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May 16, 2005

Table of Contents

The Main Event: Can You Hear Me Now?
Avid to Discuss HD Transition and Demonstrate Latest Innovations in Los Angeles and New York
SmartSound and Artbeats Team Up to Provide Royalty-Free Music and Stock Footage
EIZO Releases FlexScan L551 17" LCD Monitor
Disc Makers Introduces Retail-Ready Replicated DVD Packages
ADS Tech Releases New USB 2.0 Mini Drive Kit
LightScribe Technology Featured In I/OMagic's 16X Dual Format, Double Layer DVD Drive
Survey #15: RESULTS

The Main Event: Can You Hear Me Now?

Audio has been called the "poor stepchild" of video, because it's so often neglected. But it shouldn't be that way; good audio is an essential part, maybe even the most essential part, of a good video. Don't believe me? Take a movie you really like, pop it into the player, and turn down the audio all the way. I'll bet you lose interest within five minutes. Now try it the other way: turn up the audio, but just close your eyes and listen. I'll bet the audio pulls you into the story all by itself, and almost forces you to open your eyes and watch.

So, let's pay some attention to audio issues, shall we? Perhaps the biggest single key to getting good audio is to get the microphone up close to the sound source. This is why on-camera mics, even good-quality shotguns, aren't a particularly good solution-the best position for capturing the picture is almost always farther away from the subject than the best position for capturing the audio. We need to get the mic off the camera, and get it closer to the action.

But this introduces a complication: how to get the audio signal from the mic element to the camcorder? The purist would tell you that a balanced audio cable is the best way to do it, and from a technical standpoint, he'd be right. Cables are simple and inexpensive, and a balanced cable can carry a mic-level audio signal a long way without any noticeable degradation.

But for the wedding and event videographer, running microphone cables all over the place is often difficult. Moving a camera that's tethered to cables is even harder. And it's a good bet that the bride and officiant would object to a boom operator hovering next to the altar, dangling a mic on a long fishpole.

The real-world solution for most event videographers is a wireless solution. The most common wireless solution is the wireless microphone. This is a mic element, connected to a small radio transmitter. The transmitter sends a signal to a receiver mounted on the camcorder, and the signal is converted back to mic-level audio and sent to the camcorder's mic input. Transmitters are available as belt packs with tiny lavaliere mic elements (good for attaching to a groom's tux), or as a plug-on module for a handheld microphone (good for field interviews).

Receivers may have a "true diversity" feature. This type of receiver has two antennas, and two separate radio frequency sections. A circuit continually compares the signal strength of each receiver, and picks the strongest one. This reduces or eliminates the problem of signal dropouts caused by "multipath distortion," a phenomenon where two radio waves take slightly different paths from the transmitter to the receiver antenna and arrive out of phase, canceling each other out.

The better systems use the UHF band, and give the user the option to select from 32 or more channels. Multiple channels allow you to use two or more wireless mics without interference, and let you change channels to avoid interference with the house sound system or with other nearby radio users. Most good quality receivers use an XLR connection, so if your camcorder doesn't have XLR connectors, you'll also need an XLR adapter box. Good wireless systems for wedding and event work cost around $500 and up. Popular makes include Samson, Azden, Sennheiser, Sony, and Audio-Technica. Lectrosonics is the "industry standard" for corporate and broadcast video work, and Lectros are great for weddings too, if your budget can accommodate them.

For those on a tighter budget, there are perfectly acceptable alternatives to wireless mics. Small, pocket-sized MiniDisc recorders are one solution. They are about the same size as a wireless mic beltpack transmitter, and about half the cost. The audio quality of an MD recorder is even better than most camcorders! Be sure to buy one that has a microphone input jack, though; many models don't have this feature.

Recently, an even simpler alternative has come on the market: the solid state MP3 recorders from iRiver. These have no moving parts, they're even smaller than a wireless or a MiniDisc, and they're priced well under $200. The audio quality is quite acceptable for wedding and event work, although it might not satisfy an audio purist for music recording purposes.

Both the MiniDisc and the iRiver have a couple of drawbacks: you can't monitor the audio in your headphones during the shoot, so if anything goes wrong, you won't know about it until afterwards. Also, the recorded audio has to be dumped to your computer and synced up to the video, an extra step in the editing process. For these reasons, I like to use them as backups to my wireless mics, rather than as the primary audio sources. But there are videographers out there who are successfully using them as their only source of audio. At those kind of prices, there's no reason you can't buy a pocketful of little recorders, and put them at all the places you need to capture audio from: the groom's lapel, the reader's podium, the choir loft, the preacher's pulpit, and inside a flower arrangement at the altar.

