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Information Today, Inc.

June 18, 2007

Table of Contents

Book Review: Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day
Strictly Business: To Blog or not to Blog?
Panasonic Begins Deliveries of New 16GB P2 Card
Panasonic Delivers Highly Anticipated AG-HPX500 2/3" Shoulder-Mount P2 HD Camcorder
Litepanels Introduces 1x1 4-Lite Complete Kit
VBA Sponsors Exclusive Video Biography Business Teleseminar with Hal Slifer
Automatic Duck Announces Immediate Availability of Pro Import AE 4.0
Automatic Duck & Red Giant Team Up to Bridge the Color Correction Gap Between FCP and AE
TMPGEnc Now Offers Free Menu Templates for Its DVD Author 3 with DivX Authoring Program
Digital Hotcakes Announces Wedding Essentials in HD
Telestream Episode Integration with Final Cut Studio 2 Now Available
Miraizon Releases Vista-Compatible Cinematize 2 for Windows

Book Review: Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day

While reading One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, Rebecca Mead’s unbridled attack on the American wedding industry, I was often reminded of the pivotal scene in Oliver Stone’s Nixon, when the president (in a re-imagined version of a real May 1970 event), decides to take a half-drunk, late-night sojourn (sans Secret Service) to the Lincoln Memorial. There he finds himself stepping over student war protesters in sleeping bags and ends up arguing with one young woman about the United States’ continuing involvement in Vietnam. Nixon says he wants the war to end as much as she does, but it’s not that simple. She then has an epiphany that triggers one in Nixon as well: "You can’t stop it, can you? Because it’s not you, it’s the system, and the system won’t let you stop it." As the secret service arrives and H.R. Haldeman hurries the shell-shocked president into a limo, Nixon mutters, "She understood something it’s taken me 25 years in politics to understand—the CIA, the mafia, Wall Street . . . ‘The Beast.’" This moment conveys something it took Stone himself 20 years to figure out: However convenient a target for a generation’s rage the disgraced president might have been, the ship was never entirely his to steer, and the Beast that was controlling him was larger and more sinister than any president could possibly tame.

Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day takes on the modern wedding industry and the beast she claims it’s become. Because this book has been widely publicized and will be widely read, regardless of its merits, we all need to know what’s in it. Mead argues that crass commercialism has supplanted any traditional notion of what a wedding is supposed to signify, and reshaped, in the most opportunistic terms, the meaning of marriage and the wedding as a rite of passage into it. Of course, the most infamous beast in the wedding world is the Bridezilla, the bride-to-be who obsesses over every element of her wedding and forcibly draws everyone around her into that dementia, leaving a swath of alienated friends and family, depleted budgets, and wealthier but wearier wedding vendors in her wake. The central question of One Perfect Day is not so much which came first—the bridal beast or the bridal industry beast—but how the bridal industry (again, according to Mead's premise) has contributed to the Bridezilla mindset, and how the rush to suck every last dollar out of this $161 billion-a-year industry (according to Condé Nast) has created a culture of rabid exploitation and excess that neither the brides nor the bridal industry could possibly tame anytime soon, even if they wanted to.

Which Mead, of course, insists they don’t. For the vendors (according to Mead), escalating the American wedding is far too lucrative; and for the brides, breaking the bank and one-upping their peers is far too much fun. It’s no accident that so many brides refer to the glut of wedding magazines as ″wedding porn." They’re fuel for fantasy and guilty pleasures. Mead contends that the wedding industry is chock full of vendors whose M.O. is not just to fill brides’ needs but to feed them. As Colin Cowie, a party planner Mead describes as "the best-known wedding professional in the country," asserts, "The bride is a marketer’s target. She is a slam dunk."

Invariably, One Perfect Day deals in extremes. Mead’s approach works like this: Find an example of the bridal industry at its most obscene, set it up as a straw man, and blow it down. (So much for eschewing convenient targets.) That doesn’t stop One Perfect Day from being insightful or entertaining at times. But that’s part of the problem here. While Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death is One Perfect Day's obvious antecedent, other comparisons are probably more instructive. There’s a long history of journalistic attacks on American industries, and they've been spilling over into book-length exposés at least since the turn of the 20th century, when Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle took dead aim at Chicago’s squalid meat-packing industry. And one could argue Sinclair was guilty of the same sin as Mead: using investigative journalistic techniques and credentials to get the whole story, then making sure his readers got only part of it. Like Sinclair, Mead transmutes fact into polemic by presenting fact selectively.

But Sinclair was a social reformer. He wanted to shock his readers and spur them to action. Mead just wants to shock and entertain. Certainly, a journalist/polemicist like Michael Moore makes a better modern-day analogy to the likes of Sinclair, but Moore also places a pretty high value on entertainment. Whether he admits it or not, Moore wouldn’t have one-tenth the audience he has if the only people who came to his movies were hardcore activists. He’d be nowhere without the other nine-tenths (or more) who get mad, laugh, and go home happy. The same consumer culture that makes weddings a $161 billion industry and brides a slam-dunk target demographic has made fleeting outrage a marketable form of entertainment. But that’s a topic for another editorial—and perhaps another book.

