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November 08, 2005

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: My Brief Career in the Record Industry
Media 100 announces November availability of Media 100 sw
Iomega REV Drive Backup Kit Bundle Now Includes CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup
Tut Systems Showcases Leading MPEG-4 AVC Technology and Announces Certified Program Insertion Solution at TelcoTV
ViewSonic Eliminates Ghosting with 2ms LCD Offering
Arroyo Debuts its IPTV Video On Demand Solution
Netgear Delivers Wireless at Wired Speeds With Launch of RangeMax 240

The Moving Picture: My Brief Career in the Record Industry

Last July, I shot a concert performance by No Speed Limit (www.nospeedlimitband.com) an up-and-coming bluegrass band whose banjo player, Stevie Barr, comes from my adopted hometown of Galax, Virginia. I did it as a favor for the local tourism director, who felt that a concert DVD would help the band score a record deal, bring fame to Galax, and raise our collective real estate values.

So I dragged in my VX2000 and FX1, tripods, and other detritus, and shot the concert. I edited it in Final Cut Pro and authored in DVD Studio Pro, using a killer motion menu that blew the band away. Though my initial efforts were charitable, the quality of the DVD exceeded everyone's expectations, so I suggested that the group sell the DVD alongside a studio CD-ROM co-produced for them by the Virginia Folklife Association.

While they were mulling this over, I reviewed Roxio Toast, which includes a module that separates audio files into individual CD tracks. I used the concert audio to test it, and ran off a few CDs for the group.

While not studio-quality--as concert audio seldom is, especially when you don't record it in multitrack for later mixing—my CD had some advantages over their studio-produced CD. The studio disc used guitar and mandolin players who had left the group; potential labels needed material produced by the band's current lineup to assess their musical talents. In addition, the concert CD had several newer songs not on the original CD, so was salable to folks who already had the other CD.

The group ordered 150 copies of both discs. Fortune again smiled as I was testing Primera's BravoPro Disc Publisher at the time, which features a 4800dpi Lexmark printer engine, two Plextor drives, and--best of all--a cool robotic arm to move the discs through the duplication process. Using media supplied Verbatim and Ridata for my tests, the Bravo Pro produced the discs efficiently and with outstanding label quality.

Keeping in mind that the freebies would eventually run out, I pondered the long-term cost viability of the No Speed Limit deal, along with some training DVDs I plan to publish in early 2006. The band also requested shrinkwrapping for the discs, another cost I hadn't anticipated. You can buy a cheap shrinkwrapping system and jack up your per-unit labor price, or spend $2,500 or so for equipment that reduces labor costs to 3-6 cents per unit.

My training DVDs will have to be shrinkwrapped, and once I started the analysis, I decided to finish it. Calculating for a 500-disc DVD duplication job, I added media costs per unit (about 60 cents), ink costs for 4-color disc-printing (about 40 cents), jewelcases (50 cents), 4-color printed labels (25 cents, mostly ink), assembly labor at 60 units per hour (17 cents), and shrinkwrap labor (6 cents), as well as amortization of the costs of the Bravo Pro and shrinkwrap machine over 12,000 discs (53 cents). This totaled about $2.50 per unit, or $1,252 for 500 units.

Of course, I'd have to invest $6,400 in equipment to achieve these costs per unit, and sell 12,000 CDs or DVDs; otherwise the per-unit cost could grow much higher. Since I was already fronting all other development costs for the training DVDs, I went online and found quotes on 500-unit quantities of duplicated discs in the $2.69 per-disc range, or $1,345 for 500 units, including full-color printing on the disc, outside cover, and case and shrinkwrap.

Just about then, banjo player Stevie Barr called to tell me about a customer whose copy of the DVD had failed to play. I had explained to Stevie previously that recorded DVDs had a failure rate of about 5%, but this didn't hit home until the first failure. It also hadn't made it onto the band-designed label, as I had recommended, so apparently the end user was fairly irate.

I had forgotten to include the cost of handling anticipated failures into my cost-per-unit computations. At a 5% failure rate, I'd have to replace 25 units of the 500, burning DVD+R discs to swap for the DVD-R media I had originally burned and hoping for the best. Figuring $4 for certified postage and 15 minutes of labor at $20/hour to cool down and ship product back to each customer, plus fully burdened cost of another disc, this added up to nearly $300, pushing the in-house price to about $1,534 and the third-party cost to $1,632. And I had no assurance that the new discs would play on the problem DVD players.

