View Full Version : "Beat the Rendering Blues"
January 16th, 2003, 06:08 PM
This was posted in the news a while back, but I thought it ought to be in here too....
Media 100 have made available a document called 'Beat the Rendering Blues' - it is a rundown on 844/X, and all the absolutely amazing stuff that it can do. It can be obtained from here (http://www.media100.com/q3lg/rblf4.html)
January 31st, 2003, 02:00 AM
Our Lord, who art in Maya ....
God bless Mummy, and Daddy and Dodgey Uncle Mort and Kitty and Puppy and Teddy. Please Lord, I've been a good boy, could you please see your way clear to leaving an 844/X beside my pillow? Cos, basically I REALLY WANT ONE!!!! I promise I'll never do that thing to the RotoMonkeys™ ever again.
In the name of Adobe, and of Discreet and of the Holy Weta ...
January 31st, 2003, 07:39 PM
We had the opportunity to borrow the first 844x in the country for a couple of weeks from the local reseller to be able to give it our honest opinion. As a compositor (and not an editor) and by the fact that they says it does compositing, I found the 844 to be something slightly different from what you read about it.
Upsides: The hardware is better than anything I've ever seen, the things that are realtime are extremely realtime :) You get to key, colorcorrect, move around, resize (and a lot of other stuff) in complete realtime, and with 4 10bit uncompressed 601 streams in fields, and I hear there's a 50pixel gaussian blur that's realtime now in 2.0 as well :D You get all the FinalEffects plugins, you get great connectivity with AfterFX including WYSIWYG output on the videomonitor, you can export your edits to AfterFX and swap back and forth. The quality and Afx connection makes the 844 a *pretty* cool video editing system with added little effects without rendering which will save editors time. It came with the great Intous2 A5 which is not so great on the dual monitors that also come with it, since the A5 tablet is too small for two monitors, but that can probably be customized, should you order one ;)
Downsides: Ok, I was using v1.1 (I think) so naturally I don't assume that it should be flawless, *but* no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't see why they keep saying 'compositing' and '844' in the same sentence, there's hardly any tools for it. There's a mattetool that opens in a separate application which lets you draw little boxes and freehand shapes to use as masks, completey useless for rotoscoping, modestly useful for a garbage matte at best, if it's not moving that is, I got these horrible Ms Paint wibes from it, except it had a lot of cheesy beveleffects as well, however it severed as a decent textgenerator. The UI for the colorcorrection, levels, keyer, well just about everything was nothing but sliders and numerical input boxes, no colorwheels, no intuitive visual feedback at all (except for the beatiful image on the monitor ;) ). The levels worked with one control per colorchannel only, so it was virtually hopeless to use effectively. The curveeditor wasn't bad at all, but it had weird hickups and was pretty buggy, I hope that's changed in 2.0. What is seriously bad is that any footage or image you import will be automatically cropped to 768x576 (PAL in this case), you can't pan around in it, it's just cropped, without mercy. This makes the 844 anything other than resolution independant, that's simply BAD. However, we were informed that there is some sort of buffer in the hardware which the software does not yet support so I expect a change in that, although I have no idea how it's thought to work. Another thing that's really bad is that while rendering the 844 only uses 1 cpu, in other words, this brand new system that ships on a dual Xeon machine doesnt support dual CPU's. All those FE filters they ship with it only renders at about 50% total CPU usage, furthermore, since this type of rendering is strictly software, rendering to 10bit uncompressed 4:4:4 video with *fields* is a reeaaallllyyyy slow process, it's at least 4 times slower than rendering the same filter in AfterFX, just because of the appearently sloppy code from Media100, the filters themselves was developed by Culteffects, and they actually support dual CPU's in AfterFX even tho AfterFX itself doesn't, so something's gone bad. There's only layer compositing, and there's no tracker or stabilizer and applying a simple blur will leave you staring at a "rendering" progress bar for ages, hence "Beat the rendering blues" huh? :rolleyes: The interface had a flaky sort of adobe-approach to it, it has an application background, (big gray window á la photoshop on windows) with lots and lots of smaller windows inside it sitting tightly next to each other, so far so "good", but resizing a window makes a gap so you can see the gray stuff behind it, so you have to rearrange all the other optibillion windows that was next to it. I wish they had made a solid interface like RAYZ, Shake or combustion.
