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September 13, 2005

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: One Size Does Not Fit All
Focus Enhancements And Panasonic Partner To Expand FireStore To DVCPRO HD Format
Sonic Showcases Future of Advanced Interactivity for Blu-ray Disc
Sonic Delivers Phase 2 Production Tools to High-Definition Authoring Alliance
InterVideo Launches New DVD Copy 4
DRD Releases MPEG Editor VideoReDo Plus
LIGHTWORKS Debuts NLE Software
DPI Introduces Next-Generation iVision Projectors

The Moving Picture: One Size Does Not Fit All

While I still wouldn't call it my day job, the amount of video production that I perform for pay, profit, or trade has picked up steadily over the last few years, and the range is diverse. Somewhere on the various computers in my office are a bluegrass concert rendered to DVD and CD-Audio, a DVD of my wife's recent ballet performance, a mixed-content file produced to test streaming media codecs, a DVD compiling test results from EventDV's "Battle of the Software NLE" series (which concludes this month), and the start of two training DVDs.

What's interesting is how the type of project often dictates the tools I use to complete it. Often, I'll start a project on one program and then jump to another because I realize that it will save me time or allow me to produce a superior result, or both. The obvious lesson is that one editor or authoring program does not fit all projects. If your projects vary in terms of artistic and design complexity, you may find it worth investing in additional programs to improve efficiency or product quality. Here are the products that I use, and why—and when—I use them.

My default video editor is Premiere Pro 1.5, particularly for organizationally complex projects, like creating the test tape for the "Battle of the Software NLEs" series and compiling the results. I love Premiere's ability to organize bins and present multiple sequences in nested timelines. It also has wonderful precision tools and clear-cut layering paradigms.

Titling is both accessible and straightforward, more so than any other video editor in its class. Finally, the Adobe Media Encoder makes it easy to produce a video file in any and all required formats, which sounds simple enough but is a function that escapes most other NLEs.

What Premiere Pro doesn't have yet, though rumors abound, is multi-camera editing, and HDV support has been literally fuzzy. I also find Premiere's interface a touch antiseptic, which is wonderful for organization but doesn't get the creative juices flowing. For these reasons, when I'm doing longer or more artistic projects—especially those involving multiple cameras—I've defaulted to Pinnacle Liquid Edition.

Edition has a dark, icon-driven interface and a feeling of throbbing power that can handle anything you throw at it. When I'm producing side-by-side or 4x4 comparison videos from different sources, Edition 6 remains rock-steady and speedy, and it also handles color correction very well and does a great job with slow motion. On the first multicam project alone, it probably saved me more than ten hours of editing time, which more than justifies the $499 list price.

Edition has some gaps, however, particularly in titling, where Title Deko is one or two generations behind the titling tool in consumer sibling Studio. Edition's authoring capabilities are also very limited, which leaves the door open for other multicam-capable editors, and lately I've been editing with Final Cut Pro 5, which on a Dual G5 PowerMac with a 22" Cinema display is near editing heaven. I'm not totally sold on Final Cut; I find its interface almost deliberately obscure at times, and its titling utility, LiveType is overkill and inconvenient to access and use. Final Cut also can't edit HDV and DV video in the same timeline, which takes it out of contention for mixed-format projects.

But it's nice to know that when it's time to author, I'll be working on my absolute favorite authoring platform, DVD Studio Pro. While the advantages of Final Cut Pro by itself probably don't justify the cost of new Mac hardware, when combined with DVD Studio Pro, the bundle gets pretty compelling. One key reason is that DVD Studio Pro has the best-looking templates this side of iDVD.

Menus account for the second impression customers have of my DVDs (first is packaging and labels), and DVD Studio Pro helps make that impression very favorable. DVD Studio Pro is the only prosumer authoring program with transitions, and its playlist feature is the most functional.

Interestingly, the PowerMac can easily log into any Windows computer on my LAN, and I can send files between my Mac and Windows computers all the time,. So if you're concerned about Mac/Windows workflow when adding DVD Studio Pro to your toolset, you shouldn't be. If you're in a position where you can purchase an additional computer and software, check out DVD Studio Pro before making your decision.

As with editing, I find that different authoring tools function better depending upon project complexity and nature. For example, when projects are administratively complex, like training or compilation DVDs, as opposed to artistic, like concert or wedding discs, I find DVD Studio Pro too complicated, with too many hidden nooks and crannies and functions. I used to default to Ulead's DVD Workshop for these types of projects, but migrated to Adobe Encore with version 1.5.

