Friday, December 26, 2008

MWSF 2009 Predictions...the New Mac Pro

[UPDATE 1 - Info's on SSD's added 12/29/08...duh to me for not adding the first time. Also, info on upcoming Cinema Displays and graphics cards.]

As an Apple VAR (value added reseller) you would think we would get some notice of upcoming new technology. New iPods, iMacs, Mac Pro's, MacBook's, etc...

Not so.

Apple is notoriously tight-fisted with information. And rightly so...its how they maintain their competitive edge and the element of surprise.

But--it doesn't stop one from guessing at what might be coming. So here is my best shot.

None of this is based on any first hand knowledge--just conjecture and some educated guessing.


Apple introduced the Intel Mac at MWSF in 2006. It was reported that Intel had over 1000 people under NDA working on the transition.

Why is that important?

It shows at least a couple things:
  • Apple and Intel are capable of pulling off major projects--and can keep them quiet
  • Apple can integrate new Intel technology before other vendors
Later that year, Steve Jobs introduced the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro would incorporate the new Intel dual-core Xeon's. And at the time--those weren't available to other manufacturers.

Fast forward to now.

Intel is currently offering the new Nehalem Core i7 chips using the single-socket DX58SO "Smackover" logic boards. These boards and chips are not used in any of Apple's current CPU lineup. Apple's latest MacBooks (just released) did not use these new chipsets.

And officially from the Intel community, dual-socket boards are not due for a while.

Where does that leave Apple for MWSF 2009? Before we go there, let's look at what Apple does have that people will be expecting: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Beyond the usual accoutrements that accompany a major release, Snow Leopard has Grand Central:

"Grand Central", a new set of technologies built into Snow Leopard, brings unrivaled support for multicore systems to Mac OS X. More cores, not faster clock speeds, drive performance increases in today’s processors. Grand Central takes full advantage by making all of Mac OS X multicore aware and optimizing it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors. Grand Central also makes it much easier for developers to create programs that squeeze every last drop of power from multicore systems.

Think about what this provides. The ability for any application to take advantage of all processors--apparently intelligently distributed by the OS itself.

So here is my prediction: I think Apple will be debuting the Intel Nehalem Core i7 architecture in their new Mac Pro's at MWSF 2009. Further, I believe that multiple-socketed Smackover-type boards are not only possible, but likely.

Why bother with Grand Central if you are only going to use one socket on the board? And why roll out a new architecture that only has one socket when everything else currently in the Mac Pro line is dual-socket?

There is a laundry list of new things that are rumored to be included in new Apple technology, so lets go down the list:

Bluetooth 3.0
Blu-Ray Drives
DDR3 Ram
USB 3.0
Wireless USB
Integrated eSATA ports
Firewire S1600 and S3200
10 Gig Ethernet
SSD Drives [Update 1 - 12/29/08]
Cinema Displays [Update 1 - 12/29/08]
New Graphics Cards [Update 1 - 12/29/08]

Bluetooth 3.0 - No way

The new spec isn't even due until mid-2009, so shipping chipsets with even pre-draft tech are highly unlikely. Here is an update from Mike's blog over at the Bluetooth SIG:

"As we wind down 2008, it is easy to start anticipating what will occur in 2009. One of the most anticipated specifications from the Bluetooth SIG should be finalized about midway through next year. This will be approximately two years after the v2.1 + EDR specification which was adopted on July 26, 2007. Of course I’m referring to the core specification developed with the code name of Seattle. The hallmark feature of the Seattle release is an architecture enabling higher data rates. The reason why I still refer to this specification as the “Seattle” release is that the Bluetooth SIG typically doesn’t finalize the name of a specification until just before adoption. This is to ensure that the exact feature set for the specification is known before the name is finalized. As such, it is too early to identify the Seattle release as v2.X or v3.0 or anything else. Currently, many different contingencies are being discussed and proposals being considered. I expect that decision to be made in the first part of 2009; perhaps at the All Hands meeting."

So, its Bluetooth 2.1 for now.

Blu-Ray Drives - I say yes

This is WAY overdue.

You can already pop in a Panasonic SW-5583 Blu-ray drive into your Mac Pro and burn discs all day long using Adobe Encore. We've done a few of these already and it works great.

Apple used to rule the world of discs with iDVD, DVD Studio Pro and SuperDrives. However, they completely ceded their leadership role in disc-based media to Sony (Blu-Ray drives shipping for a while now in their machines...) and Adobe (their Encore disc burning software)

So, creating HD video on Blu-Ray is simple. But what about playback of commercial discs?

One of the sticking points here is High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection--or HDCP for short. It states that "high-definition digital video sources must not transmit protected content to non-HDCP-compliant receivers."

Translation--no playing Blu-Ray discs to non-HDCP displays like Apple's Cinema Displays via DVI.

