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November 03, 2008

Table of Contents

Tutorial: Creating Blu-ray Disc Pop-up Menus in Adobe Encore CS4
proDAD Offers VitaScene and Adorage Starter Kits
Panasonic Upgrades its Advanced Switcher Offering with the New AV-HS400A Multiformat HD/SD Live Switcher
WD Speeds Up My Passport Studio Drive With FireWire 800 Interface
Pegasys TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Video Encoder with NVIDIA CUDA Technology To Be Bundled with MSI NVIDIA Graphics Cards
OWC Announces High-Performance SuperDrive Upgrades for Apple Computers
Ben Balser and New Orleans Video Access Center Announce Last Apple Authorized Training Courses of 2008
Ever After Videos Wins 'Best Wedding Day Film' at IOV Awards 2008 (United Kingdom)
AliveMedia.net Releases Alive HD Video Converter version

Tutorial: Creating Blu-ray Disc Pop-up Menus in Adobe Encore CS4

One of the coolest new features in Adobe Encore CS4 is the ability to insert pop-up menus over video in Blu-ray Disc projects, a feature unique among authoring programs in Encore’s class. In this tutorial, I’ll describe how to implement that feature, as I did in a simple project I produced in early fall.

We’ll start in Premiere Pro CS4, if only to have a brief look at one of CS4’s most significant advances. As with Premiere Pro CS3, you can add Encore chapter markers to your timeline. I recommend you take this approach, simply because it’s easier in Premiere Pro, where you have visual clues such as titles and waveforms to guide your efforts.

Step 1: Send Your Sequence to Encore
When you’re ready to begin authoring, click Adobe Dynamic Link > Send to Encore (Figure 1, below). This will send your Premiere Pro sequence, with all the chapter markers you added, directly to Encore without requiring you to render.

Encore CS4

Step 2: Start Your Project in Encore
The next screen that you’ll see is Encore’s New Project screen (Figure 2, below). That’s right, there’s no rendering between Premiere Pro and Encore.

Encore CS4

If you notice any changes you need to make in your Premiere Pro timeline while authoring in Encore, choose Edit > Edit Original and you’re back in Premiere Pro, where any saved changes are immediately fed back into Encore. If you’re a DVD producer, or you use Encore to produce your Flash presentations, this feature alone is worth the upgrade price.

You’ll need a Blu-ray project to use the pop-up menus, so choose Blu-ray and your intended Television Standard, Codec, Dimensions, and Frame Rate. Since I shot in HDV for distribution in the U.S., I’ll use the parameters shown in Figure 2, above.

Step 3: Create and Link Your Menu
Create and link your main navigational menu as normal. This is a quick DVD I’m making from video shot at a summer ballet training course my eldest child took at Wake Forest’s beautiful campus, so it’s a quick-and-dirty, template-based menu (Figure 3, below).

Encore CS4

Step 4: Create a Submenu
Now let’s create the pop-up menu that will appear over the video while it’s playing, allowing your viewers to navigate directly to another location without first stopping the video and returning to a traditional menu.

You can create a submenu multiple ways. In the beginning, it’s easiest if you simply choose File > New > Pop-up menu (Figure 4, below). Encore will create a new pop-up menu using the currently selected template in the library window. If you examine the new menu, you’ll notice that it looks just like a regular menu except that every layer that’s not a button layer is transparent. In essence, that’s what a pop-up menu is.

Encore CS4

Step 5: Or ... Copy and Rename the Original Menu
The other alternative that I used in my production was to simply copy the main menu that I had already created and rename it "Pop-up" to distinguish it from the original. Then, click the pop-up menu to select it, click its Properties tab, then click the Pop-up subtab and, finally, the Set as Blu-ray Pop-up Menu checkbox (Figure 5, below).

Encore CS4

This tells Encore that it’s a pop-up menu, and Encore accordingly makes all layers except the button layers transparent. I shifted the vertical text buttons to horizontal as you’ll see in Figure 7, but Encore preserved all the links and, of course, the text itself, saving me some work.

