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November 06, 2006

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Digital Juice’s Wedding Toolkits
Zacuto.com Announces New Universal Base Plate for HD Movie Cameras
Red Giant Software Partners with Trapcode Combining Core Company Strengths
Motion Picture Editors Guild Offers Free Seminar on SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 4 Music Scoring Technology on Nov. 9
Revostock.com Adds Royalty-free Music and Sound Effects Priced as Low as $3
Boris FX Releases Boris Continuum Complete for Intel®-Based Macintosh® Systems
SoundTech Announces LightSnake USB Intelligent Microphone Cable

The Moving Picture: Digital Juice’s Wedding Toolkits

If you reflect back on your career as a video producer, you'll recognize several points in time where your production quality increased exponentially: making the jump to DV after analog, your first 3-CCD camcorder, your first multicamera shoot. Typically, each leap becomes more and more costly in terms of time and equipment. Well, unless you're an After Effects wizard with plenty of time on your hands, you can achieve a quantum leap in production quality for just $399, courtesy of an Editor's Toolkit from Digital Juice.
     Digital Juice actually offers two volumes of wedding-oriented Toolkits, which are Toolkit 3 and Toolkit 7, respectively. Each toolkit contains a number of thematically consistent collections of animated content (called Jump Sets in Toolkit 3 and Super Sets in Toolkit 7) that make it easy to create a consistent look, from transitions to your DVD menu background. For example, Super Set 160, which I used for a wedding that I was editing, was based on a classic gold look and contained three animated backgrounds, all featuring wedding bands, and one with a highlighted area for text. Boom, there was my opening title, a moving background for each title section, and an animated DVD menu.
     The Super Set also contains three full-screen wipe transitions I can use instead of dissolves between my major scenes and some lower-third titles I can use for the interviews we shot. Plus, there's an assortment of mattes and overlays, including a frame that will be perfect for the photo montage we'll produce from pictures of the bride and groom growing up.

One great thing about the Super Sets is how different they look from one another. For example, Super Set 159 has an icy blue background that's perfect for winter weddings, while Super Set 157 is based on roses and carnations, ideal for spring. Super Set 155 provides a lighter, "party-hearty" look that contrasts well with the stately grace of many other sets. This variety makes it incredibly easy to change the look and feel of your productions from edit to edit. In addition to the Super Sets, each Toolkit also contains an assortment of random design elements—like an animated cake, wedding bells, and glowing candles—that work with all sets.

As you would expect, the Toolkits work on both Mac and Windows systems. I was editing this project in Adobe Production Studio, so I downloaded the Windows version of the Juicer application (for browsing, previewing, and applying Digital Juice content) from the Digital Juice website and got to work. Each Toolkit contains a number of DVDs with content, but samples of all content are included on the first DVD, so you can install one disc, choose your content, then load the necessary discs as the Juicer outputs your selected content. Each toolkit also contains a small booklet with colored pictures of all content, further simplifying your selection.

 Juicer itself is a simple program with four windows. The Keyword List window contains keywords for all content Digital Juice content installed on your computer. For example, the drop-down list for the Toolkits I installed contained keywords like "fireworks," "candles," and "church bells," making it simple to find design elements incorporating these components.

Or, you can search the content in the Product Browser, which lets you browse the content from each Toolkit and view your selections in the Preview Window. As you identify the desired design components, you click a button to add them into the Batch window.

The original content is QuickTime using the Apple PNG codec at a resolution of 720x576, making it suitable for both PAL and NTSC at DV resolutions, but not for HD or HDV, though Digital Juice is starting to introduce more high-resolution content. In the Batch window, you can output the graphics in any resolution in QuickTime, AVI, and RTV formats (for VideoToaster 2/3) and as an image sequence, providing near-universal application compatibility.

Before outputting, you can modify each design element in a number ways, like changing the color, flipping the video horizontally or vertically, rotating the video, or adjusting the opacity. Then you choose the output parameters like resolution and speed, and the target codec and encoding parameters.

Digital Juice could make this last step simpler by providing one-button output presets for DV NTSC, DV PAL, and the like, which would eliminate users from having to choose an AVI or QuickTime codec. For example, I originally wanted to output to AVI format, but DV wasn't an option, so I moved to QuickTime which I knew Premiere Pro supported. Here I saw a range of codec options from Avid DV to Sorenson Video 3. I finally chose the Apple Animation codec, which worked just fine, but if viewing naked codecs in situ makes you sweat, you better be prepared.

On the plus side, working in Premiere Pro was a breeze, with the editor automatically recognizing all the alpha channels and creating the desired transparencies. At about 2.5 seconds apiece, the full-screen wipe transitions were a bit slow for my taste, but they happily adjusted to 300% speed using Premiere's normal speed adjustment. Backgrounds also loaded normally into Adobe Encore.

I've long been a fan of the DVD and title templates provided by Adobe, Apple, and other companies, but let's face it, one or two templates can only go so far. Supplementing them with Toolkits from Digital Juice is a great way to keep your projects fresh while adding an incremental boost in production quality.

