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February 06, 2006

Table of Contents

Review: Kirk Barber's The Wedding Video Handbook
Litepanels Introduces New 1x1 LED lighting system
Azden Adds To Wireless Speaker Line-Up
Adobe Releases Flex 2.0 Beta Products to the Developer Community
MacroSystem, Inc. Announces the High Definition Video RT/HD
Digital Film Tools Releases Snap for Photoshop
StoryViz 2 To Ship in Late February 2006
Alera DVD/CD Publishers Now Available at Micro Center

Review: Kirk Barber's The Wedding Video Handbook

For many years, John Goolsby's brilliant The Business of Wedding and Special Event Videography was the only book available that addressed not just the practice of wedding videography, but the business of it as well. Books offering some how-to advice on shooting weddings came and went, but generally targeted hobbyists rather than professionals. That changed in 2005 with the emergence of Brett Culp's Capturing Creativity, which explored ways to bring imagination and inspiration to your work. But there was no other book, besides Goolsby's, that attempted to address all the aspects of building a wedding videography business until the January 2006 publication of Kirk Barber's The Wedding Video Handbook: How to Succeed in the Wedding Video Business (CMP Books, $34.95, www.cmpbooks.com).

Barber and his wife run a San Diego-based wedding and event videography outfit called Sunray Video. They opened Sunray in 1996 shortly after moving to San Diego, and have built it into a successful business despite starting with no contacts in the area or experience in the field.

In The Wedding Video Handbook, Barber charts a course to success in the field. He provides a comprehensive plan for establishing a videography business, right down to the relative value of "fictitious" business names (vs. those that include the videographer's own name), to the kinds of insurance you need as an independent studio, and the rudiments of setting up an office. The book also takes an in-depth, but appropriately general look at key equipment, discussing not just the most commonly used camera brands but also acquisition formats, the differentiating power of CCDs, and the value of interchangeable lenses. He also provides helpful advice on camera support, audio, and lighting, introducing the topics in a chapter on "Choosing Video Equipment" and providing more pointed instruction in chapters titled "Setting Up Your Equipment" and "How to Use the Equipment." Barber's book, like Goolsby's, is most effective in its discussions of how to establish and grow your business, and how to capture the essential elements of a wedding day that will make for a satisfying product.

While Barber's book is emphatically not for amateurs, it assumes very little experience on the part of the reader. Barber does, however, assume that you've entered the wedding videography field to make a living at it. The book has quite a bit of practical advice that experienced videographers will find useful as well, but the just-hung-out-my-shingle ingénue is his baseline reader.

After dispensing with many preliminaries, Barber gets to what he calls the most important chapter in the book: "Marketing and Getting the Clients." He recommends researching your market by picking up flyers from other videographers at bridal shows (which will teach you not only what they charge, but in some cases what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong); developing the kinds of packages, services, and pricing you'll offer (photo montages, love stories, bridal elegance, short-form highlights, multi-camera, etc.); and figuring out who your clientele will be and how you'll reach them. Barber also makes some recommendations on creating your demo—good points about "conveying your style" and using special effects in moderation, and a great suggestion about including a segment on "how to choose a videographer." He cites 20 minutes as a typical length and 30 minutes as a maximum; both seem too long to me.

He also makes some interesting organizational choices, such as diagramming camera positioning in a church layout while he's discussing multiple-camera packages. I like it, but some readers may find it off-putting.

Barber also offers some nice tips on shooting the wedding ceremony, such as how to capture the processional and other portions of the ceremony, with good attention to both camera placement and audio. He makes good points about establishing rapport with the photographer and minister, including helping the minister put his or her mic on. Of course, there's way too much to cover than can go in a single chapter (Jewish weddings summed up in seven bullet points!), but in some instances Barber points readers to other resources (such as TheKnot.com's Jewish weddings page). He provides a good overview of receptions, emphasizing getting key shots of the cake-cutting and various dances (check out the sample clips on the included DVD for examples of how Barber does it). There's lots of advice on guest interviews, too, although Barber notes that in many of these so-called interviews, "there may not be any actual questions being asked."

In addition to suitably generalized chapters on editing, packaging, and delivery, Barber wraps up the book with helpful hints on add-on sales, the value of referrals, handling customer service problems, and continuing to grow your business—all the while continuing to convey his overarching point that if you build your business and learn your craft in the right way, you will have what you need to succeed. The concluding chapter, "Keys to Maintain Your Business," includes some especially good points about the dangers of over-booking, how charging more can make you seem more professional, and avoiding common pitfalls like grabbing at new technology just because it's new. After all, technology, like a wedding day, moves too fast to keep the whole picture in view—but Barber's book can help it seem like less of a blur and more of a business.

