Jordan Westhoff

Jordan Westhoff's Blog


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2015 Updates

Wow, 2015 was a busy year! Due to a lot of time commitments and several big projects I wasn’t able to update as often as I wanted to. Luckily, I’m back in Rochester after a wonderful Christmas and New Years break so I figured I’d catch y’all up!

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First off, I’m working on updating all of my pages, on this page and abroad. It’s been a while on some of them, and a lot of information needs to be updated. I’ll post notifications as they get updated but for starters I’ve updated my About Me page. This is a great look at what I’m currently working on as well as some of my upcoming projects.

cerberus

Cerberus – the mythical three headed beast.

The last several months have been filled with productivity for my thesis project. As well as making lots of imaging headway, I’ve been able to bring up several websites that point to the project. Each of these updates dynamically as the project is updated, thanks to the merits of rsync and GitHub Pages. The main page for the project can be found here, in the form of a wiki: Senior Thesis Wiki. Also, thanks to GitHub hosting, pages with information about the Cerberus cluster (the computational engine I designed to run my thesis software) have been posted that update as well: Cerberus Cluster Page. All of these pages have been written with simplicity in mind to make it easy to understand regardless of the computational awareness of the reader. I named the project Cerberus because it focuses on the collaboration of multiple ‘heads’ or computational assets to accomplish a singular goal.

That’s all I have for now, but check back soon! I’ve been crunching all of the data that I worked with in 2014 and I’m preparing a pretty cool stats page in order to make that data come alive through infographics. Thanks for reading!

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Senior Project Update 7/9/2014 – New Servers, Testing and Accelerated Deployment

Hey all,

Summer has been awesome here in Rochester so far, I’ve gotten a lot done in different regards to my project!

Ultimately, I’m still in the stage of hardware and software testing, while conducting studies on 4K formats and compression schemes. All of this is valuable in appraising how much computational power I need to conduct all of the operations that are required to get the 4K footage processed as quickly as possible. Since I last posted, I’ve gotten some additional hardware to use and test, both virtually and locally. Here’s the round up of some stuff:

For the record, ALL of my Senior Project Updates can be found here, on my Senior Project Page

Last Post:

Last post, I was comparing smaller, underpowered machines to massive computing desktops to see what the differences were. They were, well, humongous. It turns out the small Micro-ITX board and setup I was using is indeed too slow for any kind of operations work. Hence, I re-purposed it for something that is different, but still useful: a netflix box!

The Alienware machine is a powerhouse even though it is still pretty old. Once I stocked it with a powerful GPU and added a bit more ram (went from 2 to 18 GB of RAM). Right now it is conducting CPU vs GPU testing as well as being used as a primary gaming machine in the evenings when I get back from work on campus. Overall, the Alienware definitely did win the battle between light and power efficient vs power hungry and high performance.

New Information:

Okay here’s all the new stuff that I promised. Recently, the school granted me two more physical server machines for use on the project. Both are 64 bit SuperMicro 2U servers, both are taking advantage of AMD’s Opteron processing technology, which I have to admit, is awesome. Both machines are powered by dual quad core CPU’s and 64GB’s of RAM.

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One of my new SuperMicro machines waiting to be racked with two of my other, older Dell units.

One of the new devices is posted in the photo, it’s the machine on top and there is a second one that is identical but I already had it racked at the time the photo was taken. As you can see, both have considerably larger drive quantities. Each unit allows me to store 8 drives, and currently both have 15K raptor drives included which is awesome! 15K server drives, which I have RAIDed (laymans term for working in tandem to increase speed) is allowing me to exceed a standard hard drive read and write speed by a factor of 3! This will be invaluable for parsing and spreading out frames for my project across the cluster. Right now, each of the drives is writing at a ballpark of 82 MB/s and reading at a rate of about 260 – 280 MB/s. This is excellent because for the system I am building, read speed are far more important than write speeds for these two units. Write speeds will increase as I RAID the devices.

On top of this, I have been developing a lot of the skeleton dev software for my project. The first stage of this has been individually configuring each server since I haven’t decided to go with a major software solution like Puppet, Salt or Ansible since I’m not sure that all of the configuration time is worth the slight performance boost I would get during only the configuration phase of each server. As a result, I’ve written a full suite of scripts that kick into effect once cent is installed on each machine. I decided to go with CentOS since it focuses on enterprise support, security and longevity (the current cent dystro is supported for 7 years). Once an OS is installed, each machine can run totally autonomously once it connects to my authentication and has all of the account info it needs. The machines install all of the necessary programs and services, in addition to syncing other repositories and cloning them locally . Once each of them is all setup, it notifies me via log that it is ready to join the cluster and processing can begin. As I begin to amass more and more hardware, local and virtual, easier deployment of each unit is increasingly more important because once the semester begins again, it will be very difficult to gather extra time to set up more efficient configurations and whatnot.

