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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

June 06, 2005

Table of Contents

Apple's New G5s
Eight Days a Week: Marketing 24-7
Telestream Flip4Mac Brings Sony MXF Digital Ingest to Final Cut Pro 5
Avid Launches New Version of Avid Xpress Pro Academic Software
CyberLink Showcases Solutions for Next-Generation DVD Burning and Digital Home Entertainment
ATI Demonstrates High-Definition Video Compression Standard
Instant Custom Quotes Available through Disc Makers’ New Quote-O-Matic Web site
Survey #16: RESULTS

Apple's New G5s

The slew of late-spring announcements from Apple—the Final Cut Studio pro app suite, upgraded G5s, the new Tiger operating system, and price cuts on Cinema Displays—indicated a coordinated effort on the part of the company to send a single message: If you're going to switch to the Mac, now's the time. Apple knows it's going to take more than just iPods to sell its hardware.

And while Final Cut Studio might be the most exciting development for videographers, the other releases are plenty relevant, since they all should provide tangible improvements to the way FC Studio's apps—Final Cut Pro HD, DVD Studio 4, Motion 2, and Soundtrack Pro—do their jobs. EventDV contributing editor Jeff Sauer will put the whole package through the motions on a new G5 in a future article. In the meantime, we got Apple's take on what sets the new G5s apart from the old.

Two words sum up the improvements: performance and graphics, says Todd Benjamin, senior product marketing manager for Apple's PowerMac division. The top of the line in the second-generation G5s was a 2.5GHz dual-processor system. The new top dog bests that with a 2.7GHz model featuring dual 64-bit IBM server-class processors, both with dual floating points. Combined with Tiger's support for 64-bit virtual memory, that gives the G5s the ability to run powerful applications more efficiently. "64-bit processors allow you to address far more main memory," Benjamin says, "so applications can now be authored to address up to 8GB of main memory, where the previous ceiling was 4GB." Motion 2, for example, is capable of using up to 8GB.

Benjamin says Apple's approach to dual 64-bit processors is more efficient than what's available on the PC side. The dual processors on PCs share the same frontside bus, he says, which can lead to processing conflicts and slowdowns. The new G5s include a dual, independent frontside bus, "so each processor has an individual pipeline," he adds. Along with an ATI 9650 graphics card, that significantly improves the 2.7GHz model's performance over anything Apple has offered previously, Benjamin says. For example, Final Cut Pro HD now can edit two streams of uncompressed HDV simultaneously, he says. "It's not a huge clock speed increase, but it's a first on the platform, and shows just how powerful these processors are," he says.

Though the dual 2.7GHz sits atop the G5 heap (not just in power and speed but in price, at $2,999), the other two new G5s offer many of the same improvements. The dual 2.0GHz and 2.3GHz G5s both come outfitted with an ATI Radeon 9600 graphics card and sell for $1,999 and $2,499, respectively. Two years ago, a similar dual 2.0GHz G5 went for $1,000 more.

According to a technical specifications document from Apple, the 2.7GHz G5 rendered a DV project containing multiple effects and filters 113% faster than a 3.6GHz Dell Dimension XPS Gen 4 Pentium 4-based system, and 83% faster than a dual 3.6GHz Xeon-based system. The 2.0GHz model also outpaced the PCs, clocking in at 76% faster than the Pentium 4 and 52% faster than the Xeon. (The Apple tests used Adobe Premiere Pro as the comparison NLE on the PCs, but the same source files.) Similar results were achieved with After Effects, LightWave 3D, and Photoshop.

That doesn't necessarily make the G5 the fastest video-editing system on the block. Apple's tests indicated that the 2.7GHz unit came in about even with a Boxx Tech Series 7300 with dual 2.6GHz AMD Opteron 252 processors, and 30% slower than an Alienware Aurora 5500 with a 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (again, in rendering DV content with multiple effects and filters). Of course, those are dedicated video editing systems; the Boxx system, for instance, costs roughly $1,000 more than the G5.

Apple's also made it cheaper to upgrade to one of their Cinema Displays, available in 20" ($799), 23" ($1,499), and 30" ($2,999) configurations, meaning that a 2.0GHz workstation with a 20" display is now cheaper than the workstation alone was two years ago. Apple's Cinema Displays differ from many other flat-panels, Benjamin says, in that they're all-digital from computer to display; many other flat panels require the signal to be converted from digital to analog and then back to digital, he says.

While support for two 20" displays is native to both the 2.0GHz and 2.3GHz configurations, only the 2.7GHz model supports the 30" display. "But the other two can be upgraded to support the 30-inch for $50," Benjamin says, " so you don't have to spend another $500 or $600 on a new graphics card to get the 30-inch support."

All the new G5s come outfitted with a 16X DVD SuperDrive with DVD+R double-layer capability, though Apple won't disclose the drive supplier.

