Zoom In, Zoom Out
Matsushita is working on a new ultra-sensitive CCD that can produce
10,000 levels of halftone, compared to about 500 levels for the average
camcorder today. Matsushita officials claim this new CCD could lead to a
pocket-sized camcorder with more advanced imaging capabilities than
todays professional three-chip models.
JVC has endorsed the Sony/Philips version of the DVD (digital video
disc). Since they had already announced their support for the competing
Toshiba/Time Warner design back in January, JVC is now the first major
company to endorse both designs.
Meanwhile, Matsushita is developing a single-sided dual-layer DVD
that expands the data capacity of the Toshiba/Time Warner system from 5
gigabytes to 8 gigabytes. The new design will mean that users wont have
to flip the DVD over in the middle of a two-hour movie.
To celebrate their thirtieth anniversary, Toshiba gave U.S.
dealers a historic demonstration of their DVD player. Toshiba and Pioneer
plan to start making DVD players as soon as next summer, but don’t expect
to see DVD camcorders of either design for a few years.
IBM has set a new record for magnetic storage capacity on a hard disk: 3
billion bits per square inch. At this density, a hard drive smaller than
any currently available could hold more than 3.4 gigabytes of data.
Small, portable hard drives with large storage capacity such as this one
could end up in consumer camcorders someday, making the transition from
camera to computer as easy as changing a disk in a floppy drive.
On the long-awaited HDTV front: JVC is currently selling an industrial
HDTV recorder in the United States for $9,800, along with an HDTV monitor
($7,000) and camera ($62,000). The only customers are corporate, medical
and scientific clients at this point. On the consumer side, officials are
only just now finalizing the specifications for HDTV broadcast in the
States. The biggest hurdle: incompatibility with NTSC.
The direct satellite (DSS) TV boom that RCA began last year has received
another boost: Sony, the worlds best-known maker of consumer electronics
gear, has begun selling DSS systems, with prices ranging from $750 to
$950. Sony hopes their DSS systems will stand out from RCA with better
on-screen guides and easier-to-use components.
More on Sony: retailers report that they’ve been told to expect a
possible two-percent price increase in Sony‘s mid-range to high-end
products, including TVs, VCRs, camcorders and audio gear. This comes as a
result of the falling price of the yen against the dollar. Hitachi has
also considered a two-percent increase, but officials say they wont
implement it if the currency exchange rate stabilizes soon.
Hitachi has announced a 5.3-ounce color video camera, for use with an
existing VCR deck. Priced at about $400 and intended for indoor shooting,
the camera has fixed focus, wide-angle lens, 270,000 pixels and auto
white balance and iris. It measures 1.7 by 2.8 by 4.7 inches, and is
currently available only in Japan.
Samsung has announced plans to release a consumer DVC (digital
videocassette) product. In a Korean press release, the company said it
will release a commercialized model by the end of 1996.
The third annual WorldFest-Charleston film festival will accept entries
from a broad range of categories, including documentaries, short
subjects, student productions, TV and cable production, music videos, TV
commercials and interactive media. Deadline for entries is September 15;
for more info, write to Entry Director, WorldFest-Charleston, PO Box
56566, Houston, TX 77046; or call (800) 501-0111.
New York’s Expo of Short Film and Video is the nations longest running
annual festival for the indie community. Entries, which must be no more
that 60 minutes in length, must include a fee of $35. Deadline for
entries is September 15. For further information, contact New York Expo
of Short Film and Video, 532 LaGuardia Place Suite 330, New York, NY 10012.
Diablo Video Arts
2131 Tacoma Ave.
Martinez, CA 94553
Long Island Movie Makers
1642 Wales Ave.
Baldwin, NY 11510
Seeking Group or Will Organize
Dennis J. Fish
6261 Dorchester Rd.
Lockport, NY 14094
212 East 47th St. Suite 17G
New York, NY 10017
P.O. Box 657
Bellaire, TX 77402
User Groups: let us know you’re out there. For inclusion in our listing,
submit your request to "User Groups," c/o Videomaker, P.O. Box 4591,
Chico, CA 95927. Seeking a User Group? For a list of existing user groups
and/or videomakers seeking or willing to organize a group in your area,
send an S.A.S.E. to the same address.
Smile, You’re Under Arrest
Along with pistols, handcuffs, ammunition and pepper spray, police
officers may soon carry a new piece of standard equipment: badge-mounted
Several police agencies around the country have tried the
cameras, with varying degrees of success. The idea of the thing is
terrific, says Anaheim police sergeant Ken Brott. But I hate the darned
thing until they make it tiny.
As for legal issues, defense and civil liberties lawyers doubt
the new device will raise any complaints, since the camera could provide
footage for either side in a police abuse case.
The 2-by-2-inch lapel camera attaches to a belt transmitter,
which sends the video signal to a recorder in the squad car. Police
agencies can purchase these units for $3,000 to $5,000 dollars each from
System and Engineering Management Company, 5950 La Place Court, Carlsbad,
CA 92008; (619) 438-8280.
Slacker Video on the Net
Will the Internet someday replace TV?
ROX, a controversial public access TV program based in
Bloomington, Indiana, isn’t going to wait around for that day. ROX has
become the worlds first on-demand Internet TV series; through the World
Wide Web, viewers can download shows from the series at any time and play
them on a home computer.
ROX focuses on the trials and tribulations of a roving band of
mid-twenties hedonists, explains Joe Nickell, co-producer of the show
with Bart Everson. Since its inception in 1992, the show has won numerous
awards, and has been featured on MTV and The Howard Stern Show.
Everson, ROXs editor, explains the advantages of Internet
programming: Most TV shows present you with a linear stream of
information. If you don’t want to see the opening credits, too bad. Our
first show, Global Village Idiots, will be different, because it will
allow people to download and view the different sections of the show in
whatever order they wish. Its non-linear, and hyper-textual.
Web surfers can download episodes from the ROX Quarry at
http://www.rox.com/quarry/. The non-webbed can get more info by
contacting Jeff Hamlin at (812) 323-3445.
Covert Video Operations
For investigative reporting, private eye work or spy-versus-spy intrigue,
nothing beats the video camera as an intelligence-gathering device.
Problem is, most camcorders are too large to easily conceal. The
recorder is the hardest part of the device to hide; the camera itself can
shrink to a very small size and fit inside just about anything–from a
pair of sunglasses to a lipstick case.
But once they’ve gotten their hands on a microcamera, where do
spies and private eyes go to find a microrecorder? Sony, that’s where.
One of the most popular microrecorders for investigative use is
the Sony EVO-220, an 8mm model about the size of a Walkman. To use it,
investigators simply run a cable underneath their clothing from the
microcamera to a fanny pack that holds the recorder.
Sony also offers the EVO-220 as part of a new product called the
ZBOX-1. About the size of a paperback book, the ZBOX-1 includes both the
EVO-220 and an incident recording adapter that can tell the recorder when
to start taping–when someone enters a room, for example.
TR Manufacturing of Spring Valley, NY, is using the ZBOX-1 in its
Video Illusions systems. These systems bundle the ZBOX-1 with a
microcamera, microphone and motion sensors; the entire unit is then
disguised to look like a book or a waste basket.
Undercover videomakers can contact TR Manufacturing at (914) 425-1800.