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Information Today, Inc.

September 04, 2007

Table of Contents

Studio Time: VHVideo.com
Sony Creative Software Unveils Powerful New Vegas Pro 8 Editing Solution Offering Comprehensive Industry-Driven Professional Features
Panasonic Ships New AG-HPG10 P2 Gear, Portable P2 HD Solid State Viewer/Recorder
Digital Juice Releases "All Particles" Matching Set of Animations and Graphics
Introducing the New TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 2.0 PREMIUM Software for Smart and Powerful HD Editing
Abaltat Band Offers Four New Virtual Bands, Enhances Creative Range in Soundtrack Composition
New Abaltat Express Enables Soundtrack Composition at Low Price Point
Echolab Releases Update of Opera Series of Video Production Switchers
Sonnet Qualifies Hitachi 1TB Hard Drives for High-Performance RAID
SoundTech Announces LightSnake USB MIDI Cable

Studio Time: VHVideo.com

The year was 1980. The place: Land O’ Lakes, Florida. Vance Hohenthaner picked up a video camera to capture the memories of his son and daughter growing up. What started as a hobby grew into a passion, and by 1983, he had obtained a business license. VH Video Productions was born.
"I was twelve at the time," says David Hohenthaner, Vance’s son. "A year later he put a camera in my hand." Since that day, father and son have built a successful business that has stayed at the cutting edge of event video technology for more than 20 years. Most recently it emerged as the first studio to deliver HD video on disc to a significant portion of its wedding clients.

20 Years of Innovation
From its earliest days in the event video business, VHVideo.com, as it’s now known, has been both a technologically savvy operation and a family affair. They’ve been pushing the limits of available technology since the mid-1980s, when the company began doing live edits of weddings. "We’d run hundreds of feet of wire in churches from our cameras to multiple monitors in the back," says David. "Then my mom would be in the back mixing different angles live while my dad and I were out front shooting the event."

When they weren’t mixing live, "my dad did all the editing," David says. "I had no patience for the VCR-to-VCR thing." Vance made the most of the technology that was available at the time. "He was even creating his own jumpbacks," says David. David stayed behind the camera through the ’80s and well into the ’90s, when the introduction of a new set of technologies piqued his interest in the world of postproduction. "Everything changed for VHVideo.com in 1997. Everything was going digital, and I could see that computers were getting fast enough to edit video."

David saw the revolutionary potential of nonlinear editing, but Vance was reluctant to leave behind his proven dual-deck VCR workflow. "I actually had to go out, purchase an editing system with my own money, and produce a video for him to prove that we could produce multiple videos without it crashing," says David. Today, VHVideo.com boasts 14 NLE stations.

The transition from analog A/B to nonlinear had a profound impact on the end product VHVideo.com was able to produce, in particular in the way they captured footage at their events. "To that point we had done pretty straightforward shooting, more of a documentary style so people could relive the day just as it happened," says David. "After getting our first Canopus NLE we were able to adopt a more artistic way of shooting."

figure 1The Road to HD
In order to continue improving their craft, VHVideo.com attended a number of WEVA events, drawing inspiration from the seminars of industry giants like Randy Stubbs and David Robin. "I kept thinking to myself, ‘How do we get our company to be as great as these other companies?’" David says.

David saw staying ahead of the curve on new technology as a prime way to accomplish this goal. In the last few years, a new opportunity has arisen to leverage cutting-edge technology in order to realize a better final product: the advent of HD. "This is a format that actually doubles your picture quality, enabling you to see things more clearly than before," says David.

So David pushed to get VHVideo.com ready for the HD revolution. "When Sony released the FX1 in November 2004, I had the HD edit stations from Canopus sitting at my house waiting for my FX1s to show up," he says.

In the last year, VHVideo.com has advanced from HD shooting and editing to distributing in HD as well. "In August 2006, we actually burned, finalized, and played in a PS3 and a first-generation Samsung player our first Blu-ray Disc," says David. VHVideo.com has also distributed HD DVD productions on standard DVD discs, which can typically handle 20 to 25 minutes of video.

