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Streaming Media
February 07, 2006

Table of Contents

The DVD Writer: Rescuing the Golden Goose
Primera Announces Bravo XR-Blu Disc Publisher
Plextor Enters Network-Attached Storage Market
Alera DVD/CD Publishers Now Available at Micro Center
Adobe Releases Flex 2.0 Beta Products to the Developer Community
MacroSystem, Inc. Announces the High Definition Video RT/HD
Azden Adds To Wireless Speaker Line-Up
Digital Film Tools Releases Snap for Photoshop
Litepanels Introduces New 1x1 LED lighting system
StoryViz 2 To Ship in Late February 2006

The DVD Writer: Rescuing the Golden Goose

The immediate question is, will Blu-ray Disc (BD) recorders, drives, and players read and write all types of CDs and DVDs? Will they clear the fog of application formats and content-protection measures? In last month's column, I chastised BD device manufacturers for ducking clear answers to these questions. And surveying the broader situation, we see the same dismal failure in the industry's current CD and DVD equipment strategies.

A trip around the Web or a visit to any consumer electronics store shows just how frustrating optical storage has become. For example, while recent computer-based DVD recorders write and read both single-layer DVD "plus" (+) and "dash" (-), the same can't be said for DVD-RAM, both double and dual-layer recordable formats, or all speeds of blank media. And what about the free-for-all in the set-top world? Laudably, a few units handle most everything. But most just do DVD-R/-RW or DVD+R/RW, while still others DVD-R/-RW/-RAM or even DVD-R/-RW/-RAM/+R. Throw in DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL, forthcoming DVD+RW DL and DVD-RW DL, DualDisc, CD-R, CD-RW and the profusion of application formats and compatibility issues just gets worse. Pity the poor consumer!

The inability or unwillingness of optical storage product manufacturers to grasp consumer compatibility concerns highlights a failure to acknowledge and deal with this market confusion of their own creation. There is now a vast ad hoc, multicultural, multinational, multigenerational universe of incompatible physical disc, application, and protection formats emanating from directly competing commercial interests. If there is to be any chance of consumer salvation, manufacturers must, at a minimum, offer rationally grouped format choices and then clearly communicate simple and meaningful compatibility messages.

This can only be accomplished through a full-scale multilateral agreement to identify and adopt appropriate requirements for umbrella CD and DVD compatibility specifications encompassing all computer and consumer electronics devices (PC, set-top, TV combo, camcorder, automotive, etc.). What I envision is something comprehensive and inclusive, universally recognized, and understood at a glance.  

But if such an effort is to have any chance of success it must be championed by an organization with a synoptic vision and broad industry credibility devoted to optical storage so manufacturers will listen, participate, and take action. As it stands, the industry is awash in makeshift trade groups and standards bodies engaged in various technical and promotional activities either directly or peripherally dealing with optical storage. A few of these include the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the DVD Forum and its nemesis the DVD+RW Alliance, CDs21 Solutions (CDs21), the Recordable DVD Council (RDVDC), RW Products Promotion Initiative (RWPPI), the RAM Promotion Group (RAMPRG), HD DVD Promotion Group (HDDVDPRG) and the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). But from my perspective, most of these either have narrow mandates that deal with provincial matters such as advancing specific format agendas, or they lack sufficient optical storage focus or resources to properly engage, encourage, educate, and sell both manufacturers and consumers.

For example, the CEA might be able to garner enough support for such a specification and advance a convincing promotional message for CE devices as it did with its SDTV/EDTV/HDTV television designations initiative. But does the CEA have a sufficient commitment to optical storage or the ability to influence or speak on behalf of the computer industry?

To my mind, the only group that might fill this universal role is OSTA. Formed in 1992 to promote the use of writable optical technologies, OSTA is an inclusive body consisting of software publishers, hardware, and blank media manufacturers as well as CE and PC interests. In the past, it has played a valuable role in establishing and promoting media compatibility and interchangeability and has served an important educational function as an industry spokesgroup. Given this history, a comprehensive effort along the lines of OSTA's original MultiRead specification comes to mind. However, OSTA isn't the accepted authority it used to be with many influential industry figures disappearing over the years as manufacturers lost interest or strayed in order to pursue their own self interest agendas.

