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December 21, 2009

Table of Contents

The Nonlinear Editor: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
NewTek Launches HD Portable Live Production System
The Smallest of its Species: LaCie Rikiki
1,000 Already Registered for WEVA iVideoShow; Holiday Drawing Set
Eye Scream Factory DVD Menu Templates Included with MacUpdate Holiday Bundle

The Nonlinear Editor: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I probably watch more wedding and event films online than anyone who isn't an event filmmaker, with the exception of some very thorough brides. But I don't spend a whole lot of time doing what I imagine (and hope) you see as your homework: watching and studying movies and TV shows to bring ideas into your work that come from a bit farther afield. Occasionally, though, I do stumble on a show that knocks my socks off; my latest small-screen obsession is AMC's Mad Men.

Although it's essentially a period drama set amid the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, wolf-whistling confines of a midlevel Manhattan advertising firm in the early '60s, Mad Men's visuals are as arresting as anything you'll see in prime time, but there's nothing about them to tie the show to this era in TV production. Unlike the police procedural shows that are saturated in visual gimmickry, Mad Men suffers from none of the constant depth-of-field (DOF) manipulation that will make today's other TV dramas look dated in the years to come. The irony of the way cop shows rack-focus to create suspense—shifting abruptly from one object-in-focus to another to make some dramatic revelation—is that it's become laughably predictable. Abrupt DOF changes have become the TV equivalent of telegraphed passes in a basketball game.

Mad Men sports plenty of comely background bokeh, but the DPs keep the tricks to a minimum. They just seem more confident than their contemporaries in the ability of the situations, the dialogue, and the actors to build drama, and more willing to get out of the way and let the other elements of the show do their jobs.

This notion that there's a time and place for visuals that call attention to themselves aligns well with Mad Men's overarching theme of compartmentalization. There's a fascinating idea embodied in the show's main character, Don Draper, an übermensch with a backstory that's equal parts Mayor of Casterbridge, Martin Guerre, and the guy in Bruce Springsteen's "Stolen Car," who lives and sells all the lies you'd think he would as a whiz-bang ad man in an anything-goes, man's-world era. The idea that holds his life together is that being able to compartmentalize conviction and salesmanship, family and philandering so that they never stand in contradiction to one another is not what erodes your humanity; it's what allows you to retain it (an idea that has, perhaps, proven the undoing of the leading pitchman and übermensch of our era).

Probably the most famous moment of this award-winning series so far comes at the end of the first season when Draper presents Kodak with an unexpected pitch for the ad campaign they'll build around their new slide projector "wheel." The Kodak folks are proud of their new technology and convinced that the campaign should trumpet it. Draper, hours away from abandoning his family to work through Thanksgiving, begins, "Technology is a glittering lure, but there's the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash." He then works slowly through slides of his own young family, speaking of nostalgia, of "a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone ... This device," he says, "is a time machine, moving backwards and forwards, taking us to a place where we ache to go again," he continues, something seeming to crack inside of him. "It's not called ‘the wheel'. It's called the Carousel ... It takes us back home again to a place where we know we were loved."

It's an incredibly moving moment, teeming with contradictions. It's a sales pitch for a sales pitch, layered with smoke and mirrors (especially smoke). But it's also an appeal to sentiment and the meaning of family and memory much like the ones wedding filmmakers make all the time.

What's more, it's a moment when new technology is introduced into a world that, to us, is old. Not only have most of us sold photo montages created with technology that seems light years beyond the Kodak Carousel; we've lived to see the 2D montage become such a commonplace product that we can barely even sell it anymore.

In this scene about the enduring power of old technology to convey timeless emotion, there's a message that resonates especially powerfully in a year in which we saw more "game changing" new cameras announced than even the most frenzied and impetuous gearhead could throw away money on. And nearly all of those announcements concerned—or countered—video-capable DSLRs that offer event filmmakers immediate entry to the Shallow DOF Abusers club. I'm not saying that's all these DSLRs are good for, or that they're not the future of our business—make no mistake, they are. But changing DOF on a dime is not the kind of thing that makes your work endure—in fact, it might do just the opposite.

