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March 06, 2006

Table of Contents

Gear & Now | Projectors, Part 2: Presentations and Accessories
Avid buys Medéa, launches VideoRAID family of high-performance, low cost storage solutions
Varto Technologies Announces Free Avid and Adobe Training Seminars
Matrox brings unique TripleHead Support to Leading Workstations and Laptops
Litepanels Introduces Mini 32
WEVA Town Meeting Tour To Kick-Off in Philadelphia; 16th Annual WEVA EXPO Will Head to Mandalay Bay
Disc Makers Introduces New and Enhanced Line of DVD/CD Duplicators
Canopus Introduces ADVC700 for Broadcast and Postproduction Professionals

Gear & Now | Projectors, Part 2: Presentations and Accessories

As mentioned in the February installment of Gear & Now, "Projectors, Part 1," video projection can present great opportunities for wedding and event videographers; your masterpiece can be shown to a large, attentive, and already engaged audience. Large-screen, high-impact video presentations are not just for use in weddings and receptions, but in churches and houses of worship, at schools and graduation events, for corporate clients, and in many other settings and applications.

Usually, the video is standard NTSC, using a VGA-type projector or a standard-def playback unit, such as a VHS deck or DVD player (keep in mind that DVD players do deliver better-looking images, but are limited to 480 lines of horizontal, interlaced resolution). Projectors with other than 480 lines, such as those rated as SVGA or XGA, will have to scale up (to 576, 600, or even 768) electronically or digitally. Scaling is a job you can only hope is done well.

To make sure your scaling is accurate, you may want to invest in your own scaler, such as those from DVIGear, Gefen, Vydeo, and others. Depending on the features and functions, such devices automatically detect input video specifications (even from DV or HDV devices), and can output the desired resolution (including interlaced and progressive-scan formats). Some include image controls like contrast, brightness, color saturation, RGB levels, and H/V position.

High-Def Projection

But options for projecting true high-definition imagery are available now, with more on the way. Progressive-scan projectors in 480p and even 1080p do a much better job of scaling up standard-def video, or matching high-def precisely.

Digital Projection, for example, offers full 1920x1080 resolution using a new progressive scan DLP engine from Texas Instruments (it uses a DMD, or digital micromirror device).

DP's iVision HD-7 uses a native 16:9 DMD and produces 1000 ANSI lumens with a 3000:1 contrast ratio. Standard inputs include DVI, component, RGB, composite, and S-Video. The iVision HD also has a seven-segment color wheel for added color accuracy and uniformity; it all comes in a lightweight 6.5 lb. package with a somewhat heavy price of around $25K.

Marantz is also utilizing TI's DMD chips, such as in its newly developed VP8600 DLP projector, featuring 1280x720-pixel output with 800 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 2500:1. The VP8600 is available for around $5,995; it has a DVI connection, so the unit can—according to the manufacturer—accept a signal from a DTV set-top box, DV camcorder, or other digital video source. More on this in a moment.

Other HD-native or progressive-scan projectors available now include the Mitsubishi HC3000 projector. Calling it the first high-definition projector to use TI's new DDP3020 DLP chipset, Mitsubishi also touts its TrueVision Image processing and BrilliantColor technology.   

With 1000 ANSI lumens and 4000:1 contrast, the HC3000 is quite compact, measuring 3.9 in. high. Images are displayed up to 720p resolution in a selection of aspect ratios, including CinemaScope. The projector is priced below $3,000.

Canon's LV-X5 is a 1500-lumen, native XGA (1024x768) projector, but it does support SXGA (1280x1024) resolution through high-quality compression and progressive-scan circuitry that converts 480i, as well as a selectable preset video mode (with warmer flesh tones and color balance).

The LV-X5 is also compatible with NTSC, PAL, SECAM, NTSC 4.43, PAL-M and PAL-N signals, and offers two-way VGA connections and component, S-Video, or composite inputs. The lightweight unit (about 7 lb.) is priced at less than $1,500.

With an estimated street price of $999, the new Epson PowerLite Home 20 is an attractive, economical option. It has 480p native resolution, 1200 ANSI lumens, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, support for component video, VGA (for PC use) and composite-video input—as well as an 80 in. floor-standing 16:9 screen with case! With component, composite, and S-Video inputs, the unit is well-featured for its price.

Cables

DV and HDV, as you know, are transport protocols for digital video and audio (along with control signals) moving at about 25Mbps, or 3.5Gbps. The cable comes in either four- or six-pin configurations.

