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Streaming Media
August 16, 2005

Table of Contents

The DVD Writer: Just Scratching the Surface--Writable Optical Disc Protection
Maya 7 Now Shipping
Abcron Introduces PlayO DVD±R Media
Panasonic Releases Rugged AJ-PCS060 DVCPRO P2 Store Drive
VASST Announces GearShift 1.5, HDV Utility Plug-In for Sony Vegas
Telestream Flip4Mac Adds Windows Media Encoding Support for Apple Compressor 2
Wohler Announces New High Resolution LCD Video Monitors
Disc Makers Launches New Studio Partner Program

The DVD Writer: Just Scratching the Surface--Writable Optical Disc Protection

Let's face it--writable CDs and DVDs are tough but they can be damaged. Scratches, scrapes, fingerprints, dust, and just plain crud can play havoc with reading and, especially, with writing. Dealing with these everyday realities in ways that keep discs realistically priced and marketable remains a challenge for product designers.

Efforts to improve CD-R and CD-RW media durability largely focus on applying a protective topcoat (pioneered by Kodak as part of its original InfoGuard system) to the disc's conventional lacquer overcoat. Since the information-bearing layer rests just below the disc's label surface, the topcoat helps shield data from physical damage. However, this approach does nothing to reduce injury to the laser incident (read/write) side of the disc or assist writable DVDs and next-generation HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (BD).

To provide such protection, and to keep discs free of fingerprints, dust, and the like, enclosed caddies were used in many early CD-ROM drives and recorders. Some DVD-RAM configurations still employ cartridges and even forthcoming BD-R/RE and HD DVD-R/RW allow for this option. Marketers universally revile caddies and cartridges as clumsy and expensive solutions designed by engineers. Thus, manufacturers rely upon on a variety of recorder technologies and media design elements to manage the effect of disc surface aberrations. Mainly, adaptive laser power control (such as ROPC and WOPC), increased recording layer sensitivity, defect management, enhanced error detection and correction, improved servo stability, and the intrinsic optical protection of the substrate (CD/DVD/HD DVD) or cover layer (BD).

FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is a powerful selling tool, especially when it comes to preserving personal memories, and technology. And user cleaning can compensate for only so much. Thus, most major disc brands are rolling out premium hard coated writable CDs and DVDs. Hard coating is also said to be key to the viability of upcoming BDs. Catchy names abound including Imation's ForceField, Verbatim's VideoGard/ScratchGuard, TDK's Durabis, Maxell's MaxPro Hardcoat, Memorex's DuraLayer, Panasonic's Pro Hard Coating, Prodisc's Hard Coat, and Sony's AccuCORE.

A hard coat provides one or several additional layers of durable thin film engineered to resist scratches and smears, repel dust, and sometimes protect against UV. The first widescale use of hard coating in optical storage came in the production of magneto-optical (MO) discs. Applied using spin coating and vacuum deposition, a variety of materials were employed including silxoane and UV curable resins and metal oxides such as ITO, silicon dioxide, and tin oxide. Hard coats for current and future optical discs build on this foundation with new materials and process, such as lamination, in current use or under development.

Impressive? You bet! But hard coating is not a magic bullet. Components can be expensive, require additional production steps (each with their own yields) and some of these materials are brittle. Also, I have yet to hear of any independent accelerated age testing to suggest how treated CDs and DVDs might hold up over time.

An unorthodox design from a recent upstart promises alternative protection. In addition to a hard coat, the SLDI Scratch-Less Disc incorporates bumps on a CD or DVD substrate (in non-data bearing areas) to act as pedestals to raise a disc above any flat surface on which it is placed. This is said to protect a disc from scratches or gouges when stacked or dragged over a desktop. Its developer assures 99% compatibility with existing drives but I have yet to encounter any supporting data or assessments of possible side effects.

I welcome anything within reason that improves writable disc durability and system robustness. But even clever designs, ingenuous technologies, and advanced materials have their limits. My best advice remains to always follow manufacturer recommendations and encourage careful handling and storing of all optical media.

Hugh Bennett (, an EMedia contributing editor, is president of Forget Me Not Information Systems (, a reseller, systems integrator and industry consultant based in London, Ontario, Canada. Hugh is the author of Understanding Recordable & Rewritable DVD and Understanding CD-R & CD-RW, both published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).

