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March 24, 2008

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Editing With eSATA
Azden Intros New ENG Wireless
MOTU Ships Windows Drivers for V3HD FireWire Video Interface
Blackmagic Design Announces New Lower Price for Multibridge Eclipse
TMPGEnc Introduces MovieStyle to Convert Movie Files for Viewing on a Variety of Digital Devices
Xlnt Idea, Inc Announces Complete Support for Blu-ray Disc Format in its Publishers
Avid Unveils "New Thinking" for 2008
Red Giant Software Announces Primatte Keyer 4
Digieffects Ships Damage
Plustek Expands Its Opticfilm Scanner Line With New Models

The Moving Picture: Editing With eSATA

I’ve recently acquired three new products in the office, each in their own way a breakthrough, at least for me, so I thought I would share. The first product allowed me to join my family in Atlanta over the holiday season for the first time in several years. That’s because December means The Nutcracker in my family—four shows in three locations with two different casts this year for students at my wife’s ballet school, and I had two DVDs to deliver ASAP. Usually, this feat requires a desktop computer.

My MacBook Pro had enough horsepower for the job, but it lacked the spare hard disk space needed to produce an 80-minute ballet video from a 2-camera shoot. I’ve edited with a USB 2.0 drive in the past, but that was painful. I had been wondering about eSATA drives for awhile, and it seemed like a good time to find out more. As you may know, most computers moved to internal Serial ATA (SATA) drives a few years ago. With a theoretical transfer rate of about 3.0GB per second, SATA is more than sufficient for DV and HDV editing, and external SATA (eSATA) extends this speed to external drives.

I bought a 250GB NewerTech v3 external drive, which costs $160 direct and comes as large as 1TB for $429. Since my MacBook Pro includes FireWire 400, 800, and USB 2.0 connectors but not eSATA, I got an APIOTEK eSATA Express Card Adapter for about $45. The v3 drive also has connectors for FireWire 400, 800, and USB 2.0, so being the curious sort, I used the Intech SpeedTools utilities that came with the drive to test the performance of all connectors.

On the 100MB random read test, the largest test offered by the program and the one most relevant to video editing, the eSATA read 62MB/sec, FireWire 800 57MB/sec, FireWire 400 41MB/sec, and USB 2.0 18MB/sec . Interestingly, the MacBook Pro’s internal hard drive read at 33MB/sec, so the external drive was actually faster than the internal.

The actual editing experience was very responsive, and, better yet, when I returned to the office, I plugged the drive into the MacBook Pro via FireWire 800 and rendered and produced my DVD there, another great benefit of this multiconnector drive. If you’ve been soured on USB 2.0 external drives for editing, take another look at FireWire 800 and eSATA.

The next product is also storage related. Even on my desktop workstations, disk space is always a problem, as I’m sure it is for most video producers. The largest internal drive I have in any system is 500GB, and for a long time, that was the largest single drive available. When I saw an announcement from Samsung about an internal 1TB drive, I had to have a look.

The drive, called the Spinpoint F1, costs under $300 in several online shops and is also a Serial ATA drive. It took about 5 minutes to install it into my 30 GHz Quad-Core HP xw4600 workstation, which has only a 250GB drive.

My concern with larger drives has always been performance. To test this, I ran some benchmark tests comparing the existing SATA drive to the Samsung unit. I found the Samsung ran about 36% faster, reading 94MB/sec compared to 69MB/sec for the existing drive. I’m sure much of this relates to the fact that the Samsung drive was pristine clean, while the C: drive was cluttered with data. Still, the Samsung clearly won’t slow me down, and, at 1TB, it will hold a few months worth of projects while preserving one last internal HDD slot for an additional drive. If you’ve got a computer that’s short on disk space and hard disk drive expansion room, you should check out the Spinpoint F1.

