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January 23, 2006

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture | CES: Pain and Suffering in Las Vegas
Matrox Announces Support for Adobe Production Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 on Matrox Axio Realtime HD and SD Editing Platforms
WEVA Announces Registration for "World Record Wedding" Event
AJA Enables Native HD/SD Capture, Editing, and Playback with AJA XENA HS Support for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0
Sony Announces Major ACID Pro Software Upgrade
AVSMedia Announces Release of AVS Video Editor 2.2
Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA) Launches New Online Adobe Production Studio Resource Center
Philips Launches New 23-Inch LCD

The Moving Picture | CES: Pain and Suffering in Las Vegas

I've always found the annual Consumer Electronics Show to be a good crystal ball in terms of revealing what to expect for the coming year. The straightforward, logical reason is that stores start making decisions about what they'll be introducing and carrying over the next calendar year based on what they see at CES. Not setting things in motion in January makes it hard for physical products to be on the shelves come the summer and holiday buying seasons.

I've always liked CES because it tends to offer a real-world perspective on early technology I see and hear about from manufacturers. For example, VideoCD authoring was a hot topic back in early 1995 with the companies predicting that the MPEG-1-based technology was going to replace livingroom VHS decks, just as audio CDs had recently done to vinyl. But very few companies that year even showed consumer VideoCD players and still fewer seemed serious about moving volume into the distribution channel. The floor at CES said that VideoCD wasn't going to happen.

A few years later, the reality on the show floor did match the expectations for DVD, with all the major electronics companies prominently promoting new DVD players. You didn't need a crystal ball to see that DVD was primed to take off. CES 2006 offered another glimpse at the future of optical media, this time the high definition-capable replacement for DVD. HD DVD players and Blu-ray players were everywhere, with the earliest one apparently destined to hit the superstores this march for as little as $499.

But that future doesn't look very bright at all.

Oh sure, the pictures are great. Who can argue with the quality of high-definition images shown on the newest high definition-capable, large-screen flat-panel displays? (Indeed, CES has become the most important tradeshow of the year for the plasma, LCD, DLP, etc. sector of the display industry.) Both Blu-ray and HD DVD camps were showing glorious high-definition scenes from favorite Hollywood movies as a way to prove that high definition is something that consumers won't be able to resist.

Many event videographers have probably already begun testing high-definition acquisition using the affordable HDV format in anticipation of that HD future when clients will have both HD disc players and HDTVs. Indeed, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that more than half of all new TV sales this year will be HDTV-capable sets, thanks to the enormous popularity of those plasmas, LCDs, and DLP TVs. And a majority of cable TV customers now can receive HDTV. HD is here, no doubt, and the consumer is ready.

But this HD disc thing is a mess, and shame on the companies for letting it go this far. And pity the consumer who can't resist this rush of HD players that are about to be force-fed down their throats by a greedy industry. HD DVD and Blu-ray, the competing and incompatible HD disc formats, both have a bunch of companies and Hollywood studios lined up to support one side or the other. That means that some Hollywood movies will almost certainly play on some players and not others. That's old news. What's new is that now we're talking about actual players in the marketplace.

Toshiba has announced that it will ship the first two domestic HD DVD players in March at the surprisingly low starting price of just $499. That price is, indeed, startlingly low for a first-generation player and the reason is clear: HD DVD is losing the battle for industry support. Blu-ray now has much more manufacturer support and far more backing from Hollywood (thanks in no small part to Sony's owning much of Hollywood-I thought that's what anti-trust laws were suppose to prevent), so Toshiba is hoping to parlay being first to market into marketplace dominance. The low price is surely calculated to gain an early foothold. By contrast, the first Blu-ray player will likely arrive in April from Pioneer, but will be a professional studio reference player for about $1,800. Models going for about $1,000 should arrive early this summer from a variety of manufacturers.

Of course, that just means a bunch of consumers will spend money and be stuck with something that, at best, doesn't play half of what they want. And it never should be allowed to reach that point. I don't care about technological superiority. I don't care how many ways licensing fees will need to be divided. I don't care about who's first to market. We've been through this nightmare with VHS and Betamax. We've been through it with DVD-R, DVD+R, and DVD-RAM and it's rather tiresome.

