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May 28, 2009

Table of Contents

The Untouchables: IVA Brings World-Class Filmmakers to Chicago for Midwest Expo 2009
Canon Enables Manual Exposure in Video on EOS 5D Mark II
Singular Software Releases World's First Multi-Camera Automatic Synchronization Product
Bella Corporation Ships the HD Mouse and Updates Drivers
Panasonic Releases Downloadable Scene Files For AG-HPX300 P2 HD Camcorder
Dulce Systems Introduces the PRO Q
Boris Continuum Complete 6 FxPlug Now Available

The Untouchables: IVA Brings World-Class Filmmakers to Chicago for Midwest Expo 2009

Back in May 2005 when EventDV was still in launch mode, I attended a WEVA Town Meeting in Chicago. It was a cool event for me because it gave me my first opportunity to talk with Brett Culp and Monica Arellano Crafts of Creative Video Productions (now Brett Culp Films), Lance Gray of PixelPops Design, and local hero Kris Malandruccolo of Elegant Videos by Kris, who had just become the first wedding videographer interviewed in U.S. News & World Report.

Times have changed a great deal for event videographers and cinematographers in the last four years, and, truth be told, the times they were a-changing then: WEVA was in the process of phasing out the Town Meeting model in favor of other ways of connecting with members between Expos, and that 2005 event turned out to be the last Town Meeting held in Chicago.

Left to right: Michael Wong, Patrick Moreau, Kevin Shahinian, Keith Kelly, Steve Zagata, Chris Chibucos (photo by Kris Malandruccolo)Undaunted, the Illinois Videographers Association (IVA) started its own annual event, IVA Midwest Expo, in 2007, and if the 2009 installment is any indication, it's been a rousing success. Held May 20 at the William Tell Holiday Inn in Countryside, Ill., the one-day conference program not only delivered a strong mix of nationally recognized local talent (Furlavision's Chris Chibucos, Keith Kelly of Innovative Communications, and Steve Zagata of Video Active Productions), but also two presenters from one of the hottest studios on the planet, Patrick Moreau and Michael Y. Wong of StillMotion. But perhaps the real "find" of the show was Kevin Shahinian of Pacific Pictures, who set the wedding concept film on its ear with his late-2008 Bollywood short, Tum Hi Ho, and was making (to my knowledge) his debut as a presenter in our industry.

Concept Love Story master and EventDV 25 honoree Chris Chibucos kicked off the day with a presentation called "HD in the Real World" that did a great job of breaking down and demystifying HD production for the 70+ attendees, touching on format differences, shooting tips, applying filters such as Sapphire GenArts and Boris's skin softening filters effectively in post, and concluding with Blu-ray authoring and delivery. Chibucos also showed a number of arresting HD clips that underscored why his company has been so successful, and has transitioned so smoothly into the HD era.

StillMotion followed with "The Art of Wedding Cinema," with Shahinian chiming in with color commentary. The two-part presentation (two 90-minute sessions with lunch in between) focused on several of StillMotion's recurring themes, including storytelling, customizing every production to the bride and groom and your understanding of who they are, and approaching events as a cinematographer making a film rather than simply a videographer there to record what happens. While discussing the advantages of using different lenses to get the types of shots you want and to convey the story you want to tell, one of the most interesting points they made in the presentation concerned mastering the equipment you have before going out and buying more expensive gear. "When you know how to use your shutter speeds and focal lengths to tell a story," Moreau said, "you don't need the best toys." Shahinian added, "The story will dictate the equipment you need."

While discussing the advantages of shooting with 35mm adapters and cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II that enhance a shooter's ability to control depth of field, Moreau encouraged attendees not to do snazzy DoF tricks simply because they look cool. "What does shallow depth of field add?" he asked. "Why do we use it? Are we trying to highlight the subject or hide what's behind them so we can rack-focus to it to tell a story or preserve mystery?" Emphasizing the shooter's need to know the "motivation" behind each shot, Wong said, "We isolate the attention of the viewer to heighten the emotional impact. It mimics the way the human mind works," he explained, seeing and focusing selectively, and hiding what will be revealed later.