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Eight Days a Week: Marketing 24-7

All videographers need methods of attracting potential clients that are both effective and cost-efficient. Over the course of 20 years in the business, we have definitely tried marketing methods that seem to work for others but never brought us any results. This column will focus on three methods that have worked for us: location, signage, and the Internet.

Ask a realtor what the three most important factors in the real estate business are, and invariably you'll hear some variation on this theme: "location, location, location." We had no idea how important this axiom was until we opened our event-planning showroom adjacent to a busy freeway whose traffic ranks 13th in the nation, according to USA Today, with an average of 264,000 cars per day. We have a 60'x10' window full of wedding dresses overlooking the freeway, and that is our biggest draw for new business. Billboard space would have cost us $5,000 per month. Our building with signage costs much less.

We invested $15,000 installing neon signs on our building that can be seen more than a half mile down the road. The traffic in our town used to annoy me until I realized that I'm paying a small fraction of a penny per view for freeway advertising. The signs were originally on a timer that would turn off at midnight. Then one day I found myself on the freeway one morning at 5 a.m. in bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic. I realized that all these workers could not view my signage in this pre-dawn traffic crawl. I now have the neon signage on a light sensor.

Many states and cities offer sponsorship to help keep roadways free of litter. In exchange, you get signage with your company name. We selected an area of our town that includes a four-star hotel that hosts 400 weddings per year, two museums, the library, a busy pedestrian mall, and several restaurants. We wanted our phone number and/or Web site on the signs, but policies prevented anything but a legal business name. We filed the fictitious business name of RiversideVideo.com, and it was accepted. A recent TV news story about all-American cities featured Riverside and our signs. There was a big boost in our Web traffic the night of the story.

Another approach is to advertise your business on your vehicle. Now, all the concerns you have about signage attracting theft are probably valid; but thousands of vehicles without signage are also broken into every year. Does signage statically increases the odds of a break-in? I can't say. I've been broken into twice. The first time they got some peripheral equipment such as tripods and a light kit. The second vandal went away empty-handed thanks to an alarm on the vehicle that pages us. The police said the 16-year-old looked relieved when they arrived. He had been running from our 6'6", 360-pound son who had been chasing him down the railroad tracks in our Hummer.

Despite these two incidents, I'm still a believer. The signage on our three trucks got us some great jobs, including one with Magic Johnson. On both sides of our vehicles is our phone number and Web site address, RiversideVideo.com, designed with Nike-type swooshes. We have people call us almost daily wanting to know who we are and what we do. The NBC news van passed us on the freeway and called wanting to know who we were.

We were working in Los Angeles the day Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were married. While we did not do their wedding, our truck was featured in news stories across the country (judging by the calls we received). A news crew must have noticed our truck and stuck in a shot of it knowing people would assume we were the official videographers. The signage always seems to get positive reactions when we arrive at a job location. My kids laugh at me when I drop the family off at the door of a restaurant and drive 100 yards to park where the most traffic will see my rolling billboard.

We take many precautions such as never leaving footage in a vehicle and rarely leaving equipment. We carry full insurance and have a paging alarm with glass-breakage sensors. Factory alarms do not include that feature.

As for Internet marketing, we have several Web sites and even more domain names. We have had good success with search engine placement, and last month our CannonVideo.com site had more than 60,000 hits. It seems you can't book a job without a Web site. Even when people have been referred to us by several trustworthy sources, they will still call and ask for our Web site address.

A Web site needs to be stylish, informative, and easy to navigate. It should instill confidence with a potential client. Streaming video is a must; I know only a few videographers who succeed without it.

In order to place well in the search engines, your site needs to be search engine-friendly. The title and text need to be relevant to the phrases potential clients type in while searching. Links in and out of your site with the same relevancy will also boost your search engine presence.

Paying for traffic or featured listings should be effective, and we're not opposed to it. So far, though, we have not had to do so. Effective submission and content design have allowed us to rank very high and get good traffic.

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Telestream Flip4Mac Brings Sony MXF Digital Ingest to Final Cut Pro 5

Telestream, a provider of media encoding solutions for the media and entertainment industry, has announced the availability of its Flip4Mac MXF Import Component for Apple's Mac OS X platform. The Flip4Mac MXF Import Component is a file-based solution that enables broadcasters to ingest MXF content directly from Sony XDCAM Professional Disc production systems into Apple's Final Cut Pro 5 editing application for native IMX editing. The MXF product is the second in a series of new Flip4Mac digital media tools for the Mac to be offered by Telestream for immediate worldwide purchase at www.flip4mac.com.

Telestream's Flip4Mac MXF solution solves an important need for broadcasters worldwide. The Flip4Mac MXF Import Component provides a faster, more convenient all-digital workflow for transferring media files directly from Sony digital acquisition devices into broadcasters' Final Cut Pro editing environments. This file-based solution eliminates the need to return to baseband video to accomplish the same task.

