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February 12, 2007

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Matters of Light and Depth
Panasonic Introduces AG-HSC1U, World's Smallest Pro 3-CCD High-Def Camcorder
Series 7 Introduces SL-50, the Only DV Battery System Designed For The Pro Video Market
XLNT Idea, Inc Announces New Consumable Line for XLNT Idea Publishing Systems
Apricorn Launches EZ Writer DVD LS
LME Collections Introduces 7 Adjustable Collections for Producing Motion Graphics
Maxell Introduces New Professional Disc Optical Media for the XDCAM HD Platform

The Moving Picture: Matters of Light and Depth

Most of my shoots are on-location events like concerts, ballets, and weddings, where I use on-scene lighting or, at most, an on-camera light. When I've done training videos and other similar shoots where I had more control, I've used "ad hoc" lighting, a nice way of referring to the collection of tungsten shop lights and incandescent clamp lights I've accumulated through the years. These work OK, but aren't really portable, don't provide precise controls over lighting placement or intensity, and certainly don't impress the client.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with the Lowel DV Creator 44 Kit ($1,695 retail) for some interviews I was shooting for both DV and DVD distribution. It was a fun and interesting experience that I thought I would share.

Some introductory thoughts. First, I'm a soft-light fanatic because I don't like the detail, edges, and shadows that hard lights deliver. Second, I tend to use flat lighting more than the shadowed look created by traditional three-point lighting technique. This matches the mood of my shoots, which are generally businesslike, rather than artsy film noir, and it certainly compresses better when shooting for streaming.

By its specs, the DV Creator 44 seemed to pose a couple of problems. First, all the kits are tungsten-powered, and tungsten is a hard light source. Second, the two main lights have different bulb strengths, one at 300 W, the other 750 W. I wondered going in how I was going to combine those lights up to produce flat, even lighting.

I had two projects to light. One was a shoot with a local physician who wanted to post pre-operative instructions online. Since this was business-oriented and internet-bound, I planned to create soft, flat lighting.

The other project consisted of interviews with local bluegrass band No Speed Limit, shot while rehearsing for a New Year's Eve's performance at the fabulous Rex Theater here in Galax. The band's goal was to produce a DVD to send to concert and festival promoters, and they wanted the interviews to supplement the concert footage of actual songs. With lighting I was going for a slightly edgier look, with shadows modeling the band members faces' to provide a little drama.

Lowel shipped the DV Creator kit in a single hard-shell case that weighed about 35 pounds. Having all lights, stands, and cords in one portable container saved a couple of trips back to the car and would be essential if you're traveling by plane.

Opening the case revealed the four lights in the kit. As I mentioned, all were tungsten-powered, so the lights themselves were very small and light, but produced hard lighting. Fortunately, the kit provides multiple methods for converting all lights to soft lights, either with an umbrella, gels, diffusion filters, or a softbox.

For example, in the physician's office, I used the Rifa-44 softbox as one of the two main lights designed to create the flat, even lighting. The softbox itself is a large canvas shell formed by a collapsible wire harness with an opaque screen that softens the light. The bulb included in the kit was 300 W, though it seemed much stronger.

For the other light, I used the 750 W Tota-light fastening the included Tota-brella into a slot in the light. I pointed the light away from the physician and bounced the light off the umbrella, creating soft, even lighting. The kit doesn't include any dimmer controls, so I moved the Tota-light away from the physician until its power matched that of the 300 W softbox, which produced the desired flat, even lighting.

When interviewing the band, I created shadows using the same two lights, but moved the softbox much closer to serve as the key light, and the Tota-light further away, to serve as fill. For both shoots, I used the 250 W Pro-light for backlighting, softening the beam in the doctor's office with gels held in place with an attachable Gel Frame.

I didn't use the fourth light, which was a flexible, focusable Omni-light with barn doors and several connectors for gels, umbrellas, or diffusion filters. In other situations, I could have used this to light the background, perhaps even adding colors with different-colored gels, but it wasn't necessary in my shoots.

All lights sit atop the same lightweight, but strong and well-balanced Uni stand that can extend up to about 8' in height. Cords are all 16' long, which is a nice bonus, since you should be able to plug them into one extension cord.

The only major tension came when actually inserting the tungsten bulbs into the light fixtures. You shouldn't touch the bulbs directly with your hand, since oil from your fingers can cause the bulbs to overheat and burst, and the torque required to insert them was considerable. I used a hand towel to grasp the bulb, trusted the force, and pushed the bulbs in place with no problems.

