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  • Panasonic and Palm Co-Promote SD Format


    Reprinted from a Panasonic/Business Wire press release:

    LAS VEGAS, COMDEX, Nov. 12, 2001 -- Panasonic and Palm Inc. have launched parallel promotions designed to raise consumer awareness and understanding of the SD Memory Card format.

    The SD Memory Card, jointly developed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), SanDisk and Toshiba, enables consumers to place their favorite music, video, digital photos and other data onto a flash memory card that's about the size of a postage stamp, then take those digital files virtually anywhere. SD Memory Cards allow consumers to share content among such digital devices as cameras, printers, computers, cell phones and handheld computers.

    As part of its promotion, Panasonic is providing, by mail-in offer, free Panasonic SD Memory Cards with the purchase of select Panasonic products, including digital still cameras, digital camcorders with built-in digital still camera feature, and SD-enabled audio products. Similarly, Palm is offering free Panasonic SD Memory Cards with the purchase of Palm m125, m500 and m505 SD-enabled handheld computers.

    Beginning today, the offers are being promoted in 30-second television spots airing on A&E, Discovery Channel, ESPN and CNN. The commercials demonstrate the interoperability of the SD format, showing a digital image taken with a Panasonic digital camera or camcorder and saved onto an SD Memory Card. The card then can be slipped into an easily configured Palm m125, m500 or m505 handheld and viewed on the handheld's display.

  • Caligari's New 3D Software Includes Facial Animator


    Reprinted from a Caligari press release:

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2001) -- Caligari Corporation today announced trueSpace 5.2 with a new Facial Animator tool that generates animated human facial muscle movements directly from speech or text input using high level animation controls. This new version of Caligari's award-winning 3D modeling program also features Key Frame Editor animation enhancements.

    Facial Animator can use a generic model of a human head or a model provided by the user. The model can then be matched to a real human face with trueSpace5.2's new texture editor that uses two photographs of an actual human face and converts them into a fully textured 3D model.

    The new Lip-Sync capability enables users to automatically create facial animation directly from speech by generating speech-related human facial muscle movements for the entire human face. Users can also easily combine speech animation with key-framed animations for high-level control of character emotions. Smiles, frowns, and expressions of anger, relief, or other emotion can be simply created by adjusting slider values.

    In addition to Facial Animator, trueSpace5.2 also includes an enhanced Key Frame Editor. All vertex and bone animation parameters are now available for editing in track and function curve views, and animation tracks can be assigned to individual vertices or bones. All function curves for a single animation parameter are now displayed simultaneously on one screen for easy editing.

  • National Semiconductor Introduces Origami -- an 8-in-1 Hand-Held


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    As COMDEX was just getting underway in Las Vegas, National Semiconductor unveiled Origami, a new hand-held consumer electronics device that it said integrates a digital camera, video camcorder, smartphone, MP3 audio player, PDA, Internet access or Internet picture frame, e-ail device and video-conferencing terminal.

    Flaunted at a weight of just 10 ounces and measuring 7.5 inches by 4 inches by 1.5 inches, the National Geode Origami Mobile Communicator (full name) is a flexible unit, the company said, folding and unfolding in order to perform each specific function. The device was named after the Japanese art of folding paper into birds, animals and other artistic shapes.

    Exhibited as a proof-of-concept device for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Origami was developed under a joint agreement between National Semiconductor's Conceptual Products Group, Studio RED Inc. and CoCom International Ltd.

    A company executive said the multi-tasking device would be perfect for people on the move who want to stay connected to family, friends and business associates, while accessing the information they need.

    Key Origami features, the company said, include a 4-inch 640 x 480-resolution LCD display, integrated 16-bit stereo sound capability with built-in microphone and speaker, headphone and headset connectors. Origami also boasts Bluetooth wireless technology for network connectivity.

    Origami runs Microsoft Windows Embedded XP, the company said, and utilizes many of that platform's applications, including NetMeeting for videoconferencing, Internet Explorer 6.0 for browsing and Windows Media Player.

