A DVD a Day: TransPro Takes Dailies to DVD
Posted Feb 1, 2003

Globalstor Data Corporation would like its DVD TransPro system to become as integral a part of professional film and video shoots as the camera itself. And it is hoping its recently inked OEM deal with Hollywood-based Kodak FPC will give DVD TransPro a big boost in Tinseltown and beyond.

In the movie business, just-shot footage—aka "dailies"—is reviewed on a daily basis (usually late at night after "wrapping" for the day) in order to make decisions about the next day's shoot. Both Globalstor and Kodak FPC envision directors and producers everywhere using DVD TransPro to transfer dailies directly to DVD-R discs as a more convenient storage format. Globalstor and Kodak think DVD TransPro could revolutionize the whole dailies routine.

"The TransPro makes it easy and economical for the motion picture and post-production industries to utilize DVD authoring and dailies creation every day, from any location," says Scott Leif, president and CTO of Globalstor. And with the ability to record multiple input sources remotely and add multiple chapter marks automatically to each content segment, DVD TransPro can greatly reduce production time and expenses, he says.

Keith Watanabe, sales manager for Kodak FPC, Inc., is also gung-ho about DVD TransPro. FPC Inc. is a leading post-production products and services provider and a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak Motion Picture Group.

"The compact design and portability of Globalstor's TransPro allows production crews to utilize DVD dailies even in remote locations," says Watanabe. "The touchscreen application and easy-to-navigate DVD menuing is ideal in production environments where ease-of-use is critical."

The DVD TransPro system takes footage directly out of a camera, tape deck, or telecine, converts it to MPEG-2, and stores it on a DVD-R disc complete with chapter points. It can even create the chapter points automatically, giving each consecutive scene a pre-assigned chapter name, such as "Scene 1, Take 1." Although the encoding is done in real time, the whole process usually takes a bit longer. That's because—as Globalstor's Scott Leif explains—most users want to check their chapter points before going to the burning step. For that reason, DVD TransPro uses a large magnetic hard drive for the initial storage of encoded video.

Once the footage is on DVD, you get all the advantages of random access—the ability to use chapter points to jump directly from scene to scene, for example. But you loose the sort of direct synchronization with linear timecode that is necessary for direct editing. But this system isn't for editors, Leif says. It is for high-level management. It allows the bigwigs (business and creative) to make high-level decisions, such as: "scene 3's fourth take is the best," or "the lighting in Scene 6 is bad." The more micro, frame-by-frame decisions are left to the editors.

And as Leif points out, timecode is still visible on the DVD footage, so it is still possible for dailies reviewers to jot down precise timecodes on a piece of paper and pass that along to the editors. With NTSC and PAL-compatible solutions starting at $9,000, Globalstor's DVD TransPro includes a 900mHz Pentium CPU with 256MB RAM (running Windows 2000 Pro) and a wide range of encoders for direct-to-DVD transfer, with support for everything from S-video component video, SDI video sources, Dolby Digital (AC3), and deck control. DVD TransPro systems also include an IDE-based 100GB hard drive and a DVD-R drive. An optional touchscreen monitor can be added. But "key" to this whole system, according to Leif, is its built-in proprietary software for direct video transfer and DVD authoring.

DVD TransPro is a specialized adaptation of Globastor's standard InfinAttach DV product (the DV stands for Digital Video). The InfinAttach is a combination of a real-time MPEG-2 encoder and Network Attached Storage (NAS) server. Incorporating the latest Zapex MPEG-2 encoders and embedded NT with an open architecture, InfinAttach DV makes it possible to convert video into high-quality, Dolby-enhanced, digital files without sacrificing economy, and serves as a video and data storage appliance for networked video applications.

InfinAttach users can encode video in MPEG-2 video format and automatically store the compressed and edited video to a broad range of library solutions including DVD-R/DVD-RAM drives for optimum digital recording and playback of up to 19 hours of video per double-sided disc. For added value, the server's expansion slot is capable of boosting support up to as many as 60 SCSI devices. The additional slots can also be used for Fibre Channel support or gigabit Ethernet card.

InfinAttach DV takes only seconds to connect to the network, without requiring a system administrator. By using NetMeeting or any other remote administration utility, users are assured ease-of-use in a native environment for a zero learning curve. The remote management software also gives users the power to control a virtually unlimited number of video transfer systems (limited only by IP addresses) from a single computer.

Globalstor believes its DVD TransPro is suited for a broad range of environments aside from the film/video business including: government, military, medical, and schools, for applications such as content preservation and distribution, medical image generation, and video archiving. Leif even believes prosumers and hobbyists could also use it for direct to DVD authoring in applications such as wedding videos, though it's hard to imagine too many wedding videographers willing to pony up $9000 for that luxury.

"With DVD TransPro, we're able to offer a truly economical video production tool," says Leif. "It seamlessly blends the creative and performance features that today's high-end users demand, without being so complex or cost-prohibitive that a mid-range corporation couldn't integrate it into their video requirements."

He also says that DVD TransPro is an "ideal solution for any application where it has become necessary to transfer content from deteriorating videotape onto DVD." He anticipates great interest in the product from video content owners with legacy footage. The world is filled with videotapes languishing on storage shelves where they continue to deteriorate a little more every day. In summary, he calls DVD TransPro "a turnkey solution for the video community to take video assets and move them to optical storage for greater data life."