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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.



July 11, 2005

Table of Contents

The Main Event: HDV--Is it for Me?
Ulead Digital Media Software Supports Pioneer DVR-509’s New DVD-R Dual-Layer Burning Capabilities
Behringer Studio Condenser Microphone C-1 Now Available
Maxell Announces Double-Layer DVD+R Media
Formac Introduces New LCD Line and Lowers Prices
Westinghouse Digital Adds to Monitor Line
Reelhouse Announces FilmBacks Giveaway
Octave Systems Introduces Copy Master II CD/DVD Duplicator Line

The Main Event: HDV--Is it for Me?

I haven't seen anything like it since DV was introduced. I'm talking, of course, about the buzz and controversy surrounding the new HDV format. A lot of the arguments about the new format, both pro and con, sound very familiar to anyone who was around for the early days of DV. As Yogi Berra said, "It's déjà vu all over again."

So, should you run out and buy a load of HDV equipment, or sit tight and wait a while? The decision you make will depend on several factors, many of them specific to your business, its clients, and its competitors. Let's look at some of the pros and cons.

Noted author and videographer Douglas Spotted Eagle has stated, "Standard definition is dead; it just doesn't know it yet." That's a pretty strong statement, especially considering that there's still plenty of analog video being shot even after digital formats have been on the scene for ten years now. But he does have a point. Consider the following:

• Congress and the FCC have accelerated the timetable for broadcasters to switch over to digital TV formats.
• More and more widescreen televisions are showing up in stores (16:9 is now pretty much the norm in Europe, and the U.S. is moving in that direction quickly).
• Two new high-definition disc formats are almost here: HD DVD and Blu-ray. Once these are widespread in the marketplace and inexpensive burners for the discs are available, the distribution chain for HD material will be complete.
• More and more consumers are building HD-capable home theaters.
• HDV camcorders from Sony, JVC, and Panasonic are on the market now, with models shipping or announced that target pros, prosumers, and consumers. • Most major editing applications can now handle either HDV or a digital intermediate format.
• A new generation of dual-core, 64-bit computing platforms is here. These new machines will handle HDV editing with almost the same ease that today's machines handle DV.
• Regardless of the new format, many shooters have hailed the Sony Z1U (and to a lesser extent, the FX1) as superior cameras. They give better control over more aspects of shooting than previous DV camcorders.
• HDV camcorders and related equipment priced comparably to current professional and semi-professional DV equipment.

Still, many videographers have adopted a "wait and see" attitude toward the new format. Their arguments may apply to you and your business:

• At present, HDV either takes considerable rendering time, or needs a real state-of-the-art computing powerhouse and maybe an accelerator card … much the same way that DV did back in its early days.
• Clients aren't yet asking for HD in most U.S. markets.
• It probably won't be possible to charge a large premium for HDV, especially since the means of distribution and viewing aren't yet in place. When that does occur, HDV productions may warrant premium pricing only briefly as their uniqueness fades.
• Many videographers have a large investment in fairly new DV equipment that they're loath to sell of at a loss in order to jump on the HDV bandwagon early. • The current crop of HDV camcorders have poor low-light performance compared to the most popular DV camcorders—even though the HDV cameras tend to produce much less picture noise when gain is applied.
• HDV demands more of the operator. The picture is much sharper, and less forgiving of focusing errors. At the same time, viewfinders on current HDV camcorders are not sharp enough to guarantee you'll be able to verify focus exactly. Some shooters are bringing HDV LCD monitors to shoots, just to have something big and sharp to look at.
• The DV shooter with skill and experience can produce a better product than the deep-pocketed "wannabee" who lacks the expertise to make good use of HDV equipment.
• You may need to maintain compatibility with other facilities in your area. If you go HD, will they be able to use your shooting or editing services?
• The early HD equipment will soon be replaced by cheaper, better models, just like what happened with DV. Anyone remember the FAST DV Master, or some of the early Pinnacle offerings?

In the end, it's a decision that has to be based on business factors (do you need it to stay competitive? Can you recover the investment?), as well as on our desire to offer the best product possible to our clients simply for our own satisfaction.

What am I going to do, you ask? I'll probably be moving to HDV in the next 12 months. But don't do it just because I am, or because of industry hype. Make your own decision, based on your own needs and goals.

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Ulead Digital Media Software Supports Pioneer DVR-509’s New DVD-R Dual-Layer Burning Capabilities

Ulead Systems has announced that its digital media software suite, which is included with the Pioneer DVR-509, fully supports the drive's new DVD-R dual-layer and 8X +RW burning functionality. Ulead has now equipped its digital media software to support the recently-introduced DVD-R dual-layer media. Both DVD-R dual-layer and DVD+R double-layer media give consumers twice the storage capacity (8.5 GB of storage instead of the 4.7 GB offered on single-layer discs). With DVD-R dual-layer discs, consumers can now burn two hours of video at the highest quality for playback on set-top DVD players, according to Ulead.

