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April 04, 2005

Table of Contents

HDV Turns Pro: JVC Unveils GY-HD100U ProHD Camcorder with 24p Support
PixelPops releases PopDrops DVD Menu Templates and Packaging Designs
LitePanels Introduces New Infrared LED Light
Silhouette Roto SA Ships; 1.0.6 Plug-in Release Also Available
Panasonic to Offer FOCUS Enhancements' FireStore DV File Converter Pro With Its DVCPRO P2 Broadcast Products
Leitch to Bundle Ciprico's Huge Systems MediaVault Storage Arrays with VelocityHD
Telestream Flip4Mac Extends Windows Media 9 Encoding to Final Cut Express HD
EventDV Spotlight Survey #10: RESULTS

HDV Turns Pro: JVC Unveils GY-HD100U ProHD Camcorder with 24p Support

Will the real professional HDV camcorder please stand up? On April 1, JVC announced the GY-HD100U, a three-chip camcorder that records video to 720p video to MiniDV tapes in two modes: the familiar 30p (30fps non-interlaced) and 24p, the 24fps format that indie filmmakers use to make digital video look more like film. The camera shoots 1280x720 high-definition video using LongGOP, 19Mbps MPEG-2—a format we've all come to know as HDV. But JVC calls this new camera a ProHD model, which begs the question, is "ProHD" just a market-savvy ploy to differentiate the new model from the existing HDV market, or does it denote a significant leap forward into the pro domain for the growing sub-$10k high-def set?

JVC national marketing communications manager Dave Walton describes ProHD as follows: "What we're calling ProHD is a system that's HD-compatible that will grow with you without locking you into one format or media."

From the outset, one of the core elements of HDV's appeal has been its physical lockstep with standard DV media. But it's positioning vis a vis professional markets has been muddled. JVC's first HDV model, the GR-HD1, unveiled at NAB 2003, introduced revolutionary technology—720p HD at DV bitrates on DV tapes—in a consumer camcorder with what most of us would call a "pro" price. At $3,499, the single-chip HD1 was double-take cheap for an HD camera (compared to existing $50k models), but a tough sell in prosumer markets accustomed to three-chip DV cameras with richer feature sets and much lower prices. Eighteen months later, Sony broke the prosumer HDV market wide open with the HDR-FX1, which combined future-proof HDV with three-chip DV chops refined enough to compete with best-in-class DV models like Canon's XL2.

The prosumer market's rapturous response to the FX1 release proved HDV had a bright future and a promising present in videography and other mid-level digital video fields, and made it virtually inevitable that more HDV models would follow soon. Of course, JVC, which got the ball rolling, wasn't waiting to see how the FX1 fared before plotting its next move; they did, in fact, show a prototype ENG-level HDV model in their booth at NAB with a $20k price point. Last fall, told me that wasn't necessarily the next HDV camera users should expect from JVC; it was shown merely to plant the thought in people's mind that if HDV had demonstrable broadcast applications, they ought to think twice about blowing $20k on an SD camera that would be obsolete in three years.

While the Sony FX1 attempts to compete in the DV market in addition to charting new HDV territory, JVC's HD100U eschews the DV format entirely (even as it records to DV tape). What it does share with leading DV models is the compact construction that event shooters demand. "The GY-HD100 is aimed squarely at the market that's buying handheld camcorders from Canon, Sony, and Panasonic," Walton says. But while those camcorders are either SD-only models, or—in the case of the Sony FX1 and Z1U—equally at home in SD or HD production, JVC is looking at a TV market that's moving increasingly to HDTV programming and keeping the emphasis squarely on HD. In responding to the evolution and demands of television, Walton sees the HD100 filling a need at the nexus of event videography and television production, particularly as cable networks expand the possibilities for TV programming and where it comes from. "Television has a growing need for independent programs," he says, "and event producers who are looking for opportunities to expand their business" are looking toward TV. "As you consider the tools to produce those programs, you are definitely considering HD."

