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February 09, 2010

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: A Tale of Three iPads
Band Pro Presents Tools for 3D
FxAndy Film Simulation Plug-in Now Available for Final Cut
Canon's EOS E1 Video Plug-In for Apple's Final Cut Pro Released Today
New Webinar Coaching Series: Sales & Marketing 101: What Most Videographers Don't Know About Making Money
Canon Announces MPEG-2 Full HD (4:2:2) File-Based Recording Codec for Upcoming Professional Video Camera

The Moving Picture: A Tale of Three iPads

Apple’s recent iPad announcement had a strong impact on three groups: broadcasters, technology enthusiasts, and just about anyone concerned with the survival of the newspaper industry. Since discussions in these areas provide a great view of the iPad’s strengths and weaknesses, I thought that I would detail them here.

The iPad is best likened to a large iPod touch; though one model will have cellular capabilities, it’s only for data transmission, not for telephony (though you could use it to make calls via Skype). The hardware runs iPhone OS, which means that it’s compatible with the 140,000 or so apps in the Apple App Store. With a screen resolution of 1024x768, the iPad is big enough to browse the web. But it’s not compatible with Flash, so if you surf over to a Flash-enabled site, you may see a lot of missing plug-in messages. If you want to create a webpage with video that’s viewable on the iPad, you’ll need to design in HTML 5, the proposed next-generation web markup language.

Apple’s specifications indicate that the iPad will play 720p video encoded in H.264 format. But 720p is 16:9 and has more horizontal pixels (1280) than the iPad itself. This first point means that it will display the 720p video either using a center-cut approach that cuts off the sides or will letterbox the top and bottom to fit the entire video. Since the screen can’t display 1280 pixels without scaling down, it makes more sense to encode at 1024x576—if you want to show the video with letterboxing, or 1024x768—a 4:3 display aspect ratio, if you prefer the center-cut approach.

For the broadcaster’s perspective, I spoke with Peter Scott, executive director of digital partnerships for Turner Sports New Media, who manages web broadcasts for the NBA, NASCAR, and the PGA. Scott comments that Turner was very interested in the iPad as the “potential game-changer” that will garner lots of attention for the next few months. Timing will be an issue, at least for Turner’s NBA product, since the season will be winding down before iPads are generally available.

Turner has lots of development balls in the air, so prioritization is challenging, though I got the feeling that iPad support is more a matter of when than if. Scott does indicate that if Turner supports the device, it will likely treat the iPad as a large iPhone/touch device, servicing it with an application downloaded from the App Store and delivering video via Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming technology.

Briefly, HTTP Live Streaming lets you post multiple files to a server and adaptively switch between them based upon factors such as connection speed, buffer levels, and CPU load. For example, at last year’s PGA Championship, Turner produced three streams: one at 126Kbps, the next at 450Kbps, the top at 800Kbps, and all at 400x224 resolution. Scott indicated that Turner will likely customize the application for the iPad’s larger screen resolution and add at least one higher-resolution video stream. But he can’t predict the resolution or data rate until he gets a unit in for testing.

From a technology perspective, the advanced StreamingMedia.com listserv was abuzz about Apple’s decision not to support Flash. For those in favor of Apple’s decision, it was a win for standards and standards-based design, specifically HTML 5, the muchheralded next-generation web development language.

There was also a side order of “Flash just takes too many system resources to run smoothly” thrown in for effect. Flash promoters quickly pointed out the irony of Apple being the poster child for any open standard, stating that the motivation for not supporting Flash was purely financial. If the iPhone/iPad/touch trilogy could play Flash-based games or use Flash-based rich-internet applications, it would cut into Apple’s App Store revenue.

The debate got so fierce that Adobe’s CTO released a lengthy post detailing how Flash ran successfully on almost all other smartphones from vendors such as Google, RIM, Nokia, and Palm and how it enables their users to “browse the whole web.” He also pointed out that HTML 5 won’t supplant the features offered by Flash “today, or even in the foreseeable future,” and that the company is ready to enable Flash in the i-device Safari browser “if and when Apple chooses to allow that.”

Finally, there was a raging debate in newspaperland as to whether the iPad would provide a much-needed revenue stream for newspapers or further attenuate the relationship between paper and reader. For insight I called Regina McCombs, who’s on the faculty at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla.

On one hand, McCombs explains, some newspaper publishers feel that the iPad will allow the publishing of a newspaper in a novel, highly readable format. It might also provide the vehicle for newspapers to charge for their digital editions, something that’s coming along very slowly. The other view is that if you sell your product through iTunes, you risk losing your customers to Apple.

