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Streaming Media
September 07, 2004

Table of Contents

Sony Unveils Three-CCD HDV 1080i Consumer Camcorder
Nero 6 Ships with Sony 710 Series of DL-Capable DVD Recorders
Canopus Announces Native Support for New Sony HDV Camcorder
Adobe Announces Plug-in for HDV Format in Adobe Premiere Pro
Samsung Launches 16X DVD Recorder
ILY Announces SlimDVDup
Acon Digital Media Announces Availability of Studio Necessities Package
Go Video PDS and Condre Ship 11-Target DVD/CD Tower Duplicator
Get in the Ring: Major Labels Get More Aggressive with Copy-Protection

Sony Unveils Three-CCD HDV 1080i Consumer Camcorder

Sony has introduced the world's first HDV 1080i camcorder. The HDR-FX1 Handycam camcorder records and plays back high definition video with 1080 interlaced lines of resolution--the highest resolution (1440 pixels x 1080 lines) of any consumer camcorder available.

The camcorder's best-in-class video resolution is enhanced by Sony's new three-chip, one-megapixel Super HAD CCDs. The new 1080i HD CCDs have several improvements, including an on-chip micro-lens on top of the CCD sensor that increases the light focusing rate for focusing on the fly. There is also a newly developed 16:9 aspect mode for recording in widescreen. By giving each lens its own megapixel imager, the camcorder captures the intense detail and color that expert videographers and HD lovers appreciate.

Each of the camcorder's three 1/3-inch, 16:9 CCDs utilize Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* optics, minimizing warping while maximizing sharpness and contrast. All of this imaging power--together with the 14-bit A/D converter that processes four times more digital information than converters used in traditional television cameras--produces sharper, richer and more true-to-life images.

Sony developed an advanced HD codec engine for the new camcorder, which efficiently compresses massive digital data while maintaining optimal HD quality. Engineered to reduce energy consumption, this powerful digital signal processor fits perfectly inside the camcorder's streamlined body. The HDR-FX1 camcorder employs the same MPEG2 compression scheme that is used for digital broadcasts and for DVD discs, so it can record on easy-to-find DV tapes.

To meet the demands of the experienced user, the camcorder has a shooting range from 32.5mm to 390mm, a 12x optical zoom and a multitude of zoom control mechanisms, including a non-perpetual zoom ring that allows for professional-like control. Users also have the option to switch between the zoom ring, the two zoom levers as well as a variable zoom control on the handle for greater shooting flexibility.

To capture even the smallest detail with clarity, the new HDR-FX1 model offers increased focusing control with expanded focus and peaking functions. In the expanded focus mode, the camera's LCD image is magnified up to four times its original size without any loss of resolution. The peaking function emphasizes the outline of objects creating clear contrast and clarity in a scene. The 3.5" SwivelScreen hybrid LCD offers 250,000 pixels--the highest resolution of any consumer camcorder LCD--for accurate viewing under bright lighting conditions. The LCD is conveniently located towards the front of the unit and is on the same eyelevel as the color viewfinder with the same pixel resolution. The camcorder also features a wide-range stereo microphone for superior audio quality. Because of its unique body design and well-placed microphone, wind noise is minimized so videographers can capture the sound they want, not the noise they don't. Additionally, sound adjustments that typically are made via a menu are now adjustable through an external audio level switch.

With the HDR-FX1 Handycam camcorder, the budding hobbyist as well as the seasoned videographer can make their video look like a professionally-shot film. The Cinematone Gamma and Cineframe functions enable high quality picture processing to create video with the warmth, softness and richness similar to a big-screen movie. Smooth, seamless, shot transitions are achieved using the Shot Transition function. With settings to control focus, zoom, iris, gain, shutter and white balance, focus can gradually be shifted from the front of the screen to a deeper subject, or vice versa, enabling an effortless transition in depth of field.

For creativity and control, the HDR-FX1 camcorder allows users to define their own default settings through the Picture Profile function. This function offers six different profiles that can be customized and taken advantage of, depending on the scene. Scenes may include a setting for filming sunsets, another for filming people, and another for recording in black and white. And for ultimate control, the iris, gain, white balance, shutter speed and focus can also be adjusted manually.

