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Information Today, Inc.

December 15, 2008

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: The Shape of Things to Come
Free Membership at HD Camera Guide Lets Viewers Connect with Manufacturers
Acer Aspire One Launches Nationwide Online Video Contest
Ridata Announces Blazing Fast 300X Supreme Series Compact Flash SLC Card
NewTek LiveSet Pack Now Available
OWC Announces New "Mercury" Internal SuperDrive Kits for MacBook Pro 17" Notebooks
Roxio Launches Easy VHS to DVD
Artbeats Announces Free Video Podcast

The Moving Picture: The Shape of Things to Come

Technology advancements come from all directions, some flowing from professional products to consumers, others flowing from consumer to pros. This column is about the second category—specifically, several enhancements in the $99 Adobe Premiere Elements 7 that professional editors would love to have in Premiere Pro.

What’s new and impressive in Premiere Elements? Most significant is Smart Tagging, which analyzes your footage, breaks it into scenes, identifies scenes containing one or more faces, and identifies clips that are out of focus, shaky, underexposed, or overexposed. Using this qualitative data, Premiere Elements then categorizes all clips as high, medium, or low quality.

In the current version, you can triage your clips based upon these tags. In a wedding video, you can identify all shots containing faces that were at least medium quality, which means they were shaky or improperly exposed, but not both. Then, using a manual tagging paradigm that first appeared in Photoshop Elements, you can further organize your clips. For example, create categories for bride, groom, bride and groom, bridal party, parents, etc., then drag all scenes into one or multiple groups.

This manual stuff sounds like a lot of work, but it goes quickly. When it’s time to create a montage of the bride and groom or to find all shots containing the bride’s mother, the raw clips are one or two clicks away. You can even sort the clips by time and day, a great way to separate clips from the rehearsal dinner and wedding day.

In the wedding videos I’ve done, easy access to these types of tags would have saved hours over the lame approach I used, which was copying and renaming scenes with names such as brideandmother.avi. Imagine what tags could do for coaches analyzing game film, documentarians assembling rough cuts, or producers working with any kind of video where they have to create a greatest hits or similar compilation from mounds of source footage.

Tagging is great, but where do I think Adobe is going with this? Well, think about it: Adobe just classified clips as shaky, overexposed, or underexposed. What’s the next step? Applying anti-shake and brightness and contrast filters, of course. It really wouldn’t be that hard.

In Premiere Elements, most adjustments are fully “auto” anyway. Just apply the auto-brightness effect to the clip that’s too dark, or apply image stabilization to the shaky footage. Place an icon on the footage so the editor knows it’s there, but save her the effort of applying the necessary filter herself.

Adobe hasn’t confirmed (or denied) that this is coming, but you can imagine future versions of Premiere (Pro and Elements) analyzing your clips; identifying all of them with motion, exposure, or color-related problems; and suggesting solutions. It could even group problem clips from the same tape so you can correct one and apply the fix to all. This type of analysis could save literally hours of work.

Next up is InstantMovie, which is the merger of Smart Tagging and Themes. Briefly, a Theme is a type of “auto-movie” function that analyzes your clips; finds the best scenes; adds a theme-specific array of cuts, effects, transitions, and the like; and distills the whole affair to match the duration of the background music (or any selected duration). In previous versions, as well as version 7, you can apply Themes to clips you’ve added to the timeline.

InstantMovie, which lets you apply Themes to clips analyzed with Smart Tagging, is new in v7. When this occurs, Premiere Elements analyzes the selected clips, eliminates the poor shots, finds the shots that best match the tone of the Theme, and applies the Theme to those clips. When this process is complete, Premiere Elements deposits the InstantMovie on the timeline, which you can edit to your heart’s delight. Creating a montage of clips of the bride and groom together over their wedding weekend would literally take minutes.

In the weddings I’ve done, I created short montages to help bridge the gap between major sequences. For example, 25 minutes of footage shot while guests arrive at the synagogue might convert into a short music video to introduce the ceremony, showcasing all the noted guests.