Ulead's support for new DVD-R dual-layer media burning includes multi-session and layer-jump recording. Unlike the "Disc-at-Once" recording process, multi-session burning cuts the burning process into different sessions. Layer-jump recording alternates burning between both layers of the disc, which evenly distributes the data between layers. The advantage to layer-jump recording is that it minimizes the finalization time when burning the DVD.

The Ulead software suite bundled with the Pioneer DVR-509 comprises a set of applications within one interface:

  • VideoStudio 8 SE DVD makes it easy to capture and edit video and supports transitions, titles, music, narration, and special effects. The Movie Wizard lets novices create movies in three steps, while the full-featured video editor offers more advanced video editing tools such as pan and zoom as well as four independent audio tracks.
  • Customers can use DVD MovieFactory 3.5 SE to edit and burn videos to DVD with a scene selection menu just like in Hollywood DVDs.
  • DVD PictureShow 3 SE turns photos into DVD slideshows with transitions, text, and music.
  • The suite also comes with Photo Explorer 8.5 SE to transfer, manage, enhance, and share digital photos as well as audio and video files.
  • The Ulead Burn.Now application burns data and music discs to DVD-R and DVD+R dual layer discs, single-layer DVDs, or CDs.

www.ulead.com

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Behringer Studio Condenser Microphone C-1 Now Available

BEHRINGER, a leading designer and manufacturer of professional audio and musical instrument products, has announced the availability of its Studio Condenser Microphone C-1. A professional large-diaphragm condenser microphone designed for improved audio quality, the C-1 is built to serve as a main and support microphone for studio and live applications.

The C-1 comes with the following features:
• Flat frequency response and high sound resolution
• Cardioid pickup pattern for sound source separation and feedback rejection
• Low-noise transformerless FET input circuitry
• LED indication of phantom power operation
• Gold-plated 3-pin XLR output connector for perfect signal transmission;
• Rugged construction with die-cast body
• Swivel stand mount and carrying case.

www.behringer.com

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Maxell Announces Double-Layer DVD+R Media

Maxell is now shipping double-layer DVD+R media, delivering an 80% capacity boost for a broad range of data storage, multimedia, and video applications. This latest Maxell recordable media offering increases per-disc capacity on a single side to 8.5GB, supporting high-capacity backup applications. One double-layer DVD+R will hold up to four hours of DVD-quality video, 16 hours of VHS-quality video, approximately one hour of high-definition video, or more than four million pages of text, according to Maxell.

Double-layer recording technology--designated DVD+R 9--is based on double-layer technology that has been used for many years in DVD video applications. The media uses the same dye-based optical-recording technology as single-layer media but incorporates new design improvements to facilitate recording and playback from two layers.

The additional capacity provided by double-layer DVD is attractive for compliance with federal regulations, such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, which require company records to be stored in a write-once, read many (WORM) format. Once recorded, a DVD+R cannot be altered or changed.

The new double-layer DVD+R media is supported by double-layer drives from several leading hardware vendors. Many of the new drives are multi-format models that can record not only on double-layer media, but also with single-layer DVD write-once and rewritable media. After a disc has been recorded, it can be played back on any DVD double-layer drive, DVD-ROM, or DVD video player, according to Maxell.

Maxell's double-layer DVD+R media will be followed by a double-layer DVD-R product scheduled for availability in the third quarter of 2005. Rewritable double-layer media products--both DVD+RW and DVD-RW--are expected to be available during the second half of 2005.

www.maxell-usa.com

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Formac Introduces New LCD Line and Lowers Prices

Formac Electronic has announced its new Gallery Platinum LCD with 19" or 20.1" viewable screen. Taking advantage of the latest advancements in TFT technology, the new Gallery 1900 delivers high performance in pixel response time (8ms gray-to-gray), contrast ratio (800:1), and brightness (300 cd/m2). The improved specifications are reflected in the Gallery's visual performance, validated by multiple press awards in Europe where the display was announced last week. For a limited time Formac is offering a direct pre-order discount of $40, lowering the price of the 19" LCD to $459 and the 20.1" LCD to $659.

Featuring a SXGA resolution (1280x1024) the Gallery 1900 displays the identical digital information of a 17" LCD, but on a screen real estate that is comparable to a 20" wide-screen LCD. The 25% bigger picture benefits text-intensive applications such as web-browsing, spreadsheets, and word processing, but also helps users when working with highly detailed graphics. The pixel response time of 8ms (gray-to-gray) allows smooth full-motion digital video and high-speed gaming.