Additional features include
* InfoLithium Battery with AccuPower System - The battery can be charged at any time as the rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries minimize life shortening "memory effect." Sony's exclusive AccuPower meter conveniently indicates the remaining minutes of battery life on the LCD or viewfinder display, allowing users to keep an accurate and constant reading of remaining battery power.
* i.LINK Digital Video Interface - The i.LINK (IEEE 1394) DV interface is a high speed bi-directional digital video/audio communication between two devices equipped with a compatible i.LINK DV interface, including camcorders, digital VTRs and PCs.

The HDR-FX1 camcorder will be available in November for about $3,700.

To complement the high-definition recording capabilities of the new HDR-FX1 camcorder, Sony is also introducing new HD DVC videotape, optimized to meet the demanding requirements of 1080i high-definition recording and playback. Sony HD DVC media utilizes a new, second-generation Advanced Metal Evaporated (AME II) technology, as well as improved quality control processes. The result is an improved drop-out rate, which translates into significantly higher reliability and audio/video stability, as well as a lower carrier-to-noise ratio for lower error rates, greater output and less noise during recording. Sony HD DVC tape will be offered in the 63-minute professional tape length, which allows three minutes for recording tests. The tape will be available next month for about $18 per cassette.

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Nero 6 Ships with Sony 710 Series of DL-Capable DVD Recorders

Ahead Software has announced that Nero 6 is now bundled with Sony's 710 Series of DL-capable DVD recorders. Sony had previously chosen Nero 6 for their first ever DL-capable DVD recorders when releasing their 700 Series in April 2004. All of Nero's applications in this enhanced version of its OEM digital media suite fully support DVD+R DL drives, allowing 8.5GB DVD writing, authoring, backup, and direct-to-disc video recoding.

Nero Vision Express 2 allows users to edit, author, and record up to four hours of MPEG-2 video. Nero Express 6 and Nero Burning ROM 6 SE can be used to record up to 8.5GB of data, music, and photos on compatible DVD+R DL media.

The internal DRU-710A is currently shipping to retailers while the external DRX-710UL is expected to ship in October.

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Canopus Announces Native Support for New Sony HDV Camcorder

EDIUS solutions provide nonlinear editing support for new 1080i video format and 3CCD camcorder

Canopus Corporation, a leader in professional video editing technology, has announced native, real-time, nonlinear editing support for Sony's HDV 1080i camcorder. Canopus' new HQ codec is included with the company's flagship real-time editing software, EDIUS Pro, the foundation for the new line of Canopus editing solutions: EDIUS H|DV SP, EDIUS SD, and EDIUS HD.

EDIUS Pro provides multitrack, mixed format HD/SD editing, compositing, chromakeying, titling, and timeline output capabilities. EDIUS Pro supports real-time output of multiple video tracks, effects, and graphics and title layers and edits any mix of HD, HDV, DV, uncompressed SD, MPEG-2 and MPEG-1 video in real-time, according to Canopus. Conversions between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, as well as up-conversion and down-conversion between SD and HD, are processed in real-time, further streamlining the production the workflow.

Canopus is also unveiling EDIUS H|DV SP this week at IBC in Amsterdam. EDIUS H|DV SP is a professional nonlinear editing solution that provides native editing and real-time processing of HDV, DV, uncompressed SD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 formats. EDIUS H|DV SP enables post-production facilities to move from SD to the world of HD video.

EDIUS H|DV SP includes a 64-bit PCI board that provides hardware editing acceleration and video input and outputs, including FireWire for HDV and DV, as well as component, composite, and S-Video connectors. Support for DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD can be added through the Canopus Codec Option Pack. Designed to seamlessly integrate into existing studio environments, EDIUS H|DV SP features complete support for BetaCam SP with component video and balanced audio input/output, as well as frame-accurate RS-422 VTR control and external reference sync input connections.

EDIUS H|DV SP provides an easy transition for video studios to move from existing SD video to the world of HD video by editing SD content, such as DV, in HD resolution while providing realtime output to HDTV monitors using the onboard HD component output. EDIUS H|DV SP provides real-time up-conversion from SD to HD video with all project titles, graphics, and effects performed in HD resolution.

