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Nikon kills off more of its APS-C and full-frame F mount lenses

I’ve been saying for years that the “Death of DSLRs” will come when the manufacturers give up on them and not before – no matter what people on YouTube or in Facebook groups might say. And, well, the time finally seems to be upon us where that’s happening. Canon is killing off EF mount lenses, […]

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M1 iPad Pro benchmarks show performance beating a high-end i9 MacBook Pro

Apple’s recently announced M1 iPad Pro has gotten a lot of people excited, and for quite good reason. Apple’s M1 chips have shown some impressive performance gains in MacBooks and Mac Minis since their release, especially as more applications release native support for the new CPUs. But the iPad Pro has become a preferred way […]

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Fuji reported to be releasing no more X series cameras in 2021

Well, if you were holding out for a Fuji X-H2, you’re gonna have to hold out a little more. Fuji Rumors is reporting that Fujifilm has no plans to release any more X system cameras in 2021. All that you get for 2021 is the Fujifilm X-E4 released back at the beginning of the year. […]

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Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format Association

Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format AssociationWe’ve seen the term being used more and more and now seven companies – Verizon, ZEISS, RED Digital Cinema, Unity, Intel, NVIDIA, and Canon – announce the Volumetric Format Association.

Volumetric video has been a buzzword in recent months. ProVideo Coalition has covered the technology different times, from the announcement of the volumetric films premiere at 77th Venice International Film Festival, in September 2020, when Intel Studios showcased volumetric production with two originals honored with selection in the VR Expanded program of the festival, to the Polymotion Stage Truck, the world’s first volumetric studio on wheels, also presented last September.

Last February ProVideo Coalition announced a major step in the use of volumetric video, as Arcturus, the global leader in authoring, editing, and distributing volumetric videos, announced a new partnership with Japan’s top wireless carrier, NTT DOCOMO to stream volumetric videos, using the power of 5G. This May, Arcturus announced a $5 million seed round led by BITKRAFT Ventures with participation from leaders in the sports, telecom, gaming, and music space. The funding will be used to scale the software development team, focus efforts on sales growth, and expand the product line with an emphasis on live streaming features.

Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format AssociationA more immersive and interactive experience

Its against that background that the Volumetric Format Association (VFA), the first industry association dedicated to ensuring interoperability across the volumetric video ecosystem, is born, launched by seven founding member companies, the founding charter member Verizon as well as ZEISS, RED Digital Cinema, Unity, Intel, NVIDIA, and Canon. The VFA brings together companies from key industry verticals in the volumetric ecosystem to work together to establish a collection of specifications driving adoption of volumetric capture, processing, encoding, delivery, and playback.

Volumetric video is an innovative way of experiencing content in holographic 3D, allowing the viewer a more immersive and interactive experience. It is characterized by the process of simultaneously capturing content from multiple cameras which can then be viewed from any angle at any point in time. The Volumetric Format Association seeks to facilitate collaboration, innovation, and technology sharing of the new bandwidth-intensive industry format, in order to drive faster development, adoption and ecosystem growth.

“Verizon is proud to be the driving force behind creating this group which we believe will be crucial to laying the foundation for future innovation using volumetric video,” said Denny Breitenfeld, president of the VFA and director of volumetric technology at Verizon. “With 5G’s massive bandwidth, super-fast speeds and ultra-low latency, things like volumetric video capture will be taken to the next level, enabling innovators to turn real people into lifelike, moving 3D holograms in just minutes. We look forward to working with leaders in this industry to develop specifications that will propel volumetric video forward.”
Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format Association

Experience sports like never before

Volumetric Format Association membership allows companies to share intellectual property within the confines of the organization while protecting the value of that IP. The VFA Technical Steering Committee has defined four initial working groups to begin the work of building end to end specifications:

  • Capture Acquisition
  • Interchange of Data
  • Decode & Render
  • Persistent Metadata

3D content experiences across sports, entertainment, productivity, enterprise services, and more are fast becoming a reality. The VFA is working to make that reality accessible and practical by developing specifications that will be a catalyst for industry growth. To that end the Volumetric Format Association is opening membership to innovative companies in the volumetric ecosystem. VFA welcomes input, creativity, and collaboration as together they pioneer a new medium.