However, Apple is now deploying their new DisplayPort-enabled 24" LED Cinema Display equipped with HDCP. As such, any new DisplayPort Mac with a Blu-Ray drive and the correct software should be able to play commercial discs just fine.

Further, with the advent of Final Cut Studio 3 and DVD Studio Pro 5 (more conjecture on my part--another story for another time) Apple really needs to have another avenue for deploying HD video from Final Cut. Layback to tape is soooooooo 1990's...

DDR3 RAM - Yep

Intel's Nehalem architecture only uses DDR3, so this is a given.

However, how much RAM will you be able to use? And in what configuration?

Intel's DX58 boards use three channels for their most optimized DDR3 RAM configuration. However, Apple uses two daughterboards for their current motherboard connection.

Snow Leopard will be able to address 16 Tb of RAM, so something is going to have to give in order to accommodate a LOT more memory.

USB 3.0 - Maaaaaaaybe

"On September 18, 2007, Pat Gelsinger demonstrated USB 3.0 at the Intel Developer Forum. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced on 2008-11-17 that version 1.0 of the specification has been completed and is transitioned to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the managing body of USB specifications. This move effectively opens the spec to hardware developers for implementation in future products. A new major feature is SuperSpeed bus, which increases the maximum transfer rate to 5.0 Gbit/s. USB 3.0 receptacles are compatible with USB 2.0 device plugs for the respective physical form factors. However, only USB 3.0 Standard-B receptacles can accept USB 3.0 Standard-B device plugs."

Intel showed this back in 2007. If Intel was working on new boards for Apple, its possible that they might incorporate the new spec into the new product. However, USB 3.0 devices don't even exist right now--no cameras, recorders, printers--nothing. So, this might get extended out to 2010.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this go either way.

Wireless USB - Possible

"In May 2005, the Wireless USB Promoter Group announced the completion of the Wireless USB specification. Wireless USB is used in game controllers, printers, scanners, digital cameras, MP3 players, hard disks and flash drives. It is also suitable for transferring parallel video streams. Kensington released a Wireless USB universal docking station in August, 2008."

Steve Jobs hates buttons. Is it a stretch to think he hates cables any less? Ridding the desktop of as many cables as possible would be awesome. I would love to see this incorporated on as many Apple products as possible.

Integrated eSATA ports - they should be!

If anything should be on the new motherboards, its at least one or two integrated eSATA ports. Right now, there are two on the Skulltrail motherboards and on the DX58, so it shouldn't be a stretch to add these to the new Mac Pro.

Firewire S1600 and S3200 - I say yes

"In December 2007, the 1394 Trade Association announced that products will be available before the end of 2008 using the S1600 and S3200 modes that, for the most part, had already been defined in 1394b and was further clarified in IEEE Std. 1394-2008. The 1.6 Gbit/s and 3.2 Gbit/s devices use the same 9-circuit beta connectors as the existing FireWire 800 and will be fully compatible with existing S400 and S800 devices. It will compete with the forthcoming USB 3.0."

So, the new Firewire spec has been approved for a while, beats USB 3.0 to the market hands-down, and is backwards compatible with current 400 and 800 Mb/s devices. I'd say this would be stupid not to include on the new motherboards.

10 Gig Ethernet - I say yes

There is a ton of really cool stuff you could do if you integrated 10 Gig Ethernet into the new Mac Pro. Fibre Channel over Ethernet becomes a reality:

"Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is a proposed mapping of Fibre Channel frames over full duplex IEEE 802.3 networks. This allows Fibre Channel to leverage 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks while preserving the Fibre Channel protocol. The specification is supported by a large number of network and storage vendors, including Absolute Analysis, BLADE Network Technologies, Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, EMC, Emulex, Finisar, HP, IBM, Intel, Hitachi Data Systems, Mellanox, NetApp, Nuova, PMC-Sierra, Qlogic and Sun Microsystems."

With FCoE, network (IP) and storage (SAN) data traffic can be consolidated using a single network switch. This consolidation can:

  • reduce the number of network interface cards required to connect to disparate storage and IP networks
  • reduce the number of cables and switches
  • reduce power and cooling costs
Very cool applications for Xsan environments where shared collaboration between creatives is a must.

SSD Drives [Update 1 - 12/29/08] - YES...this should be a no-brainer

In my opinion, SSD's (solid state drives) are one of the BEST new things to come along in a while.

Some of the early entrants to the field were marked by spotty performance or reliability concerns (how many times can you write to one before it goes bad?)

However, the new X25-M series of drives from Intel are nothing short of stunning.

For kicks (albeit expensive kicks) we obtained three of the new X25-M Series 80 Gb drives and RAID'ed them together into a three-drive RAID 0 using Disk Utility. The results were nothing short of amazing.

700 MB/s read speeds (that is megaBYTE, not megabit...) and the machine would boot from the "bong" in 11 seconds.

Photoshop loads in 3 seconds. Flat.

