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May 29, 2007

Table of Contents

Stage to Screen: Sounds Like Good Video to Me
New Matrox DualHead2Go Digital Edition Now Shipping
Noise Industries Ships FxFactory for Apple Final Cut Studio 2
NEO Sounds Launches New and Fast-Growing Online Royalty-Free Production Music Library
Boris FX Product Line Supports Apple Final Cut Studio 2 Release
Band Pro Premier Reseller for Sony to Sell CineAlta F23 HD Camera
Artbeats Awakens Emotion with New Worship Footage
SoundTech Announces LightSnake iChat

Stage to Screen: Sounds Like Good Video to Me

As video professionals, we spend a lot of time practicing the art of shooting good video. We have steadicams, DV rigs, and Glidecams to make our handheld video more stable; jibs, trucks, and dollies to achieve multi-axis motion; and wide-angle lenses, optical image stabilizers, and fluid-head tripods to make our motion as steady as possible. Add this to rule of thirds theory and the use of foreground, mid-ground, and background, and you have the basics of shot composition and selection. Understanding and utilizing these tools and theories is what makes for video that appeals to our sense of sight.

Creating great video takes more than just video that looks good—it takes audio to stimulate our auditory sense. Combined with vision, these two senses have the powerful ability to engage our emotions. Since the movie world went from silent films to “talkies” in 1926, audio has been an integral part of the movie-going experience. Technological advancements moved audio forward from wax to magnetic tape to optical storage and monoraul, to stereo, to surround sound. Audio is so important to motion pictures that 56 years after the original “talkie,” George Lucas and Thomlinson Holman developed the THX standard to ensure a high-quality and accurate theater playback of their movie soundtracks.

In the world of the event video producer it is understandable that audio is often given short shrift, as video is so visual and the association of video and videographer is much stronger than audio to videographer. But this lack of semantic connection does not mean that we can ignore the audio component of video. In fact, we have all experienced the heightened emotional response that good audio can have on a wedding video. Think of the impact of a mother’s narration of her daughter’s bridal prep, the sounds of a symphony instrumental for the highlight, and especially the ability to hear the groom’s tear-filled whisper of “I do” during the wedding vows. Good audio allows the viewer to escape from their present reality and feel emotions of the wedding day. Bad audio yanks them away from that reality and reminds them that they are watching a video and negatively impacts their perception of the quality of the overall production.

In a live stage production, audio is such an integral part of the events we capture that without audio, the video is an incomplete rendition of the original. I experienced this the first time I filmed a tap dance number and tried to rely only on my shotgun microphone mounted on my camera at the back of the theater. The taps were barely audible and when I tried to bring up the levels in post, I also brought up the background noise, which was not desirable. It is much easier to work with audio that has a strong signal-to-noise ratio, and your goal with capturing audio is to ensure that you isolate the varied sources so that you can balance them in post.

My current setup is much improved, and in a two-camera shoot I use three audio channels. On the first camera, both channels take a line feed from the soundboard that isolates the music and announcements. This track is so important that I find it is easier to have the audio going to both tracks so that when I use my circumaural headphones to monitor for problems, I get a signal in both ears. On the second camera I use both audio channels. Channel 1 is the stage track that captures tap shoe sounds, stage vocals, and the sounds from any other noise-generating prop that shows up on stage. Channel 2 is the ambient audio from the camera’s shotgun microphone and is used for applause. Once the shoot is done, I edit to the isolated soundboard track. On my second pass I add my titles and dissolves and I mix in the applause and stage-mic tracks when required.

Technically, I find that the most difficult track to get the right settings on is the line feed from the soundboard. Ideally, you want the line level from the soundboard to go into your camera with an XLR cable without any problems. I’ve noticed that with my PD170, I just cannot get the line feed from certain soundboards to come into my camera without sounding overmodulated, regardless of how low a level the signal is. I’ve found a few solutions for this problem, and alternate between them depending on what equipment I have left at my disposal. They include using either my Sennheiser wireless transmitter and receiver, my Shure inline attenuator, or my portable Behringer mixer.