EDIUS H|DV SP will be available in November 2004 from Canopus and its authorized resellers and system integrators for a suggested retail price of $3999.

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Adobe Announces Plug-in for HDV Format in Adobe Premiere Pro

New software add-on delivers real-time HDV editing capabilities and supports latest HDV cameras from Sony and JVC

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced an expansion of its IEEE-1394 support, with the addition of an HDV plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5. Adobe is developing the HDV plug-in, available later this year, to work with the next generation of HDV cameras, such as Sony's HDR-FX1. Using Adobe Premiere Pro, in conjunction with new HDV cameras, video professionals will be able to capture, edit in real-time, and output high-definition video.

Registered Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 customers will be able to download the HDV plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro later this year from the Adobe Premiere Pro Web site.

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Samsung Launches 16X DVD Recorder

Samsung Electronics Ltd. has announced the newest entry in its optical disc drive family, the Writemaster TS-H552B 16X DVD ReWritable drive. The double layer-capable TS-H552B supports all the popular DVD recordable/rewritable formats. The TS-H552B provides double-layer data storage up to 8.5GB in one disc with supported DL media. To reduce noise when recording or reading at high speeds, the TS-H552B features Samsung's Silent Pulse Width Modulation (SPWM) technology and an Automatic Ball Balancing System (ABS).

Fast and reliable performance of the TS-H552B is promised through several high-end technologies including Speed Adjustment Technology (SAT), which automatically optimizes speed according to disc quality; Tilt Actuator Compensation (TAC), which gives the disc a tilt with the objective lens for the most reliable writing condition; and Double Optimum Power Control (OPC), which strengthens the writing performance by controlling the laser power in the inner and outer sides of the disc. The drive also includes a power save function and technology to prevent buffer underruns.

The TS-H552B is capable of recording DVD+R media at 16X, DVD-R at 12X, DVD±RW at 4X, and double layer DVD+R at 2.4X. The new 16X rewritable disc drive is now shipping with an estimated price of $200.

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ILY Announces SlimDVDup

ILY Enterprises has announced SlimDVDup, a slim, lightweight DVD duplicator designed for portability. The 3.9 lb., 6"x7"x1.5" unit operates standalone or PC-hosted via its USB 2.0 connectivity, and uses 4X TEAC DVD±RW drives. DVD read speed is 8X; CD recording speed is 16X. In addition to CD and DVD copying, the SlimDVDup features track editing for creating audio CD compilations. As a computer-hosted drive, the SlimDVDup supports Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP and Mac OS 10.1.2 or later.

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Acon Digital Media Announces Availability of Studio Necessities Package

Acon Digital Media GmbH has announced the public release of Studio Necessities, a collection of audio effects that integrates with software that supports DirectX plug-ins. This package of effects provides fine-grained control of the ultimate sound of your audio creations. The collection consists of StudioVerb, a reverberation simulator; StudioModulator, providing phaser effect and delay modulation effects such as flanger and chorus; StudioEQ, a six-band full parametric equalizer with peak and shelving filters; StudioDynamics, a dynamics processor; and StudioDelay, a multi-tap delay effect.

Studio Necessities is available immediately via download from the Acon Digital Web site for $49.95.

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Go Video PDS and Condre Ship 11-Target DVD/CD Tower Duplicator

Go Video PDS/Condre have announced the release of their 11-drive Tower Duplication Solution, supporting both 52X CD-R and 16X DVD±R write speeds. The configuration utilizes new controller technology that does not require a daughter board or other bridge technology to support eleven CD or DVD recorders, and features a ruggedized enclosure for maximum duty cycle capability. Available at a suggested list price of $ 1199, the new Go Video PDS Tower Duplicator is available from authorized Go Video PDS dealers.

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Get in the Ring: Major Labels Get More Aggressive with Copy-Protection

When three-fifths of Guns N' Roses re-grouped this year as Velvet Revolver, they not only had a new name and a new singer, but a new twist on keeping their music out of pirates' hands. Contraband, a BMG title, was replicated with SunnComm's MediaMax copy protection software. Nothing new there; Anthony Hamilton's Comin' From Where I'm From marked the first BMG release in the U.S. to "officially" employ the technology, and other labels added copy protection on some releases as early as 2001, even though they wouldn't admit it publicly.