The point is, I’m not sure reforming the wedding industry is all that high on Mead’s agenda. Granted, we’re not talking about slaughterhouses, and no one I know in the wedding industry is exploiting slave labor to mine diamonds. Significantly, Mead doesn’t spend much time on the diamond industry. We’ve all heard those horror stories before, and where’s the Echo Boom entertainment in that?

All that said, there’s interesting stuff here, much of it suggesting that the commercialization of the bridal industry is nothing new. For example, during World War II, Mead reports that the wedding-dress industry successfully lobbied Congress for an exemption to the the ban on the use of silk except for military parachutes: "American boys are going off to war and what are they fighting for except the privilege of getting married in a traditional way?"

Mead’s notion of the traditional—or rather, the "traditionalesque"—in the modern wedding is also an interesting one: the past as pastiche, with the trappings of various old traditions replacing any single, time-honored way of marrying (Mead calls it "market-driven play-acting"). She has a funny chapter on the often-"decorative" role of religion in the modern wedding, too, and she tells a great story about the increasingly popular "Apache Indian Prayer," which originated not in Apache wedding tradition, but in a 1950 James Stewart western called Broken Arrow.

All of which gives a crystal clear picture of a bilkers’ boomtown to any reader for whom One Perfect Day is her first look inside the wedding industry. But how much does that garish $161 billion figure tell us about the thousands of mom-and-pop shops that comprise the bulk of this industry, and--after the celebrity vendors take their cut--feed their families on what’s left of the pie? As for our segment, Mead doesn’t know because she didn’t get that far. Her exposure to wedding videography seems confined to a single WEVA Expo—and not a particularly recent one at that.

And what did she learn there? Most of us already know the shots heard ’round the world—her opening salvo ("There is one wedding expense that no bride wants memorialized in her wedding photographs: that of her wedding videographer") and her regrettable choice of quote to characterize the videographer’s impact on the wedding day (a photographer’s forum posting of unspecified vintage: "I must admit that my heart sinks when I hear there will be a professional videographer . . . When a videographer flips on the 20,000-watt, highly directional spotlight (with its telltale BOOOOF sound effect), the ambient mood lighting goes to hell in a handbasket"). Given that many wedding videographers today often work with ambient light alone, this quote should leave plenty of readers asking "Where’s the BOOOOF?"

Of course, Mead rehashes the familiar "fat guys in loose shirts" stereotype in describing WEVA’s CEA banquet, alongside the nearly-as-insulting myth of videographer and photographer as churlish rivals (what reader would ever guess from Mead's portrayal that videographers and photographers often refer each other?). And I suspect that there are loads of disappointed CEA hopefuls who would disagree strongly when Mead devalues the WEVA awards program by saying that WEVA gives out so many awards that "in WEVA, as in kids’ baseball, nobody who participates goes home without an award."

Mead actually devotes quite a few pages to the sessions she attended at WEVA Expo. There’s a self-contradicting attack on LaDonna Moore’s brilliant demo video (particularly the dig at the "hefty" bride—who’s zillin’ who?), and a broad misreading of John Goolsby’s "double-your-prices" message. But then she does an almost-decent job with Maureen Bacon’s seminar about how videographers can interact with the bride and groom on the wedding day to construct a narrative. If you’re not instinctively inclined to want a cinematic wedding video, it can take a while for, say, the value of reenactments to sink in, and Mead almost seems to think on it long enough to let it happen.

Finally, she uses Mike Nelson’s seminar to exemplify the industry’s reliance on highly suggestive selling. I’m pretty sure the anecdote that she recounts about videos shown at receptions—the bride, groom, and other guests got so preoccupied with a looping Love Story video that they spent the whole night watching TV—wasn’t the only one Mike told, given that Mike presents a Love Story and/or SDE at nearly every wedding he does, and the fact that most SDEs and Love Stories tend to heighten a reception’s mood rather than killing it. But then again I'm not surprised that it's the one she picked.

Mead really pulls out all the stops to slant Mike Nelson’s idea of the post-wedding meeting as a time to sell the bride new products from the video he already shot: "It struck me as quite an accomplishment that, having established the notion that memories can be materially preserved, saved, and owned, a videographer could also claim default ownership of them—rather like an explorer who alights upon an island, stakes his flag into the sand, and claims the territory for the Crown, without consulting the island’s native inhabitants as to their feelings regarding unsought subjection to the alien monarch."

Of course, wedding photographers have been holding their clients’ "memories" hostage since time immemorial. But that doesn’t seem to strike Mead as odd in the way it does with videography.

Which gets to the real problem here. In One Perfect Day, the entire wedding industry is accused of manipulation and excess. But according to Mead, videographers aren’t so much guilty of excess as they are a symptom of it. Any videographer (however unobtrusive, well-dressed, trim, or female) is condemned to "Who invited that guy?" status. Which is infuriating, because a lot of people are going to read this book, and even after it takes its rightful place alongside the rest of the bridal porn, most readers will recall nothing about videographers but Mead’s hackneyed image of fat slobs with big lights.

