QuVis has announced a new product – QuVis Wraptor – a $699 Compressor plug-in for Final Cut Studio that allows independent content producers to create their own DCI DCP. That is a Digital Cinema Initiative’s Digital Cinema Package, which is the digital file format and wrapper used for digital projection, a standard that only came about in the last few years. Why is this such a big deal? Because I’ve heard encoding of even just TRAILERS was about $6K a pop, and features were about $20K. Now you can “roll your own” for about $700. So that’s BIG.
Read on for more about it…
The only downsides I’ve heard of so far – it does NOT encrypt the files (UPDATE – see below! Encryption, speed, and disk format issues may be resolved), so they are less secure, and it is slooooooowwwwww. Anecdotally, I’m hearing converting a 2K or 1080p file (the DCI spec calls or a 2048×1080 or 4096×2160 file sizes) converts in the ballpark of about 30:1 – so your 90 minute feature would take about two days to encode/export. Oh, and the file format for the delivery disks is some funky Unix/Linux format, so you have to encode on Mac to a Windows formatted disc, then either reboot in Windows or connect to a Windows machine and then transfer over to….a disk formatted in that other way whose name escapes me at the moment.
Analysis – if you were trying to get some content encoded for digital theatrical projection, this is a BIG DEAL. However, this doesn’t help with acquisition or compensation or covering of digital print fees to be paid to the co-ops running many digitally equipped theaters, but hey, at least you can make your own files without spending twenty grand. The lack of encryption will probably rule out acceptability to larger entities, either buying or selling, but that might be something that’ll be added later…or not, depending on the relationship QuVis wants to keep with the big post houses (presumably, among other factors).
This is yet another step in the industry’s move away from what I consider Big Iron. I’ve seen it in desktop publishing, then in audio, then in video, now in the film industry – what was once expensive “dedicated heavy/big iron” can be done on the desktop. Perhaps slowly at first, but it can be DONE. And when comparing facilities to indie content producers, the indie producers have more time than money, and they don’t have to do these all day every day. $20K at a facility, or let it cook over the weekend? Yeah – YOU run the math on that one.
I’ll be curious to see how it turns out – since it is in a CIE XYZ color space and is JPEG2000 compressed (part of why so slow to convert) – how the heck do you PROOF this thing? Book time at a theater? What controls are offered, so that if it comes out “funny” you can recook it (again at considerable time expense)?
That’s enough to ponder for now – for $699, a lot of folks are going to jump on this I’ll bet.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: credible sources are stating that encryption WILL be an option, encoding is more like 10:1 (presumably on 8 core), the Linux ext2/3 disk format driver is included in the package, and as far as speed goes – you can use a cluster to help encoding speed. SCHAAAAAAAAWEET.
Yet Another Update, 10 minutes later
The website has also been updated:
More key details from the brochure:
HD & 2K sizes supported (so no 4K – FCS doesn’t support 4K anyway)
4:2:2 to 4:4:4 conversion
RGB/YUV to X’Y’Z’ color space conversion
6 channel, 24 bit, 48KHz audio supported
128 bit AES encryption
supports 3rd party Key Management Systems (important for secure key distribution)
and more – read up on it yourselves.
Again, a game changer for this one particular aspect of moviemaking.