Until sanity prevails over greed, consumers would be better off looking for a normal DVD with built-in up-conversion to HD rather than one of these new HD DVD or Blu-ray new players. Those are becoming increasingly popular, more affordable, and very good-looking. Frankly, the average consumer isn't going to be able to tell the difference and it would serve the manufacturers right.

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Matrox Announces Support for Adobe Production Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 on Matrox Axio Realtime HD and SD Editing Platforms

Matrox Video Products Group has announced that release 2.0 software for the Matrox Axio family of HD and SD editing platforms will support the newly announced Adobe Production Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. In addition to support for the latest Adobe software, Matrox Axio release 2.0 will include realtime multi-camera editing, realtime SD clip upscaling in an HD timeline, an accelerated shine effect, voice-over recording in the timeline, audio VU meters on capture, and WYSIWYG support for Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop CS2, Autodesk Combustion and 3ds Max, eyeon Fusion, and NewTek LightWave 3D.

Matrox Axio features no-render HD and SD finishing in compressed and uncompressed formats, realtime color correction tools, realtime effects, and a full complement of analog and digital audio and video inputs and outputs. It incorporates Matrox Flex 3D and Power of X technologies to leverage CPU and GPU power to improve SD and HD editing experience.

There are two Matrox Axio platforms to choose from, which differ only in terms of the editing codecs supported and the audio and video inputs and outputs provided on the interchangeable breakout boxes. Both of the Matrox Axio platforms offer the following:

  • Guaranteed full quality, full frame rate, full resolution playback at up to 1080i at 29.97fps
  • At least 2 layers of uncompressed HD video plus 2 layers of graphics in real time, with effects
  • At least 4 layers of uncompressed SD video plus 6 layers of graphics in real time, with effects
  • Realtime primary and secondary color correction with shot-to-shot color matching
  • Realtime multi-camera, 3D DVEs, chroma/luma keying, speed changes, blur/glow/soft focus, and much more
  • Uncompressed HD and SD editing
  • Native HDV and DVCPRO HD editing
  • Compressed HD editing (offline and online finishing-quality MPEG-2 I-frame)
  • DV, DVCPRO, DV50, and MPEG-2 I-frame SD editing
  • Realtime mixing of HD codecs or SD codecs on the timeline
  • Realtime playback of SD clips in a 1080i HD timeline
  • 24fps editing in HD and SD with pull down and reverse pull down
  • Realtime high quality downscaling from HD to SD
  • WYSIWYG for Adobe After Effects and Photoshop, Autodesk Combustion and 3ds Max, eyeon Fusion, and NewTek LightWave 3D

Matrox Axio HD also includes the following:

  • Uncompressed 8- or 10-bit HD and SD editing
  • DV-1394, SD SDI, and HD SDI input and output
  • RGB and YPbPr analog component output
  • 4-in/8-out AES/EBU balanced audio, 8-in/8-out SDI embedded audio

Additional Matrox Axio SD features are as follows:

  • Uncompressed 8- or 10-bit SD editing
  • Uncompressed 8- bit HD editing
  • DV-1394, composite, Y/C, analog component, and SD SDI video input and output
  • 2-in/2-out RCA and XLR audio, 8-in/8-out SDI embedded audio
  • Upgradeable to Matrox Axio HD by simply adding the HD breakout box

Matrox notes that realtime performance increases significantly with Dual-Core systems--up to double the number of realtime layers. Matrox Axio release 2.0 drivers will be available in March and provided free of charge to registered Matrox Axio owners.

