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Information Today, Inc.

July 07, 2008

Table of Contents

Amen Corner: Moving Beyond Sound
Focus Enhancements Announces Availability of Fifth Generation DTE Recorder
Red Giant Software Releases Magic Bullet Instant HD Advanced
NewTek Now Shipping LiveControl Switching Surface for TriCaster and VT[5]
MCE Ships Fastest, Most Versatile Internal Blu-ray Recordable Drive for Mac
Pond5 Makes a Big Splash in the Stock Footage World
Intelligent Assistance Publishes HD Survival Handbook
Artbeats Soars over the City of Angels
Panasonic Announces New Series of P2 Workflow Workshops

Amen Corner: Moving Beyond Sound

From time to time, I get a chance to consult for one of my favorite types of clients: churches that want to move beyond their "tape libraries" and into streaming or broadcasting their services and conferences to the world. Many of those churches have already moved into putting their services online, via a podcast on iTunes. But in doing so, they’ve found that they don’t get the full impact of allowing viewers to join with them live. Just after the mid-April National Association of Broadcasters show, I had the chance to visit one of the churches I’m working with.

Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., up near Mount Shasta and the Oregon border, has a series of ministries that are typical of most churches—families, teens, seniors, college students—and a few that are above and beyond what the typical church would have: a school of supernatural ministry, a set of well-attended conferences, and a traveling youth rally called Jesus Culture.

When Bethel approached me, on the recommendation of another consultant, about helping them look at ways to get their content online, we started with an assessment of which of the ministries made sense to put online. The good news is that Bethel’s IT department and a conference coordination team had already managed to put up podcasts, video clips, and a series of DVDs that are for sale in its online store.

As is typical of most churches that started with a "tape library" ministry, though, the decisions for media delivery, including the website, had been based around the ideas of product creation, manufacturing, and fulfillment: record a sermon, duplicate it x number of times, and then ship it out to those who ordered by subscription or one-off purchases from the web store.

For Bethel to move into streaming requires more than just a set of hardware specs and a few new people to operate the cameras on Sunday or during conferences: It requires a reassessment of what the role of media is in the church, and whether the church can extend its live, real-time ministries beyond the physical constraints of the buildings it occupies.

This shift, while a radical departure from the homegrown tape library model, is one that provides a change in thinking that I think is necessary for the modern house of worship: Stop thinking about the key medium (tape, video, DVD, etc.) and start thinking about how to use all mediums (live streaming, on-demand, physical mediums) in the way that each one provides the best way to augment impactful content.

Fortunately, at the outset, it seems Bethel is ready to make this switch: The tape library is operating at capacity, and the conferences are often sold out, so the use of streaming to allow others to join virtually won’t cannibalize sales. In addition, I've learned from my past consulting work installing AV systems with large projection systems and digital signage that streaming can do double duty for campuswide media distribution.

"This will allow Bethel to enter an era where we are producing, collecting, and distributing inspiring content on the internet," said one of the team members I met with, in his initial report to the team that’s spearheading streaming. "Making this content available will accomplish two key needs for a growing church: Help us continue to disciple the nations and also reduce the need for senior leaders to travel as much."

In addition, given Bethel’s desire to play on an international level, the media services provided could also attract those who cannot attend multiple conferences in person, by way of a conference pass that would effectively be a subscription service for those who want the benefit of a bevy of yearly conferences.

Once underway with production capabilities in full swing, Bethel could also potentially become a resource for other churches, large or small, that want to put on-demand content on the web. Bethel wouldn’t own content created by other churches but would be, in essence, the service provider for getting that content on the web.

All in all, it’s an exciting start for a house of worship that is beginning to understand the need for media in today’s church. More information on this project can be found at www.timsiglin.com—check out the blog posts under Digital Media.

Tim Siglin (writer at braintrustdigital.com) writes and consults on digital media business models and "go to market" strategies. He is chairman of Braintrust Digital, a digital media production company, and co-founder of consulting firm Transitions, Inc.

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Focus Enhancements Announces Availability of Fifth Generation DTE Recorder

Focus Enhancements Inc (NASDAQ: FCSE), a worldwide leader in media management and ultra wideband (UWB) wireless technology, today announced the general availability of the FS-5 Direct To Edit(tm) (DTE) recorder, the fifth generation in the company's award-winning line of DTE recorders.

