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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

January 09, 2006

Table of Contents

The Gadget Bag
CMP Books Publishes Kirk Barber's The Wedding Video Handbook
Uead Releases Design Tool for MediaStudio Pro Smart Compositor
Lectrosonics Introduces Next-Generation Portable Wireless Receiver
Acronova Technology Launches QQboxx, Offering Interleave Multiple-Master Duplication and Additional Features for DupliQ
Schneider Optics Introduces New Century Universal HD Compact .8X Wide Angle Converter
Memorex Introduces Fastest Recordable Double/Dual Layer DVD Media
InterVideo and Ulead Demonstrate Blu-ray Authoring, Burning, Navigation and Playback Solutions at CES

The Gadget Bag

The Gadget Man is back—in a new magazine with a whole new bag of tricks, and quick-hit tips that will help you shoot and produce video and run your business better.
          Let's get right down to business. With rising energy costs, here's a tip that will save you money. All those "wall wart" transformers that recharge your cell phone and power various electronic devices use energy, even if the phone is in your pocket and the electronics are turned off. Unplug them or get a couple of those special power strips that allow multiple wall warts to be plugged in and at the end of your work day, or simply flip the switch on the strip. TV reports state that the average home can save $5-$8 per month with this tip.

Tired of squinting at the viewfinder on the tiny LCD screen on your camera and don't want to spend the money on a larger LCD monitor for occasional use? Most portable DVD players have AUX input jacks that will allow you to feed any video (or audio) signal to their LCD screens.

Here's a tip for wedding videographers. How many of you have encountered the typical country club backlight problem for the head table? (Why do they always place that head table in front of the biggest window in the place?) While the only sure-fire way to correct the situation is to close the drapes, you can achieve a very acceptable picture by shooting at a downward angle, a side angle, or both (instead of head on). Changing angles—and keeping the image tightly framed—will minimize the amount of direct light hitting your camera lens.

Been thinking about replacing that tube monitor with an LCD unit on your editing system? Now would be a great time to do it. Not only are prices dropping, but there are a number of refurbished monitors on the market as low as $169 for a 17" and $229 for a 19" (remember, the advertised screen size of an LCD monitor is actual viewing area, so a 17" LCD is equal to a 19" tube). LCD monitors also use less electricity and give off less heat (saves on the AC), so you'll keep on saving.

The ultimate in equipment shelving is chrome (or black) wire shelving (sometimes known as bakers' racks). These units come in various sizes, with adjustable shelves that can support hundreds of pounds and heavy-duty casters for portability. The wire shelves allow full airflow around electronic equipment. And the shelf edging allows you to attach things like power strips or use twist ties or cable wraps to secure cabling and power cords. Average price for a 48"W x 72"H x 18"D unit is about $70. Mine holds my 24-deck VHS dub system, DA, two 9" monitors, JVC S-VHS/miniDV deck, DVD player, and format conversion deck. And I still have room on it.

Consumer Alert: I've experienced this problem for a while, but it has now escalated and is spreading to many home-based businesses. I'm talking about fax spam. A recent TV piece reported on this growing problem. Generally, it targets fax machines in the overnight hours. Not only is it a nuisance, but it wastes fax ink, toner, ribbons, and paper. Forget about replying to the "remove" number; many of the "businesses" that are sending the faxes are off-shore and outside the jurisdiction of U.S. laws, so those numbers are useless—as with email spam, they only confirm that the faxes are reaching an active destination. They are even using other (legitimate) businesses' names on the faxes!

What can you do? Here are some suggestions:

• Get a separate number or distinctive-ring number for the fax and disable it for the overnight hours. Few legitimate businesses send faxes outside of normal business hours.
• Contact your phone company and have them block "unknown" or "blocked" calls. It requires having caller ID service (which is free); most fax spammers block their IDs.
• Change your traditional fax to an Internet fax service (for receiving faxes only).

