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December 14, 2010

Table of Contents

Field Recordings
What's New in Sony Vegas Pro 10? NEW VIDEO TUTORIAL ADDED JUNE 27!
proDAD Mercalli V2 Video Stabilization and Rolling-Shutter Correction Plug-in for Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Mac Now Shipping
Matrox Introduces New Mac-Friendly DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP Multi-Monitor Adapters
DSC Labs Perfects Test Transparencies With The Ambi Illuminator
XEquals blueSLR Lets Photographers Remotely Control Camera Shutter and Geocode Pictures from iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Field Recordings

If you want your MTV, then move along; this article isn’t for you. But stick around if you’re intrigued by the prospect of watching or producing genuine homespun, documentary-style short films of roots/Americana musicians performing their songs.

“You had me at documentary-style,” you say? Well, it gets better. Turns out that producing these little labors of love—and you better sincerely love indie musicians (meaning, more often than not, struggling musicians) to take the time—can be a rewarding diversion to your wedding or event filmmaking and a great way to apply your ability to capture the moment and get great shots the first time to a whole different sort of undertaking.

There’s a wave of these unproduced, demolike, one-take music videos sweeping the web, and some of your fellow wedding filmmakers have caught on. It started, we’re told, way back in April 2006, when Vincent Moon (real name: Mathieu Saura), a young filmmaker from Paris, conspiring with Chyrde, creator of popular French music website La Blogothèque, filmed songs guerrilla-style “to go” (as opposed to shooting in a standard concert setting) and then uploaded them to the website for mass consumption.

The result was Take-Away Shows, a collection of more than 100 music videos featuring prominent indie rock artists from all over the world performing ad hoc in the apartment balconies, poorly lit cafes, and alleyways of Paris. Most are intimate, single-take recordings of acoustic performances.

“I was instantly struck by the power and immediacy of the performances I saw [on La Blogothèque] and realized that I could bring that to the ‘small’ musician as a promotional tool,” recalls Bill Grant of South Carolina’s Caveat Films. With his wife, Mary, a photographer, Grant shoots dozens of weddings yearly. He’s also a lifelong musician, and after watching Moon’s Take-Away Shows and seeing the alchemy achieved despite minimal budget and editing, Grant’s love of music prompted him to start his own series, dubbing it the boneshow.

Bill Grant

“My goal with the boneshow was to bring the local musician and national artist on the same plane and focus on performance and musicianship over studio perfection,” he says. Since February 2009, Grant has shot 85 one-take videos, starting with friend and “local legend” Danielle Howle. Many performers are local to South Carolina, but boneshow has also featured national acts such as Amy Ray, and Grant says he's now working out the details to do a boneshow on Shawn Mullins.

Winter EventDVLive p10 boneshow56 from Steve Nathans-Kelly on Vimeo.

Jet Kaiser, an Indianapolis videographer who runs Jet Kaiser Films with his wife, Danielle, specializes in cinematic wedding films but was similarly inspired by Moon’s avant-garde approach. “I have been a fan of [Take-Away Shows] since the beginning,” he says. Jon DaCosta, a Terre Haute, Ind., musician, was also a follower of Take-Away Shows and wanted to make a few of his own. He teamed up with videographer Patrick Boggs (who happened to be DaCosta’s multimedia professor in college) to start up the series known as Folked Up! (in Terre Haute). After watching the first few videos they produced, “I knew that I wanted on board,” remembers Kaiser. He contacted Boggs and shot his first video in September 2009. A dozen shoots later, Kaiser decided to broaden his focus, expanding beyond the city limits of Terre Haute and exploring musical genres outside folk. He started his own company, One Take Shows, in August 2010.

Winter EventDVLive p9 One Take Shows BTS from Steve Nathans-Kelly on Vimeo.