The final product is probably the most groundbreaking of the three, at least on a day-to-day basis. I was testing a corporate batch encoding product from Anystream, and I wanted to set up a rendering farm. I had sufficient computing horsepower for the task, but the Anystream technician got really quiet when I told him that my internal network ran at 100MB/sec.

I checked the workstations in my office and most had 10/100/1000 interface cards, so that left the hub as the main capital cost. Last time I looked, hubs were hubs. Now they’re all switches, which are faster and more intelligent. Back then, even 8-port hubs cost in the low 4 figures. I thought that speeding up to 1GB would raise the price even higher. A quick trip to Amazon revealed that the D-Link DGS-2208 8-Port 10/100/1000 Desktop Switch cost all of $54.32 and was rated 4.5 stars by 17 online reviewers.

I received the switch a few days later. I had it up and running in about 5 minutes, and, oh, my goodness, the performance across the network is amazing. Where I used to have to schedule multiple-GB transfers during lunch and overnight, I had copied an 835MB file from one computer to another in 42 seconds.

If you transfer a lot of files over your LAN, say, for backup, processing on multiple computers or even for a rendering farm, and you’re still running at 100Mb, check the prices of gigabit Ethernet equipment. It’s probably cheaper than you think and will goose the heck out of network performance.

Jan Ozer (janozer at doceo.com) runs Doceo Publishing and is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media.

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Azden Intros New ENG Wireless

For broadcast professionals, during the upcoming NAB show, Azden Corporation is introducing a newly redesigned lineup of ENG wireless. The new equipment will operate in the 628 – 662 MHz band making it compatible with the DTV changeover coming in early 2009. The new 1200 Se-ries UHF System will feature the 1200URX/Si (slot-in receiver), 1200URX/AB (receiver with Anton Bauer® Gold Mount®) and 1200URX/VM (V-Mount receiver) along with the 1200BT (body-pack transmitter) and 1200XT (plug-in transmitter).

Offering 188 digitally selectable UHF frequencies (638.125 to 661.875 MHz), the new receivers and transmitters provide superior selectivity in conjunction with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio and extended battery life. The digital displays also provide infor-mation concerning signal strength, diversity antenna function and battery condition. All models benefit from newly improved compander/expander circuitry. The 1200XT now provides true 48V Phantom Power.

Azden will be displaying these new models at their booth (N4924) during the NAB show, April 14-17, 2008 in Las Vegas. MSRP for the receivers ranges from $1000.00 to $1200.00 while the transmitters will be $350.00 each. Delivery is expected in May.

www.azdencorp.com

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MOTU Ships Windows Drivers for V3HD FireWire Video Interface

MOTU, Inc. is now shipping Windows support for the V3HD FireWire video interface and converter. Users can download the new PC drivers and software at v3hd.com, giving them immediate and complete compatibility with Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 (Version 3.1 or higher) running on Windows XP or Vista (32).

"The V3HD is a one-of-kind I/O device for Premiere Pro CS3 Windows users," said Jim Cooper, Director of Marketing for MOTU. "With plug-and-play FireWire connectivity, hardware-accelerated P2 capture and comprehensive I/O, the V3HD sets a new standard for video capture and monitoring for Premiere users."

The V3HD is the first and only video capture/playback solution for Premiere Pro CS3 that provides hardware-accelerated DVCProHD (P2) capture from any HD video input, including HD component or HD-SDI sources. The V3HD dovetails with the new P2 workflow features recently introduced in Premiere Pro CS3, allowing users to immediately play back P2 clips (either imported or ingested) on a variety of SD and HD formats simultaneously, with no transcoding necessary. Conversely, the V3HD allows Premiere Pro users to capture any video source, either SD or HD, while simultaneously employing hardware-accelerated encoding and up/down conversion, in the following supported formats: uncompressed SD (standard AVI clips), DV, DVCPRo50 and DVCproHD.