To be fair, Rebecca Mead does grow a heart and a soul in the final pages of the book, when she acknowledges that, in the three years she spent cracking wise about the commercialization of the modern wedding, the vastly more consequential issue of whether getting married is predominantly a religious rite, or—given that it confers legal privileges and protections unavailable to unmarried people—a civil right, was polarizing the country and helping to re-elect the most unpopular president in American history. But by then, advance in hand, she probably couldn’t have stopped writing this book if she’d wanted to. We all have our beasts to obey.

Stephen F. Nathans is editor-in-chief of EventDV.

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Strictly Business: To Blog or not to Blog?

Blogs are the hot thing right now and frankly, until recently, I just couldn’t figure out why. Sure, it’s kind of fun to read my stepdaughters’ blogs on MySpace and LiveJournal. But it seemed to me that a lot of videographers are blogging simply because their videographer buddies are blogging, with- out much thought to how their blogs can be used to generate new business. As a result, there’s a lot of “Gee, your blog is great! How’s mine?” happening on the public videography forums.

I could see where a blog might be good for stroking the ego, catching up with friends, or chatting away the hours while editing a wedding video, but I certainly didn’t see where it could really work very well as a valid addition to one’s marketing toolbox. And that’s my business, after all—to help video producers become more successful in their businesses.

Many of you younger producers are probably wondering what the big deal is. You have active blogs and participate in the blogging community. Maybe you already appreciate the benefits.

But for me, and others of my generation, there’s a tendency to drag our feet when something new comes along. Sure, we might have recognized that rock and roll was here to stay—but blogs?

What would be the benefit to having a blog in addition to a website? It seemed to me that the goal when creating content for a blog is the same as it would be when creating a website: getting the search engines to read it, getting your prospects to read it, and getting them to start a sales dialogue with you.

Maybe there is a benefit to having visitors post comments about your thoughts or your articles. It could be argued that by posting their comments and having you reply, they get to know that you’re a real person. The ability to have a give and take with your visitors is an extremely powerful tool, and one that could prove beneficial to your business if you’re attracting potential clients to your blog.

On the other hand, what’s likely is that for the most part you’ll be trading expertise with others in the business, and there are plenty of forums in which to do this. I preferred the electronic newsletter and web articles; both offer feedback and the chance for a dialogue with my readers.

So why bother with a blog, other than because you can post as the spirit moves you? This frankly seems to be what a lot of bloggers are doing—and it’s not always a pretty sight. I decided to pose the question “To blog or not to blog?” in some online forums earlier this year. I wanted to hear if (and how) blogging was benefiting business. I found much of what I thought earlier to be true—there are a lot of blogs out there, but not much useful content. For example, Chattanooga-based video producer Kris Simmons said, “I read a few every now and then, but even the blogs that supposedly have the targeted information I’m looking for often fall short.”

Videographer Case Marsh commented, “The blogs I’ve read have mainly been running commentaries on somebody’s world. Lots of opinions. Relatively little real meat.”

Bob McCroskey of Mousetown Video Productions responded that he indeed had a blog which he started about a year ago, but “it still has the same 20 words as when I started it. Probably due to a couple reasons—I didn’t really know what else to put there, and, with all the stuff I do and directions I go in, blogging is the last thing on my mind.” Sound familiar? That could have been me speaking!

And then John Easton of Eastonsweb Media proposed that the key to making a blog work for you is to create one that’s of value to your clients and prospects. John wasn’t talking about discussing today’s politics or your dog’s new trick with your family or friends, or the relative merits of the Thunderbolt XV-7 digital camcorder with your videographer buddies. Nope. One that’s of value to your clients and prospects.

He had recently videotaped a conference and, with the client’s permission, published a recap of the conference on his blog. The client pointed anyone interested in a recap to that blog.“ I had five companies call my office this afternoon [in response to] the post,” John wrote. “This response rate blows direct mail away and the economics are equally compelling. Even without the response rate, I am getting visitation from 80 to 150 people per day to the post, and all are in my target group. That is great exposure by anyone’s definition. It takes multiple contacts to convert a customer and I am beginning a relationship with a lot of people.”

Duane Weed of DW Video and Multimedia told me he was working with customers who wanted to keep their information updated on their website but didn’t have the technical skills to do so. He set them up with a blog that would work within their website for easy updating. Always a good idea—supplying your clients with value-added services.

Next, I read an article written by Jenni Goldman and Jessica Gordon for PDN Photosource, wherein wedding photographer Christopher Becker states that posting images on his blog after a wedding shoot generates excitement from both his clients and vendors. The bride and groom may go on their way but the vendors remain, and consistent vendor interaction is, of course, the key to generating referrals. No reason why wedding videographers couldn't do the same thing, eh?

consensus among Web 2.0 Now that's the kind of marketing tool I can get behind. I wanted to hear more. Here's what I found that successful bloggers are saying:

Blogs are much easier to set up than websites; they are (for the most part) free, and they have a large and strong community network. Not only do they give a platform to the kid who wants to talk about spring break antics (and the preponderance of such blogs is what causes so many people to downplay their business potential), but they offer a very efficient way for experts (like you) to engage an audience of people who want and can use your expertise. But in order to make blogs work for you as a business tool, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. The first thing to do before starting a blog is to answer the question, “What do my prospective and existing customers want?” The blog should reflect that in everything you post there and all types of content you include. Remember, the blog is not about you, it’s about the customer.

