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October 15, 2007

Table of Contents

Trashing the Dress ... On Film and Video
Azden Introduces SMX-10 Stereo Microphone
Panasonic Introduces AJ-HD1800, New DVCPRO HD Studio VTR
Get in Shape with Artbeats' New Fitness Stock Footage Collection
ImageSpan to Bring Simple-to-Use Content Licensing to More than 100 Million Designers Worldwide
SNL Kagan Study Projects Huge Sales Of High-Definition DVD Over Next Decade
TechSmith Introduces Camtasia Studio 5

Trashing the Dress ... On Film and Video

Every good movie has at least a few moments that make it feel more real than a series of two-dimensional moving images on a screen, telling the fictional story of a group of people who don’t exist. Often it’s dialogue that just rings true; other times it’s the visuals or sounds that make you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. In other instances, it’s the little details that lend verisimilitude by convincing you that the filmmakers know the ins and outs of the world they’re fictionalizing on screen. Whether these details actually are true doesn’t matter; it’s the feeling of authenticity that makes it ring true, and that’s good enough for most audiences.
 In Martin Scorcese’s The Color of Money, which today plays too much like mid-eighties MTV to seem quite as convincing as it did 20 years ago, one of the details that made the film work at the time—and made it seem as if Scorcese et al. knew the world of pool hustlers and 9-ball tournaments inside out—comes shortly after co-stars Paul Newman and Tom Cruise arrive in Vegas for a national tournament, when elder statesman Newman informs protégé Cruise that the real money changes hands and the real action goes down not on the competition floor, but in the practice room. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s the kind of detail that contradicts my natural assumptions but retains enough inside-dope plausibility to convince me that what I’m seeing is real.
 Wedding videography—especially the type we call "cinematic"—arguably uses similar contrivances to appear convincing, operating in that strange nether space where heightened reality and emotional authenticity intersect. But just as a movie like The Color of Money (its MTV segments especially) trades on vicarious wish-fulfillment, preying on an audience’s tendency to confuse "cool" with "real," so, arguably, does a lot of "cinematic" wedding video trade in a type of heightened emotion that casts every wedding at the same pitch, whether the event really achieved that pitch or not. Some would say that a wedding video edited for maximum emotional impact actually comes closer to the "feeling" of the day than a straightforward documentary that replays the action but does little to evoke how it felt to be part of it, and is thus more "real" than the "just the facts" documentary approach.
 All images by John Michael Cooper, AltF.

But maybe the coiffed elegance and ritual pomp and circumstance of weddings are so far removed from the messy, workaday realities of everyday life and the people who live it that notions of what’s "real" and what isn’t in wedding video are pointless to dispute. And maybe the point is not to dispute them, but to subvert them. At least that’s the idea that John Michael Cooper, founder of Las Vegas-based photography outfit AltF, and originator of a growing movement in wedding photography known as "anti" (or "anti-bridal") had in mind when he began doing "Trash the Dress" photo sessions. The Trash the Dress concept is exactly what it sounds like—going to a location and befouling a spotless white wedding dress with whatever’s available, be it mud, gasoline, swamp water, etc., to whatever degree the bride is willing to endure, and capturing it on film. There’s much more to "anti" than trashing the dress, as students in Cooper’s well-attended workshops discover; it’s all about subverting traditional notions of elegance and sentimentality in wedding photography, and not thinking outside the box so much as burning said box to a crisp. To wit, the full-bleed shot that adorns Cooper’s business card is a shot of a bride with her dress on fire.

But the "I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide" phenomenon in wedding photography that "Trash the Dress" has become—thanks to Good Morning America and CNN, among others—is currently the hottest outgrowth of the anti movement, and it’s beginning to find its way into the wedding videography world as well. Joshua Smith of Louisiana-based CinematicBride was featured in the GMA broadcast with clips he shot during a Trash the Dress photo shoot, and ground-breaking Toronto photo/video outfit Still-Motion recently held a promotional contest for a free Trash the Dress shoot, with a winner announced August 22 on its blog. Dress-trashing is nowhere near mainstream in the video world yet, but it’s starting to make inroads. (You can read all about the emerging Trash the Dress phenomenon in wedding photography on the Trash the Dress blog.)

