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April 12, 2010

Table of Contents

Five Alive: The Brave New World of Adobe Production Premium CS5
New-Wave Wedding Cinema: The Making of Kevin Shahinian's City of Lakes
Singular Software Announces Public Beta for Next Release of PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro
Band Pro Introduces PL Mount Prime Lenses From Leica
SmartSound to Debut Customizable Music with Vocals at NAB 2010
16x9 Inc. Debuts Strongest Articulating Arm at NAB
Sony Creative Software Unveils New Tools for 3D Blu-ray Disc Production and Video Editing
Sorenson Media Announces Not Only Support, but Video Optimization for Apple's iPad
Singular Software Announces DualEyes - Automated Audio Replacement for Dual-System Recording
RE:Vision Effects Announces Upcoming Support for Adobe® After Effects® CS5 and Major Optimizations for its Entire After Effects-compatible Product Lines

Five Alive: The Brave New World of Adobe Production Premium CS5

If I were to take a long-term view of the successive Creative Suite (CS) releases from San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems, I would equate them to a product created a bit further north in Napa Valley. As you may recall, for most Windows-based users, CS3 was a bit thin—Mac compatibility was the most prominent new feature. At some point, seemingly late in the game, it felt like Adobe measured the value of CS3 for Windows users, decided it was weak, and bought Serious Magic so it could throw OnLocation (then DV Rack) into the suite.

In contrast, CS4 was very robust and full-bodied. Not only did Adobe deliver AVCHD support, it also extended Dynamic Link from Premiere Pro to Encore, so you didn’t have to render between editing and authoring, which was a huge timesaver. Adobe also debuted Adobe Media Encoder, a competent and easy-to-use batch encoding utility. Throw in lots of smaller but highly useful improvements—such as multiple sequences with different parameters in Premiere Pro, one-to-many edits in Premiere Pro (i.e., the ability to apply one filter to multiple clips simultaneously), multitrack capability in Soundbooth, a new interface for OnLocation, and many others—and you had a true vintage release.

Where does CS5 sit in this continuum of good years and relatively inconsequential ones? As I sit here playing with one of the late-stage betas, the story has yet to be completely written because the final performance numbers are not in. At a high level, however, CS5 has two main focuses: performance—specifically the Mercury Engine and GPU acceleration—and script-to-screen metadata workflow. Since performance affects all producers, let’s start there. Just to let you know, I focused my attention on Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder (and, to a lesser extent, Encore) since these are the apps that I use and know the most. If you’re looking for extensive information about Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, or any other CS5 component, you’ll have to look elsewhere unfortunately.

PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENTS
As you may have heard, several programs within CS5 (but not all programs) are now 64-bit applications that only run on 64-bit systems. These include Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Adobe Media Encoder, but not Soundbooth or Encore. I don’t think the fact that all components are not 64-bit is significant since 32-bit apps run fine on 64-bit systems. I just wanted to be clear on this point.

Leveraging the new 64-bit architecture, the most significant performance boost in Premiere Pro comes from the new Mercury Engine, which combines 64-bit native code with enhanced memory optimization and multithreaded efficiency. If you happen to have a supported NVIDIA graphics card and apply GPU-accelerated effects, the Mercury Engine will also use the CUDA GPU to accelerate preview and rendering out to Adobe Media Encoder, though not compressing to your final format. New in Premiere Pro CS5 are small icons beside the effects that tell you if they’re GPU-accelerated and whether they operate in 32-bit color space or YUV. In Figure 1 (below), you see the Fast Color Corrector, an accelerated effect, applied to an AVCHD clip on the timeline.

Figure 1. Fast Color Corrector in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

You can also see the yellow bar just beneath the timescale. This tells you that the effect is GPU-accelerated and that any effect will be rendered in real time. If I clicked the Enter (or Return) key to render the effect, it would start to play immediately; no rendering required. In CS4, previewing 1 minute of color-corrected AVCHD footage took 58 seconds of rendering; in CS5 it’s instantaneous. In addition, if I exported the sequence to the Adobe Media Encoder (AME) to compress to final format, say MPEG-2-compatible DVD, the GPU would apply the effect to the video clip before handing the frames off to AME. The GPU would also deinterlace the video and perform any scaling, further reducing the load on the CPU and speeding the process. In previous versions, Premiere Pro would have to render the color correction, deinterlace and scale in software using only the CPU, and then hand the frames over to AME for encoding to MPEG-2. To be painfully clear, the conversion to MPEG-2 isn’t accelerated by the GPU, only the application of the Fast Color Corrector effect and the scaling and deinterlacing. Still, in certain projects with certain effects applied, the reduction in overall processing time can be staggering.

For example, the test project shown in Figure 1 was an actual single-camera AVCHD shoot. As you can see in Table 1 (below) (the Laura project, third project from the bottom), on the 12-core HP Z800, CS4 took 36:23 (min:sec) to render the 53- minute source file to MPEG-2 using Premiere Pro’s NTSC Widescreen HQ preset, while CS5 took 14:31, a reduction of 60%. When producing H.264 for uploading to YouTube, the timesavings was even more dramatic, a reduction of 86%.

Table 1. CS4 vs. CS5 encoding performance

I asked an Adobe rep about the performance boost, and in addition to the Mercury Engine and GPU acceleration, he attributed some of the performance boost to a new H.264 codec from Main Concept, which should accelerate both AVCHD and H.264 output from Digital SLRs such as the Canon EOS 7D. I confirmed this with a real-world test involving footage from the 7D. Specifically, in the Beth Audition project (second from the bottom in Table 1), I shot a ballet audition for a local dancer that ended up being a little more than 21 minutes long, a conglomeration of about 13 single-camera takes. I applied no color correction or other effects, but rendering to widescreen MPEG-2 for the DVD took 84:45 in CS4 and an astounding 3:57 in CS5. A quick glance at Windows Task Manager explained why: While CS4 struggled to achieve 15% utilization on my 12-core Z800 (24 cores with HyperThreaded Technology enabled, as in the figure), CS5 bounced between 90% and 100% utilization (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. Premiere Pro CS5 CPU utilization

As you can see in Table 1 (above(), the picture isn’t totally rosy; in particular, the Nutcracker project, which CS4 rendered in 39:02, now takes 69:05, and several DV source projects slowed as well. Adobe attributes the longer rendering times to higher quality, but slower scaling algorithms. But I was working with beta code, so there’s a chance that these performance numbers could change before shipping. I’ll rerun the tests once I get final code and will update the results here if there’s any change.

Here are a couple of other performance-related housekeeping details I would like to cover before I move on: First, GPU acceleration only applies to a limited set of NVIDIA graphics cards, including the Quadro FX 3800 (about $800 street price), Quadro FX 4800 ( about $1,600 street), Quadro FX 5800 (about $3,000 street), and GeForce GTX 285 (about $400). I used the FX 4800 in my test computer. Note that performance will vary with the card and that the GTX 285 will deliver much less functionality than any of the Quadro cards. I should also tell you that this is the first time I’ve seen the graphics card decision possibly dramatically impacting editing performance, so you should choose your graphics card wisely going forward. More on this later.

Second, plan on configuring your system with copious amounts of RAM to achieve these performance boosts. One of the benefits of 64-bit operation is the ability for individual programs to use RAM in excess of the 4GB 32-bit limit. During several test encodes, I noticed that Premiere Pro, or PProHeadless, the program that renders Premiere Pro projects when the namesake program isn’t running, grabbed as much as 13GB of working room. You can see PProHeadless consuming 10.2GB in Figure 3 (below). I’m sure the magic number varies by format and project type. But to be safe, you probably need at least 16GB of RAM for HD formats, perhaps even the 24GB that I had configured in my Z800.

