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Streaming Media
November 11, 2003

Table of Contents

Verbatim to Deliver 8X DVD+R Media
Sorenson Releases Video 3.3 Pro Update for Mac OS X Panther
Media 100 Announces Mac G5 and Panther Support
Intervideo’s LinDVD Selected for Pioneer DVD Recorders
Helius Announces MediaStream Encoder for Video Broadcasting
DivX Video Compression 5.1 Available for Mac Users
Canto Announces Cumulus 6 Single User Edition
SmartSound Unveils Quicktracks for Premiere Pro
Entertainment Technology World Chicago: Everybody’s in Showbiz

Verbatim to Deliver 8X DVD+R Media

Verbatim Corporation announced that it will begin shipping 8X-speed DataLifePlus 4.7GB DVD+R media this month as higher-speed DVD multi-format burners become widely available. At 8X speed, a 4.7GB DVD+R disc can be filled to capacity in less than 10 minutes. Verbatim 8x DVD+R media has been tested and approved by major original equipment manufacturers of 8X burners such as BenQ, LiteOn, NEC, and Plextor, as well as for the 8X DVD+R burners announced by HP, Philips and Dell.

The new 8X DVD+R media is manufactured utilizing Verbatim's proprietary Ultra-Precise Molding (UPM) technology. With UPM, the deflection or tilt of the substrate is minimized so the media spins smoothly at high speeds, regardless of the type of drive. Stable rotation at high-speeds is critical to eliminate the possibility of data errors during the read/write processes. Verbatim DataLifePlus 8X DVD+R media has an estimated street price of $3.99 and will be available through authorized resellers and the Verbatim web site in November.

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Sorenson Releases Video 3.3 Pro Update for Mac OS X Panther

Sorenson Media announced an update to the Macintosh version of the Sorenson Video 3.1 Pro video codec. The Sorenson Video 3.3 Pro video codec addresses a compatibility issue with Apple's Mac OS X Panther. During Panther pre-release testing, the Sorenson Video 3 Pro codec was not listed within the Apple QuickTime codec options; however, the 3.3 update resolves this compatibility issue.

Sorenson Squeeze 3 Compression Suite and Sorenson Video 3.1 Macintosh customers are able to download the free Sorenson Video 3.3 Pro video codec update today by visiting 

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Media 100 Announces Mac G5 and Panther Support

Media 100 Inc., a leading developer of advanced media systems, announced Media 100 i Version 8.2.1 software, featuring support for the new Power Mac G5 platform from Apple, as well as the new Panther release of Mac OS X, also known as Mac OS X version 10.3. Media 100 systems with the new Media 100 i Version 8.2.1 software are set for shipping in November.

Recently Media 100 began shipments of the OS X-native Media 100 i Version 8.2 software, expanding the Media 100 i toolsets for editing, effects design, audio design, and media management. In addition, Version 8.2 gives Media 100 i editors tighter integration with 844/X, the Company's real-time, online vertical editing system. The Version 8.2.1 software release is expected to be available by the end of November 2003. All current customers that own Version 8.2 software will be able to download Version 8.2.1 from the Media 100 web site for free.

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Intervideo’s LinDVD Selected for Pioneer DVD Recorders

InterVideo, Inc. announced that LinDVD, the Linux version of its WinDVD video player software, is incorporated with Pioneer Electronics' new DVR-57H and DVR-810H-S DVD Recorders, the first DVD Recorders equipped with TiVo service. LinDVD is a stable software technology that allows PC and consumer electronics users to play all of the different tracks on a DVD, skip chapters, fast forward, backward, pause, enjoy different camera angles, etc.

InterVideo's experience in developing WinDVD and LinDVD, the first legal PC DVD software for the Linux operating system, enabled the company to provide Pioneer with powerful DVD player/decoder software that delivers the highest-quality playback. Rigorously tested, LinDVD also provides broad compatibility.

