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November 01, 2005

Table of Contents

Glass Houses: This Christmas, I Want My CD and DVD!
Panasonic Debuts AG-DVX100B 24p/30p/60i MINI-DV Cinema Camcorder
CyberLink Releases Video Editing Software PowerDirector 5
MiraVid Announces Release of RealTime H.264/AVC 1080p Software Decoder
Lynda.com Announces New Final Cut Pro 5 Training CD-ROM
InterVideo and Ulead Enhance HD DVD Playback and Authoring Products With DTS-HD Audio Support
Avid Unveils Next-Generation Shared-Storage Solution
Silhouette FX announces Paint

Glass Houses: This Christmas, I Want My CD and DVD!

OK, so I'm not a replicator. But I've been writing about replication for some time, and like several of the manufacturers I interview, have outlived many of the magazines that have covered the business over the years. I constantly write articles about how physical media should and will be saved from extinction. I've often quoted Video Transfer's Karl Renwanz when he says, "There will always be physical media as long as there is Christmas."

However, this year, I've started to doubt my own rants because I, too, have been downloading music in spite of myself. It all started with my fondness for American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis whose rock band, Pray For the Soul of Betty, has a Web site. I downloaded that music and from there … well, the rest is history. Now, in fourth quarter, with the holidays fast approaching, downloads are not the only thing affecting replicator business. Higher raw material and transportation costs have become the manufactuers' biggest concern during this crucial time. There's good news, however. In spite of it all, replicator business is up in both the U.S. and Europe.

"We are probably going to hit a disc volume at this facility this year that we haven't seen in maybe three or four years," says Inoveris president Melodie Gee. "We've seen an increase in CD demand that surprised me."

Inoveris is not the only outfit to report a rise in CD demand. "CD demand is like a tsunami wave moving over the industry," says Per Save, vice president of sales and marketing at Sonopress USA. While not as enthusiastic as my other two sources, Sean Smith, senior vice president, sales and marketing, JVC Disc America, also reports modest growth. "If you check out the retail sector, the CD format is down 50 million units year to date," Smith says. "However, since we are diversified over various genres, we have experienced growth."

On the music side, both CD and DVD have the potential to get a much-needed shot in the arm. Sony/BMG Music Entertainment told me they have committed dollars in the seven-figure range to market DualDiscs to consumers this fall.

With the exception of Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of The Sith, which is due out this week, blockbuster DVD releases may be on the light side this year, but overall DVD demand is still up. "DVD has flattened at the theatrical level, but the console business continues to grow at low double-digit percentages," according to Smith. (Bad news for Hollywood, of course, but if you're a replicator, you're interested in volume, no matter where it comes from.)

Hermann Heemeyer, senior vice president, sales & marketing, Sonopress, Europe, notes the same trend. "We see strong growth for DVD in music videos and games," he says. "The games industry is beginning to move from CD to DVD format." Bob Hurley, executive vice president of Sony DADC, confirms that PlayStation 2 demand is also at least as good as it was last year.

Despite the fact that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have devastated business in specific areas in terms of delivery, no replication plants were directly in their path. That has been good news in terms of disc supply which, according to replicators, seems to be just enough this year. However, the continuing rise in raw-material costs, exacerbated by the hurricanes, has caused problems in the disc packaging space. "Many polypropylene converters are located on the Texas Gulf Coast," Smith says. "As a result, many Amaray-style case and jewel-case suppliers are speaking about shortages next month. Prices have doubled over the past four months. The result is higher costs and allocation discussions." DADC's Hurley indicates that some commodity suppliers have already invoked force majeure for their inability to deliver their goods.

Packaging price increases over the past four months have been frightening, according to Sonopress' Save, "It seems those suppliers have taken for granted that replicators have no other place to go and will accept higher prices," Save says. "However, they may be surprised to see the industry begin importing more. We understand raw materials prices are squeezing them, but by the same token, our clients are expecting an improved price from the top. It's not good business on the part of our suppliers to raise prices on us five minutes before we are ready to drop a job."

Competition remains fierce for manufacturers. During the busy season, replicators have a better chance of getting reasonable prices for their work, but how will the rising costs affect them in the new year, when they are scrambling for business? "When replicators are hungry, they'll do a lot of goofy things for clients," says Cine Magnetics vice president Bob Orzack. "Clients, for the most part, have become very unforgiving. Everything is based on the almighty price. I lost a very large job last week over a nickel. And it turns out that the replicator I lost it to is only licensed by two of the three royalty companies. There's my nickel!"

I thought perhaps with transportation costs up, customers might be ordering product differently, engendering longer runs. That doesn't seem to be the case. Sonopress' Save says, "At the end of the day, transportation costs are really a small portion of the finished goods price. It costs more to have big orders that are ultimately unsellable."

