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January 14, 2008

Table of Contents

Review: Panasonic AG-HPX500 HD Camcorder
NewTek Rolls Out the Red Carpet for 2008 with a Multi-City Tour Covering over 40 Cities and Five Countries
Apple Introduces New Mac Pro
Pyro AV Announces Pyro Kompressor HD for Super-Charged, High-Quality HD Video Compression
Zaxcom's TRX990 Wireless Mic Now Shipping
Blackmagic Design Video Solutions on the Road with Adobe Creative Suite 3
AJA Supports New Apple Mac Pro
New Litepanels Micro LED Light for Compact Camcorders
GenArts Announces Upcoming Sapphire Plug-ins Support for Apple FxPlug Products

Review: Panasonic AG-HPX500 HD Camcorder

One of Panasonic’s newest cameras in its P2 family is the HPX500. Designed for electronic news gathering (ENG) but suitable to a range of pro video work, this camera offers many features that will be familiar to users of other P2 cameras such as the HVX200, but it delivers them in an ENG-style shoulder-mount package. I tested an HPX500 recently, and I found it to be a really nice camera for its price point (MSRP $14,000). It’s very easy to use for those of us who are already working with P2 cameras. Although not a wedding video camera per se, it’s not just a broadcast camera either, but it will suit the needs of studios that do corporate work. Since I use the HVX200 in my own production work, I decided to use that as a base to compare the HPX500 to.

To begin, the controls and menu system are almost exactly the same as the HVX200, which made it very easy for me to get comfortable working with the camera. If you’re not familiar with the HVX200 or other P2-based models, you’ll need to take some time to learn it, but that’s true of any new camera you work with professionally.

The HPX500 balanced well on my shoulder, it felt nice, and it wasn’t quite as heavy as other ENG cameras I’ve used of the same size. It records to two types of storage media: P2 cards, or a Focus Enhancements FireStore FS-100 (the FS-100 model is specific to P2 cameras). Unlike the HVX200, there is no tape mechanism on this camera at all. But the good news is that there are four P2 card slots on the camera (Figure 1, below), and the advent of 32GB P2 cards should prove to be enough capacity for a practical workflow for corporate work. With all four slots holding 16GB P2 cards, I had 64GB total recording capacity. You can also increase this capacity and dramatically lower the cost of your storage investment by using the 100GB FS-100, or you can use products such as VeeScope, HD Monitor Pro, or On Location to record directly to a laptop hard drive.

figure 1

Both cameras offer the same shooting modes: You have 480/60i, 30p, 24p in SD; 1080i60, 30p, and 24p, as well as 720p60, 30p, and 24p in HD; you also have variable frame rates in 720p mode of 12, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 30, 32, 36, 48, and 60 fps. While the HVX200 is available in an NTSC model and a PAL model, HPX does both formats in the same camera.

The HPX offers three, instead of two, levels of built-in NDF filtering, which I found to be a really handy improvement on the HVX200, as I am a mostly outdoor "nature-ish" shooter. Both cameras have an SD card slot for storing the shooter’s customized scene setting presets. A welcome improvement over my HVX200 and other smaller cameras is the 6-pin FireWire port, which is a more stable alternative to the much more common 4-pin port. The use of a 4-pin FireWire port on a tapeless camera was a horrible idea with the HVX200. Thus it’s refreshing to see the solid quality 6-pin port on a camera of this level and price range. These are tapeless cameras, so a stable FireWire port is essential. I hope Panasonic and other camera manufacturers learned the lessons of the super-problematic 4-pin port with the HVX200, and will try to avoid these little incompetent ports on future camera designs.

Among the first things I noticed were the silver metal toggle switches for power and other functions. At first glance I thought it was a bad idea. I thought they’d snap off easily. But after using the HPX for a few days, I found these metal toggle switches to be very strong. They were well-constructed and well-recessed into the body of the camera to keep them protected, yet they were still easy to access, even with big fat fingers such as mine.

There is a switch to go between two users, which is great for broadcast applications where you may have more than one person using the camera.

