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August 23, 2005

Table of Contents

Glass Houses: Replicators--Decorate Your Discs!
Roxio Launches Toast 7
ISO To Adopt OpenType File Format as Font Standard For MPEG-4
Leitch Adds Panasonic DVCPRO50 Support to VelocityHD and VelocityQ NLEs
Photodex Corporation Releases Professional Slideshow Software, ProShow Producer
Magnet Media Now Shipping DVD-Based Training for Apple's Soundtrack Pro
Gigskinz to Introduce New Coffin Case
Toshiba Extends World Automotive Hard Disk Drive Market Leadership With New 30GB HDD

Glass Houses: Replicators--Decorate Your Discs!

As a little girl, I remember my mom buying me a 45RPM single from the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). I think it was a song called "Telephone Line." Although I could be mistaken about the song, I remember it was ELO and I remember it was translucent green. 25 or 30 years later, I still remember it—the way the disc looked as much as (or more than) the song itself. As the entertainment and media industry continues to create better packaging, they are also putting a lot more thought into disc decorating as well. While disc decoration might not pay off immediately for replicarors, it will put volume in their plant and ultimately money in their pockets.

When CDs began replacing LPs in the 1980s, I used to interview art directors at the various labels, and they all were frustrated. Were the days of beautiful artwork for music releases gone forever? Hardly. With the dawn of DVD, content providers really began to expect more from their replicators since their product had a higher perceived value. Recently, replicators such as Sonopress, Zomax, and Cine Magnetics told me about some steps they've taken to kick their art services up a notch, both in terms of packaging and on disc printing.

Let's look first at Sonopress, which has joined another arvato/Bertelsmann company under one roof in Louisville, Kentucky. Coral Graphics, Sonopress' sister company, is a leading supplier of printed book components in the U.S. Having both companies under one roof will obviously speed time to market, but it seems as though having the creative side of the business at a replicator's fingertips will allow for greater choice in packaging. "If you were to take a look at a paperback softcover and you were to look at a DVD wrap that goes into an Amaray case, it's very similar," says Mitch Weiss, Coral's vice president of sales. "Book customers have experimented with decorative covers versus standard printed covers, and they find that the appeal of the cover with the higher perceived value caused the sales to increase in velocity and in quantity. Media content providers are starting to realize the same thing. It is even more of a challenge for CD and DVD content providers because unlike a book, media is shrinkwrapped," Weiss explains. "You really need creative solutions that will show through that wrap."

As for printing on the disc, I've been writing about offset printing since the early 1990s, and replicators have often said it is too expensive and too slow. Equipment has evolved quickly over the years, and with the advent of DVD, attitudes changed as well. Some disc designs have gotten so creative that sometimes content providers choose clear package to show off the disc. Some 90 percent of Hollywood DVDs are printed on an offset printer, one source told me. Even the music industry has moved to offset in some cases as they try to counteract the downloading trend with more attractive presentation strategies for physical media. Disc manufacturer Zomax will be offering offset printing to their customers sometime late this quarter. "Our customers increasingly are looking to Zomax for more unique print and packaging ideas to distinguish themselves in the marketplace," says Zomax VP of marketing George Hadjiyanis.

While concentrating on nuances might not be such a stretch for larger replicators, it is interesting to see a niche manufacturer like Armonk, New York-based Cine Magnetics put more effort into printing. This summer, Cine Magnetics added DVD On-Disc Digital Printing to its services. This is not offset printing. Cine Magnetics' Bob Orzack not only boasts that the photo quality color and resolution is "extraordinary," and also allows disc personalization to combat piracy.

The disc decoration process Cine Magnetics is using is not offset-based; it uses equipment manufactured by Autotec Digital and produces photo quality that's better thn offset, Orzack claims. "This is a single piece of equipment with accessories that costs upwards of $350,000," Orzack says. "Art is sent electronically to their facility in Boston. They create a photographic roll of microscopic-thin labels. These labels are heat applied to the top of the disc. They become part of the disc and can't be removed. We generally have rolls back within 48 hours."

I asked Orzack why printing has become so important. He said, "It's a weird question because it depends on who you ask. In reality, I don't think there is a replicator on the planet that would want to spend the money that we are spending for digital printing except for the fact that you have got to follow the trends." While the quality of silkscreened discs has significantly improved in the last two years, a lot of clients are still not happy with it. While he says silkscreening now already looks as good as offset, going beyond that, quality is a great selling tool.

Kammann Machines offers a different technology called digital offset printing which is direct to disc--no labels involved. CD manufacturer NOW Disc is now using Kammann's K15.50 for its digital offset disc printing. According to Steve Gilbertson, Kammann's midwest manager, digital printing offers a price savings over other print technologies because of the efficiencies of reduced changeover time at the press along with reduced prepress time. The cost justification for digital printing will impact the bottom quickly, he says. It's important to note, Gilbertson says, that disc-surface printing is a "fixed cost" business. "If you print one or a thousand discs, the cost per disc are the same," Gilbertson says. The future digital printing equipment will have a more attractive price than that of the traditional printing machines today, according to Gilbertson.