Hurley disputes my theory as well. "Order sizes are actually getting smaller, and reorders more frequent," he says. "Shelf space is always an issue with so many titles available. Retailers want to sell what's moving, not what's sitting. Sell-through of a title is very high the first week, but then sales usually fall off quickly. I think if you do have a hit title, you are chasing it with reorders as opposed to chasing it with inventory."

All that said, are replicators worried about next year, and physical formats disappearing off the planet? Not so, it appears. "Look at all of the people who said books would disappear once they were available on CD," Inoveris' Gee says. "Or that newspapers would disappear since we now have the Internet. That's not going to happen."

And for the record, I just ran down to my neighborhood FYE entertainment store to buy Nickelback's new CD, All The Right Reasons, prompted by my initial download of the band's single "Photograph" for my new iPod. As easy as it would have been to download the whole thing, it was important to me to get the physical disc--for all the right reasons.

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Panasonic Debuts AG-DVX100B 24p/30p/60i MINI-DV Cinema Camcorder

Panasonic Broadcast has introduced the AG-DVX100B 24p/30p/60i Mini-DV Camcorder with more than two dozen enhancements. The successor to the AG-DVX100A and AG-DVX100, the AG-DVX100B is RoHS-compliant, i.e. a product that is virtually free of lead, arsenic and other hazardous substances, according to Panasonic. Compliance with the RoHS directive becomes mandatory in July 2006 in Europe.

The 4-pound, hand-held AG-DVX100B boasts new specifications that are tailor-made for full-fledged video production. For instance, it is the industry's first DV camcorder to allow camera-to-camera time-code syncho and user-settable file transfer over IEEE 1394, facilitating the AG-DVX100B's use in simultaneous, multi-camera shoots.

Other innovations include 16:9 Letter-box Display Mode on the large electronic viewfinder (EVF) and 3.5" color LCD monitor for distortion-free Squeeze Mode or Anamorphic Display; Remote Control of Focus and Iris (wired) for easier operation when mounted on a jib or tripod; Single Button Character Off for LCD and EVF displays; improved Video S/N for better low light recording; and higher resolution LCD (210,000 pixels) and EVF (235,000 pixels) monitors.

Other key improvements include: a more sensitive on-camera mic; the re-location of the speaker to nearer the LCD screen to make audio easier to hear during playback; slower middle zoom speed; a heavier duty, easily replacement tripod connection; audio off tape or live E-E mode for delay free (echo free) monitoring; an End Search Camera Function to speed up search; a "what you see is what you get" image in the LCD and EVF; a new design for the scene file dial's rib protector to prevent unintentional file changes; a color drop-down display mode for menu choices; and a new color (Black Sapphire).

The camcorder's standard accessories include a CGR-D54 battery, AC adapter/charger, microphone holder, remote control, shoulder strap, lens cap, cleaning tape and instruction manual. Incorporating exclusive CineSwitch technology that supports 480i/60 (NTSC), cinema-style 480p/24fps and 480p/30fps image capture, Panasonic's DVX100 series of mini-DV camcorders has set the standard for affordable 24p acquisition and been proven performers with hundreds of independent movies, TV programs, commercials, and documentaries to their credit. Like its predecessor, the 1/3" 3-CCD AG-DVX100B offers outstanding audio performance, extensive auto and manual controls, and a CineGamma curve designed to emulate the rich look of film.

The AG-DVX100B is available at a suggested list price of $3,995. For more information, visit http://www.panasonic.com/dvcinema.

Also available is the AG-DVX100BSerious production package consisting of the AG-DVX100B, Serious Magic DV Rack software, and a Kata EFP bag.

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CyberLink Releases Video Editing Software PowerDirector 5

CyberLink Corp. has released CyberLink PowerDirector 5, featuring new time-saving magic editing tools, support for widescreen aspect ratios, and high-definition video.

The latest version of CyberLink PowerDirector offers the following features:

  • New Magic Tools: Magic Style and Magic Fix
  • Improvements to existing Magic Tools: Magic Cut, Magic Clean, Magic Motion, and Magic Music
  • Enhanced CyberLink RichVideo technology, featuring Smart Captions
  • Support for high-definition video
  • Support for 16:9 aspect ratio video content
  • Optional support for MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-4 SP
  • Faster previewing of clips with a new "draft-quality", and the ability to disable specific timeline tracks while previewing others
  • Upgraded Title Designer featuring multiple text layers
  • CyberLink Virtual Speaker settings for DVD audio

Magic Tools in PowerDirector 5:

  • Magic Style creates a finished movie from clips instantly and automatically. Users select a look and feel by applying one of 12 preset Magic Style templates. Each template contains a combination of effects, screen frames, and clip length. Effects are applied randomly, frames are applied sequentially, and clip length is determined using a smart video analysis algorithm. Users can choose to add and remove effects and frames on the timeline as desired.
  • Magic Fix provides a quick-and-easy means of improving video and photo quality. Video Stabilizer compensates for jitters created by unsteady camera work. Red-eye Removal automatically detects faces and corrects red-eyes. Photo Re-focus improves the clarity of poorly focused photos by sharpening the edges of image objects.
  • Magic Clean includes options for improving audio and video tracks and photos. New White Balance lets users correct the color temperature of their clips by adjusting the color balance to compensate for different lighting environments. Magic Clean utilizes second-generation CyberLink Eagle Vision (CLEV) 2 technology to enhance the colors and brightness of photos and video, and now lets users adjust the levels of CLEV. Audio is improved with CyberLink Noise Reduction (CLNR) technology.
  • Magic Cut automates the editing of a video into one short clip by analyzing for elements it values highly. Users can quickly turn lengthy clips into interesting and paced videos by simply setting the desired duration. Now Magic Cut allows users to insert background music and automatically fit the video to the length of the music.
  • Magic Music offers a quick way to create soundtracks that perfectly fit the length of a video clip or photo slideshow. A built-in royalty-free library provides a wide selection of music genres and scores, with even more tracks available for purchase online. After dragging their music to the timeline, users have the choice of setting a specific duration or simply dragging to line up with their video clips and photos. Magic Music reworks the music to sound like it's been composed for the new length. Users can now access their Magic Music library for adding background audio to DVD menus.
  • Magic Motion makes still images more enjoyable to watch by adding subtle panning and zooming. Now users have greater creative control by being able to specify which slideshow effect they want to apply. PowerDirector analyzes each image for its main subject and then applies motion based on this key focus. Magic Motion lets users quickly turn a collection of digital photos into an impressive slideshow. With a completely updated user interface and improved workflow, PowerDirector integrates the processes linking editing, authoring and burning, ensuring DVD authoring is quicker and easier.

Other new and improved features in PowerDirector 5 include:

  • CyberLink RichVideo technology saves an enormous amount of production time by reusing video file information created by Magic Cut or Scene Detection functions. PowerDirector stores the information within the files, ensuring that the next time these features are used on the same files, the speed of production is dramatically improved. CyberLink RichVideo™ now stores onscreen video information such as date and time codes as Smart Captions, which are acquired during capturing, and allows the insertion of short text comments.
  • Support for high definition video capturing, editing and output, and support for native 16:9 aspect ratios, allows the creation of files in MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-4 SP formats. CyberLink has licensed Sony's Memory Stick Video Format, allowing users to create video files for playing on today's latest mobile devices like the Sony PSP. Videos can be saved in a broad variety of file types, including HD MPEG-2, WMV-HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, WMV, DivX, DV-AVI, QuickTime, or RealVideo, or burnt to a complete range of DVD and CD media via a CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, or DVD+R/RW burner. Support for MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-4 SP is available to users as plug-in enhancements.
  • Improved Title Designer provides an easy way to add sophisticated text effects to create movie titles, credits and subtitles. Options such as font, color, size, shadow effects and gradients allow users to personalize their creations. PowerDirector now supports alpha-blending frames and banners, ensuring added style with image and text overlays. Multiple titles can be layered, with each title having its own customizable settings. 41 title designs are available. - Previewing Tools include new options for reviewing videos on the timeline. Hide Track lets users isolate tracks on the timeline and watch the results of specific elements, allowing them to select which tracks they want to preview. Meanwhile, three preview resolutions offer faster playback by allowing users to select a lower draft quality video for reviewing.
  • Seamless DVD authoring ensures a fluid process from editing to producing files and creating discs. Improved integration and updated features give users total control over creating professional DVDs for playback on home DVD players. Chapters inserted during editing are maintained for authoring. Users can add stylish motion and still menus, chapter thumbnails, and burn to a broad range of disc media. New Virtual Surround Sound (CLVS) lets users convert their DVDs' audio into virtual surround sound, with three options to simulate different sound environments.

PowerDirector 5 is available for USD 89.95/Euros 74.99 at the CyberStore: http://www.gocyberlink.com/multi/cyberstore/order_4_ENU.html

Retail box versions will be available via CyberLink's network of software publishers worldwide. Release dates differ in each country. Customers interested in purchasing PowerDirector 5 can go to the following link: http://www.gocyberlink.com/english/companybg/retail_distributors.jsp

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MiraVid Announces Release of RealTime H.264/AVC 1080p Software Decoder

MiraVid Inc., a global provider of MPEG technologies and tools, today announced the immediate availability of the H.264/AVC 1920x1080p software decoder. MiraVid H.264/AVC Decoder supports a complete set of profiles and levels including baseline, extended, main, and high, as well as 8-bit data with high 4:2:2 and high 4:4:4. MiraVid H.264/AVC Decoder provides high-quality HD video decoding technology to organizations that need to deliver optimal H.264/AVC decoding performance to the market.