Once you create your pop-up menu, you link it to your content as normal (if necessary) and pretty much treat it like any other Encore menu.

Step 6: Choose Associations
Next you have to tell Encore which timelines you want the pop-up menu to appear over. Note that the same pop-up menu can appear over multiple timelines.

Click the timeline to select it. Then, in the timeline’s Properties window, choose the target pop-up menu, in this case named Pop-up, in the Set Popup Menu list box, as shown in Figure 6 (below).

Encore CS4

Step 7: Choose a Background Timeline and a BF Frame
Note that Encore’s traditional preview function won’t display the pop-up menu; the only way to view the menu above the timeline from within Encore is to return to the pop-up menu’s Properties tab, click the Pop-up tab, then choose a Background timeline and BG Frame in the appropriate fields, as shown in Figure 7 (below). Then Encore will display the pop-up menu over that frame so you can see what it will look like when you actually burn the project to disc.

Encore CS4

Note that you’re not associating the pop-up menu with the timeline in this step; you’re simply picking a frame to preview the pop-up menu over. To be clear, to actually make the pop-up menu appear over that timeline, you have to set the timeline’s pop-up menu as described in Step 5.

Step 8: Burn Your Blu-ray Disc
Then you burn your Blu-ray as normal. I used Pioneer’s BD-RW BRD-202 in my tests, which proved instantly compatible with CS4, which was nice, because some earlier Pioneer drives had problems with CS3. I produced using Verbatim BD-RE media, which I recommend (both Verbatim and using rewritable media) because it will probably take a few tries to get the pop-up menus right.

Playing back the project on my Samsung BD-P1000, the pop-up menus appeared on cue and performed perfectly, taking me to the target videos just like regular menus. However, my first pop-up titles were too thin and flickered onscreen, which looked awful. I then increased the font size and added shadows and outlines in Photoshop, which made the text presentable. I recommend that you budget some time to experiment with different text settings before shipping the disc to your client.

figure 1

In its press demos, Adobe presented a great looking pop-up menu with background shown in Figure 8 (above). With a bit of advanced Photoshop knowledge, you can create really impressive results.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites on digital video-related topics and the author of Critical Skills for Streaming Producers, a mixed media tutorial on DVD published by StreamingMedia.com.

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proDAD Offers VitaScene and Adorage Starter Kits

proDAD GmbH today announced the availability of free downloadable "Starter Kits" of its popular Adorage and Vitascene effects products. The Starter Kits are not trial or demo versions, they contain fully functional effects and transitions as well as plug-ins to allow the effects to be used seamlessly in popular NLE applications from Adobe, AVID, Corel, Canopus, Magix, and Sony.

The Adorage Starter Kit includes 170 popular effects and transitions for hobbyist video editors and is ideal for wedding, event, holiday, family, and sports video productions. Adorage is very easy to use and the effects can be "expanded" to more than 10,000 effects through purchase of Adorage Effects Packages (volumes 1 ~ 9 currently available). The Adorage Starter Kit includes plug-in support for Adobe® Premiere Pro/Elements, AVID® Liquid, Canopus® Edius, Sony® Vegas/Vegas Pro, ULead® Mediastudio, and Magix Video Deluxe 15 NLE applications.

The Vitascene Starter Kit includes 50 of the most popular professional grade effects, film-looks, transitions, and text-effects for professional video editors. Vitascene utilizes your graphics card’s GPU for up to 50 times faster rendering, improved quality, and sharper details. Vitascene Starter Kit users can expand their effects library by upgrading to Vitascene or Vitascene LE. Full plug-in support for Adobe Elements/Premier/Pro AVID Liquid 7.x & Xpress 5.x, Media Composer Adreneline 2.x, Canopus Edius 4.x, 5.x, NEO 1.x, Magix Video Deluxe 2008, Magix Video Deluxe 15, and Sony Vegas 5.x, 6.x, Vegas Pro 7.x, and 8.x.

