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Information Today, Inc.



April 11, 2005

Table of Contents

Site & Scene: Dust to Glory
FOCUS Enhancements Now Shipping FireStore FS-4 Pro
VFGadgets.com Introduces the Video LCD Monitor Mount Pro
DVcreators.net Releases LiveType PowerStart Training DVD
LitePanels Introduces New 1'x1'
BOXX Unveils the Ultimate “Swag Bag” Promotion Beginning April 12, 2005
Nero Integrates Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound into NeroVision Express 3
Hitachi Introduces New DVD Camcorder
Total Training Supports Offers Training Videos for Adobe Creative Suite 2
EventDV Survey #11: RESULTS

Site & Scene: Dust to Glory

The gap between the major Hollywood studios and small independent film producers has always been wide. Hollywood's big-time budgets and state-of-the-art equipment perpetuate the disparity. But advances in digital video technology, both on the production and post-production end--and particularly with the advent of HD technology--are leveling the playing field and bridging the gap. One forthcoming indie film that's giving big-budget Hollywood a run for its money in the hi-def domain is Dust to Glory, a new action-packed documentary from the makers of Step into Liquid.

Director Dana Brown's new film represents a triumph for racing enthusiasts, as it documents what's arguably the world's most grueling off-road race for the first time in any motion-picture medium. But it also represents a crowning achievement for small-market producers, as the film demonstrates how smaller outfits can now match the epic ambitions and polished production values of their multi-million dollar counterparts.

Off-Road Heroics
For years, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, a 1,000-mile off-road race through Baja, Mexico, has been one of the most well-known motor sports races, but also one of the least witnessed. Due to the rugged terrain and duration of the event, no major media outlet has ever attempted to cover it. But the lack of precedent didn't deter Brown and fellow producers Scotty Waugh and Mike McCoy, who utilized multiple shooting formats and conventional, PC-based post-production software to bring the famed event to screen in all its fast-paced glory.

From the outset, the producers knew that the unforgiving working environment would present a host of production challenges. Perhaps one of the most arduous tasks involved the mass mobilization of three helicopters, 55 cameras, and a 90-person crew to the remote regions of Mexico.

But once the production team and equipment were settled, capturing off-road racing's ever-changing dynamics quickly became the most difficult obstacle. Harrowing lead changes and heart-wrenching wrecks can happen in an instant, and the different types of drama unfolding throughout the race (which runs day and night) required different techniques for high-, low-, and no-light shooting; different types of acrobatics from the shooters; and different types of equipment to capture the shots most effectively. Thus the producers recognized that a multitude of formats were necessary to monitor the race's many subtleties. The laundry list of Dust to Glory cameras includes 4:2:2 HD cameras (Sony HDCAM F900s), Panasonic DVX-100 MiniDV camcorders, Sony PD 150 DVCAM units, mini-infrared Lipstick and rugged Ice Cube cameras, 35mms, Super 16s, and Hi-8s.

Dust to Glory spokesperson and editor Jacob Rosenberg explains that the use of the various cameras allowed the crew to cover all aspects of the event and convey the best story. Crews were able to capture different points of the race simultaneously and shoot different angles of the same location. At times, crews would set the Super 16 cameras for audio with no slates and use 2 DVX cameras to incorporate angles the Super 16 didn't pick up. "Format followed function," Rosenberg says. "If we wanted to cover action inside the car, we couldn't use HD. So we used miniDV."

However, more often than not, HD proved to be the format of choice; 50% of the footage shot for Dust to Glory was HD. One of the helicopters providing air coverage of the race and another five ground units employed HD cameras. One HD camera went with the seven-time champion and supporting pit crew, and yet another followed producer/racer Mike McCoy. HD video allowed the crew to capture intense, extended shots, Rosenberg says, while eliminating the mountain of used film magazines. "At one instance of the race," he recalls, "there was a battle for first place between two motorcycles for nearly 200 miles. We could not have covered that with film."

