A ‘Shout Out’ to SYNCRO-LINK!

XR LED Virtual Production with TEDxCambridge and STUDIO LAB

Dmitri Gunn and Ian Messina


Ian: “…they’re taking the lens data unit [SYNCRO-LINK] off the camera now …”


Dmitri: “Yes! Bring it over here … this is another ‘shout out’ to someone who is doing some really cool stuff … Patrick Campbell from Factory Optic – we were introduced to him through Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock – Tom from Fujinon – with an opportunity to go ‘all in’ on XD lens encoding … but Patrick’s solution here, which Ian has in his hands, is the SYNCRO-LINK MARK ZERO – a real game changer – because it allows us to pull all of that lens encoding data right in to UNREAL Engine and DISGUISE and allows us to continue to utilize this facility and this team to create even more cool stuff for our next production cycle …”

Ian: “So, we can actually plug this [SYNCRO-LINK] right into the lens and what this is going to do is send REAL TIME information – so when we focus or zoom, it’s getting sent into here [SYNCRO-LINK] and this [SYNCRO-LINKL] is now taking that focus and zoom data – and it actually has a Lens Profile built for this specific lens – and, as they’re turning it, it’s giving us real time updates! OK, they’re focused at 3 feet … four feet … five feet … and it’s all happening LIVE and it’s actually synced with the shutter and it’s gen-locked which is also incredibly important – having your whole system gen-locked is HUGE! And this unit … honestly, the guys at FACTORY OPTIC really knocked this one out of the park because a lot of the stuff we’ve been using has been more mechanical – so you’d have more of just your standard focus system but, instead of it controlling the system, what it is actually doing is ‘reading it … and when you get those micro-jitters of movement, what happens without it is, you see   false data sent – so, if [the mechanical device used] would think you’re at it 3 feet but it’s actually three and a half feet – well, you Really can’t use that  – all of this stuff has to work perfectly to be completely accurate – and that is what SYNCRO-LINK has done for us – ‘Zero Delay’ – it’s a real game changer!”

Click on the image below to watch the full YouTube video:

SYNCRO-LINK is a real game-changer!”

Are We Caught Up, yet?

Again, please accept our apologies for completely missing the month of July in FACTORY NEWS.

As explained in an earlier post, we were just too doggone busy to do anything else but just fill orders – we even had to employ (to use the term loosely) the so-called quote/unquote “creatives” from our so-called Art and Writing Departments – yeah, we put those idio oh, sorry, change that – those so-called brainy types to work downstairs on the Factory Floor – filling orders every day in July – well, sorta filling orders – I mean they’re all brain and no brawn that group – and well, we need brawn down there to … what? What was that? We have a quote coming in from Ernie [The Attorney]? Well, OK … putt’em through …

Yes, thank you – I’d like to take a moment, on behalf of senior management, to apologize to our loyal clients for our ‘radio silence’ during the 31 days of July – hang on … [Doris … July has 31 days, right?] Ah, yes … the 31 days of silence in July. I assure you, as busy as we ever get down there on the Factory Floor, now and in the future, we will always find a way to communicate our feelings to you, within the limits of the law, of course, and keep you apprised of our progress. The great demand that you have created for us has taken more resources than originally imagined – we’ve maintained a steady stride but, in July, at a slower pace. Although we appreciated the help of the ‘artists’ and ‘writers’ during the crunch time, we probably would have been better off having them stay upstairs doing whatever they do … and now, in August, as we pick-up the pace, I’m glad to announce that these creatives will be working on getting new messages out to you, with greater consistency and at a much faster pace. [Doris, do you think I’ve said the word “pace” too many times in this speech?] … Yes, well, it’s back to work and, as always, if I don’t see you on The Factory Floor, I’ll see you in court!

– Ernest Lee-Lyle Littygate, Esq

Well, thanks, Ernie – we’re so glad to have you as our attorney, legal counsel, third baseman of the softball team and corporate spokesperson. 

Well, like the man said – it’s back to work and, here’s to our best summer, yet – lots of great stuff happening down there and, don’t worry – we’ll keep you posted!