"The Adorage and Vitascene Starter Kits are proDAD’s way of ensuring that users don’t miss the best effects regardless of whether they are a professional or a hobbyist video editor," said Andreas Huber, general manager of proDAD GmbH. "Simply by installing the Adorage or Vitascene starter Kits users can begin adding creativity to their work immediately with proDAD’s high quality effects, completely free of charge."

The Adorage and Vitascene Starter Kits are immediately available for download:

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Panasonic Upgrades its Advanced Switcher Offering with the New AV-HS400A Multiformat HD/SD Live Switcher

Panasonic has announced the immediate availability of the new AV-HS400A multi-format HD/SD live switcher. The new HS400A offers all the powerful features of its predecessor (AV-HS400) including built-in MultiViewer image preview, full 10-bit HD processing, an expandable HD/SD architecture with 3D digital effects—and adds a host of new capabilities for improved performance and even greater ease of use. The introduction of two additional I/O option cards further expands the versatility of this powerful and cost-effective live switcher.

Among the HS400A’s enhancements are customizable MultiViewer labeling and border functions, many new keyer fuctions, expanded graphics support, and pan-tilt camera control.

The HS400A’s built-in MultiViewer, which can output four, eight, or 10 images from different sources to a single high-resolution display, now features customizable labels for each window – users can easily create custom input window names of up to 6 characters, or quickly select from a list of common names (e.g. CAM7). They also have the ability to adjust brightness or remove labels or the background "bar". The HS400A provides control over frame border brightness as well as a green border for Preset tally (in addition to the red-border Program tallies). Window borders can now be turned off for image magnification (IMAG) or video-wall applications, and the MultiViewer’s large windows can display either Aux or Key out, in addition to Preview or Program.

New key functions added to the HS400A include 3D DVE key effects for dramatic transitions, flying key for dynamic titling effects, a full key for a virtual second picture-in-picture, and many other creative tools.

The HS400A’s many new graphics functions include the ability to import files via Ethernet interface for fast access to titles and pictures, alpha channel support, and more. The HS400A includes HS400Tool software (Windows only) to enable automatic import and sizing of imported TIFF (with Alpha Channel), PNG (with Alpha Channel), BMP, GIF and JPEG images. SD card graphic functions now include support of both JPEG and Bitmap files, and readouts for number of files and remaining card space.

Camera control functions include pan/tilt/zoom/focus operation of a single remote camera via joystick directly from the front panel, or switched operation of up to five remote cameras in conjunction with any current Panasonic AW-RP series camera controller.

Designed for studio or mobile production use, the compact HS400A is easy to use and integrate into existing HD/SD workflow. Its modular architecture comes standard with four HD/SD-SDI inputs and four HD/SD-SDI outputs (1080/59.94i, 720/59.94p, or 480/59.94i), and can be expanded to support up to eight inputs and eight outputs with seven different optional I/O boards. These optional boards enable up-conversion of SD signals to HD, downconversion of HD to SD, and scaling of DVI output to 1900x1200. The switcher maintains a built-in, switchable 10-bit frame synchronizer for each input, for glitch-free switching, even with non-synchronous sources such as Blu-Ray DVD players or remote camera feeds.

Other standard features include tally outputs for up to eight cameras, both built-in LCD and On Screen Display for viewing settings, GPI input, RS-422A remote control, and user-programmable function buttons.

The HS400A is available now at a suggested list price of $11,890.

New option cards for the HS400A include the AV-HS04M6 dual analog composite input card (ideal for use with legacy equipment) and the AV-HS04M7 dual HD/SD-SDI output card with high-quality down-conversion—for facilities requiring simultaneous HD and SD output for IMAG, recording, and Web-casting. The AV-HS04M6 is available now at a suggested list price of $1,990; the AV-HS04M7 is now available at a suggested list price of $2,190.