Configurations, Controls
The unit I had came from Panasonic with a really nice Fujinon lens ($10,000) and an Anton/Bauer battery and charger pack ($5,000) that lasted so long, I never really was able to drain it in the time I had the camera. That sort of battery longevity was very welcome, especially since the battery snaps directly onto the rear end of the camera, unlike most long-life batteries, which have to be attached to your belt. The battery was light, and it made almost no impact on the overall weight of the camera. The lens felt very well-balanced when mounted. Keep in mind that the lens and the battery must be purchased separately from the camera body itself.

All controls are well-situated for practical use. The LCD is positioned behind the operator when the camera is shoulder-mounted. This will be handy for DPs on indie shoots or for producers in the field. They can stand behind the camera operator to see what is being recorded. For a lone shooter who goes from viewfinder to LCD a lot, this will be a compromise. I found the LCD difficult to adjust to a comfortable position for my body. It was very limited in its adjustment range, and it seemed to be permanently at an inconvenient angle toward the camera.

Thus, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the viewfinder. I found the image quality of the viewfinder fair, but not great, which is disappointing for an HD camera. There’s no option to switch from black and white to color as with the HVX200. I’ve heard the argument that "real" camera operators don’t want color in the viewfinder. But there is also the argument that this is an outdated paradigm, and when shooting HD, you really do need color in the viewfinder. Personally, my work requires a viewfinder that’s switchable between both, as you really do need color to work when shooting HD footage. Yes, the times they are a-changing. This was one of only two features of the HPX500 that I was not happy with. And how much it bothers you is something that will depend on the camera operator. It’s not an issue that will make or break the functionality/usability of this camera, but it will certainly annoy those of us who insist on being able to switch to color for HD work.

Focus Assist Issues
This brings me to the second feature of the HPX500 that I found pretty disappointing: the Focus Assist system. I’ve read other reviews: Some folks love it, and some folks hate it. Focus Assist is a must-have on any HD camera; LCD screens and viewfinders are simply not able to give you enough image detail to do fine adjustments to the focus, as well as other image details. On my HVX200, when I hit the Focus Assist button, it places a square in the middle of my LCD and viewfinder and fills it with an enlarged section of the frame’s center.

On the HPX500, Panasonic uses a live graph system. When the Focus Assist is activated, it is overlaid on your image in the LCD and viewfinder, thus obscuring it, with a graph that is updating in real time. It reads image data and displays it in a way that allows you to adjust your focus according to the graph display data. I found it worked just fine in most situations, but in some it didn’t help at all. I still needed to rely on an external monitor. In even moderately low light, the graph doesn’t seem to have enough data to function properly. Likewise, in bright light—again, not super-bright light, just light somewhat brighter than you’d prefer to shoot in—the graph did not respond in a useful manner.

In a studio situation, it would work just fine, as you would have total control over your lighting. But in run-and-gun field work and ENG work, you’re not always in optimal lighting situations and often have no control over the lighting. Thus, this Focus Assist graph is nice, but it is very limited in its real-world use. Other reviewers have responded much more favorably to this feature than I have, and I suspect that its appeal for shooters may depend on the environments they tend to shoot in most of the time. I do a lot of outdoor shooting for documentary and nature shots. For this type of work, I’d have to have some alternative to this graph to help with focus. And for professional HD work, you really should simply be using an external production monitor—except in ENG and run-and-gun situations, which is what this camera is built for.

Menu Navigation
One feature this camera has over my HVX200 is the menu navigation buttons. The buttons are easier to access, and they are laid out to more easily accommodate the eye/hand coordination needed. On the HVX, the buttons are at a 90-degree angle from what your eye sees on the LCD screen, and working with them takes a good bit of getting used to.

On the HPX, the buttons offer a more natural, instinctive feel. Both cameras have the same menu system, though the HPX has a few additional menu items due to its more complex build and configuration.

Image Controls and Comparisons
Easy-to-use controls, well-balanced, nice weight factor. In lieu of the so-so viewfinder and wacky Focus Assist, so far so good. What about the image quality? What about low light? What about bright, blown-out light? What about image control?

