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May 05, 2011

Table of Contents

This List Goes to 11: EventDV Announces Best of NAB List, Welcomes 11 Companies to Winners' Circle 2011
Video Tutorial: proDAD VitaScene v2 Pro
The Difference Sound Makes in DSLR Filmmaking
Matrox Announces Thunderbolt Support for DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go DP Multimonitor Adapters
New Apple iMac Boasts Next-Gen Quad-Cor Processors, Thunderbolt I/O, and FaceTime HD Camera
VITEC Simplifies Pro H.264 Acquisition Workflow with Focus FS-H Pro Proxy Recorders
Singular's Presto for FCP Brings Streamlined Presentation Video Production to Mac Editors

This List Goes to 11: EventDV Announces Best of NAB List, Welcomes 11 Companies to Winners' Circle 2011

EventDV, The Authority for Event Videographers, has done its sixth annual evaluation of the best and most relevant NAB releases for the event video market. Chosen each year by contributing editor and leading L.A.-area videographer and filmmaker Marc Franklin, the awards recognize products in two categories: production gear (including cameras, camera support, lighting, and so on), and postproduction solutions (including NLEs, plug-ins, and the like).

"It's always exciting to see the ‘next big thing' at NAB," said EventDV editor-in-chief Stephen Nathans-Kelly, "but it's not always something our readers will need to take seriously for a while," he continued. "When we choose the companies to welcome into our Winner's Circle each year, we try to keep our eyes off the distant future and restrict our focus to the near future and the here and now, and choose products that we can confidently predict will have a strong and positive impact on our readers. That may mean enhancing the quality of the imagery they shoot, streamlining their editing workflow, or otherwise helping them meet the demands of the events they shoot. There were plenty of new and soon-to-come products and technologies for our readers to get excited about this year, and we're excited to recognize them."

Now, on to the Winners' Circle.

In the Production category, we've selected eight new products, including 2 cameras:

  • Sony NEX-FS100
  • GoPro HERO 960
  • Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio
  • K-Tek Hot-Shoe Adapters
  • Azden SMX-20 Stereo Mic
  • Kata Flyby 74PL/76PL Organizer Bags
  • Manfrotto 509HD Tripod Head

Next up are the production gear and camera support products. Six products made the cut in this category:

  • Adobe CS 5.5 Production Premium
  • BorisFX RED 5
  • Zaxwerks ProAnimator 5
  • HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations
  • Blackmagic Design Da Vinci Resolve Lite

For more information on the winning products and the EventDV Winner's Circle 2011 selection process, see the June issue of EventDV.

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Video Tutorial: proDAD VitaScene v2 Pro

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The Difference Sound Makes in DSLR Filmmaking

The days that people in our industry were happy to be called “the video guy” are well and truly over. Now we are “professional videographers,” “event filmmakers,” and “wedding cinematographers.” But whatever you call yourself, Godfather Films’ John Goolsby has probably come up with the best description of who we are and what we do: “professional storyteller.” We document one of the most important moments in someone’s life and tell the story of that moment to the world (or at least to the part of the world that you and your clients decide to share it with). In our marketing strategies, we make sure we highlight the fact that a wedding day film is quite different from photographs, and that even the highest priced, highest profile photographer will not catch that sweet sentence that will change their lives, those two simple words that start a marriage: “I do.”

Although most of us will use a line like that during a sales pitch at some point, if we’re honest and look at our equipment and how we’ve spread our budget, audio often seems more of an afterthought than the key pillar of the work we produce. At Ever After, we have always tried to ensure good audio, but the importance of audio became clearest to us after we started to create short forms. The difference even the smallest of audio snippets can make to your production will often beat anything the latest gliding-sliding-magnifying gizmo can offer. When you show a bride a clip with the same images twice, once with a bad audio track and once with a good one, she will not say, “The audio on the second one was better.” She will tell you simply that the second video was better. There are tons of forum posts that will tell you how some creative editing can hide even the biggest filming mistakes. But if you miss that magical sentence “I do” or the vows that typically precede it, your only choice is to swallow your pride and ask for a do-over later that day.

The DSLR Sound Dilemma
I guess by now you’ll have realized that I’m a sucker for good audio. Because the DSLR cameras that have transformed our work visually seem to have ignored its importance, I’d like to share a few ideas on how to make sure you capture sound that is as crisp as your imagery.

Although I’ve often been able to fix some minor issues in post, you can never beat getting it right in the first place. Unfortunately, unlike what they make you believe on CSI, there are no magical mics that will crisply pick up the slightest whisper from across a football field. Getting your mic as close as possible is your first and most valuable rule of thumb for capturing professional-quality audio.

