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May 22, 2006

Table of Contents

Continuing Education: On the Job Training with Mark & Trisha Von Lanken
Review: Philips’ 23” Brilliance 230W LCD Monitor
Apple Releases Final Cut Express HD 3.5
Pioneer Electronics Chooses Sonic Solutions to Power World’s First Commercially Available Blu-ray Recorder
NAB New York replaces NAB Post+
ProCon Announces Competitive Pricing for all DVD/CD Duplicators
Sony Unveils World's First Blu-Ray Notebook Computer
NewTek SpeedEDIT Wins Innovation Award at NAB 2006

Continuing Education: On the Job Training with Mark & Trisha Von Lanken

Mark and Trisha Von Lanken--award-winning videographers, same-day edit pioneers, and masters of the moving camera--recently decided to extend their acclaimed educational efforts beyond the familiar confines of the training DVD and trade-show seminar with a marathon two-day workshop held on April 24-25, 2006 in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The first in a series of workshops that Mark and Trisha will present this year, this inaugural offering boasted an intimate class size of six videographers, and featured in-depth, hands-on training in all aspects of wedding video production. While each attendee paid $595 to participate in the two-day "On the Job Training" workshop, Mark and Trisha invited me along to report on the proceedings.
     The Von Lankens advertised the workshop on VideoUniversity.com and their own website, and the six available spots sold out in one week. Participants included Barry and Carolyn Pett of Arista Media Productions (TX), Sandy and Steve Dial of A Mind's Eye Film (TX), Jamie Player of Absolute Video Productions (SC), and Rob Teifeld of Cinematic Elegance, (CA).
     Everyone arrived for the "optional" Sunday night which worked out well since it gave all the participating videographers a chance to get to know each other ahead of time before going right to work on Monday morning. All of the participants had previously attended the Von Lankens' presentations at video conventions or had purchased various training DVDs, but didn‘t know them personally.

All of the videographers are relatively new to the business. One participant had been in business for just seven months while the most experienced team had been doing video for 3 1/2 years. All have websites with streaming video. Having "some" wedding experience is recommended to reap the full benefits of this sort of teaching. Regardless of experience, they all had one thing in common: a passion for wedding videography and an eagerness to learn from one of the industry's best husband and wife teams.

As Barry Pett said, "At the risk of sounding like a groupie, the initial event that sparked my passion for cinematic wedding videography was randomly stumbling onto the Von Lankens' website and watching their demo. It really was an epiphany of sorts. Attending WEVA Expo several months later took it to another level."

Monday morning started off with the fundamentals of using the manual settings on your camera. There were a variety of cameras represented, including the Sony PD150, Canon XL2, Sony HDR-FX1 and Sony HVR-Z1 Participants practiced framing, composition, and reveal shots. As a videographer, flexibility is very helpful for meeting the physical demands of the business, so we practiced deep-knee bends and leaning exercises. These exercises have become a running joke amongst those who attend their various workshops, but Mark says doing these will help you achieve the camera movements that he uses and teaches.

Newlyweds Caleb and Julie Howard, who were married in February (with their wedding video produced by the Von Lankens, of course), served as the "practice" wedding couple for the workshop. They brought their tux and wedding gown to the studio so everyone could practice bride and groom preparations. The also re-created their first dance. As we ate lunch, Julie commented on various demo DVDs that videographers sent in the mail. She said she preferred watching a 20-minute highlight to sitting through a full ceremony. I was a bit surprised to find out that she doesn't own a computer, so she couldn‘t visit websites. She found Mark and Trisha through a friend's referral.

We then drove over to the First United Methodist Church of Tulsa. This is the beautiful church shown in the Von Lankens' Moving Camera Techniques DVD. This was very much a hands-on seminar as Mark had everyone use their own camera for various shots. Mark typically operates the front camera during the ceremony so those who shoot upfront went with Mark and those who shoot back camera went with Trisha. Videographers typically get only a few minutes with the couple after the photo session, so they showed how to maximize your shooting time with the couple. Everyone practiced shooting couple footage on the altar.

