Industry Watch


Zoran Corporation and Siemens Semiconductors have announced plans to introduce a cutting-edge multimedia system for PCs. The device will use the Siemens PCI motherboard and the Zoran MPEG system and video decoder. The chief selling points of this system: it allows direct hardware playback of MPEG files and display of live analog and broadcast video on PCs.

A new technology developed by Intel and En Technology can link your TV to your PC for lightning-fast downloads of digital information. The system lets a broadcast or cable station send large digital data files to your television at a rate nearly 200 times that of a 9,600-bps modem. The TV can then transfer the files via standard RCA cable to your computer.

According to Matt Cookson of En Technology, the digital data can be transmitted in tandem with regularly scheduled TV shows (you can record the files on a standard VCR to retrieve later). The new technology–called “Malachi”–has been tested in New Hampshire and Vermont, with users successfully receiving “the whole gamut, from pictures of TV stars to text files to software packages,” says Cookson.

Sharp predicts that the market for LCDs (liquid crystal displays) will be equivalent to that for cathode ray tubes (TVs) soon after the year 2000. LCD monitors for desktop and computer applications will appear in 1996, and Sharp expects rapid growth to follow.

Ricoh has introduced a small digital camcorder that captures either digital stills or 5-second video clips. Designed for multimedia use, the RDC-1 stores data on a PCMCIA card, and can transfer the images and information directly to a PC or Macintosh computer or transmit them over phone lines via modem. The camera connects directly to a television or Ricoh’s optional 2.5-inch LCD monitor for immediate playback. It can also output to a video printer for color stills. The pocket-sized camera will begin selling in the United States in Spring 1996 for a suggested list price of $1,800.

Maxell and Eveready will have camcorder batteries on the shelves in early 1996. Both of these companies claim to have licked the so-called “memory” problem in their nickel-cadmium cells. Also known as “voltage depression,” this problem has plagued camcorder owners for years, resulting in partially discharged batteries acting as though they’re completely out of juice. Steven Washio, National Sales Manager for Maxell’s Battery Products division, claimed that because of state-of-the-art battery technology, “memory is not the problem it once was.”

Microsoft and NBC have entered into a partnership to create two new businesses–a 24-hour news and information channel and an interactive online news service, both of which will be offered worldwide and integrated with the NBC Television Network.

The cable service, MSNBC Cable, will debut within the first half of 1996. It will offer 24-hour news and information programming through NBC’s existing America’s Talking distribution, which currently includes almost 20 million subscribers across the country. The complementary interactive MSNBC Online news offering will be made available globally via the Microsoft Network (MSN),
and will incorporate NBC Desktop Video, a computer-based business information service tailored to the needs of financial institutions and corporations.



Entry Deadlines


The 10th Annual Wine Country Film Festival is inviting feature films, documentaries, shorts, animation, student films and new media productions to be submitted for consideration in the 1996 Wine Country Film Festival. Deadline for all entries is April 15th. For an entry form, either e-mail filmfest@winery.com, write to WCFF, Box 303, Glen Ellen, CA 95442 or phone (707) 996-2536.

The National Educational Media Market is accepting submissions in a wide range of categories, formats and media for their Content ’96 conference. Not a competition, the conference will be a coming together of independent producers and distributors of educational media, offering a chance for educational videomakers to promote their wares. Deadline for submissions is April 5, 1996; entry fee is $80. For more info, write the National Educational Media Market, 655 Thirteenth St., Oakland CA 94612-1220; or phone (510) 465-6885.


DV Update


JVC has announced the release of their ultra-compact DV camcorder in the US market. The GR-DV1 (“world’s smallest camcorder”) measures 1-11/16 by 5-13/16 by 3-1/2 inches and weighs only 1.1 lbs. Features include 570,000-pixel 1/3-inch CCD, digital image stabilization, PCM stereo audio, microphone jack, color viewfinder, 10x optical and 100x digital zoom, lithium-ion battery and a number of special effects. With the optional docking station, the GR-DV1 offers pinpoint digital zoom, slow motion and 5 digital effects on playback.

The GR-DV1 also marks the introduction of yet another editing protocol–JLIP (Joint Level Interface Protocol). JLIP allows computer control of multiple A/V devices through a centralized junction box that attaches to the computer’s RS-232 serial port.

On the down side, the unit offers no digital I/O and no video inputs of any kind. Suggested retail price: $2999.



