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Information Today, Inc.

February 05, 2007

Table of Contents

Amen Corner: Have Consumer Video Products Reached a Tipping Point?
Focus Enhancements Doubles DVCPRO HD Record Time and Adds QuickTime Support to FS-100
Imagine Products Introduces P2 Log Pro for Panasonic AG-HVX200
Litepanels Introduces MiniPlus LED Light
NewTek On 48-City North American Tour
Adobe Debuts Photoshop Lightroom 1.0
Class On Demand Releases Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 Training
New DVD Release from Call Box Teaches Final Cut Pro and DVX100 Tips
Artbeats to Debut Dozens of New Titles and Solo Clips at NAB 2007
Digital Anarchy Releases PlasmaFX 1.0 for Speedy Design Work in Apple's Final Cut Pro and Motion
TechSmith Announces SnagIt for Windows Vista

Amen Corner: Have Consumer Video Products Reached a Tipping Point?

A trend emerged a few years ago, with the advent of the MiniDV format, where lower-cost consumer video tools began to exhibit qualities more in line with their professional siblings. One of the companies I'd founded began exploring the use of consumer equipment at about the same time, for inclusion in AV installation projects. We were pleasantly surprised at what we dubbed the 90/50 rule—getting 90% of the features for 50% of the cost. As a result, I've continued to watch this trend, attending shows January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2007) in Las Vegas and San Francisco's MacWorld 2007.
     I'm happy to report that the trend continued to evolve with significant benefits to the houses of worship video market. And while none of the consumer products I saw has all the features of its professional siblings, let's take a few minutes to explore four areas of consumer equipment that might be of interest to your house of worship: cameras, displays, digital signage, and streaming media.

Cameras. Late 2006 saw the advent of the AVCHD format, a new 1080i video format jointly created by Panasonic and Sony that is approximately 25% better than 1080i HDV in terms of recording bit rate (18Mbps vs 1080i HDV's 25Mbps). Sony has been especially aggressive with the AVCHD format, rolling out both 30GB hard-drive and mini-DVD models. At CES2007, Sony upped the ante and put out four additional AVCHD cameras, some with 60GB hard drives. The cameras are the typical HandyCam size, and word on the street is that AVCHD will be supported in upcoming versions of Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro (at this writing, no NLEs will work with the format). Since AVCHD uses H.264 as its primary video compression, this also appears to mean the format can be transferred (like HDV's MPEG-2), without format conversion, to HD DVD or Blu-ray disc. That doesn't mean you can create a playable disc without authoring, although it will when set-top HD DVD/BD recorders come out. Right now, your only practical options for HD DVD and BD authoring/recording are Pinnacle Studio 10.6 and Sonic DVDit Pro HD, which use MPEG-2 only. But AVCHD is just as future-proof for HD DVD/BD authoring as HDV.

Displays. Consumer flat-panel displays continue to trend in two divergent directions: size and pixel rates are rapidly moving up while prices are rapidly moving down. While the 2006 holiday season saw a significant rise in flat-panel sales, the trend in 2007 is to talk consumers (or anyone who wants to have a higher-quality/larger display) into 1080p, what the consumer electronics industry has now dubbed "TrueHD." CES 2007 showed this trend continuing, with the average size of a display creeping up to 46" and some companies showing displays that were well over 100". The trend toward 1080p spilled over into projectors as well, as CES 2007 coincided with numerous press releases regarding home theater projectors that have lumen output capacity equaling that of their corporate AV projector siblings.

Digital Signage. While Macworld 2007's buzz came from the advent of the Apple iPhone, the other product that Steve Jobs showed during his keynote, Apple TV, looks like a potential benefit for the houses of worship market. The device, which will ship after this column goes to print, has a robust version of Apple's Front Row user interface and can be set to sync with iTunes for music, photos, and movies. Like the iPod and iTunes, the Apple TV has digital rights management rules that allow a user to fully synchronize MPEG-4/H.264 movies, photos, and music from one computer to the Apple TV's internal 40GB hard drive, while also streaming content from up to five other PC or Macintosh computers. Given the potential for this product to be purchased by consumers in quantities greater than one—for access to content from multiple displays in the house—it is also likely that the product can be used as a poor man's version of a digital signage system. In other words, it appears—based on preliminary specifications—that a $299 Apple TV device could be attached to each display in a the hallways or meeting rooms in a house of worship's informational system and then synchronized back to a master computer, yielding auto-play slide shows of images, graphics and video clips.