“Canon is a strong believer in volumetric video technology as evidenced by the new kind of sporting experience we delivered at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. In addition, we opened a volumetric video studio in Kawasaki, Japan that is used by the most advanced creators,” said Mr. Atsushi Date, senior general manager, Canon SV Business Development Center. “Canon is confident that volumetric video technology will enable the world to enjoy sports and entertainment more in many ways that have never been experienced before, and we have high expectations for the results of VFA standardization. This is a big first step of many to come in the rollout of the Canon Volumetric Business.”

Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format AssociationDemocratizing volumetric video solutions

“As media content evolves from 2D to 3D, volumetric video will impact industries from entertainment to a wide range of enterprise services. In addition to the breadth of our XPU portfolio that spans network, FPGA, CPU and GPU technologies, Intel is working with the Volumetric Format Association and our ecosystem partners to bring advanced and cost-effective volumetric streaming to a variety of customers,” said Lynn Comp, vice president, Data Platforms Group, general manager, Visual Infrastructure Division & NPG Strategy at Intel. “The VFA is an important step in democratizing end-end volumetric video solutions, enabling global supply chains and supporting interoperable solutions and innovation.”

“Volumetric video is changing how customers experience virtual interactions by providing complete immersion with full interactivity that is powered by NVIDIA GPUs,” said Bob Pette, general manager of professional visualization at NVIDIA. “Accelerated computing technology is pushing the boundaries of virtual experiences and bringing together partners to evolve the ecosystem as a whole will be critical to achieving the next generation of AI-driven 3D content.”

“As a brand that was founded on innovation, disruption, and pushing the bleeding-edge of image capture technology, RED is proud and excited to be part of the Volumetric Format Association,” said Brian Henderson vice president, business development at RED. “We will continue to evolve alongside this emerging industry. As a member of the VFA, we will continue to re-define previously held standards of overall image quality, resolution and camera performance in order to provide the best possible images for creators and innovators to work with.”

Seven companies launch the Volumetric Format Association

The biggest shift since B+W went to color

“The Volumetric Format Association is leading the way in how content, especially in sports and M&E, is being presented, and we are seeing the biggest shift since B+W went to color” said Tian Pei, head of business affairs for sports at Unity. “Volumetric technologies encompass the process of capturing, viewing, and interacting with the real world and here at Unity we are pushing the limits of what’s possible and transforming the interactive experience forever.”

“As board members of the Volumetric Format Association, ZEISS strives to abridge the current adoption barriers within the motion picture industry and beyond”, says Snehal Patel, head of cinema sales at ZEISS. Patel continues, “with over 100 years of experience in optical design and innovation, ZEISS is primed to provide key insights into lens technology and its relation to Volumetric workflow. Furthermore, through the VFA specifications, ZEISS hopes to contribute to the accuracy of lens metadata which will play a vital role in the volumetric user experience.”

As the Volumetric Format Association members move rapidly towards the establishment of their specifications, companies interested in joining the organization should reach out by email to info@volumetricformat.org or see https://www.volumetricformat.org.

NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2: turn any room into a home studio

NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2: turn any room into a home studioNo more dog bark, room echo or video noise are some of the reasons to use the new NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2. All you need is a compatible NVIDIA GPU.

NVIDIA Broadcast is a universal plugin that works with most popular live streaming, voice chat and video conferencing apps. Introduced last September, the app is supported on any NVIDIA GeForce RTX, TITAN RTX or Quadro RTX GPU, using their dedicated Tensor Core AI processors to help the app’s AI networks run in real-time, right alongside your other software. The features in NVIDIA Broadcast can be used in anything from game broadcasting to video conferencing with Zoom or any other situation where a sound and image connection to the world is needed.

As millions of people discovered when forced to work from home, backgrounds and noise became part of any home broadcast, problems that software companies tried to solve with different apps. NVIDIA had been playing with green screen effects and noise reduction for all those streaming from home, so the next evolution was a tool that offered an integrated solution for NVIDIA GPU users. That’s how NVIDIA Broadcast appeared, to allow the world’s 20 million live streamers – and all the others – to turn their bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens into a broadcast studio.

