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February 09, 2009

Table of Contents

Delivering HD Videos Online
Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE Now Available
WedFACT Presents The Valentine's Day Anti-Recession E-Session Competition
CineBags Announces the CB-30 CAMERA DADDY Camera Bag at NAB 2009
Class On Demand Delivers Training for Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium
Aleratec Launches Next Generation Hard Disk Drive Duplicator With Buy One, Get One Free Promotion
SNL Kagan Expects Blu-ray to Drive Growth in Home Video Revenue over the Next Decade
RE:Vision Effects Adds Final Cut Express Support for DE:Noise FxPlug Plug-in
TrailerHouseFX.com Launches Online Sound Design Library

Delivering HD Videos Online

So, you’ve been shooting in high definition for a while now, and you are ready to start posting HD sample clips on the web that actually reflect the quality of the footage you’re capturing in your camera and editing in your NLE. You have two options: Do it yourself or use a service. If you choose the former route, you’ll need to know which codec to use and the optimum encoding parameters. If you go with the latter, you’ll need to know how the various services compare. As they say in TV teasers—all this and more, coming up.

The Security Angle
Perhaps the first question on your mind is not how to transcode your video or who should host it but how to keep online pirates from stealing your work and posting it as their own. The short story is that if security is a priority for you, you’ll have to either install a streaming server yourself or find a hosting company that provides a streaming server with digital rights management (DRM), which will be much more expensive than the options I’ll discuss in this article.

To be clear, if you post the HD files to your website without a streaming server, it’s relatively simple for even a technical novice to capture your files in their original format. Even if it’s beyond the meager skills of the odious videographer who would claim your work as his or her own, odds are your would-be nemesis has a buddy who can handle the dirty (and techie) work. As for the inexpensive online services, they work without streaming servers to keep their costs down and offer no DRM protection whatsoever.

What would I recommend in lieu of server-based protection? There are a couple of precautions you can take. First, a well-placed watermark is always tough for a plagiarist to explain away, so I would subtly brand any video I posted to the web, HD or otherwise.

Second, consider distributing your videos in VP6 format. While H.264 is generally higher-quality, the difference is minor, and both H.264 and VC-1 files are easily editable in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and most other editors. If you post video in H.264 or VC-1,  you’re handing the virtual keys to the car thief; if you produce in VP6 format, it’s almost impossible to edit the video without time-consuming (and quality-degrading) conversions.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to rolling your own online HD videos. We’ll start with a quick overview of how HD is being used on the web today.

What Does HD Video on the Web Look Like Today?
When I began working on this article, I searched for wedding videographer sites that posted HD video. I quickly found that while many advertise HD services, few actually post HD clips. So I turned to third-party sites to gauge how HD video is currently being used. It turns out that many sites deploy HD on the web today. These sites can be roughly divided into three classes: movie trailers, trophy sites, and real-world production sites. Let’s look at the video produced by each group and see what we can learn.

There are movie trailer sites and then there are movie trailer sites. Apple’s qualifies as the latter. To find popular movie trailer sites, I Googled five current movies. Apple’s QuickTime trailer site was often the first site listed, and it always appeared in the top  five. This tells me that folks like watching movie trailers at the Apple site, which makes the compression parameters of Apple’s files very relevant.

Figure 1 (below) shows the trailer options for the movie Gran Torino, and it reveals several obvious best practices. First, let the viewer choose the resolution; that way, if the download takes forever, the problem is the viewer’s decision, not your implementation. Along the same lines, if you download the trailer from iTunes, you have two additional choices: 480p and 720p. Note that specs for all configurations are shown in Table 1.

Gran Torino HD on apple.com

Second, consider offering an iPod-compatible option for viewers who want to watch (or show off) their videos on the go. A glance at Table 1 reveals a third best practice: Use the H.264 codec, which gives you the best quality, with the aforementioned negative that the videos can be easily edited by third parties.

Looking at the resolutions and data rates shown in Table 1 (below), Apple is obviously being very generous with the data rate, but the quality is flawless. From the perspective of the wedding and event videographer, you have to wonder about the utility of a 1920x800 option, since so few viewers can actually watch this video at full resolution. Still, I like the concept of rewarding viewers who have high-capacity equipment—so as long as you let them know how large the files are, go for it. That said, I don’t think you’ll scare any prospects away if you max out at 720p.

Apple Movie Trailers data rates table

Progressive Download Versus Streaming
How will you deliver such high-bandwidth files to your viewers? Let’s spend a few moments discussing progressive download versus streaming. If you post files to your web server and deliver them without a streaming server, you’re delivering via progressive download. This means the file is stored to the viewer’s hard disk first and then played by the appropriate media player once enough of the video has been downloaded to start showing the clip. Most users who are watching progressive download video may well think they’re watching a live stream since they aren’t prompted to save a file. And even though the download destination for the temporary video file isn’t obvious to the user, the fact that the file is stored locally is what makes it easy to steal.