So if you’re inclined to trust the unbelievable more than the predictable, maybe you’ll believe me when I tell you that the hottest ticket in Vegas—wedding video-wise, anyway—on the last afternoon of WEVA Expo 2007 wasn’t a WEVA-related event at all (which is no knock on the great sessions I missed), but an exploratory Trash the Dress video shoot happening in a dried-up lake bed some 40 miles out in the desert. At least that’s the theory I was testing when I decided to cut out early, roll the dice, and ride along.

figure 1My invitation to the shoot, and the initial idea to do it, came from Philadelphia-area videographer Darrell Aubert of EventDVP and Aubert Films. Aubert said he conceived the idea as the first Trash the Dress shoot actually initiated by a videographer in order to give other videographers a sense of how far they can go beyond the traditional notion of a wedding video to take their work in fresh and unexpected directions. "Just doing weddings all the time will make you stale," says Aubert. "But going out and trying new things like this—that’s what’s going to make us better." The first thing Aubert did was hit the ModelMayhem forum to see if he could get any Las Vegas-area models to commit to the shoot, in spite of the fact that he had no budget for paying them. Then Aubert went to eBay and bid on a used wedding dress. Finally, he arranged to rent a Hummer to transport the model, crew, and equipment. And then, as the song says, along came Jones.

Knowing he would need additional videographers on the shoot to capture it right, Aubert invited Chris P. Jones of Waco, Texas-based Mason Jar Films to join him—in part because he knew Jones’ adventurous approach to wedding video, and in part because Jones shared his admiration for John Michael Cooper.

Both Aubert and Jones had had previous encounters with the photographer—Aubert met him at the Atlantic City Trash Bash in July, Jones had met him in Dallas two years earlier—which meant they could probably get Cooper to come along as well. But it was also Jones’ complementary strengths that made him a good match. "Jones is more of a creative type than me," Aubert says. "He came up with the story."

When I arrived in Aubert’s hotel room at Bally’s around 2 p.m. to find Aubert, Jones, and Cooper waiting for the model to apply her makeup (the makeup artist Aubert had contacted, as well as a second model who’d agreed to participate, were no-shows), Jones gave me his take on the project: "The idea of doing this silent film was to do something different with Trash the Dress than you can do with photography. I want to tell a story. Because it’s film, we have to explain why this bride ends up out in the desert trashing her dress—we can’t just have her roll in the mud and get dirty."

Jones’s interest came from his knowledge of Cooper’s work. Before the Trash the Dress movement started, Jones says, "John had been doing ‘anti-bridal’ sessions for years—not like anything you’d expect people to do." Trashing the dress was one natural outgrowth of the "anti-bridal" approach, another way of testing the limits of how differently couples might think about their weddings or the key elements of them. "Not every bride cares so much about preserving her dress," Jones says. "Some just aren’t that attached."

figure 1Around 2:30, the third and fourth videographers, Rob Neal of award-winning Philadelphia studio and 2006 EventDV 25 honoree Glass Slipper Productions, and his assistant Yvette Garces, arrived to complete the crew. Neal and Garces were last-minute additions, according to Neal. "I didn’t want to go," Neal says. "Darrell told me to clear my calendar for Thursday but he wouldn’t tell me what for, and by Thursday I was tired and on brain overload from WEVA sessions. Darrell came to my room and explained what it was and I said no. Then he said, ‘Let me show you something,’ and he got on my laptop and went to the AltF website. I sat there and looked at the Flash show and was blown away."