Although the many camera formats, especially HD, helped to rein in the magnitude of the event, the rugged desert terrain demanded attention to other production aspects. Off-road racing introduces shock and vibration effects on a completely new scale. However, due to careful planning and thorough pretests, the losses and damages of the equipment were minimal. Even more notable, the crew used production techniques to circumvent vibration and stabilization issues, which helped minimize the need for that type of clean up in post.

In order to cope with these tremendous demands, helicopter units used gyroscope mounts for the HD and film cameras (the HD camera used the Hi-Def Gyron Stabilized Mount from Nettmann Enterprises), while the off-road chase car made use of a stabilizing suspension arm built by Mike Majesky of Shelly Ward Enterprises. "Through the unique use of coil over style shocks and springs, the five inch-long arm offered dampened movement in any direction, taking all the hits out of the terrain," explained Director of Photography Kevin Ward. Careful maintenance of these stabilizing methods ensured that no dedicated post-production stabilization software was required on the editing end.

Working the Post Pit
After covering a continuous, 1,000-mile race, a production crew will inevitably amass vast amounts of footage. And while the production crew boasted 90 members, the smaller post-production crew of six faced the challenge of condensing 250 hours of raw footage into a feature-length movie. Typically, most Hollywood HD post-production environments can accommodate this much uncompressed video; however, given the enormous file storage requirements of uncompressed SD and HD video--as much as 300GB per hour of footage (compare that to 12.9GB/hour of DV)--a small studio simply can't handle that type of volume.

Timeline and budget constraints dictated that the video had to be compressed prior to editing. The post team elected to use a lossless digital intermediate compression codec. In the past, many producers have frowned upon use of compressed HD video, as compression software typically degraded image quality far below industry (uncompressed HD or film) standards. But the Dust to Glory team maintains that recent advancements in digital intermediate codecs have made working with compressed HD less of a handicap to independents.

The team used Adobe Premiere Pro with the CineForm codec plug-in for HD capture and transcoding on BOXX HD-ProRT workstations to complete post-production. Essentially, the bulk of the Dust to Glory editing was completed on PCs available to professional videographers.

Brown and Waugh performed the original offline edits, which took over two months of 8-10 hour days to log the entire film. Next they imported the logged film into the digital workflow. The crew scanned the 16mm and 35mm coverage into 2K and 4K formats, respectively, using Spirit high-resolution film scanners. All of the SD format resolutions were upsampled to 1080i HD using Teranex Converter Boxes. Then all of the HD, DV, and film coverage was integrated and digitized into the CineForm codec at 1920x1080i resolution in 16:9 widescreen at 23.98fps (the standard for film). "I was amazed at the stability and quality of the codec," Rosenberg says of the CineForm technology. "The film and [upsampled SD resolution] did not degrade even though we were working with compressed HD."

The post-production team also used Adobe After Effects for time-remapping the film's speed ramps (or transitions from full-speed to slow-motion action), general shot-resizing, and generating animated titles. One might expect that integrating footage from so many different cameras and formats might present an array of color-correction challenges to the editors for seamless transitions between footage from different sources, but Rosenberg says it wasn't much of an issue. By design, the editors didn't even attempt color matching of shots, like in-car DV with overhead HD video, in order to preserve the film's documentary look. "A documentary's scenes can feel different," Rosenberg says. "We were working in different environments, with different stories."

But the crew did use color editing plug-ins including AJA and Color Finesse 1.5 for general corrections. However, Rosenberg commented that increased audio functionality, specifically Rich Music Format (RMF) support for improved MIDI sound integration, would have been a welcome addition to the editing workflow. Final audio mixing was performed using DigiDesign ProTools.

Delivering an Upset
After the film was edited, delivery provided the Dust to Glory crew with another chance to reduce costs. Typically HD video is printed directly to film, but this process is prohibitively expensive, on the order of $60-70,000. Dust to Glory will be exported to an HD tape or Windows Media file (depending on the delivery venue) and projected digitally in HD cinemas.