Let me start with the features that are the same on my HVX200. The image controls are the same, and they allow for a great deal of control and range of adjustment for recording. For those of you who aren’t familiar with P2 cameras, there are quite a few menu controls to adjust your image. There’s black knee, gamma curves, color balancing, and many other controls. Using a camera like the HVX200 or HPX500 is not like using a PD170 or VX2100. It’s more like working with a digital film camera. There are many more options for controlling your image quality and the stylized look of the image you record. These cameras do take more time to learn to use than some others, but the control you get is well worth the time. The Scene Settings store customizable camera setups, which makes accessing them quick and easy—a really handy feature. So, how’s the image quality? It’s really great! Does it blow my HVX200 out of the water? Theoretically, it should; the HVX has only 1/3" CCDs, and the HPX has 2/3" chips. And indeed it does. Once you learn the camera’s adjustments, the image quality is a noticeable improvement. There’s more detail in the HPX’s image compared to the HVX, and there’s a little more color depth too, as shown in Figure 2, below. There was a bluish hue I had trouble getting rid of, but had I been able to use the HPX500 longer and learn it better, I’m sure I could have compensated.

figure 1

In low light, the HPX500 did a bit better than the HVX200 did—not by leaps and bounds, but definitely noticeable. I did notice that using just ambient room light in a run-and-gun scenario, when zoomed in on a subject, whites in the background tended to blow out very easily. So what about the zoom? The HPX500’s zoom seems much more fluid and sophisticated compared to my little HVX200. But much of that is the difference between the HVX’s zoom and the zoom of whatever lens you put on the HPX. Figure 3 (left) shows a wide shot with the HPX500; Figure 4 (right) is a close-up shot zoomed from the same location, using only ambient light.

figure 1

Overall Impressions
Overall, the HPX500 delivers a better-quality image than my HVX200 does, and depth of field is improved quite a bit due to a better lens system. Is it enough to justify the $8,000 price difference? Well, at first, when I was in the field using both cameras side by side, looking at LCD screens, I didn’t think so. But having experimented with the same shots done by both cameras side by side in post for awhile, I’ve changed my mind.

It’s not a difference that grabbed me right off the bat. But when I started compositing, coloring, and grading, then outputting the two in various formats (H.264 for web, DVD, native DVCPRO-HD QT for computer viewing), I really began to notice the differences. The HVX200 gives an awesome image for its price and CCD size. But at the end of the postproduction day, I was more impressed with the HPX500. I may consider this camera in a few months when it’s time to upgrade. But keep in mind that if you take the same upgrade path I’m considering and go from an HVX200 to an HPX500, there’s still going to be a learning curve to get the image color right. There are some significant differences between using the HVX200’s glass and a $10k lens system, of course.

Aside from the semi-useful Focus Assist and the lack of a color option in the viewfinder, the HPX500 is a very easy-to-use, flexible, good quality camera. Would I use this for wedding or dance recital work? Never. Low light still isn’t there in any HD format to begin with. And it’s just too big and overblown for that type of work. But if you do corporate work, serious sports shooting, indie filmmaking, and the like, this is an awesome camera to use. It’s a little lighter than other ENG cams at its level (perhaps due to the lack of tape transport machinery), it’s more flexible in the formats it can shoot, and the speed of the P2 workflow, along with the ability to add the quality glass that you want, make for an awesome camera.

Great color depth, detail, improved depth-of-field, and ease/flexibility of control, along with the wide flexibility of recording formats make the HPX500 very worth its price. Again, the Fujinon lens and Anton/Bauer battery pack/charger that my test system came with were top-notch, and rounded out this camera very nicely. Now, if Barry Green can do a good DVD users’ guide for this camera, like the one he did for the HVX200, we’d be in great shape!

So, if you plan to spend $30,000 on a camera system (once you add in the lens, battery pack, P2 cards, etc.), want to go HD, and would like one hell of a fantastic image at the end of the day (despite a few quirks), the HPX500 delivers.

Ben Balser (benb at bbalser.com) is an Apple Certified Trainer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He specializes in training and consulting, and also produces documentaries, educational material, and commercial work.