Some replicators say they haven't invested money in printing as yet because they don't believe they'll recoup the investment. In the off season, "companies are giving away offset printing because they want the work," one manufacturer told me. "It's difficult to add hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and not recoup a penny, but during the slow season, it's a buyer's market."

But in the busy season that investment may truly pay off, especially for the ever-fiscally conservative music industry. They need to learn a lesson from Hollywood. It's a lot more exciting to receive a beautiful disc in a beautiful package than it is to download to a silver disc that you write on with a Sharpie and then put in a jewel box that will likely break the next time you open it!

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Roxio Launches Toast 7

Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions, has announced Toast 7, the most significant upgrade ever to its industry-leading Mac CD & DVD burning suite. Toast 7 complements and extends the functionality of the Mac OS and iLife applications with new features and ground-breaking capabilities that empower users to copy, save, hear and see their entire digital life on CD and DVD.

Toast 7 will be publicly available direct from Roxio starting August 31 and in stores in early September. Headlining the latest version is a number of features that make previously impossible tasks a reality for Mac users. These features include multi-image High Definition slideshows with pan and zoom effects, transitions and background soundtracks, audio DVDs with over 50 hours of rich Dolby quality music and advanced navigation, and data spanning, which allows users to backup large files, folders and applications across multiple CDs and DVDs. 

Toast 7 also is the first third-party application on any platform to support DivX 6. The integration of the latest powerful compression technology allows users, in a single step, to turn DivX format files into DVD-Video discs. In addition, users are able to convert any video file to DivX and turn iMovie HD and FinalCut HD projects into true high-definition video discs to enjoy in the comfort of their living room on their DivX HD-enabled DVD player.

Toast 7 will be available August 31st direct from Roxio at ( http://www.roxio.com/go/toast7 ) and will be widely available at retail stores in early September for a suggested retail price of US$99.95. Toast 7 is currently available for pre-order from select online retailers. In the United States , a $20 mail-in rebate will be available on August 31st to current owners of Toast, Jam, Popcorn, The Boom Box, iLife, and Mac OS X.

www.roxio.com

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ISO To Adopt OpenType File Format as Font Standard For MPEG-4

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced that the International Standards Organization (ISO) has accepted, for review, Adobe and Microsoft's proposal to use the OpenType font file format as the basis of a new open font format for handling text and graphics, within the MPEG-4 standard.

Developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft, OpenType is a cross-platform font file format, which provides rich multilingual support and advanced typographic control. Adobe has converted the entire Adobe Type Library into this format and today offers thousands of OpenType fonts. Use of OpenType fonts is supported in current Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS operating systems, allowing users to choose from among thousands of fonts provided by dozens of digital font foundries. "

At its last meeting in Poznan, Poland at the end of July, MPEG approved formal standardization of OpenType. With the help of Adobe and Microsoft, the first version of OpenType specification text will be submitted to the ISO approval process by MPEG in September. MPEG will then use the specification as the starting point for the ISO standard "Open Font Format."

Other companies will be able to reference and use the OpenType specification, at no cost, to implement an Open Font Format solution. Interested parties will also be able to submit proposals for enhancements and clarifications to the Open Font Format specification through standard ISO processes.

www.adobe.com

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Leitch Adds Panasonic DVCPRO50 Support to VelocityHD and VelocityQ NLEs

Leitch Technology Corporation, a provider of SD/HD solutions for professional digital video, has announced the addition of support for Panasonic's DVCPRO50 format in version 9.1 of Leitch's VelocityHD and VelocityQ non-linear editing (NLE) solutions. Version 9.1 of VelocityHD and VelocityQ offers direct real-time playback of DVCPRO50 files from Panasonic's P2 series of products.

When equipped with the Server Interchange Option, VelocityHD and VelocityQ 9.1 also feature the ability to push and pull DVCPRO50 content to and from Leitch's modular, scalable NEXIO(tm) server system. The VelocityHD HD/SD NLE combines the innovative Altitude hardware platform with the powerful and intuitive Velocity software interface, bringing guaranteed, full-quality, real-time editing performance to the HD realm at an affordable price, according to Leitch. VelocityQ combines the Velocity software with the Quattrus multi-stream, real-time non-linear editing hardware, forming a tightly integrated, multi-layer, standard-definition NLE solution. VelocityHD and VelocityQ are available as fully integrated, "ready to run" turnkey solutions, or as boardset-and-software bundles for installation into qualified Microsoft Windows XP Professional workstations.

Existing VelocityQ 8.2 users can purchase upgrades to version 9.1 through authorized Leitch postproduction resellers. U.S. customers can also order VelocityQ 9.1 software upgrades directly from the Leitch e-Store at www.leitch.com. VelocityHD version 9.1 is scheduled for release in September and will be available as a free download from the Leitch Web site for all registered VelocityHD users.

www.leitch.com
www.panasonic.com/broadcast

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Photodex Corporation Releases Professional Slideshow Software, ProShow Producer

Photodex Corporation has released ProShow Producer, a high-end multimedia slide show presentation product designed specifically for professional photographers. Producer is equipped with new features designed to streamline workflow and enable professional photographers to create quality slideshow presentations that sell.

