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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

June 04, 2007

Table of Contents

Continuing Education: Matrox RT.X2 Revealed
The Moving Picture: Death, Taxes, and Vista
Blackmagic Design Announces Intensity Pro is Now Available Worldwide
Digital Hotcakes Delivers America the Beautiful to its Worship Series in HD
Sachtler Introduces New ACT 2 Spring Arm For Stabilizers
M-Audio Announces Vista Compatibility
LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling Launches Photography Kit
New Full Featured Pioneer Disc Writers Bring Simplicity and Creativity to Digital Archiving

Continuing Education: Matrox RT.X2 Revealed

It seems that all nonlinear editing programs come with their own collection of effects to apply to video. One thing that is missing is a good description of how to get the most out of each effect. Most manuals that come with your favorite NLE only offer brief descriptions, and the Help file may not provide any more clues on how to get the most out of the provided effects. To complicate things even further, some third-party companies create their own effects that may differ from the ones that are supplied by the NLE. This is the case with hardware-assisted cards that provide their own real-time filters. You almost need a roadmap to follow how these effects can best be utilized in your day-to-day productions. When Jeff Pulera created the RT.X2 Revealed tutorial DVD ($99 from Safe Harbor Computers), he set out to create just such a roadmap—and quite a bit more.

RT.X2 Revealed is a must-have for anyone who has recently purchased the Matrox RT.X2 card, currently owns one, or is considering purchasing one. The nice thing about choosing a Matrox RT.X2 system, is the ability to edit HDV footage in real-time with various effects applied. Not only does the tutorial DVD go over every single real-time effect that the RT.X2 provides, it also explains how to install the product on your computer. The DVD has clear and concise step-by-step instructions on installing the hardware and software. Included are recommendations on putting together a system yourself. Pulera suggests checking the Matrox website (www.matrox.com/video) to get a list of validated hardware that is compatible for the RT.X2 card. If you are not as adventurous and don’t want to build your own system, Jeff recommends considering purchasing a turnkey system built by Safe Harbor Computers (who produced and distributes this DVD). Safe Harbor has built a solid reputation for creating stable nonlinear workstations with just about every editor in mind.

The DVD is broken down into chapters that allow you to navigate easily from the installation of the RT.X2 card to the final output of your project. Once you have your system up and running, Pulera goes over selecting the proper project settings to enable full use of the RT.X2 card and its effects. This DVD assumes that you are familiar with Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, the software that ships with the RT.X2 card. (For basic instruction on using Premiere Pro 2.0, I recommend reviewing the Total Training DVD that came with your copy of the software.)

After showing you how to create a new project with the proper settings, the next chapter on this DVD goes over capturing video using the Breakout box that comes with your RT.X2 card. The breakout box allows you to capture composite, S-Video, component, and DV via the FireWire port. The RT.X2 comes with a nice, long cable, eliminating the need to get behind your computer to make the various connections to your equipment.

The next 26 chapters are dedicated to going over the real-time effects that come with the RT.X2 card. Each effect is clearly explained with a description of what the effect does. From there, Pulera goes over each parameter of the effect, explaining how each tweak affects the final look of the video. Multiple examples are played back to give the viewer an idea of the full range and capability of each effect. Some of the many effects that are covered are Transitions, Color Correction, Old Movie Effect, Move and Scale, Shine Effect, Chroma Key, Lens Flare, and custom masks.

The final chapter covers the use of Matrox Media Export to output your video to various formats. Matrox chose to utilize the same Media Exporter that comes with Premiere Pro, but be sure to select the Matrox Media Encoder, and not the Adobe Media Encoder. The interface is the same, but by choosing to use the Matrox Media Encoder, your encoding times will be greatly reduced because it will use the Matrox RT.X2 to do the encoding. Pulera has a clear understanding of the ins and outs of the Matrox RT.X2 card, and is often referred as the “Matrox Guru,” offering countless hours of support for users on various online forums. This DVD quickly allows viewers to get up to speed so that they, too, can aspire to “Guru” status.

Chris Randall, a 2006 EventDV 25 honoree, is co-owner of Seattle-area studio Edit 1 Media with his wife, Laura.