First announced at NAB 2008, the ultra-portable FS-5 introduces the groundbreaking ability to wirelessly log custom metadata in the field while shooting - enabling a new real-time metadata-based workflow for broadcast and video professionals and ensuring the seamless continuity of metadata through all phases of production and post-production for easier identification and management of media.

With a wireless (or wired) mobile device or laptop, users can access the FS-5 via a web browser, define metadata, and assign it to the video while recording. As a result, clips are labeled, categorized, and organized as soon as the shoot is over - eliminating the need to tag footage at a later time. Additionally, Focus Enhancements' Universal Metadata Engine(tm) (UME) ensures that metadata is compatible with Final Cut Pro and the ProxSys(tm) Media Asset Management product line.

"Since its launch at NAB, the FS-5 and our new metadata-based workflow have generated tremendous interest among video and media professionals," said Matt McEwen, Director of Product Alliances for Focus Enhancements. "Our Direct To Edit technology helped spark the tapeless revolution in broadcast and other video production markets. And now, the ability to wirelessly log metadata brings a new level of efficiency to the tapeless end-to-end workflow."

"We've relied on Focus Enhancements' DTE recorders for many years and have been eagerly anticipating the new advancements introduced in the FS-5," said Brian Critchlow, partner and CTO of Digital Media Factory. "During our beta deployments, we've been impressed by the ease of use of the FS-5's wireless metadata functionality. This key innovation will save us significant time and improve the way we manage our media assets in post-production. In addition, the FS-5's Universal Disk Format (UDF) file format support further increases our productivity when dealing with multiple clips in Final Cut."

Along with its unprecedented metadata capabilities, the FS-5 features the following key enhancements:

  • Increased Direct To Edit file format support with the addition of MXF HDV 720p30 and 1080i 50/60 to give Avid editors the ability to work natively with HDV files using the Avid Media Tool
  • 25% weight reduction and a 60% reduction in size when compared to the entry level FS-4 model
  • 1.8" internal disk drive which features a very rugged, ultra-portable, and shock resistant design
  • Fanless design for very quiet operations
  • Support for UDF to enable recording up to 1.5 hours in a single DV/HDV file
  • Newly designed user interface with new scroll wheel and color LCD
  • USB 2.0 computer interface to provide flexible file transfers to the computer
The FS-5 100 GB model is priced at $2,195 MSRP US and is immediately available through Focus Enhancements' worldwide dealer and distributor network. FS-5 customers will receive a free camera mount with their order. For more information, visit www.focusinfo.com.

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Red Giant Software Releases Magic Bullet Instant HD Advanced

Red Giant Software, publisher of Magic Bullet, Knoll Light Factory and Trapcode products, today introduced Magic Bullet Instant HD Advanced (formerly named Instant HD Pro). This new plug-in for Adobe After Effects CS3 delivers the highest possible quality conversion for SD to HD and is well-suited to prepare analog source footage and DV video clips for inclusion in HD projects. Instant HD Advanced combines de-interlacing and de-noising; advanced pan and scan; and a super-resolution algorithm for providing actual resolution enhancement. The easy-to-use preset menu helps users choose the right HD and 2K output formats.


  • Powerful Motion Analysis: Instant HD Advanced uses sophisticated multi-vector motion analysis to derive accurate and sharp output frames from interlaced material. In addition, motion vectors drive the super-resolution and de-noising tools to maximize quality.
  • Resolution Squared: Super-resolution is a technique for deriving and improving resolution from multiple frames of video. This method compares each pixel over successive frames, determining true edges in order to deliver sharper details and super-crisp results. Other scalers, including Instant HD and After Effects' built-in scaler, only process one frame at a time.
  • Multi-Core Support: Instant HD Advanced's elaborate image processing would have meant minutes-per-frame render times just a short while ago, but thanks to multi-core optimizations on Intel-based platforms, this tool can render in just over a second per frame on the fastest machines. Now the highest quality conversion is possible on normal desktop machines - no expensive conversion hardware required.
Instant HD Advanced offers much higher quality than Instant HD or the scaler in After Effects thanks to the super resolution features in Advanced. The built-in deinterlacing and denoising controls greatly improve the quality of any interlaced material. Users that need faster scaling get the Instant HD plug-in for After Effects and other hosts as part of Instant HD Advanced package.