DVI also moves digital video (not audio) at around 3.5Gbps, but there are different connector types, as well as single and dual-link configurations. HDMI has a bandwidth of about 5Gbps, and carries digital audio and video.

Typically, the longest a normal VGA cable can run without loss of signal is about 30 ft. Even DVI and HDMI cables can run into signal integrity issues above 30 or 40 ft. Specially designed and constructed cabling, such as products available from Belden, can extend those ranges tremendously. Belden's Banana Peel component-video cables, for example, are designed for higher-frequency, longer-distance transmissions, and can extend the run to 300 ft. or more, depending on the product and application.

Active extender boxes can also do the trick, such as those from TV One. It offers systems that can encode and decode VGA signals up to 1280x1024, and then send them well over 300 ft. using CAT-5 cabling.

Screens

In many ways, what you are projecting on is as important as what you are projecting with. White walls just don't cut it, as the influencing factors for video projection can include surface type (matte, silver, high-contrast) and shape (just like TVs, there are standard and widescreen aspect ratios), even with portable screens.

Da-Lite's Insta-Theater screen weighs about 20 lb. in its case, but it can open up to a 90 in. diagonal 16:9 widescreen (4:3 screens are, of course, also available) fairly easily for location uses. Much lighter, more compact screens are also available. The large HD screen is priced around $535.

For even greater cinematic effect, Stewart's CineMask, with its slightly curved screen and electrically controlled side panels, can be set up for CinemaScope aspect ratio (2.35:1), 16:9 widescreen, and/or 4:3, when desired. The customized shape and attractive black border make this screen very suitable for high-impact presentations.

Projector Check-Ups

No matter what the screen type—or the projector itself, in some cases—maintaining color quality and integrity from original video to projected image can be a challenge.

Datacolor has a solution. Its new ColorFacts Pro 6.0 calibration tool is an integrated hardware-and-software bundle designed to calibrate and correct video-image color on projectors, plasma/LCD screens, and widescreen TVs. For about $300, it can bring consistency and precision to your video projection activities.

For a little more (about $500), JVC will perform professional optimization procedures on its D-ILA projectors. By applying a specific video-gamma profile (and other major image adjustments set to the SMPTE 240M spec), JVC can enhance its digital-cinema and video presentation products, such as its DLA-SX21UH projector, with 720p, 1080i, and 1080/24sF HD compatibility.

Whether you choose D-ILA, DMD, or LCD, professional video projection should not be smoke and mirrors. For around a thousand dollars, you can guarantee that your projection efforts are smoke-free by purchasing Proclenze's universal smoke-resistant system to protect your projectors from smoky or dusty surroundings. Inside its plastic casing, two internal fans push a continuous flow of fresh air, pre-filtered to remove damaging airborne particles.

HQV

HQV, or Hollywood Quality Video, is one of the newest developments in video display and projection, driven by Silicon Optix' 10-bit video processing chip, Realta. One of the hottest topics, projector-wise, at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, HQV promises superior-quality video imagery, using true 10-bit video processing and other advances to cope with the potential conflict of native pixel resolution and different pixel source material. In addition, the technology uses pixel-based (rather than frame-based) motion adaptation and detail enhancement to more accurately process de-interlaced images. New products incorporating HQV technology are anticipated this year from companies like Yamaha, BenQ, and more; many will add other unique features as well. One example is the new 3M DMS 700 projector, which boasts a built-in DVD player, 5.1 sound system, and super-close projection capabilities.

To read Part 1 of Lee Rickwood's Projectors series in Gear & Now, click here.

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Avid buys Medéa, launches VideoRAID family of high-performance, low cost storage solutions

Avid Technology, Inc. has unveiled the Avid VideoRAID family of storage systems that deliver up to 5 terabytes (TB) of high-efficiency storage with guaranteed real-time access for multi-stream, high-bandwidth standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) workflows. Unlike other competitive RAID products that suspend performance in the event of a drive failure, the new Avid VideoRAID line delivers uninterrupted real-time performance, even during a drive rebuild. The new systems - the Avid VideoRAID RTR320 and RTR320X - are the first in a series of low-cost parity RAID storage products that Avid plans to introduce as a result of acquiring Medea Corporation in January of 2006.

While terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, the deal further expands Avid's position as a leading provider of high-performance storage solutions for content creators in film, video, audio, broadcast, and animation.

The Avid VideoRAID product line leverages the combined bandwidth of multiple drives - with capacity of either 250GB or 500GB per drive - in storage arrays that provide real-time access to SD and HD media assets. The VideoRAID RTR320 and RTR320X systems are built around five-drive and 10-drive storage arrays, respectively, with one of every five drives functioning as a parity drive to deliver extremely robust data protection without interrupting performance during drive rebuilds.

