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Quick Focus

Quick Focus

miroVIDEO's DC20 video digitizer card captured the Best of Show award for last fall's Comdex. The $999 board features full-screen (640x480 pixels), full-motion 60 field-per-second video capture at S-video quality. The miroVIDEO DC20 is one of the first capture boards to take advantage of the increased bandwidth and throughput of the PCI bus for quality video output; others include the Quadrant Q-Motion PCI board and the latest version of Truevision's Targa 2000.

Also at Comdex, Sony demonstrated a computer/DV camcorder connection via the 1394 "Firewire" serial data port. Using a 1394 interface card installed in a PC, the consumer electronics giant illustrated how easy it is to transfer digital video from their DV camcorders directly to a computer's hard drive.

The 1394 serial bus card was made from components supplied by Texas Instruments. When asked who will manufacture the cards, Sony replied that they may do it themselves, or they may leave the job to outside companies.

A new technology called VDOLive, scheduled to become available over the Internet later this year, will enable home desktop video users to broadcast their work over the Net, even via slow 28.8 dial-up connections. The technology, under development by VDOnet, will seek to improve the "store-and-forward" means of video distribution currently popular on the World Wide Web. VDOLive will offer individuals a way to broadcast their video wares at 10 to 15 frames per second on a 28.8KB modem connection.

VDOLive is based on two core technologies: scalable compression, which compresses the video stream small enough to run over the smaller bandwidth portions of the Internet while allowing the quality of the video to increase with the quality of the connection at the other end; and a communications protocol that allows the digital video stream to remain intact as it makes its way through the complexities of the Internet.

For more info, contact Abigail Johnson (abigail@roederj.com) or Mike Brogan (mike@roederj.com).

Panasonic has introduced a new all-in-one editing package for prosumers. Dubbed the ProEdit system, this package combines two AG-1980 S-VHS VCRs with Videonics' Edit Suite A/B roll edit controller. Price: $4297.

Price points for write-once CD-ROM drives have fallen below the $1000 point. This is good news for multimedia videomakers, who now have a way to print mock-ups of their own CD-ROM titles, as well as back up the large video, audio and image files that make up the bulk of their work. The drawback: as their name says, you can only write on them once, making a permanently inscribed compact disc of your work. On the plus side, the data stored on them will not degrade over time, as it will on magnetic media.


Correction: In our November 1995 Quick Focus, we stated that Go.Video had introduced its 4000 series of Hi8/VHS VCRs. In fact, the 4000 series consists solely of dual-deck VHS VCRs. Our apologies.


Entry Deadlines

The Canyonlands film and video festival will accept entries in a wide range of categories, from environmental/social documentary issues to children/youth and student videos. All entries must be submitted on 16mm film or 1/2-inch (VHS-family) videotape, and should include a short synopsis of the entry and bio of the videomaker. Entry fee is $25 for each work submitted. The early deadline for submissions is March 1, 1996, with a late deadline of April 1. For an entry form, write to Canyonlands Film/Video Festival, Country Pumpkin Productions, 400 North 500 West, Unit #1-8, Moab, UT 84532; or call (801) 259-3330.

Audio-visual producers and sponsors worldwide are invited to participate in the U.S. International Film and Video Festival. Now in its 29th year, the competition honors submissions in 67 categories. Entrants must submit their work on 3/4-inch or 1/2-inch videotape, or on 16mm optical sound film. Deadline for submissions is March 1, 1996. Information and entry forms may be obtained by writing to the U.S. International Film and Video Festival, 841 North Addison Avenue, Elmhurst, IL 60126-1291; or by phoning (708) 834-7773.


DV Update

Hitachi's proposed new DV camcorder--which will use some sort of disk mechanism in place of tape--won't be appearing on the market as soon as the company had originally hoped. Hitachi spokesman Gary Bennett first announced plans to reveal the revolutionary new DV camcorder at a Las Vegas consumer electronics show in January; unfortunately, due to mysterious, unforeseen circumstances, the company's digital video products--including both DV camcorders and DVD players--will be on hold at least until later in the year.


Squirt TV

Jake, a 15-year-old teenage wisacre, is the talent, producer and director of his own public access show, Squirt TV.

Jake exalts all things cool, mocks all things pompous and trashes all things idiotic for half an hour each week from his home in Soho Manhattan.

"Squirt TV," says Jake in a recent Vibe magazine interview, "is a show about a 15-year-old kid with a public access show. It's the classic Wayne's World scenario."

475,000 cable subscribers throughout Manhattan can tune in to see Jake (and sometime cohost Frankie) sing the Jeffersons TV theme song to a Hi8 Sony CCD-FX710 camcorder. They dance with J.J., the foot-tall Jimmie Walker doll from Good Times in front of a small standing tripod. The "Dyn-o-mite" doll, which comes to life each week about halfway through the show, is one of the numerous running gags that complete each episode, along with Spam trivia and on-the-street interviews with recent immigrants about disco dancing, Star Wars and John Travolta.

