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Netscape's Navigator 2.0 Web browser Debuts

Quick Focus

Industry Watch

With the February release of Netscape's Navigator 2.0 Web browser, the web may have taken one large step toward becoming "...a more dynamic, interactive medium." So says Mike Homer, vice president of marketing at Netscape Communications Corporation.

At the heart of Navigator 2.0 lies one crucial improvement: an open-architecture design, which allows third-party software developers to create their own plug-in applications. This means that any software company--with the appropriate licensing from Netscape--can provide a wider range of capabilities for the Navigator interface.

InterVU, for example, has already created a plug-in called PreVU that allows users to view MPEG files as they're downloaded from a web page. Dozens of other third-party plug-ins are already available from such companies as Adobe, VDONet and Macromedia.

Microsoft has announced that future versions of their Windows operating system will support the IEEE 1394 "Firewire" serial bus interface standard. IEEE 1394 enables high-performance multimedia connections and control of business and consumer electronic devices such as camcorders, televisions, stereos and CD changers, to name a few.

In addition, Microsoft and Sony have signed a letter of intent to develop open device driver interfaces (DDIs) and other open-architecture solutions for IEEE 1394. Microsoft has also signed a letter of intent with Compaq to accelerate adoption of the IEEE 1394 high-speed serial interface as a standard in the PC industry.

For videomakers, this means that we'll someday see a wealth of new Firewire applications on the market--solutions that are capable of handling the high data transfer rates that digital video requires.

Sony has achieved a new record with blue laser technology: a 100-hour operation time at room temperature. Use of the blue laser, which has a shorter wavelength than the red lasers in use today, would allow greater storage capacity for optical media such as the DVD (Digital Video Disc). Before it's ready for consumer use, however, the blue laser will have to be able to operate for around 10,000 hours at room temperature. Still, the 100-hour operation time represents a significant increase over last year's 4.3-hour mark.

With the advent of their new SCH985 and SCH996 camcorders, Samsung adds two low-cost Hi8 models into the U.S. video market. The SCH985 offers a manual focus ring, headphone jack, color viewfinder, 12:1 zoom, fade in/out and one digital effect for a suggested retail price of $900. The step-up model, SCH996, has all of the above features plus electronic image stabilization, 20:1 digital zoom and a suggested retail price of $1000.

Two German interests, Deutsche Telekom AG and Robert Bosch GmbH, have unveiled a joint venture that will send digital audio and video services to moving vehicles via RF (radio frequency) signals. The firms intend to roll out the system, dubbed Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB), for commercial use in 1997, and make the first portable terminals available in 1999. DMB will transmit voice, data, music, still pictures and MPEG video to moving vehicles using the 1.5MHz block designated for digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in Europe.


DV Update

With the release of their 3-chip Digital ViewCam, Sharp has joined the ranks of manufacturers offering camcorders in the DV format. Incorporating the industry's first built-in 5-inch LCD monitor, the VL-D5000U offers the color fidelity of 3-chip recording technology as well as the superior resolution powers found in other DV camcorders. Features include 12:1 optical and 30:1 digital zoom, 16-bit PCM stereo sound and digital image stabilization. For more info, visit Sharp's web page at http://www.sharp-usa.com.


Web Watch

Desktop Video

http://godzilla.inre.asu.edu/~guy/Video1.html

The first line you'll read at this web site pretty much says it all: "This document is designed to present the basic concepts of Desktop Video Production." Originally conceived as a Master's Thesis for the site's author, it now serves the public as a free guide to this often confusing subject.


Kid Cam

If your child (or grandchild) has visions of becoming the next Steven Spielberg, you'll be glad to know that a new joint venture between Tyco Toy Co. and Vision, a Scottish electronic imaging company, has produced a children's video camera.

The Tyco VideoCam is designed to be lightweight, sturdy and simple to operate and is aimed at children aged between 6 and 12 years old. It will provide black-and-white video pictures, which will be relayed direct into a television via a standard VCR player. VISION CMOS imaging technology has enabled the video camera to be manufactured cost-effectively, and at a price which the company claims will be attractive to the consumer.

Of course, as these kids become more video-savvy, they'll want manual focus and iris control, LANC jacks, external microphones, a Kiddy-onics editor...