In contrast, streaming servers dole out video data as needed to support playback on the viewer’s computer, and the video isn’t stored locally, which makes it much harder to purloin. Technically, only video
transmitted via a streaming server is actually “streaming”; everything else (unless you’re actually prompted to save a file) is progressive download.

Note that if you encode video viewed via progressive download at sufficiently low rates—say, 500Kbps–700Kbps—the viewing experience is identical to streaming; the viewer clicks, the video starts playing, and it continues uninterrupted until the end. That’s why even though YouTube video is technically delivered via progressive download (no streaming servers), the experience feels like streaming.

Understand that for delivering HD demo footage, progressive download is actually a better alternative than streaming—piracy implications notwithstanding, of course. While the ultra-high bandwidth clips may not play smoothly initially, once they’re fully downloaded and stored locally, they should play smoothly from start to finish. This is why Apple uses this progressive download scheme to distribute its movie trailers.

These general parameters aside, let’s analyze some more specific encoding parameters using my favorite video analysis tool, Inlet Semaphore. According to Semaphore, Apple used the Main Profile—rather than the High Profile—to encode these movie trailer files, which is not surprising given that Main is the highest profile supported by Apple Compressor. Compressor also doesn’t support a B-frame interval more frequent than 1, which is the interval used in all Apple trailer files. I recommend producing with the High Profile and a B-frame interval of 2–3 if these parameters are supported by your encoding tools.

Judging by the data rate graph beneath the scary Clint Eastwood image in Figure 2 (below), Apple appears to have used variable bitrate encoding and clearly enabled keyframes at scene changes, which are the little red indicators just below the timeline. Most Apple presets use keyframes every 5–10 seconds; in this trailer, which includes multiple scene changes, keyframes are much more frequent.
OK, enough about movie trailers; let’s move to our second category of HD clips, which I call “trophy” sites.

Inlet Semaphore Data Rate Graph

Trophy Sites
By trophy sites, I mean HD showcases such as those made available by Adobe, Akamai, and Apple, whose average encoding parameters are summarized in Table 2 (below). These sites exist to show life at the outer edges of the envelope, and data rates (and quality) are almost surreal. For example, Adobe encoded one 1080p clip at 28.3Mbps—almost three times higher than Apple uses for movie trailers, albeit at a slightly larger resolution. Obviously, the sole criterion used to encode these clips was quality, not responsiveness (how soon the average viewer could start playing it) or bandwidth cost.

Trophy sites data rates

I mention these clips primarily so I can dismiss them as largely irrelevant for when formulating the ideal parameters for your own demo videos. These clips represent the extreme outer boundary of suggested encoding parameters, and I would model my encoding parameters more closely to either movie trailers or the real-world clips discussed next.
 
Real-World Production Clips
By real-world production clips, I mean clips that are posted for dough, rather than for show. These are clips intended for distribution and consumption. As such, these producers have to focus on responsiveness, delivery bandwidth cost, and quality, which is a relevant troika of considerations for wedding and event videographers as well.

I don’t have a lot of real-world examples, but there are three very relevant ones in Table 3 (below), including two feeds from CBS, both for playback of primetime shows, and one from Hulu.com, a site for TV shows, movie trailers, and other gilt-edged content. Some of this is longform content—both TV shows and actual movies—so the data rates are designed so that some viewers with extremely fast connections can essentially stream the content. Note that both sites also have lower-bitrate versions of their videos available, so viewers with slower-speed connections can also partake.

Real-word sites data rates table

I take a couple of data points from this information. First, the 853x480 resolution is an interesting one, that combines relatively big screen real estate with a data rate that many broadband viewers can play in real time. It’s actually pretty close to the 480p parameters in Table 1 (848x352) and may be worth considering if you’re posting clips to your own website. Second, if I’m producing at 720p, 2.5Mbps looks like a good bitrate target that should combine both high quality and reasonable responsiveness.
 
Choosing a Codec for Online Use
We’ve already covered the security aspects of choosing a codec; let’s look quickly at quality and playability. I’ve compared the big three codecs—H.264, VP6 and VC-1—recently for EventDV’s sister publication Streaming Media: www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=10873&page=3&c=4. In all my HD trials, H.264 is the clear winner, with VP6 second and VC-1 third. As for the difference between H.264 and VP6,
I would rate the advantage in the 5%–10% range; if you were producing at the 2Mbps–2.5Mbps data rate, few viewers would notice the difference. At least with my test clips, however, VC-1 needs a lot more bandwidth to look as good as either VP6 or H.264.

