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Streaming Media
January 13, 2004

Table of Contents

Pinnacle Systems Debuts Studio 9
Sonic Debuts AuthorScript 5.5
Nero 6 Update Now Included with Philips Jack Rabbit 4
NewSoft Demonstrates Presto! DVD PowerSuite at CES
Sorenson Media to Support RealNetworks' Real 10
Kano Intros First Double-Sided (DS) DVD+R Media
Sonic and Microsoft Enable High-definition DVD Authoring Using Windows Media 9
Canon Rolls Out ZR Series Mini DV Camcorders
Seeing Double: Verbatim Announces DVD+R DL Media at CES

Pinnacle Systems Debuts Studio 9

Pinnacle Systems , Inc. has announced the release of Pinnacle Studio 9, the next generation of its family home movie-making hardware and software targeted at camcorder owners who want to quickly and easily create and share entertaining home movies. New features for Studio 9 solutions include automatic editing capabilities and one-touch controls for improving old or damaged video. Studio 9 debuts new creative options including audio tools for producing home cinema-quality movies and support for third party developers to incorporate their audio and video plug-ins.

Pinnacle worked with Intel to take advantage of the Intel Pentium 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology and has delivered an array of new features to restore, enhance, and improve video footage. Studio 9 also features SmartMovie, an automatic movie creator. Users select raw video footage, add a song for a soundtrack, and choose an editing style for their finished movie. With one click, Studio will create a movie with titles, transitions, and special effects, all synchronized to the beat and duration of the music.

Studio 9 gives users a suite of new audio and video enhancement features that restore and enhance video and audio in a number of ways. These include automatic color-correction that rescues poorly lit footage or brightens old movies before burning to DVD; image stabilization which steadies shaky footage; video cleaning tools to remove snow and video noise often seen on older analog tapes; and noise reduction tools that give users the ability to remove background noises, such as wind, from the finished movie. Studio 9's open architecture provides support for third party developers to incorporate their video and audio plug-ins, which over time will extend users' creative options.

Other features include surround-sound, giving users a control to place, or move, the movie's audio elements within the surround sound space. Consumers who shoot video in widescreen (16:9) can edit and export their movies for widescreen playback.

Pinnacle Studio version 9 is expected to be available in US retail outlets such as Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Gateway, Fry's Electronics and MicroCenter in February for a suggested retail price of US $99. Pinnacle will offer a family of hardware/software solutions featuring Studio 9 bundled with a variety of analog and digital video capture devices. Special introductory upgrade pricing is also available for Studio 8 owners.

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Sonic Debuts AuthorScript 5.5

Sonic Solutions has debuted Sonic AuthorScript 5.5, the latest version of the engine for the creation and burning of DVD, Video CD, and CD-Audio discs on PCs and CE devices. Designed to enable developers of PC applications and CE devices to add optical media output, as well as video and audio playback, encoding, and transcoding to their products, Sonic AuthorScript 5.5 adds new features for photo slideshow creation and advanced DVD menu design and navigation. The new version of Sonic AuthorScript will be available on January 15, 2004.

Key features of AuthorScript 5.5 include:

  • DVD remote control button interface - Project authors now have full control over DVD navigation with menu and up/down/left/right buttons on the remote controller, including the ability to override AuthorScript's automatic button connection feature.
  • Multiple DVD styles per project - Developers can now create applications that contain different styles for various DVD or VCD menus in a project. This allows end users to make discs that can be further customized to their needs and are easier to navigate.
  • JumpAnywhere technology - Now available in both style-based menus and custom menus, JumpAnywhere enables the creation of sophisticated DVD navigation with a single menu button selection.
  • Photo slideshow presentation - Project authors can now link directly to any slide in a slideshow, improving photo browsing flexibility. And AuthorScript 5.5 incorporates a new plug-in transitions SDK that expands the number and types of inter-slide transitions available for slideshow playback.
  • Dolby Digital consumer encoding - AC-3 encoding and 24-bit PCM audio support is now available from within AuthorScript.
  • Enhanced security - With stronger type and error checking, along with added protection against thread re-entrancy, AuthorScript improves application security.
  • Edit-in-place - New API calls provide access to AuthorScript's OpenDVD disc editing feature, enabling the content of +RW discs to be edited without requiring a full rip-and-burn of the entire disc, saving time and hard disk space.

The AuthorScript 5.5 SDK (Software Developer's Kit) is available immediately to developers looking to add DVD/CD creation capabilities to their applications. For additional information, developers can email or call 415-893-8000.

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Nero 6 Update Now Included with Philips Jack Rabbit 4

Ahead Software has announced that their DVD/CD recording software, Nero 6, will now be bundled with Philips' portable DVD burner, Jack Rabbit 4. The Philips Jack Rabbit 4 is the first product to be sold with the updated Nero 6 OEM suite including the DVD authoring tool NeroVision Express, the DVD-playback software Nero ShowTime, Nero Recode 2, ahead's DVD re-quantizer and transcoder. Powered by Nero Digital, Ahead's MPEG-4 video and HE AAC audio solution, Recode 2 can re-author, copy, re-process and recode MPEG-2 streams, (DVD-9 to DVD-5), and transcode "non-protected" DVD movies or DVD folders keeping chapters, sub-titles, and surround sound audio.

