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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

January 24, 2005

Table of Contents

News Analysis: Optibase Refocuses; Whither Media 100?
Century Optics Offers New Viewing Options for Panasonic DVX-100/100A
Sony Media Software Sound Forge 8 Professional Audio Editing Software at NAMM
Boris Continuum Complete Now Available for Apple Motion
BOXX Introduces New 3200 Series of High-Performance Workstations Based on AMD Athlon 64 FX Processors
CyberLink Releases PowerDirector 4
Continuing Education: Wedding Day Edits--The Ultimate WOW Factor DVD by Picture This Productions

News Analysis: Optibase Refocuses; Whither Media 100?

During Optibase's June 2004 announcement of its completion of the acquisition of the assets of Media 100, then-CEO Tom Wyler noted, "The Media 100 acquisition will allow us to leverage our experience in digital video to add editing and compositing solutions to our already wide range of applications. In addition to expanding our product line and adding new customers and channel partners, we are taking on close to 40 highly skilled engineers as well as dedicated sales and marketing professionals who we believe will play a key role in Optibase's performance in the years to come."

Optibase intended to leverage its purchase of Media 100's assets—along with additional financial investment--to allow Media 100 to regain market leadership lost in the uncertain final days leading up to its bankruptcy. Amir Goren, an experienced Optibase executive, was sent from Optibase's Herzliya, Israel headquarters to Media 100's home base in Marlboro, Massachusetts to lead the effort. Wyler then proclaimed, "Amir's experience will help Media 100 regain its position as a leading provider of best-in-class integrated and professional editing and compositing solutions, with strong backing from Optibase."

What enticed Optibase during a Massachusetts summer, though, evidently looked less appealing in the harsh reality of a New England winter. The honeymoon lasted less than seven months, during which time Optibase brought on a new CEO, Uzi Breier.

As noted in a January 7 press release, titled "Optibase to Restructure Media 100 Unit," Optibase is pulling away from its previous comments about Media 100 playing a key role in the company's future. "The digital non-linear editing market does not present Optibase with the most substantial growth opportunity and is not fully synergistic with the Company's core activities," Breier stated. "While Optibase will continue to sell and support the existing suite of Media 100 products, certain positions at Media 100 will be eliminated," the release continues, "and research and development initiatives with regard to Media 100 will be considerably reduced in order to improve the financial results derived from this business unit." So much for the "40 highly skilled engineers as well as dedicated sales and marketing professionals who we believe will play a key role in Optibase's performance in the years to come" that Tom Wyler had touted just a few months earlier.

Why the hasty retreat? And what are the implications for Media 100—a product line left for dead almost a year ago, only to be revived by the hope that Optibase would provide current and future users with a glimmer of the greatness that the Media 100 brand once denoted? Two thoughts spring to mind.

First, while Optibase had the cash to acquire Media 100's assets—which were available at the bargain-basement price of $2.5 million, less than one year after Media 100 had $16 million in the bank—Optibase's purchase was not intended merely as a stopgap to wait out the fluctuations of its core industry vertical, the telecom industry. It was an attempt at a master plan that was not given time to come to fruition.

Optibase has a history of producing and selling quality MPEG-2 compression boardsets; the Media 100 asset acquisition provided not only next-generation compression boards but also a natural vertical integration between content acquisition, content creation/editing, and content distribution. Media 100 itself had toyed with a similar approach back in 2000 with its acquisition of Terran and its Cleaner transcoding products, but Optibase—leveraging Media 100's well-known content acquisition and editing quality—had a unique opportunity to use Media 100's assets to full advantage across the full spectrum of acquisition, editing, and distribution.

Danny Lustinger, Optibase's President and CFO, noted in a July 2004 release that Media 100's next-generation product, 844/x, was ideally suited for Optibase's customer base. "The product targets professionals, from independents to large broadcasters and post-production facilities, as well as advanced corporate, educational, and institutional media departments. These are some of the markets that Optibase already targets for encoding and streaming applications and we believe that customers of both Media 100 and Optibase products will benefit from these product synergies."

He went on to say that Media 100 investments were intended for Optibase's long-term benefit. "While we plan to invest resources [in Media 100] that might reduce our profitability in the short term, we believe that such expenditures will enable Optibase to emerge as a leading player in the post production and content creation markets," he said. "Media 100 established an excellent brand in these markets. Its commonalities with Optibase include its professional hardware and software that enjoy high credibility among industry leaders. We plan to leverage this credibility in order to reach a position of leadership."

Second, in its haste to rid itself of a problem child, Optibase appears to be shedding key personnel and engineers during this realignment. Wyler, now chairman of Optibase, noted that one of Media 100's key assets was its crack engineering team. The new CEO's decision not only effectively renders the Media 100 R&D effort null—increasing rumors about the demise of all Media 100 flavors from iFinish and Media100i to the newer 844/x—but it also raises doubts about Optibase's total $2.5 million investment. The question of a purchase gone sour and realignment within Optibase also begs the question of core stability and ongoing R&D efforts across the entire company. This restructuring will be watched with interest as Optibase re-emphasizes its role with MediaGateway encoding and server products at its traditional base of tradeshows like Supercomm that cater to the telecom industry.

