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Streaming Media
January 30, 2004

Table of Contents

Discreet Ships combustion 3 for Mac
Pinnacle Systems, Inc. Ships Medea Corporation's StreamRAID Disk Arrays
SanDisk Ships First Production 1GB SD Card
Kano Bundles Storfirst With X-Finiti 200-Disc DVD+RW Libraries
Optibase Introduces VideoPlex HD
Xerox-Branded Displays Series Available From Tech Data
Miranda Launches PresStation HD/SD
DNF Controls Debuts VTR \Module for its Flex Control Network Product Line
The Moving Picture: Adventures in Extreme DVD Making

Discreet Ships combustion 3 for Mac

Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc. is shipping combustion 3 for Apple Macintosh. Unveiled at Macworld San Francisco earlier this month, combustion 3 for Macintosh software is the latest version of Discreet's motion graphics, vector paint, visual effects, and 3D compositing desktop software. Key features include Editing Operator, Flash, and RE:Flex warper and morpher.

Additional new features and notable enhancements in combustion 3 software include: customizable brushes, savable presets, timeline markers and more. Discreet also continues to work directly with plug-in developers to ensure advanced support of numerous plug-ins including superior integration with various Adobe After Effects(R) plug-ins.

combustion 3 for Mac software is available for purchase at a suggested retail price of $995. Upgrade price from combustion 2 or combustion 2.1 is US $199. combustion 3 for Windows is also available and shipping.

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Pinnacle Systems, Inc. Ships Medea Corporation's StreamRAID Disk Arrays

Medea Corporation, a leading manufacturer of ATA-based RAID solutions for digital content creation, nearline, and streaming media applications, has announced that a customized version of the company's StreamRAID disk storage array is being shipped by Pinnacle Systems, Inc. with their MediaStream line of 24/7 on-air video servers.

Deliveries of StreamRAID product to Pinnacle Systems, Inc. commenced in mid-2003.

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SanDisk Ships First Production 1GB SD Card

SanDisk Corporation is shipping the world's first production 1GB Secure Digital (SD) flash card, which contains "stackable" packaging technology jointly implemented with Sharp Corporation of Japan. This new package employs a low-cost, high-yielding die-stacking process that is designed to enable SanDisk to double the memory capacity without increasing the size of the card, thus launching a new generation of competitively-priced, higher-density flash devices that can store unprecedented amounts of pictures, music and video.

With a suggested retail price of $499.99, the 1GB SD card has the capacity to store more than 30 hours of digitally compressed music, 1,000 high-resolution digital images, and over five hours of MPEG-4 compressed video.

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Kano Bundles Storfirst With X-Finiti 200-Disc DVD+RW Libraries

Kano Technologies is now bundling StorFirst Enterprise Archival Storage (EAS) with Kano X-Finiti 200-disc, rack-mountable DVD+RW/R libraries. >From Seven Ten Storage Software, StorFirst EAS allows users to write and rewrite to DVD+RW as they would to a hard drive. EAS allows IT administrators to manage data from its point of origin to deletion.

StorFirst EAS allows an IT administrator to set up "policies" that completely automate storage. When a user hits the save key, the policies determine whether the data will be saved on highly available hard disk or archived securely on the X-Finiti library. Users make no decisions--and transactions are completely transparent to them. Clients simply see an infinite expansion of disk space available to them.

X-Finiti Model RW200 features two-to-four Kano DVD+RW/R drives mounted in the Kano BA-200 library system manufactured by Kubota Comps Corporation of Japan, a leading manufacturer of optical-storage libraries. Although StorFirst EAS is available for bundling into other systems, Kano has exclusive rights to bundle it with Kubota DVD library systems.

With single-sided DVD+RW media, the X-Finiti's 200-disc configuration provides 940GB of data storage. With Kano's double-sided DVD+R media, however, it offers a capacity of 2TB. X-Finiti 200-disc libraries are scalable and, with a rack-mountable 7U chassis and SCSI-2 interface, up to three libraries can be daisy-chained together. The X-Finiti bundled with StorFirst EAS is available now at a starting price of $12,500.