Creating these 2–3 minute segments manually can literally take hours, and it did, before I started using muvee autoProducer as a starting point. The problem with muvee is that you can’t easily delete unwanted sequences on the input side or edit the result. You can only output the finished video and input that into your editor to carve out unwanted scenes or add a few must-haves.

Certainly auto-movie functions play a limited role in professional production, but if you’re producing montages of any type, these tools are worth a look. With Smart Tagging and easy post-creation editing (that is, the ability to edit the project in the timeline after the application creates the auto-movie), Premiere Elements does it best.

Premiere Elements lacks many of the features needed for full-throttle professional productions, including multicam tools, multiple sequences, scopes, and manual color correction tools. Still, it might be a great add-on to your current toolset for some editing activities, and it’s definitely a harbinger of features to come in pro-level tools.

Jan Ozer (janozer at doceo.com) is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media.

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Free Membership at HD Camera Guide Lets Viewers Connect with Manufacturers

HD Camera Guide is quickly becoming the one-stop source for interactive and video-rich information on leading HD cameras, lenses and accessories from companies that include Sony, Ikegami, Panasonic, Hitachi, JVC, Grass Valley, Red, Canon, Autoscript and many more.

Now visitors can join for free, and in addition to accessing valuable purchasing information, provide their own commentary and ratings on all cameras, nominate products for the site’s “Quality Counts” award, submit videos for posting consideration, and even enter to win a Dell Computer.

“We’ve created a community that supports and enhances the marketing of innovative products, which have long been the strength of the broadcast and cinematography business,” states Michael Grotticelli, Editor-in-Chief of HD Camera Guide.com. “In addition, by logging in, viewers can rate and comment on a wide range of HD cameras; information we will forward to the manufacturers for their review.”

Since its recent introduction in November, HD Camera Guide.com http://www.HDCameraGuide.com has quickly grown in popularity. 

“There’s no other site in the high-quality video product industry that appears in more page 1 Google results for as many different keyword combinations and product searches as HD Camera Guide,” adds Grotticelli. “And since viewers can link to the manufacturer’s websites, while remaining on ours, we are attracting a substantial number of unique visitors.

The need for an online resource that champions the highest quality cameras, lenses, and production accessories has never been greater, as advancements in technology continue to support the broadcast and movie-making communities in new and innovative ways. Better quality begets a better result. With the introduction of 1080/60p large screen TVs into the consumer marketplace, the need for broadcasters to repurpose content for distribution to multiple platforms, and the public’s hunger for better and more unique content, optimal-quality HD video is more critical than ever before.

 HD Camera Guide includes such features as exclusive video interviews, product-introduction videos, a video-rich Learning Center, an Interactive Lens Selector, pertinent news, and more.

“There’s a lot of great HD equipment out there, and a wide range of support products, but it’s not always easy to determine what to buy,” states Grotticelli. HD Camera Guide is a single-source product-marketing site that connects buyers with products using informative videos, interactive tools, and exclusive content. And with Google, it’s easy to get here from there.”

About HDCameraGuide.com
http://www.HDCameraGuide.com is free to users of all types, featuring an attractive, easy-to-use graphic interface that enables viewers to take advantage of product-specific information. Professionals are encouraged to visit and see for themselves what the excitement is all about.

The manufacturers listed above are trademarked and/or registered names of those respective corporations, and have no ownership in HD Camera Guide.


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Acer Aspire One Launches Nationwide Online Video Contest

Acer, the third largest vendor in the worldwide PC market (source: Gartner data, 1H 2008) today announced the Want One? Online Video Contest. The contest, created to celebrate the spirit of the Aspire One, the first netbook launched by Acer, gives participants the chance to write, direct and make their own video and submit their best work for a chance to score worldwide recognition and win fantastic prizes like an Aspire One netbook, an Xbox 360, Microsoft Zune 8 GB MP3 player, cash and more.

The contest gives anyone with a video camera and imagination the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world. Videos should illustrate power, freedom, and style – everything that the Aspire One stands for and the winners will be decided by the public and based on total YouTube views, comments, honors and overall ratings.

For more information and full contest rules and even some inspiration, participants can check out Acer’s new television commercial at www.wantonecontest.com.

