NAB 2014 Kicks off with Thunderbolt2 announcements

After 2 days of leading the Director of Photography Conference, part of the 10th Anniversary of the Post Production World Events, it is time to start talking about all the things I have not bean able to mention.

There already have been camera announcements from Aja, Codex and others, I expect to see at Blackmagic Design and one other company early this morning. Yet for me its some of the Thunderbolt News that really has me excited.

Interested in seeing what BMD will show from the Cintel acquisition? Will there really be a Thunderbolt enabled Film Scanner announced at the show.

HP & Intel are going to show peer to peer, Mac to PC networking over a direct Thunderbolt connection, using 10gE protocols, proving that Intel’s Thunderbolt technology offers far more to Media and Entertainment sector than people are imaging.

LaCie shipped the Little Big Disk2 offering greater than a Gigabyte per second, and Rack mount unit designed for 4K post workflows.

While G-Tech should be showing larger volume Desktop Raids as well as updated SSD and raided versions of their G-DriveEV for the GDock-EV my personal go to drive solution for handling data OnSet.

Promise shows smaller second gen version of their SanLink Product, and a smaller SSD based array.

Just a start- need to hit the show floor to start seeing what I can talk about.

 

New for NAB 2014 LaCie’s Little Big Disc 2

So it has been awhile since I posted here, been busy working on 3 projects, one of which included one of the new “social media clauses” so it has kept me rather limited.I will post my thoughts on some of the new gear that is already shipping prior to NAB so that people can check them out at the show.

First up, LaCie’s Little Big Disc 2

I use storage from a number of manufacturers and never have I ever opened a hard drive box and recieved this level of performance with the ease and simplicity of the LBD2. LaCie has delivered the fastest single device I have ever used with my laptop.  Equipped with Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 Technology, this 1TB  sleek black box, elegantly styled and compact for it’s 1.4 pound weight, offers users the single most powerful drive I have ever used.

The Thunderbolt 2 interface in conjunction with the raided dual SSD drives inside offer users up to an astonishing 1.3 Gigabytes of data throughput per second, easily making LaCie’s LBD2 the fastest single drive publicly available. While listed price at around $1300 USD for a 1 TB volume might be cringeworthy to some, when you have the need for speed this is the drive to have.

This shows the raw speed of LaCie's Little Big Disk 2, here showing performance  over 1 GB per second when paired  with a 2nd Gen Retina MacBook Pro with Intel's Thunderbolt 2 technology.

This shows the raw speed of LaCie’s Little Big Disk 2, here showing performance  over 1 GB per second when paired  with a 2nd Gen Retina MacBook Pro with Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 technology.

The cost vs. performance is nothing short of astronomical, because we are talking about moving Gigabytes per second with this beast. That performance, equal if not better at times than the internal flash memory found in Apple’s New Mac Pro, and is unheard of outside of a incredibly small number of Post facilities or in the massive server farms that allow ITunes, Amazon and Google to spit out information to you in realtime on the web.

However for desktop users, this is a first, when built my first 1GBps array for a client in 2007, at that time it required 2 computers just to control the 72 spinning disks and cost nearly $500,000 in time and materials when finished.

I can now walk into a store and buy nearly the same throughput off the shelf and have ready to work on in mere minutes after I am out the door.

LaCie’s Little Big Disk 2 has become my main carry around work volume, I recently used it during an extended trip, where it allowed me to cut 4K ProRes 4444 content on my laptop, well away from my office, without having to work with the associated hassles of the offline / online workflow that location editing of that much content would normally require.

There is plenty more to come. Stay Tuned.

 

HP’s Thunderbolt Announcement Changes Everything.

Yesterday HP announced Thunderbolt across both their Mobile and Desktop Workstations lines, launching a truly innovative initiative in the PC world. No longer will PC users be relegated to running Windows on a Mac just to be able to use the power and speed of Thunderbolt, nor will they be limited to only a couple of DIY motherboards and the corresponding issues of drivers and compatibility just to be able to have the power that Thunderbolt brings to the table.

HP’s Jim Zafarana shown here with the new Zbook

HP’s Jim Zafarana shown here with the new Zbook

In discussions with HP since NAB about the how and why of Thunderbolt and what it means for the industry,not just about projects working with Onset Data or the high end workflows that are the majority of projects that I work on, but that Thunderbolt also brings a host of other advantages beyond the simplicity of the connector.

Thunderbolt brings an unrivaled level of performance in a single cable, I know of no other protocol currently in use that can allow users the ability to move data in the same manner as Thunderbolt does. It is not just that, Thunderbolt can also extend the PCIe buss outside your laptop to allow users to easily access multiple kinds of media.

