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Assimilate up to Scratch for VFX Lab

Assimilate's new Scratch Lab is claimed to be "the industry’s first digital lab tool specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of on-set and visual effects dailies ecosystems.

Assimilate’s new Scratch Lab is claimed to be “the industry’s first digital lab tool specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of on-set and visual effects dailies ecosystems,” writes David Fox.

Available on Mac OS X and Windows 7, Scratch Lab is a comprehensive end-to-end system for review, versioning, colour correction, conforming and creating deliverables for on-set and VFX dailies pipelines.

The $4,995 Scratch Lab offers real-time playback and review of 2K, 4K and 5K media, instant conform and highly interactive colour grading. It unifies a broad range of native camera and other input formats, such as Red Epic 5K, Alexa Arriraw and DSLR raw, and outputs to any popular deliverable format, including DPX, DNxHD MFX and ProRes. It also has full 3D stereo support, controls for image and convergence adjustments, plus full dual stream playback.

“While many major features, like Thor and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, have built dailies pipelines around Scratch, we are now offering this same battle-tested capability in the industry’s first Digital Lab tool designed, tuned and priced for the different dailies ecosystems,” said Steve Bannerman, Assimilate VP of marketing. “Scratch Lab helps solve the most important problem we hear from our artists: it helps them meet critical deadlines. With Lab you can input anything you want, and output to every format that matters. All the tools you need are in one product, at a realistic price.”

Other features include: audio sync; unlimited, non-destructive versioning; fast, flexible conform with Dual-View, Half-Mix and Side-by-Side comparisons, plus Quick Keys for moving through timelines and edit tools for shot manipulation; support for Avid Artist Series and Tangent Wave and CP 200 control panels; and automated deliverable templates to simultaneous outputs based on format, metadata, and look-up tables or grades.

Michael Wrightson, director of operations UK, at Prime Focus in London, said: “With the announcement of Scratch Lab, Assimilate is proving how close it is to the changing needs of the production and post production markets. As a busy VFX vendor we welcome the announcement of this new VFX dailies tool. Harnessing Scratch’s best-in-class conforming capabilities, Scratch Lab will help us to manage the complex challenges our commercials and features artists face every day.”

Scratch v6.0

Assimilate has also upgraded Scratch to version 6.0 and lowered its price (to $17,995). Its post-production digital workflow system will now include: a multilayer timeline for tighter integration with editorial systems; advanced tracking and keying technology for colour grading and VFX workflows; enhanced 3D stereo capabilities; and “support for the widest range of input/output formats in the industry”.

“Now available on both Windows and Mac at the same price, Scratch delivers the industry’s most comprehensive DI toolset for data-centric digital cinema and broadcast productions,” said Bannerman.

The new tracking featutre will allow Scratch Color users to have greater control over grades, with tracking that combines the accuracy of a point tracker with the ease of use of a shape tracker.

There are also vector paint tools for non-destructive painting, and paint set-ups can be saved and re-applied on different images, enabling versioning; while its 3D features include Autobalance (to balance the grade of one eye to the other) and Bicubic controls (for fixing lens differences and distortions to help make left and right eyes identical).

Sascha Haber, senior colorist/optical supervisor, Ghost, Copenhagen, commented: “Scratch provides the basis for a modern, flexible business model. Lower-cost systems like the new version of Scratch means we can continue to deliver the same high-levels of service that producers can get from major VFX and DI vendors, but we can be even more competitive on costs.”

Partnership with Panasonic for 3D Post

Scratch and Scratch Lab will also have post-production support for the entire range of Panasonic professional digital cameras, including the AG-3DA1 AVCHD-based 3D camcorder and the AG-3DP1, the upcoming P2 AVC-Intra based 3D camcorder, when they ship in June.

They are claimed to be the first digital intermediate tools to support the native AVCHD format, which will mean no more transcoding. The Assimilate tools can also mix formats from a variety of sources.

Scratch also supports for Red’s Epic 5K camera, including the HDRx format, and has been used on Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, where multiple Scratch systems have been used in a 3D stereo workflow at Company 3, Los Angeles.

ViewPlus introduced a 4K raw 60fps workflow with Scratch at NAB, to allow 12-bit uncompressed raw image manipulation in real-time at 60fps, which it claimed as a world first.