Sound and Vision
As you can probably guess, one-take videos owe much of their magic to happenstance. Ambient noises and imperfect lighting only add to the appeal, and editing after the shoot is minimal and precise. “Editing a video that is mostly one take is usually a very short and simple process. Audio mixing is the most time-consuming part, especially if there is a large number of mics and musicians,” Kaiser says. “Coloring is important to our films. Each show is uniquely colored to fit the artists’ personality, environment, season, and, most importantly, the song. Color can greatly embellish the emotion of the performance.” Elementally, the video is dictated by the impromptu atmosphere. “I have never lit the shoots at all. I try to take advantage of darkness and shadows and, consequently, what light is available and choose my locations wisely,” Grant explains. Kaiser has shot by the light of the setting sun or the spotlight of a street lamp in a variety of locales. “One may notice while watching our videos that the acoustics reflect the location, whether it be in a back alley or an old cathedral,” he says, adding that he uses only the audio captured on the shoot and, in fact, encourages musicians not to rehearse. “I want my music films to be raw in all aspects including the performance, the visuals, and the sound.”

This passion for raw authenticity is echoed in Grant’s fourfold definition of boneshow—the four tenets that set these videos apart from his wedding videography. “I have a few rules that I generally apply to every boneshow. One: No prerecorded overdubs. No fixing. Two: No cuts. It has to be one continuous shot from beginning to end. Three: One camera. I don’t want any tricks to pull focus from the live nature of it. Four: Portable. Either the camera or the artist should be completely portable. My goal is not to be tied to electricity. I have floated the idea of a car DC inverter or battery-powered amp, but everything should be live and ambient.”

Grant calls the improvisational elements of these shoots pleasantly “exhilarating,” recognizing that he has very little control over how the shoot ends up. “The attraction of this is the ability to control the input but not necessarily the output. In boneshow #4 we walked into an old barber shop in middle of the city and asked the guy if we could film. We did, to the amazement of the fellas getting haircuts.”

Kaiser experiences a similar sense of exhilaration during the process. “Shooting these shows gives me a rush, and I’ve joked in the past that I think sometimes I go the entire song without breathing. I use a custom shouldermount rig, which helps me stay somewhat steady while capturing the dynamic range of shots throughout the performance. The camera becomes a part of me and almost acts as a curious spectator.”

Winter EventDVLive p12 One Take Shows from Steve Nathans-Kelly on Vimeo.

Both filmmakers frequently rely on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, famously adaptable to low-light situations and night shooting. Grant favors a Canon XH A1 for its image stabilization and XLR inputs. For audio recording, Grant uses two Sennheiser G2 wireless setups, two Zoom H2s, and an array of other mics to capture ambient noise. Kaiser mics the performers with lavaliere and wireless mics, and he also uses the 5D’s shotgun mic, mainly as a sync reference in Final Cut.

Taking the Shows on the Road
After the videos are complete, they are available online for fans to view and as a promotional resource for the featured musicians. Kaiser equates the process of shooting his One Take Shows to the rise of a nascent independent musician using digital DIY means. “We are in an age where a talented, small-town band can produce an album on a laptop and use online marketing to climb the ladder to success. I love this! I think that true talent and originality now has a chance to rise to the top and compete with the mainstream, cookie-cutter artists like never before. I think these one-take music videos give bands like this an opportunity to show off their capabilities without dumping thousands of dollars into a music video that sometimes conceals the artist’s true talent.”

Yet emerging artists usually keep their day jobs before rising to stardom. Despite the growing attention paid to lo-fi one-take videos on such major music websites as Pitchfork and Stereogum and the increasing prominence of bands such as Phoenix or Bon Iver showcased in Take Away Shows, neither Kaiser nor Grant harbor any illusions about what’s in it for them. As Grant puts it: “I would say that doing music video in general should be a love thing first. You must love it or it makes no sense. Approach every project from the perspective of whether you want to do it or not. Judge the music. Make it reflect your personality or it won’t make you happy. And with what little money is involved, it must make you happy creatively.”

Kaiser agrees. “Using video to tell unique, emotional stories rooted in love has always been my way of manifesting an inner drive to create. It seems as if One Take Shows was destined to be created considering my love of film, music, and challenges.” He encourages like-minded filmmakers to reach out to bands in their area and offer to shoot a video for free. The viral nature of online video works to promote both the musician and the filmmaker, and word-of-mouth has led to an onslaught of inquiries to One Take Shows.