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Helius Announces MediaStream Encoder for Video Broadcasting

Helius Inc., a leader in business class data broadcasting solutions, today announced the availability of the Helius MediaStream Encoder. The Helius MediaStream Encoder enables the multicast distribution of live or pre-recorded source video at a fraction of the cost of comparable products. This second-generation product is available to customers through Helius Strategic Channel partners or directly from Helius' Web site. The Helius MediaStream Encoder provides a mid-market MPEG solution for businesses, schools and other organizations that want to incorporate multicasting services on their network.

The Helius MediaStream Encoder converts audio and video sources such as DVD players, VCRs and video cameras into MPEG format. Data is then distributed via local area network to the desktop where it can be viewed using Helius MediaStream Player or any industry standard MPEG player. This solution improves the delivery of distance learning and other high-quality data delivery applications at an exceptional price-to-value relationship. Priced at $3,995, the Helius MediaStream Encoder is an affordable solution for organizations of all sizes. As an introductory promotion, Helius is offering 10 MediaStream Player software clients to customers who purchase a Helius MediaStream Encoder before Nov. 30, 2003.

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DivX Video Compression 5.1 Available for Mac Users

DivXNetworks Inc. today announced the release of DivX for Mac 5.1. The newest Mac version of the patent-pending DivX video compression technology, DivX for Mac 5.1 offers significant improvements in speed, performance, and visual quality. The new DivX release brings the same improvements in performance and visual quality to the Mac platform that the recently released DivX for Windows 5.1 release brought to Windows users.

New features and optimizations in DivX for Mac 5.1 include:
• New Feedback Mode — This new feature displays visual feedback and technical information to the user, providing more precise control over the compression of video.
• New Psychovisual Modeling — Improved psychovisual modeling enables better compression and more precise encoding through texture cortex masking, speed optimization and more.
• Two New High-Quality Modes — New high-quality encoding modes with improved B-frame support and improved motion estimation for higher visual quality.

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Canto Announces Cumulus 6 Single User Edition

Canto, a leader in Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions, announced Cumulus 6 Single User Edition. Expected to ship in December, this is the first version of Canto's single-user application supporting Apple's Mac OS X. Cumulus 6 Single User Edition offers many new features and improvements that simplifiy the user's daily work when managing assets. Now all assets can be managed and accessed in one window. Also, an extra keyword list and the asset location can be displayed in addition to the categories.

In Cumulus 6, users can easily switch between different views with preconfigured View Sets and even display the information they find relevant regarding to format or task. Cumulus 6 also offers Asset Handling Sets for optimized handling of different formats. These preconfigured sets can be edited by the user. Under both Mac OS X and Windows Cumulus now features a toolbar with the most important functions such as Quicksearch. The toolbar layout has been adapted to that of Canto¹s Internet solutions. The menu structure has been simplified, with a new central settings dialog being the most apparent change. Cumulus 6 Single User Edition is set for release in December 2003. Versions for Mac OS X and Windows will be offered. Upgrades will be offered for existing installations.

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SmartSound Unveils Quicktracks for Premiere Pro

SmartSound Software, Inc., a leading provider of soundtrack creation technology for visual content creators, announced the launch of Quicktracks for Premiere Pro, a plug-in which automatically creates custom-fit soundtracks for users of the Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software.

Priced at $99.95, SmartSound's Quicktracks for Premiere Pro improves on the SmartSound soundtrack creation tools included in previous versions of Premiere. It includes a way to access music tracks for use in soundtrack creation that debuted with SmartSound's recent Sonicfire Pro 3.0 product. Quicktracks for Premiere Pro comes with 23 pieces of royalty-free music that span a broad range of musical styles and moods. New features not only gives users powerful search capabilities to find the right piece of music, but the software also accesses the Internet to let users preview any of the more than 1,000 tracks in the SmartSound music library. If a user finds a perfect track for their project, they can purchase it for $19.95 and download it for immediate use.