Mark and Trisha gave personalized attention to everyone and made sure each participant understood how to get a particular shot. Mark discussed audio and how he uses four MiniDisc recorders instead of iRivers because they still work. We then moved outside to practice exterior church shots and fountain shots. We went to downtown Tulsa to practice more shots with the couple. We then moved on to Gilcrease Park to practice more Love Story shots. One fun moment was when Mark gave the couple his PD150 camera and let them shoot footage of each other. Julie had no problem hamming it up with Caleb operating the camera. This would make for a great spontaneous moment in the Love Story.

After dinner at a BBQ restaurant, we all went back to the studio where everyone shared examples of their previous work including weddings, concept videos, love stories, etc. Note to future attendees: Check your ego at the door and be open to constructive criticism. I saw several examples of great work mixed in with examples that needed improvement. One of the attendees said he was a bit intimidated showing his work, but knew he had to do it in order to get better. We were supposed to end at 10pm, but Trisha and Mark graciously stayed much later as we watched more videos and discussed various aspects of the business.

Day Two started with the Von Lankens showing examples of good and bad editing. They also discussed the impact of sound bites and how to get them. Les Petersen of Petersen's Photography, joined us for a networking lunch to discuss business issues. Les said that the number one reason businesses fail is because of price--people don't charge enough for what they do. As for marketing, Les said that repetitive direct mailings work for him.

Mark and Trisha also demonstrated Glidecam and Stabilizer techniques. We watched them shoot a wedding cake and illustrate off-camera lighting for desired effects. We saw Mark set up 3-point lighting for interviews. Their duplex-mate, photographer Mark Thompson, joined us and gave us his insight on how he lights couples for portraits. Mark said you can make an inexpensive reflector by getting a 99-cent solar blanket (sold at camping supply stores), and using a spray adhesive to attach it to foam board.

We had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. Then it was back to the studio for more casual discussions and watching more videos. Once again, we had another late night. I personally had a great time getting to know the attendees and picking up some tips as well. No matter how long one is in business, you can always learn from others. Some of the best learning occurs just sitting around talking. The chemistry of the group really made for learning in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

Mark & Trisha gave personalized attention to everyone and made sure everyone understood what they were teaching. The pacing was perfect as no one felt rushed, and everything went as planned. All the participants agreed that the workshop was well-worth the cost (which included lunch and dinner on both days) and would recommend this workshop to others. For anyone who wants to get their shooting, editing, creativity and marketing skills up to speed quickly, this is the best 48 hours you could spend your time and money on.

Their next "On the Job Training" workshop is scheduled for June 26-27, 2006 with a few openings still available at the special introductory price of $595. Future workshop dates in July will be announced shortly. For more information on how to sign up for the Von Lankens' workshop, or to purchase their various training DVDs, visit www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com.

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Review: Philips’ 23” Brilliance 230W LCD Monitor

Being someone who has always edited with dual 17" CRT monitors, the switch to a large, single LCD screen presented quite a change. But for the sake of conservation--both space and power bill relief--I was willing to give it a go. The new monitor in question is a Philips 23" Brilliance LCD monitor (Model 230WP7).
     After an easy set-up process, I was off to the races. I adjusted my NLE (Premiere Pro 2.0) to accommodate the new workspace and began editing. Within a few minutes, I could appreciate the new workspace. No looking across monitor edges, and no back-and-forth with the head. Also, the monitor's 1920x1200 resolution gave me more desktop height compared to the dual 17" monitors I was running at 1024x768. This means more levels of the timeline visible at all time.
     After a couple hours of editing, scrubbing back and forth on the timeline, it was obvious to me I would not be going back to the old setup. Another benefit I had not counted on is how much easier using this larger, single monitor is on my eyes. After three hours of editing, I found my eyes to be less tired than when using my traditional setup.
     Like many of us, I'm generally happy with my existing setup and reluctant make a change. But in this case, when I did, I found the benefits to be real and useful.
     One criticism I have for most of the Widescreen LCD monitors I have seen (this one included) is the Aspect Ratio of 16:10. I don't output or ever view in native 16:10, and I doubt many of you do either. Why must we be forced to use this on our monitors? Until the monitor manufacturers guess the message, I guess we will always be saddled with that small black bar.

One final note: while not necessary for video editing, the screen's ability to rotate 90 degrees for portrait viewing was great for photo editing.

