Testing and certification company BluFocus Inc. announced that it is partnering with THX Ltd. as a premier facility for the creation of content-related information, or “smart content,” required to support THX’s Media Director technology.
THX Media Director enables televisions and other home theater devices to automatically select the most appropriate audio and video settings when playing DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and other digital content. BluFocus has been named the first official QC facility for Media Director enabled content, ensuring that the information is implemented on discs correctly.
In the past, BluFocus has teamed with THX to ensure THX quality standards are achieved for THX Certified Blu-ray titles, as well as to build an ecosystem of services to address the technical challenges of 3D post-production.
“Since their inception, BluFocus has been dedicated to improving the Blu-ray experience, and we have been pleased to work with them to meet our mutual goals of improving the consumer entertainment experience,” said Rick Dean, THX senior vice president, in a statement. “Our partnership with BluFocus to enhance the workflow for THX Media Director technology complements the work THX is doing with leading CE manufacturers to ensure optimal playback of picture and sound in the home, enhancing the end-user’s enjoyment of their digital entertainment content.”
Testronic Labs has appointed Mike Footer as its director of sales, as the quality assurance firm seeks further expansion into new markets. Footer, who most recently held executive roles at shared media storage company EditShare and digital TV distributor ARG ElectroDesign, will lead Testronic’s global sales operations in North America, Europe and Asia from the firm’s London office.
In August, Testronic began offering placement of quality assurance managers, technicians, and other trained staff at clients’ own facilities.
Testronic CEO Seth Hallen said that Footer “possesses the experience, technical understanding and personality that will enable him to work closely with our global clients and lead our European sales teams. Our clients see us as consultative partners during this time of change, and Mike will be a great asset in these discussions.”
Seeking to further increase efficiencies for clients, quality assurance firm Testronic Labs is offering its trained staff for in-house QC services.
Testronic says it already has “On-Site” staff in place “at a number of leading companies and facilities,” providing quality assurance of audio/video, discs, metadata, DRM, tape and file masters, localization, websites, software, and cloud services. Specific solutions include placement of an On-Site manager or coordinator, a designated client liaison, or Testronic-certified technicians for report writing and issue verification.
“Our clients are working under pressure to deliver projects that now include hundreds of delivery formats, with varied specs, on a shortened turnaround,” says Jason Gish, Testronic’s vice president of business development, in a statement. “On-Site offers them an affordable, professional option that can be implemented quickly and efficiently by putting the right people in the right jobs with one call. When the assignment is completed the team is sent back to Testronic, and they can return as needed.”
The service, Testronic says, is available to facilities worldwide.
By Mel Lambert
In the age of digital workflows, Burbank, Calif.-based My Eye Media is leaving traffic-choked freeways and surface roads behind.
With a new 10 Gigabit-per-second connection between the quality assurance firm’s Burbank headquarters and the One Wilshire building in downtown Los Angeles — a key international data switching center — My Eye Media is able to offer even faster turnaround times for what chief executive Michael Kadenacy says is “an increasing volume of file-based projects.”
The new fiber-optic link streamlines the exchange of large digital audio and video files between My Eye Media and client facilities — providing a speedier alternative, Kadenacy says, than the physical transport of hard drives. A 2K feature movie, for example, now can be digitally transferred in under an hour, assuming similar bandwidth and hardware exists on the client side.
“The connection,” Kadenacy says, “forms the on-ramp to a 10-gig production infrastructure.” Read more
By Mel Lambert
Culver City, Calif.-based 3rd i QC says that its collaborative approach to quality assurance for major motion-picture studios and independent content producers helps to streamline the development of intricate menus for Blu-ray and DVD titles.
“With many years of experience in providing quality control of digital masters and optical media,” says CEO/co-founder Al Limón, “we are in a unique position to partner with studios and content providers to offer a first set of eyes on new product. We can provide an objective point of view and advise on what we have seen to be successful menu structures and interactivity options, and consult with vendors regarding design and content.
“In essence,” Limón says, “we provide an experienced idea of what works and what doesn’t work.” Read more
Quality assurance specialist Testronic Labs marks the testing of its 5,500th Blu-ray disc SKU this month, along with its 75th 3D SKU — two project milestones for the company.
Testronic chief executive Seth Hallen says the company is carrying forward its QA experience with physical goods into the digital ream. “We have our eye on the future,” he says in a statement, “and are ready to support our clients in all of the ways that they are delivering content to today’s consumer marketplace.”
Quality assurance specialist BluFocus has more than doubled the size of its facility to handle an influx of 3D testing projects, as well as new digital delivery certification services, company chief executive Paulette Pantoja tells M&E Daily.
Under its joint program with THX, BluFocus is certifying upcoming Blu-ray 3D titles for audio and video accuracy, interoperability with various playback devices, and overall creative execution of 3D visuals and interactivity. The program is helping to weed out specific issues such as consistency of depth between 3D subtitles and menu options and the 3D video feature.
Certified Blu-ray 3D titles carry logos on their packaging, similar to a program that THX maintains for standard DVD and 2D Blu-ray discs.
