All posts by Shawn Thorpe

About Shawn Thorpe

Shawn is a freelance media technician and podcast consultant living in San Luis Obispo, CA. | Blog | Twitter

HandBrake 1.0 Released



Handbrake IconHandBrake has been a handy tool for media creators for over a decade. The free, open-source application makes it easy to convert and encode media of almost any format. HandBrake recently crossed an important milestone in its development, having finally reached an official version 1.0.0 release:

After more than 13 years of development, the HandBrake Team is delighted to present HandBrake 1.0.0. Thank you to all of our many contributors over the years for making HandBrake what it is today.

Here are some features included in HandBrake 1.0.0:

– New online documentation at https://handbrake.fr/docs
– Completely overhauled the official presets
– New general use presets for broad compatibility
– New device presets, now more up-to-date for common devices
– New web presets
– New Matroska (MKV) presets, including VP9 video with Opus audio
– Official presets from HandBrake 0.10.x are still available under “Legacy”
– New JSON-based preset system including command line support
– New JSON-based API for interacting with libhb
– Improvements to audio/video sync engine to better handle difficult sources
– Many miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements
– VP9 video encoding via libvpx
– Intel QuickSync Video H.265/HEVC encoder
– Requires Intel Skylake or newer CPU
– Ultra HD / 4K color pass through (support for BT.2020)
– Additional standard frame rate selections in the graphical interfaces
– New Auto anamorphic mode maximizes storage resolution, replaces Strict anamorphic mode
– New Pad filter (command line only for now)
– New Decomb/Deinterlace filter settings and improved defaults
– Rotate filter now available in all graphical interfaces
– New NLMeans filter tunes Tape and Sprite for analog tape recordings and vintage video games, respectively
– Assembly optimizations NLMeans filter improve performance up to 10%
– Assembly optimizations in x264 encoder improve performance for faster presets by 5-10%
– x265 encoder quality improvements, especially when using tune grain
– High bit depth encoding support via external shared libraries (video pipeline is still 8-bit 4:2:0)
– x264 10-bit
– x265 10-bit and 12-bit

To learn more about HandBrake 1.0.0, click the link at the top of this article. HandBrake is available as a free download for macOS, Windows, and Linux, as a well as a command-line version of the application.


Accusonus Releasing ERA-N Denoising Plugin



ERA-N pluginNobody likes noisy audio tracks. They can be particularly problematic in spoken-word productions. And while it’s obvious that the best way to solve a noise problem is to cut it off at the source, that’s not always an option. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to audio producers for reducing or (hopefully!) removing unwanted noise from recordings. But even with the variety of these denoising tools available today, there’s still plenty of room left for improvement.

And making a better denoiser is exactly what Accusonus is aiming for with its new “single knob” ERA-N audio plugin:

Enhance your voice-overs, repair your music recordings and restore your damaged audio files. ERA-N is a single-knob high-quality denoise plugin that just works. Based on accusonus’ multi-patented noise removal algorithms, ERA-N offers a quick and efficient workflow and allows you to rescue audio recordings that you would have previously considered unusable.

ERA-N will be available for digital audio workstations that use AU, VST, and AAX plugins, ERA-N is expected to go on sale at a special early-bird price of $39, with a final retail price of $59 after that. Check out this video for more information on the Accusonus ERA-N denoising plugin.


Line 6 To Release Helix Native Audio Plugin



Helix PluginLine 6 has been innovating the audio hardware and effects space for decades. The company made a big splash with the release of its latest flagship guitar effects processor, Helix, in 2015. And while the hardware version of Helix has proven to be very popular with musicians, Line 6 identified a need for Helix’s effects outside of an all-in-one piece of gear. That’s why Helix will soon be released as an audio plugin, with native versions available for most popular digital audio workstations:

Helix Native is a world-class guitar processor plug-in that accurately recreates the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics and effects with award-winning HX modeling. It allows guitarists and engineers to accurately recreate the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics, and effects in professional DAW environments and they can now bring those exact tones to the stage by simply transferring their plug-in presets to their Helix hardware.

And:

Seamless workflow and broad compatibility. The Helix Native plug-in features broad compatibility with your DAW of choice, offering powerful 64-bit performance on AAX, AU and VST3 platforms. It also tightly integrates with Helix hardware so you can take your presets from studio to the stage—and back again.

Pricing is not yet available for the Helix native plugin. Line 6 has marked the plugin’s status as “coming soon,” with no further release details.