Enhancing the HD100's potential appeal for independent producers doing TV work is its 24p support, which enables digital video to mimic film by using a comparable frame rate. JVC cites the HD100 as the first HDV camcorder to offer "true" 24p; admittedly, the FX1's CineGamma mode simulated the same effect without actually changing the frame rate. "True" 24p is a valuable feature, Walton explains, because it's "used for events, production of reality shows, TV commercials, and documentaries" to give digital video "a more polished look."

One feature JVC is emphasizing in this release is the HD100's two interchangeable lenses. A standard, detachable 16x Servo Fujinon lens designed specifically for the HD100 ships with the camera. Other available options include a 13x (3.5mm) wide zoom lens, a wide-angle converter for the standard 16x lens, and an adapter allowing standard half-inch lenses to be used on the camera. A patented Focus Assist function exaggerates the detail in the viewfinder, according to JVC, to facilitate focusing in high-definition. "You can really turn a knob," Walton says. "People have gotten used to servo knobs, but you can work this like a real mechanical lens."

Another interesting focus-related feature of the HD100 is its skintone recognition capability. Anyone who's seen HDTV has probably experienced the shock of recognition on seeing a facial closeup that HD video can deliver almost excruciating detail on the human physiognomy. The camera actually detects skin, he says, and adjusts the picture so that "facial characteristics will not be enhanced as much as the regular picture."

Other features that enhance the HD100's ProHD resumé include four-channel audio (two MPEG-1, Layer 2 and two DV/CD-quality PCM) and the ability to output a live HD signal that suggests viable broadcast appeal. What's more, the HD100 extends JVC's longstanding support of direct disk recording into the HD domain via compatibility with FOCUS Enhancements' just-announced FireStore FS-4 HD. (Walton notes that it is indeed the FS-4 that makes the best match with the HD100, rather than the FS-3 that's a popular DV-5000/5100 accessory because of the camera's relatively small form factor.) When used with the FS-4 HD, the HD100 can record to tape and disk simultaneously to provide invaluable redundancy for any event or other on-location video shoot.

Finally, JVC is also introducing the BR-HD50U, a new video deck designed specifically for use with the GY-HD100U. The new recorder/player—also part of the ProHD "system"—works in ProHD/HDV, DV, and DVCAM modes, and uses FireWire I/O to connect to NLE systems. With its ability to record a live digital HD/MPEG-2 (HDV) signal and 276-minute recording, JVC has positioned the HD50U for broadcast facilities looking to timeshift HD network feeds. The HD50U also features HDMI output for direct digital connection to display monitors; a variety of I/O connections including analog component (BNC), Y/C, and Composite (BNC); RS-422 control; and support for multiple audio formats including four channels of audio in ProHD (two MPEG and two PCM). The BR-HD50U is also expected to ship in June.


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PixelPops releases PopDrops DVD Menu Templates and Packaging Designs

PixelPops Design, LLC has launched the first in a series of high-end DVD Menu Templates, Case Insert, and Disc Label Designs called PopDrops.

PopDrops were specifically created for time-pressed videographers to make their DVD authoring and packaging quick and easy while maintaining a high degree of customization and professionalism to meet all their clients' demands, according to PixelPops. All designs come complete as layered Adobe Photoshop (.PSD) files so that layers can be moved, text changed, and designs altered in any way desired. PopDrops also includes added extras like colorization layers and video drop zones for even more flexibility.

PopDrops are designed to fit into the workflow of users of Adobe Encore DVD authoring software or any authoring package which supports Adobe Photoshop (.PSD) files. Volume I includes 30 themes with both menus and sub-menus (120 templates). Add the matching DVD case insert and disc designs (30 themes/60 templates) for a unified packaging design.

PopDrops DVD Menu Templates are available in both NTSC or PAL for $150. DVD Case Insert and Disc Labels are sold separately for $80. Bundle pricing is currently available at an introductory discount of $175 through April 30, 2005.


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LitePanels Introduces New Infrared LED Light

LitePanels, creators of the LED LitePanels Mini, have introduced the LitePanels Infrared. This new LED lighting system facilitates shooting in total darkness, making it ideal for work in extreme low light levels, accordding to LitePanels.