Kaiser is looking ahead optimistically: “There are a few nationally recognized artists that I’d like to work with in the future. I see a bright future for One Take Shows.” Conversely, nearly a hundred boneshows in, Grant is fine-tuning his approach, focusing on maximizing exposure for the artists he’s already shot and scouring the internet and airwaves to discover “diamonds in the rough.” Though he is developing Grant Digital Media, which is intended to manage corporate and commercial projects, he won’t be giving up on his boneshows anytime soon. “boneshow has been a very fulfilling and enlightening experience for me, and I have Vincent Moon to thank for the idea. I knew that it would work from the first frame of the first shoot, and I hope I can keep it going as long as there are artists who truly play their own songs.”

Liz Merfeld (www.lizmerfeld.com) is a freelance writer and editor based in Madison, Wisconsin.

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What's New in Sony Vegas Pro 10? NEW VIDEO TUTORIAL ADDED JUNE 27!

Sony Vegas Pro 10 is here! After months of speculation about what would be in the latest full-step upgrade to Sony Creative Software's popular pro NLE, the new version has brought users new features and increased performance-without sacrificing stability. In this overview I'm going to cover many of these new features in Vegas Pro 10 that will be of benefit to event videographers; some of them may seem far-fetched, some of them may not be obvious, but they're all here for a reason.

We'll also lay the groundwork for the series of tutorial articles that will follow in my "Tips and Tricks" column, and the video tutorial series that will kick off this month on with a series of video tutorials (see videos at the start and end of this article). But first...

I'll Go Ahead and Say It
The perception of many ".0" releases of any software package invite cries of "Wait For the Service Pack!" Well, by the time the download link for this new release was live to the public, the version was already at 10.0a. This is an update to the planned release. Kudos to Sony Creative Software for continuing to test and improve up till the release date. In my opinion this is instrumental to the stability of Vegas Pro 10. If you're waiting for an update before you install it, fear not—it's already here.

DSLR Preview and Editing Improvements
First up on the feature list is improved performance for editing files from Canon DSLR cameras such as the 7D, T2i, or the new 60D. I'm told by Vegas product manager Matthew Brohn that this feature intended specifically for the H.264 format used by DSLRs, and provides upwards of a 300% improvement. I first tried it out on hardware that desperately needs to be upgraded to work with anything later than HDV: a 2.4GHz Intel Q6600 that plays back T2i footage, in Preview Auto, at about 5-7 frames per second (fps) under Vegas 9e. There's no way you could edit this natively, nor would you want to.

However, on the same hardware and OS, with Vegas Pro 10 32-bit, the same project file played back at full frame rate. It still had the occasional stutter, but it performed exactly as if I were editing HDV or Cineform intermediates. While I don't recommend using older hardware for editing DSLR footage-even with Vegas Pro 10-the comparison demonstrates that Sony's claims of 3X improvement do indeed pan out.

Moving our test over to a more modern system, in i7-950 processor running Windows 7 64-bit OS, the footage plays in real time even in Vegas Pro 9 (using Preview Auto). Making the test harder, I used three tracks of video with the first two composited at about 50% so that information from each track was visible in every frame. This test is indicative of a complex composite, and in Vegas 9 the video previewed at 1-4fps, while on the new Vegas Pro 10 it clocked in at a considerably more watchable 8-14fps. The takeaway here is that if you're editing footage from a Canon DSLR, this feature alone is enough to warrant the upgrade to Vegas 10.

Image Stabilization, Courtesy of...
A brand-new feature with Vegas Pro 10 is image stabilization, courtesy of proDAD, developer of the popular Mercalli stabilization plug-in. While the stand-alone Mercalli product has just been upgraded to 2.0, the engine included in Vegas 10 is based on enhanced version 1 technology. This stabilization capability first became available to Vegas users in the consumer-oriented Vegas Movie Studio. However, in Vegas Pro 10 you get more control over how your stabilization is applied. You can do more with it than just choose between presets.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
The proDAD-driven stabilization interface in Vegas Pro 10

Unlike filters and transitions, image stabilization is accessed by right-clicking individual clips. Since image stabilization creates new clips, realize that the exact clips to which you apply stabilization are the only media that will be affected. If you're in a workflow using proxy files, you will want to wait until you've switched to your master, render-ready clips before you apply stabilization (unlike other FX or filters). If you apply stabilization to your proxies and then shift gears to prep for your final media, you will lose your stabilized clips.