Expanding on the notion of motivated shots in the afternoon session, Moreau said, "A lot of us fall into a trap where we use black and white, slo-mo, fisheyes, etc., in ways that aren't motivated." Cautioning in particular against the overuse of slo-mo, Moreau explained, "I've only got 4 minutes to convince you to hire me when you see clips on my website. I don't want to show you the same thing for too long."

After a word from the event's sponsors (Canon, Grass Valley, Panasonic, and a handful of others), the program rolled on with "Booking Your Top Package Every Time," an insightful sales seminar from the IVA's own Keith Kelly of Innovative Communications. "Since I started my current method of selling back in 2000," Kelly said, "I've booked around 80% of the couples who've walked in the door, and all but one couple have picked my best package."

Kelly touched on a number of elements in his sales setup and approach, with tips on the sales environment. One interesting tip concerned the Superman memorabilia collection that Kelly keeps on proud display in his home studio, which clients see immediately when they come in. "Superman has nothing to do with weddings, per se," he explained, "but it does show a sense of nostalgia, creativity, and uniqueness-all of which help to paint a unique portrait of myself and of Innovative Communications. It's also something that many clients go ‘wow' over, and it makes them forget for a bit that a salesman is going to try to talk them into spending several thousand dollars."

Kelly also encouraged attendees to get prospects into the studio for a demo to move beyond the impersonality of choosing a videographer based on what prospects see online--and the difficulty of booking high-end packages based on that sort of comparison-shopping. "Unless the bride and groom are very strongly recommended by a close friend, a relative, or a bridal consultant, the first thing they'll do after checking your site is to go web surfing and compare packages. If they find samples that look comparable, and the prices are lower, you'll probably lose the customer ... I think we all know that our work is not generic, and that there are as many different ways to produce wedding videos as there are stars in the sky. Yet the web reduces most work to the lowest common denominator. "

Kelly also walked attendees through right and wrong strategies for the initial sales calls, and brought up a "bridal couple"--ably portrayed by Barb and Scott Scheman (IVA Treasurer and VP, respectively)--to demonstrate his in-studio sales process. Key to it all, he said, is to "get them talking": "Shut up and listen and let them tell you how to sell them."

Kelly concluded with a few words on defining packages, asking for the sale, and the "soft close": "My key objectives are to make them feel good about possibly choosing me, and also to leave them with a tear in their eye ... If you do it right ... they will book you, and they will book your top package."

Next up (after dinner) was L.A.-based Kevin Shahinian of Tum Hi Ho and Production Diary: Tum Hi Ho fame, introduced by IVA president Keith Anderson as "wedding video's most eligible bachelor." Shahinian described an approach to wedding filmmaking that would probably have been unthinkable to most people in this industry a half-decade ago. His primary topic was how to produce and sell the sort of concept films on which he's built his reputation. While acknowledging that his studio didn't make money off of Tum Hi Ho, it's enabled him to sell the several high-end projects he's booked since then. To book these sorts of projects, he said, "You cannot think of your market as the 20 miles around your house ... Market in L.A. Poach my clients ... Start thinking globally and you'll run out of excuses." He also explained that selling the first concept film won't be a case of the bride and groom coming to you and asking for it; "It will be a conversion."

Other key talking points in his seminar included the advantages of writing a shooting script in "screenplay format" in order to know how long your film will be and how to budget it; scouting locations for sight and sound; and tips on writing for non-actors and directing them. This last topic was perhaps the most valuable part of Shahinian's talk, since the performances he draws out of his actors is one area in which his work has clearly set a new standard for our industry.

