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November 08, 2011

Table of Contents

The Poor Man’s Cloud-Based CRM and Project Management Solution
The Business Coach: Creating Fans
Canon Announces New $20,000 MSRP CS300 Digital Cinema Cameras
Canon Announces New EOS DSLR in Development
Avid Launches Media Composer 6
New Matrox Mojito Mx I/O Card Features Onboard H.264 Encoding Accelerator
Sorenson Squeeze 8 Lite Now Shipping

The Poor Man’s Cloud-Based CRM and Project Management Solution

Over the past few years, "the cloud" has gotten quite a bit of press. Everything seems to be going to the cloud: accounting, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, customer relationship management (CRM), address books, scriptwriting, project management, photo editing, and even video editing. Most companies are betting on the cloud to be the primary environment where people will do most of their work and entertainment.

Personally, I'm crazy about the cloud. My whole business is run on it. This month, I'm going to share with you my homemade, cloud-based CRM and project management system that I've pieced together over the years. It can stand on its own, or it can be used in conjunction with other solutions you may use. The beauty is that it involves using programs many of you are already probably familiar with and using every day. But I want to give you some specific practices that can elevate your use of these programs to a state where you literally may not ever need to pay for another paid service again (or at least for a while).

CRM and Project Management Overview
Before we get started, let's establish exactly what I mean by CRM and project management. In a nutshell, CRM comprises the systems used to track clients and leads effectively and efficiently. It may include the ability to capture notes about clients/leads, send estimates/invoices, track communication, send templates, and so on. Arguably, the most widely used and well-known CRM system in the event video world is ShootQ (www.shootq.com). Originally created for wedding photographers, it has evolved and grown to become a staple for many video studios as well. Perhaps the most well-known enterprise-level system (i.e., used by Fortune 500 companies) is Salesforce.com.

Project management systems are collaborative programs that make it easy for teams of people to work on the same project. They typically allow users to post work files and comment on them, create "blog like" discussions about topics, track project milestones and deliverables, assign to-dos, etc. In essence, they provide a single online location for team members to share information. Perhaps the most widely used project management system among small businesses today is Basecamp (www.basecamphq.com).

Programs such as ShootQ, Salesforce, and Basecamp are excellent tools for doing what they do. But none of them are perfect. And as you might guess based on the title of this article, the investment in these programs can be significant for small businesses.

Throughout my 20-plus years in the business world, I've been able to use a number of CRM and project management solutions including Basecamp, Campfire (the CRM solution from the makers of Basecamp), Freedcamp, Action Method (created by Behance, LLC, the company behind the website the99percent.com, which all of you should be reading!), ShootQ (which we currently use primarily for our photography business Teen Identity), and even a FileMaker Pro database. Cost aside, there are two aspects of all of these programs that I've found problematic in my business as a small studio: 1) feeling overwhelmed with the learning curves associated with each and 2) getting clients to use them as they're supposed to.

Regarding the overwhelmed feeling, it's not that I can't figure these programs out. It's that I'm already doing so many things and juggling so many different forms of technology, having to keep up with even one or two more very complex programs often gets to be too much. So, quite by accident, I started creating systems within the programs I use every day: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Evernote, YouSendIt, and Dropbox.

Regarding client use (or lack thereof), it was frustrating reminding clients to post questions in Basecamp instead of shooting me an email about a topic I wanted tracked in the system or getting clients to create their logins for one of these systems and getting them in the habit of signing in when necessary.
The most beautiful aspect of this radical system is that, for the most part, it doesn't require my clients to change their use habits. It involves programs that many of them are most likely using already. Or it may require them to sign up only once (such as for a Dropbox account) and then use the Dropbox folder on their computer just as they would any other folder.

Who Is This For?
The system I'm going to describe is best suited for a one or two person operation (most likely a husband and wife team). I'm guessing a good portion of EventDV's readership falls into that category. But even if you don't, I think you'll still be able to apply much of what I'll share to your business as you may discover uses and capabilities not heretofore considered.

I should also state that this system is just as imperfect as the other programs I mentioned. It definitely isn't for everybody. But if cost is an issue for your business (and in this economy, how could it not be?), and/or if you've experienced some of the same frustrations I mentioned, then read on and open your eyes to a new way of managing your business.

What Is the Cloud?
Before we dive into this system, let me give you a quick primer on the cloud. Understanding how a thing works is the first step to removing any fear or hesitation you may have.

In a nutshell, the cloud is just a bunch of huge mainframe computers located in highly secure and temperature-controlled environments. On these computers are billions and billions of gigabytes of data-your data, swirling and circling the Ethernet cosmos. Chances are you are already using a form of the cloud and may not even know it. If you use any kind of online email system such as Gmail, you're on the cloud. If you use iTunes, you're on the cloud. If you have any kind of account with a company that requires you to log in to a website to use its service, you're using the cloud. Your personal identifiable information, your financial information, your passwords, all of that information is already on some mainframe somewhere, most likely the same mainframes hosting all the cloud-based programs I referenced earlier.

The cloud is also very safe. All the sites I mentioned use either 128-bit or 256-bit encryption. Encryption is the encoding and transferring of your data. At 128-bit encryption, it would take modern-day computers longer than the age of the universe to cycle through all the possible decryption keys. In fact, your data is probably safer on these systems than they are on your own computer (assuming your computer is connected to the internet).

How Does My System Work?
Admittedly, this may sound convoluted and maybe even complicated. But that's only because I'm talking about a disparate number of programs. You may say, "Why deal with all these programs to do these tasks when you can use just one or two CRM/project management programs?" That's a fair question. The answer is simple: I'm already using these programs frequently. So using them for CRM and project management doesn't really add to my workload or learning curve. And as I mentioned before, my clients and/or collaborators are using them too.

