Sunday 17 December 2006

Film restoration with PFClean

I just saw a demo of a film restoration software callede PFClean. And I can't wait to get my hand on an eval version.

PFClean is a software made by Pixel Farm, a UK based company. It runs on a Macs and is ready for the Intel Macs. Pixel Farm sell it as software (really pricey) or a turnkey system complete with render processors. If you get the software-only, you need a really beefy new MacPro and fast hard disk arrays. And separate XServes or MacPros to render as well.

PFClean can open a variety of file formats but it really feeds of DPX. It can resolve time code as well as preserve directory tree structures so it integrates well in a DI pipeline.

What PFClean does is to open a set of DPX file sequences directly or via an EDL. It then analyzes these images for the usual scratches, dust, and other marks. It then repairs them and shows you the result. But it does this non-destructively. Meaning you can go over the corrections and choose to implement ot commit them or to tweak them and then apply. Or you can even choose to ignore them and do your own manually.

Apart from the obvious marks and blemishes, PFClean can also work on warps and shakes caused by sprocket damage or joints. It does this manually or can be set to do it automatically.

I didn't get a chance to actually measure how fast PFClean works. Maybe with an eval one can make it go through an entire jumbo reel and see how it does. Also, whether it works faster in HD or SD mode compared to native 2k files.

In the months and years to come, film restoration is set to become another important fact of the film and video post business, along with CGI/Graphics and VFX. Who knows, if we do it correctly we can actually be a worldwide centre for film restoration.

Sunday 3 December 2006

Apple Final Touch

No there's no such product just yet. So this is just a collection of three English words till now. But some weeks ago, Apple bought Silicon Color the company that makes Final Touch. There's no word yet on whether Apple will re-release this as their own product, or merge it with one of their own.

But ever since, Silicon Color have issued one update, so the product seems to be alive for now. But speculation is rife on what this acquisition means to us in video and film post.

Silicon Color had three colour correction or grading products - FinalTouch SD ($ 1000) to grade SD video projects, FinalTouch HD ($ 5000) to grade HD and SD video projects, and FinalTouch 2k ($ 25000) to grade HD/SD as well as 2k film projects. All three were closely integrated with Apple's Final Cut Pro editing system. So one could export a timeline as XML an import that into FT to grade from there.

So maybe Apple will re-release this as their own Apple Final Touch, just like they did with Apple Shake, and Apple Logic. Or they may change the name to something else like they did with DVD Studio Pro (I've forgotten what it was called) or Film Logic (now CinemaTools). Or they may merge it into their own products like they did with Astarte and Compressor.

There's speculation that the ability to work with DPX files and conform them against XML from FCP may be merged into FCP, and the grading technology might make it into a composiiting app that will replace Shake. If Shake is to be replaced and not just merged with Motion.

So interesting wait ahead. Especially for editors. And we move one step closer to the inevitable. Editing systems which develop the ability to grade. So far we've had most of the reverse - grading systems that have editing features added. Something that's drying up as most grading systems at their core don't have abilities that editing systems had for over ten years now.

Because ultimately the audience will always accept a well edited if averagely graded film over a well graded but poorly edited film. Which is what todays grading systems often result in.