DVDs Delayed by Copyright Problems

Quick Focus

Industry Watch

Copyright legislation issues continue to plague DVD's 1996 introduction. While most major manufacturers plan to introduce first-generation DVD (Digital Videodisc) players and software later this year, Sony Consumer Products president John Briesch recently told reporters that his company considers DVD to be "...a 1997 product." All forms of home digital video recording--including DVD and DV--are currently the focus of worldwide legislative efforts, and could continue to hold up the release of a wide range of next-generation digital video and audio products. Videomakers who are interested in going digital should pay special attention to the outcome of this legislative battle; the ability to buy inexpensive equipment that makes perfect digital copies of audio and video may hang in the balance.

Videogram, a proprietary CODEC supported by Alaris Incorporated's QuickVideo capture card, can be used to create tiny, multimedia-style video clips that are small enough to send via E-mail or over the Internet. Advantages of the new CODEC include ability to fit a 30-second audio/video file on a single 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disk, and a "self-playing" option that allows videomakers to embed the playback software within the video file itself, creating a self-playing ".EXE" file for distribution to anyone with a 486 or Pentium computer.

For the first time since the introduction of the format, Sony has decided to offer a blank VHS-C cassette in its videotape lineup. In the past, the consumer electronics supergiant has refrained from offering a tape in this format due to competition in the compact camcorder market. The 30-minute VHS-C tapes will run $5.99 MSRP, and should be available as you read this. Despite this change in the company's tape offerings, chances are Sony won't be offering a VHS-C camcorder anytime soon.

After a serious slump in the last two weeks of February 1996, worldwide camcorder sales came back with a vengeance in the first week of March. Sales for the period were a full 113% above the figures for March 1995.

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) and SOFTBANK COMDEX Inc. have formed a partnership in response to the increasing convergence of digital and analog technologies. As a result, CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) and COMDEX (the premiere trade show of home computing) will co-locate, beginning with next year's spring show in Atlanta, Georgia June 2-5 1997. CES and COMDEX will continue to market and sell their separate events while the new joint trade show and conference will be marketed and sold jointly by both organizations.

Although Japanese trade association reports predict sales of more than 11 million DVD players in the year 2000, the same reports also indicate a significant rise in standard home VCR sales in the next five years. Predictions are that the number of analog VCRs sold in the year 2000 will outstrip sales of DVD players 4 to 1--an indication that analog technologies will still be far from dead, even as we enter the new millenium.

Since Casio's introduction of their low-cost consumer digital camera, several companies have offered similar products of their own. Epson offers a model at $499 ($200 cheaper than Casio's, but lacking a color LCD monitor), while Polaroid's three digital cameras stay on the high end of the consumer realm, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $5,000. Ricoh, Sony and others offer similar models at a wide range of price points. These cameras allow consumers to capture digital still images and transfer them easily to home PCs; videomakers find them useful for incorporating still images (with or without titles) in their work.

Web Watch

International Video and Film Professionals' Directory

From gaffers and grips to producers and directors, this site offers contacts galore for video and film professionals. Complete with a listing of film and video sites on the Web and dozens of industry links, the International Video and Film Professionals' Directory is an awesome resource. Starting up your own pro video corner of the Web? These guys would be happy to list your company.

DV Update

Officials at Sony have announced that the company will be launching its digital VCR within the year in the US. Sony is also preparing the product's launch in Europe, but it was decided that the product's launch in the US, the world's largest VCR market, should be made as soon as possible. Currently in the US, legislation concerning digital machinery copyrights is under deliberation in Congress, and Sony would like to see its product launched in conjunction with this legislation. The company is considering pricing its VCR in the $2,000-$3,000 range.

Sony's digital VCR, the DHR-1000, makes use of the IEEE 1394-based "FireWire" serial digital interface--the same interface found on both of Sony's DV camcorders. This means that owners of one of these camcorders will have access to a deck that's capable of making perfect digital dubs with no loss in picture quality.

Quick Focus

Intel's Multimedia Extensions

If all goes well at Intel, all Pentiums will most likely be incorporating the new Multimedia Extensions (MMX) by the end of 1996.

Pentiums powered by MMX will offer full-screen, 640x480 pixel, 16-million-color, 30-frame-per- second video output without MPEG compression, plus 44Mhz stereo audio thrown into the bargain. These functions are integrated onto the CPU itself, eliminating the need for costly video and 3D accelerators.

MMX may revolutionize multimedia, putting a real damper on sales of graphics and video add-ons for personal computers. It has been said that a small number of 166-MHz test versions of the chips are making their rounds, and initial reports of their performance indicate that MMX stands a good chance of becoming the standard for future multimedia processing in home computers.

