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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

August 01, 2005

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: HDV Fact and Fiction
CVP Releases New Training Products
Telestream Expands Flip4Mac MXF Ingest for Final Cut Pro Users
Alienware MJ-12 Workstations Now Available with NVIDIA QUADRO FX 4500
RE:Vision Effects, Inc. releases RE:Flex 3
Proavio Introduces a New Line of Professional FireWire Drives Designed for High Resolution Audio and Video Applications
Avid and Pinnacle Shareholders Approve Acquisition
Octave Systems Releases New Robotic Duplicator

The Moving Picture: HDV Fact and Fiction

One of the acclaimed benefits of shooting HDV for standard-definition output is the ability to shoot a wide-angle view and then pan and zoom within the video without losing quality. I tried this in a recent shoot, a performance by students in my wife's dance school. The resultant DVD will be distributed to the dance students' families, and used as a marketing tool for parents considering sending their children to the school.

In terms of setup, I placed the borrowed Sony HVR-Z1U HDV camcorder in the back center, watched but unattended by a friend who was also minding his five-year-old son. Meanwhile I shot B-roll with my Sony VX2000 from front stage left, where I was connected to the theater's sound system. Overall, while HDV worked completely as advertised, the shoot and subsequent editing revealed three fictions that anyone contemplating this approach should consider. We'll deal with each in turn.

First is the fiction of the unattended camera. Not to be dramatic, but bad things happen when you leave a camera unattended, or attended by someone who's inattentive or inexperienced. When some well-meaning parent turned on a glaring spotlight turned on at the last minute, the harsh light transformed the dancing damsels in white dresses (against a flat black curtain) into formless white blobs moving like amoebas on the stage.

Up front, with the VX2000, I rode the exposure controls like a Formula One racecar driver to minimize the glare. For some totally inexplicable reason, it didn't occur to me that the camera in the back would be experiencing the same problem. While I couldn't have been in two places at once (the fiction of multitasking), adjusting both cameras' exposure settings, I could have at least tried the Z1U's backlight control or similar control. Another problem to try to fix in post.

This leads to the next fiction, the fiction of "fixing" it in post. Shoot something with your camcorder and it's done; one hour of video takes one hour to shoot. Address it in post and those hours multiply like Retief Goosen putts in the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open. My first stab at zooming in and around the video in Final Cut Pro took four hours, most of which I lost in a crash. Though FCP stabilized when I updated to the latest version of OSX, I didn't get those hours back.

Disgusted, I turned to Pinnacle Edition, which was painfully slow when zooming in and around the frames, especially compared with FCP on the speedy new 2.7GHz Dual G5. Then I tried to render and discovered that it took 30 minutes to render 1 minute of HDV downsampled to 16:9 DV--about 7 times longer than FCP.

The biggest problem, however, is the tinker factor. To zoom into the video, you use the editor's pan-and-zoom controls, setting keyframes at each software-generated camera position. The underlying theory of post-zooming quality worked perfectly (especially outside the spotlight), and it was fun making myself look like a camera jockey extraordinaire, with a seemingly supernatural ability to predict the dancer's next move and maintain perfect Rule of Thirds framing throughout her sequence of grand jetés.

Set the wrong keyframe parameters, however, and thirty frames later, you exclude the two last Village Girls on the right, or the Dancing Flowers in the front of the stage. What will the parents think? Better set a new keyframe or change the last, another five minutes or so of configuring, previewing, and reconfiguring. Overall, the only absolute non-fiction in video editing is that when you can tinker, you will, and the ability to pan and zoom within an HDV frame sets up an irresistible but extraordinarily time-consuming class of tinkering. Great if you're being paid by the hour, but appalling if paid by the job.

The last fiction is that of DV-comparable HDV support in the various video-editing applications. These will be completely chronicled in our September issue, but here are some highlights. You can't input HDV and DV on the same timeline in Final Cut Pro, a capability required to edit the input from my multiple cameras. Adobe Premiere Pro produced fuzzy-looking video when downsampling from HDV to DV and lacked multicam capabilities, as does Sony Vegas. Avid Xpress Pro HD has multicam capabilities but doesn't yet support HDV.

So, it came down to Edition, which, in addition to the long rendering times (like 8 hours per set), somehow mixed up the field order on the HDV source video, producing a flicker artifact that took me 3 hours to diagnose, two hours to fix in all the HDV clips in the final video, and 15 hours to re-render. Make no mistake--HDV is still foreign to all these applications, and you should anticipate significant hours of (additional) tinkering to get everything right.

