Our second home is Hollywood

Great cinema thanks to developer power

Our team in Hanover is an important partner for Hollywood and many video streaming services, because the mastering workstation they developed is considered the ultimate must-have in the industry. Meet the team and learn about some of their development ideas. Watching films and series can be magical. As viewers, we completely immerse ourselves in them and totally forget what is happening around us. What is it exactly that draws us in so completely? First, you have to have the right script, actors and staging. Editing and sound are also important factors. And postproduction takes care of the finishing touches.

Saved in the nick of time

Even with top productions, delays often occur. But the premiere date cannot simply be postponed if shooting or editing take longer than expected. Instead, postproduction has to come to the rescue. In the bonus material for The Hobbit, you can see that Peter Jackson and his crew were still working on the sound just a few hours before the world premiere. The fact that the sound was actually ready for the premiere is partly thanks to the R&S®CLIPSTER mastering workstation. As Mike Coenen, one of its developers, points out: "If R&S®CLIPSTER support for Dolby Atmos hadn't been ready, if the rendering speed had been too slow or the workstation generally unreliable, The Hobbit world premiere may have fallen back to an earlier mix. Getting the absolute final Atmos mix into the premiere deliverable, alongside the High Frame Rate 3D, was the best possible outcome."

Shaping the future of films and series

Let's take a step back: digitalization has completely transformed the industry. Digital formats have replaced analog films, image and audio can be edited much more flexibly, film reels and distribution copies are a thing of the past, and it only takes seconds to send data around the world. The R&S®CLIPSTER team has helped bring about this change. According to developer Jeremi Horst, "We played a major role in shaping the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), and we took advantage of the technology transformation to use R&S®CLIPSTER to adapt the postproduction workflow to the needs of our customers.“ Not all that long ago, fluid imagery and stereo sound were the ultimate experience, but now the market demands UHD and 3D audio, multilingual versions and minimal load times. The R&S®CLIPSTER workstation developed by Jeremi Horst and his colleagues offers even more – fast and uncompromising versioning and mastering. That's probably why it is used in the production of most Hollywood films and series.

One standard instead of many formats

One of the side effects of digitalization is a confusing multitude of audio, video and data formats, resolutions and color systems. To manage this uncontrolled growth and create a standard for digital cinema, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) defined Digital Cinema Package (DCP), a package format that contains all media and version components of films. The team led by Jeremi Horst and Mike Coenen collaborated heavily with the SMPTE. The workstation they developed has become the standard for DCP packages.

Video streaming increasingly important

The video streaming industry is becoming more and more important. Like the internationally known studios, video streaming services use a different format for mastering and versioning films and series: the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), which was also developed by the SMPTE. The Hanover team also collaborated on this standardization process, and their R&S®CLIPSTER is a popular solution for generating IMF packages. Netflix was one of the first to consistently use IMF. R&S®CLIPSTER is certified by Netflix and recommended to the streaming service's content providers as the preferred mastering workstation. Since many other international streaming services with animations, cartoons and prize-winning series in their portfolio also rely on IMF, the results of a development project in Hanover reach hundreds of millions of subscribers.

Pioneers right from the start

4K ultra high image resolution, which first became popular in 2010, was already reality in 2005 thanks to R&S®CLIPSTER. True to this pioneering spirit, the development team remains on a future-oriented course. As Product Manager Erik Dobberkau explains, they focus on selected fields: "We test our technology thoroughly, both manually and automatically, to perfectly understand the perspective of our customers. We make beta versions of the software available to customers with specific wishes. This allows them to test new features before we finalize everything and release it." Customers have always opted for pioneering methods. Mike Coenen adds, "Managing products and projects in parallel places high requirements on how we work. Which is why agile software development was absolutely necessary right from the start. Now it's a matter of course, but at the time it was very new. We were not aware of the Agile Manifesto back then, but our work matched it word for word."

Hidden champions on the path to innovation

The team led by Mike Coenen, Jeremi Horst and Erik Dobberkau likes to constantly push the boundaries of what is technically possible. Erik Dobberkau expects that machine learning and artificial intelligence will have a considerable impact: "Quality control of deliverables to find technical errors will no longer be done by people. And manipulation methods will certainly be so mature in the near future that altered images will be indistinguishable from the originals." What is clear is that he and his colleagues are working on the future of mastering in Hanover. "We often work very closely with big names in the film and television business," comments Jeremi Horst. "I don't think many people in the Hanover area are aware of this. That's why I find the designation 'Hidden Champion' very fitting."

