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December 2014
Issue: September 1, 2012

Assimilate's Scratch 7

By: Randi Altman
SANTA CLARA, CA — If you stopped by the Assimilate (www.assimilateinc.com) booth during NAB 2012 you might have gotten a glimpse of a technology demo that hinted at some of the new offerings that were going to be rolled out in the next version of Scratch.

At IBC, the company provided more than a glimpse. They introduced Scratch V.7, which, according to the company, allows its product line to enable “this new generation of ways people work” with advanced dailies and creative DI. They have announced a new business model as well. More on that later.

In addition to enhancements to the types of native camera formats supported, a big part of Scratch V.7 is an enhanced creative toolset that includes compositing, and allows more realtime creative DI on-set/near-set. Assimilate says things like keying out the greenscreen and playing with different lighting and skies on-set with the director and DP allows for “a far more creative DI process in the back-end because you don’t have to recreate all that stuff in post,” says VP of marketing Steve Bannerman. 



“If you have these advanced color graded dailies with audio sync, you don’t have to waste time in DI doing the basic blocking and tackling. Scratch V.7 is a realtime tool that has a blend of color grading, compositing and conform — all the things you need to start a creative DI session and move all the way through to finishing without having to farm out a lot of  basic visual effects beauty work, like cleaning up skin tones and pimples, repositioning objects and adding lens flares.”

But Assimilate is quick to point out you will still need a VFX studio for complex CG shots, just that some of the basic visual effects work can be done by the colorist and begin earlier in the process, like on- or near-set, saving time and budget.

Assimilate chairman Jeff Edson feels we are beginning to see an evolution of what a DIT does, and that in the future that job description (and possibly the job title) will change. He says that now the tools have caught up to the vast knowledge base of today’s DIT. “Historically they were seen as data wranglers, but more and more they are finalizing the look in the dailies, and that’s being done together with the DP and director on-set.” It’s the move to digital that has spurred this change and the evolution, he says. “They will say, ‘I do editorial on-set/near-set for dailies anyway, now I can do color corrected dailies and as much finishing work as I can on-set and with one tool and one person.” 



Here is sort of a basic rundown of some new features in Scratch V.7: enhanced compositing toolset with new 3D camera model; updated OFX plug-in environment with an improved plug-in workflow; ability to import tracking data from Imagineer’s Mocha; ability to nest layers and apply color grades to groups of layers; new rendering features, including directional and motion blur, multi-sampling and bit-map filtering.

There is also extended native camera support for the Phantom Miro and Canon C300; the latest Arri Debayer algorithm; and Sony’s F65. It also includes full support for the entire ACES specification, such as file format, color space and device and rendering transforms. 

There is a new subscription model too. What they call “Pay-As-You-Use,” as well as volume licensing options. Artists can subscribe to Scratch or Scratch Lab and activate their license for one day, one week, one month, or three months. In addition, facilities are able to license and use as many Scratch or Lab licenses as they need while paying one annual fee (some restrictions apply, they say). These facilities are also now able to manage and license their Scratch systems from a new “My Assimilate” online portal available via the Assimilate Website.