In short, while the theory of panning and zooming within HDV video turned out to be true in practice, that doesn't mean it's actually practical. On my next HDV shoot I'll find a separate camera jockey to ride the B camera and drive the HDV camcorder myself, judiciously riding the line between shooting the action and getting the big picture. Then, when mixing the two, I'll pan and zoom sparingly, only when necessary to fix an error or highlight a critical scene.

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CVP Releases New Training Products

Creative Video Productions (CVP), production company focused exclusively on the creation of innovative digital wedding films, has introduced a new line of training materials, focused on helping wedding videographers add both creativity and efficiency to their productions. The CVP educational products include easy-to-follow DVDs, Audio CDs, and a 122-page book titled Capturing Creativity, an innovators guide to wedding video.

The three products offered by CVP focus on creativity, efficiency, and presentation, and image. Each product offers simple steps for taking companies that offer wedding video to the next level of innovation and profitability. As a complete collection, these materials are intended to fill in the missing pieces for video companies interested in running a high-end wedding video company. The products are available individually or as a Complete Collection.

They can be purchased online at CVP's new Web site for videographers or at the CVP booth at the WEVA Expo. For more information, visit www.CVPinspiration.com.

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Telestream Expands Flip4Mac MXF Ingest for Final Cut Pro Users

Telestream has announced Flip4Mac MXF support for Apple's Final Cut Pro HD editing application. The Flip4Mac MXF Import Component currently ingests media files from Sony XDCAM production systems into Final Cut Pro Version 5 for native IMX editing. With Flip4Mac MXF Version 1.0.2, Final Cut Pro HD users editing DV content can now use the same file-based workflow. Telestream's Flip4Mac MXF is a QuickTime component that provides direct, digital ingest of MXF content from Sony XDCAM production systems into Final Cut Pro HD for DV editing and into Final Cut Pro 5 for DV and native IMX MPEG editing.

The Flip4Mac MXF solution provides an all-digital workflow for transferring media files directly from Sony digital acquisition devices into Final Cut Pro editing environments. This file-based solution eliminates the need to return to baseband video to accomplish the same task, according to Telestream.

The Flip4Mac MXF Component allows Final Cut Pro users to browse and import MXF content from Sony XDCAM systems for quick, easy access to media for editing. Sony systems supported include the XDCAM Camcorder and PDW-1500 Compact Deck for all Final Cut Pro users, plus the eVTR for Final Cut Pro 5 users. Content is automatically transferred to the Mac, then re-wrapped to a .MOV file for Final Cut Pro editing.


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Alienware MJ-12 Workstations Now Available with NVIDIA QUADRO FX 4500

Alienware has announced the availability of the powerful new NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 graphics accelerator on select Alienware MJ-12 workstations, including MJ-12 7550a, MJ-12 7550i, and MJ-12 5500 systems. As the newest addition to NVIDIA's line of workstation graphics solutions, the Quadro FX 4500 allows MJ-12 workstations to provide floating point and sub-pixel precision for the latest professional applications.

MJ-12 workstations powered by the Quadro FX 4500 raise the level of precision for sub-pixel effects, resulting in a higher success rate for correctly mapping objects to pixel values and reducing the amount of artifacts and visual anomalies. By accelerating the antialiasing of points and lines, the Quadro FX 4500 delivers superior image quality in real-time without any decrease in performance. Backed by hardware accelerated processing, MJ-12 workstations that feature the Quadro FX 4500 benefit the many professional applications that involve lines, triangles, wire mesh, and 3D textures. In addition, advanced memory management enables improved performance when working with multiple active applications.


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RE:Vision Effects, Inc. releases RE:Flex 3

RE:Flex brings intuitive morphing and warping directly to combustion 3.0 or later, After Effects 5.0 or later, Shake 3.01 or later, and Discreet Systems. RE:Flex uses the host program's own drawing and masking tools (when available) to direct the warping and morphing; as such, there is no need to learn a whole new user interface, according to RE:Vision Effects.

RE:Flex combines hand feature-matching with automatic image registration. After aligning the hand matched shapes, RE:Flex 3 now uses the new tracking found in RE:Vision's Twixtor 4.5 product to automatically align the non-handmatched parts of the image so that often less handwork is required.