For more information, click here. Pricing and Availability
Instant HD Advanced is available now for $399 USD and support After Effects CS3 on Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X on Intel processors. Current Instant HD, Magic Bullet Suite 2007, and Magic Bullet Suite 2008 users may purchase a cross-grade to Instant HD Advanced for $299.

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NewTek Now Shipping LiveControl Switching Surface for TriCaster and VT[5]

NewTek Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading video and 3D animation products, today announced the immediate availability of LiveControl™ LC-11 optional switching surface for TriCaster™ portable live production studio and VT[5]™ Integrated Production Suite. LiveControl lets directors mix live cameras, tape decks, digital disk recorders (DDRs), titles and graphics with digital video effects in real-time. It also provides the advantage of touch control of each TriCaster input for more compelling productions with tighter pacing. Used in tandem with NewTek’s new LiveText™ and TimeWarp™ accessories, LiveControl more efficiently integrates titling, replay and slow motion into TriCaster and VT[5] live productions.

LiveControl is available in two versions: LC-8 with 8 video inputs for TriCaster™ and LC-11™ with 11 video inputs for TriCaster PRO™, TriCaster STUDIO,™ TriCaster BROADCAST™ and VT[5].

"LiveControl allows technical directors to keep their eyes forward and react quickly, which is critical in fast-paced production environments," said Andrew Cross, NewTek’s Executive VP, Software Engineering. "The simple layout and large back-lit buttons provide the physical touch and feel of control mechanisms already familiar to professional technical directors, so they can operate a TriCaster or VT[5] right out of the box."

LiveControl benefits include:

  • Tactile experience for compelling live productions with more control, improved workflow, tighter pacing and accuracy
  • Rotary dials enable users to quickly choose their titles, pictures or transitions
  • Large, back lit buttons provide easy transitions from one source to the next without looking down or using the keyboard or mouse
  • T-bar provides "hands-on" experience to manually control your transition sources

Pricing and Availability
LiveControl LC-8 for TriCaster is available for a suggested retail price of $995 US, and LC-11 for TriCaster PRO, TriCaster STUDIO and TriCaster BROADCAST for a suggested retail price of $1995 US.


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MCE Ships Fastest, Most Versatile Internal Blu-ray Recordable Drive for Mac

MCE Technologies, LLC (MCE) today announced it has begun shipment of the fastest and most versatile Blu- ray recordable drive available for the Mac. The MCE 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive is capable of recording to Blu-ray media at up to 6X, to DVD±R media at up to 16X, to CD-R media at up to 40X, can read HD DVD-ROM media, and is LightScribe compatible. Natively compatible with Mac OS 10.5.2 or later the drive can record data to Blu-Ray, DVD, and CD media directly from the Finder with no additional software required. Professional Blu-ray movies, playable on set-top Blu-ray players and the Sony Playstation 3, can be created with the MCE 6X Blu- ray Recordable Drive using Adobe Premier Pro CS3’s Encore program in conjunction with either Adobe Premier Pro CS3 or Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing software and basic Blu-ray movies can be created using optional Roxio Toast 9 Titanium and Toast 9 HD/BD Plug-in. The drive is user-installable and designed for Mac Pro and Power Mac systems.

Software is also included allowing the playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD movies using the MCE 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive and a Mac Pro running Boot Camp with Windows XP or later installed. The MCE 6X Blu- ray Recordable Drive for Mac Pro and Power Mac starts at $499.00 and is available for immediate shipment.

"The 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive is the most advanced superdrive we’ve ever shipped and can record to over twelve different types of media," stated Arnold Ramirez, president of MCE. "The drive is the fastest Blu-ray recorder on the market, a very fast DVD and CD recorder, can playback HD movies, and can create DVD and CD labels using LightScribe technology."

