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Streaming Media
September 28, 2004

Table of Contents

Plextor Introduces 4X Double-Layer, Dual-Format 16X DVD+/-R/RW Burner
Ulead Introduces New Version of PhotoImpact Image Editing Software
Renesas Technology Releases 4GB AG-AND Type Flash Memory
Focus Ships New Digital Video Mixer Line
Sonic Introduces AuthorScript Music SDK for Online Music Providers and Audio Software Developers
Gak Pak: New Plug-in Suite Compatible with Adobe, Discreet, and Avid platforms
ArcSoft Announces the Availability of ArcSoft TotalMedia
Dolby Technologies Mandatory On Both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc Next-Generation Packaged Media Formats

Plextor Introduces 4X Double-Layer, Dual-Format 16X DVD+/-R/RW Burner

Plextor Corp. announced the new PX-716 series DVD+/-R/RW drive. With high-speed 16X DVD+R and 16X DVD-R recording, the PX-716 gives users the ability to create, edit, and share customized DVDs and CDs.

The drive uses 16X CAV performance on recommended 8X DVD+R media, and burns a 4.7GB DVD in less than six minutes. Available in both internal (ATAPI) and external (USB/FireWire) versions, the new drive also supports dual-layer DVD media, enabling users to burn up to four hours of MPEG-2 video on a single 8.5GB DVD disc in approximately 28 minutes.

The PX-716 features Intelligent Recording, a combination of technologies designed to record across a broad spectrum of media with varying grades of quality:

  • Intelligent Tilt -- Laser and three-dimensional tilt control to reduce jitter and allow recording and reading on uneven disc surfaces.
  • PoweRec -- A write strategy providing recording at maximum speed for certified media
  • AUTOSTRATEGY -- A technology that determines the standard deviation of any blank disc and automatically adjusts the write strategy for unknown media.

The Plextor PX-716 is a DVD/CD burner with a 9-in-1 drive that supports 4X DVD+R Double-Layer, 16X DVD+R, and 16X DVD-R Writing; 8X DVD+RW and 4X DVD-RW Rewriting; and 16X max DVD-Reading. The burner also includes 48X CD-R Writing, 24X CD-RW Rewriting, and 48X max CD-Reading. The PX-716 has an 8 MB buffer and features Buffer Underrun Proof Technology to prevent buffer underrun errors and allow multi-tasking.

The internal PX-716A drive features an ATA/ATAPI-5 (EIDE) interface for broad based PC-compatibility. A short drive length of 6.7-inches accommodates small form-factor PCs, while a replaceable black front bezel allows a user to change the appearance of the drive to match a computer. Burst data transfer rates for the internal drive are 16.7 MB/sec for PIO Mode-4, 16.7 MB/sec for DMA-2, and 66.7 MB/sec for Ultra DMA33.

The external PX-716UF includes a dual interface that supports both Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and full-speed compliant IEEE-1394 FireWire(R), enabling a Plextor customer to share a single external high-performance DVD/CD recorder among multiple Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows-based personal computer systems. Burst data transfer rates of 480 Mbps (USB 2.0) or 400 Mbps (FireWire) allow a user to burn a 4.7GB DVD+R disc in approximately six minutes.

Lossless Linking/Zero Link technology enables users to perform basic editing tasks directly on the DVD disc, so there is no need to reload DVD content back to a PC to make minor changes, and no need to re-burn an entire DVD after making small edits. The PX-716 also includes PlexTools(R) Professional software, which is capable of determining good discs from bad discs before beginning the burn process. In addition the software enables a combination of user-controllable CD recording and CD/DVD media test features, including:

  • GigaRec allows storage up to 1 GB on a 700 MB CD disc.
  • SecureRecording offers password protection for CD discs.
  • Q-Check for CD media checks and graphs the results of written disc quality, including C1/C2 errors, track and focus errors, and beta/jitter errors.
  • Q-Check Time Analyzer (TA) for DVD media checks and graphs the results of written disc quality including PI/PO.
  • Silent Mode enables users to vary tray load/unload speed, spin up/down speed and write/read speeds.
  • VariRec allows adjustment of the laser power to produce the highest quality audio recording possible.

