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July 16, 2007

Table of Contents

Amen Corner: Adobe Visual Communicator 3 for Worship and Educational Video
Focus Enhancements' New High Performance Portable HD Video Switcher Now Available
Azden Introduces Compact and Versatile 4-Channel Field Mixer
WEVA Strengthens Global Outreach With Launch of 'WEVA Latino'
4EVER Group Announces Liability Insurance for Videographers Network Members
XLNT Idea, Inc ships 100 Disc, MiniDisc, and Business Card Kits for Nexis Publisher
TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Now Supports (FLV) Flash Video Formats
"On the Lot" or Off, DVRental.com Giving Filmmakers an Affordable Digital Videography Option
Petrol Bags Introduces Padded Front Pouch
Audio-Technica Bundles Cakewalk Sonar LE as Part of AT2041SP Studio Pack

Amen Corner: Adobe Visual Communicator 3 for Worship and Educational Video

As we’ve seen in several of the most recent issues of EventDV, improved versions of video and graphics suites from Adobe and Apple have begun shipping recently. These tools allow recording, editing, and distribution of video, audio, and graphic content at a professional level that belies their relatively modest cost.

But what about those houses of worship that want to do simple video blogs or create customized videos, above and beyond the recording of the main services? Fortunately, Adobe has re-branded a product that it picked up when it acquired Serious Magic, and the product is due to ship sometime this fall.

The product, Adobe Visual Communicator 3, which has been available as a beta on labs.adobe.com for several months, is a teleprompter/green screen/mini-video switcher/recording system in a box. It displays the text that the person recording is to speak in a teleprompter style, scrolling the text on the Windows machine that records the content. Alongside the scrolling text, a vertical timeline of sorts allows placement of a series of markers that can transition to pre-recorded video clips, graphics and—with Visual Communicator 3—up to three cameras. Similar to a professional television studio, users can preview up to three cameras at once while recording.

Originally conceived as a way to rapidly create newscasts, Visual Communicator has seen significant traction in the educational space. During a preview of Visual Communicator 3 with Michelle Gallina, who moved from Serious Magic to the role of product marketing manager for Adobe’s version of Visual Communicator, Gallina addressed the use of the product in education.

“One of our focus areas is education,” said Gallina, “and we’ve found many young students are interested in broadcast as a possible career. Schools weren’t able to afford expensive broadcast studios, but had become big fans of previous versions of Visual Communicator.”

Religious education could prove to be an additional market in which the new version does well. Gallina demonstrated a new feature called “Coach” that is a series of step-by-step tutorial wizards that help the novice user set up their own recording, including drag-and-drop animated templates. This ease of use might allow ministry teams to easily record video versions of key announcements, ministers to record welcome greetings for events they are unable to attend, and missionaries to use the software to send periodic updates from their remote locations.

For those concerned about recording against a cluttered backdrop, the product makes use of some of the key features of Ultra, Adobe’s industrial-strength keying software (also acquired from Serious Magic last fall, and now available in the Windows version of Adobe Production Premium). But the new version now requires users to BYOGS—bring your own green screen—as Adobe will not be shipping the hardware green screen that Serious Magic used to bundle with the Visual Communicator product. The reason they’ve eliminated the green screen is twofold. First, Adobe is a software company and doesn’t want to be in the business of handling hardware issues. Second, Visual Communicator 3 adds features from a previous version that retailed around $800 (the top-of-the-line edition of a program that used to ship in three different versions), but Adobe has dropped the new version’s price to less than $400, making the inclusion of the hardware green screen harder to accomplish at an acceptable profit margin. Adobe says it will point users to reliable green screen resources.

The three-camera switching option, while not meant to replace a full production switcher, can be set up for interview-style recordings, although it would probably be best to have a technical assistant on hand for the first few multi-camera sessions. This feature may prove especially useful for houses of worship that host debates on key current events or controversial topics.

Several additional ways that a product like this could be used for houses of worship involve using the web to distribute content recorded with Visual Communicator. The new version not only outputs the recordings to standard file formats that can be used for DVD but also now integrates Flash Video output. The integration of Flash Video capabilities allows users to create presentations that can either be recorded for later streaming or—for the more adventurous scripted recordings—can be streamed live in the FLV format using Flash Media Server software, an additional piece of software that Adobe sells.