Position yourself as the expert—which, as we’ve discussed in this column before, is what you are. Consider this an opportunity to educate potential customers. Interview local industry experts—wedding planners, venue managers, DJs—or bring in people who will talk about the value of video as a marketing tool. It’s always an effective strategy to bring in other credible voices to convey your message.

You know the value of video, but do your clients and prospects understand all the ways in which video can be used? Take this opportunity to tell them.

Your blog should be keyword-rich. It has huge potential to attract search engines to your web site.

Update your blog two or three times a week. Doing this during the time you set aside for marketing (you do set time aside for marketing, right?). Don’t think you have nothing to say—share articles, instructional sites, whatever is relevant. Again, you’re the expert, and your blog should convey that.

Remember, when you post an update to your blog, search engines are automatically pinged. The more “ping,” the more visibility. Plus, if your blog offers RSS feeds--and the general consensus among Web 2.0 pundits (if not most bloggers themselves) is that it's not an according-to-Hoyle blog if it doesn't--your frequent visitors can get automatic and direct notification when you've posted something new.

There is a huge and growing network of established bloggers that no website or forum community comes close to matching. Once you tap into this network, your posts, work samples, and company are put in front of a mass of targeted prospects.

To be a successful blogger, you must zero in on your customers’ wants, write great copy, write frequently, post on other blogs to build relationships, and keep it about them, not about you. It’s not really that difficult. Like any other marketing tool or strategy, it just takes time and perseverance.

Used effectively, a good blog could bring in great business results, and you really won’t know its potential until you invest some time in it and start stocking it with useful content. As one of my readers stated, “Not having a blog certainly hasn’t hurt the growth of my business, but who’s to say that I couldn’t grow faster if I did have one that my target market cared about reading?”

As Ron and Tasra Dawson stated in their April cover story, Building Your Business with Video Blogging—which discusses not just the value of blogging for event videographers but how to go about building a blog and what to put there— “Whether or not you are ready (or even have the desire) to enter the brave new world of blogging, you need to know that blogs are here to stay … Particularly if you’re in a socially oriented business like wedding and event videography, blogs will be both an invaluable and, dare we say, mandatory addition to your marketing repertoire.”

So—am I sold on blogging as a valuable marketing tool? I’m not sure yet, but, after updating my own blog, I’m willing to give it a try. Long live rock and roll!

Steve Yankee<.strong> has more than 35 years of video production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Michigan.

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Panasonic Begins Deliveries of New 16GB P2 Card

Panasonic announced the delivery of its new AJ-P2C016RG 16GB P2 card that doubles the storage capacity and recording time of its previous P2 solid-state memory card. Available at a suggested list price of $900, the reusable 16GB P2 card now offers P2 camcorders recording capacity comparable to, and often exceeding, tape and disc-based systems.

P2 solid-state based acquisition can eliminate consumable media costs and the additional time required for content ingest. Unlike other disc and tape based production systems, the recording capacity of P2 based products can be continually upgraded without the need to replace the original system. Like digital photography, highly reliable solid-state P2 systems are rapidly becoming the standard tool for professional content producers throughout the world.

With a five-slot AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD camcorder, professionals can record up to 200 minutes at native 720/24pN in DVCPRO HD, 80 minutes in 1080i/720p in DVCPRO HD, and 160 minutes in DVCPRO 50 using five 16 GB P2 cards. With the newly-available, four-slot AG-HPX500 interchangeable lens P2 HD camcorder, users can record up to 160 minutes at native 720/24pN in DVCPRO HD, 128 minutes at 720P/30pN in DVCPRO HD, 64 minutes in 720p/60 in DVCPRO HD,128 minutes in DVCPRO 50 and 256 minutes in DVCPRO on four 16GB P2 cards. Users of the compact AG-HVX200 P2 HD handheld, which has two P2 card slots, can also enjoy extended recording with 32 minutes in DVCPRO HD, 64 minutes in DVCPRO 50 and 128 minutes in DVCPRO.

The new AJ-P2C016RG is a PCMCIA compatible plug-in card based on ultra-reliable, solid-state memory, integrating four high-performance SD cards like those now used in digital still cameras, and packaged in a rugged, die-cast frame that weighs only 0.099 lbs (45 grams). This convenient card has four times the capacity and four times the transfer speed of a single SD card. The P2 card is reusable, connects instantly with laptops and major non-linear editing systems, and eliminates the time-consuming task of digitizing. The re-usable P2 card is resistant to impact, vibration, shock, dust and environmental extremes including temperature changes. These PCMCIA-based cards are directly compatible with P2 decks, drives and the vast majority of laptop PCs, and can be easily connected to laptops using ExpressCard technology with simple, highly affordable third-party adapters.