Once you've got capturing clean monaural audio at all your events down to a fine art, it'll be time to tackle the next challenge: recording the audio in stereo and 5.1 surround sound!

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Avid to Discuss HD Transition and Demonstrate Latest Innovations in Los Angeles and New York

Avid Technology, Inc. has announced that it will host two industry events--one in Los Angeles on May 18, the other in New York City on June 9--designed to explore HD postproduction trends and demonstrate the company's latest product innovations. Both events will offer an in-depth look at the challenges associated with transitioning to HD postproduction, followed by the opportunity to test drive Avid's complete line of postproduction solutions--from its entry-level HD tools to its most advanced HD video editing and finishing solutions. In addition, registered attendees will have the chance to win a free Avid Xpress(R) Studio HD Complete system--valued at $5,995 US MSRP.

Following the discussion about the transition to HD postproduction, Avid will demonstrate a range of its latest HD product innovations, including:

  • Avid DNxHD encoding - delivering the image quality of 8- and 10-bit uncompressed HD images with the bandwidth and storage requirements of SD files
  • The Avid(R) Symphony Nitris system - offering the real-time performance of the Nitris Digital Nonlinear Accelerator (Avid DNA) hardware with the creative and corrective tools, and multi-format mastering and versioning capabilities, of the Avid Symphony software
  • The Avid DS Nitris system - delivering resolution-independent capabilities, including 10-bit uncompressed HD, Avid DNxHD encoding, and SD finishing and mastering as well as 2K/4K file-based editing and expanded DPX file-conform functionality for digital intermediate (DI) workflows
  • The Media Composer Adrenaline HD system with the Avid DNxcel board - providing 10-bit capture, editing, and playback of today's leading HD formats, true 24 fps HD support for film projects, new tapeless workflows with support for the Panasonic P2 and Sony XDCAM professional cameras, Avid DNxHD encoding, and real-time HD and SD multicamera editing
  • The Avid Xpress Studio HD and Avid Xpress Pro HD systems - offering professional HD, SD, DV, and film editing features with powerful audio, 3D animation, effects, titling, and DVD authoring tools.

Event Logistics, Registration & Contest Rules The Los Angeles event will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2005, from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. at the House of Blues, 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA. The New York event will take place on Thursday, June 9, from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. at Strata, 915 Broadway and 21st Street, New York, NY. To register for either event, www.avid.com/domoretour. To learn more about the official contest rules for how to win an Avid Xpress Studio HD Complete system, please visit www.avid.com/events/roadshow/rules.asp.

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SmartSound and Artbeats Team Up to Provide Royalty-Free Music and Stock Footage

SmartSound Software, Inc., a leading provider of soundtrack creation technology for visual content creators, has announced a partnership to deliver software and royalty-free music to customers of Artbeats, a leading provider of royalty-free stock footage. Artbeats customers can get the award winning SmartSound Sonicfire Pro soundtrack creation software for free with qualifying purchases of Artbeats footage and a SmartSound Music two-pack.

When Artbeats customers select certain video footage products to purchase, the online store will recommend a two-pack of SmartSound music that has been tested and recommended for that footage. Customers can add the music two-pack to their Artbeats order for only $199 and new SmartSound users will receive a free copy of SmartSound's Sonicfire Pro.

www.artbeats.com

www.smartsound.com

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EIZO Releases FlexScan L551 17" LCD Monitor

Eizo Nanao Technologies Inc. has introduced the FlexScan L551, a 17-inch LCD monitor targeted at corporate and home users. The FlexScan L551 sports a no-frills design, no-touch automatic setup, and automatic brightness adjustment. It is backed by EIZO's five-year warranty.

From text and spreadsheet applications to Web browsing and video playback, the FlexScan L551 is designed for home, office, and entertainment applications. Performance specifications include brightness of 300 cd/m², contrast of 450:1, and a fast 16ms response. The OSD menu offers an sRGB mode for color management with other peripherals also supporting this color space. Color temperature settings include 6,500 K and 9,300 K, and the gain levels for red, green, and blue can be adjusted independently. The thin bezel cabinet design and an integrated power supply unit make for a small footprint. The FlexScan L551 meets VESA mounting standards so it can be easily mounted on an arm or a wall bracket. 