The Jack Rabbit 4 provides DVD+R/RW recording to mobile PC users. The Jack Rabbit 4 is also capable of burning CD-RW and CD-R discs, as well as playing back DVD-Video, DVD-ROM and audio CDs (including MP3 CDs).

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NewSoft Demonstrates Presto! DVD PowerSuite at CES

NewSoft, a leading provider of innovative business and consumer software, has introduced a new video editing and DVD burning solution, Presto! DVD PowerSuite version 1.0, demo'd at CES 2004. During CES, NewSoft also unveiled a number of enhancements and two applets that will be made available as free downloads for PowerSuite customers from the company's Web site in February. With the new update, NewSoft customers will experience markedly faster MPEG-2 conversion speed, accelerated rendering, improved performance, quality and the added bonus of real-time, on-the-fly burning, according to the company.

NewSoft is also debuting two free applets, Ez-Picture and CD Labeler, which will also be available for free download to PowerSuite users from the NewSoft Web site. After download, icons for each will then be displayed on the PowerSuite menu for quick and easy access. Ez-Picture provides consumers with the ability to edit and crop their digital photo images before printing, sending or importing the images into their other artistically inspired projects. Features include tools to reduce redeye; light, color, and image correctors; hand editing tools to remove or correct objects; and more. CD Labeler enables customers to personalize their CD and DVD projects. After creating a disc label, users can print to any standard media label using any printer.

NewSoft is also demonstrating a third applet, Music Converter at the DVD Alliance Pavilion, which will enable Presto! DVD PowerSuite customers to cross-convert their music files between WMA, WAV, MP3, OGG, and Music CD formats. Pricing on the Music Converter applet, which will also be available for download from the NewSoft Web site in February, is still being determined.

The PowerSuite provides full video capture capabilities with real-time MPEG-2 encoding to all leading video file formats that can be burned to discs on the fly. Users can capture raw video footage directly to DVD±RW or DVD-RAM for immediate direct-to-disc editing, and even inexperienced users can add still or motion menu templates, titles, transitions, effects, background music, and DVD menus. The PowerSuite offers Real-time Preview enabling users to preview edits and revisions without rendering.

Presto! DVD PowerSuite can also be used to burn data, music, or simply make a personal back-up copy of non-copyright protected CDs and DVDs. A video editing tool and a media player are also included with a storyboard feature and an advanced mode with five separate timeline tracks. Presto! DVD PowerSuite also includes a built-in DVD Player with all common DVD functions as well as the ability to create playlists and set parental controls. Presto! DVD PowerSuite supports DVD±R/RW, DVD-Video, DVD+VR, DVD-VR, and CD formats.

Compatible with Windows 98SE/Me/2000 and XP operating systems, boxed copies of NewSoft's Presto! DVD PowerSuite are now available through the NewSoft Web site for $69.95.

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Sorenson Media to Support RealNetworks' Real 10

Sorenson Media has announced that it will include RealNetworks' newest technologies, RealAudio and RealVideo 10, in its upcoming release of Sorenson Squeeze Compression Suite. RealAudio 10 and RealVideo 10 are part of RealNetworks' new Real 10 platform for creating, protecting, and playing digital audio and video on PCs, consumer electronics, and mobile devices.

Sorenson Media has provided authoring tools for past RealNetworks' products through the Sorenson Squeeze 3 Compression Suite. With its single interface for processing and encoding video for Web and CD delivery, Sorenson Squeeze 3 integrates into the video editing and multimedia production workflow, and is designed to speed up the encoding process and outputting high-quality video in popular delivery formats including RealMedia.

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Kano Intros First Double-Sided (DS) DVD+R Media

Kano Technologies has introduced Kano ArchivMedia DVD+R double-sided (DS) media. Kano teamed with Verbatim to develop ArchivMedia DVD+R DS media for use with Kano XFiniti optical libraries. (Double-sided DVD-R debuted years ago for use with flipper-equipped Pioneer DVD-R libraries.) The media is also designed for compatibility with DVD players and drives.

ArchivMedia will be manufactured by Verbatim for Kano. All ArchivMedia DVD+R DS media is inspected and checked for defects prior to packaging and is backed with a limited lifetime guarantee.

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Sonic and Microsoft Enable High-definition DVD Authoring Using Windows Media 9

Sonic Solutions and Microsoft Corporation are developing new production tools that will allow film studios and production facilities to create high-definition DVD titles in Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series. DVD titles created using Windows Media Video 9 (WMV HD), a component of the Windows Media 9 Series platform, provide superior image quality at data rates comparable to standard-definition DVD video content. WMV HD titles can be played on the latest-generation Windows XP-based PCs, including the Windows XP Media Center Edition which integrates into the living room to provide home entertainment and online computing. Sonic plans to ship its WMV HD authoring system in May 2004.