These disc-replacement expenses prompted thoughts about shipping replicated (factory-stamped) discs, which theoretically have a zero defect rate. Here I found quotes for 1,000 mastered DVDs with full packaging for $1,419--twice the number of discs for less than either in-house or third-party duplication. Clearly, this is the road to go with these quantities.

Several weeks later, Stevie called to say that he'd landed a deal to produce another studio CD that would make our concert disc obsolete. He also added that DVD sales were so slow that we probably wouldn't need any additional units. After congratulating him on the good news, I realized that I was officially out of the record business. Considering what I'd learned about the actual costs of disc production, that was good news to me.

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Media 100 announces November availability of Media 100 sw

Media 100, a provider of advanced editing systems for the corporate, broadcast, post-production, and multi-media industries, has announced the availability of preorders of Media 100 sw. This software-only nonlinear editing solution uses media captured by Media 100i or Media 100 HD systems to edit, composite, mix, and export to DVD or Web. The product is expected to ship on November 15.

Featuring an intuitive and easy-to-learn NLE interface, Media 100 sw is a companion to existing Media 100 systems. While Media 100 sw currently does not capture or output to tape without the HDX video I/O board, all other functionality of Media 100 HD is included. Media 100 sw allows existing Media 100 users to add an affordable software-only NLE to their current workflow.

Media 100 sw can seamlessly interchange projects, programs and media with Media 100 HD and all media from Media 100i. All existing import and export workflows, including sending to third-party compressors for MPEG2 for DVD or MPEG4 for web, continue to work as they do with the current shipping Media 100 HD product. A future standalone version will add support for Firewire capture and output from a range of DV and HDV decks and be available as an upgrade to the companion version. Version 1.0 Key Features Include:

  • Edit SD and HD material using the familiar Media 100 interface.
  • Full media and graphics import/export capabilities as well as full support for all Media 100 codecs.
  • Real-time effects and accelerated rendering (depending on processor and drive speeds).
  • Fully integrated Boris Graffiti vector-based titling solution is included. Seamless interchange of media, bins and programs to and from Media 100 HD.
  • Supports media from Media 100i systems.

A comprehensive tutorial helps users to create a Media 100 sw program. Easy-to-use licensing includes Electronic Software Download (ESD) and a 14-day trial version.

Media 100 sw will be shown at the NAB Post+ Production Show, along with Boris FX's integrated solutions. The exhibition takes place November 15-17 at the Javits Convention Center in New York, New York. Users who visit Boris FX at booth 204 are eligible to win a copy of Boris Continuum Complete or Final Effects Complete AVX for Avid Xpress systems.

Preorders of Media 100 sw are available through the BorisFX worldwide reseller channel or direct through BorisFX for $395 US SRP. The product is expected to ship on November 15. The version of Media 100 sw that adds FireWire support will sell for $649 US SRP when it becomes available. Version 1.0 users will be able to upgrade to this version for $245 US SRP.

www.media100.com

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Iomega REV Drive Backup Kit Bundle Now Includes CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup

Iomega Corporation has announced that its Iomega REV Backup Kit now ships with Computer Associates BrightStor ARCserve Backup software, giving small businesses and computer professionals a complete enterprise-strength solution for server and workstation backup including disaster recovery. The Iomega REV Backup Kit includes a REV drive (with either a USB 2.0 interface or an ATAPI interface) and six removable Iomega 35GB REV disks for a native backup capacity of 210GB or a compressed capacity over 400GB.

BrightStor ARCserve Backup software provides full support for advanced network backup features including disk spanning and disaster recovery. The Iomega REV drive and removable disks provide a backup solution that allows for removable media rotation. This enables access to past versions of files to recover from viruses, file deletions and file corruptions that would otherwise propagate to a single hard disk backup solution. The removable REV disks can also be taken offsite to guard against catastrophic events such as fire, flood or other disasters that might destroy the onsite backup.

The Iomega REV Backup Kit with a USB 2.0 REV drive, six 35GB REV disks and Computer Associates BrightStor ARCserve backup software is available now for $599.00. The ATAPI version will be available later this month for $579.00.

www.iomega.com

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Tut Systems Showcases Leading MPEG-4 AVC Technology and Announces Certified Program Insertion Solution at TelcoTV

Tut Systems Inc. will showcase its industry-leading MPEG-4 AVC solutions for encoding and transcoding at TelcoTV Conference & Expo 2005. In addition, the company will announce the availability of a fully-integrated, tested and deployed Digital Program Insertion Solution.

