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WHAT’S LEGAL NOW? FAIR USE & PUBLIC DOMAIN PAGE 72

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CAMCORDERS • EDITING • COMPUTER VIDEO • AUDIO & VIDEO PRODUCTION • DVD

APRIL 2008

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HP recommends Windows Vista® Business

The power to build, create, and change. HP and AMD are dedicated to a sustainable future. Together we've built the HP xw4550, an ENERGY STAR® qualified workstation using the AMD Opteron™ processor. Join us at NAB SHOW from April 11-17, 2008 in Las Vegas to see how HP helps you bring your creations to life.

Go to hp.awn.com AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, AMD Opteron™, and combinations thereof, are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. Microsoft and Windows are U. S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Windows Vista is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other company and/or product names are trademarks of their respective owners. ©Copyright 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L. P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

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iStockvideo.com // Raw royalty-free stock video for as low as $10

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APRIL 2008

Volume 22 • Number 10

www.videomaker.com

Features

Contents

28 Camcorder Supports Buyer’s Guide Nothing screams “amateur” like shaky and jerky video. by Brian Peterson

43

Tutorial:

Burning Down the House

In today’s films, it seems everywhere you look, you see Visual FX. Visual FX are powerful tools when used correctly, but they are often frowned upon when they’re used for the wrong reasons. by Peter John Ross

36 Creating Characters

Getting the most out of your actors or subjects. by Brian Peterson

52

43 On The Cover Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM Camcorder LG GGW-H20L Blu-ray Burner Password: timeline 72

Columns

56

4 Viewfinder

How May We Best Serve You? by Matthew York

48 Basic Training

60

Departments

10

6 In Box Readers’ Letters 8 Quick Focus Topical News 71 Ad Index

YouTube - Step by Step by Kyle Cassidy

52 Distribution

Distributing the Goods by Andrew Burke

56 Editing

10

Polished Work by Morgan Paar

60 Directing

Directing Documentaries by Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D.

18

66 Audio

Sound Control by Hal Robertson

48

72 What’s Legal

How Fair is Fair? by Mark Levy and Gina Gullace

43

10

Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM Camcorder

14

Systemax Workstation

18

LG GGW-H20L Blu-ray Disc Burner

22

Noise Industries - FX Factory 2.0 Video Filter Software

24

Ugrip Diamond MOS Handheld Camcorder System

RATE VIDEOMAKER’S ARTICLES

Next Month

Using Practicals Transcoding with Intermediate Codecs Tutorial: DVD Motion Menus On Sale April 15, 2008

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Test Bench

We want to hear from you! To help us give you, the reader, more of what you want, we’d like your input about this issue of Videomaker. Please visit our April Article Rating Page at www.videomaker.com/rr.

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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Whatever your vision, whatever your genre, whatever your shooting style, be the complete professional with Sony's handheld HVR-Z7U and shoulder-mount HVR-S270U camcorders. Broaden your field of view with interchangeable lenses, including the supplied Carl Zeiss12x zoom. Roll cassettes or CompactFlash™ memory—or both. Capture news, sports and reality at 1080/60i. Or shoot music video and indie film at 1080/24P native. And be ready for anything with DV, DVCAM™ or HDV™ recording. If you've got the ambition, Sony has the camcorders. High Definition. It's in our DNA.

HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270U HD camcorders

click: sony.com/ HDV © 2008 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. Sony, HDNA and DVCAM are trademarks of Sony. HDV is a trademark of Sony Corporation and the Victor Japan of Company, Ltd. CompactFlash is a trademark of SanDisk Corporation.

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HD camcorders that take you wherever you want to go.


