In this article, Tim Wilson continues his series with his Part Two look at the big news leaking from IBC 2009. Blackmagic Design has acquired da Vinci Systems and with that acquisition comes what Tim refers to as The Power of da Vinci. And for the many that have used da Vinci over the years, they know full well the power of which Tim writes. And for those who might need an introduction to this power, Tim offers these words...
Da Vinci products are all about power. Their real time performance with high resolution files has set their systems apart from the rest of the industry from the beginning. That’s why the following is among the most telling parts of Grant’s email: DaVinci is different to a DeckLink card because it’s a high performance computing based tool. Our focus will really be on adding more features.
As he notes elsewhere, a big focus will be on adding more features to Resolve in particular.
David Catt was a London-based colorist when he saw a demo of a da Vinci system in 1986. His company wound up purchasing the first unit installed in Europe, and a few years later, David began working with the company, first as a demo artist, and later as a product manager. Until he left the company two years ago, David was the product manager for Resolve.
One of the things we decided from the beginning is that we didn’t want to work in proxy mode, which is what everybody else was doing at the time. We heard people saying, ‘We don’t work with proxies either – we work at full resolution.’ We said, ‘Well then, after your color correction, why do you have to render them out?’ We could never get an answer – and neither could their customers.
Even in the very early stages of development, Resolve could work with 10-bit 2K DPX files, and record color corrections back to storage in real time. We continued to develop parallel-processing hardware that would allow us to process those images in real time. You could place one of these boards in a system, and it could process one layer of color correction. If you wanted more realtime processes, you could add more boards.
But there are limits to how many boards you can put in a PC. We were the first people to implement an Infiniband topology to move data from one box to another box very fast, so now we could connect multiple boxes to get the performance to do, say, 15 layers of 10-bit color correction in real time if we needed to.
The other thing about Resolve is that it was always designed as a colorist’s tool. A good example to show how complex something like this can get is something like Quantel’s qcolor that had lots of graphs for you to draw and manipulate – that’s fine for an engineer, but a colorist doesn’t want to look at graphs! They want to look at the pictures! You shouldn’t have to look at the panel while you do the work. You should be able to just look at the pictures.
Hence the very expensive control panels. When working 15-16 shifts or more, you have to feel comfortable. You have to do a lot of work, and keep going, so we designed them to be comfortable all day long.
Moving forward, David notes that many da Vinci customers are already using Blackmagic products. This is in contrast to some of the company’s previous owners, who bought the company for its cashflow. David notes that a recent owner went into bankruptcy, not because of da Vinci – which was quite profitable, if not quite profitable enough to cover the losses in other parts of that owner’s business. Oops.
He feels that Blackmagic’s presence in these facilities is important, because they understand the ways that products need to interface, to keep plugging gaps in evolving workflows.
To discuss this news, please visit our new DaVinci forum, or see our Blackmagic Design forum, or visit our Apple Color and Apple Final Cut forums.