The Factory Floor: All work and no play? Perhaps not. Working Hard … or … Hardly Working – July 2021

Now Read This: In Camera UE4.27 LED Test Shoot!

Hang on … it’s NOT about us, here, at The Factory! This wasn’t one of our tests …

BUT, it’s a great article that we enjoyed and felt the need to share with you. And, as you read it, put this note in the back of your mind: 

Factory Optic is developing a PrestonMDR Server to work directly with Unreal Engine 4.27 – we will keep you posted on our progress – so, as always, WATCH THIS SPACE!

– Freddy, The Foreman

Now, on to the article … recently, Epic Games and filmmakers’ collective Bullitt assembled a team to test out the latest in-camera VFX toolset, part of the extensive suite of virtual production tools in the upcoming Unreal Engine 4.27 release. To put each of the new tools through their paces, they created a short test piece to mimic a production workflow.

The production test capitalized on new workflows that enable dynamic lighting and background changes on-set with minimal downtime, together with multi-camera and traveling vehicle shoots. 

The project used twin NVIDIA Quadro A6000 GPUs

The test team was able to produce final pixels in just four days – a demonstration of the efficiency and creative freedom the toolset offers.

That was the TEASER … Now, here’s the ARTICLE (click on image below)

You need this one in your toolbox!

“Hey … you getting time code outta there?“

“OK, if you are going to use that tone with me, I’m going to stop this big-rig and you’re going to get a TIME OUT, Mister!”

– Angry Factory Driver

Hang on – maybe we got our wires crossed, here … We’re talking about Time Code – and, specifically, seeing if any given device is generating it – or not. No need to wonder anymore … Factory Optic introduces its latest production tool … A LOW COST tester device that takes timecode (all SMPTE formats) in on BNC, and power in on USB-C and clearly displays the TC – drop-frame, with a semicolon. 

… and it’s called

“TIME OUT”

Yet another simple and useful tool of the trade from Factory Optic. Oh, and did we mention that it is a LOW COST solution? 

Timecode rates: 

23.976, 24, 25, 29.97(DF/NDF) and 30(DF/NDF). SMPTE 12M-2008

Timecode Input:

  Connector: BNC

  Impedance: 10k ohm

  Signal: 2Vp-p

Power Input:

  Connector: USB-C (UFP, no data)

  Voltage: 5V

Size: 

..22mm x 24mm x 82.5mm

See the FACT SHEET HERE

Click on image for a PDF download

Now, get back in the truck – we have a long way to go!

So, What the heck happened in July?

Yes, we are all fairly certain that you’ve noticed our big, wide EMPTY “July” section – no posts – no news … no NOTHING.

Okay! Okay! We get it … we get it! Sheesh! Rub it in our faces, why don’t you? We were all downstairs helping Freddy [The Foreman] to get the orders out and, as a result of that effort, there was NO marketing, NO press releases or public relations … and certainly NO snappy, clever and witty articles written and/or published … was there? Well, hopefully, now you will appreciate our little contribution to the BIG machine … and going forward – unless we are pressed to go back downstairs again – we pledge to get back on track with the very best of our clever and witty news releases and case studies … every month, from now on … OKAY?

– Disgruntled member of The Writing Staff

Well, for the record, please note that there was plenty of activity and lots of news – it’s just that the entire Factory was on double-platinum overtime all month to try to keep up with the demand! That’s right, we even had to draft our near-useless art department and writing department – mandated that they put down their pens and pencils and head straight on down to the Factory Floor, grab a hard hat and get busy! That’s right – EVERYONE was involved in the task of getting product out the door! And everyone did their part to help meet the demand.

With the SYNCRO-LINK line catching on and getting rave reviews, we realized that we needed to step it up to keep production ahead of the other non-SYNCRO-LINK projects building up in the pipeline. And, although our team of so-called artists and writers aren’t really career ‘line-level’ workers, they did their best to contribute helping hands while staying well out of the way of the real ‘hard hats’ …

With  everything back on track now, they are preparing to release some current news and backlogged articles so, as we say in TV:

“Please stand by …”

All in a Day’s Work? Hope Not! Working Hard … or … Hardly Working … at The Factory, July 2021

Working hard … and … Hardly working … at the Factory, July 2021

Pre-Production: SYNCRO-LINK IN ACTION!