Furthermore, I have bookmarks for all these programs set up in my browser. So accessing them is quick and easy and takes no more keystrokes or mouse moves than if I were in one CRM program navigating its features and menus. I'll go one step further than that. I synchronize all my bookmarks across computers and browsers using Xmarks.com. So whether I'm on my iMac, my wife's iMac, or our MacBook Pro, and regardless of whether I'm using Chrome (my most excellent browser of choice), Safari, or Firefox, I can still get to those bookmarks.

Here's a brief overview of how I'm using these programs:

• Google Gmail, Contacts, and Contact Groups as lead and client databases
• Google Groups for project discussions among disparate team members
• Google Calendar for reminders and assigning tasks
• Google Docs for templates, lead capture, and project management
• PayPal to send invoices
• Evernote for project notes and archiving client correspondence
• Dropbox and YouSendIt for sharing client files

Now let's dive into the specifics.

The CRM-to-Project-Management Cycle
To get a feel for how I make this all work, let's follow a prospective lead from first contact to delivery.

1. First Contact
Joe Schmoe of ACME Financial Corp. sees my work on one of my recent Google+ posts that somebody has shared and says to himself, "I need to contact this Ron Dawson dude." He shoots me an email that says something like this: "Just watched the video you made for JKL Studios. Nice work. How much will it cost for you to do the same for my company?"

I hover over Joe's name in the email, and in the tiny tooltip window that appears, I click "More" then "Add to Contacts." This takes me to the contact window where I can add all Joe's pertinent information. This is also where I'll type notes from my phone call with him, which happens next.

Ron Dawson

I speak with Joe on the phone for about 30 minutes. At the end of the call, we resolve that I will send him a proposal within the budget range he suggested (which is in the $10,000 to $15,000 range). I'll also send him a no-holds-barred higher bid outlining what we could do if ACME can kick the budget up to $18,000.

Joe sent me an email, but he could have just as easily filled out the form that I created with Google to capture leads. The information is stored in a Google spreadsheet that can be periodically imported into Google Contacts.

Ron Dawson

2. The Proposal
I log in to Google Docs and open my video estimate spreadsheet. I duplicate the template tab, rename it "ACME Video," and then enter all the numbers for Joe's proposal. I copy and paste all the fields to create my no-holds-barred estimate too.

Ron Dawon

Then, I open up my Google Docs "DDM Proposal" template. It has boilerplate information about me and Dare Dreamer Media and what sets us apart for other video companies. Even though I may have covered these issues in that first phone call, this proposal will be shared with other members of Joe's team, so I want to make sure they have all the same information. I tweak the proposal as needed, particularly by adding a section that breaks down the deliverables and total investment. As I wrote in my article about making corporate bids, I don't give a line-by-line breakdown, but I only include those things the client can actually see, such as number of shooting hours, final deliverable, and so forth.

Ron Dawson

Once the proposal is completed (and I've had my wife/business partner read it), I go to File > Email as attachment. I can then select the format I want to use to send the proposal: HTML, PDF, Open Document, Rich Text, Plain Text, or Microsoft Word. I select PDF. I select the check box to have the email cc'd to me. Since I've added Joe to my contacts, it's easy to pull up his email and shoot off the document.

Ron Dawson

3. The Follow-Up

A key part of any CRM system is the ability to easily track follow-up communications. I want to remind myself to follow up with Joe in a week. So I create an event in Google Calendar called "Call Joe Schmoe." I put his phone number in the "Where" field. I then set three reminders: email, pop-up, and, for good measure, a text message. Typically, I'll make this an "All day event" so that it does not appear in my actual calendar space (all-day events are listed in the top section of the day's events instead of within the hours of the day).

I do this because there's no particular time of the day I will call. I just need the reminder. But in some cases, it may actually be a good idea to set a specific time to follow up, such as 10 a.m.-either way works.

4. Closing the Deal
I get my reminder pop-up a week later. I go to my Google Voice page, click on Contacts, find Joe's number, and then dial it from my computer. I use my USB mic and Google Talk to speak to him rather than calling him from my cell; Google Talk has better reception. (Yes, I have AT&T. 'Nuff said.) Joe says he loves the proposal. His company decided to go with the $12,000 budget (oh well, at least I tried). After some chitchat, I hang up and make a note in Joe's contact file, which I can do from the Google Voice window where his name appears.

Ron Dawson

Next up is the contract. I head back to my Google Docs homepage and open my DDM Agreements template. I make a copy and rename it "DDM-ACME Video Agrmnt." I make all the necessary changes to the contract and then save it. Now comes the fun part. I have two choices at this point: I can send him the contract the same way I did the proposal, or I can have him sign it electronically. I use Adobe EchoSign (yet another cloud-based app; learn more at Echosign.com, which allows you to upload contracts, add fields, and then send the contracts for electronic signature. The signer can either type his or her signature (and it uses a signature-looking font) or use the mouse to do a real signature. Once the document is virtually signed, it comes back to me for my signature. After all signatures are complete, each party receives a signed PDF for his or her records.

Ron Dawson

Since I'm keeping this whole system in the "poor man's" category, I use the free version of EchoSign, which allows up to five contracts a month. Once I go beyond that, I just send a PDF to the client to sign and ask to have it scanned and emailed back to me.

Ron Dawson

I duplicate the Google Docs workflow spreadsheet I created, which has a list of everything I'm supposed to do over the course of the project (e.g., invoices, follow-up, meetings to set up, etc.). Via email I can share the spreadsheet with all the key stakeholders on my team who are involved with the project (my wife, shooters, and editors, if applicable). This spreadsheet can serve two purposes: keep everyone updated on the status of the project and make sure I don't forget anything.

