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March 16, 2010

Table of Contents

Female Filmmakers of the World, Unite! Introducing POSH: UPDATED
Canon Announces EOS 5D Mark II: Firmware Update v. 2.0.3
AJA KONA Product Line Goes Cross-Platform
Vortex Media Announces a Comprehensive User Manual for Sony PDW-700 and PDW-F800 XDCAM HD Camcorders
Autoscript to Demonstrate LED TFT Flat Screens and Portable Prompting Tools at NAB 2010
Studio Solution Software From Canon U.S.A. Simplifies Workflow For Photography Businesses

Female Filmmakers of the World, Unite! Introducing POSH: UPDATED

POSH Update, 4/26/10: "Brea McDonald and Dawn Kelly, founders of Inspire.Collaborate.Achieve join us for POSH 2010 to not only present on finding inspiration, putting together your own shoot, collaborating with your dream vendors, how to get published and using what you learned to achieve your goals but they are also putting together an unbelievable inspirational shoot on a private island of the Bahamas that you ladies are not going to want to miss! Check out the blog for more info on these talented women and what they bring to POSH 2010!

So it all started on Twitter, as these things often do. A number of women event filmmakers from various locales throughout the industry were having a breezy afternoon chat with the hashtag "Friday Editing Happy Hour," joking about livening up the Friday afternoon editing routine with a drink or two. Then the conversation took an unexpected turn. "All of a sudden," says Reagan Zugelter of Cincinnati-based, 2009 EventDV 25 finalist Studio+Z Films, "it became a conversation about ‘Why don't we all get together?'" The idea didn't go much farther then, but Zugelter and her friend and colleague Jennifer Moon of Indianapolis-based, 2009 EventDV 25 studio Northernlight Filmworks picked it up later with a bit more urgency. "Reagan said, ‘Why don't we have a get-together and have it be fun, but have some education and open it up just to women?'" Moon recalls. "And that's how it all came about."

How what all came about, you ask? POSH, our industry's first-ever "retreat and educational experience for women event filmmakers and photographers interested in event film." Sound like fun? Did I mention that it's happening on a cruise ship?

To describe POSH as an "industry first" is to understate the matter considerably (and I don't mean the cruise part). If some of our past industry events had been billed as "men only," we might not have known the difference, as underrepresented as women have been in our industry, particularly in terms of having high-visibility, leadership roles. (This is not to deny or downplay the contributions of the great women presenters and industry pioneers who have established themselves and advanced our industry at WEVA and elsewhere—it's just that women have always been too few and far between in these roles in our field as in so many others.)

We've certainly seen some progress in recent years, particularly with the rise of Re:Frame, which has always boasted as many women as men in the Collective. But parity in male/female leadership hasn't exactly swept the industry. "That was our whole goal"—says Moon (below, right), who is launching the event in tandem with Zugelter (below, left)—"not just to connect women filmmakers from around the world to network, but also to come out of this launching some women leaders in the industry and get some recognition of all the talented women out there."

POSH co-founders Reagan Zugelter and Jennifer Moon

So after dropping several intriguing hints on Facebook and Twitter, Moon and Zugelter revealed details last Friday: "Our mission for POSH is education + inspiration + relaxation, so our retreat is taking place on a 4-night Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas, November 8–12, 2010. POSH 2010 is reserved for only 40 women. Visit the website (http://posheventonline.com/) for more information on POSH 2010 and to register."

POSH 2010 will feature three of the leading women—scratch that, leading filmmaker/educators—in the industry, Kristen* of Bliss Productions, Tasra Dawson of Dare Dreamer Media, and Jessica Roman of Ray Roman Films as presenters, but one thing (besides demographics) that will distinguish POSH from other events is that the structure and programming of the event will focus much less on instructor presentations and much more on discussions and more active participation by the attendees. "Because it's such a small group," says Zugelter, "we'll have more smaller group discussions so more people can share and connect in that way too. So it's more of a grass roots-type of workshop instead of just having a speaker-after-speaker type of atmosphere."