This post is actually a true DOCUMENTATION of a recent pre-production test held on June 08, 2021, using multiple well-known equipment brands – including Zeiss and Fujinon – and offering a front row seat / first look at FACTORY OPTIC’s NEW SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO – as the title suggests, “in action”. The story is presented in a series of email excerpts from the producer (we will call him “Producer X” for reasons of privacy) to various equipment manufacturers. Let’s drop in on the conversation

START OF EMAIL EXCERPTS:

__ __ __

Email #1

Producer X: We have partnered with a state-of-the-art facility called Studio Lab which is the most advanced virtual production studio in the region. We are producing live-to-tape Unreal Engine Extended Reality (XR) LED virtual production content.

__ __ __

Email #3

Producer X: (writing to Fujinon)
We are collaborating with your counterparts at Zeiss on a marketing case study featuring Supreme Primes with eXtended Data (XD) for a process to be used in an upcoming TED Talk digital transformation. The workflow features three VariCam 35 and five Supreme Primes. We would also like to feature your Premista19-45mm for two reasons: it’s a spectacular zoom lens, and it offers the innovative XD format required for our real-time XR LED virtual production workflow. We have secured that Premista and the Supreme Primes for our June 22-25 production dates.

__ __ __

Email #5

Producer X: For the upcoming test, It would be tremendously helpful if you could ship a demo Premista19-45mm lens for workflow, content, and lighting testing at Studio Lab on Tuesday, June 8th.

Here is our XR LED virtual production workflow:

• Disguise Multicam Extended Reality (XR)

• OptiTrack Primex 41 camera tracking

• Panasonic VariCam 35 cinema cameras

• Zeiss Supreme Prime lenses with eXtended Data (XD)

• Fujinon Premista19-45mm zoom lens with eXtended Data (XD)

__ __ __

Email #11

Producer X: Yes! Happy to provide photos and video. Our DP is excited to test the Premista19-45mm with eXtended Data, which is part of our real-time XR LED virtual production workflow. I would like to explore a partnership arrangement with you, alongside Panasonic, Zeiss, Epic, and Disguise, who are participating with their PR firms in this TED Talk virtual production marketing case study:

TEDxCambridge Key Partners and PR Firms

Racepoint / Panasonic (cinema cameras)

Battery / Epic Games (Unreal Engine)

Battery / Disguise (XR media server)

Zeiss (cinema lenses)

Neoscape (Unreal Engine production design)

Civic Entertainment Group / TEDxCambridge

__ __ __

Email #12

Vendor Y:
(editor’s note: “Vendor Y” is actually FACTORY OPTIC, who does not wish to remain anonymous … and “Y” – or, “why” Factory Optic? Because they are the only technology company that offers the SYNCRO-LINK solution!)

“A demo? A demo of SYNCRO-LINK for a TED Talk? Sure thing … you bet! Heck – I just happen to have one right here on my desk! As soon as I finish my coffee and donuts, I’ll run downstairs and ship it out to you … today!”

__ __ __

Email #14

Producer X: Thank you very much for the introduction to Factory Optic and Gary Adcock! We had a fantastic 1.5-hour conversation about XD metadata and Factory Optic’s exciting SYNCRO-LINK solution. They will be shipping a demo unit to Studio Lab so that we can test it with your Premista19-45mm on June 8th.

__ __ __  

Email #17

Producer X: Thank you for sharing the SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO demo unit! We connected it with the VariCam 35 Premista19-45mm on the jib. Separately, I’ve sent you a folder with photos and in it, you’ll find a great shot of our production team marveling at the SYNCRO-LINK! …

… I will connect you with the Studio Lab technical team, who will be conducting in-depth XD metadata tests with the VC35 and Zeiss Supreme Primes for these XR LED virtual production tests. Please let me know if you have any questions or recommendations …

Oh, and I must tell you, beyond the technical specs, the SYNCRO-LINK build quality is outstanding!