The enhanced capacity 16GB P2 Card is compatible with all AG-HPX500 recorders and with AG-HVX200 camcorders with a serial number beginning with E7xxx0001. The 16GB P2 Card is also compatible with AJ-PCD20 drive beginning with the serial number E7xxx0001. Other P2 HD and P2 camcorders and products can be upgraded via a free, downloadable firmware upgrade. Visit Panasonic Broadcast’s web site www.panasonic.com/broadcast for more details.

Panasonic also announced that its 32GB P2 card would be available by year-end at a price of $1,800, effectively quadrupling the storage capacity of its previous P2 card.


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Panasonic Delivers Highly Anticipated AG-HPX500 2/3" Shoulder-Mount P2 HD Camcorder

Panasonic is now delivering its highly-anticipated AG-HPX500 shoulder-mount P2 HD camcorder, which received numerous industry awards at the recent NAB exhibit.

With a suggested list price of $14,000, the HPX500 P2 HD shoulder mount camcorder is the first high definition/standard definition product in this price range to offer numerous high-end features, including 2/3” progressive imagers, a tapeless, IT workflow, interchangeable lens, variable frame rates, and extended recording capability. Based on ultra-reliable, solid-state P2 technology, the AG-HPX500 is backed by a total 5-year extended warranty program.

Equipped with many of the popular features of the highly-successful AG-HVX200 handheld P2 HD camcorder, the HPX500 delivers full, production-quality recording, with three 2/3”CCDs, DVCPRO HD 4:2:2 image quality, independent frame encoding, interchangeable lenses, variable frame rates, four independent audio channels and the ultra-reliability of solid-state recording.

The HPX500’s full, progressive 2/3” 3-CCDs deliver exceptional resolution and sensitivity, excellent low-light performance and a wide dynamic range. The multi-format camera can record in 32 high-definition and standard definition formats*, including 1080i and 720p in full bandwidth DVCPRO HD. The HPX500 employs 14-bit A/D conversion, and its digital signal processor (DSP) employs 19-bit internal processing to deliver spectacular HD and SD images. It also offers 50/60Hz selectability for international use and a power consumption of only 22 watts.

“The full-size AG-HPX500 is a highly-affordable, full production-quality HD camcorder that includes high-end features that video professionals could only find previously in more expensive cameras,” said Robert Harris, Vice President of Marketing, Panasonic Broadcast. “The HPX500 offers fast and incredibly flexible file-based, IT workflow with the ultra-reliable performance of solid-state recording. We’re so confident in the camera’s performance that we’re offering it with a free 5-year extended warranty program.”

The HPX500 has a variable frame rate function that allows professionals to undercrank and overcrank the camera to create fast- or slow-motion effects. For 720p recordings, users can set frame rates at 24p, 30p or 25p in any of 11 steps between 12fps and 60fps (or 50fps). And with the camera’s advanced 1080/480 24pA mode, users have the option of using 2:3:3:2 pull down, which allows most nonlinear editing systems to extract 24 frames on ingest.

With Panasonic’s current delivery of its 16GB P2 card, the HPX500 delivers extended recording time without “hot-swapping” cards. With four of these P2 cards installed, the camcorder can record up to 160 minutes at native 720/24pN in DVCPRO HD, 128 minutes at 720P/30pN in DVCPRO HD, 64 minutes in DVCPRO HD, 128 minutes in DVCPRO 50 and 256 minutes in DVCPRO, so recording capacity is now equal to and often longer than tape-based and disc-based media. The HPX500 provides users with the advantages of P2 HD’s IT workflow, including instant recording, thumbnail clip views, and a host of recording modes, without the need for ingest.

The 8.2-pound camcorder is equipped with eight gamma modes to address a wide range of shooting situations, including Cine-like Gamma to create film-like recordings. Key interfaces include IEEE 1394, USB 2.0, HD-SDI, analog component and four audio XLR inputs. Its four 48-kHz/16-bit digital audio channels are independently controllable. The camera also features an SD memory card slot for saving or loading scene files and user settings and a variety of shooting assist functions and presets. The HPX500 features an automatic Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) function that allows the camera to automatically optimize its performance with new CAC lenses.

The AG-HPX500 is currently available at a suggested list price of $14,000 including a 5-year extended warranty program. A variety of camera packages is available.

For more information on the HPX500, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

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Litepanels Introduces 1x1 4-Lite Complete Kit

Litepanels, Inc. has introduced the 1x1 4-Lite Complete Kit. Available in daylight flood or spot and tungsten flood versions, this powerful package offers the benefits of four of the company’s versatile, ultra-slim 1x1 LED lighting units.

The new Complete Kit provides four separate Litepanels 1x1 fixtures with detachable mounting yoke, each with its own AC adapter/power supply, power cable, tripod stand, and set of color/diffusion gel filters – packed in a compact, lightweight carrying case. Users have the option of adding the LP-2x2 frame assembly for larger lighting configurations, LP-2x2 power supply/wiring harness, Litepanels new Remote Dimmer Kit and DMX Interface Module.