This is one of most important things that ANYONE can do to speed up the performance of ANY Mac Pro. And if Apple doesn't include these by default, we'll make sure that we do.

Cinema Displays [Update 1 - 12/29/08] - Most likely.

I can tell you this. Getting a new 23" Cinema Display is now officially impossible. They are sold out everywhere.

What's someone to do if you want a 23" or 24" class Apple display? You have to wait for new graphics cards in the new Mac Pro...or get an adapter (which don't exist right now...)

You can still get 20" and 30" Cinema Displays...while they last.

However, I think that there will be some 20" and 30" cousins for the 24" LED display before too long. All based on the DisplayPort connector and integrating HDCP.

New Graphics Cards [Update 1 - 12/29/08] - Yes.

There are a few toss-ups here. Here is one that I think is the no-brainer: the new Nvidia Quadro FX 5800.

A Mac Pro version of this should be rolling out to replace the 5600 that is currently offered. However, one thing that will probably be different about the Mac version is the DisplayPort. Currently, the shipping version from Nvidia ONLY comes with dual-DVI.

On the low end, we could see new entrants from ATI and Nvidia. I won't even speculate on those options since it could be one of any different entry level cards.

However, one dark horse candidate for a mid-range card is the Nvidia Quadro CX card. This card is optimized for hardware-acceleration of Adobe's CS4 suite of applications. From hardware-accelerated Photoshops scrolling to vastly improved h.264 render times--there are a TON of things that Adobe and Nvidia worked on together to integrate on this board.

I blogged about this before, but if this card isn't offered its not because Nvidia and Adobe don't want you to have it. Apple has the hardware and source-code for the board. They just have to integrate into their offerings.


Those are my MWSF 2009 predictions for the Mac Pro. Tune back in January to find out how close I got. In the meantime, chime in with some predictions of your own.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Torrey schools KGO's Gene Burns

Torrey just schooled KGO's Gene Burns on law enforcement use of force policy. This is an audio file. Its a recording from KGO posted on their website at KGO Radio

Click here for audio player

I had just gone to funeral for a police officer the morning this was taped. I thought Gene was way off-base on this so I called to talk with him about it.

His last words are priceless.


Friday, December 5, 2008

RIP--SJPD Officer John Cahill

My friend John Cahill, officer with San Jose Police Department, passed away yesterday.

I remember talking with John just a few weeks ago over a pool game at Donna Lind's house along with Bruce Lindsay. I had no idea that just a short time later this awesome person would be gone.

It makes you think about the people in your life--and about your priorities. All of the problems in your life pale in comparison to not having a life at all.

John Cahill's Memorial Service is this Tuesday (Dec 9th) at 11 a.m. at San Augustine Church on Glenwood Drive in Scotts Valley. Scotts Valley Police Department Lt. John Hohmann and retired sergeant Bruce Lindsay are coordinating the details. John's family is requesting donations be made to the Fallen Officer Foundation in John's name.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Silverado Special Edition Mac Pro...released

Not for everyone, but...

If you are looking for the fastest Mac Pro in the world, this is it:

Silverado Mac Pro Special Edition

The Intel SSD boot drive setup alone works at over 700 MB/s. Triple Intel X25-M drives raided together create a boot drive capable of boots of less than 15 seconds.

Hand-tuned by Silverado, each system includes the following:

• Two 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
• 32GB (8x4GB) 800 Ghz FB-DIMM
• Three Intel X25-M 80 Gb Hard Drives in a RAID 0 boot configuration
• One WD 300Gb Velociraptor Drive
• One Panasonic Blu-Ray Drive - SATA
• One NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 1.5GB
• One 16x SuperDrive
• Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse
• Apple Wireless Keyboard (English) + User's Guide
• AirPort Extreme Card (Wi-Fi)
• iWork '08 preinstalled
• AppleCare Protection Plan

10,000 RPM Western Digital Velociraptors add 300 Gb of lightning-fast storage for photos, music, and backup.

Includes 32GB of ultra-fast 800MHz DDR2 ECC fully buffered memory — a memory architecture that's up to 256 bits wide and allows for incredible memory capacity, bandwidth, and reliability.

NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 graphics card is the ultimate workstation-class graphics card available, with a massive 1.5GB of GDDR3 memory and a 3D stereo port for stereo-in-a-window applications.

Panasonic Blu-Ray is standard on this machine for burning up to 50 GB of data on dual-layered Blu-Ray discs.

We have a limited amount of $2500 discount coupons available for this system through December only. If you want one of these coupon codes, just e-mail me at


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nothing personal, just business...Should we stop accepting the American Express card?

I got a $5400 bill the other day from American Express.

$5400 for one month.

Why? Its their fee for allowing us to accept AMEX at the business--and its not right.