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Entertainment Technology World Chicago: Everybody’s in Showbiz

Ever since late 2001, it's been de rigueur when talking about trade shows to focus on the numbers, and at virtually every show for the last two years, those numbers—whether you're talking square footage, attendance, or revenue—have been down. So it'd be easy to spin the story of Entertainment Technology World (ETW), held in Chicago November 6-9, into a by-the-numbers tale.

But that would be missing the point. Sure, ETW—new owner Mindshare Ventures' combination of the venerable ShowBiz Expo, which has 20 years under its belt in Los Angeles, and L.A. Digital—fell short of attendance predictions for its inaugural Windy City event, with 3,500 registrants as of the end of Friday. And with just over 100 exhibitors and sponsors, it certainly lacked the visceral punch of some of the shows we're used to attending on the coasts. (Note to Mindshare: The dimly lit confines of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center didn't help matters any.)

Still, you couldn't help but wonder if this ETW represented the brave new world of trade shows, where bigger isn't always better, and you've got to go to the people rather than expecting them to come to you. Even if the expo was short on new product announcements, it offered a conference program and keynotes that, frankly, boasted more appeal than those at some of the bigger shows we've been to in 2003. Judging from the cities and organizations on the badges—lots of indie filmmakers, colleges, and small post houses—ETW furnished something else those big shows can't: The chance for folks on the Third Coast, not to mention points north and south, to get an up-close look at the latest in cameras and post-production tools without having to fly halfway across the country.

Pinnacle was there, with hands-on demos of Liquid Edition sponsored by Syntax Media, a Chicago firm combines the functions of reseller, trainer, and post-production facility, as well as offering their own software, a nifty little program called M2CD, which creates autorun presentations on CD and DVD. Syntax also trains on Canopus Edius and Adobe Premiere, both of which were represented at the show with well-attended demo booths.

Avid also was on hand with the show's only major product announcement, a new version of the company's Xpress DV software that retails for $695, a marked decrease from the last version, which was introduced in late 2002 for $1,699. The Xpress DV bundle includes Boris Graffiti LTD, Sorenson Squeeze 3 Lite, and Sonic's DVDit! SE. Unlike the latest version of Adobe Premiere, Xpress DV is still compatible with both Windows and Mac machines, and ships with both Mac and Windows versions in the same box.

ETW offered the first trade show look at Primera's Accent Disc Laminator, which offers glossy or matte coatings on top of its color inkjet CD and DVD printing. Though the Primera booth didn't have a working Accent unit, the Accent demo discs looked snazzy indeed; even the matte laminate enhances contrast and makes the underlying colors more vibrant, and the holographic effect allows the addition of an unobtrusive but clear corporate logo on top of the actual printing. As for Primera's flaghship product, the Bravo Disc Publisher, central marketing rep Chris Lange said that the Mac-compatible version, introduced at the January 2003 MacWorld, has been an unqualified success. "For a while there, sales of the Mac product were far and away outpacing the PC version," Lange says. "Even now, we're selling about 50/50 Mac and PC."

Focus on 3D
If you walked away learning anything from ETW, it was likely that 3D effects and animation are the next frontier that editors and compositors are eager to explore. "More and more customers are coming to us looking for 3D training," says Syntax Media marketing director Sharon Wagner, and her sentiments were echoed across the show floor. Boris FX and Apple Shake 3 drew big crowds for demos of their compositing tools, but there were surprisingly few 3D animation tools on hand to take advantage of the growing market. Alias stood out with its Maya 5.0, the only professional-level 3D software on the floor.

The lack of mid- or high-end 3D tools just meant more traffic for some entry-level alternatives, like Hash, Inc.'s Animation Master, a spline-based modeling and animation tool that gives hobbyists and prosumers entry into the 3D world for $299. While not as full-featured as Maya (or, for that matter, absentees like Discreet's 3ds max and NewTek's Lightwave 3D), the tool has plenty to offer at a low-budget price.