After the theatrical release, the crew has prepared for widespread DVD distribution. "Because the HD sequences were already at a DVD-supported progressive frame rate of 23.976," Rosenberg says, "we would simply export to DVD from our sequence. A 16:9 version of the sequence would then be authored onto a DVD as an autoplay movie." Premiere Pro preserved the 16:9 image by condensing the frame to a 4:3 image that "is tagged to unsquish and become letterboxed" during DVD playback, according to Rosenberg.

Dust to Glory has just begun its theatrical release at this writing, with IFC Films handling distribution. In some ways its debut opens a new door for independent filmmakers. HD-quality film production has historically been the province of big studios with big budgets, but Brown's project demonstrates how small, independent producers can make it work.

High-quality HD compression technology has allowed indies shooting and editing digital to match the high production values of major film studios. That said, Rosenberg stresses the importance of maintaining both film and HD formats in feature productions. "The digital intermediate is a strong format, but no one should say that you can't shoot with film, that film is dead. Acquisition should always be up to the creative director."

Whatever the delivery medium, independent producers now have an assortment of tools that equip them to contend with their larger competitors. In an off-road race that has long been one-sided, the continuing development of compressed digital workflows has blazed a smoother path for small independents with hi-def ambitions.

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FOCUS Enhancements Now Shipping FireStore FS-4 Pro

FOCUS Enhancements Inc. has announced the availability of its groundbreaking FireStore FS-4Pro Portable Direct To Edit(tm) (DTE) Recorders. The palm-sized FS-4Pro joins the recently announced FS-4 in FOCUS' line of portable DTE recorder for handheld digital camcorders. The FireStore family will be on display at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas from April 18th to 21st (Booth SL505, SL4255E).

Designed for digital videographers in the broadcast, sports, wedding and event, and education industries, the FS-4Pro features a 40GB (3 hour) or 80GB (6 hour) internal disk drive, FOCUS Enhancements' DTE technology, and a field-ready, rugged enclosure. As compared to FOCUS Enhancements' FS-4 model, the FS-4Pro increases editing compatibility by adding Avid OMF and Pinnacle AVI support in addition to standard DTE Technology file formats. FS-4Pro also adds multiple retro-record modes, reels that allow clips to be categorized into pre-named folders on disk while shooting, and user definable time lapse and loop playback modes.

In March 2005, FOCUS Enhancements announced plans to support the High Definition (HD) standard with its new FS-4 HD and FS-4Pro HD models. The company is offering a special to customers purchasing the new FS-4 and FS-4Pro models by April 30, 2005, enabling them to upgrade to full HD functionality for only $99 (normally $299).

The FireStore FS-4Pro portable DTE recorders weigh less than one pound including the battery, and are only 1.5-inches thick. The low profile design allows videographers to mount the FS-4Pro to their camcorder using the optional hot-shoe clip-on adapter or attach it directly to their belt. FS-4Pro features a 6-pin FireWire connector for interface with camcorders, a 6-pin FireWire connector for interfacing with a computer for editing or file transfer, a backlit status LCD display and a comprehensive set of control buttons including a navigation pad. It supports RawDV, AVI Type 1, AVI Type 2, Matrox AVI, Canopus AVI, QuickTime, 24p QuickTime and 24p AVI Type 2. The FS-4Pro also includes up to ten seconds of retro-cache, retro disk, loop record, user definable folders for scene marking, and support for additional DV25 DTE technology file formats including Avid DV-OMF and Pinnacle AVI.