still reading? :D
I'm afraid the downs-part is slightly larger than the ups-part of this little on-the-fly-review, and I guess that's why we decided to wait a little longer before considering it. While 4+8 realtime streams is amazing, there's not much you can actually use it for yet. The cheaper version with 2+4 streams looks a lot more interesting since I just consider that a real fine editing suite, and that's, IMO, what the 844 is at the moment.
I'd love to hear anyone elses experiences with the system, which hopefully have a really bright future once these little problems are sorted out and good features start ticking in :)
February 2nd, 2003, 12:32 AM
844/X 1.2 is shipping now. 1.5 will ship this month. V2.0 has been announced to ship around NAB time. It is worth noting this becuase the software you were using was 1.1 and the development is happening faster than ANY product I have ever been involved in.
844/X lets you combine unlimited layers with real-time blend modes and a whole swag of in-stream real-time effects without losing editorial speed. In other words, it is a "compositor", but it has all of the features and speed of a NLE as well.
The matte tool in 1.1 let you generate basic mattes. Version 1.2 (shipping) has more matte geration tools and quality changes, and v2 has keyframeable, curves and vector objects for full rotoscopng support.
See the V2 finishing features for the new colour corrector which includes colour wheels, shadow/midtone/highlight control, all keyframeable and in realtime using the GenesisEngine hardware.
The curve editor is rock-solid in 1.2 and significantly enhanced in 2.0 with simpler keyframe addition, selection, scaling, etc.
It is true there is a 10M pixel graphics buffer in the hardware which is not implemented yet in software. Having said that, the image scaling from SD is excellent based in it's progrsssive frame and bicubic interpolation. So you can scale a still image to any size and pan in real-time. You can also break a larger image into SD sections and and move them around over multiple layers to achive the same effect as panning/zooming a larger image. Once again, the real-time processing means that this is VERY fast when compared to trying to pan a large image in After Effects.
I am not sure about the dual-cpu support for software (AE) plug-ins in 1.2 - I'll have to try it. I know that 2.0 supports a broader range of AE plug-ins so I would assume there is more work being done on the code. One advantage of 844/X with software plug-in is that after they are processed it creartes a pirce if cached media where all other applied in-stream effects are real-time. This is very different to AE and ofther compositing systems where the effects needs to re-rendered each time ANY effect is changed for that piece of media. So, while the initial application is a slower software render, "upstream" effects are lightning fast - saving heaps of design and rendering time.
One of the real-time in-stream effects includes "convolution" of the red, green, blue and alpha channels to perform blurring in real-time. Version 1.2 expanded the functionality of this feature. Because in-stream effects can be duplicated any number of times, high levels of blurring can be achieved.
Media 100 has announced the Xblur option for 844/X providing keyframeable gaussian blurs across four 10-bit streams in real-time.
1.2 let's you import Photoshop layers into a composition and modify in real-time.
1.2 also lets you open an 844/X timeline directly in AE. This is great if you want to use AE to create a piece of media or layer for an 844/X composition. Open the 844/X timeline/composition in AE, generate the effect youwant in situ, render out that layer/section into the 844/X codec with alpha and drop it back into 844/X. Now you have all the real-time effects of 844/X which can be applied to that element. Great!
This feature also lets you track in AE and then copy and paste tracking keyframes from AE into 844/X. Any 844/X piece of media opens directly into any QT application, so opening a media file to create tracking info in AE is painless. Of course we can expect Media 100 to incorporate tracking directly into 844/X too.
The interface has been very well received by users and V2 has added lots more interface "tweaks".
