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Information Today, Inc.

August 10, 2009

Table of Contents

The Death of VHS: A New Opportunity
The Foundry's RollingShutter Plug-in Tackles CMOS Skew and Wobble Effects
Blackmagic Design Now Shipping 3 New Mini Converters:
Louisiana Final Cut Pro Users Group Announces Annual 'Final Cut - Crescent City' Gala Event, Oct. 23-25
HP Adds NVIDIA Quadro GPU-Accelerated Plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite 4 Users to Workstation Lineup
Class On Demand Offers Exceptional Training Prices With NVIDIA Quadro Solutions
Sennheiser's Award-Winning Evolution E 965 Microphone Goes Wireless

The Death of VHS: A New Opportunity

Since I’m best known in this industry as “The Funeral Guy,” it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I see a business opportunity in the death of VHS tape. Those of us who have been event videographers since the ’80s and ’90s have witnessed the rise and fall of VHS tape, much like the rise and fall of the 8-track and audio cassettes. But just because we no longer use VHS tapes doesn’t mean we can’t profit from the millions of tapes sitting on people’s shelves. We have an obligation to communicate to our clients that their precious VHS tapes have a limited shelf life and are in the process of deterioration. We also need to communicate to them that we have a service to offer: converting their VHS tapes to DVD.

For the last several years, VHS-to-DVD conversions have provided a steady source of income to my business. And I have been able to perform these conversions without adding a lot of time to my already busy schedule. The key is to use one-touch, dual-deck VHS-to-DVD recorders. When I first told a colleague that I was doing this, I felt like somehow I had violated a sacred trust. I was told that this was not the way that we, as professionals, should convert tapes to DVD—that, somehow, it cheapened who we are. But our customers don’t really care about chapters or advanced menus; all they want is to convert their tapes and preserve their family memories.

While I was writing this column, one of my clients called and asked if I was able to convert VHS tapes to DVD. After I answered in the affirmative, she said she had 17 VHS tapes that she would be bringing over for me to transfer to DVD. She was especially pleased when I told her I charge only $25 per tape. For me, that’s an additional $425 of income, maybe more since she indicated that she would want extra copies of several of her tapes. I charge $15 per copy of a transferred tape, so that will be a very good profit as well. The wonderful thing about this is that the only labor I have to put into this job is to load the tape into my recorder and press “copy.” Once the tape is copied to DVD, I put the DVD in my Primera Bravo printer and print on the disc. I also print an insert for the case. All of this just takes a few minutes.

To keep up with the demand, I have two DVD recorders—one from Panasonic the other from Sony. The Sony also has FireWire built in so I can create DVDs from digital tapes; it also automatically creates chapters for each clip. CNET rates my Panasonic model, the DMR-EZ48VK, as an excellent, all-purpose DVD and VHS recorder. The street price for the DMR-EZ48VK is about $325. I’ve had excellent results with several Panasonic models, and recommend them for your recording needs.

I purchased the Sony RDR-VX525 ($225) because it has the FireWire option and also because it upconverts DVDs via an HDMI output. I’m not familiar with other brands’ features, but one thing I know they all have in common is that they are reasonably priced. The first DVD recorder (no VHS capabilities) that I purchased several years ago was about $1,000, so the current pricing is good news for anyone who wants to invest in this technology.

VHS-to-DVD transfers have been easy to market. Whenever I meet with clients, I simply ask them if they have any VHS tapes that need to be converted. Invariably, the answer is yes. This will often lead to other video work once they realize we are a full-service production house. I have also been using transfers as an effective marketing strategy to gain new customers. If you go to www.mnseniorsonline.com, you’ll see a banner advertising a free VHS-to-DVD transfer for Minnesota seniors. We have had several people take advantage of this. Through friendly conversation, they’ve also discovered the importance of making a video biography, having all of their photos scanned and put on CD, having their home movies converted, and also producing video montages for special events. The only cost to me is the blank DVD stock, which is very inexpensive. This has been one of the best advertising strategies that I’ve tried.

