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December 07, 2009

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Adobe CSNext—Mercury Rising
Boris FX Announces New Boris Continuum Unit: Image Restoration
Bella Corporation Ships the HD Mouse version 2.0 and JSM version 3.1
Maxell Professional Introduces iVDR Direct-To-Disk Video Capture Adapter
Zacuto Films Presents FilmFellas Cast 6: Cinematography

The Moving Picture: Adobe CSNext—Mercury Rising

While in San Jose, Calif., recently for Streaming Media West, I called Adobe, which has its headquarters in San Jose, to ask I could swing by to discuss the next version of Adobe Creative Suite, or CSNext as it's been dubbed. Simon Hayhurst, Adobe's senior director of product management, was kind enough to spend an hour with Tim Siglin and me.

I thought we would get some CSNext-related skinny under NDA, but cooler heads prevailed. We heard an assortment of information about the new version that's already been released in one form or another. Not very sexy, but at least I can share it with you. If you're thinking about buying a new computer anytime soon, it's information that you need to know.

The first point was to make sure that any computer you buy runs a 64-bit OS. As you may have seen, Adobe recently announced that all future versions of Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects will be native 64-bit applications that won't run on non-64-bit computers. This comes as no surprise to anyone who's run CS4 on a 32-bit computer, which can get quite miserable with some HD formats, particularly AVCHD. I no longer edit HD on my 32-bit systems in favor of 64-bit computers with at least 6GB of RAM, preferably 12GB or 18GB.

Of course, you may be able to upgrade your current computer to a 64-bit OS, especially if you purchased it in the last 3 years or so. Check with your vendor or the documentation shipped with the computer, or Google and download a free utility called CPU-Z, which will identify your CPU and motherboard; then you can Google to check the specs. Note that you'll see little benefit from a 64-bit OS if you can't install at least 4GB of memory, preferably 8GB. This shouldn't be a problem with most desktop workstations, but it might be with many notebooks.

Probably the biggest sticking point is whether peripherals such as your graphics card, scanners, and printers have 64-bit drivers. Many older peripherals don't, which means that they won't work with your 64-bit system. If your current computer is 64-bit compatible, I wouldn't wait for CSNext; I'd upgrade now since it's the most affordable way to speed up your editing. Just as an aside, I've never found a 32-bit software program that wouldn't run on my 64-bit computers, so if that's a concern, it needn't be.

The next item on your buying checklist relates to a graphics card. At the IBC show in Amsterdam in September, Adobe previewed the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine, which it called a new playback engine for "future versions of Premiere Pro." The engine benefits from three major upgrades. First, it's now 64-bit, so it can address more memory. Second, it's more efficient when working with multicore computers. Finally, and probably most important, it uses the graphics processing unit (GPU) on your graphics card to accelerate preview.

During our meeting, Hayhurst showed a video shot at IBC of the Olson brothers from Dv3 Productions demonstrating the Mercury Engine. They were editing four streams of RED 4K footage, each with 10 effects applied. With the engine disabled, video previewed at one or two frames per second. With the engine enabled, it was real time-and pretty impressive.

One of my personal pain points with Premiere Pro relates to multicam editing, particularly with mixed AVCHD/HDV footage, where preview is often only a few frames per second. I asked if the Mercury Engine would help in this regard; I didn't get a firm answer, so I'll have to wait and see. Overall, however, if your projects involve lots of layers and effects, and you've been frustrated by slow preview, CSNext should prove a dramatic improvement.

The only catch is that the Mercury Engine runs best with more-powerful NVIDIA cards, which currently includes the GeForce GTX285, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX 5800, and Quadro CX. Adobe will add support for additional cards as it gets closer to the launch; in particular, it plans to support other GPUs such as NVIDIA's next-generation "Fermi" cards that should appear in 2010.

I asked about support for ATI and Matrox graphics cards; while they will be supported, you'll get a lot of additional performance with the NVIDIA cards and CUDA tuning.

