394b standard ! )

    Sorry - It is not standard yet until IEEE approve it.



    So, the foundation of doing HDTV Editing will be here soon.



    The problem for this is Gigawire is only one part of equation.



    The other parts are DVCPRO50, DVCPRO HD Codec by software or Hardware-aided in QuickTime.



    If it is Software, it need powerful CPU for doing this. Guess , who will make Quad G5 in future !



    Or if it need Hardware-aid, think Domino !



    And also We will see the benefit of Raycer technology soon !



    I think that is enough for today.



    For the time, look at the what SONY is doing and think what APPLE can do in future.



    <a href="http://www.sony.jp/products/Consumer/PCOM/PCG-C1MSX/"; target="_blank">http://www.sony.jp/products/Consumer/PCOM/PCG-C1MSX/</a>;



    <a href="http://www.sony.jp/products/Consumer/PCOM/PCG-U1/"; target="_blank">http://www.sony.jp/products/Consumer/PCOM/PCG-U1/</a>;



    =================================================
  • Reply 14 of 18
    bodhibodhi Posts: 1,424member
    3 weeks before Macworld and kormac is back...just like clockwork.



    welcome.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    bodhibodhi Posts: 1,424member
    Chew on this:



    <a href="http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/main_news.cfm?NewsID=4853"; target="_blank">Article</a>
  • Reply 16 of 18
    [quote]Originally posted by Jacknusa:

    <strong>

    I also suspect Apple is about to take a "it´s just a bunch of bitmaps" approach to HD video. Let me explain - The traditional broadcast industry has always viewed digital video as beeing more "video" than "digital". One example of this is that digital video editing solutions employs 4:2:2 croma sub sampling in YUV color space - why? Well, the broadcast guys would say, because D1 digital video is defined by SMPTE as having a 4:2:2 sampling structure in YUV color space. OK - fine, but then you are stuck with all the limitations - when really there is no benefit to it. All applications still decode 4:2:2 YUV video into 4:4:4 RGB for processing and then back into 4:2:2 YUV for storage.



    Well, what if you said screw SMPTE - and istead handled all your video as 4:4:4 RGB. Then "Video" becomes nothing more complicated but a bunch of bitmapps. And that kind of thinking will open up new possibilities of using "graphic cards" for processing "video".



    To this day the power of the graphics card in your mac is more or less a moot point - video is processed either by the CPU or a 3D party PCI-card. But if you were to take (HD) video down the "It´s just a bunch of bitmapps" route - then you could do your "video" processing using the graphics card. And remember - this is something only a computer company could do - the broadcast guys are still holding hands with SMPTE:-)



    Well, as the swiss would say - this cheese probably has a few very large holes in it, but it tastes pretty good! So, once again, this is what Apple is up to:



    To get ahead of everybody and bring HD video production to the people, and make it the next DV-revolution.



    For what it´s worth.



    Jack</strong><hr></blockquote>





    "It's just a bunch of bitmaps" is exactly the path they are headed, I believe. Using OpenGL 3d textures you can do things like real-time colorsync correction, all on the GPU. This was demonstrated at WWDC on some clips from the movie "Ghosts of Mars" (albeit not in HD). All kinds of things can be done simultaneously too, such as real-time compositing and color correctiion, etc. The amount of bandwidth and processing power available in the high end graphics cards is almost sickening... and who knows what the next generation of GPUs holds in store along these lines... What you could do to HD video with hardware pixel shaders, I cant even begin to imagine all the possibilities there.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    A lot of rumors about Apple & another hardware company working together on a new breed of computer...



    I can see Apple & nVidia coming out with a new interpretation of the graphics card interface...



    Apple, because for the markets they are courting, the specialized hardware will very much be accepted...



    nVidia, because using the Macintosh would be an easier platform to develop & correct faults, before approaching the PC market, with it's much larger variety of component choices...



    Now, even though I realize that this rumor has been nay-sayed to death already...



    I want to see Apple purchase Maya!!! Even if this involves the total purchase of SGI (which isn't a bad idea, see other thread in this forum), it wouldn't be a bad thing...



    Cannot wait to see what shows up at MWNY2002...



    <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" /> Maya for Mac OS X <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
  • Reply 18 of 18
    tabootaboo Posts: 128member
    [quote]Originally posted by Astronaut Jones:

    <strong>





    "It's just a bunch of bitmaps" is exactly the path they are headed, I believe. Using OpenGL 3d textures you can do things like real-time colorsync correction, all on the GPU. This was demonstrated at WWDC on some clips from the movie "Ghosts of Mars" (albeit not in HD). All kinds of things can be done simultaneously too, such as real-time compositing and color correctiion, etc. The amount of bandwidth and processing power available in the high end graphics cards is almost sickening... and who knows what the next generation of GPUs holds in store along these lines... What you could do to HD video with hardware pixel shaders, I cant even begin to imagine all the possibilities there.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Oops. Guess I should have read this first, and posted here, but check the Graphic Stuff? thread.



    Esp. "Deferred shading graphics pipeline processor"



    <a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001916"; target="_blank">graphic stuff?</a>



    (added link) taboo



    [ 06-26-2002: Message edited by: taboo ]</p>
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