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The Moving Picture: Death, Taxes, and Vista

Writing is a lot like video editing, in that you tend to fool yourself about how long a column, article, or wedding edit will take to complete. “I’ll do that in 20 hours,” you confidently claim to yourself, and then six weeks later you deliver, frustrated and exhausted. It’s also like video editing in that you usually get paid by the job, not by the hour, so inefficiencies hit you in your wallet.

With this column, though, a first glance at Microsoft Vista, I thought I was sure to earn more than “you want fries with that?” wages. My strategy was to run three rendering performance tests on my spanking new HP xw8400 Dual-Processor, Quad-Core workstation. Then I’d install Vista, run the three tests again, and report the results. Just for the record, the three programs were Adobe Premiere Pro and two batch-encoding utilities, Rhozet Carbon Coder and Sorenson Squeeze. Easy enough, right?

My sum total experience with Vista before starting this project was reading reviews in the computer and business trade press, fuming at all the smug Microsoft bashers who swear that Apple invented everything from the graphical user interface (that was Xerox, from whom Apple "copied" the idea, according to Wikipedia) to Widgets/Gadgets (Konfabulator). That, and watching Apple’s brilliant Mac vs. PC advertisements, including the latest where the PC character walks around with a security guy who keeps asking him if he can answer questions from Mac. As it turns out, that particular advertisement was especially salient.

While on the subject, I was recently watching Herbie Fully Loaded with my eldest daughter, and noticed that the handsome mechanic wooing Lindsay Lohan was none other than the actor playing Mac, Justin Long, who is now set to appear as a hacker in Die Hard 4. That same week, I discovered that in real life, PC is played by John Hodgman, a Brooklyn-based writer who now appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. Now you know the rest of the story. But I digress.

Back on point, there I was with a Vista Ultimate disc—there are more Vista versions than options at a Chinese buffet—ready to begin. I inserted the disc and was advised to go online and download the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. Seemed like a wise investment, though my computer is one of the most powerful on the planet, and newer than some of the produce I have in my refrigerator.

I loved the online environment—lots of beautiful, happy people, obviously basking in the glow of the Vista experience. While the program scanned my computer, Microsoft took the opportunity to describe the various versions, a helpful exercise given the price differential between Ultimate ($189.99) and Home Basic ($84.99, both prices from www.Newegg.com). Ultimately, the upgrade Advisor said it was OK to install, but noted that it didn’t find compatibility results with the NVIDIA Quadro FX 1500 graphics card and Intel Ultra ATA Storage Controller. Strange, I would have expected Microsoft to have supported both devices.

Great, I thought, I’ll spend two hours updating, and then won’t be able to see anything, or retrieve any data. These fears aside, however, the upgrade experience proved unremarkable—a bit lengthy, but not too demanding in terms of interaction, so I could just let it happen while I was working on another computer.

I rebooted for the last time, then tried to run Adobe Premiere Pro, and was informed that my registration information was invalid. I would have to reinstall, which I did, and found that rendering to MPEG-2 on Vista took about 25% longer. Nice. I fired up Squeeze and found that all my codec presets were gone, then tried to reinstall and got the same result.

Rhozet Carbon Coder informed me that it encountered a problem “while loading the conversion kernel,” which persisted after a reinstall. I’ll probably get Squeeze and Carbon Coder running again, but any hopes for an efficient experience were dashed. Though this column is almost done, returning my computer to pre-installation condition is going to take awhile.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? I’m underwhelmed. Vista is a lot like the way Windows is portrayed in the Apple advertisements, sending you queries before almost any action, usually at fairly nonsensical times. I’m sure there’s a grand scheme, but why would it ask if I want to install a program after I just put a DVD in the drive and clicked Setup? My memory is starting to go, no question, but I really can remember that kind of thing without prompting.

Most changes that I encountered were simply changes, not improvements. Windows Explorer, the OS application that I use the most, got a facelift that made the text smaller, and the program much more cryptic. The rest of the eye candy has little value to me. I don’t want a new operating system to change my life, I just want it to run my programs stably and perhaps a bit faster. At first glance, that ain’t gonna happen.