Describing the predominantly male atmosphere of many industry events as one that can be a little "intimidating" for the women who bring equal talents but may not have made themselves as visible at those events, Zugelter says, the discussion group-oriented atmosphere will give more attendees more time to shine. "There might be someone who's really successful in their business and they want to tell someone else and vice versa. We've already got an inquiry from a mom who said, ‘I'd love to talk to other moms out there who do video production. How do you balance between being a mom and a business owner? I would love to talk to other moms out there who are experiencing the same things I'm experiencing.'"

"The whole thing with POSH," Moon says, "was if this was all women, what would we like to do? That's how we came up with this type of structure. What woman doesn't want to relax and have a drink and talk to other women? So we throw a little fun and networking in with the education too."

The 4-day cruise will include one day that's entirely spent at sea—Day Four—and that's when the more structured, speaker-oriented seminars with Kristen* and Tasra Dawson will occur. The cruise also includes two stops in the Bahamas, and one of those stops will give attendees a great opportunity to experiment with various different production gear. "On one of the stops we're going to be doing a shoot, and that's going to be great for people who maybe haven't used the DSLRs but want to learn more about them," Zugelter says. "We'll do some education for some of the newcomers who may not even have used HD cameras. And we're also going to bring some Super 8 and 16mm cameras as well. So it's more of a chance to try things out, get a little education on the gear itself." (So much for the stereotype that only men get into the gear.)

The focus of this year's POSH event will be event filmmaking and event filmmakers, but Zugelter and Moon says they may expand their focus in different directions for events beyond 2010. "We want to see how this year goes, then maybe extend it out to other filmmakers, or out to photographers who might be interested in learning how to shoot with the new DSLR cameras," Moon explains. "They have just as much capability of doing what we're doing."

But whatever the theme of the event might be, the goal remains the same: "Not just to connect women filmmakers from around the world to network, but also to launch some women leaders in the industry and get some recognition for all the talented women out there," Moon says.

And the POSH plan starts before—and extends beyond—the cruise. In addition to the social networking efforts they'll use to promote the event, Moon and Zugelter also use the POSH blog to profile and promote successful women in the industry with regular, bi-weekly features on the blog, starting with Kat Small of Cinema Chic (check out the Kat Small profile here). At least twice a month, Zugelter says, "we're going to be featuring a different woman on the blog, telling a little bit about herself, what inspires her, and a little clip of her work. We're going to reach out to people we know, people whose work we've seen online. And not just focusing in one area—there are really talented women filmmakers in Australia, and some people in Europe that we're going to reach out to as well."

"One of our goals," Zugelter says, "is to launch more women in the industry and have them be recognized. And who knows, maybe we'll see more women on the EventDV 25 list. Maybe they're not as involved in the forums as some of the men are, or maybe they don't go to all the conferences. Like we said, maybe they're moms and they can't go to Re:Frame and In[Focus], so they're not as well-known. But that's our whole goal: We want to create some new leaders."

"There are a lot of very talented women hiding behind their husbands," Moon explains. "That's one of the reasons I really wanted to do this event was because for myself—it's not that I'm hiding behind [my husband] John, but because of the way that our industry is, that people automatically think that he's the head of this company and it's not that way. We're equal partners. That's why we really wanted to do this," she concludes, "to empower more women to be more vocal."

Stephen Nathans-Kelly (stephen.nathans at infotoday.com) is editor-in-chief of EventDV and EventDVLive and programming director of EventDV-TV.

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Canon Announces EOS 5D Mark II: Firmware Update v. 2.0.3

The EOS 5D Mark II's video capabilities created more than a stir when the camera was introduced in late 2008. Its spectacular HD image quality, low-light performance, and shallow depth-of-field suddenly gave the industry a new breed of camera with amazing imaging potential at a [relatively] very low cost. Videographers, cinematographers, and other imaging professionals began integrating the EOS 5D Mark II into their productions. Shortly after, an entire cottage industry sprang up for accessories and software to make EOS HD-SLR cameras fit smoothly into all types of professional projects.