The winning participants, therefore, will not only have to demonstrate their filmmaking skills, but also their ability to get the word out using their personal website, blogs, online forums, and social networks like MySpace and Facebook to tell people about their video.

Submissions must be made by January 20th, 2009, but viewers can rate entries until the contest closes on January 22, 2009. The winners will be announced on the Aspire One web site, www.wantonecontest.com, on February 17th, 2009.

Unveiled in July 2008, the ultra light weight and compact Aspire One drew instant attention, receiving the “Laptop of the Year Award” in addition to the distinguished “Editor’s Choice Award” by LAPTOP Magazine.

The Aspire One features a full keyboard, Windows XP Home Edition, Wi-Fi and 3G[1] connectivity, and is available in four colors from fine retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart.

For more information and full contest rules, visit http://www.wantonecontest.com.

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Ridata Announces Blazing Fast 300X Supreme Series Compact Flash SLC Card

Advanced Media, Inc., manufacturer and marketer of the popular Ridata brand of recordable DVD, flash media, electronic storage products, solar power and digital accessories announces a new 300X speed CF flash Memory card for professional photographers and other critical mobile devices. The Ridata® 16GB/300x SLC (Single Level Cell) Supreme CompactFlash® card boasts a large capacity (16GB) and one of the fastest transfer rates available.

“Professional photographers are faced with shooting larger, high resolution - once in a lifetime photos. They cannot risk losing these photos or their clients. We developed the Ridata 300X SLC CF card for these people,” remarked Harvey Liu, president of Advanced Media, Inc. “In today’s world of sophisticated mobile digital products needing secure SLC data storage and faster read times it just makes sense.”

The Ridata 16GB/300X CF card is ideal for users of higher megapixel digital cameras, MP3 players, and PDAs. Its large 16GB capacity allows more storage while virtually eliminating the nagging wait time for data to record. Designed to work with most devices and operating systems, it can withstand extreme operating temperatures, ranging from below freezing to excessive heat.

Its 300x high-speed reading capability equates to approximately 45MB/per sec, while the high-speed writing capability is about 31MB/per second. (Note: Speeds may vary depending on device used.)

The Single Level Cell (SLC) CF card includes many superior technical features Ridata products are known for. Some of these are: safer single bit per cell storage; controller support for Ultra DMA Mode up to Mode 4; 8 or 16-bit host transfer support with any host speed using IORDY; and embedded Error Correction Code (ECC). The card also provides forward and backward functionality.

The Ridata 16GB/300x Supreme Series CF card is an excellent choice in solid-state mass-storage cards for SLR cameras or other applications that require high-environmental tolerance. It offers flash technology ruggedness, reliability, performance, and convenience. An automatic power management feature assures low power consumption.

Cost and Availability
The Ridata 16GB/300x Supreme Series CompactFlash card is competitively street priced. It is available through selected retailers, Ridata distributors, and at various online outlets, including Amazon.com. A complete listing of locations may be found on the Advanced Media/Ridata website. It carries a two-year warranty.

The Ridata website now offers a tutorial with tips on how to care and handle flash media. Some of the topics covered include formatting cards, when and how; the importance of programs such as ‘PhotoRescue’ to ensure proper image recovery; problems with over shooting cards; mixing cards between different systems, good or bad idea; and when to remove cards from a product.

For more information, visit www.ritekusa.com.

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NewTek LiveSet Pack Now Available

NewTek Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading video and 3D animation products, today announced the release of NewTek LiveSet™ Pack Volume 1, a series of five virtual sets designed for use with TriCaster PRO™, TriCaster STUDIO™ and TriCaster BROADCAST™ portable live production and virtual set systems and VT [5] production suite.

"NewTek LiveSet Packs allow video producers to add high production value without adding to their budget," said Rex Olson, vice president, content development, NewTek Inc. "Now, it's easy to get a large expensive studio look in a very small production space."

Inspired by major news, sports and entertainment shows, NewTek LiveSet Pack Volume 1 enhances live production with two-person sets. It also offers additional set locations to enable the inclusion of reporters or guests from a secondary reporting station and double box effects, which allows the background display to be either video or the virtual set environment.

Pricing and Availability
NewTek LiveSet Pack Volume 1 is available worldwide for US$395. For more information, please visit www.NewTek.com.