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NewTek Rolls Out the Red Carpet for 2008 with a Multi-City Tour Covering over 40 Cities and Five Countries

NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading video and 3D animation products, rolls out the red carpet on a four month tour demonstrating how to produce professional live productions faster and more economical using NewTek TriCaster™ . The free Red Carpet Tour events which kick off January 22, 2008, in Houston, TX, will cover over 40 cities in more than five countries in North, Central & Latin America and will highlight NewTek' s powerful production tools, including TriCaster STUDIO™ , SpeedEDIT™, and 3D Arsenal™.

"The Red Carpet Tour is shaping up to be the biggest and best so far. We have a new TriCaster model to feature as well as a few other surprises," said Don Ballance, NewTek' s Director of Training and Channel Development. "This is a chance for people to experience the equipment that is changing the way video productions are created and delivered. Join us to see why MTV, Fox Sports, NBA D-League, NHL, and others are looking to TriCaster as the way to expand their broadcast capabilities and the way they deliver content."

NewTek Red Carpet 2008 is showcasing the latest in portable presentation, live switching, virtual sets, post production and motion graphics:

  • NewTek TriCaster STUDIO™ - Portable live production system enables sports organizations, corporate communications departments, broadcasters, schools and others to provide a whole new level of extended programming and content to their fans, partners and other audiences. Now, a single operator can produce a live show switching between as many as six cameras with two VCR' s, multi-channel effects, and NewTek' s proprietary virtual sets and keying technology using TriCaster™.
  • NewTek SpeedEDIT™ - Resolution-independent video editor designed to work quickly and efficiently on any video project, from web streams to High-Definition.
  • 3D Arsenal™ - Motion graphics system designed for video editors provides over 750 pre-created scenes and templates to with an hour of interactive training material to make learning and producing fast and easy.

NewTek will offer two-hour morning and afternoon sessions at each stop. Special offers and giveaways will be made available to event participants. To register for the location nearest you and to receive your free Red Carpet Tour T-shirt visit www.newtek.com/redcarpettour.

figure 1
Additional cities will be added to the schedule; for updates, visit www.newtek.com/redcarpettour.

The Red Carpet Tour events are free to all attendees, space is limited. The TriCaster family of products in NTSC is available in North America starting at $4,995US. The TriCaster family of products is available in dual standard internationally beginning at $6,995US. SpeedEDIT and 3D Arsenal are available worldwide for $495US.


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Apple Introduces New Mac Pro

Apple® today introduced the new Mac® Pro with eight processor cores and a new system architecture that delivers up to twice the performance of its predecessor. The new Mac Pro combines two of Intel’s new 45 nanometer Quad-Core Xeon processors running up to 3.2 GHz, powerful new graphics and up to 4TB of internal storage to offer the ideal system for creative professionals, 3D digital content creators and scientists. The standard 8-core configuration starts at just $2,799.

"The new Mac Pro is the fastest Mac we’ve ever made," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "With 3.2 GHz 8-core Xeon processing, a 1600 MHz front side bus and 800 MHz memory, the new Mac Pro uses the fastest Intel Xeon architecture on the market."

The new Mac Pro features the latest Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5400 series processors based on state-of-the-art 45nm Intel Core microarchitecture running up to 3.2 GHz, each with 12MB of L2 cache per processor for breakthrough performance and power efficiency. With a new high-bandwidth hardware architecture, dual-independent 1600 MHz front side buses and up to 32GB of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory, the new Mac Pro achieves a 61 percent increase in memory throughput.

Every Mac Pro comes standard with the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card with 256MB of video memory. The Mac Pro includes a new PCI Express 2.0 graphics slot that delivers up to double the bandwidth compared to the previous generation, and supports the latest generation of graphics cards from NVIDIA, such as the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT with 512MB of video memory, or NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 with 1.5GB of video memory and a 3-D stereo port for stereo-in-a-window applications. With support for up to four graphics cards, the new Mac Pro can drive up to eight 30-inch displays at once for advanced visualization and large display walls.