Litepanels revolutionary modular 1x1 production light combines the company’s hallmark ultra-efficient LED technology with a sophisticated, flat-profile design. The four heads can be used separately – on their stands or mounted via standard TVMP receptacle – or combined in multi-panel configurations, for any number of lighting situations. Each unit features the ergonomic integrated control knob for instant dimming from 100%-0 with minimal shift in color. Absolutely silent and heat-free, Litepanels 1x1 can be positioned comfortably close to a subject.

The 1x1 4-Lite Complete Kit is available through Litepanels dealers worldwide. U.S. MSRP is $8,995.


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VBA Sponsors Exclusive Video Biography Business Teleseminar with Hal Slifer

Steve Yankee, founder of The Video Business Advisor has announced that the VBA is now taking reservations for a special June 21 evening teleseminar featuring Hal Slifer, well-known and respected video biography guru.

An EventDV 25 videographer with over 27 years’ experience producing biography and event videos with his Greater Boston-based company, Hal Slifer Video, Slifer will be the featured guest on the next Video Business Advisor Teleseminar--Thursday, June 21 at 8 pm EST.

Slifer introduced photomontages to the New England marketplace in 1980 and same day edits (SDEs) in 1999. His clients are happy to invest upwards of $1,500 for a simple photomontage, while his average biography videos range from $5,000 to $15,000.

In preparation for this exclusive teleseminar, Hal will post six video clips of his work so attendees will be able to view, ahead of time, the different styles of biographies he produces. "This way," says Yankee, "you’ll be ready to ask questions about Slifer’s work and gather information to help boost own your video business." The weblink for these clips will be available to teleseminar attendees only.

Slifer’s teleseminars are question-based experiences. After viewing his video clips prior to the actual session, participants have an opportunity to email specific questions for him to answer.

Additionally, the 90-minute evening session will focus on the following topics:

  1. Brief history of how Hal got into the video biography business
  2. A “tour” of his studio and his staff
  3. Marketing biography videos
  4. Equipment and tools for success
  5. Interview techniques
  6. Writing a script
  7. Pricing your product
  8. Using humor for entertainment and for high profits
  9. Your personality and your business
  10. Same-Day Edits and the biography product
  11. Dealing with families/video family therapy

The regular price is $24.95; however, Steve Yankee has extended a discount to our association members, so the final price is just $19.95. This includes the following:

  • Toll-free call-in phone number
  • Course notes and outline
  • complete downloadable audio recording of the teleseminar
  • Unadvertised special discounts on related products.

Click here to sign up.


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Automatic Duck Announces Immediate Availability of Pro Import AE 4.0

Automatic Duck, the creators of Timeline Integration Engine software for digital media artists, today announced the immediate availability of Pro Import AE 4.0. A major upgrade to Automatic Duck's signature timeline translation tool for Adobe After Effects artists, Pro Import AE 4.0 was developed with significant input and feedback from the Company's extensive user base.

Pro Import AE 4.0 addresses a number of new developments impacting users, including the recent launch of Adobe Creative Suite 3, the industry shift to Intel-based Mac systems and the need for improved support for HDV, DVCProHD and XDCAM formats for Final Cut Pro users. Automatic Duck has also added a number of key improvements, including:

  • Support for Multiclips from Final Cut Pro;
  • Motion project import, with Particle and Replicator layers now coming in to After Effects;
  • Avid Timewarp effects are now converted to Time Remapping;
  • Enhanced effect coverage including Video Strobe, FCP Basic 3D and Dip to Color transitions.

Additionally, Pro Import AE 4.0 introduces an advanced new user interface that offers users a number of powerful, streamlining capabilities including the option for layers to 'step up' or 'step down' in the After Effects timeline, an option to use Avid rendered media in After Effects and an option to pre-comp layers based on the tracks from the NLE.

Jimmy Dodson of 20th Century Fox, and a producer/director of the Hollywood blockbuster Behind Enemy Lines II has worked extensively with Pro Import AE 4.0 as part of the Company's beta testing program and had this to say about the new developments from Automatic Duck: "Facing a tight delivery deadline on Behind Enemy Lines II, Automatic Duck saved our butts! We built our Hi Def sequence in Final Cut Pro--exported to After Effects and, voila, a fully built After Effects project ready for tweaking appeared like magic!"

Dodson continued, "The new release [of Pro Import AE 4.0] makes things even more dreamy by allowing me to keep vertically adjacent layers together and stack down or up. Automatic Duck has made an invaluable tool even better!"

Also new with the release of Pro Import AE 4.0, Final Cut Pro users now have the option to use Automatic Duck's timeline translation tools to export all color correction work completed with Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Colorista directly to After Effects with all settings intact.

Sean Safreed, co-founder of Red Giant Software commented on the technology collaboration with Automatic Duck, "Some of the most creative minds rely on Magic Bullet Colorista to add their signature look and feel to their work. Our friends at Automatic Duck have helped to create a more fluid workflow for color correction between Final Cut Pro and After Effects. The new developments in Pro Import AE 4.0 represent a big win for customers."