I edit solely on NVIDIA cards anyway, so I don't see this as much of a limitation. I also asked if Mercury will be compatible with Snow Leopard's OpenCL on the Mac; Hayhurst said no, explaining that Mercury was too far along in development when Adobe finally got details from Apple about OpenCL.

Tim Siglin asked whether the Mercury Engine will accelerate H.264/MPEG-2 encoding, and Hayhurst again said no. So if you're thinking about buying Elemental Technologies' CUDA accelerated MPEG-2/H.264 encoding software, it won't be supplanted by CSNext.

Finally, I asked about Windows 7. My personal experience with Vista was and still is root canal-esque, so I avoid operating system upgrades like the plague. Like everyone else, I've been reading the mostly good reviews that Windows 7 has received, and I asked about how CSNext would perform with Windows 7.

Hayhurst declined to comment, but I checked some other sources and heard that CS4 runs about 20% faster on Windows 7 than on Vista. I'll test those numbers in the near term, but it's nice to have a starting benchmark in mind.

For obvious reasons, Simon declined to advise when to expect CSNext. But if we go by the normal 18-24-month cycle from the announcement of the last version, it should appear between April and October 2010.

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Boris FX Announces New Boris Continuum Unit: Image Restoration

Boris FX, the leading developer of integrated effects technology for video and film, announced that a new Boris Continuum Unit, Image Restoration, is now available.

The Boris Continuum Image Restoration Unit includes the Smooth Tone, Pixel Fixer, and DV Fixer filters from Boris Continuum Complete 6:

* BCC Smooth Tone - an "electronic makeup" tool for saving shots with skin blemishes or substandard makeup while preserving sharpness and full image detail. A great tool for working with "talking heads" and on-camera interview footage.

* BCC Pixel Fixer - removes 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 - remove jaggies and DV compression artifacts from footage originated on consumer DV cameras.


Boris Continuum Image Restoration supports Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Final Cut Express, Apple Motion, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

The Image Restoration Unit is the latest addition to previously-released Boris Continuum Units: Chroma Key, Pan and Zoom, UpRez, Motion Key, Lens Flare, Film Look, Glitters, Optical Stabilizer, Light Rays, 3D Objects, Cartoon Look, and Motion Tracker.

Pricing and Availability
Boris Continuum Image Restoration is immediately available through the Boris FX worldwide reseller channel and direct from the Boris FX web site at http://www.borisfx.com for an MSRP of $99 USD. Customers who purchase the Boris Continuum Image Restoration Unit or any other Boris Continuum Unit may credit the price of the Unit towards the full Boris Continuum Complete plug-in suite. For more information, please visit the Boris FX web site at http://www.borisfx.com.

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 broadcast, post-production, film, and multimedia. Boris products have grown to serve millions of artists worldwide. The company's success lies in its ability to integrate and leverage technologies through strong partnerships with industry-leading developers such as Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Grass Valley, and Sony.

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Bella Corporation Ships the HD Mouse version 2.0 and JSM version 3.1

Bella Corporation today announced they are shipping version 2.0 software for the HD Mouse and version 3.1 software drivers are now available for their award winning jog/shuttle keyboards.

HD Mouse Overview
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. Gamers and 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.

HD Mouse 2.0 New Features:

* A five button mouse becomes a 50 button mouse: modifier keys can now be combined with mouse clicks, enabling as many as 48 options on Windows and 96 unique click options on Apple Mac systems.
* Mouse clicks can be programmed into macros.
* User Profiles: up to three user profiles can be stored to accommodate additional users or multiple settings for a single application.
* Multiple ways to enter HD Mode: Scroll click (original method), Side Button 1 or Side Button 2.
* HD Mode notification icon: user selectable sizes and position provides valuable mode feedback.
* Windows key disabling: In HD Mode, the Windows key can be disabled so that it is not accidentally pressed during game play.
* Timeout function: If the mouse is inactive in HD Mode for a period of time (2, 5 and 10 minutes) it will automatically switch back to ‘standard' mouse mode.