"A lot of people out there don’t think that a local production company can do HD, as a lot of broadcast studios aren’t yet doing it," says David. "But once they learn we can do it, they begin to understand the value of things like being able to get still photos from the footage at any point in the ceremony they want."

The renovations VHVideo.com has made to its studio have been crucial in allowing the company to pitch the benefits of HD. "The only way to get brides to want HD is to show them HD," says David. So he ripped out the old VCRs from their viewing room, installed two 100" screens, and put in hardwood floors and some nice couches, creating a relaxing living room setting. The real HD hook comes when they fire up both screens for a side-by-side comparison. "We’ll have one screen playing the HD version of a wedding and the other one showing down-converted footage from the same event," says David. "We can then go frame by frame to show the quality difference between the two."

Once brides see this difference, HD delivery often becomes an easy sell. "If it’s anywhere in their budget, they’ll make room. I’ve even had brides reduce their flowers so they could have their wedding in HD," David says.

A Dream Realized
While David had long wanted to see his father gain peer recognition for his work, Vance was not one to seek accolades from anyone other than his clients. But when another videographer in their market began winning international awards, David convinced his father to submit some of their HD weddings to WEVA’s prestigious Creative Excellence Awards competition. In 2005, David’s dream was realized when he saw his father "accepting an award for our work in HD," he says. And the accolades kept on coming in 2006: Between WEVA and the 4EVER Group, VHVideo.com collected 11 awards in 11 different categories, and kept on rolling at WEVA 2007 with six CEAs, including Golds in Wedding, Reception, and Social Event.

The quality of VHVideo.com’s HD work has also been recognized through a relationship the company has established with Sony, which now uses its footage at trade shows to demonstrate the benefits of HD. "The biggest complaint whenever they showed HD was that it was always birds and nature scenes, and everyone knows that outside light will make great HD video," says David. David had built a rapport with Sony by being an early adopter and vocal advocate of the FX1. So when Sony decided to start making their demonstrations of HD more relevant to the event video market, they put in a call to David to provide clips that exemplify HD event work.

figure 1Extending the Family
As VHVideo.com’s business continued to grow, driven by Vance’s strong and established referral business and David’s HD production, the burden of success began to creep up on them. "It was just my dad and me because my mom had semi-retired, but we were doing up to six weddings a weekend," says David. "So we were at a crossroads: Should we push towards doing ultra-high-end weddings and cut it back to twenty a year, or should we add help because we needed it to keep up with demand?"

The Hohenthaners decided to expand the ownership structure and build the business out beyond its sole-proprietorship roots. In July 2006, three people became partial owners of VHVideo.com: Creative Effects Video’s Aaron Scott, who was president of the local PVA and came highly recommended for his internet savvy; Dave Phillips, who was working primarily as a freelancer but brought a strong business background; and David Hohenthaner, who’d never officially had an ownership stake in the business.

In February 2007, the VHVideo.com team was completed by bringing on David Rennie, who had been operating nearby studio Catalyst Sight and Sound.

While bringing on additional owners has extended VHVideo.com beyond the Hohenthaner family, David couldn’t be any happier with the outcome. "If you talk to any company that’s a mom-and-pop operation, they’re up all night and they don’t get any vacation. If someone gets sick, we have a provision in there that helps to take care of them. If something happens to us, the business won’t fall apart. "It also gives the bride some satisfaction that we’re not just a one-man show. That’s huge in the industry. These events are planned a year ahead of time, so there’s a lot of risk for brides and grooms. They get a lot of comfort knowing that there are five owners and ten shooters available, so there’s going to be someone to fill in if need be," he explains. Cutting-edge HD shooting and delivery notwithstanding, he adds, "I think that’s one of the best selling features we have."

Geoff Daily is a frequent contributor to EventDV and EContent, and a contributing editor to Streaming Media.

