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March 12, 2007

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Blu Monday
Adobe Unveils Plans for Two Editions of Photoshop CS3
Matrox Announces Matrox RT.X2 SD Realtime Editing Platform at CABSAT 2007
Blackmagic Design Announces New Software 1.2 for Intensity
Matrox Graphics Launches TripleHead2Go Digital Edition
The Foundry to Debut Furnace 4 for Shake and launches Tinderbox for Combustion at NAB 2007
Ricoh Launches the World’s First 16X DVD+R Double Layer Blank Disc
Samsung Ships World's First Hybrid Hard Drive
TrueDisc Burns Damage-Resistant Optical Discs

The Moving Picture: Blu Monday

Three months ago I was on one of those rare highs that comes from producing something that previously was impossible, in this case a high-definition movie I could play in my living room. I described two ways to accomplish this in Right Here, Right Now: Authoring and Burning HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs.

It was a heady feeling, and I recall thinking that small-studio producers, as well as home and corporate high-def wannabes, could actually drive HD market acceptance and perhaps even impact the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD marketing war. Then I bought another Blu-ray player and got a sudden dose of reality.

I had just finished taping my wife's ballet company's performance of The Nutcracker and was determined to produce a high-definition DVD, more for the experience than with the hope of selling any. I decided to produce bits of it in HD DVD, burning a dual-layer DVD-R disc, and a full version on Blu-ray, courtesy of Sonic's DVDit and the Pioneer BDR-101A burner.

Though I had a Toshiba HD DVD player to test my work, I had already had to return the Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player that I had used for testing in Right Here, Right Now: Authoring and Burning HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs. So I requested another, and while waiting for it to arrive, produced the Blu-ray disc.

The Samsung player showed up and, as my daughters love to say, there was just one problem—the Nutcracker disc refused to play. So I tried several of the discs that had I had burned for the HD story, which played perfectly on the BD-P1000, and none of them would play either.

The first thing I checked was whether there had been a firmware upgrade on the unit and was relieved to find that there had been, since I assumed that the update would resolve the problem. About an hour later, I was back up and running, but when I retried all the discs, there was still no joy in Mudville.

Next, I Googled "BD-P1000" and "DVDit," and quickly hit paydirt. It all relates to the difference between BDMV and BDAV, two acronyms that I had happily never heard of before my research. Briefly, BDMV and BDAV are two recordable disc formats enabled under the Blu-ray Disc specifications. BDMV is the format used by DVDit because it enables menus, interactivity, alternate audio, and subtitle tracks, essentially delivering feature parity with current DVD±R technology. BDAV is targeted more for home recording functions, and offers far fewer authoring-related features (similar to the DVD±VR formats designed for set-top DVD burners).

When Blu-ray was first released, BDMV recording on Blu-ray discs was not supported, though it was later added in September 2006. Here's where it gets interesting.

It turns out that the earliest releases of the Samsung firmware, including the one I tested, supported BDMV. Later firmware releases, issued after BDMV support was introduced, inexplicably removed playback support for the format. Working with folks I met online, I obtained a much earlier firmware revision, and ultimately got the Nutcracker Blu-ray disc to play, making it, without question, the first high-definition disc authored here in Galax, Virginia (please hold your applause).

Again, though, there's just one problem: newer commercial Blu-ray Discs won't play on my outdated player. That's not an issue for me, since I still have an HD DVD player I can use for the rare movie that I absolutely have to see in HD. But it takes the Samsung out of the running for recommending to any parents who might want to buy my Blu-ray Nutcracker, not to mention anyone I sell on the idea of a hi-def wedding. Fortunately, there is an alternative, the Panasonic DMP-BD10, which according to several reports on the Roxio and Blu-ray forums, works perfectly with Blu-ray discs authored in DVDit.

What does Samsung have to say? Unfortunately, though I greatly admire Samsung's products and product marketing, it's one of those monolithic companies that conceals marketing and product manager types, the usual sources of information, from probing press-types like me. I never got to ask why they initially supported BDMV when it wasn't required in the specification, and later dropped BDMV support after it was officially mandated.