These same professional users frequently requested additional functionality, to make the EOS 5D Mark II more flexible to their needs: Manual exposure capability was a common request, and Canon's engineers listened and developed a firmware upgrade in late 2009 that gave the EOS 5D Mark II that capability. Subsequently released EOS HD-SLRs such as the EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV incorporated the wider range of standard frame rates that users were asking for.

Based on continued requests and feedback from our professional video users, Canon's engineers have once again responded: Firmware version 2.0.3 is now available for free download from Canon USA's web site, starting in mid-March, 2010 on the Canon USA website. With this update installed, the EOS 5D Mark II will gain the following capabilities:

Variable frame rates:
A huge request from professional video shooters was the ability to record video at 24 fps, for a filmic look favored by many serious cinematographers.
Firmware version 2.0.3 will add several much-requested upgrades to the EOS 5D Mark II's Movie Mode, including variable frame rates such as 24p (23.976) and 30p (29.97).
Furthermore, the EOS 5D Mark II's true 30.00 fps (at 30 fps setting) differed from the NTSC-standard of 29.97 fps, sometimes making video editing and matching with audio a problem.
With firmware v.2.0.3 installed, the following frame rates are now available in the EOS 5D Mark II:
At 1920x1080:
30 fps (29.97 fps)

24 fps (23.976 fps)

25 fps (requires camera to be set to PAL recording mode)
At 640x480:
30 fps (29.97 fps)

25 fps (requires camera to be set to PAL recording mode)
Note: Firmware v. 2.0.3 does not add the HD 1280x720 resolution option that is available in other EOS models, such as the EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV, and likewise does not add the 60 fps and 50 fps settings in those cameras.

Manual Adjustment of sound recording level:
Another big addition, tailored to the professional video user. Up to now, the EOS 5D Mark II's built-in audio recording has automatically adjusted its level for recording, and the only possible way for the user to change this was to attach third-party devices to the camera. Now, once firmware v. 2.0.3 is installed, video pros and enthusiasts will have the option of manual recording level (audio gain) control, over a 64-step range, selectable right on the camera's menu.

While the menu display will show level meters for Left and Right stereo input, please note that this upgrade will not allow users to separately adjust L/R stereo balance. There is one main manual adjustment for audio recording level only. And of course, the option remains for users to allow the camera to automatically set sound levels, as it has previously. The newly available level meters will remain visible within the new Sound Recording menu when levels are automatically set.

Now, EOS 5D Mark II shooters will be able to monitor and manually adjust audio levels prior to shooting. In addition, the sampling frequency has increased from 44.1 KHz to 48 KHz.
.Manual audio level adjustment requires that the camera be set to the P, Tv, Av, or M exposure mode settings before video recording begins.

Sound sampling frequency changed to 48 KHz:
Matching the audio characteristics of the recently-introduced EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV cameras, firmware v.2.0.3 for the EOS 5D Mark II raises the quality of its sound recording to the same 48 KHz standard (up from 44.1 KHz).

With this improvement, the professional video shooter using the EOS 5D Mark II now has better sound quality than before, and the ability to manually set overall sound level in the camera, without accessories. Whether shooting in a studio or on location, these two significant additions are sure to be welcomed by serious video enthusiasts and video editors as well.

New shutter-priority (Tv) and aperture-priority (Av) shooting modes:

Up to now, the EOS 5D Mark II video user has had two exposure choices - either manually set shutter speed and aperture, or let the camera completely set all exposure values automatically.
Automatic exposure control can certainly have an advantage when following fast-moving subjects that may move from a bright to a shadowed area, or move from indoors to outdoors. Still image shooters and many users of traditional pro video cameras have had the ability to lock-in a lens aperture or a shutter speed, and have the camera automatically vary the other value. Now, once firmware v.2.0.3 is installed into the EOS 5D Mark II, users of this camera will have similar capabilities.