When we process an AMEX card for a client, we don't see the funds for at least four business days. That is four days that American Express gets our funds--interest free.

In contrast, when I run a Visa or Mastercard transaction, our funds post to our account at midnight the next business day. And our rates are about 32% less.

So, if I have this straight--I am paying a huge premium for a large corporation to take advantage of us by getting a short-term interest free loan.

Its not as if small businesses haven't had run-ins with American Express before over other issues. Do a Google search on all the small business credit lines that they are drawing down:

My question is this: Should we draw down on American Express?

American Express--if you are listening--I suggest you call me ASAP. You have a very dissatisfied customer.

(916) 760-0032

Update: Lots of angry people responding to this New York Times article

Friday, November 7, 2008

Annual Silverado Fire Sale

Its time for another famous Silverado Fire Sale!

We updated our Fire Sale page here for 2008:

We have a ton of new and used gear that needs to go before we begin the transition over to our new facility in Historic Old Folsom in 2009:

Silverado 950si SCRATCH CPU (demo machine)
Apple Mac OS X Leopard (overstocked - new copies)
AJA IO HD (demo machines)
Panasonic displays (new LCD's and demo plasmas)
Apple Mac Pro's (demo machines)
Apple MacBook Air (demo machine)
Apple Cinema Displays (demo machine)
Apple MacBook Pro (brand new--overstock item)
Dulce RAID (demo item)
Silverado Fieldmaster (demo system)
Sony JH3 Compact HDCAM (demo system)
Tangent Devices CP100 (demo system)

Prices range for 11% to almost 70% off.

Also--we've released a new Twitter feed:

All new updates will now be pushed to Twitter first and then to our blog.

One note--the site is triggered to sell first come, first served. Once an item is sold, it will no longer appear on the Fire Sale page.

Torrey Loomis
President & CEO - Silverado Systems, Inc.
Outfitter to the World's Foremost Apple Professionals
2600 East Bidwell Street, Suite 280
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 760-0032 • FAX (916) 404-5258

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nvidia Quadro CX...coming to Mac soon?

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, the hottest new thing from Nvidia and Adobe is the Quadro CX--which provides hardware acceleration to many of the apps in Adobe's new CS4:

So, the big question is this--can I put it in my Mac?

No--and right now its not because Adobe and Nvidia don't want you to.

While no NDA's were compromised here...I have it on very good authority that the ENTIRE source code for this product has already been given to Apple and its up to them to develop the Mac-based driver.

Do I believe it? Yes--this is a very high profile product for both Adobe and Nvidia and it makes a ton of sense for them to want to see this pushed as hard on the Mac platform as it is on Windows.

What kind of performance are we talking here? Think 500% increase in h.264 encodes for Blu-Ray media, real-time manipulation of monstrous images, and amplified processing of color conversions and tone mapping.

Best way to see this pushed through is to petition Nvidia and Apple as hard as possible to work together to see this gets done by Macworld 2009.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Death of an Xserve...or why you need more than one server...

I get this question all the time: "You spec'd four servers for our Xsan system? Two MDC's and two ODC's? Do I really need that much infrastructure for a few people?!?"

The answer is yes. Absolutely yes. Definitively yes.

The last week has proven this point very painfully. I've never seen this type of behavior before in an Xserve, but it makes the case for multiple Xserve's extraordinarily clear.

Editorial crew (three people) came in Tuesday to find the machines unable to connect to their sinlgle Xserve (which acts as Xsan MDC and ODC). They were running slowly Monday, however I suspect one of their machines took over as MDC and the Xserve had actually crashed sometime over the weekend.

They hooked up a monitor to the Xserve to find the "prohibited symbol" against a grey background. I drove over to check it out myself. When I arrived, the monitor had the grey screen, Apple logo, and the circling status icon. It was rotating around like it was trying to load.

After a few minutes, it was apparent it would not boot. I shut it down, and restarted it in Target mode (which launched successfully and allowed me to mount Server HD on my laptop). DiskWarrior showed some minor things to clean up, which I allowed it to do. The folder structure of the Server HD looked fine. I disconnected and attempted to start it up.

No dice. Xserve got to the grey screen, Apple logo, and the circling status icon--but nothing else.

Thinking it might be a hardware problem with the hard drive, I attempted to boot off the Restore CD to see if Disk Utility had any thoughts.

The Xserve would not boot off the CD either. Neither the 10.4.10 restore disc OR the latest Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server disc either.

Now I am thinking its strictly a hardware problem, not a software issue.

Praying hard, I loaded Xserve Diagnostics and pressed "D" which DID allow it to boot into diagnostics mode. I thought I was right around the corner from discovering which hardware was the issue...except that all tests passed. Nuts...

As a last resort I had Carl run over with a brand new set of RAM for the Xserve and swapped the old. No help.