New MultiCam Features
Vegas Pro has had built-in multicam capabilites since version 8. We don't personally use this feature in our studio, as my wife, Christie, and I have grown accustomed to the multicam tool provided by the UltimateS Pro plug-in from VASST. UltimateS Pro and another widely used plug-in, Edward Troxel's Excalibur, have provided multicam capability to Vegas users in one form or another for years.

In looking at the updates that Sony has made to the built-in multicam for version 10 however, I found that they've added one important feature. Once your multicam track is built, you can now expand it back into individual tracks for further tweaking. You can even choose to keep the unused clips, and Vegas will mute those individual events that aren't being used.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
The updated Multicam interface in Vegas Pro 10

Vegas in the Third Dimension
This is where things get interesting. You can't walk into a multiplex movie theater these days without finding some Hollywood offering being shown in 3D. From animation to horror, it seems like everything short of romantic comedies is a candidate for 3D. Noted horror director Wes Craven, when speaking to the Los Angeles Times about his new film My Soul To Take, said this about 3D: "For me, it's an experiment ... If it does endure as a technical form of the art, then I'm learning at the ground floor like everybody else, and it's an important thing to do."

3D at the movie theater seems to be a natural, if for no other reason than to get people to the theaters to see movies in a way that we can't see it at home. It was only a matter of time, apparently, before the companies who exhibit at NAB, IBC, and other conferences decided that we all need to shoot, edit, deliver, and watch 3D at home.

Is it all just a fad? I don't know. While this article is not about 3D in general, let's look at some facts and statistics before dismissing altogether the concept of video production in 3D. To begin, most research that I've found projects sales of 3D TVs being slow in 2011, and picking up sharply after that. ABI Research predicts that 3D television in the home will begin to take off in 2013, with more than 50 million 3D TVs shipped worldwide in 2015 alone. While you can buy all the gear to produce 3D content now, most analysts predict that 3D in the home will be mainstream in 2-4 years. Is 3D a fit for wedding and event video? 3D could very well become as mainstream as HD is, and it's nice to know that you can start experimenting with the technology yourself, today, with very little investment. To pick up a 3D camera that's comparable to the prosumer models most non-DSLR videographers use, you'll need to shell out $22,000 for the likes of the Panasonic AG-3DA1 (or, better yet, rent it for the occasional 3D booking). That's a little steep for most of us, but Panasonic has a consumer model, the HDC-SDT750, with a street price of $1,400, and a company called Aiptek has introduced a Flip-like 3D cam with a street price of $200.

With Vegas Pro 10, you can edit footage from any of these cameras right away. The Stereoscopic 3D mode you want to work with is chosen in the Project Properties window. You have a variety of choices in monitoring 3D; you can view it from your PC display, and you can even use a 3D-capable HDTV via HDMI as your external monitor for a more accurate preview.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
Choosing project properties for 3D editing in Vegas Pro 10

GPU-Enhanced Rendering
While, traditionally, most of us have seen the ability to edit video in real time without specialized hardware as a plus, times do change. And Vegas Pro is changing with them. In another "first," for Vegas, version 10 has joined Adobe CS5 in adding GPU processing. In the past, the kind of video card you had in your editing system was never a concern with Vegas with the exception of DVI or HDMI output connectors. With this release of Vegas Pro you will now be able to take advantage of a CUDA-enabled GPU in a very specific application, which is rendering to the Sony AVC codec.