The NVIDIA Broadcast app has now been updated to version 1.2, bringing new room echo removal and video noise removal features, updated general noise removal and the ability to stack multiple effects for NVIDIA RTX users.  Version 1.2 includes new effects that enhance your microphone and webcam quality, plus features requested from the streaming community. NVIDIA Broadcast technologies are also being integrated natively into top streaming apps such as OBS Studio, AVerMedia and Notch.

NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2: turn any room into a home studioThe new Room Echo Removal

According to the company, “NVIDIA Broadcast uses AI to improve the quality of your microphone, speakers and webcam. RTX GPU owners can apply AI effects to their own microphone, or any incoming audio, removing unwanted noise. AI features also enhance the camera, including Background Removal, which removes a cluttered background from the camera feed, or Auto Frame which keeps the subject centered in the camera, even if they move. These effects run in real-time using Tensor Cores found on GeForce RTX GPUs. It’s the perfect tool to enhance both live streaming and video conferencing.”

The new Room Echo Removal feature is a key element in NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2, as it removes the echoey sound of your voice in rooms with poor acoustics. That echo may not feel so bad at first, but after a long streaming session or more than 400 days of meetings from home, your audience or colleagues will thank you for getting rid of it.

Because better sound deserves a better image, the updated version also includes a beta feature, Video Noise Removal that aims to make video noise a thing of the past… even for lower quality cameras. While NVIDIA acknowledges that the reduction of output “noise” – static that the audience can see on the video feed, especially in low-light situations, is one that will take some time to perfect, the function now included is a first step, helping to reduce video static to deliver a cleaner image.

NVIDIA Broadcast 1.2: turn any room into a home studio

Able to run multiple AI effects

NVIDIA says that existing features also receive improvements. The new update further enhances the quality and performance of the popular audio noise removal tool, with added profiles to better separate the sound of cats, dogs and even insects (cicadas be gone!). Auto Frame is also getting an update with a “buffer zone” that will let the subject move within the frame, without the camera updating. Now, it’ll move only when the talent leaves the middle-third of the screen.

Feedback from users has played a key part in the introduction of new features. For example, one bit of feedback, now incorporated in the app, is being able to run multiple AI effects on a single device. Now users can combine Background Blur with Auto Frame, or any combination they choose.

Follow the link to download the updated version of NVIDIA Broadcast app.

This NatGeo Photo Series Cherishes the Colors of Endangered Animals

Smartphone manufacturer Oppo and National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore have partnered to produce a set of photos and videos of various at-risk animals whose unique colors are in danger of disappearing forever.

Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, conservationist, and the 2018 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine and an Eagle Scout. Joel is the founder of the NatGeo Photo Ark, a 25-year project to show the world the beauty of biodiversity and inspire action to save species.

Through the series Endangered Color, Sartore, National Geographic, and Oppo worked together to highlight the power of colour in the natural world, and how its fragility should not be taken for granted. Climate change is a recognized global emergency and in a series of videos, Joel explains what is the first thing he would do, if he had the power to solve some of the challenges the planet faces.

Crowned Crane
Crowned Crane
Crowned Crane
Red Panda
Red Panda
Red Panda

“The Endangered Color campaign showcases animals at risk of extinction. From the striking red throat pouch of the grey crowned crane and the vivid green feathers of the thick-billed parrot, to the bright blue skin of the poison dart frog, each animal represents the world’s at-risk species,” Sartore told PetaPixel.

Pygmy Slow Loris
Pygmy Slow Loris
Pygmy Slow Loris

“OPPO recognized its responsibility to be a sustainable brand that contributes to a better world and plans to support the work of the National Geographic Photo Ark, which uses the power of photography to inspire people to help protect species before it’s too late,” he says.

Because the partnership was with Oppo, Sartore was tasked with capturing photos of these animals using the company’s latest smartphone, the Find X3 Pro. As would be expected, this was not the same experience that Sartore was used to, but it did have its advantages.

Bocourt’s Arboreal Alligator
Bocourt’s Arboreal Alligator
Bocourt’s Arboreal Alligator
Thick-Billed Parrot
Thick-Billed Parrot
Thick-Billed Parrot

“They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Since smartphones are so lightweight and portable, and they now shoot RAW files and 4K video, there no reason to not use one on more and more occasions,” Sartore says. “I know they’re here to stay for consumers, and for professional work they’ll become more commonplace as well.”

