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December 04, 2006

Table of Contents

Review: proDAD Heroglyph Rapid 2.6
New Pinnacle HD DVD Authoring Pack Lets Consumers Showcase Their Home Movies in Vivid HD
Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go Now Mac-compatible
proDAD Presents VitaScene
Blackmagic Design Announces New HDLink Price at Only US $445
Stock20 Partners With Award Winning Artist; Wedding Videographers to Benefit
Panasonic Announces Addition Of 24P Capability In New Shoulder-Mount AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD Camcorder
Just in Time for Christmas: RoyaltyFreeHolidayMusic.com
Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus Now Compatible with Canon HV10

Review: proDAD Heroglyph Rapid 2.6

proDAD is a newcomer to the American video software market. Andreas Huber, a managing director for proDAD, tells me that the German company's software is quite popular in Europe, and proDAD is just now trying to break into the North American market. The company has launched two products in the United States: Adorage and Heroglyph. Adorage is a rich transition effects tool. Heroglyph Rapid 2.6 is best described as a plug-in titler on steroids.
     Heroglyph comes in two flavors, regular full (MSRP $289) and Rapid, which is a limited version (MSRP $99). Heroglyph Rapid 2.6 is different from the regular titler that is built in to Premiere Pro, Vegas, EDIUS, or Xpress Pro, in that it allows users to apply a number of useful animated effects and preview them before going back into the host program. What makes it easy to use is a number of templates in which you choose the desired effect and replace the template text with your text.
     The number of effects you can apply easily with Heroglyph is staggering. In an effort to learn new ways to create eye-catching text graphics, I've committed to learning After Effects with Total Training's DVD tutorials (www.totaltraining.com) and Luisa Winters' tips tutorials in EventDV. But it has been an uphill climb. If you've found yourself in a similar situation, proDAD's Heroglyph gives you another excuse to put off learning After Effects—at least where text effects are concerned. That said, it will never replace After Effects; you can do much more with text and a zillion other non-text effects within that program. But for text animation, Heroglyph is a shortcut well worth taking. Let's take a look.

Plug-in Operation
Heroglyph works as a plug-in to pretty much every Windows-based NLE. It supports Adobe Premiere Pro, older versions of Premiere, and Premiere Elements; multiple iterations of Grass Valley/Canopus EDIUS; Sony Vegas and MovieStudio; Avid Xpress DV, Xpress Pro, Liquid, and Studio; Ulead Media Studio and Video Studio; and even the Microsoft MovieMaker application that comes as part of Windows XP. One nice thing about the installation is that it will detect the various NLEs you have on your computer and allow you to pick the ones you want it to associate with Heroglyph. The only one that requires a separate install disc is Avid (formerly Pinnacle) Studio consumer NLE.

figure 1This review uses Adobe's Premiere Pro 2.0 as the host application.

Heroglyph opens from the same menu as Premiere Pro's titler. To activate it you locate it in File > New > Heroglyph. On my system, Heroglyph was located as the first item "below the line" in that menu.

When you activate Heroglyph, its interface pops up over the Premiere interface. It is divided into five parts. Along the top is a strip with a look similar to what you would see in Microsoft Word. Here you have familiar buttons for Save, Open, Undo, Redo, and font controls. On the far left, you have a menu that primarily affects the fonts.

When you select among the different choices, the program opens up corresponding controls in the adjacent window, giving you graphical choices that affect most of the looks of your graphic. On the top right you have the work area in which you can type, draw motion paths, and watch previews. Below that on the lower right is Heroglyph's own timeline.

Working in Heroglyph takes some getting used to. At times, navigating the menus will make you wish for a GPS system. 

There were a number of times when I couldn't find my way back to a menu level that I wanted to return to, and ended up deleting the whole thing and starting over from scratch.

While there was no printed manual with the package I received, I've been informed that the boxed software for the North American market will ship with a printed guide of some sort. If you want a printed manual, you'll need to print from the help file under "assistance." For further assistance you'll probably need to email tech support unless you have Germany on your calling plan. As of right now, proDAD has no American offices.

Emails I sent to proDAD support were generally answered promptly—when I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. to correspond with them. Their English is fair, but you'll probably be scratching your head occasionally.

