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Streaming Media
February 20, 2004

Table of Contents

LightningCD Launches with “Top Labels” Signed
Pretec Unveils 80X Cheetah
EZQuest Intros Line of Pro Audio FireWire 800 Hard Drives
Useful Assistants Enhances Workflow, now with 100 available assistants
Disc Makers Launches Industry’s First Ever Web-based DVD Duplication Service
Kodak & Microboards Partner in the Development of a New CD Writing/Dispensing Accessory for Kodak Picture Maker Kiosk
Luminous Parrot Technologies Debuts Dream in Pictures
Zoran Demos Digital Camera Processor with “DVD-Quality” Video Recording
Actual Size: Sonic Solutions Acquires InterActual Technologies

LightningCD Launches with “Top Labels” Signed

LightningCD, a new online music service, launches its site this month with the catalogs of top record labels as well as independent musicians. The service enables consumers to buy and burn CDs instantly, including the ability to build custom compilation discs, from the convenience of their own computers.

LightningCD announces the signing of Sanctuary Records Group, the independent label that is home to artists as diverse as Morrissey, Queensryche, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kelly Osbourne, Widespread Panic, and Ween. The Sanctuary deal adds nearly 36,000 individual tracks to LightningCD's site. In addition to Sanctuary, LightningCD has also signed Santa Barbara-based punk and indie rock label Lobster Records, with artists such as A Small Victory, Days Like These, Mock Orange, and Whippersnapper.

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Pretec Unveils 80X Cheetah

Pretec Electronics Corp. demonstrated a new high-speed CompactFlash card at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show at Las Vegas Convention Center. With its sustained read speed of 13MB/sec and write speed of 12MB/sec, the Pretec Cheetah cards operate at 80 times the 1X CD-ROM speed of 150KB/sec. Capacities range from 256MB to 6GB. Pretec will have samples of the 80X Cheetah CF card and have delivery by the end of March.

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EZQuest Intros Line of Pro Audio FireWire 800 Hard Drives

EZQuest has introduced a new line of FireWire 800 hard drives that are optimized for digital audio. EZQuest Pro Audio drives are preformatted for Macintosh systems. With a data transfer rate of 800MB/sec, a rotational speed of 7200 RPM, and a larger 8MB buffer, these drives are ideal for video, audio, backups, and transferring large amounts of data. The drives come in 120GB, 200GB, and 250GB versions. "Our FireWire 800 hard drives are the only ones that have been qualified by Digidesign on their Pro Tools HD system. This is one reason the audio community has embraced our drives," said Ebrahim Zmehrir, EZQuest president. "Because our drives have been so well accepted by this group, we decided to develop our Pro Audio line just for them."

EZQuest Pro Audio drives are compatible with Mac OS 8.6+ and OSX, and Win 98SE, Win 2000, Win ME, and Win XP. They have both a FireWire 800 and a USB 2.0 interface. The drives come ready to use with a durable shielded steel casing, an internal power supply, software, a carrying case, and a cable. The software includes Hard Disk Speedtools for Macs, and Dantz Retrospect Backup for Macs and PCs.

The Cobra+ Pro Audio Drives are available now. The MSRPs are: $289 for 120GB capacity; $349 for 200GB capacity; and $419 for 250GB capacity.

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Useful Assistants Enhances Workflow, now with 100 available assistants

Profound Effects, Inc., a leading innovator in special effects technology, is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Version 1.2 of Useful Assistants, the workflow enhancer for Adobe After Effects. Version 1.2 adds 20 new or updated assistants, increasing the total count of available assistants to 100. Profound also announces a significant drop in price of Useful Assistants from $295 to $195, effective immediately.

Useful Assistants (UA) makes using After Effects 5.5 and 6.0 easier and faster by automating tedious, repetitive, or difficult tasks. With each assistant embodying a tip or trick of a master After Effects artist, UA can shave days off projects.