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Canon Rolls Out ZR Series Mini DV Camcorders

Canon's three new digital camcorders, the ZR80, ZR85 and ZR90 models, pack advanced features into a compact design. Focused on creating a series of consumer-friendly Mini DV camcorders, Canon has added an array of new features to the ZR line that help to enhance the first-time user's experience. Enhancements found in the ZR80 (MSRP $399), ZR85 (MSRP $499), and ZR90 (MSRP $599) digital camcorders include skin detail mode, extended battery life, an end search feature, M-JPEG recording to SD (ZR90 and ZR85 only), video transfer from MiniDV tape to SD, still image capture to SD, simultaneous photo recording, selectable focus points, selectable display languages, and "My Camcorder" feature for start-up screen customization.

The new ZR camcorders an optical zoom range among the longest in their class: 18X on the ZR80, 20X on the ZR85 and 22X on the ZR90. The ZR80 boasts a 360x digital zoom, while the ZR85 features 400x and the ZR90, 440x. The ZR camcorders also feature high quality image stabilization and an automatic slow shutter speed ranging from 1/30 to 1/500 for low light shooting. Also included is a night mode setting that automatically selects a slow shutter speed and increases the sensitivity of the camcorders' CCD, permitting extreme low-light shooting and a brighter image without sacrificing color, according to Canon.

With a 22x Canon optical/440x digital zoom lens, the ZR90 Mini DV Camcorder features Super Night Mode and Night + Mode (selected from the camera's menu). This set of additional low-light shooting options enhances the camera's image sensitivity and capture capability. Augmenting the Night Mode setting found on the ZR80 and ZR85 models, Super Night Mode actually adds light to a dark scene as needed with an unobtrusive white LED light positioned on the front of the camera. When the Super Night Mode setting is engaged the LED light automatically turns on and off as needed. Similar to Super Night Mode, Night + Mode allows the user to turn on the white LED light and keep it at her discretion.

The ZR90 Mini DV camcorder also features S-Video In/Out capability and a supplied WA-30.5 Wide Conversion Attachment. Particularly useful when shooting in tight spaces or when very close to a subject, the Wide Conversion Attachment expands the camcorder's field of view from 54mm to a wide 32mm. In the photo mode, the wide attachment expands the field of view from 48mm to 29mm.

The ZR series Mini DV camcorders feature a 2.5" LCD Screen, a Color Viewfinder, an IEEE 1394 terminal, an assortment of digital effects and fades, and a seven-setting Program AE function that offers a choice of Easy Recording, Auto, Sports, Portraits, Sand & Snow, Low-Light and Night shooting modes. All three models ship with a battery pack (BP508) a compact power adapter (CA-570) and a shoulder strap (SS-900).

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Seeing Double: Verbatim Announces DVD+R DL Media at CES

At CES 2004, Verbatim Corporation became the first DVD media manufacturer to announce dual-layer DVD+R media. The new subset of Verbatim's longstanding DataLifePlus line conforms to the DVD+R DL standard developed by Philips and Verbatim parent Mitsubishi, and endorsed by the DVD+RW Alliance at CEATEC Japan in October 2003. It promises an 8.5GB capacity (equal to replicated DVD-9), and is certified for 2.4X recording.

Verbatim's target launch date for the media is spring 2004, and they expect that date to coincide with the availability of new recorders capable of writing dual-layer discs in DVD+R DL format. According to Verbatim, the discs will require no adjustment to existing DVD players or DVD-ROM drives to read DVD-Video content written to the DL media. Since all DVD readers (set-top and ROM) are designed to read dual-layer discs, given the preponderance of Hollywood titles on DVD-9, read lasers should be physically equipped to re-focus and "see" both layers of data.

As is typical of new media rollouts—usually when need speed thresholds are crossed—the DL discs are not likely to be available in volume at their initial release date. "There will be an allocation issue for at least a quarter," says Verbatim representative Andy Marken. "Pricing will be at a premium" compared to single-layer DVD+R media, Marken says, "but not by much. The media will go through the regular channels, and there is no reason we shouldn't be able to ship it in spindle quantity after the supply crunch eases."

The first recording layer of a Verbatim DVD+R DL disc is semi-transparent, providing sufficient reflectivity for drives to read/write data on the first layer and transmit enough laser power to read/ write on the second layer by refocusing the laser. In addition to optimizing laser reflectivity, the new Metal Azo recording dyes were developed by Mitsubishi for each layer to optimize parameters such as signal amplitudes and power margins and ensure full compatibility with current DVD standards.

But "standards" compatibility doesn't necessarily mean "player" compatibility. As with all recording media—and especially with the ever-expanding matrix of drives and player—100% compatibility is never guaranteed. According to Marken, compatibility testing will continue over the next two months to ensure the discs will play on as many drives and players as possible. "Compatibility was a top priority in developing our Double-Layer media," says Tim Clatterbuck, Verbatim director of optical storage marketing. "Content developers will be among the first to make the switch because multimedia and video files require so much capacity. They can increase their productivity with the 8.5GB DVD+R media without worrying about playback compatibility. It will be the same as 4.7GB discs, just more capacity."

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