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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

December 12, 2005

Table of Contents

An Event Videographer in King Arthur’s Court; or, What's at Government Video Expo For Us?
Thomson Buys 33 1/3% Stake in Canopus
Panasonic Announces December 29th Delivery Date For AG-HVX200 Hand-Held Solid State-Memory HD Camcorder
FOCUS Enhancements and Panasonic Highlight New HD Direct To Edit Video Disk Recorder
Digital Heaven releases Multicam Lite 1.03 at a new lower price of $99
Automatic Duck Announces New Features in Pro Import FCP 2.0
Advanced Media Adds New White Inkjet Printable RIDATA 4X Dual-Layer DVD-R Discs
Disc Makers Unveils Re-Designed Automated Elite Duplicator and Printer Line

An Event Videographer in King Arthur’s Court; or, What's at Government Video Expo For Us?

Why on earth would a wedding videographer spend three days at a convention aimed at video production and distribution for government agencies? For the same reason that Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest: because it's there, of course! GV Expo is the only video convention of any size that's held in my hometown area of Washington, D.C.

But it isn't just proximity that made attending this event worthwhile for me. I got a lot out of it. First and foremost, there were the seminars: For three years now, GV Expo has not only held their own series of seminars (often with thrilling titles like "The Problems of In-Car Cameras" for law enforcement departments), but they've been a site for the Digital Media DC Conference. DMDC, organized by Future Video Concepts, offers a set of seminars on things like Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, video production, business topics for freelancers, and certification tracks in Final Cut Pro and Apple Motion. You'll probably recognize some of the presenters: people like Douglas Spotted Eagle, Luisa Winters, George Avgerakis, and Richard Harrington. I was kept so busy going to DMDC seminars that I had to work hard to squeeze in a couple of visits to the show floor! Everyone in this business needs to budget some time and money towards continuing education, and seminars like these can be highly rewarding.

During the breaks between seminars, and also before and after show hours, I had the privilege of meeting several people who are "names" in our industry, as well as others who don't have such high visibility in the community, but were equally fascinating. Besides the aforementioned Spot and Luisa, I also chatted with Chris Hurd, the author of the original XL1 Watchdog Web site; Martin Hash of Hash Animation Master fame; Philip Nelson, the VP of NewTek's video division; and many others. Not only was it delightful to be able to put faces to names that were well-known from books, magazines, and online forums, but everyone I met was friendly, knowledgeable, and more than willing to share their expertise.

In between schmoozing with the pros and attending seminars, I wandered through the show floor. There were well over 250 exhibitors this year. Many of them were displaying products and services that were of little interest to us event video types, like digital signage, terabyte media storage and search engines, law enforcement video, etc. But there were also a number of products that were of significance to our industry. Here are a few that caught my eye; some of them will be reviewed in more detail here in the coming months:

  •  An aluminum rail that attaches to the grid of a suspended ceiling, turning any acoustic ceiling into an instant lighting grid.
  • The Elite Pro from Disc Makers, an affordable robotic DVD duplicator that won't tie up your main computer while it works
  • NewTek's [VT] 4 and TriCaster (the latter an EventDV Best of 2005 selection)
  • Several royalty-free music companies--most of them high end "needle drop" license companies, but at least one (Omnimusic) that was preparing a product aimed at the wedding and event market
  • Hash Animation Master, an affordable ($300) yet powerful 3D modeling and animation program
  • Marshall's line of small, high resolution LCD monitors for field production or studio use.
  • Lite Panels' line of LCD lighting instruments--expensive, but intriguing
  • A display of Petrol Bags--camera and gear cases for all sizes and occasions
  • Lowel Lights--everything from studio soft boxes to tiny on-camera lights (If Lowel didn't have what you wanted, Arri had a booth across the way that probably did.)
  • One booth, for the training company Apple/Mac Business Solutions, with a line of Macs running Final Cut Pro. You could sit down at an empty workstation and start following along with the presenter. It looked interesting, and much more hands-on than the usual trade show product demo.
  • A new line of high-definition projectors from Canon
  • A lavaliere mic that pins to your shirt like a tie-tack, and can be disguised with a decoration.