Streaming media. The sleeper consumer product of 2006 had to be the SlingBox, a product created by Bhupen Shah, CTO of Sling Media, that allows users to watch their home TV content anywhere in the world on a laptop or cell phone. The product has been for sale in stores everywhere, and has sold quite well to road warriors or even those who wanted to monitor their home security system when away from home. At CES 2007, though, Sling Media announced a new product that could potentially disrupt the model of traditional CATV distribution networks used in many large houses of worship. Dubbed the SlingCatcher, and set to be released in June, the product is a hardware decoder that connects to a television or flat panel display to view content streaming live from a SlingBox or the internet or stored on a personal computer. SlingCatcher opens up several easy-to-use possibilities: on-demand training programs, internet-based viewing for those who can't attend a weekly worship service, and use of the internet to allow remote presentations by missionaries or others who cannot present in person.

In conclusion, the trend toward a merging of professional and consumer video tools, categorized years ago as prosumer equipment, appears to be accelerating to the point where the consumer side is rapidly catching up with the professional side. Perhaps we're just in a lull of new high-definition formats, prior to the professional move to 2k or 4k equipment. Yet, as the consumer PC industry reversed its role and became the driver for corporate computing power, let's see if 2007 is the year that consumer video tools reach a tipping point that will significantly benefit houses of worship—and the entire event videography market. Tim Siglin, co-founder of Transitions, Inc., is a contributing editor to Streaming Media. He has 18 years of film and video experience and heads a digital media business consultancy in Kingsport, Tennessee.

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Focus Enhancements Doubles DVCPRO HD Record Time and Adds QuickTime Support to FS-100

Focus Enhancements Inc(NASDAQ: FCSE), a worldwide leader in media acquisition, management and delivery technology, today announced the immediate availability of its new version 3.0 software for the FS-100 Portable Direct To Edit® (DTE) Recorder.

Version 3.0 adds native DVCPRO HD 720/24p, 25p and 30p recording capabilities, which more than doubles the record time on the FS-100. In addition, version 3.0 adds native QuickTime® DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD recording capabilities, which allows for direct import of clips into Apple's Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing application.

When recording native frame rates, users can more than double the record time on the FS-100 from 100 minutes to over 200 minutes. By recording only the required frames, the bit rate for DVCPRO HD recordings drops to as low as 40Mb/s. While camcorders, such as the Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 camera/recorder do not output a stream via FireWire when set to native frame modes (pN), the FS-100 processor is capable of achieving the same native support by only recording the required frames when set to regular 720/24p, 25p and 30p modes. QuickTime support also includes up to four channels of digital audio.

The 3.0 upgrade is available to existing FS-100 owners directly from the Focus website for $39. All new FS-100 units manufactured after February 1, 2007 will ship with version 3.0. For more information on Focus Enhancements and its products, please visit www.focusinfo.com.

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Imagine Products Introduces P2 Log Pro for Panasonic AG-HVX200

Imagine Products, Inc. announced today the release and general availability of a new version of it's popular P2 viewer application for the Apple Macintosh platform. P2 Log Pro builds on the success of P2 Log adding new features for MXF video file repairs, searching native P2 media files and printing. The ability to create new P2 volumes from combined clips makes P2 Log Pro compatible with any P2 enabled editor such as Avid Technology, Inc.

P2 Log Pro works specifically with Panasonic Broadcast P2 format media, such as the popular AG-HVX200 hand-held DVCPRO HD camcorder. It provides logging, viewing and text editing of original MXF video metadata.

