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October 14, 2010

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: So You Want to Deliver Your HD Videos Online...
Benchmarking Adobe Premiere Pro CS5
Strike a Chord With Tunepresto: Original Soundtrack Creation at Your Fingertips
Calling All Adobe Premiere Mac OS X Users: Singular Software Invites You To The PluralEyes Public Beta
New Vegas Pro 10 From Sony and Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 Now Available
Lensbaby Introduces Scout with Fisheye – A Fun Fisheye Lens with Unique Close Focus and Flare Capabilities
Class On Demand Ships "Complete Training for Premiere Pro CS5"
Petrol Bags introduces Digibag DSLR Camera Bag
Vinten Introduces Vector 430

The Moving Picture: So You Want to Deliver Your HD Videos Online...

So there I was, struggling for an idea for a column, and editor Stephen Nathans-Kelly mentioned that there was growing interest in distributing HD wedding videos to clients over the internet. Fortunately, this dovetailed well with some research that I recently performed, so here we are. If you’re considering distributing some or all of your wedding or event-related content over the internet in HD, you need to ask yourself at least four questions.

The first question is what video configuration can your viewer play. 1080p video looks great on my 12-core HP Z800, but what about on your client’s computer? Obviously, that depends. If you’re distributing to a single or a very limited group of viewers, you can ask about their CPUs and graphics cards, and then customize your video as necessary.

As a general rule, 720p video will play smoothly on most Core 2 Duo-based computers, particularly computers equipped with NVIDIA graphics cards, which typically offer GPU acceleration for Flash playback (and yes, I’m assuming Flash distribution). Core 2 Duo-based computers first became available in 2006, so if your end user’s computer is newer than that, it’s likely a Core 2 Duo computer or faster. To be safe with 1080p video, you need a very fast two- or four-core system. If the graphics are embedded or come from a vendor other than NVIDIA, expect lower performance.

If you’re distributing to a wider audience that includes pre- Core 2 Duo-based models, you’re going to have to be more conservative, or you’ll have to offer multiple streams. For example, in my tests, on a 2003-vintage Pentium 4 computer with NVIDIA graphics, a 720p stream consumed 78% of CPU, with some dropped frames. Video produced at 848x480 consumed 43% and played smoothly. As we’ll see in a moment, sites such as CNN.com and other three-letter networks seem to have adopted 640x360 for the faux-HD widescreen look; that consumed only 31% on the Pentium 4 and 35% on my Acer Aspire One netbook. If you need a single, lowest-common denominator stream, 640x480 is a good choice.

The second question is what do your viewers expect. Often, those expectations are dictated (or at least influenced) by the kind of videos they watch online everyday and how those videos are delivered. I surveyed more than 25 media sites, looking at news, sports, excerpts, and full episodes, and I was surprised at a seeming pullback from HD content. The average news configuration (seven samples) was 577x352, and the average resolution for full episodes was 627x367 (eight samples). The big exception was MTV, which offered up to 720p streams and reported that more than 72% of its audience was watching at resolutions of 768x432 and higher.

Looking at corporate sites, I found that the most aggressive B2C companies (Nike, Coca-Cola, Burberry, etc.) averaged 949x497 resolution, while B2B companies averaged 727x444, with Cisco stepping out at 902x507 and GE feeling it with 934x525.

Still, about the only market conspicuously offering HD content were showing movie trailers. The lesson here is that you should offer multiple video configurations and let the viewer decide which to watch. That includes some streams that offer awesome quality but are too large to stream in real time. Which leads us to the next question: What data rate can your viewers stream?

To assess this, I looked at the combined audio and video data rates used by media and prominent corporate sites. The eight full-episode videos averaged 866Kbps video and 128Kbps audio, for a combined data rate of about 1Mbps. At the high end of the media sites that I measured, my contact at MTV shared that 72% of the site’s viewers were able to watch full episodes at 1.7Mbps or higher.

In contrast, the 1080p movie trailer files that I sampled averaged about 10Mbps, which few viewers could view in real time. Instead, sites distribute these videos via progressive download, so the files are stored on your hard disk, at least temporarily, and will ultimately play at full speed once downloaded, if your computer is fast enough. Of course, trailers are short, and viewers may not mind waiting 5 minutes to watch a 2-minute trailer in pristine quality, though few viewers will wait 3 hours to watch a 45-minute episode of a prime time TV show.

This begs the obvious question of what data rate is needed to provide the necessary quality. Again, that depends. The metric I find most useful is bits per pixel, which is calculated by dividing the data rate by the number of pixels per second in the video (height x width x frame rate). Or you can just download the free media analysis tool MediaInfo, which tells you the bits per pixel of any file that you analyze. Bits-perpixel information is useful because it lets you compare files encoded at different resolutions and data rates.

For example, our eight prime time episodes had an average bits per pixel of about .12. In comparison, the 1080p movie trailers averaged about .26, more than twice as much, while the 720p videos were .35. Clearly, the value proposition is different: Networks are distributing episodes that we want to see but missed in prime time. The advantage here is convenience; the quality doesn’t have to be pristine. In contrast, movie companies are trying to convince us to go see the movie, so quality is paramount. Back to our wedding videos. It seems like viewers will be willing to wait a few minutes to watch a 2- to 3-minute video, which you can produce in trailer-like fashion. If you’re delivering a full production of 25 minutes or more, perhaps the prime time paradigm is more apt, and you should provide a smaller, lower-bit rate stream that they can view in more or less real time. Offering multiple options to suit the various connection bandwidths and playback platforms is always a good idea.

