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Panasonic has announced plans to produce a professional version of the digital videocassette recorder (DVC). This format, called DVCPRO, will only be partially compatible with the two consumer versions of the DVC. Using tapes roughly the size of 8mm cassettes, the DVCPRO format will have a recording capacity of only one hour, compared to the 4-5 hour capacity planned for the consumer version.
The benefits of the digital format include superb playback quality, ease of transfer to nonlinear editing workstations and no generation loss for successive dubs. DVCPRO system components include a camcorder, compact field recorder and ultra-compact laptop edit system.
Zenith has endorsed the Toshiba/Time Warner design of the digital video disc (DVD), stating that the format's 5 gigabyte storage capacity will produce better images and sound than the 3.7 gigabytes of the Sony/Philips design. The company plans to offer DVD players in mid-1996 that will meet the industry-wide goal of street price under $500.
But Philips claims this goal is unrealistic. "If they can build them for that, we'll buy the machines from them," quipped Harry Lakerveld, Philips Media Systems director of development and industrial management. Though Philips wasn't ready to reveal the price of their DVD player, it will probably cost around $900, based on the cost of the components.
With all this talk of digital video formats in the air, JVC (the inventors of VHS) might be getting a little worried. The company has introduced several new technologies that are aimed at prolonging the life expectancy of the VHS format. In Japan, they've offered their first VCR using Dynamic Drum (DD) technology, an S-VHS model retailing for $1,670. Among the features offered by this new technology are noiseless fast forward, rewind and slow-motion playback; high-speed dubbing; time-lapse recording; and stop-motion animation. The U.S. version is due in the fall.
JVC Professional is also offering its own digital format--Digital S. Introduced at NAB, this format uses 1/2" tape to record a high-quality digital video signal that the company claims is superior to Betacam SP. The new format is backward-compatible with S-VHS, which means you can play your S-VHS tapes on the new gear, but not vice-versa. The company also has plans to develop a nonlinear editing system in the near future.
Shipments of blank VHS tapes rose 0.7% last year to 342.7 million, while compact formats (VHS-C and 8mm) rose 7.4% to 39 million, according to an Electronics Industries Association report.
Hitachi has announced a new second-generation 8mm camcorder with 24x digital zoom, 0.7" viewfinder and digital blur compensation. The new model replaces the VM-E58, and sells for $899, which is $100 less than last year's model.
The new StarSight TV programming technology got a boost recently when Sharp signed a licensing agreement to incorporate the on-screen guide in their TV/VCRs. The new technology allows viewers to browse through local programming with a point-and-click interface from the remote control; provides one-button recording of individual programs or weekly shows; and includes online critical summaries of movies and other programming in a local area. This and other on-screen program guides will include listings of local programs that you won't find anywhere else, such as local public and leased access cable TV shows.
Go.Video, responding to a recent downturn in dual-deck VCR sales, has begun developing a new product line to revitalize their market position. Consumers can expect new decks to include more features and lower prices than previous models.
The Chris awards, now in its 43rd year, is one of the most prestigious film festivals of its kind in North America. Specializing in honoring documentary, educational, business and international films and videos, the competition accepts productions in 11 divisions with approximately 90 subject areas. This includes special divisions for students and screenwriters. Winning a Chris award qualifies a film for Oscar consideration in the documentary short category. Entry deadline is July 15, 1995. For complete rules, entry forms and information, contact Joyce Long, Awards Administrator at The Columbus International Film and Video Festival, 5701 North High Street, Suite 204, Worthington, Ohio, 43085; or call at 614-841-1666.
Now in its thirteenth year, the Central Florida Film and Video Festival is dedicated to the discovery of new and emerging artists from across the country. Last year's three-day event showcased more than 70 works. This year's ten-day festival will again demonstrate the broad use of independent film and video productions as artistic forms of expression. All entrants receive score sheets and written critiques on each work entered. Cash awards and prizes will be given. All formats will be accepted, but preview must be on 1/2" cassette. Entry fees vary. For complete rules and information, contact the Central Florida Film and Video Festival by mail c/o Brenda Joyner, 15 1/2 N. Eola Dr. #5, Orlando, FL 32801; or by phone at (407) 839-6045.
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Panasonic DVCPRO Laptop Video Editor
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Digital News-On-Demand Services Planned
We've all heard the talk of digital video-on-demand services--you know, just dial up a number and get a video downloaded to your TV set. But a new trend in the video world--news on demand--may beat the feature-film version of this technology to the punch.
Oracle Corp., a leading maker of database management software, is getting together with several telephone, computer and news organizations to create a national digital video news service. This service will allow users to access news video through their personal computers and conduct on-line research from video news archives.
Involved in the discussions are the long-distance carriers AT& T and MCI communications, the chipmaker Intel and the news organizations CNN and Reuters.
Oracle's service will allow viewers to customize their newscasts from an on-screen menu, which would in turn allow the big news companies to deliver their news video to very specific audiences.
The bottom line for the videomaker? More places to distribute your video, more opportunities to reach an audience, more channels of distribution, more ways to compete with the giant news-gathering organizations.
Camcorders Climb Mount Everest
When Eric Simpson led his group of courageous mountaineers to the summit of the world, he made sure he packed all the essentials: provisions, petons, rope and plenty of spare videotape.
The goal of this trek, part of a series of climbs called "Expedition 8000," was not only to climb the highest mountain in the world, but also to bring back plenty of quality Hi8 footage.
And that's precisely what they did--armed with Sony's compact Hi8 TR-101 camcorders, they returned from the summit of Mount Everest with over 60 hours of footage, which is currently in post production in New Zealand.
Though the expedition did learn a few things about rough-weather videography--such as the need for specialized housings in such rough conditions--they gathered enough good shots for a soon-to-be released documentary titled Summit of Dreams. Look for it soon at your local video store.