When the monitor initially detects a signal, it automatically adjusts clock, phase, screen position, and resolution. The FlexScan L551 includes functions designed to stabilize brightness and ensure it is always at a comfortable level regardless of the ambient lighting conditions. The first of these functions is EIZO's drift correction circuit, which stabilizes the brightness level after startup or when coming out of power saving mode. There is also a sensor on the front bezel that takes a reading of the ambient brightness and then signals the backlight to adjust the screen brightness accordingly. In a brightly lit room, BrightRegulator increases the monitor's brightness level, whereas in a dimly lit room it will decrease the brightness. EIZO stands behind the workmanship of the FlexScan L551 with a five-year warranty*. This warranty is valid in any countries or territory where an EIZO authorized distributor is located.

The FlexScan L551 begins shipping this week at a suggested retail price of $399. The cabinet comes in gray and black.

www.eizo.com

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Disc Makers Introduces Retail-Ready Replicated DVD Packages

Disc Makers, a provider of CD and DVD replicators for independent artists and filmmakers, has announced an exclusive offer for indie filmmakers - retail-ready DVD replication packages in quantities as small as 300 for just $990. Specifically designed for independent filmmakers, the package includes replicated DVDs, full color covers, three-color on-disc printing, DVD cases, and poly wrap.

In addition to offering professional DVDs, Disc Makers helps filmmakers sell their own DVDs directly to fans of independent film through its partnership with Film Baby. Every Disc Makers customer gets free worldwide online DVD sales through Film Baby, as well as a free UPC bar code, a free countertop display (for festivals and retail locations), and a free copy of Disc Makers' Ultimate Guide to Releasing Your Film on DVD.

For further promotion, the company offers filmmakers 300 full-color 11"x17" posters for just $99 with their DVD order.

www.discmakers.com/film

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ADS Tech Releases New USB 2.0 Mini Drive Kit

ADS Tech has announced a new Mini Drive Kit, the latest addition to its line of USB products. The Mini Drive Kit is a plug-and-play device that enables Mac and Windows PC users to increase their storage capacity by turning the hard drive that best meets their needs into a portable USB 2.0 drive. Gigabytes of removable storage can be added by plugging an IDE Ultra DMA 33/66 or ATA-100/133 hard disk drive into the ADS Tech Native Bridge Board inside the drive kit's enclosure.

Designed with the same look and feel of the new Mac mini, the stackable ADS Tech's Mini Drive Kit is just 6.5 inches square and less than 2 inches high.

ADS Tech's versatile USB 2.0 Mini Drive Kit is externally powered with a power supply that provides both 5 and 12 volts to the drive. A lighted rear power toggle switch and a hard drive activity light are included to help users determine drive access. For security, the Mini Drive Kit offers advanced micro-slot protection (to keep the drive from "walking away") and compatibility with both Anchor Pad and Kensington Locks.

The Mini Drive Kit will be available through ADS Tech's network of online and retail channels with an estimated price of $59. It includes the USB 2.0 Drive Enclosure, a 9-inch USB white cable and a 5-inch USB white cable, a 5-Volt/12-volt Power Supply and a CD with Intech's Utilities for PC and Mac systems.

http://www.adstech.com

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LightScribe Technology Featured In I/OMagic's 16X Dual Format, Double Layer DVD Drive

I/OMagic Corp., a leading provider of data storage products, has announced the launch of its new 16X LightScribe Internal DVD+/-RW/+/-R Dual Format Double Layer Drive. Included with this DVD Rewritable drive is LightScribe technology, which gives users the ability to custom laser-etch labels on specially coated media.

In addition to the LightScribe technology, the 16X LightScribe Internal DVD+/-RW/+/-R Dual Format Double Layer Drive has the ability to read and write popular formats, including DVD+R and DVD+R double layer (DL), DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R ,and CD-RW and allows users to choose the media (DVD, CD, or LightScribe) format that is most convenient or compatible with their personal computers or home DVD players. In addition, the double layer technology in this drive allows for up to 8.5GB(a) of storage space on double layer (DL) media.

I/OMagic's 16X LightScribe Internal DVD+/-RW/+/-R Dual Format Double Layer Drive will write at 16X speeds using DVD+R, at 8X with DVD-R media and at 2.4X speeds using DVD+R double layer (DL) media. The drive also includes both white and black faceplates and software to enable users to create and edit videos, burn DVDs and CDs in various popular formats, and play or view, as well as store, music, photos and movies on either DVDs or CDs.

I/OMagic's new 16X LightScribe Internal DVD+/-RW/+/-R Dual Format Double Layer Drive supports Windows XP/2000/Me/98SE operating systems. The Company anticipates shipping its new 16X LightScribe Internal DVD+/-RW/+/-R Dual Format Double Layer Drive in May 2005 at an introductory suggested retail price of $109.99.

www.iomagic.com

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Survey #15: RESULTS

results

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