The DOF control these cameras and their tantalizing array of interchangeable lenses make accessible to former fixed-lens shooters is a powerful and remarkable capability. Moreover, the fact that most contemporary TV drama has probably led some of your clients to unconsciously equate excessive DOF manipulation with hip and edgy production value means that it will benefit you to master it. But remember that you're in the time travel business, and if what your work will mean to your clients decades from now matters to you, keep in mind that you don't want it to scream "2009!" any more than "1989!"

Believe it or not, we may not always feel the way we do now about contemporary visual styles. There's a difference between creating timeless films and productions that are trapped in time by their reliance on trendy technique and the hottest features of this year's gear. The deluge of camera announcements with the "glittering lure" of new technology will do their best to convince you otherwise; you just need to keep your head until the sales pitch subsides.

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

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NewTek Launches HD Portable Live Production System

NewTek Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading video and 3D animation products, today announced that it has launched TriCasterTM TCXD300, a product that redefines portable live production with benefits that include high definition and standard definition (HD and SD) live multi-camera switching, full HD streaming, live HD virtual sets, HD titling, HD digital disk recording, HD editing, audio mixing, efficient workflow, multiple effects layers and much more.

"NewTek TriCaster TCXD300 represents a breakthrough in portable live production, allowing users to more successfully engage audiences, deliver messages and events, build brands and create new revenue streams. Customers can now produce network-quality HD or SD output, access unprecedented effects and layering capabilities, and take advantage of the most powerful virtual set technology available," said Andrew Cross, executive vice president, engineering, NewTek. "As the newest member of our TriCaster product line, this system combines industry-leading performance and ease-of-use to suit the diverse goals of producers ranging from beginners to seasoned professionals."

Specific benefits of TriCaster TCXD300 include:

* End-to-end HD 1080i video pipeline, including effects, keying and virtual sets
* Mix source resolutions and aspect ratios (including HD and SD video)
* Use virtual cameras to smoothly zoom and pan within live virtual sets without adjusting your cameras
* Layer up to five live video or computer generated sources (internal or supplied by a network)
* Achieve a network-quality live production with graphics, titles and animated overlays on top of your live video. Lock a title or bug to a camera or virtual input and set the in and out motion for each
* Flexible pre-production lets you edit HD and SD video on the same timeline in real-time with the integrated, resolution-independent video editor
* Stream your full HD production directly to the Web in your choice of profile, including superior quality 720p, the highest streaming resolution in the industry, with simultaneous archiving for later viewing
* Display cameras, clips and iVGATM unlimited networked computer inputs with the on-screen ISO monitor for all switcher inputs (internal and external)
* Record your live production in full HD 1080i resolution by pressing one button
* Enlarge your workspace with enhanced secondary video output for projector or second monitor (up to 1920 x 1200), which offers varied displays including Program, Preview, Effects, all ISO sources, color scopes and much more

"NewTek Tricaster continues to play a major role in MTV's online original production process," said Jeff Jacobs, vice president, production planning and strategies, MTV. "We find that TriCaster is a most effective tool for producing quality content with the option of streaming live. We have used various Tricaster models to produce talk shows, after-shows, music sets and live press conferences both on TV and online. After initial work with the TriCaster TCXD300, it is clear that this new HD portable live production system is equipped with the features that will help MTV discover new efficiencies while reaching new creative heights."

With TriCaster, anyone can simultaneously produce, live stream, broadcast and project HD or SD network-style productions. A single operator or small team can create sophisticated productions while switching between three cameras, five virtual inputs and live virtual sets, while automatically inserting clips, titles and motions graphics with multi-channel effects. TriCaster is used by sports organizations, broadcasters, schools, government agencies and others to provide a new level of extended programming and content to their audiences.

Pricing and Availability
TriCaster TCXD300 is available in North America for US$14,995 and in multi-standard internationally for US$17,995. The TriCaster family of products in NTSC is available in North America starting at US$3,995. The TriCaster family of products is available in multi-standard internationally beginning at US$5,995. Educational pricing is also available. For more information, please visit www.newtek.com or call NewTek Sales at 800-368-5441, international callers dial +1-210-370-8000.