With the crew in place, we headed out of Bally’s, across the strip to the sidewalk in front of the Bellagio to begin shooting. In addition to Cooper’s still camera, the crew included Aubert shooting DVCAM on a PD170 with Glidecam 4000, Neal shooting HDV on a Canon XH A1, Garces shooting DVCAM on a PD150 with a Century Optics 16x9 lens, and Jones shooting 8mm on a Canon 1014, using vendor-supplied Spectra Ektachrome Reversal 100D film. Garces stayed a step back from the rest to document the shoot itself.

After a good hour of baking in the mid-August Vegas sun, capturing exterior shots of the bride (dress still intact) on moving walkways and the sidewalk in front of the Bellagio fountains, we returned to Aubert’s room to regroup before heading to our next location. Then Jones laid out the storyline (revised on-the-fly for a single-model shoot) for the model/bride: "You're a jilted bride at a gas station on the outskirts of town, where you’ve been abandoned by your groom, and are now hitching a ride. John, a photographer, approaches in a Hummer, picks you up, and invites you to do a shoot out in a lakebed in the desert. After a few shots in the lakebed, you get in an argument, and he leaves you there in a cloud of dust. But then we see you smile, as you begin to trash your own dress. You’re not abandoned. You’re happy. You’re free."

And with that we were off to the gas station, then to the lakebed, where Cooper said he’d done Trash the Dress shoots before, and it was indeed a great location—a big, shallow, orange dustbowl, with occasional patches of mud, scattered shotgun shells, and rusted-out abandoned appliances. Just the kind of place where a casino might dump a body in the desert, or a twice-duped bride might trash her dress and redeem her life. The trashing began slowly, with a little dust kicked up here and there, Jones and Aubert staging shots with the bride on a rusted, barbwire-filled dumpster holding empty shotgun shells.

figure 1As Jones fired up his 8 mm camera, Cooper said, "I love that sound—the whir of a film camera. Machine Gun Jones."

Jones: "Twenty-four bullets a second."

Around 6, with 20 minutes left before we needed to get back Bally’s so the "bride" could make a dinner meeting, Neal said, "If we’re going to not respect the dress, let’s not respect it," and the trashing kicked into high gear.

First, the intrepid reporter pitched in by driving Cooper’s Cadillac repeatedly through a lengthy puddle, splashing mud, dust, and grime on dress, bride, and shooters; then crawling in the mud ensued, as all shooters worked the angles with a very cooperative model in an increasingly soiled and mud-caked dress.

By 6:55 p.m. we were almost back in Vegas, wrapping the shoot with an 8 mm drive-by shot of the iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. I haven’t seen the footage at this writing, so I have no clue what the cameras captured or how the edit will shape the footage into a representation of Jones’ storyline.

But one thing is clear: whether what I witnessed that afternoon in the desert was more cool than real, or more real than cool, I know it was more of both than many wedding video shoots will ever capture.

And whether Aubert and Jones were making wedding video history or presaging wedding video future, they certainly weren’t rehashing wedding video past.

figure 1To see Jilted,
Chris P. Jones' edit of this Trash the Dress shoot,
click HERE.

Stephen Nathans-Kelly is editor-in-chief of EventDV.

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Azden Introduces SMX-10 Stereo Microphone

New from Azden Corporation, the SMX-10 mini stereo electret-condenser microphone provides a high quality alternative in terms of sound and performance to built-in video camera mics at an affordable price.

The SMX-10’s dual unidirectional design allows video professionals to record directly in stereo. The mic also features a built-in cable with a 3.5mm stereo mini plug and comes equipped with a camera hot-shoe mount and a windscreen for use in the field.

Powered by a single "AAA" battery (not included), the SMX-10 measures 177mm long and 18.2mm in diameter and weighs 52 grams without the battery. The SMX-10’s exceptional specs include a frequency response of 100-18KHz, signal-to-noise ratio of 60dB (1kHz @ 1Pa) and a dynamic range of 66dB.

MSRP for the SMX-10 is $100.