Plextor's bundled software package offers ease-of-use and extensive functionality for Windows platforms. The PlexWriter PX-716 ships with Easy Media Center 7, Basic DVD Edition. Roxio's DVD/CD-recording software lets users create movie DVDs, data DVDs, music CDs, photo slide shows synchronized with music, data CDs, and backup copies of personal discs.

The PlexWriter PX-716 drive also includes Roxio PhotoSuite 7 for capturing, organizing, editing, and sharing digital photos; and a 30-day trial version of Dantz Retrospect data backup software. For Macintosh users, Toast Lite versions 5 & 6 are also included for the PX-716UF.

The Plextor PX-716 DVD+/-R/RW drive is scheduled for shipment to distributors and resellers in North and South America. The internal PX-716A drive has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $149.00 USD. The external PX-716UF is $239.00 USD. All retail packages include a one-year full warranty.

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Ulead Introduces New Version of PhotoImpact Image Editing Software

Ulead Systems, Inc. announces Ulead PhotoImpact 10, the newest version of PhotoImpact, Ulead's flagship PC image editing software. This latest version offers new tools and layouts to make it easier for novices and casual users to navigate the feature set within PhotoImpact, while still providing imaging aficionados with creative design tools and effects for professional results.

For beginning and casual users, PhotoImpact 10 now provides a welcome screen to give quick access to key tasks such as scanning, getting photos from a digital camera, browsing an image collection or making photo corrections. A new Basic Mode dramatically simplifies the program interface with larger, easily recognizable icons and a mix of tools to repair and enhance digital photos.

PhotoImpact 10's revamped menu system presents commands in categories to make navigating the program more intuitive. Tool panel management with dockable and groupable panels enables users to manage screen real estate for more efficient workflow. Users can now access Ulead's Digital Camera Wizard directly from within the PhotoImpact image editor. A new Browse Manager makes browsing photos and processing groups of images faster and more convenient.

For more advanced users, PhotoImpact 10 now offers new creative design tools such as a Lasso tool and an Object Extraction Wizard for selection of complex objects against low contrast backgrounds. At the same time, a new Touch Up tool lets users remove undesirable image details, while a new live Histogram Panel displays tone distribution information for photos as they are edited.

The High Dynamic Range (HDR) Engine combines bracketed exposures of the same scene, allowing users to extend the perceivable range of light in an image. The HDR feature now lets users create photos under a wider range of conditions by painting out unwanted elements from individual photos such as people walking through the scene, moving cars or wind effects.

PhotoImpact 10 also offers new painting and artistic effects including halftone, etching, engraving and contour drawing. Split View, a new preview mode, lets users interact with effect previews to find the right settings.

The box and electronic download of PhotoImpact 10 are currently available for $89.99. Registered PhotoImpact users can upgrade for $49.99.

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Renesas Technology Releases 4GB AG-AND Type Flash Memory

The device -- the first Renesas Technology chip built with a 90-nanometer process -- attains a programming speed of 10 Megabytes/second, fast enough to record a 2-hour movie in about two minutes using MPEG-4 coding.

The device -- the first Renesas Technology chip built with a 90-nanometer process -- attains a programming speed of 10 Megabytes/second, fast enough to record a 2-hour movie in about two minutes using MPEG-4 coding.

Beyond storage applications in still photography and silicon movie devices, the new memory devices may expand the range of products that employ flash memory as a storage medium. The flash memory will make it possible to use mobile terminals and digital home appliances for activities and applications that previously had to be performed on systems such as PCs. For mobile terminals, for instance, they make storage capacities of several Gigabytes accessible via an interface such as USB2.0 to products such as silicon audio recorders/players.

