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January 20, 2011

Table of Contents

EventDV-TV Presents Kevin Shahinian's The Language of Film, Episode IV: Sound Design
In the Studio: NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV
Blackmagic Design Announces a New Software Update for its UltraScope Waveform Monitoring Family
Switronix Announces New HDV Power Solution For Canon T2i

EventDV-TV Presents Kevin Shahinian's The Language of Film, Episode IV: Sound Design

Concept filmmaker extraordinaire Kevin Shahinian (City of Lakes, Snow, Dil Jaanta Hai, Tum Hi Ho) explores the classic underpinnings of film-based storytelling and the language of effective filmmaking in this four-part series on EventDV, co-sponsored by Adobe Systems and Pacific Pictures

To see more of Kevin's work (as featured in The Language of Film), play the clips below:

"CITY OF LAKES" The Feature from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"SNOW" - Megan + Narbeh's Sweden Thriller Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"DIL JAANTA HAI (THE HEART KNOWS)" - Anuja + Nirav's Bollywood Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"TUM HI HO (YOU ARE THE ONE)" - Neil + Jigna's Bollywood Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

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In the Studio: NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV

While good shooting, relentless trimming, and artful sequencing are the steak in most of our productions, special effects often provide the sizzle. When I scanned through the 10 effects in NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV, the potential sizzle in the bundle nearly had me salivating. Pavlovian references aside, if you’re looking for fast, inexpensive ways to add compelling looks to your productions, check out the many effects available at the NewBlueFX website (www.newbluefx.com).

NewBlueFX sells a wide variety of video and audio effects and transitions bundled into different collections such as 3D Explosions, Film Effects, and Video Essentials. These bundles include between five and 12 effects, all with multiple presets, and carry MSRPs between $49 and $139. You can also buy multiple collections at a substantial discount in different bundles. NewBlueFX does a nice job previewing the effects on its site, so if you’re searching for a particular look, you should be able to figure out if an effect will get the job done. For each bundle, the site details program and operating system compatibility, which can include Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Premiere Elements; Apple Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, and Motion; Avid Media Composer, NewsCutter, Symphony, and Xpress; Grass Valley EDIUS; Sony Vegas Pro and Vegas Movie Studio; Corel Video Studio; and Pinnacle Studio.

I looked at Video Essentials IV, which costs $79.95 and runs on most of those programs listed previously, though I tested it in Premiere Pro CS5. The filters include Bleach Bypass, Day for Night, Drop Shadow, Fish Eye, Luma Key, Magnifying Glass, Reflection, Skin Touch Up, Slide Show, and Time Clock.

Installing and Using the Effects
After installing the effects, they appear in your Effects bin (as you would expect), and you apply and customize them just as you would any other Adobe Premiere Pro effect or plug-in. (Having worked with plug-in effects in Final Cut Pro and other NLEs, I assume it works similarly in those.) You can see the controls in Figure 1 (below), where I applied the Day for Night plug-in to a dance performance of “Thriller” from last Halloween. Though I probably could have created the same look using native Premiere Pro filters, the presets provide a good bit of value; I wouldn’t have known that I wanted the Moonlight look until I tried the preset. Having all relevant controls in one effect is a nice timesaving bonus.

NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV

Figure 2 (below) shows the Magnifying Glass effect highlighting the digital readout of a scale in a paving repair video I was producing. I could have duplicated this by using layers, cropping, and the Premiere Pro titler, but it would have taken minutes, rather than seconds, and I could see this effect saving me lots of time in many of the training videos that I produce.

NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV

The last effect that I worked with was the Skin Touch Up effect, which I used to smooth some wrinkles from this video of my dad in Figure 3 (below) (you should have seen the wrinkles before I applied the effect—just kidding, Dad). This is a unique capability that could prove valuable to any shooter who produces a lot of interviews of folks in their 30s and beyond.