For more information about the AV-HS400A system, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

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WD Speeds Up My Passport Studio Drive With FireWire 800 Interface

WD (NYSE: WDC) today added a high-speed FireWire(R) 800 interface to its popular My Passport(TM) Studio(TM) portable drive to give Mac(R) computer users and creative professionals the fast performance they need. The new interface also makes this drive a perfect storage companion for the newly introduced Apple(R) MacBook(R) Pro computer. With FireWire 800/400 and USB interfaces, the new My Passport Studio portable drives offer up to 500 GB of storage capacity, are formatted for Mac computers and weigh less than 7 ounces.

"Photographers and videographers, be they creative pros or Mac computer enthusiasts, have a genuine need for large amounts of fast, portable storage for their high-definition files," said Jim Welsh, senior vice president and general manager of WD's Branded Products and Consumer Electronics Groups. "With a new FireWire 800 interface, My Passport Studio speeds up editing and transferring of big media files making it perfect for performance-minded Mac computer users on the go."

A built-in, illuminated capacity gauge tells users how much space is available in the drive and because it is powered by the FireWire or USB connection, it is truly portable. In addition, My Passport Studio can be used to backup Mac laptops using Apple's Time Machine(TM) application.

Availability and Price
Available now at select retailers and at WD's online store (www.shopwd.com), MSRP for My Passport Studio with FireWire 800/400 interfaces and 500 GB capacity is $249.99 USD; MSRP for 400 GB capacity is $229.99 USD. Apple Retail Stores will feature My Passport Studio drives with the new FireWire 800 interface this holiday season.

Ultra-fast and Mac computer-ready, the My Passport Studio portable drive includes the following features:

  • High-performance FireWire 800 interface, plus FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces for maximum flexibility;
  • Turbo-powered with high-speed turbo drivers for maximum performance (Mac computer only);
  • Illuminated capacity gauge lets users see at a glance how much space is available on the drive;
  • Compatible with Apple's Time Machine application so users can back up with Apple's Time Machine, or their favorite back up software;
  • Industry-leading 5-year limited warranty;
  • FireWire or USB powered so no separate power supply is needed(1); and,
  • Formatted HFS+, Journaled for use with Mac computers can be easily reformatted for use with Windows PCs.

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Pegasys TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Video Encoder with NVIDIA CUDA Technology To Be Bundled with MSI NVIDIA Graphics Cards

Pegasys Inc. announced today that MSI will bundle a download link for a special trial version of the new TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Video Encoder with NVIDIA® CUDA™ technology with its new NVIDIA® GeForce® graphic cards beginning in November 2008. NVIDIA CUDA technology offloads much of the processing required for TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress from the CPU to the graphics-processing unit (GPU). The software shows up to 446% performance increase over the CPU-only version. System performance will vary with the computing environment used.

Pegasys has incorporated CUDA technology for filter processing into its flagship video encoding software, TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress. "Bundling our TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Video Encoder with the NVIDIA GeForce graphic cards from MSI will give their customers a glimpse into the incredible graphics processing power that CUDA technology offers. We have been able to use this technology to offload the video decoding and filtering processes onto the GPU and we look forward to working further with NVIDIA to expand the GPU’s processing power to include encoding functions, as well," commented Tak EBINE, Pegasys CEO.

NVIDIA’s CUDA technology is the world’s only C language environment for the GPU. It enables programmers and developers to create software for quickly solving complicated computation problems using GPU multicore parallel processing capabilities. To date, NVIDIA has shipped over 100 million CUDA-enabled GeForce® 8 Series and higher GPUs, the largest installed base of general-purpose, parallel-computing processors ever created. The latest generation of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs offers up to 240 processor cores, compared to a maximum of the four cores found on high-end CPU’s. Any process that can be divided into multiple elements and run in parallel can be programmed to take advantage of the massive processing potential of the GPU.

"MSI is pleased to be working with Pegasys and its TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress encoding software with NVIDIA CUDA technology. This technology is a huge step forward in video processing. Consumers are just beginning to see the results of tapping into the multi-core parallel processing power of an NVIDIA GPU. As Pegasys continues to transfer more of the processing functionality to the GPU, we will continue to see dramatic results that benefit video enthusiasts and casual home movie users looking for simple and fast ways to edit, share, and enjoy video," said Jason Lee, global marketing manager of MSI.