After Effects users can devote the time they'll save by using UA to boost the creativity of their results or enhance their bottom line. Robbie Allen, creative director of VIS iTV Ltd. says, "Useful Assistants does exactly what it says on the tin, compressing many hours of manual tasks into mere seconds." Motion graphics designer Michael Schneider, of 2Dmedia says, "UA is one of the very few plug-ins for AE that offer both AE beginners and long-time professionals a fantastic value." And, renowned After Effects artist, Trish Meyer of CyberMotion says, "I have a similar project coming up and I'm looking forward to more of these trusty assistants - what took me all day last time will be reduced to a matter of minutes!"

Owners of previous versions of UA can download Version 1.2, at no cost, from the Profound eXchange. The Profound eXchange is an online community where new assistants are made available from time to time.

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Disc Makers Launches Industry’s First Ever Web-based DVD Duplication Service

Disc Makers, the nation's leading independent media manufacturer, becomes the first company in the industry to make DVD duplication available online through its interactive DVD Self Service Web site. With this service, Disc Makers now gives DVD customers, including filmmakers and studios, the opportunity to create their own DVD and place short-run duplication orders online from their home or studio with turn-around times as fast as two business days.

DVD Self Service offers DVD-R duplication and printing for projects of 300 DVDs or less with no minimum order or setup fees. The service comes with free online storage of audio and graphic content, full-color on-disc printing and inserts, web-based 24/7 ordering, and a choice of five packaging options (Amaray-style packaging available soon).

The simple three-step process includes:

1) Design Your DVD Disc Graphics Online - Use the online DVD Designer to easily design your full-color disc graphic and insert.

2) Mail DVD Content - Due to the large amount of data on a typical DVD, customers are encouraged to mail in a DVD-R with their content. Disc Makers will store this content for future orders and reorders. As bandwidth increases, an automatic data uploader (as currently used for Disc Makers' CD Self Service) may become available.

3) Duplicate DVDs - Use the online order form to duplicate as many DVDs as you want (up to 300) and have them shipped anywhere in the United States in as little as two business days (larger runs may take longer).

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Kodak & Microboards Partner in the Development of a New CD Writing/Dispensing Accessory for Kodak Picture Maker Kiosk

With this agreement, Microboards will be furnishing an automatic CD-R writer & dispenser for Kodak Picture Maker kiosks, becoming an essential part of Kodak's retail self-service initiative worldwide. The new kiosk accessory gives Kodak's retail partners a fundamental ingredient necessary to both optimize and modernize their disc recording and dispensing capability.

"Kodak recognized the growing consumer need to use the Picture Maker to create a digital negative by easily transferring their images to a CD", said Kent McNeley, GM Consumer Output & VP of Eastman Kodak Company. "Microboards' unique technology and small footprint enabled us to meet this market need perfectly."

Microboards Manufacturing's patented autoloading system has been integrated into the kiosk, for fast recording and delivery of a customized recorded CD with the customer's images. To be announced at the Photo Marketing Association's Annual Convention & Trade Show, the first installations of the new writer/dispenser accessory are targeted for the spring of 2004.

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Luminous Parrot Technologies Debuts Dream in Pictures

Luminous Parrot Technologies introduced its debut product, Dream in Pictures, at PMA 2004. The software is designed to meet the varying needs of digital imaging beginners, hobbyists, and enthusiasts. Dream in Pictures is downloadable software for the PC that provides people with a powerful suite of tools and activities. It combines a straightforward GUI, image management and editing capabilities, as well as enjoyment features such as a creative slideshow builder, an interactive 3D art gallery, a photo mosaic builder, a picture-puzzle game, and a screensaver.

With Dream in Pictures, according to Luminous Parrot, images go from digital camera to slideshow and 3D art gallery in minutes. With Dream in Pictures, people can share their party photos at the party, rather than waiting until afterward. Grandparents can receive and view a slideshow within minutes of their grandchild's first steps. It makes digital imaging on the PC as fast, fun, and as easy as using the camera. In addition, Dream in Pictures preserves the main reason people love digital photography--they want to share and enjoy their best pictures right away.

Now in the beta-testing phase, Dream in Pictures will be available in March as a "try-and-buy" software download.

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Zoran Demos Digital Camera Processor with “DVD-Quality” Video Recording

Zoran Corporation has announced that its seventh-generation COACH (Camera On A CHip) processor is available in sample quantities to digital camera manufacturers. Zoran demonstrated the entire range of high-end features, including DVD-quality video capture, enabled by the internal processor of the COACH 7 at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show in Las Vegas.