The Mac Pro is the most expandable Mac ever, featuring four internal hard drive bays with direct-attach, cable-free installation of four 1TB Serial ATA hard drives, totaling 4TB of internal storage and support for two SuperDrives. With optional 15000 rpm SAS drives that can deliver up to 250MB/s of RAID 5 disk I/O performance, the Mac Pro is ideal for film and video editors. Combined with SATA or SAS drives, using an optional Mac Pro RAID card offers the ultimate data protection and disk I/O performance on the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is easily and conveniently accessible in front and back so users can connect external devices with five USB 2.0, two FireWire® 400, two FireWire 800, optical and analog audio in and out, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a headphone jack.

Every Mac Pro includes Leopard™, the sixth major release of the world’s most advanced operating system. Leopard is packed with more than 300 new features and introduces a brand new desktop with Stacks, a new way to easily access files from the Dock; a redesigned Finder that lets users quickly browse and share files between multiple Macs; Quick Look, a new way to instantly see files without opening an application; Spaces, an intuitive new feature used to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them; and Time Machine™, an effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac. Featuring an improved scheduler and other multi-core technology, Leopard is a perfect companion to the Mac Pro, making applications faster and helping application developers take advantage of multi-core systems.

The new ultra-thin aluminum Apple Keyboard now ships with every Mac Pro and built-in Bluetooth 2.0 makes it easy to reduce cable clutter with the optional Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse.

The new Mac Pro is shipping today and will be available through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. The standard 8-core Mac Pro, with a suggested retail price of $2,799 (US), includes the following:

  • two 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors with dual-independent 1600 MHz front side buses;
  • 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC fully-buffered DIMM memory, expandable up to 32GB;
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256MB of GDDR3 memory;
  • 320GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
  • 16x SuperDrive™ with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW);
  • two PCI Express 2.0 slots and two PCI Express slots;
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR; and
  • ships with Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse.

In addition to the standard configuration, the Mac Pro offers numerous build-to-order options including: one 2.8 GHz, two 3.0 GHz, or two 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors; up to 32GB of 800 MHz DDR2 fully-buffered ECC memory; up to four 1TB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm or up to four 300GB SAS drives running at 15000 rpm; Mac Pro RAID card; up to two 16x SuperDrives with double-layer support; NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT or NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 graphics cards; AirPort Extreme 802.11n; Apple USB Modem; Apple wireless Aluminum Keyboard; Apple wireless Mighty Mouse; and Mac OS X Server Leopard.

Complete build-to-order options and pricing are available at www.apple.com/macpro.

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Pyro AV Announces Pyro Kompressor HD for Super-Charged, High-Quality HD Video Compression

Pyro AV® by ADS Tech®, a leading-edge video conversion and capture solution provider for digital video professionals and enthusiasts, today announced Pyro Kompressor HD®, a PCI Express®-based accelerator solution that accelerates HD MPEG-2 and HD H.264/AVC encoding up to eight times faster than software-only video compression. For time- and cost-conscious video production houses, this translates into a much speedier authoring workflow. Integrated with Adobe® video software with support for Windows® XP and Apple® Mac OS® X Leopard platforms, the solution is a price-performance breakthrough benefiting both video professionals and prosumers.

The single-slot PYRO Kompressor HD board is powered by the Ambric Am2045, a massively-parallel processor with 336 RISC processors, delivering 1.2 teraOPS-class of video horsepower for consistently high throughput encoding, even for difficult, high-motion video content. A dynamic and affordable solution, Pyro Kompressor HD’s high-quality MPEG-2 and H.264/AVC codecs enable compression for DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray Disk, web streaming media, archival storage, IPTV, and VOD. It is based on programmable chip technology, so that PYRO Kompressor HD hardware is "future-proofed" and can be updated as video compression standards evolve and other types of video processing become available.

"We are excited to announce PYRO Kompressor HD, an affordable, high-quality H.264 and MPEG compression solution for video editors who need super-charged encoding speed and processing power," said Mike McCoy, president and CEO, Pyro AV. "This powerful productivity tool will save days of time in post-production, thereby providing a rapid return on investment."