  • Industry Support for DVD+RW Grows as Products Hit Shelves


    Reprinted from a Business Wire press release:

    LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 12, 2001--Dell, Hewlett-Packard Company, Mitsubishi Chemical/Verbatim, Philips Electronics, Ricoh, Sony, Thomson and Yamaha today announced increasing industry support for DVD+RW as the premier choice for consumers seeking rewritable DVD. During an event scheduled today at Comdex 2001, the DVD+RW Alliance --a group of companies committed to the benefits of the DVD+RW standard -- will offer attendees a chance to test retail-available DVD+RW products.

    Keynote speakers including John C. Dvorak, Tech TV host and PC Magazine columnist, will discuss the consumer benefits of rewritable DVD products, state of the rewritable industry and future DVD+RW Alliance activities. Providing an Alliance update, John Hamlin, vice president and general manager of consumer business, Dell, will disclose future plans for the DVD+RW Alliance.

    "DVD+RW was designed to provide consumers with an easy to use rewritable DVD standard with broad applications in video and data," said Hamlin. "Today, we want you to see and test for yourselves the benefits we've worked hard to perfect and establish as a long-term rewritable DVD solution for beginners and experts alike."

    According to industry analyst Wolfgang Schlichting, research manager of International Data Corporation, "The DVD+RW format addresses compatibility with other DVD devices, a key attribute for a successful rewritable DVD format. The format's emphasis on video recording and editing will be attractive for consumers looking to purchase a recordable DVD product."

    DVD+RW Alliance Executive Member Products

  • Is There Really a DVD+RW?


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    As DVD+RW format recorders begin to seep into the marketplace, the DVD Format/Logo Licensing Corp. recently posted a stern advisory concerning the DVD+RW technology.

    The announcement began: +RW is not the DVD Format created and authorized by the DVD Forum. Likewise, although strikingly similar in appearance to the DVD-RW, there is no DVD Format called DVD+RW or +RW among the formats created and authorized by the DVD Forum.

    In early 2000, the DVD FLLC, a consortium of 10 DVD format originators, took responsibility for licensing the DVD formats and logos. It grants manufacturers the rights to use DVD format's technological information for developing and manufacturing products, as well as displaying DVD logos onto those products.

    The DVD FLLC notice went on to say, there is no DVD logo to represent +RW or DVD+RW technology authorized by the DVD Forum or approved by DVD FLLC. (And), there is no verification process for +RW or DVD+RW products authorized by the DVD Forum.

    Finally, in what seemed to be a warning to manufacturers like Philips, Hewlett-Packard and other companies who are reported to have DVD+RW products in the works, the DVD FLLC statement with this warning: The licensees of the DVD Format/Logo License should be reminded that the use of the DVD logo is permitted solely in accordance with the DVD Format/Logo License Agreement.

  • Write to DVD with MGI VideoWave 5


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    MGI's popular VideoWave, praised for its user-friendliness and wide scope of features for an entry-level video-editing software package, recently graduated to Version 5.

    VideoWave's scope of features now includes DVD authoring, which the company said allows users to create DVD, Mini DVD (DVD on CD) and VCD movies. MGI boasts that VideoWave 5's DVD-authoring capabilities, integrated as part of the core application, enables users create customizable menus and drag clips of any format into a preview window.

    Additional Version 5 enhancements include an MGI-developed encoder for capturing and producing MPEG1 and MPEG2 videos, and the ability for users to capture video clips larger than Window's 4GB file-size limitation. The new version also supports the inclusion of Windows Media Audio-format audio tracks.

    VideoWave 5 is priced at $129.99, but MGI is offering a $35 upgrade rebate for previous version users.

  • Hands-Off Camcorder Lens Control


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    VariZoom, a professional video camera control manufacturer, has created the StealthZoom, specifically for the Mini DV/Hi8 prosumer camcorder market. StealthZoom allows shooters to keep their hands off their camcorders, which should help eliminate unwanted jitter and noise while recording. Built specifically for Sony and Canon camcorders, StealthZoom controls include variable-speed zoom, manual focus, record/pause and a wake-up from stand-by functions.

    The StealthZoom, which uses proprietary TAL technology, is designed to clamp onto a tripod, jib or shoulder support, with minimal weight and bulk, according to the company.