Product Availability
A special trial version of TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress using CUDA technology will be available to purchasers of MSI GeForce based graphics cards starting in November 2008. The retail version of the TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress video encoder using CUDA technology is now available.

For more information about TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress, click here.

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OWC Announces High-Performance SuperDrive Upgrades for Apple Computers

Other World Computing (www.macsales.com), a leading Mac and PC technology company, announced today a full selection of SuperDrive DVD and CD reader/writer options for legacy to current Intel-based Apple computers. Available from $29.99 for Internal and from $71.99 for FireWire+USB 2.0 external models, OWC SuperDrive upgrades feature faster read/write DVD, Dual-Layer DVD, and CD burn speeds up to 20X for DVDs and 48X for CDs. In addition to standard support for DVD+/-R/RW, CD-R/RW, DVD-DL formats, models are also available with features including Blu-ray, LightScribe laser labeling, and DVD-RAM. OWC SuperDrive upgrades and solutions provide cost-effective options for adding the latest optical drive performance and features to virtually any system with "Plug and Play" ease.

Optical Drive Upgrades for Almost Every Mac Introduced Over the Last Decade
Whether upgrading from a factory-installed read-only drive, replacing an older slower SuperDrive, or expanding drive configuration, OWC has internal and external SuperDrive upgrades available for nearly every desktop/tower and notebook Mac computer model introduced over the last decade, including Mac Pro; PowerMac G3/G4/G5; G4 Cube; iMac G4/G5; Mac mini; eMac; PowerBook G4 Titanium 15"; PowerBook G4 12/15/17" Aluminum; and iBook G4.

"You don’t need to buy a new Mac to have the latest optical drive technology," said Larry O’Connor, President, Other World Computing. "It’s very cost effective and easy to upgrade your existing Mac with today’s faster optical drive solutions featuring the latest read/write technologies. For some Macs, just replacing the stock optical drive with an OWC SuperDrive is all that is needed to use Apple Leopard OS 10.5, in addition to enjoying all the extra capabilities of the new drive."

OWC SuperDrive Upgrades have been fully tested for compatibility with most Apple and Windows built-in and third party DVD/CD tools and players, including Apple iTunes, Apple Disc Burner, Apple iDVD, Apple DVD Studio Pro, EMC Retrospect Express, NTI DragonBurn, Roxio Toast, Roxio Easy Media Creator, and Nero Burning. Printed instructions and online installation videos show how easy it is to install and use the latest OWC SuperDrive Upgrade.

For more information on the full line of OWC SuperDrive upgrades for Mac computers, visit the OWC online store.

Rebates up to $45 for Old Drive
OWC offers rebates of up to $45 to users who send in an older working optical drive to upgrade to a new, faster optical drive purchased from OWC. Complete rebate details are available here.

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Ben Balser and New Orleans Video Access Center Announce Last Apple Authorized Training Courses of 2008

Ben Balser and the New Orleans Video Access Center have announced their Final 2008 Apple Authorized Training schedule. To register contact NOVAC at 504-940-5780. Books included with tuition.

Remaining dates are as follows:

  • Color 101
    Introduction to Color
    November 7-9, 2008
    This three-day hands-on course will familiarize students with Apple’s masterful new color grading and finishing software. Start with the basics of color balancing and correction, and move on to the fine points of secondary grading, including scene matching, using vignettes to isolate and track regions, creating advanced color effects and "looks," skin tone adjustments, adjusting the composition and framing of a shot, and much more.

  • DVDSP 101
    Introduction to DVD Studio Pro
    November 21-23, 2008
    This three day hands-on course delves into the world of DVD authoring using DVD Studio Pro 4. In this comprehensive course students will learn everything they need to create a professional DVD title. This course guides students through every aspect of DVD authoring, from initial storyboarding to burning and replication.
    Using compelling media and a real-world production workflow, students will learn how to create amazing MPEG 2 video with Compressor as well as create eye-popping motion menus directly in DVD Studio Pro 4. Students will also "author" a DVD by creating buttons, interactive links, slideshows, playlists and even adding alternate audio stream and camera angles.

