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December 09, 2005

Table of Contents

An Event Videographer in King Arthur’s Court; or, What's at Government Video Expo For Us?
Adobe Completes Macromedia Acquisition
FOCUS Enhancements and Panasonic Highlight New HD Direct To Edit Video Disk Recorder
Disc Makers Unveils Re-Designed Automated Elite Duplicator and Printer Line
Eovia Carrara 5 Now Shipping
Digital Heaven releases Multicam Lite 1.03 at a new lower price of $99
Automatic Duck Announces New Features in Pro Import FCP 2.0
Blue Pacific Announces Turbine Video Engine SDK

An Event Videographer in King Arthur’s Court; or, What's at Government Video Expo For Us?

Why on earth would a wedding videographer spend three days at a convention aimed at video production and distribution for government agencies? For the same reason that Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest: because it's there, of course! GV Expo is the only video convention of any size that's held in my hometown area of Washington, D.C.

But it isn't just proximity that made attending this event worthwhile for me. I got a lot out of it. First and foremost, there were the seminars: For three years now, GV Expo has not only held their own series of seminars (often with thrilling titles like "The Problems of In-Car Cameras" for law enforcement departments), but they've been a site for the Digital Media DC Conference. DMDC, organized by Future Video Concepts, offers a set of seminars on things like Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, video production, business topics for freelancers, and certification tracks in Final Cut Pro and Apple Motion. You'll probably recognize some of the presenters: people like Douglas Spotted Eagle, Luisa Winters, George Avgerakis, and Richard Harrington. I was kept so busy going to DMDC seminars that I had to work hard to squeeze in a couple of visits to the show floor! Everyone in this business needs to budget some time and money towards continuing education, and seminars like these can be highly rewarding.

During the breaks between seminars, and also before and after show hours, I had the privilege of meeting several people who are "names" in our industry, as well as others who don't have such high visibility in the community, but were equally fascinating. Besides the aforementioned Spot and Luisa, I also chatted with Chris Hurd, the author of the original XL1 Watchdog Web site; Martin Hash of Hash Animation Master fame; Philip Nelson, the VP of NewTek's video division; and many others. Not only was it delightful to be able to put faces to names that were well-known from books, magazines, and online forums, but everyone I met was friendly, knowledgeable, and more than willing to share their expertise.

In between schmoozing with the pros and attending seminars, I wandered through the show floor. There were well over 250 exhibitors this year. Many of them were displaying products and services that were of little interest to us event video types, like digital signage, terabyte media storage and search engines, law enforcement video, etc. But there were also a number of products that were of significance to our industry. Here are a few that caught my eye; some of them will be reviewed in more detail here in the coming months:

  •  An aluminum rail that attaches to the grid of a suspended ceiling, turning any acoustic ceiling into an instant lighting grid.
  • The Elite Pro from Disc Makers, an affordable robotic DVD duplicator that won't tie up your main computer while it works
  • NewTek's [VT] 4 and TriCaster (the latter an EventDV Best of 2005 selection)
  • Several royalty-free music companies--most of them high end "needle drop" license companies, but at least one (Omnimusic) that was preparing a product aimed at the wedding and event market
  • Hash Animation Master, an affordable ($300) yet powerful 3D modeling and animation program
  • Marshall's line of small, high resolution LCD monitors for field production or studio use.
  • Lite Panels' line of LCD lighting instruments--expensive, but intriguing
  • A display of Petrol Bags--camera and gear cases for all sizes and occasions
  • Lowel Lights--everything from studio soft boxes to tiny on-camera lights (If Lowel didn't have what you wanted, Arri had a booth across the way that probably did.)
  • One booth, for the training company Apple/Mac Business Solutions, with a line of Macs running Final Cut Pro. You could sit down at an empty workstation and start following along with the presenter. It looked interesting, and much more hands-on than the usual trade show product demo.
  • A new line of high-definition projectors from Canon
  • A lavaliere mic that pins to your shirt like a tie-tack, and can be disguised with a decoration.