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Sony Creative Software Unveils Powerful New Vegas Pro 8 Editing Solution Offering Comprehensive Industry-Driven Professional Features

Sony Creative Software, a leading provider of professional video and audio editing applications, today announced Vegas Pro 8 software, the newest version of its award-winning nonlinear editing (NLE) software. Vegas Pro 8 provides professional editors with precise control over complex DV, HDV and XDCAM projects through powerful tools for editing material shot in multi-camera environments. Vegas Pro 8 will be available September 10, 2007.

"Vegas Pro 8 solves many of the technical challenges creative professionals are currently facing as they are tasked with producing content for platforms as varied as the mobile screen to high definition, broadcast-quality video," said Dave Chaimson, vice president of marketing for Sony Creative Software. "Equipped with a new 32-bit floating point video engine, Vegas Pro 8 delivers increased quality and accuracy of final output while handling a 10-bit serial digital interface (SDI) at full capacity, which is used for transmission of uncompressed, unencrypted digital video signals."

Now fully Microsoft Vista-compatible, Vegas Pro 8 software expertly delivers broadcast-ready, high definition content through its flexible user interface and extensive professional toolset. Vegas Pro 8 now features a ProType titler for superior vector-based title generation and automation. New specialized template support for developing digital signage provides tools and features for portrait style video authoring required for enhancing visual displays at retail shops, tradeshows and other events requiring compelling imagery at the 9:16 resolution.

The software also offers enhanced scripting capabilities for automating complex workflows in addition to providing new capabilities for editing and delivering Sony AVCHD content. Sony Vegas Pro 8 also introduces a new channel-based mixing console and other audio enhancements, continuing its legacy as the most optimized solution for integrating audio within the video production environment. Also included with Vegas Pro 8 is DVD Architect 4.5, which has been updated with a total of 44 professional design themes.

"The Vegas Pro 8 designers seemed to have heeded well the wish-lists of both professional and amateur videographers alike in crafting this generation of the software," said Richard Doherty, research director and co-founder of digital media analyst firm the Envisioneering Group. No other standalone video editing suite delivers both the power and flexibility demanded by professionals along with an ease of use and enthusiast-friendly learning curve which makes amateurs feel professional - fast!"

Sony Creative Software is also introducing interactive tutorials with the release of the Vegas Pro 8 application. These tutorials allow users to learn more effectively by taking an active role in training, while actually accomplishing the task at hand as they complete the lesson. The interactive tutorials provide an easy transition for users adapting from a more traditional nonlinear editing system to the new and progressive workflow of Vegas Pro 8.

Vegas Pro 8 New Video Features

ProType titler
Multicamera Workflow
32-Bit Floating Point Video Processing
Digital Signage and Portrait style video editing
Thought Equity™ Motion Footage Search – An exclusive, integrated plug-in designed to streamline the acquisition of stock footage. Includes content from Sony Pictures, National Geographic, HBO and more with a special section provided for registered Vegas Pro 8 users

Vegas Pro 8 New Audio Features

Audio Mixing Console
Audio Routing Enhancements
Tempo-based audio effects
Support for opening and rendering FLAC files

Vegas Pro 8 New Format Features

No recompression when rendering long-GOP video formats
Sony AVCHD Read and write Support
Burn timeline to Blu-ray discs
XDCAM FAM mode trimmed conform

Vegas 8 Pro New General Features

Single-monitor full screen video preview
Extensive Scripting Extensions programming API
Interactive tutorials

Vegas Pro 8 software will be demonstrated at the Sony Creative Software booth #9-131 at the IBC 2007 tradeshow, September 7-11. Visit the Sony Creative Software booth for a complete schedule and session overviews.

Price and Availability
Vegas Pro 8 professional software will be available on September 10 from the Company's extensive worldwide network of retail and academic dealers, as well as from the Sony Creative Software website: www.sonycreativesoftware.com. Localized versions in German, French, Spanish and Japanese will be available in November 2007. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the software is U.S. $699.95. Upgrade pricing is available for current Vegas users.