The line, which comes in a range of configurations at low-cost price points, is qualified on the following Avid editing systems: Avid Liquid Chrome HD; Avid Liquid Pro; Avid Xpress Pro; Avid Xpress Studio; NewsCutter XP (with or without Avid Mojo); Media Composer Adrenaline and Media Composer Adrenaline HD; NewsCutter Adrenaline; Avid DS Nitris; and Avid Symphony Nitris.

Specific features of the VideoRAID RTR320 and RTR320X systems include:

  • Guaranteed real-time performance and availability (even during drive rebuild)
  • Scalable storage capacity ranging from 1.25TB to 5TB
  • An Ultra320 LVD SCSI, 68-pin VHDCI connection (dual channel for RTR320X)
  • Single or dual Ultra320 SCSI RAID controller(s)
  • Single or dual 250-watt power supply module(s)
  • Hot swappable drive modules
  • Support for up to four RTR320 or two RTR320X units for a maximum 10TB of raw storage per Avid-qualified workstation.

The following chart includes pricing for the new Avid VideoRAID systems. All prices are USMSRP and based on specific configurations that range in drive capacity (250 GB or 500 GB) and storage array size (5 or 10 drives): Avid VideoRAID Avid VideoRAID Configuration RTR320 RTR320X -

  • 1.25 TB total storage (5-250 GB drives) $3,929 $4,839
  • 2.5 TB total storage (5-500 GB drives) $6,669 $7,559
  • 2.5 TB total storage (10-250 GB drives) -- $7,999
  • 5 TB total storage (10-500 GB drives) -- $13,499

Avid is currently accepting orders for the new Avid VideoRAID systems. The new products can be ordered through either the Avid or Medea worldwide reseller channels, or through Avid directly. For complete information about Avid VideoRAID storage products, please visit www.avid.com/videoRAID. Avid will continue to offer its existing local storage solutions, including its Avid MediaDock and Avid MediaDrive systems - as well as all other Medea storage products - through both Avid's and Medea's worldwide reseller channels. For more information about Medea's RAID product line, visit www.medea.com.

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Varto Technologies Announces Free Avid and Adobe Training Seminars

Varto Technologies has announced two free training seminars scheduled to take place in its North Bergen, New Jersey facility. The seminars will focus on four leading postproduction solutions: Avid Xpress Pro HD, Avid Liquid Pro, Adobe Production Studio, and Matrox Axio LE.

Varto's three-hour Avid event will take place on Tuesday, March 7. Avid instructor and demo artist Glen Seaman will provide exciting product demonstrations of the Avid Xpress Studio HD suite and the Avid Liquid Pro integrated video editing software and hardware solution. At this event you'll see and hear how Avid Systems and software are revolutionizing film and video postproduction--and experience them for yourself. 

Register Now for the Avid event, and enter to win valuable prizes.

The Adobe & Matrox event will take place at the Varto facility in North Bergen on Thursday, March 9. Featuring Adobe instructor Dennis Radeke, the event will showcase Adobe's new Creative Suite and Production Suite sets of integrated Adobe applications, as well as Matrox' new Axio LE complete postprodtcion solution, which is built around Adobe Production Studio software. Production Studio's components have shared effects, a common user interface, and tight integration that lets you move fluidly from one task to another. At the seminar, you'll learn how to work seamlessly with those tools--Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, Adobe After Effects 7.0, Adobe Encore DVD 2.0, Adobe Audition 2.0, Adobe Photoshop CS2, and Adobe Illustrator CS2.

Register Now for the Adobe event, and enter to win valuable prizes.

www.vartotechnologies.com

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Matrox brings unique TripleHead Support to Leading Workstations and Laptops

Matrox Graphics Inc. has announced the new TripleHead2Go, a palm-sized box that uniquely allows supports of a Microsoft Windows desktop with a stretched resolution of up to 3840x1024 across three displays with full acceleration on all displays. TripleHead2Go appears to the system as an ultra-widescreen monitor and simply connects to a computer using a standard analog VGA monitor cable. Using Matrox patent-pending technology, TripleHead2Go then splits the Microsoft Windows desktop into three separate 1280 x 1024 screens of information, and displays across three independent monitors.

Building on the momentum of Matrox's DualHead2Go, with TripleHead2Go, Matrox has introduced a new category of patent-pending hardware products to the market called Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXMs). GXMs are not graphics accelerators; rather they are external boxes that connect to a computer using a standard analog VGA monitor cable. The system's existing graphics chip is used for rendering of all 2D, 3D and video and the GXM works in conjunction to add multi-monitor support.

