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New and Notable ..
Elsewhere on the Show Floor
While Canon USA will wait until NAB to announce new product, it sprung a big surprise in the weeks before the show with the appointment of Larry Thorpe, the American HDTV guru who recently retired from Sony, to national marketing. Could this move correspond with news on a push by Canon into HDV or another small, inexpensive prosumer HDTV format? The word is not at this show, but stay tuned. While Canon promised new high-end broadcast lenses at press time, it was focusing on an unusual product for NAB — still cameras. Canon executives are betting that more cinematographers will be interested in its 11- and 8.2 megapixel cameras both for squeezing off stills that could be used as publicity or could be imported into laptops and Photoshopped into visual reference to their colorist. The newest member of the line, the 8.2- megapixel EOS 1D Mark II shoots 8 1/2 frames per second and is priced at $4500. The older 11-megapixel EOS camera sells for $11,000 (and features, according to Canon, the biggest sensor currently available in a still camera).
|Kino Flo’s Kamio 6 ring light unit|
Kino Flo brings a newly streamlined camera ring light unit, the Kamio 6, to NAB. The idea is to provide the DP a softlight alternative that sits on his lens and is powered by a new palm-sized ballast. The tungsten/daylight keylight is easier on the talent’s eyes, facilitating close-ups Filters can be slid in via a matte box tray holder. For the digital-video and ENG crowds it has the Kamio 6E, which can operate from an on-camera ballast that pulls from the camera power supply.
Azden’s APS 25 Speaker System features four separate audio inputs, two of which are for modular, user-installable wireless microphone receivers — VHF (30 channels available), UHF (63-channel switchable) or Infrared (2 channels available). The other inputs are for a wired microphone and a wired line output device such as a CD player. All four inputs have their own volume control so that they can be mixed together. The dual voltage (110V/220V AC switchable) speaker also features a line-output for multi-speaker applications, a variable high-cut control for reducing feedback, a master volume control and Auto On/Off circuitry. In addition to the included wall-mounting bracket, the APS 25 Speaker System can be mounted on any mic stand — either vertically or horizontally.
MTI, the growing company founded by two Brown University math professors who first built optical character readers and then branched into restoration software, has joint-ventured with Teranex to produce a new restoration product combining the strengths of both companies. Slated to ship in late March with a $149K price tag, Image Restore combines Teranex’s real-time auto filter and MTI’s interactive operator-controlled restoration software, allowing its users to switch from automated realtime mode to frame-by-frame based on the level of attention required by the source material.
For content creators or aggregators, how to handle trafficking hi-res imagery around their plants has been a big question for the last several years. SANs aren’t the only answer now that gigabit ethernet comes standard in PCs. With the significant speed boosts offered to network-attached devices by “Gig-E,” these devices are getting a serious look by heavy-duty players. Companies like Digital Domain, Rhino FX, Postworks and Sideshow have all recently bought the HDIO “media bridge” from Maximum Throughput. Reportedly some smaller companies aiming to save money are making a practice of just renting HD decks to get source material in and out of the NAS device and remaining in a tapeless shared storage scenario as long as possible.
“What’s great for us,” says John Miller, VP, sales, at Maximum Throughput, “is that the cost of ownership has gone down for people who’re looking to work in shared storage environments. It used to be that SANs were the only way to go, but with network attached storage (NAS) devices now approaching SAN-like speeds, getting into the technology is much more affordable.” (Maximum’s prices range from $40K to $150K.)
Maximum’s executives, most of them grads of Discreet Logic, have recently completed a technology partnership with Paris-based Light XStoner, which has developed a system allowing the use of Maximum’s boxes as servers for Discreet storage.
Luke Tristram, CEO at Proximity, says that, due to advanced searching and the ability to transfer and transcode across multiple formats, his new asset-management introduction, Artbox, will appeal to smaller and mid-size post companies as well as to broadcasters. The idea is to allow artists to manage assets — graphics, audio, video or script — from one interface which can convert among major video and still formats and interfaces with Adobe, Avid, Chyron, Discreet, Grass Valley, Leitch, Omneon, Pinnacle, Quantel and Sundance tools. This means that the artist can drag and drop elements created on one of these systems to the Artbox and back. Artbox comes as a server with software, all ready to plug-and play.
The content-management software company Virage tweaks its metadata capabilities to make searching easier and more natural in its latest software rev. Searching by concept as opposed to keyword methods, natural language retrieval, query by example, refine by example, and cross-language search are now enabled across the Virage line. The company also now offers the additional encoding alternative of Optibase MovieMaker for ISO MPEG-4.
At a mid-February developer’s conference, Hewlett-Packard announced that it expects to leverage advancements in Intel’s Xeon processor. These include 64-bit extensions, I/O, management and memory architectures. Workstation customers hungry for more memory will benefit from the 64-bit extensions.
SGI’s NAB message will emphasize a broad technological mandate — in other words, this company isn’t just about workstations anymore (a good thing, since tasks that required bleeding-edge, purpose-built hardware not so many years ago can now be accomplished on off-the-shelf desktop PCs). So the buzzword is interoperability, with the company boasting that its InfiniteStorage shared file system now supports Mac OS X, the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle enabling seamless interchange among Linux, AIX, Irix, Solaris and (of course) Windows systems. SGI is so serious about this we-play-nice-with-others message that former arch-rival Quantel will be at the SGI booth, highlighting such cooperative solutions as the SAN implemented last summer at New Zealand’s The Film Unit.
Finally, one more market tremor — SGI says it’s negotiating to sell 3D graphics subsidiary Alias to an unnamed private equity firm. Might the deal be announced at NAB? It might. Keep an ear to the ground.