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November 30, 2009

Table of Contents

The Moving Picture: Decoding YouTube Upload Options
Matrox Announces Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.2 Support on the Mac for the Matrox MXO2 Family of I/O Devices
Canon U.S.A. Introduces The KJ22ex7.6B HDgc Multi-Purpose Portable Zoom Lens For 2/3-Inch ENG Cameras
Stardom Releases Safe Capsule Product, Complements Apple's Time Capsule
Litepanels Offers Free Gel Kit with 1x1s

The Moving Picture: Decoding YouTube Upload Options

Few things in life are as opaque as working with YouTube—a black box with irresistible appeal to most video producers. Trying to discern how to produce the absolute best quality has consumed boatloads of my time in the past. Recently, however, a concert event client asked me to post six videos to YouTube, and I dove in again.

The video was shot in widescreen DV for compatibility with the projection system that was used at the concert. The big question in my mind was what would be the optimal configuration for uploading to YouTube. My goals were to display a good quality video in the standard YouTube window, to select the highest quality HD/HQ option, and to choose the best quality full-screen display. The answer should be simple, but it isn't.

As you may know, YouTube has multiple playback modes-some that you can see and access and many more under the hood. In terms of playback, there's the basic video-in-the-window mode that you get when you access the site. Then there's an HQ mode that viewers can access by clicking the red HQ button on the bottom of the player. At the high end is an HD mode that's produced at 720p at about 2.3Mbps combined audio and video data rate. [Edit: At press time, YouTube announced support for 1080p videos. Not sure if I would ever use this, since relatively few monitors support full-resolution 1920-pixel playback, but wanted you to be aware that it's an option.]

I did some digging around on Google, and I found recommendations to upload at 768x432, 720x400, and 854x480. Other sites recommended upscaling SD video to 720p and uploading at that resolution. Figuring some tests were in order, I added 480x270 to the mix. Counting 640x360 resolution, this totaled six test cases. I produced a short 20-second clip to all these parameters, encoded in H.264 at 14Mbps (the highest supported by my encoding tool), and uploaded all the files to YouTube.

Then, using Firefox's Download Helper plug-in, I downloaded all the files produced by YouTube from the uploaded files. Here's what I found: As shown in Table 1, YouTube produced six different types of files from my source files, producing Original YT (YouTube) and HQ18 files and 640x360 files for all the tested configurations, except for the 480x270 upload. In addition, for the 480x270 upload, the HQ18 data rate was 415Kbps; for all others, it was 525Kbps. This eliminated 480x270 from the equation.

<!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> Table 1. This chart displays the YouTube parameters for 16:9 productions—in the Audio column, S means stereo.

DesignationResolutionCodecData RateAudio
None (Original YT)400x226H.264282S/MP3/60

The highest quality file produced for the 768x432, 720x400, and 640x360 reconfigurations was the 640x360 file; there wasn’t an HQ option in the YouTube Player. As you recall, the HQ option was one of my goals because it allows playback in a larger window size and sends a subtle message to the customer (and viewer) that you know what you’re doing.

YouTube produced the HQ35 file for the 854x480 and 720p uploads and placed the HQ button in the player bar for the 854x480 file. YouTube produced the HQ22 file for the 720p upload (and not the 854x480 upload) and placed the HD button in the player bar. I compared the HQ35 and HQ22 files. The HQ22 looked much better, which meant that the 720p upload offered the best possible viewing experience.

Next, I wanted to figure out when YouTube actually used the different files, which is where things got really complicated. To determine this, I started playing the files and capturing them via RealNetworks’ RealPlayer, which captures a single file at a time—presumably the file that you’re actually playing. In contrast, Download Helper displays multiple files available from the page, and it’s tough to tell which file is actually playing at the time. The playback variables that I tested included the slow and fast connections in YouTube’s Player Options and the ability to watch in native resolution, HQ/HD, and full screen in both Firefox and Google Chrome on my office LAN, which connects via DSL.

Unfortunately, the results were all over the map. For example, with a slow connection configured in Firefox, YouTube seemed to send the lowest quality file. But in Chrome, it sent the 640x360 in that configuration when available. The only semi-reliable conclusion that I reached was that YouTube sent the HQ35 file in HQ or HD mode and the HQ22 (for 720p) or HQ35 (for 854x480) in full-screen mode.

This meant that viewers were rewarded with higher-quality files when they chose the HD/HQ or full-screen options. Since the HQ22 file was higher in quality than the HQ35 file, I produced all my files at 720p and uploaded them to the site. To view the files, find the Graham Fest 2009 channel on YouTube; to see the test files, search for Janozer and Rocky Top in the YouTube search field.

Note that to reliably access YouTube’s 720p mode, you have to upload 720p videos. Don’t upload higher resolutions because YouTube doesn’t always convert them to 720p. If you’re working with higher-resolution videos, scale to 720p manually and then upload. I always upload H.264.mov files to YouTube, using the highest data rate that I can without exceeding the 1GB upload limit.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com), a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media, runs StreamingLearningCenter.com.

