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Archimedia and VideoQ set pattern for 4K tests

Florida-based start-up, Archimedia Technology, has joined with video test and measurement specialists VideoQ, to develop a suite of custom test patterns for high-end applications including resolutions up to 12-bit 4K, which Archimedia will deliver through its proprietary technology.

Florida-based start-up, Archimedia Technology, has joined with video test and measurement specialists VideoQ, to develop a suite of custom test patterns for high-end applications including resolutions up to 12-bit 4K, which Archimedia will deliver through its proprietary technology.

“Archimedia’s reason for being is to provide long-needed tools for the media, entertainment, and archive markets that allow them not only to view their master files efficiently on any screen, regardless of format, but also to test the output objectively on any player,” said Archimedia CEO Mark Gray (pictured). “This partnership with VideoQ makes our toolset the perfect delivery system for master video clips and test signals. The advanced test patterns VideoQ has created for us assure that what exists in the master is what appears on the screen, a big leap forward for the industry.”

The test patterns will be used for high-end applications that involve archive formats such as JPEG 2000 and uncompressed YUV/RGB, viewable on standard HDMI and SDI in resolutions up to 12-bit 4K.

“VideoQ makes video test patterns with absolute mathematical precision, so Archimedia’s expertise with MXF, JPEG 2000, and other high-end audio-video formats is the perfect complement to our business,” said Victor Steinberg, president and chief technology officer of VideoQ.

Archimedia Technology is specialising in processing, conversion, and playback of mastering formats, such as JPEG 2000, for broadcast, digital cinema, and video archive use, without loss of quality. It was set up by Emmy Award-winning industry veterans Gray, who was formerly executive VP of Front Porch Digital, having been president, CEO; and co-founder of Samma Systems (which was bought by Front Porch), CTO Chi-Long Tsang, who was CTO for Samma and VP of Engineering for Samma products at Front Porch; and chief marketing officer Josef Marc (also ex-Front Porch and Samma).

“At NAB this year, we looked around and saw 4K cameras everywhere, but no way to deliver and read the files. There are no tools in the marketplace to satisfy both the people who create these high-end, pristine master files and the people who archive them, so we decided it was time someone solved that problem,” said Gray.

“We’ve all spent many years developing video archiving, digitisation, and test technologies for some of the world’s leading archive companies, broadcasters, and digital cinema studios. Now we’ve channelled that expertise into technology that allows both archivists and production teams to make use of their master files, which are, after all, the best copies available. Archimedia gives these users innovative tools that they’ve never had before but have long needed — tools that streamline an incredibly complex process.”

Master files are the ideal format for converting to other formats, but there are no universal players or management tools to support such large and cumbersome files, so most facilities simply store the masters and use other glossy formats when editing or converting files for delivery. Archimedia products promise to give users a way to work with, interchange, and deliver copies of the master files directly from their originals while eliminating the need to store multiple formats.

Software reference player

The company has also introduced its first product, the Archimedia Reference Player, which it claims is the first software player to support multiple vendors’ formats, allowing users to view, test, and measure archival-quality files on a standard HDTV. This should make content deliverable more quickly at higher quality, as well as making it unnecessary to create and store the content in other formats.

Users will be able to see their masters and the internal technical metadata of the files, and stream them to their choice of third-party equipment such as encoders, projectors, multiviewers, nonlinear editors, and broadcast playout servers. The player’s test patterns will help ensure proper calibration and highest-quality playout whatever the viewing device.

“Engineers, colourists, and editors need testing tools to ensure their equipment and systems are creating the maximum quality they are capable of,” said Gray. Many archives, especially those operating without extensive IT support, have no way to view the master files in their safekeeping, and the player will also help there. “All users can do all of those things affordably, using a common-ground product and the HDMI monitors they already have. Rather than move the people to where the master files can be viewed, or create and store mezzanine and proxy files, or supply everyone with proprietary workstations just for viewing, facilities can simply install the Archimedia Reference Player and know their people can see master files wherever they work — and be sure that what they’re seeing is in the pristine quality that’s intended,” he claimed.

It plays uncompressed and JPEG 2000 video in most common wrappers (MXF, MOV, and AVI) with a wide range of vendor interoperability for each file format. Supported vendors include Front Porch Digital/Samma, Amberfin iCR, OpenCube, Digital Rapids Stream, and DVS Clipster.

Typical video frame rates, in frames per second, are 24 (cinema), 25 (PAL), 29.97 (NTSC), and high-definition rates of up to 1080p60. Because computer desktop frame rates are higher, the graphics card and HDMI monitor’s circuitry introduce visual distortions that are not in the video. Archimedia Reference Player eliminates those distortions by playing video files in their native frame rate as opposed to the frame rate of the desktop setting.

The player comes with a perpetual, portable license and software download including test patterns, an optional download of advanced test patterns exclusive to Archimedia, and an optional Archimedia SDI card in HD and 4K versions. A free 15-day trial is available. Archimedia is also offering an introductory bundle that includes the Reference Player, advanced test patterns, and a free upgrade to the upcoming 4K Digital Cinema version of the player for less than $4,000.

By David Fox