At age 14, Jake began his career wth the airing of the first Squirt TV show after he and his mom moved to Manhattan. After a three-month waiting period, Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) public access stayed true to its name, offering Jake training and even equipment loans.

Now Jake maintains his own mini-empire: the show, a newsletter, a demo reel and press kit, voice mail, e-mail, a beeper and a legion of adolescent and adult admirers. When asked how long he plans on doing his TV show, he replied, "Until I'm no longer a squirt." At that point, he says he wants to attend NYU film school and eventually produce more shows.

But even more telling is what Jake claims he will never be: "A lawyer, or whatever."

--Meagan Trump


Percentages and Such

A recent CNN/U.S. News poll came up with the following statistics concerning Americans and camcorders:

Percentage of Americans:

--who find still cameras easier to use than a camcorder: 65%
--who prefer a camcorder over a still camera: 57%
--with children who prefer the camcorder: 65%
--without children who prefer the camcorder: 52%

Percentage of American camcorder owners:

--who planned to use their camcorder to tape birthdays when they bought it: 61%
--who actually ended up using their camcorder to tape birthdays: 92%
--who have "frequently" taped events and never watched them: 14%


90s Channel Forced Off TCI Cable Systems

John Schwartz, president of the controversial leased access show The 90s Channel, has been forced to pull his company's programming from 7 TeleCommunications Inc. (TCI) systems with a total of 600,000 subscribers. As predicted in our May 1995 Quick Focus, TCI took advantage of Schwartz's expired contract in October 1995 to boost the leased access show's rates to an unpayable $240,000 per month.

The 90s Channel, which routinely features such controversial topics as gay rights and the legalization of marijuana, has won numerous awards and critical acclaim since its inception in 1990.

Though the new rates stayed within the letter of the FCC's leased access rate guidelines, Schwartz and others claim that TCI's choice to raise rates unfairly targets programmers with left-slanting content. According to Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Media Education in Washington D.C., "This ruling makes it even more difficult for independent and progressive programming to be seen and heard by American television viewers."

In response to complaints of biasing content toward the right, a TCI spokesperson claimed that her company had "made a good faith effort" to work with The 90s Channel, but that the decision to raise rates "has to do with the viability of the network as a business."

The loss of The 90s Channel carriage does not mean the endo of Schwartz's efforts for a progressive television network. In a recent press release, he claimed that "Even though the loss of seven full-time cable channels is no small setback, I want to stress that we remain committed--if anything, more strongly--to the task of building a network for progressive television."


Reviews

by David Brott


Reading, Writing & TV: A Video Handbook for Teachers
Betsy Newman, Joseph Mara (1995, Highsmith Press, P.O. Box 800, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800, 190 pp., $25)

This book is an elementary guide to using video in the classroom. Reading, Writing and TV offers clear descriptions of the equipment and techniques necessary for basic video production.

Authors Newman and Mara discuss a wide range of video projects and activities for students in grades 3 through 12. The book also contains a useful resource appendix which lists organizations involved in media literacy, media conferences, supplies and services and sources of student-produced video tapes.

From simple camcorder operations to lighting and audio techniques, Reading, Writing and TV offers a foundation of useful suggestions for the teacher who is ready to integrate video into the curriculum. Bravo to the authors--they've created a simple approach to the sometimes complicated world of video in the classroom. 4

International Dictionary of Broadcasting and Film
Desi K. Bognar (1995, Focal Press, 313 Washington St., Newton, MA 02158-1626; 268 pp., $25)

The professional language of videomakers is often technical and complicated. The International Dictionary of Broadcasting and Film is a guidebook to the terminology used in the world of television, radio and film production.

For those interested in better understanding the professional jargon used in the video industry, Desi Bognar's dictionary offers a wealth of definitions from A-Z. The book contains explanations of industry acronyms and abbreviations, information on professional organizations like national and international news agencies. The book's appendices contain tables of international film standards, with corresponding frequencies and channels.

The International Dictionary of Broadcasting and Film is an easy-to-use, pocket-sized reference book offering convenient access to video information. All in all, a great resource for videomakers. 4

How To Profit Making Special Interest Videos
Malcolm and Myron Achtman (1995, ADITA Video Inc., 116 Bermondsey Way N.W., Calgary Alberta, T3K 1V4; 150 min., $50; complete program including 200 pp. manual, $200)

How To Profit Making Special Interest Videos is an instructional tape featuring successful methods for developing money-making topics, scripts and effective video shooting styles. The tape consists of ten modules of instruction covering topics from editing to packaging and advertising your special interest video.

In conjunction with the 200-page course manual, Special Interest Videos becomes a complete "wealth building program" with a full money-back guarantee. The complete program covers good budget practices, tape duplication, basic video production and even marketing approaches that every videomaker should to know.

This package develops and discusses some of the best videomaking techniques in an informal setting. I give this informative package a hearty recommendation. 5

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

Tags:  February 1996
Joe
McCleskey
Thu, 02/01/1996 - 12:00am