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Maya 7 Now Shipping

Maya 7 software is now shipping. The latest edition of this software is available for purchase by new and upgrading customers from an authorized reseller or online at

Maya 7 includes innovative features that let artists achieve better CG content. Using Alias MotionBuilder full-body IK technology, this newest version of Maya makes animating characters faster, easier, and more accurate, according to Alias. The software also delivers new polygonal modeling and UV tools. In addition, it gives artists illustration and specialized visual effects tools, advanced render layering technology, and faster connections between Maya and other production software.

Maya 7 pricing remains unchanged from Maya 6.5; Maya Complete 7 is $1999 and Maya Unlimited 7 is $6999. Upgrade pricing from Maya 6.5 is $899 for Maya Complete and $1249 for Maya Unlimited. Both Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited are available on the Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X platforms.

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Abcron Introduces PlayO DVD±R Media

Abcron has announced the addition of 8X DVD±R discs to its new PlayO brand of recordable media. PlayO 8X DVD±R discs are now available through selected distributors and online outlets in North America.

The discs are available in a 10-piece jewel case pack or in 25-piece cakebox packaging. With 4.7GB capacity, write-once 8X DVD±R PlayO discs provide a high-speed storage medium. The new write-once media are compatible with popular DVD±R recording hardware.

Through UV and heat resistance, DVDs from PlayO have 30 years safe storage life, according to Abcron. The discs also come with a limited lifetime warranty.

The discs offer a single formatting for audio, video, and data storage with constant linear data density, long archival and storage life, and low recording error rate and jitter, according to Abcron.

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Panasonic Releases Rugged AJ-PCS060 DVCPRO P2 Store Drive

Panasonic Broadcast has announced the availability of the AJ-PCS060 P2 Store Drive, a rugged, portable hard disk unit with a P2 card slot that quickly transfers the content of P2 cards to an internal hard disk drive. "

The 2.5" 60GB hard disk drive can hold the contents of up to 15 4GB P2 cards, and the entire contents of a 4GB P2 card can be transferred to the internal hard disk drive in about four minutes (in Verify Off mode). After the P2 content has been transferred, the P2 store can connect to a nonlinear or server ingest PC via a USB 2.0 interface and appears as an external disk drive.

The AJ-PCS060 has a shock-resistant magnesium alloy body and is equipped with special impact-absorbing materials to cushion the hard disk against shock and vibrations. In the field, the 1.4-pound AJ-PCS060 stores the contents of P2 cards, thus minimizing the number of reusable P2 cards needed. Back at the studio, it serves as a high-speed drive for transferring video into a station's Local Area Network (LAN) or nonlinear editing system to speed access to the recorded content.

For quick and easy operation, the AJ-PCS060 simply has a large start button. The drive also includes LED indicators for copy status, drive capacity, and battery life remaining. The drive supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. It runs on DC power, so a user can use a 7.2V DC battery or a 7.9V AC adaptor to power it.

The AJ-PCS060 is available at the suggested list price of $1,800.

Panasonic's DVCPRO P2 series products are fully compatible with DVCPRO, the industry's standard for digital newsgathering, and provide a seamless migration path to DVCPRO HD. DVCPRO P2 offers nonlinear acquisition and instant access to material, high-speed file transfer, laptop field editing without requirement for proxy videos, and compatibility with off-the-shelf data storage drives for low-cost archiving, while eliminating traditional digitizing and ingesting operations. The core products-AJ-SPX800 camcorder, new AJ-SPC700 camcorder, AJ-SPD850 studio recorder--eliminate transports and mechanisms, resulting in a significant maintenance cost-savings because of the absence of any moving parts that can break down or wear out from repetitive use. Moreover, DVCPRO P2 products are resistant to environmental stresses such as shock and vibration.

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VASST Announces GearShift 1.5, HDV Utility Plug-In for Sony Vegas

VASST, a provider of training resources for multimedia professionals and hobbyists, has announced the release of GearShift 1.5. The new VASST offering is a full-featured HDV utility available for Sony Vegas software. GearShift 1.5 allows users to:

  • Convert .m2t files to 4:2:2 YUV Create a DV proxy for portable editing
  • Create a 24p stream as a 4:2:2 YUV, 4:2:2
  • Cineform and/or DV proxy Create a 25p stream as a 4:2:2 YUV and/or DV proxy
  • Convert a 1080i stream to a 720p stream Have batch-based access to all formats, including CineForm encoding
  • Correctly replace proxies with HD media as either an .m2t or a 4:2:2 YUV file
  • Extract media from various locations, and remember those locations when shifting gears
  • Render regions and discard unused portions of video, saving disk space and render time
  • Apply correct color processing for the HD color space to the DV proxies "