Matrox Axio HD systems start at $17,000 US in North America. Matrox Axio SD systems start at $13,000 US in North America. Prices include the Axio hardware and software, the Adobe software, and the workstation. Storage is extra. Matrox Axio is available worldwide through a network of authorized dealers. The software and hardware components are integrated by the dealer into an approved workstation-class PCI-X computer, coupled with a robust storage subsystem, and delivered as a turnkey system. Dealers also provide on-site installation and training services.

www.matrox.com/video

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WEVA Announces Registration for "World Record Wedding" Event

The Wedding & Event Videographers Association (WEVA) has announced that registration for "The World Record Wedding Video Event," scheduled for February 15 in Sacramento, California, is now open. Professional videographers can register at www.wevainstitute.com as a special feature of the 2006 WEVA Institute program schedule.

Originated by the Sacramento Professional Videographers Association (SPVA) and co-sponsored by WEVA, "The World Record Wedding Video Event" was created to set a new world record for the number of cameras used to professionally videotape an actual wedding ceremony. Special behind-the-scenes segments of the event will be streamed on WEVA-TV at www.weva.com.

The event will take place at the beautiful Library Galleria in Sacramento, California on Wednesday, February 15, 2006. Professional development workshops, including a focus on production of the "World Record Wedding" itself from behind-the-scenes, and the inaugural screening of the event's same-day edit will be presented in conjunction with the record-setting camera coverage.

"Limited to 100 professional videographers, this world record-setter will feature well over a 100 cameras," said SPVA President Mike Jensen. "The local and national media coverage, including international streaming of this special event, promises to bring wedding videography tremendous publicity." Jensen noted the Galleria is a "huge, beautiful room that will allow us to place a large majority of the cameras in the wrap-around balcony above and behind the guests. Others cameras will be placed in traditional positions on the main floor in the rear and on the sides. We will use the GrizzlyPro remote cams unobtrusively behind the altar. A rack of HD cams will be placed at the far side of the room as a camera comparison. And yes, there will be cameras at the altar."

Recognizing the importance of using compact equipment at such an event, Jensen added, "SuperCircuits is donating their incredible spycams--each one no bigger than the size of a wireless lapel microphone--and miniature recorders to hide in the bridal bouquet and on the groom's lapel. All camera locations will be pre-positioned, and all but a few will be on tripods. All videographers will be dressed in black. While ceremony guests will certainly notice video cameras are present, I think many will be amazed at just how unobtrusive, and silent, the newest video recording gear has become! Our biggest concern regarding any type of distraction during the ceremony may very well be the noise and flash from the still photographer's gear. TV News cams will be assigned to a 'press box' area near the rear."

Professional videographers who participate in this two-day event (February 15-16), featuring the record-setting coverage and post-event analysis of production techniques the day after, will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Receive a complete DVD of the final edited wedding day, including a bonus section featuring behind-the-scenes footage.
  • Attend optional video seminars before, during, and after the wedding ceremony, including going behind-the-scenes on the live Bridal Prep.
  • See how the Glidecam is used to create a unique Photo Shoot segment.
  • Compare HD and SD footage of the wedding ceremony.
  • Attend an interactive panel discussion to evaluate the record-setting coverage -- and discuss with the event editor the challenges anticipated in tackling the incredible task of editing a 200+ camera ceremony.
  • Watch a "Same Day Edit" of the event in progress and see the finished video at the same time that it is screened for the wedding guests.
  • Attend, on the following day, an optional workshop that will take them through the steps needed to produce a "Same Day Edit" and learn how this exciting turnaround concept can boost their own businesses.

Other special events associated with the "World Record Wedding" will be announced shortly.

www.wevainstitute.com
www.spva.info

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AJA Enables Native HD/SD Capture, Editing, and Playback with AJA XENA HS Support for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0

AJA Video, a manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion technology, announced that Adobe has implemented native support within Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 for AJA's XENA HS real-time HD-SDI/SDI I/O card as part of the new Adobe Production Studio.

AJA has also announced joint development with Adobe to deliver HD certified turnkey solutions as part of the Adobe OpenHD alliance. The AJA real time HD/SD solution provides Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 customers with native full-resolution capture, editing and playback in HD/SD. XENA HS support is among the new features in Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and allows post-production editors, videographers, and multimedia creative professionals to input and output high-speed, uncompressed SD or HD digital audio/video under full control of the software application for integrated capture, playback and print to tape.

