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Information Today, Inc.

August 14, 2006

Table of Contents

Commentary: Is Apple's Mac Pro Worth the Upgrade for G5 Pros?
Panasonic Delivers Its New AJ-PCD20 Five-Slot P2
Disc Makers Unveils High-Throughput Automated Inkjet Printer
Apple Unveils New Mac Pro Featuring Quad 64-bit Xeon Processors
AJA Supports New Apple Mac Pro
4EVER Group Announces Special Convention Pre-Registration in August for Video 07
Heydar Adel, Online Editor of Fox TV’s ‘24’ to Speak at WEVA Expo
Autodesk 3ds Max 9 Software Accelerates Next-Generation Digital Content Creation and Design Visualization

Commentary: Is Apple's Mac Pro Worth the Upgrade for G5 Pros?

This week, at Apple's 2006 World Wide Developer Conference, CEO Steve Jobs completed the company's transition to Intel-based machines. After bringing out Intel-based MacBooks (née PowerBooks), Mac minis and iMacs, there was one group of users thus far with no Intel meat on their plate: pro desktop users. Jobs not only announced that the Mac Pro replaces the Power Macintosh G5, but that the new systems are already shipping. What's more, Apple's single-rack Xserve has also made the processor switch, but the Intel-based Xserve will not ship until later this year.
     With these announcements, it's official: there are no more new Apple computers that use the G4 or G5 chips from IBM and Freescale (née Motorola). This basically puts to rest the PowerOpen alliance formed by the three companies to promote the PowerPC chip in the early 1990s.
     But what of the latest incarnation of Apple's "Tower of Power?" It's still clad in a G5-looking case, following the precedent that these new computers are the same computers we already know, just with a different CPU. The only computer to undergo a clear design revision was the MacBook. The MacBook Pro, mini, iMac, and Mac Pro all look nearly identical to the PowerPC-based models that preceded them. This is similar to what Apple did when transitioning from Motorola 680x0 chips to PowerPC: they kept the user experience as similar as possible to ensure a seamless transition to the new machines.
     But does the final piece of the pie offer up a tasty slice of computing? Well, it depends on what you want to do. There are several advancements in the new model, all of them "under the hood." Foremost among them are adjustable PCI Express architecture, a "double-wide" 16-lane slot for the graphics card, four easily removable internal hard drive bays, a true 3Gbps internal SATA controller, design for two internal optical drives, more external ports, and better error-correcting RAM.

But what does all this mean in terms of performance? Pros need to know if the computer does the job, and when it comes to Photoshop and Adobe apps, you'll still be in emulation. A G5 runs Photoshop way faster than the Intel-based machines, other improvements notwithstanding. We aren't scheduled to see universal Adobe Creative Suite apps until well into 2007.

Universal apps will see a speed boost. Head-to-head tests are just now being performed between a Quad Core G5 and a Quad Core Intel. They are showing a marginal improvement in those processes that are honed for the Intel chips. But not all processes are, and overall, the G5 remains the most solid machine to have.

Moreover, the cost of upgrading your machine will likely be more than just the cost of the box. Looking at various specifications, it seems like graphics cards from the PCI-Express Dual-Core G5 Power Macs will not work in the Mac Pro. Nor will standard Windows PC graphics cards work in the Mac Pro. Also, there is no support for SLI on the Mac Pro.

The costs continue when it comes to the better RAM. The 667MHz ECC PC-5300 buffered SDRAM required for the Mac Pro currently costs around $2,000-2,500 for 8GB. For about the same amount of money, you can set up your Quad-Core G5 with 16GB of ECC memory. So if you need to delve into Photoshop for serious work, or run multiple non-universal apps at the same time, 2x as much memory in a PPC G5 is the clear winner here.

When Apple introduced the "gumdrop" iMac with only USB ports and no planned expansion capability, that was a big leap into the unknown and it paid off handsomely, with amazingly inexpensive and powerful machines. These Intel-based Mac Pro machines are not the bold steps into the future that Apple has taken in the past. But with a whole pro industry counting on their machines to work every day, small steps are just what the doctor ordered.

