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March 13, 2006

Table of Contents

Stage to Screen: Duplicating, Labeling, and Delivering Stage Event Videos
Magnet Media Now Shipping DVD-Based Training for Adobe Production Studio
Digidesign Ships DV Toolkit 2 Option for Pro Tools LE Systems
ProCon Digital Systems Distributes the New VideoCarbon Portable DVR Product for Law Enforcement, Military, and Security
ATI’s Avivo Video Converter Gets PC Video onto Your Portable Player in "Record Time"
Sony Ships New DL DVD Recorders
Roxio Releases Blu-ray Disc Technology Preview Kit

Stage to Screen: Duplicating, Labeling, and Delivering Stage Event Videos

As a stage event videographer, you produce DVDs in considerably higher quantities per job than with personal events like weddings and mitzvahs. Since your income depends largely on your volume sales—rather than montages, SDEs, and other add-ons—you need to handle duplication, labeling, and delivery as efficiently as possible.
     You can duplicate your DVDs in a number of ways (since DVDs are today's predominant delivery medium, I'll skip VHS tape duplication), but multi-recorder towers are a particularly cost-efficient option, with prices as low as $1,000 for seven-recorder models. Anyone doing a number of events throughout the year should seriously consider purchasing a tower or two. Sizes range from 1:1 duplicators to 16-drive monsters. I prefer this method rather than the all-in-one duplicator/printer units, but only because I produce a large number of DVDs each year. The all-in-one units are ideal for lower production numbers, but some of the cheaper models burn up under constant or heavy use.

Another advantage to using towers for duplication is that they offer (as a menu item) a compare mode that will verify each DVD to the master and will reject a disc as bad if a single bit is found to differ from the original. It does take an extra 20-40 minutes to run, but it saves watching dozens of DVD to check for quality and ensures your client of a good DVD, as long as your master is without fault.

For labeling, I don't recommend stick-on labels, but rather the coated DVDs that are ready for direct printing. They are readily available, even in your local office supply store. Be careful, though, as there are different types. Some are inkjet only, others thermal only, and you have your choice of a silver or white surface in both variety. There is a third type, Light Scribe, that are designed for with a specially equipped recorder that's capable of etching a label directly onto the non-write side of a disc. But because of the expense of the media and length of time to actually create an image, the fact that LightScribe towers are only just coming out, and the fact that these drives can't create full-color, photo-like images like inkjet printers, these aren't viable options for many videographers today.

To save time and create a "branding" for the DVD, I like to use a scanned image of the event's program for the DVD label or have the show's sponsor provide an image or photo. There are also programs like PixelPops' Pixel Mixer that require little or no artistic talent to create professional-looking labels. Once you have created the image (in Photoshop or other standalone program), you need a disc-compatible labeling program to center the image on the DVD, blank out the center hub, etc. Most CD/DVD printers come with this type of software. Not only can these programs take care of the printing, they are also great at creating the actual label. I use Discus Labeler software from Magic Mouse, which came with my Epson printer (an ordinary photo printer that also prints on surface-printable DVDs). The upgrade package ($30) gives you tons of stock backgrounds and uses the font base that already resides on your computer. It also allows you to import labels from other programs and supports all types of labels (even VHS) and printers. It's a surprisingly good program for the money.

To actually place the image on the DVD you need a printer and if you are not doing 1,000 discs a month, you can use a "one off" printers like the Epson R200 or R300, which start at under $100. Larger orders require a robotic printer. Here, standalone machines like the Microboards PrintFactory or the Primera Bravo (they make a printer-only unit) are the front runners. These start at $1,200 (street). Again, some of the combo units (duplication and printing) may be the perfect entry-level solution for most people starting in this area of the industry.

The last step before distribution or delivery is the packaging. After the time and effort you've spent designing the label for your DVDs, why cover it up in an Amaray case or with an over wrap, and spend money and time to do so? What works for me is the poly-vinyl jewel-style cases. They are clear and nearly indestructible, with most having a hub lock that keeps the DVD in place when the case is opened, and the 5mm thickness takes up almost no space. In quantity, these are available about for 15 cents each. Using the poly cases will also lower your mailing costs. You can use the smaller CD/DVD-size bubble-pack envelopes (size 0). If buy the mailers in bulk, you'll pay half of what they cost in the local office supply store. Total shipping weight for a single DVD is less than 3 ounces, which sets the current mailing cost at 83 cents for USPS First Class Mail.