Closing out the night was the IVA's own Steve Zagata of Video Active Productions, speaking on the different mindset an event videographer needs to adopt when switching into corporate work (or combining the two). My ride to Madison departed after Shahinian's seminar, so Reel Deal columnist and IVA president emeritus Kris Malandruccolo reported on the key points of Zagata's talk: "Steve likes corporate work because he gets the weekends off. He said it is really hard to do both corporate and weddings because then you are working all the time! He said you need a different mindset when migrating over to corporate. You need to learn how to juggle, be a politician, organizer, planner, and a leader, not a follower. You also get more creative freedom, more repeat business, better networking, and more money."

Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV and program director EventDV-TV. 

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Canon Enables Manual Exposure in Video on EOS 5D Mark II

Canon announced today it will release a firmware update for the EOS 5D Mark II allowing users to manually control exposure when shooting video. The new firmware will be available for download June 2 on Canon's support website.

Following the launch of the EOS 5D Mark II in September 2008, Canon's Research and Development team has listened closely to customer feedback to develop additions to the camera's movie recording functionality. Allowing EOS 5D Mark II owners to achieve even more stunning video results with the camera, the firmware update will include the following manual controls when shooting video:

  • Full aperture selection
  • ISO speed: Auto, 100 - 6400 and H1
  • Shutter speed: 1/30th - 1/4000th second

The EOS 5D Mark II integrates full HD movie capability into a high-end 21.1 Megapixel camera; opening a multitude of new possibilities for photo-journalists and news photographers. Since its launch the camera has proved its appeal to professionals working in diverse fields, from studio and wedding to nature and travel. Now, following customer feedback, Canon has improved functionality for professional video users, further unleashing the potential of the EOS 5D Mark II for cinematographers and photographers alike.

http://usa.canon.com

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Singular Software Releases World's First Multi-Camera Automatic Synchronization Product

Singular Software Inc. has released PluralEyes, a new product that automatically synchronizes audio and video clips without the need for timecode. Targeted at the independent video professional, PluralEyes drastically simplifies multicamera productions, both during filming and in post-production.

PluralEyes determines synchronization information from audio that is already present in the recorded material. During the shoot, there is no need to connect cameras and audio recorders or take any other special steps to prepare. And when shooting is done, the creative editing process can get started right away without the time-consuming step of matching clips manually. This removes the biggest bottlenecks in both production and post-production.

Multiple camera angles and separate audio make all kinds of video productions really come alive: weddings, music videos, corporate events, online training, interviews and news gathering are some examples. Today's equipment and editing software are affordable and help with some of the process, but leave it to the user to take care of synchronization. PluralEyesTM fills that gap.
D.I.S. Consulting Corporation has recently reported that more than 65% of audio-video professionals surveyed picked multicamera and automation features as the most desirable in a new video editing system. PluralEyes directly addresses these needs with a fully automated, one-button synchronization process.

Early users of PluralEyes have already saved hours of time and say that it "worked fantastically," is "truly amazing" and is "very easy to use."

Bruce Sharpe, CEO of Singular Software, said, "Multiple camera angles and separate audio make all kinds of video productions really come alive: weddings, music videos, corporate events, online training, interviews and news gathering are some examples. Today's equipment and editing software are affordable and help with some of the process, but leave it to the user to take care of synchronization. PluralEyes fills that gap."

The first version of PluralEyes works with Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software and is priced at $149 USD. Trial versions of PluralEyesTM can be downloaded from the product website at http://www.singularsoftware.com/autosync/.

About Singular Software
Singular Software Inc. makes software for audio and video professionals. Already well known as the developers of the popular podcasters' tool The Levelator, the company specializes in creating new technology to automate and simplify production workflow.

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Bella Corporation Ships the HD Mouse and Updates Drivers

Bella Corporation, a leading producer of innovative and award-winning video products, today announced they are shipping their latest product, the HD Mouse. Bella also announced that version 3.0 software drivers are now available for their award winning jog/shuttle keyboards.