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Panasonic Ships New AG-HPG10 P2 Gear, Portable P2 HD Solid State Viewer/Recorder

Panasonic announced the immediate availability of the AG-HPG10, a rugged, highly affordable P2 solid-state high-definition/standard-definition video viewer/recorder. Dubbed the P2 Gear, the 1.1-pound, battery-operated AG-HPG10 provides a host of functions to support P2 workflow in the field as well as within video production facilities, including P2 card playback, transfer and recording, uncompressed HD-SDI transfer, clip file and metadata management, and data back up onto USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 equipped hard drives.

The AG-HPG10 features a 3.5” 4:3 LCD monitor and a two-slot P2 memory card drive. It offers playback in multiple formats, including 1080i (24p, 24pA, 25p, 30p, 50i, 60i), 720p (24p, 24pN, 25p, 25pN, 30p, 30pN, 50p, 60p), 576i (25p, 50i) and 480i (24p, 24pA, 30p, 60i). It supports downconversion from HD (1080 or 720) to SD (480) and cross-conversion (720 to 1080) for HD transmission.

The P2 Gear is equipped with two industry standard high-speed data transfer interfaces, IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0, for transferring content to a PC- or Mac-based nonlinear editor or FireWire-equipped DV/DVCPRO/HD tape deck. The HD-SDI output allows playback to a larger HD production monitor or uncompressed content transfer to HD-SDI equipped decks, post production systems and storage networks. For added flexibility, the P2 Gear can record from IEEE 1394-equipped DV/ DVCPRO/ DVCPROHD camcorders and decks. P2 cards can also be “hot-swapped” for continuous recording.

To expedite a user’s workflow, the AG-HPG10 features time-saving P2 clip management functions. This portable recorder allows professionals to: copy select clips from one P2 card to another for more efficient use of card capacity, shot mark specific clips, update a clip’s metadata with specific information such as names and location, or save a text memo to individual clips when recording or previewing.

The P2 Gear’s professional input/output interfaces include HD-SDI output (HD/SD and four embedded audio channels supported), IEEE 1394, USB 2.0 with a host function, SD video out, component and composite video output and audio output (CH1/CH2 pin jacks), and an SD memory card slot. The P2 Gear also supports playback of variable frame-rate sources and features invaluable functions such as waveform/vector scope display (which displays the waveform and vector of a playback video signal or IEEE 1394 input video signal) and continuous loop playback. These can be quickly accessed via three programmable user buttons on the unit. The P2 Gear has 50/60-Hz operation and comes standard with an AC adapter and battery.

With Panasonic’s forthcoming 32 GB P2 cards, available November 2007, the HPG10 can record for over 60 minutes in intra-frame (independent frame) 720p 60 and 1080i, or for more than four hours in standard definition.

The AG-HPG10 P2 Gear is available now at a suggested list price of $3,995 including a 5-year limited warranty program.


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Digital Juice Releases "All Particles" Matching Set of Animations and Graphics

Digital Juice® announced today it is releasing a matching set of its popular royalty-free Jump Backs™ animated backgrounds and Juice Drops™ layered Photoshop® graphics titled "All Particles™". These particle-based animations and graphics are designed to provide just the right amount of sparkle and shine to draw attention to any production without getting in the way. Users will find everything from comets with sparkling tails on endless orbits, swarms of stars that pulse and glow, soft radiant embers gently falling, fountains of bursting light, to drifting glowworms of color and a shimmering horizon of shooting stars.

Jump Backs "All Particles™" contains 21 broadcast quality animations that seamlessly loop and average from 15 to 30 seconds in length. Both Standard Definition and High Definition volumes of "All Particles" are available with files provided in Quick Time® format 720x486 (SD) and 1920x1080 (HD) at 30 frames per second. All Digital Juice Jump Backs animations, including "All Particles," are completely customizable and can be used in any number of ways to enhance a video production including: as backgrounds or virtual sets, cropped or cut to make custom mattes, overlays, wipes, transitions, or lower thirds or stacked to produce completely new and unique looks. The free Juicer™ 3 utility provided by Digital Juice allows users to crop and scale to any number of formats including NTSC DV 720x480 or 720x576 PAL resolution.