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Optibase Introduces VideoPlex HD

Optibase, Ltd., a leader in digital video encoding and streaming solutions, has introduced of a new product family of High Definition (HD) PCI decoders, VideoPlex HD. The extension of Optibase's line of video playback solutions to encompass HD is a result of collaboration between Optibase and MikroM Technologies to create HD PCI decoding platforms, which Optibase will distribute, exclusively worldwide.

VideoPlex HD is designed to enable playback of High Definition MPEG-2 video streams. Supporting all 18 ATSC formats, VideoPlex HD is ideally suited for high-quality professional broadcasting and corporate video applications such as advertising, Point of Sale, digital cinema, and high-resolution presentations.

With the ability to work cross-platform, VideoPlex HD products support multiple HD video standards such as 1080i or 720p, various audio formats and standard frame rates including 24fps. It is also available with a software development kit (SDK), which offers developers and system integrators easy integration into a multitude of digital video applications.

VideoPlex HD is available for shipment with either DVI or SDI outputs.

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Xerox-Branded Displays Series Available From Tech Data

The Xerox-branded Displays series of flat-panel monitors is now available from Tech Data Corporation, a leading worldwide provider of IT products, logistics management and other value-added services. Tech Data will initially sell Xerox Displays to U.S. and Canadian resellers. Xerox Corporation's initial entry into the monitor segment features an affordable selection of 13 flat-panel displays priced from $399. The PC- and Macintosh-compatible monitors combine hig

h contrast ratios, quick video response times, and acute pixel pitch ratios. Moreover, the displays' black and silver chassis options match today's computer designs while the products' ultra-thin and wall-mountable design is conducive to small workplaces.

Xerox Displays are made available through a trademark-licensing program with Proview Technology, Inc. The company licenses other computer peripherals, including scanners and projectors. Through its licensing program, Xerox oversees quality assurance, from manufacturing to customer service, to offer consumers and businesses the latest in technology.

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Miranda Launches PresStation HD/SD

Miranda Technologies today has launched PresStation, an ultra-compact multi-channel HD/SD master control switcher panel. PresStation operates with Miranda's Oxtel Series Imagestore master control and channel branding processors to provide channel branding graphics capabilities, including clip playout, dual 3D-DVEs, automated character generation, and four layers of animation/clock insertion. The new master control switcher panel will be unveiled at NAB 2004 in Miranda's booth (SU10129).

PresStation features include a hard panel for transmission control and a separate soft screen for fast set-up and effective monitoring of transitions and channel-branding media. Each panel can access to up to 80 video sources fed from an external dedicated router or a large station router. One or more operators can control up to 200 HD or SD transmission channels. Monitoring of multiple channels is simplified by PresStation's integration with Miranda's Kaleido-K2 multi-image display processor, which allows the video monitoring display to be changed with transmission channel selection.

PresStation can control of up to six hours of video/audio clip playout per channel for moving backgrounds, branding interstitials, and emergency playout material. It can also control dual 3D-DVEs for dual picture-in-picture effects and sophisticated squeeze backs; up to four layers of animated image/clock insertion; automated voiceovers; and automated character generation with Emergency Alert System (EAS) support. With control of up to four groups of audio mixing, PresStation can be used for multi-lingual and 5.1 broadcasts.

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DNF Controls Debuts VTR \Module for its Flex Control Network Product Line

At NAB 2004, DNF Controls will launch its new VTR Control Module for its Flex Control Network line of integrated machine control building blocks. Flex Control Network offers flexible, modular control system building blocks that can be assembled to meet a customer's specific control requirements. The VTR Control Module provides VTR-style transport control including record, play, stop, rewind, fast forward, jog, shuttle, slo-mo, and search to time. Used in conjunction with the Flex Control Network control panels, it extends a facility's ability to move, add, or share control--whether it is bringing new VTRs or DDRs online or streamlining production workflow.

Flex Control's integrated control building blocks include Device Controllers and Control Panels, all connected together over a high-speed machine control LAN. The VTR Control Module is a software module installed in Flex Control's DC20 Device Controller, which connects directly to the VTR over a standard RS422 or RS232 interface. Using Flex Control's Control Panels, operators take control of one or more VTRs or DDRs for record and playback operations. Control of a VTR can be simultaneously shared among multiple Control Panels or assigned to a specific Control Panel. As a result, users can configure the system to meet their needs, with the ability to add control points and VTRs, or even video servers, in the future.

