SGI Powers 1st International Real-Time 4K Collaboration
October 3, 2005 - Using systems from Silicon Graphics, the world's first international real-time collaborative 4K digital dailies workflow was demonstrated in San Diego at iGrid 2005, a workshop and symposium that brings together the world's leading experts in grid computing and high-bandwidth networking.
As a pioneer of Grid computing, SGI technology is at the core of the most sophisticated and powerful Grid installations in the world today, including the Netherlands National Supercomputing Facility at SARA, University of Manchester, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, WestGrid Western Canada Research Grid, and Queensland University.
At iGrid 2005, visualization and storage systems from SGI were key to collaborative, real-time experiments conducted across the world.
Silicon Graphics Prism System Delivers Digital Dailies in Compressed 4K
Using a Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system and SGI InfiniteStorage technology-provided by SGI to Keio University in Tokyo-super-high definition 4K digital content was encoded with an experimental JPEG 2000 encoder from NTT Network Innovation Labs at 250-400 Mbps and transmitted from the digital cinema laboratory at Keio University in Japan via 15,000 kilometers (roughly 9,000 miles) of gigabit optical-fiber networks to the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), University of California, San Diego (UCSD). NTT Labs also provided prototype Flexcast systems that enable multicast delivery of 4K video and audio over traditional unicast networks by just adding functions to existent networks.
Already used to create digital intermediates for color-timing, effects and other creative processes on a growing number of major Hollywood films, 4K is a particularly significant new image format because it will be widely used for future digital cinema theatrical distribution under new specifications proposed by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC, a consortium of the seven major Hollywood studios.
The demonstration of trans-Pacific digital cinema post-production at iGrid 2005 was a unique experiment meant to simulate film "dailies," the Hollywood term for just-shot film that is roughly edited each day during a movie production, intended for review, typically, by the producer, director and cinematographer. This experiment emulated a multi-site production digital dailies session scenario, where the cinematographer is on one continent, the colorist on another and the director on his laptop in a screening room in his East Hampton summer house, or in a DI suite in Hollywood.
In Japan, the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system with eight Intel Itanium2 processors was running The Pixel Farm PFPlay software in the Linux environment, alongside a 10TB SGI InfiniteStorage RM660 system with 1.6GByte/sec of I/O bandwidth. Keio University was taking uncompressed 4K digital content off the DALSA Origin digital cinema camera, which features the world's only 4K digital output, and feeding the 4K data directly into the Prism system. The "editor" in Japan created a playlist from several 4K uncompressed clips on the Prism system using Pixel Farm PFPlay software. The NTT JPEG 2000 encoder took the uncompressed 4K data at over 6Gbps and encoded it as a 250Mbps JPEG 2000 stream in real-time and sent it from Japan over fiber optic networks to San Diego where it was uncompressed using the NTT JPEG2000 decoder and played back on a prototype Sony SXRD 4K projector (3840 x 2160 pixel resolution) installed in Calit2's new 200-seat auditorium.
After reviewing the initial play-list at full 4K resolution, the "director", located in San Diego, was able to use SGI's Visual Area Networking (VAN) technology to share control of the Silicon Graphics Prism located in Japan, modify the play-list and review the new 4K results as the changes were made -- all without moving the 4K content data back and forth between the sites. As a result of this long-distance, collaborative editing session, the remote director and production staff were able to leverage powerful, interactive post-production processes at resolutions not available before.
At iGrid 2005, Silicon Graphics Prism systems and VAN technology were also key in several other real-time experiments and demonstrations including:
- San Diego State University (SDSU) demonstrated interactive 3D GIS (geographical information systems) visualization at 4K resolution using the same remote systems, SGI VAN technology and 4K video transmission capabilities from NTT Labs used for the 4K digital dailies experiment. Researchers from the Visualization Center at SDSU used Earth visualization software from GeoFusion, Inc. to show how they helped plan relief efforts for the Banda Aceh, Indonesia tsunami and how they are using real-time processing of satellite imagery to aid in the disaster relief efforts and eventual reconstruction efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf states after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This remote visualization capability illustrates the importance of accessing high quality 3D visualization from disaster areas where local infrastructure may have been destroyed.
- SGI VAN technology was also used for streaming visualization remotely to scientists and engineers among Canada's WestGrid participants. The University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University (British Columbia) demonstrated real-time, high-resolution visualization with the Media Lightpaths project. The University of Alberta's Solutions Server is a suite of tools that couples live computational simulation with visualizations. The Solutions Server, combined with SGI OpenGL Vizserver software, streams visualizations to computer consoles of distantly located scientists and engineers over the WestGrid dedicated Gigabit network.
- SGI VAN technology was also used in conjunction with an innovative augmented reality user interface by the University of Amsterdam to enable remote visualization of CT scans. End users in San Diego were able to get an inside view of the object by walking around it, and could zoom in by simply moving the hand-held display closer to it. During this process, the original data remained in Amsterdam and the visualizations were generated there.
"As these networks evolve and allow collaboration at high resolutions and across great distances in the commercial and government space, SGI visualization technology will continue to be the top choice to deliver the highest quality content possible for digital cinema applications, the sciences, manufacturing, and government uses," said Shawn Underwood, director, Visual Systems Group, SGI. "We thank organizations like iGrid for creating a virtual laboratory where we can participate and collaborate with so many research facilities and universities who provide the talent and the infrastructure that make these exciting experiments possible. iGrid 2005 attendees will see that SGI InfiniteStorage and visualization systems, currently in use at cutting-edge Hollywood and international digital laboratories, leading universities and research facilities and a host of U.S. government labs, are superbly able to drive the super-high resolution data visualization required."
About SGI (Silicon Graphics)
SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, Inc., is a leader in high-performance computing, visualization and storage. SGI's vision is to provide technology that enables the most significant scientific and creative breakthroughs of the 21st century. Whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil more efficiently, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland security and defense or enabling the transition from analog to digital broadcasting, SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for scientific, engineering and creative users. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and can be found on the Web at http://www.sgi.com .