In our line of work, we typically come across a variety of production situations. In some cases, time is of the essence, and having your mic mounted on-camera is the best (or, at least, most convenient) choice. In other cases, where we have adequate setup time, an off-camera mic will be better. Each of these situations brings with it some challenges and potential problems.

On-Camera Mics
Apart from using a built-in microphone (which is hardly ever a good idea), mounting a mic on your camera is, for many, the easiest solution to acquiring good audio. First of all, you need to make sure that whatever mic you use, it is fit for the type of shoot you’re doing. An omnidirectional mic will pick up sound from all directions, including the operator behind the camera, so it’s seldom a good choice for an on-camera mic.

A shotgun mic (such as the popular RODE NTG-2 or the RODE VideoMic), which will mainly pick up sound from the direction you point it in, will be better. This type of mic can give you acceptable sound as long as you’re in close proximity of the sound source. Trying to pick up a couple’s vows from the end of aisle with this type of mic will not yield great results; in fact, no on-camera mic will.

RODE shotgun mic

A RODE shotgun mic shockmounted on the Lumix GH2

Whatever mic you use, your two biggest enemies are wind and other ambient noises. To avoid handling noises, you need a shockmount. There are many shockmount options available, and most manufacturers will make a specific model for their mic. We use a Rycote Universal Camera Kit, as one shockmount will fit just about all our mics, including the RODE NTG-series and the VideoMic. I realize the latter has a built-in system, but I’m sure any user will tell you that those elastic rubber bands always break! Most of us have used a fluffy windshield gizmo (sometimes referred to—at least here in the U.K.—as a “dead cat”) on our shotgun mics when shooting outdoors to avoid picking up too much wind noise. Surprisingly, not many people realize this also does wonders with overactive air conditioning units.

As DSLR file compression formats are not very audio-friendly, a lot of people have started mounting a recorder (such as the Zoom H2 or H4n) on their cameras and feeding the output to the DSLR for syncing purposes. Rycote has just released a shockmount called the Rycote Portable Recorder Audio Kit specifically for this purpose. Having used it on a few shoots, I love how it brings down the camera noise. Unfortunately, as it forces us to position the recorder a little higher, it makes monitoring the audio levels problematic at certain shooting angles. A bracket to mount the contraption to the side of your camera will, however, solve this problem.

Off-Camera Mics
Off-camera mics can provide you with a better quality recording, but you lose the convenience of having all your controls in one place. Any mic used on-camera can be connected to an audio recorder as well; just beware that some of these mics will need power. A camera typically provides this via the XLR connection, and some mics, such as the NTG-2, will have a battery compartment as well. Other mics might be able to draw some power (if supported) from the audio recorder, either via an XLR connection or even mini-jacks. If none of these options are available, you can always use an inline adapter to provide the necessary power. Handling noise should no longer be an issue, although a shockmount is still a good idea, especially on bouncy floors.

windjammer lavaliere

The various color options for windjammer lapel mics

A particular favorite off-camera mic in the wedding industry is the lapel or lavaliere mic. Most of us have at least mic’d up the groom during the ceremony with one of these, either connected to a wireless transmitter or a small audio recorder. These lapel mics can fall in two categories: omnidirectional and unidirectional. Although a unidirectional mic sounds tempting (because it will reject unwanted sounds from the sides and mostly pick up the sound source directly in front of it), it also means you’ll have to mic up a lot more people and will no longer have redundancy if disaster strikes. We typically put an omnidirectional mic on a groom so we can also pick up the bride, the celebrant, and anyone in proximity to them. Heck, if worse comes to worst, you can even get usable sound from readers several feet away from them.

The problem with lapel mics is that they tend to pick up unwanted noises such as rubbing of clothing and wind. Once again, a windjammer gizmo comes to the rescue. There are tiny versions available in different colors that are inconspicuous enough to use on a groom’s lapel mic. It will remove most of his nervous sighing and will minimize the issues an unexpectedly active AC unit might create.

windjammer lavaliere

A windjammer lapel mic on the groom, with a gray color that blends well

What to Use?
So what equipment should you use during specific parts of the wedding day? Each wedding is truly different. There’s not always that much that distinguishes one wedding from another in the romantic way our brides would like to believe, but there are definitely significant variations between weddings from an audio point of view.

windjammer

A windjammer cover ona shotgun mic mounted on the Lumix GH2

The Ceremony
Let’s start with the ceremony. If you’re lucky, you might get a great feed from a soundboard. This could be golden, and I would definitely recommend connecting an audio recorder there if you’re allowed. I have, however, learned that having your own system in place is never a bad idea. Miking the groom with a lapel mic (wireless or not) is pretty much a must for capturing crisp audio of the vows. Miking the celebrant in a similar way is a great bonus. For the readings, an audio recorder at the lectern will sort them out, but you might want to connect a lapel mic to this recorder and attach it to the church mic.