Most recently, I've become a convert to DVDit 6, primarily because of its straightforward operating paradigm and, through eDVD, the ability to enhance the playback experience on computers with high-definition video, PDF files, Web links, and other content. If you're not looking at eDVD yet, you definitely should be, either as an adjunct to your current authoring program or as part of DVDit. The $399 purchase price of DVDit Pro 6, which includes eDVD, makes it a no-brainer.

Jan Ozer (jan@doceo.com, www.doceo.comis a frequent contributor to industry magazines and Web sites on digital video-related topics and the author of DV 101: A Hands-On Guide for Business, Government & Educators, published by Peachpit Press.

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Focus Enhancements And Panasonic Partner To Expand FireStore To DVCPRO HD Format

FOCUS Enhancements Inc. has announced that its strategic alliance with Panasonic has advanced to a hardware development partnership that will focus on supporting DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD.

FOCUS Enhancements is developing an optimized version of its portable Direct to Edit (DTE) FireStore recorders for Panasonic's DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD handheld cameras. The portable FireStore recorders enable professional videographers to record SD and HD video streams via FireWire while in the field and then connect directly to a Mac/PC notebook or desktop to edit content directly from the FireStore.

FOCUS Enhancements joined Panasonic as a P2 Partner in March 2005 after developing a version of its industry leading file conversion software, FireStore DV File Converter Pro, exclusively for Panasonic Broadcast to support quick and easy MXF file format exchange with popular DV editing applications.

The FireStore DTE recorder for HVX200 is expected to be available in March 2006 and price will be less than $2,000 USD, according to FOCUS.

www.focusinfo.com

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Sonic Showcases Future of Advanced Interactivity for Blu-ray Disc

Sonic Solutions has announced that it is unveiling a demonstration illustrating the interactive capabilities of BD-J, the Blu-ray Disc (BD) specification, enabling interactivity for BDMV (movie) titles. Presented in Sonic's IBC booth, the demonstration offers show attendees a preview of the future of interactive HD entertainment, when set-top players will support interactive bonus features similar to those now available only via PC playback of DVD-Video discs.

The BD-J specification allows content providers to enhance the HD experience with set-top support for interactive bonus features that are synchronized directly to the main feature, contextually integrated menus that offer an uninterrupted movie-viewing experience, and content updating via Internet connectivity. The demonstration combines seamless video playback with graphic overlays offering instant menu access to chapters, system settings, and special features such as synchronized annotations. The presentation also shows how content such as trailers may be kept fresh and relevant via Internet updating.

Many of the features highlighted in the Sonic BD-J demo build on capabilities that are already supported in Sonic's authoring and workflow solutions for interactive DVDs, and are being integrated into Sonic's new title development systems for HD-based discs to facilitate the planned launches of next-generation formats in 2005 and 2006.

www.sonic.com

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Sonic Delivers Phase 2 Production Tools to High-Definition Authoring Alliance

Sonic Solutions announced the release of significant enhancements to its production toolset for new high-definition video disc formats. The releases mark the successful completion of Phase 2 of Sonic's development of encoding and authoring solutions to prepare now for the upcoming rollouts of both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD). Covering the entire spectrum of components required for full-service HD disc creation, the tools are being released from mid-August through late September.

The Phase 2 feature enhancements include:

-Video and audio encoding - the Sonic HD-series Encoder now supports additional codecs and features StreamData technology that enables integration with Sonic HD authoring applications via the exchange of key encoding metadata.
-HD DVD Standard Content authoring - Scenarist HD now supports additional audio stream types (Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD), and disc image formatting and output.
-BD authoring - Blu-ray Creator supports High Definition Movie Mode (HDMV), additional stream types including MPEG-2 HD and LPCM, subtitle creation, support for pop-up menus and overlay controls, and disc image formatting.
-Advanced interactivity - HD DVD advanced interactivity code compilations support advanced subtitles, synchronized content (e.g., storyboards and scripts), and in-stream multiplexing, as well as iHD emulation; BD-J advanced interactivity code compilations allow buttons to be overlaid on video for seamless, contextually integrated menus.

