Next to WEVA Expo, the DV Expo East and West conferences are the prime destinations for videographers wanting to catch up on the latest techniques and technologies to help them practice their craft. Though it views the world of digital video with a wider lens than does the WEVA show—DV Expo also caters to indie filmmakers and even a few broadcast types—it remains a place where vendors announce plenty of new products of interest to EventDV readers. DV Expo West 2004, held in Los Angeles December 8-10, had its share of new product announcements, though it wasn't quite the bounty we've seen in years past; word from numerous vendors on the floor was that more new product announcements would come in the first quarter of 2005..
While Sony was busy showing off its HVR-Z1U Pro HDV Camcorder, the professional-level followup to the HDR-FX1 that it announced in November, JVC unveiled the 3-CCD GY-DV5100, the successor to the DV-5000. It doesn't shoot HDV—the single-chip JY-HD10U and GR-HD1 remain JVC's only HDV offerings—but it continues the DV-5000's ability to integrate with direct-to-edit recording modules like Focus Enhancements' FireStore FS-3 in the DR-DV5000U configuration. The FS-3 units attach directly to the rear of the GY-DV5100 and feature hot-swappable, removable FireWire hard disk drives for tapeless storage and capture. With a 24-bit digital signal processor, the GY-DV5100 also promises higher resolution and less noise, and the 12-bit analog-to-digital converter is designed to enhance both color and detail The camcorder is shipping now; pricing was unavailable at press time.
In a move that should be a harbinger of partnerships to come, Serious Magic and Panasonic teamed up to include a full version of Serious Magic's DV Rack software with its AG-DVX100A MiniDV camcorder. The AG-DVX100A/DV Rack bundle—a mouthful the companies thankfully shorthanded to the Serious Production Package—is the first of its kind, a camera/software pairing designed specifically to improve professional videographers' performance in the field. DV Rack acts as a "virtual rack" that emulates traditional video hardware tools such as a vectorscope, waveform monitor, video analyzer, and camera setup module; it also acts as a digital video recorder [see Stephen Nathans' review, September EMedia, pp. 24-26]. The AG-DVX100A is a three-chip camera with enhanced 24p and 30p progressive mode functions. The bundle is available for around $4,000 from authorized U.S. Panasonic dealers. Hopefully, we'll see more of these kinds of bundles in months to come; they're long overdue.
Serious Magic also announced a lower-cost version of DV Rack, DV Rack Express. At an MSRP of $99.95, it features the DVR 600, a scaled-down version of DV Rack's DVR 1000 digital video recorder, as well as the PDM 840, a lite version of the PDM-1410 broadcast field monitor that can replace a camcorder's LCD display with the ability to view your shot on your laptop, complete with color bar monitor and TV-safe area display. The other DV Rack feature available in Express is DV Grabber, which captures and saves high-resolution stills from live DVD-Video or DVR 600 clips.
And for the corporate and educational videography crowd, Serious Magic introduced Master Sets Library 3 for its ULTRA chromakey and virtual set software. Among the new virtual sets are a conference room with a cityscape visible through the windows, a lecture hall, and a corner office set. Each of the sets include multiple angles and places to insert additional video sources or graphics; the lecture hall, for instance, features a stage flanked by two video screens into which other video can be inserted. The Master Set Library 3 retails for $495 and is available at www.seriousmagic.com.
Just because there were no new HDV cameras announced at DV Expo doesn't mean the event was without its HDV appeal. Avid announced the release of its Xpress Pro HD software, the first version of Xpress Pro with HD support , which at the moment is limited to capturing from a Panasonic DVCPRO HD camcorder. But that's set to change in mid-2005, when Avid plans to deliver a free software update that will add native HDV support to Xpress Pro HD. Additional new features include DV50 FireWire capture and output, making the software compatible with both the standard Panasonic DVCPRO camera and JVC D-9 (formerly Digital-S) digital betacam, and expanded film support. The software retails for $1,695, with upgrade pricing of $49.95 for existing Avid Xpress Pro customers. Alas, Xpress Pro HD is Windows-only, at least until the company releases a Mac version, which it promises for 2005.
DV Expo West also played host to a handful of camcorder accessory announcements, including two new filters from Tiffen. The company touts the Glimmerglass series as featuring a new diffusion filter technology to soften fine details while adding a mild glow to highlights, a perfect fit for the wedding videographer. For the videographer ambitious enough to want to create cinema-like effects, Tiffen also introduced the Smoque filter series, which promises to recreate the look of smoke without mechanical smoke generators. And Tiffen subsidiary Davis & Sanford introduced its ProVista Airlift, a hydraulic tripod designed especially for MiniDV cameras that features a "floating action" feel for on-the-fly height adjustments.