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Information Today, Inc.



January 30, 2006

Table of Contents

HD Today: The Final Hurdle
Blackmagic Design at Sundance with Multibridge Extreme, DeckLink HD Pro and New Software Support for Adobe Production Studio
Innoventive Releases FrameForge 3D Studio 2
Silhouette FX Introduces Shake Render Engine for Roto and Paint
DPI Launches New 1080p, XGA, AND SXGA+ Projectors
Octave Systems Unveils New 11-Drive Copy Master II and Data Safe Copy Master II Pro 10 CD/DVD Duplicators
G-Technology, Inc. Announces 160GB G-DRIVE mini Mobile Hard Drives

HD Today: The Final Hurdle

What is the final hurdle for HD production of special events? Is it the cameras? Editing tools? authoring tools? Or delivery medium? We'll go through each of these and find out the real hurdle that event video producers must overcome to move to HD this year.

It is often said, "May you live in interesting times." When it comes to HDTV, these are indeed interesting times. This is especially true when it comes to delivery of HDTV content to consumers.

As I write this, during the 2006 CES show, there have been several announcements about the delivery of HDTV playback devices. While it may be old news by the time this column appears in print, it is important to pay attention to the early swells in the ocean to know where the big waves will soon take us. This way we can prepare and be ready to act on them when they reach us.

Blu-ray and HD DVD are on their way to consumers, according to announcements made at CES this week. Prices are reminiscent of any new format, starting on the high side, but we can all expect prices to fall as manufacturing ramps up. In terms of authoring, January 2005 saw iMovie and iDVD adding HDV support. In May 2005, Apple released DVD Studio Pro 4, which has the power to handle HD in authoring and can produce not only an HDTV-ready DVD, but can convert between HD and SD. In 2006, iDVD 6 comes complete with very polished 16:9 templates. All this authoring power is just waiting for a disc designed to carry the widescreen HD content.

You can be certain that other software companies are also incorporating the ability to handle and author HD disks in their applications. Toshiba, a quality manufacturer of PC computers, is one of the core companies bringing HD DVD to market. They are also working on doing it months before Sony and Pioneer ship Blu-ray.

Even Dolby Labs introduced a new specification for these HD video formats. Dolby TrueHD offers 7.1 channels of lossless audio, and a maximum theoretical limit of 14 channels of surround sound. While I sincerely doubt there's much advantage to 14 channels of surround sound, there is definitely an advantage to higher-quality audio recording--which I will discuss in a full review in an upcoming issue.

This year, we will finally see the ready availability of many HDV camcorders in the market. In 2006, manufacturers will offer no fewer than five prosumer HD camcorders: the CMOS-based Sony HC1/A1U, the Sony FX1/Z1U, the Canon XL H1, the JVC GY-HD100, and the Panasonic HVX-200. Though the 200 doesn't actually shoot in HDV and is more positioned as a pro HD camcorder, it falls in the under-$10,000 price range, a far cry from the much more expensive professional HD camcorders. Also, this accounting does not include tiny consumer camcorders that tout HD recording but use flash or other media, as well as MPEG-4 compression.

Retailers are pushing flat-screen systems as if consumers have never seen TV before. Some are SD, but many are Enhanced Definition and true HDTV screens. There are also people installing projectors in their homes for the true home theater experience. Put these two together and you have a rapidly growing market that is looking for higher-resolution content.

The only thing that we haven't heard about are new authoring capabilities that go beyond what was available in the DVD specification. While it would make sense to take the opportunity of a new interactive format to push that limit too, the lack of change bodes well if you have already mastered an authoring tool. It means you won't have to relearn how to author, and the software manufacturers don't have to re-invent their authoring applications. This will greatly speed the changeover from DVD to HDTV.

So we are headed to HDTV content on a disc. We have already been able to shoot it, edit it, and deliver it to TV, cable, and satellite. There are already sites that sell HDTV on D-VHS for those one jump ahead of the curve. But D-VHS lacks the interactivity that DVDs provide. This interactivity is what has kept it from taking off, despite the several-year lead it has in the consumer marketplace.