The Repair Wizard locates and copies errant MXF files one-by-one. The result is a new valid P2 Volume of the combined clips.

Other new features include the ability to print files with text and thumbnails in two different styles, three or six per page. With P2 Log Pro you can directly search the metadata of all your P2 Volumes and create new P2 Volumes of the results.

P2 Log Pro also sports "drag & drop" functionality of clips between volumes. The ability to merge clips while still in native MXF format is unique, and a powerful tool in building P2 Volumes of only desirable clips, without conversions, for import directly into any P2-compatible NLE.

Both P2 Log and P2 Log Pro are download applications that require web access for activation. They require OSX 10.4 or greater and QuickTime 7 or greater. DVCProHD codecs must be present on the PowerMac or Intel-Mac for proper video playback.


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Litepanels Introduces MiniPlus LED Light

Building on the success of the popular Litepanels Mini--the compact, portable LED softlight--the new MiniPlus offers an upgraded design and new features. Available in daylight (flood and spot) and tungsten (flood) models, the powerful new system provides over 25% greater output.

The MiniPlus snap-on 2+ hour rechargeable battery pack now features a convenient 5 step bar graph "fuel gauge" and improved charge indicator that displays charging status and the remaining battery power when the light is in use.

The MiniPlus snap-on baseplate has been redesigned for lighter weight and even more versatility. Additionally, a new deluxe detachable ball mount with integrated hot shoe allows for multiple configurations -- on the base plate, camera hotshoe, or with other types of mounting hardware.

By using Litepanels' new optional Remote Dimming Module, operators can override the MiniPlus on-board dimmer at distances up to 25 feet, an invaluable capability when the situation calls for adjustments in intensity made away from the light fixture itself.

Litepanels' ultra-efficient LED lighting systems are valued for their luminous, soft directional output, cool running operation and 100%-0 dimming with minimal color shift.


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NewTek On 48-City North American Tour

NewTek, Inc., manufacturer of industry-leading video and 3D animation products, is on a 48-city LIVE Tour demonstrating how to work faster and lower costs using NewTek tools. The tour, spanning January through April, highlights TriCaster PRO, SpeedEDIT, and 3D Arsenal.

NewTek LIVE! 2007 is showcasing the latest in portable presentation, live switching, post production, and motion graphics:

  • NewTek SpeedEDIT—World's Fastest Video Editor: If you have the need for speed... you need SpeedEDIT... resolution independent and blazingly fast on every video project from web to HD.
  • 3D Arsenal—3D Graphics for Video Editors: Pump up your production with style. Create motion graphics and flying logos easy... real easy. 3D Arsenal is a stand-alone graphics system designed specifically for the video editor... with interactive training and over 750 pre-made scenes ... no sweat.
  • NewTek TriCaster PRO—Live Production System: Unbelievable... a complete remote broadcast truck in a backpack! TriCaster Pro provides full switching capabilities, editing, titling, web streaming and more to have you delivering broadcast video beautifully, fast and affordably.

NewTek is offering 2-hour morning or afternoon sessions, to better fit busy production schedules. Event registration is now available at http://tour.newtek.com.

Remaining dates on the NewTek LIVE! 2007 schedule are as follows:

  • 2/6 Chicago
  • 2/8 Jacksonville, Indianapolis
  • 2/12-14 Ohio Tech. Conference
  • 2/13 Clearwater, Los Angeles
  • 2/15 St. Louis, San Diego
  • 2/20 N. Bergen, Seattle
  • 2/22 New York, Spokane
  • 2/27 Washington/Baltimore, Las Vegas
  • 3/1 Boston, Vancouver
  • 3/6 Oklahoma City, Toronto
  • 3/8 Dallas/Ft. Worth, Montreal
  • 3/13 Milwaukee, Louisville
  • 3/15 Detroit, Austin
  • 3/20 Charlotte, Memphis
  • 3/22 San Antonio, Nashville
  • 3/27 Mexico City, Los Angeles
  • 3/29 Monterrey, Honolulu
  • 4/3 Logan
  • 4/5 Madison, Minneapolis
  • 4/10 Portland


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Adobe Debuts Photoshop Lightroom 1.0

Adobe Systems Inc. today announced that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 software is now available for pre-order and is expected to ship in mid-February 2007. Photoshop Lightroom enables professional photographers to import, manage and present large volumes of digital photographs, helping photographers spend more time behind the lens and less time at the computer.