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Litepanels Introduces New 1x1 LED lighting system

Litepanels has introduced the new Litepanels 1x1 LED lighting system, available in 5600ºK flood or spot, and 3200ºK flood models. Litepanels 1x1 combines the company's hallmark ultra-efficient LED technology with a sophisticated, slimline design. The new 1x1 shares many innovative features of Litepanels' award-winning LED lights. An integrated control knob on the back enables instant dimming from 0 to100% with no shift in color. Absolutely silent and heat-free, Litepanels 1x1 can be positioned comfortably close to a subject's face, filling it with an unmatched quality of soft, wrap around light.

Engineered for quick and easy set up and operation, Litepanels 1x1 weighs just 3 lbs. (1.36kg) and measures 12" W x 12" H x 1.75" D (30.5cm x 30.5cm x 4.4 cm). This lightweight, ultra flat-profile system adapts to a variety of lighting situations. The unit's yoke allows for mounting via standard TVMP receptacle. Its housing enables multi-panel configurations, making it easy to customize to each job's specific requirements. Plus, the new 1x1 is equipped with remote dimming capability. Litepanels' groundbreaking design features a unique look-through capability.

The 1x1 incorporates a pattern of hundreds of precisely aligned mini-portals into the housing. This enables the operator to view the subject being illuminated from behind the unit.

Litepanels 1x1 runs off a variety of 9-30V sources, including a standard camera battery or car battery. The external 90-264V AC adapter supplies power through an unobtrusive 6 ft. attached input lead and 6 ft. grounded US plug/power cable. For additional lighting control, Litepanels offers an optional kit of interchangeable slide-in color/diffusion gel filters for both daylight and tungsten versions. Production models of the Litepanels 1x1 are scheduled to ship late April 2006. Prices start at $1995 list.


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Azden Adds To Wireless Speaker Line-Up

Azden Corp is announcing the newest addition to its wireless, powered speaker line: the APS 25b battery powered speaker. While including all of the same features of the AC powered APS 25, the new speaker adds the ability to operate without being plugged into an AC outlet, making it completely wireless.

The APS 25b uses an internal, rechargeable battery which allows the speaker to operate for 6-8 hours non-stop before needing to be recharged. If AC power is available, the speaker can be plugged-in and used while being recharged. Additionally, since the speaker is portable, a removable handle is included.

Features include four separate audio inputs, two of which are for modular, user-installable, wireless micro-phone receiver modules - VHF (30 channels available), UHF (63-channel switchable) or Infrared (2 user-selectable channels). The other inputs are for a wired microphone and a wired line output devise such as a CD player. All four inputs have their own volume control so that they can be perfectly mixed together. There is also a line-output for multi-speaker applications, a variable high-cut control for reducing feedback, a master volume control and Auto On/Off circuitry.

The speaker ships with a wall-mount bracket and can also be stand-mounted - vertically or horizontally. The front-panel has LED indicators for Low charge, Full Charge, Standby, On and Charge. The APS 25b gives installers the ability to have the right system for almost any situation. The built-in wire-less receiver systems can be used with either body-pack lavalier or handheld mics. By attaching one of Azden's plug-in transmitters to the house mixing console, the house feed can be sent to any number of speakers wirelessly. Wireless receiver modules can be changed any time without tools.

Available at the end of Q1 2006, the APS 25b will have an MSRP of 250.00 for the speaker only while one-channel wireless systems will start at $450.00. The APS 25b will be available in all of the configurations currently available to the AC powered model.


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Adobe Releases Flex 2.0 Beta Products to the Developer Community

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced the public beta of Adobe Flex 2.0 product line and Adobe Flash Player 8.5, the leading application development solution for delivering rich Internet applications. Developers everywhere now will be able to build next generation Web experiences that help organizations engage users more effectively, increase productivity, and deliver better business results.

The Flex 2.0 product line provides developers with a powerful and extensible application framework, intuitive programming model, standards-based data integration, and a powerful Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) for application development and UI design. With an extensive component library, advanced data integration, and support for standard back-end server infrastructures, Flex 2.0 enables developers to build virtually any type of rich Internet application, from simple interactive sites, to rich data dashboards and portals, to data intensive enterprise applications.