In addition, AJA's own plug-ins let users also preview and export within Adobe Photoshop CS2, and preview material within Adobe After Effects 7.0. XENA HS provides high-speed, uncompressed digital audio/video input/output for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. Users of Adobe After Effects 7.0 and Adobe Photoshop CS2 can link video preview output seamlessly from the applications using AJA's custom-coded plug-ins and software.

XENA HS is available now through AJA's worldwide channel of dealers and system integrators for a suggested retail price of US $990.

www.aja.com

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Sony Announces Major ACID Pro Software Upgrade

Sony Media Software announced ACID Pro 6 software, an upgrade to its professional music creation and production application. This new release includes several major development enhancements to the recording and MIDI capabilities of the program, transforming version 6 into a full-featured professional digital audio and MIDI workstation.

ACID Pro 6 software is expected to be available in March at an MSRP of US $499.95. ACID Pro 6 software not only continues to provide the loop-based music creation tools, but now provides users with a multitrack recording and MIDI sequencing environment that will appeal to creative professionals and audio engineers looking to record, produce and mix in ACID software's fast, efficient and easy-to-master platform.

Some of the new digital music workstation technologies include the following:

  • Multitrack Audio and MIDI Recording -- Simultaneously record multiple tracks of audio and MIDI into the ACID timeline through a variety of methods, including step recording, punch in/out, continuous looping, and more.
  • Multiple Media Files per Track -- Layout multiple media files per track, including one-shots, Beatmapped events, loops, and disk-based files with new automatic crossfade capabilities.
  • Inline MIDI Editing -- MIDI data can be manipulated directly on the ACID timeline, using either a piano roll or a drum grid interface. Edit all note position, velocity, pitch bend, and controller information using an easy, visual approach in the main multitrack interface.
  • MIDI Filtering and Processing -- ACID Pro 6 software provides processing of MIDI data directly on the timeline, including quantization, swing, editing of velocity values, event duration changes, and more.
  • VSTi Parameter Automation -- Using automation envelopes, ACID Pro 6 software provides increased mixing flexibility for VST instrument parameters.
  • Drum Map Editing -- The Drum Map Editor provides an intuitive way to create custom Drum Map templates, to make working in the Drum Grid even easier.
  • Project Sections -- ACID Pro 6 software now provides for the creation of project sections that lets users more efficiently rearrange time-based segments of audio and MIDI events located across multiple tracks.
  • External Control Surface Support -- ACID Pro 6 software allows for hands-on mixing using external hardware control surfaces. Control record, transport, envelopes, faders, mutes, solos, pans, and effects automation. ACID Pro 6 software includes native support for the Mackie Control Universal, however the generic control interface option allows user-customizable mapping of up to five generic control surfaces.
  • Record Input Monitoring -- The new multitrack workflow provides users with the ability to monitor audio signals with real-time track effect DSP during recording sessions.

ACID Pro 6 software will be available worldwide through software stores and online retailers at US $499.95.

www.sony.com/mediasoftware

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AVSMedia Announces Release of AVS Video Editor 2.2

Online Media Technologies Ltd., the owner of the www.AVSMedia.com project, has announced the release of AVS Video Editor 2.2, including capture options, powerful editing capabilities, multi-format transcoding, and burning features that allow accomplishing multi-step tasks involved with home video production.

AVS Video Editor 2.2 demonstrates a fully featured incorporated AVS Audio Editor, the tool for advanced work with audio, previously marketed as a separate product, and AVS Mobile Uploader utility that uploads your newly created video collection to a mobile, a portable media player or PDA device via bluetooth, infrared, or USB cable once you finish to compile a video project.

New features of the new AVS Video Editor 2.2 include the following:

  • a text overlay feature that enables you to place a text onto a track over background video sizing and positioning the text message as desired.
  • a chromakey effect that allows you to change background color according to your liking.
  • the ability to save video in multiple formats--AVS Video Editor 2.2 now features customizable WMV and RM Profile Editors
  • acceptance of video encoded with H.264 video codec that became the integral part of the software.
  • DVD Looping that allows you to loop any section of video you select by adding the start and end loop points.