Jan Ozer (jan 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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Benchmarking Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

Last year, my studio filmed a software user group conference in the ski resort and Winter Olympics host town of Whistler, British Columbia. We filmed sessions in two rooms simultaneously, live mixing PowerPoint and software demonstrations with our two single-camera feeds. We used a pair of EDIROL V-8 video mixers, and to avoid long capture times, we captured the mix live to a FireStore in one room and an editing system running Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 in the other. Two days later, I had 28 1-hour sessions that needed to be exported as soon as possible to Flash video (On2 VP6) and uploaded for my client. My client didn’t want to stagger the release of the videos for fear of implying that any one presentation was more important than one that was released later. So I was under a lot of pressure to perform some quick edits for the intros, add some titles and voice-over, trim the in and out points, and wait for the exporting to finish.

It took an entire week to complete the rendering. As a result, I missed my deadline. I attribute my failure to a few key mistakes. I started rendering with the computer that I took to Whistler—my AMD 6000+ dual core system, running Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and using Adobe Media Encoder. In hindsight, I should have taken the initial hit on additional transfer time and used my Intel Core i7-920 system to do the encoding, as it could process the files almost four times faster. Eventually, I did switch systems. But at that point, I had lost too much time to recover. But my biggest mistake was underestimating just how much time it took to render that much video to that specific codec.

Over the past few years, I have become less concerned with how much time it takes to render video from one format to another simply because most of my projects were still in SD—albeit now in widescreen—and computer processor advancements made quick work of rendering SD video to my two most common deliverables at the time: full-length videos to MPEG-2 for DVD and highlight clips to Flash video for the web. But following this failure, I became more concerned with speed on workflows that required exporting full-length productions to H.264, my new favorite web format, especially because the amount of HD productions I was delivering was increasing.

Prior to NAB 2010, I was contacted by Adobe’s PR company to get a sneak peak at the new CS5 release. The highlights, as they pertained to speed, were a native 64-bit architecture (meaning Premiere and Photoshop could address more RAM than previous 32-bit versions), the new Mercury Playback Engine, and CUDA GPU acceleration (see Jan Ozer’s “Five Alive” article for a full overview of the suite’s highlights). The Mercury Engine is software-driven and doesn’t require any hardware. The promise was that with an upgrade from CS4 to CS5, users would get faster playback and rendering performance.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

House of Cards
CUDA GPU acceleration builds on the Mercury Playback Engine, is hardware-driven, and requires the purchase of a compatible NVIDIA video card. The lineups of supported cards at the April launch included NVIDIA’s workstation Quadro line. Quadro-supported models include the $3,000 FX 5800, the $2,000 CX, the $1,500 FX 4800, and the $800 FX 3800. Premiere Pro 5.0.2, introduced in late August, added support for these new NVIDIA cards featuring Fermi architecture: the GTX470, Quadro 4000, and Quadro 5000. An $800 starting point does sound appealing, but support also extended to a single GeForce video card model—the GTX 285. When this card launched in 2009, it had a MSRP of $399. Unfortunately, for CS5 hopefuls who were looking to gain CUDA support, it was replaced by the newer and as-yet-unsupported GTX 470 model a few months prior to the launch of CS5, so finding a new one is very difficult. I ended up buying one used on craigslist (from a gamer who was upgrading his system) so that I could compare it with the FX 4800 for this review.

NVIDIA Quadro 5800

Incidentally, these two models are the only Mac-supported ones, although I did all my testing on PCs. My source at Adobe tells me that the GTX 470 will be officially supported sometime in the future, so be sure to check Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS5 page for an updated support list.

Testing Parameters
Armed with the lofty promises of improved speed, both with and without new hardware purchases, I set out to see for myself if, and by how much, CS5 was faster than CS4. I tested two very different timelines using the HDV codec at 1080i60. The first timeline was a 48-second timeline with two clips and three cross-dissolves. This was pretty close to the the most basic timeline you can have. It was designed to see how much time the actual encoding took if rendering was not a factor. 

The second timeline was much more complicated; admittedly, with eight layers, it was much more than anything I’ve ever compiled outside of After Effects. Four of the layers were HDV video. Layer one was chromakeyed with a second scaled video layer, and the two additional video layers were scaled as picture-in-picture layers. I also added a title layer, a matte layer with opacity to form a lower-third title background, and, finally, a layer with my company logo with a 3D rotation. All the effects I applied were identified by Premiere as GPU-accelerated effects.

Time in seconds—lower is better

This project was 48 seconds as well and used HDV footage. But peaking at eight layers deep, it was designed to push my test systems to the limit. When compared with the results from the first timeline, it would show how much additional time the complicated rendering took. I conducted my tests in both CS4 and CS5, in order to determine if and by how much the software Mercury Playback Engine and the hardware CUDA GPU acceleration improved performance. And iif this weren’t enough, I conducted the tests on desktop systems with three different video cards: a non-CUDA-supported ZOTAC 9800GT and a pair of supported cards, the Quadro FX 4800, and the GeForce GTX 285, to see just how much of a difference the video card made. Once the footage was on my timeline, I exported to Adobe Media Encoder and chose one of three H.264 custom presets I created for 360p, 720p, and 1080p. I then recorded the encoding time on a spreadsheet. In general, the higher resolutions took longer to encode than lower resolution formats. So in the interest of simplicity, I’ll only discuss the 1080P results in this review. I also want to mention that I repeated these tests with Canon 5D Mark II footage, and the times were very similar.