Without question, if you’re a Windows user, Vista is as inevitable as death and taxes. Maybe Vista will grow on me as I work with it on the new workstations that I review, but for now, I’ll be putting it off as ardently as the other two.

Jan Ozer is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites and owner/operator of Doceo Publishing".

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Blackmagic Design Announces Intensity Pro is Now Available Worldwide

Blackmagic Design Inc. today announced Intensity Pro is now shipping and available now from Blackmagic Design professional video resellers worldwide. Intensity Pro is a new low cost and extremely high quality video capture and playback card for professional videographers that features HDMI, analog component, NTSC, PAL and S-Video capture and playback. Intensity Pro was demonstrated at the recent NAB 2007 show, where it won several leading industry awards.

Intensity Pro is the first card to combine the high quality of HDMI capture and playback with the wide compatibility of analog component, NTSC, PAL and S-Video and analog audio capture and playback. It enables users to capture directly from the HD camera's image sensor, bypassing the video compression chip for true uncompressed video quality. Now users can go beyond the quality limits of HDV for editing, design and authoring with Intensity Pro.

Intensity Pro can be connected to any big screen television or video projector for incredible edit monitoring. Current computers don't have the processing speed to render complex multi later real time effects in HDV playing back to FireWire cameras. Intensity solves this problem by outputting video on HDMI and analog outputs for big screen monitoring in both SD or HD formats.

"We think with the combination of HDMI and analog on a single PCI Express plug in card at a very affordable $349 will change the lives of thousands of professional videographers," said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design Inc. "Intensity Pro's new analog compatibility, combined with HD up and down conversion real time processing, allows videographers to now edit in either SD or HD, while keeping compatibility with older equipment and their archived video footage."

On-Air 2.0 Software for Real Time Video Mixing Included with every Intensity Pro card for real time video mixing is the popular On-Air software. On-Air allows customers to plug in two Intensity or Intensity Pro cards into a computer for two camera mixing for live video production.

Intensity Pro instantly switches between the 1080 HD, 720 HD, NTSC and PAL video standards. Intensity Pro is fully compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, and any DirectShow or QuickTime-based software application on Windows and Mac OS X platforms.

Intensity Pro Features include the following:
• HDMI video and audio capture and playback.
• Analog capture and playback in component, NTSC, PAL and S-Video.
• Stereo analog audio capture and playback.
• Capture and playback DV, HDV, Online JPEG and uncompressed video.
• Use for edit playback monitoring on televisions and video projectors.
• HDMI and Component switches between HD and SD.
• Real time effects supported in Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro.
• Live production editing with Blackmagic On-Air mixing software with two cameras.
• Video capture and playback with Blackmagic Media Express utility.
• PCI Express 1 lane for compatibility with 1, 4, 8 and 16 lane PCI express slots.
• Compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X Universal.
• Includes breakout cable with RCA-type connectors for analog video and audio.

Intensity Pro is in stock now with a US domestic recommended retail price of only $349 from all Blackmagic Design authorized resellers.


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Digital Hotcakes Delivers America the Beautiful to its Worship Series in HD

TriLab Productions has announced the release of their first products in HD - Worship Series Volume 11 Mountains Majesty and Volume 12 Shining Sea. Shot in Sony HDCAM 1080i, majestic mountain scenes and tranquil ocean and beach scenes are the highlights of these new installments to the Digital Hotcakes Worship Series. The stunning stock footage is available in both HD and SD format. Each volume contains 20 clips great for use behind scripture, song lyrics, and church announcements.

The Worship series products are offered at $49.95 per volume. Worship Series Volumes 11 and 12 in HD are available for $69.95. They can be purchased directly from Digital Hotcakes.


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Sachtler Introduces New ACT 2 Spring Arm For Stabilizers

Sachtler, a Vitec Group brand, introduces the ACT 2 spring arm for camera stabilizing systems (with industry-standard vest/arm connection) including the artemis EFP, EFP Pro SDI HD, Cine, and Cine HD. The elegantly engineered ACT 2 delivers breakthrough functionality, easy set-up and enhanced performance in a surprisingly lightweight yet robust package.