After several rounds with a public relations contact explaining and defining the problem, I heard that BDMV support might be added in a firmware upgrade to be released in either February or April. Though unstated, what came through loud and clear was a total lack of appreciation for the repercussions of their BDMV-related decisions to those attempting to author Blu-ray Discs.

Anyway, there's at least a chance that by the time you read this column, a fix may be available. But then again, maybe not. Either way, the enduring lesson is that the market is still nascent and that you have to be careful when recommending products to your customers. Specifically, test before you recommend, and let your clients know that seemingly irrelevant changes like updating your firmware can convert your vibrant hi-def discs into useless coasters.

Jan Ozer (www.doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines on digital video-related topics and the author of Adobe Digital Video How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques with Adobe Production Studio, published by Peachpit Press.

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Adobe Unveils Plans for Two Editions of Photoshop CS3

Adobe Systems Incorporated today announced at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show that it will expand its digital imaging product line, offering two editions of Adobe Photoshop CS3. In addition to the highly anticipated Photoshop CS3 software for designers and professional photographers, Adobe will also deliver Photoshop CS3 Extended, a completely new edition of Photoshop which allows cross-media creative professionals to stretch the limits of digital imaging.

Photoshop CS3 Extended includes everything in Photoshop CS3 plus a new set of capabilities for integration of 3-D and motion graphics, image measurement and analysis. Photoshop CS3 Extended also simplifies the workflow for professionals in architecture, engineering, medical and science. Both Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop CS3 Extended software will be formally introduced on March 27, 2007--as part of the company's launch of Creative Suite 3, where further details will be disclosed. The software is expected to ship in Spring 2007.

"We never imagined that Photoshop would someday help make major motion pictures, let alone save lives," said John Loiacono, senior vice president of the Creative Solutions Business Unit at Adobe. "Whether it's a video producer texture editing the backdrop of a movie or a researcher counting hundreds of cancer cells, diverse industries are already relying on the professional standard in digital imaging."

Extended, film, video and multimedia professionals, and graphic and web designers can leverage the power of the Photoshop image-editing toolset and paint engine when editing 3D and motion-based content. Film and video specialists can perform 3-D model visualization and texture editing, paint and clone over multiple video frames. Animators can now render and incorporate rich 3-D content into their 2-D compositions. Graphic and web designers can create an animation from a series of images - such as time series data - and export it to a wide variety of formats, including QuickTime, MPEG-4 and Adobe Flash® Video.

"The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) is over 60,000 members strong and as it continues to grow, so do the variety of uses for Photoshop," said Scott Kelby, president of NAPP. "Photoshop CS3 Extended will further redefine who the ‘creative professional' is, allowing cross-media professionals to really push the limits of their craft, while also inviting engineers, scientists and architects to add the power of Photoshop to their arsenal."

Photoshop CS3 Extended also enables users to extract valuable quantitative and qualitative data from images. In addition to measurement and analysis tools, architects, medical professionals and scientists will enjoy increased support for specialized image formats so they can easily view, annotate, and edit images in their native format. Radiologists can closely monitor a patient's progress over time, scientific researchers can create animations from medical images for presentation purposes, and architects can make accurate measurements of objects in their 3-D images.

 "With the release of two new editions of Photoshop, Adobe continues to push the boundaries with innovative tools that empower people to communicate visually in powerful new ways," said Alexis Gerard, author of "Going Visual" and president of Future Image Inc., hosts of the 6Sight® Future of Imaging conference. "While Photoshop CS3 will remain the digital imaging standard for photographers, Photoshop CS3 Extended is bringing to new audiences the proven benefit of Photoshop, and also exploring feature sets that eventually may benefit a broader market."

Announced in December 2006, a beta version of Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Macintosh and Windows is currently available for download for Photoshop CS2 users on the Adobe Labs Web site: http://labs.adobe.com.

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Matrox Announces Matrox RT.X2 SD Realtime Editing Platform at CABSAT 2007

Matrox Video Products Group today announced the Matrox RT.X2 SD realtime editing platform, designed for corporate communicators, event videographers, project studios, educational facilities, and digital filmmakers delivering their projects in SD. Matrox-authorized distributor, Digital Image, will demonstrate RT.X2 SD on stand E2-21.