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Panasonic Introduces AJ-HD1800, New DVCPRO HD Studio VTR

Panasonic Broadcast unveiled the AJ-HD1800, a new full-size DVCPRO HD Studio VTR for broadcast, post production, and mobile production uses. The versatile VTR offers all of the popular features of its predecessor, the AJ-HD1700, plus new enhancements including 720/50 recording, a built-in up-converter, UMID/VANC metadata recording/playback, and expanded IEEE 1394 interface capabilities.

The multi-format HD1800 records for 126 minutes at 100Mbps with 4:2:2 sampling and intra-frame compression on a single XL DVCPRO HD cassette in both 1080i and 720p, including 720/50p, covering all the world's HD broadcast formats. In addition, the VTR features a built-in up/down/cross converter for easy conversion between 1080i and 720p, for down-converting 1080i or 720p to 480i or 480p, and for up-converting pre-recorded DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50 tapes to 1080i or 720p HD. It plays back all DVCPRO HD sources, including 1080/23.98p over 59.94i, as well as all existing 1/4" DV-based compression formats including DVCPRO50, DVCPRO, DVCAM, and DV.

An outstanding feature of the HD1800 is its ability to convert 720/23.98p (over 59.94p) and 720/25p (over 60p) footage acquired by Panasonic AJ-HDC27 VariCam® HD Cinema cameras to 1080/24p or 1080/25psf, which allows the VTR to act as a source deck in a 1080p-based linear or non-linear editing bay.

The HD1800 VTR performs frame-accurate insert/assemble and audio split editing, and offers continuous variable HD slow motion playback of –1.0 to +2.0 normal speed (–1.0 to + 1.1 for DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO play). It comes standard with HD-SDI input/output and SD-SDI output for line recording and in-studio production and RS-422 remote operation. In addition to utilizing its built-in IEEE 1394 interface for transfer of HD and SD data without quality loss to an NLE system, this interface also allows the VTR to down-convert the HD-SDI input for uses including offline editing.

The VTR is equipped with extensive front panel editing controls, a numeric key pad and a high-resolution, built-in 3" LCD monitor that can eliminate the requirement for external monitoring. Other key features include jog and shuttle dial with up to 32X normal speed in forward/reverse, SD analog composite output, RS-232C and encoder remote controls, four user settings, and up to 60 cue points.

It also offers eight channels of high-quality, discrete digital audio (with 16-bit quantization and 48-kHz sampling) to fulfill requirements for 5.1 surround sound and SAP or multi-language programming.

The VTR is a 4U-size and fits into a 19" rack. The AJ-HD1800 is available now at a suggested list price of $49,999.


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Get in Shape with Artbeats' New Fitness Stock Footage Collection

Get your pulse going with Artbeats’ Fitness, a new royalty-free stock title that is packed with versatile footage of men and women working out to stay fit. This highly-requested collection includes a wide range of fitness-related subject matter, including weight training, treadmill walking, intense aerobic workouts, jogging, yoga and more. The latest addition to Artbeats’ Lifestyle series, Fitness offers the same pristine, high-quality footage that has made Artbeats a favorite among industry professionals, and can be used for broadcast, feature films, commercial, multimedia design, game development, independent production and more. For more information or to view clips from the Fitness collection please click here.

Customers can make the most of their Artbeats footage by visiting the company’s website, which features a wide range of helpful tutorials and other training materials. To access free and informative advice from some of the industry’s leading experts, please visit the ‘Tips N Tricks’ section online at www.artbeats.com/community/tips.php. To search for footage or preview clips in Artbeats’ award-winning library, which contains 492 titles (201 of which are HD), please visit the Artbeats website.

Artbeats’ Fitness collection contains 44 royalty-free clips and is available now at http://www.artbeats.com/fitness. Artbeats' footage is available in HD-1920x1080, D1 NTSC-720 x 486 or D1 PAL-720 x 576 resolutions. Pricing for Artbeats’ HD collections range from USD $799-$1299; standard definition collections range from USD $399-$699. To view clips please visit www.artbeats.com/prod/new_releases.php.

To receive the latest Artbeats catalog and free Artbeats DVD, which includes a useful tutorial, please visit http://www.artbeats.com/dvd.