Between the Expos

Last January, the first annual Videomaker West Coast Expo arrived in Burbank, CA. Met by a throng of hobbyist, consumer and prosumer videomakers, the Videomaker staff presented seminars, led tutorials and chaired panel discussions for the entire weekend. Industry movers and shakers rubbed elbows with end users, and everyone was excited about the arrival of new digital technologies.

Now that the seasons are turning, we're gearing up for the East Coast Expo. To be held May 2-4, 1996 in the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel at East Rutherford, New Jersey, the next Videomaker Expo promises the same level of excitement and cutting-edge industry involvement. To register, see the Expo Registration form on page 7 of this issue. See you there!


A Good Year

In 1994, experts predicted that 1995 would be a slow year for camcorder and video-related products. Nonetheless, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturing Association (CEMA) discovered that overall unit sales of video products (including satellite systems and LCD TV) rose one percent for 1995 to a new record high.

Camcorder sales did even better than video products as a whole, shooting up 11 percent in 1995 after a crucial holiday selling season. Total unit camcorder shipments hit 3.56 million in 1995, besting the previous annual high posted in 1994.

Which proves that you can't always believe what the experts say.


Reviews

by David Brott


The Young Producer's Video Book

Donna Guthrie and Nancy Bentley (1995, Millbrook Press, 2 Old New Milford Road, Brookfield, CT 06804, 64 pp., $7.95)

The Young Producer's Video Book is a do-it-yourself video book for kids, offering easy-to- follow examples and simplified technical tips for making video fun for children. Clever illustrations and drawings keep the book enjoyable and interesting, even for kids with a short attention span.

Authors Guthrie and Bentley discuss videotape as a platform for combining action and sound to tell a story. The book moves step-by-step through the pre-production, production and post-production phases of videomaking, covering everything from storyboarding to camera angles to the basics of editing. Video Book also covers experimental video ideas, fiction and non-fiction and video report projects. The book closes out with examples of storyboard, shot list and camera log forms.

The Young Producer's Video Book offers kids both creative and constructive production ideas. As a beginner's guide to making video, this little book is great for young children just starting to show interest in video production. 3


The Video Guide to Professional 3-CCD Cameras

Steven Bolander (1995, Video-Cam Productions, 5434 N. 78th Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250; 80 min.,$39.95)

The Video Guide to Professional 3-CCD Cameras targets videomakers planning to make the transition from single-chip camcorders to the more complex industrial and professional-level 3-CCD cameras. This video guide smoothes the learning curve, giving videomakers the information necessary to successfully operate these camcorders.

Professional 3-CCD Cameras devotes 60 minutes to operating procedures that apply to almost any professional three-chip camera, be it Sony EVW-300, JVC X2 or Betacam unit. In this section, Bolander discusses everything from basic system configurations to electronic gain boost and continuously variable zoom speeds. The last twenty minutes of the tape consists of a video buyer's guide to popular 3- CCD camcorders videomakers might be considering for purchase.

The Video Guide to Professional 3-CCD Cameras is an excellent supplement to the vague owner's manual supplied with most video cameras. For a more detailed description of your 3-CCD camcorder's functions, or for valuable purchasing information, check out this video. 4


Introducing Desktop Video

Tom Benford (1995, MIS:Press, 115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011; 332 pp., $34.95)

Advances in digital video and desktop editing make it possible for videomakers with a camcorder and computer to produce great looking videos, graphics and animations. Introducing Desktop Video shows you how to use the latest hardware and software packages to integrate these elements into your videos.

Author Tom Benford also happens to be the founder and president of Computer Testing Services Incorporated. In Introducing Desktop Video, Benford shows you how to control all the elements of video production from the desktop. The book describes how to incorporate different types of media elements like sound, video, titles and graphics into a complete desktop production.

Many phases of desktop video production are covered, from basic videomaking techniques to using video capture devices, editing, digital transfer and post-production. For those who are ready to enter the world of desktop video, Introducing Desktop Video will help you get started. 3

KEY TO RATINGS: 5-excellent, 4-very good, 3-good, 2-not so good, 1-poor

Tags:  April 1996
Joe
McCleskey
Mon, 04/01/1996 - 12:00am