Figure 3. PPro Headless CPU Utilization

The bottom line is that if you install CS5 on a minimally configured 64-bit system—say, 6GB of memory and an ATI graphics card—you probably won’t see any of the performance benefits detailed here. If you have a beast like the 12-core Z800 (see my In the Studio review in April’s issue) with 24GB of RAM and the Quadro 4800, and work with H.264- based formats, prepare to be staggered by the new release.

GPU-ACCELERATED PREVIEW
In addition to rendering times, GPU acceleration also improves the frame rate of your previews. To be clear, this applies primarily when using GPU-accelerated effects, and your mileage will vary based upon source footage and project configuration. I ran some tests on the Canon EOS 7D project, which I color-corrected slightly and added a title. As you can see in Figure 4 (below), with CUDA acceleration (NVIDIA calls the current incarnation of its GPU acceleration CUDA), the CPU load to display this clip was 12.43%. With CUDA acceleration disabled, the CPU load was about 58%.

Figure 4. Canon EOS 7D project with CUDA acceleration enabled

If I had disabled color correction and didn’t use a title, CUDA acceleration would provide little benefit. That said, how often do you edit a clip without at least some color correction or a title? In addition to color correction, there are 31 GPU-accelerated effects, including brightness and contrast, gamma correction, cropping, color balance, basic 3D, and Gaussian blur. CUDA will also accelerate motion, opacity, deinterlacing and many compositing effects, including titles. Most producers who preview frequently will see an immediate increase in productivity.

ULTRA INTEGRATION
Another nice addition to Premiere Pro is the integration of chromakey tool Ultra, which started life as a stand-alone tool at Serious Magic. I’ve used the same four chromakey test clips for several years now, and Ultra made short work of three of them, including my much younger self shown in Figure 5 (below). This was a pretty crude chromakey clip shot solely with overhead lighting, but Ultra did a great job removing the green.

Figure 5. Keying with Ultra in Premiere Pro CS5

With the three successful clips, operation was simple, at least at first. You apply the effect then click the Key Color eyedropper and choose the background color; Ultra does its best to completely remove it. If you have to tweak the results, as you probably will, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and start experimenting. Between you, me, and the nearest Taco Bell, I wish Adobe would standardize the language on tools like these. For example, to expand the range of color eliminated with the old Color Key effect, you adjust Color Tolerance. Increasing tolerance expands the range eliminated, generally removing any background residue, which is a simple enough concept to understand.

With Ultra, you adjust … well, you just try all the tools until you find one that works. There’s Matte Generation, Matte Cleanup, Spill Suppression, and Color Correction, each with unique adjustments. There was a tolerance adjustment in Matte Generation, but that didn’t have the same effect as the Color Key and proved to be of no help.

Ultimately, with the three successful test clips, adjusting the contrast of the Matte Cleanup did the trick, which was hardly intuitive (at least to me), but then I didn’t have the Help file available when I did my tests. Spill Suppression also worked differently from how it’s presented in After Effects, which was also confusing. Basically, I just wanted some kind of “Easy” button, and there wasn’t one. What about the fourth clip? This is a very challenging clip in the Red format, which I downloaded from some forgotten website long ago. With this clip, I produced clearly superior results in After Effects using the third-party Keylight filter, which has been my goto workflow for chromakey effects for quite some time.

Still, it’s all good: Ultra is faster to apply, should work most of the time, and is a GPUaccelerated effect that previews in real time, which the Keylight plug-in can’t match. Start by applying Ultra; if that doesn’t work, you can always try the Keylight plug-in, which Adobe continues to bundle in CS5.

SCRIPT-TO-SCREEN METADATA WORKFLOW
CS5 also debuts Adobe’s script-to-screen workflow, which starts with Adobe Story, a script development tool that’s offered as part of a new product suite called CS Online Services. It’s separate from CS5, but it’s free for now and integrates well with OnLocation. Specifically, you write your script in Adobe Story, including location, character-related information, and the dialogue itself. You then export the script from Story and import it into OnLocation, where you can create a place-holder shot list to direct your shoot. You can see the script-related information in OnLocation in the metadata panel to the right of Figure 6 (below) and the shot list on the bottom.

Figure 6. Script-to-screen in Adobe OnLocation CS5

If you have a camera attached to your computer at the shoot, you can record your video directly to disk as before. If you’re working with an unattached camcorder, you can now time stamp your shots in OnLocation and later automatically link them to the captured clips. The schema uses time stamps on the video clips to match the OnLocation place holders, so you have to sync camera and computer time, which you can do at the shoot or just before importing the clips into OnLocation. You can even link clips from multiple camera shoots. As before, you can add comments during or after the shoot (good shot, bad shot, reshoot, take 1, take 8) that get stored in with the rest of the metadata.

Once you link the clips in OnLocation, you can set In and Out points and then import the clips into Premiere Pro, with metadata and In and Out points intact. There, you can search for footage based upon the dialogue or set In and Out points for your rough cut based upon the script. Though I didn’t test this, the metadata can be incorporated into Flash productions produced in Encore, which makes your video files searchable.

Obviously, this workflow is primarily targeted toward those producing script-based projects, but it could speed up some documentary-style event work as well. If you’re shooting with a camera with an IEEE 1394 connector, you can also use OnLocation for its waveform and histogram functions, which for me, are still its most valuable features.

OTHER GOODIES

CS5 has some other goodies worth noting, including presets for DSLRs such as the Canon EOS series and presets for Canon’s new 50Mbps XF MPEG-2 format (Figure 7, below), which is making its debut in a handheld camcorder at NAB 2010.

Figure 7. Canon XF MPEG2 presets in Adobe Media Encoder CS5

Running through other programs in the Premiere Pro suite, Adobe Media Encoder (AME) now automatically starts when an encoding job is added, which enhances its utility when used with a watch folder. With CS4, you had to manually start encoding after files were added to the queue, so it wasn’t a true automated solution. AME CS5 sports an encoding preview window on the bottom right, which helps you monitor the progress of your encodes and catch any egregious errors (Figure 8, below).

Figure 8. Encoding preview window in Adobe Media Encoder CS5

Adobe also added some “match source attribute” settings that make it easy to encode to a format that matches your source footage. Unfortunately, Adobe no longer displays the resolution of the source and encoded file, information that I’ve found useful over many an encode. Finally, befitting the script-to-screen workflow discussed earlier, there’s now a metadata button in AME that you can use to add or access your metadata before final encoding.

FLASH FOR DUMMIES
Though my primary focus is the upgrades to Premiere Pro, Encore, Adobe Media Encoder, and Soundbooth, one great new addition to the suite that I’d be remiss not to mention is the Flash Catalyst, which I dubbed “Flash for Dummies” at the Adobe Editor’s Day presentation to resounding silence and stony looks. Hmph. Some folks just can’t take a joke. Here’s the back story, though: I’ve never been particularly facile with Flash, but Flash CS3 had a wizard that allowed me to quickly create a very simple player like the one shown in Figure 9 (below). The wizard was gone in CS4, and I kept one CS3 installation around specifically to produce simple Flash Players.