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ImageSpan to Bring Simple-to-Use Content Licensing to More than 100 Million Designers Worldwide

ImageSpan™ Inc., the first comprehensive licensing and billing automation platform for digital media, today announced that it is making LicenseStream, its simple-to-use content licensing service, available to professional and user-gen creators in a revolutionary new way. ImageSpan will offer the subscription-based service to more than 100 million designers around the world who use the popular Creative Suite® 3 software from Adobe® Systems.

Now any digital content creator can use ImageSpan’s LicenseStream platform to define rights to their work and then sell that work online without paperwork, pricing hassles or middlemen. LicenseStream enables content creators to cut licensing costs by up to 90 percent and focus on what they do best: create innovative, powerful content and get that content to market as fast as possible.

ImageSpan has made it possible for LicenseStream subscribers to access the platform directly from Adobe Bridge CS3, the easy-to-use media manager that lets Adobe Creative Suite 3 users transfer media they have created from one program to another. Subscriptions to the LicenseStream platform will start at $39.95 per year.

LicenseStream enables content creators to define extensive licensing terms before distributing their content on the Web. With a single click, any advertiser, social network or content developer can see licensing information and initiate a Web-based licensing transaction without lawyers and phone calls. Currently, billions of dollars of content licensing transactions occur every year but most of these are time-consuming and inefficient, taking place offline because the process has never before been successfully automated. With LicenseStream, the entire licensing process becomes completely transparent, avoiding liability, copyright infringement and transaction settlement headaches.

"We are excited to offer this extremely valuable add-on to the Adobe Creative Suite 3 user base," said Iain Scholnick, chief executive officer, ImageSpan. "We are bringing licensing-with-a-click – a simple, intuitive approach to sophisticated content licensing – to millions of creative professionals around the world. This offering uniquely positions ImageSpan to become the platform-of-choice for intellectual property licensing worldwide."

The Adobe Flash®-based application puts licensing and transaction control back into the hands of creative professionals, seamlessly guiding them through the content licensing and billing process and empowering them to define licensing parameters, as well as price and license content.

The licensing technology developed by ImageSpan uses standards created by the Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) that simplify the process of granting, obtaining and managing the permissions necessary to use photographs and illustrations. "Creative professionals require efficient methods to both license and manage their digital art and other content," said Kevin Connor, senior director of product management, Adobe Systems. "The ImageSpan technology uses the PLUS Standard to enable licensing and facilitates the free flow of content and commerce from within the Creative Suite experience. We want our customers to have access to solutions that positively impact their businesses and ultimately, protect their work."

Cutting-edge advertisers and media companies are already taking advantage of ImageSpan’s licensing platform through CurbStream, an ImageSpan service that provides on-demand access to thousands of local videographers and photographers in virtually every community in the country. These videographers and photographers shoot and then upload raw local area content for any advertising or video content network via ImageSpan’s easy-to-use interface. The content is then immediately rights cleared and licensable for use.


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SNL Kagan Study Projects Huge Sales Of High-Definition DVD Over Next Decade

State of Home Video 2007, a new study from SNL Kagan, reveals that despite the small splash high-definition DVD made in the retail market in 2006 – only $42.4 million was spent on high-def in comparison to the $24.2 billion home-video market – it will be a huge market force over the next decade. SNL Kagan estimates that high-definition DVD revenues will increase from just 3.5% of the total market revenue in 2007, to 76.5% of the market in 2016.

Meanwhile, total DVD rental revenue is soaring – up 10.3% to $7.4 billion in 2005. Traditional brick-and-mortar rental revenue also grew to nearly $6.2 billion, while subscription service revenue was up 50.2% to more than $1.2 billion. But VHS rental revenue plummeted to 74% in 2006, to just $280 million from $1.1 billion in 2005. And VHS sell-through revenue continues to decline as bargain bins are cleared out.