With the rollouts of two highly complex HD formats approaching quickly, the availability of pre-release tools gives HDAA members more time to master the challenges of working with the new formats, allowing them to get up-to-speed even as some details of the specifications are still in flux. Sonic is working closely with the HDAA members, incorporating their feedback into go-forward software designs as the components evolve into full commercial products.

www.sonic.com

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InterVideo Launches New DVD Copy 4

InterVideo has announced InterVideo DVD Copy 4, the latest release of its software for making copies of unencrypted CDs, DVDs, video, music, photo, and data files. With the new version, InterVideo adds features such as automated Internet file copy support, support for handheld and gaming devices, and support for the new DivX Media Format features introduced with DivX 6.

With DVD Copy 4's new user interface, users select the source, drive destination, and the video output format. The software's Autofit feature automatically determines how much compression is needed to produce the best-looking results for the output selected.

More experienced users will enjoy DVD Copy 4's customization capabilities that enable them to personalize their DVD/VCD content to suit their individual viewing habits and available space. With these capabilities, they can remove unwanted subtitles, languages, titles, and chapters, or even merge titles from several different DVDs/VCDs onto a single disc. In addition, DVD Copy 4 supports copying and transcoding a DVD+VR or a DVD-VR disc to the DVD-Video format for broader playback capabilities. Emerging formats such as downloaded "VodCasts" will also be easy to customize with DVD Copy and convert from MPEG-4 to DVD-Video discs.

New features that have been added to the latest version of DVD Copy 4 include:

· Internet Copy - Consumers can download videos from the Internet and burn them direct to disc for archiving simply by providing the URL and selecting the video to be copied.
· AutoMake Menu - When burning a video file from a computer hard disc or from the Internet to a DVD disc, users DVD Copy 4 can generate a navigation menu created automatically.
· DivX 6 and the DivX Media Format - DVD Copy 4 users can now create DivX media files with all the features of the DivX Media Format including interactive menus, multiple subtitles and alternate audio tracks for a complete DVD-like home entertainment experience.
· 3GPP/3GPP2 Support - With support for the new standard for digital video media across 3G broadband mobile networks, DVD Copy 4 can now be used to archive and email favorite clips recorded on a mobile phone.
· Sony PSP Video Format Support - Movie enthusiasts can now copy their favorite video clips to Sony memory sticks and playback in the popular Sony PSP video console.
· Copy DVD-Video to Audio CD - Music fans can create their own version of a soundtrack by extracting audio tracks from a DVD movie and saving the file as a MP3, WMA, or WAV file.
· 4.85GB DVD Support - DVD Copy 4 now supports the emerging new format that provides an extra 150MB of capacity, which can be useful for gaming purposes. If the entire disc capacity is not used, the 3mm gap around the outer edge of the DVD disc can act as a protective buffer when burning 4.7GB of content.
· Burn DVD-Video to Disc Image - Using this new feature, movie enthusiasts can copy their home movie as a disc image and then save it to their PC for burning their DVD-Video at a more convenient time.

DVD Copy 4 supports all current recordable DVD media formats including DVD±±R, DVD±RW, CD-R/RW, DVD-RAM, and DVD±R DL.

The suggested list prices for DVD Copy 4 are $49.95 USD for the Gold version and $79.95 USD for the full Platinum version.

www.intervideo.com

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DRD Releases MPEG Editor VideoReDo Plus

DRD has released VideoReDo Plus, a new version of their software product that's designed to enable consumer and professional users to reduce MPEG video editing times.

The new AdDetective feature, exclusive to VideoReDo Plus, detects and removes unwanted TV advertising. Additional video editing features include real-time preview capability; thumbnail views while editing; enhanced graphical display of audio; the ability to create DVD chapter files; and generating transport stream output while editing.

VideoReDo Plus works directly with native compressed streams to avoid massive and repetitious recoding and offering master editing while preserving the full quality of video and audio content. The "smart" rendering technology integral to VideoReDo Plus supports MPEG-1 editing, including VCD; MPEG-2 editing, including DVD and SVCD; as well as High Definition, or HD, program stream and transport stream editing.

VideoReDo Plus solves troublesome synchronization problems quickly and dynamically, according to DRD. The user can rapidly cut and join videos and correct the effects of transmission errors, such as dropped frames when burning DVDs, "noisy" video tapes produced from consumer tape decks, along with a variety of synchronization problems.