The matching Juice Drops layered Photoshop® graphics takes the animations from its companion Jump Backs volume and reproduces them crisply at print resolution, in a handy layered PSD format so designers can customize their print projects with as much or as little detail from the matching animation as needed. There are 25 PSD files and designers can use the graphics flattened in their original composition or they can mix and combine layers from different backgrounds and volumes to create new and unique looks. Juice Drops layered Photoshop® files are at least 17"x11" at 300DPI so even the smallest element is shown in great detail. Print designers can tweak, delete, rearrange, colorize, scale, mix and add layers as needed. Each Juice Drop has an average of 10-20 layered elements with most having even more. Often described as "art you can take apart," Juice Drops allow artists and designers to begin every new project with beautiful and totally original source material and then customize it to fit their needs and express individual creativity.

Digital Juice® provides a free Windows® and Mac® utility, Juicer™ 3, that makes it easy to browse, search, and select from any of the Jump Backs or Juice Drops volumes. The animations can be copied and converted into formats that are compatible with most non-linear and linear editing systems that have a DVD ROM. The software also includes transformations like dynamic color effects and masking tools that allow users to customize the Digital Juice media to match their own creative projects. Print users can preview the layered PSD files within the Juicer 3 browser without having to load the full resolution file into Photoshop® to see the layers. In addition to using the layered Photoshop files right off the disc, Juicer 3 technology allows users to render an image from disc to hard drive into most major file formats including JPEG, PNG, TGA, TIF, PSD, and BMP. Flexible catalog management and auto-updates allow for streamlined integration of new products.

The new Jump Backs Vol 49 and Jump Backs HD Vol 24: All Particles™ and Juice Drops Vol 59: allPARTICLES™ can be ordered through Digital Juice's online store (www.digitaljuice.com) or by calling the company's customer service center toll-free at 800-525-2203. Individual volumes retail for $99 each but can often be purchased in special bundles for as much as 50-75% off. Check the website for details on bundle pricing and specials. The company's free Juicer™ 3 software can be found at www.digitaljuice.com/juicer.


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Introducing the New TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 2.0 PREMIUM Software for Smart and Powerful HD Editing

TMPG, Inc., the company that makes digital video easy, is about to make video editing even easier. TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 2.0 PREMIUM, is a frame-level cut video editing software package that offers advanced features such as: high definition video and set top DVD Recorder (DVD-VR) support, DVR-MS support, integrated Dolby® Digital sound, fit-to-disc transcoding, VRCopy DVD-RAM importing and writing tool, Smart Rendering, multiplexing and de-multiplexing, and more. The software is optimized for IntelT dual and quad core processors. The product will be available in early September for purchase by download at www.tmpg-inc.com for the introductory price of $48.95 (regular price $64.95).

"Our TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 2.0 PREMIUM offers a host of new features. It is also a winner of the "Vector Proregi" award for the Animation/DVD category from Vector, one of the largest ESD websites in Japan," commented TMPG Inc. CEO Kimi Matsuki.

"Now users can capture high definition and other digital video directly from many sources to quickly edit and add transitions between clips. It is Windows Vista AeroT compatible and has a robust new interface, which combined with DirectX powered thumbnail navigation makes digital editing easier than ever before," added Matsuki.

High Definition Video Editing
Quickly cut edit in high definition - the Smart Rendering feature makes the editing process faster and easier by only re-encoding the surrounding frames versus the entire movie. Users can capture video directly from a HDV camcorder to TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 2.0 PREMIUM via an i.LINK/IEEE 1394 interface.

Windows Vista Aero
Experience a next-generation desktop through the Windows® Vista Premium, Business, or Ultimate edition. Use all features of Windows Aero(TM), such as translucent windows and better text rendering. Windows XP is also supported.