I also have a master Project Tracker in the form of a Google spreadsheet that I share with my wife; with it, we can both keep track of every project I'm working on. I edit most of the work I do, but on the rare occasions I send a project out to be edited, I include a column on the tracker for the editor's name and the hard drive I sent to him or her.

Ron Dawson

5. Invoicing
My payment schedule for commercial clients of $10,000-plus gigs is 25% upfront, 25% prior to shooting, and 25% prior to editing, and then the balance is due prior to delivery. I use QuickBooks for Mac and immediately create four separate invoices for each retainer. I date the invoices based on the approximate times they will be due.

Another important aspect of any cloud-based CRM feature is the ability to invoice clients, remind them of invoices, and give them the ability to pay online if they like. Enter our old friend, PayPal.

I have created a whole set of invoice templates in PayPal. One is for video production retainers. I create a new invoice from that template. PayPal gives you the ability to upload your logo so the invoice has a branded look. I write notes to the clients thanking them for their business, and I let them know that they can pay for this invoice securely online or send a check to the address on the invoice. PayPal lets you work either way. If they choose to send a check, I can mark the PayPal invoice "paid" and designate the payment type as check. Naturally, if they pay with a credit card, the funds go into my PayPal account, wherein I transfer them to our bank account, usually immediately. Once a month, I download PayPal transactions into QuickBooks.

I set reminders in Google Calendar for sending out the other invoices, as well as for following up on payment for any invoices I've already sent.

6. Client Communication
We now head into the project management side of things as I start working with Joe and ACME on their video and distribution strategy. Communication is done through Gmail and by phone. I create a folder for ACME in my Clients folder, which, in turn, is part of my Dropbox folder. Dropbox is a file-sharing cloud-based system that has become amazingly popular. In fact, as of the writing of this article, it was named the fifth most valuable startup by Business Insider. It allows you to create a folder on your computer that syncs with the cloud. Anything you drop in that folder gets synced online and can be accessed from wherever you have an internet connection. It's free for the first 2GB of data.

You can share folders in your Dropbox account with your clients, thereby giving them access to any files placed in that shared folder. Assuming they don't already have a Dropbox account, if they sign up with a link you give them, you get an additional 250MB added to your account. You can keep doing this up to 8GB ... all free. I create within my ACME Dropbox folder an "Internal folder" (files related to ACME that I don't want them to see) and an ACME "Shared" folder for files we both can see.

Ron Dawson

Early on in the project, I'd ask Joe to send me a Video Brief, which is a document that describes in detail what the video should be like, who the audience is, what the objective is, etc. I save this to the shared folder. ACME's marketing VP will send me the style guide, which outlines the company's font and color palette for branding purposes. That also goes in that folder.

I also create an ACME "Notebook" in Evernote. Evernote allows you to capture anything (notes, webpages, PDFs, etc.), access it anywhere, and find it fast. Once I unlocked the true power behind this free app, I went bonkers! It's absolutely amazing everything that you can do with it. I use it for notes, ideas, receipts, scanned documents, webpages, and more. I set up my Evernote so that I can email notes directly to Evernote. Any emails I send to Joe that I want to be specifically set aside, I bcc to my Evernote email address. I add the tag "@acme financial" somewhere in the subject so that it gets routed to the correct notebook. I can tag the note with categories by adding the "#" sign (e.g., #clients).

The marketing VP wants to make sure ACME's branded motion graphic logo is used in the video. It's a huge file (almost 1GB). I don't want to use up so much of my Dropbox limit on one file, so I send him the link to my YouSendIt.com dropbox (not to be confused with my Dropbox account, with a capital "D"). You can upload up to 2GB-sized files, so it works perfectly.

Once the video is complete, I upload it to Vimeo with password protection. Joe has a larger group of people who will be reviewing the video, and I would like to have all their comments in one place; this way, everyone can see them and reply. So I create a Google Group, make it private, and then send email invites to everyone on Joe's team who will provide input. Think of Google Groups as a sort of miniforum where topics are created, and replies to those topics can be made by group members. You can manage the settings so that replies are emailed to the group members and, via email, members can reply back. (Basecamp and other project management tools work like this too.)

7. Delivery
Once the video is complete, I use my YouSendIt account to send the client the final web-optimized HD file.

Addressing the Drawbacks
As I mentioned earlier, this system is best suited for small operations where one or two people in your company need access to these systems. That makes it perfect for one-man bands and mom-and-pop shops. However, some aspects of this system won't work as well for larger teams.

For instance, the beauty of a traditional CRM tool is one database where anyone on the team can access client information or see a client history. With my system, only people with access to your Gmail will be able to log in and see contacts, read contact notes, and the like. That's why it's great for mom-and-pop shops (I'm assuming you trust your spouse with to access your Gmail) and one-man bands. But if there are others you want to have access to that information, it becomes more complicated. There are a couple ways around this issue:

Use Evernote. Make sure all-important client communication is copied to the Evernote notebook for that client and then share that Notebook with key players.
Delegate access. You can delegate access to your Gmail account to other Google account holders. You do this under the Mail Settings > Accounts & Import Tab. Delegates will be able access your email from their own accounts, as well as send email on your behalf (messages sent by them from you will be noted "sent on behalf" or "sent by Delegate"). Delegates will not have the ability to change your email settings or password. This is an excellent system if you're using a virtual assistant. Delegate access can be revoked at any time.

All other documents and databases related to this homemade system can easily be shared with any number of people on your team.