The V3HD is also the first and only all-in-one capture/playback solution for Premiere that provides both SD and HD capture over FireWire, allowing Premiere users for the first time to build comprehensive, yet compact and portable desktop workstations based on PC laptops or notebook computers equipped with FireWire, without the need for separate PCI expansion products.

Advanced features include an "Export to Tape" feature that allows users to lay back clips, or an entire project, to a tape deck using the V3HD's extensive machine control features. The V3HD also supports Premiere Pro's Batch Capture features.

The V3HD Windows support download package is now available here.

www.v3hd.com

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Blackmagic Design Announces New Lower Price for Multibridge Eclipse

Blackmagic Design Ltd. today announced a new lower price for its award winning Multibridge Eclipse video editing solution for high end post production and broadcast industries.

This new lower price reduction has been made possible due to reduced cost of manufacturing this product in the company’s new manufacturing facility. This new manufacturing plant has extensive upgrades to increase automation in the manufacturing of Multibridge Eclipse. This has resulted in lower manufacturing costs which can now be passed on to customers.

Price changes in details:

Multibridge Eclipse USD $ Now $2795, was$3495, save $700
Multibridge Eclipse EUR € Now € 1895, was € 2755, save € 860

All prices listed exclude local sales taxes.

www.blackmagic-design.com

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TMPGEnc Introduces MovieStyle to Convert Movie Files for Viewing on a Variety of Digital Devices

TMPG Inc., the company that makes digital video easy, has added TMPGEnc MovieStyle to its software lineup. It allows users to easily convert video clips for use on 11 popular digital devices from portables such as the iPod and PSP to full HD devices such as Sony's Playstation 3. The free trial will be available for download on March 27th at www.tmpg-inc.com. The full retail version will be available shortly thereafter at $39.95 per license.

"More and more, people are using digital devices to watch their favorite video clips, whether it's portable devices or video game consoles," remarked Kimi Matsuki, TMPG CEO. "With MovieStyle, users can easily convert video clips for these devices without any video encoding knowledge. That means users of any age, experienced or inexperienced, can use this software to convert video for portable or HD devices. We like to say, MovieStyle: your movies, your digital lifestyle."

TMPGEnc MovieStyle converts video clips to portable and high definition formats compatible with a number of popular digital devices, including: iPod®/iPhone®, Apple® TV, Sony® myloT COM-2, PSPT, Playstation® 3, ZuneT, Xbox 360T, Nintendo DST with PLAY-YAN, Nintendo® WiiT, PDA's with Windows Media Player, and DivX®. Accepted input formats include AVI, MPEG, MPEG4, Windows Media Video (wmv), QuickTime, H.264, DivX®, DVD-Video/DVD-VR, Media Center PC (DVR-MS), and MOD (a file format used by JVC Everio HDD camcorders). HDV camcorder files are also supported.

MovieStyle's sleek and user friendly interface makes converting video clips a quick and painless process. Simply select a device, then drag and drop video clips to begin converting. The converting templates eliminate guesswork and saves time. The included TMPGEnc TransManagerT helps organize converted video clips and assists in transferring the clips to the desired device.

A number of time-saving features are also included. The Quick Encode feature allows users to convert video clips without opening the MovieStyle application. Simply right-click on the video clip and select the desired digital device from the drop-down menu to start converting. The Drop Folder feature lets users specify a folder for MovieStyle to monitor. When a video clip is saved in the folder, MovieStyle will automatically convert it for the user-specified digital device.

Other features allow users more control over the converting process. The Cinema Mode option converts the video to 24 frames per second. For PSP users, the PSP Overdrive option takes advantage of the PSP LCD driver characteristics to improve video display quality. Users can also enable Karaoke Mode, which cancels out vocals from the audio track, and use the Pitch Changer settings to alter the audio pitch. The Audio Only option (not available for all devices) can convert video into an audio file.