In addition to the above, there was HD everywhere you looked, ranging from large-screen LCD and plasma displays to HDV camcorders. The Sony HVR-Z1U seemed to be in almost every booth. B&H had their famous "camera shootout" display, where passersby could directly compare the performance of about a dozen different camcorders. Sony had their full lineup of high-def equipment, from the tiny HVR-A1U all the way up through HDCAM. The new JVC GY-HD100U 720p camcorder was available and easy to get hands and eyes on. So was the new Canon XL H1. Unfortunately, the long-awaited Panasonic AG-HVX200 only made an appearance as a prototype unit in a glass case.

Government Video Expo might not be quite as "on target" for our segment of the video world as, say, a WEVA Expo or the upcoming 4EVER Group Video 06 Convention in Orlando, but it was an informative and exciting three-day event for this wedding and event guy. The next one is December 6-7, 2006. If you're in our nation's capital then, maybe we'll meet up and talk shop!

Back to Contents...

Adobe Completes Macromedia Acquisition

When Adobe announced its plans to acquire Macromedia prior to NAB 2005, speculation immediately began regarding which tools from Macromedia and Adobe would survive and which would see end-of-life announcements. After Adobe announced completion of the Macromedia acquisition on December 3, the combined company wasted little time answering the question. The initial results are a bit surprising.

Adobe's press release, noting the completion of the acquisition and the share conversion of 1.38 Adobe shares to 1 Macromedia share, stated that the "company will begin executing the planned integration of the two companies' operations, networks and customer care organizations to ensure a smooth transition and immediate value for customers . . ."

That "immediate value" took the form of three bundles: a Design Bundle, which includes Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2) and Macromedia Flash Professional 8; a Video Bundle, which will be released in 2006 and is expected to combine Adobe Premiere and Macromedia Flash Professional 8; and a Web Bundle. Adobe's Web Bundle is the most ambitious of the three bundles, combining the full Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2) Premium suite of products with the full Macromedia Studio 8 suite. Adobe's online store price for the Design Bundle is $1,599 for the full retail version and $949 for an upgrade version; the Web Bundle sells for $1,899 (full) and $899.00 (upgrade).

Interestingly, Adobe is not yet choosing between its own products and those it acquired in the Macromedia deal. Since the Web Bundle contains both CS2 and Studio 8, it contains two Web development programs-Adobe's GoLive CS2 and Dreamweaver 8-as well as two photo manipulation programs, Photoshop CS2 and Fireworks 8. This means the pricing of the combined Web Bundle is approximately $300 less expensive than purchasing the Creative Suite Premium 2 and Studio 8 separately. But some customers--those who only need the Web design or photo manipulation software, for instance--may consider that less of a bargain than Adobe anticipates, given that the standalone versions of GoLive CS2, Dreamweaver 8, Photoshop CS2, and Fireworks range in price from $300 to $650.

Flash 8 will play a prominent role in Adobe's strategy, as each bundle contains Macromedia Flash Professional 8. The press release hints at Adobe's strategy, noting that he completion of the acquisition "accelerates Adobe's strategic initiative to advance a powerful software platform, based on PDF and Macromedia Flash technologies, that scales from mobile devices to high-end servers."

This scalability puts Adobe in a position to compete directly with other all-in-one solutions in the digital media and content space. Flash Professional 8 not only contains a robust interactive programming language but also an emerging high-quality video alternative to Real, Windows Media, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. The Flash Professional 8 video codec was licensed from On2 and is known in On2 branding as VP6.

"The explosion of digital content, combined with the accelerating proliferation of mobile phones, wireless devices and the growth of broadband are transforming the way the world engages with information," said Bruce Chizen, chief executive officer of Adobe. "Adobe and Macromedia are at the center of this trend, and together we will build on our combined heritage to redefine the way people and businesses communicate."

Adobe has shifted its focus toward winning the corporate market, while Macromedia's focus has remained on the creative professional. This had raised previous questions about the potential flight of Macromedia's engineering team and the potential cultural rifts between the two companies. To that end, Adobe has structured its new management team to address some of these issues. Macromedia's Stephen Elop has joined Adobe as president of worldwide field operations while Macromedia's chairman, Rob Burgess, has joined the Adobe Board.