McCombs notes that the iPad has vastly accelerated discussions regarding HTML 5, which she says were very rare before its launch. But she feels that most journalism professionals were very comfortable with Flash, especially for video, and that few are confident that HTML 5 could replace the current functionality of Flash.

I have no idea whether the iPad will succeed as a product or not. But it’s clear that it’s already been a lighting rod for change and discussion in multiple market segments and is sure to keep people talking and debating its significance for months to come.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is chief instructor at StreamingLearningCenter.com. 

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Band Pro Presents Tools for 3D

At Band Pro's One World on HD Open House back in December we debuted one of Sony's newest cameras, the HDC-P1. This compact, box-style camera does full HD with a 2/3" CCD sensor, B4 mount and variable frame rates, including 24p. Originally conceived as a studio camera, this camera will soon find itself flying off the shelf in pairs because of its natural fit for 3D production.

One primary concern for today's stereographers is the size of the cameras. Bigger cameras require bigger 3D rigs and limit mobility. When a handheld or Steadicam shot is necessary, the smaller the cameras, the better. The HDC-P1 measures 8 3/8"x5 1/8"x3 1/2" (LxWxH), and with a weight under 4 pounds, your flexibility can go even further. Order now from Band Pro and take delivery around the beginning of March.

For fantastic cinema-quality images, ZEISS DigiPrime and DigiZoom lenses are an excellent match for these cameras. Not only are these ZEISS lenses designed specifically for 2/3" cameras like the HDC-P1, but they have all received the Carl Zeiss proprietary color matching treatment to ensure uniform color between lenses. With the exacting specifications and image matching required by 3D production, ZEISS lenses stand ready to deliver.

The technical rigors of stereoscopic production demand a great shot in the field because a "fix-it-in-post" image capture mentality will result in unusable footage and costly reshooting. That's why Astro Design came up with the SM-3324 monitor. This 24" 3D LCD monitor incorporates many features that cinematographers have been asking for. The LCD panel has an impressively wide viewing angle, and the internal 3D processor can ingest multiple 3D formats (Line-by-Line, Field Sequential, and Side-by-Side) and automatically display them as a 3D image. Perhaps the most unique feature is the ability to process two HD-SDI feeds (single or dual) simultaneously and output a 3D image. Get it right the first time by seeing it right in the field.

All of these products and much more 2D and 3D equipment are available from Band Pro's Burbank, New York, Munich and Tel Aviv offices.

www.bandpro.com

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FxAndy Film Simulation Plug-in Now Available for Final Cut

Rediscover 90 years of traditional films in B&W and color! FxAndy, the film simulator for Final Cut, takes your digital footage back to the film era with picture perfect simulations of image-making classics including Velvia, Eterna, Tri-X, Agfachrome, Kodachrome and many more.

According to developer Sean M Puckett, FxAndy translates digital footage data into a realistic simulation of a film camera complete with full color filter control, exposure control, film type selector with latitude adjustments and processing variations, darkroom and enlarger, classic papers with variations and adjustments -- and a few digital-world tweaks to add even more versatility.

Unlike real film, FxAndy makes getting clean footage easy with exposure compensation, no dangerous chemicals, consistent colour timing, simple latitude adjustments and -- most importantly -- no wondering where you'll find the next warehouse stash of long-discontinued film.

FxAndy is a real simulator, not a collection of presets. This means most aspects of the transformation are customisable and keyframable, including colour filtration, exposure times, density and film latitude. Black and white emulsions can be forced to render colour, and colour emulsions can be treated as B&W. Push/pull processing is easy to simulate with underexposure at the camera and overexposure in the print. That's the beauty of a true simulation: possibilities.

FxAndy is fast when it needs to be, and precise when it should be. It's optimized for fast previewing with an 8-bit real-time path so editing sessions don't slow down. FxAndy also has a full floating-point path for high-bit rendering. HD and cinema output is clean and free of posterisation -- if the source data is!

FxAndy is the brother of Andrea, the pre-eminent film simulator for the RAW photo processor Bibble 5. Andrea is an essential part of the style of professional still photographers all over the world. And now, with the completely rewritten and speed optimized Final Cut plugin FxAndy, the same looks are finally available for cinema.

http://nexi.com/fxandy

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Canon's EOS E1 Video Plug-In for Apple's Final Cut Pro Released Today

Canon's EOS E1 video plug-in for Apple's Final Cut Pro was released today. This new plug-in allows simple and easy transfer of video content from Canon's EOS DSLR cameras directly into Final Cut Pro.