I also encourage clients to convert their memories of special events I’ve videotaped for them to DVD. In this case I offer them a straight transfer for $25 or a more elaborate transfer job that will include chapters and a nice menu. Even this does not take a great deal of time, but the profit is much greater—usually about $150 per job. Once they have this done, they usually have me make copies for friends and families. (By the way, in all these instances I’m talking about personal tapes, not professional or commercial ones. If a videotape is copyrighted, I respectfully decline to do the transfer job.)

Recently, I was talking to a fellow videographer who was trying to increase his income. He’s already working 60+ hours a week, but he’s considering becoming certified in legal videography so he can make more money. His wife asked him a very good question: “How will you find more time to do this—do you plan on giving up sleep?”

We have only so many hours a week to work, and the key is not working longer but working smarter. I’ve found VHS-to-DVD conversions to be an effortless way to increase my income. And not only have I received more income but I’ve received the gratitude of many clients who are grateful that their memories are now preserved—that is, until they next advancement in technology necessitates new transfers in order to stay current. When that happens, we’ll be ready.

Alan Naumann (alan at memoryvision.tv) is the author of The Complete Course on Funeral Videography, an updated an dexpanded version of his popular Business Everlasting training DVD. A featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2004–9 and a two-time EventDV 25 honoree, he is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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The Foundry's RollingShutter Plug-in Tackles CMOS Skew and Wobble Effects

Leading visual effects software developer, The Foundry, has announced the release of RollingShutter, a brand new plug-in tool for After Effects and Nuke, which tackles the image-distortion problems often experienced by users of CMOS cameras.

Rolling shutter effects are commonly found with video cameras employing CMOS image sensors, which record every frame line-by-line from top to bottom of the image, rather than as a single snapshot of a point in time.

As parts of the image are recorded at different times, moving objects can become distorted and appear skewed. Problems can also arise with flashing or strobing lights. Aside from not looking great, 3D tracking during VFX post production can become a very difficult task as the tracking points themselves are unstable.

The Foundry's RollingShutter plug-in tackles skew and perceived ‘wobble' problems from the VFX artist's perspective. The plug-in will often vastly improve the look of distorted footage, by either minimising or eradicating image distortions.

Unlike solutions tied to camera stabilisation, that stretch the image as a whole, the RollingShutter plug-in compensates for local skewing and distortion in the scene, by correcting each object individually. This approach even allows the digital artist to correct objects moving in different directions in locked-off shots. RollingShutter is therefore particularly good at enabling software camera trackers to work effectively on a wide range of problematic footage.

"The CMOS camera is becoming an increasingly important and popular tool in filmmaking," said Tom Cowland, plug-in product manager at The Foundry. "Our new RollingShutter product will provide a helping hand to artists working with affected footage during post production. The demonstration of our initial idea, developed by The Foundry's chief scientist Simon Robinson, received a lot of attention at NAB 2009, and encouraged by this feedback we have been working hard to productise it in a timely fashion."

Victor Wolansky, FX PHD professor commented, "As one of the beta testers for The Foundry's RollingShutter, I have been very impressed with its assistance in making skewed footage trackable. So much so that I've decided to teach it as part of my FX PHD camera tracking curriculum."

RollingShutter is available for After Effects CS3 & CS4 and Nuke 5.1 or later for $500/£300 (nodelocked).

Buy one get one free! Buy a license of RollingShutter in August and The Foundry will provide a second copy absolutely free. RollingShutter can work on both After Effects and Nuke systems or workstation and laptop at the same time.

A video demonstration of RollingShutter, plus examples showing how its approach differs, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/TheFoundryChannel. Additional product detail and demo licenses can be found at http://www.thefoundry.co.uk.