In summary, a product like Visual Communicator 3 has the ability to provide houses of worship with a cost-effective way to get their message out beyond the walls of their building. It also allows those uncomfortable with live recordings to record their portion multiple times, while providing flexibility in live streaming and recording for those houses of worship that have already made the leap to streaming media on their websites.

Tim Siglin, co-founder of Transitions, Inc. is a contributing editor to Streaming Media and EventDV and regular columnist for EventDV’s Amen Corner.

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Focus Enhancements' New High Performance Portable HD Video Switcher Now Available

Focus Enhancements Inc, a worldwide leader in media management and Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless technology, today announced that the HX-1 Portable HD Video Switcher, first unveiled at NAB2007, is now available. Featuring the highest quality switching and video effects, the HX series of HD video switcher are easy to set up and operate, feature full 10-bit internal processing and meet the highest broadcast standards. From live outside broadcasts to inside production shoots, the HX line is perfect for news/sports broadcasters, production studio owners, educators, and video directors for places of worship.

The now-shipping, four HD-SDI input HX-1 switcher includes active loop-through on all inputs, as well as dual HD-SDI outputs for program, preview, and effects monitoring. It supports eight wipe patterns and adjustable effects, including soft edges, border size and border color. Housed in a rugged, ultra-portable chassis, the HX-1 is ideally suited for broadcast vans and other space-constrained environments.

The soon to be released HX-2 includes eight HD-SDI or SD-SDI inputs, plus external key and fill inputs for down stream key sources such as character generators, or logo inserters – all in a compact and rugged form factor. The HX-2 features eight wipe patterns, internal chroma key, 2D DVE, and a 1H video delay, providing video professionals with everything they need to produce a wide range of creative effects.

“Since its unveiling at NAB2007, the HX series has sparked significant customer interest,” said Matt McEwen, senior product manager for Focus Enhancements. “The addition of the HX-1 and HX-2 switchers extends our popular mixer/switcher family into the HD realm, providing our customers with a new level of quality and versatility.”

Priced at $10,995 US MSRP, the HX-1 HD video switcher is available through Focus Enhancements’ worldwide dealer and distributor network. The HX-2 HD/SD video switcher is expected to be available in August for a US MSRP of $19,995.

For more information, please visit www.focusinfo.com.

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Azden Introduces Compact and Versatile 4-Channel Field Mixer

Azden Corporation has introduced the FMX-42, the company’s newest and most versatile Professional Field Mixer. Designed for maximum flexibility, the FMX-42 includes the most features in the smallest and lightest configuration. The new 4-In/2-Out portable mixer has all the features required for in-field audio for video.

Some of these features include 4 Balanced XLR line/mic inputs with individual Level and Pan controls; switchable (per input) 48V phantom power and limiting; professional grade VU meters for accurate level setting; master level control; 1K tone generator; 2 balanced XLR outputs (line/mic switchable); a stereo mini jack output for DV cams and headphone monitor with level control.

The FMX-42 is either powered by 6 AA batteries or an optional 12V power supply and comes with a ballistic nylon case with a clear plastic top over the control panel.

Commenting on the introduction, Azden VP of Sales Wayne Alonso said, “This is by far our most professional field mixer, and everyone’s who seen it has been blown away by the value for the dollar.”

MSRP for the FMX-42 is $750.


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WEVA Strengthens Global Outreach With Launch of 'WEVA Latino'

Wedding & Event Videographers Association International (WEVA) has announced the formation of WEVA Latino Internacional as a new branch of WEVA. The official global launch will be held next month during the WEVA 17th Annual Wedding & Event Video Expo, August 13-16, 2007 at Bally's/Paris Las Vegas.

The formation of WEVA Latino Internacional emerged from WEVA’s worldwide educational initiative that began over a year ago. The association's global outreach has already enabled a groundbreaking conference for professional videographers in the Asia-Pacific region (last May), and the upcoming first-ever conference for professional videographers in Canada (this September) both in collaboration with PMA.