The press meanwhile has kept a closed lid on the MMX extensions, or could be under nondisclosure agreements with Intel. This is perhaps due to the company's worries that consumers will stop purchasing new computers and wait for the upgrade. Now that word's out, however (thanks in no small part to the work of John Dvorak at PC Magazine), computer retailers may have to significantly reduce the prices of pre-MMX computers to keep computer shoppers from waiting for the new upgrade.

What does all of this mean for the videomaker? It means we now know enough to paint a decent picture of next year's standard for multimedia-enhanced computers. An MMX CPU (200 Mhz+), a DVD-ROM drive (much faster data throughput and greater storage capacity than CD-ROM), plenty of RAM and a very fast, very large (2GB+) hard drive will be the model for multimedia and desktop video machines in 1997.

--Stephanie Ann Laub

The Camcorder Eye--on Campus

What's the quickest way to make kids behave on a high school campus? Point a camcorder at them. Or so says Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, California.

"The quickest way to break up a fight is to show up with a video camera," according to Stephens. "Kids just don't want to be caught on tape."

A number of high schools have found the technique successful. Students at Dana Hills High School in Dana Hills, California might see a supervisor wandering through the cafeteria or schoolyard at lunch time, camcorder in hand.

But is it legal? Do students have the right not to be videotaped? Ann Bradley, a spokeswoman for the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, compares school videotaping to the security cameras used in banks. It's legal, Bradley says, so long as those being taped are aware of it.

If the trend catches on, parents may very well face a new kind of telephone call from school supervisors--one backed up by videotaped evidence of their offspring's unruly behavior. No more "My Johnny would never do such a thing..."


by David Brott

Timecode, A User's Guide, Second Edition
John Ratcliff (1996, Focal Press, 313 Washington St., Newton, MA 02158-1626, 236 pp., $47.95)

Timecode was originally developed to pinpoint the location of video information on tape. Since its introduction, it has allowed hundreds of thousands of videomakers the ability to create accurate EDLs and to perform clean audio and video edits during post-production. Timecode, A User's Guide examines the principles relating to time-and-control codes for film and videotape applications. Revised sections deal with the uses of timecode during non-linear post production.

The author is John Ratcliff, Head of Production at Ravensbourne College of design and Communication. He has acted as technical advisor on documentaries, applying his knowledge of timecode and data management in production systems. Ratcliff's no-nonsense approach to time-code theory and technical standards proves a worthy read for the semi-professional video producer.

Overall, Timecode, A Users Guide provides accurate and detailed information covering analog and digital time codes and their applications. In fact, Timecode, A User's Guide is an indispensable reference for videomakers trying to make sense of the editing process, accuracy and final production. 5

Lighting for Imaging
Norman Kerr (1994, Amherst Media Inc., P.0. Box 586, Amherst, NY 14226; 195 pp., $26.95)

Producing a high quality video takes time. It requires planning and knowledge of different video, audio and lighting elements. Lighting for Imaging is a book designed to address light management and how to effectively control different lighting conditions to better serve your videomaking. The book covers recent advances in lighting technology, conventional techniques and effective visual communication theory.

Norman Kerr is a Master of Photography in the Professional Photographers of America. He retired in 1991 after serving 36 years with the Eastman Kodak company. In Lighting for Imaging Kerr uses fundamental lighting explanations to help readers achieve desired effects over different shooting situations. He integrates the magic of light with unique forms of artistic expressions and emotional imagery.

This book covers such topics as light qualities, shade relationships, light ratio and color effects. It also includes an extensive index and a reference bibliography.

Lighting for Imaging is an informative and well-written book that covers both basic and technical principles of lighting. 4

Video Machine PC: Advanced Editing
(1995, KnowledgePath Video, P.O. Box 94, Issaquah, WA 98027-0094; 120 min., $49.95 each)

Video Machine PC: Advanced Editing is an advanced instructional tape concentrating on the tricks and techniques for mastering the Video Machine Studio 2.0 software. Video Machine PC highlights the secrets of the FAST Video Machine, beginning with advanced editing setup methods and project techniques. This training tape demonstrates Video Machine applications like the unlocked Project Manager and the Audio Post-Production system right on-screen.

KnowledgePath produces training videos targeting the semi-professional videomaker. Their tapes reveal step-by-step video techniques for videomakers interested in quality video productions. This tutorial is no different.

With Video Machine PC you'll learn advanced editing functions including live switching, sync rolling, advanced clip editor techniques and trimming within the timeline. Professional delivery and sound advice make this one of the best instructional tapes I've ever seen. Anyone interested in sharpening their desktop video skills will appreciate the quality of this videotape. 5

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


Sat, 06/01/1996 - 12:00am