The other drawback is the inability to see all the activity related to a client in one location (such as invoices paid, services or products bought, revenue generated). I get most of this information from QuickBooks, but there's no central online repository for each client. I think that is, perhaps, the greatest drawback. But as I said, the system isn't perfect. But frankly, this drawback has never been too much of an issue. The kind of projects we do and the interaction with the clients we have is such that it's not important. They aren't buying numerous products. In most cases, they're getting one product: a video. The recurring clients may get another video next year, but it's still only one video (or maybe a film series all related to one project). I would suspect it's the same for a wedding or event videographer.

Our photography business is different though. Clients may buy numerous products throughout the year. So for now, we still heavily use ShootQ for that. But the beauty of my system is that it's totally compatible with ShootQ (or any other system for that matter). Use ShootQ and other systems for what they do well; then you can use my system for everything else. The more I can stay within the confines of the tools my clients and I are used to using every day, the better.

Try It Out and Free Stuff
If you're interested in trying out my wacky (yet effective) homemade CRM and project management solution, I've created templates and blank forms to get you started-all are free. Just head on over to www.daredreamermag.com/resources.

In the end, remember this: It doesn't matter what system you use; all that matters is that you use a system.

Ron Dawson (ron at daredreamer.net) is president of Dare Dreamer Media, a new media marketing and video production agency. He and his wife, Tasra, are co-authors of the Peachpit Press book ReFocus: Cutting Edge Strategies to Evolve Your Video Business. Ron is also a two-time EventDV 25 honoree.

Back to Contents...

The Business Coach: Creating Fans

In my last column, I talked about how to "Become Your Own Rainmaker." The column included simple but important steps to bringing in more sales for your video business and establishing better connections with your potential. Welcome to Part 2 of the series that I hope will turn
you all into rainmakers.

In this article, my plan is to dispel the myth that we don't have repeat customers in our line of work. It ain't true! Although none of us should ever hope to film a bride or groom's second wedding, we need to be on point to always be at the top of their minds, especially in an economy like this.

How do we do that? By creating fans of our businesses. These families that you serve want to be your next raving salesperson—a walking billboard, a megaphone, for you! These brides, grooms, and parents aren't going to be purchasing another wedding film, but what about the sister, youngest daughter, co-worker, college roommate, or church friend of theirs who's next in line? If you aren't at the top of their minds or haven't made a huge impact on them, those referrals are pretty hard to come by. I'd like to share with you some practical things we do at Life Stage Films that get clients raving about our art and their experiences with us.

Handwritten Notes
I know it sounds so simple that I am insulting your intelligence, but it's a sad truth that most people don't get or even expect handwritten letters in the mail anymore. It's much easier to send a text or a quick email, which is exactly why sending handwritten notes to your past, current, and future clients is an easy path to someone's heart. We have custom notecards with our logo on them that we send at least three times a year: once when they book us, once after the wedding thanking them for having us, and once at Christmastime. I'll admit, sending and writing out personalized Christmas cards for the past 2 years worth of clients is not something we look forward to. However, the return we get from allowing our clients to personally connect with our family is worth it.

Life Stage Films

Take Advantage of Social Media
I know that I will have folks that disagree with me on this practice, but we actually add our new brides and grooms to our Facebook friends. We even friend them after the sale is done and tell them why we do it. Why do we do it? By allowing our client families to see posts from us for as much as a full year before their booked event, they not only get more excited when they see other weddings we post but, by the time we show up for the wedding, they feel like they know us already. They comment on posts, pictures, and videos. They say "Happy Birthday," and so do we. Even if you're wary about opening up your personal lives too much to your clients, it's now easier than ever to customize your privacy settings in Facebook so you can hide certain things. Hide what you need to, but as much as you can, go beyond business and start doing "life" with your clients!

Referrals ... to Them!
Not only is Facebook a great tool for your clients to connect to you, but it also helps you connect with them. After every booking, we find out what our brides, grooms, and their parents do for a living. If we didn't have a chance to ask during the sales consultation (which tells us a lot about their "budget"), we can get on Facebook to see their occupations. And what's the best way for someone to immediately appreciate you? Refer them and their businesses! Our typical couples are very affluent, and if they don't run their own businesses, it's a safe bet their parents do. Even 2 years later, I'll still refer a past bride to anyone I can-especially when she happens to be one of the best dentists in town. Take an active role in learning how your clients make a living so that you can do your best to send them business anytime you can. The more you do, the more they are going to remember not only your kindness but your video product and its impact on their lives as well.

We all know that blogging is important marketing for our businesses. But if you're anything like me, blogging is usually the last thing on your priority list as an artist and business owner. At least it was until I tried something out-and it worked. I realized that by posting to the blog only once a month (if that), I wasn't creating a need for "fans" to follow us on the blog. They were trained to have no urgent reason to check the blog, because they knew it never got updated. I noticed that when we started updating the blog at least eight to 10 times a month or two to three times a week, our traffic exploded!

And why wouldn't it? We found simple things to publish that didn't necessarily have to be a couple's polished highlights film or trailer. We found small clips from the previous week's wedding that we thought others might find funny or inspiring. We started writing articles; things that gave value to potential brides who were stumbling on our site. Make your blog a resource, not just a portfolio, and you'll see the crowd of raving fans and your business will grow.

You'd probably agree with me that most of our "About Us" pages sound exactly the same. Not a great vehicle to create fans, huh?

We decided that a great way to create a buzz for Life Stage Films and set us apart from our competitors was to do something that's never been done before: a rap video about us. As of this writing, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the video, but I can promise you this: In an economy like this, I have a huge obligation to my family and my future clients to raise the bar. Do you think that even if a bride doesn't book us, she will still forward this video about these "silly" videographers she found to her friends and bridesmaids? I'm betting she will. Find your equivalent of a rap video. Do something outside the box that gets people talking about your company.

