Quick Look: eyeon Generation

At NAB 2008 in Las Vegas, eyeon introduced their new conforming and versioning app called eyeon Generation, which has been in development for about two years. The app contains conforming and editing tools, compositing, collaboration with annotation, versioning, as well as render management. The release will bring a new and valuable type of workflow to the desktop compositing market.

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preview on booth at NAB 2008

First thing on the show floor at NAB on Monday, fxguide was invited to have the first look at the new software from Eyeon. We spent about half an hour with the software getting an overview and the information from that session is reflected here. Since the app is currently in limited beta and still in development, much of what we discussed may change before release. That being said, we were quite impressed with version one of the application.

So what exactly is eyeon Generation? As a single user, look at it as a hub to first conform a job and then edit and keep track of shots and various versions. If you add multiple users, there are collaboration tools that are useful in a creative environment.

Why is the software cool? First, it links individual shots created in the compositing module to an overall edit timeline. While many facilities have written scripts to take shots into some kind of editing timeline, most users manually manage such things by rendering in Fusion, switching to an editing application, importing the shot, and viewing it in context of the overall edit. If you want to make a change to a shot, you have to look a comment, the filename of the sequence, or some other tracking system to determine which composition you need to modify. With Generation, this manual management of versions and renders is dramatically reduced.

While Generation is obviously not a flame, one thing as an artist that I’ve missed when using desktop compositing apps is an integrated way to view a clip in context of a cut or sequence. Generation definitely fills this shortcoming when using a desktop solution…it’s pretty slick. Sure, one can always import into an editing app or custom player — but seamless integration is a huge bonus.

Collaboration is done through simple text files and not a database structure. Users simply open the same project file at the same time. Updates to various users’ timelines is done transparently in the background. Notes and annotations are saved as part of setup files.


Conforming/Editing

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The timeline with vertical stacks

Starting off a project, you can assemble a sequence from files on a local or networked drive via EDL import. If you plan on collaborating with other users, the location of the files needs to be accessible to all workstations. This type of function can also be scripted via text-based scripting. The scripting architecture allows a lot of possibility for facilities to create their own hooks into Generation.

The image to the right shows the timeline with stacks — consider the base layer of the image stacks to be the assemble level (though as a user you can put them in any vertical order you wish). Shots at the top of each stack are the active or visible file sequence for each scene. A single project may have multiple timelines.

The bottom of the UI shows audio waveforms was well as vertical markers which show the edit points. In the screen grab to the right we’re resting on frame 0 and the UI shows the duration is 66 frames. The yellow shading shows the entire duration of the sequence — visually indicating the amount of head and tail frames on the shot. The far left vertical stack is highlighted as well, since we are resting on the shot.

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The fullscreen player

As far as functionality, the app currently has basic editing tools such as cutting, trimming, scrubbing, slipping and EDL import/export. Floating point playback up to 4K is supported, with performance dependent upon the speed of the attached drives.


Versioning/Collaboration/Composition Linking

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Close-up of UI showing various features

A project an be accessed by multiple artists at the same time. Changes in an edit are automatically updated in other user’s timeline. There is a basic permissions system where only one user at a time can modify the timeline. In order to let another artist work on it, the first user switches out of edit mode which allows other users to access the timeline for editing. All users may make comments on the edit at anytime….read-only users are not blocked from doing so.

The vertical stacks can be considered user-managed version stacks. When a new version of a shot is completed, the artist would generally add it to the top of the stack. These stacks contain visual cues about the shots. The yellow frames contain annotations from users. These can be text based notes or graphical objects/hand-drawn strokes on an image. A comment or annotation may be clip or frame based so that one can make notes on multiple frames within an individual clip. Supporting this annotation is an online chat system between systems.

Once an artist enters a text or graphical annotation, the UI immediately updates. If another user currently has the project open, they also immediately get a visual cue that there is a new comment on the clip (see the “Updated” box on various clips in the image to the right). This second user then acknowledges the receipt of the note by accepting the comment. Once this happens, the updated box disappears.

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Dual monitor setup using Generation

Functions for clips in the stacks are accessible via contextual menus. One of the most useful functions is to immediately edit a clip which comes from a rendered composition. Select Edit Comp…and the compositing module opens up and loads the correct setup and clips used in the setup. When the artist is done working on the shot, they can send it back to the timeline. A proxy clip appears on the pen and the artist can drop it back in into the timeline.

An orange triangle in the corner of the proxy denotes that the shot needs to be rendered. From within Generation, an artist can submit a comp to the queue to be rendered by accessing the contextual menu and selecting “Render…”. If the composition contains nested comps which need to be rendered, these are rendered in the correct order. In other words, the deeper comps are rendered first.


Wrap-Up

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nothing we love more than sneaking in a point at the monitor shot

While it is obviously difficult to get a full measure of a software package from a short demo, it does seem to be an intriguing and incredibly useful expansion of their product line and has the potential to be a very solid central application for current and future eyeon customers. Many current Fusion users will certainly want to upgrade to this new product.

What would be useful? An option to replace a comp in the timeline with its modified version — as opposed to having to create a new stack layer each time — would be a useful option while working. This would somewhat similar to the functionality of rendered clips in DS or the BatchFX functionality in the new versions of Smoke and Flame 2009.

The big question at this point? Price. Eyeon has not announced pricing on the product and that will help determine its success in the market. If Generation is priced at a point that is affordable to outfit all users in a facility to have a copy, then this product will definitely have some legs.