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Blackmagic Design Now Shipping 3 New Mini Converters:

Blackmagic Design's three new Mini Converters, which were added to its Mini Converter family at NAB 2009, are now shipping from authorized Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide: Mini Converter SDI to Audio, Mini Converter Audio to SDI, and Mini Converter Optical Fiber. All Mini Converters will be at IBC on the Blackmagic Design Stand Number 7.B21.

Mini Converter SDI to Audio de-embeds audio from the SDI input out to either 4 channels of balanced analog audio or 8 channels of AES/EBU digital audio. Audio can be switched between analog and digital audio. SDI input video features a loop-thru output for connection to other SDI devices.

Mini Converter Audio to SDI allows embedding of audio into SDI video connections. SDI loops though, and 4 channels of balanced analog audio or 8 channels of AES/EBU digital audio can be embedded. Any audio channel can be selected, and enabled or disabled. Full sample rate converters are included on each AES/EBU audio input. Both converters feature redundant SDI connections meaning that if one SDI connection is interrupted, the redundant connection activates immediately. Loop through SDI allows video daisy chaining with multiple devices for additional audio channels.

Mini Converter Optical Fiber converts bi-directionally between SDI and Optical Fiber cable. It auto switches between SD, HD and 3 Gb/s SDI. Optical Fiber provides numerous advantages with its low cost, its ability to be installed by electricians, and its extremely long cable lengths without compromising transmission speed. Using standard LC connectors, cable runs of 25 km (82,000 feet) can be achieved in HD and 45 km (147,000 feet) in SD. Previously only available to the largest broadcasters or largest facilities, the use of optical fiber opens the possibility of longer, faster and less expensive cabling options to smaller operations.

These three new Mini Converters join the Mini Converter family including five models: SDI to Analog, Analog to SDI, SDI to HDMI and HDMI to SDI, also USD$495, plus a Sync Generator model at USD$295. All Mini Converter models include powerful features such as redundant SDI inputs, balanced analog and AES/EBU switchable audio, standard ¼-inch jack audio connections and an international power supply which includes adapter plates for all international power sockets. Blackmagic Design Mini Converters are designed to be extremely powerful while also easy to use.

All new Mini Converters are now shipping and available for USD $495 and the Sync Generator is available for USD$295. For further information, please visit www.blackmagic-design.com.

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Louisiana Final Cut Pro Users Group Announces Annual 'Final Cut - Crescent City' Gala Event, Oct. 23-25

announce the official public launch of a very unique Final Cut Studio based event you don't want to miss. The 1st annual "Final Cut - Crescent City" gala event (http://www.finalcut-crescentcity.com) in New Orleans from October 23 - 25, 2009. It will be fun, inspirational, educational, and soulful. We are bringing four Final Cut Studio based trainers to the historic New Orleans French Quarter for four days of education, networking, inspiration, and relaxation.

We begin with a reception cruise on the Steamboat Natchez that Thursday night. Followed by two solid days of power training featuring Larry Jordan, Bruce Nazarian, Alexis Van Hurkman, and Ben Balser in the Westin Canal Place hotel in the French Quarter, which has the best Mississippi river views in town. Ending with a very special South Louisiana Final Cut Pro Users Group meeting on Sunday morning that features an open Q&A panel of all four trainers, ready to answer your questions on anything.

And all for a very affordable price, with very affordable accommodations, in the most artistic, inspirational, musical, historic, architectural, cuisine capital of the world! The famous New Orleans French Quarter!

For more information visit our official web site at http://www.finalcut-crescentcity.com.

Seating is limited, register now and get the Early Bird price before it goes up! We look forward to seeing you there!

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HP Adds NVIDIA Quadro GPU-Accelerated Plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite 4 Users to Workstation Lineup

HP today announced it will make available Elemental AcceleratorTM for NVIDIA® Quadro® plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite 4 users as an option on the company's award-winning family of workstations.