“The launch of WEVA Latino Internacional is an exciting new development for our industry that has grown from joint efforts that started over a year ago domestically and internationally,” said WEVA International Chairman Roy Chapman. “In that time, WEVA has been working with PUNTO, one of the largest organizations serving Hispanic videographers and photographers in the U.S., and with AMPESAV A.C. (Mexico City) the largest association of professional videographers in Mexico, to develop a Latino-focused branch of WEVA International.”

Based in Los Angeles, PUNTO includes several thousand Hispanic videographers who are part of an expanding group within professional videography. “Our members are looking to find effective on-going training and education on the latest techniques and equipment that will help them move forward in our industry. We found that WEVA was the perfect organization for PUNTO to partner with in order to move to the next level," said Oscar Dominguez President of PUNTO. "Coupled with WEVA’s educational strength, long history in the industry and the 17 years of offering a successful EXPO, we all agreed that the formation of an Hispanic arm of WEVA International was something that we wanted to do. Thus, 'WEVA Latino Internacional' was born.”

It made so much sense that WEVA began discussions with the largest professional videographers organization in Mexico to present the concept of WEVA Latino Internacional. Dan Argenas WEVA’s Director of Association Communications relates, “When we first met with Jonathan Zamora, President of AMPESAV, I know we all felt an immediate connection, a kindred spirit in understanding where our industry has been, the rapid changes facing all of us today, and the exciting new world of opportunity up ahead. We had outstanding meetings during last year’s WEVA EXPO, and from all the work that has taken place since, we are thrilled to see the vision of WEVA Latino is now a reality!”

WEVA Latino Internacional has one overriding goal – “to help all members become better at what they do,” said Argenas.

Zamora agreed adding, “The strength we will have with both WEVA and PUNTO and fully embracing the values and education that WEVA can offer to our members, we can now spread these benefits and education to all videographers throughout Mexico and on to central and south Americas. Our members are hungry for education that will help them become better videographers and business people and give them an opportunity to grow within a huge community of people who want the same thing.”

For this year's Wedding & Event Video Expo, WEVA has again scheduled cutting-edge conference sessions for Hispanic videographers, plus all-new edit system training in Spanish. “During the WEVA EXPO Trade Show next month, there will be hands-on, edit system training on computer workstations presented in both English and Spanish on both days of the Trade Show,” said John Zale WEVA’s Director of Educational Development.

Zale also notes some of WEVA’s most successful Hispanic members will be unveiling new techniques and sharing new creativity in Spanish-language conference sessions (see the complete EXPO Program Schedule here). More developments will be announced at the official launch of WEVA Latino Internacional on Opening Night at WEVA EXPO 2007 next month.

“All of our staff at PUNTO and AMPESAV are very excited about this special opportunity for our growing association of Hispanic videographers to be part of this great WEVA organization and we all look forward to attending our first WEVA EXPO as new WEVA Latino Internacional members. We also look forward to meeting all of our brother and sister WEVA members in person,” Dominguez said. “Please stop by the PUNTO-AMPESAV exhibit booth at the WEVA EXPO Trade Show and say hello!”

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4EVER Group Announces Liability Insurance for Videographers Network Members

The 4EVER Group has announced the availability of Liability insurance for 4EVER Group Videographers Network members. Network members can now apply for the insurance using an easy-to-complete online application, accessible by selecting the VN Membership Menu or clicking here.

The 4EVER Group's broker of choice is Hilb Rogal & Hobbs (HRH), a national broker listed on the NYSE. The liability coverage minimum premium is $175. Coverage can begin as soon as the day after the member's application is received. This coverage is available to Affiliates in all 50 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and all US territories and possessions.

"Adding benefits for our members is an on-going process," said Steve Wernick, Director of Development. "We've worked closely with HRH for quite a while in order to deliver this important benefit."

"So many venues require a Certificate of Insurance," said Ken Ehrhart, Director of Membership. "At $175 for $1 million in liability coverage, this insurance is affordable and easy to obtain through The 4EVER Group web site."