VIEWFINDER

Videomaker empowers people to make video in a way that inspires, encourages and equips for success. We do this by building a community of readers, web visitors, viewers, attendees and marketers.

by Matthew York

How May We Best Serve You? Since 1986, Videomaker has cultivated a community of people interested in making better video. This community includes those who create video and marketers who want to reach video creators. For the longest time, our print magazine was the preferred medium to foster our community. We launched our events in 1994, but even our largest event has no more than 2,500 people. We have offered DVDs for many years, but these numbers also pale in comparison to the magazine. Web readership has grown steadily since 1994, but it increased dramatically during 2006 and 2007. As you may know, marketers who want to reach video creators are fundamental to our community. Without their companies, there are no products. Without their advertising dollars, the magazine subscription price would be more than most readers would like to pay. While advertisers are incredibly important, they can not become so important that they influence our Editorial staff. We are constantly accused and also congratulated. Each month some advertiser accuses us of not providing enough coverage of its products, while readers accuse us of pandering to advertisers. This finger-pointing has gone on since publishing began, yet each month we strive to strike a balance between those who create video and those who want to reach them. Something dramatic happened in 2006-07 with marketers who want to reach video creators. They suddenly decided to invest more of their advertising budget to reach our community via the internet. During this period, advertising investments increased sixfold. Clearly the market is telling us something, and we are listening. My grandfather didn’t own a paper mill. I have no personal affinity for paper. My devotion is to serve our

editor in chief managing editor technical editor associate editor

John Burkhart Jennifer O’Rourke Mark Montgomery Charles Fulton

contributing editors Hal Robertson Kyle Cassidy Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D. Morgan Paar Brian Peterson production director art director/photographer production coordinator design associate

video-producing community. We have been investing more and more into our website. Newest is our social network: the Videomaker Lounge. Since Videomaker’s launch in 1986, we have served our community with an array of media. We launched instructional videos in 1991. In 1993, the Videomaker TV Show was broadcast on the USA cable network. We've offered How-To internet videos from our own server, and now we're posting some video on sites like YouTube. We do face-to-face events, from small intensive workshops to our 2,000-plus Videomaker Expos. We launched the digital edition of Videomaker Magazine in 2005, which became a big hit with members of the Videomaker community outside the USA, as they get the magazine via the internet faster and at a lower price. We are devoted to our mission of helping people make better video. I'd like to know which medium works best for you. The paper magazine? Or the website? Why? Please send your comments to editor@videomaker.com.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13777 in the subject line.

advertising director advertising representatives telephone (530) 891-8410 eastern U. S. western U. S., international classified sales/marketing associate advertising coordinator marketing manager marketing specialist marketing coordinator marketing coordinator

Derek DeMarco Melissa Hageman Susan Schmierer Joseph Ayres Scott Memmott Alan Parsons Terra York Nick Strayer Isaac York Aunchalee Burkhart Kim Peoples Dawn Branthaver Heather Handley Kent Hinesley

manager of Andy Clark information systems IT assistant Lance Olinger director of finance fulfillment supervisor accounting assistant customer service fulfillment assistant fulfillment assistant

Stephen Awe Heather Minton Sandra Wells Elissa Raigosa Autumn Ludington Lisa Rothe

subscription information Videomaker Subscription Fulfillment P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927 telephone: (800) 284-3226 e-mail: customerservice@videomaker.com address P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927 telephone: (530) 891-8410 fax: (530) 891-8443 Videomaker (ISSN 0889-4973) is published monthly plus one special issue per year by Videomaker, Inc., P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927. ©2008 Videomaker, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without written consent of the publisher is prohibited. The Videomaker name is a registered trademark, property of Videomaker, Inc. Editorial solicitations welcomed; publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited material. Editorial-related photos and artwork received unsolicited become property of Videomaker. Single-copy price: $3.99; $5.99 in Canada. Subscription rates: one year (12 issues) $22.50; $32.50 in Canada (U.S. funds); $47.50 Foreign Delivery (prepayment required, U.S. funds). Send subscription correspondence to Videomaker, P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927. Back issues of Videomaker are available for order online at www.videomaker.com or by calling Customer Service at (800) 284-3226. Periodicals postage paid at Chico, CA 95927 and additional mailing offices. Canada Post International Mail Sales Agreement #40051846. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Videomaker, P.O. Box 3780, Chico, CA 95927. CANADA POSTMASTER: Please send Canadian address changes to: IDS, P.O. Box 122, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6S8. Videomaker makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, with respect to the completeness, accuracy or utility of these materials or any information or opinion contained herein. Any use or reliance on the information or opinion is at the risk of the user, and Videomaker shall not be liable for any damage or injury incurred by any person arising out of the completeness, accuracy or utility of any information or opinion contained in these materials. These materials are not to be construed as an endorsement of any product or company, nor as the adoption or promulgation of any guidelines, standards or recommendations.