Another benefit of Firmware v2.0.3 is the ability to shoot movies while in Av or Tv modes (previously, only fully automatic or fully manual shooting was available in Movie Mode).

Shutter-priority (Tv mode): Selecting Tv ('time value' or shutter priority) on the camera's mode dial now allows the user to pick their preferred shutter speed, and the camera will automatically vary aperture and ISO for proper exposure, based on the light levels in the scene. Because physically changing the lens aperture can result in audible noise, this new Tv mode for video will first attempt to automatically vary ISO setting to adjust for changes in brightness. Aperture will also be adjusted if still needed, but this is secondary and minimized where possible.

Speeds from 1/30th second through 1/4000th are manually selectable in the Tv mode (shutter speeds are selected by turning the Main Dial, just as in still image shooting). Remember that faster shutter speeds may be useful in bright light to control exposure and/or allow wider lens apertures for limited depth-of-field, however subject movement will appear progressively more jerky or 'stacatto' as shutter speeds increase. Speeds from roughly 1/30th to 1/125th second tend to produce the smoothest flow of movement.

Aperture-priority (Av mode): A key attraction of the EOS 5D Mark II is its characteristic film-look, thanks to limited depth-of-field when compared to many traditional pro video cameras. Control over depth-of-field is a vital element in many shooting situations, and this means allowing direct control of lens aperture. Manual exposure mode obviously does this, but it doesn't allow for any automatic exposure changes or adjustment if the subject or camera moves from one lighting level to another. Now, with aperture-priority capability, the EOS 5D Mark II shooter has this option when they need it.
Simply set Av on the camera's Mode Dial, set the lens aperture you desire by turning the Main Dial near the shutter button, and the camera will automatically vary ISO levels (at low light levels) and shutter speed (as light levels increase) to maintain proper exposure - keeping the lens aperture you've chosen.

Since shutter speeds will vary automatically (they remain visible on the LCD monitor's information display), keep in mind that the combination of wide lens apertures and bright light levels will result in fast shutter speeds -- as noted above, this can result in somewhat stacatto motion effects when recording moving subjects. Keep an eye on the shutter speed when working in well-lit conditions in Av mode, and if possible run tests ahead to determine how fast shutter speeds will affect movement in your footage so that you can adjust the lighting or shooting mode accordingly.
Notes concerning Tv and Av video operation:

ISO values are always automatically set in Tv or Av mode during video recording; manual setting of ISO isn't possible.

ISO range is from 100 thru 6400 in the new Tv or Av video settings. Minimum ISO is 200 if Highlight Tone Priority is active. ISO expansion is not possible in Tv/Av modes.

Remote Live View shooting remains possible with a computer using the new Tv and Av exposure modes. Shutter speeds and lens apertures, however, cannot be changed on-screen using Canon's EOS Utility software.

All other features possible during video recording remain available: Users can shoot a full-resolution still image by pressing the shutter button, select any available video resolution and/or frame recording rate, select any of three AF options, and so on.

EOS 5D Mark II users can now review a Brightness or RGB histogram on the rear LCD before shooting video.

Histogram display during manual exposure shooting:

Before this firmware update, once the EOS 5D Mark II had been set-up for movie shooting (Live View Function setting to Stills + Movie, and Screen Settings to Movie), it wasn't possible to see a histogram display. Especially for users working in Manual exposure mode, this can be a critical method to judge exposure settings before shooting a scene.

Once firmware version 2.0.3 has been installed into the EOS 5D Mark II, you'll now be able to view a histogram on the LCD monitor before video recording begins when in Manual exposure mode (please note that the histogram cannot be viewed once recording has actually started).

A few final points about firmware version 2.0.3:
This firmware upgrade is entirely free, and will be available for download from Canon web sites around the world, starting on March 17, 2010.

Some brand-new EOS 5D Mark II cameras may appear before this date with firmware version 2.0.3 already factory-installed. These cameras do not need to be upgraded, once v. 2.0.3 becomes available on Canon web sites for download.