In conclusion, Breier noted in the latest release: "While we will continue to support the revenue-generating elements of Media 100`s business, we believe that this restructuring will enable Optibase to focus more directly on growing the core segments of its business, maintaining its leadership position in the content creation market and expanding Optibase`s presence in the IPTV market." He made a hard decision, choosing to back away from a vertical master plan and effectively relegating the Media 100 brand to yet another slow, painful death.

His decision is striking, especially given the limited time the plan was allowed to grow and the expertise of the assembled Media 100 business unit team that included Mike Savello, Amir Goren, and other industry leaders who helped shape the master plan. The restructuring will yield additional challenges that might have been offset had Optibase allowed a longer timeframe for implementation or softer landing for Media 100 customers. Until properly addressed, Optibase's January announcement will continue to fuel speculation that Media 100 users have yet again been abandoned.

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Century Optics Offers New Viewing Options for Panasonic DVX-100/100A

Century Optics has announced two new professional camcorder accessories, the LCD Hood and LCD Widescreen Magnifier for Panasonic AG-DVX100 and AG-DVX100A camcorders. The Century LCD Hood is designed to fit most camcorders that feature a 3.5" diagonal LCD screen. Weighing 3.8 oz., the durable matte black hood slides over the camcorder's flip-out screen. Once in place, it facilitates glare-free viewing even in bright sunlight, according to Century Optics. The suggested list price is $60.

The new LCD Widescreen Magnifier provides optically corrected viewing when shooting with a 16:9 widescreen adapter. By using a multi-coated glass element, the Widescreen Magnifier compensates for the compression that occurs when a 16:9 image is squeezed onto the 4:3 LCD screen. Thus, when viewed through this add-on, the image appears normal (unsqueezed). The suggested list price is $295.


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Sony Media Software Sound Forge 8 Professional Audio Editing Software at NAMM

Sony Media Software announced the launch of Sound Forge 8 Professional Audio Editing Software, the latest version of its professional digital audio editing product. New features include the addition of CD Architect 5.2 software for professional CD mastering with direct track export functionality from Sound Forge software for fast and efficient Red Book audio CD creation. This new upgrade also provides application scripting functionality and batch processing, which allows users to automate processes for multiple file encodes, customizable keyboard commands for streamlining workflow, the addition of low-latency ASIO driver support, and VST plug-in support which expands the number of effect options users can now apply to their audio.The application includes an extensive set of customizable processes, professional studio effects and powerful tools for manipulating audio, creating streaming media, and offers support for a wide range of file import and export options for most standard formats.

Sound Forge 8 software's new features and enhancements include:
· Application scripting
· Batch converter functionality
· CD Architect 5.2 software for professional CD mastering
· Direct file export to CD Architect software
· VST effect support
· ASIO driver support
· Customizable keyboard mapping
· Audio scrubbing
· Windows XP theme support.


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Boris Continuum Complete Now Available for Apple Motion

Boris FX has announced that the Continuum Complete 3.02 now supports Apple Motion version 1.01, Apple's real-time motion graphics design solution. This release is now available as a free download for existing users of Continuum Complete Version 3. Continuum Complete 3.03 is a comprehensive suite of native plug-in filters and transitions designed for Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Boris Red, and Discreet combustion systems.

Not just a filter suite, Continuum Complete 3 extends the capabilities of NLEs and compositing workstations with over 150 high-quality filters. Streamlined workflow lets users access apply modes, precise keying, layer blending, and hundreds of presets. With an intuitive native host interface and support for multi-processor and OpenGL acceleration, users can create multi-layer composites with robust tools.

Continuum Complete adds features that are not found in Apple Motion, including integrated Motion Tracking. While Motion is strictly a 2D application, Continuum 3 offers a three-dimensional compositing environment, including 3D tumble, spin and rotate, animated lights and perspective camera. Objects can intersect, interact with common light and cast shadows on each other.

Continuum 3's more than 20+ keying filters work in conjunction with Motion's real-time keying filters. A Wire Remover with built-in motion tracking removes wires and unwanted objects by cloning or blending pixels from surrounding areas. Light Wrap reflects a background around the edges of a foreground to create the illusion that light from the background is reflected onto the foreground. This makes it appear as if the images were shot in the same environment. The Dust and Scratches filter removes unwanted dust and scratches from an image.

Continuum Complete 3.02 is available immediately through the BorisFX worldwide reseller channel and direct through BorisFX for $795. Version 3.03 is a free download for existing Version 3 customers. Continuum Complete customers can upgrade from previous versions for $249.


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BOXX Introduces New 3200 Series of High-Performance Workstations Based on AMD Athlon 64 FX Processors

BOXX Technologies has introduces the BOXX 3200 workstation based on the AMD Athlon™ 64 and AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processors, the NVIDIA nForce 4 chipset, dual PCIe x16 SLI capable slots, 3Gb/s SATA and expandable internal storage to 4TB. The BOXX 3200 is first in a series of workstations emphasizing performance, price, and investment protection.