Heroglyph Effects
figure 1What makes Heroglyph such a great tool, and a viable, easier-to-use alternative to After Effects for text effects, is that it allows you to do several popular text effects such as the Star Wars title roll, something that clients request from time to time. It can be done within Premiere Pro by typing the text, putting it on the timeline, and animating it as needed. In other programs it might take you a good 15 minutes to get it the way you want it. In Heroglyph, you need only click on the "Star Wars" template, then replace the text by typing over it. After that, the title automatically winds up in your Premiere project, where you can stretch it out as long as you need it.

The "Star Wars" effect is about the simplest template in Heroglyph's repertoire. Where you really start to save time is when you have motion paths or animation for individual characters. For a more complicated example, check out the "Table" template. This template is a slab or a table top that slides in, and then three lines of text come in, letter by letter, at varying rates on the individual lines. In Premiere Pro, if you tried to animate text in this way, even if you were really good, it could take the better part of an hour. In After Effects it may be a bit easier, but it would still be time-consuming. In Heroglyph you can create the effect as fast as you can enter text and adjust its attributes. Even with trying out a number of fonts, and various colors and styles, in under five minutes.

figure 1There's more to Heroglyph than typed text effects. If you have a need for a graphic that looks like handwriting, or an Indiana Jones-style map graphic showing your trip route (this is one of proDAD's specialties), Heroglyph makes short work of this as well.

If you are going to use handwriting effects a lot, I would recommend getting a tablet and stylus for optimal results. Handwriting with a mouse is just not going to look good—unless you want it to look like a pre-schooler did it. You can get away with the mouse using what I call the Indiana Jones effect. If you recall the movies, as Dr. Jones tracked across the globe looking for relics, you would see a map of the world and a bright line tracing the route of his trip.

There are many ways to use this effect. And though it's available in the last two versions of After Effects and can be seamlessly applied by switching back and forth between Premiere Pro and After Effects in the latest Adobe Production Studio, you can create the map effect more quickly and easily with Heroglyph.

If you work in Vegas, Avid, or other programs where you are paying $900-$1600 for After Effects or a similar high-level effects tool, going the $99 plug-in route with Heroglyph Rapid is definitely going to give you a lot of bang for your buck.




Working with Heroglyph Project Files

figure 1Within Heroglyph you can combine and layer different effects/templates in the program's own timeline so you do not need to go back and forth from Premiere Pro. When you export to Premiere Pro, whatever you make on the Heroglyph timeline becomes an .HPRJ (Heroglyph project) file. It acts much like the .AEX projects you may bring in from After Effects. Rather than rendering it out as an .AVI file and treating it like a regular video file, the .HPRJ file acts as a wrapper for all the effects you applied in Heroglyph. The .HPRJ file shows up in the Premiere Pro project file where it can be inserted to the timeline, with the alpha channel intact for transparency effects.

If you like the way that the Heroglyph graphic looks in the Premiere Pro project, you can render the timeline there. The only adjustment you can really do to it on the Premiere Pro timeline is adjust the speed or add transitions. Trimming it on the Premiere Pro timeline won't speed up the animation; it just cuts part of it off. If the effect needs any adjustments, double-clicking the .HPRJ reference on the timeline or in the project file will open up Heroglyph where you can make adjustments and re-render. If you applied a speed change to the file in Premiere Pro, for example, you will need to set it back to 100%; otherwise Heroglyph will not activate. To elongate an .HPRJ, I recommend just stretching it in the Heroglyph timeline. It will save you the headache of restoring the original speed in Premiere then returning to Heroglyph to make adjustments there. When you complete your adjustments, F12 sends you back to Premiere Pro.

As mentioned earlier, Heroglyph Rapid also plugs into other programs. On my computer I was able to run it on Sony's Vegas 6d. The main difference was that you access it under Vegas' Media Generator tab. Under the list of available types of "generateable media," you should find "proDAD Heroglyph" just above the "Legacy Text" plug-in. When you highlight it, the box to the right shows the Heroglyph icon. Drag the icon to the timeline and the Heroglyph window opens. Click on Edit Title and from then on it will work the same way as with Premiere Pro. I tried using it with Avid Xpress DV 3.5, with no luck. Heroglyph supports only Xpress DV 5 or later due to the new plug-in structure Avid is using. For more information on current plug-in support, see the English-language section of www.prodad.com.