HP Technology Panel  (L to R) Ron Rogers, Gary Adcock,  Jeff Wood,. Vincent Brisebois , Ryan Brown

HP Technology Panel
(L to R) Ron Rogers, Gary Adcock, Jeff Wood,. Vincent Brisebois , Ryan Brown

I have Thunderbolt adopters to  eSata, Firewire, Ethernet adaptors already, but I can also access Video I/O devices from Aja, BlackmagicDesign and Matrox with SMPTE calibrated output all the way up to 4K and soon beyond. I can bridge my Thunderbolt connection to Fibre or GigE infrastructures for Enterprise users, even extend my performance with a RED Rocket or Io-Fusion for the ultimate in mobile performance.

I don’t care that it’s Xx times faster than USB, what I does impress me is that I can move data to one of my Promise Pegasus arrays at over 850MBps with the 1st Gen, 10Gbps version using a 6 drive array in Raid 6, it also means that the 2nd Gen, 20Gbps version announced by HP and Apple means that throughput on the next level could reach as fast as 1.6 GBps on a laptop.

1.6 GBps means playback of uncompressed 4K content, but  it also means that we no longer have to suffer the data rates we accepted from Firewire 800 which transfers data at roughly 1 minute of transfer time per gigabyte of data.  Time is money in modern production and post, no longer are data wranglers woefully waiting hours to move the content from a single days shoot.

Onstage with HP talking Thunderbolt.

Onstage with HP talking Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt has allowed me to be more productive in the ever tightening marketplace. I am consistently moving data at 4 to 5 times faster than my competition. I am currently working in a multi-cam production on a TV series shooting in Chicago, where I am transferring 32 GB Arri Alexa media in an average time of 7 minutes per card to 2 separate volumes in one of G-Technology’s latest offerings the G-Dock EV.  The speed of transfer has totally changed the way I work.

HP’s Thunderbolt announcement will certainly shake up the marketplace. HP brings a level of authority and backs that with a universally recognizable name in the computing world. The fact that their products across the board will offer Thunderbolt connectivity is nothing short of evolutionary, no other manufacture will be shipping Workstation level laptops as well as a fully user customizable, Thunderbolt enabled Desktop Workstation that can move data at these heretofore unheard of rates on the consumer level. With the ability to share Thunderbolt enabled storage in the office or on location.

Whether you shoot larger numbers of photographs or video, work on a DSLR or in 6K on a RED camera, Thunderbolt offers you something you have not had previously, the power and performance only seen on extremely expensive, top of the line Workstations. The only difference now is that that level of performance is now available to professionals and consumers at a price that is nothing less than astonishing when you consider what that same throughput was just 5 years ago.

Adobe Creative Cloud and HP Webinar Notes and Links

I want to thank hundreds of people that virtually attended my Moviola Webinar Session yesterday. It was a pleasure to do and I want to personally Thank my long time friend Michael Horton for hosting.

Moviola Webinar

This seminar will be available as a free download thanks to the sponsorship from MelroseMac, Adobe and HP.

Here are the Links I referenced in the Webinar.

An FAQ on Adobe’s Creative Cloud

An FAQ on Adobe Anywhere 

Adobe Broadcast Solutions  

Calvin Klein’s Downtown Fragrance ad on YouTube.

David Fincher directed this shoot and the entire project was handled end to end in Premiere Pro 6 on HP’s Z820 Workstations and
CUDA empowering Nvidia cards.

RED Digital Cinema
Information regarding RED’s ongoing support for the HP / Adobe Premiere RED Workstations including the 2012 NAB video interview with Ted Schilowitz 

CreativeCloudUser.com

Creative Cloud User, your source for Adobe specific information

Creative Cloud User.com,
your source for Adobe specific information

Adobe and HP Specific information and online guides 

hp.com/go/zworkstations

hp.com/go/ME

hp.com/go/adobe

hp.com/go/switch

hp.com/go/mobileworkstations

tv.adobe.com

nvidia.com/builtforadobepros 

If you need HP specific guidance for your configuration choices 

North America:  hp.com/go/workstationfinder 

APA:  hp.com/apac/workstations 

I would also like to thank MelroseMac for the support
and effort by their entire team.

www.melrosemac.com

info@melrosemac.com

 @melrosemac.com on Twitter 

 

 

Join me Thursday for “Adobe Creative Cloud & HP Combine for the Ultimate Pro Environment”

This Thursday at 11:30am PDT,  I will once again be hosting a Moviola Webinar,  “Adobe Creative Cloud & HP Combine for the Ultimate Pro Environment”  in conjunction with MelroseMac.