Adobe Media Encoder CS5

SIDEBAR: Don’t Trust the Presets
I used to blindly choose presets in Adobe Premiere Pro based on the preset name without paying too much attention to the encoding parameters. Who was I to question Adobe’s preset settings when I was exporting my video to YouTube, Vimeo, and my iPhone? I figured if Adobe called it the YouTube preset, it must be the best setting for video that would end up on YouTube. I was wrong.

It wasn’t until I started benchmarking for this review and noticed major anomalies in the encoding times that I took a closer look. Adobe’s frame rate settings were all over the place, and this was causing problems. Besides the fact that encoding with a different frame rate from acquisition is probably not what you were intending to do when you select an export preset, encoding theory dictates that changing the frame rate from the acquisition to the delivery can introduce problems and, most importantly, it takes time to add the additional frames. Now let me clarify that this wasn’t a case of Adobe designing a shortcut for performing a 60i/30p transfer to 24p in an attempt to achieve a “film look,” but rather a case of selecting the wrong frame rate with absolutely no benefit and lots to lose.

I ran down the Adobe H.264 preset list and quickly got confused. I even questioned if I was missing something. But I checked with Apple, YouTube, and Vimeo and concluded that, although they all help to add confusion to the matter, there is still a problem with the Adobe presets, not with my understanding of frame rates and encoding.

Inexplicably, the Apple iPod/iPhone preset was set to 30.0fps for SD, while the widescreen (WS) preset was set to 29.97fps. Why was there a different frame rate depending on the aspect ratio? It didn’t make sense; then it only got more confusing. The Apple TV preset for 480p was 29.97, but the 720p preset defaulted to 23.976. The HDTV presets conveniently included 24, 25, and 29.97 in their preset names to denote the frame rate for both 720p and 1080p options, but they used 24.0fps instead of 23.976. The Vimeo preset was no better, with the HD setting defaulting to 29.97 and the SD preset using 30.0fps. Finally, the YouTube preset got it all wrong and used 30.0fps for SD and WS SD and 24.0 fps for WS HD (and, yes, I too thought the WS was redundant for the final HD setting).

Why are the frame rates all over the place? In North America when we record video in 60i/30p and 24p, we almost exclusively use the drop frame rates of 29.97 and 23.976. So that is the setting we should use when selecting our project and sequence settings, as well as export settings. Yes, drop frame rates can be a bit confusing. But when it comes to encoding settings, there is a big difference between drop frame rates and nondrop frame rates, and the two can’t just be used interchangeably. Yes, there are some examples of actual 24.0fps and 30.0fps shooting—notably on the 5D Mark II before Canon updated the firmware and, most recently, on the Apple iPhone 4G—but those are the exceptions and not the rule. So shame on Adobe for creating export presets with nondrop frame rates, such as 24.0fps and 30.0fps. For the record, Adobe did a really good job of using the correct drop frame rates for its project/sequence settings, including offering both 24 and 23.976 frame rate preset options for digital SLR acquisition. So the frame rate problem is only evident in its encoding presets. I checked back as far as CS3, and although Adobe had fewer presets two generations ago, as some of the playback options had not been invented yet, the frame rate problem was still there. So this has been going on for a while unchecked.

Is Adobe solely to blame for this confusion? Not entirely. It didn’t create the drop frame standard. But the company should know better. Although, as these examples show, it isn’t the only one contributing to frame rate confusion.

Here is what YouTube has to say about frame rate:
“The frame rate of the original video should be maintained without re-sampling. In particular pulldown and other frame rate re-sampling techniques are strongly discouraged.”

Despite this, in its own settings for Apple users, it uses 30.0fps. So YouTube got it right by encouraging users to maintain the original frame rate of the video, but its example uses the very unlikely acquisition frame rate of 30.0fps.

Here is what Vimeo has to say about frame rate:
“If there is an option that says ‘current,’ it is best to just go with that. Otherwise, this is usually 30 fps (frames per second) for the USA, Canada, and Japan, while in Europe and rest of the world it’s usually 25 fps.”

Vimeo gets it right by saying “current” but gets it wrong by stating that it usually should be 30fps in USA, Canada, and Japan.

In its product technical spec pages, all the Apple products list their frame rates as 30fps. But here is what Apple has to say about frame rates in its more-detailed developer technical notes:
“The output frame rate is determined by the source movie’s frame rate, limited to 30 fps using adaptive frame sampling.”

The same 30fps confusion happens with the Apple products, which all state they have a frame rate of 30fps in the summaries but should more accurately be described (as it is above) as having a maximum frame rate of 30fps (which would include 29.97 and everything below).

So the big three all give the correct advice—keep the source frame rate—but they give misleading examples that demonstrate otherwise. My advice is to make sure you use the same frame rate on acquisition as you do to edit and ultimately to export. This means modifying the majority of the factory presets to match the frame rates of your acquisition.