Features in ProShow Producer include multiple layers per slide, RAW file support, custom show templates, professional DVD menu authoring, color profile awareness, watermarking, caption interactivity, and manual show control.

ProShow Producer's enhanced workflow capabilities make it fast and easy to create highly customized slide shows that sell. Slide show templates and menu templates can be created to minimize repetitive work. RAW file support, new to ProShow Producer, saves file conversion time when using high-resolution images.

The encoding speed of Producer has also been optimized for faster performance. It is up to ten times faster than other industry leading DVD authoring and video editing software applications, according to Photodex. PC shows and DVD menus can now be branded and customized to represent a photographer's identity.

ProShow Producer allows a photographer to customize every aspect of a DVD menu including layout, pages, and color scheme, giving them more control over the output quality. For PC Shows, photographers can customize the progress status bar, the volume bar and title bar text, the CD icon, and more.

ProShow Producer's layering function allows photographers to add multiple images and videos to a single slide, with transparency and masking capabilities. The interactivity function makes it possible to use text as links to other slides, websites, or menus, giving photographers further control over their slide shows and enabling them to generate more revenue from their work.

ProShow Producer is available from www.photodex.com for $499.95. For a limited time only, ProShow Producer is available at a special introductory price of $399.95. A fully functional trial is available for download.

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Magnet Media Now Shipping DVD-Based Training for Apple's Soundtrack Pro

Magnet Media, Inc. has released Inside Soundtrack Pro, an interactive self-paced training DVD for Apple's newest audio application. The DVD is designed to teach users to build sound effects, foley, and score for a fictional movie trailer, and do it all non-destructively.

As both a standalone application and as part of Apple's Final Cut Studio, Soundtrack Pro allows producers, video and film editors, motion graphics artists, and DVD authors to work with on multitrack projects and audio file projects (with an actions based waveform editor), to score, sweeten, add sound effects, and find and fix problematic audio. The training is appropriate for users new to sound design and familiar with other audio applications.

DMTS training DVDs are available in some Apple retail stores, as well as local Apple specialists and Authorized Apple Pro Video Resellers. Users may also purchase the training directly from Magnet Media's website at www.digitalmediatraining.com. Free lessons from the training are available online. Other recently released products produced by Magnet Media include Inside Mac OS X: Tiger, Inside Final Cut Pro 5 and Inside Motion 2.

www.digitalmediatraining.com

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Gigskinz to Introduce New Coffin Case

Gigskinz, a provider of gig bags, has announced the release of the GSDJDNX coffin case. Built to fit two Denon DNS1000s and one Denon DNX100, the GSDJDNX features a hard removable gig-tray and features a shoulder bag. Lined with plush fur lining and constructed out of Gigskinz carbon fiber-style material, the GSDJDNX also features two oversized quick-access pockets to hold accessories and extra gear.

GSDJDNX features include the following:

  • High-tech, water resistant carbon fiber style fabric
  • High density foam body that maintains shape and protects gear from impact
  • Hard removable gig-tray
  • Plush fur lined interior for added cushioning and protection
  • Heavy duty, grip-dimple bottom lining and feet
  • Molded high-tech lockable rubber zipper pulls and handles
  • Hide away, adjustable, hefty-grade nylon shoulder straps w/ comfort padded shoulder pad
  • Molded high-tech rubber top carrying handle
  • Comfort padded shoulder straps
  • Industrial grade thick-tooth zippers
  • Four quick access, oversized utility pocket for cables, documents and accessories
  • Snap-on cell phone holder

The GSDJDNX carries an MSRP of $199.99.

www.gigskinz.com

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Toshiba Extends World Automotive Hard Disk Drive Market Leadership With New 30GB HDD

Toshiba America Information Systems (TAIS), Storage Device Division (SDD), the industry pioneer in small form factor hard disk drives, has introduced two 30GB 2.5-inch hard disk drives (HDD) for use in automotive entertainment, information and navigation applications. These fourth-generation automotive HDDs feature improved capacity and provide alternative temperature ranges to assist automobile manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers in designing robust digital devices for the car. Toshiba's specialized HDDs feature enhanced temperature specifications and humidity control to provide reliability amid the extreme conditions of the automotive environment. "

Toshiba's line of automotive HDDs enable a variety of applications, such as GPS navigation, digital music and video, and other telematic systems. According to research firm IDC, the number of HDDs consumed for automotive applications will grow from 2.4 million in 2005 to 8.5 million in 2009, as automotive manufacturers, car dealers and aftermarket suppliers continuously introduce new digital devices that enhance the driver and passenger experience.

Toshiba's 30GB 2.5-inch HDDs are currently shipping and support temperature ranges from -16o to 70o Celsius (MK3029GACE), and -20o to 85o Celsius (MK3029GAC). Measuring 69.84 mm wide, 100 mm deep and 9.5mm high, these HDDs weigh in at 96 grams and can withstand operational shock of 200g and non-operational shock of 800g, providing a rugged and dependable option for cars and SUVs as they travel through extreme temperatures and terrains across the globe.

www.toshiba.com

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