 If you are mailing in quantity, look into one of the third-party, online stamp companies. Monthly fees are $10-15 a month, but the convenience justifies the cost. Most of these allow bulk mailing using a database or spreadsheet which will allows you to print labels with postage for hundreds of packages (all of the same weight and postage type) in one shot, automatically. The two major companies are Stamps.com and Endicia Internet Postage (I use Endicia). Both offer similar services but have slightly different offerings, so read their contracts and list of services before you choose one. You will have to get an accurate scale to determine postage amounts, but they are available via the Web for $10-25. These services are adding new products often and even offer insurance (at a rate cheaper than the post office). If you do mail or ship your product, be sure to calculate the entire cost of shipping (packaging, postage, shipping labels, stamp contracts, and even your time packaging and your trips to the post office.

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Magnet Media Now Shipping DVD-Based Training for Adobe Production Studio

Magnet Media, Inc.'s Digital Media Training Series (DMTS) has released Inside Adobe Production Studio Standard Edition, a set of interactive self-paced training DVDs for Adobe's new post-production solution, which includes training for the three applications included in the Production Suite--Inside Adobe After Effects 7, Inside Adobe Photoshop CS2, and Inside Adobe Premiere Pro 2.

The training bundle comprises over 20 hours of comprehensive training suitable for those already familiar with prior versions of these applications, as well as those new to Adobe's creative products. The training will have you working quickly and confidently without costly classes, phone calls to help lines, or time-consuming trial-and-error learning.

Each aspect of the training is taught by an instructor expert in the specific craft, and expert in the pertinent Adobe application. The training includes comprehensive lessons on all of the new features of these applications, as well complete media files so that you can work alongside our instructors.

DMTS training DVDs are sold in various retail outlets including many Apple stores, specialists and resellers. Users may also purchase the training directly from Magnet Media's website at www.digitalmediatraining.com. Free lessons from the training are available online. Other recently released products produced by Magnet Media include Inside Adobe After Effects 7: Project-Based Training and Inside Adobe Photoshop CS2: Project-Based Training , along with the latest issue of Magnet Media's DVD magazine, Zoom In; The Quarterly DVD-Based Guide for Digital Production.

www.digitalmediatraining.com

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Digidesign Ships DV Toolkit 2 Option for Pro Tools LE Systems

Digidesign has announced that the DV Toolkit 2 option for Pro Tools LE systems is now shipping. Building on the popular DV Toolkit, DV Toolkit 2 provides an even larger collection of tools for producing high-end sound for film or video.

DV Toolkit 2 is a solution for users who want access to many of the post production features of Pro Tools|HD, but in a smaller, more portable solution. Paired with a ProTools LE system, DV Toolkit 2 provides a cost-effective entry to the world of sound for film. DV Toolkit 2 includes three powerful plug-ins that are ideal for working with sound for picture: the TL Space Native Edition convolution reverb, DINR LE intelligent noise reduction tool, and the Synchro Arts VocALign Project for Pro Tools time-alignment tool.

It adds the DigiBase Pro file management tool for working with the large number of files and volumes on post projects, the DigiTranslator 2.0 option for importing and exporting projects to and from video editing applications, such as Avid Xpress software, and the Pro Tools MP3 Option for exporting mixes as MP3 files. "

With DV Toolkit 2, users can expand Pro Tools sessions to up to 48 mono or stereo tracks at up to 96 kHz for accommodating larger, more complex post production projects. In addition, DV Toolkit 2 adds a wide selection of post-specific Pro Tools functions, many of which were previously available only with Pro Tools HD software, including: DigiBase Pro, "Replace Region" and "Fit to Marks" commands, Scrub Trim tool, Export Session as Text, Continuous Scroll mode, Universe window, Automation snapshots, and Enhanced Import Session Data features.

The MSRP of the DV Toolkit 2 is $1,295 US. Owners of the original DV Toolkit option can upgrade to DV Toolkit 2 through the online DigiStore for $295.

For more information, visit Digidesign's website at http://www.digidesign.com.

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ProCon Digital Systems Distributes the New VideoCarbon Portable DVR Product for Law Enforcement, Military, and Security

VideoCarbon Inc., a manufacturer of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), has released the first in a new product line of portable body-worn digital video recorders. The Digital Shift Recorder (DSR) provides portability to evidentiary digital video that is capable of recording time-date stamped video content.