LitePanels Infrared measures 6.75" x 2.25" x 1.25" (175mm x 55mm x 30mm) and weighing only 9.6 oz. (.36kg). The compact, rectangular head mounts easily on cameras, a stand, or any tight spot. With a maximum output of 960nm, this heat-free system is infinitely dimmable from 0 to 100%, and produces no visible light. LitePanels Infrared can be powered from a variety of 10-30V sources, including a standard camera battery, car battery, AC adapter, or snap-on NIMH 1-hr plus battery pack. The system is available as a single head or in a kit including the infrared head, battery pack, power adapter, swivel arm with hotshoe adapter, and more, in a convenient carrying case.

Suggested U.S. list price is $700 for the single head.


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Silhouette Roto SA Ships; 1.0.6 Plug-in Release Also Available

Silhouette FX, LLC has announced the availability of the standalone (SA) version of its Silhouette Roto rotoscoping application. The SA version is designed to make roto more efficient and easier to integrate into production workflow. Motion-stabilized roto, High Dynamic Range support, and Shake export are added to Silhouette Roto's existing feature set. Motion-stabilized roto is intended to enhance productivity by eliminating many of the keyframes caused by an object's motion.

Silhouette Roto's integrated motion trackers can be used to translate, rotate, and scale objects automatically, sometimes with no shape keyframes at all, according to SilhouetteFX. Even if shape keyframes are necessary, there are far fewer of them because the object's basic motion has been factored out of the job. The SA version's support of High Dynamic Range image file formats such as DPX, Cineon and OpenEXR, means that roto in over- or under-exposed areas of the image are made easier and more accurate. Exposure compensation is accelerated in hardware right in the main user interface of Silhouette Roto.

The SA version, as well as the new 1.0.6 release of the plug-in version, add Shake rotoshape export to Silhouette Roto's broad range of shape import and export options. Shapes are exported by Silhouette Roto is the Shake SSF format. Silhouette FX provides a Shake module that imports SSF files into Shake version 3.5 rotoshape nodes. Silhouette Roto now boasts shape import or export compatibility with Avid Technology's Elastic Reality, Pinnacle Systems' Commotion, Discreet's combustion and flame family, Adobe After Effects, and Apple's Shake.

Silhouette Roto, as a plug-in for Mac OS and Windows systems, retails for $395 and is compatible with Apple Final Cut Pro. As a standalone application for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux systems, Silhouette Roto retails for $495. Both the standalone and the plug-in can be purchased together for $595. More information about Silhouette Roto including system compatibility information can be found at http://www.silhouettefx.com.

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Panasonic to Offer FOCUS Enhancements' FireStore DV File Converter Pro With Its DVCPRO P2 Broadcast Products

FOCUS Enhancements Inc. has announced that Panasonic will offer an enhanced version of FOCUS' industry-leading file conversion software, FireStore DV File Converter Pro, which adds MXF P2 support for Panasonic's broadcast DVCPRO P2 products. The FireStore DV File Converter Pro offers increased support to the Panasonic P2 Partner Program, which includes other hardware and software companies such as Apple, Avid, Pinnacle, Thomson/Grass Valley and Quantel, by allowing users to bridge P2 with DV-based solutions.

The P2 Series of equipment is based on Panasonic's new PCMCIA-sized solid-state memory card, offering cost-effective media-less operation. The P2 Partner Program was created to provide broadcast video professionals with seamless P2-compatible video and technology solutions from a variety of suppliers.

FOCUS Enhancements' easy-to-use FireStore DV File Converter Pro software is a video file converter developed for broadcasters and other video professionals using the DV, DVCAM, and DVCPRO formats. Panasonic P2 Cameras and decks capture video and audio in the industry-standard Material Exchange Format (MXF). MXF files include audio/video content and related metadata (production notes, camera settings, time code positions, etc.) as well as an indexing capability for random retrieval. With FireStore DV File Converter Pro, it is possible to convert the P2 MXF file format to or from popular DV-based NLE file formats on the market, including QuickTime, AVI, Raw DV, and Avid DV-OMF among others, allowing seamless integration with today's top editing applications.