HD Mouse 2.0 Enhancements

* Windows 7/Mac 10.6 compatible
* On Screen Display (OSD): you can now choose to display the movement arrows just vertically, horizontally or both horizontally and vertically.
* A new programmable button, the Scroll Wheel click down. The Scroll wheel click down may now be programmed as long as you've chosen to enter HD Mode by one of the side buttons.
* More precise tracking while playing games such as World of Warcraft.
* HD Mouse program interface highlights your last active app, making it easier to make sure your settings are correct.
* On-screen display is automatically disabled when entering full screen mode of some games and applications that require exclusive access to the graphics card.
* Bella has also posted demo and tutorial videos of the HD Mouse at http://www.Bella-USA.com/video. 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 http://www.Bella-USA.com


Updated Jog/Shuttle Keyboard Software
JSM 3.1 Software

Bella also announced that there are updated versions of their software for the Professional and DV Series of video editing keyboards, the world's only keyboards with a built-in jog/shuttle controller. The JSM 3.1 software, for both Mac and Windows users, brings Microsoft Windows 7 and Apple Macintosh 10.6 (Snow Leopard) compatibility, and are available free via the Bella web site at http://www.bella-usa.com/Support/Drivers.htm

About Bella Corporation
Bella Corporation provides time-saving tools to home through professional videographers, gamers, and creative content producers. Their products work with applications from Apple, Adobe, Avid, Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft, Pinnacle Systems and others. To find out more, visit the Bella Corporation website at http://www.Bella-USA.com.

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Maxell Professional Introduces iVDR Direct-To-Disk Video Capture Adapter

Maxell Corporation of America introduces the iVDR VC102 Powered by CitiDISK®. The new iVDR VC102 Direct-to-Disk Video Capture adapter converts the output of a digital video camera to a non-linear editing format and stores it on an iVDR drive, thereby bringing the inherent advantages of the iVDR technology to a wide variety of camcorders.

"Our first-generation iVDR was successful with the Panasonic P2 cameras," said Patricia Byrne, senior marketing manager for Maxell. "Our new iVDR VC102 utilizes technology from CitiDISK for its intelligent acquisition, allowing for vastly expanded support of professional video cameras. The iVDR VC102 allows any camera that utilizes the DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50, DVCPRO100, DVCPRO HD or HDV formats to record simultaneously to an iVDR drive. Footage can later be off-loaded directly into an assortment of editing programs, such as Final Cut Pro, Edius or Adobe Premiere."

The VC102 Direct-to-Disk Adapter features an easy-to-use comprehensive menu system on a backlit display. By converting the output of a digital video camera directly to a non-linear editing format suitable for storage on Maxell's iVDR drive, the task of capturing files before editing them is eliminated. The VC102 also reduces the overall amount of hardware used and time required for processing.

Operating off a rechargeable, internal Lithium-Ion battery, the iVDR VC102 will operate for up to 90 minutes of nonstop recording*. DC power is available as an option.

iVDR Field Tough Media
The VC102 Direct-to-Disk Adapter was developed exclusively for Maxell's iVDR Technology. This provides reliability and ruggedness not found in other portable disk-based products. A Maxell iVDR drive has a current capacity of 250GB, enough space to record 19 hours of digital video, 110 hours of DVD-quality video, or 20 hours of MPEG high-definition video. iVDR EX is rated to withstand non-operating shock of more than 2000Gs and operating shock equal to or greater than 350Gs. Its temperature range is -40° C to +70° C, which complies with MIL standards for thermal shock. It is also rated to operate at a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.

The utilization of CitiDISK technology in the iVDR VC102 continues to expand the capabilities and applications of the iVDR Technology. These include rugged and harsh environments such as mobile videography, military field applications, mobile medical or forensics and mobile law enforcement applications.

The VC102 will ship with two, 6-pin-to-4-pin IEEE 1394A (FireWire) and one, 6-pin-to-6-pin IEEE 1394A cable and is compatible with both professional and consumer cameras that utilize either the 6-pin or 4-pin IEEE 1394A interface.