The basic numbers on the 230W are as follows:

  • WUXGA (1920X1200 resolution)
  • 178-degree viewing angle
  • 12ms response rate
  • Both DVI & VGA inputs
  • 4 built-in USB hubs.

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Apple Releases Final Cut Express HD 3.5

Apple has released Final Cut Express HD 3.5, an upgrade to its award-winning software solution for video enthusiasts, schools and small businesses that runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. New in Final Cut Express HD 3.5 is Dynamic RT for real-time playback of multi-stream effects, Soundtrack 1.5 with a complete suite of professional level audio production tools and LiveType 2.1 with even more exciting animated text and titles.

Final Cut Express HD 3.5 provides a set of advanced editing tools for DV and HDV video formats with support for multiple video layers, real-time special effects and transitions, and powerful color correction and matting filters for professional-looking results. New Dynamic RT enables users to view even multi-layered HDV video in real-time which dramatically speeds up the editing process by eliminating the need to render and re-render clips. In addition, all effects, transitions and motion parameters can now be keyframed, providing complete creative control over special effects that can be saved as favorites for use in other projects.

Complementing Final Cut Express HD 3.5 is a new version of Soundtrack with over 4,000 professional-quality, royalty-free instrument loops and sound effects that can be mixed and matched to instantly create a custom score precisely timed to each project. New features in Soundtrack 1.5 include improved multitrack audio editing and recording tools with tracks, busses, outputs and real-time effects processing just like a professional recording studio.

Improved single- and multiple-take recording provides a way to record, audition and edit dialog or other recorded performances with expert precision. Also included in Final Cut Express HD 3.5 is a new version of LiveType that lets users add high-impact excitement to movies with dynamic animated text and hundreds of royalty-free backgrounds and animated textures—all customizable to match the look and feel of projects. New features in LiveType 2.1 include a host of exciting new animated graphics, including 70 new animated objects, 15 new textures and 60 new customizable preset effects for animated text and titles. With new vector-based LiveFont technology, animated text styles like Tremor, Script, Ribbon, Cool ,and Blueprint can be scaled to any resolution including HD with blazing rendering performance, especially on the new generation of Intel-based Macs.

Final Cut Express HD 3.5 is available now through the Apple Store (www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $299 (US). Owners of previous versions of Final Cut Express can upgrade to Final Cut Express HD 3.5 for just $99 (US).

Full details and further information are available at http://www.apple.com/finalcutexpress/.

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Pioneer Electronics Chooses Sonic Solutions to Power World’s First Commercially Available Blu-ray Recorder

Sonic Solutions broke new ground today, shipping its Roxio BD software with the first commercially available Blu-ray Disc drive from Pioneer Electronics. The release ushers in a new era in optical disc recording, making possible for the first time the backup of up to 25GB of data on a single layer BD-R (recordable) or BD-RE (rewritable) disc, as well as image-to-disc recording and the archive and playback of hours of high-definition video content. The software and hardware combination will enable a range of applications including professional pre-mastering, high-definition authoring and high-capacity storage. "

Initially targeted to professional users, the Pioneer BDR-101A will allow authoring facilities to perform testing and evaluation of commercial Blu-ray Disc releases in preparation for replication. Roxio digital media software for Blu-ray Disc will also enable image-to-disc recording, saving of BD disc images, and data transfer for file backup on BD. The drive may also be used by enthusiasts to store DV camcorder video and to record high-definition television shows on a properly equipped personal computer. The BDR-101A is also capable of BD-ROM movie and DVD playback and recording.

The release of BD-enabled Roxio software adds another first to Sonic's 15-year history of delivering optical-format innovations, including the delivery of the first commercial CD mastering system in 1989, the first professional DVD production system in 1996, and the first consumer DVD authoring application in 1999. Sonic's efforts on high-definition began over two years ago. Through its High Definition Authoring Alliance (HDAA), Sonic has been helping Hollywood and their authoring facility partners prepare for the successful launch of the next-generation optical format. Sonic's technologies and guidance have been essential in the creation of the first replicated discs using advanced interactive modes of both BD and HD DVD. In addition, Sonic has also licensed BD technology to leading consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers, such as Broadcom, for incorporation into high-definition set-top players.