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New Pinnacle HD DVD Authoring Pack Lets Consumers Showcase Their Home Movies in Vivid HD

Avid Technology, Inc., today announced that its Consumer division, Pinnacle Systems, Inc., has introduced the Pinnacle HD DVD Authoring Pack as the newest feature available within Pinnacle Studio Plus. The HD DVD Authoring Pack enables users to create High-Definition DVD movie discs--complete with HD motion menus--right within the Pinnacle Studio Plus software using current generation, non-HD DVD burners. Once consumers burn HD DVDs of their projects, they can show their home movies on available HD DVD players and HDTVs.

The new HD DVD Authoring Pack is available as an add-on for existing Pinnacle Studio Plus customers. "Given the growing availability and popularity of HD devices, such as camcorders, DVD players, televisions and wide screen monitors, it's only natural that people who are creating videos in high-definition want to show their movies to friends in full resolution HD" said Jeff Hastings, Pinnacle Systems general manager. "With our HD DVD Authoring Pack, home video enthusiasts now have an easy and cost-effective authoring tool that allows them to output their beautiful-looking HD projects to a DVD - with just a click of the mouse. It's a great way for users to finish their video projects and then share them with friends in pristine-quality HD."

The HD DVD Authoring Pack completes the HD workflow for Pinnacle Studio Plus customers by allowing them to:

  • Create HD DVD format movie discs complete with menus, as well as motion menus;
  • Blend a combination of HD and SD (standard definition) footage, and still photographs to create stunning HD movies;
  • All SD content is automatically up-sampled to the appropriate HD resolution;
  • Use a standard DVD burner to convert HD DVD format discs straight to standard DVD media; and
  • Play HD DVD discs on the industry leading Toshiba and new RCA HD DVD players, and display on any HD TV.

Pinnacle Studio Plus customers can download the latest version from the Pinnacle Systems website: www.pinnaclesys.com. Once upgraded or installed, consumers can unlock the Pinnacle HD DVD Authoring Pack for $49.99 USMSRP by clicking on the Activate button to instigate an online transaction the first time the HD DVD option under Make a Disc is selected. From there, customers can download the content pack that contains the Pinnacle Studio Plus HD format menus.

First-time customers can also test Pinnacle Studio home editing software before purchasing by visiting www.pinnaclesys.com/Studio_Demo/index.html.

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Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go Now Mac-compatible

Matrox Graphics Inc. announced today that the award-winning Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go are now compatible with select Mac systems. From the Graphics eXpansion Module (GXM) product line, both DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go are palm-sized boxes that connect externally to a notebook or desktop computer and uniquely allow users to attach two or three monitors respectively for an incredible multi-monitor configuration.

"Matrox GXM technology will revolutionize the Mac platform with its unprecedented portability and ease-of-use," says Caroline Injoyan, business development manager, Matrox Graphics Inc. "Now Mac users can finally benefit from Matrox's multi-monitor expertise, traditionally reserved for PC environments, by simply incorporating a GXM into their system setup."

DualHead2Go enables a fully symmetric dual-monitor setup for Mac notebooks or desktops, creating the ideal workspace for managing multiple projects or office applications simultaneously. If a larger desktop space is required, the TripleHead2Go can be used to work with a triple-monitor setup. The extended desktop space across multiple monitors is the optimum backdrop for professionals working with digital content creation applications: they will have ample room to place all their menus, toolbars, editing timelines, and project windows across multiple monitors and experience first hand the productivity benefits of multi-monitor computing.

Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXM) are external devices that are simple to setup-there is no need to open up the computer to insert parts or to replace any hardware or software. The operating system detects the DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go like an ultra-widescreen monitor that supports resolutions of up to 2560x1024 and 3840x1024 respectively. The GXM technology then splits this ultra-wide resolution into two or three standard resolutions and sends the information to the attached monitors. The GXM maximizes the capabilities of the Mac by using its existing graphics hardware and software for all 2D, 3D, and video acceleration.

A complete list of compatible systems is posted on the Matrox website and maximum resolutions supported may vary depending on the system model or GPU. Visit http://www.matrox.com/graphics/mac for complete Mac details.