The DSR-100 was specifically designed to support the needs of Law Enforcement, providing officers a compact DVR that is easy to use yet versatile. With a single quick-disconnect, the DSR can provide power, control and video to cameras for body-worn applications that require extreme portability.

The DSR has an integrated hard disk drive and a field- replaceable Lithium-Polymer battery. It offers Pre-Event recording and embedded Time/Date/ Serial # information in the video to support chain-of-evidence requirements. It is the first of a series of DVR product offerings that VideoCarbon is targeting for the Law Enforcement and Security markets, though it is versatile enough to be used in many applications.

www.proconusa.com

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ATI’s Avivo Video Converter Gets PC Video onto Your Portable Player in "Record Time"

The Avivo Video Converter from ATI Technologies Inc. dramatically reduces the "wait time" users experience when converting a PC-based video of their favorite show or home movie for play on today's portable video players. In less than 5 minutes, the Avivo Video Converter can convert 30 minutes of video into a format playable by today's more popular portable video devices. When compared to alternative solutions, the Avivo Video Converter is more than six times faster, according to ATI.

The Avivo Video Converter is available today, as a wizard found within Catalyst Control Centre 6.3, a software package designed to enhance ATI's Radeon X1000 series of graphics cards. The Avivo Video Converter simplifies the conversion of digital video from one file format to another and enables even a novice user to quickly and easily convert their videos to play on an industry standard DVD/DivX player or portable media devices such as the Apple iPod, Sony PSP, Creative Zen, and others. "

The Avivo Video Converter accepts almost any video file format as a source and outputs in most popular video formats. Users running the wizard simply select the input and then output file format, set the quality level, and choose a file location for their newly converted video files--the Avivo Video Converter does the rest.

Catalyst 6.3, which includes the Avivo Video Converter, will be available for download at www.ati.com beginning today and is supported by ATI's Radeon X1000 series of graphics cards. For more information about the Avivo Video Converter, click here.

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Sony Ships New DL DVD Recorders

Sony is currently shipping a new generation of double layer, dual format DVD drives. Sony Electronics' DRU-820A internal DVD Multi drive now supports all available DVD formats including DVD+R/+RW, DVD+R Double/Dual Layer, and DVD-RAM.

With up to 16X max DVD+R burning, the DRU-820A will deliver a fully recorded disc in about 6 minutes. The internal DRU-820A features the following:

  • 8X DVD+R DL
  • 6X DVD-R DL
  • 5X DVD-RAM
  • 16X DVD±R
  • 8X DVD+RW
  • 6X DVD-RW
  • 48X CD-R
  • 32X CD-RW
  • Comprehensive software package from Nero
  • Enhanced DL disc playback compatibility with home DVD players.

The DRU-820A also comes with an ATAPI interface and black replacement bezel, and is currently available for an estimated selling price of $99 plus an additional $20 mail-in rebate.

www.sonystyle.com

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Roxio Releases Blu-ray Disc Technology Preview Kit

Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions, has released its Blu-ray Disc (BD) Technology Preview Kit. The Kit is a collection of software applications that enable PC and drive manufacturers to qualify a full range of BD capabilities including data backup of as much as 25GB on Blu-ray Disc Recordable (BD-R) or Blu-ray Disc Rewritable (BD-RE) media, non-protected Blu-ray disc copying, and BDAV format recording and playback.

The Blu-ray Disc-enabled and Windows Vista-compatible functionality is currently being integrated into Roxio's line of consumer retail and OEM applications such as Roxio Easy Media Creator, Roxio WinOnCD, and Roxio MyDVD. The Blu-ray Disc Technology Preview Kit is the latest in a series of high-definition initiatives by Sonic Solutions which began its pioneering work on the new formats over two years ago.

Sonic has taken the leading role in helping Hollywood and their authoring facility partners prepare for the launch of the new formats. Sonic founded the High Definition Authoring Alliance (HDAA) in 2005 and is the world's leading provider of tools and technologies vital in the production of the industry's first replicated discs to utilize advanced interactive modes for both Blu-ray Disc as well as HD DVD. In addition, Sonic has been working with consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers such as Broadcom who have licensed the company's technologies for use in its high-definition multi-function consumer electronics players.

www.roxio.com

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