In terms of playability, one of the urban legends about H.264 is that it requires much more playback horsepower than the other two codecs. I’ve also tested the playback requirements of the three codecs, which you can read about in the Streaming Media article Decoding the Truth About Hi-Def Video Production.

To keep a short story short, in all my tests, H.264 proved the most efficient and required the least amount of CPU horsepower on all the computers I used in testing. If you’d like to play the files I used
for these quality or playback tests, visit www.doceo.com/HDcomps.html, which contains the quality comparisons encoded at 800Kbps as well as the VC-1, H.264, and VP6 clips produced at 2 and 3Mbps.

When to Consider an Online Service
I’ve given you my advice for rolling your own. Now, let’s discuss choosing an online provider for those who elect to avoid the DIY route. The interesting first question, of course, is why should you use a third-party provider rather than simply posting files on your own site. There are multiple issues to consider.

First and foremost are the social networking considerations. In the early days of the web, the overarching strategy was to drive traffic to your own website through various marketing techniques such as search engine optimization and the like. In time, most website owners learned that it’s a big, noisy world out there and getting your share of eyeballs is extremely challenging.

More recently, networking sites such as Facebook have evolved from purely social to professional, and if you’re using Facebook for marketing, that’s where your HD videos should reside. Similarly, if you feel there is a benefit from marketing within a community such as Vimeo or SmugMug, where you can build your own commercial channel, you can host your videos there as well.

Interestingly, virtually all video-sharing sites let you embed videos in other sites, including your own website. So if you host your videos on SmugMug, you can still embed them into your own website, doubling your exposure and essentially using SmugMug as your content delivery network. With all these sites, you also get a highly evolved, more attractive player than you could cobble together yourself.

Overview of Online Service Providers
Table 4 (below) contains a list of features for a number of representative video-sharing sites. The list isn’t exhaustive, but between the features table and the mini-reviews that follow, you should get a feel for the comparative features offered by these and other sites.

Features of Facebook, Viddyou, YouTube, Vimeo, SmugMug

Note that I didn’t include the popular video-sharing site Blip.tv in my mini-reviews because of its focus on serial, broadcast-style content. If you plan to launch your own wedding or event video channel, that’s where you should start. If you’re posting sample footage to the web, it might feel out of place on this site.

Facebook
If you’re already using Facebook as a marketing tool, you should consider hosting your HD demo clips there. You can upload an unlimited number of HD videos, each up to 20 minutes long, although the maximum upload size is 1GB. The service is free, though it’s ad-supported.

The maximum supported video resolution is 720p, which Facebook encodes at 2.5Mbps using the H.264 format. The embedded window is a generous 760x340, second only to SmugMug in terms of onscreen real estate. As with other sites, you can expand to full-screen viewing.

Facebook’s biggest negative is that the commercial presence isn’t as attractive or video-centric as other sites. In addition, although you can post business-related information on the site, at its heart, Facebook is still about social networking. It’s hard to imagine that personal comments won’t get posted onto your site, exactly where you may not want prospects to view them.

Moreover, at least from where I sit, Facebook seems more like a lifestyle than a business tool. If you don’t have 652 friends, minute-by-minute details about how you spent your day, and photo albums dating from when you were in diapers, you may not be perceived as buying into the Facebook lifestyle. Finally, sending prospects to view your solemn, tasteful videos on a site containing advertisements for teeth-whitening or similar personal items just seems kind of cheesy. One way to keep business and pleasure separate on Facebook is to have a “fan” site for your business (Figure 3, below), where you sign up “fans” and have a personal page where you connect with your friends rather than prospects. (For more on the marketing and professional pros and cons of Facebook, check out Steve Yankee’s Strictly Business column, Social Networking in the 21st Century.)

Videographer page on Facebook

YouTube
YouTube was first-est with the most-est, but probably isn’t the best choice for promoting professional videography services for a number of reasons. Probably the most important reason is that YouTube is unnecessarily secretive about how to actually produce HD video. Instead of a specifically documented procedure, YouTube offers multiple pages of guesswork.

To a degree, this lack of direction, almost as if by design, seems to have given YouTube the ability to experiment and change direction on a dime, which is good if you’re YouTube but bad if you’re relying upon the site to deliver high-quality videos to your prospects. You also have to wonder if well-heeled brides-to-be are trolling YouTube to find a wedding videographer, especially when they could more easily separate the wheat from the chaff on more professional sites such as Vimeo, SmugMug, and Blip.tv.