Optical storage compatibility is now unintelligible for most consumers and is destined to only get worse. The time is long past for industry members to take charge and act together or they risk killing the goose that has been laying their golden eggs.

Hugh Bennett (, an EMedia contributing editor, is president of Forget Me Not Information Systems (, a reseller, systems integrator and industry consultant based in London, Ontario, Canada. Hugh is the author of Understanding Recordable & Rewritable DVD and Understanding CD-R & CD-RW, both published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).

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Primera Announces Bravo XR-Blu Disc Publisher

Primera Technology, Inc. has announced its Bravo XR-Blu Disc Publisher. Bravo XR-Blu is the world's first automated burn and print device to support new high-capacity Blu-ray Disc recorders and media.

Along with its built-in robotics and full-color direct-to-disc inkjet printing, the Bravo XR-Blu incorporates Pioneer Electronics (USA), Inc.'s new BDR-101A Blu-ray Disc/DVD Recorder. Blu-ray enabled recording software based on technology from Sonic Solutions, is included to provide a complete and professional Blu-ray Disc publishing solution.

The initial release of the Bravo XR-Blu utilizes single-layer discs to store up to 25 gigabytes of data. An upgrade will be available shortly after launch that will allow dual-layer media, which stores up to 50GB of data per disc. Since up to 50 discs can be loaded into the Bravo XR-Blu at a time, this gives a total native capacity of up to 2.5 terabytes of data that can be published in a single session. Blu-ray discs utilize shorter wavelength blue lasers in order to store far more data than any other optical disc technology commercially available.

As the first automated system to use Blu-ray technology, the Bravo XR-Blu is expected to be used in a wide variety of cutting-edge applications in business, government, military, medical, banking, insurance, back-up and archival, high-definition video, digital movie post production and more.

The Bravo XR-Blu is fast and easy to set up and use. It connects via USB 2.0 to any PC running Windows XP/2000. The Bravo XR-Blu recording and mastering software was written using AuthorScript Data Backup with BD Support from Sonic Solutions. It supports both Blu-ray and DVD+/-R media. SureThing CD Labeler, Primera Edition, is included to make direct-to-disc labeling fast and easy.

A unique feature of the Bravo XR-Blu is the built-in blue LED array that illuminates the interior, making it simple to view operation. All supplies replenishment is accomplished from the front panel, allowing the unit to be placed almost anywhere on a desk, a shelf or on a countertop. Two units can be stacked vertically to effectively double capacity and throughput. An optional rack mount kit is available for a standard 4U, 19" wide rack.

The Bravo XR-Blu sells for US $5995 (MSRP). It is expected to begin shipping in April 2006 and will be exhibited in Hannover, Germany, at CeBIT from March 9-16, 2006. Primera is located in Hall 1, Booth D77. Primera's products are available in more than 85 countries through its Authorized Resellers and Distributors.

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Plextor Enters Network-Attached Storage Market

Plextor Corp., a developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media equipment, has announced the PX-EH family of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Available in two capacities--250GB and 400GB--the external hard disk drives (HDD) are designed to allow multiple users to share data with fast performance assured by a high-speed processor and UltraDMA 133 HDD technology.

The Plextor PX-EH series of NAS devices are designed for professionals and small businesses that require extra data storage capacity and easy backup capability. In addition to providing instantly accessible shared storage across the network, the devices include a print server that can share a USB-connected printer. Other built-in functions include an automated backup scheduler, administrative security, and the ability to configure the device as a dedicated FTP server. Throughput for FTP transfers is 94.5Mbps, compared to 60-85Mbps for comparable products.

The Plextor PX-EH Network Attached Storage devices are compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems. Users enjoy silent operation thanks to the heat-releasing aluminum case and convection cooling design, which eliminates the need for a noisy fan. Set up is easy for customers with a DHCP server--just connect to the network and power up the unit.

The Plextor PX-EH Network Attached Storage device family is shipping to distributors in North and South America on March 1st. The PX-EH25, with 250GB capacity, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $299.00 USD. The PX-EH40L, with 400GB capacity, has a MSRP of $449.00 USD. All retail packages include two-year full warranty and unlimited toll-free technical support.