Fitted with a blue front tray-bumper to distinguish it from ordinary optical drives, the MCE 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive ships with all jumpers and settings pre-configured for the Mac Pro and Power Mac G5. The drive can record to 25GB single-layer write-once Blu-ray BD-R media at 6X (27MB/sec), to 50GB dual-layer write-once Blu-ray BD-R media at 4X (18MB/sec), and to 25GB and 50GB rewritable BD-RE discs at up to 2X (9MB/sec). It is also fully compatible with all DVD and CD recordable media on the market today and can record to standard DVD±R media at up to 16X (22MB/sec) speed, to DVD±R DL (Double/Dual Layer) media at up to 4X speed, to DVD+RW at up to 8X speed, to DVD-RW at up to 6X, to DVD-RAM at up to 5X speed, to CD-R at up to 40X (6MB/sec), and to CD-RW at up to 24X speed.

The MCE 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive for Mac Pro and Power Mac includes an installation manual, software for playback of Blu-ray and HD DVD movies in Boot Camp, and a 25GB BD-RE rewriteable disc for $499.00, with optional Toast 9 Titanium with HD/BD Plug-in for $599.00, or with Adobe Premier Pro CS3 with Encore for $1,295.00. More information may be found on the MCE website.


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Pond5 Makes a Big Splash in the Stock Footage World

Pond5.com announced today the launch of version 1.0 of its next-generation online footage marketplace, which includes several groundbreaking features and a site design that sets a new standard for speed and ease-of-use. The launch coincides with another milestone: the fast-growing collection now offers more than 50,000 broadcast-quality SD and HD clips available for instant download, starting at $5 per clip.

Pond5.com is an open marketplace for stock footage, where any video creator with professional-quality video footage can make it available for use in productions ranging from feature films, television programming and corporate videos to wedding and web videos. Stock footage from Pond5 has been licensed to productions at all levels of the content spectrum, including well-known broadcast and feature producers Dreamworks, The History Channel, NBC, PBS, and HDNet.

Uniquely, prices on Pond5 are set by the artists themselves, and range from $5 upwards, with an average price of around $40 for HD and $20 for SD footage. For each sale, the artist earns 50% of the selling price, a much higher percentage than the 20-40% that is typical in the industry.

"This is a new model for stock footage," says co-founder Tom Bennett. We've brought an efficient, open marketplace to an industry that's been dominated by closed collections, low royalties, high prices and outdated technology. Because Pond5 offers artists the highest royalties in the industry and lets them set their prices, we attract the highest quality, freshest footage, and make it available at the lowest prices. Combine that with the fastest, easiest interface on the web, and we think it's a game-changer."

The rapidly growing collection features the work of more than 400 artists and libraries from around the world and spans all categories, including lifestyle, aerials, motion backgrounds, editorial, and effects. Footage can be uploaded directly to the site, or mailed in. All footage is reviewed for content and quality by Pond5 staff; approved clips are made available for instant search, preview, licensing and download. Clips on Pond5 are licensed under a simple, industry-standard "royalty-free" license agreement, and can be used in virtually any production for a flat fee.

The 1.0 website was first previewed at NAB 2008, where it garnered rave reviews from the experienced video professionals in attendance. New features released in the 1.0 launch include several industry firsts. One is a persistent on-screen Clip Bin and Cart which streamlines the process of finding, organizing, sharing and selecting footage by letting users review and act on their clip choices immediately, from any screen on the website.

Another innovative feature is the Pond5 Clip Widget. It offers a fully customizable selection of continuously updated clips that can be created by any visitor at Pond5.com. The Widget can then be embedded anywhere on the web, from Facebook and Myspace pages to blogs and websites, or even to the desktop. The Widget works hand-in-hand with Pond5's referral program, which offers referrers 5% of sales or purchases made by referred users (i.e. sellers or buyers who click through the widget) for a full year.

For more about the Pond5 Widget, click here. As Bennett sums it up, the Pond5 value proposition is simple: "If you are a moving image artist, we are committed to offering you the best pallette of stock footage to work with, the highest royalties, and the easiest, fastest interface on the web." About Pond5 Pond5.com, the first open marketplace for stock video footage, is a web-based platform where video professionals buy and sell (license) broadcast-quality footage for use in other productions. All footage is licensed royalty-free, and is instantly downloadable. Prices are set by the footage producers, and range from $5 upward. Launched in 2006, the website boasts a rapidly growing collection of more than 50,000 HD and SD stock footage clips, from over 400 producers around the world. Membership is free to both buyers and sellers. Pond5 is based in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland. To find out more, go to http://www.pond5.com

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Intelligent Assistance Publishes HD Survival Handbook

Intelligent Assistance has released The HD Survival Handbook for immediate digital download in pdf form. The book is designed to demystify the technologies and workflows associated with HD production and distribution.