Web Watch


http://filmfestivals.com

This site offers an expansive listing of contact numbers, addresses and dates for hundreds of film and video festivals all over the globe. The festivals are indexed alphabetically by city and also by date; the only thing it lacks is a comprehensive listing of contest entry deadlines. A great resource for videomakers in search of an audience.



Consumer Electronics Show (CES) News


The Videomaker staff, along with 80,000 other industry professionals, visited this year’s Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada in hopes of gaining an inside peek at the coming year’s developments.

There were a number of items of interest for videomakers, most of which had something to do with digital video. RCA, for example, demonstrated their DV camcorder during the show. The camcorder is a clone of the tiny JVC GR-DV1 DV camcorder (see DV update below). RCA also announced the imminent release of their Digital Video Disk (DVD) players later in the year. The DVD allows up to 2 1/2 hours of video programming (normal audio CDs can be played in a DVD player), and will be compatible with CD-ROM players in the future. RCA, however, has made no mention of releasing a DVD recording deck.

Folks at the JVC booth, however, were willing and eager to talk about the upcoming DVD-R (write-once digital video disc) and DVD-RAM (erasable/rewritable DVD) products, which are due to become available to consumers in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

Other companies that showed DVD products included Sony, GE, ProScan and Philips.

Sony also demonstrated a prototype DV deck (pictured). The deck allows a lightning-fast Firewire 1394 serial connection with any other digital video device, making fully digital editing a possibility in the DV format.

Videonics announced the release of an Abbate Video ToolKit under the Videonics label. The Abbate ToolKit is a Macintosh-based nonlinear editing system. Later in ’96, Videonics will release the Windows version of the ToolKit. The introductory price for each version is $99.

On the analog front, Panasonic showed a camcorder that starts taping when it detects movement and has a light that turns on automatically in poor lighting conditions. Zenith and Polaroid teamed up to demonstrate “TV Picture Print,” a technology that captures images from a TV screen and prints multiple still copies on Polaroid film.

–by Alice Greany



Reviews


by David Brott


PC Video

Eisenkolb and Weickardt (1995, Abacus, 5370 52nd Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, 360 pp., $35)

PC Video examines the hardware and software that make digital video studios possible. Beginner, intermediate and advanced-level videomakers will appreciate the step-by-step learning exercises offered in this book.

PC Video teaches the fundamentals of assembling hardware like digitizers and video capture cards. The book also covers techniques for installing today’s video authoring software and creating your own productions.

For those interested in learning desktop video editing techniques, PC Video includes a CD-ROM containing AVI video clips, Microsoft Video for Windows 1.1 runtime programs, a collection of music and sound files and video software demonstrations.

The PC Video book offers a friendly introduction to the world of desktop video. From configuring your PC to installing capture cards or working with desktop editing software, this book covers it all. 4

Marketing With Video

Hal Landen (1996, Oak Tree Press, RD 1, Box 378, Slate Hill, NY 10973; 251 pp., $23.45)

Marketing With Video helps first-time video marketers learn the secrets of effective video production. This book is an especially effective reference guide for videomakers working in the field of marketing, advertising or public relations.

Author Hal Landen is a 20-year film and video veteran. In this book, he reveals behind-the-scenes techniques for creating effective marketing videos.

In twelve easy-to-read chapters, Landen sets out to teach how to shoot and edit an in-house training video, and “how to make every second of a marketing video count by using eight powerful types of marketing scenes.” To it’s credit, this book contains a resource appendix, glossary and index section.

Marketing With Video offers effective information for those who are ready to use the power of video to sell. 4

The Creative Magic of Ron Thornton: Spacecraft Model Design & Spacecraft Surfacing Techniques

Ron Thornton (1995, Desktop Images, 1805 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91506; 100 min., $49.95 each)

These two videotapes from Desktop Images offer solid instruction on creating 3D animation. Both tapes provide a video apprenticeship with a well-known master of 3D animation and modeling.

Emmy Award-winning Visual Effects director Ron Thornton is best known for his design and special effects work on Paramount Television’s Babylon 5 series and blockbuster movie Terminator 2. In Spacecraft Model Design & Spacecraft Surfacing Techniques, Thornton takes you inside the studio and into the programs that generate 3D modeling and animation. From initial concept to thumbnail sketches and modeling techniques, Thornton shows you his secrets and shortcuts.

In Spacecraft Surfacing Techniques (the second tape), Thornton demonstrates how to integrate LightWave 3D with Adobe Photoshop to add realistic textures and mechanical details to the spacecraft created in the first tape.

Both tapes provide helpful techniques and informative instruction for the intermediate-level 3D artist. 3

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

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