"ADS Tech’s Pyro AV division has a tradition of delivering the most up-to-date, highest-quality technologies at prices that make them easy to justify," said Jay Eisenlohr, co-founder and executive vice president of marketing and business development, Ambric, Inc. "We are gratified that ADS Tech chose our Am2045 massively-parallel processor for their exciting new product. Pyro Kompressor HD for video processing reminds me of the breakthrough that occurred in the early days of the 3D-graphics industry; it is an exciting time for the rapidly growing video market."

The included Pyro Kompressor HD transcoding software application simplifies production and provides control over input, conversion, encoding, and output. Transcoding can be done from a wide variety of input formats using software decoders. The software features watch folders for job automation, up and down scaling, frame rate conversion, custom settings and a range of pre-defined settings, chapter support, batch encoding that allows for multiple tasks, file drag and drop ease, control over target output file size, and mux’ing streams from different input files. It can read either uncompressed video input or import compressed files, using a wide range of included decoders to enable transcoding for DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, H.264, AVCHD, AVC-Intra, VC-1, DVCPRO 25/50/100, DVCPRO-HD, JPEG2000, and YUV files, plus DirectShow and QuickTime import.

Designed as a flexible compression tool, the Pyro Kompressor HD hardware accelerator is also tightly integrated with Adobe’s video software family. Acceleration functionality is plug-and-play in Adobe Premiere® Pro CS3 and Adobe After Effects® CS3 Professional. The solution can be used for encoding whole video projects or fast iterative test-compressions while editing, compositing, or creating special-effects. Adobe integration offers a familiar workflow and quick turnaround.

Pyro Kompressor HD for the PC will be available in February through a variety of Pyro AV dealers with an MSRP of $3,495.00. Pyro Kompressor HD for the Mac platform will be available Spring 2008 with an MSRP of $3,495.00.


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Zaxcom's TRX990 Wireless Mic Now Shipping

Zaxcom, a pioneering provider of professional audio equipment for the television and film industries, today announced that its TRX990 wireless microphone transceiver is now shipping and available to audio professionals in the broadcasting, film, and special event industries. The TRX990 is engineered primarily for use in boom pole, sports parabola, and ENG camera-to-bag applications and combines the functions of a wireless transmitter, 48-V phantom power supply, IFB receiver, and walkie talkie in one compact unit.

"We're pleased to begin shipping our TRX990 system to audio professionals who are looking for both simplified production and superb audio quality," said Glenn Sanders, president of Zaxcom. "By integrating an IFB receiver directly into the body of a wireless transmitter, the TRX990 allows sound staff to support multiple functions with just a single unit instead of the belt full of gear that's normally required. And of course it features Zaxcom's trademark sound quality and digital modulation, with audio that rivals that of a hard-wired connection."

Zaxcom's TRX990 is engineered as a complete solution to boom-pole-type transmitters and offers two audio channels with integrated 48-V phantom power. Zaxcom's TRX family — which also includes the lavaliere-style TRX900 — features the industry's first wireless microphones with an internal IFB receiver and integrated audio recording with timecode. This patent-pending feature set allows audio professionals to record up to 12 hours of audio directly to a Flash memory card and then transfer the .wav files to either a PC or Macintosh for post-production. The TRX990 provides a 114-dB dynamic range, mono or stereo wireless transmission, and RF remote control.

More information about the features of the TRX990 and Zaxcom's complete line of audio systems is available at www.zaxcom.com.

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Blackmagic Design Video Solutions on the Road with Adobe Creative Suite 3

Blackmagic Design today announced the upcoming HD Workflow Tour with Adobe. This free, two-hour training session will teach film editors about exciting new high-quality hardware from Blackmagic Design and feature-rich editing software from Adobe® which will improve and facilitate the post production workflow.

"We're very excited to support Adobe on this HD Workflow Tour," said Dan May, President, Blackmagic Design Inc. "This is a great opportunity to meet many of our users and discuss our new products. We also look forward to learning about the innovative ways in which our products are used by professional film editors."

Blackmagic Design HD Workflow Tour
Join Blackmagic Design and Adobe for a two hour session on the new Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium and Blackmagic Design's Multibridge Pro, Multibridge Eclipse, Decklink, and Intensity video solutions. Adobe will discuss streamlining the capturing, editing, motion graphics creation and compositing processes using the latest Adobe CS3 Suite® of software. For complete details, please visit www.blackmagic-design.com/events.