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Alera DVD/CD Publishers Now Available at Micro Center

Alera Technologies, Inc., developer and manufacturer of Aleratec USB, DVD/CD duplicating, recording, and digital imaging solutions, has announced that its DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS personal publisher and its 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS production publisher are available at Micro Center, bringing affordable disc publishing to retail customers. Not only are Aleratec disc publishers available at, they are available chain-wide, off the shelf, at Micro Center retail stores.

Aleratec publishers implement the LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling technology. Until now, DVD/CD disc publishing required the integration of direct-to-disc printers that dramatically increase the cost of a publishing system. LightScribe is a technology that offers consumers and businesses a simple, no-hassle way to burn professional-looking, silkscreen-quality labels on their CDs and DVDs. Using the same laser that burns data in their disc drives, customers burn their data as always, flip the disc over, reinsert it into the drive and burn precise, iridescent labels, eliminating the need for an integrated printer and making Aleratec publishers much more affordable.

All that is required for LightScribe disc printing is LightScribe-enabled media. There are no expensive ink cartridges, no messy markers or adhesive labels, just amazingly clear labels right before your eyes. This adds up to the lowest cost of ownership of any disc publishing system.

The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS was the first LightScribe disc publisher. It records/duplicates DVDs and CDs and laser etches custom silkscreen-quality labels directly on the discs without a printer. The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS (Aleratec Part No. 260148, Micro Center SKU 545186) has an Estimated Street Price of $399. The 1:1 DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro LS is at least an order of magnitude lower priced than most solutions offering DVD/CD duplicating and label printing functionality. 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS supports up to 4 simultaneous DVD/CD Copies or Recordings, or produces up to 4 simultaneous silk screen quality LightScribe labeled discs. You can create your own custom labels, with text and graphics, using the unique Aleratec Disc Publishing Software Suite, powered by Droppix, included FREE! with purchase. The 1:4 DVD/CD Tower Publisher LS (Aleratec Part No. 260150, Micro Center SKU 943498), is the only LightScribe DVD/CD Production Publisher and it is available only from Aleratec.

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Adobe Releases Flex 2.0 Beta Products to the Developer Community

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced the public beta of Adobe Flex 2.0 product line and Adobe Flash Player 8.5, the leading application development solution for delivering rich Internet applications. Developers everywhere now will be able to build next generation Web experiences that help organizations engage users more effectively, increase productivity, and deliver better business results.

The Flex 2.0 product line provides developers with a powerful and extensible application framework, intuitive programming model, standards-based data integration, and a powerful Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) for application development and UI design. With an extensive component library, advanced data integration, and support for standard back-end server infrastructures, Flex 2.0 enables developers to build virtually any type of rich Internet application, from simple interactive sites, to rich data dashboards and portals, to data intensive enterprise applications.

The following components are part of the Flex beta program:

  • Flash Player 8.5 — the latest high-performance client runtime for engaging Web experiences
  • Flex Framework 2.0 — the core programming model and component library for Flex
  • Flex Builder 2.0 — an Eclipse-based IDE for developing rich Internet applications with the Flex Framework
  • Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 — essential data services and an open adapter architecture for delivering data-intensive rich Internet applications and deeply integrating with enterprise service-oriented infrastructure
  • Flex Charting Components 2.0 — extensible components for advanced data visualization

Beta versions of the full Adobe Flex 2.0 product line and Adobe Flash Player 8.5 are available now from Adobe Labs, at

The Flex 2.0 product line is expected to be commercially available in the first half of calendar year 2006. Adobe is introducing a new tiered licensing model to bring the power of Flex development within reach of every professional application developer. The Flex Framework will be made available free of charge through the Flex Software Development Kit, which will include the command line compiler and documentation required to develop, compile, and deploy Flex applications that connect to XML and SOAP web services with no additional charges or server licensing required. Flex Builder 2.0 will be sold for less than $1,000 and will provide advanced visual design, intelligent code editing, debugging, and automated testing for delivering rich Internet applications.

Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 will be free of charge for use by a limited number of concurrent users on a single, non-clustered server. Flex Enterprise Services 2.0 also will be licensed commercially on a per CPU, per project, and enterprise license basis. Final pricing and licensing for the Flex 2.0 product line will be announced when the products become commercially available.

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MacroSystem, Inc. Announces the High Definition Video RT/HD

MacroSystem, Inc. has announced the delivery of a new conversion box that provides live, full-resolution display of HDV material. With this technology, individuals may now efficiently archive, duplicate, and view HD-V footage, without compromising the resolution through compression and lengthy conversion times.