TripleHead2Go allows digital content creators to upgrade existing workstations to TripleHead displays to enable a Surround Design experience. With Matrox Surround Design, multiple views of a design can be examined concurrently; more windows space is available for toolbars and important information that needs to be accessed quickly. DCC applications such as Autodesk 3ds max, Autodesk Maya and Newtek LightWave 3D allows users to work with several windows and viewports, which often must be viewed simultaneously. The triple-desktop Surround Design feature allows the artist to place all these UI elements (viewports, image windows, toolbars and dialogs) in ways that best enable their own workflows, allowing them to exercise their creativity, rather than worrying about the limitations of their workspace.

TripleHead2Go includes support for Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP, and is compatible with many professional- and enthusiast-class desktop and laptop PCs equipped with certain NVIDIA- and ATI-enabled graphics chipsets and add-in-boards. Maximum resolutions supported may vary depending on the GPU version, please check Matrox's website for more details.

Available in April 2006, TripleHead2Go has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $299USD. This product will be available from authorized resellers worldwide or, in North America and Europe, directly from Matrox at http://shopmatrox.com.

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Litepanels Introduces Mini 32

Litepanels expands the arsenal of professional production lighting with the new Mini 32. Ideal for illuminating interiors, the Mini 32 employs Litepanels' LED technology to offer 3200ºK of warm, projected soft, output.
     Litepanels' portable LED systems have become an invaluable asset in the production of numerous hit television series and films, and an indispensable tool for the location lighting of ENG news crews. With their increasing popularity, there has been a growing demand for a Litepanels that meets the needs of tungsten color-temperature lighting. Over 100% brighter than the original daylight-balanced Mini head when corrected for tungsten, the Mini 32 offers optimal illumination for any interior shot.
     Like all Litepanels, the unit is fully flicker and heat free, with 0 to 100% dimming with virtually no color shift. Measuring just 6.75" W x 2.25" H x1.25" D (175mm x 55mm x 30mm) and weighing only 9.6 oz. (.36kg), this versatile unit works well on or off camera, on a stand, or for lighting any tight spot.
     The Mini 32 can be powered from a variety of sources, including a standard camera battery, car battery, AC adapter, or the new longer life NIMH 2 hr snap-on battery pack. Prices for the Litepanels Mini 32 start at $749 list.
www.litepanels.com

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WEVA Town Meeting Tour To Kick-Off in Philadelphia; 16th Annual WEVA EXPO Will Head to Mandalay Bay

The Wedding & Event Videographers Association International (WEVA) has announced locations and dates for its major events of 2006, including the 16th WEVA Expo. Philadelphia will be the site for the official kick-off of the 8th Annual WEVA Town Meeting Tour and all-new WEVA Institute workshops on Monday March 20. And Mandalay Bay will host the 16th Annual WEVA EXPO August 21-24th.

Sponsored by Adobe Systems the 2006 city-wide WEVA Town Meeting Tour stops will also include Chicago (March 27), Atlanta (March 30), Los Angeles (April 3), San Jose (April 5), and Las Vegas (April 25--NAB week). The announcement of the 2006 WEVA Town Meeting Tour was immediately followed by the announcement of WEVA EXPO 2006. All WEVA EXPO 2006 programs and activities, including the 2006 WEVA Trade Show, will be held at Mandalay Bay. Room reservations for WEVA attendees will open through Mandalay Bay next week. Choice of Mandalay Bay or Luxor This year, WEVA EXPO attendees will have the choice of staying at Mandalay Bay at the discounted rate of just $139/night or at Luxor, which is directly connected to Mandalay Bay by indoor tram and walkway at the rate of $99/night. The WEVA EXPO 2006 dates at Mandalay Bay represent a change from the early August dates first announced (without location) last fall. "

A slate of seminars, workshops, system training, live demonstrations of new technology, and networking activities are already being planned for WEVA EXPO 2006, according to John Zale, WEVA's Director of Educational Development. Zale said new applications and concepts for utilizing technologies such as portable video in bridal marketing, and digital asset management (DAM systems) for corporate projects will be introduced on the 2006 WEVA Town Meeting Tour and will expand further at WEVA EXPO. "We're all suddenly working in the new world of 'broadband for everyone' and it's affecting members of our industry in new and different ways," said Zale. "We're confronted with amazing new opportunities but significant challenges too, including increased competition, how to keep up with new technology, and how to run a business that can be profitable and still allow you take a vacation." Programs set for the Town Meeting events and WEVA EXPO 2006 will explore new solutions in these areas.