With more than 500,000 photographers participating in the public beta program over the last 12 months, Photoshop Lightroom now includes a wealth of innovative features that streamline digital photography workflows. Recognizing the photography community for their efforts, Adobe is offering Photoshop Lightroom at a special introductory price of US $199 through April 30, 2007 at the Adobe Store. Photoshop Lightroom will later sell for an estimated street price of US $299.

Photoshop Lightroom includes new functionality added since beta 4.1, with significant changes to the Library and Develop modules complementing improvements to the Slideshow, Print and Web components. While in the Library module, new advanced keywording tools help photographers filter through large collections, and an improved import dialogue with more flexible file handling allows more choice when determining file location. The new Key Metadata Browser provides quick access to key information tags with an improved ranking and rating system that now incorporates color labels and a pick/reject system that sorts and locates photographs faster than ever. New to the Develop module, Virtual Copies and Snapshot tools help present multiple versions of the same image, providing the most choice to clients without the confusion of saving separate physical versions.

Additional tools added include a Hue, Saturation and Luminance targeted adjustment tool for precise and intuitive image edits. Clone and Healing features provide non-destructive edits to eliminate sensor dust across one or many images.

Photoshop Lightroom leverages Adobe Camera Raw technology and supports over 150 native raw file formats, in addition to JPEG and TIFF, bringing raw conversion into a single workflow experience. The latest camera models supported include the Nikon D40 and D80 and the Pentax K10D. This support means that photographers can use Lightroom with even the newest cameras on the market, knowing that the image files will be recognized today and in the future. Upon import, files can be converted to the Digital Negative specification (DNG) or renamed and segmented by folder or date. DNG is an industry-wide initiative to create a universal file format for solving workflow and archiving issues. It aims to eliminate barriers to new camera adoption while giving professional photographers the confidence that their digital body of work is securely archived and will remain accessible as digital imaging technology evolves.

"Photoshop Lightroom gives me the capabilities to get everything out of a raw file. Now I can easily duplicate enhancements and apply them across a range of similar images almost instantly," said Denis Reggie, a nationally renowned celebrity and society wedding photographer. "Lightroom is brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed. I can see my digital workflow moving fully to Lightroom now that it is final."

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will ship in mid-February 2007 and is available for pre-order in the United States and Canada through the Adobe Store at www.adobe.com/store for a special introductory price of US $199. The $100 discount is offered to all customers through April 30, 2007 in appreciation of loyal Photoshop users, early supporters of Photoshop Lightroom and beta participants who devoted time, energy and feedback throughout the process. Photoshop Lightroom will later sell for an estimated street price of US $299. Recommended system requirements are Macintosh OSX 10.4.3, 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processor or Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Intel Pentium 4 Processor, and 768MB RAM and a 1024x768 resolution screen. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a Universal Binary application that will run natively on PowerPC and new Intel-based Macintosh systems.

The announcement of Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 signifies the official conclusion of the groundbreaking Lightroom beta program. Users of Lightroom beta will have access to the program until its expiration on February 28, 2007.


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Class On Demand Releases Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 Training

Class on Demand (COD), a provider of professional educational products for creative markets, announced today the release of "Complete Training for Sorenson Squeeze". Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 is the latest release from Sorenson Media, a well known developer of industry-leading video encoding tools. Designed for both users new to Squeeze or upgrading from a previous version, Complete Training for Sorenson Squeeze offers top-notch instruction from industry expert Nate Caplin.

Using real-world workflows, Nate provides a modular approach to learning the Squeeze application; enabling students to pick and choose topics that best fit their training needs whether they are mastering new 4.5 features or learning the basics.

