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  • RealNetwork Conference '99 Gets Under Way

    Among the products exhibited are a number that can help independent videographers distribute their work on the Web. RealNetworks' CEO Rob Glaser kicked off the event with a keynote speech which introduced RealJukebox, a product enabling downloading and playing of customized high-quality music playlists. Streaming video of his talk is available on the RealNetworks Web site.

    RealNetworks is showing, among other products, RealProducer G2. This is the latest update to the previous RealPublisher product. RealProducer encodes digital video clips, such as those in .avi and .mov formats, into RealMedia clips. It also holds a few basic SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) authoring features. These allow the Web video producer to add hyperlinking text, graphics and still images to streaming video presentations. RealPublisher comes in three flavors:

    RealProducer, RealProducer Plus, and RealProducer Pro.

    RealProducer is free. It supports two bit rates for SureStream encoding. RealProducer Plus costs $149 and supports more bit rates as well as MPEG and MP3 encoding. The $500 RealProducer Pro offers an option of using the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) protocol for streaming instead of the standard UDP(Universal Datagram Protocol). This helps those video producers who have trouble streaming their productions past firewalls. With supported video capture cards, such as the preferred Osprey 100, all versions of RealProducer can encode live video on the fly. This makes live Web casting possible in the RealNetworks format. RealProducer is available in Linux versions as well as those for Windows and Mac OS.

  • Stream Anything, Anywhere

    Sonic Foundry, makers of the popular audio editing program Sound Forge, introduced a free beta version of Stream Anywhere, a new streaming media authoring tool, at Internet World this month. Stream Anywhere works on the Windows platform and lets both novices and experienced Web developers to prepare audio, video and synchronized media for distribution over the Internet.

    What's unique and exciting about Stream Anywhere, Sonic Foundry representatives said, is its flexibility to encode multimedia content in either the Microsoft Windows Media Technologies version 4.0 or the RealNetworks RealSystem G2 format. It also allows users to take QuickTime, MPEG-1 and MP3 files and convert them into streaming formats.

    One of the appealing features that Stream Anywhere provides is complete authoring option from capturing video through the Web page generation.

    Stream Anywhere features an advanced user interface with visual timeline for synchronizing audio, video, and metadata events. It also boasts a number of other convenient preprocessing functions that allow users to enhance the source media prior to streaming for optimum viewing and listening experience.

    According to press releases, the versatile Stream Anywhere can capture video from digital cameras and video capture boards, making it an attractive possible solution for a number of Web-based applications..

    Stream Anywhere also includes pre-defined, yet fully customizable HTML layouts that can be used as examples for incorporating streaming media into a Web page.

    A free beta version of Stream Anywhere is currently available at the Sonic Foundry Web site at

  • Hitachi Ships New Affordable Multimedia Camera

    Hitachi began shipping a consumer version of its popular M2 camera/recorder last week. Dubbed the M2L, the new multimedia recording camera costs $999, less than half the price of the M2. Like its predecessor, the M2L records video, audio and still images.

    It has a 1GB expandable card that allows up to two hours of video capture in the MPEG-1 format, 16 hours of audio in MPEG and 12,000 JPEG images.

    Other features include optical, digital and macro zoom and a 1.8-inch color LCD screen. The new camera is not available in stores yet but will arrive soon.

  • Webcasters Seek Entry Into Video Rental Market

    The release of Microsoft's video and music downloading system has sparked an urgency for Internet webcasting businesses trying to convince movie studios to supply them with videos at the time that video rental stores get them.

    If a deal happens between webcasters and a major studio, it would effectively change the basic structure of the home video rental market., is one of the first companies to provide downloadable movies on a pay-per-download basis. They're targeting college students and had their first Internet premiere with the popular art-house flick, Pi, at $2.95 per download.

    It's not clear yet how the Internet will affect the home video stores or how far studios are willing to go to protect video stores. At the moment the movie industry relies on the home video market for significant revenue. As the downloading and webcasting technology continues to improve and the subsequent demand for content increases, studios will be hard pressed not to turn to the Internet as an additional outlet.

    Meanwhile, webcasting Internet businesses are positioning themselves for what they're betting will be the inevitable: major movie titles for pay-per-download.

  • NAB Roundup

    The Annual and much anticipated National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention wrapped up in Las Vegas. Videomaker sent a team for up-to-the-minute dispatches on the latest products and developments by the major players in the video industry. Here's the major news they found:.

    Blossom Technologies showed a Casablanca-style standalone turnkey nonlinear editor. They call it the PVA (Personal Video Appliance). In addition to it's MPEG2 editing ability, it is being marketed as a DVR (digital VCRlike Replay TV)--offering instant replay, slow motion, time lapse and record scheduling.

    In addition, Blossom Technologies plans to make it an expandable system that you can upgrade and make into a DVD player, set box top, Internet browser (web & email), telephone answering device with caller ID, home automation control device & satellite download device.

    The unit is scheduled for a September 1999 release and will retail for about $2995.

    Blossom is also highlighting their show with the DaViD, a complete turnkey DVD authoring system. The entry-level model has a suggested price of $19999.