In 1996, Macrosystem introduced its line of standalone non-linear edi¬tors, providing videographers with a powerful and easy-to-use resource for producing professional digital videos. The Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD debuts as a unique product in the market by providing individuals with a way to work with native HD-V material in a convenient studio setting, without requiring a larger and more expensive HDTV monitor.

The Macrosystem High Definition Video RT/HD provides individuals with a multi-purpose tool well-suited for any HDV editing environment. The Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD connects via FireWire and in real-time enables the full resolution HDV signal to be viewed via either DVI or VGA ports and outputs a resolution of up to 1920 X 1200. This device is compatible with all HDV camcorders, recorders, and HD-V editing applications, according to MacroSystem. This console includes a removable 250 gigabyte hard drive, providing up to 30 project partitions and storing up to 23 hours of HDV ma¬terial. The HDV Recorder is compatible with all formats: 720p, 1080i, NTSC and PAL and a single hard drive can contain any combination of these formats. Ideal for professionals and prosumers working with HD-V streams, the Macrosystem HD-V RT/HD is the solution for vendors using industrial HDV presentations and Point of Sale HDV applications where playlists and continuous HDV streams are desired. The HD-V Recorder has an MSRP of $1999. For more information, visit

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Azden Adds To Wireless Speaker Line-Up

Azden Corp is announcing the newest addition to its wireless, powered speaker line: the APS 25b battery powered speaker. While including all of the same features of the AC powered APS 25, the new speaker adds the ability to operate without being plugged into an AC outlet, making it completely wireless.

The APS 25b uses an internal, rechargeable battery which allows the speaker to operate for 6-8 hours non-stop before needing to be recharged. If AC power is available, the speaker can be plugged-in and used while being recharged. Additionally, since the speaker is portable, a removable handle is included.

Features include four separate audio inputs, two of which are for modular, user-installable, wireless micro-phone receiver modules - VHF (30 channels available), UHF (63-channel switchable) or Infrared (2 user-selectable channels). The other inputs are for a wired microphone and a wired line output devise such as a CD player. All four inputs have their own volume control so that they can be perfectly mixed together. There is also a line-output for multi-speaker applications, a variable high-cut control for reducing feedback, a master volume control and Auto On/Off circuitry.

The speaker ships with a wall-mount bracket and can also be stand-mounted - vertically or horizontally. The front-panel has LED indicators for Low charge, Full Charge, Standby, On and Charge. The APS 25b gives installers the ability to have the right system for almost any situation. The built-in wire-less receiver systems can be used with either body-pack lavalier or handheld mics. By attaching one of Azden's plug-in transmitters to the house mixing console, the house feed can be sent to any number of speakers wirelessly. Wireless receiver modules can be changed any time without tools.

Available at the end of Q1 2006, the APS 25b will have an MSRP of 250.00 for the speaker only while one-channel wireless systems will start at $450.00. The APS 25b will be available in all of the configurations currently available to the AC powered model.

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Digital Film Tools Releases Snap for Photoshop

Digital Film Tools, the Los Angeles based full-service visual effects facility specializing in feature film and television special effects, has announced the release of Snap for Adobe Photoshop. Snap is an easy-to-use interactive image cut-out tool.

Image cut-out is the process of removing or isolating an object in a picture. Using a coarse-to-fine editing approach, an area of the image is cut-out by first marking the object and then refining the boundary. Object marking occurs at a coarse level, which roughly defines an object by marking a few lines. Next, boundary editing works at a finer scale by either clicking and dragging polygon points to edit the object boundary or drawing a stroke along the object's edge.

The extracted object can then be combined with another image or individually filtered in Adobe Photoshop. The challenge becomes defining which parts of the image are foreground, the portion to be cutout, and those which belong to the background. Snap provides instant visual feedback by snapping an editable curve to an object's boundary even if it has vague or low contrast edges. This is made possible by utilizing unique graph-cutting and segmentation algorithms. More accurate results are achieved in a shorter amount of time than using existing tools and techniques.

Digital Film Tools is an offshoot of a Los Angeles-based full-service visual effects facility specializing in feature film and television special effects. Snap is available for download or purchase at: for $50.