Dan Krieger, Chairman of the WEVA Continuing Education Committee added that at this year's EXPO, the Committee will conduct the written exam for videographers wishing to attain WEVA Merited Professional Videographer (MPV) accreditation. Details will be posted soon.

Special events and presentations arranged for the 8th Annual WEVA Town Meeting Tour and new WEVA Institute workshops will be unveiled later this week on the WEVA Web site. Registration will be available online.

The WEVA 16th Annual Wedding & Event Video Expo will officially open at 5:30 p.m. Monday, August 21, 2006 at Mandalay Bay and conclude by 5:00 p.m. Thursday, August 24, 2006. Optional, pre-convention workshops will be held Monday afternoon starting at 12:30 p.m. An orientation and Welcome Event for first-time WEVA EXPO attendees will be presented Monday morning August 21 at 10:30 a.m. Watch the WEVA Web site for more details on all of the outstanding new programs coming up from the Wedding & Event Videographers Association International.

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Disc Makers Introduces New and Enhanced Line of DVD/CD Duplicators

Disc Makers has bolstered its Reflex tower-duplicator lineup with the addition of two brand-new models: the versatile 2-drive Reflex2 and powerful 10-drive Reflex 10. All the popular Reflex systems have been re-engineered with new state-of-the-art NED 16xDVD/48x CD writers, an all-new controller that offers a large 128MB buffer plus flexible features such as ability to rename files stored within the hard disk and separate user accounts with password protection.

While the Reflex machines grow in performance and features, Disc Makers continues to push prices down. Disc Makers announces new Reflex price cuts throughout the lineup, now starting at $299 for the Reflex 1.

The enhanced Reflex duplicator line now features duplicators with one, two, four, seven, and ten drives, and duplicate up to 80 DVDs or 150 CDs per hour. The new units are shipping now and start at just $549 for the all-new 2-drive Reflex2, and $1,290 for the 10-drive Reflex 10. All Reflex duplicators provide an affordable and efficient solution for a complete standalone manual duplication experience.

The re-engineered Reflex duplicators include the following:

  • Powerful NEC 16x DVD±R/48x CD-R drives with state-of-the-art throughput speed (Reflex2 - up to 16 DVD±Rs per hour, and up to 31 CD-R's per hour; Reflex10 - up to 80 DVD±Rs per hour, and up to 150 CD-Rs per hour)
  • Dual-Layer DVD duplication capabilities.
  • A new controller with large 128 meg buffer.
  • New features such as the ability to rename files and images on the internal hard drive, and separate user names with password protection.
  • Durability
  • Free technical support for one year.
  • Perfect fit guarantee--if you discover within thirty days that this product does not work for your needs, Disc Makers will give you full credit towards one that does.
  • 100 FREE Disc Makers Ultra 52x CDs or 50 16x DVDs with purchase, and discounted pricing on future blank media purchases

To learn more about Disc Makers' complete line of duplication hardware, visit www.discmakers.com/duplicators.

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Canopus Introduces ADVC700 for Broadcast and Postproduction Professionals

Canopus, a part of the Grass Valley business within Thomson, has announced ADVC700. Engineered to meet the high standards of professional broadcast and postproduction environments, ADVC700 provides unmatched quality and reliability in bidirectional analog/DV conversion, supporting both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.

An component input/output solution for any DV interface, ADVC700 boasts a 19-inch rack-mountable design, RS-422A control, as well as support for LTC timecode and external synchronization. At the heart of ADVC700 is the Canopus DV codec chip, providing unparalleled picture quality preservation during analog-to-DV conversion, plus locked audio support for perfect audio and video synchronization. The ADVC700 is easily and quickly configurable using the LCD front panel display and jog dial.

ADVC700 includes PerfectSync technology to ensure perfect output synchronization. PerfectSync controls and synchronizes the transfer rate of IEEE 1394 communication with an external reference signal. This prevents skipped and duplicate frames and produces perfect conversion of all frames during analog/DV conversion.

Many of the current analog/DV converters adjust the output by skipping and duplicating frames in order to synchronize the DV signal to an external sync signal's frame frequency. In these converters, there is no guarantee that all input frames will output to DV accurately without frame repetition and frame drops. Since ADVC700 is primarily designed for studio environments, frame accuracy is essential for accurate offline and online editing With PerfectSync, this is assured.

ADVC700 will be available in March 2006 from Canopus and its authorized dealers and system integrators for a suggested retail price of $2199.

www.canopus.com

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