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Matrox Announces Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.2 Support on the Mac for the Matrox MXO2 Family of I/O Devices

Matrox® Video Products Group today announced Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 4.2 support on the Mac for Matrox MXO2 Mini, MXO2 LE, MXO2 and MXO2 Rack. These devices provide all the features of an I/O card and a sturdy breakout box with the added advantage of portability.

They can be easily moved among the Mac Pros in a facility or taken on the road with MacBook Pros. Users get highly-reliable, broadcast-quality input/output and HDMI video monitoring with unique Matrox calibration controls including blue-only. They also benefit from a wide variety of HD and SD workflows with Adobe Premiere Pro thanks to Matrox MXO2's 10-bit hardware up/down/cross scaling engine and support for a wealth of file-based formats and industry-standard codecs.

"Adobe Premiere Pro users on the Mac can now choose from the entire Matrox MXO2 product line for maximum I/O flexibility," said Wayne Andrews, Matrox product manager. "They can edit anything, anywhere!"

Key features of Matrox MXO2

* Works with Intel-based MacBook Pros, Mac Pros, and Apple Xserve systems
* Lightweight - less than 3½ lbs. (1600 grams)
* Fits in your laptop bag - 13" x 9½" x 2" (330mm x 241mm x 51mm)
* Can run off a field battery or its AC adapter
* HD/SD SDI, HD/SD analog component, Y/C, and composite inputs and outputs
* Genlock - SD analog black burst (bi-level) or HD tri-level sync
* 10-bit HDMI input, output, and monitoring with calibration controls including blue-only
* 10-bit realtime hardware up/down/cross conversion on capture and output
* Up to five user selectable simultaneous video outputs - HD and/or SD on HDMI, SDI, and analog
* Professional audio inputs and outputs including 5.1 surround sound monitoring
* Captures to a variety of codecs - 10-bit uncompressed HD and SD, DVCPRO HD, and many more
* File-based workflow support - XDCAM, XDCAM HD, XDCAM EX, P2, P2HD
* RED workflow support
* Works with Final Cut Pro, Apple Color, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects and all QuickTime applications that support the V-out component
* Three-year hardware warranty and complimentary telephone support

Price and availability
Matrox MXO2 products are available through a worldwide network of authorized dealers. The 1.8.1 driver release is available free of charge from the Matrox website for registered owners of Matrox MXO2 Mini, Matrox MXO2 LE, Matrox MXO2, Matrox MXO2 Rack and Matrox CompressHD.

About Matrox
Matrox Video Products Group is a technology and market leader in the field of HD and SD digital video hardware and software for accelerated H.264 encoding, realtime editing, audio/video input/output, DVD/Blu-ray authoring, scan conversion, capture/playout servers, clip/still stores, and CGs. Matrox's Emmy award-winning technology powers a full range of content creation and delivery platforms used by broadcasters, post-production facilities, project studios, corporate communicators, and videographers worldwide. Founded in 1976, Matrox is a privately held company headquartered in Montreal, Canada. For more information visit http://www.matrox.com/video.

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Canon U.S.A. Introduces The KJ22ex7.6B HDgc Multi-Purpose Portable Zoom Lens For 2/3-Inch ENG Cameras

Continually advancing its product line with world-renowned optical expertise, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, has introduced the KJ22ex7.6B, the newest member of its "second-generation" line of cost-effective HDgc portable HD lenses.

First introduced in 2006, the HDgc lenses were specifically intended to work with the emerging wave of cost-effective HD camcorders from all major manufacturers that were targeted at HD news-gathering and budget-conscious HD productions. These lens families encompass the 2/3-inch, 1/2-inch, and 1/3-inch HD image format sizes.

"Since Canon's introduction of our HDgc lens series, we have received enthusiastic feedback from our worldwide community of users," stated Larry Thorpe, national marketing executive, Broadcast and Communications division, Canon U.S.A. "Those end-user experiences have helped guide the design of our second-generation line of cost-effective HDgc portable HD lenses, starting with the KJ17ex7.7B portable 2/3-inch HD zoom lens, which was introduced earlier this year at NAB. The new KJ22ex7.6B is the second in this 2/3-inch family of lenses. These lenses retain the robust magnesium optomechanical design of our higher-end lenses, as this cannot be compromised in ENG applications. Canon's mobilization of contemporary design tools and optical materials have facilitated a significant cost reduction, while still maintaining an impressive overall HD imaging performance."