"Matrox RT.X2 SD replaces our highly successful RT.X100 platform and brings many exciting new features to our customers who need a high-performance SD editing platform that helps them get the best from Adobe Production Studio," said Wayne Andrews, Matrox product manager. "RT.X2 SD is built on the Matrox Axio engine and delivers many of its high-end features, at a very affordable price point."

Key features of Matrox RT.X2 SD include the following:

  • Realtime multi-layer editing of video, graphics, and effects
  • Realtime Matrox Flex CPU effects: color correction, speed changes, chroma/luma keying and many more
  • Realtime and accelerated Matrox Flex GPU effects: 2D/3D DVE, blur/glow/soft focus, shine and many more
  • Native DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, and MPEG-2 4:2:2 I-frame SD editing
  • Realtime HDV clip downscaling in an SD timeline
  • Realtime mixed-format multi-cam in an SD timeline
  • Accelerated export to DVD, multimedia formats including Flash Video, and Adobe Clip Notes
  • WYSIWYG for Adobe After Effects, Photoshop and Bridge, Autodesk Combustion and 3ds Max, eyeon Fusion, NewTek LightWave 3D, and Windows Media Player with dynamic Alt+Tab switching
  • Composite, Y/C, and analog component SD input and output

Priced at $895 US in North America (GBP 525, €749), Matrox RT.X2 SD will be available in April 2007 through a worldwide network of authorized dealers. The Matrox RT.X2 SD bundle includes the RT.X2 SD PCIe card and a professional breakout box. It is designed for use with the customer's copy of Adobe Premiere Pro or Adobe Production Studio.

www.matrox.com/video

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Blackmagic Design Announces New Software 1.2 for Intensity

Blackmagic Design Inc. today announced the immediate availability of new software for all Intensity HDMI capture and playback cards. Intensity 1.2 is compatible with Windows and Intel based Mac OS X based systems.

New Intensity 1.2 software features expanded HDMI compatibility for use with a greater range of newer HDMI devices recently released into the market. Also included in this release is Blackmagic Media Express, a new media capture and playback utility which makes it easy to move media clips between video devices and the computer disk. Blackmagic Media Express is incredibly useful when doing web streaming or DVD authoring of content where the cost of more complex NLE software is not required. With the release of the new Microsoft Windows Vista, Intensity 1.2 allows customers to now easily migrate to the new Windows Vista platform for professional video editing.

"We are excited about this Intensity update, because it gives our customers even greater compatibility with the latest HDMI devices that have been released over the last few months, such as the exciting new HDV decks, set top boxes and DVD players" said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. "Our customers want the highest quality possible with the widest compatibility with HDMI devices and operating systems, and this new Intensity 1.2 software update certainly does this."

Intensity Software Version 1.2 Features include the following:
• Support for the new Windows Vista platform.
• New Blackmagic Media Express utility for video capture and playback.
• Expanded compatibility with more HDMI devices.
• Various compatibility and performance enhancements.

Intensity 1.2 is available now for all registered Intensity customers free of charge from the Blackmagic Design web site at www.blackmagic-design.com.

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Matrox Graphics Launches TripleHead2Go Digital Edition

Matrox Graphics Inc., the leading manufacturer of graphics solutions for professionals, unveils the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition, the latest addition to the Matrox line of Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXM) featuring digital output support for a stretched desktop of up to 3840x1024 (triple 1280 x 1024)1 across three screens.

The all-encompassing TripleHead2Go Digital Edition offers a truly digital-to-digital data path by connecting to the dual-link DVI output of a compatible notebook, desktop or workstation to three digital monitors—optimizing the connection between your system, graphics card and panel.

"Creative professionals looking to adopt a triple-DVI monitor setup will be delighted about the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition," says Caroline Injoyan, Business Development Manager, Matrox Graphics Inc. "This GXM generates an extended workspace across three displays to house any application, while simultaneously taking advantage of all the benefits of digital flat panel technology."