As a long time Mac user, many of you don’t realize that I have also simultaneously been a PC user for most of my career in Production and Post, originally it was out of necessity, but with the advent of better hardware and specific updates starting with Windows 7, I have been working more and more with the “darkside” as many Mac users see it.  I do not.

A Love / Hate Relationship grew into Friendship 

PC’s have been a part of my production life since the 1990′s when I got my first introduction to Vision Research’s Phantom line of cameras on a project. To control and setup the cameras I had to go and learn the Windows software,  an update from the command line-ish version of MS-DOS most used at that time.  Vision Research still requires the use of Window’s OS to control and maintain their camera systems.

Fast Forward to 2008, Apple’s desktop world was waining, with only incremental changes to the frame and architecture of the Aluminum “cheese grater” I started seeking out PC’s for specific client tasks. One of those tasks was to build a onset data handling station that would also allow for real-time backup of camera original materials to LTO tape in the dawn of the digital age.  My cart started as a hybrid Mac and I used the Window XP system solely for the backup. 

Slowly I started using the PC’s more and more for my needs when it came to customized solutions for onset production. To this day I have carried one of my Mac Laptops that is set for Dual Boot when needed. 

I use PC’s regularly, I use them when I need the power and interchangeability that I cannot get in the current Apple Hardware and not in the future.

I am one of those people that need machines to do what I want them to do, not rely on others to decide. I need my machines to work for me, not just roll around on my cart as I move from location to location. 

Image

My desktop connections should not look like my laptop does

 

 

Hardware is hardware

To a person like me, I see no issues working on either platform, yet there is a reason why many of the higher end productions work on the PC platform. From CAD to Color Correction many of the tools I work with are only available on other platforms while the Adobe app’s I use the most right now run the same or better on my HP/ Nvidia workstations, the ones with an 8T -LSI solid state disc array,  2- Nvidia K5000 cards, a Kona 3G card, an Atto Fiber card and Atto10gE card and there is room left over inside for more if I need it.

No cables to get tangled, no clutter of accessories. 

http://bit.ly/16mGPAC

A New Version of FCPX, Mavericks and the New MacPro

So, I wonder how many of you remembered that FCPX turned 2 years old on June 21st.

Yup, That’s right 2 years with a number of updates and the soon to be arriving “NewMacPro” people are wondering when the updates will happen, even though  Apple has confirmed that there is an official update to FCPX arriving at approximately the same time as the new desktop. Phil said it on stage, Apple focus on it in their PR messaging but now people are taking pictures of MacPro Screens on Apple.com and spreading them across social media.

Even Apple.com is telling us there will be a new version of FCPX this year.

Even Apple.com is telling us there will be a new version of FCPX this year.

Metadata is the new black
I am guessing most of these people did not watch the WWDC Keynote, or more specifically, the part where Craig Federighi showed the same Metadata Tagging like FCPX has had for almost 2 years at the FINDER level of OSX Mavericks. I think it is funny how that same type of info tagging was belittled and berated when FCPX  first came out 2 yrs. ago in June 2011?

Yet Apple’s engineers sought to bring it full bore into the mainstream of OSX directly, wisely so I might add, so that now the power that I referred to in the first releases of FCPX have moved forward to the point that we will be using that power invisibly while you are working. Isn’t this what we all want, instead of blindly looking around the plethora of available drives with failed searches because we have all turned off journaling for external drives.

What does this mean? 

We all watched as Apple took nothing short of a “ass-whoppin” in the media and on the internet about the changes to FCP when FCPX came to market. It took Apple months to add back some really basic functionality like outputting split audio tracks or using professional level monitoring and output for the Pro User. My Macworld.com review of FCPX was one of the more civil diatribes, while my comments on CreativeCow.net were something else altogether.

Move forward 2 years and that same Phil Schiller is talking live onstage talking at WWDC about a new MacPro and in the same breath is talking about FCPX being updated. The Metadata tagging originally featured in FCPX,  is shown in a fully operational manner at the Finder Level in demonstrations of the next generation of the OSX.

I think that this means Apple may have something else in mind, for I see a workstation that functionally remembers where all my content is, keeps track of all of my projects, media and the assorted files that traverse my desk as a working pro. No more lost images or captions, client logo’s stay organized on the server and available instantly, content pre-identified by the associated metadata. { I wonder will Adobe meta-tags from Photoshop and Lightroom might be seen by OSX at some point }

Hmmm.

WWDC and The New MacPro

OK,

Now that everyone you know has chimed in on the New MacPro, lets take a breath and look at reality, if you have been following Apple for any time at all, you know that they rarely if ever do what people think they will do.