Training Tip: Take your camera out to lunch . . . take it for a walk . . . take it to feed the ducks. Too many videographers use their cameras only on the job, and do not really know their full capabilities. By taking your camera out and just playing with it, shooting just about anything, you might learn something that will help you out the next time you get into a unique lighting situation. It also helps to read the manual, too. Try all the buttons on the camera just to see what they do and how they affect the picture. What happens when you use functions in combination? To be an effective and proficient camera operator, you should know your gear, inside and out. You should also know where the more commonly used buttons are so you can adjust the image without taking your eye off what you are recording. It's especially helpful when shooting stage performances in the dark! You won't have to guess, but rather select decisively the adjustment you need to get the perfect shot.

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CMP Books Publishes Kirk Barber's The Wedding Video Handbook

Publication Date: December 2005
Price: $34.95
ISBN: 1-57820-281-7
Format: Trade Paper with DVD-ROM, 7.375" x 9.25", 260 pages

About the Book: This savvy guide explains everything a wedding videographer needs to know about the thriving wedding video industry. Successful business owner and videographer Kirk Barber covers the essentials—from business to production. Topics include secrets for getting clients, selecting the proper equipment and tips on capturing special wedding moments despite difficult filming conditions. The book and accompanying DVD clips walk readers through shooting wedding videos in a polished, captivating style.

What's on the DVD-ROM: The companion DVD includes sample business documents and wedding video clips.

About the Author: Kirk Barber moved to San Diego, California, in 1996 and opened a video production business despite no contacts in the area, no experience in the video industry, and little money. He became a successful wedding and event videographer, as well as a well-regarded trainer on the subject. Currently he owns a prominent wedding and event video company and is a sought-after speaker on the topic of event videos. He has been featured on television and radio as a wedding video expert and has won numerous awards for his work.

CMP Books (www.cmpbooks.com) is an imprint of CMP Media LLC. Through its market-leading portfolio of trusted information brands in the technology, healthcare and entertainment industries, CMP Media has earned the confidence of more professionals and enthusiasts in these fields than any other media company. As a result, CMP is the premier provider of access, insight and actionable programs designed to connect sellers and buyers in each of these industries in ways that yield superior return on investment.

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Uead Releases Design Tool for MediaStudio Pro Smart Compositor

Ulead Systems, Inc has announced the release of the Smart Compositor Designer, a tool for creating custom templates for the MediaStudio Pro 8 Smart Compositor. The Smart Compositor is a new tool included in the latest release of MediaStudio Pro that allows users to quickly create professional-quality opening sequences or segues with pre-made masks, frames and moving paths.

Producers of corporate, wedding and event videos will especially benefit from the ability to set up branded or standardized templates that can be re-used again and again.

The Smart Compositor Designer functions as a plug-in to the MediaStudio Pro 8 Video Editor. Users or designers can create their own sequence components such as masks and frames using their favorite image editing and other tools before combining them as a composited sequence. Alternatively, they can use existing templates as a base for further modification. Template generation is automatic and includes an installer to mount the new template in the Smart Compositor library.

The Smart Compositor Designer is available at no cost to all registered users of MediaStudio Pro 8. Users can download the plug-in from the Ulead Web site at www.ulead.com. Available in English, the Smart Compositor Designer is compatible with all language versions of MediaStudio Pro 8.

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Lectrosonics Introduces Next-Generation Portable Wireless Receiver

Lectrosonics is introducing the high performance UCR401 Digital Hybrid Wireless Compact Diversity Receiver, a UHF receiver combining the ultimate in performance and reliability for film production, documentary filmmaking, ENG and videography applications at Winter NAMM 2006. Compatible with the complete range of Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless and analog transmitters, as well as some analog transmitters from other manufacturers, the new UCR401 receiver incorporates a host of proprietary features that ensure best-in-class RF reception across 256 user-selectable UHF frequencies under even the most rigorous and demanding conditions.

Digital Hybrid Wireless is a new design that overcomes channel noise by involving the patent-pending process of combining digital audio with an analog FM wireless link. This proprietary method eliminates the artifacts of a typical compandor design. SmartSquelch technology in the UCR401 avoids the compromises of conventional receiver designs, adjusting squelching behavior dynamically under varying conditions to deliver acceptable audio quality from otherwise unusable signals. The algorithm waits for a complete word or syllable before squelching, assesses recent squelching history and RF signal strength, and assesses audio content to determine available masking. A DSP-generated ultrasonic pilot tone from the transmitter controls the receiver audio muting (squelch) and eliminates thumps, pops and other transients by sensing the pilot tone and incorporating brief delays when the matching transmitter is turned on or off. The pilot tone frequency is unique for each of the 256 frequencies in the tuning range (frequency block) of a system, which simplifies the coordination of multi-channel wireless systems. The use of DSP further offers increased reliability through the elimination of the fragile, shock-sensitive crystal designs of older analog pilot tone systems.

