Cats Eye for Camcorders

ITT Night Vision, a leading manufacturer of night-vision products, recently introduced the ITT Night Cam 300 and 310, a pair of night-vision units designed for use with camcorders and 35mm still cameras. Though designed for capturing video or still images in near-total darkness, the Night Cam 300 and 310 also function as hand-held night-vision monoculars. The only difference between models 300 and 310 is the quality of the image; the Night Cam 300 uses ITTs Generation II night vision technology, whereas model 310 is Generation III. Possible applications include home-security, nature-documentary and law- enforcement videography. An infrared illuminator is available as an optional accessory; this device allows nighttime videographers to tape in extremely dark situations. (800) 448-8678.

Suggested retail price: Night Cam 300, $1195; Night Cam 310, $1795.


Mystical Rainbows

Having already made a name for themselves with their high-end nonlinear editing workstations, Matrox has recently entered the PC graphics accelerator market. Their latest graphics board, the Mystique, performs very well on its own as a powerful 3D accelerator. Of greater interest to digital video editors, however, is the Rainbow Runner Studio, a companion card that offers 4MB/second, 720×480 MJPEG digital video capture and hardware MPEG decoding. Bundled with the Rainbow Runner Studio are three Ulead titles: Media Studio (nonlinear editing), iPhoto Express (still image editing) and MPEG Converter (software-based MPEG compression). (514) 969-6300.

Suggested retail price: Mystique 3D graphics accelerator, $159; Rainbow Runner Studio, $279.


DVCPRO Gets Firewire

The folks at Panasonic Broadcast and Television Systems, inventors of the DVCPRO digital videotape format, have released two new products for event videographers, multimedia professionals and other serious video pros: the AJ-D200 3-CCD DVCPRO camcorder and the AJ-D230 DVCPRO desktop VCR. Both products are available with an optional IEEE 1394 Firewire serial data interface for keeping editing and duplication in the digital realm, which allows virtually loss-free dubbing. Features of the AJ-D200 camcorder include a high signal-to-noise ratio (60dB), a pair of balanced XLR microphone inputs and a lightweight, interchangable 1/3-inch lens. The AJ-D230 portable desktop VCR is extremely compact, measuring only 8.25 by 5.25 by 15 inches; it also includes a 2-channel audio input, S-video input and a built-in VITC/LTC time code generator/reader. (800) 524-1448.

Suggested retail price: AJ-D200 camcorder, $5995 (without lens); AJ-D230 desktop VCR, $4995.


Animate Your Backgrounds

If youve ever wished there was an easy way to put high-quality animated backgrounds behind your titles, wish no more: R.L. Productions has released Backgrounds in Motion, Volume 1, a series of royalty-free animations for video and multimedia use. Volume 1 includes twelve different backgrounds, including abstract screens in motion, fireworks, arcing light flares, geometric shapes, a waving flag, continuously falling paper money and a spinning world globe in front of a textured background. The backgrounds were recorded digitally to Beta SP for highest-quality copies in any standard format. (800) 445-3874.

Suggested retail price: VHS, $39.95; S-VHS, 8mm, Hi8 or 3/4″, $69.95; Beta or Beta SP, $149.95


Zenith: Back in the Game

After a brief time-out from the consumer camcorder market, Zenith has returned with a full range of seven models at various price points. In the VHS family, Zeniths full-size VMF 920 boasts 32:1 digital zoom, titler, digital effects, color viewfinder and a built-in video light. The more compact VHS-C model, the VMC 450, includes 10:1 optical zoom, a 3-inch color LCD display and a monaural speaker for audio playback. All told, Zenith has released four new models in the VHS family and three in the 8mm family of consumer videotape formats. (847) 391-8752.

Suggested retail price: VMF 920, $650; VMC 450, $750


Jet Set

SyQuest now offers the SyJet, a 1.5-gigabyte removable SCSI hard drive that directly targets the new removable high-speed hard-drive market created by the Iomega Jaz drive and other similar products. With half again the capacity of similar removable hard drives and a boast of 7MB per second maximum sustained transfer rate, the SyJet is designed for graphics and multimedia professionals who need a safe place to store large files. Available as an internal or external drive, with parallel or SCSI interface, the SyJet is bound to make a sonic boom in the new portable hard-drive market. (800) 245-2278.

Suggested retail price: Internal, $399; external, $499; extra 1.5GB cartridge, $125.


Maxell Offers NiMH Batteries

Maxell, long known for its quality magnetic-recording media, now offers nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries for camcorders. Designed specifically for Sharps ViewCam and similar RCA models, the Maxell M3630 BLP battery pack provides up to four hours of recording time, as compared to two and a half hours for most existing high-capacity camcorder batteries. Because it uses NiMH technology, the Maxell M3630 BLP does not suffer from the so-called “memory effect” that plagues users of nickel-cadmium battery products. (201) 794-5900.

Suggested retail price: $102


Enhance Your F/X

Artel software has recently released new versions of Boris Effects Pro for both PowerMac and Windows 95/NT computers. Designed as a plug-in for Adobe Premiere, In:Syncs Razor, D-Vision Online, Fasts VM Studio Plus and a handful of others, Boris Effects Pro brings television-quality 3D effects down to a level that the rest of us can afford. With an interface that lends itself to easy customization of effects and a convenient keyframe plug-in architecture, Boris Effects Pro delivers a price-to-performance ratio thats hard to beat. (617) 451-9900.

Suggested retail price: $495.


Nonlinear Power for Prosumers

The Media 100 family of Macintosh-based nonlinear editing systems has been recognized in professional circles for several years–nearly a lifetime, in computer terms. Now, the Media 100 product line offers a wider range of price and performance. The Media 100 qx is a QuickTime-based digital video system that uses Adobe Premiere for nonlinear editing; its upgradable to a 4:2:2 professional YUV-based system that digitizes and outputs professional-quality component video signals. The Media 100 le throws in real-time editing, effects and playback, whereas the lx delivers high-quality component output, batch re-digitizing and a number of other professional-level options. At the top of the line sit the Media 100 xe and xs, both of which offer professional video editors the power of EDL imports, up to 2:1 compression and real-time preview transition effects. (508) 460-1600.

Suggested retail price: Media 100 qx, $3995; Media 100 le, $5995; Media 100 lx, $9995; Media 100 xe, $14995; Media 100 xs, $24995.


Longer S-video Cable Runs

One of the drawbacks of Y/C cable technology is the relatively short distance you can run a line without a significant decrease in picture quality. To solve this problem, Tributaries has released an S-video distribution amplifier, model SA 1.3, which boasts the ability to amplify and distribute an uncompromised Y/C signal over 500 feet. To maintain quality over such long distances, the SA 1.3 incorporates discrete amplifiers to protect signal integrity and allow distribution of a single Y/C signal to several destinations. (800) 521-1596.

Suggested retail price: $650.

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