A MacWorld 2007 presenter on compression tips and techniques, Nate manages webcasting and streaming media services for American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio. He is continually called upon to advise a wide range of video, web, and graphics operations on technology strategy. He's been crunching video for web delivery since 1995, when he helped Knight Ridder Tribune Information Services launch a QuickTime-based animated news graphics service. Nate also consults for clients such as Abercrombie & Fitch, writes product reviews for DV Magazine, and has taught video compression and streaming classes at MacWorld Expo.

Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 Compression Suite, Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 Compression Suite PowerPack, and Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 for Adobe Flash, available for both Macintosh and Windows operating systems, contain new features that boost compression and preprocessing speeds, integrate Apple's H.264 for output to MP4 or QuickTime, contain new 3GPP and PSP presets for cell phones and Sony's PSP (Playstation Portable), and new presets for Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Along with providing compression rates two to three times faster than previous versions, scaling up or down between SD and HD is now twice as fast in Sorenson Squeeze 4.5. For Macintosh, Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 now works natively on both PowerPC and Intel-for-Mac using Mac Universal Binary code.

The Class on Demand Complete Training for Sorenson Squeeze DVD-ROM is designed for playback on Mac or Windows DVD-ROM. The Complete Training for Sorenson Squeeze training DVD-ROM can be pre-ordered through the Class on Demand website (www.classondemand.net) for an MSRP of $99.99 USD.

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New DVD Release from Call Box Teaches Final Cut Pro and DVX100 Tips

Call Box, an interactive training company for digital media producers, today announced their new training DVD, 24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100, is available worldwide. Promising to unlock the secrets of 24p production and post-production, Call Box features a wide range of interactive content. Today's announcement marks their debut product.

Created by Apple Certified Pro instructor Noah Kadner, the DVD provides instruction for digital video professionals on both shooting for the edit using Panasonic's DVX100 series of professional video cameras, and editing that content with a focus on Apple's Final Cut Pro software.

The DVD contains more than one and a half hours of original content, and is broken down into learning modules with interactive animations and real-world examples. Topics detailed in the video include advanced pulldown removal; output for 24p DVD; 24pA vs 24p Standard; output for 35mm film; anamorphic 16X9 setup; using Cinema Tools; editing system shopping lists; fixing tape dropouts; easy setups; SDI vs. FireWire capture; DV tape stock recommendations; slate operations; Rec Run vs. Free Run; output for color correction; syncing sound in post and more.

24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100 is available on DVD and is priced at $75 (US). 24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100 can be purchased directly from the company at: http://www.callboxlive.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=28.

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Artbeats to Debut Dozens of New Titles and Solo Clips at NAB 2007

Artbeats, a leading provider of high-quality royalty-free stock footage, today announced it will debut a wide variety of new collections and solo clips during the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters Convention (NAB). New collections scheduled for release during NAB include: Burning House; Catholics; Code Rage; Lightning Storms; Mayhem HD; Misc. Fire; Protestants; Storm Clouds 2; Texas Aerial Solo Clips; Timelapse Flowers 3; Timelapse Landscapes 4; Worshippers; and Grow! (these are working titles). Artbeats will showcase these and many other titles on the company's massive HD plasma display wall at NAB 2007, booth SL8012.

Artbeats is world renowned for its extensive library of royalty-free footage, which encompasses thousands of broadcast-quality clips that are available in NTSC, PAL and HD versions. The library offers an endless number of options for creative professionals seeking the perfect imagery for a variety of applications, including broadcast, feature film, commercial, concerts, live events, game development, independent production, multimedia and more.

Artbeats' footage is available in HD-1920x1080, D1 NTSC-720 x 486 or D1 PAL-720 x 576 resolutions. Pricing for Artbeats' HD collections range from USD $799-$899; SD collections range from USD $399-$699. Individual HD clips start at $300, and NTSC/PAL clips start at $199. Artbeats Solo clips, which are sold separately and are not part of an existing collection, start at $300 for HD and $199 for NTSC/PAL.