Figure 9. A simple player created with the Adobe Flash CS5 wizard

Though Flash Catalyst doesn’t have a wizard, you can quickly create a new project with an “artboard.” To do so, import a video file in FLV or F4V format, which automatically loads the required player. Make sure the artboard and player fit reasonably well, and then publish the project, including all the required components. All of this should take 5 minutes or less—you know, Flash for Dummies. I don’t do this every day, but sometimes I need a simple player to show a client a draft copy of a production or to add a video file to my website that I don’t want to display through Vimeo. I’m sure Flash Catalyst does much, much more. But if you just need to create a simple player, it’s a great tool to have.

SOMMELIER, PLEASE
So what’s the overall verdict on Adobe Production Premium CS5? If you have the computing horsepower, the Mercury Engine and CUDA acceleration deliver the closest that I’ve seen to the real-time, all-the-time experience we’ve been hearing about and waiting for since the last century. AVCHD and DSLR producers in particular could see absolutely shocking drops in preview and rendering time.

I should also say that I’ve been running the suite through a pretty grueling test bed of eight real-world projects and nine synthetic projects assembled just to test performance with specific formats or functions.

Looking back, I can’t remember a single crash of any component, which is just as impressive as the performance boosts. As with fine wines, you hate to judge a software program at the time of its release because major problems sometimes only appear after a few months in the field. With CS5, though, the exceptional combination of performance and stability makes me pretty confident that it’s going to be another vintage release for Adobe— perhaps the best one yet.

Jan Ozer (janozer at doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites on digital video-related topics. He is chief instructor at StreamingLearningCenter.com).

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New-Wave Wedding Cinema: The Making of Kevin Shahinian's City of Lakes

"CITY OF LAKES" The Official Trailer from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.
Watch City of Lakes on the Pacific Pictures Blog!

Kevin Shahinian City of LakesBack in the days when wedding films were known as wedding videos, the distinction was a simple one: Films were shot on film, videos were recorded on tape. Films had a deep, warm, and textured look; videos looked flat and cool. Films got widespread, even worldwide distribution, and videos—wedding videos, anyway—were a private matter. If you weren't in one, why would you ever want to watch it, and if you were in one, why would you subject someone else to it?

OK, so maybe that was more rep than reality, and the "video" era in our industry wasn't all that bad. But the lines between videos and films were much more sharply drawn just a few years ago than they are now. Today, some wedding films do get worldwide distribution of a sort, unveiled for all the world to see on Vimeo, Facebook, and forums. And although most wedding films aren't shot on film per se, many are shot on HD-DSLRs that help shooters achieve many of the hallmarks of cinematic footage minus the grain of film.

When University of Southern California Film School graduate Kevin Shahinian ventured into the wedding video world, he did so wondering just how close he could come to making films of Hollywood authenticity, ambition, and impact within the confines of his role as a guy hired to shoot a wedding. When the readers of EventDV elected Shahinian to the 2009 EventDV 25, they did so assuming they knew the answer to that question, based on the deep impression left by his first three concept films, the Bollywood mini-epics Tum Hi Ho (You Are the One), Dil Jaanta Hai (The Heart Knows), and the Swedish romantic thriller Snö (Snow).
Although Shahinian seemed to arrive fully formed with Tum Hi Ho, the film was essentially a break-even proposition for his studio; the next step for Shahinian—and a significant one at that—was to prove that Tum Hi Ho wasn't a fluke artistically and to invest that sort of effort into a wedding-related project and actually turn a profit on it. Dil Jaanta Hai—check on both counts. Snö—arguably an even better film than his first two efforts—check-plus.

But Shahinian wasn't done. In the truest sense of "concept filmmaker," Shahinian had other, more challenging concepts he wanted to explore. And he also hadn't really reached, in his own mind, the full potential of marrying Hollywood cinema to weddings. But where, precisely, would Shahinian's peculiar brand of vision quest take him—and those of us who were awaiting his next move—from there?

As of the writing of this article, we had several well-publicized and widely seen clues, which in and of themselves were evidence of major developments afoot. We had three "preludes" and a mesmeric trailer, a location (Udaipur, India), a title (City of Lakes), sponsors (Cinevate, Canon, and Tiffen/Steadicam), a contest (sponsored by Cinevate), the roll call of a dream-team crew (EventDV 25 all-stars Patrick Moreau, Joe Simon, and Casey Warren), Shahinian working the podcast circuit, action figures in McDonald's Happy Meals ... OK, so maybe not the action figures. But as the buzz approaches fever pitch, it almost seems like the next logical step in this bizarro world that Shahinian has helped create, where event films become motion picture events.

Lake of Fire
So what is City of Lakes, and why all the hype and the heat coming off this as-yet-unseen film? And why did the preludes to the trailer promise "a whole new kind of production"? Well, the first reason this film, which isn't even fully edited at this writing, is drawing so much attention is the all-star crew.

The second reason is the concept behind it. "Concepts," by and large, are short films produced prior to a wedding, bar mitzvah, or other event that celebrate the bride and groom, or another honoree, as well as their friends and/or members of the bridal party. Concepts are presented as a film, TV spoof, or original production and are shown on the event day during the reception. Like their near-mate love stories, concepts may follow a photomontage or precede a same-day edit in the evening's presentation. But even if they run sequentially, the concept film and the same-day edit (or any other production that documents the day) are things apart from one another.

Not so with City of Lakes. Shahinian's project, filmed last fall in Udaipur, India, is, to my knowledge, the first to weave the wedding into the concept film as a component of the storyline. From a script-writing and storyboarding standpoint, incorporating a live event into a fictional film was hard enough. But the real challenge—and risk—would come in the execution. Four North American filmmakers were tasked, essentially, with a 9-day movie shoot in India with a 3-day wedding in the middle of it, somehow capturing a wedding not only as it happened but also in a way that would conform reasonably well to the outline of the script. This meant directing actors to interact with each other as well as with real people who happened to be getting married at the time-and disrupting neither the film shoot nor the wedding ceremony to do so. And did I mention that royal Indian weddings are about as complex and prolonged as any wedding tradition in the world—and that there were elephants involved?

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

City of Glass
Given the challenges of pulling off a project like this, and the fact that with an idea that's as out there as this one, there's virtually no demand for a film of this sort-realistically, clients aren't going to ask you to produce an original film with their wedding rolled into it—where did the idea come from, and what motivated Shahinian to pursue it? It turns out it wasn't so much the integration of wedding film and concept film as a desire to approach wedding filmmaking itself more conceptually.

"Every wedding video you see comes from the same perspective, the same kind of shots of the couple and what-not. With more of the creativity that you've seen in the last few years, you get more detail, but more or less, it's the bride and groom's story," he explains. "I was thinking about trying to do a wedding film from a different point of view, other than the bride and groom's. That planted the seed, and what really made that idea thrive and grow was when the couple contacted me, and they originally just wanted us for the wedding. But then they saw the first and second Bollywood films we did, and the bride really loved it, so she said, ‘Maybe we can raise the budget to do something like that. Think about it, and get back to us with an idea.' I thought about it, and I realized that this wedding in India was going to overshadow any concept I could come up with."

Working with a couple that's of Indian descent but born and raised in Chicago, it struck Shahinian that the concept was going to India, and what that meant to them. "What does it mean to go to India, to go back to where your ancestors were from and get married there? I figured that the best thing to do was to make the wedding the concept."