With all that said, YouTube’s H.264 quality is very good despite an aggressive data rate of approximately 2Mbps video, with audio at 109Kbps. Though the embedded display is a relatively compact 640x360, as everyone with access to an internet connection knows, you can boost display resolution to full screen, which really looks great. As near as I can tell, the 10-minute/1GB limitation that applies to all YouTube videos from nonpartners appears to apply to HD videos, and YouTube is definitely transcoding videos and discarding the originals.
 
SmugMug
SmugMug (Figure 4, below) is a photo-sharing/selling site that recently added video. It’s the only site I’ve included that doesn’t offer a free service: You’ll need to spend $149.94 per year for the Pro version to upload an unlimited number of HD videos, with a maximum duration of 5 minutes. Pro and Power users ($59.95) can upload SD videos up to 10 minutes in length, but the maximum upload size for any single  video is 512MB. The site is advertising-free for all membership levels, including Standard, which is photo-only for $39.95 annually.

SmugMug

SmugMug recompresses all uploaded files to multiple resolutions depending upon your membership plan and the resolution of the video that you upload. At the Pro level, if you upload a 1080p video (1920x1080), the site will encode lower data rate copies at that resolution at a combined data rate of 7.34Mbps, as well as an HD version (1280x720 at 3.38Mbps), Mid Def (960x540 at 1.9Mbps), DVD (640x480), and web (320x240). If you upload an SD video, the site won’t up-sample and will only create videos at the original resolution or lower. SmugMug encodes all videos into H.264 files with the .mp4 extension, viewed within the site using the Flash player.

The thing that impressed me most about SmugMug was the size of the embedded videos within the page: a full 720p with no advertising. Most of the other sites use a much smaller window for embedded display, relying on full screen for larger display, which SmugMug also supports. You can create your own custom gallery on SmugMug, with more than 37 theme selections to choose from. SmugMug uses Akamai’s heralded content delivery network for video delivery, which should provide a high level of worldwide service.

Vimeo
Vimeo offers a free service, but most pros will opt to spend $59.95 to eliminate advertising from their pages and boost upload capacity to 2GB a week, with a new 1GB per file limit (up from 500MB). Vimeo converts all uploaded HD video to 720p using On2’s VP6 codec, with a combined data rate of 1.56Mbps with 128Kbps audio. At your option, Vimeo will retain the original file that you uploaded and make it available for viewers to download (Figure 5, below).

Vimeo

Vimeo starts HD playback in a 640x360 window, which you can expand to either full screen or 720p. Vimeo has a nice ability to create custom channels, and you can even customize the controls on your video player (Figure 6, below). One hidden cost, however, is that if you embed your video in other sites, you only get 1,000 high-resolution plays with your Vimeo Plus membership. After that, playback drops to SD until you buy additional plays, which cost $9.95 for 1,000; $49.95 for 10,000; or $199.95 for 10,000 HD plays.

Vimeo custom channel

I had a quick scare when I glanced at Vimeo’s community guidelines and saw (caps Vimeo’s): “BUSINESSES MAY NOT USE VIMEO TO PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESSES IN ANY WAY.” However, the site’s instructions later state, “Video makers may upload demo reels of their work. Musicians may promote their
own music/music videos. Independent Production companies may promote the videos they create. Writers may promote their books.” That seems to cover any relevant bases for event videographers.

Viddyou
Viddyou (Figure 7, below) is an advertising-free video-sharing service that lets you create channels that can showcase your wedding videography practice and demo reel. Though the service is free, you’ll have to spend $34.95 per year to upload a limitless number of movies of unlimited length, though any single download can’t exceed 1GB.

Viddyou

The site converts all uploaded videos to FLV format using the VP6 codec at the same resolution as the upload, and you can make your original file available for download. In general, Viddyou is the only site I reviewed that seems too aggressive on the video data rates. For example, the one 1080p clip I was able to find, “San Francisco in HD,” was rendered at 2.86Mbps; and it showed obvious smearing and other loss in detail. In comparison, SmugMug rendered its 1080p clip at 7.33Mbps (in H.264 format), and it looked pristine.

Even some 720p clips, which were rendered at a video data rate of 2.63Mbps, showed degradation, most notably a clip called “The Ghosts of Autumn.” There were some very good quality HD clips—don’t get me wrong—but with other sites, quality seemed a given, while with Viddyou it was more hit or miss.

I also didn’t like the tiny embedded player (414x216) with its “too cool for school” playback controls, which, as far as I could tell, didn’t include stop or pause buttons. You can, of course, scale the video to full screen, toggling scaling on and off to display the video at its native resolution (scaling off) or full screen.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media magazines. He is currently working on a book on marketing your business through video on social networking and other online content aggregation sites.