It's important to note that the GPU in Vegas Pro does not have any effect on editing performance in the timeline. This is Sony's cautious foray into the GPU arena, and I look forward to what other processes they can speed up by offloading them to the GPU.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
Choosing GPU rendering in Vegas Pro 10

Be careful about what video card you choose if you're upgrading your hardware. You may find that your CPU alone is faster than using the GPU. For example, in one of our new PC builds, the i7 950 processor alone proved faster than offloading to the NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450. In my test project, the CPU rendered the 30-second Vegas project (.veg) file in a little less than 30 seconds, while the GPU-only render took 35 seconds. Our next machine will have a better (and more expensive) video card with a higher CUDA count. I'm thankful that we didn't spend too much on the GTS 450 card, since we won't be using its CUDA capabilities.

OpenFX Plug-in Architecture
Vegas Pro 10 has a completely new plug-in architecture for effects and filters. This is exciting news, as editors and creative types will now have many more tools to play with. Any plug-in based on the Open Effects Association (OFX) standard is a candidate for use in Vegas Pro 10. The very high-end GenArts Sapphire and Monsters GT plug-ins work right out of the box with no alteration. BorisFX has also released Continuum Complete for Vegas 10. This is a midlevel-priced offering from BorisFX, and I hope to provide a thorough review of it in a future column.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
Applying the Pencil Sketch effect in BorisFX Continuum Complete for Vegas Pro 10

Plug-in manufacturers will need to do a minimal amount of work to update most of their OFX products to interface directly with Vegas under the OFX standard. For users of existing plug-ins, have no fear. Vegas is maintaining the legacy SDK-at least for this version. Your existing plug-ins will work, and a brave new world of Open Effects plug-ins awaits. More information about OFX is available at http://openeffects.org.

Other Goodies
There are many other updates and new features in Vegas Pro 10 that we'll be exploring in a new online tutorial series now underway on EventDV-TV (www.eventdv.tv). Among these is a welcome upgrade on the audio side, the ability to apply all of Vegas' audio effects at the event level. You've always been able to apply video filters and effects at the event level, but real-time audio effects were only available at the track level or in some cases the master bus output level. For the first time, Vegas allows you to insert up to 32 audio effects at the event level and preview them in real-time. This further solidifies Vegas Pro as the NLE with the most robust audio function support.

Also new in the audio department are track and VU meters. Track meters are great to have because so many of us work with multiple audio tracks, mixing them into final master output. Knowing at a glance which one of your tracks is causing the whole thing to clip is a wonderful new feature.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
Using track meters in Vegas Pro 10

Another enhancement is Track Grouping. With Track Grouping, you can now select several tracks and group them together, even hiding them out of your way. Being able to group events together has been a feature of Vegas forever, but just now are we able to group together tracks. You can group tracks, name the group, and choose to show or hide the group.

Sony Vegas Pro 10
Grouping tracks in Vegas Pro 10 and naming the group

DVD Architect gets a little love in this release (though not much) with the inclusion of new HD themes and the ability to use a Windows burning engine, thereby potentially supporting more and newer DVD and Blu-ray burners. You can choose at run time which method you prefer to use.

This version is a winner! You get better playback on DSLR footage, track grouping, OpenFX support, enhanced multicam, a few audio goodies, and 3D to boot. There's even more to love; you can check out the full list of features and enhancements found in Vegas Pro 10 at http://sonycreativesoftware.com/vegaspro.

David McKnight (david@mcknightvideo.com) is half of McKnight Video of Houston.He is former vice president of the Houston Professional Videographers Association (HPVA), has Vegas (SCVE) certification, is the technical editor of Vegas Pro 9 Editing Workshop (Focal Press), and is a contributor to TheFullHD Book (VASST). He and his wife, Christie, are winners of multiple HPVA awards.

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proDAD Mercalli V2 Video Stabilization and Rolling-Shutter Correction Plug-in for Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Mac Now Shipping

proDAD, a world-class developer of digital video effects plug-ins and image optimization technologies for professional video editors and broadcast professionals as well as aspiring pros today confirmed that the highly anticipated Mercalli V2 Mac plug-in is now available for immediate purchase and download as part of the proDAD Mercalli V2 Pro plug-in product. The new Mercalli V2 technology was first shown at NAB in April of this year and the plug-ins for Windows® based NLEs began shipping in October and today the Mac plug-ins are finally available. Mac users who took advantage of the Mercalli V2 Pro "pre-release special" will be receiving an email to download and install the Mercalli V2 Pro package using the original download link & license key that was sent to them.