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Panasonic Delivers Its New AJ-PCD20 Five-Slot P2

Panasonic has announced the availability of its new five-slot P2 solid-state memory drive, the AJ-PCD20. Improved with the addition of an IEEE 1394b interface (in addition to USB 2.0) and with a lower list price, the new AJ-PCD20 P2 drive answers the need of today's video professional for faster, easier file transfers, whether at desktop or in the field.

The AJ-PCD20 is a flexible internal/external drive that eliminates the digitizing process and offers a faster, more convenient file transfer workflow. This enhanced five-slot P2 memory drive gives users the flexibility of using either the USB 2.0 or the IEEE 1394b (S800) interface for high-speed file transfer of 25Mbps DVCPRO, 50Mbps DVCPRO50, or 100Mbps DVCPRO HD into nonlinear editing systems and servers.

The AJ-PCD20 can mount five 8 GB P2 cards simultaneously (containing up to 160 minutes of recordings in DVCPRO, 80 minutes in DVCPRO50, and 40 minutes in DVCPRO HD), giving users instant access to all recorded content on each card. A user can view all cards' content in sequence for continuous editing and a smoother workflow. Compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X, the AJ-PCD20 can be installed as an internal drive directly into a standard PC 5.25" bay drive enclosure or connected to a host computer through its high-speed USB2.0 or IEEE1394b interface for linkage to a local area network (LAN). As an external drive, the AJ-PCD20 easily connects with laptops (PC notebook or Mac PowerBook) for fast, in-the-field editing and playback features.

The AJ-PCD20 is available at a suggested list price of $1,980. DVCPRO P2 is a true nonlinear acquisition system that allows users to capture high-quality images through reliable solid-state memory recording, without the limitations of tape or disc. DVCPRO P2 products offer instant access to recorded digital video on IT-friendly memory cards, eliminating the need for traditional digitizing and ingesting operations. The P2 memory card is ultra-reliable (resistant to environmental extremes including shock, vibration, and humidity), connects instantly with laptops and major non-linear editing systems, and is infinitely re-usable, according to Panasonic.

Panasonic's DVCPRO P2 series--including the AJ-SPX800 camcorder, AJ-SPC700 camcorder, AJ-SPD850 studio recorder, AJ-PCD20 drive, and AG-HVX200 hand-held camcorder--feature in-camera editing capabilities and high-speed file transfer as well as industry standard IT interfaces, including USB 2.0 and IEEE1394. For more information, visit www.panasonic.com/p2.

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Disc Makers Unveils High-Throughput Automated Inkjet Printer

Disc Makers, a manufacturer of CD and DVD duplicators, has introduced the Elite MaxPrint color inkjet printer to its robust line of duplication and printing hardware. The Elite MaxPrint is a fully automated on-disc inkjet printer that combines rugged robotics with high throughput efficiency. The Elite MaxPrint prints over 25 discs per hour at a crisp resolution of 4880 dpi.

The new automated Elite MaxPrint is priced at $1,990. In high-production environments such as music studios, video production houses, marketing agencies, educational institutions, churches, and other businesses, the machine provides an affordable and efficient solution for a complete inkjet printing operation. For even higher throughput, the Elite MaxPrint can be upgraded to include a PowerPrint monochromatic thermal printer, which dries instantly and prints 100 discs an hour. This option is available for only $2,000 more.

Features of the new Elite Max Print features include the following:

  • Large Disc Capacity - the input bin holds up to 280 discs
  • Easy-to-use label design software
  • Two-year warranty on robotics, one-year on printer.
  • Easily connects to your PC (must be running Windows® XP).
  • Perfect fit guarantee - only from Disc Makers. 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.

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

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Apple Unveils New Mac Pro Featuring Quad 64-bit Xeon Processors

Apple has unveiled the new Mac Pro, a quad Xeon, 64-bit desktop workstation featuring two new Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running up to 3.0 GHz and a new system architecture that delivers up to twice the performance of the Power Mac G5 Quad, according to Apple. With advanced performance, greater expansion, higher performance graphics options, and unprecedented customization, the newly designed Mac Pro is the ideal system for the most demanding user, Apple says. The introduction of the Mac Pro marks the completion of a rapid and seamless transition for Apple, with the entire Mac family now using Intel's latest processors.