Finally, Adobe's "love / hate" relationship with Apple, especially in recent days under Chizen, as well as the company's move toward a Windows-centric approach on several flagship products, fuel speculation that the Macromedia acquisition may be a pre-emptive strike against Apple's heavy push into several of Adobe's categories. Apple's recent release of Aperture paves the way for Apple to field a Photoshop-like product to stand alongside Motion, which has some of the same features as Adobe's AfterEffects. Final Cut Pro, formerly a Macromedia product, has also been a runaway success for Apple.

The company will hold a conference call on December 15, 2005 at 2 p.m. Pacific Time to discuss the cost of the acquisition and its impact on Adobe's financial targets for 2006.

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FOCUS Enhancements and Panasonic Highlight New HD Direct To Edit Video Disk Recorder

FOCUS Enhancements Inc., a worldwide leader in video production and conversion technology, and Panasonic, developer of the DVCPRO family of products, today announced the upcoming line of FireStore FS-100 portable Direct To Edit (DTE) HD disk recorders for Panasonic's new AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 Handheld Camera-recorder at a press conference held at the Universal Hilton. The companies will also showcase demonstrations of the new solution this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center in FOCUS Enhancements' booth (#124) and Panasonic's booth (#101).

As an official Panasonic P2 partner, FOCUS Enhancements specifically optimized the FireStore FS-100 DTE recorder for the new Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 Handheld Camera-recorder, extending its storage capacity and as a backup and a digital disk recording solution. The FireStore FS-100 enables professional videographers to record drop-out free DV/DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50 or DVCPRO HD video streams via FireWire while in the field. They can then connect directly to a Mac or PC notebook or desktop to edit content directly from the FireStore - eliminating the need to digitize footage. In DVCPRO HD and DVCPRO 50 mode, clips are recorded to disk in the MXF P2 format.

In DV and DVCPRO mode, users can choose from the most popular NLE formats including Avid OMF, Canopus AVI, Matrox AVI and more. Broadcast professionals and film makers working with HD will have a complete acquisition to editing solution that will streamline the overall video production workflow - saving valuable time and money.

FireStore FS-100 Key features: 
-- Accepts DVCPRO HD 100Mb/s and DVCPRO 50 SD streams from the AG-HVX200 Handheld Camera-recorder 
-- Extends recording time for P2 customers 
-- DTE - Direct To Edit recording 
-- No need to capture footage on supported NLE systems. Simply import clips from the disk directly to the NLE's timeline and edit immediately · Records both SD & HD formats 
-- Compact rugged design 
-- Comprehensive Graphical LCD 
-- Built in CPU

The FireStore FS-100 is expected to be available in March 2006 at an estimated MSRP of $2,195.

www.focusinfo.com

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Disc Makers Unveils Re-Designed Automated Elite Duplicator and Printer Line

Disc Makers, a leading manufacturer of CD and DVD duplicators, has introduced the new Elite2, ElitePro2, Elite4, and ElitePro4 systems, which showcase the new FlexWare software suite that integrates disc creation, on-disc design, disc duplication, and printing into one easy-to-use application, and the latest 16x DVD±R/48x CD-R drives from Plextor.

The new Elite systems are now shipping and start at just $2,490 (was $3,490) for the 2-drive Elite2 and $4,290 (was $5,490) for the 4-drive Elite4. Both systems can be upgraded to an ElitePro - built-in PC with preloaded software, keyboard, and mouse - for just $500 more. The ElitePro2 is $2,990 (was $4,190) and ElitePro4 is $4,790 (was $6,490). All systems are available with Disc Makers' latest Autograph7 4800 dpi color inkjet printer.

The biggest advancement with the new Elite systems is the newFlexWare software suite that simplifies the duplication process for the customer. The FlexWare software gives customers a single application that lets them custom-create their disc with ease, from the on-disc design and layout, to the content, duplication, and printing. It also has built-in auto settings so that discs come out looking and playing perfectly every time in virtually any media player on the market today. The FlexWare software, along with networking options, an unmatched 24-month warranty, and an efficient 18" wide x 20" deep footprint, give hardware customers the complete, turnkey solution to all of their DVD and CD duplication and printing needs.

www.discmakers.com

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Eovia Carrara 5 Now Shipping

Eovia Corporation, developer and publisher of leading 3D software tools, has announced the immediate availability of the international English and French language editions of the Carrara 5 complete 3D solution. Responding to the need for mainstream accessibility while addressing the sophisticated requirements of professionals, Eovia Carrara 5 is made available in two versions.