Mercalli V2 - More than just a stabilizer

• Complete 3D video stabilization on all 3 camera axis.
• Fully automated rolling-shutter compensation of undesired skewing, jello, or wobble effects.
• Minimal zooming requirement compared with other stabilizers.
• Eliminates jerking movements during panning.
• Removes irregularities during panning.
• Calculates missing images during low FPS rates.
• Optimizes digitalized and restored Super 8 footage.
• Smoother results for all video recordings, from hand-cameras to steady-cam.
• Over-arching multiple scene stabilization.
• Intuitive and interactive operation and multi-core support for super fast results.
• No key-frames or elaborate tracking points necessary.
• Ready to use: Just load the video, stabilize - done!
• Win 32-/64-Bit support with independent plug-in versions.
• Compatible with Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, and Adobe Premier Pro & After Effects CS5 Mac.

proDAD Mercalli V2 Mac

Pricing and Availability
Mercalli V2 Pro retails for $249.00 and is available for immediate purchase and download from the www.prodad.com web shop. proDAD is offering a 20% introductory discount for Mercalli V2 Pro until January 15, 2011.

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Matrox Introduces New Mac-Friendly DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP Multi-Monitor Adapters

Matrox Graphics Inc. today announced connectivity improvements to the Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition and TripleHead2Go DP Edition Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXMs) benefitting Apple® Mac notebook and desktop users.

The DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP products now come packaged with a Mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable that allows Mac users to connect these external multi-monitor modules directly to the mini-DisplayPort output of their systems to swiftly drive multiple monitors or projectors. Mac professionals and enthusiasts now benefit from the convenience of a true plug and play platform while experiencing the productivity-enhancements gained across an advanced dual- or triple-monitor workspace. In addition, an upcoming firmware release will enable the support of a dual 1600x900 resolution on DVI monitors, further expanding the list of supported resolutions for greater flexibility when choosing displays.

"A growing number of Mac users are choosing the Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go as their multi-display technology of choice, and we've responded by delivering our most Mac-friendly solutions to date," states Caroline Injoyan, Business Development Manager, Matrox Graphics, Inc. "By including the Mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable in the newest GXM versions, we're providing the ultimate out-of-box experience so the only thing users need to worry about is how best to enjoy their expansive onscreen desktop space."

The Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go GXMs work in conjunction with your system's existing GPU to provide high-quality, uncompressed graphics and video across maximum resolutions of dual 1920x1200 and triple 1360x768 under Mac. With the additional desktop display area, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro users can comfortably run different applications on each monitor or view one application across multiple displays, eliminating the tedious and time-consuming tasks of re-sizing, re-arranging, and re-organising multiple windows. Notebook users can further enhance their productive workflow by using their laptop's LCD as a third or fourth monitor to achieve an unprecedented level of computing efficiency. GXMs are also compatible with Microsoft® Windows® operating systems.

Pricing and Availability

The Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition (Part #: D2G-DP-MIF) and TripleHead2Go DP Edition (Part #: T2G-DP-MIF) for Mac are now available at a MSRP of US $239 and US $329 respectively, and can be purchased from authorised Matrox resellers worldwide or, in North America and Europe, directly from Shopmatrox.com.

For more information, visit http://www.matrox.com/mac_gxm

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DSC Labs Perfects Test Transparencies With The Ambi Illuminator

DSC Labs, a developer of innovative products for image quality improvement, has announced their "best kept secret" - the Ambi Illuminator. Complementing DSC Labs' world-renowned camera calibration charts, the Ambi provides camera manufacturers, broadcast engineers and quality control analysts with a versatile illuminator designed for exceptional light evenness.

Customizable under all shooting conditions, the Ambi's externally mounted light source provides precise illumination.

Barry Russo, Camera Systems Engineer for Panasonic Solutions Company, highly recommends the Ambi Illuminator. "Panasonic cameras are known for their amazing color and DSC Labs provides us with some of the most important tools that we use on a daily basis," Russo said. "The Ambi is extremely portable. It's as easy as 'paint by numbers.' I set up the camera's Color Matrix and Color Correction using the ChromaDuMonde Transparency and a waveform/Vector Scope. There is no guesswork, as I simply put the vectors in their targets on the scope. I then save the camera scene file as DSC28. All of the cameras match amazingly well."

