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February 24, 2011

Table of Contents

In the Studio: Primera Bravo 4102 Disc Publisher
Save the Dates: EventDV 25 All-Star Awards Show Coming Next Week!
POSH Announces 2011 Event, Launches New Website
NVIDIA Quadro Powers New Era of Mobile Super Computers
Vinten Radamec to Unveil New Fusion FHR-35 at NAB 2011
Matrox Announces Matrox MXO2 Mini for Avid Media Composer 5.5

In the Studio: Primera Bravo 4102 Disc Publisher

Primera Bravo 4102The Primera Bravo 4102 prints gorgeous discs at never-before-seen speeds. During my tests, it didn't produce a coaster after burning more than 200 discs. If you're looking for a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc production system, this unit needs to be on your short list. The Bravo 4102 family includes three configurations: print-only without a recordable drive ($1,995 retail); printer and single DVD-Recordable drive ($2,995); and printer and two DVD-recordable drives ($3,295). Substituting in Blu-ray Disc recorders bumps the price to $3,995 and $4,995, for single- and dual-drive units, respectively. I tested the two-recorder DVD unit (Figure 1, right), which came configured with two dual-layer Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-218L drives that write to single layer recordable media at up to 22X. Since recording performance and reliability depends upon the actual recorder, I searched for user reviews. I found a good price at Amazon ($43.56), but no reviews. At CDRLabs (http://bit.ly/cdrlabs), a single reviewer rated the drive 3.7 out of 5, but dinged the drive for noisy operation, an emotion I seconded once I started burning discs.

The printer is a Lexmark-powered thermal inkjet with a print resolution of up to 4800dpi, with four cartridge bays for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black cartridges. According to the Printer Settings dialog, the large black cartridge is rated at 1,300 discs per cartridge, with yellow at 260 discs, Cyan at 205 discs, and Magenta at 243 discs. During my first round of testing for this review, I printed 100 full-color menus primarily comprising video frame grabs and still had 89% of black capacity remaining, with 70-72% for the other colors, indicating that Primera's estimates were slightly conservative, at least for my discs. If I did my math correctly, this translates to a cost per disc of about $.23.

For Windows, Primera bundles PTPublisher for Windows XP/Vista/7 and SureThing Primera Edition design software, while Mac users get PTPublisher for Mac OS X 10.6 or higher with Disc Cover design software. I tested the Windows software only. To share your 4102 over a network, Primera offers PT Publisher NE for $599, which allows unlimited Windows clients on a network to access multiple Primera devices connected to the LAN.

Hardware and Installation
Primera does a nice job packing the unit, with back-saving handles that you use to pull the printer out of the box. A Quick Start sheet walks you through unpacking the unit, removing print-related supplies from within the print and disc-burning area and dropping the supplied installation DVD in your hard drive, where a tutorial takes over. Even complete novices should have the unit up and running in less than 15 minutes.

The DVD unit connects to your computer via USB, though Blu-ray models connect via eSATA for faster, more reliable data transfers. Don't sweat if you don't have an eSATA connector on your computer, as Blu-ray versions include an eSATA adapter card that you can install in your computer, assuming that you have an open slot, of course.

Once installed, you can configure the unit for operation multiple ways. In Figure 1, the input bin is on the right, output on the left. Rejected discs are flushed down through the center area into a reject bin that's not shown. Or, you can configure the unit in "Kiosk" mode, where both trays serve as input bins, and completed discs are sent into the reject bin, with actual rejected discs unprinted. In both modes, all input discs are covered by the blue plastic top, reducing the risk of dust getting in and ruining a print job.

As alluded to above, the unit can be quite noisy with both burners recording simultaneously. It's not fire engine-loud-you can certainly hold a conversation within 5-10 feet of the unit-but if you plan to run it with staff editing nearby, you'll want to keep some noise-cancelling headphones handy.

One nice feature of the 4102 is a blue status light that starts blinking like a police car flasher to let you know that the unit needs attention, such as when it's running low on ink, or if some other error occurs. That way, if you do install the unit far away from the office crowd, you'll have no trouble figuring out if and when there's a problem.