GearShift 1.5 is available via electronic download for 49.99. A one-week only special price of 39.99 is available by entering the discount code WEVA during the purchase process on Existing GearShift users may download the new version for free. Users who wish purchase GearShift or try it before buying may download the 14-day, full-functioning trial at

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Telestream Flip4Mac Adds Windows Media Encoding Support for Apple Compressor 2

Telestream, the provider of Flip4Mac digital media tools for the Macintosh, has announced release of Flip4Mac WMV Studio Version 1.0.6 which adds Windows Media encoding support for Apple Compressor 2.

Flip4Mac WMV products are comprised of QuickTime components which enable Macintosh OS X users to make, edit and play Windows Media from within their favorite QuickTime-based applications. For Apple Compressor users, the Flip4Mac WMV Studio update provides, for the first time, batch encoding of Windows Media files on the Mac.

In addition, the newly released Flip4Mac WMV Player Version 1.0.2 adds compatibility with more Windows Media on the Web. The ability to export Windows Media 9 standard-definition and high-definition content directly from within Compressor 2 simplifies multiformat content creation for Final Cut Pro users. Compressor 2 is a video and audio compression application that gives Final Cut Pro users control over encoding. This includes the ability to encode several clips in one batch operation to a wide variety of formats and perform advanced format conversions at the same time. Flip4Mac eliminates the platform challenge and the many steps previously required to create Windows Media, including exporting the file, moving it to a PC, and then encoding it using another software application.

Support for Compressor 2 is now available in Flip4Mac WMV Studio and WMV Studio Pro Version 1.0.6. Compatibility with more Windows Media Web content is now available in Flip4Mac WMV Player and WMV Player Pro Version 1.0.2, as well as in WMV Studio and WMV Studio Pro v1.0.6. Flip4Mac products are available for immediate online purchase at Existing Flip4Mac WMV Studio/Studio Pro and Player/Player Pro customers may download free upgrades from the Web at

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Wohler Announces New High Resolution LCD Video Monitors

Wohler Technologies has announced a new product line of high resolution LCD video monitors. Wohler specializes in in-rack audio monitoring systems, so their new video line is also designed for in-rack systems.

With the interest shown at this year's NAB 2005, Wohler suspects the high resolution HD-SDI LCD video monitor's picture will be the highlight of Wohler's stand at IBC 2005 in September.

The two series of high resolution LCD video monitors give users the benefit of a completely digital signal. The MON2-3W/HR has a 16:9 aspect ratio, fits in the standard 3U rack space, and includes two HD-SDI inputs with reclocked HD-SDI outputs and two outputs for computer monitors in the original input resolution. The MON1-T/7W-HR fits in the standard Tektronix half tub form factor alongside scopes or other HD monitoring equipment and includes one HD-SDI input with reclocked HD-SDI output.

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Disc Makers Launches New Studio Partner Program

Disc Makers has launched its new Studio Partner Program, which rewards studios for referring business to Disc Makers. The new program offers a tiered commission structure—with Standard, Gold, and Platinum levels—and a "My Account" web page where studios can submit new referrals electronically, monitor current projects, and track the status of their commission.

The centerpiece of the new Studio Partner Program is the chance to earn increased commissions. In the new tiered commission structure, studios that refer more CD replication projects to Disc Makers are rewarded with higher commission rates. The highest performing studios make $125 per referral when they refer projects, and they get the chance to earn extra commission on larger projects ($2,500 projects or more). Commissions start at $50 for partners with one referral and $100 for partners with two to four referrals. Each new referral will also make the studio eligible for monthly prize giveaways.

Disc Makers is also launching a new customer service web page that allows Studio Partners to track their referrals online. The new "My Account" webpage is a secure site that allows studios to upload new referrals and client information, monitor the status of a project, and track both their total commission and the status of upcoming commission check mailings.

As with the previous program, Studio Partners and their referral bands each receive a commemorative plaque from Disc Makers' celebrating the completion of their CD projects. In addition, Studio Partners will receive exclusive support materials from Disc Makers including discount coupons (for post-production and mastering services), Disc Makers' catalogs, pre-paid UPS mailers for new CD projects, a 37 Recording Tips brochure, and a guide entitled How to Get Radio Airplay.

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