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Streaming Media
December 10, 2004

Table of Contents

JVC Introduces GY-DV-5100 Pro DV Camcorder at DV Expo West
Reflecmedia And Ultimatte form Partnership
Serious Magic Ships New Virtual Sets for its ULTRA Software and Unveils DV Rack Product
Texas Memory Systems Introduces 400MB/s Entry-Level Solid State Disk
Planar Introduces New Lines of Touchscreen Monitors
Panasonic And Serious Magic Announce Camera/Software Bundle
Sonic Announces Support for DVD-R Dual Layer Recording
Toshiba Storage Device Division Announces New Line of CD-ROM and CD-RW Drives
Sony DVDirect Field Test

JVC Introduces GY-DV-5100 Pro DV Camcorder at DV Expo West

JVC unveiled the 3-CCD GY-DV5100 pro DV camcorder designed for high-end videographers and broadcast at DV Expo West 2005. As successor to the DV-5000, the new camcorder continues the DV-5000's ability to integrate with direct-to-edit recording modules like JVC's DR-DV5000U or Focus Enhancements' FireStore FS-3. Both units attach directly to the rear of the GY-DV5100 and feature hot-swappable, removable FireWire hard disk drives for tapeless editing.

With a 24-bit digital signal processor, the GY-DV5100 also promises higher resolution and less noise, and the 12-bit analog-to-digital converter is designed to enhance both color and detail The camcorder is shipping now; pricing was unavailable at press time.

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Reflecmedia And Ultimatte form Partnership

Chromakey tool provider Reflecmedia has entered into a partnership with Ultimatte Corporation to launch a hardware keying solution for the digital video market. The collaboration will be known as Ultimatte DV.

Reflecmedia's ChromaFlex and Chromatte have reduced the need for lighting, space, and time in chromakeying. Their approach to chromakey uses a camera-mounted LiteRing, of either blue or green LEDs, together with the reflective fabric Chromatte, to generate the even-colored background required for the technique.

Ultimatte DV will feature functions and video connectivity designed to suit the DV user, with S-Video (Y/C) and Composite camera inputs, together with DV (Firewire, IEEE-1394) for both input of backgrounds and output of the composite.

Ultimatte DV will be available for $2,995.

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Serious Magic Ships New Virtual Sets for its ULTRA Software and Unveils DV Rack Product

Serious Magic, Inc. has announced 12 new virtual sets focused on the business, training, and education markets. Master Sets Library 3, designed exclusively for ULTRA, uses Serious Magic's VirtualTrak technology, which creates virtual camera moves from stationary camera shots and inserts video reflections into virtual scenes for increased realism.

Among the sets included is a corner office overlooking a panoramic skyline, a conference room exposing the city's buildings through a corner window, and a lecture hall showcasing a large stage flanked by two video screens. All sets include multiple angles, virtual flying camera shots, and places to insert additional video sources or graphics.

The Master Set Library 3 is available now for $495.

Additionally, Serious Magic, Inc. has announced the availability of DV Rack Express, a budget version of DV Rack, the software designed to help videographers and DV filmmakers shoot higher-quality video while saving time in post-production. DV Rack Express features three of the ten modules found in DV Rack: the DVR 600, PDM 840, and DV Grabber Express. DV Rack Express enables users to record directly to hard drive and use a broadcast-quality field monitor for accurate viewing of video. Additionally, the DV Grabber Express module allows users to capture full-resolution DV video stills for client approvals, digital storyboards, and instant reference frames of their video.

The DV Rack Express is available for $99.95.

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Texas Memory Systems Introduces 400MB/s Entry-Level Solid State Disk

Texas Memory Systems, Inc. has announced the availability of a new entry-level solid-state disk, the RamSan-120, which implements RAID (redundant array of independent DIMMs (protected dual inline memory modules)). The RamSan-120 delivers over 70,000 random I/Os per second and up to 400MB/sec bandwidth. Its 8GB capacity is housed in a one rack-unit (1U) chassis and is designed for accelerating smaller databases, database logs, and email queues.

The RamSan-120 installs as an ordinary disk drive system. A single computer can use it with a host bus adapter, or multiple computers can access it on a Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN). Full monitoring and configuration capabilities are available over any browser via a protected Java applet. The RamSan-120 is fully SNMP-compatible.