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XLNT Idea, Inc ships 100 Disc, MiniDisc, and Business Card Kits for Nexis Publisher

XLNT Idea Inc., a leading U.S.-based manufacturer of DVD and CD Duplication, Publishing, and Direct to Disc Ink Jet Printing Solutions, is now shipping a 100 disc adapter kit combined with a business card and mini disc kit. These add on features will allow users to convert the Nexis DVD/CD Burn and Print Publisher system into a true 100 disc capacity solution for standard media with the added ability to create business card and MiniDisc formats. All required software and hardware is included in the new kit, called the Nexis 100 Disc Add On Kit, and is available for an MSRP of $199.

Dale K., Vice President of Engineering, noted, "The Nexis 100 Disc Add On Kit is unique in that we designed a specific method for loading created discs into the front load 50 disc output hopper. Rather than relying on gravity to slide the disc into the hopper, we use the actual writer drawer to push the disc into the hopper, thus assuring the disc is placed properly and not compromised. Then the empty 50 disc input bin is utilized as the next output bin, providing true 100 disc capacity. In addition, the software is very easy to use and to integrate onto most Windows based machines."

Chuck Alcon Jr, Director of Sales and Marketing added, "With the addition of the Nexis 100 Disc Add On Kit to our product offerings, we now provide the highest capacity, economically priced DVD/CD Publisher available today. Combined with the Nexis’ low cost of ownership due to its non proprietary consumables, the 100 Disc Add On Kit makes Nexis the best DVD / CD creation value for virtually any application and environment."


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TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Now Supports (FLV) Flash Video Formats

TMPG, Inc., the company that makes digital video easy, is introducing a free update to its popular TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress video encoding software. The update provides a new input option for FLV (Flash Video), a file format used specifically for video streaming distribution found, among others, on YOUTUBE(R) and SMILEVIDEO(R) user generated content sites.

"Thanks to the partnership between TMPG Inc.'s parent company Pegasys Inc. and On2 Technologies, Inc., TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress now supports the common FLV1 format, but also the FLV4 format using the On2 VP6 CODEC. If we exclude little used formats, almost all FLV formats are now easily processed by TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress," stated Kimi Matsuki, CEO of TMPG Inc.

The update to TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress allows users to input files encoded in Adobe Flash(TM) format or FLV, increase the picture size, change the resolution, reduce video noise or insert subtitles. The users can output those files into DVD-Video or iPod compliant MPEG. Files can also be converted into DivX and uploaded to its Stage 6 user generated content site. These are a few of the many included applications that highlight the full potential of the updated TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress.

"We are pleased to work with Pegasys Inc. parent of TMPG Inc. to provide the On2 VP6 CODEC with their TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Update. VP6 is used to create the Flash video files used by the leading Web2.0 sites, user generated content sites, and social networking sites," stated Bill Joll, CEO of On 2 Technologies Inc. "Flash is fast becoming the de-facto standard for Internet video, and this partnership continues that trend by allowing for the integration of files originally generated in Flash into alternate format based applications."

Flash Video (FLV) is a proprietary file format used to deliver video over the Internet using Adobe® Flash Player version 6, 7, 8, or 9. Flash Video content can also be embedded within SWF(swiff) files.


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"On the Lot" or Off, DVRental.com Giving Filmmakers an Affordable Digital Videography Option

The recent television debut of “On the Lot,” a reality competition that pits budding filmmakers against each other in the hopes of landing their dream job, has glamorized the filmmaking profession. Would-be big-time filmmakers, however, know that this glamorous image is far from reality. Making a splash on the big screen entails not only lots of sweat and tears but also a significant financial investment. All that is about to change, however, with the official launch of DVRental.com. Now, by locating a digital video camera renter in their region of the country, amateur filmmakers across the U.S. can save a bundle in pursuit of their dream. Digital video camera owners who would like to list their cameras for rent and cost-conscious video camera seekers can unite at DVRental.com.