Part of the impulse for attempting a more expansive approach came from the desire to collaborate with Moreau of StillMotion, with whom Shahinian had recently appeared in five webisodes of Zacuto Films' round-table filmmaking discussion series, FilmFellas. (If you watch the series, you'll notice that the two dropped a few hints about this project there.) And part of it was to produce a wedding film with a Hollywood-style crew. "One question I had was, ‘Can wedding videographers make a proper film in a sort of crew delineation? We're all one-man bands, so can there be a writer-director, a DP [director of photography], a second unit director, and an AD [assistant director]? Can we do it? Will it work?' The second question was, ‘Can it stand up to any other film that has nothing to do with a wedding?' Because in this film, the wedding was just incidental."

Given the difficulty of pulling off the concept, the talent and ability of the crew was crucial. "The whole idea behind this was, could we produce a concept movie that was fully produced, [use] multiple takes, and blend it seamlessly with live footage? Would it be seamless and would it cut together and look like we produced the wedding [as a movie] also? Which was another reason why I wanted to have, in my mind, the best wedding videographers out there to make it look as polished as possible."

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

From a Concept to a Story
One of the key components of creating a wedding concept film is to get to know the bride and groom and draw out the elements of their own story that will contribute to the storyline of the film. As luck would have it, Shahinian-who is based in Los Angeles, and often never meets with his far-flung clients in person before they convene either for the concept film shoot or the wedding itself-had not one, but two opportunities to cross two time zones and meet with the families with whom he'd be working on this film. First, he was invited to Chicago by the Illinois Videographers Association last May to speak at the association's annual Midwest Expo, and this provided his first invaluable opportunity to meet with the bride and groom to discuss the project.

"I sat down with the couple and interviewed them, starting with the way they met, which wasn't cinematic per se," he recalls, noting that he left without an especially clear idea of how his film would take shape other
than knowing that it wouldn't be a fictionalized version of their own meeting and courtship as his earlier concepts had been.

The breakthrough came when Shahinian returned to Chicago a month later to do FilmFellas, had dinner with the couple and their parents, and ended up talking with the parents for 2 hours. "I said, ‘Tell me about Melissa and Samir as children,'" Shahinian says, "and it started me on the notion of ‘what is marriage' and what does marriage mean? I thought about weddings where they do photomontages of a couple's childhood and wondered, ‘What does that mean? Why do they do the photomontage of the childhood? What's the symbolism there?' I think a wedding, for parents, is sad—it's like letting the children go to begin their adult lives officially, and in a way, it's the death of childhood. What makes a movie cinematic?" he muses. "You have to have tension and conflict. One thing that makes wedding movies so mundane is that everyone's so happy, most of the time, and you're telling the story of two characters we know are going to end up together, and they get married in the first 10 minutes." Shahinian's idea was to find a starting point for the story that would build tension and conflict in advance of the ending to underscore the bittersweetness of the outcome.

"One of the things Melissa told me up front was that she'd always dreamed of getting married in India, ever since she was a little girl," he says. "That's when the light bulb went off in my head," and the film began to take shape.

"The whole story of the movie is told from the point of view of these two children, a little boy and a little girl. And it's from their point of view that you watch the whole wedding. At the end, you realize that it's Melissa and Samir as children, and that they're dreaming of the day at this time in the past."

Appropriately enough, the film ends with the wedding. "Along the way, you build sympathy for these characters," Shahinian says, "and you realize the ending is very bittersweet, because they have to come to terms with the fact that they no longer exist in reality, and the two people they've been trying to get in touch with are themselves. But it was important to me that it work without that—that if I cut that twist out of the end ... it would still work as this suspenseful film about these two children checking out this cool wedding."

But Shahinian's elevator pitch to the couple didn't go terribly smoothly. For one thing, the idea of shooting the film entirely in India meant abandoning the idea of producing a film that could be shown at the reception. India and the idea of getting married there was just too important a part of the story he wanted to tell. And then there was the power of Udaipur as a location (compared to, say, Chicago), with its majestic palaces and shimmering lakes; as Shahinian told Ron Dawson on Dawson's podcast, Crossing the 180, "I just didn't feel comfortable shooting something here in the states to show in this almost-fairytale location."

And when Shahinian suggested to the family the idea of telling the story from the point of view of the bride and groom as children, they didn't get it. "They had a photomontage of themselves as children that they had shown at their engagement party, and I said, ‘Well, what would a $2-million version of that look like? What if a Hollywood director made this into a movie?' Then they got it."

Up in the Air
But selling the concept was only the first hurdle. "Then it was a matter of, ‘We need so much more money,' and they were like, ‘How much?'" Another issue was assembling (and transporting) a top-notch crew—beginning with bringing on board Moreau, of whom the family weren't aware—and building the budget from there. After shooting a wedding with Simon and Ray Roman, Shahinian recruited Simon and finally pitched it to Warren, who signed on as well, with all committing to work for traded time (i.e., Shahinian agreeing to shoot for/with them in the future) and full coverage of their expenses.

"I let them know we have an all-star crew and then went about producing most of it before I could predict how much it would cost, because you can never really guess accurately," he says. "I sent the family a breakdown, and it was up in the air for a couple weeks while they thought about it, and then they finally said, ‘We're on board.'"

The contributions of the project's three sponsors—Cinevate, Canon, and Tiffen—proved critical too. While the sponsors played no role in underwriting the cost of the video, they not only supplied equipment but shipped it, 2 weeks in advance of the shoot, which was important in terms of getting the permits to use it and limiting the gear that the filmmakers had to carry through customs (two DSLRs each, plus their allotment of lenses)-"We breezed through just like tourists." Because it was an all-DSLR shoot, Canon supplied not only the 5Ds and 7Ds but also a full complement of lenses. Tiffen supplied Steadicams and lights, and Cinevate provided DSLR rigs and other stabilization gear.

Cinevate's sponsorship extended to producing (and owning) a behind-the-scenes (BTS) feature that would be shot simultaneously, edited by Simon, that will subsequently be promoted and presented on Cinevate.com—first as teasers, then as the full BTS feature after the full film premieres in Las Vegas during NAB. "The BTS was pretty wild," Simon says. "There was not a designated person to shoot it so we all just shot bits here and there when we could. The City of Lakes film was a huge undertaking as a whole and we had a pretty slim crew to just take care of basic production—let alone a BTS crew. So as we would scout locations and shoot scenes, whoever had a free hand would grab a 5D and shoot some BTS stuff. It's pretty funny watching everything back and trying to guess who is holding the camera."

As much as City of Lakes strived to a degree unprecedented in wedding cinema to sustain a single narrative thread between scripted and live-event segments, "The BTS is all over the place," Simon says. "It's fly-on-the-wall, it's in-your-face, it's self-filming interviews. It's a mixed basket of fun! There are some interviews along the way but most of it is just what is happening and all the obstacles we had to overcome. But as a whole we captured an awesome vibe between India and the crew." The final cut of the BTS will run in 3 segments of 4–5 minutes each, according to Simon, premiering soon on Cinevate.com.

Shooting Script
Shahinian, Moreau, Shahinian's jib operator, Chris Geiger, and line producer Pravit Thakur, who flew in from Mumbai, arrived on the Monday preceding the wedding, Warren and on-set photographer Amish Solanki flew in the following day. B-roll shooting was scheduled to begin Wednesday night, and shooting with the actors was slated to begin on Thursday, with the wedding events occurring Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evenings. Because Shahinian had neither the budget nor the time to fly to Udaipur ahead of time, this left 2 or 3 days for scouting locations and storyboarding prior to shooting. The actors and dancers were flown into Udaipur from Mumbai—the center of India's filmmaking and TV industries—on Thursday.