The following components are part of the Flex beta program:

  • Flash Player 8.5 — the latest high-performance client runtime for engaging Web experiences
  • Flex Framework 2.0 — the core programming model and component library for Flex
  • Flex Builder 2.0 — an Eclipse-based IDE for developing rich Internet applications with the Flex Framework
  • Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 — essential data services and an open adapter architecture for delivering data-intensive rich Internet applications and deeply integrating with enterprise service-oriented infrastructure
  • Flex Charting Components 2.0 — extensible components for advanced data visualization

Beta versions of the full Adobe Flex 2.0 product line and Adobe Flash Player 8.5 are available now from Adobe Labs, at http://labs.adobe.com.

The Flex 2.0 product line is expected to be commercially available in the first half of calendar year 2006. Adobe is introducing a new tiered licensing model to bring the power of Flex development within reach of every professional application developer. The Flex Framework will be made available free of charge through the Flex Software Development Kit, which will include the command line compiler and documentation required to develop, compile, and deploy Flex applications that connect to XML and SOAP web services with no additional charges or server licensing required. Flex Builder 2.0 will be sold for less than $1,000 and will provide advanced visual design, intelligent code editing, debugging, and automated testing for delivering rich Internet applications.

Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 will be free of charge for use by a limited number of concurrent users on a single, non-clustered server. Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 also will be licensed commercially on a per CPU, per project, and enterprise license basis. Final pricing and licensing for the Flex 2.0 product line will be announced when the products become commercially available.

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MacroSystem, Inc. Announces the High Definition Video RT/HD

MacroSystem, Inc. has announced the delivery of a new conversion box that provides live, full-resolution display of HDV material. With this technology, individuals may now efficiently archive, duplicate, and view HD-V footage, without compromising the resolution through compression and lengthy conversion times.

In 1996, Macrosystem introduced its line of standalone non-linear edi¬tors, providing videographers with a powerful and easy-to-use resource for producing professional digital videos. The Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD debuts as a unique product in the market by providing individuals with a way to work with native HD-V material in a convenient studio setting, without requiring a larger and more expensive HDTV monitor.

The Macrosystem High Definition Video RT/HD provides individuals with a multi-purpose tool well-suited for any HDV editing environment. The Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD connects via FireWire and in real-time enables the full resolution HDV signal to be viewed via either DVI or VGA ports and outputs a resolution of up to 1920 X 1200. This device is compatible with all HDV camcorders, recorders, and HD-V editing applications, according to MacroSystem. This console includes a removable 250 gigabyte hard drive, providing up to 30 project partitions and storing up to 23 hours of HDV ma¬terial. The HDV Recorder is compatible with all formats: 720p, 1080i, NTSC and PAL and a single hard drive can contain any combination of these formats. Ideal for professionals and prosumers working with HD-V streams, the Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD is the solution for vendors using industrial HDV presentations and Point of Sale HDV applications where playlists and continuous HDV streams are desired. The HD-V Recorder has an MSRP of $1999. For more information, visit www.hdvrecorder.us.

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Digital Film Tools Releases Snap for Photoshop

Digital Film Tools, the Los Angeles based full-service visual effects facility specializing in feature film and television special effects, has announced the release of Snap for Adobe Photoshop. Snap is an easy-to-use interactive image cut-out tool.

Image cut-out is the process of removing or isolating an object in a picture. Using a coarse-to-fine editing approach, an area of the image is cut-out by first marking the object and then refining the boundary. Object marking occurs at a coarse level, which roughly defines an object by marking a few lines. Next, boundary editing works at a finer scale by either clicking and dragging polygon points to edit the object boundary or drawing a stroke along the object's edge.

The extracted object can then be combined with another image or individually filtered in Adobe Photoshop. The challenge becomes defining which parts of the image are foreground, the portion to be cutout, and those which belong to the background. Snap provides instant visual feedback by snapping an editable curve to an object's boundary even if it has vague or low contrast edges. This is made possible by utilizing unique graph-cutting and segmentation algorithms. More accurate results are achieved in a shorter amount of time than using existing tools and techniques.

Digital Film Tools is an offshoot of a Los Angeles-based full-service visual effects facility specializing in feature film and television special effects. Snap is available for download or purchase at: www.digitalfilmtools.com for $50.