The HD Mouse
The wireless HD Mouse delivers the ultimate multimedia experience, providing exciting capabilities not found in any other mouse. Using patented technology in Bella's exclusive HD software, mouse movements (X and Y axis) can be defined to provide intuitive gesture-type control, such as transforming the HD Mouse into a jog/shuttle controller for video editing enthusiasts. Power users will appreciate being able to program any keystroke, combination keystroke or series of keystrokes (macros) to any of the buttons, scroll wheel or mouse movement.

Intuitive Control
Users can easily switch between standard mouse operation and HD mode by simply clicking on the scroll wheel. A customizable, application specific on-screen display can also be activated to provide mouse feedback. With included presets for popular Mac and Windows applications, multiple predefined, program specific actions, and nearly an infinite number of user defined choices, the HD Mouse provides the ultimate convenience and unparalleled performance.

Power & Speed
Whether it's basic navigation, high-end gaming, graphics or HD content creation, the wireless HD Mouse (up to 26 feet) is up to the most challenging tasks. Offering a slip resistant grip with its rubberized body and comfort in either hand, the HD Mouse provides a powerful 1600 DPI resolution at a blazing 3000 frames per second.

The HD Mouse has an MSRP of $69.95 and is available through numerous retail channels as well as directly via the Bella Corporation web site at www.Bella-USA.com

New Jog/Shuttle Keyboard Drivers Now Available

JSM 3.0 Driver
The JSM Version 3.0 Drivers are now available for free download for both Mac and Windows users. Besides an updated interface look, the new driver is fully compatible with Windows XP / Vista 32 and 64 bit versions. Now included with the driver is an On Screen Display (OSD), which can be activated depending on a user's needs. Application specific, the OSD can be placed anywhere on the screen to provide shuttle feedback, further enhancing productivity. The new drivers are available free via the Bella web site at http://www.bella-usa.com/Support/Drivers.htm

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Panasonic Releases Downloadable Scene Files For AG-HPX300 P2 HD Camcorder

Panasonic Broadcast announced the availability of a wide range of scene files for the popular AG-HPX300 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder with AVC-Intra recording. The downloadable scene files provide users with an array of new "looks" to increase their creativity. They are available at http://www.panasonic.com/scenefiles.  

P2 HD scene files allow users to move quickly from one preferred look to another without having to make manual setting adjustments to tone and color in the camera. The scene files feature creative looks suited for shooting sports, independent films, news, beauty, music videos, night scenes and more. The new scene files can be easily downloaded onto an SD card and read from the camera's built-in SD card slot. Instructions to download the HPX300 scene files are available at http://www.panasonic.com/scenefiles.  

About the HPX300
The AG-HPX300 provides the ultimate quality and flexibility in an affordable, full-size HD shoulder-mount. Incorporating an innovative, low profile shoulder mounted design, the HPX300 P2 HD camcorder offers independent frame AVC-Intra recording, variable frame rates and the flexibility of interchangeable lens. The two-slot camera records stunning images in a variety of formats from master quality AVC-Intra and production quality DVCPRO HD to standard definition DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV. Features such as selectable gamma, Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS) ensure optimum performance in a wide range of applications. For more information, visit http://www.panasonic.com/P2HD.

About Panasonic Broadcast
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a Unit of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE Symbol: PC) and the hub of Panasonic's U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.  

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Dulce Systems Introduces the PRO Q

Dulce Systems improves the already robust field-proven PCI-Express RAID storage array with a number of features that benefit creative professionals using their desktops and laptops. Using four high performance and cost effective 3.5" 3Gb SATA disk drives in a newly designed mini tower enclosure which also houses the updated RAID controller and provides a total RAID-protected capacity of up to 4 TB.

The PRO Q implements the attractive and proprietary all metal drive tray, which provides efficient cooling to the disk drives and more effective heat dissipation, ensuring the drives are operating in their optimal environmental configuration.