New and Improved in Pro Import AE 4.0 Pro Import AE 4.0 touts several new enhancements including the following:

  • A new advanced interface that offers many new import options
  • For layers to "step up" or "step down" in the After Effects timeline
  • To override the composition setting of the new comp
  • To use Avid rendered media in After Effects
  • To create self-contained media from Avid systems
  • After Effects Creative Suite 3 compatibility;
  • Universal Binary, native on both PowerPC and Intel Macs (and Windows);
  • Support for Final Cut Pro multiclips;
  • Support for displaying Motion particles and replicators in After Effects;
  • Translation of Red Giant Software's Magic Bullet Colorista plug-in from Final Cut Pro to After Effects
  • Support for Avid Advanced Keyframes in picture-in-picture and 3D Warp;
  • Support for Avid Timewarps;
  • Support for Dip-to-Color transitions;
  • Support for Final Cut Pro Basic 3D effect;
  • Support for Video Strobe effects;
  • Support for clip and track enabled states from Final Cut Pro;
  • Improved support for HDV, DVCProHD and XDCAM for Final Cut Pro users;
  • Support for text from FCP subtitling plug-ins like SubBits and DH_Subtitle;
  • New HTML exception log

Pro Import AE 4.0 is available immediately and is priced at $495. Users who purchased new licenses or upgrades to Pro Import AE 3.0 on or after March 8, 2007 will be offered upgrades to version 4.0 at no charge until December 8, 2007. Users of Pro Import AE 3.0 who purchased before March 8, 2007, as well as users of older After Effects import plug-ins, will be able to upgrade for $195 per license.


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Automatic Duck & Red Giant Team Up to Bridge the Color Correction Gap Between FCP and AE

Automatic Duck and Red Giant Software, announced today that the two companies have partnered to bridge the color correction workflow gap between Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects.

As result of this technology collaboration, Final Cut Pro users now have the option to use Automatic Duck's timeline translation tools to export all color correction work completed with Red Giant Software Magic Bullet Colorista directly to After Effects with all settings intact.

"Red Giant Software develops must-have visual effects and color correction plug-ins and has quickly become a staple in the toolboxes of Automatic Duck customers," said Wes Plate, president of Automatic Duck. "It became very clear to us that customers needed a more compelling solution to help them bridge the color correction workflow gap between Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Our collaboration with Red Giant Software to help Colorista users easily move between Final Cut and After Effects while maintaining stunning image quality adds significant value to customers' workflow experience, and that's a big win for users."

"Automatic Duck makes a great solution for creating a complete Final Cut Pro to After Effects finish possible," added Sean Safreed, co-founder of Red Giant Software. "Finally Magic Bullet Colorista users have the ability to take a complete color correction including isolated masks and exposure adjustments and move them into After Effects. The release of our updated Magic Bullet Colorista 1.0.1 and Pro Import AE 4.0 from Automatic Duck makes the highest quality finish possible with full 32-bit float RGB processing and accurate 10-bit RGB 4:4:4 output in After Effects. This combination is really the missing link for a lot of post users that rely on Final Cut Pro and After Effects."

This collaboration marks the first time that Magic Bullet Colorista, a high-quality color correction plug-in application, can be used as the main color correction tool in Final Cut Pro. Coupled with Automatic Duck, all settings and color correction work can be seamlessly moved to an After Effects timeline. For users, this also means that moving to After Effects allows higher quality 10-bit or higher RGB finishing, as Final Cut Pro only handles 8-bit RGB rendering. Users moving content from Final Cut Pro to After Effects can also maintain full quality for finishing with Black Magic, Aja or Cineform 10-bit RGB SD, HD or 2k media.

Pro Import AE 4.0 is available immediately and is priced at $495. Users who purchased new licenses or upgrades to Pro Import AE 3.0 on or after March 8, 2007 will be offered upgrades to version 4.0 at no charge until December 8, 2007. Users of Pro Import AE 3.0 who purchased before March 8, 2007, as well as users of older After Effects import plug-ins, will be able to upgrade for $195 per license.

Magic Bullet Colorista is available now for $199 USD. To order, go to http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/magicbulletcolorista.html. Note: Magic Bullet Colorista is licensed for both Final Cut Pro and After Effects, so users only need to purchase one license to move seamlessly between the two applications.

The Magic Bullet Colorista 1.0.1 updater for After Effects is available now for free to all current Magic Bullet Colorista customers. This updater paired with Automatic Duck Pro Import AE 4.0 enables users to seamlessly export high quality color correction work from Final Cut Pro to After Effects.


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TMPGEnc Now Offers Free Menu Templates for Its DVD Author 3 with DivX Authoring Program

TMPG, Inc., the company that makes digital video easy, today announced there are two sets of fun menu templates exclusively available at its website for DVD Author 3 owners. The menu templates are designed for wedding, golf, cartoons, history, 4th of July and Christmas-themed DVDs or DivX CDs and DVDs. The second set has two Asian themes, Butterfly and Samurai, as well as a pretty Viola Nights menu.

"We are planning on releasing more new menu templates in the months to come. It's our way of thanking loyal customers for their support," stated Kimi Matsuki, TMPG CEO. "Users appreciate the many great enhancements our TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 with DivX Authoring offers. These include HDV capture, DivX authoring, multiple subtitle streams, and the ability to import popular video formats for authoring to DVD or DivX. Of course, they can still cut-edit, create custom menus, and burn projects to a CD (DivX only) or DVD to show others."