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Planar Introduces New Lines of Touchscreen Monitors

Planar Systems, Inc. is launching an expanded suite of touchscreen monitors designed for OEMs, integrators, and value-added resellers (VARs) targeting the markets for point-of-sale and point-of-purchase monitor systems in retail, hospitality, and gaming applications.

Through an alliance with 3M that combines Planar's flat-panel display products with 3M's industry-leading touchscreen technology, Planar's new PT touchscreen and LA open-frame monitor lines provide improved touch accuracy, improved optical performance, and improved surface wear against scratching, according to Planar. With either resistive or capacitive touchscreens, the PT and LA monitors support touch applications in both attended and unattended environments. In addition, the displays' human interface device (HID)-compliant drivers provide easy integration with programs running on any Windows 98 or newer operating system, shortening the time-to-market for integrators and OEMs developing or installing touch solutions.

Both the expanded PT touchscreen and LA open-frame LCD monitor lines are available in 15-, 17-, or 19-inch models.

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Panasonic And Serious Magic Announce Camera/Software Bundle

Panasonic Broadcast and Serious Magic, Inc. have announced a bundling agreement whereby Panasonic will include a full version of Serious Magic DV Rack with Panasonic's AG-DVX100A MiniDV camcorder. The AG-DVX100A/DV Rack bundle, known as the Serious Production Package, will be available in February. The AG-DVX100A offers 24p/30p/60i acquisition for less than $4,000, and has been used to shoot an extensive number of movies, television programs, documentaries, and corporate videos over the past two years. To complement this camera, Panasonic has opted to include DV Rack in the bundle with the intention of helping videographers prevent shooting disasters.

The AG-DVX100A features include enhanced 24p and 30p progressive mode functions and combine it with improved color reproduction, new cine-like gamma curves, and enhanced image adjustments. It offers a slow-shutter function for higher sensitivity and dramatic motion effects as well as smoother zooming and focusing. A new squeeze mode helps with 16:9 recording while the auto focus assist and interval recording modes improve the camera's ease and versatility.

DV Rack runs on a PC or laptop connected to a DV camera. It includes ten video components in a "virtual rack" that emulate traditional video gear with lower cost, weight, and complexity. The components are all native DV and include a professional field monitor, digital video recorder, vectorscope, waveform monitor, audio spectrum analyzer, video analyzer, digital still frame grabber, shot timer, camera setup module and an automated quality monitoring tool, which evaluates every frame of video and audio in real-time as you shoot, alerting you to potential problems.

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Sonic Announces Support for DVD-R Dual Layer Recording

Sonic Solutions has announced that it will support the forthcoming DVD-R Dual Layer recording standard across its complete line of consumer and professional applications as well as in its industry-standard AuthorScript engine. Working closely with the leading drive manufacturers developing the DVD-R DL format, Sonic is leveraging its dual-layer recording technology, developed for Hollywood DVDs, to deliver the industry's first DVD-R DL applications when the drives ship in early Q1, 2005. DVD-R DL enables users to create DVDs that can hold up to eight hours of video or 8.5GB of data on a single recordable disc.

Sonic's support for DVD-R DL is based on its HyperMux DVD formatting technology, which has been used by Hollywood to create professional dual layer DVDs. By extending this technology to the DVD-R DL recording format, Sonic's applications and software development kits are able to take advantage of the same advanced title layout, buffer management, layer-break control, and frame selection technologies used by Hollywood.

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Toshiba Storage Device Division Announces New Line of CD-ROM and CD-RW Drives

Toshiba SDD will now offer the XM-6802 CD-ROM and SR-M8102 CD-RW drives from Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST). The XM-6802 CD-ROM for desktop computers provides a read speed of up to 52X. The SR-M8102 CD-RW for desktop computers provides 52X CD-R and 32X CD-RW write speeds, and a CD-ROM read speed of up to 52X.

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Sony DVDirect Field Test

As part of its standard curriculum, the Technical Communications program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison requires its students to perform presentations on various topics. These presentations are then taped to VHS for the purpose of self-evaluation, so students can review and improve their rhetorical skills. Recently, the department itself has begun to re-evaluate this approach: not only is VHS a relatively clumsy and difficult-to-navigate medium compared to DVD; many students no longer even have the VCRs they need to watch the cassette tapes. The advantage of VHS, naturally, is existing equipment. Since the department's lone recording device is a VHS camcorder, it's very simple and direct to shoot and deliver on the same tape.