Now available on the full line of HP workstations - including HP Z Workstations - the NVIDIA CUDA-based Elemental Accelerator 2.0 plug-in software for NVIDIA Quadro GPUs delivers further performance benefits when working with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

NVIDIA and HP together provide creative professionals with workstations enhanced to meet the needs of the CS4 users. By leveraging the CUDA parallel computing architecture, this new plug-in software offloads H.264 video encoding to the Quadro GPU, enabling Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 users to experience a performance increase of up to 11 times when compared to CPU-only video encoders.

"HP Z Workstations deliver a superior experience - from advanced design inside and outside, to extreme performance and top-notch reliability," said Jeff Wood, director, Worldwide Marketing, Workstations, HP. "The addition of the Elemental Accelerator plug-in for Premiere Pro CS4 enhances performance for creative professionals looking to maximize their creativity."

HP workstations are engineered with the most demanding applications in mind, and Adobe Creative Suite 4 is tested and qualified on all HP workstations. HP workstations also include Performance Tuning Framework for Creative Suite 4, which provides users a quick and easy way to configure and update their workstations and improve the stability and performance of their systems while increasing productivity.

"NVIDIA, HP and Adobe have worked side by side to ensure CS4 users can get the best possible performance," said Jeff Brown, general manager, Professional Solutions, NVIDIA. "The massively parallel processing power of NVIDIA GPUs lets creative professionals be more creative."

With an HP workstation equipped with a Quadro GPU, CS4 users can take advantage of its GPU-accelerated functionality and receive optimal application performance across the entire family of applications including: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Flash and Photoshop® .

"We are thrilled to have Elemental Accelerator available to the wide array of creative professionals that depend on high-performance HP workstations to not only deliver their projects on time and on budget, but surpass expectations for quality and creativity," said Sam Blackman, chief executive officer and chairman, Elemental Technologies.

Elemental Accelerator 2.0 plug-in software works in conjunction with NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800, 3800, 4800 and 5800 GPUs. It is available on the HP Z800, Z600, Z400, xw4600 and xw9400 workstations. The complete system can be purchased at http://www.hp.com/go/workstations.

HP workstations
HP is a leader in reducing the environmental impact of its products, including workstations, often acting first to adopt new solutions designed with the environment in mind. For example, only the HP Z Workstation line includes a new HP-exclusive WattSaver feature that manages power in the "off" state at less than one watt.

In addition, the HP Z Workstations include 85 percent efficient power supplies - the HP Z800 Workstation has an option for an 89 percent efficient power supply - reducing both overall energy usage and the amount of waste heat released.

All HP workstations are more than 90 percent recyclable by weight, and the HP Z line is registered as Electronics Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEATTM) Gold, the highest rating available.

Companies use HP workstations to design everything from running shoes to race cars, animated characters to deep-sea submersibles, and to manage everything from billions of dollars of tradable securities to mission-critical IT environments.

About HP
HP, the world's largest technology company, simplifies the technology experience for consumers and businesses with a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com/.

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Class On Demand Offers Exceptional Training Prices With NVIDIA Quadro Solutions

Class on Demand, a provider of professional educational products for creative markets, announced that its "Complete Training for Adobe® Premiere® Pro CS4" will be offered exclusively for $74.95 USD with the purchase of select NVIDIA® Quadro® GPUs, including: Quadro FX 5800, 4800, 3800, 1800, 3700M and 2700M.

The full-line of NVIDIA Quadro FX GPUs are tested and certified to provide Creative Suite® 4 users with optimal application performance across the entire family of applications including: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects®, Flash® and Photoshop®.

Hosted by award-winning industry veteran Tim Kolb, "Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS4" provides over 8.5 hours of intense instruction encompassing all areas within Premiere Pro CS4. The broadcast-quality HD project files that Kolb uses for instruction are included on the disk so that students can follow along and compare results. The self-paced, information-packed course is suitable for both new users and power users of Adobe Premiere Pro who need to take their skills to new levels.