Still need more convincing as to why the frame rate confusion is a big deal? I encoded the same two test timelines of 29.97 HDV footage using my slowest laptop, a dual core AMD with a TL-50 processor, using the YouTube widescreen preset. This preset uses 30.0fps. Then, I repeated with a modified 29.97fps frame rate version with the same settings. The 30.0fps preset took 27 minutes, 42 seconds and 6 minutes, 11 seconds, and the modified 29.97fps preset took 13 minutes, 18 seconds and 3 minutes, 4 seconds to encode the two test sequences. In this scenario, selecting the wrong frame rate more than doubled the encoding time.

Test System 1
My first test system was considered a cutting-edge dual core system in 2006. That’s when I first put it together, based on the Videoguys.com DIY 4 build. But being 4-years-old, it is hardly expected to compete with my 2009 build—an Intel Core i7 system. Since its original build, the AMD system has been upgraded from its original AMD X2 4400+ 2.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM to the more powerful AMD X2 6000+ 3.0GHz processor with 6GB of RAM.

Time in seconds—lower is better

This test demonstrates that upgrading even an old system from CS4 to CS5 improves encoding times on both the single layer and the eight-layer timeline using the software Mercury Playback Engine. The story is much different, however, when enabling the GPU acceleration.

There is no benefit for the simple timeline. But on the multilayer timeline, the GPU acceleration is three times faster than the baseline CS4 encoding time and two times faster than the software-only CS5 encoding time. So if you are running a system that is not quite cutting-edge and are hesitant to upgrade to CS5, this test shows you that the sweet spot for upgrading is to upgrade to CS5 with an approved CUDA card that allows GPU acceleration.

Test System 2
I built test system two in 2009, based on the videoguys.com DIY 7 system. As expected, it’s much faster than my AMD system. The results show that even in its slowest configuration—CS4 with an inexpensive non-CUDA card—it beats the AMD system’s fastest time, when it was equipped with CS5 and a GPU-accelerated CUDA card. But the point of this comparison is to determine how much benefit each upgrade provides. So here goes.

With CS4 my results show that for my test timelines, it doesn’t make any difference which video card is being used. This is consistent with what I experienced when I used previous Premiere Pro versions, and, specifically, when I dropped $500 for a now-discontinued Quadro FX 1500 card, with which I didn’t notice any improvements when I installed it into CS3. 

My video card performance experience was unchanged initially when I upgraded to CS5, and the encoding times were all the same, whether I was using an approved card or not. This all changed when I enabled the GPU with the approved cards (GPU acceleration is not available on nonapproved cards), as the encoding times for the eight-layer timeline dropped even further. Predictably, the times for the simple timeline remained unchanged as the GPU acceleration speeds up the rendering time but not the encoding time. 

SIDEBAR: Upgrading Your System
Purchasing a new system can be very costly. So upgrading an existing system can be a cost-effective way to increase performance without breaking the bank. You might be surprised by how inexpensive it is to buy upgrade components now, compared to when your system was new.

Before any new purchase or upgrade, take a few moments to review your minimum system requirements. Premiere Pro CS5 requires a 64-bit OS such as Vista or Windows 7 on the PC or Mac OS X v10.6.3 on the Mac. A 64-bit OS allows your computer to address (use) more than 4GB of RAM, so you will want to increase your RAM to take advantage of that. If you’re like me, you probably purchased the next-to-the-fastest processor that your motherboard could handle because when you purchased your system, the fastest probably cost two to three times more. Since then, even faster CPU models have probably been released, so upgrading your CPU should be at the top of your upgrade list.

Installing a CS5-approved CUDA card might be more involved than you anticipate. The approved CUDA cards are all full length and might require modifications or may simply be too large for some computer cases. Along with your other new components, they may also require more power, so you may also need a power supply upgrade while you are at it.

On my AMD system that is housed in a Cooler Master Centurion midtower case, I was only able to physically fit the full-length video cards when I moved around some of the hard drives. My Core i7 is housed in the slightly larger midtower Cooler Master NV690 case, and it fit without modifications. However, on my next system, I’ll be sure to build it with a larger full-tower case.

So is upgrading still worth the costs? It all depends on the number of existing components you can still use and the cost of the upgrade. As test system 2 will show, the speed on an upgraded older system won’t compete with the performance a new top-of-the-line system. But the cost of upgraded computer parts is probably in the hundreds of dollars, whereas a new system will cost a few thousand.

Comparing the CUDA Cards
When Adobe launched CS5, I was told that the GTX 285 was an approved CUDA card that would allow Premiere Pro to use the card’s GPU to speed up rendering, but that its performance wouldn’t match that of the Quadro line. When I pushed for an explanation, the Adobe rep told me that the lone supported GeForce card was limited to six layers, which didn’t seem like much of a limitation to me. But at the end of May, I received notice via the Adobe Updater that an update was available for Premiere Pro.

The update read: “The Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 5.0.1 update allows the Mercury Playback Engine to support additional layers on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 GPU card.” The tests for my workflows show that it doesn’t make any difference to the export time which video card you used for a simple timeline or for a complicated timeline using the software-only Mercury Playback Engine for acceleration. On the other hand, because the GPU acceleration is available only when using approved CUDA cards, enabling the GPU acceleration made a big difference for multilayered and effect-heavy timelines, bringing their times very close to the times of the simplest timeline (although no benefits were observed when using GPU acceleration for a simple timeline). In fact, the encoding times for a simple timeline with CS5 were all within an acceptable margin of error, and I consider them to be equal, regardless of video card or GPU acceleration.