P R I N T ED IN USA

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publisher/editor Matthew York associate publisher Patrice York

VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

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Your vision drives the project; your determination knows no bounds. When you know exactly what you want to achieve, trust us to help you deliver.

determination Approach every new idea with complete confidence. Visit www.avid.com to learn more about Avid systems and software for independent film and video production.

Š2007 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Avid is a registered trademark of Avid Technology, Inc. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

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IN BOX

readers' letters

What’s Legal

We receive many questions on legal issues, especially in the complex world of video and audio copyright. Below are just a couple that we field. Legal copyright is complicated, which is why we created our What’s Legal column. Watch for more stories like the one on page 72 on Fair Use and Public Domain from Attorney Mark Levy.

When Does Public Domain Begin?

In the January 2008 issue of Videomaker, [Musical Copyright, page 72], Mark Levy says, “...no work created before 1922... can be under copyright.” Is this date permanently set or does it roll (i.e., will it be 1923 next year and 1924 the next)? Roger Gross, Prof. of Drama University of Arkansas

To paraphrase Mark: It’s a complicated issue, Roger. The short answer is: anything created before 1923 is in the public domain. For works created after 1923, you need to know when the work was created, whether it was a work made for hire, whether it was registered with a proper copyright notice, etc. So, does the year change? Will it be 1924 next year? Not until 2018, at which point every year beyond 2018 will reflect works going into the public domain from 1923, year for year. So, in 2020, all works published before 1925 will be in the public domain. “See,” Mark says, “I told you it was complicated.” Please check with your legal expert for advice on this complex and rather touchy issue. —the Editors

More of That Sticky Legal Stuff

This is a question for Mark Levy. I am a video arts teacher at a high school. Can students use more than 30 seconds of a song without permission if we are watching the video in class and critiquing the video as a whole? Jeanine Kleman

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Address your letters to In Box, c/o Videomaker, P.O. Box 4591, Chico, CA 95927. Videomaker is unable to process personal replies; however, questions of interest to the Videomaker readership will appear in print. You can also submit In Box entries by e-mail: editor@ videomaker.com.

Absolutely YES, Jeanine! This is educational use, clearly within the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. §107). —Mark Levy

Videomaker Lounge a Great Asset

Matthew, I just want to say that I always look forward to seeing your magazine hit my doorstep. Great price, always full of articles that I know will be informative. As a Process Engineer, I used digital pictures to create work instructions, etc., used a video camera to make it easier to capture the work, used captured frames from that to import into the Work Instructions. I have progressed (??) to a Sony Disc camcorder versus the DV tape. If I have a chance to share my disappointment with that whole experience, I will. So I will look towards your Videomaker Community site (Videomaker Lounge). By the way, I see an ad for the Matrox RT.X2. Can you do an article on how to use the Matrox card? I now have a card that allows me to do 2 video outputs ...but the 3 outputs looks intriguing. So is one of them a monitor to see your finished output or ?? Paul Federline, Process Engineer, 3M Greenville, SC

The Videomaker Lounge is our new networking site. You can interact with other video producers and share experiences on techniques, gear and videos. Please join us at the Lounge at http:// videomaker.com/community. As to your question about the Matrox card, Paul, a third monitor is often used for a full-screen output monitor, yes. A search in our forums brought up several mentions of this card; we suggest you look there for help. Our review on DV Gear’s workstation in the January 2008 issue included a Matrox RT.X2 [www. videomaker.com/article/13803]. Finally,

watch for an upcoming buyer’s guide and user tips on video cards. —The Editors

Light It Safely!