For users short on time, the Time Stretch feature can convert the video to play at up to 1.5 times the normal speed, complete with fully understandable audio, allowing users to view a 1 hour video in approximately 40 minutes. Conversely, Time Stretch can also be used to convert the video to play up to 50% slower, making a 1 hour video into an approximately 2 hour video. This may be valuable for users who are learning a new language and need to study pronunciation and sounds.

www.tmpg-inc.com

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Xlnt Idea, Inc Announces Complete Support for Blu-ray Disc Format in its Publishers

XLNT Idea Inc., a leading US Based Manufacturer of DVD and CD Printing, and Publishing Systems, announced today support for Blu Ray Disc technology in its Nexis line of Disc Publishing Solutions. Starting at an MSRP of $ 2995.00, the Nexis Publisher is now available with BD write capability combined with DVD and CD formats in the same configuration. XLNT Idea will also offer an upgrade path to Users of current Nexis systems to BD technology. Users requiring BD technology for HD Video or high capacity content storage can now take advantage of XLNT Idea’s features and benefits, including highly reliable robotics, easy to use software, and most importantly lowest cost to print using non proprietary ink jet consumables.

"Since XLNT systems are based on 100% XLNT Idea IP, the implementation of BD technology was seamless for us," commented Dale K, XLNT’s VP of Engineering. "We look forward to supporting the next generation of 120 mm optical disc technology in all of our solutions moving forward."

Chuck Alcon Jr, XLNT’s Director of Sales and Marketing added, "Our customer base includes a wide variety of users that have been waiting for the end of the format wars, including event videographers, independent film makers, and more. Now we can offer them the best Blu Ray Disc Publishing Solution available today. Further, we see new opportunities for 120 mm optical disc that include storage applications for verticals including Health Care, Government, Legal / Financial and more. Most importantly, our value proposition remains the best in the industry for BD technology when you observe Cost of Ownership and XLNT Idea’s economical price points."

www.xlntidea.com

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Avid Unveils "New Thinking" for 2008

Avid Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVID) today announced that its Video division has unveiled "New Thinking" – a customer-focused campaign designed to improve the way the company connects with all of its users and prospects. Shaped by extensive customer feedback, New Thinking underscores the company’s more than 20-year commitment of empowering film and video professionals with tools that enable them to work more efficiently, productively and creatively. The new campaign revolves around four main objectives: increasing the value of Avid’s products, workflows, and services; advancing technical and customer support programs; investing in the community of media professionals; and fostering an open, two-way dialogue with customers. With a wide range of initiatives planned to roll out throughout the year, the company has today announced the following:

  • The consolidation of software editing applications – merging Avid Xpress Pro software into the Media Composer product line, with new lower pricing to increase the accessibility of Media Composer to a wider range of users. The company will offer existing Avid Xpress Pro customers a pathway to upgrade to Media Composer software;
  • New student pricing for Media Composer software – enabling any student at an accredited college or university with a valid student I.D. to purchase Media Composer software for $295 USMSRP;
  • A new online community – introducing new ways for industry professionals to access and share tips and tricks, demonstrations, tutorials and media content; as well as opportunities to connect with both Avid and industry peers; and,
  • Enhanced online customer support – delivering Avid® support customers easier access to more accurate and personalized answers to important product and service queries, 24/7, without having to call Customer Support.

"The launch of New Thinking represents the first in a series of important steps we’re taking to change the way we serve our customers," said Kirk Arnold, executive vice president and general manager of Avid Video. "Building on our rich history of innovation and leadership in the digital media production industry, we are shifting every aspect of our business to focus more explicitly on the needs of our customer community so that we can deliver new programs that offer greater relevance, appeal and value. Today is just the start of a longer-term effort to re-connect with customers and restore their confidence in our commitment to deliver what we promise."

Simplified Product Line, Greater Value
Based on feedback from customers to simplify the product line and make Avid’s industry-standard tools more accessible to a broader audience, the company has merged its Avid Xpress Pro software into its flagship Media Composer software product line and established a new price point of $2,495 USMSRP for Media Composer software. Customers who purchased Media Composer software at the prior $4,995 USMSRP price after January 1, 2008 are eligible to receive a credit towards future purchases.