MiraVid supports a wide range of file standards, including MP4, MOV, and H.264 annex B file types. The decoder supports the Microsoft DirectShow application programming interface, allowing customers to quickly integrate MiraVid technologies into their products, thereby reducing their time-to-market. The MiraVid H.264/AVC 1080p Decoder is available now.

www.miravid.com

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Lynda.com Announces New Final Cut Pro 5 Training CD-ROM

Lynda.com has announced the release of a new movie-based tutorial, Final Cut Pro 5 Essential Editing with Larry Jordan. In Final Cut Pro 5 Essential Editing, Apple-certified instructor Larry Jordan teaches the essential editing techniques users need to get up and running with this complex program.

In addition to introducing users to the software, Larry demonstrates the planning and organizing strategies he's developed as a professional video editor that can greatly increase editing efficiency. Exercise files accompany the training videos. A lynda.com Online Training Library subscription, starting at just $25 per month, provides online access to this entire tutorial in addition to more than150 other titles (over 10,000 movie clips) covering a wide range of software, technologies, and techniques.

For free online samples and more detailed product information, please visit: http://movielibrary.lynda.com/html/modPage.asp?ID=165 For more information on this and other training titles, please visit http://www.lynda.com or call 888-335-9632.

www.lynda.com

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InterVideo and Ulead Enhance HD DVD Playback and Authoring Products With DTS-HD Audio Support

InterVideo, Inc. and its partner Ulead Systems, Inc. have announced that the new InterVideo-Ulead HD DVD Authoring Tool and WinDVD HD, InterVideo's HD DVD content playback software, will feature DTS-HD audio support. DTS-HD provides an extensive range of the highest-quality audio performance available in the new HD DVD format standards and can also deliver audio quality at bit rates extending from DTS Digital Surround up to lossless.

While offering playback in legacy equipment, such as existing home theater systems, the DTS-HD codec is capable of supporting a virtually unlimited number of discrete surround sound channels. Within HD DVD DTS-HD provides up to 7.1 channel lossless additionally can downmix to 5.1 and two-channel.

www.intervideo.com
www.ulead.com

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Avid Unveils Next-Generation Shared-Storage Solution

Avid Technology, Inc. has unveiled its next-generation shared-storage solution in the Avid Unity family--the Avid Unity ISIS media network. Unlike other storage area network (SAN) devices that rely on centralized intelligence to manage data, the Avid Unity ISIS system introduces an industry first: Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage (ISIS) that leverages a distributed-intelligence architecture.

This design enables 16 individual storage blades--housed within a single storage chassis (Avid ISIS Engine) - to process media, while simultaneously sharing data and balancing the collective workflow between entire groups of connected storage drives. With its distributed intelligence architecture, the Avid Unity ISIS system has no inherent storage or connectivity limitations and avoids bottlenecks that can occur in storage systems that use centralized intelligence. The result is a real-time shared workflow that delivers virtually unlimited storage headroom, extraordinary resiliency, and vast client connectivity.

Version 1.0 of Avid Unity ISIS comes equipped with storage capacity of up to 64 terabytes (TB) per system, with the ability to link multiple Avid ISIS Engines to one another; connectivity of up to 100 clients working in real-time over standard Gigabit Ethernet; native compatibility with leading Ethernet switching technologies, such as best-in-class products from Cisco Systems; and the flexibility to hot-swap any storage component.

www.avid.com

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Silhouette FX announces Paint

Silhouette FX, LLC has announced the release of Silhouette Paint, an add-on to its acclaimed Silhouette Roto application. Designed from the ground up to handle the demands of motion picture and television visual effects, Silhouette Paint is available as a stand-alone product or as a plug-in. The plug-in version is the first raster paint option for Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects users.

Able to paint on individual fields, Silhouette Paint is a powerful addition to the Silhouette family. The plug-in version is the first raster paint option for Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects. Using powerful multi-layered match moving capabilities, Silhouette Paint can non-destructively apply color, tint, erase, blemish, mosaic, and grain brushes to 8-bit, 16-bit, and floating point clips. Silhouette Paint's clone brush features are especially powerful. To more exactly match a foreground element, paint sources can be transformed on-the-fly by rotation, corner pinning, and scaling in addition to being offset in time or XY space. Four independent clone sources are maintained simultaneously for added flexibility. 

As a stand-alone product Silhouette Paint costs $495 and requires the stand-alone Silhouette Roto, $595. Stand-alone Paint and Roto can be purchased together for a bundled price of $995. Plug-in version prices vary depending on the software.

www.silhouettefx.com

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