HOFA SYSTEM 1 Now Available for Presale



HOFA SYSTEM logoThe usefulness of modern digital audio workstations (DAWs) can be expanded greatly thru the use of plugins. Most DAWs come packed with more plugins than many audio producers are likely to ever use. Still, there’s a robust market of third-party developers creating many kinds of plugins, most of which are compatible with all of the major DAWs in use today.

HOFA is one such plugin developer. The company recently announced its SYSTEM 1 plugin is now available for presale. SYSTEM 1 isn’t necessarily an audio processor on its own. Instead, SYSTEM 1 makes it easy to combine different HOFA plugins together, so producers won’t have to rely on their DAWs’ method of selecting and ordering plugins within their projects:

After inserting a HOFA SYSTEM plugin, you just drag modules like EQs, compressors, reverbs etc. out of the browser into the free space – simple as that. The modules are automatically connected from left to right.
You can drag as many modules as you like and change the sequence anytime.

Along with being able to arrange plugin modules, SYSTEM 1 also has some customization options:

With the trimmer at the bottom right you’re able to change the size of the plugin. Under “settings”, you can also choose the fontsize and the size of the modules.

If you drop a module on top of or below another module, you immediately have multiband functionality at hand.

HOFA SYSTEM 1, which includes a total of 15 modules including AlgoVerb, is now available at the presale price of 49.99 euros. To learn more about HOFA SYSTEM 1, check out the company’s YouTube channel.


Take Control of Field Recordings with Zoom F-Control



Zoom F ControlZoom has been a leader in portable audio recording technology for over a decade. The company’s H series of recorders are particularly popular with podcasters and journalists. For remote productions that require more than what the H series can provide, Zoom has developed the F series, specifically the F8 and the F4. These devices provide a level of flexibility that can be extremely useful to those creating multitrack audio. Now, Zoom is taking its F series to a new level with the upcoming F-Control.

The name says it all when it comes to F-Control. This device isn’t a recorder itself. Instead, it’s a control surface that makes producing audio with either the F8 or the F4 much more fluid and dynamic. The F-Control provides a bank of sliders for controlling audio levels, along with other tactic controls that make it easier to handle the audio coming into an F series device:

F-Control works intuitively with the F8 and F4 to give you additional mastery over sound design and mixing, as well as broaden your creative possibilities. It connects to your F8 or F4 with a single USB cable, so you can keep your setup clutter-free and be ready to record in seconds.

F-Control makes recording and mixing easy with nine 60 mm faders (eight + Master) and hands-on input/output control for trim, pan, and track arming. Monitoring channel and output levels is simple with 12-segment LED meters, three user-programmable buttons, and a dedicated time code button.

To learn more about F-Control, click the link above. The device is currently available for preorder thru many online vendors, usually for $349.00.


Echo Pitch App Creates New Sonic Possibilities



Echo Pitch logoMusicians and audio producers are always looking for new ways to extend their sonic palettes. For years, creating new sound textures required racks full of hardware, or other effects processors that came in the forms of pedals or dedicated computer applications. But the mobile computing revolution that’s taken hold in recent years with the advent of smartphones and tablets has made it much easier to put powerful audio-processing applications in the palm of your hand. The latest example of this phenomenon comes courtesy of a new iOS app called Echo Pitch:

Echo Pitch pitch-shifting multi-delay for iPhone. Echo Pitch has 4 delays where each delayed signal can be pitched one octave up or down in 1/2 steps, and can function as a 4 voice harmonizer. Echo Pitch also has a built-in looper, amp simulator and reverb. Each of the four delays can be routed into the other for incredible, swirling, ambient washes and otherworldly sounds.

The developers of Echo Pitch recommend that the app be used on an iOS device with an external audio interface, such as the IK Multimedia iRig or Fender Slide. The app is available for download in the iOS App Store for $3.99.

This video provides a good demo of the Echo Pitch app.


Netflix Now Using VP9 Codec on Some Devices



Netflix logoPopular video-streaming service Netflix made a significant change to how it works when it recently announced it’d allow users on mobile devices to download complete videos, instead of offering only streaming. It was a smart move on behalf of Netflix, as it gives mobile users the ability to download movies and TV shows on Wi-Fi and then consume those videos where they may have limited (or no) internet access.

And while that flexibility may solve one problem (access to Netflix content), it can create another; maxing out available storage. Modern mobile devices run the range from 8GB to 128GB of storage. And with modern devices doing more and more, internal storage exists at a premium. The new offline mode provided by Netflix wouldn’t get much use if it filled up users’ devices after one or two sessions. With this in mind, Netflix had to devise a way for those downloaded files to use as little space as possible:

One of the biggest differences between shows you download and shows you stream on Netflix is the video format, or codec, the company is using. For streaming, Netflix has been using H.264/AVC almost exclusively. However, users who download Netflix shows to most Android devices instead receive content encoded with VP9 — an open source video codec developed by Google that uses a bunch of advanced encoding tricks to deliver the same video quality with significantly less data, or a better video qualities with the same amount of data.