  • FCS 101
    Motion Graphics & Effects In Final Cut Studio 2
    December 5-7, 2008
    This three day hands-on course familiarizes students with real-world effects techniques, including filters, layering, composite modes and animating video, graphics and titles. The practical approach to motion graphics focuses on the features of Final Cut Studio that editors and designers need to create motion graphics in their daily work. Using Motion, Final Cut Pro and LiveType, you’ll build creative titles, motion menus, show bumpers and news opens as you learn everything from text animation, compositing, and keyframing to 3D set creation and camera animation.

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Ever After Videos Wins 'Best Wedding Day Film' at IOV Awards 2008 (United Kingdom)

The IOV (Institute of Videography, UK) announced the winners of their annual awards on 15th October at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The IOV Awards cover five key areas of video production, namely Best Corporate, Best Wedding Video, Best Documentary, Best Short Film and Best Open - and are freely open to all IOV members. Ever After Video Productions, based in Sheffield, took part for the first time in the annual competition. This competition, run by the largest professional body for videographers in the UK, is judged by a panel of industry experts. Judges were not only looking for exceptional video production standards, but also originality and creative flair which demonstrate the value to customers of commissioning a professional videographer.

Sylvia Broeckx of Ever After Video Productions entered a wedding film in the wedding category and the company's show reel in the 'open category'. As the only wedding-related finalist in this last category, Sylvia was delighted to get second place. Each year the highlight of the awards ceremony is the announcement of the winner in the 'best wedding film' category. Ever After was extremely proud to hear that their entry 'Claire and Brian, the Wedding' was proclaimed the best wedding film of 2008! The wedding of this Harrogate couple took place in the beautiful setting of Allerton Castle, Leeds.

Sylvia said, "I've always been proud of the films we produce, but getting this kind of recognition from your peers is a great thrill" "I texted Claire and Brian minutes after receiving the award, they were ecstatic to hear their wedding film was 'the best' of the year."

IOV Administrator, Kevin Cook, commented on Sylvia's awards, "The IOV Awards get tougher and tougher each year as the general standards in video production rise. To win an IOV Award is a significant accomplishment indeed. I'm really pleased for Sylvia and hope that this achievement will generate more commissions for Ever After Video Productions in the coming year."


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AliveMedia.net Releases Alive HD Video Converter version

AliveMedia.net, an independent software company, has released Alive HD Video Converter version, a professional and easy-to-use HD video converter program for Windows. Unlike other HD software that requires high-end hardware, Alive HD Video Converter lets you use an ordinary PC to convert AVCHD m2ts, mts, m2t HD video files to other popular video formats which you can use in Microsoft Movie Maker, Windows Media Player, or Adobe Premiere Pro.

AVCHD is a high definition video format used in AVCHD digital camcorders, including Sony HDR-SR12E, Sony HDR-SR1E, Canon HF-100, Canon HG-10, and Panasonic HDC-SD1. Alive HD Video Converter makes it easy to edit footage from AVCHD camcorders in Microsoft Movie Maker or other video editing software.

Currently Alive HD Video Converter supports the following output formats: AVI, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX, XviD, MP4, VOB, MOV and MP3. Moreover, Alive HD Video Converter also supports converting most video formats to HD video format, such as WMV-HD, MPEG2-HD, DivX-HD, Xvid-HD, MPEG4-HD, H.264-HD. This solution makes it possible to watch high definition movies in 1280x720 (720p) or 1920x1080 (1080p) resolutions on all personal computer, PS3, XboX, Apple TV and other devices.

Alive HD Video Converter is an all-in-one video tool that provides an easy way for both of new and advanced users. With only a few clicks, it will be able to complete the conversion quickly. Alive HD Video Converter runs under Windows 98/NT/ME/2K/XP/2003/Vista platforms. A single-user license costs $34.95(US). The free trial version is available here.

For more information about AliveMedia's multimedia software, visit www.alivemedia.net.

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