About NewTek Inc.
Benefiting producers and artists with its cost-effective and groundbreaking technologies, NewTek Inc. is a leader in portable live production, video editing, 3D animation and special effects tools, including the TriCasterTM product line, 3PLAYTM and LightWave 3D®. NewTek has won numerous industry accolades, including two Emmy® Awards.

Clients include: Fox News, BBC, NHL, NBA Development League, MTV, Nickelodeon, the Steve Harvey Radio Show, CBS Radio, ESPN Radio, ESPN X Games, Fox Sports, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NewTek products have been used in blockbuster films and television shows, including "Avatar," "V," "Angels and Demons," "Battle for Terra," "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Tropic Thunder," "FlashForward," "Lost," "Fringe" and more.

www.newtek.com

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The Smallest of its Species: LaCie Rikiki

Today, LaCie introduced the most compact 2.5" hard drive on the market - LaCie Rikiki, in metal. Measuring just a mere 110cm3, its sophisticated form factor holds up to 640GB of media that you won't mind storing in a pocket or purse.

Encased in brushed, sturdy aluminum, the LaCie Rikiki, which means "tiny" in French, represents a resilient aesthetic that protects your media from everyday blunders and unwelcome fingerprints. Its lightweight design makes it a perfect companion for keeping your digital world close at hand.

"We are part of a generation that wants more from our electronics, but in the smallest form factor possible, and with a competitive price," said Anne-Sophie Marchand, Consumer Product Manager. "With the LaCie Rikiki, we have done just that by fitting high-performance and high-capacity in the palm of your hand, for under $100."

Leveraging the versatile USB 2.0 interface, the LaCie Rikiki is instantly compatible with your PC or Mac. Simply plug it in and you're ready to store and share your favorite media with high-speed performance. LaCie Rikiki also offers USB Boost software for enhancing speeds up to 33% (Windows® only).

LaCie Rikiki also comes with a simplified software suite - for quick setup and easy-to-use backup management - enabling complete configuration in just a few clicks. The LaCie Rikiki is an all-in-one solution for storage mobility.

Availability
The LaCie Rikiki will be available in 250GB, 500GB, and 640GB capacities through the LaCie Online Store, LaCie Reseller+, and LaCie Corner, starting at the suggested retail price of $74.99 (excluding VAT). For more information, visit http://www.lacie.com.

About LaCie
Located in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe, Singapore and Hong Kong, LaCie is the leading manufacturer of computer peripherals for Windows, Apple and Linux users. LaCie creates external storage solutions and color monitors that help professionals and everyday people easily manage their digital lives. LaCie has differentiated its products through original designs and leading-edge technology. Established in France in 1989, LaCie is listed on Euronext under FR0000054314 (LAC). For more information, visit http://www.lacie.com

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1,000 Already Registered for WEVA iVideoShow; Holiday Drawing Set

Registration has been open barely a week and 1,000 are already registered to attend WEVA iVideoShow - The Online Expo for Wedding Videographers & Event Filmmakers, which will go live worldwide on Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

A free Holiday Prize Drawing will be held for ALL attendees who have registered for WEVA iVideoShow before midnight December 24th. Registration is FREE and open to all. To be sure of being included in the Holiday Prize Drawing, register now.

WEVA iVideoShow is the innovative, first-ever Online Expo dedicated to wedding & event video/DSLR professionals. "This groundbreaking event," said WEVA International Chairman Roy Chapman, "will allow all professionals from part-time to full-time, newcomers to veterans, Video/DSLR suppliers and manufacturers to come together to share new information, new technologies, new techniques, and support the development of our industry on a global scale - and without having to leave your home or office!"

The winners of the WEVA Holiday Prize Drawing, and the earlier Prize Drawing for two free roundtrip tickets on American Airlines for domestic travel, will be announced during WEVA iVideoShow on Wednesday, February 17. "Winners will not need to be online at the time of the announcement, but additional Prize Drawings will be held during the Show, with some only for registered attendees whose IT status indicates they are online for the live event," said Dan Argenas WEVA's Director of Association Communications.

Featured Speakers and topics are already announced on the WEVA iVideoShow Registration Site. "Moderators, and the schedule for the Live-Chat Q&A with Featured Speakers, and for the RoundTable sessions, will be added to the site soon," said John Zale WEVA's Director of Educational Development.