Existing Avid Xpress Pro customers can upgrade to Media Composer software for $495 USMSRP. Avid will continue selling Avid Xpress Pro software through the end of Q2 2008, and offer support for the product through March 17, 2013. However, effective today, Avid will no longer sell support contracts or offer any further software upgrades for Avid Xpress Pro.

Additionally, students interested in owning Media Composer software can now purchase Media Composer Academic software for just $295 USMSRP, via their college bookstore or a local Avid academic reseller. To be eligible, students must attend a fully accredited academic institution and have a valid student ID.

A More Dynamic Community – By Customers, For Customers
As part of Avid’s commitment to the digital media production community, the company has launched a new online environment where customers can connect with peers, share ideas, contribute content and receive recognition for their contributions. The first phase of the launch includes a new interface, industry and Avid-authored blogs and customer-submitted tips, tricks and tutorials.

Over the next few months, the Avid Community will expand further to offer:

  • A video exchange – where customers can upload, share, rate, and comment on the work of their peers;
  • Community portfolios – which allow customers to create personalized pages to share bios, resumes, and samples of their work; A blog network – that presents the latest thinking on industry topics in one place;
  • Social networking features – that allow customers to interact and communicate more directly with one another from right within the Avid Community interface; and
  • A job marketplace – to help connect industry employers with talented customers who are looking for employment.

Advancing the Online Customer Support Experience

In an effort to begin enhancing its customer support programs, Avid has made a significant investment to improve the company’s important online support experience (announced today in a separate release.) Through a completely redesigned user-interface, customers can quickly get answers to technical questions on Avid.com. During the improvement process, Avid technical experts reviewed and updated more than 10,000 pieces of content with the goal of making it easier for customers to search for information and effectively resolve technical issues.

Fostering an Open, Two Way Dialogue with Customers
In addition to collecting information through ongoing customer meetings and surveys, Avid is establishing a number of initiatives designed to enable the company to regularly receive input from customers. During the NAB convention, scheduled for April 14 – 17, 2008, in Las Vegas, Avid has planned a number of customer meetings and appreciation events and will conduct a series of focus groups with users throughout the week.

To receive e-mail alerts about the latest New Thinking programs that Avid expects to roll out this year, visit http://www.avid.com/newthinking.

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Red Giant Software Announces Primatte Keyer 4

Red Giant Software is pleased to announce Primatte Keyer 4, which brings new levels of power and speed to After Effects, Avid and, for the first time, Final Cut Pro and Motion. Primatte Keyer 4 can create an almost-perfect key with just one mouse-click, overcoming keying challenges such as uneven lighting, compression artifacts, subtle shadows, and edge light contamination. Best of all, Primatte Keyer 4 now works right from the timeline.

Primatte Keyer works on hard to key DV and HDV material and the proven technology has been used on many big budget Hollywood productions such as Superman, The Aviator, X-Men, and Spiderman 2. This has made Primatte Keyer a favorite tool with filmmakers and production companies who want the same results but have smaller budgets.

What's New In Primatte Keyer 4:

Auto Setup
Users get the power of Primatte’s amazing quality, but with just one mouse-click. The new Auto Setup analyzes the background color and creates the key automatically.

Finish right in your editor—any editor
Final Cut Pro users can now create mattes right on the timeline without leaving their editing application. In addition, the Avid version now offers feature parity with After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Primatte Keyer 4 supports 32-bit processing (After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Motion) as well as 16-bit processing (Avid).

Advanced Compositing Controls
Exceptional light wrapping and color matching features create keys that guarantee images will look like they've always belonged on the background of your choice. For more detailed product information, visit http://redgiantsoftware.com.

Pricing and Availability
Primatte Keyer 4 is now available for $499 USD each. Upgrades are available from any previous version for $199.