As a portable system, the DV Creator 44 is tough to beat. Fluorescent kits run cooler, but are generally bigger and much more expensive. When I actually buy a Lowel kit, which I certainly will, I may consider buying the Rifa Pro 44 kit, which includes the Rifa-44 softbox and a single Pro-light for around $850 retail. This will let me produce both a flat and shadowed look, though I'll miss the flexibility of the Tota-light and Omni-lights. Jan Ozer, a contributing editor to EventDV and StreamingMedia.com, is owner of Doceo Publishing, Inc., based in Galax, VA.

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Panasonic Introduces AG-HSC1U, World's Smallest Pro 3-CCD High-Def Camcorder

Panasonic introduced today the world's smallest professional 3-CCD high definition camcorder - the AG-HSC1U. Weighing 1.1 pounds, this hand-held camcorder delivers stunning 1080i recordings with the accuracy and natural 3-CCD color reproduction that professionals require for capturing events in HD.

This highly affordable HD camcorder is ideal for widescreen, high-resolution event documentation, presentation, training, coaching, and video production applications. Compatible with the rapidly growing number of large HD flat screen displays as well as front and rear-screen projectors, the AG-HSC1U offers much sharper images than can be obtained by standard definition (SD) camcorders.

Highly reliable and flexible because it's solid state with no moving parts like tape or disc-based systems, the noiseless AG-HSC1U camcorder records up to 88 minutes (41 minutes in the highest quality mode) of video on a high-speed 4GB SDHC memory card. A highly-portable 40GB hard drive, capable of receiving and storing the contents of 10 4GB SDHC cards in the field, is packaged with the camcorder. SD video can be output in the widescreen 16:9 format.

"With the introduction of our AVCHD recording system, Panasonic expands its ability to offer professionals and video enthusiasts high-quality, solid-state acquisition solutions at a price that they can afford," said Robert Harris, Vice President of Marketing, Panasonic Broadcast.

By utilizing the newly-developed, H.264-based Advanced Video Codec High Definition (AVCHD) video format, the AG-HSC1U delivers two times the recording efficiency of older MPEG-2 codec technologies like HDV. The AVCHD format is supported by a growing number of leading companies throughout the industry.

The camera comes with HD Writer version 1.0 software to perform simple edits as well as the ability to record onto a DVD-R for HD playback on a Blu-ray disc player from Panasonic or Sony (including PlayStation 3). More sophisticated editing software from third-party NLE companies is expected in the Spring. In addition, Panasonic is developing a professional AVCHD recorder that is expected to be available by end of 2007.

The AVCHD camcorder incorporates a native ¼" 16:9 3-CCD system to deliver accurate, beautiful HD images. Its Leica Dicomar lens system features 13 lens elements in 10 groups and 21 multi-coated surfaces. The wide angle Auto/Manual focus F1.8 lens with 43mm filter size includes advanced Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.). Its optical image stabilizer ensures reliable and stable acquisition in virtually every shooting environment. The lens system uses low-dispersion optical glass for reduced chromatic aberration to produce professional-looking images.

The easy-to-use camcorder features a 16:9 3-inch 251,000-pixel LCD side screen that rotates up to 270 degrees for multiple viewing angles for playback or monitoring. The AG-HSC1U offers as standard the world's first 5.1-channel surround sound system with five microphones for production-quality sound. By recording in 5.1-channel surround sound, a professional can incorporate active sounds coming from many directions. A Zoom Mic function links the microphones' action to the camera's action.

Other key features of the professional graphite-colored camcorder include faster recording on startup (1.7 seconds), a Digital Zoom (30X to 700X) and a minimum illumination of 6 lux for low-light shooting. For increased versatility, the AG-HSC1U can capture 2.1 Megapixel still images onto the SDHC memory card - even during video recording. Video connections including HDMI, USB 2.0, component video, composite video, stereo audio plus stereo mic in.

The AG-HSC1U (including camcorder, 40GB SD Store portable hard drive, 4GB SDHC memory card and HD Writer version 1.0 software) will be available in March at a suggested list price of $ 2,099. The camera will be offered with a one-year parts and labor professional warranty.

For more information on the AG-HSC1U, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

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Series 7 Introduces SL-50, the Only DV Battery System Designed For The Pro Video Market

Series 7 has introduced the next generation of DV powering systems with its innovative SL-50 battery and universal battery mount system.
br> The Series 7 adapter mounts allow Canon/JVC/Panasonic/Sony camcorders to be powered from a single SL-50 battery. No longer do you need to have several different battery styles to power your various camcorders.