I like to have isolated audio tracks as much as possible as its gives me the most control outside of running the soundboard myself. Last year one of my theaters decided to set up and mix tap mics into the soundboard feed for me. At first I was excited that I could skip the step of temporarily installing my own mics, but when it came time to do the edit I realized that the soundboard technician was turning off the stage mic when there were no tap numbers and occasionally forgot to turn it back on. To compensate for this missing track I used the ambient track from the shotgun on the camera closest to the stage, but the audio didn’t sound as precise as the tap feed would have. This year I’m going to run my own tap mic.

In the event video world, there are four types of videographers: Those you can count on for good audio, those you can’t count on for good audio, and those who can’t count. Make your audio count.

Shawn Lam, MPV is owner/operator of Vancouver-based Shawn Lam Video and a speaker at WEVA Expo and the 4EVER Group’s Video 07.

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New Matrox DualHead2Go Digital Edition Now Shipping

Matrox Graphics Inc., the leading manufacturer of graphics solutions for professionals, is pleased to announce that the new DualHead2Go Digital Edition is now shipping. Part of our Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXM) product line, this external multi-display upgrade device allows you to connect two digital monitors to your notebook or desktop for an impressive, productivity enhancing, dual-monitor set-up.

"DualHead2Go Digital Edition supports a wide range of resolutions for users interested in using two DVI monitors," says Caroline Injoyan, business development manager, Matrox Graphics Inc. "Upgrading to a dual-monitor configuration immediately provides multi-taskers with the maximum onscreen space to better manage multiple documents across two screens."

Matrox Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXM) are small external boxes that are simple to set up–there is no need to open the computer to insert additional parts. The operating system detects the GXM as an ultra-widescreen monitor which is then split into two or more standard resolutions, harnessing your system's existing 2D, 3D, and video acceleration graphics hardware.

DualHead2Go Digital Edition includes support for Windows Vista™, Windows XP, Windows® 2000, Windows® XP-64 bit operating systems and Mac® OS X v10.4, and is compatible with many desktops and notebooks. For complete details, visit the online compatibility page.

DualHead2Go Digital Edition has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $229USD. This product is available from authorized resellers worldwide or, in North America and Europe, directly from Matrox at http://shopmatrox.com.

www.matrox.com/graphics

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Noise Industries Ships FxFactory for Apple Final Cut Studio 2

Noise Industries, developer of visual effects tools for the postproduction and broadcast markets, today announced the availability of FxFactory 1.05 for Apple Final Cut Studio 2.

Noise Industries FxFactory for Apple Final Cut Studio 2 FxFactory for Apple Final Cut Studio 2 offers GPU accelerated, native visual effects plug-ins for Apple Final Cut Pro 6 and Apple Motion 3 running on Apple’s new FxPlug architecture. The optimized FxFactory plug-in architecture provides maximum speed and performance for visual effects creation on both PowerPC and Intel-based Mac platforms. Other core FxFactory enhancements include a refined user interface and custom presets for fast – professional effects creation.

"This FxFactory release offers more than just support for Final Cut Studio 2. It offers faster effects creation and very innovative image treatment filters. These new filters are based on feedback from our growing user base," comments Niclas Bahn, general manager, Noise Industries. "It is the unique plug-in creation capabilities of FxFactory Pro plug-in manager that allow us to implement new effects with such a quick turnaround."

New FX for the Pro Pack: Frame Overlay, Particle System, Slideshow, LED Lights
Frame Overlay allows the preview of sections of footage that fit within a different (smaller) frame size than the native size of the sequence, by rendering a customizable overlay over existing footage. The overlay can be used to add hints to your footage before a conversion from 16:9 to 4:3; to preview how your PAL content will look at NTSC resolution if no re-scaling is applied; to identify portions of the original HD frame to be preserved when down-sampling for DVD adaptation.

Particle System: animate built-in images as well as media via an image well parameter.

Slideshow: create slideshow of images from any folder inside FCP.

LED Lights: simulate the display of a source image on an array of LED lights.