High-density flash memory is beginning to permeate our lives as a bridge to digital storage medium, especially in mobile applications, and the new 4GB flash chips work for flash cards and the USB storage devices. One chip can accommodate about 160 minutes of MPEG-4 moving picture data, approximately 130 tracks of MP3 music data, or nearly 500 4-Megapixel digital camera photographs.

The 4GB flash memory devices have several other features that aid system designers. A power-on read function allows up to 2Kbytes of data to be read when the system is powered on, just by controlling two pins: /CE and /RE. This eliminates the need for the CPU to generate a command or address input. They include a cache programming function for the next 2Kbytes of data, a maximum of two times (4Kbytes), while the device is being programmed. Another built-in function performs a one-time input of up to the next 2Kbytes of data while the device is being erased. Also, the R1FV04G13R and R1FV04G14R devices are compatible with NAND-type flash memory at the command levels. Thus, they can be used in systems currently employing NAND-type flash memory, with minimum software modification.

The 4-GB AG-AND Flash Renesas packages available now are the 512MB x 8 for $55.00/10,000 and 256MB x 16 for $55.00/10,000.

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Focus Ships New Digital Video Mixer Line

Focus Enhancements Inc. is now shipping product from its new digital video mixer models: the MX-4 and the MX-4 DV, introduced earlier this year. The MX-4 and MX-4 DV are designed for live event productions in the education, business, multimedia and the broadcast markets, the company describes.

The Focus Enhancements MX-4 Digital Video Mixer offers a host of features including:

  • 10 bit 4:2:2 video processing with input comb filter circuitry
  • Four times faster processor with flash-upgradeable memory
  • Integral graphics store - Ethernet for computer and network connectivity
  • Four-layer video effects, including foreground graphics - 700+ transitions, including cuts, fades, wipes, zooms, edges, shapes and trailing effects
  • Two channel TBC (Time Base Corrector)
  • Faster cuts and transition speeds
  • Input effects with preview, including brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, posterization B&W, B&W Negative, Horizontal or Vertical Flip, Mosaic, Color Negative, Color Correction, Strobe and Chroma Key
  • PiPs (picture-in-picture), which can be enhanced with soft edges, colored borders and drop shadows for 3D-like impact

 In addition to the above features, the MX-4 DV model includes four FireWire/i.Link (IEEE 1394) inputs and one FireWire/i.Link output to enable videographers to mix DV video and 10-bit analog video in real time with fast cuts. Another advantage of using DV is its full support for up to four channels of embedded digital audio with CD-quality audio performance. The MX-4 DV works as a production mixer or video processor upstream to an NLE or encoding station. The MX-4 has an MSRP of $2,195. The MX-4 DV has an MSRP of $3,395.

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Sonic Introduces AuthorScript Music SDK for Online Music Providers and Audio Software Developers

Sonic Solutions announced the release of its AuthorScript Music SDK. The newest version of Sonic's industry-leading Software Development Kit (SDK) for CD and DVD creation delivers over forty music-specific capabilities and includes Sonic's SilentSelect technology for enabling new CD and DVD recording drives without the need for field software updates.

With its clear API (application programmer's interface), documented code, and architecture, the AuthorScript Music SDK allows third-party developers to integrate, test and deploy audio and music burning in their applications, typically in less than four engineer-weeks. Some key AuthorScript Music SDK features include:

