Microsoft Corp. recently announced the arrival of the ActiveMovie API (application
program interface), the “next generation of cross-platform digital video technology for the desktop and the
Internet.” Like other APIs, ActiveMovie is a set of software functions and resources (like pull-down
menus, scroll bars and windows) that computer programmers can draw from to create applications.
Microsoft officials claim that ActiveMovie “allows developers and creative professionals to create and
deliver stunning titles on multiple platforms with crisp, synchronized audio, video and special effects.”
Features include “TV-quality,” full-screen 24fps (frame per second) software playback of MPEG files and
Internet playback and streaming for playback of all popular media types on the Internet. A flexible,
extensible and “future-proof” architecture allows for integration of new technologies, third-party
enhancements and real-time special effects.
According to Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager of IBM‘s new Internet division, the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 could allow every World Wide Web site on the Internet to act like a TV
station. At a recent press conference, Wladawsky-Berger claimed the future will bring new technologies
and market pressures that will change the Web from a text-based medium to a full-featured audio/video
server. “The key to what we need is more bandwidth,” he predicted, adding that the Telecom Act will
allow big data pipelines like cable modems and satellite-based data transmission technologies to
With a video server-based Internet, every Web site will have the potential to transmit video–in effect, to
be its own TV station, offering anything from a 2-minute clip to a 2-hour movie. The resulting exponential
rise in hard disk storage requirements is good news to IBM; according to Wladawsky-Berger, “…(IBM) can
sell lots of services, lots of software, lots of storage” to future Web-based videomakers.
Sony and Gold Disk today announced an exclusive bundling program that combines
1996 Sony VHS VCRs sold in the United States with a special Sony edition of Gold Disk’s award-winning
VideoDirector Home editing software.
In the program, Sony’s new VHS flying erase head hi-fi stereo VCR, the SLV-960HF, will include the
customized software. The SLV-960HF is scheduled to be available in April at a suggested retail price of
New products from Videonics should be available by the time this goes to press. The long-
awaited Video Palette TBC/proc amp ($1199) and PowerScript character generator ($3000-$5000) were
expected to ship last December, but Videonics delayed their release for a few months to add 200,000 new
transistors’ worth of updated hardware.
Copyright legislation issues continue to plague DVD’s 1996 introduction. While most major manufacturers
plan to introduce first-generation DVD players and software later this year, Sony Consumer
Products president John Briesch told reporters this week that his company considers DVD to be “…a 1997
product.” All forms of home digital video recording–including DVD and DV–are the 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.
February of 1996 was the worst February for camcorder sales since 1992, according to a recent Electronics
Industries Association report. Sales for the month were down 27% compared to last February, and total
sales for the first two months of 1996 were 7% lower than the first two months in 1995.
As the dust begins to settle from the initial DV camcorder introductions, several industry-wide trends are
becoming apparent. One is the success of the format, as evidenced by the commitments from both
Panasonic and Sony to step up production of their digital camcorders for 1996; the new units from Sharp,
JVC and RCA; and the commitments from Canon, Samsung, Goldstar and others to throw their hat into the
DV ring within a year or two.
Another DV trend to keep your eye on: the ongoing debate about copy protection, which continues to
hold up the introduction of Sony’s DV editing deck, and keeps the high-speed digital I/O (Firewire or
otherwise) from appearing on any but a single unit (the Sony DCR-VX1000).
Paper Tiger Television: Smashing the Myths of the Information Age
This colorful, graphically intense site provides information, links and provocative content about the public
access scene. Paper Tiger TV’s mission is summarized in a quote found on the site: “The video camera is a
weapon everyone should know how to use.”
Handy Uses for Big Viewfinders
More and more consumer-level camcorders are being equipped with big LCD viewfinder/monitors these
days. First used on Sharp’s ViewCam line of 8mm camcorders, the built-in LCD monitor have appeared in
models from other manufacturers, including Sony, Nikon and JVC. Panasonic likewise offered a snap-on
monitor that fits on their Palmcorders, and JVC has announced plans to produce a similar device. Even
purchasers of the state-of-the-art Sony DCR-VX1000 Digital Handycam can choose a portable LCD
monitor as an option.
Besides the obvious use as a versatile viewfinder, what’s all the fuss about these tiny 3- or 4- or 5-inch
screens? Think about it: the addition of this small LCD display turns your camcorder into a portable,
battery-powered communications device, one that’ll fit into a briefcase or backpack. For business
presentations, entertainment while traveling or communication with far-off family members, this type of
camcorder has no problem doing double-duty as a personal audio/video assistant. It’ll take dictation, tell
your kids a bedtime story or leave video directions for baking tonight’s casserole.
