With Stephen Muratore, Jennifer O’Rourke and Charles Fulton

2004 was a year of exciting innovations and improvements in consumer video technology. This is great news for videographers, of course, but a difficult proposition for the editors of Videomaker, now that it’s time to hand out awards for the year’s best products. After much deliberation, we have managed to come up with an authoritative list of the best video production and editing products that we’ve covered in the past 12 issues. We think you’ll agree that these products represent the very best that 2004 had to offer in the world of consumer videography.

BEST Products Award Criteria

For a product to qualify for an award, it must have shipped in the 2004 calendar year, and it must have passed through Videomaker headquarters for examination by our editors. From there, we judged products based on the following seven criteria:

Empowerment:
how effective the product is at helping videographers be more effective at video production.

Ease of Operation:
how user-friendly it is.

Affordability:
the product must provide a good value for the price.

Quality:
it must be put together well, durable and show excellence in its category.

Innovation:
it should have some inventive or original features.

Dependability:
it needs to be able to endure the rigors of active video production.

Performance:
It must work consistently and effectively.

BEST LIGHT KIT OVER $2,000
ARRI SOFTBANK 1 LIGHT KIT

There are light kits, and then there are light kits. Case in point: Arri’s Softbank 1, which combines one 300W Fresnel, two 650W Fresnels, one 1,000W Arrilite, a Chimera Video Pro Soft Bank, 4 sturdy adjustable stands and a full set of barndoors, scrims and accessories, all packed neatly into a sturdy rollaway case. There’s a good reason why video rental outfits favor this kit; it’s got everything a videographer needs for most shoots, and it’s rugged enough to take a beating and continue to deliver quality illumination in a variety of situations.

Our congratulations go out to all of our 2004 Best Products of the Year winners. With the fast changes in products and technology, this was a difficult decision for the Videomaker editors to make, and there are many more products developing every day that will challenge our staff in the future. While we could only select one product in each category as the Best this year could offer, many products excelled in every category. 2004 was a standout year for innovations, and saw the line between consumer and professional products diminish even more. What will the future bring? Look to 2005 to see high definition video products become more plentiful and more affordable, and watch for prices of even the most advanced equipment and software to fall to the level that everyone can afford. Watch for our in-depth reviews every month in our Test Bench section of every issue of Videomaker magazine.

–The Editors

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