So what more can I say about Premiere Pro CS5? Adobe made big promises with two levels of speed improvements in this CS5 release, and the company lived up to them. With the first level, the software Mercury Playback Engine, encoding times dropped when compared to CS4, and these numbers dropped even further for multilayer timelines and timelines with effects, using a supported CUDA card.

Now as I close off this review I think it’s worth pointing out that the benefits of Premiere Pro CS5’s newfound speed go beyond just encoding times. The same engines that power the export encodes also work to accelerate even the most complicated timelines so that they play back in real time. As an example of just how fast the GPU acceleration is, my eight-layer timeline Premiere Pro took 15 frames to get up and running to full speed (which corresponds with HDV’s long GOP structure). But after that, it dropped only three frames for the remaining 47.5 seconds.

When it comes to speed on CS5, Adobe promised and delivered with the combination of the Mercury Playback Engine and GPU acceleration—and, in doing so, it has allowed us to edit and encode in a whole new world of speed.

Shawn Lam (video at shawnlam.ca) runs Shawn Lam Video, a Vancouver video production studio. He specializes in stage event and corporate video production and has presented seminars at WEVA Expo 2005–9 and the 4EVER Group’s Video 07. He won Creative Excellence Awards at WEVA 2010 and 2008 and an Emerald Artistic Achievement Award at Video 08.

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Strike a Chord With Tunepresto: Original Soundtrack Creation at Your Fingertips

Tunepresto™ has announced its brand new online platform (http://www.tunepresto.com) that creates original, royalty-free music composition. Perfect for videos, slideshow presentations and more, Tunepresto analyzes video content to create an original background soundtrack based on individual musical style preferences. In just 4 easy steps, users can experiment with a variety of musical genres to create music that matches the timing and tone of their footage. Step 1: Upload video footage; Step 2: Choose a music style; Step 3: Hear the results; and Step 4: Buy or retry to get a different tune - it’s that simple. Within minutes, finished content can be exported to YouTube®, shared across social media networks and forwarded to friends and colleagues. From home-video hobbyists looking to enhance birthday footage, to professionals looking to avoid the pain and hassle of piecing together soundtracks for presentation videos, users at all levels will have fun producing unique, high-quality compositions with just the click of a mouse.

“We have been busy developing this new music composition technology and we are just about ready to launch it,” says Siun Ni Raghallaigh, founder, Tunepresto. “Anybody can be a virtual composer with Tunepresto - regardless of his or her background. In just seconds, it produces original background music for videos. It’s fun, easy, and simple – completely unique and royalty-free. We are looking forward to its introduction and positive reception.”

Tunepresto Highlights
• Royalty free music: No problems with copyright infringements
• Content can be shared across social media networks (Facebook, Twitter) and published to various video and slideshow platforms (YouTube, SlideShare)
• Soundtrack can be exported in a variety of audio formats, or published as audio and video combined
• For further customization, files can easily be imported into Garageband®, Final Cut Pro®, and Windows® MovieMaker®

Tunepresto also offers a more advanced downloadable desktop product – Abaltat Muse 2.0 - bringing originality to the next level. Its comprehensive composition technology analyzes the color content and duration of each clip and uses this information, along with expansive customization options, to create anything from background music to powerfully orchestrated instrumental soundtracks that coordinate with video content.

Unlike Tunepresto, Abaltat Muse 2.0 users have the added capability of adjusting the genre of music, tempo and changing instruments; thus, enabling thousands of soundtrack possibilities from classical, to hip-hop, to dance and modern 21st century compositions.

Abaltat Muse 2.0 can be purchased via the Tunepresto website (http://www.tunepresto.com) for $99 USD and is available as an immediate download. Users can also download a 7-day free trial from http://www.tunepresto.com/products/abaltat-muse-2-0/.

Tunepresto Pricing and Availability
The Tunepresto online platform will be released in the fall of 2010, with an open-beta scheduled for September 2010. Pricing of original music compositions run on a pay-per-tune basis. More pricing information will be available soon. Please visit: http://www.tunepresto.com for more information.

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Calling All Adobe Premiere Mac OS X Users: Singular Software Invites You To The PluralEyes Public Beta

Singular Software, developer of workflow automation applications for digital media, has launched the PluralEyes® for Adobe® Premiere® Pro Creative Suite (CS) versions 4 and 5 for Mac® OS X public beta program.

Designed with time-conscious video professionals in mind, PluralEyes provides valuable workflow automation features for editing multi-camera, multi-take, and dual-system audio projects quickly and efficiently. PluralEyes analyzes audio information and synchronizes corresponding video clips automatically, saving video editors hours in post-production. PluralEyes eliminates the need for timecode, clappers, or any special production preparation.

To download the PluralEyes beta for Adobe Premiere Pro Mac OS X, please visit: http://www.singularsoftware.com/downloads.html.

About PluralEyes
A newcomer to the post-production scene (released in Q2 of 2009), PluralEyes quickly has become the fan favorite among video producers of all skill levels. It can be used for a wide range of projects, from weddings and live events to documentaries, commercials, indie films, and more.

Other PluralEyes Versions

PluralEyes for Adobe Premiere Pro Windows® XP®, Vista® and Windows 7®, Final Cut® Pro, and Sony® Vegas® Pro is available for purchase on the Singular Software website (http://www.singularsoftware.com/buy.html). Students and instructors can also benefit from Singular Software's academic discount of 50%, which can be applied to individual purchases of PluralEyes. For volume orders, please contact sales@singularsoftware.com.