The competition in our market is strong. This means nothing can be left alone for too long or it will be left behind. Sure, shooting high-end DV has finally become the standard. We have become adept at maximizing our creativity and fluency in DV and DVD. This year, that standard will be surpassed.

The final hurdle for HD is now going to be you. So what are you doing to prepare yourself for the waves that approach? HDV and HDTV require more computing power. They require closer attention to detail, in shooting and editing. They require a wider-frame mindset, and a new method of promotion. They require us to step up our game and do a better job of doing what we did before.

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Blackmagic Design at Sundance with Multibridge Extreme, DeckLink HD Pro and New Software Support for Adobe Production Studio

Blackmagic Design has announced that it is demonstrating the new Adobe OpenHD turnkey system in Intel's booth, at the Sundance Film Center in Park City. The Adobe OpenHD turnkey configuration includes an HP XW8200 dual core Xeon workstation with Adobe Production Studio, Blackmagic's Multibridge Extreme, DeckLink HD Pro, with their latest software drivers supporting Adobe's Production Studio, and WorkgroupVideohub.

The Film Center explores the craft of filmmaking by offering the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with industry leaders and filmmakers. At Intel's booth, Blackmagic is demonstrating the perfect solution for filmmakers of every genre - whether indies or feature films, episodic television, documentaries, or broadcast studios. Seamless transition between HD and SD is enabled with these latest tools from Blackmagic.

Key points:

  • Multibridge Extreme is the only PCI Express solution for Adobe Production Studio allowing customers to use the latest high speed Windows PCs with PCI Express slots
  • Only Blackmagic supports dual link RGB 4:4:4 for feature film editors working with Adobe Production Studio Blackmagic supports a full 10 bit rendering pipeline for Adobe Production Studio
  • Blackmagic provides FrameLink DPX support

This new software is the first of its kind with Dual Link 10 bit RGB 4:4:4 workflow capabilities for Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. It also supports real time effects in HD resolutions and a full 10 bit workflow within Adobe Production Studio applications, enabling seamless transition between the video and graphics applications, including Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, Adobe After Effects 7.0 and Adobe Photoshop CS2.

The Multibridge Extreme breakout box is a bi-directional A/D and D/A converter that allows editors to switch seamlessly between HD and SD material, and supports dual-link HD-SDI 4:4:4. The Multibridge connects to editing systems via PCI Express boards at 10GBps, a connection that is 25 times faster than FireWire.

All DeckLink HD series cards are dual rate, enabling instant switching between HD-SDI and SD-SDI, and featuring the highest quality 10 bit SDI. This enables the video capture to retain all the subtle detail in the images, even during multi generation rendering and video processing. Access DPX Files for Digital Intermediate workflow to instantly mount QuickTime or AVI movie files as volumes full of DPX frames. Blackmagic's Framelink is also great for color finishing or for dirt and scratch removal in Adobe Photoshop.

Workgroup Easily connect everyone together in both HD or SD and eliminate the mess of manually patching editing systems to decks together into a fully featured professional routing switcher - which previously only large television companies could afford. Workgroup Videohub automatically switches between SD-SDI and HD-SDI with full 12x24 routing.

All Blackmagic products are available immediately. Please visit http://www.Blackmagic-design.com/products/index.asp.

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Innoventive Releases FrameForge 3D Studio 2

Innoventive Software, LLC has announced ther immediate availability of Version 2 of FrameForge 3D Studio, its multi-camera, optically correct previsualization software for film, video, and commercial directors. FrameForge helps to explore, sharpen and ultimately convey visual concepts to clients, producers and investors, while at the same time acquiring vital production data for cast and crew to make that vision come alive. "

By offering a range of critical preproduction features, FrameForge 3D is poised to play a larger role in all productions. Log onto http://FrameForge3D.com for full feature list, reviews, endorsements, product ordering, animated walkthrough, downloadable demo and worldwide reseller contacts.

The suggested retail price is USD $399 direct from Innoventive Software at (877) 322-7733, Sales@FrameForge3D.com or online at http://FrameForge3D.com for a variety of dealers worldwide at various discount levels.