In the next week or so, I should be getting access to more hardware, I also have a lot of cool code to share with you all; most of it is linux based deployment, disk testing and a variety of others as well. Look for that in my Git and other repos, hosted here!

 

 


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Behind the Scenes: Shooting Sony 4K RAW

Recently, as part of the MPS Shootout we just finished, my shootout team and I had a great opportunity to shoot with some interesting Sony hardware since our main objective was to shoot and compare the RAW cinema capabilities of the Arri D-21 and the Sony NEX-FS700.

Natively, the Sony FS700 can’t shoot 4K. However, with a gracious software update from SONY that was implemented and installed by the RIT SoFA cage, the feature is unlocked. While the sensor and the camera on board hardware can handle the capture of 4K, the camera itself has no reliable method to record it. Without any hardware upgrade, the Sony FS700 only employs an SD card slot, which is not fast enough, nor high enough capacity to begin to think about recording 4K content. Hence, enter the Sony AXS-R5 +  HXR-IFR5 4K bundle. The school didn’t have these units available, but with a grant we were able to rent the equipment for a night in order to conduct our tests.

The most expensive hard drive toaster you ever will buy (for now until…8K?)

It was actually a pretty difficult feat getting our paws on this particular setup. The physical recording unit, the AXS-R5 is built and engineered for Sony’s PMW-F5 and Cine-Alta F55 cameras – not natively meant for the NEX-FS line. SONY solved this problem by engineering an “interface” unit – the HXR-IFR5. This unit takes in the 4K signal over an SDI cable and then pushes the signal to the recorder to be saved. Overall, the two units together cost just over $10,500 and that doesn’t include mounting, storage or other accessories. For our test, we used a single 512gb SSD, also manufactured by SONY, and it really did the trick! As a result of the difficulty in acquiring the devices, we couldn’t shoot for all of our test days but a small rental company out of Tennessee, pulled through for us! Enter LensRentals.com! With the unit acquired, I could then proceed to unbox it and start recording!

Initial Vanguard package containing our SONY gear.

Initial Vanguard package containing our SONY gear.

All of our SONY gear nestled inside of its shipping case.

All of our SONY gear nestled inside of its shipping case.

All unboxed and joined together - just need a camera!

All unboxed and joined together – just need a camera!

 

After the unit was unboxed, we were able to test it our in an actual scene! We proceeded to setup SOFA’s Studio B for our tests which gave us plenty of space to work, as well as plenty of lights, tables, and surfaces to set up our gear and mount our wall test targets. We shot a variety of scenes, mostly charts, but also we got a couple more shots featuring aesthetic objects as well for style.

Studio B setup for 4K RAW

Studio B setup for 4K RAW

 

This was our go-to setup. The camera (SONY FS700) was linked to the onboard SD media and the 4K unit via SDI which was also being monitored via the onboard signal feed. Since our 4K and HD were the same aspect ratio, the framing did not change, which meant we could safely use the Panasonic HD monitor to see what the camera was seeing from the DIT station. On set we had an Apple MacBook Pro to monitor files once they were recorded and ingested. All in all, the setup was far less complicated than some other setups, like the ARRI D-21 setup which was a spaghetti nightmare.

S.Two recording setup for the Arri D-21

S.Two recording setup for the Arri D-21

Mostly, all of our testing went well. We were able to gather all of the shots we wanted and several others. One snag did occur though, and I think that it is best described by the beautifully composed SnapChat that one of my partners, Carly Cerquone, sent to detail the issue.

Yup, that's right. We made the ol' rookie mistake.

Yup, that’s right. We made the ol’ rookie mistake.

In the end though, the project was a ton of fun and myself and the entire team learned a whole lot about the process of shooting and working with 4K. It is significantly different (and far more time consuming) than any other workflow currently around and you can find all of our findings and video information at the Shootout page on my blog here as well. Thanks for reading! As one final note, we decided to engineer our own dolly for pure creativity’s sake to capture the opening scene of the MPS SHOOTOUT Video – here was our super innovative approach. Below are some other photos from on set as well.

Carly and David, rocking the homemade dolly

Carly and David, rocking the homemade dolly

Carly, David and Matt lighting the scene

Carly, David and Matt lighting the scene

Matt lighting while some old B-Roll transfers

Matt lighting while some old B-Roll transfers


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Summer Updates

Hey everybody!

So, over the last couple of evenings I’ve spent a good deal of time updating the site! I”ve added new content, a couple new pages, and most importantly of all, began posting content from Spring semester! There’s a lot going on here so let me break down all of the updates for you!

 

Third Year MPS Camera Shootout!