FireStore FS-4Pro 40GB and 80GB are available through the worldwide FOCUS Enhancements and Canon USA dealer and distributor networks for a US MSRP of $1,195 and $1,595, respectively. FireStore HD upgrades, FS-4 HD, and FS-4Pro HD are expected to be available in the Summer of 2005 through the worldwide FOCUS Enhancements dealer and distributor network.

www.focusinfo.com

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VFGadgets.com Introduces the Video LCD Monitor Mount Pro

VFGadgets Inc. has announced the introduction of the Video LCD Monitor Mount Pro. Now that more DOPs and Videographers are using 17" to 23" professional video LCD and TFT monitors in the field, VFGadgets have come up with a way to take the monitors off the desktop and use them on a lighting stand or a base plate, right where the director and the shooter can see the monitor with ease.

The Video LCD Monitor Mount Pro can hold up to 30lbs and can be mounted on any lighting stand that has a 5/8" male stud; it's designed to be studry enough to enable video producer to use broadcast-quality LCD monitors with a sunshade on for exterior shots.

The monitor mount has two adjustment points that allows users to set the flat panel monitor in any position and a pivot point at the base of the unit for easy side-to-side positioning. The mount comes with the required VESA plate that will work with 100mm and 75mm mounting holes on the back of all broadcast-quality LCD and TFT monitors.

www.vfgadgets.com

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DVcreators.net Releases LiveType PowerStart Training DVD

LiveType PowerStart is a training DVD for Apple's powerful LiveType titling and motion graphics software from DVcreators.net. The course is designed to enable new and experienced users to master LiveType and be able to easily create stunning quality titles, graphics and visual effects with the software. Apple announced they would be adding it to the new Final Cut Express HD package in January 2005.

LiveType PowerStart, contains sixteen individual modules and addresses issues such as creating effects, title sequencing, and customizing preset effects.

LiveType PowerStart is priced at $49.95 and includes $180 of objects and textures from LiveType Central.

 www.dvcreators.net

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LitePanels Introduces New 1'x1'

LitePanels has introduced 1'x1', the latest edition to its LED line, which includes the LitePanels Mini. The new ultra-flat profile 1'x1' is a versatile lighting system for professional production environments, design to produce high output, low heat, and creative control.

Users can dial in any color temperature from Tungsten to Daylight, according to LitePanels. The system's beam adjusts from a narrow 12º spot to a wide 90º flood. A full-range integrated dimmer enables instant dimming from 0 to 100% with no shift in color, LitePanels says. With its modular design, the 1'x1' makes it easy to customize the lighting configuration to meet the shoot's requirements.

The 1'x1' measures 12" W x 12" H x 2.4" D (30.5cm x 30.5cm x 6.1cm). The system is built to adapt easily to a variety of shooting situations and tight spots. It can be powered from a variety of 10-18V sources, including a standard camera battery, car battery, or AC adapter. The optional 1 hour lithium-ion battery pack provides additional mobility.

www.litepanels.com

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BOXX Unveils the Ultimate “Swag Bag” Promotion Beginning April 12, 2005

BOXX Technologies, a workstation company, has partnered with Adobe, Alias , ATI, CGNetworks, The D.A.V.E. School, Kurv Studios, Luxology, Newtek, NVIDIA, PNY, Softimage, Stash! DVD Magazine, 3Dconnexion, 3D Garage, 3DTotal and 12-Inch Design to create the Ultimate Swag Bag promotion, designed to fuel creativity and amplify digital workflow.

Everyone who orders a BOXX workstation online April 12-22 will receive a personalized Swag Bag from BOXX partners filled with tools and technology to energize creativity and ignite the imagination. Every Bag is unique, but all are overflowing with tools that promise to set creativity in motion, according to BOXX. The bags will include anything from graphics cards, flash memory, and Space Travelers to 3D modeling and animation software, textures and motion libraries, training DVDs, and books from supporting partners. BOXX is in the mix too, offering a workstation of its own to be featured in one of the Swag Bags.

Each Bag will have hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of dollars in merchandise. Additionally, during the Ultimate Swag Bag promotion, BOXX will offer special pricing on select systems at the www.boxxtech.com Web site.