PT Publisher
The Windows software that I tested offered all of the usual features with a couple of nice twists that I hadn't seen before. Project types are shown in Figure 2 (below), most notable are Copy Projects, where you copy existing (non-copy protected) discs; DVD Project, where you record and print a DVD from a DVD folder; and Image Project, where you record and print a DVD from an existing .ISO or .GI file. In the latter two cases, you can start with an existing DVD, then rip the content to a DVD folder or .ISO file first, then burn additional copies from that source. I ran most of my tests from .ISO files created by Adobe Encore.

Primera PT Publisher

Figure 2. Here are the job types that PT Publisher can handle.

The Advanced Projects on the bottom include the ability to rip audio discs to iTunes or Windows Media Player, or create backup copies of files or folders on accessible drives. Though I didn't test this function, the backup function can reportedly span multiple discs and be scheduled for periodic operation, a nice automatic backup function.

The workflow for most projects is very similar: First, you choose the project type, then you select the source material, and then you tell the system whether to print a label and locate the print file, which is a SureThing project file. As Figure 3 (below) shows, you can see the label before you print, a nice error detection feature. You also configure the printer for quality, inner diameter, outer margin and color modes on the same screen.

Primera SureThing
Figure 3. It's nice to see the label and all print controls before you actually start printing.

The inner diameter will adjust in the preview window according to the inner diameter settings, so if the disc on screen doesn't match that in the printer, you know that you have a problem before you waste time and ink printing discs that you can't use. There are also extensive disc alignment and calibration functions, though my print alignment was spot on, so I didn't need to use these.

Then you configure the number of discs to record and print, and either press the Go button to start right away (or to add the project to the existing queue), or schedule the job for later. As you'd expect, you can save projects for future re-use. As with most disc publishing software these days, you can copy protect your DVDs from within the main program interface using spellbinding technology licensed from Patronus.

What's unique about the software? Well, I can't recall a recorder/printer that tracks how many discs are in the bin and will let you know up front-while you're still around to fix the problem-that you don't have enough blanks to complete the job. You can create project sets for multidisc projects, and produce all the required discs by choosing and running the project set. There's a support center that accesses the web-based knowledge base so you can run down any technical issues and a software update function.

Not to say that the picture was completely rosy. I found the multiple-project workflow confusing-you can open multiple projects simultaneously, with each new project presented atop the older ones. I wasn't even aware that I was opening multiple projects until two or three days into the review; a tabbed like structure like that used by most browsers would have been helpful. As a result (I think), many projects that I wanted to save didn't get saved, so I had to re-create them for testing.

Overall, although it's been awhile since I've looked at disc publishing software, but I don't recall working with any programs that were this feature-rich or usable.

Labelling Your Discs
As mentioned, Primera ships the SureThing CD Labeler program for label creation on Windows, with their own label software provided on the Mac, which I did not test. SureThing is the standard among disc publishers, and for good reason: It's easy to use; it has nice design features such as horizontal, vertical, and circular text; it comes with lots of useful templates; and it can easily input your own images to serve as the background or the entire label.

With my labels, for example, I modified the Photoshop PSD file that I used for my DVD menu to fit in the circular design window. Then I exported a TIFF file from Photoshop for input into SureThing, complete with most of the text that I was going to include on the label. In SureThing, I added a nifty DVD label and the circular copyright text shown on the bottom of the label in Figure 4. Obviously, this approach helps ensure design coherence between the disc menu and label. Or, for simpler projects like backup or other data projects, you can quickly customize a SureThing template.

Primera SureThing
Figure 4. The SureThing label creation program

Of course, easy to use software and cute labels matter little if performance was slow or the print jobs ugly. Fortunately, neither was a problem with the Bravo 4102.

To test performance, I timed the unit recording and printing ten 4.4GB discs, which took 38:54 (min:sec) on the 16X TuffCoat with WaterShield Surface media that Primera supplied. In contrast, with my regular 8X Verbatim inkjet-printable media, ten disc production time was 50:26. I ran both sets of tests with recording speed set to the max, but verification off, and print speed set to maximum quality.

In comparison, the last duplicator/printer that I tested, had a 20X recording speed, as compared to the Primera unit's 22X, and produced a similar job in 57:53. Another unit that I tested back in 2007 was the previous speed champ, and produced a similar project in 55:03. To be fair, both units were working with 8X DVD media, which was the fastest available at the time.