The firmware upgrade procedure is the same as previous upgrades for EOS cameras:

For more details, go to the Canon USA website.

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AJA KONA Product Line Goes Cross-Platform

AJA Video Systems, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, announced today that it is now offering its KONA line of capture cards with software for both Mac and Windows-based systems.

The company is folding its XENA line of capture cards, designed for the Windows platform, into the KONA product line, giving customers twice the software and flexibility to use KONA cards on all platforms, at no additional cost.

The KONA family is AJA's line of 10-bit uncompressed capture and playback cards for video and audio input and output. Initially designed solely for the Mac platform, KONA now supports SD, HD, Dual Link 4:4:4 HD and 2K formats, and all of the functionality of the former XENA products within the single, cross-platform KONA line.

Effective immediately, every new KONA package shipped will include both Mac and Windows software and documentation. Current customers will experience no change in functionality or service, and Windows-based customers can find support on the AJA website under ‘KONA for PC'. Updated drivers for either Mac or PC platforms are always available online (http://www.aja.com/support/). AJA recommends users check the AJA website to ensure they have the latest drivers and software.

"Our goal is to simplify our customers' experience and give them greater value," said Nick Rashby, AJA Video Systems President. "The post-production world is not homogeneous, and offering a single product line with identical functionality that customers can use on either -- or both platforms, for the same cost, recognizes their need for ease of use and flexibility."

KONA for PC software is available for Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP, with the same system specifications that have been previously published for XENA. All KONA cards now operate on both Mac and PC platforms. Those customers using Apple Mac Pro towers are able to install the KONA for Mac software to work under OS X and the KONA for PC Windows software under Apple Boot Camp to work cross-platform on the same machine.

The KONA cross-platform family is currently available from AJA's worldwide network of channel partners. MSRP pricing begins at $990. AJA reserves all rights in its XENA trademarks.


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Vortex Media Announces a Comprehensive User Manual for Sony PDW-700 and PDW-F800 XDCAM HD Camcorders

Vortex Media has announced the release of the third book in their popular series of field guides for Sony XDCAM camcorders. Written by Doug Jensen, a camera operator and director with over 28 years experience, "Vortex Media's PDW-700/F800 Field Guide" is a 320 page in-depth examination of virtually every feature of the PDW-700 and PDW-F800 XDCAM HD422 camcorders.

"This is exactly what customers have been asking for, a straight forward, easy to understand guide for what is probably the most feature-rich camera out there today. Doug did an excellent job on this must-have guide," said Wayne Zuchowski, Group Marketing Manager - XDCAM Products, Sony Electronics.

In the same no-nonsense style that Doug Jensen is known for using in his other books, DVDs, and live seminars, he explains each camera function and provides step-by-step instructions for how to use them. The 320-page, field guide starts off with 25 essential steps for initial camera setup, and then proceeds to cover recording formats, paint settings, timecode, audio, white balance, zebra, time-lapse, slow-motion, building a custom menu system, clip naming, proxy files, metadata, assign switch functions, clip list editing, importing clips, and much more.

"This is the manual that I wish had come in the box with my camera," said author Jensen, "a manual written for the person who actually wants to take advantage of all the amazing features and workflows these cameras offer."

Vortex Media's PDW-700/F800 Field Guide is printed in full-color and spiral bound so it lays flat. With a suggested list price of $99, it is available direct from VortexMedia.com and many video/film equipment resellers worldwide.

About the author:
Doug Jensen is a cameraman, producer, director, editor, and consultant with over 28 years of video production and post-production experience. He is also the owner of Vortex Media, which produces instructional videos for XDCAM camcorders, field guide books, and innovative production tools for video production, television, and digital photography. As a member of Sony's Independent Certified Experts (I.C.E.) team he has taught high definition XDCAM classes for Sony at NAB and special events throughout the United States. His credits and clients include: NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, PBS, BBC, NHK, EBU, TNT, Discovery, ESPN, E!, A&E, HGTV, WGBH, Food Network, NASCAR Images, MLB Productions, Travel Channel, History Channel, Sundance Channel, Warner Bros., Weather Channel, Golf Channel, and NBA Entertainment.


