Data Translation Updates MPEG Capture Board

Data Translation, Inc. recently unveiled Broadway 2.0, an upgraded version of their MPEG video capture board. Like its predecessor, the board captures video at 30 frames per second at resolutions of 353×240 or 176×120 pixels, captures concurrent audio and synchronizes it with the video, and saves both audio and video as an editable .avi file. The original card could then further compress this (or any other) .avi file to an MPEG-1 in three times its capture duration. The main improvement in Broadway 2.0 is that it can digitize and compress incoming audio and video to the MPEG-1 format in real time. To achieve real-time MPEG-1 capture, the board uses C-Cube’s 80MHz CLM4110 chip set.

The new board also supports Windows NT 3.1 and 4.0 operating systems. The software has a replace-video feature that leaves captured audio intact while replacing the video, and a compress-audio function that compresses audio-only files to more compact MPEG files. The board also comes bundled with a video-clip library and audio-clip library to help new users get started without having to shoot video. The list price for Broadway 2.0 is $995.

Seniors Celebrate 500th Public Access Program

During the week of April 14, 1997, senior citizens in Cupertino, California celebrated the 500th episode of their community television show, “The Better Part.”

The show, broadcast on Cupertino Public Access Channel 26, is believed to be the longest running, public-access series produced by and for senior citizens.

The seniors responsible for the series are volunteers sponsored by the Cupertino Senior Center. For the past 13 years, they have taken advantage of the local public-access studio at De Anza College to produce the weekly half-hour television program.

“Everyone brings in their ideas and we come up with a show,” said Dorothy Stevens, producer and primary host of the show. “We believe if one senior is interested in a topic, there are probably more who would want to know about it.” Subjects for her interviews range from outstanding medical experts, political and public figures, and a healthy mix of entertainment, legal and financial advisories, hobbies and community organizations.

Since seniors are prone to illness, death, and spousal health problems that can cause them to be absent or to retire from the group, new members are constantly being recruited and trained.

Of the roughly 20 members of the current group, only one had previous television experience before joining. The rest receive initial training from the station, and “on-the-job” training from other members. To produce “The Better Part,” the group uses some rather sophisticated video equipment, including three Hitachi cameras, a video switcher, a Video Toaster special-effects computer, a Chyron character generator, an audio mixing board, and a professional Hi8 VTR.

“Participation gives me something to look forward to every week,” says 74-year-old Shelby Reyes, a member for the past six years. “I work with great people, and I’m always full of ideas for program topics and ways to improve our technical performance.”

For more information about “The Better Part,” contact associate producer Valerie Ramsay at (408) 730-1909.

Channel Zero

Determined to “reclaim TV by cutting the umbilical cord of the satellites,” self-proclaimed media guerilla Stephen Marshall has launched a video magazine called “Channel Zero.”

The 28-year-old Canadian decided his counterculture-media destiny after covering a coporate-sponsored road race with a film crew in Central America. He saw the event as “capitalist exploitation of Mayan culture,” and vowed to democratize the mass media.

Marshall spent the next year traveling around the world with a Hi8 camcorder, interviewing everyone from Parisian gigolos to media analysts to the Triad gangs of Hong Kong.

He pitched his idea for “Channel Zero” to potential investors, three of whom contributed $100,000. But it was the $1.5 million from a friend that launched “Channel Zero.”

The first issue, called “Planet Street,” was released in April, 1996 and has sold about 3,000 copies through mail order and retail distributors. The second issue, called “This is Channel Zero,” was released last November.

“I wanted to be totally distant from traditional television,” says Marshall. One look at an issue of “Planet Zero” and you’ll know he’s succeeded.

For more information, contact “Channel Zero” at (416) 868-1581.

  • U.S. VCR Sales to Dealers:

    • 1995: 13,562,000

    • 1996: 14,500,000

    • 1997: 14,200,000 (estimated)

    Average Price:

    • 1995: $204

    • 1996: $180

    • 1997: $172 (estimated)

    VCR Sales Rise as Prices Fall

    Source: Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association

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