In addition to the features previously announced for Carrara 5, this new Eovia release includes: Poser 6 support in Eovia TransPoser 2; improved Poser 6 support with Carrara's new native importer; translucency for more realistic lighting effects; inclusion/exclusion list for lights; replication of volumetric objects (such as clouds); smoothing of multiple objects; and more.

The extensive already-announced feature list for Carrara 5 includes: object and surface replicators; realistic surface reflections by way of the Fresnel effect; faster rendering via fly-through optimizations; an improved vertex modeler borrowed from Eovia's highly-praised Hexagon software; additional rendering enhancements including subsurface scattering, displacement mapping and ambient occlusion; dramatically redesigned user interface and browser and preset wizards; expansion of import/export format support to include After Effects and RPF export, matchmoving support for Syntheyes and MatchMover, and much more.

Carrara 5 is priced competitively at $249, with the advanced Carrara 5 Pro available now for $549. Upgrade pricing starts at $99 for Carrara 5 and $169 for Carrara 5 Pro. Electronic Software Download (ESD) versions of the software are available now on the Eovia webstore (www.eovia.com/purchase/webstore.asp), with boxed versions expected to begin shipping in the US by December 31, 2005, and in early January 2006 worldwide.

www.eovia.com/products/carrara5

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Digital Heaven releases Multicam Lite 1.03 at a new lower price of $99

Digital Heaven, one of the leading creators of software for Apple's pro apps, has announced the release of Multicam Lite v1.03 at the new price of just $99 (previously $295).

Multicam Lite is a standalone Mac OS X application which works in conjunction with Final Cut Pro (v4.1 and later) for the input and output of sequences via XML files. With its innovative and streamlined interface, Multicam Lite makes it easier than ever to cut up to three cameras in real time. DV, DVCPRO25 or OfflineRT source clips can be directly used by the software and there are comprehensive trimming and camera swapping features built in. When the cut is finished, the XML file is imported back into FCP where all the cuts are automatically recreated ready for further effects work or output.

The software is available now for download purchase from the Digital Heaven online store at http://www.digital-heaven.co.uk for $99. A demo version is also available which offers full functionality but does not allow saving of XML files.

www.digital-heaven.co.uk

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Automatic Duck Announces New Features in Pro Import FCP 2.0

Automatic Duck, the creators of Timeline Integration Engine software for digital media artists, has announced new enhancements to Pro Import FCP, its flagship import tool for Final Cut Pro users. Pro Import FCP 2.0, which will be generally available in Q1 2006, will enable digital media artists to import OMF files from popular digital audio workstations (DAWs), such as Digidesign Pro Tools, into Final Cut Pro.

Additionally, Pro Import FCP 2.0 adds significant new features to enhance the Final Cut Pro workflow, such as import capability from Adobe Premiere Pro, the ability to decompose sequences during import, and the ability to translate Avid Title Effects into Final Cut Pro text generators. These features new to version 2.0 are designed to further simplify, and greatly accelerate, the workflow process of importing designed content from disparate editing systems directly into Final Cut Pro.

Pro Import FCP 2.0 will be available in the first quarter of 2006 and will be priced at $495 for new customers and  $195 for an upgrade

www.automaticduck.com

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Blue Pacific Announces Turbine Video Engine SDK

Turbine Video Engine (TVE) SDK version 2.0 creates FLV Flash Video encoded from virtually any video format. TVE SDK may be used in server applications to automatically convert uploaded video to FLV, or it can be used to build FLV Flash Video conversion into multimedia applications.

Contrasting with other FLV video encoders, TVE SDK licensing is designed to be very simple and affordable, without any kind of hidden fees - completely royalty free. The SDK is much more than a simple Encoder - it is a complete tool for the automated creation of Flash streaming video, allowing full control over a wide range of audio and video settings from stunning visual FX to useful video quality and bitrate control.

www.blue-pacific.com

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