  • SilentSelect technology providing comprehensive drive support, SilentSelect automatically supports new CD/DVD drives as they become available by reading and understanding their key attributes dynamically, eliminating the need to deploy costly software updates to end users
  • Stream-to-Disc technology enables direct CD burning from an incoming Internet audio stream without first staging the file to the system hard drive, increasing security for online music purchasing and burning.- RightSpeed technology provides MMC4 detection of supported media.
  • Quadratic audio resampling supports all incoming audio source sample frequencies and automatically optimizes sample rate for the appropriate output format.
  • Extensive file support - Including MP3, AC-3, WMA, MP4, AAC, M4A, and QuickTime audio.
  • Redbook audio formatting - CC Creates audio CDs playable in any CD player.
  • MP3 CD support creates CDs that can be played in MP3 CD players.
  • Efficiency and speed writes CDs at the maximum speed the CD-R drive will allow.
  • Buffer underrun protection—the burn process will not be interrupted by PC slowness or delays.
  • CD property display—displays information about sessions and tracks.
  • Joliet support—supports 106 file name characters including double byte characters.
  • UDF support—supports UDF versions 1 and 2.
  • Customizable track gaps—Adjusts the time delay between tracks.
  • Multiple format support—Multiple audio formats can be mixed on a single CD.
  • Disc-at-Once—Writes multiple tracks in a single operation, then closes the disc.
  • CD text support—Reads and writes CD text.
  • ISRC support—Writes the International Standard Recording Code information of each: tracks author, country of origin, and year of production.
  • UPC support -writes a product code for identifying each song; a necessity for commercial CDs.

Available in a variety of configurations, from simple CD burning to complete Hollywood DVD creation, Sonic AuthorScript and the AuthorScript Music SDK are immediately available to music services or software developers looking to add CD and DVD burning functionality to their applications.

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Gak Pak: New Plug-in Suite Compatible with Adobe, Discreet, and Avid platforms

Profound Effects, Inc., announced the immediate availability of the Gak Pak, a customizable plug-in suite for motion graphics. Created by artist Kenneth Woodruff specifically for motion graphics artists, Gak Pak offers nine plug-ins producing a variety of animated backgrounds, textures and patterns. Gak Pak is used where a background or graphic from a collection of canned clips or stills would normally be used.

Unlike canned backgrounds, Gak Pak graphics can be customized, tuned, and tweaked to get the exact look required. And several Gak Pak effects can incorporate personal footage, something canned background collections can't do.Many Gak Pak effects are loopable and all provide automatic motion andbehavior with little or no keyframing. All effects are resolutionindependent and provide both 8- and 16-bit rendering in hosts that support it. Many Gak Pak effects are built from a library of 18 basic shapes and 16 built-in textures. The user's own video sources and custom shapes can also be used. Gak Pak provides a very sophisticated color picking scheme thatproduces beautiful color combinations that a user can tune to meet their needs.

Gak Pak effects include:

  • Barrage sends an endless stream of customizable shapes towards the viewer. Source point, drift, rotation and other options combine to produce a huge array of particle-like effects.
  • Fireflies simulates the flowing movement and appearance of fireflies that glow on and off by emitting shape particles from random locations and moving, rotating, and fading them in and out smoothly.
  • Gakcharmer produces snakes of shape particles or video sources with customizable color, rotation and other settings.
  • Gakground makes smooth backgrounds containing washes of colors and textures. These backgrounds are created by combining one or two gradients with a textured pattern. Sixteen textures are included as presets. Users can also choose their own video stream (on some supported platforms).
  • Glider creates colored bars that slide across the frame over time, and is avery common effect on television. Numerous horizontal and/or vertical bars slide and fade in and out over time, creating a dynamic backdrop for usewith lower-third titles, talking heads, or other video. Instead of bars,the user can also select any one of the 18 included shapes.
  • SpiderWeb builds a spider web that can sway in the wind. The user can evensimulate the construction of the web by having the strands built over time.Gak Pak offers a video source at the leading position if users want to include,for example, an animation of a walking spider (available as a separate download for registered users only). Users are not limited to spider silk, but can draw the web with any of Gak Pak's built-in shapes for a video source of their own (on some platforms).
  • Structure creates an animated background of multiple-jointed lines, withoptional shapes at their joints. The collection of lines, each moving randomly and independently, can create interesting, dynamic backdrops.
  • Vectro is a plug-in that can use any of Gak Pak's built-in shapes,personal video sources or mask shapes (on some platforms).
  • Wave offers 10 preset customizable wave patterns. Shapes and video sources (on some platforms) can be drawn at the peaks and valleys of the wave forms.