Sachtler’s engineering team has carefully thought out this next generation arm, improving the state of the art with new-technology springs, bearings and materials like high rigidity reinforced aluminum. The result is an arm that is 3 lbs (1.36 Kg). lighter to carry, yet offers unmatched torsional strength to benefit daily operations and ensure a long life.

The ACT 2 is designed for versatile, speedy set-up. A choice of three interchangeable stainless steel spring sets handle payloads from 24 to 57 lbs. (11-26 kg). The intuitive pre-tensioning capability lets the operator adjust spring tension to accommodate various loads simply and quickly with a single 5/32" (4mm) Allen wrench. Operators will appreciate that when it’s time for action, the arm fully-engages at once, even at maximum load.

The new arm also introduces a flip-over vest attachment that makes it easy to switch from "right-handed" to "left-handed" operation and vice-versa, without disassembling the vest connection. The 5/8” gimbal mounting post, available in 6", 10", and 12" lengths, offers adjustable friction.

This arm is built for durability, right down to the finish. While most arms rely on anodized aluminum, the ACT 2 housing undergoes a unique chemical process that hardens the aluminum and produces a smooth finish that repels scratches and nicks and sports a deep long lasting black matte color.

The ACT 2 arm is crafted in Eching, Germany alongside Sachtler’s other precision artemis products and is available through the Sachtler dealer network.


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M-Audio Announces Vista Compatibility

M-Audio, a leading provider of creative tools for computer-centric musicians, is proud to announce the release of Microsoft Vista drivers for many of the company’s most popular products.

M-Audio currently expects to release 32-bit Vista drivers for all of the following models during the second quarter of 2007: all FireWire products; all currently selling USB MIDI keyboards; Fast Track USB, Fast Track Pro, JamLab, MobilePre USB, Black Box and Transit USB interfaces; Conectiv and Xponent DJ interfaces; and the Revolution 5.1 PCI card.

"Vista represents both an opportunity and challenge for music hardware and software manufacturers," says Adam Castillo, marketing director at M-Audio. "While pursuing an aggressive schedule, we wanted take the time to work through all the details and testing necessary in delivering drivers that are up to M-Audio standards. We’re confident of the results and proud to release Vista drivers that will enable our customers to migrate to this powerful platform."

Visit the Drivers page of http://www.m-audio.com for a list of Vista drivers that have been released to date. Check with M-Audio partners and third-party developers for updates about Vista support for third party products.

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LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling Launches Photography Kit

LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling announced today the LightScribe Photography Kit, a CD and DVD labeling package created specifically for professional photographers and photo enthusiasts. The LightScribe Photography Kit's disc labeling tips and resources for photographers are immediately available for free download on www.lightscribe.com.

LightScribe -- a laser disc labeling technology found in many popular brands of disc burners, laptops and PCs -- gives people the ability to easily burn silkscreen-quality photos, graphics, images and text directly onto LightScribe CDs and DVDs. Disc colors include gold CDs and DVDs as well as CDs in red, orange, yellow, blue and green.

To ensure that discs containing clients' images stand out, photographers owning a LightScribe-enabled drive can go to the Photography Kit (www.lightscribe.com/go/create) and download photo label designs, mailers as well as disc sleeve designs.

With the new kit, photographers can create professional custom designs that integrate clients' photos with text so that the discs are personalized and also serve as advertising pieces. With LightScribe, photo archive discs can be labeled with a telltale photo from the collection as well as client information so that they can be found easily with a quick visual reference.

According to professional photographer and exclusive istockphoto contributor Bobbie Osborne, “As a stock photographer that works with models on a regular basis, LightScribe is invaluable. After burning images to CD for my clients' portfolios, I can add a reference picture from the shoot, my contact information and a note of 'permission to reprint' in case they get questioned about printing copyrighted images. It's professional and sexy. My clients and I both love it."