__ __ __

Email #20

Producer X: We tested your Premista19-45mm with the VC35 yesterday at Studio Lab with dual-LED frustums:

• Sticks VC35 A: Zeiss Supreme Prime 35mm

• Sticks VC35 B: Zeiss Supreme Prime 65mm

• Jib VC35 C: Fujinon Premista19-45mm with
Synchro-Link XD solution

The SYNCRO-LINK XD solution that Factory Optic has developed is a game-changer. It unlocks some exciting AR applications we will explore for the fall shoot ...”

End of email excerpts. 

So, without naming too many names, these excerpts tell a great story, as the testing was accomplished. It’s a success story for SYNCRO-LINK, recommended here by Fujinon as a cutting edge metadata solution to be explored within this set of tests. We thank him/them for the referral and the opportunity to both expose SYNCRO-LINK capabilities to the real world in real time and to help / partner with this TEDx technology group, in advance of the TEDxCambridge production dates.

Read the official SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO Press Release HERE

Read MORE about … or even BUY SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO … ¡HERE!

SYNCRO-LINK MARK ZERO PRESS RELEASE

LOS ANGELES, June 3, 2021

Factory Optic, a specialty provider of custom solutions and services for the film and television industries, announces the launch of a new product called SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO. Featuring a next-generation lens metadata interface to provide simple plug-and-play connectivity between cinema lenses and Unreal Engine (for use in virtual production environments), the device greatly simplifies the metadata workflow. All available lens data, such as focus distance, iris t-stop, zoom focal length, entrance pupil and depth of field, is seamlessly streamed to Unreal Engine via an open-source plugin provided by LOLED VIRTUAL. 

“Using the MARK-ZERO allows our customers to focus their efforts on filmmaking while reducing the setup time,”

… states Patrick Campbell of FACTORY OPTIC.

“With this new device, we enable users to seamlessly push lens metadata direct to Unreal Engine, in perfect sync with the camera shutter. It allows full control of the data flow, no matter which camera is being used, and with OpenCV lens distortion values being streamed, the need for tedious lens calibration has been eliminated.”

MARK-ZERO will support metadata streaming from Cooke /i enabled lenses and with the Zeiss eXtended Data, lens distortion and shading/vignetting is now available to be utilized in UE. Streaming works with all camera frame-rates from 23.98 to 60. Data is timecode stamped and sent over UDP direct to Unreal Engine via PoE. 

For more detailed technical information about Factory Optic’s new SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO, click on the image below:

SYNCRO-LINK UPDATE!

From The Factory floor: The very latest news on SYNCRO-LINK  production – direct from Nick, the Night Shift Foreman. Take it away, Nick at Night:

“Well, obviously, we are working day and night to bring SYNCRO-LINK to you – I’m happy to announce that we can now stream about 38 data values from the Premista lens over Ethernet at frame-rates from 23.98 up to 60, while doing the distortion conversion.

The plan, going forward, is to spend the next 2-3 weeks finalizing the product documentation, product packaging, preparing the web storefront, and completing the first batch of units to be ready to ship on  or about 31 May.

We’ll be limiting the first production run to 8-10 units, with a second production run to follow by July. We have a unit expressly for demo right now, but we’d prefer to engage in local demos at first, so that we can be present to answer any questions in real time.

I’m looking forward to a successful product launch and getting involved in much more virtual production – but, it’ll never happen if I keep giving out interviews and don’t get back to work – so, you’ll have to excuse me, now – the assembly line awaits me …”

Sorry folks – Nick was never known as an orator … there is a definite limit on the amount of consecutive words he’ll ever say but, we thank him for this brief update and look forward seeing SYNCRO-LINK roll off the assembly line, soon!

WEEKEND WARRIORS WITHOUT REMORSE!

As you know from reading our legal jargon at Factory Admin (elsewhere on this fine website), The Factory is open 23/6/312 – that’s 23 hours a day, six days a week (mercifully closed on Sundays). Now, even though this would suggest that we are open and fully operational on Saturdays – well, truth be told, we are not – fully operational, that is.

Our attorney, Ernie, who writes (and lives by) the Factory Admin, wasn’t really lying – he just tends to use a thing that his profession refers to as “tactful evasion”. Saturday is our weekly maintenance day at The Factory – we have a full crew but we shut down all assembly lines – for servicing … 

… and to save a little electricity.  