VideoReDo Plus is available for $49.99 USD MSRP and runs on MS Win XP, 98, ME, Windows 2000, and Windows 2003.

www.videoredo.com

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LIGHTWORKS Debuts NLE Software

Lightworks UK Ltd is debuting Alacrity MR, its multi-resolution NLE, at IBC2005. Alacrity MR supports variable video standards, compression codecs, and resolution standards. Parent company Gee Broadcast Systems Ltd will exhibit this new edit tool networked with its latest server technology, Geevs MR.

The new Lightworks Alacrity MR (Multi Resolution) editing system allows editors to online or offline HD or SD in 1080i/p or 720i/p transparently. Any frame rate (24, 25 or 30,) and TV standard (PAL, NTSC) or any telecine mode (pull-down or telecined fast) is handled efficiently in the system even when mixing modes or resolutions within the same project. The Alacrity MR+ adds MPEG-2 codec support for HD including HDV. Alacrity's initial product release is targeted to the television long-form and commercial production markets.

Alacrity employs Lightworks' desktop GUI, incorporating a tool set for customization of workflow from digitizing and organizing to editing and playout. Synchronization of multi-dimensional audio and video content is accomplished in Alacrity MR through a minimum of keystrokes, while a secure automatic back-up system resides transparently in the background to ensure continuous workflow.

A truly open system, the Alacrity MR offers material exchange with many other editing and production tools. The use of up-to-the-minute processing technology in the host CPU and GPU provides exceptionally fast performance, whilst the use of standard PC technology results in a competitively priced solution, adaptable to new hardware as it becomes available.

Alacrity MR launches with a number of real-time effects including color correction, 2D and 3D DVEs, wipes, dissolves, and keying for both SD and HD with multiple real-time streams, which can also be accessed through Multi-cam mode. Adobe and After Effects plug-ins such as Inscriber Title Motion and Boris FX can be pulled straight from the system¹s timeline. Any application that exchanges AVI files, including Digital Fusion and Combustion, is also supported. Alacrity MR can import media from the existing Lightworks Touch and enters the market with readily available system enhancements: the Alacrity MR Film Option with all the Lightworks tools for editing feature films and drama and the Touch ME motorized Fader audio console for easy control of up to 16 real-time audio tracks.

Alacrity MR has full support tools for managing large projects and optional network support for collaborative editing or tapeless production using Geevs' new MR servers for ingest or playout. The latest in Ethernet and SAN solutions from simple two-system networking to advanced multiple fully shared environments are provided through Lightworks‘ SharkNET scalable options storage technology. SharkNET is customizable to meet budgets as well as business needs.

www.lwks.com

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DPI Introduces Next-Generation iVision Projectors

Digital Projection International (DPI) has announced the addition of the iVision 20 series to their array of compact single-chip DLP projectors. As the smallest and lightest of DP's precision displays, the 6-lb. iVision 20 projectors feature the latest DC3 DMD technology from Texas Instruments. The units also include vertical lens shift capability, a feature previously available only in larger, more expensive models.

Similar to the original iVision series, the iVision 20 projectors are available with either HD2+ or SX+ DMDs, offering class-leading native resolution for DMD-based 4:3 and 16:9 formats. Among the new features of the iVision 20 series is an on-axis optical design, supported by a geometrically precise 1.85-2.4:1 zoom lens (1.7-2.2:1 on sx+). When combined with the vertical lens shift capability—more than a full frame of shift range--the system delivers maximum installation flexibility and optical control, according to DPI. Standard inputs include DVI, Component, RGB, Composite, and S-Video.

The iVision 20sx+ renders a powerful 2,500 ANSI lumens and 2500:1 contrast while the iVision 20HD delivers 1,200 ANSI lumens and rich 4000:1 contrast. Lamp output is adjustable, making it possible to extend lamp life up to 4,000 hours. Based on the user interface of the original iVision series, the iVision 20 is positioned to serve a diverse range of customers and applications including:

* Dramatic home entertainment
* Digital media and advertising
* Corporate boardrooms and teleconferencing suites
* Training and education
* Retail and entertainment
* Religious venues / houses of worship
* Casinos and hospitality
* Military simulation / command and control
* Process control
* Immersive visualization

Digital Projection will launch the new iVision 20 series at the CEDIA expo in Indianapolis, September 9-12. List pricing will be announced at the show. The first 20 series projectors will commence shipping in early 2006.

www.digitalprojection.com

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