The advent of automated 2D-to-3D conversions provided the impetus for the THX-BluFocus program. “Our fear,” Pantoja says, “was that if bad 3D [product] went out, it could hurt this hot new technology. There are human factors involved that have to be considered during production.”
In addition to providing an extra set of eyes for studios on 3D Blu-ray (as well as broadcast) projects, BluFocus has tested the automated conversion processes themselves for system manufacturers.
Pantoja says that BluFocus has trained all of its 50+ full-time and part-time staff to work on 3D projects from its facility in Toluca Lake, CA. But the staff is one of generalists who can switch to verifying format accuracy of projects slated for various digital distribution channels — another growth area for the testing company.
BluFocus also recently completed CDSA content security certification for its operations — which Pantoja says was essential for a company “working on high-profile and secure titles” such as Fox’s “Avatar.”
With both 3D and digital delivery, Pantoja says she needs to look no further than her clients for a general indicator of industry health. “When you have major studios investing in the format, that format’s going to be around for a while. It’s our job to assist them with making sure everything is working as intended and at the best quality possible.”
Owners of Blu-ray Disc players that were marketed by Samsung Electronics last year are reporting playback problems with titles from two major studios, after installing a firmware update from the company earlier this month.
Reports from owners of Samsung’s BD-Px600 players first surfaced on CNET and AVSForum boards (via Engadget). According to the posts, the update caused Blu-ray discs from Warner Bros. and Universal Studios to freeze during playback.
Samsung confirmed the reports to M&E Daily today, and issued the following statement:
“Samsung is committed to delivering the best possible home entertainment experiences to its customers. We have been informed that some customers are experiencing issues viewing select Blu-ray titles following the installation of firmware v2.09 for the 2009 BD-Px600 Blu-ray players. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we are currently finalizing a new firmware upgrade to resolve this issue. We expect this new firmware to be released by early September.”
Following the consumer posts, the company removed the update in question from its support website. Some users say they restored their players’ functionality by re-installing the previous firmware; others, however, say they continue to experience problems.
The total number of players affected — as well as the specific number of Blu-ray titles rendered unplayable — remains unclear.
Blu-ray hardware brands often release firmware updates to maintain the integrity of disc copy protection — or as Samsung’s website puts it, to “improve a specific BD title’s playback capability.” The company’s forthcoming update will be the fifth such firmware release for its BD-P3600 player within a year.
Testronic Laboratories plans to open a new Digital Entertainment Test Lab to provide quality assurance services for a range of digital entertainment platforms, including web portals, mobile devices, and broadcast-cable-VOD platforms.
The new facility, to be housed in one of Testronic’s Burbank, CA locations, is scheduled to open July 1.
Testronic US president Seth Hallen says the lab is a “much needed development” in the digital entertainment supply chain “that will enable our customers to confidently deliver digital content, regardless of how it is ultimately consumed.”
The lab will test both standard functionality and the quality of digital applications and files on a variety of end user environments. In addition, it will provide an environment to simulate error conditions.
Testronic says its staff also will develop automated test tools to bring added efficiencies to the new facility. Testronic Labs
With studios looking to bring their first 3D home entertainment products to market later this year, DVD and Blu-ray quality assurance firm BluFocus is launching a suite of 3D testing, certification and consulting services.
The Burbank, CA-based firm’s new 3D Focus Laboratory offers THX Certified High Performance 3D demonstration and testing environments for device manufacturers, content owners and producers to use as needed during their production process.
In addition, BluFocus plans to hold a webinar sponsored by MESA, THX and the 3D@Home Consortium next month to serve as a primer on Blu-ray 3D encoding and authoring. The goal of the March 4 webinar, says BluFocus CEO Paulette Pantoja, is to promote collaboration on 3D products between content owners, producers, and developers.
The webinar series will address the many “unknowns” surrounding 3D home entertainment, Pantoja says — ranging from technology issues to what consumers are willing to do for an optimal 3D home experience. Confirmed participants include Sensio and TDVision, which will discuss 3D video encoding approaches; Netblender, which will address authoring; and Trailer Park, which will make a presentation on 3D content creation.
For further program information on the “3D-Focus Part 1: 3D for Blu-ray” webinar, visit www.blufocus.com/3D-Focus/. Those interested in attending or presenting at future 3D-Focus Lab Webinars can contact 3D-FocusWebinar@blufocus.com.
For more information on the 3D-Focus Lab’s services, contact 3D-FocusLab@blufocus.com.
[New link to full story.] With the cooperation of the company’s 3D supply chain partners, the equipment at the new Testronic 3D Test Lab will include pre-release 3D players and monitors. The facility will thoroughly test Blu-ray discs for the entire 3D and 2D viewing experience to ensure quality for the consumer. Set to launch in the first quarter of 2010, the Testronic 3D Test Lab will be housed in the company’s 1st Street Facility, located in Burbank, CA. Via Business Wire
Xiris Automation, the Canada-based supplier of test equipment to DVD and Blu-ray replicators, has purchased the IP rights and all assets associated with the optical media division of Germany’s Basler AG. Xiris assumes all aspects of sales, marketing, R&D, production and service of the Basler “R” Ident Code Reader and “L” Print Inspection Product Lines, as well as the sales of spare parts and service of Basler’s “S” Scanner product line.