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OWC Announces New "Mercury" Internal SuperDrive Kits for MacBook Pro 17" Notebooks

Other World Computing (OWC®) http://www.macsales.com, a leading Mac and PC technology company, announced today two new OWC “Mercury” SuperDrive Internal Upgrade Kits for MacBook Pro 17" notebook computers.  The new OWC Mercury SuperDrive Internal Upgrade Kits provide low-cost options for adding the latest optical drive performance and features to MacBook Pro 17" notebook computers, with faster read/write for DVD+/-R/RW, Dual-Layer DVD, DVD-RAM, and CD-R/RW; and burn speeds of up to 8X for DVDs and 24X for CDs. 

Available immediately priced starting at $89.99, new OWC Mercury SuperDrive Internal Upgrade Kits for MacBook Pro 17" notebooks include two models:

  • OWC Mercury MacBook Pro 17" SuperDrive Dual-Layer Internal Drive Kit.  Features burn speeds of up to 8X for DVD-R, 6X for DVD-DL, 5X for DVD-RAM, and 24X for CD and a 1 year OWC warranty.

Priced at $89.99.

  • OWC Mercury MacBook Pro 17" SuperDrive Dual-Layer Internal Drive Kit (with media and software).  Features burn speeds of up to 8X for DVD-R, 6X for DVD-DL, 5X for DVD-RAM, and 24X for CD.  Includes 10 pieces of 8X DVD-R media in a jewel case, EMC Retrospect backup software, NTI DragonBurn CD/DVD authoring software, and a 1 year OWC warranty. 

Priced at $104.99.

For more information on OWC Mercury MacBook Pro 17" SuperDrive Internal Drive Kits, visit: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/superdrive/MacBook_Pro_17

Optical Drive Upgrades for Nearly Every Mac Introduced Over the Last Decade Priced Starting at $27.99

OWC also has internal and external SuperDrive upgrades for nearly every desktop/tower and notebook Mac computer introduced over the last decade, including Mac Pro, MacBook 13", MacBook Pro 15", 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.   If you’d like to upgrade from a factory-installed DVD read-only drive; replace a slower or inoperative SuperDrive; or expand drive capabilities, OWC has the best solutions, with prices starting at $27.99 for Internal SuperDrives and from $71.99 for External FireWire+USB 2.0 SuperDrives.  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, OWC SuperDrives are also available with features for Blu-ray, LightScribe laser labeling, and DVD-RAM support.

The new OWC Mercury SuperDrive Dual-Layer Internal Drive Kits have been fully tested for compatibility with 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 these internal optical drives.

For more information on the full line of OWC SuperDrive Upgrades for Mac computers, see: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/optical-drives/superdrives/

Rebates up to $25 for Old Optical Drives 

OWC offers rebates of up to $25 to users who send in any older working optical drive to upgrade to a new, faster SuperDrive purchased from OWC.  Complete rebate details are available at:



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Roxio Launches Easy VHS to DVD

Roxio(R), a division of Sonic Solutions(R) (Nasdaq: SNIC), the leader in digital media software, today announced the immediate availability of Roxio Easy VHS to DVD, a combination of software and hardware that enables users to quickly digitize analog recordings stored on VHS tapes. Users simply attach the included hardware to their high-speed USB 2.0 port, then capture from virtually any analog video or audio source. S-Video and composite-video inputs enable full-resolution DVD recording from VCRs, VCR/DVD combo players, and analog camcorders including Hi8 and V8 models. Roxio's latest consumer application, Roxio Easy VHS to DVD, is available direct from Roxio at http://www.roxio.com for $59.99 and will be introduced in retail stores worldwide in January.

See how it works here: http://www.CopyVHStoDVDWithRoxio.com

"The clock is ticking on massive amounts of irreplaceable analog recordings from aging footage of weddings, baby's first steps, reunions, and other special family moments, to collections of classic TV episodes, movies and concerts," said Vito Salvaggio, vice president of consumer products, Roxio division of Sonic Solutions. "With Easy VHS to DVD, we've made it point-and-click easy for families to preserve, rediscover, revive, and relive this content on PC, DVD, or mobile devices."