All of these sound sources can be pretty unpredictable when it comes to loudness, so a good autogain system will be a help. If you do set manual levels, you can always make something louder, but you can never make an overmodulated signal sound right, so keep the levels low to be safe. If you have some great musicians, get a separate sound recording close to them. A nice stereo pair on a mic stand placed high enough above them will provide great sound. However, speed can be of the essence in these circumstances, and, for our purposes, a simple recorder such as an EDIROL R-09 or a Zoom H2 has decent built-in mics that can provide a nice recording. Whatever you do, remember that “autogain is the enemy of music.” Music purposely has crescendos and decrescendos, loud and quiet sections, and capturing it with autogain will just make it completely flat with the added bonus of fluctuation hiss. Don’t use it!

Edirol R09

An Edirol R-09 recorder shockmounted on the GH2

The Toasts
Toasts or speeches are the second “controlled” circumstance in a wedding day in which audio is key. Once again, plugging in to the soundboard or miking a speaker can give you marvelous audio.

Just make sure you always have your own audio recorder close to the sound source as well. We’ve had several cases where a toaster decided on the spot that he didn’t need a mic and would talk loud enough for everyone to hear.

Audio During the Day
During the rest of the wedding day (especially during the prep), you can get some snippets of audio that are so good, you couldn’t have scripted them better yourself. DSLRs have built-in mics, and if you really had to, you might be able to make these snippets usable without assistance from an additional mic.

It is, however, far better to add a decent mic (a RODE VideoMic will do) or even use a small audio recorder mounted on and fed through the camera. Even when used with autogain control, the audio will sound a lot better. Granted, not every wedding will have those unexpected golden sound moments, but trust me when I say that you’ll regret not capturing them when they do happen.

Ever After Video Productions

The officiant mic'd with a subtle lavaliere

Redundancy Is Key
Equipment (especially wireless kits) can malfunction, pick up interference, and even get moved or switched off by an ignoramus. Having to say “someone moved my kit” will often translate to your client as “the dog ate my homework” and make you sound about as professional as a 10-year-old. Although we always have a primary mic for our sound sources (such as a lapel mic on the groom or an EDIROL R-09 at the lectern), we always make sure that there is another mic close enough in case of a disaster. A shotgun mic on the front camera will at least get you some sound of the vows if all else fails. An omnidirectional mic on the groom will still pick up someone doing a reading, even it is indirect and has some echo on it.

Do I use some unprintable words if something (or, more likely, someone) out of my control messes up my audio and forces me to rescue whatever I can? Definitely! But at the same time I know I will always have captured those two magical words “I do” on at least one more mic.

How Much Does It Cost?
This is probably the most hated question we’re asked, but I’m sure you’ll be ready to utter that sentence yourself by now. How much will it cost to upgrade the audio you capture on-site with solid additional gear? The answer: It doesn’t have to cost that much. You can easily pick up some small audio recorders for about $100, a usable lapel mic for about $30, and a shotgun-style mic for about $150. If, however, your recording is littered with unwanted and hard-to-remove sounds, it will not be worth much. Adding a simple windshield and shockmount to a mic costs $180 for a regular mic, $10 for a pack of six lapel furries, and $160 for a shockmount/grip/windshield for your audio recorder. Total audio cost on your MasterCard: less than $1,000. Capturing those magical words: priceless!

Niels Puttemans (niels at everafter videos.co.uk) runs Ever After Video Productions of Sheffield, U.K., with his wife, Sylvia Broeckx. 2009 EventDV 25 Finalists and winners of IOV Ltd. (Institute of Videography) and WEVA CEA awards for their wedding-day films, Niels and Sylvia were presenters at WEVA Expo 2010.

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Matrox Announces Thunderbolt Support for DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go DP Multimonitor Adapters

Matrox Graphics Inc. today announced that the Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition and TripleHead2Go DP Edition are now compatible with the latest Apple® MacBook® Pro notebooks featuring the new Thunderbolt™ port. Developed by Intel® and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple, the high speed I/O port sets a new standard for high performance peripherals.

DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP are already the preferred multi-display solutions of many Mac® users. With a simple Matrox firmware update, these solutions can also be used to achieve unprecedented dual- and triple-monitor performance including OpenGL® support on the new Thunderbolt-enabled MacBook Pro. The new software release will also add the 2x1400x1050 multi-projector resolution to the already comprehensive supported resolution list.

"DualHead2Go DP and TripleHead2Go DP deliver workstation-class, multi-display performance for the most demanding media creators and CAD designers," said Caroline Injoyan, Business Development Manager, Matrox Graphics, Inc. "We're happy to provide continuous support to our Mac users by enabling Thunderbolt compatibility on our Graphics eXpansion Modules."

The Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go Graphics eXpansion Modules (GXMs) work in conjunction with your system's existing GPU to provide high-quality, uncompressed graphics and video across maximum resolutions of dual 1920x1200 and triple 1360x768 under Mac. With the additional desktop display area, MacBook Pro users can run different applications on each monitor or view one application across multiple displays, eliminating the tedious and time-consuming tasks of re-sizing, re-arranging, and re-organizing multiple windows. Notebook users can further enhance their productive workflow by using their laptop's LCD as a third—or fourth—monitor to achieve an unprecedented level of computing efficiency. GXMs are also compatible with Microsoft® Windows® operating systems.

Availability
The new software is available on the Matrox driver download web pages, while the Matrox DualHead2Go DP Edition (Part #: D2G-DP-MIF) and TripleHead2Go DP Edition (Part #: T2G-DP-MIF) are available for purchase from authorized Matrox resellers worldwide or, in North America and Europe, directly from Matrox.

For more information, visit http://www.matrox.com/thunderbolt_firmware or contact Matrox Graphics directly at graphics@matrox.com.

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New Apple iMac Boasts Next-Gen Quad-Cor Processors, Thunderbolt I/O, and FaceTime HD Camera

Apple® today updated its signature all-in-one iMac® with next generation quad-core processors, powerful new graphics, groundbreaking high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime® HD camera. Starting at $1,199, the new iMac is up to 70 percent faster and new graphics deliver up to three times the performance of the previous generation.*

“Our customers love the iMac’s aluminum enclosure, gorgeous display and all-in-one design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With next generation quad-core processors, powerful new graphics, Thunderbolt technology and a FaceTime HD camera, we've made the world’s best desktop even better.”

The new iMac features quad-core Intel Core i5 processors with an option for customers to choose Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz. These next generation processors feature an integrated memory controller for an amazingly responsive experience and a powerful new media engine for high-performance video encoding and decoding. With new AMD Radeon HD graphics processors, the new iMac has the most powerful graphics ever in an all-in-one desktop.

iMac is the first desktop computer on the market to include groundbreaking Thunderbolt I/O technology. The 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port while the 27-inch model features two ports for even greater expansion. Developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on an all-in-one computer. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire® and USB consumer devices, and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

iMac includes a built-in FaceTime HD camera and Apple’s innovative FaceTime software for crisp, widescreen video calling the whole family can enjoy. The new camera supports high definition video calls between all FaceTime HD-enabled Macs and standard resolution calls with iPad® 2, iPhone® 4, the current generation iPod touch® and other Intel-based Macs. The iMac continues to feature its signature aluminum and glass design, gorgeous IPS LED-backlit high resolution display, SD card slot and comes with Apple’s innovative Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.

Continuing Apple’s commitment to the environment, Apple’s desktop line is a leader in green design. The iMac meets stringent Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold rating.** iMac features LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iMac uses PVC-free components and cables, contains no brominated flame retardants, uses highly recyclable materials and features material-efficient system and packaging designs.

Every Mac comes with Mac OS® X Snow Leopard®, the world’s most advanced operating system, and iLife®, Apple’s innovative suite of applications for creating and sharing great photos, movies and music. Snow Leopard builds on more than a decade of innovation and includes the Mac App Store? for finding great new apps for your Mac. iLife ’11 features iPhoto® with stunning full screen views for browsing, editing and sharing photos; iMovie® with powerful easy-to-use tools to transform home videos into fun theatrical trailers; and GarageBand® with new ways to improve your playing and create great sounding songs.

Pricing & Availability
The new iMac is available through the Apple Store® (http://www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The 21.5-inch iMac is available in two configurations: one with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 500GB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,199 (US); and one with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US). The new 27-inch iMac is available in two models: one with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6770M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,699 (US); and one with a 3.1 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon HD 6970M and 1TB hard drive for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US).

Configure-to-order options include faster Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 2TB, a 256GB solid state drive, additional DDR3 memory and AppleCare® Protection Plan. Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at http://www.apple.com/imac.

