Ric Holland's Blog

Clint Walker interview

Ric – Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the project that you’ve been working on at Rising Sun Research.

Clint – My name’s Clint Walker. I’m CEO of Rising Sun Research and one of the products that we produce is a software package called Cinesync. Cinesync is effectively a QuickTime working tool which lets you look at and annotate QuickTime media across long distances. It’s typically used in the film industry at the moment and so if you had a director based in Los Angeles and have credit supervisor who was based in London or anywhere else, they could load up a piece of footage and look at exactly the same thing at the same time, even though they’ re in geographically separate locations.

Ric – So what resolution are you both viewing at?

Clint – Well that’s dependant on the hardware that you’re running but the short answer is any resolution so long as it can play in QuickTime. What Cinesync does is it uses QuickTime as the engine for the media rendering. So what our clients will do is they’ll take their footage, they’ll render it as a QuickTime movie which can be at any number of resolutions depending on what your hardware can play back. So we have got a lot of product features that we’re working on at the moment. If you’ve got a high resolution final 2K version of the footage, which will project well on to a screen, then you can also be running a smaller version of the same movie on a laptop from say a café in New York or wherever else you’re doing the review from. So it lets you run whatever resolution that you want to.

Ric – Okay. I notice that you’ve got a Wacom tablet attached there. How does that come into play with your software?

Clint – Wacom tablets with Cinesync is one of the cool features that lets you do annotate on the media. That’s really good when you’re trying to communicate a concept or an idea, and what we did with the Wacom tablet is utilise the pressure sensitivity to enable just a far more intuitive drawing style using the tablet. We’ve actually found some of our clients prefer to run their reviews using tablets and the pressure sensitivity thing just is a more intuitive way for them to apply drawings to the screen.

Ric – So with the pressure sensitivity, that gives you thin and thick line in the annotation?

Clint – No, what it actually does is it’s a transparency measure so it effectively lets you modulate your transparency of the drawing that you’re doing. So we have some very basic drawing tools in here and you select what colour you want to draw in. Just to give you a bit of context here. I’ve got a Skype session running because I’m talking with Rory McGregor who is sitting in the other room at the moment, but what you typically do in a review session is you would load up a piece of media, which we’ve done. This is a short film that was produced by a short film producer in Sydney. And I can scrub through the footage at the moment, and what I’ll do is select a drawing colour that I want to annotate on the screen with, so we’ll go with green for the time being, and what the Wacom tablet allows me to do with the pressure sensitivity is that I get to draw various levels of pressure rather than just having solid colour with a mouse which is fairly clunky.

Ric – Oh, okay. So he’s seeing what you’re doing and now he’s coming back with colouring in your circles?

Clint – Absolutely. So typically what would happen in a review is if we were talking about this particular shot, the director may say “oh look, this area in the background here needs to be lightened up.” What we found is that the pressure sensitivity to modulate the transparency lets people have a far more intuitive drawing experience.

Ric – So that’s working directly on a QuickTime file?

Clint – Ah actually, that’s part of the magic of what we do. What we’ve actually done here is we use QuickTime to effectively render the movie and we then load that into a separate video, or open GL texture and that’s actually what we’re drawing on, so we can save all of what’s happened on the screen here into the QuickTime or we can save them out onto separate drawing files as JPEG’s or whatever, and that’s the bit that gets then sent to artists as feedback for shots. We also have text tools that can write onto the screen directly and that generally forms the basis of outcomes that artists will have to then go and work with.

Ric – The film industry is obviously your target market for this product, but it seems equally that your collaboration tool could facilitate whiteboard session in real time for many other markets say for instance engineering?

Clint – It could. Initially this project was born out of the Superman Returns project where the directors and visual effects supervisors needed a tool like this to facilitate just a cross-facility visual effects production. So we’ve really streamlined the workflow for film and postproduction environments, but certainly we’ve started to see a lot of customers starting to come from auxiliary industries like advertising. We’ve had some interest from games companies as well; in fact one of our clients is EA Games, so we’re starting to see some interest from other industries than just purely film. And there’s a lot of application potentially in areas like medical imaging. You know, if you’ve got doctors out in the bush who need to view high resolution medical images. So there’s a number of different applications for this and it’s certainly an area that we are planning on exploring down the line.

Ric – So how long have you been in development?

Clint – Sinsync kicked off it’s development during the post production phase of Superman Returns, so that is now perhaps two and a half years ago.

Ric – That’s great. You’ve obviously got key clients in the film industry?

Clint – We do, yes. So this is utilised on pretty well every major Hollywood film that gets released at the moment.

Ric – So now it’s a matter of broadening your core market?

Clint – Absolutely, We’re actually looking to take this into some interesting new areas of the film industry itself. One of those is stereoscopic projection, which is 3D films where you can put on glasses so you can see depth to the film. One of the things we’re actually using the Wacom for in that case is drawing with depth so rather than using the pressure to modulate the transparency, we’re actually utilising that to draw into a screen so as you push harder and it literally draws depth into the screen.

Ric – Wow. That is amazing.

Clint – It’s very new stuff, so it’s still very much in prototype phase at the moment but we’re talking to some fairly big studios about how they’re going to be using it to produce their films.

Ric – Fantastic. That’s very exciting and very innovative work, congratulations.

Clint – Thank you. Yes, so we offer this as a client/server service, if you like, where clients have asked to subscribe for a period of time and you can download the Cinsync software free of charge from our website in order to host a session. If you want people to participate in the session all they need is to purchase the licence and you can do that by buying blocks of time.

Ric – Fantastic. Well thanks so much for your time Cliff. It was brilliant.

Clint – Thank you very much.