In addition to the above, there was HD everywhere you looked, ranging from large-screen LCD and plasma displays to HDV camcorders. The Sony HVR-Z1U seemed to be in almost every booth. B&H had their famous "camera shootout" display, where passersby could directly compare the performance of about a dozen different camcorders. Sony had their full lineup of high-def equipment, from the tiny HVR-A1U all the way up through HDCAM. The new JVC GY-HD100U 720p camcorder was available and easy to get hands and eyes on. So was the new Canon XL H1. Unfortunately, the long-awaited Panasonic AG-HVX200 only made an appearance as a prototype unit in a glass case.

Government Video Expo might not be quite as "on target" for our segment of the video world as, say, a WEVA Expo or the upcoming 4EVER Group Video 06 Convention in Orlando, but it was an informative and exciting three-day event for this wedding and event guy. The next one is December 6-7, 2006. If you're in our nation's capital then, maybe we'll meet up and talk shop!

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Thomson Buys 33 1/3% Stake in Canopus

Thomson today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire 33 1/3% of the issued and outstanding shares of Canopus Co., Ltd, a Japan-based leader in high-definition desktop video editing software, through a private transaction with Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Yamada, and members of his immediate family. Thomson also disclosed today that it will launch a public tender offer for the remaining Canopus shares on Tuesday, December 6, 2005.

The value of the private transaction combined with the pending tender offer would represent approximately €91.3 million (¥12.8 billion) on an equity value basis. Canopus had net debt, including debt secured on real estate owned by Canopus, of €5.2 million (¥712.6 million), as of August 31, 2005. Total Canopus revenues for the 12 months to August 31st 2005 were €50 million (approximately ¥6.8 billion) of which €40.5 million (¥5.5 billion) were in the core ProAV and video editing positions. The profitability of these operations, together with synergies, will result in a neutral impact on core business earnings in the first year and accretion thereafter. Overall, the business meets Thomson's acquisition criteria.

Taken with the discussions with Thalès on Thalès Broadcast & Multimedia (broadcasting and IP-TV), this transaction completes Thomson's external initiatives for its Grass Valley Broadcast & Networks business. Grass Valley is a key element of Thomson's Two Year Plan, as one of four primary revenue growth boosters. The acquisition fits with Thomson's objectives to broaden its media and entertainment client base -- and to support that, accelerated delivery of technologies ranging from desktop video editing, video over IP, and digital media conversion, among others. Accordingly, Thomson has now completed the external growth actions of its key primary boosters required for the Two Year Plan.

In addition to offering leading PC-based, multi-format digital and HD video editing systems, Canopus is a leading supplier of high-performance video encoding/decoding technology. Canopus also provides leading digital media conversion technologies, including a range of specialized devices that bridge the video/audio and PC worlds, allowing content to be moved easily between these different environments. Finally, Canopus also produces a multi-channel, multi-location video delivery solution that uses standard IP networks and display devices in enterprise-type applications such as digital signage for advertising and VOD applications for in-house video systems.

The Canopus product offering strengthens Grass Valley's position in several markets. Thomson and Canopus agree on the substantial opportunities which exist in professional video (Pro Video or non-broadcast video production applications), and professional A/V (ProAV or applications such as university or corporate media centers and distance learning). Based on internal and third-party data, Canopus technologies are estimated to address markets exceeding €1 billion, which Thomson does not address today. "Canopus brings important products and technologies that allow us to address multiple facets of our growth strategy and accelerate key elements of our R&D roadmap," said Marc Valentin, president of the Grass Valley business within Thomson.

Mr. Yamada will continue to play a leadership role in managing the Canopus business and in seizing the opportunities offered to the combined business by the professional AV and video editing markets. It is anticipated that the current Canopus management team will continue to lead the day-to-day business with the support and guidance of Grass Valley senior management. Under terms of the private transaction, Thomson is acquiring 33 1/3% of the issued and outstanding shares of Canopus from Mr. Yamada and his family. The purchase consideration will be settled 50% in cash and 50% in (821,917) Thomson S.A. shares.

Mr. Yamada, the single largest shareholder of Canopus, together with his family holds a total of approximately 40% of the shares of Canopus. The planned public tender offer is expected to last for a period of at least 42 days, and is anticipated to close January 16, 2006. Thomson is offering ¥148,000 per share, which reflects a premium of nearly 20% over the 30-day average closing price to December 2, 2005 of ¥123,900. Thomson will purchase all shares tendered to it, conditional upon receiving enough tenders to bring its shareholding in Canopus to a minimum of 77.87%. It is Thomson's ultimate intention to acquire 100% of the issued shares of Canopus and to fully integrate the company with its Grass Valley business, as well as to delist Canopus from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (assuming successful completion of the acquisition).