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Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE Now Available

BorisFX has introduced Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE. Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE brings nearly 200 filters to Macintosh and Windows versions of Adobe CS4 and Adobe CS3 compositing and video editing applications. The new release features 13 new filters including:

• Extruded Text
• Extruded Spline
• Type-On Text
• Layer Deformer
• Smooth Tone
• DV Fixer and Pixel Fixer

In addition, BCC 6 AE delivers unique workflow enhancements such as:

• Support for After Effects' Camera and Lighting System
• The ability to import After Effects mask paths into BCC 6 AE filters
• XML-based custom animated presets
• A single-click custom preset navigation tool
• Motion Tracking data import and export in an industry-standard format

Users can click here download a Free 14-day Trial Version, or purchase BCC 6 AE for $995 via disc or download. Owners of registered copies of previous versions of BCC AE can upgrade for $295, choosing Disc or Download

What's New in Boris Continuum Complete 6 AE

• 13 New Filters: Extruded Text, Type-On Text, Extruded Spline, Layer Deformer, DV Fixer, Smooth Tone, Cartoon Look, Charcoal Sketch, Pencil Sketch, Water Color, Pixel Fixer, Lightning, and Tile Mosaic. Learn More

• Support for AE's Camera and Lighting System. Many BCC filters - including Extruded Text, Type-On Text, Extruded Spline, and Layer Deformer - are now integrated with AE's camera and lighting system.

• Import AE Mask Paths into BCC Filters. From 3D text on a path to custom bevel profiles and extruded spline objects, AE masks can now be used to control the geometry of BCC filters. Now there is no need to learn a custom user interface or switch applications to adjust spline shapes. You may take advantage of AE's familiar mask tools for all custom spline work. Additionally, all BCC 6 AE filters feature the ability to load custom AE spline masks into BCC's PixelChooser matte and masking system for ultimate control over the filtered result.

• Custom Animated Presets. This unique feature lets you save and re-use every parameter animation in every BCC filter - even across hosts and platforms. BCC 6 AE includes 1000+ factory-installed animated presets.

• Single-Click Custom Preset Navigation Tool for easy browsing of presets without opening a pop-up box. Both static and animated presets are immediately applied and the host preview window is automatically updated to reflect the selected preset. Over 1500 factory-installed, user-modifiable presets are included with BCC 6 AE.

• Built-In Motion Tracker Enhancements are found in almost every filter in the set. You may now save motion tracker data from one BCC filter and load the saved data in another BCC filter or in After Effects itself.

• Significant Performance Gains. Every BCC 6 AE filter is either OpenGL-based or multiprocessor-accelerated for ultimate rendering speed on modern computing and graphics platforms.
Boris Continuum Complete 6 for Apple and Avid

Boris Continuum Complete 6 FxPlug for Apple Final Cut Studio and Apple Final Cut Express and Boris Continuum Complete 6 AVX for Avid editing and finishing systems are scheduled for release later in Q1 2009. If you buy BCC 5 FxPlug or BCC 5 AVX as of February 5, 2009, then you will receive a free upgrade to Version 6.

www.borisfx.com

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WedFACT Presents The Valentine's Day Anti-Recession E-Session Competition

WedFACTThis February, international wedding filmmakers will compete to produce the best engagement session product they can. By utilizing both modern and vintage filmmaking tools and even including new fusion techniques, the entries for this competition are poised to be some of the most inspired and most unique showcases of talent seen yet. A unique twist to this competition is that entrants are encouraged to also utilize the latest social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and even their own blogs to find couples to shoot. The competition starts now at http://www.wedfact.net.

October Surprise
WedFACT has also announced the top ten winners of the October Edition Of The Wedding Filmmakers Alliance Of Creative Talent Monthly Competition. Through an exclusive, collaborative online peer-rating system, entries were scored and discussed openly by leading wedding film and video artists from all over the world.

Canada rules the competition once again as Bruce Patterson of Cloud Nine Creative (www.cloudninecreative.com) took 1st Place with his entry "Cloud Nine Creative 2008 Demo".

Rounding out the top three winners were Joey Mathews of 31Films (www.31films.com) with his 2nd Place entry "Re:Frame Inspiration + Vegas = New Next Day Edit" and Nelson D'Freitas of NDF Films (www.ndffilms.com) with his 3rd Place Entry "Illumination".

The complete winners list along with the winning entries can be found at www.wedfact.net.

The winners of our final competition of 2008 will be announced shortly.

These competitions are a run-up to later this year when The Wedding Filmmakers Alliance Of Creative Talent brings you WedFACTION.1 (www.wedfaction.com), the largest international online wedding film festival & competition. Rules, requirements and exclusive new categories will be announced on wedfaction.com.