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Zacuto.com Announces New Universal Base Plate for HD Movie Cameras

Zacuto, a leading provider of high-definition video cameras and accessories is announcing its new Universal Camera Support System and Base Plate for HD movie cameras. The HD camera base plate works with all cameras, is fully adjustable, and makes it easy to add accessories to lightweight HD cameras without breaking them.

The new Universal Camera Support System and HD camera base plate creates a new prosumer camera accessories product line that challenges the way things have been done before. A question people often have with these small prosumer cameras is, where will all of the accessories go (monitor, hard drives, wireless, units, transmitters, matte boxes, follow focuses, hand grips, shoulder pads, on-board lights, etc.) and how will we power all of these items"? That's where the idea for the HD camera base plate and Universal Camera Support System comes in; a series of products that allows for the mounting of accessories to go from tripod to handheld in seconds and is capable of powering everything.

Originally manufactured primarily for Zacuto's rental department, nothing like it has been available to the market before. first universal plate adjustable for all cameras first to use rods behind the camera first accessory mount (Zacuto Double or Mini Mount) to mount arms for monitors and accessories first Arm Locks (prevents arms from loosening) first accessory plate (Zacuto Red Plate™) to allow up to 4 on-board Zacuto Wireless Plates at one time first universal wireless plate (Zacuto Wireless Plate™) to allow for any size wireless, down-converter, video transmitter regardless of size, make, model or manufacturer first rod mounted battery system with 7.2 - 12 volt power taps first to allow prosumer cameras to mount all of the equipment necessary to properly shoot a film The system is universal (adjustable) to work with all cameras, matte boxes, follow focus units, hard drives, etc. Since the camera, hard drive and monitors change year to year, all of your Zacuto products can adjust to fit the new technologies. This works out well because Zacuto has a lifetime warranty.

For more information on the Zacuto Universal HD Movie Camera Base Plate, visit http://www.zacuto.com/universal.htm

To learn the parts of the Zacuto HD Base Plate http://www.zacuto.com/learn.htm

To see the Universal Base Plate with Panasonic AG-HVX200 Movie Camera Accessories http://www.zacuto.com/HVX200_studio_lg.jpg

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Red Giant Software Partners with Trapcode Combining Core Company Strengths

Red Giant Software, publisher of a line of professional digital video tools, including Magic Bullet and Knoll Light Factory today announced a new partnership with Trapcode, a motion graphics and visual effects plug-in developer based in Sweden. Effective today, Red Giant Software will be the exclusive publisher of all seven Trapcode products worldwide. All sales, support and marketing for end users, resellers and distributors will be handled directly by Red Giant Software. Products will continue to be available for purchase at http://www.trapcode.com as well as http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/.

Using its engineering expertise, Red Giant Software plans to offer Trapcode's popular Adobe After Effects plug-ins on a wider range of host applications like Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid AVX. Also, beginning in spring 2007 re-engineered Trapcode products will be available for purchase as a product box or via software download, meeting the needs of both resellers and end users. Visit http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/trapcodepress.html for a list of frequently asked questions.

All current versions of the seven Trapcode products can be purchased from http://www.trapcode.com or http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/. Updated versions of the Trapcode products are scheduled to ship in spring of 2007.

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Motion Picture Editors Guild Offers Free Seminar on SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 4 Music Scoring Technology on Nov. 9

SmartSound Software, Inc., the leading provider of innovative music scoring technology for film and video professionals, today announced that the Motion Picture Editors Guild of America will host a free seminar for its members on the award-winning SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 4 music scoring solution on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The Motion Picture Editors Guild is located at 7715 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The training session is designed to give editors an opportunity to learn about Mood Mapping, SmartSound's latest innovation in music library technology and the key new feature in Sonicfire Pro 4. This session is ideal for professional editors who are actively using traditional library music or those that have dismissed library music because of its lack of flexibility. This session will teach them how SmartSound can make library music unique to each production.

With SmartSound's patented technology, over 1,600 tracks of SmartSound music can be cut precisely to any length without affecting pitch or tempo. When using Mood Mapping with SmartSound's new Multi-Layer Music, editors now have the ability to easily adjust the individual instrument layers. Whether dynamically adjusting the music mix along the timeline to match the mood of the production or simply removing unwanted instruments, SmartSound offers video and audio editors more control than any other music library solution.

Sonicfire Pro 4 is compatible with any video editing platform running on Mac and Windows systems, and delivers music at 48 kHz-quality for a one-time fee for unlimited use. SmartSound also offers licensing models that make it simple and economical to share music across multiple seats in a network environment regardless of the editing systems being used. Sonicfire Pro 4 is now bundled with Avid Media Composer and Avid Xpress Pro packages. In addition, the entire SmartSound solution is now pre-installed on Avid and Final Cut Pro rental packages from Wexler Video in Burbank.

www.smartsound.com

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Revostock.com Adds Royalty-free Music and Sound Effects Priced as Low as $3

Users can now purchase royalty-free music from RevoStock.com for only $10 a track and sound effects for only $3. Although the company just added the feature this week, the website's "producers" have already added over 340 music tracks and sound effects with more being added every day.