Formac reports that its proprietary ColorProof VA TFT with AllRound conical viewing technology improves color purity and color information at off-axis angles, a requirement for accurate color calibration. Like its predecessors, the new Gallery line remains a reliable member in the color-managed process of many of the world's leading prepress, desktop publishing, and digital imaging businesses.

The new Gallery line comes in a platinum color, matching the metallic look of Apple's Mac mini and G5 series. The display includes 2 USB ports on the backside for connection of mouse and keyboard. Formac's Gallery line is Mac and PC compatible and can be connected via DVI connector.

Formac's Gallery Platinum line is available for preorder at www.formac.us. The 19" display has an estimated retail price of $499, the 20.1" version $699. Customers who pre-order before the delivery date of July 15 will receive a $40 direct rebate. Both displays come with a standard one-year limited warranty. Formac offers a warranty upgrade to three years and a zero-dead-pixel guarantee for $99 each.

www.formac.com

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Westinghouse Digital Adds to Monitor Line

Westinghouse Digital Electronics has announced the availability of its 15" LCD monitor. The addition of the new monitor increases Westinghouse Digital's line to four monitors ranging from 15 to 37 inches. The new 15" LCD monitor is a good first step for users who are upgrading from a standard computer monitor to a space-saving HD-Grade LCD monitor.

The new 15" LCD monitor offers HD-Grade flat-panel technology providing users with vibrant images while working on spreadsheets, drafting emails, watching movies, playing games, and more. The monitor has faster response times, better brightness, wider viewing angles, and higher contrast ratios than older LCD panel technology, according to Westinghouse Digital.

The 15" monitor is available for an estimated $189. Product specifications are as follows:

  • Screen size: 15" color TFT Active Matrix LCD
  • Native resolution: 1024x788
  • Aspect ratio: 4:3
  • Brightness: 370 cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 450:1
  • Viewing angle: 120-degree horizontal, 110-degree vertical 
  • Response time: 16ms
  • Display color: 16.2 million true color

www.westinghousedigital.com

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Reelhouse Announces FilmBacks Giveaway

Reelhouse, a royalty-free footage and video FX producer, has announced the free giveaway of one of its video libraries as part of a July Special. Priced normally at only $399, the Filmback FX library contains over 200 seamless film FX animations built for Video/DVD Editors. This month only, the Filmback FX (normally only $399) is free with any Reelhouse library or bundle purchase and available at http://reelhouse.com.

Complete with scratches, flickers, and true imperfections, the Filmback FX library was built from real film sources and is designed for video transitions, titles, and backgrounds. Reelhouse products are designed to easily be dropped directly into any Video or DVD timeline to enhance your own footage or alone for backgrounds, transitions, masks, and effects, according to Reelhouse. The Reelhouse team offers free overnight shipping.

www.reelhouse.com

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Octave Systems Introduces Copy Master II CD/DVD Duplicator Line

Octave Systems, Inc. has unveiled its new line of Copy Master II CD/DVD duplicators, allowing users to duplicate CDs and DVDs via tower-style duplicators that can provide 1-to-9, 1-to-7, 1-to-5, 1-to-3, and 1-to-1 duplication depending on the user's needs and can duplicate DVDs up to 16X, 8.5GB dual layered DVDs up to 4X and CDs up to 48X. 

A nine-drive Copy Master II can produce nine full 4.7 GB DVDs in seven minutes, and nine full 650MB CDs can be produced in three minutes, according to Octave. It can duplicate standard 120mm CDs and DVDs, but also several of the popular business-card shaped discs and mini CD/DVD formats. Onenew addition to the Copy Master II is the quick-start Auto Copy feature, which allows users to load up the master and blanks and start the duplication process by pressing the new Copy button. There are four additional convenience buttons: Copy, Test, Speed and Source. The Copy button allows the user to quickly and conveniently begin the duplication process. The Test button tests the copy process without actually writing to the media. The Speed button sets the speed of the copy. The Source button changes the master source of the information the user wants copied from the DVD-ROM or CD-ROM to the hard disk. "

In addition, the Copy Master II also features 128MB of buffer memory; a 160GB hard drive; password protection for different users; hard disk drive partition naming, allowing a user to name the images stored in hard drive partitions; multiple language displays; DVD drive firmware upgradeable by the controller; enhanced firmware in the controller that speeds duplication; better cooling through use of an aluminum case; and an auto counter that keeps running totals of successful copies. T

he Copy Master II line is priced at $369 for a 1-to-1 duplicator, $829 for a 1-to-3 duplicator, $1049 for a 1-to-5 duplicator, $1249 for a 1-to-7 duplicator, $1429 for a 1-to-9 duplicator, all of which are currently available.

www.octave.com

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