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NAB New York replaces NAB Post+

NAB has announced that its newest event, the NAB Post+ Production Show, will be re-branded as NAB New York for its upcoming second edition. NAB New York's sub-theme will be Content Creation+ to convey the increased scope of the event, which will cover the professional audio and video content creation process from pre-production, acquisition and capture to post-production and content management.

NAB New York, developed to complement and build on the highly successful NAB Post|Production World Conference, held at NAB's spring convention, capitalizes on the partnership between NAB and Future Media Concepts (FMC). It is targeted to the New York and the East Coast audience and will train digital artists in cutting-edge production and post-production techniques and showcase the latest content creation technologies. For more information, go to www.nabnewyork.com.

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ProCon Announces Competitive Pricing for all DVD/CD Duplicators

ProCon has announced its competitively priced ValueLine (VL) Series DVD/CD towers. The duplicators support all DVD and CD formats including DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD+R9 Dual Layer DVD. Write speeds are 16X for DVD and 48X for CD.

ProCon VL Series DVD/CD Duplicator Towers are combination DVD/CD Recordable Duplication Systems featuring high-performance writers and superior cooling and ventilation. Prices range from $199 for the 1:1 Load and Go PC-CD-1MAS  (CD-only) to $1,099 for the 7:1 PC-DVD-7VL (DVD-CD).

For applications requiring the large capacity of DVD media, including video, medical imaging, long-term data storage, and interchange as well as many others, the VL Series is the best solution for duplication requirements. Their user-friendly interface, combined with one-button operation, allow any novice user to easily duplicate multiple, general-purpose and non-secured video DVDs and CDs. Tower duplicators are typically used when many copies are required in a short period of time. Houses of Worship, schools, as well as many other users find this to be their best solution for duplication either in the office or at live events.


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Sony Unveils World's First Blu-Ray Notebook Computer

Sony has taken the wraps off the world's first Blu-ray Disc enabled notebook computer--the VAIO AR which will be available this summer. Part of a series, the VAIO AR comes in two different configurations: Premium and Standard. The AR Premium version plays Blu-ray Disc high-definition content, so you can enjoy movies in full 1080p HD resolution.

The notebook has a 17-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) widescreen display and uses Sony's XBRITE Hi-Color LCD technology. For those who prefer to watch content on a larger screen, the AR model also has an HDMI(TM) connector and included cable that connects to high-definition televisions for a larger viewing experience.

In addition to supporting HD playback, the VAIO AR notebook is a multimedia powerhouse with the capability to record high-definition camcorder content to Blu-ray Discs. Now aspiring moviemakers can shoot, edit, and burn their HD creation on a PC--all in native 1080 resolution. Using an extensive suite of dedicated software applications, you can also edit high-definition footage and share it on Sony high-capacity BD-R and BD-RE Blu-ray Discs (up to 50 GB) or on traditional DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/+RW capitalizing on flexible storage, playback and recording.

The AR Premium is available in a high gloss, piano-black finish with silver trim and an illuminated VAIO logo. It also has the latest Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology for processor-heavy multi-tasking and high-definition video editing.


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NewTek SpeedEDIT Wins Innovation Award at NAB 2006

NewTek, Inc., a manufacturer of video and 3D animation products, recently earned a "Product Innovation" Award from the 4EVER Group for SpeedEDIT, a resolution-independent video editor designed to work quickly and efficiently on any video project, from web streams to high definition. Eligible products were newly-introduced at NAB 2006, and were evaluated on their price points, innovation and productivity, as well as potential and effective use within the event video community.

NewTek was awarded on April 26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. By recognizing those products and/or services that enable event videography professionals to better serve their clients, 4EVER Group hopes to direct more vendor resources to the event video community. The 4EVER Group is an organization dedicated to providing resource and educational materials and services to all facets of the event video industry.

SpeedEDIT works seamlessly with HDV, MPEG-2, AVI, QuickTime, Flash or most popular video formats. Users enjoy full resolution on-screen HD previews with FireWire output to camera or deck. Pricing and Availability SpeedEDIT will ship Summer 2006 for $495 USD.


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