Sartore says that the main challenges with shooting animals is trying to keep things in focus as they move. While larger cameras may have their advantages, he says that the fact the sensor is smaller and therefore has a wider depth of field was advantageous to keep everything in focus.

Hyacinth Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw
Dyeing Poison Dart Frog
Dyeing Poison Dart Frog
Dyeing Poison Dart Frog

“Having everything in focus when shooting video was amazing. No noise either, not a peep. For someone like me that shoots wildlife, this was a huge advantage,” he adds.

“I love the fact that it’s small, silent, and produces such high end still image files and video,” Sartore continues. “It is very easy to work with, so easy in fact that it’s hard to mess up good opportunities for photos. So, the process for me was the same, but using much, much less gear, which was very freeing.”

Humboldt Penguins
Humboldt Penguins
Humboldt Penguins
Three Banded Armadillo
Three Banded Armadillo
Three Banded Armadillo

Regardless of how the photos were captured, the mission of Sartore, National Geographic, and Oppo is to highlight the beauty of some of the most striking, rare colors found naturally in the animal kingdom in the hopes that those who see the photos and videos will understand that these amazing animals are close to being lost forever unless something is done to save them and their precious environments.

Cheetah
Cheetah
Cheetah

Sartore’s Photo Ark project has already taken portraits of 11,000 species and counting. In his quest to document the world’s diversity, he is over halfway through his goal of photographing the approximately 15,000 species living in the world’s zoos and sanctuaries. The entire Ark can be explored here, and Sartore hopes that the photos will inspire others to support on-the-ground conservation efforts to protect the thousands of creatures around the world and help them navigate the threats they face in the wild.


Image credits: Photos by National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore, captured on the Oppo Find X3 Pro and used with permission.

Google to Dramatically Change its Camera Design with Pixel 6: Report

A new design leak alleges that for the first time in a while, Google is going to dramatically change how its next smartphone will look. The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will allegedly sport an all-new design with a very unusual camera array.

Jon Prosser, who is known mainly for his leaks and rumors surrounding Apple products, today released renders of Google’s upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones that he says are based on actual photos of the device that he was shown.

“I was sent actual images of this device. I had more images for this than for most of my other leaks,” he says. “Like, really high quality, detailed images from the source.”

Prosser is therefore particularly confident in this leak, which shows the two new smartphones from Google sporting a camera array that looks akin to Star Trek’s famous thin-visor-wearing Geordi La Forge.

In order to protect his source, Prosser had designer Renders By Ian (Ian Zelbo) — who was also responsible for Prosser’s MacBook Air leak earlier this week — mock up several images that used the primary source photos as their basis.

The mockups show two different devices with two different camera arrays. The Pixel 6 has a similar design but only two cameras in it’s bar-like module while the Pixel 6 Pro is much larger and has three cameras in its array.

“I guess they’re getting rid of their XL naming that they’ve been using forever,” Prosser says.

The front of the device has what is colloquially referred to as a “hole-punch” selfie camera design. This look helps maximize the amount of screen on the front of the smartphone and avoids the “notch” that is seen on Apple iPhones. Additionally, the bezels around the front display look especially thin, and Prosser’s renders seem to indicate that the phone will use an under-display fingerprint reader like other Android devices on the market.

The design is so unusual that Prosser says that if he did not see actual hands-on photos of the device, he would have been unlikely to believe the report himself.

Unfortunately, Prosser only had images of the device and not a specifications sheet, so he was unable to provide any guesses as to what kind of sensors, cameras, or focal lengths are to be expected in either the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro.

The orange color that was found on the Pixel 4 looks to be making a return here in the Pixel 6, which Prosser says looks like it is blended with design elements from the Pixel 1 and 2.

Prosser indicates that a major reason why Google seems to be “going for it” so aggressively in this design is that it is anticipated that the company will be releasing them with its own silicon, the GS1010 Whitechapel Chip. Since the inside of the device is set to be so different, Prosser reasons that the company would also want to make sure the outside of the smartphone reflects that difference.

The devices are not expected to release until the fall.