About WedFACT
The Wedding Filmmakers Alliance Of Creative Talent serves to encourage, educate and empower film and video artists from around the world to achieve the highest levels of success in the artistic, creative and business aspects of the wedding and event filmmaking industry. Through online collaboration and discussion, WedFACT is the definitive source of shared learning and inspiration for leading visual wedding artists.

http://www.wedfact.com
http://www.wedfact.net
http://www.wedfact.tv

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CineBags Announces the CB-30 CAMERA DADDY Camera Bag at NAB 2009

CineBags adds to its line of dedicated camera bags by introducing the CB-30 CAMERA DADDY. This camera bag features a customizable interior that allows for a snug fit for the latest camera such as the SONY EX3, SONY Z5U, Panasonic HVX200, or RED ONE.  Two bottom rails and side carry handle make loading the bag into your trunk or equipment truck easy and efficient.  Other features include an ID tag to label your camera bags, waterproof material, large padded shoulder strap, oversized zipper, large opening for easy camera loading, 4 exterior pouches, see through pouches in the flap, personal ID tag, and the famous CineBags keychain “Remove before filming.”
 

The CB-30 CAMERA DADDY is available in the traditional CineBags color scheme of black, gray with orange webbing as well as a limited edition in Digital Camo.

The new CineBags CB-30 Camera Daddy will be introduced at the 2009 NAB in Las Vegas and will be available shortly after the show at your authorized CineBags dealer such as B&H, Able CineTech, Mole Richardson, and your CineBags online store.

 

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Class On Demand Delivers Training for Adobe Creative Suite 4 Production Premium

Class on Demand, a provider of professional educational products for creative markets, announced today it has released its much-anticipated "Basic Training for Adobe® CS4 Production Premium" title. Class on Demand has once again turned to award-winning industry veteran and recognized CS4 guru, Tim Kolb, as the on-camera instructor for the title.

"Class on Demand has a great reputation for delivering high-quality video-based training. We're pleased to see them deliver the latest title that will help our customers get the most from their Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Production Premium software," said Ginna Baldassarre, senior product manager, Creative Suite Production Premium for Adobe Systems.

"Basic Training for Adobe® CS4 Production Premium" provides over four hours of instruction covering each application within the integrated suite of tools. Kolb teaches users new to Adobe Creative Suite the features of each application, how and when to use each feature, and how to work between applications. Creative elements that Kolb uses for instruction are included on the disk so that students can follow along and compare results. Class on Demand's training features overlays that call out keyboard shortcuts and tips that are often overlooked by other training materials. The self-paced course is suitable for both new users and producers moving from earlier versions of Creative Suite.

"The training titles covering Adobe's products are an important part of our business. We have enjoyed tremendous success with our other Adobe titles and early orders for our CS4 product indicate that this will be no exception," says Paul Holtz, founder and CEO of Class on Demand. "We are constantly receiving emails from our customers telling us how our training has really helped them grasp the fundamentals of the product and become proficient users. Tim has once again delivered an outstanding training program for this exciting addition to Adobe's product line."

www.classondemand.com

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Aleratec Launches Next Generation Hard Disk Drive Duplicator With Buy One, Get One Free Promotion

Aleratec Inc., leading developer and manufacturer of "Prosumers' Choice" solutions for the Blu-ray, DVD/CD, Flash, HDD, USB duplicating, and DVD/CD publishing markets, launches the
next generation of the Aleratec award winning stand alone, the 1:5 HDD Cruiser(tm), a hard disk drive duplicator and sanitizer all in one unit. The 1:5 HDD Cruiser will duplicate up to 5 HDDs simultaneously. It can also sanitize up to 6 HDDs to assure that confidential data is unreadable The sanitizing capability is particularly important with the rapid advancement hard drives, upgrading drives in systems is commonplace and it is important that confidential data is removed from the old drives before they are recycled or discarded. The 1:5 HDD Cruiser is a stand alone unit and no computer is required for operation so there is no need to tie up a computer for hours running complex software to duplicate or sanitize hard disk drives.

"Duplicating the contents of a hard disk drive is easy with the 1:5 HDD Cruiser. It is equipped with quick load drive bays so there are no cumbersome external cables needed. Just load your source drive in the top bay and load up to 5 target drives in the in the remaining bays. The 1:5 HDD Cruiser will copy the exact content and format of the source drive to the 5 targets. This is a powerful and effective tool to upgrade hard drives for multiple systems and ideal for IT departments and small office Prosumer users. You can even add site licensed operating systems and application programs so a system upgrade is completed with just a drive swap." said Perry Solomon, President and CEO of Aleratec. "The sanitizing capability of the 1:5 HDD Cruiser
overwrites all readable data so that it cannot fall into the wrong hands. Only Aleratec offers affordable, easy to load and unload, hard drive duplicators with these powerful features."