Everything was disconnected--including the RAID's and the ethernet connections. The only thing left in the machine besides the RAM was the fibre card. I even yanked the fibre card to see if it would boot--but no luck.

I left Tuesday at 2:45 PM and set the diagnostics to run for 15 hours to see if it would pick up an intermittent error.

At 9 AM on Wednesday, I arrived to find that Diagnostics hung up at 10 hours. Checking one of the CPU's is where it froze.

Now realize this...the client's budget did not allow for even a parts kit. At this point, I had no choice but to call AppleCare and wait four hours for an engineer and logic board to arrive. The AppleCare call was fairly straightforward since I had already eliminated nearly everything besides the CPU's and logic board.

Engineer arrived around 1 PM on Wed. and swapped the logic board.

Now frustrated, the engineer calls someone high up the Tier level at Apple and requests a bunch of parts for next day delivery. RAID card, fibre card, logic board, CPU's, etc...

As of this writing, their system is STILL down. So, while there is no resolution for the client yet, there IS a moral to this story.

1. Servers will die.
2. The best defense against server death is a PRE-DEPLOYED backup to act as failover.
3. You need backups of your MDC and ODC machines. Yes--four servers..
4. By hosting MDC duties and ODC on the same machine and implementing a network home folder--the client couldn't even log into his own machine to do any local work. Having an ODC (and backup) separate from MDC would have allowed them to work even if the SAN was down.
5. Parts kits DO NOT ALWAYS mean you are back in action. We replaced the logic board and the server was still down.

The Cost?

A creative director and two editors at total of $84 per hour (includes fringe, etc...) times 24 hours (three eight-hour days of lost time) equals a straight loss of over $2000--not to mention the grief and possible lost sales the CEO will lose from his creative team being down for three days.

At the very least, one more server in this workflow would have already paid for itself. These don't have to be huge render-class servers--just basic Xserves.

One funny note--the engineer works contracts for Apple and Dell. When asked, he said most of his dispatch repair work is on the Dell machines. He says he puts hands on an Xserve about twice per year for actual repairs.

Update: Turns out it was the logic board AND a RAID card that went bad. The Xserve went right back up serving out Xsan as soon as these were replaced.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Major Adobe CS4 Release Event at next SF Cutters

Got this from my buddy Claudia Crask at SF Cutters:

Come Join Sf Cutters, San Francisco Final Cut Pro User Group on Sept 25th

To Celebrate the release of Adobe CS4 - learn more!

View the Finalists from our "Mini Reels Competition" and hear from G Technology makers of storage devices and technology.

For Further details and to Register online go to:

This Meeting is Free, but we do need you to preregister so your name is on the entry list.

Thanks to Adobe Systems their generous support of the meeting and providing CS4 Production Studio as a prize and to FMC Training for providing a pass to the Editors' Retreat, lodging and travel are not included in the pass, and are the responsibility of the winner.

Location: Adobe Systems in San Francisco
601 Townsend
San Francisco, CA 94103

Time 6:30 PM - 10 PM

Further questions contact Claudia Crask

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RED module added to upcoming Sacramento Final Cut Pro training

Due to popular demand, Larry Jordan is adding time to the tapeless media portion of his training to specifically talk about ingesting and editing RED media.

Silverado is hosting Larry Jordan's North American Seminar Tour for two days of jam-packed Final Cut Pro training in the Sacramento area on September 8th and 9th.

We now have a seminar discount code for registration. Enter the code SILVER8 upon registration at and you'll get 10% off the course registration fee.

Different than the other locations, each registrant for the Sacramento training will get a free Final Cut Pro keyboard cover--your choice of desktop or laptop cover.

We'll also have a large sampler of RED media for participants to copy and take home--just bring a hard drive and we'll copy it off for you.

Best of all, each participant will get a free entry into OpenCut 3.

This is our 3rd year hosting Larry in Folsom and he always gets rave reviews for the technical material along with his witty presentation and sage wisdom. I highly recommend anyone looking to sharpen up their FCP skills to attend these courses.

Register today at

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

AJA posts updated 6.0 software for Kona 3 and Io HD

Just got this in from AJA!

Io HD and KONA v6.0 Software Now Available. VTR Xchange v4.0 Application Now Available.

AJA has now released the anticipated 6.0 drivers for the Io HD and KONA products. They are available for download from the AJA website. Additionally, AJA has also posted a new version of the VTR Xchange application to the website. Details regarding these releases are outlined below.

Io HD New Features
  • Additional format support for true progressive formats in 1080
  • Additional format support for intermediate formats
  • Added Audio Delay for Input and Audio Delay for Output controls
  • Stand Alone Mode enabled
  • Io HD LCD display now allows users to choose between the display of primary and secondary video formats or the primary video format and timecode
  • Io HD now a FireWire "plug and play" device (can now be connected or disconnected to host computer without rebooting to recognize device)
  • Active Video Output Filter added
Io HD Improvements and Fixes:
  • Component and composite now provide simultaneous output
  • General improvements to A/V sync performance
  • General improvements for multi-user environments
KONA New Features
  • RED Support added (KONA 3)
  • For more details on KONA 3 support for RED workflows, consult the version 6.0 manual, page 24.
PLEASE NOTE: When working with RED Easy Setups, AJA recommends changing the Dynamic RT setting to "Unlimited RT" for the best playback results.