New FX for Motion Pack: Glitch, 3D Shatter, Panel Vision, RGB Trails

Glitch:corrupts and destroys the image in a controllable way.

3D Shatter: breaks the image up over 3D space.

Panel Vision: tiles 8 source images in random patterns.

RGB Trails: a motion trail effect with controls for each color channel.

New FX for Editing Pack: New Transitions: Cheshire Fade, Explode Away, Panels Mix Off, Spinner, Zipper Cheshire Fade: fades away the image leaving the edges to last.

Explode Away: explodes the source clip off the screen.

Panels Mix Off: mixes, shrinks or spins the source clip to the next clip in random patterns.

Spinner: spins the image a number of times landing on the next clip.

Zipper: Unzips the next image over the clip.

Pricing and Availability
Noise Industries FxFactory 1.05 and updated FxPacks are available today. The MSRP starts at $99.00 USD. FxFactory 1.05 is a free update for all current owners of FxFactory.

www.noiseindustries.com

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NEO Sounds Launches New and Fast-Growing Online Royalty-Free Production Music Library

NEO Sounds has launched a new and fast-growing online royalty-free production music library.

There are thousands of premium-quality of Royalty Free Music tracks, Loops, Stingers, commercial cuts from professional composers and producers for any type of Audio-Visual production available for instant licensing and download at low cost.

www.neosounds.com

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Boris FX Product Line Supports Apple Final Cut Studio 2 Release

Boris FX, the leading developer of integrated effects technology for video and film, announced that the entire Boris FX product line is available today for the new Apple Final Cut Studio 2.0 release.

Owners of Boris Continuum Complete 4.1, Boris Red 4.1, Boris FX 9.1, and Boris Graffiti 5.1 can move to Apple Final Cut Pro version 6.0 and begin working immediately. Boris projects and presets are seamlessly transitioned to Apple Final Cut Pro 6.0; no additional software updates are needed.

The new Apple Final Cut Studio 2.0 release improves Boris plug-in integration as well as adds some key updates including support for Boris FX transitions.

Announced at NAB 2007 and shipping in Q2 2007, Boris Continuum Complete 5.0 family of products now includes support for the Apple FXPlug architecture. Boris Continuum Complete 5.0 for FXPlug is a brand new BCC package designed to support Apple Pro Applications via Apple proprietary FXPlug architecture. Customers who purchase Boris Continuum Complete 4.1 for use with Apple Final Cut Studio 2.0 on or after April 1, 2007 are eligible for a free Boris Continuum Complete 5.0 for FXPlug update.

www.borisfx.com

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Band Pro Premier Reseller for Sony to Sell CineAlta F23 HD Camera

The new Sony F23 CineAlta Camera is being offered for sale by Sony and through its CineAlta Premier reseller, Band Pro Film & Digital. Band Pro is a leading supplier of high-end production technology to the digital television and motion picture market.

According to Band Pro’s Michael Bravin “The F23 delivers the best electronic picture I’ve seen yet.” “It has been designed and built specifically to meet the demands of electronic cinematography,” explains Band Pro’s Jeff Cree. The F23 offers full bandwidth 4:4:4 capture with in-camera variable frame rates from 1-60fps at 1080p recorded on-board to the SRW-1. It provides creative custom gamma control with a choice of linear or log style workflows, in a versatile ergonomic film-style package.

The F23 uses three 2.2 megapixel 2/3-inch type progressive CCD imagers and a 14-bit A/D converter. It will support 1080/23.98P, 24P, 25P, 29.97P, 50P, 59.94P, 50i and 59.94i formats.

“Sony went to working cinematographers for feedback on the HDC-950’s 1920 by 1080 RGB 4:4:4 design, and incorporated their desires in the new F23,” explains Cree. “The SRW-1 digital 4:4:4 recorder docks directly to the top or to the tail of the new system, eliminating unwieldy cable handling between the camera and recorder.”