The Ambi's light source is located externally and is typically mounted on the AmbiStand, or on a nearby dedicated light source matching the key light. When the illuminant is directed toward the adjustable mirror on the Ambi's rear side, the light is then transferred through the illuminator's color-balanced diffuser panel to light the test target. The test transparency slips easily in front of the diffuser panel, and can be adjusted with a built-in leveling device.

"The Ambi has been the 'best kept secret' of camera manufacturers and television engineers alike," comments DSC Labs President, David Corley. "Inconsistent lighting produces inconsistent images – the Ambi can eliminate this problem. It dramatically improves the visual quality and consistency of any shoot." Corley adds, "The Ambi's full potential is reached when used with our Combi test charts. The combination helps guarantee perfect shading and calibration throughout any production, time and time again."

Ambi Illuminator Feature Highlights:

  • Charts are evenly lit, typically to +/- 1%. Putting the light source on a Variac (Variable Transformer) allows for even more finite control of color temperature.
  • Easy set up and robust design make the Ambi virtually maintenance free, apart from the occasional bulb replacement.
  • Portable design and locking wheels allow for easy transportation between locations and sets.
  • Shielded in order to minimize extraneous light seepage or surface flare.
  • Required to maintain the accuracy and consistency of DSC charts, since if the charts are not lit properly, the data becomes inaccurate.
  • Future-proofed. Charts (sold separately) may need to be replaced as setup requirements change; the Ambi, however, should last a lifetime.

Availability and Pricing
The Ambi Illuminator is available through the DSC Labs' Worldwide Reseller Channel, directly from DSC, and online at http://dsclabs-us.intelex.ca/store.php. The complete system price of $3802 includes the Ambi Illuminator, the AmbiStand with Lamp Bracket, and a Quartz Lamp.

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XEquals blueSLR Lets Photographers Remotely Control Camera Shutter and Geocode Pictures from iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

XEquals today announced blueSLR, a Bluetooth accessory made for everyone who loves to take pictures along with a companion blueSLR App available now on the App Store. Whether you are on a paid photo shoot or simply want to snap a photo of a loved one, you can now use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to remotely control your camera shutter and geocode any photograph. Discover a new way to both map your memories and wirelessly control your digital SLR camera from up to 300 feet away.

blueSLR connects to your camera and is then controlled remotely by your compatible iOS device.

blueSLR joins a growing list of accessories to use Bluetooth to interact with compatible iOS devices. blueSLR is compatible with 11 different Nikon camera models, including the latest D3100, D7000, and the ever-popular D200. Visit http://blueSLR.com/ for a list of supported cameras.

Key Features of blueSLR include:


  • Use blueSLR to wirelessly control your compatible digital SLR camera and snap pictures from up to 300 feet away.
  • Don’t miss another career-making shot again! blueSLR is fast, so there is no waiting time between photos.
  • Connect blueSLR to your compatible digital SLR camera and use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to adjust your camera’s focus, shutter speed, or timer.
  • blueSLR is small enough to stay attached to your camera so it goes wherever your camera goes.


  • Use blueSLR to record when and where you took your photos by encoding precise location including latitude, longitude, and elevation, as well as speed and direction right in the photo metadata.
  • Share your photos on MobileMe, Places, Flickr, or Picassa and they’ll be visualized on a map.
  • Protect the copyright of your photos by using blueSLR to accurately record when and where your photos were taken. blueSLR will provide you with definitive proof that you are the owner of your creations.
  • Sort your photos on sites like Places or Flickr based on where they were taken using blueSLR’s sophisticated GPS geocoding technology.

Pricing and Availability

blueSLR is available for $149 from http://www.blueSLR.com. Customers who pre-order by December 10, 2010 get free shipping. Included in each shipment is the blueSLR accessory and Quick Start Guide.

The blueSLR companion App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, or at http://www.itunes.com/appstore.

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