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proDAD Presents VitaScene

proDAD has introduced VitaScene, which provides GPU-rendered professional effects and moods for digital video editing in realtime. It combines brand new render technology with fully interactive operation to provide additional and invigorating creativity for video productions. Features include stylish transition effects and filters; the software is also 50 times faster than previous versions, and uses 100% GPU processing power.

Effects include Film Look, Blur, Defocus, Glow, Starburst, Sparkle, Glass, Liquid, Light, Aura, and more. VitaScene is easy-to-use in Videoscenes and even for Videotitles, Logos, and the like. Inclusive plug-ins are available for integration into most popular NLEs.

VitaScene is available beginning in December 2006, and is currently offered in English and Deutsch, with Français, Italiano, and Español to follow. The software carries an MSRP of $349. More information available at www.prodad.com.

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Blackmagic Design Announces New HDLink Price at Only US $445

Blackmagic Design Inc. today announced a new price for HDLink, the highly popular monitoring converter for professional post production editors and broadcast paint and effects artists. This market-leading SDI to DVI/HDMI converter is the only SDI monitoring solution that instantly switches between HD and SD, and includes 4:2:2 and Dual Link 4:4:4 feature film quality.

Unlike other monitoring solutions, HDLink incorporates a built-in USB interface and software based on Windows XP and Mac OS X that allows full custom 10 bit lookup tables, combined with lift, gamma and gain adjustments in red, green and blue channels. This is vital when color calibrating for various popular brands of connected LCD panels, and ensures accurate broadcast quality color representation of the HD-SDI video input. Customers can load their own custom lookup tables, or select from the built in lookup tables compatible with Panasonic and Grass Valley Viper standard gamma encoded video. As an added bonus, the built in USB interface also allows software updates, so HDLink is never obsolete as software updates add new features.

HDLink is the world's first full resolution HD monitoring solution that's flexible enough to allow HDMI or DVI-D monitors to be connected - now one low cost converter does both. When DVI-D monitors are connected, HDLink allows pulldown for best monitor compatibility. For highest quality, HDLink features 4:2:2 and dual link 4:4:4 quality combined with 10 bit lookup tables. HDLink also supports stereo RCA audio output for monitoring on consumer HiFi equipment, as well as software for Windows XP and Mac OS X via an easy to use software interface. HDLink is much easer to setup then other products that require fumbling with little switches.

HDLink is available from Blackmagic's authorized resellers worldwide and has a new recommended retail price of only US$445.


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Stock20 Partners With Award Winning Artist; Wedding Videographers to Benefit

Michelle Featherstone's evocative music has been featured numerous times on nationally televised dramas such as Alias (ABC) and Wonderfalls (FOX), as well as the soundtracks of two major motion pictures.

The WB network's One Tree Hill featured her live performance of "We Are Man and Wife" during the season finale's wedding scene. Now Wedding Videographers have the opportunity to download and use this song through Stock20's "Special Artist Licensing" program. For $20, wedding and event videographers can use this song for an unlimited number of clients, for an entire year, with half of the licensing fee going directly to the artist.

Visit www.stock20.com/specialartistlicensing for more details.

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Panasonic Announces Addition Of 24P Capability In New Shoulder-Mount AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD Camcorder

Panasonic announced today that its AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder, available in January 2007, will include 24p frame-rate capability in addition to optional support of the advanced independent frame compression codec, AVC-Intra. As the first shoulder-mount camcorder in Panasonic's P2 HD series, the multi-format AJ-HPX2000 features a native HD progressive 2/3" 3-CCD system that offers superb recording in 1080i, 720p, 480i, 576i and in a total of 17 high definition and standard definition formats.

Designed to support versatile compression rates, the AJ-HPX2000 is switchable between DVCPRO HD/50/25 and DV as well as the new AVC-Intra codec, the industry's most advanced image compression technology. AVC-Intra provides highly-efficient intra-frame 10-bit encoding to offer comparable DVCPRO HD quality at half the bit rate, while doubling recording time per P2 card thereby lowering media storage as well as distribution costs.

The AVC-Intra codec will offer two modes: 100 Mbps, the highest recording quality available for a one-piece camcorder (comparable to D-5 HD video quality) and AVC-Intra 50 Mbps for exceptional high image quality at a lower data rate. The AJ-HPX2000 can hold up to five P2 cards and provides quick, immediate access to video content from all cards simultaneously.