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StoryViz 2 To Ship in Late February 2006

REALVIZ, a leader in image processing software development, will now ship version 2 of StoryViz, their 3D previz and storyboarding software, from the end of February 2006. REALVIZ StoryViz enables directors, visual effects supervisors, 3D animators, graphic artists, and film-makers of all levels to prepare, in real time, each sequence of a movie with an amazing level of detail.

Version 2 of StoryViz, which debuted at the Siggraph exhibition in Los Angeles in July 2005, was showcased along with a selection of the other REALVIZ applications at this week's IMAGINA show, which took place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco from February 2006. StoryViz enables movie-makers to prototype each individual scene and to simulate complex shots, in real time. It is based on a powerful 3D rendering engine and a complete set of non-linear editing tools to create, edit and author all the components of a 3D scene. With StoryViz, you can do the following:

  • Create 3D scenes: either by importing elements from Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, or REALVIZ ImageModeler.
  • Create actors directly in StoryViz from a series of predefined human characters, and animate them using posing information or pre-set animations.
  • Define, locate and animate cameras and lights.
  • Edit and compose sequences using a set of non-linear editing tools.
  • Add comments and paint drawings.
  • Preview sequences in real time.
  • Generate composited sequences/video rushes, or export data to Maya or 3ds Max for further rendering.
  • Create HTML pages with accompanying text for detailed step-by-step storyboards.

Version 2 of StoryViz now offers a range of new features, designed specifically to streamline the previz workflow, including the following:

  • Drag and drop of .OBJ object and .GBX files into the application.
  • FBX file format support.
  • Import of tracked camera data and image planes from REALVIZ MatchMover Pro.
  • Import of 3D environments created using VTour, REALVIZ' latest image-based modeling software from panoramas.
  • The ability to define customized characters using a predefined skeleton, inside Maya or 3ds Max, to create the actors required for your particular sequence.
  • Full visual control and editing of cameras, lights and object trajectories, in 3D.
  • Support for animated textures.
  • Rotation and translation constraints for objects, actors, lights and cameras.
  • Measuring tool in 3D.
  • Direct export of sound volume variations in the final avi file.
  • Sequence fade control to selectable color.

StoryViz is available for Microsoft Windows 2000/XP through REALVIZ resellers worldwide at a price point of 990 Euros/$1,200 US excl. VAT. A demo version of StoryViz 1 is currently available for download from the REALVIZ website, with version 2 following around the end of February 2006. For further information on StoryViz, please go to http://www.realviz.com/products/svz/index.php.

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Alera DVD/CD Publishers Now Available at Micro Center

Alera Technologies, Inc., developer and manufacturer of Aleratec USB, DVD/CD duplicating, recording, and digital imaging solutions, has announced that its DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS personal publisher and its 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS production publisher are available at Micro Center, bringing affordable disc publishing to retail customers. Not only are Aleratec disc publishers available at www.microcenter.com, they are available chain-wide, off the shelf, at Micro Center retail stores.

Aleratec publishers implement the LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling technology. Until now, DVD/CD disc publishing required the integration of direct-to-disc printers that dramatically increase the cost of a publishing system. LightScribe is a technology that offers consumers and businesses a simple, no-hassle way to burn professional-looking, silkscreen-quality labels on their CDs and DVDs. Using the same laser that burns data in their disc drives, customers burn their data as always, flip the disc over, reinsert it into the drive and burn precise, iridescent labels, eliminating the need for an integrated printer and making Aleratec publishers much more affordable.

All that is required for LightScribe disc printing is LightScribe-enabled media. There are no expensive ink cartridges, no messy markers or adhesive labels, just amazingly clear labels right before your eyes. This adds up to the lowest cost of ownership of any disc publishing system.

The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS was the first LightScribe disc publisher. It records/duplicates DVDs and CDs and laser etches custom silkscreen-quality labels directly on the discs without a printer. The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS (Aleratec Part No. 260148, Micro Center SKU 545186) has an Estimated Street Price of $399. The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS is at least an order of magnitude lower priced than most solutions offering DVD/CD duplicating and label printing functionality. 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS supports up to 4 simultaneous DVD/CD Copies or Recordings, or produces up to 4 simultaneous silk screen quality LightScribe labeled discs. You can create your own custom labels, with text and graphics, using the unique Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite, powered by Droppix, included FREE! with purchase. The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS (Aleratec Part No. 260150, Micro Center SKU 943498), is the only LightScribe DVD/CD Production Publisher and it is available only from Aleratec.

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