Improved User Interface
The streamlined graphical user interface has added functionality in the Clip Edit window. Users can now expand or collapse various toolbars to increase/decrease preview area size or hide tools not in use. Navigate video clips with the DirectX powered thumbnail navigation. The software utilizes the video processor's power to navigate clips at ultra-fast speeds. And with the Smart Scene SearchT feature, where users can quickly find the next or previous scene change, searching for that one scene during video editing has never been easier.

Video Transition Effects
A new feature is the ability to choose from 51 different video transition effects between clips. Select transitions such as Fade In/Out, Slide-In/Out, Vertical Blinds, and more! A simple transition editor allows users to choose a transition effect, set the duration, and preview the video.

DVD Recorder Editing
The software allows DVD recorder users to import footage directly into MPEG Editor 2.0.PREMIUM. Remove commercials or unwanted scenes and play the file back on a DVD recorder since the software processes video with virtually no re-encoding.

VRCopy Tool
Powered by Panasonic and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., the VRCopy tool allows users to read and write to DVD-RAM discs. Many DVD recorders use DVD-RAM discs; the VRCopy tool can be used to import content so it can be edited and then output it back to a DVD-RAM disc.

Smart Rendering
Smooth-cut editing is assured with advanced Smart Rendering technology, which only re-encodes edited frames instead of the entire movie. It solves the problem of "too much content, not enough storage space." Users specify a file's desired final output size while maintaining the video's original quality.


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Abaltat Band Offers Four New Virtual Bands, Enhances Creative Range in Soundtrack Composition

Abaltat, a provider of radical music software solutions, today announced that it has added four new virtual bands to the Abaltat Band collection. A plug-in for the world's first video-driven soundtrack composer, Abaltat Muse™, Abaltat Band allows the user to specify and combine the genre, instrumentation, and performance style of music composed by the Abaltat Muse software. The new bands will be previewed at IBC2007 in Amsterdam and are expected to be available in early Q4 2007.

The four new additions to Abaltat Band include Minimalist One, Minimalist Two, Dub Reggae, and Percussion One. These newly introduced bands join Abaltat Band's existing talents: R&B One, which features basic guitar sounds in a 12-bar blues style; Ensemble One, a subtle combination of classical orchestral instruments; and Atmospheric One, a keyboards band modeled on the atmospheric sound created by synth combo. The entire Abaltat Band collection is also compatible with the new entry-level music composition software Abaltat Express™.

"Abaltat Band is designed to extend control and creative range for users of Abaltat Muse, and we developed each of our new virtual band plug-ins to provide a particular style and sound that complements video and film production," said Siun Ni Raghallaigh, managing director at Abaltat. "Soundtrack composition should definitely be about more than canned music or music loops, and the combination of Abaltat Muse and Abaltat Band offers video editors a selection of richly textured composition styles that complement and enhance their work."

Minimalist One is inspired by the minimalist composers and features a rhythmical, interweaving, slowly evolving composition on acoustic orchestral instruments. Minimalist Two is inspired by the music of minimalist composers such as Philip Glass and uses a sound canvas of electronica and synth pads to achieve a contemporary, dark, moody feel. Dub Reggae features the bass lines and percussion riff of Dub in the Caribbean, spiced up with guitar chord riffs and Hammond stabs. Percussion One is dedicated to rhythm and features drum patterns that evolve and follow the colour and intensity of the video.

More information about Abaltat Band and other Abaltat products is available online at www.abaltat.com.

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New Abaltat Express Enables Soundtrack Composition at Low Price Point

Abaltat, a provider of radical music software solutions, today announced that at IBC2007 in Amsterdam, the company will preview its new Abaltat Express™, an affordable solution that provides all the tools video editors need to compose and arrange a soundtrack. Abaltat Express leverages the interface, workflow, and powerful composition engine of the highly acclaimed Abaltat Muse™ product, the industry's first video-driven soundtrack composer, to provide professional results at an appealing price point. Abaltat Express is expected to be available in early Q4 2007.