New features in version 3 include the following:

  • Auto-align feature uses the improved Twixtor 4.5 tracking which provides more precise results than with previous versions of RE:Flex.
  • Floating point image support added for Shake version.
  • New anti-aliasing setting that uses less memory (but does so at the expense of speed). In the new method antialising is performed by repeated offset renders, with buffer accumulation. The old method is still available to users. This new feature is particularly useful to those warping and morphing large resolution images.
  • MipMapping. Now RE:Flex can be set to give better filtering results when parts of an image a squished by a factor of 2 or more.
  • New render-only pricing available for After Effects 6.0 or later (and continues to be available for Shake).

Availability and pricing is as follows: After Effects 5.0 or later, Macintosh and Windows: RE:Flex 3 is priced at $595. Render-only nodes are avaiilable for users of After Effects 6.0 or later for $119 Upgrades from RE:Flex 1 or 2 for After Effects are priced at $89.95. Persons who have purchased RE:Flex, version 2, on or after June 1, 2005 qualify for a free upgrade to version 3. If they qualify, users can retrieve their free upgrade by writing sales@revisionfx.com.

Shake 3.01 or later, Macintosh and Linux: RE:Flex 3 is priced at $795. Render-only licenses are available for $198.75. Full license upgrades from version 2 are $119. Render-only license upgrades from version 2 are free.

Discreet Systems, Irix: RE:Flex 3 is priced at $995. Upgrades from RE:Flex version 2 for Discreet Systems are free. RE:Flex version 2 keys will work in the installer for RE:Flex version 3.

combustion 4 have already been using RE:Flex 3. However, with the latest release on the RE:Vision Effects Web site (version 3.0.2), they get the new tracking found in Twixtor 4.5. The upgrade to version RE:Flex 3.0.2 is free for combustion 4 users.


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Proavio Introduces a New Line of Professional FireWire Drives Designed for High Resolution Audio and Video Applications

Proavio, a developer of professional storage tools for digital media, has announced the release of their new dvBOX FireWire800 desktop solutions. The dvBOX features a complete line of storage options with capacities ranging from 160GB single-drive units to 1TB dual -rive RAID arrays.

Proavio's dvBOX features a aluminum-alloy housing and next generation Oxford chipset technology. The dvBOX™ Portable series comes equipped with one high-speed USB2.0 and two FW400 ports. The dvBOX Desktop series is designed for use with digital content creation and desktop media production suites. It's available in FireWire400/USB2.0 and native FireWire800 models. The dvBOX™ PRO is a dual-disk, external FireWire800 disk array featuring internal RAID-0 drive architecture. The dvBOX™ PRO is the designed for use with applications such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress, Adobe Premiere, ProTools, Nuendo, and many more.


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Avid and Pinnacle Shareholders Approve Acquisition

Avid Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVID) and Pinnacle Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLE) have announced that the shareholders of both companies have approved proposals necessary to allow Avid's acquisition of Pinnacle to move forward. The closing of the transaction remains subject to approval by European regulators.

"We're looking forward to integrating Pinnacle into the Avid family, and having the shareholders of both companies on board brings us one step closer to putting our combined strategy into action," said David Krall, Avid's president and chief executive officer. "We're eager to complete the deal and begin capitalizing on the many opportunities that lie ahead in both the consumer and professional video industries."

On March 21, 2005, Avid and Pinnacle announced that Avid entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pinnacle in a cash and stock transaction. Under the terms of the agreement, Pinnacle shareholders will receive .0869 shares of Avid stock and $1.00 in cash for each Pinnacle share. At closing, it is expected that Avid will issue approximately 6.2 million shares and pay $71 million in cash.



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Octave Systems Releases New Robotic Duplicator

Octave Systems has released its new line of Copy Master II Pro Robotic DVD/CD duplicators. Users can copy large volumes of DVDs or CDs via three new models, all with built-in Plextor PX-716A DVD/CD recorders.

The Copy Master II Pro Robotic autoloading arm allows users to set up a duplication job and walk away until it has completed. The new line of autoloaders features an easy-to-read LCD display and a 160GB hard disk drive, and it offers duplicators with four, six, or seven optical recorders. A PC is not required to operate the Pro Robotic line. Depending on the user's needs, 4.7 GB DVDs can be copied at up to 16X, 8.5GB dual-layer DVDs at up to 6X, and CDs at up to 48X, according to Octave Systems.

A new feature of the Copy Master II Pro Robotic autoloader is the Multi-Master Recognition Technology (MMRT), which allows the user to set up and execute multiple duplication jobs without interruption.

Prices for the Copy Master II Pro Robotic line are as follows: $3,600 for a four-drive robotic duplicator, $4,600 for a six-drive robotic duplicator, and $5,100 for a seven-drive robotic duplicator.


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