BOXX workstations are optimized for media creation applications and features a compact, custom-designed chassis. BOXX workstations support popular software from companies such as Adobe, Alias, Autodesk, Discreet, Newtek, and Softimage. The BOXX 3200 series of workstations are currently shipping and available directly from BOXX.


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CyberLink Releases PowerDirector 4

CyberLink Corp. has announced the release of PowerDirector 4, featuring four Magic Tools for fast editing and movie creation. Magic Tools in PowerDirector 4 include:

  • Magic Clean, featuring CyberLink Eagle Vision 2 and CyberLink Noise Reduction, enhances video by cleaning both the audio and video tracks. CyberLink Eagle Vision 2 (CLEV-2) technology enhances the colors and brightness of the video, while unwanted noise is removed with CyberLink Noise Reduction (CLNR) technology. Magic Clean also lets users enhance the colors and brightness of their slideshow photos and automatically remove unsightly red-eyes.
  • Magic Cut automates the steps for editing long videos into one short clip by analyzing for valued elements.
  • Magic Music offers a quick way to create soundtracks that fit the length of a video clip or photo slideshow. Featuring a royalty-free soundtrack library arranged by genre, Magic Music recomposes music to match the soundtrack to any given length. More music is available for purchase online by linking from PowerDirector 4.
  • Magic Motion makes still images more enjoyable by adding panning and zooming during playback. PowerDirector analyzes each image for its main subject or subjects and then applies motion based on this key focus.

New features in PowerDirector 4 include CyberLink Rich Video technology, designed to save production time by reusing video file information created by Magic Cut or Scene Detection functions. PowerDirector stores the information within the files to ensure that the next time these features are used on the same files, production speed is improved. Multi Trim offers a simple means of manually editing a long clip by inserting multiple in and out points along a timeline. Once the points have been set, users can delete unwanted video with one click.

Inserting Chapters on the timeline provides a quick way for users to create video chapters in their movies. Users have the option of setting chapters evenly according to the full length of their video, at the beginning of each clip, or according to a set duration. The information created during Edit mode is transferred into Produce mode for faster DVD authoring. Align to Clip Edge delivers a convenient and accurate way of aligning effects and audio clips with the video clips instead of manually dragging them into position. Users can select whether they want to align to the left or right edge of a video clip.

Locking timeline tracks protects an entire track from accidental changes by preventing the deletion or changing of elements. Manual Batch Capturing offers an easy way to select, capture and merge a series of clips. Manual batch capturing provides precise control over the capturing process and is especially useful for dubbing VCR tapes, which do not include a timecode.

Smart Video Rendering Technology (SVRT) Info window gives users information for better predicting the rendering process performed by PowerDirector's second-generation SVRT-2 technology. PowerDirector analyzes a project's audio and video tracks to estimate how much rendering will be required. A color code and percentage score offers a quick visual guide to understanding the results.


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Continuing Education: Wedding Day Edits--The Ultimate WOW Factor DVD by Picture This Productions

Welcome to the first installment of Continuing Education, a column dedicated to reviews of educational material for the event videographer. Specifically, what we're interested in here is educational material created by actual event videographers that's intended to help you improve your own product, but may not be readily accessible through the typical retail channels.

In other words—and in keeping with EventDV tradition—the educational material we'll cover is created by those who know what they're talking about because they're out there in the real world, doing it themselves.

For this, the inaugural installment, we take a look at the educational materials created by Picture This Productions of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The first time I had the pleasure of meeting Picture This' Mark and Trisha Von Lanken was at WEVA Expo in Las Vegas. I found them both to be cordial and sincere people. Their presentation style is very soft-spoken and straightforward. It's no surprise that the training DVDs that they offer come across the same way.

When I was able to sit down and watch the four DVDs offered by this WEVA Creative Excellence Award-winning husband-and-wife team, Wedding Day Edits-The Ultimate WOW Factor intrigued me the most. This DVD, with a commentary track by Trisha, features six actual same-day edits (SDEs)—five weddings and one corporate event, plus a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette showing just what is involved in setup and production. Each SDE ranges from 3-8 minutes in length, Trisha smoothly explaining each step of the process. These aren't just samples of gorgeous videography and well-paced editing—the DVD itself is a remarkable playbook illustrating what to do and what not to do.

Wedding Day Edits poses all the right questions. For example, why is this shot in slow motion? Why did they make that shot black & white? What is essential to include in the SDE? What's the best method of cataloging your footage for swift access by the editor in those crunch hours (or minutes) between the ceremony and presentation at the reception? What will you need to be able to edit on location and on time?

Included with the Wedding Day Edits DVD is a four-page printed insert offering additional production and marketing suggestions. Here's just a taste: Pre-planning, pricing, selling tips, equipment and personnel requirements, plus the all-important Back Up Plan.

This DVD is a must-have for every wedding and event videographer considering adding the Same Day Edit to his or her repertoire!


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