"The introduction of Abaltat Express enables video editors working at any level to achieve a unique soundtrack that enhances their visual work," said Siun Ni Raghallaigh, managing director at Abaltat. "With powerful, proven technology and an easy-to-use interface, Abaltat Express offers an affordable entry into the world of software-aided soundtrack composition without having to be a musician."

Abaltat Express uses the audio engine and sounds native to a computer, allowing editors to maintain their completed compositions within the Abaltat program or export them to any software that supports the standard MIDI file format. The new software from Abaltat is the ideal tool for the users of Apple® GarageBand™, Apple® Logic™, or similar software, and importing compositions to any of these packages is simple. Editors can then render their composition to an audio file using the software instrument of their choosing.

The workflow for Abaltat Express is straightforward. The user simply drops a QuickTime® file of the edited video sequence into Abaltat Express, clicks "Compose," and selects parameters for composition. The soundtrack is composed in a matter of seconds, and the arrangement can be refined through adjustment of keyframes on the timeline. Once the project is complete, it may be exported as an .aiff, .wav, or MIDI file.

Abaltat Express comes bundled with three free Abaltat Bands: Atmospheric One, R&B One, and Ensemble. Abaltat is also releasing a further four bands for use with both Abaltat Muse and Abaltat Express.

More information about Abaltat Express and other Abaltat products is available online at www.abaltat.com.

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Echolab Releases Update of Opera Series of Video Production Switchers

Echolab Corporation, a leading provider of professional video production switchers and broadcast tools, today announced an array of new features and new pricing for its Opera series of dual-format production switchers. The latest Opera firmware features floating frame synchronizers for managing untimed feeds and internal frame stores for simplified installation and reduced power consumption.

Built on Echolab's award-winning System on Chip technology, the Opera switchers accept and deliver both digital and analog signals without the need for external analog-to-digital converters. Users can choose between analog or digital input modules to customize the Opera switcher for each production environment. Simultaneous dual-format output is standard on every Opera system.

The new floating frame synchronizer builds on the Opera series' dual-format architecture to synchronize untimed feeds from such sources as DVD players, satellite, remote studios, and microwave links. Because it is floating, the synchronizer can be used on any input, and it can be dynamically reassigned to any other input.

The Opera series' new frame stores are a valuable asset for any production environment and can even replace a dedicated clip/still store for certain applications. The Opera frame stores offer tremendous flexibility with an easy-to-use workflow and, because they are floating, can be assigned to any input. This flexibility allows the TD to configure the switcher to his or her workflow without having to change any wiring. The floating frame stores are loaded from the mainframe buffer and can be configured to load at startup. A still can be captured from any input and stored onto the floating frame store, or it can be transferred to the switcher using a Photoshop® plug-in or an easy-to-use utility that sends the graphic to the switcher via Ethernet.

Both the Opera frame synchronizer and the frame stores are internal to the switcher, reducing cabling and power consumption, saving valuable rack space, and allowing for fewer failure points.

"The Opera production switchers are an attractive alternative for those customers who want the same power and reliability of the big-name production switchers at a fraction of the cost," said Nigel Spratling, Echolab president. "A fully loaded Opera switcher is within reach for any budget, with rich functionality not usually found at this price point."

Echolab has made it easy and cost-effective to purchase the upgraded Opera series switchers by offering packages that include the new options at a reduced price. Additional upstream keyers, chroma keyers, downstream keyers, and DVEs may also be purchased for a nominal price. The new switchers will be available Sept. 1, 2007, from value-added dealers, system integrators, system builders, and small OEMs that focus on video switching, conversion, and interface products.

Sales information is available at http://www.echolab.com

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Sonnet Qualifies Hitachi 1TB Hard Drives for High-Performance RAID

RAID storage expert Sonnet Technologies today announced that the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies one-terabyte (1TB) Serial ATA (SATA) Ultrastar® hard drive has successfully completed qualification testing and is now available in Sonnet’s Fusion RAID storage subsystems. The new Ultrastar A7K1000 drive is optimized for enterprise/RAID-class reliability and performance.