Dr. Nulph did an excellent job of covering some lighting basics for beginners. (November 2007 Illuminations column, Lighting Safety, page 58). I would like to add a couple of more points. Add a small fire extinguisher to every lighting kit. Should a small fire occur, the crew should not have to fumble around for something to put it out with! Small, ABC fire extinguishers are available inexpensively from warehouse discount stores. Newbies are notorious for not calculating the electrical demands of powerful lights. To determine amps, I recommend simply dividing the lighting wattage by 100. (Technically, you’d divide by the actual voltage, i.e. 120, but that requires a calculator). Most residential circuits are 15 to 20 amps total and may span multiple rooms. Consider low-wattage fluorescent lighting. Several companies now offer photo-balanced spiral lamps that offer daylight-balanced fill light. These put out the equivalent of 400 to 800 watts of light, yet draw only 75 to 150 actual watts of current (not much more than a reading lamp). They do not put out any significant heat, so they are safer to use and more comfortable for talent. Daylight balance makes a lot of sense, when you consider that most commercial offices are lit by overhead fluorescent in conjunction with sunlight from windows and that most residential locations feature a lot of sunlight from windows as well. Fred Ginsburg, C.A.S., Ph.D., MBKS Mission Hills, CA FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13637 in the subject line.

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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*Burst transfer rates and capacity depend on RAID mode and host configuration. 1GB =1,000,000,000 bytes; 1TB = 1000GB. Total accessible capacity varies depending upon operating environment (typically 5–10% less). © 2008, LaCie. All rights reserved.

I like it fast, but safe…

…With RAID, you know you’re fully protected. Providing fast eSATA 3Gbits and safe RAID 1, the LaCie 2big Dual features professional performance and security at an affordable price. This flexible 2-disk solution offers six RAID modes to match your specific needs. For maximum security, choose one of the three RAID 1 mirroring modes. If one drive fails, auto-rebuild and hot-swappable drives ensure complete data security. If it’s speed you need, get up to 146MB/s via eSATA 3Gbits in JBOD with RAID 0 software*. RAID 0 uses the two drives simultaneously to deliver maximum playback performance of 10–bit uncompressed SD as well as HDV or DV formats, making the 2big ideal for audio & multi-stream video editing.

LaCie 2big Dual 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB eSATA 3Gbits & Hi-Speed USB 2.0

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2/5/2008 8:34:10 AM PM 1/29/08 4:37:45


quick focus by Jennifer O’Rourke

Safe Computing Small little flash drives have become so portable and inexpensive that, like floppies of days of olde, these little thumb drives can become abused and neglected, rendering them inoperable over time. Corsair has come up with two devices for the thumbdrive user.

Video Producing Helps Troubled Kids Established in 1986, Peninsula Village is a treatment center in Tennessee that helps troubled teens in a resident facility in a quiet countryside environment. Recently, the program has incorporated the use of video in some programs, encouraging the youngsters to embrace the challenging creative field of video producing and encouraging positive behaviors and life decisions. The PSA Film Camp was a pilot program that produced two PSAs over a 4-day period. The goal of this new program was a way of introducing life skills such as teamwork, decision-making, communication and negotiation to the residents of the village. http://www. peninsulavillage.org

The Flash Survivor is a waterproof, rugged 2.0 flash drive that’s encased in the same type of aluminum airplanes are made of. Its internal protection includes an encrypted security protection. According to Corsair's website, “the 32GB USB 2.0 drive is bootable, which means users can actually store full versions of operating systems and applications in order to quickly re-create the necessary software environments to troubleshoot system problems.” And it can hold a heck of a lot of video, up to 16 full-length movies.