So this is the first big one! If you head over to my page under projects, you’ll see the page for the MPS Shootout! This is a whopper and all of the content from the shoots, uncluding b-roll, final analysis and our final video screened for all of RIT’s film school is posted. There’s a lot of information here, and if you’ve followed along at all, it should be pretty exciting. I found it easier to turn it into a whole page, rather than a post so it can house more information as well as be easier to find later as more posts pile up!

Raw & Order Shootout

 

Senior Thesis Project Update #1

The page is finally live! I have some updates to publish tomorrow so stay tuned for those! If you follow the header, it will take you to the landing page for my senior thesis project – this sucker is being researched over the summer and then the completion of research and the beginning stages of engineering will start in the fall! I’m still working on populating the page with information about the initial ideals and concepts of the project but those will be up soon as well!

alienware

 

GitHub!

As a lot of you know, I’ve recently moved over to doing all of my code versioning and revision tracking via GitHub and I think it’s pretty cool! I’ve started a couple of pages within this site to either pull from Gists that I’m working on or completed that I want to show you or from actual Git hub repos. Basic Gists can be found here and the rest of my stuff can be found on my actual GitHub page for now!

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Thanks for catching up, be sure to check back to the pages as I’m adding more posts!

 

 


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Updates for the Summer!

Hey all,

Well, the semester is finally over which means like the academic semester, my junior year at RIT is complete! It was certainly a busy one! I have a lot of really cool summer plans, which I’ll post here but I wanted to recap the year a little bit and I’ll be spending the next week or two uploading a lot of thework myself and my teammates accomplished over the semester.

For the summer, I’ll be returning to RIT to work as a member of our research computing department. Originally, I had investigated traveling to LA after receiving job offers from SONY and IMAX but after some thinking I decided to stick around ROC and take an innovative position with RIT RC since it catered a bit more to my interests and offered some really valuable opportunities to learn about open source and parallel computing. There I will be maintaining and working to make research advances on 4K video streaming over IP as well as a variety of other tasks that tie into parallel computing, open source computing, global teleconferencing and open source global video delivery to  large tiled displays!

Also, this semester we finished the third year MPS shootout – a deeply analytical camera comparison test designed to pit two cinema grade systems against each other in order to determine which system is better for upperclassmen RIT School of Film and Animation students to produce films on based on a variety of factors. My role for the project was primarily to oversee DIT and technician work as well as programming and analysis. In the next week or so, our final public video will be posted with our results in a video delivery format for easy synopsis of our project. Our team was responsible for the most sophisticated video systems, the Sony FS700 and the Arri Arriflex D-21 and tasked with comparing their RAW workflows.

Standard Viewpoint

Over the course of the semester this was a very common way to find me – peering over the lid of my laptop at any given time.

 

Additionally, my senior thesis project was approved which means research for that will begin and continue throughout the summer, I’ll be posting a lot of updates here (Senior Project Page) with some translations to English as well (not just engineering speak!). As I reach checkpoints and make progress, I’ll make it a point to update this page so any interested parties can follow along!

As always, thanks for reading and look for more content in the coming days – I’m home now and I’ve begun to catch up on some much needed sleep so work should be updated soon!

 

-Jordan


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SB 2014

Hey all,

As I’m sure you all know, it’s spring break time in America! However, now that RIT is on the semester system, this is no longer the eat and sleep break that I’ve grown accustomed to, but another opportunity to catch up on mountains of homework!

Sony FS700

A good friend of mine, Carly P. Cerquone, DP’ing the Sony FS700 for high frame rate shooting.

That being said, I’m actually embroiled in some pretty cool projects at the moment! Of these, most are Motion Picture Science related – we are in the middle of our third-year shoot out, initial thesis proposals and a host of other projects and labs. I promise to post lots more updates as we continue through; we’ve only just wrapped up our first day of shooting! As with all of my other projects, I will post them when they are completed as well! I’m progressing through a lot of new code, 4K RAW cinema, some thesis builds in the computer department and others, so look for updates over the next couple of days!

 


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Breaking into Wikipedia!

Last semester, as a final course term paper for a class at RIT called Color Science, it was required of each student to generate and research information on a given topic and then present it in the form of a Wikipedia page!

Well, I recently got work from the Wikipedia Daemon that the page I submitted for my final was approved, and is now publicly available on Wikipedia! While the assignment itself made little to no sense, it is now properly published and looks pretty schnazzy if I do say so myself! One of the major hangups of dealing with Wikipedia is their use of Markup publishing language and their strict commons and user uploaded image policies. This wasn’t really apparent to our professor at the time, so in stead of simply publishing a professional paper in LaTeX or Word, each student had to spend a significant amount of time learning and adapting to Wikipedia’s publishing policies. As a result, many were removed immediately and few made it through the moderation process, so it’s really cool to see that this one made it through to be published!

The Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hues Color Vision Test, by Jordan Westhoff on Wikipedia

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