As VP9 is a Google-developed codec, it’s not currently supported by Apple. For now, Netflix is using a slightly modified version of H.264 on iOS devices. Apple hasn’t yet indicated if it will support VP9 in the future.


Livestream Offers Holiday Discount and Free Mevo Camera



Livestream logoMedia-streaming service Livestream is offering a special holiday discount on its streaming service, along with a free Mevo camera:

Get 20% off any annual Livestream platform plan through December 23. Receive a free Mevo, the pocket-sized live event camera, with your Enterprise purchase.

This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to take their live internet broadcasting to a new level in 2017. Livestream has proven to be one of the most robust and reliable media-streaming services available, with an array of professional-grade applications that make it easy to get a live stream up and running in short order.

Livestream’s holiday deal is sweetened by the inclusion of a free Mevo camera. The Mevo is a compact but powerful 4K camera that makes it easy to do multi-camera style productions with just one camera:

The app allows users to select specific sections of a live video and then “cut” to those sections as closeups, creating a multi-cam experience for the viewer. Filming a concert and you’d like to cut between a wide shot of the stage along with closeups of invidicual players? No problem. Just tap on one of the performers in the Mevo iOS app and the camera does the rest for you, switching seamlessly from the wide shot to the closeup.

Livestream’s 20% holiday discount and free Mevo camera are available to enterprise users only. For more information, click the link at the top of this article and fill out the form to be contacted by Livestream sales staff.


Propellerhead Offers Holiday Deal on Purchase of Reason 9



Reason 9 Holiday OfferReason is a popular digital audio workstations used mostly by musicians. The software’s developer, Propellerhead, is offering a special holiday deal for purchasers of the latest version of Reason 9, the latest version of the program:

Holiday offer: Buy Reason 9 now and get over €/$430 worth of best selling instrument and effect Rack Extension plug-ins for free!

Buy Reason 9 now – get all of this for free:

Synapse Antidote ($139/€139) FREE
The best selling Antidote synth is one of the most versatile and sweet-sounding instruments available for the Reason Rack.

Synapse GQ-7 Graphic Equaliser ($99/€99) FREE
The GQ7 is a professional mixing and mastering equalizer, offering five band of quality parametric and shelving EQs and realtime visual readout of your signal.

Propellerhead Radical Keys ($99/€99) FREE
Useful for all styles of music, Radical Keys is a collection of classic electric pianos in a great-sounding package.

Propellerhead Rotor ($49/€49) FREE
Rotor brings the sound of the classic rotary speaker design from the 1940’s to the Reason rack.

Propellerhead Synchronous ($49/€49) FREE
Animate your pad, wobble your bass or glitch up your samples. Synchronous is a creative effects modulator that will bring any sound to life.

The Reason 9 holiday deal can be purchased for $399. That price includes Reason, the above listed promotional offers and many other sounds/plugins already bundled with the application.


Vimeo Launches Vimeo Business Service



Vimeo logoOnline video distribution service Vimeo has been working hard to build its reputation as “the world’s best creative community.” Vimeo launched when the internet video market began to take off during the previous decade. Realizing that the company would never be able to compete with YouTube on a macro level, Vimeo refocused itself as a purveyor of tools and services for independent video producers and filmmakers. Over time, Vimeo has introduced things like digital sales and subscription services that make it easy for producers to sell their videos online.

In its latest move to expand its offerings, Vimeo is introducing Vimeo Business:

…our community is the driving force behind Vimeo Business. Over time, you’ve given us tons of feedback about what you need most: the ability engage with customers and generate leads, market new products, and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues. We built Vimeo Business precisely to address all those things and more.

Some key features of Vimeo Business:

  • Unlimited bandwidth in the Vimeo player with no weekly limits, and the ability to upload up to 5TB total of video.
  • In-depth video stats when you connect Vimeo to your Google Analytics dashboard.
  • Work seamlessly with colleagues, clients, video pros, and more — add up to 10 team members to help manage your account and videos.
  • Generate leads with clickable CTAs and e-mail capture in the player, then send the info to MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor.
  • Powerful privacy: password protection, domain-level privacy, and private link sharing.
  • Player customization: add your colors, logo, and more.
  • Upload videos from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box.

A Vimeo Business membership is available now for $599/year.