Active Video Output Filter added (KONA 3 and KONA LH)

KONA Improvements and Fixes
  • 64 bit firmware update (KONA 3)
  • General improvements to A/V sync performance (entire KONA product line)
  • Custom LUT support now implemented for dual link output in addition to single link output (KONA 3)
  • General improvements for multi-user environments (entire KONA product line)

VTR Xchange v4.0 New Features
  • Multi-channel discrete audio output via new Audio Routing feature
  • Batch capture feature added
  • PLEASE NOTE: VTR Xchange does not offer batch logging and capture, only batch capture from a pre-existing batch list
  • Apple script support added
  • Support for playback of 23.98 fps movie files at 29.97 fps or 59.94 fps
VTR Xchange 4.0 Improvements and Fixes
  • RP-188 and LTC timecode is now displayed in the main window during capture
  • General UI enhancements
Please read the release notes for more details on Io HD and KONA v6.0 software and VTR Xchange 4.0 Application.

NOTE: There is important configuration and installation information contained in the READ-ME for both the KONA and Io HD software releases, so please be sure to read it completely.

The new v6.0 KONA and Io HD software is further proof of our commitment to build value and refinement into our Desktop products. KONA and Io HD offer professional features not found anywhere else, and our products are the most reliable and best supported solutions for any type of post-production work!

KONA v6.0, Io HD v6.0 and v4.0 VTR Exchange software can be found here:

Monday, August 18, 2008

OpenCut presentation at Sac Film & Music Festival

I was honored to be invited by the board at Sacramento Film & Music Festival to talk about OpenCut and screen the top three entries.

I talked about RED vs. Film workflow and went over how RED material made a 35mm editing competition possible.

The coolest part of the presentation was seeing three cuts of "Susannah" shown on a 40-foot screen at full res 1920x1080 HD.

I played back ProRes files from my MacBook Pro equipped with a G-Tech G-SPEED eS connected via an ExpressCard. It worked flawlessly.

I was really excited that Sean Wells--one of the top editors--was able to make it to the panel to answer questions about the editing experience. He offlined his version "Susannah" on a MacBook with FCP, then onlined his final version on an octo-Mac with Adobe After Effects.

It was such a good experience that we've been asked to repeat the presentation at an upcoming Capital Film Arts meeting. If you missed the first presentation, we'd love to see you around for the next one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Can you help us set another world record?

OpenCut is an open-source film editing competition that gives editors 35mm film grade material and allows them to complete their own version of the material.

OpenCut 1 "Susannah" has been submitted for a world record as the "greatest number of cinematic film edits from a single set of source media." We had 51 separate versions of "Susannah" submitted by editors from around the world. You can see the different cuts here:

OpenCut 2 "The Alpine Meadows Shoot" is a new attempt. We want to submit for the "greatest number of commercial spots from a single set of source media."

Interested in being part of this world record attempt? We'd love to have you take part. You can register here:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New edit site--CutScape--an outright copy of OpenCut?

I was surfing across the net today and saw this:

It was "created" by Ted Chandler of

I say "created" because its a knockoff of which we started a few months ago. I would list the similarities, but they are way too numerous to mention--there are dozens.

I am thrilled that the idea of OpenCut would provide such an inspiration for Ted and others to follow. I wish him the best of success in this endeavor.

However, if you look at CutScape--its amazing how so many things are lifted from OpenCut. How is CutScape any different than an outright duplication of the OpenCut project? We didn't put all the thought and energy into OpenCut to have it shamelessly knocked off.

I guess good ideas are emulated, but great ideas are stolen...


Thursday, July 3, 2008

World's fastest production SCRATCH CPU by Silverado - shipping at 4.19 Ghz

New product release! The world's fastest production SCRATCH CPU by Silverado - at 4.19 Ghz!


Production stable at 4.19 Ghz and runs very cool with our liquid cooling system.

These things are real beasts, but extraordinarily fast. We'll be putting it through its paces tomorrow when we hook up a Dulce PRO RX via PCIe and measure disk speeds with IOmeter. We'll post the IOmeter results once the tests are done.

Best of all--we back it up with a 4-year warranty which I believe is one of the longest coverages available on this class of machine.

These are available to order immediately--they are custom-built upon order and ship within 5-10 business days.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Silverado to build Apple Xsan-based editing facility for NASA

We received word last week that we won a major contract to rebuild the SAN-based editing infrastructure for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Silverado is providing the infrastructure and our excellent partners Meta Media Creative Technologies are providing all installation and training.