When auditions for the Steven Spielberg-associated “On the Lot” reality series were announced earlier this year, 12,000 people submitted their films for consideration. With a $1 million DreamWorks development deal on the line, it’s no wonder the competition appealed to so many budding filmmakers. But this figure represents only a very small percentage of individuals who dream that their self-produced movies will one day hit the Hollywood big time. People all across the nation are dusting off their forgotten dreams of filmmaking, but many are encountering the same obstacle: the prohibitive expense of the latest digital video equipment.

“A successful filmmaker is only as good as his or her camera,” explains DVRental.com’s spokesperson. “The dilemma is that an undiscovered talent usually doesn’t have the cash to shell out on the best camera. That’s where we come into play. Our users can choose from a variety of digital video cameras. We list everything from Canon’s xl2 and Panasonic’s new hvx200 all the way up to Sony’s F900 Cine Alta high-definition camera, which has fast become an industry standard.”

By turning to DVRental.com, filmmakers can now easily locate and rent local digital video cameras for their projects. They can also search/filter camera options by price, package location and other factors. It’s not just the camera borrower who benefits from a DVRental.com transaction, however. The site also allows people who own prosumer and professional digital video cameras to list them for rental, thereby enabling them to turn an unused asset into a cash flow.

In an environment that is similar to the popular auction site eBay, DVRental.com doesn’t handle any of the rent arrangements. The company’s role is to initiate the initial handshake and then allow the two parties to set the final terms of their own accord. Those individuals who are seeking additional resources – such as camera information, format information and a modifiable and downloadable rental agreement – before entering into a transaction, however, will find everything they need on the site. DVRental.com even has a relationship with the DeWitt Stern Group, a century-long provider of short-term, low-cost production insurance.

For more information on how you can rent out or borrow a digital video camera, contact DVRental at (818) 802-0133. To learn more about the DVRental.com Web-based marketplace, visit the company online at http://www.DVRental.com.

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Petrol Bags Introduces Padded Front Pouch

Petrol, a Vitec Group brand, has introduced yet another ingenious carrying solution: the Petrol Padded Front Pouch.

Constructed of lightweight, heavy-duty black and blue Cordura and black ballistic nylon, this new pouch fits snugly around the waist or comfortably over the shoulder via an ergonomic, adjustable carrying strap. The cushioned top flap opens wide to reveal a compartment for stashing keys, small notebooks, CDs, wallet – even a mobile phone or Blackberry.

Petrol’s design incorporates a convenient top zipper that provides quick and easy access through the cover to the central chamber even when the bag is buckled shut. Inside, a secondary rear pocket holds pens or other small items. Outside, a front-zippered pocket – just the right size for business cards or other important papers – is equipped with a clear vinyl window for easy identification of contents.

Other features include an exterior envelope-style side pouch for extra storage, a convenient rear-tote handle, and strap equipped with quick-lock ring for hooking additional items.

Suggested U.S. List Price for the new Petrol Padded Front Pouch (#PPFP-3N) is $60.


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Audio-Technica Bundles Cakewalk Sonar LE as Part of AT2041SP Studio Pack

Audio-Technica has now bundled Cakewalk's SONAR LE recording software as part of its AT2041SP Studio Pack. The AT2041SP Studio Pack also includes two 20 Series microphones: the AT2020 side address condenser and AT2021 small-diaphragm cardioid condenser. The Studio Pack provides a versatile, value-added recording solution for use by musicians, engineers and producers in home and project studios, as well as for professional use in commercial studios.

The critically acclaimed AT2020 side-address condenser microphone is aimed at capturing vocals as well as a wide range of instrumental applications, while the AT2021 small-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone excels at instrument recording, including acoustic guitars, drum overheads, pianos and group vocals.

Cakewalk's SONAR LE is a feature-rich recording software package, perfect for musicians using PC-based recording. SONAR LE now comes with features from Cakewalk's flagship DAW, SONAR 6. SONAR LE provides a cutting-edge music production studio, giving users what they need to get started creating music on Windows XP, X64, or Vista PCs.

By incorporating the AT2041SP Studio Pack into their studio equipment, users gain not only versatile transducers from Audio-Technica, but recording software from Cakewalk, making the AT2041SP a powerful addition to the musician's recording tools at an extremely affordable price.


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