The EOS E1 video plug-in takes advantage of Final Cut Pro's powerful Log and Transfer feature, which allows users to select and mark the video directly while it is still on the camera, add custom metadata and ingest the clips in the background so the editing can begin immediately.

The EOS E1 video plug-in is a free download available at http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/finalcutstudio/. The plug-in is compatible with Final Cut Pro 6 or higher and currently supports Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D and EOS 1D Mark IV cameras.

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New Webinar Coaching Series: Sales & Marketing 101: What Most Videographers Don't Know About Making Money

Video Business Coach Matt Davis, along with special guest Steve Moses, presents a new opportunity for those struggling with sales in event video:

Sales & Marketing 101: What Most Videographers Don't Know About Making Money
With Coach Matt Davis and Special Guest Steve Moses

January 27th - February 10th - February 24th - March 10th, 2010

"A great coach can help you see things that you can't see in yourself" -Mike Ditka

www.VideoBusinessCoaching.com

***

By now you know that I will be offering a coaching series at the beginning of the year focusing on how to improve your sales and marketing techniques. If you don't have confidence when the phone rings to sell to a client, this webinar is for you. I'm providing a unique industry opportunity. While most film professionals are working to better their shooting or editing skills alone, I'm going to focus on the most necessary part of your business, the ability to make sales.

The series, Sales & Marketing 101, will offer insider information I have collected over the years building my business from just my wife and I to a full studio. How did I do it? I made a discussion one day that I didn't want to just be an independent contractor but rather a business owner. I knew how to shoot and edit videos but didn't have a clue of how to run and maintain a company. Over the years I've had several coaches that helped me get to where I am today. Now I am taking that knowledge and providing a systematic industry learning experience. Take the guesswork out of the equation and start 2010 off right!

Sign up today and don't miss out!

***
What's the cost?

$349.00 (Regularly $495.00) Special Promotional Price if booked before December 18th.

We don't want anyone to miss this opportunity, so we have made it easy for you to attend by having an option to break down your payment into 1/3rds. 3 payments of $117.00.

Click here to sign up

In addition to my coaching series, I also have hourly consultations available. If you have a few questions regarding a marketing technique, editing skill or time management system this may be a good fit for you.

Call our studio (910.632.9559) for more details and hourly rates.

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Canon Announces MPEG-2 Full HD (4:2:2) File-Based Recording Codec for Upcoming Professional Video Camera

Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, announced today the Company has adopted an MPEG-2 Full HD (4:2:2) file-based recording codec for a new file-based professional video camera currently under development. The new Canon MPEG-2 codec will enable high-quality imaging and audio performance with up to 50 Mbps data recording and twice the color data of the HDV*1 profile format. File-based recording helps video operations realize greater efficiencies during post-production, making it an ideal format for many industry applications such as newsgathering, documentary filmmaking and event videography. The main features of the new Canon MPEG-2 codec include:

MPEG-2 Full HD compression and 4:2:2 color sampling
The adoption of MPEG-2 Full HD (MPEG-2 4:2:2P@HL compliant) compression enables the recording of 1,920 x 1,080-pixel full high-definition video. Additionally, compared with the 4:2:0 profile format used in HDV and other standards, 4:2:2 color sampling offers twice the volume of color data, providing double the level of color resolution.

Maximum 50 Mbps data recording
With approximately twice the data volume of HDV, the new codec supports higher resolution and increased color data to enable the recording of high-quality video.

Industry-standard MXF*2 file format
MXF (Material eXchange Format) is a widely supported open source file format for the recording of video and audio and metadata, developed to suit the latest editing systems used by broadcasters.

Canon partners with major editing and processing software developers
To support the swift adoption of its new MPEG-2 Full HD (4:2:2) file-based recording codec, Canon is working in cooperation with Adobe Systems Incorporated, Apple Inc., Avid Technology, Inc. and Grass Valley to ensure compatibility with major editing and processing software programs widely used within the video imaging industry. Additionally, at future industry events, Canon intends to demonstrate the overall video-production workflow, from initial video capture to clip-trimming and final editing, with video clips stored in a file-based recording system and using industry-standard software applications.

Advantages of File-Based Recording
File-based recording enables video and audio data to be managed and stored by file, much in the same way as computer data. It supports efficiency throughout the production process, from initial video capture to final editing through the entire workflow. Additionally, file-based recording provides users with the flexibility to utilize different editing environments and workflow solutions without the restrictions associated with some other video recording formats, helping to reduce investment costs.

http://usa.canon.com

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