It's More Fun Playing to a Sold-Out Crowd
Why do all this? Why do you need fans? Because marketing has changed. It's not just about a product anymore. It's about a relationship. And people love being a part of a "tribe" of like-minded and similar people. You just have to lead them to it. (That's the message of one of my favorite business books that I've mentioned before in my columns, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.)

And don't forget, the biggest reason you need to create fans for your business is to maintain and grow your business while spending less on advertising, which means not only more quality leads and referrals for you but more money stays in your pocket instead of spending it on an outdated bridal magazine ad.
So get out there and create some fans. Cheers to your sold-out crowd!

Matt Davis (coaching at lifestagefilms.com) of Life Stage Films has been described as the “Head Coach of Wedding Videography,” providing one-on-one business coaching as well as group coaching webinars. A featured speaker at both WEVA 2009 and IN[FOCUS] 2010, as well as a multiple CEA award winner and 2009 EventDV 25 All-Star, he is based in Wilmington, N.C.

Back to Contents...

Canon Announces New $20,000 MSRP CS300 Digital Cinema Cameras

Canon Inc. and Canon U.S.A., Inc. has raised the curtain on an all-new interchangeable-lens digital cinema camera that combines exceptional imaging performance with outstanding mobility and expandability to meet the demanding production needs of today's motion picture industry. The camera, which features a newly developed Super 35 mm-equivalent approximately 8.29-megapixel CMOS sensor, will be available in two models: the EOS C300 Digital Cinema Camera*, equipped with an EF lens mount for compatibility with Canon's current diverse lineup of interchangeable EF lenses for EOS single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras and new EF Cinema Lens lineup; and the EOS C300 PL Digital Cinema Camera*, with a PL lens mount for use with industry-standard PL lenses.

The introduction of the EOS C300/C300 PL coincides with the launch of the Cinema EOS System, marking Canon's full-fledged entry into the digital high-resolution production industry. The new professional digital cinematography system spans the lens, digital cinema camera and digital SLR camera product categories.

Star-Studded Supporting Cast
Equipped with an EF lens mount, the EOS C300 is supported by an all-star cast of high-performance EF lenses, not only the wide array of interchangeable EF lenses for EOS SLR cameras that have earned the trust and respect of photographers around the world, but also the EF cinema lenses in the newly announced Cinema EOS System. When outfitted with a Canon EF lens, the C300's peripheral illumination correction automatically corrects for vignetting in accordance with each lens's optical characteristics, and enables iris control from the camera. Canon EF lenses also enable the recording of such metadata as the name of the lens used, aperture setting and shutter speed.i

Show-Stopping High-Resolution Full-HD Performance
The Canon EOS C300/C300 PL's newly developed Super 35 mm-equivalent CMOS sensor incorporates approximately 8.29 million effective pixels and has a pixel size that is larger than that for conventional professional camcorders, enabling greater light-gathering capabilities for enhanced sensitivity and reduced noise. The sensor reads Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video signals for each of the three RGB primary colors, decreasing the incidence of moiré while realizing high resolution with 1,000 horizontal TV lines.

Supported by a heightened signal read-out speed, the CMOS sensor reduces rolling shutter skews, a phenomenon prevalent with CMOS sensors in which fast-moving subjects may appear diagonally distorted. Additionally, the powerful combination of the sensor with Canon's high-performance DIGIC DV III image processor facilitates high-precision gamma processing and smooth gradation expression.

In addition to MPEG-2 Full HD (MPEG2 422@HL compliant) compression, the EOS C300/C300 PL employs 4:2:2 color sampling for high-resolution performance that minimizes the appearance of "jaggies" at chroma edges. Additionally, with a maximum recording rate of 50 Mbps, the camera supports the recording of high-quality video.

The camera's video and audio recording file format adopts the industry-standard MXF (Material eXchange Format), an open source file format ideally suited for non-linear editing systems. Recording to versatile, readily available CF cards, the EOS C300/C300 PL realizes high cost-performance and, equipped with two CF card slots, makes possible the simultaneous recording of video data to two CF cards.

Ready for Action
With a compact body design measuring 5.2 (w) x 7.0 (h) x 6.7 (d) inches, the Canon EOS C300/C300 PL delivers exceptional maneuverability, enabling shooting from vantage points all but inaccessible to large cinema cameras, such as close to the ground for high-impact low-angle shots, and alongside walls. In accordance with on-location shooting needs, the camera can be outfitted with a handle, grip, thumb rest and monitor unit, and offers an array of industry-standard terminals, including HD/SD-SDI video output for the external recording of high-quality video content. When using a WFT-E6B wireless file transmitter for EOS digital SLR cameras (sold separately), the EOS C300/C300 PL can be controlled remotely by means of such common devices as smartphones or tablet PCs.

The camera is equipped with four start/stop buttons positioned at various locations to satisfy any preferred camera-holding style, and can be outfitted with a variety of third-party accessories, including matte boxes, follow focuses and external video and audio recorders. The unit also achieves seamless integration with third-party editing systems and provides added peace of mind through its dust-proof, drip-proof construction and built-in cooling system.

The new camera allows users to adjust image quality to match that of professional camcorders and EOS-series digital SLR cameras, and offers Canon Log Gamma, enabling flat image quality with subdued contrast and sharpness for maximum freedom in post-production editing and processing. In addition to frame rates of 59.41i, 50.00i, 29.97P, 25.00P and 23.98P, the EOS C300/C300 PL features a 24.00p mode, matching the 24 frame-per-second frame rate of film cameras for high compatibility with common film-production workflows.