The last time I tested a Primera unit was back in 2005, and it peaked at 12X recording speed and took 60 minutes to record and print 10 3.9GB DVDs. Back then, in CD-trials, I recorded and printed ten 49-minute audio CDs in about 33 minutes. On the current unit, I burned and printed ten copies of the same CD in just over 20 minutes using 48X media supplied by Primera.

Standalone print speed was also impressive. Though I wasn't able to duplicate the 6-second print speed claimed on Primera's website, it took only 55 seconds to load and print a single disc, with 22 seconds of that time spent under the print heads.

Finally, print quality-particularly using the TuffCoat with WaterShield waterproof-surface media-was absolutely fabulous, with great colors and fine detail, and its shiny coat proved once again to be completely impervious to water. Heck, if the unit produced any coasters, I could have used them as coasters without risking ruining the finish.

That said, I didn't produce any coasters after about 200 recorded and printed discs, which is testament to this unit's reliability. No software crashes either, which bodes very well for a product literally days out of beta testing when I got it.

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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Save the Dates: EventDV 25 All-Star Awards Show Coming Next Week!

EventDV will present the 3rd annual EventDV 25 awards show, recognizing the 25 hottest and most influential event filmmakers on the planet in 2010, on EventDV-TV throughout the week of February 28–March 4 on EventDV.tv. Shows will launch at 9am EST each day of the week, with 5 all-stars announced each day, and a new special award announced on Friday, Day 5. Watch EventDV Spotlight for further announcements regarding the awards show.

Sponsors for this year's show include Grass Valley, iKan, and Triple Scoop Music.

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POSH Announces 2011 Event, Launches New Website

POSH 2011Jennifer Moon of Northernlight Filmworks and Reagan Zugelter of Studio Z Films, organizers of POSH 2010: A Retreat for the Female Filmmaker, have announced dates, location, and more for their 2011 event. POSH 2011 will take place November 6-9, 2011 in Cancun Mexico. "We will be hosting our event at the Beach Palace Resort," says Moon. "Sunday evening we have plans of having a cocktail party/welcome reception on the Sky-top patio over looking the Caribbean Ocean. Monday will be a full day of presentations (we are still confirming our speakers and will start announcing them in April). Monday night we will have a group dinner, details to be announced closer to the event. Tuesday will be a day of rest, relaxation, and exploration. Attendees will have the day free to do as they please. There will be an option to attend a group outing on Tuesday, much like the day a large group of us went snorkeling in the Bahamas. Details will be announced closer to the event. Then Wednesday will be a half day of presentations and that night we will have our closing gathering."

Moon and Zugelter say that the "POSH 2011 investment" includes the following:
• Resort accommodations for 4 nights (Nov 6-10) at the Beach Palace in Cancun, Mexico
• All of attendees' food, beverages (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), gratuities, and taxes
• Educational workshop with top leaders in the event and visual art industries
• Private cocktail party on the skytop of the resort overlooking the ocean
• Group dinners, networking and nightly entertainment
• Leisure time for relaxation

Early Bird pricing (again, all-inclusive of the above) is $1,195 for a shared room and $1,695 for a single room. The only items not included in the rate are airfare, transportation to the resort, and any outings outside the resort. Registration now open to all 2010 attendees as soon as the announcement. Early Bird Registration opens for female filmmakers/visual artists who did not attend the 2010 event on March 15th.

For more information about POSH 2011, visit the event's new website at www.theposhretreat.com or the blog at http://theposhretreat.com/blog.

POSH 2011 from POSH on Vimeo.

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NVIDIA Quadro Powers New Era of Mobile Super Computers

NVIDIA announced today a new line of Quadro® professional graphics solutions for mobile workstations. Designed for engineers, industrial designers, animators, and film & video editors that need to take their work with them, these new Quadro graphics processing units (GPUs) leverage the NVIDIA Fermi architecture, which combines fast visualization performance with high performance computing capabilities.

This massively parallel processing horsepower transforms laptop computers into mobile super computers.

Featuring twice the number of CUDA™ cores and twice the graphics memory over previous generations, these new Quadro GPUs also incorporate NVIDIA Optimus™ technology, maximizing battery life by automatically powering the GPU only when needed. Optimus also provides users with the ability to drive up to four displays at the same time.