The SL-50 itself is a marvel of technology and engineering. Using the latest in Lithium Ion chemistry and boasting a full 7A/50W capacity, the SL-50 is built around the same high quality cells that are used in Industrial camera battery packs. A 4 LED power gauge allows "at a glance" checking of remaining power with the push of a button. The charging system offers two "fast charge" options (single and double position).

When linked with the SERIES 7 camcorder adapters, the SL-50 will power the majority of available camcorder in use today. The SL-50 enables users to enjoy significantly longer run times even when compared to optional Hi-Capacity OEM offerings.. For Sony users, the SL-50 is equipped with a compatible Infolithium® protocol that displays the remaining operating time.

The BCL-1 single postion charger by SERIES 7 is an microprocessor based battery charging unit. The BCL-1 Charging unit provides one of the fastest charging speeds on the market, charging a single SERIES 7 SL-50 battery to full capcity under 3 hours. The unique all metal construction ensures that the BCL-1 will hold up the the rigors of ENG usage. The convenient 12v DC input allows the BCL-1 to be powered from numerous power sources. Waranteed for 3 years, SERIES 7 gurantees the highest quality and support with the BCL-1 single position charging unit.

All products are now available.

http://www.series7battery.com

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XLNT Idea, Inc Announces New Consumable Line for XLNT Idea Publishing Systems

XLNT Idea Inc., a leading U.S.-based manufacturer of DVD and CD Duplication, Printing, and Autoloader Publishing Systems, is now offering a line of consumables that includes ink jet print cartridges and ink jet printable CD and DVD media. Featuring low price points and exceptional Hi Res print quality, XLNT Idea ink jet print cartridges and media provide superior value to users of XLNT Idea systems. XLNT Idea print cartridges are a generic brand designed for the Lexmark engine embedded in XLNT idea solutions, and made to XLNT Idea specifications. The black and color cartridges are competitively priced at MSRP ‘s of $ 26.95 each respectively.

Dale Kubin, VP of Engineering noted, "Now XLNT Idea Dealers and Resellers can offer a high quality print cartridge to their customers that is designed specifically for our systems. In addition, high-quality TY Watershield media is also available from XLNT Idea. Since the print cartridges are not 'locked down,' users have much greater flexibility in purchasing cartridges on the open market."

Chuck Alcon Jr, Director of Sales and Marketing, added, "The price points on our ink cartridges create a low cost of ownership overall on our publisher and direct to disc print systems. Customers are now weighing cost of ownership, system pricing and performance, and ease of use when making a purchase decision. Our consumable line gives them yet another compelling reason to choose our solutions."

www.xlntidea.com

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Apricorn Launches EZ Writer DVD LS

Apricorn today released its latest product, the EZ Writer DVD LS, an ultra portable optical drive featuring LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling and Dual Layer recording. Weighing just 12 ounces, the EZ Writer DVD LS optical drive offers a sleek, all-inclusive and portable solution for burning, playing and labeling your own DVDs and CDs.

The EZ Writer's new dual layer recording engine enables the user to record up to 8.5GB of data per DVD, virtually doubling data storage capacity on a DVD recordable disc from the single layer recording capacity of 4.7 GBs. This enables users to record four hours of DVD quality video, 16 hours of VHS quality video or up to 8.5GB of files, perfect for storing data, music, movies and MP3s.

EZ Writer DVD LS also features LightScribe, providing users the ability to inscribe unique designs with text, images and artwork on their DVDs or CDs. After burning a LightScribe compatible CD or DVD, the user needs only to flip the disc over to laser-etch their own distinctive design.

The EZ Writer's slim, portable design with USB 2.0 interface enables it to be shared easily between a notebook and desktop, allowing users the greatest flexibility to take data with them anytime, anywhere.

"With the growing popularity of subminiature notebooks which ship without integrated optical drives, combined with the increased functionality of slim line DVDs, demand for portable DVD drives has never been higher," said Mike McCandless, Apricorn's VP of Sales and Marketing. "Apricorn's EZ Writer family offers professionals and consumers the state of the art solution to create and label dual layer DVDs and CDs or simply back up important data files, no matter where they are."