    Applied Magic demonstrated their own stand-alone editing system a la Casablanca, called ScreenPlay. It features real-time effects and is said to be very user friendly and very cool. Applied Magic expects to start shipping ScreenPlay sometime in the Fall. Spokespeople for Applied Magic said the system will retail for about $4000.

  • Streaming Media Guide Gets Real Update

    RealNetworks' RealGuide is back up and running with a new complete listing of all streaming media on the web except for media in competitive formats like Microsoft's Windows Media.

    RealNetworks released the new version of RealGuide last month. The updated guide lists over 1,700 TV and radio stations and 3,000 Web sites with streaming media content.

    Not only does the RealGuide showcase Real content but it also serves as a money making venture for RealNetworks. With advertising and sponsorship, RealNetworks looks to create a profitable cash stream as the Internet's equivalent of TV Guide.

    Unlike other content providers like that host its own content, RealGuide is strictly a directory service that points users to other sites that contain RealNetwork compatible media formats.

  • Serb Filmmaker Takes Story into Own Hands

    Whatever streaming audio and video technology lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in diverse and interesting content.

    While CNN flooded television screens all over the world with haunting images of Albanian refugees fleeing their war torn country and Serbian news showed the devastation caused by NATO bombings, a Serbian filmmaker used a Sony Hi8 and a Panasonic DV camcorder to shoot and broadcast a documentary of the crisis via streaming video over the Internet.

    Armed with a Sony Hi8 and a Panasonic DV camcorder the filmmaker (named A.G. to protect his identity) documented the initial bombing crisis in three video shorts. There are no dead bodies, exploding bombs or otherwise graphic images in the shorts. Instead A.G. depicts the day-to-day life of ordinary people caught in the throes of war.

    The first short, documents the escalating crisis just days prior to the first NATO bombing. The second clip, Nicolai Doesn't Look at The Sky, focuses on a three-year-old child and his mother as they leave their home to seek a safe haven. The third short takes place in a bomb shelter during an air raid.

    The filmmaker works at a Belgrade radio station that broadcasts over the Internet. He took advantage of the digital editing facilities and Internet access he had there and used Adobe Premiere to edit the shorts along with FAST's AV Master to digitize and capture his video clips. A.G. then posted them to Webcinema, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Internet as a way to "finance, create, produce, distribute and market independent films.

    You can view the streaming videos and read the accompanying written journals at

  • Dual-Purpose Camcorders Take Center Stage

    The big three camcorder manufacturers, Panasonic, Sony and JVC, each recently unveiled camcorders at the Photo Marketing Association Show in February with still frame capture capability and removable memory cards, marking a new trend in camcorder features.

    Sony and JVC opted for all-digital models, while Panasonic went with two analog models that capture digital stills.

    Sony's model (DCR-TRV10) uses a miniDV cassette tape for motion capture and a Memory Stick for digital still capture.

    Meanwhile, JVC introduced their model with a new flash memory format called MultiMedia Card(MMC) by San Disk. The MMC is sleek and slender; about 1/5 the size of CompactFlash cards.

    The Panasonic VHS-C models (PV-L759 and PV-L859) use SanDisk's Compact Flash system, which had until now only been used with digital camcorders. Panasonic will ship their new dual camcorders with 2MB removable CompactFlash cards.

    With JVC's introduction of the MMC that allows for ever smaller camcorders, it looks like the memory-card-format war is underway.

  • Laundromat, Fotomat... Streaming Videomat?

    Remember the old Kodak drive-thrus? Well, eEncoding .com, a successful Web site that converts film and digital clips into streaming media files, is developing a site that capitalizes on the Fotomat idea with a twist -- clients will be able to drop their digital media files on the Web site, and have them automatically converted to a streaming format.

    The new Web site, called, will convert download-only media files like those in the AVI, WAV or QuickTime formats, to streaming media files that can be played on streaming media players like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. is positioning itself as an automated streaming media encoding service. Clients can upload their digital files to the site and will transcode(change one digital format into another) files without having anyone touch any kind of film.

    Although individual users can take advantage of the service, Tom Plaster, product manager for said the service is aimed more at small to medium-sized businesses with a large volume of digital files to have transcoded, thus bypassing the usual in-house production mess that accompanies the transcoding process.

    The service will be officially unveiled at the RealNetworks Conference in San Francisco this May.

  • Pinnacle Announces New MPEG-1 Capture Device

    Adding to the Studio family of video products, Pinnacle Systems announced the release of Studio MP10, an advanced MPEG CD authoring tool.

    The Studio MP10 is essentially a capture device that plugs into the computer's printer port and allows users to capture compressed MPEG-1 video from a number of sources including camcorders, VCRs and DVD players. Then using the Studio's software, users can add audio, special effects then edit it and output the finished video to a CD, video tape or the Internet.

    For those who want to create videos with DVD-like menus, Studio MP10 gives the user the power to be creative by capitalizing on the interactive capabilities designed for creating CD-ROMs.

    The Studio MP10 leverages our video capture and editing expertise and creates a complete solution for users that want to turn their videos into interactive MPEG CDs for the home or office," said William Chien, senior product manager at Pinnacle Systems.

    Pinnacle Systems will showcase the Studio MP10 at the NAB show in Las Vegas this April.