The cast consisted primarily of two professional child actors, Anubhab Saha and Sharon Chawda, and an established TV actor named Rushad Rana, who played the boatman, a sort of "shepherd or Obi-Wan type of guy who moves the plot along. He was awesome, and kept getting recognized everywhere," says Shahinian. Because the bride and groom neither sang, danced, nor spoke Hindi, their parts were minimal except for the live action elements from the wedding. The only member of the wedding who played a significant (non-live) part in the movie was the sister of the groom, who did a musical number; "She's an aspiring actress who's done some short films and was very comfortable in front of the camera."

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

Another reason that Shahinian minimized the bride and groom's roles in the film was that they were, well, busy. "There are a couple of scenes that we shot with them that we staged. But because we were shooting right around their wedding, they wanted to focus as much as they could on their family and their time in India and not the movie, so I didn't want to pull them away. Most of the footage of them is live footage that we got from the wedding."

Once they reached the weekend and the wedding events, Shahinian says, "We were actually shooting the movie during the day, and then that night there would be a wedding event. So we had 20-hour shooting days," which put pressure on everyone to make the most of the time they had. "They say never direct children and animals; we did both. The kids were just a joy to work with, and delivered in a way no one could have expected for a pair of actors so young."

That said, working with the children did require extra care and attention from Shahinian. "The script called for putting the kids in some pretty challenging situations-with the appearance of risk and danger-such as the huge festival in the city they get lost in, as seen in the trailer," Shahinian says. "I immediately felt incredibly protective of them, in a way I've never felt for anyone before. Even though their moms were with us all the time, they often couldn't be close enough or in the action with us logistically, so I became, in a way, their guardian. It was definitely hard to say goodbye."

As for working with the filmmakers, the idea was to stay in their defined crew roles throughout the shooting of the scripted parts, then switch back into four-camera wedding filmmaker mode when it came to shooting the ceremony. (After realizing that it would do a disservice to both his script and the clients to attempt to cover the entire wedding in the movie, or limit his coverage of the wedding to what was relevant to the movie, Shahinian decided to add full-ceremony coverage as a second deliverable, in addition to the concept film.) "I split up the team in the morning. Casey and I shot the bride, Joe and Patrick shot the groom. On the
wedding we were all wedding filmmakers, we were all on an even keel there."

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

Before shooting even began, Shahinian knew he would face one primary challenge in making the film: matching the scripted movie footage with the live footage of the wedding to make the film seem completely seamless. Compounding this challenge was that the wed-ding's singular Hindi traditions, sacred elements, and celebratory moments were key parts of the movie. Shahinian says he wrote the film to portray (even from his perspective as an outsider to the tradition) "the Hindu religion in a soulful way, to incorporate all the prayers and the traditions, to communicate in an emotional way what the prayers mean in the plot of the movie. I incorporated the themes of a Hindu wedding that you might not recognize as an outsider, but would be apparent right away [if] you knew the tradition."

As such, the wedding elements couldn't be treated lightly or as simply incidental to the movie. And perhaps the most difficult scene of all to shoot was the baraat nikasi, one of the best-known traditions of Hindi weddings, a grand and colorful ceremony in which the groom rides into the wedding venue on an elephant. As we learn from watching the City of Lakes trailer (embedded at the top of this page), the plot of the movie centers around the two children finding out that a spectacular wedding is happening at the Jag Mandir Palace and the girl deciding she wants to give a necklace to the bride. Halfway through the movie, the boy finds out where the baraat is taking place and attempts to give the necklace to the groom there. "So we had to cover the baraat as if we were shooting a cool wedding video, but at the same time we had to shoot the scene for the movie," he says. "I got certain shots of the boy in that location on Friday that I knew we wouldn't be able to shoot impromptu on the wedding day, and then we had storyboarded all the shots we needed with the elephant and the whole family and everything. ... [T]hat was cut in with stuff we shot the day before with the girl on the rooftop and the boy ... waiting for the groom. The whole thing was about 50 yards [long]. I told the groom, ‘About halfway through the baraat, I just need to get a shot of a little boy trying to hand you something. Don't pay attention; just keep doing what you're doing,' and he said, ‘That's fine.'"

And as for shooting a scene of a live event—with an elephant, which was unlikely to take direction from just anyone—as part of a scripted movie, Shahinian recalls, "I just said, ‘Guys, get this live and make it look like we did 10 takes.'"

‘It Took Years Off My Life'
"To be open to the spontaneity of the wedding," Shahinian says, "I had the script written and the wedding cut into the script, but it was loose, so I would just say, ‘a scene of this here.' But if it didn't happen the way we had it in the script per se, we had to modify the scenes. It was a movie that was open to the spontaneity of what happened live, so it was like rewriting the script on a daily basis."

And it wasn't just the trying to make the unpredictable live elements fit into the script that proved so difficult. It was also the fact that they got turned away from most of the locations they scouted to shoot. "In India, even though I'd done all my proper producing and got all the permits," he says, "every time we went somewhere, there would be one too many people, or they wouldn't like the equipment we had and would say, ‘No, you can't shoot here.' I was in disaster-prevention mode the whole time. I didn't get to do as much prep with the guys in India as I wanted to. My phone was ringing every 2 seconds, and I'd have to deal with something. And, of course, we'd go somewhere and they'd say we couldn't shoot there, so we'd have to go somewhere else, and the storyboards got thrown out the window."

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

Other issues that arose with the changed locations and the way the live wedding played out differently from their expectations involved continuity. "There were little things like time-of-day issues—the whole thing takes place on their wedding day, which is the hardest thing to do in terms of continuity. The story goes from morning 'til night. The ceremony was originally scheduled for Magic Hour [sunset], and knowing that these things go late, we begged them to move everything up by an hour so it actually happened at Magic Hour. But they said no, there were logistical issues. So the bulk of the ceremony happened at night after the sun
went down. We had to totally modify a lot of scenes before and after that to make things cut together continuity-wise."

With all the snafus—including the location issues, a Sony EX1 rendered useless without memory cards, a malfunctioning helicam, and more—Shahinian says his saving grace was Pravin Thakur, a producer he hired out of Mumbai "who was a miracle worker. If I didn't have him, there would be no movie whatsoever. I'd call him and say, ‘We just got turned away from another location,' and he'd have another one within 5 minutes. Patrick was going to do most of the lighting as the DP, but I said, ‘You don't know the power system,' so he brought a gaffer. None of us spoke fluent Hindi, so we trusted them to do all the communicating," Shahinian recalls. "At one point, honestly, we thought, ‘This movie is turning out to be a disaster; it's just going to be one awesome behind-the-scenes, my Lost in La Mancha,'" referring to the Terry Gilliam documentary about the epic failure of his first attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

Whatever this project turned out to be—tilting at windmills or history-making wedding cinema—Shahinian says, "It took several years off my life."

It's All in the Edit
Of his four widely seen concept films, Shahinian says, City of Lakes is the first that's essentially been built in the editing room. "With the other concepts," he says, "there haven't been any major issues; stuff has more or less gone to plan. This was on a much larger scale and longer than any of the previous ones." The climactic—and in terms of the script, absolutely crucial—scene was as emblematic of this as any. "The idea was to get the kids to eventually come face to face with themselves as adults at the reception, and the night we were going to shoot that, we weren't allowed on site—high, high, high security. So we had to shoot that somewhere else. So we're all looking at each other wondering, ‘Is this gonna cut together?' Getting things to cut together that we had to compromise on made it a big challenge to edit. But I don't think anyone will notice."