NewBlueFX Video Essentials IV

Keyframing and Performance

Overall, I was impressed with the bundle, though there are a couple of caveats: First—and probably least important—though you can keyframe most of the effects to change their values over time, there’s only one keyframe adjustment for all parameters; most native Premiere Pro effects let you keyframe each parameter separately, enhancing precision and control. Second, on my 3.3GHz, 24-core (with HTT) HP Z800 system equipped with an NVIDIA Quadro FX4800, none of the effects were GPU-accelerated via Adobe’s Mercury Playback Engine, which means rendering before preview and slower rendering to final. For example, on the Z800, it took 54 seconds to render the effect shown in Figure 3 on a 1-minute DV test file. Rendering to Premiere Pro’s SD YouTube preset took 20 seconds with the filter enabled, compared to 14 seconds with the filter disabled, so this filter would increase encoding time by about 40%. If you’re looking to add some sizzle to a current production, check out the NewBlueFX website. Even if Video Essentials IV isn’t the bundle for you, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find an effect that delivers the look you’re searching for.

Jan Ozer (janozer@doeco.com) is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media.

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Blackmagic Design Announces a New Software Update for its UltraScope Waveform Monitoring Family

Blackmagic Design today announced a new software update for its Blackmagic UltraScope and Pocket UltraScope waveform monitoring products. This new update includes new video gamut and audio error logging as well as customizable profiles so different post production and broadcasters can define their own operation standards for quality control.

This new UltraScope v1.5 is available now for both Mac and PC platforms.

With this new software update, Blackmagic UltraScope now offers an even better SD, HD and 3Gb/s HD-SDI waveform monitoring solution that broadcasters and post production facilities can use for quality control, edit suites, color correction, equipment rooms and video engineering.

The new error logging features help users save valuable time and money by enabling quality control throughout and automatically checking and logging all RGB gamut, luminance and chroma video levels as well as audio levels. This means UltraScope is perfect for monitoring camera output on set, eliminating guesswork about camera settings when location shooting and greatly reducing costly fixes in post production.

UltraScope 1.5 also lets customers create custom profiles for any individual operational standards. Custom profiles allow specific settings for generating errors based on various types of video level products, and all errors can be saved to a simple log file with timecode and time of day so all errors are recorded and can be easily referenced. Logging allows a single file to describe all errors in a television program in a completely automated way, so allowing multiple hours of time savings when quality control checking video content.

UltraScope's customizable error logging is the best way to ensure video meets specifications, and that video masters will not suffer from expensive and embarrassing rejections by broadcasters worldwide.

"The new error logging and customizable profiles are features that I feel will really help our customers quality control their work to ensure they are finishing top quality work that can be syndicated worldwide without any quality problems" said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. "I am excited that this software update adds all these new complex features, at no charge and on both Mac OS X and Windows platforms. I think it's going to be received well by our UltraScope customers!"

About Blackmagic UltraScope

Blackmagic UltraScope is a combination PCI Express card and software designed to work for both Mac and PC. UltraScope has six waveform monitor displays that can show RGB and YUV parade, luminance, luminance & composite, vector-scope, histogram, eight channel audio metering, 2D audio scope, and picture view with video standard display and HD RP-188/SD VITC reader display. Display all six waveforms in a "Full Screen" view or for a more compact view use the "2-up" side-by-side view. UltraScope has advanced features such as a high resolution zoom and pan function for pixel accurate matching of blacks. UltraScope is available in both PCI Express and USB 3.0 models. UltraScope for PCI Express includes both optical fiber and BNC SDI inputs with loop out, while the Pocket UltraScope model features a compact USB 3.0 pod based design perfect for laptop use when high quality waveform monitoring is needed on set, at live events or in equipment areas.

Availability and Price
UltraScope for PCI Express is available now from Blackmagic Design resellers for US $695 and Pocket UltraScope for USB 3.0 is available now for US $595.


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Switronix Announces New HDV Power Solution For Canon T2i

Switronix Inc. releases the PowerBase70 for the Canon T2i, the newest addition to their line of HDV power solutions. The new PB70-T2i is a 70wh 14.8v lithium ion battery pack providing up to six times the runtime for OEM Canon T2i batteries. The PB70-T2i mounts under the camera or may attach to a HDV support via its 1/4-20 release plate or V-mount.

Wired as a 14.8v battery pack, it can provide extended power to up to two additional 12vdc devices, as well as other devices requiring lower voltage through an additional XP power regulation cable. The pack is also furnished with a 1/4-20 on either side to mount accessories.

For those that already own the PowerBase 70 with a Canon 5D/7D or Panasonic AG-AF100 converter block, a converter block for the Canon T2i may be purchased individually.

For those with brick batteries, Switronix also offers a powertap cable for the Canon T2i. Click here for more information.

Check out additional specs and details on the PB70-T2i here


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