Building on a decade of innovation and leadership in professional mobile graphics, the new Quadro line of mobile graphics solutions includes:

  • Quadro 5010M (Ultra-High End):
    384 CUDA cores; 4 GB GDDR5 memory; designed for new 17.3-inch mobile workstations
  • Quadro 4000M (High End):
    336 CUDA cores; 2 GB GDDR5 memory; designed for new 17.3-inch mobile workstations
  • Quadro 3000M (High End):
    240 CUDA cores; 2 GB GDDR5 memory; designed for new 17.3-inch mobile workstations
  • Quadro 2000M (Mid-Range):
    192 CUDA cores; 2 GB DDR3 memory; designed for 15.6-inch mobile workstations
  • Quadro 1000M (Mid-Range):
    96 CUDA cores; 2 GB DDR3 memory; designed for 15.6-inch mobile workstations

“Year after year, NVIDIA innovations demonstrate true technology leadership,” said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. “Optimus is perfect for anyone who needs high performance, long battery life, and additional displays. With this new Quadro mobile lineup based on the Fermi architecture, NVIDIA is poised to continue its dominance in mobile workstation graphics.”

The new standard for mobile workstation graphics excellence—the NVIDIA Quadro 5010M
The flagship Quadro 5010M features Error Correction Code (ECC) and fast, 64-bit double precision capabilities to ensure the greatest accuracy and fidelity of results. From medical imaging to structural analysis applications, data integrity and precision is assured, without sacrificing performance.

The Quadro 5010M features an unprecedented 4 GB of fast GDDR5 memory to enable interactivity on the largest projects. Shattering previous 3D graphics benchmarks, professionals on the go can achieve nearly a billion triangles per second with this ultra high-end Quadro mobile graphics solution.

NVIDIA Quadro technology creates mobile super computers
Similar to the NVIDIA Quadro 5000M, the groundbreaking NVIDIA Fermi-based mobile workstation graphics solution announced last year, and currently available in both the Dell Precision M6500 and HP EliteBook 8740w mobile workstations, additional features of these new NVIDIA Quadro mobile professional graphics solutions include:

  • The NVIDIA CUDA parallel computing architecture – Quadro mobile GPUs deliver massive performance gains when running computationally intensive applications such as ray tracing, video processing and computational fluid dynamics.

  • NVIDIA 3D Vision™ Pro – support for the highest quality, stereoscopic viewing experience is helping drive the development of 3D capable visualization applications from companies such as Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, Siemens and Agilent.

  • NVIDIA Scalable Geometry Engine™ technology – dramatically improves performance across a broad range of CAD, DCC and scientific applications, enabling a user’s work to flow interactively with models and scenes that are an order of magnitude more complex than ever before.

  • NVIDIA GPU Tessellation Engine technology – with support for OpenGL 4.1, Shader Model 5.0 and DirectX 11, tessellation automatically generates finely detailed geometry for cinematic quality environments and scenes without sacrificing performance.

  • Application certification - support for the broadest spectrum of professional applications, including those utilizing OpenGL 4.1, Shader Model 5.0, and Microsoft DirectX 11, plus DirectCompute and OpenCL standards. Companies such as Adobe, Autodesk, and Dassault Systemes certify NVIDIA Quadro solutions for professionals whose livelihoods depend on maximum uptime with their applications.

Mobile workstation manufacturers have relied on NVIDIA GPUs for the past decade, and will integrate these Quadro solutions in their newest mobile workstations scheduled to be announced throughout 2011. For more information about NVIDIA and Quadro Mobile Graphics Solutions, please visit http://www.nvidia.com/quadromobile.

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Vinten Radamec to Unveil New Fusion FHR-35 at NAB 2011

Vinten Radamec®, a Vitec Group brand, will highlight the breadth of its capabilities at NAB2011 with the technology demonstration of its new Fusion FHR-35, a robotic pan and tilt head suitable for remote applications.

The forthcoming Fusion FHR-35 is a compact, lightweight robotic pan and tilt head designed to support broadcast camera and lens packages up to 35 lb (16 kg), in remote locations where the pan and tilt head needs to be as unobtrusive as possible, including parliaments, legislative buildings, live conferences and houses of worship.