The camera offers continuous recording, allowing users to hot swap and replace P2 cards as well as loop record without interrupting the recording. Captured video can be accessed in thumbnail clips on the camera's 3.5-inch color LCD monitor for playback, in-camera editing, and shot marking right in the field. And with quick, easy operation (ready to shoot in two seconds) and a 15-second pre-record function that captures footage occurring immediately before real-time recording begins, the AJ-HPX2000 ensures that professionals are always ready to capture spur-of-the-moment action.

Designed with the functionality to enhance news acquisition and broadcast production, the AJ-HPX2000 combines exceptional, high-quality performance with the benefits of Panasonic's reliable P2 system. The AJ-HPX2000 is a top performer in low and bright light conditions with a 14-bit A/D processor to deliver a high sensitivity of F11 at 2000 lux and a minimum illumination of 0.007 lux (at +74 dB gain). A new advanced digital signal processing (DSP) circuit allows professionals to select gamma curves and make precise color adjustments, while Dynamic Range Stretching automatically adjusts the camera's aperture when shooting scenes with varying degrees of light or when moving from light to dark areas.

The AJ-HPX2000 features high-speed file transfer with a variety of professional input/output options including industry-standard IT interfaces such as IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0 as well as HD/SD-SDI for easy field recording (pool feeds), genlock, SMPTE time code and composite video interfaces. The camcorder supports a variety of optional recording boards compatible with common studio news systems and applications. Additional key features include full 48-kHz/16-bit 4-channel digital audio and a 4X Digital Zoom that allows HD images to remain in their superb resolution while maintaining brightness.

P2 HD products offer solid-state high definition recording without the mechanical wear and environmental limitations of tape, hard disk, and optical disc based systems. P2 HD ensures the highest reliability, especially in challenging conditions of extreme temperature range, shock, and vibration. P2 HD products provide a significant reduction in maintenance costs, longer useful product life, and immediate access to recorded video (no need to digitize, ingest or create proxy video files) and metadata. P2 HD provides the reliability of solid-state production; the immediate connectivity to existing IT infrastructures; the speed, ease of use and portability of P2 cards; and the interoperability with leading NLE systems.

The AJ-HPX2000 will be available in January 2007 at a suggested list price of $27,000.


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Just in Time for Christmas: RoyaltyFreeHolidayMusic.com

As a response to numerous customer requests, Stock20.com secured the rights to several Holiday compositions and will be making them available under their generous unlimited license, through a partner site: www.royaltyfreeholidaymusic.com.

Each track will be available for a onetime buyout of $14 and will include multiple length versions. Half of the license fees will go toward the composers, supporting independent artists.


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Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus Now Compatible with Canon HV10

InterVideo, Inc. and its subsidiary Ulead Systems, Inc. today announced the Ulead VideoStudio® 10 Plus Canon HV10 Support Pack. This pack allows users to capture video and write back to the Canon HV10 HDV Camcorder.

The Canon HV10 is capable of filming video in 1080 high-definition resolution video and standard definition modes. The editing of HD content with VideoStudio 10 Plus is just as easy as that of standard definition video, even on mid-range machines. Additionally, the Canon HV10 is a powerful, 3.1-megapixel digital camera, and photographic images taken with the camera can then be used in Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus to create impressive DVD backgrounds, slideshows and picture-in-picture movie effects.

"Ulead VideoStudio 10's creative collaboration with the Canon HV10 doesn't just end with video and images," said Juliet Kuo, Vice President of Marketing for Ulead. "Accompanying video sound can be turned into full-on Dolby® Digital 5.1 Surround Sound using Ulead VideoStudio 10's sound editing capabilities. Placing and mixing sound passages filmed with the HV10 is as easy as dragging-and-dropping a file."

Movies shot with the Canon HV10 and edited with Ulead VideoStudio 10 can be exported into professional-looking DVDs right within the VideoStudio 10 program. Additionally, Ulead VideoStudio 10 supports MPEG-4, perfect for uploading to iPods, PSPs, Smartphones, and popular video and video blog sites.

The Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus Canon HV10 Support Pack is available for download and can be found at the following location: http://www.ulead.com/tech/vs/vs_ftp.htm.

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