Image credits: Photos courtesy of Jon ProsserFront Page Tech — and designed by Renders by Ian.

The Winners of the PA2F Environmental Photography Awards 2021

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2F) has announced the winners of its 2021 Environmental Photography Award, which examines the relationship between people and the environment.

To mark the foundation’s 15th anniversary, PA2F launched a new environmental photography award that judged entries in three categories: Incredible Wildlife, Wildlife in Crisis, and Reasons for Hope. The organization explains that “the choice of theme for this first edition is significant, reflecting one of the fundamental lessons to be learned when we come out of the current global crisis: that humankind’s future is closely tied to the future of the species we coexist with on Earth,”

The competition awarded winning, second-placed, and third-placed image winner in each category, as well as awarded a Public Vote winner, and a number of shortlisted images in each category. Also, “The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021” title was awarded based on the strength of a single entry to the awards.

Photographer of the Year 2021

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 © Kathleen Ricker / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

The grand prize and “The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021” title was awarded to Kathleen Ricker whose photograph, above, titled, Gorilla by the water, received recognition in the competition. The image depicts a young male gorilla with an endearing expression by the edge of a water stream in Uganda.

The photographer explains that the mountain gorilla is named Tabu, which, in Swahili, means trouble, and was full of energy and life when he was captured swinging from the trees and playing in the water during a trek in Bwindi National Park.

Incredible Wildlife

First place: © Lincoln MacGregor / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Photographer Lincoln MacGregor was awarded first place with his image, titled Enchanted Forest, taken in Australia. It is a photo of a wombat, wandering through a forest aglow with the light of bioluminescent mushrooms. The photographer explains that wildlife in this region experiences this phenomenon only at certain times of the year when Ghost Fungi glows in the dark.

Wildlife in Crisis

First place: © Maxim Sayapin / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Titled Traces of life in the realm of death, Maxim Sayapin’s image was awarded first place in this category. It shows an abandoned bird nest woven from pieces of garbage on the Mediterranean coast. This powerful image “denounces the imprint of man on nature, undermining a life that is about to be born.”

Reasons for Hope

First place: © Emmanuel Rondeau / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Emmanuel Rondeau was awarded the winning title for his photograph, The stag above the highway, which depicts a wildlife crossing in the Charente-Maritime region of France being used by a stag during nighttime. This type of structure allows animals to freely and safely travel without being interrupted by people and vehicles.

Public Vote

“Incredible Wildlife” Public Vote winner © Mitchell Lewis / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Hidden from sight, a photograph of a large Red Deer by Mitchell Lewis was awarded a Public Vote title in the Incredible Wildlife category. Taken in Richmond Park, London, United Kingdom, this image shows a stag hidden in some dead ferns as he watches over his herd of females.

“Wildlife in Crisis” Public Vote winner © Maxime Aliaga / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Maxime Aliaga received the Public Vote title in Wildlife in Crisis category with his thought-provoking photograph, titled Captif, above. It was shot in Malaysia, which is a location where young orangutans are often poached from their mothers and sold as pets on the black market. Although it is illegal to hold a wild animal in domestic captivity, the photographer explains that it still “is a mark of richness for some families to have a young orangutan.”

“Reasons for Hope” Public Vote winner © Mathieu Courdesses / PA2F Environmental Photography Award 2021

Public Vote winner title in the Reasons for Hope category was awarded to photographer Mathieu Courdesses with Love in the Jungle. He documented an intimate moment between a female orangutan and her cub, in the jungles of Sumatra. In this region, the orangutan population is estimated at around 14,500, which has seen an increase from past estimated figures.


The over-arching aim of PA2F is to address critical environmental issues by limiting the effects of climate change, safeguarding biodiversity, managing water resources, and combating desertification, with its mission also present in its photography competition. Judges, consisting of professional photographers and representatives of entities committed to more sustainable development, received over 5,700 entries from photographers across the world. The grand prize winner was awarded €6,000, each of the three category winners received a €1,000 prize, while public vote winners received €500 each.

The full list of judges, category winners, and other finalists can be found on the PA2F Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 website.


Image credits: All photos individually credited and provided courtesy of The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Environmental Photographer of the Year Awards 2021.