The PRO Q is equipped with the latest Extended PCI-Express technology, incorporating a power efficient, low heat, super fast Host Bus Extender (HBE) interface running at 20Gb/s (PCI-Express x8 lanes) to extend the computer's PCI-Express bus to the PRO Q enclosure. An available 8 lane PCI-Express slot is required, but the typical power requirements and heat generation are removed from the host computer keeping it running cooler. An 8 lane clip lock secured PCI-Express cable is supplied to connect the HBE to the PRO Q enclosure. A maximum cable length of 10 meters will fit most edit suite requirements.

Use the PRO Q on the Mac Pro desktop or Macbook Pro laptop, jump between the two as the need requires and have access to all your projects and media. The PRO Q is laptop compatible; a built-in PCI-Express x1 port is available to work with laptops equipped with an available ExpressCard 34 slot. Take your creativity with you, edit in the studio or edit on-location.

The updated field proven high performance RAID controller, supporting RAID 0, 1, 3, & 5 protection, connects to four 3Gb SATA disk modules operating at 7200RPM. An impressive set of data rates breaks all records; in the performance RAID 0 stripe mode the PRO Q measures 400MB/sec, in the drive redundant RAID 5 mode the PRO DQ measures 300MB/sec - plenty fast for multiple streams of video resolutions; DV, HDV, DVCPRO HD, ProRes HQ, and uncompressed SD/HD.

The PRO Q is Mac and PC compatible and is certified to work with Apple's Final Cut Studio, Adobe's Premiere Pro and other popular editor and creation applications.

RAID and enclosure management tools monitor fan speed/temperature and RAID status/management with any web browser and additionally include e-mail event notification and remote host controlled power on/off.

The PRO Q is compatible with the PRO EX PCI-express Expander. If additional storage is required the PRO Q can be expanded using the PRO EX PCI-express Expander. If even more storage is required, multiple PRO EX's can be daisy chained for virtually unlimited online storage.

www.dulcesystems.com

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Boris Continuum Complete 6 FxPlug Now Available

Boris FX, the leading developer of integrated effects technology for video and film, announced that Boris Continuum Complete 6 FxPlug (BCC 6 FxPlug) for Apple Pro Video Applications is now available.

BCC 6 FxPlug brings over 200 filters to Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Final Cut Express. In addition to new features included with the recently-released Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE for Adobe - such as Extruded Text, Splines, and Shapes - BCC 6 FxPlug takes advantage of Apple FxPlug's real-time architecture for simultaneous live previews of dozens of preset transitions, glows, and color and film look effects in a newly-designed effects browser window.

The initial release of BCC 6 FxPlug features over a dozen new FxPlug Shaders. Many of the FxPlug Shaders draw on BCC strengths such as lights, keying, and 3D. FxPlug Shaders are unique to Apple Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, and Motion, tying directly to each host application's render pipe for maximum efficiency and render speed.

New BCC 6 FxPlug Feature Highlights
28 New Filters ranging from realistic 3D vector graphics extrusions to organic 3D deformers to painting and image restoration. The new 3D Objects category includes Extruded Text, Extruded EPS, Extruded Spline, Type-On Text, and Layer Deformer. New image restoration filters include DV Fixer, Smooth Tone, and Pixel Fixer. New image painting filters consist of Charcoal Sketch, Pencil Sketch, Water Color, and Cartoon Look. New OpenGL filters include Lightning and Tile Mosaic. A new Swish Pan transition filter is also included.

BCC Extruded Text - OpenGL-accelerated 3D text generator with built-in 3D shatters and a warp deformer. Multiple 3D materials can be created from external image files featuring texture and bump maps as well as reflections. Each material can be individually saved as a preset and applied to the front, back, bevel, or extrusion surface of the text object. The text object can be further deformed and animated with a number of innovative deformers such as Bend, Taper, Twist, Shatter, Ripple, Pulse, or Curl.

BCC Extruded EPS - provides an easy way to import and extrude Adobe Illustrator layered vector logos and graphics in Apple Pro Video Applications.