The Flip4Mac MXF Import Component allows Mac users to browse and import MXF content from Sony XDCAM systems for quick, easy access to either DV or MPEG IMX media. Sony systems supported include the XDCAM Camcorder, PDW-1500 Compact Deck, and eVTR IMX MPEG video tape recorder. Content is automatically transferred to the Mac, then re-wrapped to a .mov file for Final Cut Pro editing.

The Flip4Mac MXF Import Component is available for immediate worldwide online purchase and download at www.flip4mac.com.

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Avid Launches New Version of Avid Xpress Pro Academic Software

Avid Technology has introduced a new version of its Avid Xpress Pro Academic software package--a group of HD, SD, DV, and film editing solutions for educators, students, and academic institutions for $295 MSRP. The new software package--which includes Avid Xpress Pro HD 5.1 software for Windows XP with support for SD and HD and Avid Xpress Pro 4.6 software for both Mac OS X and Windows XP with support for DV and SD--extends Avid's HD toolset to education customers. The package also includes the Sonic DVDit 5 DVD authoring application for Windows XP.

The Avid Xpress Pro Academic package includes Avid Xpress Pro HD software, which delivers real-time multicamera editing and support for multiple SD and HD formats and resolutions--such as Panasonic DVCPRO HD and P2, Sony XDCAM, and Avid DNxHD encoding for graphics and effects. Both Avid Xpress Pro HD and Avid Xpress Pro software offer film and video capabilities, including image stabilization and automatic color correction, plus the ability to mix different formats and resolutions on the same timeline.

For students and educators who wish to extend their production skills beyond editing, Avid also offers academic pricing for Avid Xpress Studio HD systems, which start at $995 MSRP. These systems include Avid Pro Tools LE, Avid DVD by Sonic, Avid FX, and Avid 3D to facilitate more extensive education with a range of digital media production tools.

The new Avid Xpress Pro Academic software package is available now through Avid's worldwide reseller channel. The package--which comprises Avid Xpress Pro HD 5.1 software for Windows XP, Avid Xpress Pro software for Mac OS X and Windows XP, and Sonic DVDit 5 software for Windows XP--is available for students, faculty, and institutions for $295 MSRP. A list of resellers can be found at www.avid.com/solutions/education/purchaseOptions.asp. The Avid Xpress Pro Academic software requires academic credentials to install and activate, and the product is not eligible for commercial or free upgrades. Mac support for Avid Xpress Pro HD software is expected later in 2005.


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CyberLink Showcases Solutions for Next-Generation DVD Burning and Digital Home Entertainment

CyberLink has announced that it will showcase two main themes at the upcoming Computex show: Next Generation DVD Burning and Total Solutions for Digital Home Entertainment.

CyberLink will showcase the newest release of DVD Solution--a suite of DVD applications. DVD Solution combines software from CyberLink for playing movies, editing videos, authoring DVDs, burning data, ripping music, and printing labels.

With high-definition DVD recorders and high-capacity, high-quality discs on the horizon, CyberLink will also display its latest playback and burning applications for HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs across its entertainment product line.

Solutions on display include:

-- Blu-ray and HD-DVD support for both disc burning and high definition video playback

-- Copy-protection technology that enables the authoring and playback of premium content

-- Video editing tools that simplify the editing process

-- Creation of MPEG-4 movie files for playback on the PlayStation Portable

-- LightScribe support for direct-to-disc image etching

-- DVD format support, including DVD-R Double-Layer discs


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ATI Demonstrates High-Definition Video Compression Standard

ATI Technologies is publicly demonstrating high-definition H.264 video playback with hardware acceleration on the PC platform at Computex 2005 in Taipei, Taiwan. H.264 is a video compression standard that will be used in the next generation high-definition video players such as Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

H.264 is designed to have two to three times the compression efficiency of current schemes such as MPEG-2, while simultaneously improving overall image quality. This increased compression efficiency is computationally demanding, therefore graphics hardware assistance is crucial for real-time decoding of high bit-rate video, according to ATI.

The ATI demonstration at Computex features H.264 playback with Radeon technology and a CyberLink video player application. In addition to hardware acceleration of H.264, the Radeon processor is performing next-generation video processing and demonstrating display capabilities, ATI reports.


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Instant Custom Quotes Available through Disc Makers’ New Quote-O-Matic Web site

Disc Makers has launched its new Quote-O-Matic feature on its website, giving replication customers access to instant, custom quotes from the convenience of their home computer--24 hours a day, seven days a week. Quote-O-Matic takes customers through the entire CD or DVD project from packaging options and quantity to graphic design, mastering, and printing. Quotes can be saved, e-mailed, and modified the next time you come back to the site.

Quote-O-Matic also allows customers to compare various packaging and printing options. Disc Makers offers automated printers and duplicating systems as well as complete CD and DVD replication and custom packaging for independent musicians, filmmakers, and businesses. The company also offers custom design, packaging, distribution, and financing. To try Disc Makers' Quote-O-Matic website, go to http://quote.discmakers.com.


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Survey #16: RESULTS


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