Yeah...its kind of a big deal.



Press release for

Here is the press release for



SACRAMENTO, CA (May 21, 2008) – What would happen if you took a professionally shot, but raw and unedited film--and gave it to over 200 editors along with a script and told them to edit the project any way they wanted?

The answer will be discovered soon through the OpenCut project. Silverado Systems, Inc. ignited a revolution in the film industry today when it debuted the OpenCut project – the world’s first open source film competition using 35mm film grade material acquired exclusively on the RED ONE Digital Cinema Camera platform and made available internationally to editors of any and all skill levels.

OpenCut material is fully scripted and professionally produced using a skilled film crew and talented actors in real-world settings and shot on RED ONE. This film-quality material is then made available internationally to editors of any skill level to edit with as they please in a time-limited competition between storytellers.

Should the story be told rapidly, or should it have a dramatic feel? Can the story incorporate a lot of visual effects and an imposing background score? Or should the dialog take precedence over everything else? These are questions that the editors will have to answer for themselves as they read the script and review the media.

This project is something that could not have been feasible just a year ago—delivery of 35mm film-grade material to hundreds of editors on consumer-sized hard drives. However, because of the advent of the RED ONE Digital Cinema platform and the ability to create film-grade material in a compact file size, you can now edit Hollywood-class film sequences on desktop computers. With the introduction of OpenCut, this material can now be disseminated worldwide in a broad competitive format.

The main goal of OpenCut is to create a new open-source model previously unavailable in the film industry. OpenCut encourages creativity among editors and filmmakers by allowing them to work on 35mm film grade material—regardless of skill-level, industry position, or time in the craft. OpenCut also seeks to promote the use of RED in production and post-production and stimulate creative discussion among editors and filmmakers.

“As there is no "one way" to tell a story, so too can stories benefit from being re-edited and re-told from many different vantage points and perspectives.” stated Torrey Loomis, project director of OpenCut and CEO of Silverado Systems. “With a single script and crew, you can take a story and tell it 300 different ways. The power to do this lies in the editing.”

Loomis adds “Just like in the film industry--there is no handholding here. For some editors, this will be like drinking from a fire hose.”

Editors are expected to use the immense resources available on the Internet to answer any workflow questions they might have, including resources like RED forum and training site, which hosts a lot of RED-related training online.

Combined with the information and training found online, and the film-grade material provided by OpenCut—editors have everything they need to create a Hollywood-class entry.

OpenCut’s first project is “Susannah” a gritty tale of two characters apparently fighting over a girl. But with any good story--nothing is as it appears and the script and plot of “Susannah” allow for surprising twists.

Shot on location in the Salton Sea, “Susannah” stars Ben Bray as “Ed” and Johnny Bogris as “Jacob.” Bray is a talented stuntman and has performed in some of Hollywood’s biggest films such as “No Country for Old Men” and “Spider-Man 2.” Bray has also stunt coordinated features such as “Smokin’ Aces” and “Lakeview Terrace.” Bogris is a skilled actor with credits including “NYPD Blue” and “End of Days.”

“Susannah” was directed by aspiring director Evan Nicholas, along with director of photography and talented RED ONE operator Brian Hamm. The project was executive produced by director Joe Carnahan of “Smokin’ Aces” and “NARC” and CEO Torrey Loomis of Silverado Systems, Inc.

“I hope that tons of people check out the script, read the storyboards, and ultimately come up with their own version of the movie.” said Evan Nicholas, director of “Susannah.” It’s amazing to think that through OpenCut, our storytelling is not limited to one or two editors—but is literally open to editing by potentially hundreds or thousands of people worldwide. As a director, that is something that is very exciting.”

The rewards are significant for participating editors. The grand prize is an AJA Io HD, a coveted piece of editing equipment valued at $3500. Further, the winner of OpenCut will be named as the “editor-of-record” in IMDB—the recognized source for movie production information. They will also have their cut finished in 4k resolution and a DCP (Digital Cinema Package) will be generated which will allow distribution to any digitally-equipped cinema in the country. The winning cut will also be submitted to multiple film festivals throughout the country on behalf of the editor.

Regardless of place, the licensing of OpenCut allows all editors to use their own cut of “Susannah” on their personal reel. For some editors, this is access to 35mm material they have never been able to feature on their reel before.

OpenCut 1.0 is open now for registration at Editing begins on June 1st and submissions are required to be submitted to VUZE (an online video hosting platform) on or prior to June 30. People can register to compete in OpenCut for $25 and will submit a hard drive to OpenCut. Their hard drive will be returned with media, scripts, and supporting documentation.