The new TripleHead2Go Digital Edition is designed to meet the growing needs of creative professionals working in areas of Digital Content Creation & Animation and Digital Audio Editing. The Surround Design functionality—ability to work with three screens—provided by this small device enables users to examine multiple windows of a design or project and simultaneously view important information that needs to be accessed quickly. These professionals will reap the benefits of multi-display computing on their notebooks or workstations while experiencing an increased level in productivity.

In addition, users of the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition can operate in DualHead mode with a combined resolution of 3840x1200 (dual 1920x1200)1 by connecting their system to the dual-link digital input. Graphics eXpansion Modules Matrox Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXM) are small external boxes that are simple to setup—there is no need to open the computer to insert additional parts into it. The operating system detects the GXM as an ultra-widescreen monitor which is then split into two or more standard resolutions compatible with the attached displays, all the while harnessing the graphics hardware already present in the system for all 2D, 3D, and video acceleration.

TripleHead2Go Digital Edition includes support for Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows XP x64bit operating systems and Mac® OS X v10.4, and is compatible with many professional and enthusiast class desktops and notebooks. For more information, please refer to the compatibility list posted on the Matrox website.

Available in Q2 2007, TripleHead2Go Digital Edition has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $329 USD. This product will be available from authorized resellers worldwide or, in North America and Europe, directly from Matrox at http://shopmatrox.com.

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The Foundry to Debut Furnace 4 for Shake and launches Tinderbox for Combustion at NAB 2007

Leading visual effects developer The Foundry will take up residence on booth SL14413 in the South Hall at NAB 2007. Visitors looking for stunning 2D visual effects and hardcore image-processing tools will find a host of advanced, yet cost-effective, solutions to enhance workflow and boost productivity from The Foundry.

Full details of new products and company news will be announced soon, but highlights at NAB 2007 already include the debut of Furnace 4 for Shake, and the launch of Tinderbox for Combustion. Furnace is a hugely popular suite of more than 30 image-processing tools, many of which automate time-consuming processes in the creation of digital visual effects.

The development team responsible for Furnace is to be honored with a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on 10th February 2007 in Los Angeles. Furnace 4 will build on this considerable platform. Combustion artists will be able to put The Foundry's Tinderbox suite through its paces.

This widely adopted suite of over 70 creative visual effects for After Effects is set to be available for artists running Combustion on Windows. Plus there will be comprehensive demonstrations of Tinder, Furnace and Keylight on a range of host platforms including Autodesk Media and Entertainment Systems, After Effects and Shake.

"Our artists are employed across a wide variety of high-profile projects. To guarantee we continue to meet clients' demands we require sophisticated digital tools to help us get the job done. The Foundry's Furnace is an impressive digital toolset that delivers time and time again, a first-class collection of tools, which should be on any Shake artist's wish list," said Nick Cannon, Head of Technology, Film, MPC.

The Foundry's products are widely acclaimed across the industry, having recently been used by digital artists on a host of high-profile feature films including Casino Royale, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Da Vinci Code and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

www.thefoundry.co.uk

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Ricoh Launches the World’s First 16X DVD+R Double Layer Blank Disc

With its recently launched 16x DVD+R Double Layer, Ricoh has significantly raised the standards for fast DL blank discs. At the same time this milestone has once again revealed the company's high level of technical competency in the field of innovative high-speed media development. This is confirmed by the certificate issued by the Verification Laboratories Group which sets the official standards for the new Double Layer DVD+R media with write speeds of up to 16x. Delivery of the first samples for hardware manufacturers started on 7th March 2007.

The market for DVD+R double layer blank discs more than doubled last year and the boom in demand has continued unabated. Compared with single layer discs, however, double layer media have hitherto required considerable time to write their large volume of storage space. With the development of the first 16x DVD+R DL Ricoh has now radically increased writing speed while at the same time significantly reducing the writing time for the medium. This technological innovation once again confirms Ricoh's position at the forefront of the development of high-precision double layer production technologies.