The new Mac Pro features the new Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 series processor based on the revolutionary Intel Core microarchitecture, delivering breakthrough performance and power efficiency. The new Mac Pro is up to twice as fast as the Power Mac G5 Quad running industry standard benchmarks and features two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors running up to 3.0 GHz, each with 4MB of shared L2 cache and independent 1.33 GHz front-side buses. With 667MHz DDR2 fully-buffered memory, the Mac Pro also boasts a 256-bit wide memory architecture for amazing bandwidth. With more than 4.9 million possible configurations, the Mac Pro delivers unprecedented customization to meet even the most demanding performance, expansion and storage needs.

The newly redesigned Mac Pro features an all new, direct-attach storage solution for cable free, snap-in installation of up to four 500GB Serial ATA hard drives for a total of 2TB of internal storage—the most ever on a Mac—and support for two optical drives to simultaneously read and/or write to CDs and DVDs. Every Mac Pro includes three full-length PCI Express expansion slots and one double-wide PCI Express graphics slot to support high-powered, double-wide graphics cards without sacrificing multiple slots. Providing quick and convenient access to connect the most popular external devices, the front panel of the Mac Pro includes a FireWire® 800 port, a FireWire 400 port and two USB 2.0 ports with additional FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and three USB 2.0 ports on the back panel. Mac Pro also includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical digital input and output, analog audio input and output, and optional built-in support for AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. Every Mac Pro comes standard with the NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 256MB of video memory, providing built-in support for dual-displays and Apple's 30-inch Cinema HD Display.

The ATI Radeon X1900 XT and the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500, both with 512MB of video memory, are available as build to order options and provide built-in support for up to two 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays. The Quadro FX 4500 also includes a stereo 3D port to connect goggles for stereo-in-a-window applications and is ideal for the most demanding animation, special effects and scientific visualization applications. The Mac Pro supports up to four PCI Express graphics cards to drive up to eight displays at once for advanced visualization and large display walls.

The latest release of Mac OS X version 10.4.7 Tiger comes with every new Mac Pro, including Safari, Mail, iCal, and iChat AV, running natively. Tiger includes an innovative software translation technology called Rosetta that lets customers run most Mac OS X PowerPC applications seamlessly.

Intel-based Mac customers have more than 3,000 Universal applications to choose from including all of Apple's own consumer and professional applications. Universal Mac software includes versions of Xsan, a high performance, enterprise class Storage Area Network (SAN) file system and Mac OS X Server, Apple's award-winning server operating system. An updated list of Universal applications for Mac OS X is available at guide.apple.com/universal and is growing each day with hundreds of developers announcing support for Mac OS X Intel-based applications. Apple's award-winning widescreen flat panel Cinema Displays offer the perfect match for the Mac Pro and are now more affordable than ever.

The 30-inch Cinema HD Display with an industry-leading 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution and the 23-inch Cinema HD Display with a 1920-by-1200 pixel resolution, ideal for editing High Definition Television (HDTV) content, are now priced at $1,999 and $999, respectively. The 20-inch Cinema Display is now just $699 and offers a 1680-by-1050 pixel resolution, more than enough space to edit full size images with plenty of room for on-screen palettes.

The Mac Pro is shipping today with the standard prebuilt configuration, including two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors and priced at $2,499 (US), through the Apple Store (www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. The 20-inch Cinema Display, 23-inch Cinema HD Display, and the 30-inch Cinema HD Display are available through the Apple Store (www.apple.com), at Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $699 (US), $999 (US) and $1,999 (US), respectively.

The Mac Pro, with a suggested retail price of $2,499 (US), includes: two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors; 1GB of 667 MHz DDR2 fully buffered ECC memory expandable up to 16GB; NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 256MB of GDDR2 SDRAM; 250GB Serial ATA (3Gb/s) hard drive running at 7200 rpm; 16x SuperDrive™ with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); four PCI Express slots: one double-wide graphics slot and three full-length expansion slots; and ships with Mighty Mouse and Apple Keyboard.