Other features include fast-motion shooting, achieved by capturing fewer frames per second to create action up to 60x normal speed, and slow-motion down to 1/2.5xii made possible by capturing more frames per second. Frame rates between 1 and 60 frames per second (fps)iii can be adjusted in increments of 1 fps. Additionally, a selection of Custom Pictures lets users freely adjust image quality for greater control over how content looks.

Pricing and availability
The Canon EOS C300 (EF mount) digital cinema camera is scheduled to be available in late January 2012 for an estimated list price of $20,000. The Canon EOS C300 PL (PL mount) digital cinema camera is scheduled to be available in late March 2012 for an estimated list price of $20,000.

For more information and to view online demonstration footage of the new products please visit: http://www.canoncinemaeos.com

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Canon Announces New EOS DSLR in Development

Canon Inc. today announced that the company is developing a new-concept EOS-series digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. Incorporating an enhanced version of the video-capture capability offered in the current EOS-series lineup, the new camera will be ideally suited for cinematographic and other digital high-resolution production applications. The model will be equipped with a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor and, enabling the recording of 4K video (at a frame rate of 24P, with Motion-JPEG compression), will make possible the type of exceptional image quality and sublime imaging expression to be expected from the next generation of “EOS Movies.”

The announcement coincides with the launch of the Cinema EOS System, marking Canon’s full-fledged entry into the digital high-resolution production industry. The new professional digital cinematography system spans the lens, digital cinema camera and digital SLR camera product categories.

Further details regarding the new EOS digital SLR camera currently under development, including the product name, specifications and scheduled launch date, have yet to be decided.

EOS Movie: A New Industry Standard

Movie recording has been a standard feature in all newly introduced Canon EOS-series digital SLR cameras since the launch of the EOS 5D Mark II in November 2008. Coupled with the diverse array of lenses in Canon’s current interchangeable EF lens lineup, this feature has heralded rich visual expressive possibilities, delivering such characteristics as beautiful image blur and low noise while also garnering kudos for the mobility and maneuverability made possible through the cameras’ compact and lightweight body designs.

The impressive images created by the combination of Canon EOS digital SLR cameras and EF lenses, known as “EOS Movies,” have already earned their screen credentials on the sets of multiple productions, from television commercials and artist promotion videos to episodic dramas and even major motion pictures.

For more information and to view online demonstration footage of the new products please visit: http://www.usa.canon.com/cinemaeos

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Avid Launches Media Composer 6

Avid® (NASDAQ: AVID) today announced new versions of its flagship video editing systems—Media Composer® version 6, NewsCutter® version 10 and Symphony® version 6. Building upon more than 20 years of product innovation and commitment to its professional users, these industry-leading professional editing systems today deliver new levels of openness, performance, collaboration and productivity—enabling independent professionals, post-production houses, broadcasters and all media companies to get their work done faster, work together on projects more effectively and reduce costs through greater productivity.

What’s New

Media Composer version 6, Symphony version 6, and NewsCutter version 10 are rebuilt from the core on an entirely new open, 64-bit architecture that raises the bar for performance, flexibility and productivity. With this version, Avid is also introducing a sleek, new User Interface—designed to speed workflows while simultaneously preserving the same functionality that so many professionals have built their careers on. In addition, these systems include support for third-party hardware, AVCHD and Red Epic support with Avid Media Access (AMA), an Avid DNxHD® 444 codec, and support for Avid Artist Color.

Together with existing Avid innovations such as AMA, for direct access to file-based media; Avid PhraseFind, powered by Nexidia, and Avid ScriptSync®, for phonetic searching and editing; and real-time Mix and Match, allowing multiple formats in the same timeline—this major release reinforces Media Composer, NewsCutter and Symphony systems as the ultimate professional editors on the market, specifically designed to meet the creative and technical demands of the broadest array of editing workflows.

More Open, More Flexible

  • Leverage existing hardware investments and easily add Avid editing systems into current workflow configurations thanks to the new Avid Open I/O, which enables support for popular video and audio cards from AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, Matrox and MOTU.
  • Easily incorporate Avid’s high-performance hardware video accelerator, Avid Nitris ® DX—the most versatile and powerful video hardware system optimized for Avid editing systems—into high-profile film or TV workflows through its availability as a standalone hardware purchase at a new, reduced price. Nitris DX is available with one or two Avid DNxHD or AVC-Intra chips and supports full resolution and full frame stereoscopic workflows.
  • With Symphony software, experience greater flexibility and choice for on-set and mobile editorial and color work, or meet increased facility capacity—now available as a software-only solution, at a lower cost.

Enhanced Integration for the Most Demanding Post Production Workflows
  • Increase flexibility for editorial and finishing with enhanced Pro Tools® integration and 5.1/7.1 surround and extensive metadata management, which allows the transfer of more session data from Media Composer to Pro Tools. Additional metadata is available in the AAF interchange format. Extensive 5.1/7.1 surround support is also fully compatible with Pro Tools through the improved AAF capabilities.
  • Maintain a familiar and trusted editorial process with new, industry-defining 3D stereoscopic workflows that offer full resolution, real-time editing, mixed eye workflows as well as a deep toolset, with title and conversion control. Editors can also easily export metadata into Avid or other third-party finishing systems for grading and high-end effects.
  • Preserve full color information from HD RGB 4:4:4 sources without compromising system performance or storage through the new Avid DNxHD 444, a high-quality HD codec. Avid DNxHD 444 can help significantly enhance real-time HD production productivity with the highest color detail possible, is suitable for the most demanding productions, and is also an ideal archiving format.