The flexible and versatile head will incorporate Vinten Radamec’s ethernet-technology, which enables simple and straight forward set up in broadcasters’ existing structures. The new FHR-35 prototype will be beta-tested at NAB 2011 before its release later this year. The product will be shown with the Vinten Radamec Legislative Control System (LCS) to demonstrate a full system solution which gives broadcasters multi-user, multi-facility control of cameras, CCU controls and robotic devices, and rapid, accurate shot acquisition. Vinten Radamec has extensive experience in providing camera robotics and controllers for legislative chambers worldwide. Installations in Sweden and Alberta in Canada are among the most recent parliamentary systems.

Vinten Radamec will also be incorporating two dedicated virtual reality (VR) sets on the NAB2011 show floor, demonstrating how its products work live with software from leading graphics providers, Brainstorm and Orad. The control and location information from Vinten Radamec VR heads and pedestals is on an open interface and ready to work with any graphic solutions providers.

One of the VR systems will run with the Quattro SE, a lightweight and compact manually operated pedestal with built in encoders, which provide precise real time digital electronic positioning over the floor and in elevation. The second VR set will be a fully robotic system, using the Fusion FP-188VR pedestal, which has the ability to send precise positioning data from X, Y, Z, pan and tilt axis to give full freedom to move the camera within the virtual studio.

The new FHR-35, and the extensive range of Vinten Radamec studio and legislative robotics solutions, can be seen in booth C6425 in the Central Hall at NAB 2011. A range of Vinten Radamec’s Virtual Reality products will also be integrated with equipment on both the Brainstorm and QVL stands.

More information can be found at http://www.vintenradamec.com


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Matrox Announces Matrox MXO2 Mini for Avid Media Composer 5.5

Matrox® Video Products Group today announced support for the newly released Avid® Media Composer® V5.5 editing system. Matrox MXO2 Mini turns a user’s HDMI screen into a professional-grade video monitor with unique color calibration tools.

The small, lightweight, external box is ideal for file-based workflows in studio, on set, in the field and in OB vans. It provides HDMI, analog component, S-Video, and composite output and cross-platform support for Macs and PCs, laptops and workstations. Users can also take advantage of the Matrox Vetura Capture application for quick and easy capture to Avid DNxHD or other popular Avid-supported codecs. Media Composer V5.5 adds support for new 720p and 1080p workflows with Matrox MXO2 Mini including the ability to select PsF or true P output in 1080p modes.

“We spearheaded our openness initiative with the Matrox MXO2 Mini and this decision has proved very fruitful. This platform has given Avid Media Composer release 5.0 an excellent HDMI monitoring tool for digital workflows,” said David Colantuoni, Director, Product Management, Avid Technology. “In addition, our new release of Avid Media Composer 5.5 brings new format and frame rate support and unique H.264 delivery options with Matrox MAX technology. Our continuing relationship with Matrox is a benefit to our mutual customers.”

“Avid's support of Matrox MXO2 Mini was the talk of NAB and IBC 2010, giving Media Composer users a very cost-effective HD monitoring solution at just $449,” said Wayne Andrews, product manager at Matrox. “But that's not the only benefit of Matrox products for Avid users. The version of Matrox MXO2 Mini with the built-in MAX H.264 encoding accelerator option at just $849 lets Mac users deliver H.264 files for the web, iPad, iPhone, and other mobile devices, directly from Media Composer at speeds up to five times faster than software alone, without sacrificing quality. Matrox MAX even lets them deliver directly from Media Composer up to three times faster than other popular encoders.”

Matrox MXO2 Mini for Avid Media Composer V5.5 will be demonstrated at NAB 2011 in the Matrox booth SL2515.

Key features of Matrox MXO2 Mini for Avid Media Composer

  • Turns an HDMI screen into a professional-grade video monitor with unique color calibration tools
  • Small, lightweight, external box for use in studio, on set, in the field, and in OB vans
  • Cross-platform support – Mac and PC; laptops, desktops, and workstations
  • HDMI, analog component, S-Video, and composite output
  • Stereo RCA and up to 8 channels of HDMI audio output
  • Three-year hardware warranty and complimentary telephone support
  • Matrox MAX option for lightning fast H.264 encoding directly from Media Composer on the Mac

Price and availability
Matrox MXO2 Mini, priced at $449 US (£338, €382) and Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX, priced at $849 US (£644, €758) not including local taxes, are available through a worldwide network of authorized dealers. Driver versions 5.1 for PC and 2.2 for Mac will be available to registered users as free downloads from the Matrox website to coincide with Avid’s software release.


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