EZ Writer DVD LS comes complete with a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface (USB 1.1 compatible), an AC adapter, USB cable, one year warranty, 2MB data buffer, two leading CD/DVD software programs (Ahead Nero OEM Suite and CyberLink Power DVD 5), and LightScribe Direct Disc labeling CD. Ahead Nero OEM Suite is the leading CD/DVD recording solution, enabling its users to burn audio and data discs. CyberLink Power DVD 5 is a high quality DVD playback package with the new Dolby virtual speaker technology, for the ultimate in digital sound reproduction. LightScribe software CD including LightScribe's Simple Labeler allows you create customized labels for LightScribe compatible media.

System Requirements

  • Software: Windows 2000 or XP
  • Hardware: Intel Pentium II 350MHz, 64MB RAM, 40MB of hard disc space, USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible but USB 2.0 recommended for playing DVDs)

Availability and Pricing
Apricorn's EZ Writer LS is currently available in the U.S. and online at www.apricorn.com.

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LME Collections Introduces 7 Adjustable Collections for Producing Motion Graphics

LME Collections has introduced seven adjustable collections for producting motion graphics using After Effects 6.5+, Windows or Mac. Some collections need Trapcode Plug-ins.

Short descriptions follow, with links to more information and animated galleries of what is included in each collection listed below:

  • Fantastic After Effects Trapcode Lux Light Configurations: 100 animated comps using Trapcode's LUX Plug-in. ($139.) A cornucopia of light arrangements! To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go http://www.little-men.com/LME_LUX_LIGHT.html
  • Fantastic After Effects Light Configurations (No Plug-ins needed): 100 comps using After Effects lights. Same collection as above but without the LUX plug-in. ($139.) Using 1-14 lights we created a cool animated collection only using AE! To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_LUX_LIGHT.html.
  • Amazing Video Walls & Photo Displays ($139.): 100 mind boggling configurations to display video, photos & art. Replace our art with yours. To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_VIDEO_AND_PHOTO.html
  • Dazzling Trapcode Particular Plug-In Presets ($99.): 100 presets and matching comps for creating innovative effects, transitions, backgrounds, etc. To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_PARTICULAR.html
  • Ultra Cool Trapcode 3d Stroke Plug-In Presets ($99.): 100 presets and matching comps. We took 3D Stroke to a new level! To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_3D_STROKE.html
  • Trapcode Echospace Plug-In Comps Collection ($99.): 100 comps. A myriad of exciting variations for presenting photos, quicktime files, and art! To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_ECHOSPACE.html
  • Trapcode Starglow Plug-In To The Max ($99.): 100 eye popping presets and matching comps to add dazzle to text and art! Not included when you purchase the Trapcode plug-in. To learn more, see animated galleries or to purchase go to http://www.little-men.com/LME_STARGLOW.html

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Maxell Introduces New Professional Disc Optical Media for the XDCAM HD Platform

Maxell Corporation of America has introduced its new Professional Disc optical media for XDCAM high definition video systems. This new Maxell media is designed to meet the needs of the increasingly popular direct-to-disc tapeless recording segment within the professional video and broadcast market.

Maxell's new Professional Disc media combines high capacity storage, fast transfer rates and rugged characteristics making it extremely reliable for the rigorous demands of the professional video and broadcast environment. The Maxell Professional Disc for XDCAM systems employs a high precision, polycarbonate plastic cartridge to protect against dust, scratches, and finger prints and eliminates handling errors caused by heavy use.

"Direct-to-disc recording provides video professionals and broadcasters in all specialties with the speed, flexibility and physical capabilities that allow them to bring a new dimension to their work," said Anthony Petruzziello, director of sales for Maxell Professional Products. "Our new Professional Disc for XDCAM systems provides an element of quality and performance that gives our customers confidence in what they capture and produce will end up on the screen as they envision it."

Offering 23.3 GB of storage capacity, Maxell's new re-writable Professional Disc media provides up to 122 minutes of record/playback time in the HD format (MPEG HD LP mode), more than 65 minutes in the HD format (MPEG HD HQ mode), approximately 45 minutes at 50 Mbps in the SD format (MPEG IMX) and up to 85 minutes in the SD format (DVCAM).

In addition, the new XDCAM Professional Disc media delivers a transfer rate of 72 Mbps with one optical head and 144 Mbps with two optical heads. The Maxell Professional Disc features a unique phase-change recording layer that creates a highly durable recording surface, low error rate and the ability to capture 1080i video and four tracks of audio. It also provides the additional convenience of file-based recording and fast random access.

Maxell will display the new Professional Disc for XDCAM systems at NAB 2007 in Las Vegas, April 16-19, in addition to other innovations for the video and broadcast industry.

www.maxell.com

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