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Panasonic Announces December 29th Delivery Date For AG-HVX200 Hand-Held Solid State-Memory HD Camcorder

Panasonic Broadcast has announced that its AG-HVX200, a hand-held high definition solid-state memory camcorder, will begin delivering to resellers on December 29th. The HVX200 uniquely combines multiple high-definition and standard-definition formats, multiple recording modes and variable frames rates, and P2 solid state memory recording in a rugged, compact design.

Panasonic announced introductory pricing for the HVX200 including $5,995 suggested list price of the camcorder only, a $6,995 list price for the camcorder and two 4GB P2 cards, and a $9,995 list price for the camcorder and two 8GB P2 cards. Pricing on other introductory HVX200 packages are available at http://www.panasonic.com/hvx200. "

With the ability to capture images in 21 video formats, the HVX200 records in high definition in 1080i and 720p in production-proven 100 Mbps DVCPRO HD quality. The DVCPRO HD format offers users cost-effective, intraframe compression, where each frame stands on its own for editing, and its full 4:2:2 color sampling allows the image to hold up under color correction. The camera records video on a P2 card as IT-friendly MXF files in 1080/60i, 30p and 24p; in 720/60p, 30p and 24p; in 50Mbps DVCPRO50 and in 25Mbps DVCPRO or DV.

With a pair of Panasonic's new 8GB P2 cards (model P2C008HG), the HVX200 records for 64 minutes in DVCPRO or DV, 40 minutes in 720p, 32 minutes in DVCPRO50, and 16 minutes in 1080/60 and 720/60. The HD and SD video recorded on the P2 card can be rapidly downloaded to a nonlinear editing system or server, or edited virtually instantly from the P2 card by connecting to an IEEE 1394 or USB 2.0 interface. P2 cards mount like a regular hard drive from a NLE system's point of view, which eliminates the time-intensive task of digitizing footage. The multi-format camera has two P2 card slots, and offers a variety of record modes including hot-swap recording to ensure continuous recording; loop recording; pre-record (up to 7 seconds in DVCPRO and 3 seconds in DVCPRO HD); one-shot record (from 1 frame to 1 second) and interval record (from 2 frames to 10 minutes). With P2, all moving parts are eliminated from the recording path, which ensures that the HVX200 is extremely reliable and resistant to environmental conditions including the shock and humidity that threaten camcorders based on mechanical recording transports.

For added flexibility, the HVX200 is also equipped with a MiniDV tape drive for shooting 4:3 and 16:9 images on DV tape in 60i, 30p and 24p. The HVX200 inherits the variable frame rate capability of Panasonic's popular, shoulder-mount AJ-HDC27 VariCam HD Cinema camcorder. The HVX200 can capture fast or slow action in 720p at various frame rates. The shooting frame rate in 720p native mode can be set for any of 11 steps between 12fps and 60fps including 24fps and 30fps. By using the camera to play back the recording at the normal rate, the shooter can preview the off-speed effect right on the spot, without the need for a frame rate converter.

Furthermore, the HVX200 can down-convert off-speed recordings in 720p recorded on a P2 card and copy it to a mini DV tape. This allows the user to create special off-speed effects during DV production — a technique previously possible only with a complete VariCam system. And like VariCam, the HVX200 offers advanced Gamma modes; the camera has eight gamma modes including Cine-Like Gamma to give recordings the characteristic warm tone of film recordings. For newsgathering, a news gamma curve assists a news photographer by allowing him to suppress over-saturated highlight areas during sudden contrast changes, according to Panasonic.

The AG-HVX200 combines native progressive 16:9 1/3" 3-CCDs and a wide-angle, 13X Leica Dicomar HD lens (with optical image stabilization and a cam-driven manual zoom) to cover a wide range from 4.2mm to 55mm (35mm equivalent: 32.5mm to 423mm). Its large viewfinder and 3.5" LCD monitor make it easy to view content. For example, in 16:9 wide-screen mode, the camcorder can display images on the LCD monitor in letterbox, which allows the user to view vital camera operating information in areas above and below the image. In addition, the LCD permits the shooter to view and select thumbnail clips to speed editing, and allows random access to the thumbnail-displayed scenes (on the P2 card) for instant playback and the creation of an in-camera storyboard.