The Ultimate Swag Bag Partners:

Get the Swag! The Ultimate Swag Bag offer begins April 12, 2005 and ends April 22, 2005, and is only available on the BOXX Web site (www.boxxtech.com).

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Nero Integrates Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound into NeroVision Express 3

Nero has announced that Dolby Digital 5.1 sound creation has been integrated into NeroVision Express 3, an application of the company's Nero 6 software.

Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator is an audio coding technology that formats audio content into a multichannel Dolby Digital bitstream, enabling consumers to create home movies with full surround sound. As a result of its coding efficiencies, 5.1-channel Dolby Digital requires less data than stereo PCM, resulting in savings in disc space and allowing consumers to make longer recordings or store higher-quality video content by assigning higher data rate to video.

For mastering 5.1-channel DVD-Video content, NeroVision Express will upmix the audio input material to Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, using the advanced technology of Nero UpMix. "

NeroVision Express 3 is an entry-level video editing and authoring tool. It can edit and author video from virtually any input source and record video files to DVD-Video, Video CD (VCD), Super Video CD (SVCD), miniDVD, and now Nero Digital. Chapters can be created using automatic scene detection, videos can be trimmed in a fast and flexible way, and customized menus can be created using pre-defined layout templates and button frames. Editing is available for more advanced users, while wizards for novices are always in control. In addition, when creating a DVD-Video project, the user will now have the option of selecting Dolby Digital 5.1 as the target audio stream.

Nero 6 users can purchase the Dolby Digital 5.1 Multichannel Plug-in at the Nero online shop on www.nero.com.

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Hitachi Introduces New DVD Camcorder

The Home Electronics Division of Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., introduced the new UltraVision DZMV730A DVD Camcorder, the latest model in Hitachi's fifth-generation product line-up.

The DZMV730A features the new Hitachi Image Engine that provides a 20 percent improvement in video noise reduction and 20 percent longer battery life. The Hitachi Image Engine is comprised of the camcorder lens and LSI circuitry as well as the DVD optical drive. Compared to previous generations, the new DVD drive has reduced the product size by 15 percent.

The DZMV730A offers users 16:9 widescreen recording for DVD-R and DVD-RAM formats as well as extensive in-camera editing capabilities on DVD-RAM recordings. Using the Hitachi Disc Navigation feature, each movie clip is presented as a thumbnail image on the LCD panel, which can be selected for instant playback. The system allows users to fade, move, divide, delete, and combine clips without the need for a computer; moreover, users can create up to 99 playlists for custom playback of movie clips.

Additionally, the DZMV730A camcorder utilizes MPEG-2 video recording technology. Users can select between increased recording quality or extended recording time. When using a DVD-RAM disc, the camcorder utilizes either variable bit rate (VBR) or constant bit rate (CBR) recording formats.

www.hitachi.com

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Total Training Supports Offers Training Videos for Adobe Creative Suite 2

Total Training, Inc., a developer of video-based training, announced a new series of DVD-ROM videos for mastering Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition. This announcement follows the launch of Creative Suite 2, Adobe¹s design and publishing environment.

Sample video tutorials will be included with Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe InDesign CS2, Adobe Illustrator CS2, and Adobe GoLive CS2 product boxes. In addition to the sample tutorials, Creative Suite 2 users can get Total Training¹s video training for each full-version of Adobe¹s indispensable design software, including: Total Training for Photoshop CS2, Total Training for InDesign CS2, Total Training for Illustrator CS2, and Total Training for GoLive CS2.

Users watch videos and practice tutorials based on real-world scenarios to effectively sharpen design, print, and web publishing skills.

Pricing and Availability
Phase 1:
Standard Edition Total Training for Photoshop CS2: $299.99
Total Training for InDesign CS2: $249.99
Total Training for Illustrator CS2: $199.99

Phase 2:
Premium Edition Total Training Presents Creative Suite 2: from Design to Delivery :$129.99
Total Training for GoLive CS2: $149.99

www.totaltraining.com

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EventDV Survey #11: RESULTS

results

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