This semester I am studying under the head of the Technical Communications department, and--given my association with EMedia as an editorial intern--she asked me for my input on smart investments to address this issue. Her initial thought was to obtain a desktop DVD recorder, but this meant adding several steps to what had been a much more simple workflow: capturing, converting, authoring, and burning. DVD camcorders suggested another solution, but one with its own problems: cost and scarcity of the miniature DVD media those camcorders use, and the cost of the cameras themselves.

Enter Sony's DVDirect, which recently arrived at EMedia for review. A first-generation product that just began shipping to the consumer market in mid-December, DVDirect combines the capabilities of a standalone and desktop DVD burner and captures, authors, and burns simultaneously and real time. Additionally, the DVDirect (MSRP $299) can be used as a standard external USB 2.0 DVD recorder for PC-based applications when desired.

The next step in the process, naturally, was to test DVDirect in a live classroom setting. Overall, the product performed exactly as expected and described by Sony. Setup was easy, as was recording. With two analog inputs (component/RCA and S-Video), DVDirect supports a variety of camcorder sources; it all depends on what outputs your recorder has available. In the EMedia review, DVDirect was tested using analog output from a MiniDV camera, connected alternately to the Video (component) and S-Video inputs; in the live classroom shoot, we used the TC program's VHS camcorder, connected to the component video jacks.

All options such as recording format, input selection, and control selection were available and operated to their design, via single-button (for each) operation on the front panel of the drive. I selected the SP recording format because it had adequate time for recording (about 2 hrs.). I also selected the Sync function was turned on which puts the DVDirect in sync with the camcorder; and recording starts and stops in parallel with the same function on the camcorder. Both recording format and sync function are selected with a simple toggle button on front panel. And finally, one of the coolest features of the DVDirect: I was allowed to enter chapter breaks any place I chose during recording. For my uses, this meant I could create chapters at topic breaks and before the question and answer session, providing convenience for the students' self-evaluation. The DVDirect breaks recordings into titles and chapters (according to the menu structure defined in the DVD spec). Clicking Pause or Record creates a chapter; stopping and starting creates a title. Menus are built automatically, with title thumbnails (first non-black frame in the title) appearing in the menu along with timecode information. There are no chapter menus, but titles with chapters are navigable by chapter using the next button on a DVD remote.

One limitation of DVDirect for a project like this is media support. First of all, the current version of DVDirect only supports DVD+R/RW media, but not -R/RW media, which means users have to be careful what they buy. Also, because DVDirect records in DVD+VR mode (a necessity for live recording), disc finalization times can be quite long for write-once media, even for short recordings. (Based on our tests, finalization times for a one-minute disc and a 120-minute disc are equally long.) This presents a serious problem for serial recordings—you have to finalize a +R disc for it to be usable, and the interval between presentations, in this case, wasn't long enough to wait for finalization. The only way to avoid the finalization time lag is to use +RW media, which is slightly more expensive and potentially more limited for playback compatibility. But rewritable media has its benefits: students can document multiple presentations throughout the semester on the same disc if the media used is +RW.

In my test, only two troubles arose. The first, simply a matter of equipment surprises, was the single-channel output on the camcorder I used in contrast to the stereo-input on the DVDirect. Able to be resolved with a simple audio converter, or a camcorder with stereo outputs, this problem only produced poor sound on the first DVDs I produced. The second problem was slightly more serious. The DVDs I burned were not recognized by the DVD±R/RW drives in the Dell computers supplied in many university compter labs. Students produce vast quantities of work on these computers, and the lack of compatibility could definitely be an issue, particularly for students without players at home.

After all was said and done, I chose to recommend DVDirect to the department head. Its benefits for the TC application are great: true to its name, currently, it represents the most direct way to move their presentation output to DVD and thus make it more accessible to more students. In completing an equipment update, the DVDirect would be an asset in conveniently producing high-quality authored DVDs.

Curt Challberg

A thorough review of the Sony DVDirect will appear at next week.

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