The Flash Voyager, on the other hand, is a stylish rubber-encased drive that, according to the website, “has been shown laundered, baked, frozen, boiled, dropped and even run over by an SUV in many third-party reviews. After all the punishment it receives, the drive continues to work.” The 32GB Survivor runs about $250; the 32GB Voyager runs around $230.

Water World Wonder A lot of niche camcorders have been hitting the market lately, due in part to the wonders of innovative flash and card drive technology, untethering the user from heavy cumbersome encasements. Take the latest “we-want-one!” gadget: the Liquid Image Digital Underwater Camera Mask. It’s nearly hands-free: all you have to do is don the mask, then swim around until you “scope” a shot you want to capture in the mask’s crosshairs. You hit the record button: presto, what you see is what you capture. The camera comes with 16MB SD RAM internal memory, and you can add more images using the Micro SD Card slot. The camera and mask combination is available in both a 3.1 and a 5.0MP version, is coming out this spring and is the first in a line of other cool electronic toys Liquid Image plans to place on the market soon. I can just see the Videomaker staffers now, floating around our great Bidwell Park’s One Mile Pool wearing these cool camera masks this summer. After all, for only $100, why settle for one... or two... or…

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MEP14plus_200x267_us_rot2.fh11 04.02.2008 15:35 Uhr Seite 1 C

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Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM Camcorder

TEST BENCH

Solid State Performer by John Burk h a r t Sony Business Solutions & Systems 1 Sony Drive Park Ridge, NJ 07656 http://bssc.sel.sony.com

STRENGTHS • Outstanding image quality • Great lens • Three ½" CMOS sensors WEAKNESSES • Ergonomically challenged • Expensive media

$6,850 (MSRP)

The rarified realm of professional video cameras used to require an outlay of $60,000 and up, and this was minus a lens. Adding decent glass to that package got you to $80,000 or more easily. But you got what you paid for when it came to image quality. The challenge of the independent video producer was to always balance the quality of the image with the cost of the gear, and most often quality lost. Sony’s Broadcast division has stepped up to try to meet that challenge: to make broadcast quality images, but to make them for less than $7,000. The result of that effort is the PMW-EX1.

The Lens

The EX1 uses a fixed Fujinon 14x HD lens, and it has some interesting new features, not found on any other camcorder. First and foremost, the

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focus lens; however, sliding the ring backwards snaps it into full manual mode, with hard stops and absolute focus position marked in both feet and meters. You get the best of both worlds. The EX1 also has a lens that allows you to control the zoom and iris manually. The zoom control is geared and marked in millimeters. You can select the zoom to be controlled manually

shooter will notice the focus ring. Most camcorders in this price range have a servo lens that rotates infinitely, which supports autofocus. While this is adequate for most work, the downside is that you never really know where your position is, and it can be confusing to manually change focus in the proper direction should Left side view of 14x Fujinon lens the need arise. All professional cameras have a focus ring with hard stops and a distance readout that lets you know where the focal plane of the lens is directly, but they lack autofocus capability. The EX1 splits the difference with its novel focus ring. In the forward position, the focus ring becomes a normal autoVIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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the biggest little thing in HD

actual size

The 1080i HD camcorder that goes from glove box to handheld for whenever you need high-quality video for professional applications. At 1 lb., the AG-HSC1U AVCHD camcorder is the world’s smallest and lightest 3CCD HD camcorder with enhancements including precise color processing; dark, inconspicuous body color; 40GB storage unit and a 1-year warranty. A true solid-state camera means it’s ultra reliable and withstands shock, vibration and extreme temperatures. It’s capable of capturing 41 min. of gorgeous 16x9 1080i footage on a single 4GB SDHC memory card. And it comes with an SD media storage unit for transferring up to 410 min. of HD video from the SDHC card.