Apple hardware has consistently gotten more unified, compact, and more refined. The iPhone has become a standard for all handsets, the Macbook Air stole the netbook market right out from underneath the PC world, then Apple finished it’s assault on the low end PC market by releasing the iPad, and even more than with the iPhone changed how we interface with devices, for the tablet was born and my computing was changed forever.

mac_pro_new

Apple’s sleek design
once more alienates.

Yes this is a radical departure from the existing product design, however some of the most Iconic of Apple’s hardware designs, The Cube, LUXO, the Candy Colored IMacs as well as the 20th Anniversary model all gave users iconic design, why does this Tube scare everyone so?

Because its different? Is that not what Apple has been about for a very long time?  Get over it.

The New MacPro offers some stunning specs, albeit in a new way. Look Apple once again defined how users will interact with hardware, if you did not seem it wise to start embracing Thunderbolt, with this new MacPro, it is abundantly clear that it is and will be the future of device connectivity, with PC companies like HP fully behind Thunderbolt, the TB2 specs on this box ( Ok TUBE) blow me out the of the water.

The 6 fully independent 20Gbps Thunderbolt v2 ports can maintain an aggregate data rate of 15 Gigabytes per second.  PERIOD!!! 

Those TB2 ports can handle up to 36 peripheral devices, that can include storage,  I/O to Firewire, Fibre or 10gE or SAS externally and the “3-4K Displays” Apple has been touting in the marketing

inline storage module on the new MacPro

Inline storage module
on the new MacPro

Memory Questions: The internal storage is defined as PCIe Flash, now for the unknowing, this is by a wide margin the fastest possible. This is accessing  your main storage at the speed of a RAM disk. One interesting thing to note in the Apple approved photos is that they are only showing 1 storage module.

The funny thing I see is that both of those fixed AMD graphics cards appear to have a place to allow for a second PCIe Flash module. I am wondering about the price and volumes for that storage, today it’s very expensive. Current PCIe Flash storage is available from companies like Fusion Io and even online retailers like Other World Computing and it’s fairly expensive for all but power users. My guess is that since Apple is changing the marketplace once again, the cost for PCIe Flash modules will reduce as the demand increases.

Note the inline PCIeFlash module in the middle of the right side Graphics card and space for the same type of module on the left is mysteriously open. When did Apple ever leave wasted space in a machine this compact

Note the place for the inline PCIeFlash module in the middle of the right side Graphics card and space for the same type of module on the left is mysteriously open. When did Apple ever leave wasted space in a machine this compact

What’s Possible 

One other thing to note is the mysteriously missing PCIe memory module that could / should be in the same location on the left side graphics card in all of the Apple PR images.

From personal experience there is never a lot of free space to waste internally on an Apple device I have opened in the last few years, so I am wondering if that “open space” might be useable as part of the yet unannounced “Build-To-Order possibilities?

The Form Factor Matters

  I am stunned by the small size, because at roughly 10″x 7″ this thing small, geez 8 of them fit in the same space as the previous tower form factor, I am just not comfortable with a rolly-poly,  tube shaped computer when a good deal of my workstation level projects happen onset or on the road and that cylindrical shape is fraught with desperation for anyone needed to physically mount the machine for portability. Rack mounted computers have become the norm for DIT’s and Loaders, yet the new form factor does nothing to solve issues for that specific market.

Cuda vs OpenCL

The Open CL vs Cuda debate is a separate issue to me completely. Adobe’s backbone  based in the Nvidia’s “Cuda” processes  is only a minor advantage over the current OpenCL code being utilized for Apple processors, now if we can add Nvidia back into the mix as part of the BTO options, this might actually keep many of those power users from finally jumping off the MacPro wagon and onto an HP workstation.

I for one am keeping my HP Z800 right where it’s at, it’s the most powerful workhorse in my office and offers me power and performance unrivaled. That does not mean I am giving up my Mac’s. It means I have to live in a performance based world and much like with my retina laptop, it may take a little time to get the New MacPro and all of the associated peripherals to make it out to be the workstation it wants to be.

Processor

Finally.

This machine can’t possible be anything more for most user, It will have the fastest internal architecture possible, the fastest external connectivity and a lot of it, while the user configurable options  will be more limited that in the past, the future upgradability is undeniable. Lost in the design debate so far is that most “power” users never add or remove parts from their MacPro’s once they are configured, the only difference with the new Apple is they want to control that at the manufacturing stage for the highest quality possible.

Apple has once again broken new ground, even if I don’t initially like what it looks like. I am thinking I will start a new biz doing skins for the New MacPro.