"NVIDIA is the de-facto standard GPU for just about anyone working with rich media, says Paul Holtz, CEO and founder, Class on Demand. "As a leader in the industry, NVIDIA recognizes the important role training plays in productivity and mastery of technology. Customers who are productive with their tools are loyal to their brand. Making this Class On Demand training available for NVIDIA customers at a 50 percent discount demonstrates NVIDIA's commitment to ensuring their customers maximize the power of their technology."

"The advancements in GPUs create immense productivity opportunities for present-day media workflows," says Tom Stoneman, Channel Partner Marketing Manager at NVIDIA. "To maintain the industry's best graphic manipulation capabilities, NVIDIA continually enhances their product lines. A recent improvement in performance gave way to a variety of GPU-accelerated plug-ins created specifically for CS4 users, which further prompts end users to turn to companies like Class on Demand to master the tools of the trade. A co-marketing opportunity seemed ideal for both companies and more importantly to our respective customers."

For more information about the NVIDIA Quadro product line, visit: http://www.nvidia.com/quadro.

The Class On Demand training DVD is available for digital download at http://www.nvidia.com/object/builtforadobepros_plugins.html. The discount will automatically be applied during checkout.

About Class on Demand
Class on Demand is a leading producer of education and training programs. Its products and services address the needs of individuals, professionals and corporate training. Current programs cover a broad spectrum of content including video capture and editing, computer animation, federally mandated training, customized corporate training and vocational education. Please visit our web site ( http://www.classondemand.com ) for additional information.

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Sennheiser's Award-Winning Evolution E 965 Microphone Goes Wireless

The waiting is over. The evolution e 965, Sennheiser's multi-award-winning large-diaphragm condenser microphone, is now available as a wireless version. The MMK 965-1 microphone capsule attaches to both Sennheiser's 2000 Series and evolution wireless G3 wireless series SKM handheld transmitters in seconds, allowing users of both series to enjoy the unique dual-diaphragm advantage of Sennheiser's e 965 microphone. Sennheiser's ew 500-965 G3 system, which is part of the evolution wireless G3 series, is based around the MMK 965-1 and ships with the EM 500 G3 receiver, a GA 3 rack-mount kit, and the SKM 500 G3 transmitter with the MMK 965-1 capsule.

"The e 965 is the flagship microphone in the wired evolution 900 Series," explained Ben Escobedo, associate product manager for music industry products at Sennheiser Electronic Corporation. "Ever since this microphone was released to the market, bands and vocalists have asked for a wireless version. We are now very pleased to be able to fulfill this demand. Additionally, artists are excited to experience a true-condenser microphone option for the evolution wireless G3 and 2000 Series."

The MMK 965-1 microphone capsule offers the natural and detailed audio reproduction of a large-diaphragm studio condenser. While the capsule has the delicacy to reproduce fine nuances, it also is optimized for use in the toughest live performances. Each true-condenser capsule is meticulously hand-assembled and individually tested in Germany.

The capsule features dual-diaphragm technology, which means it can be switched between cardioid and super-cardioid pick-up patterns with the flip of a switch. This allows the capsule to be perfectly adapted to any stage situation quickly and easily. The cardioid pattern provides a very natural sound, while the super-cardioid pattern offers optimum rejection of other sounds on stages with high volume levels. As the capsule becomes more directional at higher frequencies, it effectively reduces spillover from instruments, such as a drum kit, and therefore provides generous space for the vocals to develop and captivate any audience.

The MMK 965-1 microphone head is included with the evolution wireless ew 500-965 G3 vocal set, for unbeatable sound right out of the box. It also can be ordered separately for use with any SKM 2000 handheld or evolution wireless G3 handheld SKM transmitter. The microphone capsule is available in traditional black, classy nickel, and also in the unique blue "gunmetal" color of the Sennheiser's evolution 900 Series.

Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

For more information, please visit www.sennheiserusa.com.

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