Proprietary SmartNR noise reduction increases the effective dynamic range of the system by removing hiss without sacrificing the coherence of high-frequency transients and speech tones. SmartNR offers significantly increased transparency over the sophisticated variable low pass filters used in previous designs by attenuating only those portions of the audio signal that fit a statistical profile for randomness or "electronic hiss." Microprocessor-controlled antenna phase combining keeps the UCR401 receiver small yet still able to deal effectively with multi-path dropouts. Lectrosonics' adaptive SmartDiversity(tm) analyzes the incoming RF level and the RF level's rate of change to determine the optimum timing for phase switching and the optimum antenna phase and anticipate dropouts before they occur.

The system also employs "opportunistic switching" to analyze and then latch the phase in the best position during brief squelch activity. Like the UCR211 and 411A before it, the UCR401 incorporates a menu-driven graphic LCD. This provides a convenient means of viewing and altering user settings and allows the user to view a graphic scan of the local-area RF conditions for ease of finding a clean operating frequency. Balanced audio output is via an industry standard XLR connector. The UCR401 may be operated using two internal AA batteries or external DC power.


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Acronova Technology Launches QQboxx, Offering Interleave Multiple-Master Duplication and Additional Features for DupliQ

Acronova Technology, a manufacturer of CD and DVD duplicators, has release the QQboxx, an enhanced CD and DVD duplication software suite for its portable-size, USB connected, automated CD/DVD burner, DupliQ. The QQboxx is packed with auto-loader support and several feature-rich duplication features that were previously found only among expensive professional automated duplicating systems.

"The QQboxx works seamlessly with DupliQ to provide automated disc-reading and -writing features for Disc-to-Disc, Image-to-Disc, Disc-to-Image and Data-to-Disc applications. The user-friendly interface offers a step-by-step graphical display to enhance and simplify the user experience. By only a few clicks at your computer, through the USB 2.0 port the DupliQ connected to it can automatically Copy, Emulate, Quick Erase, Copy and Verify, Emulate and Copy, Emulate plus Copy and Verify discs at your wish," said Ming Liu, CEO of Acronova Technology.

"The intelligent Interleave Copy and Batch Copy of QQboxx will instruct DupliQ to one-by-one pick up discs from the storage bin, feed it to the CD and DVD recorder, read or write it, and so on, until all the discs are treated. For users who need to make one or more copies of several master discs, the Interleave Copy and Batch Copy features can effectively reduce the number of man hours and eliminate human errors," said Wesley Lin, assistant sales manager of Acronova Technology.

With its patent-pending design, DupliQ is equipped with a 25-disc storage bin for stacking the master and blank discs. Users may load the storage bin with 120mm, 80 mm and business-card discs of CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW formats. QQboxx supports the reading and writing of following disc format: Data CD (Mode1 and 2), CD-DA (Audio CD), Video CD, Super Video CD, UDF, ISO9660, CD Extra, Photo CD, DVD Data, and DVD Video.

QQboxx for Windows XP/2000 is immediately available for bundling shipment with DupliQ automated CD and DVD recording system at an MSRP of $699 and $799 (for CD and DVD, individually). The DVD version reads and writes both CD and DVD, while the CD version works with only CD.


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Schneider Optics Introduces New Century Universal HD Compact .8X Wide Angle Converter

Now camcorders with 72mm lens fronts can enjoy 20% wider coverage throughout the zoom range with Schneider Optics' new Century HD Compact .8X Wide Angle Converter. Featuring universal screw-on threads for easy installation, the .8X fits popular DV/HDV cameras such as the Sony HDR-FX1 HDV/HVR-Z1U, Panasonic AG DVX100A/B, Canon XL2, and more.