The 1:5 HDD Cruiser's drive bays are equipped with quick and easy loading doors. Open the drive bay door to load or unload a drive, it is that simple. The drive bays are made of Aluminum for optimum thermal conductivity minimizing any issues that can be caused by overheating of drives in process. When a drives slide in the drive bays and he drive
bay doors are closed, high integrity electrical and data connections are made automatically. Each drive bay has internal Non Scratch SATA connectors designed for greater than 50,000 swap cycles minimizing worries about drive connection issues. Data confidentiality has always been an issue with government classified information and with recent laws intended to protect the privacy of
individuals health and financial information, it has become a legal concern to most industries. Industry and government are forced to confront the challenge of protecting the confidentiality of classified, corporate, client or patient data. Many organizations must now comply with new federal and state laws mandating rigorous standards for handling, distributing and using confidential client, corporate or patient information or be subject to very serious, even ruinous, penalties.

The Aleratec HDD Cruiser provides 3 options for sanitizing hard disk drives, each providing a more advanced level of security. 1) One pass data overwrite is to write zeroes to every block on the hard drive. 2) Three pass data overwrite writes one pass of zeros, one pass of 1s and one pass of a randomly generated pattern to every block on the hard drive. You have the option to verify the random pattern to provide assurance that the overwrite was completed. 3) Seven pass DoD 5220.22-M has been derived from the Department of Defense 5220.22-M standard for
secure overwriting of hard disk drive. After the overwrite process the hard drives appear to a computer as new drives without initialization or formatting.

The innovative Aleratec 1:5 HDD Cruiser (Aleratec Part No. 350104, Ingram Micro SKU V01575, Tech Data SKU 90870M) is proudly assembled in the USA from components sourced globally. With an estimated retail price of $1049, it is a must have for IT departments or anyone that is updating systems and recycling hard disk drives.

When customers purchase 1 Aleratec 1:5 HDD Cruiser for use with SATA hard disk drives, they qualify for 1 Aleratec 1:3 HDD Cruiser for use with PATA hard disk drives FREE via mail in rebate. Please visit www.aleratec.com for details, terms, and conditions. Offer is good from 2/1/2009 to 2/28/2009.

The 1:5 HDD Cruiser supports 3.5 inch SATA hard disk drives, but to make the unit even more versatile, an optional 2.5 inch SATA hard drive adapter 2 pack is also available with an estimated retail price of $36.99 (Aleratec Part No. 350106).

The full line of Aleratec solutions, and accessories is featured at AAFES, Adorama, Amazon.com, B&H Photo Video, Best Buy, Buy.com, CDW, Dell, HP, Insight, J & R, Mac Connection, MacMall, Micro Center, NewEgg, Office Depot, PC Connection, PC Mall, PC Nation, QVC.com, Ritz Camera, Staples, Tech Depot and Wal-Mart in addition to other leading U.S. retailers. Government and Education customers may purchase from Government and Education Specialists including AAFES, B&H Photo Video Gov, Best Buy Gov/Ed, CDW-G, CompuCom, EnPointe, GovConnection, GTSI,
Insight Gov, PC Mall Gov, Pomeroy, Sayers, Shi.com, Softchoice, telcobuy, TIG, and Unisys. All products are available to resellers in the U.S. through D&H Distributing, Ingram Micro, and Tech Data; in Canada through D&H Canada and Ingram Micro Canada; in Latin America and the Caribbean through Tech Data Miami. Complete information available at www.aleratec.com.

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SNL Kagan Expects Blu-ray to Drive Growth in Home Video Revenue over the Next Decade

A new SNL Kagan study, “The State of Home Video,” forecasts a new wave of revenue growth in the retail home video business over the next decade, generated by the emergence of Blu-ray Disc as the next-generation DVD format.

While the current impact of Blu-ray has been relatively minor (standard DVD still comprises 97.1% of the market), SNL Kagan projects that high-definition DVD will attain 59.7% market share in 2014, with $13.1 billion in revenue. By 2017, this figure is expected to soar to 73.8%, or $15.6 billion.
 
The SNL Kagan study points to 2010 as the start of the resurgence in retail revenue. Sales of Blu-ray players are expected to grow from $255.4 million in 2008 to $1.3 billion in 2010, reaching mass-market penetration and spiking to nearly $6.9 billion in 2013.  
 
However, Blu-ray’s unrivaled dominance may be short-lived, with video-on-demand (VOD) poised to become a major force in home entertainment after 2017. SNL Kagan estimates that there will be 98.8 million high-speed Internet homes capable of delivering VOD in 2017 compared to 115.2 million high-definition DVD homes.
 