You can test drive PluralEyes by downloading a fully functional 30-day free trial version from: http://www.singularsoftware.com/downloads.html


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New Vegas Pro 10 From Sony and Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 Now Available

Sony Creative Software, a leading provider of professional video and audio editing applications, today announced the availability of Vegas Pro 10 and Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 software. A significant upgrade to the award-winning NLE, Vegas Pro 10 software is available for $$699.95 (MSRP) and now includes native stereoscopic 3D editing tools, improved closed captioning features, and numerous workflow enhancements. Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 is available for $199.95 (MSRP) and offers extensive batch processing tools and hands-free media card processes along with numerous other critical timesaving features.

New Features in Vegas Pro 10
    *  Stereoscopic 3D Editing: Vegas Pro 10 facilitates the creation of 3D projects by enabling users to import, adjust, edit, preview and export stereoscopic 3D projects natively without any additional tools or plug-ins.
    * Improved Closed Captioning: Improved support for closed captions in Vegas Pro 10 provides broadcasters with captions in the Video Preview window, support for Line 21 closed captions, HD SDI closed caption capture, multiple closed captioning file types and the ability to export captions for Sony DVD Architect™, YouTube™, RealPlayer®, QuickTime™, and Windows Media Player®.
    *  Workflow Tools and Enhancements: Expanded Multicam functionality, extensive performance optimizations for DSLR video, and track grouping for advanced timeline management.
    * Image Stabilization: New stabilization tools greatly reduce jittery or shaky video caused by hand held recording.
    * Video Plug-in SDK:Video Effects Plug-in Architecture:Vegas Pro 10 now offers a completely new video effects plug-in architecture based on the Open Effects Association standard - that enables third party plug-in developers to develop advanced video effect plug-ins more easily and rapidly.
    * Enhanced Audio Tools: In addition to the Dolby Digital Professional™ 5.1 surround sound production capabilities of Vegas Pro, the new version includes audio event FX, input busses, VU meters and track meters.

New Features in Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2

    * Hands-Free Media Card Workflow: Using the Hands-Free Media Card Workflow, editors can automate the entire import, edit and render process using custom templates and rely on the software to automate final output delivery.
    * Additional Batch Processes:Hundreds of batch processes are now available to streamline editing and delivery in order to more efficiently prepare content for multiple destinations such as social media sites, discs or mobile devices in various aspect ratios and bitrates from a single source.
    * Template Creation Assistant: The template creation assistant offers editors more control over creating rich templates by streamlining repetitive tasks.
    * Auto-Trim: Automatically trim pre- and post- roll from selected events on the timeline.
    * Annotated Slugs: Annotated slugs automatically label each piece of media for easy identification and organization.
    * Automated File-Based Catalog Transfers: Automated transfer ensures file-based media moves quickly and seamlessly from memory card to hard drive.
    * Lower Third Insertion: Editors can create and manage custom lower thirds, saving time and enabling greater project personalization.

More information on Vegas Pro software and the entire line of Sony Creative Software products can be found at www.sonycreativesoftware.com.


Price and Availability

Vegas Pro 10 software is now available for purchase at retailers worldwide and online at www.sonycreativesoftware.com. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for Vegas Pro 10 software is U.S. $699.95. Upgrades from previous versions of Vegas Pro are available for U.S.$249.95 from www.sonycreativesoftware.com. Localized French, German, Spanish, and Japanese versions are also now available.


Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 software is now available for purchase at retailers worldwide and online at www.sonycreativesoftware.com. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for Vegas Pro Production Assistant 2 software is U.S. $199.95. Upgrades from the previous version of Vegas Pro Production Assistant are available for U.S. $79.95 from www.sonycreativesoftware.com.

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Lensbaby Introduces Scout with Fisheye – A Fun Fisheye Lens with Unique Close Focus and Flare Capabilities

Lensbaby today announces the release of Scout with Fisheye, a fun and affordable manual focus Fisheye SLR camera lens available in mounts for all popular SLR camera bodies.  Scout, the first Lensbaby lens that does not bend, features the Fisheye Optic, which delivers an ultra-wide 12mm focal length capable of capturing a 160 degree angle of view from infinity all the way down to 1/2 inch from the front of the lens. The Fisheye Optic can also create unique flare effects in an image.

“The Scout is for adventurous photographers wanting an easy to use fisheye lens combined with the creative freedom of the Lensbaby Optic Swap System,” said Craig Strong, Lensbaby president and co-founder.  “We chose to combine the straight-shooting, non-bending Scout with our 12mm Fisheye Optic so that Lensbaby users could have a simple, affordable, and fun way to play with the Fisheye’s creative flare and eye-opening close focus.”

Due to the extremely wide angle of view of the Fisheye Optic, full frame shooters will generally see a black circle around almost the entire image, and APS-sized sensor shooters will see black at the corners of their images. With Scout, the Fisheye image is always ideally situated in the center of the frame.

The Fisheye Optic features a creative lens flare effect that causes the edge areas that would ordinarily be black, to glow with color whenever there are bright light sources in the image. This lens flare effect is particularly apparent when shooting with a full frame camera though it is also noticeable when shooting with APS-sized sensors.