The FrameForge ‘Multi-Camera Control Room' is a virtual film studio where users can build rooms and spaces, place cameras, props and actors anywhere with drag-n-drop simplicity. This creates a virtual but true-to-life location in the user's computer to explore and experiment with multiple camera angles, shots and lenses in an optically accurate 3D world.

FrameForge comes with over 750 unique WorldReady Objects that work like their real counterparts and intrinsically know how to interact with FF3D actors. Drag an actor to a chair and he sits, drag a gun or cigarette to a hand and becomes held, dresser drawers pull open and trees lose their leaves. Further, actor features like ‘reach-for' and ‘look-at' simplify posing that can be modified down to a single finger's joint.

Notable new features include the following:
- Fast Rendering with OpenGL Hardware Acceleration, Texture Sharing and other optimizations make rendering instant;
- Faster Set Building with our unique Room Builder that let's you "draw" your set then automatically builds it for you (Windows now, Macintosh soon via free update);
- Redesigned Control Room lets you work more efficiently;
- TrueOptix™ optically correct Depth of Field with user controllable f/stop and point of focus;
- Three New Rendering Options: Cartoon, Outline & Sketch;
- Completely new, more realistic actors
- Exact on-set measuring and object placement;
- USB Game Pad Interface allows you to control virtually the entire program from a standard 2 joystick USB Game Pad or our high quality Director's Pad* (sold separately);
- Native VRML Object Support with options to create new ‘hinged' part objects;
- Importation and association to scripts from script processing programs Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000, Final Draft, and Final Draft AV.

  

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Silhouette FX Introduces Shake Render Engine for Roto and Paint

Silhouette FX, LLC has announced the release of the Silhouette Shake Render Engine, a plug-in that renders Silhouette Roto and Silhouette Paint projects inside Apple's Shake compositor. If a standalone Silhouette Roto or Silhouette Paint license is available on the same machine, it can be launched with a single click directly from the Shake user interface. If a standalone Silhouette Roto or Silhouette Paint license is not available on the machine running Shake, the Silhouette Shake Render Engine can render Silhouette projects created elsewhere.

Silhouette Roto has already been widely adopted by high-end post facilities using Shake. The introduction of the Silhouette Shake Render Engine makes the integration of Silhouette into the Shake workflow a seamless package. Silhouette Roto is designed to meet the most demanding rotoscoping challenges. A lean mean rotoscoping machine, Silhouette Roto has proved itself around the world on many of today's most intense effects pictures.

Silhouette Paint is a high dynamic range raster-paint system built upon Silhouette Roto's advanced shape handling and motion tracking and stabilization. Together they make an incredibly productive paint-roto one- two punch that makes the most of your time and money.

The Silhouette Shake Render Engine costs $295 (USD) and is available for Mac OS® and Linux® systems. Bundle pricing that includes the Silhouette Shake Render Engine and Silhouette Roto (and optionally Silhouette Paint) is available. More information about Silhouette FX products including system compatibility information can be found at http://www.silhouettefx.com.

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DPI Launches New 1080p, XGA, AND SXGA+ Projectors

Digital Projection International (DPI) has announced the company's first entry into the native 1080p display market with its single-chip DLP dVision 1080p projector. In addition to the dVision 1080p, the company also introduced 3 other new single-chip models, including 2 native XGA dVision projectors and a higher brightness version of the current dVision sx+. All four new products will join DP's existing dVision lineup, and will be available in the first quarter of this year.

The new dVision 1080p features the latest .95" DarkChip3 DMD from Texas Instruments, which supports a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. With user-adjustable light output from 500-2500 ANSI lumens and contrast ratio up to 6000:1, the dVision 1080p presents virtually any video, HD, or computer source with remarkable resolution and dynamic imaging characteristics. Connectivity to input devices is provided via Digital Projection's VIP 1000, an external video processor featuring the Realta integrated circuit from Silicon Optix.

Among other capabilities, the VIP 1000 employs true 1080i to 1080p de-interlacing, HQV video enhancement, dynamic noise reduction, adaptive scaling and 10 bit processing, all tailored to optimize the performance of every source presented to the dVision 1080p display. Six lens options, with an extensive range of motorized horizontal and vertical lens shift, provide the dVision 1080p with unparalleled adaptability for permanent installations.