LightScribe, the only widely available embedded disc labeling technology, is licensed to over 75 optical drive and media manufacturers, software developers, media and computer brands worldwide. LightScribe-enabled CDs, DVDs, software, desktops, notebooks, aftermarket optical disc drives and duplicator systems are available at major retailers worldwide, as well as through most leading brands online.


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New Full Featured Pioneer Disc Writers Bring Simplicity and Creativity to Digital Archiving

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. today announces two new high performance, multi-format DVD/CD writers for rapid and reliable preservation of digital movies, music, photos and data files. The Pioneer DVR-X122 external DVD/CD writer uses a high speed USB 2.0 port for quick connectivity to a PC lacking a built-in high-capacity writer, and also offers the portability needed to back up user files on multiple computers. For those who prefer a permanently installed drive, Pioneer offers the DVR-R200 internal DVD/CD writer. Both models are bundled with sophisticated software to create personalized videos, and the DVR-R200 features the LightScribe direct-to-disc labeling technology.

In as late as 2004, personal computers featuring DVD burners accounted for less than half of total units available, leaving many computer owners in need of a high capacity, high quality disc writer to preserve digital content. The combination of a recordable DVD drive and high quality blank media gives PC users the ability to maintain complete control of their digital media, as well as the security of durable, long-life copies that should preserve valuable personal content well into the future.

"Anyone currently storing valuable digital media only on their PC hard drive should know that they are taking a risk. Backing up content such as digital photos and camera videos on a secure format like DVD is very important in helping to ensure these precious files remain safe and intact for many years," said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Knowing that many computers purchased just three years ago lack a DVD writer solidifies the need for an external model like our DVR-X122 that delivers a simple 'plug and preserve' process to easily organize and archive a sizeable amount of digital content."

Safeguard Digital Keepsakes
According to research firm IDC, Americans purchased nearly 30 million digital cameras in 2006, which will result in large amounts of personal images and movies on hard drives. Digital scrapbooking is a modern twist on the traditional photo album allowing users to creatively archive favorite digital music, movies and photos with a host of interactive features. From the novice to aficionado, the DVR-R200 makes it easy for nearly every user to create professional-looking DVD films interspersed with photos, home video, songs, and even a running dialogue and chapter bookmarks.

Engineered to Maximize Disc Volume
While online sites and portable hard drives can provide temporary storage solutions, DVD technology is an inexpensive, durable storage medium with large data capacity and quick-burning capability for long-lasting security of digital files. When considering 1GB of space holds nearly 250 downloaded songs or 500 digital images, average consumers usually require 1GB to 10GB of capacity. The Pioneer DVR-X122 and DVR-R200 writers support dual layer DVD-R recording capability to archive significant amounts of information by nearly doubling single layer disc capacity from 4.7GB to 8.5GB.

From Shutterbugs to Professionals
The Pioneer DVR-X122 external drive offers industry-leading drive technology for high-speed recording of up to 18x write speed with high-speed DVD-R/+R discs, 10x with high-speed DVD-R/+R dual/double layer disc, 6x with high-speed DVD-RW discs, 8x with +RW and 12x using DVD-RAM media. It has write speed of 40x with CD-R and 32x on CD-RW media. The writer features Nero® 7.5 Essentials allowing home users to design movies, digital photo slideshows and produce music CD compilations. With Pioneer’s Liquid Crystal Tilt Compensator, the DVR-X122 delivers precise reading and writing of marginal quality discs to assure optimum drive performance.

For the Advanced Designer
The Pioneer DVR-R200 internal drive enables up to 16x write speed with high-speed DVD-R/+R discs, 8x with high-speed DVD-R/+R dual/double layer disc, 6x with high-speed DVD-RW discs, 8x with +RW and 5x using DVD-RAM media. Additionally, it has write speed of 40x with CD-R and 32x on CD-RW media. It also features Pioneer’s Liquid Crystal Tilt Compensator functionality. The writer comes packaged with multimedia software from Roxio by Sonic Solutions® as well as LightScribe media technology enabling direct-to-disc labels for an all-around unique scrapbook.

The Pioneer DVR-X122 external drive and DVR-R200 internal drive are currently available for a suggested price of $99.99 and $69.99, respectively.


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