"I'm the product manager for R&S®CLIPSTER. Our years of working on this solution have been a technological balancing act between extremely fast-paced innovation and the requirement for quality. Users in R&D want a flexible product that allows them to freely experiment, while users in production want to be able to totally rely on the product. We try to master this balancing act, and most of the time we succeed.“ - Erik Dobberkau, Product Manager

"My job title is Senior Software Engineer. One of the biggest challenges in developing R&S®CLIPSTER was the dynamic environment in which the workstation is used. In many cases the work processes are not clearly defined, but they are fairly rigid and habitual. Although new technologies like high frame rates and HDR are supposed to be used, the associated processes can basically only be turned into productive workflows with R&S®CLIPSTER." - Thomas Sicken, Senior Software Engineer

"For me, being part of the international film industry as a developer is a childhood dream come true. In the production of a major blockbuster, the producer wanted to have automatic color correction in R&S®CLIPSTER for stereoscopic sequences. That job landed on my desk with the comment: 'You have ten days for this.' I replied that I was colorblind. The response and the trust in me remained the same: 'You have ten days for this.' Thanks to my experience in digital film production and some knowledge of stochastics, I was able to solve the problem. So some of the processed sequences of this movie are based on the work of a colorblind person." - Mike Coenen, Development Engineer

"As Director R&D File Based Media Solutions, I especially appreciate the friendly collaboration in Hanover. We have a highly motivated team that is fully committed to the products. The focus is always on direct customer benefits. A good example is The Hobbit. It was the first high frame rate film to hit the cinemas. We were able to fulfill the customer's compression quality requirements while complying with the data rate requirements of the DCI specification." - Jeremi Horst, Director R&D File Based Media Solutions

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    Erik Dobberkau

    Product Manager

    "I'm the product manager for R&S®CLIPSTER. Our years of working on this solution have been a technological balancing act between extremely fast-paced innovation and the requirement for quality. Users in R&D want a flexible product that allows them to freely experiment, while users in production want to be able to totally rely on the product. We try to master this balancing act, and most of the time we succeed.“

  • 2

    Thomas Sicken

    Senior Software Engineer

    "My job title is Senior Software Engineer. One of the biggest challenges in developing R&S®CLIPSTER was the dynamic environment in which the workstation is used. In many cases the work processes are not clearly defined, but they are fairly rigid and habitual. Although new technologies like high frame rates and HDR are supposed to be used, the associated processes can basically only be turned into productive workflows with R&S®CLIPSTER."

  • 3

    Mike Coenen

    Development Engineer

    "For me, being part of the international film industry as a developer is a childhood dream come true. In the production of a major blockbuster, the producer wanted to have automatic color correction in R&S®CLIPSTER for stereoscopic sequences. That job landed on my desk with the comment: 'You have ten days for this.' I replied that I was colorblind. The response and the trust in me remained the same: 'You have ten days for this.' Thanks to my experience in digital film production and some knowledge of stochastics, I was able to solve the problem. So some of the processed sequences of this movie are based on the work of a colorblind person."

  • 4

    Jeremi Horst

    Director R&D File Based Media Solutions

    "As Director R&D File Based Media Solutions, I especially appreciate the friendly collaboration in Hanover. We have a highly motivated team that is fully committed to the products. The focus is always on direct customer benefits. A good example is The Hobbit. It was the first high frame rate film to hit the cinemas. We were able to fulfill the customer's compression quality requirements while complying with the data rate requirements of the DCI specification."

Our jobs for cinema and streaming

If you want to help shape and develop today's and tomorrow's cinema and streaming, this is the right place for you. Are you interested in GPU code, multimedia realtime systems and professional video processing? Do you have extensive experience with C++ programming or expertise in the studio world? We look forward to receiving your application. Looking for something different? Our job portal offers a wide selection of opportunities.

Related links

Would you like to learn more? We have put together a small selection of material and links to more detailed information.