Band Pro complements the new CineAlta F23 with top filmmaking tools including matteboxes, follow focus and lens control systems, monitors, and more. To complete the package, Band Pro adds renowned ZEISS DigiPrime® and DigiZoom™ lenses.

www.bandpro.com

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Artbeats Awakens Emotion with New Worship Footage

Artbeats, the industry’s leading provider of high-quality royalty-free stock footage, today announced the release of three new high-definition worship collections: Protestants, Catholics and Worshippers. Protestants contains clips of singing, Bible reading, sermons and congregational scenes; Catholics features traditional scenarios of nuns, communion, holy water, and processions; and Worshippers contains imagery depicting men, women and children praying as a community or in solitude.

“We created these collections because our customers were asking for high-quality, inspiring worship-related footage,” said Phil Bates, president of Artbeats. “My goal when I shot and directed this series was to provide film quality imagery that captured both the heart of worship and scenes typical to both Protestant and Catholic churches.”

Artbeats’ new worship titles offer an endless number of options for creative professionals seeking high-quality imagery for a variety of applications, including broadcast, feature film, commercial, independent production, multimedia and more. The three new worship collections feature a wide range of compelling subject matter and include the following:

Protestants features many scenarios found in Protestant churches including worship, singing, Bible reading, sermons, congregational scenes, home Bible study, offering, laying on of hands and much more.

Catholics contains footage that is incredibly beautiful and reverent. Light streams through stained glass windows as the robed priest administers the sacraments, as well as other scenarios familiar to the Catholic tradition including a nun, communion, holy water, procession, kneeling, rosary beads and more.

Worshippers highlights the reverence, emotion and enthusiasm of men, women and children as they worship in a congregational setting alone and with others in various worship scenarios. This collection includes images of young children kneeling to pray, adults in heartfelt surrender and footage from an actual Charismatic church service.

Protestants, Catholics and Worshippers high-definition (HD-1920x1080 resolution) Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are each USD $899. Each collection is also available in NTSC-720 x 486 and D1 PAL-720 x 576 resolutions for USD $599. Individual HD clips start at $300, and NTSC/PAL clips start at $199.

For more information or to purchase these collections please visit www.artbeats.com.

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SoundTech Announces LightSnake iChat

SoundTech Professional Audio, a division of US Music Corporation, today announced the LightSnake iChat, a USB headset with microphone that offers computer users one solution for many multimedia audio and voice applications. The LightSnake iChat features SoundTech's patented "Live when Lit" technology that glows when connected and flashes when sound is being transmitted.

The LightSnake iChat is ideal for anyone who participates in multiplayer gaming or voice chats over the Internet. The iChat features clear, crisp audio and in-line volume controls perfect for listening to music or for VoIP calls with services such as Skype. In the office the iChat can be used for voice input on videoconferences or to take advantage of the latest speech recognition technology by talking into the LightSnake iChat's built-in microphone instead of typing.

"We developed the SoundTech LightSnake line of musical instrument cables to give our customers a high-quality yet easy-to-use product for home recording," said Larry English, President of US Music Consumer Division. "The iChat incorporates the same great features available in the LightSnake cable line in a product that can be used in everyday applications including online voice chats, listening to MP3s and online gaming."

The LightSnake iChat is fully plug-and-play compatible with a Mac or PC- no driver installs are necessary. In addition, the iChat features a stereo output allowing a favorite pair of headphones or powered speakers to be used in place of the included iChat ear buds.

SoundTech LightSnake USB Headset features include the following:

  • Digital quality sound input and output without the need for a sound card
  • Embedded 16 Bit ADC input with audio signal boost
  • HSDL (Host Side Data Loss) noise reduction function
  • 48/44.1 KHz sampling rate for recording
  • USB bus powered with simple plug-and-play connectivity
  • Compliant with USB 2.0 full speed operation
  • Compatible with Win 98 / 98 SE / Win ME / Win 2000 / Win XP/ Win Vista / Linux and Mac OS9 / OS X

The iChat, with patented LightSnake technology, is available nationwide at Micro Center as well as on the web at Amazon.com or FullCompass.com with a suggested retail price of $29.99. For more information on retail availability, visit www.SoundTech.com.

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