Additional New Editorial Capabilities to Increase Workflow Speed and Productivity
  • Gain greater power and flexibility in high performance color correction with support for the Avid Artist Color control surface within Avid editing systems.
  • Speed time to editing by eliminating timely transcode, re-wrap, and log and transfer processes through expanded AMA, which now offers native support for AVCHD and RED Epic as well as the ability to encode Apple ProRes (Mac OS-based systems only).
  • Ease and expedite workflows and toolset expansion with the new Avid Marketplace, which offers in-system access to stock footage from Thought Equity Motion. The Avid Marketplace also enables customers to browse available video and audio plugins along with other products in the Avid Store to complete a suite.
  • Get questions answered quickly with a new Customer Assist Tool, offering direct, in-app access to guides, help, and configuration information.
  • Gain up to 2.5 times faster encoding with Sorenson Squeeze v6.0.4, included with Media Composer, NewsCutter, and Symphony software.

“Time and creativity is money for our customers, and they are looking for solutions that can help them continue to advance the art of creative storytelling without adding technological complexity,” said Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of products and solutions at Avid. “As we debut the most open, accessible and highest-performance versions of Media Composer, Symphony and NewsCutter—ever—we are thrilled to take a significant leap forward in providing our customers with new industry standards in speed, ease and access that can help them do their jobs more effectively.”

What Customers are Saying
  • “The real value of the new Media Composer and Symphony systems is enhanced interoperability and openness—it all comes down to labor,” said Terence Curren, colorist/editor, AlphaDogs (Life as We Know It, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Eagle Eye) “The bottom line is if you save 15 minutes a day, times four people, times 10 weeks, that's a lot more than the difference in cost between any of these software systems.”
  • "With Media Composer 6, those of us who invested in hardware for Final Cut Pro can transition to Avid, easily and painlessly. I'm pleased,” said Shane Ross, freelance editor.
  • “Anyone who works in 3D is going to work on Media Composer going forward. It's just THE system to do that on now,” said John Mauldin, director of operations and technology, Fotokem Non-Linear.

Avid Vantage
Concurrent with the launch of today’s announcement, Avid is introducing the Avid Vantage™ Program, an annual membership program for Media Composer and Symphony customers that provides many great benefits. The Avid Vantage Program—which is also available to Pro Tools customers—provides subscribers with unlimited online technical support, plus deeply discounted expert phone support when they need it. They also gain access to a great collection of NewBlueFX effects (for Media Composer or Symphony subscribers) or audio plug-ins (for Pro Tools subscribers). And, for a limited time, they’ll receive a high-value Avid Store coupon that can be applied to new software purchases or upgrades.

Avid plans to host a public webcast with a live Q&A to discuss the new capabilities of Media Composer, NewsCutter and Symphony software at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today. To access the webcast, please click here.

Pricing and Availability
New versions of Media Composer, Symphony and NewsCutter software will be available on November 15, 2011. Beginning with these releases, NewsCutter will be available for the same price as Media Composer, Symphony 6.0 will be available as a standalone software option and Nitris DX will be available as a standalone hardware option.
  • Pricing for Media Composer 6.0 starts at $2499 USD. Upgrade pricing starts at $299 USD.
  • NewsCutter 10 starts at $2499 USD. Upgrade pricing starts at $499 USD.
  • Pricing for Symphony 6.0 starts at $5,999 USD. Upgrade pricing starts at $499 USD.
  • Nitris DX starts at $5,499 USD.
  • Pricing for Media Composer Academic version 6.0 starts at $295 USMSRP for educational institutions and students.
  • Final Cut Pro (excluding Final Cut Pro X) users can purchase Media Composer with free online training to help them move from Final Cut Pro to Media Composer, for $1499 USD.

Avid Vantage Program
The new Avid Vantage Program will be available during Q4 2011 to Media Composer, Symphony and Pro Tools users with all of the great benefits described above, for $149/year US MSRP.

For more information about Media Composer, visit http://www.avid.com/mc. For more information about Avid Vantage, visit http://www.avid.com/avidvantage.

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New Matrox Mojito Mx I/O Card Features Onboard H.264 Encoding Accelerator

Matrox® Video Products Group today announced the immediate availability of Matrox Mojito™ MAX™, an SDI/HDMI/analog HD/SD video and professional audio I/O card that includes an onboard Matrox MAX H.264 encoding accelerator.

Not only does Matrox Mojito MAX provide broadcast-quality input and output for leading editing apps including Adobe® Creative Suite® 5.5 Production Premium, Apple® Final Cut Studio® and Final Cut Pro® X, as well as the new Avid® Media Composer® 6, it also lets users deliver H.264 files for the web, mobile devices, and Blu-ray up to five times faster than software alone without sacrificing quality. Other important features packed into this ¾-length PCIe card include 10-bit hardware scaling and inexpensive HD monitoring with the unique Matrox HDMI Calibration Utility.

"The time-saving benefits of our unique MAX H.264 accelerator have been long appreciated by users of our portable MXO2 I/O devices, but many customers have been asking for an economical card for Mac Pro® and PC workstations that can do the same job," said Alberto Cieri, senior director of sales and marketing at Matrox. "Mojito MAX nicely addresses the need for a single-slot card with SDI, HDMI, and analog I/O plus H.264 encoding speed and quality — all at a breakthrough price point."

Price and availability
Matrox Mojito MAX can now be ordered through authorized dealers worldwide. Priced at $995 U.S. (£749, €799) not including local taxes, the Matrox Mojito MAX kit includes the card plus a complete video/audio I/O breakout cable and an HDMI cable.