*Testing conducted by Apple in April 2011 using preproduction iMac configurations. For more information visit http://www.apple.com/imac/features.html.

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VITEC Simplifies Pro H.264 Acquisition Workflow with Focus FS-H Pro Proxy Recorders

VITEC Multimedia, a worldwide leader in advanced digital video solutions, today announced an addition to the Focus product family, the FS-H50, FS-H60 and FS-H70 Proxy Recorders. The Focus FS-H series of proxy recorders greatly simplify the acquisition workflow by recording matching or continuous, lower bit rate H.264 proxy content to complement the cameras own high-resolution content.

The proxy content can more easily be transferred to portable devices such as smart phones and tablet PCs for quick viewing, uploaded to a network or online video platform (OVP) for sharing and collaboration or for offline editing on an NLE system. The Focus FS-H proxy recorders record to a removable SDHC card and are available in three models; the Focus FS-H50 with a composite and analog audio input, the Focus FS-H60 with an HDMI input and the Focus FS-H70 with an HD/SD-SDI input.

“As acquisition bit rates continue to increase, it becomes more difficult and time consuming to quickly transfer or preview content for sharing, collaboration, review, etc.,” said Matt McEwen, senior product manager, broadcast products for VITEC Multimedia’s Focus product line. “Our new line of Focus FS-H Proxy Recorder series solves this issue by recording useful companion proxy clips for fast transfer and instant compatibility with many devices.”

Ultra-portable for on camera use and battery powered, the Focus FS-H Proxy Recorder series features user-selectable bit rates and resolutions and records wrapped and structured content suitable for many different uses. Once a recording is complete, the SDHC card facilitates easy transfer to a computer or portable device (Smartphone, tablet PC, portable gaming system, etc.) for easy preview or network ingest.

Highlights of the Focus FS-H Proxy Recorder series:
  • Ultra long H.264 recording times –hundreds of hours on a single 32GB SDHC card
  • Support for popular portable devices, online video platforms, portable gaming systems, etc.
  • Ultra-portable design with removable and rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • Mounts to any device using the included camera mount cradle
  • Fast USB 2.0 interface to Mac or Windows based systems
  • User-definable format wrapper support and bit rates from 100kbps – 5Mbps
  • LCD and front panel buttons for system control and menu navigation


Availability

The Focus FS-H60 is expected to ship in summer, 2011 through the Vitec worldwide dealer and distributor network. Pricing is to be announced shortly.

http://www.vitecmm.com.

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Singular's Presto for FCP Brings Streamlined Presentation Video Production to Mac Editors

Singular Software (http://www.singularsoftware.com), developer of workflow automation applications for digital media, is pleased to announce the release of its latest product, Singular Software PrestoTM for Final Cut Pro®. The Singular Software Presto application dramatically simplifies the creation of presentation videos. Working alongside Final Cut Pro, Singular Software Presto synchronizes, arranges, and edits the footage of the presenter, presentation slides, and video taken of the screen in just minutes. "Arranging all of the elements while creating a presentation video - from inserting the correct slides at a specific moment to framing the presenter - can be monotonous and time-consuming. Singular Software Presto saves users hours and makes it quick and easy to create polished, customized professional video presentations," says Bruce Sharpe, CEO, Singular Software.

About Singular Software Presto
The Singular Software Presto application utilizes sophisticated computer tracking and image-matching technology to simplify the entire editing process for creating presentation videos. Users need simply to import video of the presenter, screen, and presentation slides into Final Cut Pro, and Singular Software Presto will work its magic.

Singular Software Presto creates a precisely timed slide track with bright slide images in place of the screen video by automatically synchronizing the original slide images with video of the screen. The application's innovative tracking technology instinctively captures the presenter to place alongside the slides in appealing two-up layouts, and the resulting video can be used as is or customized with the provided templates and wizards. Export the slide track back into Final Cut Pro for rendering, and users have a finished presentation video that took just minutes to create.

Availability of Singular Software Presto for Final Cut Pro
Singular Software Presto is available to purchase at an introductory price of $199 USD until May 31, 2011. The regular price is $249 USD. When purchased together with PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro, the price is $249 USD until May 31, 2011. After that the regular price for both is $299 USD. They are available for purchase online at http://www.singularsoftware.com/buy.html.

Want to try before you buy? A trial version of Singular Software Presto for Final Cut Pro is available. It is free and fully functional for 30 days. The trial version can be downloaded at http://www.singularsoftware.com/downloads.html#presto_fcp.

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