Attend any of the following events to be eligible to win software and prizes.

  • January 24, 2008: Midtown Video, Miami, FL - 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • 29 January 2008: Niche Video, Atlanta, GA -- 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • 31 January 2008: AV Alive Video, Raleigh, NC -- 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • 5 February 2008: Microsearch Video, Houston, TX -- 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • 7 February 2008: Midwest Media Group, Arlington Heights, IL -- 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • 12 February 2008: Unitek Video, Pasadena, CA -- 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.


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AJA Supports New Apple Mac Pro

AJA Video, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, today announced that its Io HD and KONA line of video capture and playback cards will provide support for Apple's new 8-core Mac Pro which features the latest Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5400 series processors.

AJA's Io HD, the next generation of the company's popular Io video ingest and output devices, provides 10-bit quality video over Firewire for Apple's Final Cut Studio, and natively supports Apple's ProRes 422 format, enabling portable HD editing on MacBook Pro and Mac Pro computers.

The KONA line of video capture and playback cards from AJA, including the KONA 3, KONA LHe and KONA LSe, also offer support for the new Mac Pro, allowing users to take full advantage of a new system architecture that delivers up to twice the performance of its predecessor.

"We're very excited about this newest development, and make it a priority to support the latest technical advancements in Apple's systems," said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems. "With faster processing speed and a new PCI Express 2.0 slots standard, the newest Mac Pro is sure to again raise the performance bar for video professionals."


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New Litepanels Micro LED Light for Compact Camcorders

The new Litepanels Micro is the first fully professional compact LED light made for production that runs off standard AA batteries.

Created in response to the overwhelming popularity of the MiniPlus, now a staple of television, broadcast news and cinema production worldwide, the Micro harnesses the company's ultra-efficient LED technology in an extremely lightweight and cost-effective package. Ideal for DV camcorder users, it mounts unobtrusively on top of the camera to provide soft, directional lighting. This compact, daylight-balanced camera light also functions as an exceptional eyelight, filling in the shadows on a subject's face and bringing the eyes to life.

Weighing less than 4 oz. (.11kg) and measuring 3.3"x 3.3" x 1.5" (83.8mm x 83.8mm x 38.1mm), Litepanels Micro produces 1.5 hours of continuous output from four on-board AA batteries (either standard or rechargeable). Or power can be supplied through a convenient 4-14V input jack located on the back of the unit.

The Litepanels Micro housing has a unique, integrated hot shoe adapter with an adjustable tilt mechanism to allow for multiple mounting configurations. An integrated on/off/dimmer dial conveniently facilitates smooth and instant 100%-0 dimming. The unit also features a flip-down filterholder for use with the system's color/diffusion gel filters. Three filters are included: soft diffusion, 3200° tungsten conversion, and 1/4 warming (CTO).

MSRP (batteries included) is $349.


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GenArts Announces Upcoming Sapphire Plug-ins Support for Apple FxPlug Products

GenArts, Inc., a leading provider of visual effects plug-ins for the film, broadcast and video industries, today announced an upcoming version of Sapphire Plug-ins for Apple FxPlug products including Final Cut Pro and Motion.

GenArts is offering the new FxPlug version at no additional charge to customers who purchase or upgrade to Sapphire v2 for After Effects and compatible products. Currently Sapphire Plug-ins supports Final Cut Pro through the After Effects API, but the FxPlug version will provide additional features such as drag-on Transition effects for FCP, support for Motion, and effects categorized as Generators, Filters and Transitions. The forthcoming version for FxPlug products will contain over 200 image processing and synthesis effects, including the latest effects in the Sapphire Plug-ins suite such as FilmDamage, ZDefocus, Cartoon, BleachBypass, GradientMulti, SwishPan, Light3D, Deband and Vignette.

A preview of the new version can be seen at the Macworld FCPUG SuperMeet on January 16th at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. The FxPlug version of Sapphire Plug-ins is planned for release in the first half of 2008.


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