"The biggest problem most people have with HD is confusion" says author and Intelligent Assistance CEO Philip Hodgetts. "Confusion about format, camera selection, post production workflow and HD distribution", he continued. The HD Survival Handbook was written to demystify the myriad of questions that arise when a video professional moves from working in the Standard Definition world up to the more complex world of High Definition.

From essential background information a video professional is expected to know, to summaries of the latest gear that would take you hours of research on the web, this handbook has it covered. The HD workflows area will help you avoid the pitfalls that have trapped so many others and be ready to meet your customers' demand for HD.

The book is lavishly illustrated and extensively researched. Each of the three sections (Production, Post Production and Distribution) is available for individual purchase and download, or the book can be purchased in one volume for just US $15.95. The HD Survival Handbook is available now from www.ProAppsTips.com. A full Table of Contents is available for download from the website and there are two free excerpts available.


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Artbeats Soars over the City of Angels

Shoot for the stars and take a trip high above the corporate towers and historic attractions of one of the most famous cities in the United States with Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Downtown and Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Surrounding Area, the newest royalty-free stock footage collections from Artbeats.

Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Downtown contains 41 clips in HD and SD resolution and features spectacular aerial views of the Griffith Park Observatory, Walt Disney Concert Hall and a plethora of corporations comprising the financial district. From suburban shopping centers to the Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Surrounding Area offers tremendous versatility for portraying the outlying neighborhoods of Los Angeles. This collection, containing 39 clips in HD and 40 clips in SD, showcases the freeways of the San Fernando Valley as well as Sunset Boulevard, mansions in Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica pier.

As the industry's leading creative footage resource, Artbeats is also committed to providing a multitude of tools, including tutorials and creative samples, for beginning cinematographers and industry veterans alike, as well as its exceptional footage. These new royalty-free titles include superior quality, HD content that can be used for broadcast, feature films, commercial, multimedia, game development, independent production and more. To view or purchase these collections please visit Artbeats' website.

Pricing and Availability
The Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Downtown and Los Angeles Aerials 2 - Surrounding Area titles are available now at www.artbeats.com. Artbeats' footage is available in HD-1920x1080, D1 NTSC-720 x 486 or D1 PAL-720 x 576 resolutions. Pricing for Artbeats' HD collections range from USD $799-$1299; standard definition collections range from USD $399-$699.

Artbeats also offers a wide range of free online Tips N Tricks and other creative resources that help customers make the most of their royalty-free stock footage, including an abundance of written and video tutorials by industry leaders. See them all at http://www.artbeats.com/resource.

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Panasonic Announces New Series of P2 Workflow Workshops

In its ongoing commitment to provide career-advancing education, Panasonic has announced today additional dates and cities for its popular P2 Workflow Workshops training program. Run by HD EXPO, the P2 Workflow Workshop is a two-day, professional-level class designed to give video professionals including cinematographers, producers, production and post production team members an in-depth understanding of the P2 solid-state technology, cameras and workflow tools.

Launched in 2007 in a number of cities, the P2 Workflow Workshop is a rigorous training program for content creators that imparts an understanding of the benefits of non-linear, file-based, IT compatible technology and the knowledge of how to integrate P2 content into the production workflow. The workshop introduces attendees to the next generation of solid-state P2 HD cameras and workflow equipment as well as presents vital information on compression including AVC-Intra, support utilities, workflows for every budget and for post production and editorial. It also offers opportunities for hands-on time with the cameras. Instructors for the workshops are recognized P2 experts, i.e. cinematographers and specialists who regularly work in the tapeless field.

Tuition for P2 Workflow Workshop is $599, or $549 with early registration, available at hdexpo.net/education or by calling 818-842-6611. P2 Workshops have been announced for the following cities:

  • Chicago, June 3 – 4 at The Navy Pier
  • Seattle, July 10 – 11
  • Los Angeles, August 7 - 8 and October 28 and 29
  • New York, September 24 & 25th
  • Miami on November 6 and 7th, 2008.
For more information, contact HD EXPO at 818.842.6611 or visit HDEXPO.net.

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