The 4:3 or 16:9 formatted templates include Menu, Top Menu, Track Menu, and an Audio Page. The templates are ideal for either DVD or DivX CD or DVD applications.

With DivX authoring capability, DivX projects can now have great DVD-like menus and navigation. DivX projects made with TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 enjoy the ultimate combination of DVD-like presentation with DivX technology. Finished products may be played with DivX Player software on a PC, or on any DivX Certified DVD player and a television or compatible home theater system.

TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 with DivX Authoring improves format input, allowing inclusion of other types of source files. These include DVD-Video, DVD-VR, MPEG1/2, AVI, Windows Media, DivX, and QuickTime (mov, mp4, 3gp, 3g2) file formats.


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Digital Hotcakes Announces Wedding Essentials in HD

TriLab Productions announces the release of Wedding Essentials HD. The best transitions, wipes, overlays, and seamlessly looping wedding backgrounds from the Wedding Essentials series have been re-rendered in full 1080p HD quality and put on one affordable volume. The volume includes 48 clips and offers the HD videographer top quality along with elegance and style.

Wedding Essentials HD will be offered at an introductory price of $119 for the month of June. Regular price will be $149. It can be purchased directly from Digital Hotcakes.


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Telestream Episode Integration with Final Cut Studio 2 Now Available

Telestream, the leading global provider of media encoding workflow solutions, announced release of Episode 4.3.1 software which enables direct integration of its Episode desktop media encoding applications with Compressor 3, Apple's industrial strength encoding tool included with Final Cut Studio 2.

The integration expands encoding capabilities for Final Cut Studio users to an extensive array of video and audio formats and encoding settings, including Flash 8, Windows Media, VC-1 and mobile formats. It also enables access to broadcast specific formats such as GXF, IMX, MPEG-2 4:2:2 and high profile H.264.

"Direct integration with Apple's Compressor underscores the strength of our Episode Series encoding applications," said Telestream CEO, Dan Castles. "Episode adds direct access to virtually every video file format available and enables Final Cut Pro users to export media files directly from the Final Cut Pro timeline."

Episode provides an extensive range of SD and HD file format support. Optimized codecs, plus hundreds of filters and fine-tuning compression capabilities, enable users to generate excellent picture quality with ultra-fast conversion speeds.

In addition to Final Cut integration, Episode 4.3.1 now provides Dashboard Widgets on all Episode products. Already known for its ease of use, Episode widgets add even greater convenience by providing a simple way to submit encoding jobs and streamline workflows. Users simply drag and drop files onto the configurable widget to encode media at the desktop or on the server.

Episode Series 4.3.1 is a free upgrade for existing customers. Episode desktop media encoding applications, priced from $395, are available for online purchase at www.flip4mac.com. Episode Engine server applications, priced from $3,450, are sold through Telestream's direct sales and worldwide resellers.

More information is available at http://www.flip4mac.com and http://www.telestream.net.

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Miraizon Releases Vista-Compatible Cinematize 2 for Windows

Miraizon, a San Jose-based digital media software company, announced today that a new version of Cinematize 2 for Windows, the DVD Movie Clip Extractor, is now available. Fully compatible with Windows Vista, the new version, 2.03 includes several new features such as an option to keep intermediate files, more frame size options for MPEG-4 output, support for Apple TV movie output, and improved extraction speed, as well as some fixes. Both the full version of Cinematize 2 for Windows v2.03 and a free updater for existing Cinematize 2 users are available from the company's website. A free demo of Cinematize 2 for Windows v2.03 is also available on the site for those who would like to try before purchasing.

"We are very pleased to release this latest version of Cinematize 2 for Windows. It is our commitment to provide steady improvements to our products to keep up with new technologies and our customers’ needs. This fully Vista-compatible new version offers many convenient new features as well as usability enhancements and improved handling of problematic DVDs. This is all free of charge for our existing Cinematize 2 Windows users," said the CEO and founder of Miraizon, David Salamon.

Cinematize 2 for Windows is a highly acclaimed software package that allows users to extract audio and video clips off of any unencrypted DVD and save them in formats compatible with major applications such as QuickTime, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, PowerPoint, iTunes, or even an iPod. Users can extract clips as short as fraction of a second or as long as a complete movie. Cinematize 2 offers an interface simple enough for novice users, yet with powerful enough features and performance to satisfy even demanding audio and video professionals.

Since its release, tens of thousands of customers have used Cinematize to incorporate DVD clips into their presentations, create movie highlights collections, edit recorded TV programs, create still pictures, or create audio clips for CDs, iPods, and iTunes. More details on the many features and applications of Cinematize 2 can be found here.

Priced at US$59.95, the downloadable version of Cinematize 2 for Windows is available for immediate purchase from the company website. Priced at US$69.95 plus shipping and handling, the box version of Cinematize 2 for Windows is also available for immediate purchase from the company web site as well as through major retail stores such as Amazon.com, Fry's Electronics, Micro Center, J&R, PC Mall, and Academic Superstore.


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