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Litepanels Introduces New 1x1 LED lighting system

Litepanels has introduced the new Litepanels 1x1 LED lighting system, available in 5600ºK flood or spot, and 3200ºK flood models. Litepanels 1x1 combines the company's hallmark ultra-efficient LED technology with a sophisticated, slimline design. The new 1x1 shares many innovative features of Litepanels' award-winning LED lights. An integrated control knob on the back enables instant dimming from 0 to100% with no shift in color. Absolutely silent and heat-free, Litepanels 1x1 can be positioned comfortably close to a subject's face, filling it with an unmatched quality of soft, wrap around light.

Engineered for quick and easy set up and operation, Litepanels 1x1 weighs just 3 lbs. (1.36kg) and measures 12" W x 12" H x 1.75" D (30.5cm x 30.5cm x 4.4 cm). This lightweight, ultra flat-profile system adapts to a variety of lighting situations. The unit's yoke allows for mounting via standard TVMP receptacle. Its housing enables multi-panel configurations, making it easy to customize to each job's specific requirements. Plus, the new 1x1 is equipped with remote dimming capability. Litepanels' groundbreaking design features a unique look-through capability.

The 1x1 incorporates a pattern of hundreds of precisely aligned mini-portals into the housing. This enables the operator to view the subject being illuminated from behind the unit.

Litepanels 1x1 runs off a variety of 9-30V sources, including a standard camera battery or car battery. The external 90-264V AC adapter supplies power through an unobtrusive 6 ft. attached input lead and 6 ft. grounded US plug/power cable. For additional lighting control, Litepanels offers an optional kit of interchangeable slide-in color/diffusion gel filters for both daylight and tungsten versions. Production models of the Litepanels 1x1 are scheduled to ship late April 2006. Prices start at $1995 list.

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StoryViz 2 To Ship in Late February 2006

REALVIZ, a leader in image processing software development, will now ship version 2 of StoryViz, their 3D previz and storyboarding software, from the end of February 2006. REALVIZ StoryViz enables directors, visual effects supervisors, 3D animators, graphic artists, and film-makers of all levels to prepare, in real time, each sequence of a movie with an amazing level of detail.

Version 2 of StoryViz, which debuted at the Siggraph exhibition in Los Angeles in July 2005, was showcased along with a selection of the other REALVIZ applications at this week's IMAGINA show, which took place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco from February 2006. StoryViz enables movie-makers to prototype each individual scene and to simulate complex shots, in real time. It is based on a powerful 3D rendering engine and a complete set of non-linear editing tools to create, edit and author all the components of a 3D scene. With StoryViz, you can do the following:

  • Create 3D scenes: either by importing elements from Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, or REALVIZ ImageModeler.
  • Create actors directly in StoryViz from a series of predefined human characters, and animate them using posing information or pre-set animations.
  • Define, locate and animate cameras and lights.
  • Edit and compose sequences using a set of non-linear editing tools.
  • Add comments and paint drawings.
  • Preview sequences in real time.
  • Generate composited sequences/video rushes, or export data to Maya or 3ds Max for further rendering.
  • Create HTML pages with accompanying text for detailed step-by-step storyboards.

Version 2 of StoryViz now offers a range of new features, designed specifically to streamline the previz workflow, including the following:

  • Drag and drop of .OBJ object and .GBX files into the application.
  • FBX file format support.
  • Import of tracked camera data and image planes from REALVIZ MatchMover Pro.
  • Import of 3D environments created using VTour, REALVIZ' latest image-based modeling software from panoramas.
  • The ability to define customized characters using a predefined skeleton, inside Maya or 3ds Max, to create the actors required for your particular sequence.
  • Full visual control and editing of cameras, lights and object trajectories, in 3D.
  • Support for animated textures.
  • Rotation and translation constraints for objects, actors, lights and cameras.
  • Measuring tool in 3D.
  • Direct export of sound volume variations in the final avi file.
  • Sequence fade control to selectable color.

StoryViz is available for Microsoft Windows 2000/XP through REALVIZ resellers worldwide at a price point of 990 Euros/$1,200 US excl. VAT. A demo version of StoryViz 1 is currently available for download from the REALVIZ website, with version 2 following around the end of February 2006. For further information on StoryViz, please go to

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