Gak Pak for After Effects, Premiere, and combustion has a suggested retail price of $149. Gak Pak for Avid AVX(TM) systems has a retail price of $195.

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ArcSoft Announces the Availability of ArcSoft TotalMedia

ArcSoft has announced the availability of ArcSoft TotalMedia, a comprehensive video, photo, and audio application for use with the Windows operating system. ArcSoft TotalMedia combines a variety of program-specific features such as TV recording, DVD authoring, photo editing, and audio disc creation into one easily accessible package. A friendly user interface with simple controls make it accessible for users of all types, regardless of experience. TotalMedia offers its functionality through a standard keyboard and mouse operation as well as across the living room with a remote control.

TotalMedia's key features include:

  • TV show recording and burning to DVD
  • Video capturing, editing, and DVD authoring from both digital and analog sources
  • Custom audio playlist creation
  • Audio CD ripping and standard and MP3/WMA disc creation
  • Slide show disc creation, with audio
  • Image enhancement and editing, including red-eye removal and cropping
  • Photo printing at various sizes
  • Standard keyboard and mouse and remote control functionality
  • Support and connectivity to various portable devices, e.g. cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, portable media players
  • DVD playback from a PC-based machine

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Dolby Technologies Mandatory On Both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc Next-Generation Packaged Media Formats

Dolby Laboratories announced that Dolby audio technologies have been selected as mandatory formats for both High-Definition Digital Versatile Disc (HD DVD) and Blu-ray Disc. The DVD Forum has selected Dolby Digital Plus and MLP Lossless as mandatory audio formats for HD DVD. The Blu-ray Disc Association announced that Dolby Digital will be a mandatory technology on its new format, the Blu-ray Disc. Both discs are packaged media formats designed to deliver high-definition picture quality.

The DVD Forum's decision to include Dolby Digital Plus and MLP Lossless as mandatory audio standards for HD DVD ensures that the audio quality of HD DVD will be just as compelling as its video quality.

Dolby Digital Plus offers bit-rate and channel extendibility and is an extension of the popular Dolby Digital format, which is the audio standard for DVD-Video worldwide and North American high-definition television (HDTV). The DVD Forum's selection of Dolby Digital Plus as a mandatory audio standard assures future compatibility of HD DVD software media and playback devices with the more than 39 million A/V receivers equipped with Dolby Digital in homes today. Additionally, DVD-Video software titles will retain full audio compatibility with next-generation HD DVD-Video players.

For instances where higher bit rates can be allocated for audio playback, such as HD DVD, Dolby Digital Plus delivers audio performance from a perceptual coding process. Dolby Digital Plus is designed to offer discrete channel coverage beyond the current 5.1 standard.

Dolby Digital Plus offers coding efficiencies for systems where bandwidth is at a premium or limited, such as next-generation cable, broadcast, and satellite systems. In anticipation of future packaged media business models and format flexibility, Dolby Digital Plus' efficiency will also enable simultaneous streaming of audio content and software playback. This capability would enable consumers to watch a movie while listening to artists' or directors' commentary streamed directly from the studio website, for example.

MLP Lossless technology, licensed by Dolby Laboratories, has also been selected as mandatory audio standard of the HD DVD by the DVD Forum. MLP Lossless reproduces the original performance, including elements that may have been previously lost or masked in CD playback. Because it delivers audio fidelity without compromising picture quality or video bit rates, MLP Lossless complements Dolby Digital Plus. The DVD Forum's selection also ensures that consumers with HD DVD players will be able to play DVD-Audio discs.

The core audio technology behind multichannel DVD-Audio, MLP Lossless, enables content providers to encode multiple channels of 24-bit/96 kHz surround sound or 24-bit/192 kHz stereo content onto a DVD. Playback of content encoded in MLP Lossless is identical to the studio master—nothing is lost during the encoding/decoding process.

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