About Matrox
Matrox Video Products Group is a technology and market leader in the field of HD and SD digital video hardware and software for accelerated H.264 encoding, realtime editing, audio/video input/output, DVD/Blu-ray authoring, streaming, A/V signal conversion, capture/playout servers, clip/still stores, and CGs. Matrox's Emmy award-winning technology powers a full range of content creation and delivery platforms used by broadcasters, post-production facilities, project studios, corporate communicators, and videographers worldwide. Founded in 1976, Matrox is a privately held company headquartered in Montreal, Canada. For more information visit http://www.matrox.com/video.

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Sorenson Squeeze 8 Lite Now Shipping

Sorenson Media today announced the immediate availability of Sorenson Squeeze 8, which adds enhanced functionality and ease-of-use to the company’s gold-standard video encoding and transcoding application at a lower price point. In addition, the company has also introduced Sorenson Squeeze 8 Lite, which makes select features of Squeeze 8 accessible to prosumers at a further significantly reduced price.

Key additions to Sorenson Squeeze 8 provide users with the highest quality and greatest control in encoding and transcoding. These include: seamless Squeeze Server integration; adaptive bitrate encoding for new formats, unprecedented x264 support and optimization; and enhanced GPU acceleration.

Integration with Squeeze Server. The new version’s seamless integration with Squeeze Server maximizes encoding and transcoding power for the enterprise and other high-volume users by enabling users to free up their desktop machines by offloading encoding jobs to a separate server. Squeeze Server enables secure video encoding behind a user’s firewall, and can easily run in any Windows-based server environment — including the Cloud.

Adaptive Bitrate Support for Most Popular Formats. A major improvement over Squeeze 7, this latest release now includes optimized performance for all three leading adaptive bitrate streaming platforms: Adobe Dynamic Streaming; Apple HTTP Adaptive Streaming; and Microsoft Smooth Streaming. The unique adaptive bitrate support automatically transcodes each individual video file into multiple, chunked segments in a full array of bitrates, organizes these segments into a folder, and delivers them to the specified destinations for playback on anydevice. This process simplifies and streamlines workflows by eliminating unnecessary tools and steps required by other applications.

Full x264 Support and Optimization. In addition to being the current quality leader for encoding using the MainConcept H.264 codec, Sorenson Squeeze 8 is one of the first commercial video encoding applications to include full support for the increasingly popular x264 codec. This new support opens thex264 codec in a way that has never been done before, employing an intuitive user interface, complete with in-product instructions that enable video professionals to easily adjust and optimize up to 48 major encoding parameters, including key frame rates, encoding modes and performance, to adapt the popular H.264 format to their needs and workflow.

Enhanced GPU Acceleration. Optimized for Squeeze 8, GPU acceleration using NVIDIA CUDA has become the best option for creating .mp4 proxy files in both speed and quality. CUDA encoding enables both faster encoding and video quality equal to video content encoded without GPU acceleration, including true to source black levels.

Ease-of-Use. In addition, Sorenson Squeeze 8 re-thinks the user experience and includes new features to improve the overall ease-of-use of the application and give users greater control of their videos, including:

  • Tooltips serve as a ready-reference guide giving users additional details by simply hovering the curser over any button or control.
  • Fine-grain controls associated with each codec enable users to adjust more aspects within each setting.
  • New Preset naming conventions gives users greater control and organization of more than 246 Presets shipped with Squeeze 8.
  • Enhanced Preset Exchange provides users broader and more intuitive access to Presets developed by some of the world’s leading encoding professionals.
  • Encode preview has been refined to display five seconds of encoded video to visually demonstrate encoded video easily and clearly before an encode is run.

“Sorenson Squeeze 8 packs more punch than ever, in two versions with significantly reduced prices. It truly expands our tradition of innovation leadership in the encoding and transcoding arena – and of anticipating and meeting the needs of every type of user, from the individual to the enterprise,” said Randon Morford, Squeeze product manager for Sorenson Media. “The full product’s integration with Squeeze Server moves the most painful and time consuming encoding tasks to a separate server, freeing up the productive capability of the computer and allowing users to focus on more strategic tasks, while our x264 optimization tools provide greater control than ever over all the key encoding parameters of H.264.”

New Squeeze 8 Lite
Available for thefirst time, Sorenson Squeeze 8 Lite enables the rapidly expanding market of web developers, videographers and other content creators who are focused primarily on online publishing to cost-effectively encode and transcode in the most popular video formats, including Flash FLV, Flash SWF, MPEG-4, QuickTime, Windows Media, WMA, WebM and others. This streamlined version of the software enables single file encoding to the highest standards with the ability to still use popular settings and filters available in Sorenson Squeeze.

“Sorenson Squeeze 8 Lite brings the power of Squeeze encoding to a larger population of users at a significantly reduced price,” said Morford. “As video consumption continues to grow exponentially online and across a multitude of mobile devices, we recognize there is a growing segment of users who want and need the ability to easily publish the highest-quality video online, but who do not need the full features an enterprise or broadcast professional might need. Quality is credibility, and Squeeze 8 Lite gives more users the ability to fully engage viewers and deliver the best possible online video experience.”

Pricing and Availability
Sorenson Squeeze 8 is available immediately. The suggested retail price for Sorenson Squeeze 8 is $599 ($200 less than the suggested retail price for the earlier full version) and Squeeze 8 Lite is $199. The Squeeze 8 “classic” edition also includes a complimentary account for the Sorenson 360 online video platform, complete with Review & Approval functionality. For additional information about purchasing Sorenson Squeeze 8, visit: http://www.sorensonmedia.com/squeeze-pricing.

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