"VHS is done for the most part -- studios aren’t shipping any new titles on VHS. We’re projecting the rental VHS market will be done by 2009, and the sell-through VHS market will be done by 2010," said Wade Holden, senior analyst for SNL Kagan. "Video stores will just hold onto their stock to get the most out of it. You’ll see $3.00 bargain bins with VHS cassettes hanging around for a while, but it’s pretty much a done market. No one is thinking about VHS – everyone is thinking ahead towards high definition."

The State of Home Video 2007 is an in-depth analysis of various segments of the video industry including: DVD and VHS Hardware, Performance Benchmarks, Retail Rental and Sell-Through, Sell-Through Titles, High-Definition DVD, Suppliers and Video-On-Demand.

SNL Kagan's State of Home Video report is available exclusively as part of the SNL Kagan Information Service. For more information on this report and other data sets within the SNL Kagan Information Service, go to www.snlkagan.com.

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TechSmith Introduces Camtasia Studio 5

TechSmith Corp., the world's leading provider of screen capture and recording solutions, today announced the availability of Camtasia Studio 5 which dramatically simplifies the creation and distribution of screencasts. Now business professionals with no programming or multimedia expertise can create engaging demonstrations, rich marketing content, PowerPoint-based video presentations and interactive training in minutes. A one-minute overview screencast of Camtasia Studio 5 can be viewed here.

"From the concept stage to final animation, Camtasia Studio 5 gives me everything I need to bring my digital drawings to life," said Jason Ryan, supervising animator at DreamWorks Animation. "Compared to earlier versions, this new release has really been simplified so I can just focus on my presentation and not worry about the technical side. Camtasia gives me everything I need to record, edit and produce professional screencasts."

"Every organization I’ve met has expertise and information they need to share," said Troy Stein, Camtasia Studio product manager at TechSmith. "With Camtasia Studio 5, anyone can record what they know and share it in video format. Camtasia Studio users, whether they’re in the sales, marketing, training or the support department, get to shine like a rock star within their organizations because what they create helps make everyone more productive and helps to improve the bottom line."

Camtasia Studio automatically records exactly what a user sees on a computer screen, what they say, and how they interact with any Windows-based application or website. Individuals can then edit the interactive content and share it online in all popular streaming media formats including Flash (SWF, FLV), fixed media such as CD or DVD, or portable media players such as the Apple iPod.

In addition to the many user experience, stability enhancements and added transitions, some of the new features in Camtasia Studio 5 include:

* Camtasia SmartFocus™ -- enables users to create smooth automatic zoom-n-pan action with a single mouse click to focus the viewer’s attention on important points of interest and to provide visual clarity when delivering screencasts inside small playback windows like blogs, on YouTube or via the Apple iPod. See the Camtasia SmartFocus screencast at: http://www.techsmith.com/cs5smartfocus
* TechSmith ExpressShow™ -- is a sleek staging and playback format for Camtasia Studio screencasts that gives the viewer user-friendly controls and puts maximum emphasis on the content while taking up minimal screen real estate. Customers can also apply their own corporate branding.
* Snap-to-App -- automatically places applications, dialogue boxes and the cursor in the right recording position at the right time so action is smooth, editing time is reduced, and the presentation is clear and professional. See the Snap-to-App screencast for the new recorder here
* New Screencast.com, blog, and FTP preset outputs that allow users to easily share content quickly online.

Camtasia Studio 5 is integrated with the new Screencast.com service, which is currently in open beta testing. The integration between Camtasia Studio 5 and Screencast.com facilitates fast and easy video sharing. Unlike other online video hosting services, Screencast.com retains the original quality, size, and professionalism of the uploaded screencast.

Camtasia Studio 5 supports Microsoft Windows XP and Vista with DirectX 9.0 or later. Additional digital video formats can be imported, including AVI, MPEG, MPG, and WMV. Web cameras and microphones for capturing audio and video are available for purchase separately. Camtasia Studio 5 has a suggested retail price of $299 with a 30-day free trial. A free, 60-day account for Screencast.com is also available. The software and recommended hardware can be purchased at http://www.techsmith.com.

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