About half the size and weight of other wide angle converters, the Century HD Compact .8X has a length of 1.14" (29mm) and a width of 3.54" (90mm) at its broadest point. The weight is just 10 ounces (284g). For creative light management, the Converter comes complete with a rectangular sunshade. Constructed of lightweight, rugged polymer, this handy accessory simply clamps on when needed. It also features 86mm front threads to accommodate standard screw-on filters. Like the multitude of Century lens add-ons for professional Broadcast, HDV, and DV cameras, the new HD Compact .8X features multi-coated glass elements for crisp, high-resolution images with low distortion, and superior contrast edge to edge.

Suggested U.S. list price is just $595 (sunshade included).


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Memorex Introduces Fastest Recordable Double/Dual Layer DVD Media

Memorex has added to its optical media line-up with its highest performing Double and Dual Layer (DL) DVD media. Memorex 8X DVD+R Double Layer and 4X DVD-R Dual Layer discs deliver the industry's fastest recording speeds and up to 8.5 GB of recording capacity.

Memorex DL media can record movies or other content, featuring 80 percent more capacity than a standard DVD. Longer continuous recording makes Memorex DL media ideal for recording movies, music and sporting events. DL discs offer DVD-quality picture resolution with four hours of recording time -- about two hours more than a single layer DVD -- accommodating most standard length movies on one disc. In addition to entertainment fans, computer users also will find high-capacity double layer DVDs to be an ideal back-up and storage medium for their data files.

Memorex leads the Double/Dual Layer DVD market with a massive 70 percent of U.S. market share through November 2005, according to the NPD Group, an independent market analysis firm that tracks point-of-sale information by volume and dollar sales to determine how well products are selling in the nation's top retailers.

Memorex 8X DVD+R DL and 4X DVD-R DL media will be available this month. Suggested retail prices for both formats are $29.99 for a five-pack with slim jewel cases or $39.99 for a 10-pack spindle. Memorex recordable media is sold in 23 of the nation's top 25 consumer electronics retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Fry's Electronics, Kmart, Office Depot, OfficeMax, RadioShack, Staples, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.


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InterVideo and Ulead Demonstrate Blu-ray Authoring, Burning, Navigation and Playback Solutions at CES

InterVideo, Inc. and its partner Ulead Systems, Inc. have announced today that they will demonstrate their Blu-ray (BD) authoring, burning, content navigation and playback software at their CES Booth #35962 in South Hall 4 this week. As active members of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), InterVideo and Ulead BD products will also be featured at the BDA Pavilion, CES Booth #9444 in the Central Hall.

InterVideo BD software products include the following:

  • InterVideo WinDVD(R) BD -- InterVideo WinDVD provides a complete navigation and playback solution for the Blu-ray format, including BDAV (video file in BD format). InterVideo WinDVD BD fully supports the advanced interactive features of BDMV (movie) titles as well as the BD-J specification. This specification allows movie enthusiasts to take advantage of all BD disc interactive playback features including subtitles, play modes, angles and direct Internet connectivity for content updates.
  • InterVideo MediaOne Gallery -- This digital media software suite which delivers nine multimedia solutions in one package, will enable users to record crystal-clear High Definition Video (HDV) content directly to a BD RE disc.

InterVideo is also adding BD support to InterVideo Home Theater, a complete solution for watching and recording TV programs, viewing BDs/DVDs/VCDs, creating personal music libraries and producing photo slide shows with background music.

Ulead BD software products include the following:

  • Ulead DVD MovieFactory software with BD support enables users to quickly and easily carry out the complete post-production movie process including editing, authoring, burning, backup and, if desired, content protection.
  • Ulead BD Direct Disc Recorder captures content from HDV camcorders as well as DVB-T or ATSC HDTV tuners and records the content directly to a BD-R or BD-RE disc in the BDAV format via UDF2.5.

The new software provides a fast, easy way to capture HDV, DVB-T and ATSC content as MPEG-2 video and can even be used to append data to open media.

Easily integrated with PCs, notebooks, barebone systems and TV tuners, InterVideo and Ulead BD products are ideal for OEMs that need robust, next-generation home creativity and entertainment solutions to quickly differentiate their products. The release of InterVideo and Ulead BD products to the retail market will coincide with the release of BD drives and media.


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