Kevin Shahinian City of Lakes

Films that found their identity in the edit are nothing new. "Editing is very powerful. If you adopt a certain style and you use sound design and music, you can make it work. You see a lot of films where you say, ‘Wow, that was such a well-done sequence,' you'd be surprised to find it didn't go anything like as planned on set. They just made it work in the cut. I'll try to watch films with the sound off every once in a while and I can see all that."

For this reason and because of its ambitious scope, the soundtrack of City of Lakes was critical. "I knew I wanted most of the film to be scored, not just a bunch of recognizable Bollywood songs. The original idea for this movie was to do an original score, but the budget was not there—to have something decent is just a lot of money. I was looking at different royalty-free sources. I'm settling on a copywritten score that is very obscure, and it looks like we're going to get rights from the music publisher to use it online. The music publishers have been very cool, and it cost much less than I expected."

Promotion, Distribution, and Ambition
In keeping with the "hitherto unseen" motif of the entire production, the promotion and release of City of Lakes would be something entirely new for the wedding filmmaking world as well, beginning with the three "Prelude to a Trailer" clips and the Cinevate contest. "The idea was to promote the trailer and the movie to the public with these teasers that would be really mysterious and reveal things in sequence. The first was who we are, the second was where we went, the third was what we were trying to accomplish." Two weeks after the three prelude clips were rolled out, on March 2, the trailer came out; then, the world premiere of the feature itself will come at the Palms on April 14, with the behind-the-scenes film following later in the month.

For obvious logistical reasons, but very much in line with the film's ambition, the movie wasn't shown at the wedding reception, so its entire presentation to the public will involve the worldwide audience it attracts online. This meant inverting the typical wedding film audience and pursuing something with much broader and less family-centric appeal—a contentious choice in and of itself.

This ambition was reflected in every aspect of the movie, up to and including the way the scripted world of the film spilled over—if ever so slightly—into the wedding itself. "I wanted to make sure that we had specific lines from the reception speeches that were plot-sensitive," Shahinian says. "Obviously, I didn't want to write the reception speeches for the couple, but I gave them suggestions. She said this was something she'd dreamed about for her entire life, so I asked her to talk about that." This extended to other aspects of the wedding: "They would send me their outfit ideas and their timeline ideas, and I think it's somewhat unprecedented for a videographer to be given this kind of say in a wedding. Two days before the reception, we went to the reception site, and I wanted them to look exactly as they would look—and I scripted what they would say in the hope of being able to cut that into the live speech."

What this meant in the context of a real wedding, a real live event with real people expressing real emotions, relates to something Shahinian says that he and Moreau discussed on FilmFellas. "What's more emotionally authentic—a wedding video, or a scripted movie? What can document a relationship more authentically?"

Shahinian, as you might guess, believes that as much or more authentic emotion can be conveyed in a scripted film that doesn't necessarily capture events as they happened but communicates more articulately what they meant. He likens the effect to the way a powerfully made feature film such as Gettysburg can resonate more than a Civil War documentary that covers the same topical ground.

For this film, his goal was to have this kind of impact on his viewers—far beyond the confines of the typical wedding video audience—and for that reason he simply had to approach it differently. "Cinema is a medium for the masses," he says. "Most wedding videos are very special for the couple and their family, but pretty flat for strangers. The attention span for a stranger is going to be short because it's a specific piece. A Hollywood film is just the opposite: It's going to try to touch as many people as it can." With City of Lakes, he says, he and his crew were trying "to take this couple's story and emotion and share it with as many people who can be touched by it as possible."

There's also a practical business issue-in addition to the artistic one-for the concept filmmaker: "You gotta sell the next project. A bride who has no connection to this couple is going to watch this, and if it's too specific to them, it's not going to move the next client."

Which leads to the inevitable question: Was City of Lakes a profitable venture for Pacific Pictures, besides, say, selling the next project? "Very minimally," Shahinian laughs. "I have a problem with my ambition level. Maybe you should never pursue your passion as a business; maybe that's a bad idea. I get uncomfortable talking about money, but I think that's a valid point, because people would say, ‘Oh, he just spent all the money on the movie.' But the money I spent on it wasn't more than I was given. The time I spent on it was, maybe, more than I should have, given what I made." Shahinian also notes that his film owes much of its grandeur to the lavish Hindu wedding that happens at the end of it, and of course that was one part that was totally financed and produced by the family.

With a film that breaks as much new ground as City of Lakes, it seems almost trivial to consider it in those terms. It may make more sense to speculate on the film's impact on Shahinian's career (as several viewers did in comments they posted after watching the trailer within 12 hours of its posting on his blog), which is that full-length Hollywood feature filmmaking can't be far away for the director. Mind you, the stated goal for this project was to break down the barriers between Hollywood filmmaking and wedding filmmaking rather than to break the director into the Hollywood big time. But given Kevin Shahinian's now-proven ability to confound and exceed expectations with every successive film, who can predict where he'll go from here?

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

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Singular Software Announces Public Beta for Next Release of PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro

Singular Software, developer of automation applications for post-production, is pleased to announce the public beta PluralEyes version 1.2 for Apple Final Cut Pro®. Designed for time-conscious video professionals, PluralEyes offers critical workflow automation tools for synchronizing audio and video clips, including DSLR camera video.

The public beta carries the first round of a series of imminent product enhancements leading up to the full version announcement next month.

The new version will include improved workflow for dual-system audio, clock drift correction, increased synchronization control, broader coverage of media types and customer-requested enhancements. It does not overwrite the previously installed PluralEyes 1.1, and can run alongside that version. To download the PluralEyes 1.2 for Final Cut Pro public beta, please visit: http://www.singularsoftware.com/downloads.html.

About PluralEyes
The PluralEyes application dramatically accelerates the workflow for multi-camera, multi-take and dual-system audio productions. By analyzing audio information, PluralEyes synchronizes audio and video clips automatically, without the need for timecode, clappers or other manual preparation. Optimized for fast performance on both Mac and PC platforms, PluralEyes supports both Vegas Pro® and Final Cut Pro.

Availability and Pricing of PluralEyes
PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro is available to purchase for $149 USD via the Singular Software website: http://www.singularsoftware.com.
Final Cut Pro users can also sample PluralEyes by downloading a fully functional 30-day free trial version from: http://www.singularsoftware.com/downloads.html.

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Band Pro Introduces PL Mount Prime Lenses From Leica

After much anticipation, Band Pro is proud to introduce Leica Summilux-C lenses - a groundbreaking new line of PL mount primes designed to deliver ultra-high optical performance for film and digital capture.

The product of more than three years of development, these new T1.4 close focus primes employ a unique multi-aspheric design and high-precision cine lens mechanics to provide unmatched flat field illumination across the entire 35mm frame and suppression of color fringing in the farthest corners of the frame with no discernable breathing. These lenses are superior to any lenses Band Pro's team of experts has yet seen.

All Leica Summilux-C lenses share a uniform length, 95mm threaded lens front, advanced distance focus scales, and similar location of focus and iris rings-which allow quick interchange of lenses in a busy production environment. Another unique feature is an integrated net ring threaded into the rear element.

Designed to be lightweight yet rugged, the mount and lens barrel are manufactured from high-strength titanium. Leica Summilux-C lenses weigh between 3.5 and 4.0 pounds (1.6-1.8kg).