AVS Video Editor 3.1 runs under Windows 2000/XP and costs $49.95(US) for a single-user license. Discounts for volume buyers are also available. Registered users of AVS Video Editor are entitled to free minor updates and lifetime technical support. A fully functional demo version is available as a free download from the company's Web site: http://www.avsmedia.com. The only limitation of the trial version is a watermark logo that is put on output files.

www.avsmedia.com

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Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA) Launches New Online Adobe Production Studio Resource Center

The Digital Video Professionals Association (DVPA) announced that it has launched an online resource center devoted to the newly introduced Adobe Production Studio, an extension of the Adobe Creative Suite family of products. The new DVPA Adobe Production Studio Resource Center is provided free-of-charge at the association Web site located at www.dvpa.org.

The Adobe Production Studio combines full new versions of Adobe's video and graphics applications--Adobe After Effects 7.0, Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, Adobe Audition 2.0, Adobe Encore 2.0, and the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop CS2, and Adobe Illustrator CS2. Adobe Production Studio also integrates Flash Video (FLV) export capabilities.

The DVPA Adobe Production Studio Resource Center, a new sub-site, lists the new features of each of the individual products in the production studio, explains many of the new enhancements to each application, answers the most frequently asked questions, and supplies numerous colorful screenshots and a number of basic tutorials to get users up to speed on the new release as quickly as possible on the web. In the days and weeks to come, the DVPA will be adding tutorials and podcasts for these specific new versions of the products.

www.dvpa.org

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Philips Launches New 23-Inch LCD

Philips Electronics has kick-started its latest line of business-class monitors with the unveiling of a new 23-inch widescreen LCD designed specifically with professional applications in mind. The monitor's combination of picture quality, widescreen, and innovative features bolsters user productivity while enhancing front-of-screen performance.

The Philips Brilliance 230WP7NS LCD monitor features a widescreen WUXGA 1920x1200 resolution, allowing for the viewing two full-size (A4 or letter) pages side by side. The monitor has a viewing angle of up to 178 degrees. Its 12ms response rate (8ms gray-to-gray) improves picture quality, delivering seamless imaging with no noticeable ghost images and will help those who are working with video or motion graphics applications.

The design of the 230WP7NS focuses on user comfort and performance. The monitor leverages Philips' Super Ergo base, which allows the user to adjust the height, swivel, and tilt of the monitor and can be used in either the traditional landscape or a portrait view.

The 230WP7NS includes a four-port USB 2.0 hub integrated into the monitor's bezel. All necessary cables, including a USB cable and both analog VGA and digital DVI connections cables, are standard with the monitor. The 230WP7NS also features several image-enhancing technologies. SmartControl empowers users to fine-tune display performance by easily adjusting the various display settings in a familiar way. The picture quality of the 230WP7NS translates onto the physical page as well. The monitor is sRGB-enabled, calibrating color settings with any sRGB-equipped printer.

The monitor is equipped with SmartManage technology, which allows administrators to include monitors in their asset management system. Administrators can track usage hours, adjust monitor settings, reset factory settings, verify monitor locations, power monitors on and off, provide technical support, communicate with end-users and set security policies to prevent theft and loss. Manual tasks, such as costly desk-side support and inventory audits, are virtually eliminated, according to Philips.

Gartner, a technology industry analyst firm, estimates that companies that begin an asset management program can experience up to a 30 percent reduction in cost per asset in the first year and continued savings of up to 10 percent annually over the next five years. In this way, SmartManage significantly lowers the total cost of ownership for each Philips LCD employed, Philips claims.

Philips LCDs also already comply with the stringent European Community RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive that mandates restrictions on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. The directive's goal is to virtually eliminate toxic substances like lead from displays. Lead-free displays help to eliminate issues connected with the disposal of hazardous waste from Philips monitors.

Philips Brilliance 230WP7NS LCD monitor is currently available at a suggested retail price of $1,499. Philips professional monitors are available for purchase through Philips-approved distributors, resellers, and system integrators.

www.philips.com

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