RevoStock.com is a community-based stock media website which allows video and audio professionals from all over the world the ability to sell their pro-level stock footage, music and sound effects using their groundbreaking delivery system. The website's SD, HDV, and HD footage as well as music and sound effects are instantly accessible via download. Users can now preview audio as quickly and easily as they are able to preview video, using the website's revolutionary pop-up flash preview system. Once a search term is entered, a list of audio and video files is returned. In order to preview the file, the user only needs to place their mouse over the video or audio thumbnail and a pop-up will instantly begin playing the selection.

Finding needed media couldn't be quicker or easier. Users are able to choose whether or not they want to show video, audio or both. For instance, if a user needs to put together a football based project, their search can return football related footage, motion backgrounds, music and sound effects all on the same page.

RevoStock has gained quite a following among those wanting to sell their professional media online with their 60% royalty-rate for exclusive producers and 45% royalty-rate for non-exclusive producers. The company has made it easy for users to create an account and upload their media for sale quickly and easily. Plus, their producer and content review and approval process insures that only the best content makes it through.

With some of the lowest prices in the industry, RevoStock users may purchase footage at only $15 for NTSC and PAL, $20 for HDV and $25-$35 for HD. Royalty-free music is sold at $10 per track and sound effects are $3. All media on the website is available for immediate download. A free piece of media is given away each week to registered users.

www.revostock.com.

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Boris FX Releases Boris Continuum Complete for Intel®-Based Macintosh® Systems

Boris FX, a leading developer of integrated effects technology for video and film production, today announced the release of Boris Continuum Complete (BCC 4.1) for the new Macintosh Intel processors.

BCC 4.1 is a free update for BCC 4.0 customers moving to the Intel Mac platform. The BCC 4.1 update can be downloaded from the Boris FX web site at http://www.borisfx.com.

In addition to supporting the new Intel-based Mac systems, Boris FX plans to maintain backward compatibility with qualified PowerPC-based Mac systems. BCC is an expansive plug-in filter set with over 150 filters that include advanced keying, matting, compositing, image processing, distortion, temporal effects and motion tracking.

For more information about BCC and other Boris FX products, please visit the Boris FX web site at http://www.borisfx.com.

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SoundTech Announces LightSnake USB Intelligent Microphone Cable

SoundTech Professional Audio, a division of US Music Corporation, announced today the release of the LightSnake, an intelligent microphone-to-PC cable with embedded analog to digital converter and signal booster. The LightSnake features SoundTech's patented "Live when Lit" technology cable ends that glow and flash indicating when sound is being transmitted.

The LightSnake USB intelligent microphone cable connects with any standard microphone and plugs directly into the PC USB port, dramatically reducing the cost and clutter traditionally associated with digital recording. Now musicians can easily enjoy the same digital recording abilities once reserved for high-end studio sessions.

Modern Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, such as Apple GarageBand and Sony Acid Music Studio harness the power of PCs allowing musicians to arrange songs, mix beats and record, layer and mix their own voices. The LightSnake USB provides the easiest method to connect a microphone to a computer for recording by simply plugging the XLR tip of the LightSnake into the microphone and the USB end to a PC. Podcasters can also benefit from the LightSnake.

Podcasting, a new form of communication popularized by Apple's iPod and former MTV video jockey Adam Curry, allows anyone to distribute their recordings, such as radio programs, speeches and interviews to a near limitless audience over the Internet. The LightSnake's streamlined design, ease of use and compatibility with professional quality XLR microphones is ideal for recording high-quality digital Podcasts.

SoundTech LightSnake USB intelligent microphone cable features include the following:

  • Patented "Live when Lit" technology cable ends light up indicating when sound is being transmitted
  • Digital quality sound input without the need for a sound card
  • Embedded A/D chip technology with audio signal boost eliminates the need for additional signal conversion devices
  • 10 foot heavy-duty shielded cable
  • Includes Sony Media Software Demo DVD
  • Including Acid, Sound Forge, Vegas and many other titles
  • Simple USB plug-and-play connectivity
  • Compliant with USB 2.0 Full Speed Operation
  • Compliant with USB Audio Device Class Specification v1.0
  • Compatible with Win98 SE / Win ME / Win 2000 / Win XP and Mac OS9 / OS X without additional driver
  • Driver software included for older non-plug-and-play compliant computers

The patented LightSnake USB intelligent microphone cable is available through Target, Guitar Center, Music123.com, Fullcompass.com, Micro Center, Musiciansfriend.com, Sweetwater.com, PCmall.com and other major music retail outlets. It will begin shipping in October 2006 with a suggested retail price of $69.99.

For more information on retail availability, please visit www.SoundTech.com.

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