Audio performance is achieved with 4-channel non-compressed 48KHz/16-bit digital audio in DVCPRO HD and DVCPRO50, and two channels in DVCPRO and DV. The HVX200 is loaded with system interfaces (including IEEE 1394 and USB 2.0), and professional interfaces including two XLR audio (with +48 volt phantom power) inputs, a component (D4) output, composite in/out, S-video in/out, audio (RCA) in/out, and headphone output. For operator convenience, the camcorder is highly customizable with features including six user scene files, three user setup buttons, and Camera Setup Memory (up to four camera setups can be saved to a SD Memory card for transfer to another camera).

Other features include: jam sync for multi-camera shoots; minimum illumination of 3 lux for low-light shooting; Shot Mark function to speed editing; built-in SMPTE time-code generator/reader; level-adjustable audio levels; ND Filter that increases gain up to 18 dB; a Slow Speed and High Speed Shutter; an Auto/Manual Mode Selector; White Balance with Auto Tracking White Function; and Trigger and Zoom Controls on the camera's upper handle grip.

Established third-party nonlinear editing systems including Apple Final Cut Pro; Avid Newscutter XP, Newscutter Adrenaline FX, and Xpress HD; and Canopus Edius HD are compatible with the AG-HVX200. The AG-HVX200 weighs just over five pounds, and is built with a magnesium alloy diecast chassis for outstanding reliability and durability.

For more information on the AG-HVX200, visit http://www.panasonic.com/hvx200.

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FOCUS Enhancements and Panasonic Highlight New HD Direct To Edit Video Disk Recorder

FOCUS Enhancements Inc., a worldwide leader in video production and conversion technology, and Panasonic, developer of the DVCPRO family of products, today announced the upcoming line of FireStore FS-100 portable Direct To Edit (DTE) HD disk recorders for Panasonic's new AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 Handheld Camera-recorder at a press conference held at the Universal Hilton. The companies will also showcase demonstrations of the new solution this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center in FOCUS Enhancements' booth (#124) and Panasonic's booth (#101).

As an official Panasonic P2 partner, FOCUS Enhancements specifically optimized the FireStore FS-100 DTE recorder for the new Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 Handheld Camera-recorder, extending its storage capacity and as a backup and a digital disk recording solution. The FireStore FS-100 enables professional videographers to record drop-out free DV/DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50 or DVCPRO HD video streams via FireWire while in the field. They can then connect directly to a Mac or PC notebook or desktop to edit content directly from the FireStore - eliminating the need to digitize footage. In DVCPRO HD and DVCPRO 50 mode, clips are recorded to disk in the MXF P2 format.

In DV and DVCPRO mode, users can choose from the most popular NLE formats including Avid OMF, Canopus AVI, Matrox AVI and more. Broadcast professionals and film makers working with HD will have a complete acquisition to editing solution that will streamline the overall video production workflow - saving valuable time and money.

FireStore FS-100 Key features: 
-- Accepts DVCPRO HD 100Mb/s and DVCPRO 50 SD streams from the AG-HVX200 Handheld Camera-recorder 
-- Extends recording time for P2 customers 
-- DTE - Direct To Edit recording 
-- No need to capture footage on supported NLE systems. Simply import clips from the disk directly to the NLE's timeline and edit immediately · Records both SD & HD formats 
-- Compact rugged design 
-- Comprehensive Graphical LCD 
-- Built in CPU

The FireStore FS-100 is expected to be available in March 2006 at an estimated MSRP of $2,195.


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Digital Heaven releases Multicam Lite 1.03 at a new lower price of $99

Digital Heaven, one of the leading creators of software for Apple's pro apps, has announced the release of Multicam Lite v1.03 at the new price of just $99 (previously $295).

Multicam Lite is a standalone Mac OS X application which works in conjunction with Final Cut Pro (v4.1 and later) for the input and output of sequences via XML files. With its innovative and streamlined interface, Multicam Lite makes it easier than ever to cut up to three cameras in real time. DV, DVCPRO25 or OfflineRT source clips can be directly used by the software and there are comprehensive trimming and camera swapping features built in. When the cut is finished, the XML file is imported back into FCP where all the cuts are automatically recreated ready for further effects work or output.

The software is available now for download purchase from the Digital Heaven online store at http://www.digital-heaven.co.uk for $99. A demo version is also available which offers full functionality but does not allow saving of XML files.