“Blu-ray will be the driving force behind the video retail market throughout the next decade,” said Wade Holden, analyst at SNL Kagan. “The current economic climate, however, will slow the growth of this new format and likely keep it from reaching the heights that it may have in better times. VOD services will continue to improve in both technology and content over the next decade and begin to draw consumers away from Blu-ray and DVD by 2017.”

“The State of Home Video” is an in-depth analysis of various segments of the video industry including: DVD and VHS Hardware, Performance Benchmarks, Retail Rental and Sell-Through, Sell-Through Titles, High-Definition DVD, Suppliers and Video-On-Demand.
 
Reports such as "The State of Home Video" are available exclusively as part of the SNL Kagan Unlimited Information Service. For more information on this report and other media and communications data within the SNL Kagan Unlimited, call 866.296.3743 or email SNLKaganSales@snl.com.
 
About SNL Kagan
SNL Kagan, a division of SNL Financial LC, is a comprehensive resource for financial intelligence in the media and communications sector, including the broadcasting, cable, entertainment, motion picture, telecom, wireless, satellite, publishing and new media industries. The SNL Kagan suite of products integrates breaking news, comprehensive data and expert analysis into an electronic database available online and updated around the clock. For more information, visit www.snlkagan.com.

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RE:Vision Effects Adds Final Cut Express Support for DE:Noise FxPlug Plug-in

RE:Vision Effects today expanded support of its DE:Noise FxPlug plugin set for Final Cut Pro and Motion to include Final Cut Express.

DE:Noise is a plugin set that removes excessive noise and artifacts in one easy-to-use tool. It handles spurious frame-to-frame defects ranging from fine digital and electronic noise to blotchy spots (e.g. dirt on the film). DE:Noise combines proprietary motion estimation (optical flow) techniques with feature-sensitive, edge-preserving spatial filtering methods to reduce the visual impact of various problems such as: noisy video (that can happen with low-light capture), excessive film grain, prefiltering noisy greenscreens before keying, CG renders affected by ray-tracing sampling artifacts, dust captured during film scan/transfer and printing, snow, drop-outs and many other defects.

Features of DE:Noise include the following:

  • Pre-processing contrast controls to help enhance the noise for easier elimination.
  • Smart spatial filtering controls that allow for the spatial smoothing of noise without smoothing over important features in the image sequence.
  • 8 different temporal filtering methods that uses motion estimation (via optical flow) to correlate images over time in order to reduce noise and other artifacts.
  • Post-processing to help punch up the result or to undo the preprocessing contrast enhancement.
  • Post sharpening option for when the denoising process makes the result softer than desired.
  • 8 bits per channel (bpc) support within Final Cut Express, and support of higher bit depths (e.g., 10 bit YUV and floating point) where applicable within Final Cut Pro and Motion.

Bug Fixes and Enhancements newly available in DE:Noise FxPlug v1.1:

  • Added a feature that presents an extra option when applying the plugin to interlaced footage (allowing the plugin to compare fields from the next frame instead of the adjacent field in the current frame). See the manual for details.
  • Fixed some issues with non-full alpha layers with some spatial blurs; and, as a result, layers with non full alpha may take longer in some modes.
  • The temporal threshhold has been changed so that desired results are easier to control. However, this also means that older projects will need some attention to the temporal threshhold value to get the exact same results. To get the same results, the solution is to take the square root of the value you had before (so that 10% should be reset to 31.62%, because .3162 is the square root of .1).

Availability and compatibility
DE:Noise is available as an FxPlug plugin for Final Cut Express 4.0.1 and up, Final Cut Pro 6.0.1 and up, Motion 3.0.1 and up.

Pricing
DE:Noise FxPlug version is priced at $149.95. Volume discounts available. Contact sales@revisionfx.com.

Demo material, examples and software are available at http://www.revisionfx.com.

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TrailerHouseFX.com Launches Online Sound Design Library

TrailerHouseFX.com lets users individually select, preview and purchase purpose-built sound design for movie trailers, TV promos, video and multimedia productions.

Customers pay only for the files that they want, and new material is added on a regular basis. Simply choose a category, then select, preview and purchase the cuts you want as MP3, WAV or 48kHz AIFF files The royalty-free files are designed for professional and non-professional use.

Sounds can be located by category, duration or by direct search. Each sound module features a waveform graphic offering an instant indication of the sound clip selected. Each sound has its own audio player and sounds can be previewed before purchasing.

Preview files are deliberately data-compressed to ensure quick auditioning and to avoid abuse of the service; full audio quality is available upon purchase. Once a customer's selections have been made, a Zip file is processed while TrailerHouseFX.com obtains credit card info. Once payment has been made, the Zip file will be downloaded to the customer's desktop.

For further information, e-mail studio@trailerhousefx.com or visit www.trailerhousefx.com

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