And, of course, it’ll work just fine as a camcorder. Not bad for a little plastic box that fits in the palm of
The Latest from Sony
Sony’s latest 8mm camcorder offerings include six 8mm Handycam models (CCD-TR44, $599; CCD-
TR64, $699; CCD-TR74, $799; CCD-TR84, $899; CCD-TR94, $999; CCD-TR99, $1,099) and four
Handycam Vision models (CCD-TRV11, $899; CCD-TRV21, $1,099; CCD-TRV41, $1,299; CCD-
TRV81, $1,599). All but the TR44 offer a 12:1 zoom lens; the low-cost TR44’s zoom ratio is 10:1. The
TR84, TR94 and TR99 all have 24:1 digital zoom and a 470,000-pixel CCD, as do the TRV-21, TRV-41
and TRV-81 Handycam Vision models. As the photo shows, all Handycam vision models include a flip-out
LCD monitor. The TRV-81 is the only Hi8 model currently released, but expect a new model–the CCD-
TR910–to become available late this summer for $1,399; features include 30:1 digital zoom and a built-in
A New Digital Format Arrives
JVC aims to revolutionize broadcast and industrial video editing with their new Digital-S format. With
4:2:2 8-bit signal processing–an industry-wide broadcast standard for high-quality component digital
video–the picture quality of this new format approaches that of Digital Betacam units costing many
thousands of dollars more. JVC’s new Digital-S editing VCRs, the BR-D85 recorder ($19,900), BR-D80
recorder ($14,900) and BR-D50 player ($11,200), make use of the broadcast industry-standard
SMPTE259M serial data protocol for long-distance (1000-foot) digital video transfer, and is easily
integrated into existing Betacam editing suites through a standard RS-422A control interface. A fourth
VCR, the BR-D51 Player (price TBA), will play S-VHS tapes, so the company aims to accomodate
prosumers who wish to upgrade to broadcast-quality component digital video.
Sony has no plans to remain idle as JVC introduces this new format. The company will announce
a new low-cost 4:2:2 digital format of its own at NAB. For more details, keep your eyes on the pages of
by David Brott
Upgrading Your PC To Multimedia
Steve A. Thompson with Keith Aleshire and Dave Gibbons (1994, Que, 201 W. 103rd Street,
Indianapolis, IN 46290, 368 pp., $25)
Upgrading Your PC to Multimedia examines the exciting new opportunities available for you
and your PC. In this book, common system requirements for image processing, audio/video capture and
desktop editing are addressed.
Author Steve Thompson has 12 years experience in the computer industry as a programmer,
senior systems analyst and technical support manager. In this book, Thompson explains how to upgrade
your computer for multimedia production in easy-to-understand terms.
Upgrading Your PC to Multimedia contains eleven chapters covering such topics as
computer components, video cards, basic system language and video software. This book also includes a
resource appendix listing available multimedia organizations and standardization committees.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a glossary of multimedia and computer terminology.
Overall, Upgrading Your PC to Multimedia is a good resource for beginners who are
uncertain about the requirements necessary for multimedia production. 3
Make Fantastic Home Videos
John Fuller (1996, Amherst Media Inc., 155 Rano Street Suite 300, Buffalo, NY 14207; 128 pp.,
Nobody likes to sit through poorly produced home videos. In fact, they can be downright boring. This
new book from Amherst Media Incorporated contains great tips on how to create more exciting home
John Fuller is a writer and lecturer with thirty years experience as a senior news videographer.
Fuller reveals step-by-step video techniques for amateur videomakers hoping to produce more interesting
From proper lighting techniques to timing and sound, Making Fantastic Home Videos is a
great resource and training manual for first-time videomakers. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting
way to make quality home videos that won’t put your relatives to sleep, this book’s for you. 5
Mark Shapiro (1995, SRS Productions, 7664 Madison Ave., Lemon Grove, CA 91945; 60 min.,
YourCam-Sony is an instructional tape targeting first-time Sony camcorder users. First in a
series of instructional tapes, YourCam-Sony demystifies camcorder features and terminology. SRS
Productions also offers beginner tapes for the Panasonic, Sharp and Canon brands of camcorders.
Videomaker Mark Shapiro writes video production articles and has been teaching “how to use
your camcorder” classes for several years. His tapes cover a wide range of topics from how to charge and
attach camcorder batteries to manual controls and in-camera effects. In the near future, SRS will offer tapes
for the JVC and Hitachi camcorder lines as well.
YourCam-Sony offers a straightforward approach to camcorder operation and techniques,
and I recommend it for the video greenhorn. 4
KEY TO RATINGS: 5-excellent, 4-very good, 3-good, 2-not so good, 1-poor