The Canon KJ22ex7.6B is designed as a multi-purpose telephoto lens. Striking an excellent balance between size, weight, and exceptional optical performance, the lens encompasses a generous range of focal lengths while also providing a modest wide-angle of almost 65 degrees in the 16:9 HD image format. This feature provides camera operators with ?exible image- framing options, especially for outdoor shooting. Additional design optimizations include Large Diameter Aspherical lens elements that contribute to a better control of comatic aberration, geometric distortion, and corner resolution. Curvature of field and chromatic aberrations have also been reduced by use of special optical materials that include Fluorite and Hi-UD glasses. Extensive computer optimization of both the optical and optomechanical designs contributed to achieving a high-performing telephoto lens within a compact and lightweight body.

Ease of use and reduced operator fatigue were specific design imperatives of the new Canon KJ22ex7.6B, with particular emphasis on a re-designed Digital Drive unit for greater operator comfort and convenience. The Digital Drive unit enables users to program precise and repeatable settings into the KJ22ex7.6B lens for zoom position and speed, focus, and iris. An information display built into the Digital Drive unit makes precise customization quick and convenient. Users can program as many features as they wish, or, if they prefer, none at all. This new unit was designed to improve the tactile interface for the control of zoom, iris, and focus functions. Improvements include widening the spacing between the focus ring and the Digital Drive unit so operators are less likely to accidentally change settings while manipulating the focus control. Of particular importance, Canon incorporated a new software platform within the Digital Drive unit that allows the KJ22ex7.6B to work with the different chromatic aberration correction systems developed by various camera manufacturers.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), a top patent holder of technology, ranked third overall in the U.S. in 2008†, with global revenues of US $45 billion, is listed as number four in the computer industry on Fortune Magazine's World's Most Admired Companies 2009 list, and is on the 2009 BusinessWeek list of "100 Best Global Brands."

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Stardom Releases Safe Capsule Product, Complements Apple's Time Capsule

Stardom is proud to announce the Safe Capsule, a two drive, RAID 1, protected storage solution for use with Time Capsule®. If your existing Time Capsule® storage space is filling up fast or is almost full, what do you do next? Meet Safe Capsule from Stardom.

Safe Capsule is the only two hard drive product of its kind that allows you the ability to add more network storage (up to 2 Terabytes), for safely storing your photo, music or data files with Stardoms unique RAID 1 protected mirroring technology. Removing, replacing or upgrading drives is easy, thanks to the Safe Capsule's modular design. The Safe Capsule features an auto-rebuild feature, with a LED rebuild status display. In the event that a hard drive fails, data can easily be rebuilt. The Safe Capsule can also be configured for two drives running independently with storage of up to 4TB.

The Safe Capsule conforms perfectly in size to the Time Capsule® unit Simply stack the Time Capsule® onto the Safe Capsule and connect via the USB port and your safe network storage is ready to go! The Safe Capsule is also sharable by multiple users thanks to Time Capsule's® networking capability. The Safe Capsule is sharable through Ethernet and your wireless networks acting as a centralized storage station.

The Safe Capsule features a three port USB 2.0 hub, for various shared devices such as printers, flash drives and other USB peripherals. The Safe Capsule can reach speeds of 480Mbps when directly attached to the computer system. The Safe Capsule keeps the two drives inside running cool with an integrated 6cm ball-bearing fan. An internal power supply keeps your workspace clutter-free without the need for an external power brick or AC adapter.

Safe Capsule Features:

  • USB 2.0
  • RAID 1 / independent
  • 6cm ball bearing quiet fan X 1
  • Built in USB HUB X 3 ports
  • * Internal Power Supply

Pre-orders are now being accepted; The Safe Capsule is scheduled to start shipping during the Winter of 2009 and will be available through our network of resellers around the world.


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Litepanels Offers Free Gel Kit with 1x1s

For a limited time, Litepanels®, a Vitec Group company, is offering a free set of conversion/diffusion gels with new 1x1 fixture purchases (except the Low-Profile).

From November 15 to December 31, 2009 purchasers of any daylight (5600K) 1x1 Kit will receive 1 each Full-, 1/2-, 1/4-, 1/8-CTO, Opal and Half White Diffusion gels. With every tungsten (3200K) 1x1 Kit, purchasers will receive 1 each Full-, 1/2-, 1/4-, 1/8-CTB, Opal and Half White Diffusion gels. For the 1x1 Bi-Color Kit, Litepanels is providing 1 each 1/4- and 1/8-CTB, 1/4- and 1/8-CTO, Opal and Half White Diffusion gels. The free 6-piece gel set, including a handy lightweight carrying bag, is a $195 value.

Measuring 12" square and just 1.75" thick, Litepanels award-winning 1x1 LED lights provide pure, luminous, soft directional, output. This ultra-thin, lightweight (only 3 lbs) fixture now comes in a variety of multifunctional models.

The free 6-piece conversion/gel set is available when the lights are purchased through authorized Litepanels dealers. For more information, contact: Litepanels, Inc., 16152 Saticoy Street Van Nuys, CA 91406; tel: 818-752-7009, fax: 818-752-2437, web: http://www.litepanels.com, e-mail: info@litepanels.com; or contact a local dealer.

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