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Autoscript to Demonstrate LED TFT Flat Screens and Portable Prompting Tools at NAB 2010

Autoscript, the world's leading teleprompting company and a Vitec Group brand, will present a range of high performance prompting solutions on Booth C6025 at NAB 2010.

Demonstrations will include high brightness LED TFT flat screens, and the first fully-featured demonstrations in the US of the Xbox Ultra and X-Lite portable prompting systems.

Autoscript's LED TFT flat screens utilie recent advances in LED technology to provide superior brightness, higher contrast levels, improved reliability and energy efficiency.

Based on the successful XBOX USB external box solution, the Xbox Ultra connects via USB port to a laptop or PC and provides enhanced features and capabilities which make it particularly useful for portable prompting. Now featuring four outputs, it can power twice as many on-camera units, and also features a smooth on-screen scroll on the computer screen, eliminating the need for an external preview monitor. The video output is standard composite PAL or NTSC and is compatible with all Autoscript on-camera units.

The X-Lite, which replaces the WinPlus VGA unit, is an entry level prompting tool which incorporates one output, and is suitable for simple pieces to camera and for educational purposes.

"Autoscript's constant innovation continues to provide real-world solutions for every type of broadcast, from LED TFTs used on live entertainment shows to executive systems for announcements by world leaders," said Brian Larter, Managing Director, Autoscript. "We are delighted to bring the latest and greatest in our range to NAB 2010."

About Autoscript
Established in the U.K. in 1984, with headquarters in the U.S. and the U.K., Autoscript is the world leader in the prompting industry. Autoscript provides a complete range of PC-based teleprompters, the best designed and built hardware, PC cards and software, and - with its expanding line of intuitive accessories - is the new definition in prompting. Autoscript is a member of the Vitec Group. For more information visit http://www.autoscript.tv

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Studio Solution Software From Canon U.S.A. Simplifies Workflow For Photography Businesses

Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging technology, is today launching the highly anticipated Studio Solution software for workflow efficiency in professional photo studios.

Canon's Studio Solution software helps professional operations take full advantage of Canon's core imaging and printing technologies with fully automatic workflows to simplify studio operations and integrate appointments, invoicing, image enhancement and printing into one administrative program. Through electronic input and filing, Studio Solution software helps consolidate scheduling, contracting, image capture, ordering, retouching and printing into one program. Canon will be demonstrating its Studio Solution software today in Booth #401 at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) trade show, March 8th - 10th in Las Vegas.

Designed to make everyday tasks easier for photo studio managers and staff, Studio Solution allows for greater staffing efficiencies with improved turnaround time, for increased profitability. The software integrates with Canon EOS cameras, imagePROGRAF and PIXMA Pro printers, and helps ensure studio owners and operators are maximizing their time and equipment.

"We are proud to introduce our Studio Solution software as a powerful tool for photographic studios to help them maximize the efficiencies of their Canon equipment," said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A.

The simple-to-learn software solution is made possible by combining Express Digital's technology and workflow along with Canon's proven image processing expertise. Beginning with administrative scheduling, customer information is entered into the Canon software and will follow all customer jobs through ordering and invoicing. A file is created for each customer with complete order details. Images are then attached to each customer job order for optimal filing efficiency. The Studio Solution software then transitions to a studio sales tool by providing on-screen image previews on various Canon media to give the customer an accurate rendering of how their final print will look on various substrates to assist in the print ordering process.

The most integral software feature is Canon's core image processing, providing automatic color management, image resizing and image re-touching for stunning prints with minimal monitoring needed. These automatic processes help reduce the need for timely and expensive image editing, allowing for greater margins and uptime in any Canon-equipped photo studio. Once the final job is printed through the software, an invoice is automatically generated, complete with order details and customer information, without additional manual input.


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