Available exclusively worldwide from Band Pro, the lenses will initially be offered in focus lengths of 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm. Product delivery is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2010. Additional focal lengths will become available in a second phase.

For more information: Band Pro Film & Digital, 3403 West Pacific Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505, Phone: 818/841-9655, e-mail: info@bandpro.com, http://www.bandpro.com.

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SmartSound to Debut Customizable Music with Vocals at NAB 2010

SmartSound Software, Inc., the leader in fully-customizable royalty-free music, will be releasing the latest innovation in library music on April 12, 2010 at the NAB 2010 Show in Las Vegas. The brand new Voxation Series will feature lyric-based vocal music from talented bands and musicians in a SmartSound format that automatically edits length, arrangement and mix at the hands of any video or audio editor.

Each song on these albums is delivered with the instrument tracks and vocals on separate layers. With the powerful customization control in SmartSound's Sonicfire Pro software, video editors can now easily manipulate these songs to make the instruments and vocals automatically fit to the changes in the video.

"We're excited to bring this new innovation to the market. Vocal music has been a growing demand for our customers and we have answered with vocal music in our most versatile Multi-Layer format," says Andy Muson, SmartSound's VP of Music. "Since it's based on our patented technology, no other music company can offer this level of creativity and personalization to their music."

The first album in the Voxation Series features the melodic tunes and savvy lyrics of singer/songwriter Brady Harris. The second album features the Indie Pop/Rock band, Steep, from Germany. SmartSound is working with a growing number of bands and musicians to keep the Voxation Series growing.

Albums in the Voxation Series will be priced at $149.95 each and singles will be priced around $59.95 each. All SmartSound Music is available for purchase online as both albums or singles. All music purchases are downloadable instantly after completing the purchase. Physical discs can be shipped for an additional charge. SmartSound Music is designed to work with SmartSound Sonicfire Pro Express Track® software which is available as a free download.

SmartSound will also be releasing a new album in their highly acclaimed Film Score Series titled Amotz Plessner and Friends. This album features film-quality live orchestral music in Multi-Layer format designed to make emotionally impactful videos and trailers.

About SmartSound Software
SmartSound Software, Inc. is the world's leading provider of customizable music and music soundtrack solutions for visual content creators. The company has been at the forefront of technological innovations in the industry, such as the award-winning Timing ControlTM and Mood Mapping® features in SmartSound Sonicfire® Pro. SmartSound technology is available for Windows XP/Vista and Macintosh OSX 10.4 or higher, including PowerPCs and Intel Macs. SmartSound products include: the Sonicfire Pro (with or without Final Cut Pro plug-in) and Quicktracks® software and the Strata®, Voxation, Film Score, Producer, Edge, Audio Palette, Sound Palette, and Home Movie Music collections of music and sound effects. The company is headquartered in Northridge, CA, and can be reached by phone at 818-920-9122, by fax at 818-920-9152 or on the Web at www.smartsound.com.

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16x9 Inc. Debuts Strongest Articulating Arm at NAB

At the NAB Show, April 12-15, 16x9 Inc. will unveil its strongest, most versatile articulating arm -- the Noga Griffin Arm. The Noga Griffin Arm is designed to hold lights, small cameras or monitors and any other production accessory that requires and extended articulation mount. It is bigger, longer and outperforms all other three-joint articulating arms on the market.

At the heart of the Griffin Arm is the Flip-lever with safety catch that quickly and easily locks or releases with one turn the arm's three articulated joints all at once. You can get your accessory into the perfect position, and when things change on set -- and they almost always do -- a fast, simple adjustment of the arm allows you to go with the flow. The arm features variable-friction load adjustment, and when locked there is no play in the lever or any of the Griffin Arm joints. The rugged Griffin Arm also holds more weight than any counterpart -- 10 pounds at full extension.

Made up of two equal-length arms and three articulating joints, the Griffin Arm's overall length is 22 inches. The versatile arm can be mounted on a light stand or anywhere else with a grip clamp. Each arm has an industry-standard 5/8 pin threaded at the ends in (1) 1/4-20 and (1) 3/8-16, respectively, for additional mounting options.

See the Noga Griffin Arm at NAB Booth# C10308. MSRP for the Noga Griffin Arm is $190. For more information, contact: 16x9 Inc., 28314 Constellation Rd., Valencia, CA 91355, Phone: (661) 295-3313, Fax: (661) 295-3314, info@16x9inc.com, www.16x9inc.com.

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Sony Creative Software Unveils New Tools for 3D Blu-ray Disc Production and Video Editing

Sony Creative Software, a leading provider of professional video and audio editing applications, today announced Blu-print 6TM Blu-ray Disc authoring application and the brand-new Z DepthTM 3D subtitle offset editing application. As one of the first professional 3D Blu-rayTM Disc authoring products available on the market, the upgraded Blu-print 6 will be capable of authoring 3D titles in accordance with the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) 3D Blu-ray disc specification to greatly enhance workflow capability for production facilities and professional video editors. Blu-print 6 allows for easy import of MVC encoded content along with support of 3D menu graphics and subtitle graphics. 3D Blu-ray Java integration also allows for user interactivity like BD-Live. To assist editors creating 3D subtitles, the new Z Depth application generates the required offset metadata file needed in a 3D BD project allowing editors to more accurately and easily position subtitles when creating 3D Blu-ray Discs.

"With the home entertainment industry, consumer electronics manufacturers and consumers eagerly awaiting the introduction of 3D on Blu-ray, Blu-print 6 and Z Depth 3D subtitle offset editing application will enable editors and disc authoring professionals to provide a seamless 3D viewing experience for home audiences," said Dave Chaimson, vice-president of global marketing for Sony Creative Software. "Given the precise balance of art and technology needed to produce 3D Blu-ray Discs, production professionals require powerful and specialized new tools like Blu-print 6 and Z Depth for Vegas Pro 9 to deliver content that exceeds the high expectations accompanying the excitement for 3D at home."

Blu-print 6
As one of the first professional-level 3D Blu-ray disc authoring software systems available, the new features of Blu-print 6 will allow studios to author 3D content for the new 3D Blu-ray format standard Profile 5, import new MVC encoded streams, and work with Z Depth for 3D subtitle authoring. Designed for high volume professional production, the updated Blu-print 6 software will also include support for offset metadata integration required for 3D Presentation Graphics and 3D Interactive Graphics. 3D BD-J integration and 3D Blu-ray Disc cutting master generation is also supported in order to provide maximum intuition and flexibility for complex authoring projects.

Z Depth Feature Highlights

The all-new Z Depth subtitle offset editing application uses the video power of Vegas Pro 9 to provide a combination that will allow 3D authoring companies to easily create required disparity metadata files for positioning of subtitles and IG menus in a 3D Blu-ray Disc production. New to 3D BD production, the Z Depth application will allow 3D Blu-ray Disc authoring facilities and subtitle creation companies to produce accurate subtitling in the 3D space that will allow for the most comfortable viewing experience. The BD spec offset metadata files created by the application can be used in any 3D Blu-ray Disc authoring application that follows BDA specifications Profile 5. There are no special hardware requirements for Z Depth, though it is highly recommended that editors use the Presonus Fader Port for data input. Vegas Pro 9 is required for Z Depth integration.

Availability

Blu-print 6 and Z Depth will be available in June 2010 through Sony Creative Software Professional Services at www.sonycreativesoftware.com.