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Digital Anarchy Releases PlasmaFX 1.0 for Speedy Design Work in Apple's Final Cut Pro and Motion

Digital Anarchy, a leading provider of cost-effective special effects software for Adobe and Apple products, today announced the release of PlasmaFX. This new filter set is a collection of powerful, fast effects developed using new Apple technology. You get cool new effects and great variations on existing ones, all with the potential to run and render very quickly within Apple native applications.

PlasmaFX plugins are based on Mac OS X's Core Image system. This base system provides an big boost in speed, making the effects real time in some cases. By using Mac OS X technology, the plugins take full advantage of new, multi-core CPUs and enhanced graphics cards. The speed is apparent in both Apple and Adobe host applications. In Final Cut Pro and Motion, PlasmaFX filters are built on Apple's new FxPlug architecture, which provides faster and more robust support than older, non-Apple architecture.

There are 26 plugins in the PlasmaFX set, creating a wide variety of custom effects that range from image processing to film looks and particle systems. New filters include the Topology filter, which generates topographical lines based on the luminance values of footage; the Film: Technicolor 3-Pass filter, which separates out color channels and 'dyes' them; and the Edge Rays filter. All the plugins have many customizable parameters for creating different effects and some plugins are designed to be combined with others to create further variations.

Features in PlasmaFX 1.0 include the following:

  • 26 Plugins: A wide variety of image processing and synthesis filters.
  • Core Image: Accelerated using Apple's latest cutting edge technology.
  • Real-time on fast hardware: Support for multi-core CPUs and the latest OpenGL graphic cards.
  • FxPlug Support: Native functionality in Final Cut Pro and Motion.
  • After Effects Support: Native functionality in Adobe After Effects.
  • MacIntel Native: Supports PPC and Intel chipsets for Macintosh.
  • Resolution Independent: No resolution limits. SD, HD, or Film.

Regularly priced at USD $129, PlasmaFX 1.0 will be available for USD $99 through February 15th, 2007. The filters work in After Effects 7.0 and higher, Final Cut Pro 5.1.2, and Motion 2.1.2. PlasmaFX runs only on Macintosh OS 10.4 and higher. This product is not supported in Windows, earlier versions of Mac OS X, or Mac OS 9 systems. Demo filters and samples are available at http://www.digitalanarchy.com.

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TechSmith Announces SnagIt for Windows Vista

TechSmith Corp., a leading provider of screen capture and recording solutions, today announced that it has released SnagIt 8.2, which is "Certified For" Windows Vista. SnagIt enables computer users to take screenshots of exactly what they see on their screens to communicate ideas faster, explain concepts clearly, and archive electronic information with point-and-click convenience.
"Whether it's a product review, a blog post, a training document, or the first screenshot a user shares with a colleague to show Vista's new user interface, most likely it'll be done with SnagIt," said Tony Dunckel, SnagIt Product Manager at TechSmith. "Millions of users worldwide have come to rely on SnagIt over the years, and by working closely with Microsoft we are committed to providing our customers with a reliable and easy-to-use solution that leverages the new capabilities provided by Vista."

"Products that carry the Certified for Windows Vista logo have met explicit standards of reliability and quality, and have been tested and proven to deliver a superior experience with Windows Vista," said Brad Goldberg, General Manager for Windows Vista Product Management at Microsoft Corp. "We are extremely pleased that TechSmith's SnagIt carries the certified logo and takes advantage of the new technologies available in Windows Vista."

With SnagIt, users can capture, edit and share any image, including scrolling windows, objects, menus, video, text, and Web pages and include them in emails and instant messages, PowerPoint presentations, MS Office documents, marketing and sales materials, technical documentation, class handouts, Web sites and blogs.

SnagIt 8.2 supports Microsoft, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. SnagIt 8.2 can be downloaded immediately at www.techsmith.com. The suggested retail price is $39.95 for a single-user license. Free trial licenses are also available. For additional information, visit http://www.techsmith.com/products/snagit/default.asp.

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