Easy VHS to DVD includes an assistant for automatically capturing and converting analog video directly onto DVD. The application also comes equipped with a full-featured video editor that enables users to apply filters to correct video quality, rearrange or remove unwanted video segments, and spice things up with a range of transitions, titles and effects.

Easy VHS to DVD also includes an innovative DVD authoring application complete with professionally designed templates that enable users to easily create personalized DVDs with motion menus, menu-to-menu transitions, animated buttons and custom navigation. With the included express labeler, users can also create personalized disc and case artwork. As well as enabling output to DVD, video can also be easily converted and exported for optimal playback on a range of mobile devices including the iPod(R), iPhone(R), and PSP(R) or prepared for posting and sharing via online services or social networking sites.

In addition to being an easy way to preserve personal video content and entertainment, Roxio Easy VHS to DVD also enables consumers to transfer their favorite collections of LPs and tapes onto CDs or portable players. To streamline the process, the product includes features for automatically splitting an LP into individual tracks and for labeling them with the correct artist, song, and album information.


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Artbeats Announces Free Video Podcast

Transform everyday projects into masterpieces in motion with expert tips from Artbeats' new video podcast. World-renowned for its extensive library of royalty-free stock footage, Artbeats is now widely recognized as a source for creative inspiration and educational tools for incorporating motion into your everyday projects. The latest addition to the company's line-up is a bi-weekly video podcast hosted by award-winning and industry-recognized motion designer Steve Holmes of Energi Design. Titled 'Real World Footage Effects,' the Artbeats podcast is intended to inspire and instruct both novice and expert motion designers by providing short, professional tips that they can regularly count on to help optimize creativity. The first three installments are currently available on iTunes, in both a standard hi-resolution version and an iPod version, as well as on the Artbeats website. Each episode demonstrates specific techniques in Adobe After Effects for editing video projects in innovative ways. To subscribe to the free bi-weekly podcast, please visit www.artbeats.com/podcast.

"These podcasts do precisely what it says on the box: Real World Footage Effects," said Steve Holmes, host and co-creator of the podcast, and creative director of Energi Design. "These are techniques and solutions that we use in the Energi studio every day for our motion graphics and title projects, and people at any level can get a lot of interesting, useful and fun information from these sessions. Short and sweet, to the point-but with maximum effect!"

The new podcast is an addition to Artbeats' popular resource section, which includes video tutorials, clips of finished professional projects and written tutorials. Presented by top names in the motion design industry, all of these educational tools are provided free of charge on the Artbeats website. For more information visit www.artbeats.com/resource.

About Energi Design
Award-winning designer Steve Holmes is the Creative Director of Energi Design. After working the first 15 years of his career in London and some of Europe's major design capitals, British-born Steve moved Energi Design to Sausalito, Calif. in 2002. World-renowned for his knowledge, experience and motion graphics magic in After Effects, he brings a global design ethic to his work in graphic design, typography, Web design and motion graphics animation. Contracting with a selection of prestigious clients, Energi Design has created interactive Web design and video motion graphics pieces for companies such as Artbeats, Adobe, Nike, Hiball Energy Drink, Vinet Ege and Project Sport, and has received numerous Webby, W3 and Davey Awards for its work. View their demo reel at www.clickenergi.com.

About Artbeats
Artbeats, founded in 1989, is an award-winning provider of royalty-free stock footage for broadcast, feature films, commercial, multimedia, game development and independent producers. The Artbeats library encompasses an extensive array of royalty-free NTSC, PAL, HD, and RED hi-resolution clips in a variety of subjects including aerials, cities, nature scenics, special effects, medical animations, international locations and much more. Customers can view the entire library online, and Artbeats' comprehensive, user-friendly website makes it easy for customers to find, purchase and download royalty-free footage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Artbeats is headquartered in Myrtle Creek, Ore. with a staff of artists, producers, technicians and marketers. Some of Artbeats' clients include Dreamworks, Comedy Central, BBC, Cartoon Network, MTV, American Idol, Universal Studios, Pixar, CNN, and many more. For more information or to purchase clips, visit the company's website at www.artbeats.com.

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