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Automatic Duck Announces New Features in Pro Import FCP 2.0

Automatic Duck, the creators of Timeline Integration Engine software for digital media artists, has announced new enhancements to Pro Import FCP, its flagship import tool for Final Cut Pro users. Pro Import FCP 2.0, which will be generally available in Q1 2006, will enable digital media artists to import OMF files from popular digital audio workstations (DAWs), such as Digidesign Pro Tools, into Final Cut Pro.

Additionally, Pro Import FCP 2.0 adds significant new features to enhance the Final Cut Pro workflow, such as import capability from Adobe Premiere Pro, the ability to decompose sequences during import, and the ability to translate Avid Title Effects into Final Cut Pro text generators. These features new to version 2.0 are designed to further simplify, and greatly accelerate, the workflow process of importing designed content from disparate editing systems directly into Final Cut Pro.

Pro Import FCP 2.0 will be available in the first quarter of 2006 and will be priced at $495 for new customers and  $195 for an upgrade


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Advanced Media Adds New White Inkjet Printable RIDATA 4X Dual-Layer DVD-R Discs

Advanced Media, Inc., has added to its white inkjet printable media offerings with the RIDATA 4X Dual Layer DVD-R and will be featuring the fast, new printable discs at the upcoming CES January 5-8, 2006 in Las Vegas, NV. The company's booth is in LVCC South Hall #35320. "

The RIDATA dual-layer 4X DVD-R inkjet printable disc has a 8.5GB capacity and features a white printable surface. Consistent high-quality recording and compatibility with a wide range of DVD players and printing systems make it ideal for virtually any copying need where a cost-effective, customized label is needed. The speed offered by the 4X recording rate will quickly record favorite audio, video or data files to the amazing 8.5GB of storage capacity the dual-layer disc offers.

The dual-layer disc has enough storage space for up to four hours of DVD-quality video, 16 hours of VHS-quality video, or over 120 hours of MP3 audio. New technology breakthroughs allow material to be either read or recorded on one layer without affecting the other layer. When data is being recorded or read, it does so continuously from the first layer to the second without interruption. It records at speeds of 1-4X and uses a high quality, dependable organic-dye recording material. The new RIDATA dual-layer discs feature excellent compatibility with popular DVD-based video players, game consoles and DVD-ROM drives as well as DVD-R DL drives.

The RIDATA 4X DVD-R DL disc is competitively street priced and available at leading computer and office-supply locations across the country as well as through popular online retail sites. About Advanced Media (RITEK USA) Advanced Media, Inc. is a subsidiary of RITEK Corporation. Advanced Media is the sole North and South American marketer and distributor of the RIDATA brand of recordable CD and DVD media as well as other types of electronic storage media. The RIDATA brand currently includes: CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, and DVD-RAM optical discs; flash memory cards, adapters, and reader/writers; USB EZ drives; and assorted media accessories.


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Disc Makers Unveils Re-Designed Automated Elite Duplicator and Printer Line

Disc Makers, a leading manufacturer of CD and DVD duplicators, has introduced the new Elite2, ElitePro2, Elite4, and ElitePro4 systems, which showcase the new FlexWare software suite that integrates disc creation, on-disc design, disc duplication, and printing into one easy-to-use application, and the latest 16x DVD±R/48x CD-R drives from Plextor.

The new Elite systems are now shipping and start at just $2,490 (was $3,490) for the 2-drive Elite2 and $4,290 (was $5,490) for the 4-drive Elite4. Both systems can be upgraded to an ElitePro - built-in PC with preloaded software, keyboard, and mouse - for just $500 more. The ElitePro2 is $2,990 (was $4,190) and ElitePro4 is $4,790 (was $6,490). All systems are available with Disc Makers' latest Autograph7 4800 dpi color inkjet printer.

The biggest advancement with the new Elite systems is the newFlexWare software suite that simplifies the duplication process for the customer. The FlexWare software gives customers a single application that lets them custom-create their disc with ease, from the on-disc design and layout, to the content, duplication, and printing. It also has built-in auto settings so that discs come out looking and playing perfectly every time in virtually any media player on the market today. The FlexWare software, along with networking options, an unmatched 24-month warranty, and an efficient 18" wide x 20" deep footprint, give hardware customers the complete, turnkey solution to all of their DVD and CD duplication and printing needs.


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