In addition to the standard configuration, the Mac Pro offers more than 4.9 million build-to-order options including: two 2.0 GHz or 3.0 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors; up to 16GB of 667 MHz DDR2 fully-buffered ECC memory; up to four 500GB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm; up to two 16x SuperDrives with double-layer support; ATI Radeon X1900 XT and NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 graphics cards, both with 512MB of GDDR3 SDRAM; AirPort Extreme module, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR module; Apple USB Modem; Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple wireless Mighty Mouse; Mac OS X Server Tiger; Apple Xsan; and Apple Fibre Channel PCI Express Card.

Complete build-to-order options and pricing are available at http://www.apple.com/macpro.

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AJA Supports New Apple Mac Pro

AJA Video, a manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, has announced support for Apple's new Mac Pro line of Intel-based professional desktop computers. AJA's Io, IoLA, and IoLD providing elegant uncompressed video over FireWire for Apple's Final Cut Studio have Universal Binary software to work with any of the Mac Pro configurations. New v3 software for the PCIe based KONA video cards from AJA, including the KONA 3, KONA LHe and KONA LSe, will be available by the end of the month adding Mac Pro support to this popular line. AJA continues to support previous generation Power Mac G5 systems.

The Io family of products provides a simple elegant plug-in solution for working with Final Cut Pro on a Mac system. With a single FireWire connection, any Io connects to the Mac Pro and provides audio and video I/O, connection to VTRs, Genlock and integrated Final Cut Pro drivers. With the proper FireWire 800 PCMCIA card and external drives, you can even use Io products with an Apple laptop. Io products are the simple solution for building a Mac-based video finishing system. Co-developed with Apple, Io products work with Final Cut Pro to provide a seamless non-linear editing experience, with all the features of proprietary systems - but without the expense and hassles.

KONA video capture cards offer the highest quality uncompressed QuickTime, SD, HD, 2K and Dual Link HD via the PCIe-based KONA 3, KONA LHe (SD, HD and Analog only) and KONA LSe (SD and Analog only). AJA KONA cards were the first capture cards available for Final Cut Pro on Mac OS X - and that innovation and quality continues with impending support of the new Mac Pro. Combined with Apple's Final Cut Studio, a KONA card delivers all the quality and function of a full-featured nonlinear editing suite at a fraction of the price. Supporting a range of uncompressed SD or HD formats, including Dual Link and 2K, KONA cards capture and play back uncompressed 10-bit and 8-bit digital video and 24-bit digital audio, providing unparalleled power and workflow efficiency. KONA V3 software will be available as a free download by the end of the month to KONA 3, KONA LHe and KONA LSe customers.


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4EVER Group Announces Special Convention Pre-Registration in August for Video 07

Members of The 4EVER Group Videographers Network and Video 06 attendees will have the opportunity to pre-register for Video 07 at a rate of only $199. This member and alumni offer will remain valid only until August 31, 2006.

Please note that this special registration rate is not transferable, and is non-refundable. If you are an Affiliate or Alumni and want to take advantage of the pre-registration offer, click here.

More presenters have been confirmed for Video 07, according to Tim Ryan, Director of Education, including Robert Allen, David Chandler-Gick, Mike Downey, Ken Ehrhart, Jan Ozer, Randy Stubbs, and Steve Yankee. Video 07 will be held at the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Jacksonville from January 8-11, 2007. Room reservations are currently being accepted at the low convention rate of $129, plus tax. Video 07 is being held during peak season in Florida, so early room reservations are recommended. Simply call the Hyatt toll-free number at 800-233-1234, and tell them you're attending The 4EVER Group convention.

Visit www.4EVERGroup.org for more details about Video 07.