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The Moving Picture: Adventures in Extreme DVD Making

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Pioneer Electronics again announced the finalist and ultimate winner of its second annual Pioneer Project 2880. This year, University of Washington's Casual Delivery won the $10,000 top prize as the best of an imaginative group of short DVD-Videos from 13 different universities and film schools. But this year's submissions also included DVD "Special Features" that offered some intriguing, often revealing looks behind the scenes at this unique competition.

Pioneer calls the contest "Extreme DVD Making." If you're not familiar with it (see the March 2003 Moving Picture,, 2880 refers to the total minutes in 48 hours and the amount of time each competing team had to turn a single sentence or phrase synopsis into an up to five-minute short film. Improbably, that means writing a script, shooting footage, editing, and burning it to a DVD using Pioneer's DVR-S606 DVD burner (the external FireWire version of the 4X DVR-106D) all within the 2880 minutes from first reading the supplied synopsis.

For the University of Washington, that synopsis was simply "a blind date." The resulting 3:49 short offers an intimate vignette about the anxiety and innocent joy of an otherwise simple first date and is the deserving short film winner.

The processes inherent to making Casual Delivery make a great story in and of themselves. Many of the other submissions have great "Making of…" stories, too. 

This year Pioneer anticipated that the 2880 competitors would end up with great stories to tell from these 48-hour whirlwind production cycles, and smartly added a requirement that each submission include a DVD "Special Feature." This could mean an interview with the producer or a behind-the-scenes documentary about making the film. Pioneer posed a group of stock questions to help overtired producers recording an interview at the end of two days of intense creativity and little sleep. But several groups went beyond the supplied "stock," and the results are often fascinating. 

Adam Hart of the University of Washington reported that one of the "biggest challenges" of the 2880 project came in realizing that with such a short production schedule "once you make a decision, you have to stick with it. At some point," he added, "it becomes just as much a test of resourcefulness and determination as it is creativity and talent." 

With Casual Delivery, that ultimately meant throwing away almost all the original dialogue half way through. The resourceful solution, random voiceover ideas from everyone in the production, ultimately made a more powerful statement by bringing the viewer inside the characters and thus drawing the viewer's own personal experiences to the worries and smiles on the actors' faces. 

Ball State University was one of several groups that had the camera rolling at the moment they read their synopsis: "The one-sided conversation between patient and dentist during dental work." As you watch the documentary you see nervous laughter become brainstorming that eventually transforms the expected dentist's monologue into the interconnected lives of three different patients, jumping between flashbacks, comments from the dentist's chair, and scenes from the waiting room. 

Several teams took advantage of some of the more sophisticated capabilities of the DVD medium. Ball State, for example, tried DVD's multi-angle feature during waiting room scenes. Northwestern University included a Director's Commentary audio track, as well as a version of the film with storyboards interjected. And of course, several teams took the time to create handsome DVD menus. 

That any team would be able to go beyond just making the film in 48 hours is testament to the passion of the student groups. In her insightful Special Feature interview, the producer of the Boston University entry, Elizabeth Newman, spoke directly to that dynamic of "seeing everybody get excited about their individual parts, whether it's lighting, working with the actors, editing, or seeing everybody living their passions."

With that, Newman concisely made the best case for Pioneer's contest as a noble, creative endeavor. But tucked into a couple other interviews, there were also some nice comments about DVD that brings it all back around to contest sponsor, Pioneer. Justin Barber, of runner-up Florida State University, effectively said all at once how this short time-frame contest would not have been possible without the publishing speed of DVD and how, too, DVD ultimately changes the creative dynamics of film and video making at almost all levels... 

"The cool thing was that we were able to shoot something on the camera we were going to use, prior to making the film," Barber said. "We shot something, we threw it into the computer, then laid it down on the DVD and we took it out of the DVD and watched it on a television. So, within the same hour we were able to see what our film was going to look like. That," he concluded, is "impossible" when you're working with "traditional" media. 

Having seen all 13 entries I'm pretty sure Barber's Just Vibrations was runner-up on merit. He made great use of the limited time allotted and shrewd use of the DVD medium. But with astute comments like that—and the visibility Pioneer accorded them--he also showed how Project 2880 was shrewd marketing. 

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