WEVA iVideoShow Exhibitors already include global manufacturers and suppliers such as Panasonic Broadcast and Adobe Systems. Special "Show-Only" discounts on new gear will be a Trade Show bonus feature, Argenas added. Also coming for the Show, he said, will be highlights of WEVA Creative Excellence Award-winning wedding films.

"Plus, a brand new WEVA 'POWER of VIDEO' presentation with On-Demand access will also be included in the Show, and only available to registered attendees," said Argenas. "It all happens worldwide on Wednesday, February 17th 11:00am-7pm Eastern, on your computer." Register now to be included in the free Holiday Prize Drawing.


About Wedding & Event Videographers Association International (WEVA)

Founded over a decade ago, WEVA International is the largest trade association for professional wedding & event video producers, shooters and editors and leads the field with education that's on the cutting-edge of industry developments and new technologies. To see the full list of WEVA International membership benefits click here, and join WEVA today online.

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Eye Scream Factory DVD Menu Templates Included with MacUpdate Holiday Bundle

Eye Scream Factory, the Boston-based creative team providing time-saving design templates and royalty-free content for media hobbyists and professionals, today announced that the first 10,000 customers who purchase MacUpdate's Holiday Bundle will receive Eye Scream Factory's Holiday DVD Menu Template Super Bundle, a $105 USD value that is available exclusively from MacUpdate.

Eye Scream Factory's Holiday DVD Menu Template Super Bundle includes Christmas Bulb, Snowman, Gold Christmas, Tree Glow, Mistletoe, Gift, and Carol-themed DVD menu and packaging design template sets. Each template set includes main and chapter DVD menu templates in HD, NTSC, PAL, and DV along with matching disc labels, case inserts, and background images. Users can easily create new looks and styles by adjusting colors, changing text, and moving layers. Templates are provided as layered Adobe Photoshop files which can be edited with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Encore, and GIMP. Background images are provided as .JPGs. The included content can be used with a wide variety of Mac and PC-based DVD authoring applications including Apple iDVD, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Adobe Encore, Pinnacle Studio, Sony DVD Architect Studio, Nero Vision, and Grass Valley EDIUS.

"MacUpdate's Holiday Bundle gets holiday-themed DVD menu templates into the hands of thousands of users of iDVD and other DVD authoring applications," commented Rich D'Angelo, Founder and President, Eye Scream Factory. "The templates can be edited with Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, a free cross-platform graphics editor. Customers are also finding other uses for the layered templates, ranging from web sites to print projects."

Pricing and Availability

* A $450 USD value, MacUpdate's Holiday Bundle is available through December 23, 2009 for just $50 USD. The bundle includes the following Mac applications:
* Pathfinder ($40), a Mac Finder alternative
* Socialite ($20), for tracking social networks
* Yep ($40), for organizing documents
* Radio Gaga ($40), an Internet radio recorder featuring over 10,000 stations
* Garage Sale ($35), a utility for creating eBay auctions
* DragThing ($30), an application launcher
* Speed Download ($25), a tool for managing and accelerating downloads
* HealthNut ($20), a calorie and nutrient tracker
* PCalc ($19), a fully featured scientific calculator
* Machinarium ($20), a puzzle/adventure game
* iRip ($20), which can be used to transfer songs from an iPod to a Mac


The first 10,000 customers to purchase the MacUpdate Holiday Bundle will receive the Eye Scream Factory Holiday DVD Menu Template Super Bundle, a $105 USD value. More information regarding the MacUpdate Holiday Bundle is available at http://www.eyescreamfactory.com/mupromo

Tutorials and a free sample template set are available from the Eye Scream Factory web site at http://www.eyescreamfactory.com

About Eye Scream Factory, Inc.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Eye Scream Factory is a provider of time-saving design templates and royalty-free content for media hobbyists and professionals. By using Eye Scream Factory's professional, high-quality DVD art, videographers are able to create eye-catching, polished DVD menus and packaging in minutes. The company's products are ideal for wedding, event, and corporate videographers as well as hobbyists.

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