Combining a Sonnet Fusion with the Ultrastar 1TB storage capacity provides a reliable and cost-effective solution for audio and video editors or any other data-intensive environment where large capacities and a lower per-gigabyte cost are key requirements.

"Sonnet Fusion D800RAID systems with Ultrastar 1TB hard drives performs significantly faster than the previous generation drives, which will be great news for our performance-hungry video editing customers." stated Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet CEO. "We are seeing 506 MB/sec read and 562 MB/sec write speed on the AJA DiskWhackTest with the 8-drive RAID 5 Fusion D800RAID."

Sonnet Fusion Highlights

* Desktop and Rackmount systems
* Full-featured RAID controller supports RAID 0, 1, 4 (DVRAID), 5, 10, 50 and JBOD
* SATA host bus adapters for PCI-X, PCIe and ExpressCard/34 available
* Configuration flexibility with hot-swappable RAID drive modules
* Enterprise/RAID edition drives with 5-year warranties
* Award-winning, high-performance Fusion Q-series (quad interface: SATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0) drive arrays

Hitachi Ultrastar A7K1000 Highlights

* 1TB of capacity
* 3 Gbps SATA for high performance and configuration flexibility
* Targeted 1.2 million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)
* Enhanced Rotational Vibration Safeguard (RVS) for robust performance in multi-drive RAID environments
* 5-year warranty

For more information, visit the Sonnet web site at http://www.sonnettech.com/product/fusionfamily.

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SoundTech Announces LightSnake USB MIDI Cable

SoundTech Professional Audio, a division of US Music Corporation, announced today the LightSnake USB MIDI, an intelligent MIDI-to-PC cable featuring SoundTech's patented "Live when Lit" technology cable ends that glow when properly connected.

The LightSnake USB MIDI cable connects with any standard MIDI instrument or controller and plugs directly into the PC USB port, reducing the setup and clutter traditionally associated with MIDI instruments and composing. The LightSnake USB MIDI provides both MIDI In and MIDI Out allowing your computer to control and communicate with a wide range of musical gear from keyboards and organs to drum machines and legendary samplers such as the AKAI MPC.

Modern Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, such as Sony Acid Music Studio and Apple GarageBand harness the power of PCs allowing musicians to use MIDI to play samples and software instruments including drum kits, emulations of classic organs and timeless pianos using a standard MIDI compatible keyboard. The LightSnake USB MIDI provides the easiest method to connect a keyboard or MIDI controller to a computer by simply plugging the MIDI end of the LightSnake into the instrument and the USB end to a PC.

The LightSnake USB MIDI is fully plug and play compatible with Windows XP and higher as well as Mac OSX - no driver install is necessary. The LightSnake's streamlined design, ease of use, and "Live when Lit" technology makes it an ideal MIDI solution for DJs and Laptop Musicians who perform in low light clubs.

"With a Laptop, a keyboard and our LightSnake USB MIDI to connect the two, budding composers can create a full fledged orchestral masterpiece," said Larry English, president of Consumer Division at US Music Corp. "We developed the LightSnake USB MIDI to provide an easy-to-use tool that allows musicians to enjoy the benefits of combining musical hardware and software with modern computer technology and applications."

SoundTech LightSnake USB Intelligent MIDI cable features include the following:

  • Patented "Live when Lit" technology cable ends light up when connected
  • 10 foot heavy-duty shielded cable
  • Includes Sony Media Software Demo DVD - Acid, Sound Forge, Vegas, and many other titles
  • Simple USB plug-and-play connectivity
  • Compatible with Win 2000/XP/Vista and Mac OS X 10.2 or later

The LightSnake USB intelligent MIDI cable will be available in the U.S. through Micro Center and other major music retail outlets with a suggested retail price of $79.99. The LightSnake USB MIDI cable will be distributed in Canada through Erikson. For Canadian retail locations please visit www.EriksonMusic.com/geo_gate.php.

For more information on retail availability, please visit www.SoundTech.com.

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