BCC Type-On Text - 3D extruded text can be animated in true 3D space in a type-on or type-off fashion with each letter precisely interacting with the rest of the text in 3D. All 3D properties of the BCC Extruded Text filter are available in the Type-On effect.

BCC Extruded Spline - based on built-in primitives such as a medallion or heart. Create 3D extruded objects fully-modeled with bevels and spline-based extrusion profiles.

BCC Layer Deformer - warp any 2D layer in 3D space with built-in 3D shatters and bend deformers. Create 3D shapes such as fully or partially wrapped spheres and cylinders with multiple layers mapped onto the surfaces.

BCC Pixel Fixer - remove bad pixels resulting from a faulty digital camera sensor or dust on a camera lens. Up to 10 bad spots can be repaired with a single filter application - without any degradation of image quality or sharpness.

BCC DV Fixer - soften or remove diagonal stair-step lines (aka jaggies) from a clip captured with a lower-quality camera. Repair compression artifacts without degrading image sharpness or quality.

BCC Smooth Tone - smoothes or softens an image while preserving detail contrast, making skin tones silky-smooth without loss of sharpness in the image. A great tool for working with "talking heads" and on-camera interview footage.

BCC Swish Pan - simulates panning a camera very quickly in a 180 degree arc, creating the look of a fast blur between outgoing and incoming clips.

BCC Charcoal Sketch - simulates the painterly look of an image that was created using charcoals

BCC Pencil Sketch - simulates the look of a hand-drawn pencil-sketched image

BCC Water Color - simulates the wash look of a water color painting

BCC Cartoon Look - simulates a rotoscope toon-animation look

BCC Tile Mosaic - simulates the look of hand-cut opaque titles

BCC Lightning - generates simulated lightning bolts and plasma arcs

New Shader Technology. BCC 6 FxPlug takes advantage of Apple FxPlug's real-time architecture for simultaneous live previews of dozens of preset transitions, glows, and color and film look effects in a newly-designed effects browser window. Shaders include Chroma Key Studio with built-in Matte Choker and Light Wrap, a 3D Perspective filter with a Floor Reflection feature, MultiTone, Film Effect with built-in grain management, Glow Edge, Luma Rays, 3D Pull Swap, 3D Spin Flip, Dissolve Glow, Dissolve Luma Mask, and Dissolve Rays.

Custom Presets in XML Format. This unique feature lets users save and re-use every parameter in every BCC filter - even across host applications and platforms. Presets are now saved in industry-standard XML format so that they can be viewed and edited by any XML-compliant text editor. BCC 6 FxPlug includes over 1500 factory-installed presets.

Single-Click Custom Preset Navigation Tool lets users easily browse presets without opening a pop-up window. Presets are immediately applied and the host preview window is automatically updated to reflect the selected preset.

Built-In Motion Tracker Enhancements are found in almost every filter. Users may now save motion tracker data from one filter and load the saved data in another filter.

Significant Performance Gains. Every filter is either OpenGL-based or multiprocessor-accelerated for ultimate rendering speed on modern computing and graphics platforms.

Pricing and Availability
Boris Continuum Complete 6 FxPlug supports Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Final Cut Express and is available immediately through the Boris FX worldwide reseller channel and direct through the Boris FX web site at http://www.borisfx.com for an MSRP of $995 USD. Owners of previous versions of Boris Continuum Complete FxPlug may upgrade for an MSRP or $295 USD. A 14-day trial version is available for free download from http://www.borisfx.com. Customers who purchased BCC 5 FxPlug since February 5, 2009 are eligible to receive a free upgrade to BCC 6 FxPlug.

About Boris FX
Founded in 1995, Boris FX is the leading developer of integrated graphics and effects technology, delivering 3D compositing and vector graphic products for the broadcast, post production, film and multimedia markets. Boris products have grown to serve over 200,000 artists worldwide. The company's success lies in its ability to tightly integrate and leverage technologies through strong partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers such as Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Grass Valley, Media 100, and Sony.

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