Equally impressive was Wondertouch's particleIllusion, a 2D tool that achieves 3D looks with its sprite-based particle effects. "Some people are still hesitant to make the leap to 3D," says Wondertouch president and founder Alan Lorence, who took over the product he designed from its former distributor, Impulse, in July 2002. "The people who use particleIllusion are usually creative types who are visual-minded, not programmers." Though the software's been used on TV shows and feature films—including Smallville and Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as for the collapsing dam sequence in X2: X-Men United—it offers the ability to change settings with the drag of a mouse, making it ideal for hobbyists. Plus, since it's only 2D, it renders in near-real time.

DV, DVD, and Beyond
Conference sessions included tracks focusing on everything from digital video production and event videography "bootcamps" to two-day Final Cut Pro and After Effects users conferences, while the keynotes ran the gamut from "Building a Top-Notch Corporate Digital Video Department" to "Editing The Sopranos."

Two highlights demonstrate the range that ETW tried to cover. On the technical side was a 75-minute session called "Solving the Mysteries of Competing DVD Formats" presented by Maxell director of technology Rich D'Ambrise. Most of what he had to say is old news to EMedia readers, but for the standing-room only crowd, D'Ambrise offered a concise, clear breakdown of the history of the format, as well as suggesting direction for the future.

Most notably, perhaps, he predicted that media and hardware manufacturers will finally achieve the long-elusive 100% disc-player compatibility by spring of 2004. When asked about the latest technology, dual-layer recording, D'Ambrise didn't mince words. "I have my doubts that we'll see much dual-layer recording at all, much less rewritable dual-layer recording," he says. "People aren't going to want to invest in the hardware just to double capacity."

As for future formats that he thought might fare better, D'Ambrise pointed to the 27GB BluRay, introduced earlier this year by Sony in Japan, and the 20GB Advanced Optical Disc that D'Ambrise says Toshiba, Maxell, and NEC will introduce shortly, Currently, Maxell is working on a format called High-Speed Write Once, a 200GB-per-side disc with a 400Mbps transfer rate that D'Ambrise says will be able to store pure high-definition content. He also said Maxell is working on the Mammos format, a 50GB, 50Mpbs high-end magneto-optical disc. He predicts both formats will come to market in late 2004 or early 2005.

On the creative side, filmmaker Albert Maysles gave an inspiring keynote on "Documentaries: Handheld and From the Heart." Best-known for Gimme Shelter, the documentary he shot with his brother David at the Rolling Stones' ill-fated 1969 concert at Altamont Speedway in 1969—during which Hell's Angels beat to death an 18-year-old black fan—Maysles talked about the need for filmmakers to let stories tell themselves rather than imposing an auteur's will upon the content. "Michael Moore is a terrible documentary filmmaker," Maysles said. "He doesn't want anything in his films to question the merit of his original propositions. That's outrageous. That's not knowledge, that's prejudice. What is knowledge if it's not truthful?"

Maysles acknowledged that the biggest problem facing documentary filmmakers has always been distribution; even as a widely known practitioner of the art, he rarely gets his films shown on television. But he looks to DVD as the savior of the genre, letting fimmakers get their stories out cheaply through self-distribution.

While Maysles' talk was mostly a refreshing combination of cynicism about the current state of entertainment affairs and romanticism about its untapped possibilities, even he wasn't immune from getting down to the nuts and bolts of technology. "So what if the image in DV isn't quite as good as in film?" he says, adding that he shoots everything now with a Sony DSR PD-150 that he loves for its manual zoom. "That kind of quality isn't need for a documentary, so it's just not worth the sacrifices of using film."

Maysles recently shot a documentary of the Dalai Lama's visit to New York in September. His favorite sequence in the movie, he says, was one that would have been unthinkable had he been shooting on film. "I went in to shoot the Dalai Lama's daily meditation at 5 a.m., and was told that I'd probably have to turn some lights on," Maysles recalls, cringing at the thought of intruding on the holy man's sacred time. "I just smiled and thought, ‘Not with DV I won't.'"

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