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Digieffects Ships Damage

Digieffects, a developer of popular visual effects software plugins today announced that it shipped Damage, a new set of plugins for video and film post production professionals. Digieffects Damage is a collection of four effects designed for post production professionals who want to create an extensive variety of digital and/or analog defects, errors and artifacts in their footage. It supports Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Autodesk Combustion, and Boris RED.

"We designed the Damage package to be the most comprehensive set of tools for creating images that look affected by digital or analog artifacts available." said Digieffects President, Robert Sharp. According to Sharp, Damage is a unique product in the marketplace. No other plugin collection is dedicated to "damaging" a video clip." Damage includes the following effects:

  • Blockade: Video acquired by low fidelity devices like cellular phones and PDAs is becoming more commonplace. Blockade makes your clip look like it is highly compressed and being transmitted through a very bandwidth-limited pipe. Essential for simulating internet based micro cam display or personal video communication.
  • Artifact: Developed to create digital defects, Artifact simulates lost DCT blocks and frame dropping, most often seen when a digital video file suffers from corruption or a satellite feed is hampered by weather. Make sure you warn clients and your house engineer that it's only an effect...
  • Interference: If it's television you want, traditionally you'll need some sort of interlaced field scanning. Interference creates the look of interlaced video fields, even on progressive footage or still images, adding noise, colorization and offset separately for each field.
  • Skew: The never-ending quest to aim the rabbit ears so that the television show looks as good once you're in your chair as it did when your hands were attached to the antenna is fast fading into the lore of old... That valuable (if under-appreciated) look is preserved in Skew. Uniquely analog/broadcast image badness like noise, image shearing, ghosts... it's all there.

Damage has a retail price of $99 and is available immediately from Digieffects and its resellers.

www.digiteffects.com

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Plustek Expands Its Opticfilm Scanner Line With New Models

Plustek Technology Inc., a manufacturer of consumer, prosumer and professional imaging devices, today announced an extension to their award-winning OpticFilm line of scanners. The new models include the OpticFilm 7300, the OpticFilm 7500i SE and the OpticFilm 7500i AI. These consumer scanners are designed to take existing slides and convert them (using professional-grade resolution) into brilliant, high-quality digital images – ideal for home users as well as photographers and small office/workshops.

Improvements over previous models include a new four-scan multi-sampling and multi-exposure engine designed to replicate every nuance of a slide image in exquisite detail. In addition, the 7500i models take image quality a step further by incorporating SilverFast’s Infrared Smart Removal of Defects (iSRD) technology, providing an additional infrared scanning channel, on top of the standard scan channels, to remove any defects on the surface of the film in the scanned image. A high-tech hardware enhancement, the SilverFast iSRD automatically eliminates the appearance of grime and visually fills in scratches for near-perfect scans. The premier model, the OpticFilm 7500i AI also includes 35mm IT8 calibration for the ultimate in professional results. The OpticFilm 7300 is priced at $289 with the OpticFilm 7500i SE and 7500i AI priced at $399 and $589, respectively.

Powered by high-speed USB 2.0, the OpticFilm models are among the highest resolution film scanners on the market (7200x7200 dpi) in a consumer device. At this resolution and speed even the smallest slide details are scanned with brilliant quality and the built-in iSRD (in the 7500i models) allows for unprecedented professional quality – at home or in the office. The scanners are able to generate an uncompressed picture file (48-bit color depth) that is 800 MB or larger or equal to about a 75-megapixel resolution digital camera (to match traditional 135mm film quality, a "digital camera needs at least 24-mega-pixel CCD capability" according to Erwin Puts, The Missing Link Between Digital and Analog).

Sales/Purchase The new OpticFilm models will be available in April. Plustek products can be purchased through their distribution channel via D&H, Ingram Micro, and other major DMRs and e-tailers such as PC Mall, NewEgg, Tiger Direct, Amazon and Buy.com.

www.plustek.com

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