If the "the downs-part is slightly larger than the ups-part" when you looked at 1.1, I'd check out 1.2, 1.5 and 2.0. Media 100 is listening to its users. The development is amazing!
February 2nd, 2003, 08:37 AM
Sounds real great! I'm really looking forward to seeing this monster in action again! Mr John Molinari was here speaking about the future and HD stage 1 and 2 and all that, that got me thinking really positive about it. But they were showing 1.5, it was in november I think, so I thought that 1.5 was released already :) The afterfx integration is indeed great, heck, I'd like to have an 844 for that alone! I'm really interested in seeing what the buffer can perform too. Things like the realtime guassianblur makes me confident that they're on the job. The biggest flaws as I see it at the moment is the somewhat flaky multi-cpu support, but it's bound to change, isnt it :)
About the ups- and downs-part, I was actually reffering to the size of the textblocks that I wrote and not the actal machine or it's features, I just felt that the size of the sheer text made it look bad, which it isn't, just felt I needed to point those things out.
Thanks for sharing your insight :)
February 2nd, 2003, 04:02 PM
ive been sooo freaking busy...i hadn't seen this thread :( ...thanks alot arvid for that cool review!! and also to tin'n'string :thumbsup:
id love to get my hands on the unit to test drive too ;)
keep up the great work
February 2nd, 2003, 04:41 PM
1.2 has all of the features of 1.5 except the OMF import/export. This is expected any day. Thanks for you feedback.
February 6th, 2003, 05:56 PM
To be honest, seeing where they come from I doubt if they will be able to create a compositing machine that makes the true compositor, vfx artist, happy.
You say that M100 listens to their customers, well, they've failed to do so for the last 6 years or so. This has left the (large) client base with sytems with little development in all those years, while systems like FCP, Edit*, Smoke were evolving quickly. M100 set their money on development like Cleaner and other internet related technology and left 844 (codename Pegasus) on the shelf for years. The fall of their stock has urged them to make a choice, and they sold Cleaner to Discreet/Autodesk.
This is why X844 is actually developed in some sort of panic and I think it also uses old technology on the hardware side.
They will improve, no doubt about it, but compositing is not in their blood in my opinion. They will succeed in a fast video editing system with effects possibilities.
Although dead, 5D Cyborg is much sexier, has a user inteface which combines the best of all compositing solutions in the high end market (quantel, discreet), and shows sheer speed, mostly because of very smart software adapted to standard hardware.
For that reason it is a system of our time, because software is what matters. That's what we all use from day to day.
February 9th, 2003, 03:01 AM
Media 100 has really come up with the goods. It's surprising to read comments suggesting Media 100 haven't listened to their customers. 844/X surely represents everything their customers have been asking for.
As for the media 100 i range, I think you'll be hard "still" to find a system with the quality, performance, stability and IO capabilities for the price of a media 100 system.
To me it looks like Media 100 are on the verge of something very exciting, and 844/X is definitely one to watch.
BTW - Comparing a new system with DEAD products such as edit* and 5D is a bit unfair, if these products where so great, why are they not here today.
February 10th, 2003, 02:46 AM
BTW - Comparing a new system with DEAD products such as edit* and 5D is a bit unfair, if these products where so great, why are they not here today.
That's a bit childish, don't you think? The reason they're not here today has nothing to do with how good they are. A lot of people were very dissapointed to see these fine systems slip away, including me. At the time when edit* disapeared 844x surfaced, and we wanted to see what it was like, we had heard a lot of buzz about the fantastic hardware and words like "supercomputer" (otherwise reserved for huge clusters of computers). We were clearly dissapointed by the software, and maybe you can tell us how this is possible "if this product is so great"? :google: Altho I expect the software to rise to the level of the hardware in the future, but the base they're building on is already shaky...
February 10th, 2003, 05:22 AM
Maybe I got a little too excited, but surely if a software or hardware application was so great, feature rich or revolutionary in some way it would continue to have a future, the sear economics would demand it.