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Heydar Adel, Online Editor of Fox TV’s ‘24’ to Speak at WEVA Expo

Heydar Adel, online editor of the Emmy-winning Fox TV series 24, critically acclaimed for its groundbreaking real time style, innovative camerawork, and split-screen visuals, has been announced as a featured presenter for WEVA EXPO 2006 in Las Vegas, NV (visit www.WevaExpo.com for convention details). Presented by WEVA International and sponsored by Avid Technology, Adel's presentation, scheduled for Tuesday August 22 at Mandalay Bay, is a rare opportunity for professional videographers and editors to discover cutting-edge post-production techniques from one of Hollywood's leading-edge editors.

As an added bonus, Adel, who edits 24 on Avid, will show how he edited his own wedding video to incorporate cinematic techniques. Famous for its split-screen visuals that present multiple story lines in real time, day-in-the-life style, 24 is a breakthrough series that continues to keep audiences worldwide on the edge of their seats. In its first four seasons, 24 has earned multiple awards, including Emmys for writing and editing. "

In addition to 24, Adel is also the online editor of popular television shows such as Bones, Without a Trace on CBS, and ABC's The Nine. He has also worked on numerous other shows, TV pilots, movies-of-the-week, and feature films, including The West Wing, The Drew Carey Show, Secrets of the Rich and Famous, E.R., Last Comic Standing, Silver Bells, Hillside Strangler, Red Shoe Diaries, and Christmas Visitor.

Adel holds a degree in Film Studies from UC Irvine and began his editing career while still in school. He built his own nonlinear editing system and did work on the side cutting Persian music videos and weddings. This portfolio helped him land a job at a well-established post house in southern California where he now uses the Avid DS Nitris system. And, he continues to do special interest projects using Avid Xpress Pro software.


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Autodesk 3ds Max 9 Software Accelerates Next-Generation Digital Content Creation and Design Visualization

Autodesk Inc. has announced Autodesk 3ds Max 9 software, the latest version of its 3D modeling, animation and rendering solution. 3ds Max 9 supports 64-bit technologies, providing digital artists with the tools for next-generation games development, design visualizations, and film and television visual effects production.

3ds Max 9 software's 64-bit architecture makes it easier to work with the huge datasets required for next-generation digital content creation. Rendering is also greatly improved with the mental ray 3.5 rendering core, according to Autodesk.

Autodesk's media and entertainment 3D product portfolio is comprised of Autodesk 3ds Max 9, Maya 8 (announced separately), and VIZ 2007 animation, modeling and rendering software, as well as Autodesk MotionBuilder 7.5 character animation software. Interoperability is achieved between these products via Autodesk FBX, a free 3D file exchange format.

Along with 64-bit support, new lighting, more shaders, and accelerated rendering, 3ds Max 9 offers the following features to maximize core performance, productivity, and pipeline efficiency:

  • A layered blending system that can be added to custom rigs and controllers within 3ds Max
  • Optimizations in wireframe and edge display, enabling faster feedback within the viewport
  • XAF files that can be saved and loaded onto bipeds, allowing for easy transfer of information to and from custom rigs
  • Enhanced hair and cloth, including the ability to style hair in the viewport
  • Improved file referencing and tracking of work-in-progress assets
  • Point cache 2, which allows artists to bake mesh deformations into a file for faster rendering
  • Improved compatibility with Autodesk Maya via the FBX file format

For a complete list of new 3ds Max 9 features, please visit www.autodesk.com/3dsmax.

With support from HP and Intel, a number of third-party developers in the Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) Sparks program have already produced 64-bit versions of their plug-ins to support 3ds Max 9, giving users immediate access to a pool of 64-bit development tools.

Autodesk anticipates that 3ds Max 9 will be available in English in October 2006, and in additional languages in the future. The Autodesk suggested retail price for 3ds Max 9 software is US $3,495. The Autodesk suggested retail price to upgrade from 3ds Max 8 to 3ds Max 9 is US $795.

The Autodesk suggested retail price for 3ds Max Subscription is US $440 per year and is available for purchase simultaneously with the product purchase or upgrade. Subscription customers qualify for access to the latest software updates, valuable product extensions and e-learning materials. For more information about 3ds Max Subscription, visit www.autodesk.com/subscription.

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