But, wouldn’t you know, on a very recent Saturday, the switchboard received a panic call – a request for help from one of the FOFO group (Friends of Factory Optic). Here’s a transcript of the call: 

“Help! Just left LAX, expecting our shipment to clear customs, but it’s stuck for the weekend and we have a 7AM call on Monday and needed these custom brackets! Is there any way you can make them in the next 36 hours and save the day?”

The call was transferred to our trusty weekend Foreman, who, with eyes glazed over, replied:

“Well, I’d like to finish my coffee and donuts first, but then, let’s look at the scope of the job …” 

So, they sent over the 3D print files and we took a look and determined the print time and told them:

“Well, heck – it’s a strong possibility!”. 

Once we said that, they came back with:

“Oh, yeah, well, the design is flawed and needs to be adjusted!” 

Now, our poor Saturday Foreman is on the phone asking what it’s for and what are the dimensions of the existing things that need to be held together … and he was fully prepared to jot down copious notes on the inside cover of the matchbook he was holding.

Turns out, it was a wooden box being mounted on a Motion Impossible Agito. NDAs prevented the discussion from disclosing much else, but we did have them measure the wooden box and the mounting rails on the Agito and confirmed the brackets were not properly designed.

Now, at last, it became a design and print project, in which the deadline was still 7AM Monday, with no time to do it twice. The design had to be done first before printing could start, so with no time to waste, CAD design started with the limited info we had.

The definition of success for a project like this is a design that works the first time. Factory experience tells us to double and triple check everything as you only get one shot. Assume nothing and verify what you can. Photos were taken remotely with multiple measurements, lots of questions were posed and, ultimately, the design was redone from scratch, as the 3D print files are not easily modifiable.

The printing started shortly after sundown on Saturday and parts were ready Sunday (unbeknownst to Ernie who is dead-set against any kind of work on Sunday and all unauthorized overtime!) for an ‘on-time’ delivery/hand-off Monday AM.

Later in the week, we learned that it was for a promotional launch of the Amazon movie “Without Remorse” for which the marketing campaign was delivering movie promos.

Once again, Factory Service (regardless of published business hours) saved the day!

Just another ‘above and beyond’ example of what The Factory can do for you in a pinch.

All in a (Sun)day's Work
“All in a (Sun)day’s work …”

So, Would You like ANOTHER Peek (?) Part 2

Well, of course you would! Who wouldn’t want to see and know more about our very latest Virtual Production Tool – hot off The Factory floor?

 (Continued from PART 1)

That’s right – here is a little more on our current coolest production tool-in-the-making. Check out it’s “Plan View” …

Made you look!

See? We told you it was cool!

What? Details? You want more info? Like what do we mean by saying “Zero-Delay”? Well, using the same video genlock provided to the camera, the SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO, synchronized to the camera shutter, always samples the metadata at the same time that the camera shutter is opened providing live action camera metadata with the highest accuracy with respect to frame timing and latency. 

The SYNCRO-LINK MARK-ZERO can connect to lenses with Zeiss eXtended Data, which provides all typical lens values (focus distance, T stop, focal length, entrance pupil position, depth of field with near and far focus, and hyperfocal distance), as well as the Fujinon Premista zoom lenses and Zeiss Supreme prime lenses (which support Zeiss eXtended Data), and can also provide lens distortion and shading/vignetting data. 

And, as before, we’re always happy to talk about Syncro-Link (no matter how busy we are) so, if you can’t wait for the plethora of printed materials ***in the works as we write*** oh, wait … here’s one right now … click on the image below to see a “MARK ZERO” Fact Sheet) …

… now, where were we? Oh yeah … if you can’t wait for the plethora of printed materials still in the works to bone up on this classy technology breakthrough … or … if you simply need to hear a human voice wax intellectual about this awesome new Factory innovation … or … if you just need someone to talk to … well – you know what to do: Just click on that link up there on the upper right … yeah, that’s it – the one that says “CONTACT” in all caps … and … make contact!

We love to talk shop!

(END of PART 2)

(You can go back to PART 1 now)

(if you so desire)

(or not)