The Maxell iVDR VC102 Direct-To-Disk Adapter is slated to ship in December and will be available for a list price of $1,500. A compatible 250GB Maxell iVDR EX rugged drive is currently available for $289.

*Battery operating time is estimated and based off a number of factors, including charge duration, battery condition and temperature.


About Shining Technology
Founded in 1992, Shining Technology, Inc. ( http://www.shining.com ) is a Cypress, Calif.-based provider of cost-effective, high-performance and highly reliable computer peripherals. The company is moving to become a dominant player, with a primary focus on the data storage marketplace and has consistently been one of the leading suppliers of add-on storage products to the broadcast, video editing, portable and desktop computing markets.

CitiDISK is a trademark of Shining Technology, Inc.

About Maxell
Maxell Corporation of America, a technology and marketing leader, is a full line manufacturer of digital media products for professional, data storage and consumer markets. Maxell has been recognized for over forty years for delivering a comprehensive line of digital tape and disc-based recording media products. The company offers a full line of disk and tape based media storage products, P2 Cards, SD Cards, Flash Memory and iVDR Technology products. http://www.maxell.com

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Zacuto Films Presents FilmFellas Cast 6: Cinematography

After launching their FilmFellas webisodic series in January 2009, which features a revolving cast of influential and emerging filmmakers, Zacuto Films announces the release of five new webisodes to their webisodic fall line-up of shows. Premiering November 4th, FilmFellas Cast 6 "The DP Edition" will represent an eclectic mix of cinematographers from the independent film scene: Robert Primes, ASC (Quantum Leap, Thirty Something), Trent Opaloch (District 9), London Based DP Philip Bloom (If I were Prime Minister) and first time host Jens Bogehegn, Cinematographer and Producer of FilmFellas/critics.

By bringing together cinematographers from all spectrums of the independent film industry, FilmFellas Cast 6 covers cinematography from a unique set of perspectives and diverse points-of-view. "On the one hand," says Steve Weiss, Director of FilmFellas/critics, "you have Bob Primes, ASC, representing the traditional Hollywood film industry. On the other hand, you have Trent Opaloch, mostly a commercial director, but with his runaway hit District 9. Next, you have Philip Bloom, a London based independent cinematographer, who represents the entire indie movement on the Internet." Rounding out the round table discussion is first time host Jens Bogehegn, who brings to the table 27 years of shooting experience in the commercial and corporate arena.

The dynamics of such an award winning cast of major players promises to bring forth lively round table discussions covering such topics as: creative freedom, the art of collaboration, maintaining the vision/direction of the film, the challenging DP/Director relationship, and more. Toward the end of the series, the FilmFellas cast of DPs dive into an intense debate surrounding cutting edge techniques in cinematography and discuss in detail, the emerging "game changers," such as the new breed of DSLR Cameras (Canon 5DMKII and 7D). Trent Opaloch shares his thoughts, "I think I have a new appreciation for some of the new HD capable DSLR cameras out there right now and I'm looking forward to exploring that technology." Zacuto Films will release the first webisode of FilmFellas Cast 6: Cinematography on November 4, 2009.

"Man, sitting with Trent Opaloch, Philip Bloom and Jens Bogehegn made me feel young! If that isn't the bleeding cutting edge of cinematography today, I don't know where it is." ~ Robert Primes ASC

ABOUT ZACUTO FILMS
"As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a filmmaker." Wanting to come full circle and get back to their roots of creating original content, In December 2008, film/video veterans Steve Weiss and Jens Bogehegn created their first Webisodic Series: FilmFellas which offers viewers a behind the scenes peek into the minds of influential and emerging filmmakers...where talking film is the family business. In August 2009, Steve Weiss, Director of FilmFellas, and Philip Bloom, a London based Cinematographer, come together as dueling co-hosts to candidly critique web based video content. [ critics ] offering an eclectic mix of personalities, perspectives and laughter. For a complete schedule of Zacuto Films Programming, visit www.zacuto.com.

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