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Sorenson Media Announces Not Only Support, but Video Optimization for Apple's iPad

Sorenson Media today announced that all of the company's Internet video solutions have already been optimized for the Apple iPad-including the Sorenson 360 online video platform, the award-winning Sorenson Squeeze client-side encoding solution and the Sorenson Squish browser-based encoding solution. This optimization is available immediately and at no additional charge.

"We have optimized our total video solutions for the iPad and the iPhone, making it easier than ever for anyone to access or publish the highest quality video content over the Internet," said Peter Csathy, president and CEO of Sorenson Media. "While a lot of providers talk about how they will support video on the iPad sometime in the future, Sorenson Media has actually already done it and - this is a critical distinction - optimized it. We are aware of no one else who can say that."

Since June 2009, every Sorenson Media solution has also been fully compatible with the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch-in contrast to many other providers who either charge extra fees for compatibility with Apple devices or make customers develop their own Apple interoperability. Sorenson Media was the first to optimize for the iPhone 3G S immediately after its launch.

Sorenson Media's ongoing commitment to empower its customers with the most intuitive, flexible and interoperable solutions in the marketplace has also recently been noted by Apple. Soon after its Q4 2009 release, Sorenson Squeeze 6 was named an official Apple Staff Pick, and is currently featured in the Apple Downloads section: http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/.

To view screenshots of Sorenson Media's solutions in action on the iPad, visit: http://blog.sorensonmedia.com.

Using optimized presets, the Sorenson 360 online video platform enables users to easily encode video content in the iPad-compatible MPEG-4 format and deliver that content using Apple's native video player. Intelligent embed codes then immediately call up the correct player for playback on the iPad and other Apple devices. The company's optimization for the iPad also includes presets in Sorenson Squeeze and Sorenson Squish that enable seamless playback in the formats used by Apple, including precise video and audio specifications that maximize the quality of the video played on these devices. Downloadable presets are available for free to every Sorenson Squeeze 6 user at the company's online Preset Exchange at http://presets.sorensonmedia.com.

Sorenson Media's total video solutions enable users to encode and upload video content to the Sorenson 360 online video platform directly through the industry-leading Sorenson Squeeze software, or via their browsers using Sorenson Squish. Both processes significantly reduce upload time and provide automatic access to the iPad presets. With the user-friendly Sorenson Squish browser-based encoding tool, users simply drag and drop their video files from their hard drive or record new videos via their webcams and, in a single step, publish and make them playable directly on any Apple device.

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Singular Software Announces DualEyes - Automated Audio Replacement for Dual-System Recording

Singular Software, developer of automation applications for post-production, is pleased to announce its latest innovation, DualEyesTM; audio replacement for DSLR and other video.

Designed as a standalone application for the automatic synchronization of video and audio clips for dual-system audio, DualEyes can be used with any video editing software for quick and efficient post-production results.

DualEyes is powered by the same advanced technology as the popular PluralEyesTM product, but is streamlined for the task of replacing in-camera scratch audio with separately recorded high-quality audio.

"DSLR video cameras have taken the industry by storm with their stunning video quality. However, getting comparable audio quality is a challenge," says Bruce Sharpe, CEO, Singular Software. "The best approach is dual-system; record the audio on an external recorder and replace the camera audio in post-production. DualEyes makes that replacement step a breeze by automatically syncing the video clips to the external audio, then cutting up that audio into clips that correspond precisely with each video clip. Since it can be used with everything from entry-level consumer editors to full-blown professional production suites, DualEyes meets the needs of both the novice and advanced editor alike."

About DualEyes
The DualEyes application for dual-system audio utilizes the same high-level technology as its sister product, PluralEyes, to automatically sync video clips to an audio recording. Users simply record audio on a separate recorder while recording video. DualEyes synchronizes and cuts up the audio to automatically match each video clip in both start time and duration. With DualEyes' technology, all original media files are kept intact and new media files are created for maximum flexibility. The video and new audio clips are imported into a video editor and linked together as the starting point for the creative editing process. Since DualEyes is a standalone application it can be used with any video editing software to easily obtain the highest quality audio for any video production.
DualEyes originates from a line of workflow automation applications developed by Singular Software for audio and video professionals. DualEyes' sister product, PluralEyes, is the topic of recent industry buzz and continues to generate glowing reviews:

"This is one of the best plug-ins I have ever come across. ... This really is a joyous product and I cannot recommend it enough." Philip Bloom, Best of 2009

"Using PluralEyes is a no-brainer for any editor who works with multi-cam projects in Final Cut." Oliver Peters, DigitalFilms Blog

To read more reviews of PluralEyes, please visit: http://www.singularsoftware.com/press.html

Availability of DualEyes
DualEyes will be available in Q2, 2010. To sign up for the Singular Software mailing list and be notified of the new application, please visit: http://www.singularsoftware.com.


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RE:Vision Effects Announces Upcoming Support for Adobe® After Effects® CS5 and Major Optimizations for its Entire After Effects-compatible Product Lines

RE:Vision Effects, acclaimed effects plug-in industry leader and makers of Academy Award® winning software, announces that it will demo its next generation of plug-ins for Adobe® After Effects® at NAB 2010, in booth SL4130.

The new versions will contain 64-bit support for the soon-to-be-released Adobe After Effects CS5. The products will also have major optimizations for After Effects 7.0 and later, and other supported After Effects-compatible host applications, so users who will not be using Adobe After Effects CS5 will have a good reason to upgrade.

Customers who purchase an After Effects-compatible product today will received the new upgraded version for free when it is released. This offer will be good from today until the new versions are released. Upgrade pricing will be announced when the products are released.

Features of the upcoming new versions:

* Major optimizations have been performed across the entire After Effects-compatible product line.
* 64-bit support for Adobe After Effects CS5


RE:Vision Effects After Effects-compatible product line includes:

* DE:Noise - Reduces noise using smart spatial and time-based (optical flow) methods.
* Effections - Our specially-priced bundled collections.
* FieldsKit - Provides smarter deinterlacing and more workflow options for interlacing and pulldown.
* PV Feather - Provides per-vertex feather control for After Effects.
* RE:Fill - Replaces or fills in missing or "bad" pixels.
* RE:Flex - Creates visually stunning morphs and warps with an easy-to-use interface.
* RE:Map - Provides professional quality mapping and distortion tools.
* ReelSmart Motion Blur - Automatically tracks every pixel in a sequence and blurs based on calculated motion!
* Shade/Shape - Automatically turns 2D artwork into 3D rendered imagery!
* SmoothKit - The ultimate blurring filter set that combines user-directed controls and feature-sensitive methods.
* Twixtor - Intelligently slows down or speeds up image sequences!
* Video Gogh - Turns pictures and videos into painted works of art!


To learn more about our products visit RE:Vision Effects website: http://www.revisionfx.com .

RE:Vision Effects is an acclaimed industry leader of visual effects plug-ins for Adobe After Effects, Eyeon Fusion, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Final Cut Express, The Foundry's Nuke, Adobe Premiere Pro, Autodesk 3ds Max/Maya Composite, Avid editing systems, Autodesk Systems (Sparks), Autodesk SoftImage, Apple Shake, Quantel genQ and others.

DE:Noise, Effections,FieldsKit, PV Feather, RE:Fill, RE:Flex, RE:Map, ReelSmart Motion Blur, Shade/Shape, SmoothKit, Twixtor and Video Gogh are trademarks of RE:Vision Effects, Inc. All other trademarks, company names and products are the property of their respective holders. Features, pricing and availability are subject to change without notice.

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