    VariZoom says that StealthZoom, which allows hands-free cam operation, will enable hobbyists and prosumers to move a step closer to broadcast standards.

    With an anticipated winter release, StealthZoom will have a $299 suggested retail price.

  • Canopus and Boris Offer Joint 50% Discount


    Reprinted from a Canopus press release:

    San Jose, Calif. (October 25, 2001) - Canopus Corp., makers of award-winning, digital video editing systems, and Boris, the leading developer of integrated effects technology, today announced a special offer for users of Boris FX 6, Canopus DVStorm and Canopus Xplode Professional. This effects software promotion gives Boris FX users a 50% discount on the purchase of Xplode Professional, while users of DVStorm and Xplode Professional get a 50% discount on the purchase of Boris FX 6.

    "Boris FX 6 is an excellent addition to any video editing environment," said Robert Sharp, vice president of marketing at Canopus. "Combining the advanced effects found in Boris FX 6 with the high performance of DVStorm and Xplode Professional, creates a powerful, highly-productive video editing and effects solution."

    "We've been proud to help users expand the function of their already powerful Canopus systems for many years," said Tim Wilson, director of marketing at Boris. "Take the accelerated power of DVStorm and Xplode Professional, add Boris compositing tools, particles, and natural effects like fire, snow, stars and sparks, plus support for a wide range of After Effects plug-ins running inside Boris FX 6, and there's really no limit to what Canopus users can do."

  • CEA Announces New IEEE 1394 Logos and Terminology


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    In an effort to aid retail sales staffs in determining product compatibility and simplify purchasing decisions for consumers, the Consumer Electronics Association announced, on Oct. 24, approval of DTVLink, a term and logo for the IEEE 1394 standard connector. The logos were crafted by the CEA's 1394 Interface Strategy Working Group and approved by the CEA Video Division Board.

    The IEEE 1394 serial interface, developed by Apple and later adopted as a standard by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, allows quick transfers of large amounts of data, including digital video. Apple gave it the commonly used term, FireWire, and Sony dubbed it i.LINK.

    The new 1394 interface logos, the CEA said, were developed with the goal of allowing consumers to see a product on a store shelf, note the graphic logo, and then match that logo with another product they already own or may want to purchase. Through this matching logo process, the consumer would readily recognize the compatibility of the two products.

    The baseline 1394, DTVLink, the CEA Video Division Board said, would apply to a product capable of interfacing with other products with the following minimum attributes: Utilizes a 1394 serial connection; conforms to the applicable EIA/CEA technology and standards profiles based on EIA-849; and uses the Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP or 5C) system.

    Additional monikers include DCAMLink, DVDLink and WEBLink. These auxiliary terms may be used in conjunction with the baseline DTVLink logo, but will not be a required descriptor.

    DCAMLink indicates the product can process digital video content streams according to technical standards established by EIA and CEA.

    DVDLink and WEBLink have been adopted as descriptors, but remain to be further clarified as the standard is developed, the CEA said.

  • TitleMotion Streamlines Titles and Effects for Avid Users


    by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

    Inscriber Technology has released TitleMotion AVX, to aid Windows-based Avid users in creating video titles and motion effects. Supporting Avid's Symphony, Media Composer, Xpress and Xpress DV, TitleMotion includes more than 200 pre-designed templates, dozens of animation templates and 200 new text styles, according to Inscriber. It is also said to offer Avid users features such as rolls, crawls, soft-edge shadows, drawing tools, background import, a text-on-a-path feature and several productivity tools.

    With TitleMotion's keyframe-based animation component, says Inscriber, video producers can create multi-layered animations from any title and fly text, graphics, logos and draw objects around the screen. TitleMotion also includes a feature, which Inscriber calls unique, that allows editors to animate each character of a title independently. Every moving object, including characters, can be flipped, twisted, skewed or rotated, the company said.

    The AVX moniker in the product name refers to Avid Visual eXtensions, and architecture that allows Avid to include third party products such as TitleMotion.

    Inscriber TitleMotion AVX for Avid products is now available with a suggested retail price of $595.

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