The "Inverted Stack Method" invented by Ricoh is already regarded as the best possible technique for the attainment of high recording speeds in high-precision DVD+R DL media production. This Ricoh production method differs considerably from the "2P method" in which all layers are stacked on a single substrate. Separate production of both recording layers as practised by Ricoh, initially takes place separately on both substrates. The two components are then pressed together. Thus in practice Ricoh's "Inverted Stack Method" provides increased precision for both recording layers.

To ensure the high writing speed of 16x for the DVD, the medium must have exceptional mechanical properties. Thus the extremely precise groove formation of the Ricoh blank disc not only has a decisive influence on correct tracking but it also serves to completely avoid distortion. However not only were improvements made to eccentricity and production tool precision but newly developed recording materials were also deployed.

Ricoh plans to start sales of the 16x DVD+R DL in summer 2007.

www.ricoh.com

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Samsung Ships World's First Hybrid Hard Drive

Samsung Electronics Ltd., the worldwide digital consumer electronics and information technology leader, announces the shipment of its hybrid hard drive to the commercial marketplace. Samsung's MH80 Series hybrid hard drive is offered in 80GB, 120GB and 160GB capacities. Samsung is a leader in hybrid hard drive technology and is one of the first companies to offer a commercially available unit.

The MH80 hybrid hard drive is currently shipping to select OEM customers and will soon be available in retail and commercial outlets. Optimized to work in conjunction with Windows Vista capable notebook PCs, Samsung's MH80 is a 2.5-inch hybrid hard drive with 128 or 256 megabytes of flash memory. It combines a hard disk drive with a OneNAND Flash cache and Microsoft's ReadyDrive software, offering faster boot and resume times, increased battery life and greater reliability compared to traditional magnetic media technology.

"As a leader in both hard drive and flash memory technologies, Samsung brings to market a unique hybrid hard drive that is sure to revolutionize the notebook computing experience," Albert Kim, National Sales Manager, Storage Systems for Samsung Semiconductor. "The MH80 hybrid hard drive provides the ideal solution for two major issues that notebook PC users continually face: faster boot and resume performance and extended battery life."

The MH80 hybrid hard drive preserves the high densities of magnetic storage technology, while the advanced NAND flash technology enhances the overall value with lowered power consumption, higher reliability and faster read/write access than traditional hard drives. The MH80 features Samsung's ReadyBoot technology that offers up to a 50 percent reduction in boot and resume times from traditional magnetic media technology.

In addition, the drive consumes 70-90 percent less power than a traditional hard drive, which extends the battery life by 30 minutes before a recharge is needed. The MH80 also offers up to five times the reliability of traditional notebook PC hard drives.

As the drive's platters are idle 99 percent of the time, the MH80 eliminates the need for the hard disk to constantly spin whenever a computer is operating on battery power. As a result, the drive is much less susceptible to shock damage, resulting in less data loss and fewer needed repairs. Furthermore, the drive operates at a lower temperature than a regular hard drive, reducing the likelihood of damage and hard drive failure.

For more information about Samsung's hard disk drive products, visit http://www.samsung.com.

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TrueDisc Burns Damage-Resistant Optical Discs

TrueDisc introduced TrueDisc for Mac OS X today: the world's only archival-quality optical format. Files burned to disc with TrueDisc can sustain disc damage as high as 90% and still restore the original file.

"TrueDisc is the easiest, safest way to archive important files, photos, music, or any other data." said Erich Ocean, TrueDisc's founder. "With TrueDisc, you get the best possible data protection for your most important files."

TrueDisc burns standard files to CD-R, DVD-R, DVD+R, and DVD+R Double Layer in a special damage-resistant format. These files, called "master copies", can be read back off the disc by the TrueDisc software. If disc damage prevents some of the file from being read, TrueDisc automatically uses patent-pending algorithms to reconstruct the missing data. This allows TrueDisc to restore the original file even when the disc is damaged due to age or abuse.

TrueDisc is priced at $89, but is available for a limited time at a special introductory price of $52.

TrueDisc can be downloaded and purchased at http://www.truedisc.com/ and requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.

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