FireStore DV File Converter Pro was developed exclusively for Panasonic Broadcast to support quick and easy MXF file format exchange with popular DV editing applications. Focus also has available The FireStore DV Conversion Suite, a powerful group of PC programs that supports post-acquisition multiple file and standards conversion needs. Customers acquiring video to tape, solid-state memory, optical, or hard disk systems that are not based on FOCUS Enhancements' Direct To Edit Technology (DTE) can use the FOCUS Enhancements FireStore DV File Converter and FOCUS Enhancements FireStore DV Standards Converter for their file conversion needs. More information on FireStore DV Conversion Suite can be found http://www.focusinfo.com/products/firestore/dvconversionsuite/dvcsuite.html.

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Leitch to Bundle Ciprico's Huge Systems MediaVault Storage Arrays with VelocityHD

Ciprico, Inc. has announced that Leitch Technology Corporation will bundle its Huge Systems MediaVault U320RX and U320S Dual Max storage arrays with North American turnkey configurations of the VelocityHD non-linear editing system. The VelocityHD and MediaVault solution can process two streams of uncompressed 10-bit High Definition video content with effects--at frame sizes and rates up to 1080i/59.94--or up to eight uncompressed Standard Definition video streams simultaneously, according to Leitch and Ciprico. This level of performance allows video editors to add effects and edit content online and in real-time without having to wait for rendering.

Leitch's VelocityHD combines the innovative new Altitude hardware platform with an enhanced version of the acclaimed Velocity user interface. VelocityHD offers full-bandwidth High Definition playback of two video streams, two dynamic graphics streams, and optional real-time 3D DVE. VelocityHD also features outstanding Standard Definition editing performance, with full-quality, real-time playback and mixing of multiple SD video and graphics streams.

The Ciprico Huge Systems MediaVault U320RX and U320S Dual Max storage arrays, using ATA drive technology, offer users an array of features and scalable storage capacities designed to maximize performance and reliability at every level. These features include two Ultra 320 SCSI channels to support 10-bit High Definition video, 200MB/sec data rate throughput (per channel), and a soft failover capability that reconstructs and repairs marginal data automatically. Both units support RAID 0 and 3 while the latter RAID level guarantees protection of High Definition content. The MediaVault U320-S Dual Max is available in capacities ranging from 1.6-4TB.

The MediaVault U320RX Dual Max, designed as a 4U rackmounted unit or free standing tower is aimed at users wanting the same performance and features as the U320S but with higher storage capacities. The unit supports up to two Ultra320 SCSI channels with a maximum of ten hot swappable disk drives, giving users the ability to scale up to 4TB. For higher storage needs, the U320RX can be daisy chained with up to four arrays for a total of 16 TB of storage.


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Telestream Flip4Mac Extends Windows Media 9 Encoding to Final Cut Express HD

Telestream has announced Flip4Mac compatibility with Apple's recently released Final Cut Express HD video editing application. This announcement marks the final step in Telestream's goal of expanding Flip4Mac's Windows Media encoding capability to support all the latest Mac OS X video editing products, according to Telestream.

The Flip4Mac WMV Export Component from Telestream provides encoding capability to Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series SD and HD from within QuickTime-based applications. In addition to Final Cut Express HD, supported applications include Final Cut Pro HD, iMovie, QuickTime Pro, Discreet Cleaner 6, and soon Sorenson Media Squeeze 4.1 for the Mac, Telestream reports.

Two versions of the Flip4Mac WMV Export Component are offered by Telestream. The Standard version supports standard-definition resolutions, single-pass encoding, and stereo audio for $99. The Pro/HD version adds support for high definition, two-pass encoding, and 5.1 channel audio for $179. With additional new products coming to the Flip4Mac family in early April, users will soon be able to make, edit, and play Windows Media on their Macs, according to Telestream.

Flip4Mac compatibility with Final Cut Express HD is now available. A trial version of the Flip4Mac WMV Export Component is available for download from the Apple Final Cut Express HD Resources Directory at: www.apple.com/finalcutexpress/resources.html. It is also available for immediate trial download and online purchase at www.flip4mac.com.

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EventDV Spotlight Survey #10: RESULTS


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