The ability to focus one half inch in front of the lens provides an extraordinary way to explore macro photography. Get close enough to a flower to nearly touch it – while capturing the entire garden surrounding it in the frame.

Here are some sample photographs using both APS and full frame sensor cameras:
The Fisheye Optic’s quality optical design and craftsmanship includes six multi-coated glass elements and a precision, aluminum body. Scout’s exceptional build quality includes incredibly smooth manual focus. The Scout with Fisheye ships with the Fisheye Optic installed, but photographers can use other Lensbaby Optic Swap™  System optics such as Soft Focus, Pinhole/Zone Plate, Double Glass, Single Glass, and Plastic.   With Lensbaby’s selective focus optics (Double Glass, Single Glass, and Plastic), the sweet spot of focus will always be centered in the photo.

All Lensbaby Optic Swap System optics can be swapped in and out of Lensbaby lenses, providing photographers with a wide range of creative effects.  When a photographer wants to change the optic in their Lensbaby, they simply pop the optic out with the Optic Changing Tool and drop in a different optic. Each optic has different features and image qualities, allowing photographers to choose the creative look that expresses their unique vision.

Scout Specs and Features:
    * Straight in and out manual focusing
    * Ships with the Fisheye optic installed
    * Smooth manual focus mechanism
    * Exceptional build quality
    * Compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System
    * Available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, and Olympus 4/3rds SLR camera lenses.
    * Size/Weight: up to 2.28” (5.79cm) high x 2.61” (6.63cm) in diameter/ 8 oz (226.8g)

Fisheye Optic Specs and Features:
    * Focal Length: 12mm
    * 160 degree angle of view
    * Focuses from 1/2 inch to infinity
    * Creative flare effect fills border around image circle with colors from bright light sources in the photo
    * Six multi-coated glass elements
    * Maximum aperture of f/4, aperture disks that range from f/5.6 to f/22
    * Removable disk aperture system
    * To change aperture, unscrew front group of elements of Fisheye Optic and remove disk with Aperture Tool. The aperture disk sits atop the rear group of elements.

The Scout with Fisheye retails for $249.95 from select specialty photo stores worldwide and from www.lensbaby.com.

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Class On Demand Ships "Complete Training for Premiere Pro CS5"

Class on Demand, a provider of professional educational products for creative and IT markets, is pleased to announce "Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5"; the second of four Class on Demand titles centered around the Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 (CS5) family. Available in both DVD-ROM and streaming video delivery format through the exciting new Class on Demand Online Learning Platform, "Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5" offers new and advanced users a comprehensive and in-depth training experience in the new CS5 workflow to create stunning and flawless media for any project.

Instructed by Emmy®-winning Adobe expert, Tim Kolb, the 8.5 hour training is broken down into 10 logical segments, covering CS5 features ranging from editing, to audio, creating titles, new features, Adobe® Premiere Pro®, Adobe® Encore®, and Adobe® Bridge®. The Class on Demand training methodology provides a modular approach to learning the ins-and-outs of the newest Adobe Creative Suite release, giving users the option to pick and choose the components they want to focus on.

Class on Demand Adobe Training Sponsors
"Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5" is sponsored by a variety of well-known design and production giants, including Borix FX, NVIDIA, Tiffen, and Suite Imagery. Specializing in everything from visual effects, to visual computing technologies, to imaging software and animation services, each company has a launch page from the DVD home menu where Tim Kolb describes their respective products and demonstrates how they can be utilized with CS5.

Sponsor Highlights
• Boris FX -
A leading developer of integrated graphics and effects technology; Tim Kolb discusses their product, Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE, a comprehensive set of over 200 plug-in filters.

"Boris FX is proud to sponsor such a comprehensive training for Adobe users. We hope that in addition to learning about the powerful features of the Creative Suite itself, users will realize the benefits of Boris Continuum Complete for effects creation," Boris Yamnitsky, President and Founder, Boris FX.

A world leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the graphics processing unit (GPU); Tim Kolb discusses how to unlock the power of Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 Production Premium software with NVIDIA® Quadro solutions to get blazing fast performance and smooth, fluid interactivity. If you are a creative artist, designer, or video professional, you can accelerate your full post-production workflow and infuse your project with creative inspiration with NVIDIA® professional graphics solutions.

"Only NVIDIA GPUs are designed and certified to boost the performance of Adobe Creative Suite 5 Production Premium, featuring Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. We strongly support the Class on Demand training series as an excellent resource for production pros to learn how to best harness the features and benefits our GPUs offer to help them save time, and maximize their productivity," says Andrew Cresci, General Manager, Vertical Market Solutions, NVIDIA.

• Tiffen -
A leading manufacturer and supplier of photographic filters and lens accessories for the consumer/professional imaging, motion picture and broadcast television industries; Tim Kolb discusses Tiffen Dfx Creative Digital Effects software plug-ins for After Effects/Premiere Pro and Photoshop, which feature Tiffen's award winning optical filters digitally emulated, as well as a host of other special effects.

"It's no secret that Adobe offers the most popular imaging and post-production applications for working professionals today. With the feature sets now available in Adobe CS5, such as 64-bit capability, it was important for us to define how our Dfx software easily integrates into any demanding workflow. Being featured in this tutorial was a no-brainer. It's the ideal method of presenting why our software is a must have tool," says Hilary Araujo, Vice President of Marketing, The Tiffen Company.