BMG not only admits it but proclaims it proudly with Contraband. While you had to read the fine print on Hamilton's CD to notice that it was copy-protected, Contraband—which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200—shouted to buyers in large type on the back of the case that it was "protected against unauthorized duplication." But Contraband is just the highest-profile release to feature such explicit labeling; recent releases from Jill Scott, the Roots, and Papa Roach have included messages like "FBI Warning: Unauthorized Copying is Against the Law" displayed prominently on the packaging, complete with an FBI logo.

The strong sales figures for Contraband—it went platinum in less than three months—and other copy-protected albums indicate that consumers aren't deterred by the labels flaunting their anti-piracy efforts. In fact, SunnComm's Artie Ripp suggests that copy protection is doing exactly what the labels hoped it would, giving albums longer sales "legs." "MediaMax continues to deliver decreased sales fall-off, resulting in increased overall sales," Ripp says. As consumers discover they can't simply count on copying an album from someone else, they're more likely to buy their own copy.

Phoenix-based SunnComm announced the latest version of the technology in August. It features what the company calls "On the Fly" technology, which only implements the copy protection when users copy tracks over to their PCs. Traditionally, the copy-protected tracks are Windows Media files in a second session on the CD. With the new version of MediaMax, protected copies of the tracks aren't actually on the disc, limiting potential royalty liabilities for the labels. "This gives the record company and artist more room on the CD for music while decreasing the potential exposure from a publisher that results from placing a second copy of the music on each CD," says SunnComm president Peter Jacobs. The new version of MediaMax also features SecureBurn, which allows a set number of copies to be made before the copy protection kicks in.

That should take care of one of the biggest consumer complaints about copy-protected CDs so far: Since PCs read the WMA files in the second session, rather than the CD-Audio files in the first, fans can't copy tracks from some discs to their iPods or other MP3 players. (Of course, if fans buy the same disc from the iTunes Music Store, they don't run into the same problem—an advantage for Apple, but not for consumers.) The new version of Macrovision's CD copy protection technology, CDS-300, overcomes the shift-key workaround, and the company says it's negotiating to license Apple's FairPlay DRM technology.

As the new development from SunnComm and Macrovision attests, copy protection continues to be a lucrative market. SunnComm claims that MediaMax has been used on more than five million CDs. In addition to claiming its technology is on more than 150 million CDs worldwide, Macrovision has virtually cornered the market on DVD copy protection, and recently inked a deal to provide its CDS-300 copy protection to DOCdata, the largest independent replicator in the U.K. When you insert a Macrovision-protected CD, like Radio 4's Stealing of a Nation, into a PC, a Windows Media-based player opens up and begins playback.

When it comes to online audio content protection, Microsoft, Real, and Apple are still engaged in a fierce battle. Microsoft's WMA DRM technology has the distinct advantage of also being embraced by physical media producers, and Apple's iTunes—which employs the proprietary FairPlay technology on its AAC format—has established itself as the dominant force in legal online music downloading. But in July, RealNetworks announced the beta release of Harmony, a DRM system that effectively decrypts FairPlay (Apple claimed a more accurate description would be to say it "hacks" FairPlay) so that users can convert Real files to AAC tracks. At press time, Microsoft announced the new version of its Windows Media Player, which includes a "Digital Music Mall" featuring MSN Music, Napster, MusicMatch, and CinemaNow—all of which employ Microsoft's DRM—so iTunes' dominance may be in jeopardy.)

Of course, copy protection is an issue of interest to more than just music labels and movie studios, and companies like Hexalock and Media Rights Technologies. Version 3.0 of Hexalock's CD Copy Protection Suite now not only protects software programs but all digital assets on CD-ROMS—including MP3, AVI, MPEG, HTML, and XML file—and has entered partnerships with replicators including Allied Vaughn and DiscUSA. The company also markets CD-RX copy protectable CD-R media.

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