The above products obviously had great features, which people truly enjoyed and provided tools for artist to achieve their visions - and still do, but obviously not enough users for the developers to continue to be around/continue development.
I think Media 100 has created a platform from which they can propel themselves into the compositing/editing arena. Sure 844/X today isn't a flame* or even After Effects for that matter and maybe Media 100 was a bit over excited when it proclaimed it had created the be all and end all compositing systems, but hey, it got people to sit up and take notice.
Who would have thought 12 months ago a Media 100 system would be discussed/compared to 5D, Edit*, that in itself is an amazing thing.
844/X is not for everyone and never will be. But the exciting thing as mentioned above, is that Media 100 have created a hardware platform, from which they can develop software to do things at a speed and quality, current not available from desktop (personal computer) software only systems.
I think this is what 844/X is all about.
February 10th, 2003, 06:21 AM
I think the reason why companies like Avid, Discreet and Media100 can do well even tho this is a tough time for everyone, economically, is the fact that they all have a big userbase already, while companies like 5D had to start building it at this uncertain times. edit* was probably discontinued because of lack of competition and user interest, one is more likely to buy a Media100 system, an Avid or even a FinalCut suite than investing in edit*. 5D was probably too narrow with their productline, I mean how many companies could really use a 5D Commander? MillFilm for one, and how many MillFilm's do we have? Zero. :( Media100 offers their current users (that includes us) upgradepaths to 844, it's sertainly something we'll consider, it's one of the best options atm. Still.. if they talked to customers about how they would like the software of 844 to be, they didn't talk to any demanding digital compositors, I'm one of 'em :D Resolution independence is very important as well as infinite workspace and mature rotoscoping tools (like shake or combustion). Hope to see it soon :) Still haven't given up on 844
February 10th, 2003, 06:27 AM
Originally posted by arvid
one is more likely to buy a Media100 system, an Avid or even a FinalCut suite than investing in edit*.
Except for the company I was working for last April - they had bought a second Edit* machine in March, a month before it was announced that they were discontinuing it....
February 10th, 2003, 06:37 AM
But I was talking about "first-time-customers" :) If you allready have an edit* then you're far more likely to buy a second than anything else, unless you happen to know that they're discontinuing it :(
February 10th, 2003, 06:57 AM
Yeah, but it was still very annoying for them.
Then again, they are a very small production company, and probably wouldn't be too worried about keeping very up to date. They were very impressed by the price and power of Edit* when compared to an Avid (similar power (I'm gonna get stick for that), much cheaper)
February 10th, 2003, 07:07 AM
I know what you mean, it also has a very cool integration with Combustion. It's a real shame they pulled the plug.. good for Media100 tho i suppose ;)
February 10th, 2003, 07:11 AM
hehe - I never really got to see the Combustion integration - we were using Boris RED there....
That said, that fitted in nicely... Just add a 'Boris' effect to a section, and it'd load up Boris. Apply that, and you can then render it out from inside Edit*, or load up Boris again to change any settings....
February 10th, 2003, 07:30 AM
Not sure about the detail, but it had a sort of Media100<->AfterFX communication, you could edit your clips in edit and have the layers in combustion update on the fly, back and forth. That stuff rocked. edit+combustion is a lot more interesting than media100+afx, but hey what can you do ;)
August 13th, 2004, 11:46 PM
I'm little late on this one but C* and Edit integration was really amazing, edit itself was a great editing app and it's a shame that they discontinued it, besides all the great features for video it had some pretty neat features for audio too, supporting some top notch vst plugins.
Cyborg was amazinly fast for a compositing app that ran in PC/Win platform, and discreet couldn't affort having such a small company with small user base threatning their Flame and Flint market shares on the long road, so better kill them before it happens.
Now 5D people are back with a new company called dip:p R-evolution, let's wait and see what they bring to us.
Meanwhile discreet Toxic, Mezzo and Strata stay on course for what I've been hearing.