• Suite Imagery -
An animation company that produces custom and royalty free video graphics; Tim Kolb discusses ActionBacks, a royalty free motion graphics library containing more than 2,000 individual clips. All animation volumes are available to download or shipped on DVD.

"Class on Demand offers the best training resources in the industry, and ActionBacks is proud to be a sponsor of this production," says Matthew R. Nelson, President and Director, Suite Imagery. "This training program will provide users with a strong working knowledge of Adobe software, along with powerful resources to complimentary tools, providing the ultimate learning experience on video editing."

For additional information Class on Demand's "Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5," please visit: http://www.classondemand.net/media/adobe-training/PProCS5.aspx.

Pricing and Availability
"Complete Training for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5" is available via the Class on Demand website (http://www.classondemand.com) for $149.95 USD.

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Petrol Bags introduces Digibag DSLR Camera Bag

Petrol Bags™, a Vitec Group Brand, introduces the new Digibag DSLR Camera Bag. This semi-hard cushioned carrier is uniquely designed to safeguard a video-enabled DSLR camera and important accessories while on the go and keep them well organized on location.

Petrol Digibag combines a smart, streamlined design in black 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics with features designed to offer the ultimate in convenience and equipment protection.

The Digibag’s top flap opens extra wide for instant access to the bag’s spacious main compartment. The upper section is contoured to fit a DSLR camera with the lens attached. The hinged floor of this section lifts to reveal twin pockets perfect for stashing extra lenses or spare batteries. Two levels of removable internal dividers help secure contents and create pockets for storing a mattebox, camera plate, follow focus, camera light, viewfinder, cables and more. Contents are surrounded and cushioned by layers of soft padded red Brushed Polyester. Additional features include an ergonomic carrying handle, padded shoulder strap, and Petrol Bags’ hallmark dual-directional easy glide zippers.

For further information on the Digibag Camera Bag (#PD221), please go to http://www.petrolbags.com

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Vinten Introduces Vector 430

Vinten®, a Vitec Group brand and a global leader in camera supports, introduces its new Vector 430. Developed in collaboration with leading global customers and bridging the gap between the Vision and Vector ranges, the Vector 430 is ideal for the growing number of applications that use both the compact box lens and large EFP barrel lenses.

This unique and lightweight pan and tilt head incorporates Vinten’s innovative Perfect Balance technology - into a previously unattainable compact package - while boasting an extremely large capacity range of 22 - 94.8 lbs (10 - 43 kg). This means that the Vector 430 provides a single choice for camera operators in the studio or out on the field, when two heads may have previously been required.

Simple to rig and convenient to transport, the compact design of the Vector 430 maintains the trusted performance and functionality of Vinten’s renowned Vector heads, including infinitely adjustable Perfect Balance and smooth TF drag technology.

Telegenic in the UK is one of the leading outside broadcast production companies, which Vinten worked closely with during the development phase of the Vector 430. “We were delighted when Vinten approached us to trial the new Vector 430,” said Telegenic’s head of cameras, Pete Bowen. “We were able to test the new head during the coverage of two rugby matches at Twickenham, where we used the Vector 430 to support the main cameras, which are critical in creating the most compelling coverage.”

“Working with Vinten ensured that the Vector 430 was tailored to meet our exact needs,” he added. “The result is a head with good physical size for our specific requirements, and excellent quality of movement,” concluded Bowen.

The Vector 430 controls have been ergonomically designed to ensure ease-of-use in any situation, whether in the studio or during an outside broadcast. The controls include a retractable counterbalance adjuster, backlit drag knobs and an illuminated LCD display for low-light situations. The base of the Vector 430 includes an integral Quickfix groove for fast and secure attachment. All of these features, combined with a Quickfit wedge adaptor, make the Vector 430 the perfect choice for busy multi-camera productions.

“The Vector 430 fills a hole in the market. In our trials with the prototype at the Dunhill Golf Championships in St Andrews in 2008 it showed its potential,” said Keith Gibson, freelance cameraman and camera supervisor on the European Tour Golf for European Tour Productions and CTV Outside Broadcasts.

Gibson subsequently had the chance to try out one of the first production models at the World Matchplay Golf in Spain in 2009. “It was used by various cameramen in different lens/camera configurations and the reactions were good. It is a flexible piece of kit covering a wide range of requirements making it very useful in the outside broadcast world,” added Gibson.

Peter Harman, Vinten product manager adds, “We are devoted to working closely with our users to understand precisely what they need from camera support in order to direct our R&D team. The new Vector 430 is a product of this process: uncompromised Vinten performance in a compact form with a wide capacity range; suitable for any EFP or LW studio camera combination; and the ability to have complete and perfect control of framing in any situation.”

The new Vector 430 is also available with an extremely high-quality, highly accurate encoder output, the Vector 430i, to meet the growing demand for virtual and augmented reality applications in outside broadcast and studio environments. This head incorporates a new Intelligence Module to provide precise, real-time digital electronic positioning of pan and tilt to enable graphics to be placed perfectly into the live environment. The new Vector 430i also includes a unique optional inclinometer feature developed to solve the challenge of platform movement and compensates any camera position. These features, combined with the functionality of the innovative Vector 430, make the Vector 430i an ideal choice for EFP camera set-ups where virtual reality is required.

For further information, go to http://www.vinten.com.

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