Tut Systems' carrier class Astria content processor platform is releasing MPEG-4 AVC encoding and transcoding functions in the telecom marketplace. With more than 1,000 channels and numerous 100+ channel headend wins in various stages of deployment, the Astria CP, and its recently released Multi-Stream Processor (MSP) card, are leading the telco market for MPEG-4 AVC. In addition, the Astria CP is extending its functionality for existing MPEG-2 digital headend customers that serve a video subscriber base large enough to support ad insertion business models.

Tut Systems certified Digital Program Insertion Solution allows service providers to deliver advertisements and programs on analog and digital channels using common equipment and software and ensures interoperability with leading third-party components.

www.tutsys.com 

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ViewSonic Eliminates Ghosting with 2ms LCD Offering

ViewSonic Corp. has announced the improved response time of its VX Series by 33 percent. Featuring 2 millisecond (ms) average video response time across the entire color scale, the 19-inch VX922 delivers fluid, full-motion images and optimized video performance for a variety of applications, including gaming and digital entertainment.

The VX922 is the first desktop display to combine ViewSonic's proprietary Dynamic Structure and Amplified Impulse video response acceleration technologies to support rates of up to 500 frames per second across the entire color scale. This advancement produces front-of-screen performance for motion video and eliminates ghosting, a problem caused when the tiny pixels creating an image take too long to switch on and off. Typical "fast-response" displays on the market today offer an average gray-to-gray (or intermediate level) response time of 20 to 25ms. ViewSonic's Xtreme LCD lineup provides response time performance up to 12 times faster, making them ideal for extreme gaming, viewing DVDs, watching television and traditional computer usage, like rapidly scrolling content within a Web site or a document.

The VX922 will be available Dec. 1, 2005 through traditional ViewSonic resellers, distributors and mail order for $429. 

www.viewsonic.com/xtreme

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Arroyo Debuts its IPTV Video On Demand Solution

Arroyo Video Solutions, Inc. has announced that it will demonstrate for the first time its comprehensive on demand services solution for IPTV.

Arroyo's demonstrations at TelcoTV will show:
-- Video on demand using the H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) codec, which offers the extra compression required to drive the most revenue from slower last mile technologies.
-- A complete, easy to install, IPTV-based video on demand (VOD) solution, featuring Arroyo OnDemand running on IBM x346 eServers, integrated with leading middleware and set-top boxes. Arroyo's IPTV solution is currently in trial with a major U.S. telecommunications operator.
-- Advanced IPTV applications, including network PVR (nPVR) and addressable advertising, which will differentiate IPTV offerings and maximize ARPU.

Arroyo OnDemand provides the intelligence that enables multiple independent, open standards-based hardware elements to operate as one, delivering critical benefits over competing hardware-based video delivery solutions. These benefits include unmatched flexibility; effortless scalability of streams, content and ingest; and Arroyo's "Always ON" capability that deliver 24x7 reliability and total system availability. Arroyo OnDemand's breakthrough performance includes the industry's first 10 Gigabit Ethernet support, unparalleled streaming density of over 3000 2Mbps H.264 streams per rack unit, and the ability to simultaneously ingest over 400 channels per industry-standard server.

www.arroyo.tv

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Netgear Delivers Wireless at Wired Speeds With Launch of RangeMax 240

Netgear Inc. has announced its RangeMax 240 family of wireless networking products, which are capable of delivering data at speeds previously possible only through wired Ethernet connections. Offering superior reliability and coverage, hallmarks of the RangeMax line of products, while increasing wireless speeds up to 240 Mbps, Netgear's RangeMax 240 family eliminates dead spots in home or office environments and provides fast enough wireless speeds to support simultaneous bandwidth-intensive applications such as high-definition video, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony, streaming audio, and online gaming.

Netgear's RangeMax 240 Wireless Router (WPNT834) incorporates advanced MIMO technology with Adaptive Channel Expansion. It provides a data rate of up to 240Mbps when used with the RangeMax 240 Wireless Notebook Adapter (WPNT511) and USB 2.0 Adapter (WPNT121), meaning that for the first time wireless has attained an effective throughput of up to 100Mbps comparable to that of 10/100 Fast Ethernet wired networks. In addition, it is compatible with and connects simultaneously to RangeMax 240, RangeMax, and all other 802.11b/g clients. RangeMax 240 Wireless Router and Adapters are backed by 24/7 technical support and one-year warranty.

The RangeMax 240 Wireless Router (WPNT834) and RangeMax 240 Wireless Notebook Adapter (WPNT511) will be available this holiday season via leading retailers, e-commerce sites and value-added resellers at $199 and $129, respectively. The RangeMax 240 Wireless USB 2.0 Adapter (WPNT121) will be available in early 2006.

www.netgear.com

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