About Silverado Systems, Inc.
Started in Folsom in 2003 by founder and CEO Torrey Loomis. Recently named #13 in rank as a member of Sacramento Business Journal’s “100 Fastest Growing Companies in Sacramento” for 2007. Silverado is frequently described as an “Apple Store for Professionals.” Silverado is a one-stop-shop for creative professionals--serving filmmakers, editors, graphic designers, artists, directors, and media personnel. Silverado specializes in the high-end of Apple technology and focuses on being “Outfitters to the World’s Foremost Apple Professionals.” With the recent acquisition of new cinema technology from RED Digital, Silverado is on
the forefront of 4k digital cinematography and post-production.

About director Evan Nicholas:
Working on projects like “Smokin’ Aces” and GM’s critically-acclaimed recent “Cadillac” spots--and the upcoming feature film “Killing Pablo”--Evan Nicholas is director Joe Carnahan’s right-hand man. “Susannah” is Nicholas’ directorial debut and was very open-minded towards the OpenCut project by handing over his entire short-subject to be treated to the OpenCut editorial process.

Long blog...

I've been up to my ears in hard drives. About 180 to be exact. We've been duplicating 170 Gb per drive for OpenCut...

What is OpenCut, you ask? Next post!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Brother Blog

In my attempts to find new ways to completely avoid work altogether, I navigated over and read some of Tyler Berry's posts at his blog, Mountain Peaks and Metadata.

Tyler writes very well and his posts are entertaining. We just completed an in-depth demonstration of RED and workflow for the folks at CBS yesterday, and Tyler posted up some tidbits from the visit.

Take a look - its a fun read.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Macworld Special: AJA IO HD

Get a great price on an AJA Io HD--our Macworld Special--for only $3189 while supplies last through Macworld.

Here are some facts about the Io HD:

- 10-bit 4:2:2 full-raster HD over Firewire 800
- Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 HQ Codec hardware integration — SD, HD 720/1080, full-raster 10-bit 4:2:2, realtime

- Up/down/cross-conversion, 10-bit, realtime, in hardware
- SD-SDI and HD-SDI input/output (x2)
- Component input/output (SD and HD)
- Composite and S-video input/output
- HDMI video w/2-channel audio input/output
- Embedded SDI 8-channel audio input/output
- AES/EBU 8-channel unbalanced audio input/output (BNC)
- Analog 4-channel balanced audio input/output (XLR)
- Analog 2-channel unbalanced audio output (RCA)
- Genlock, terminated with buffered output
- RS-422 machine control
- LTC Timecode input/output
- All-new AJA-developed QuickTime driver software
- Core Audio support
- 3-year International Warranty and Support
- No proprietary cables!
- Designed specifically for Apple Final Cut Studio 2 on Mac OS X

Besides Io HD's completely unique Apple ProRes 422 hardware implementation, Io HD can also be used with DVCProHD and uncompressed workflows!

These other HD codecs can be used with the Io HD via software encoding/decoding. The Io HD can be used to capture to DVCProHD compression when used in combination with the MacPro series of Apple desktop computers; these computers provide sufficient processing power to software encode to DVCProHD compression in realtime. MacBookPro computers with attached SATA or FW800 drives via ExpressCard/34 and a minimum of 2GB of memory are also able to capture and playback DVCProHD material in 1080 and 720 formats. Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 and Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 QuickTime playback is supported when using MacPro desktop computers along with the Io HD. (An adequate disk array for uncompressed HD playback is of course required.)

Io HD supports:

- Apple ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 HQ, SD and HD, 720 and 1080 formats, ingest and playout (natively)
- DVCProHD, 720 and 1080 formats, ingest and playout (CPU-based)
- Uncompressed HD, 720 and 1080 formats, playout (CPU-based)
- Uncompressed SD, 525/625 formats, ingest and playout (natively)
- DV, 525/625 formats, ingest and playout (CPU-based)
- DVCPro, 625 format, ingest and playout (CPU-based)
- DVCPro50, 525/625 formats, ingest and playout (CPU-based)

You can place orders for AJA IO HD here:

Order AJA IO HD from Silverado

RED Training in SF - 4k finishing using FCP and SCRATCH - Jan. 24th

Silverado is hosting a RED 4k finishing class next week in San Francisco.

RED 4k Finishing with FCP and SCRATCH

The training is free, but space is limited due to the venue.

You can get all the details on the link above. If you are interested in learning about SCRATCH and how it works with FCP, I really recommend you come.

We'll have a full RED ONE system setup and can go directly from camera, to FCP, and then to SCRATCH.

ALSO! We'll be showing a complete field portable tapeless archive and backup system that fits in an airline carry-on case. RAID 1 and LTO-3 tape backup--in one box!

If you have any questions that the link doesn't answer, please contact me directly at the e-mail address below.

Torrey Loomis
President & CEO - Silverado Systems, Inc.
Outfitter to the World's Foremost Apple Professionals
2600 East Bidwell Street, Suite 280
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 760-0032 • FAX (916) 404-5258