COACH 7 offers new connectivity options, expanding beyond the personal computer. Pictbridge is now supported for printing directly to most standard printers. The on-chip USB 2.0 interface supports high-speed "On-The-GO" connections for up to 480Mbps data transfers. The COACH 7 can serve as the host or the peripheral.

Based on Zoran's DVD recording technology, the COACH 7's TruDV compression technology offers full VGA resolution at 30fps using MPEG-4 compression and a unique encoding process that provides excellent video quality at high compression rates. This complete MPEG-4 recording solution is provided to customers with firmware and PC drivers and is more cost-effective than other similar compression solutions. COACH 7 expands memory card support to Memory Stick Pro and on-chip audio capabilities have been enhanced to support high-quality music playback.

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Actual Size: Sonic Solutions Acquires InterActual Technologies

In early February Sonic Solutions finalized an $8.8 million cash deal to acquire InterActual Technologies, the company that brought Web interactivity to Hollywood titles including The Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In addition to integrating InterActual's Internet-enabled DVD playback capability into its CinePlayer software, Sonic will add the technology to its AuthorScript DVD creation engine in bundles with DVD Producer and Scenarist.

"We've been fans of InterActual for some time, and last year we began talking to them about getting together on a more meaningful basis," says Sonic CEO and president Bob Doris. Sonic made a small investment in InterActual in 2000, and already licenses the software for use in its high-end authoring systems. "It helps us go further in two directions we've been moving at once: Continuing with our Hollywood-centric DVD authoring business, and getting more involved with consumer authoring and playback software."

While Doris said that embedding InterActual technology in CinePlayer was a natural fit, he admitted that it's "not necessarily conceivable" that consumers are interested in doing InterActual-based DVD authoring, at least not yet. Sonic's not the only DVD software heavyweight to enter into a partnership with InterActual; InterVideo has licensed InterActual's technology, which is available as an add-on pack for download by users of WinDVD Gold and Platinum 5. Doris describes Sonic's relationship with InterVideo as one of "friendly competition."

Most DVD-ROM features on Hollywood titles are already InterActual-enhanced, says InterActual president Todd Collart, who joined Sonic's staff as a member of the advanced technologies group. All of InterActual's staff is joining Sonic, most on the professional products team, says Doris.

InterActual's technology is designed to let users maximize what they get out of a Hollywood DVD title by "making a better movie experience, not replacing the movie experience," Collart says. He points to the director's commentary feature as one that he feels works better with InterActual than without. "It's tough to sit and watch an entire movie from start to finish just to get 15 minutes of good director's comments," he says. "When InterActual-enabled titles run the commentary, they only run the commentary that's relevant. We script the DVD playback so that it only runs these portions." To do that on a set-top, Collart says, would require a completely separate re-authoring.

Recently, InterActual worked with Paul McCartney, who Collart says described InterActual's approach as "organic." "He wanted people who saw him on his last tour to have a keepsake," Collart says. "It was their backstage pass, if you will, to get access to things they weren't able to see at the actual show, with a combination of cool features on the DVD itself and content that was only available online via the disc's Web connectivity."

Doris said that, in addition to building InterActual's technology into DVD Producer and Scenarist, Sonic has plans to integrate it with other products in the future, though he wasn't able to disclose the specifics just yet. "Both Producer and Scenarist are starting to carry more weighty InterActual-enabling software," Doris says. "Obviously, the real elegant treatments of InterActual-enabled discs will be done by the service group that Todd and his guys have built."

"The real beauty of this deal," Collart adds, "is combining our technology with the authoring systems that are actually producing those DVD assets." Collart adds that, while InterActual has traditionally taken aim exclusively at the Hollywood market, the partnership with Sonic opens up the possibility of bringing the capability to prosumer authoring software. "We get requests daily from videographers for our capabilities," he says, adding that wedding and other event video are perfect candidates for InterActual-enabled DVDs. "As a company, we haven't been set up structurally to deal with that level. Sonic has that structure, with its toolsets. We're more of a platform than a toolset."

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