Along with the dVision 1080p, DPI also introduced three additional new single-chip projectors to the dVision product platform - the dVision XG, 30XG, and dVision 30sx+. With a native resolution of 1024 x 768 and up to 5500 ANSI lumens, the dVision XG and 30XG are suited for use in a range of business, education, entertainment and religious applications. The 1400 x 1050 resolution dVision 30sx+ produces 6500 ANSI lumens, representing a 30% increase in overall brightness from DPI's first generation dVision sx+ display. Its SXGA+ resolution makes the product ideally suited for visualization, scientific, engineering and command and control applications.

When the six models that now comprise the dVision series are considered along with the company's iVision models, DPI offers an extraordinary array of 15 installation-grade single-chip projectors, as well as eleven powerful 3-chip DLP displays. All of DP's products are suited for the most demanding commercial, scientific, educational and home cinema applications.

More information on DPI's dVision series projectors is available at www.digitalprojection.com.

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Octave Systems Unveils New 11-Drive Copy Master II and Data Safe Copy Master II Pro 10 CD/DVD Duplicators

Octave Systems, Inc. has unveiled the 11-drive Copy Master II and the 10-drive Data Safe Copy Master II Pro 10 to its respected line of user-friendly, tower-style Copy Master II CD/DVD duplicators. Ideal uses include music, film and audio production and post-production facilities, educational, worship, library and archival institutions.

The user-friendly, 11-drive Copy Master II has outstanding speed, storage capacity and quality construction. The unit can provide 1-to-11, 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 burn up to 16X on DVD+R and DVD-R formats, and CDs up to 48X. It can not only duplicate standard 120mm CDs and DVDs, but also several of the popular business-card shaped discs and mini CD/DVD formats.

The 10-Drive Date Safe Copy Master II Pro 10 features intuitive, stand-alone operation and a convenient front-bay 160GB hard drive that can be removed and locked away in a secure location—an ideal feature for anyone working with sensitive data.

The Pro 10 can provide 1-to-10, 1-to-8, 1-to-6 and 1-to-4 duplication depending on the user's needs, and can duplicate DVDs up to 16X, 8.5 GB Dual Layered DVDs up to 4X and CDs up to 48X. Both models include the "Fast Copy" feature, which will open all trays simultaneously with the touch of one button.

Other new features for both models include a Hard Disk Drive Partition Naming feature, which allows the user to name the images stored in the hard drive partitions; password protected user accounts for added security; a larger capacity 128MB buffer memory; Auto-Counter technology, which keeps a record of the total number of discs copied for each project; Load and Copy, for quick copy jobs; and new Copy/Reset/Speed/Source buttons for quick and easy navigation.

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 disc.

The 11-drive Copy Master II is priced at $1,549. The 10-drive Data Safe Copy Master II Pro 10 is priced $1,595. Both models are currently available.

www.octave.com

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G-Technology, Inc. Announces 160GB G-DRIVE mini Mobile Hard Drives

G-Technology Inc. (G-Tech) announced today the addition of two new 160GB models to its popular line of G-DRIVE mini mobile hard drives. Capable of storing over 12 hours of DV footage in a tiny form factor, these high capacity mobile hard drives are ideal for video editing on the go.

Features of the G-DRIVE mini include the following:

  • Industry leading 160 GB storage capacity
  • High-performance 5400 RPM disk drive with 8 MB cache
  • Dual FireWire 800 or FireWire 400 & USB 2.0 versions
  • Ultra-portable and stylish all aluminum enclosure with built-in heat sink
  • Compact size - just 4.9" x 3.2" x .88" weighing less than 9 oz.
  • Powered via FireWire or USB bus - no AC adapter required Mac OS X and Windows XP compatibility
  • 2-year warranty

G-DRIVE mini 160GB drives are available now with prices (US MSRP) starting at $569. Visit G-Tech at http://www.g-technology.com to buy online or to find an authorized reseller.

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