To get more big news about this little camera, visit www.panasonic.com/HSC1U

© 2007 Panasonic Broadcast

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Sony’s PMW-EX1

TEST BENCH

by the ring or automatically by the camera's zoom controller. The iris is also available to use manually and is marked off in the familiar f-stops. The iris ring offers a smooth rotational range and doesn’t snap from f-stop to f-stop, so you can dial in an exposure between say f8 and f5.6. The lens itself can keep its f-stop throughout the entire zoom range, not losing any light at the long end of the lens.

The Electronics

The stars of the EX1 are the three 1/2" Exmor CMOS sensors that handle the camera’s imaging. A first for this form factor, 1/2" sensors give you higher

the EX1 HAS INCREDIBLE CONTROL OF THE IMAGE WITH PICTURE PROFILES. resolution and a shallower depth of field than the 1/3" or 1/4" sensors normally found in this level of camera. Before CMOS, 1/2" CCD’s were too hot and power-hungry to fit into a small form factor camcorder. Sony claims a horizontal resolution of an astounding 1000 lines, and while Top view of the 3.5" slide-out LCD monitor

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TECH SPECS our charts went only to 800, I have Imaging Sensors Three 1/2" Exmor CMOS no reason to doubt Formats 1920x1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p); 1280x720 that claim. This (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p); 1440x1080 (60i, 50i) camera delivered Lens 14x zoom, 5.8-81.2mm (35mm equivalent: 31.4mm astoundingly to 439mm), f1.9 sharp and detailed Media SxS memory cards (8GB and 16GB available) images, which you For full list of specs visit: www.sonybiz.net can download at www.videomaker. com/article/13683. recording time of 100 minutes of HQ The CMOS sensors give true pro(140 minutes SQ) video. Street prices gressive frames at a variety of frame on these SxS cards are approximately rates and sizes that cover just about $500 for the 8GB model and $900 for any project. Its 1920x1080 rates the 16GB model. The SxS cards use the are 60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p. Its new ExpressCard standard interface, 1280x720 rates are 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p which is showing up on newer laptops. and 24p. This camera is HD only; there The EX1 also includes a USB2 port to are no SD (NTSC/PAL) modes available, get your footage out to a computer that but, because down-conversion of HD may lack an ExpressCard slot. generally gives you a better SD picture The EX1 also allows incredible anyway, these shouldn’t be missed. control of the image through picture The EX1 records all of its images in profiles. These settings allow you to the long GOP MPEG-2 format. Unlike manipulate the color, gamma, knee and its HDV counterparts, the EX1 can many other variables. You can store six record in full-frame 1920x1080, using different profiles on camera, each with a 35Mb VBR compression called HQ a different look and feel. Already people mode, which, appropriately enough, are sharing their favorite profiles for gives the images their highest quality. this camcorder over the internet. It also offers an SP mode that follows Because of the size and power draw the HDV standard (1440x1080 using of these new CMOS sensors, the EX1 25Mb CBR) for compatibility with an uses a new battery format called the existing HDV workflow. BP series. These new batteries use 14.4 Also new is that this is the first volts instead of the 7.2 volts of the norcamcorder to record mal Sony NP series batteries, so you to Sony and SanDisk’s won’t be able to use your old batteries SxS memory card with this camcorder. format. The camera The EX1 has a full complement of comes with one 8GB inputs and outputs. On the audio side, card, while 16GB cards it has 2 phantom-powered XLR inputs are also available. An and a headphone jack, while on the 8GB card can hold apvideo side you have HD SDI, component proximately 25 minand A/V. On the data side, you have both utes of HQ footage (35 FireWire and USB 2.0 connectors. minutes of SP), while a 16GB card doubles Shooting these numbers. There The very first thing you’ll notice about are two card slots on shooting with the EX1 is that, despite the camera, giving its form factor, this is not a one-handed you a current maxicamcorder. The camera’s size, commum of two 16GB bined with a slightly off-center hand cards, which offer a grip really piles on the wrist strain. You VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

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TEST BENCH

will definitely need two hands or a tripod to shoot with this camera. The best handheld position turned out to be one hand on the handle and the other supporting the EX1 from underneath. The next thing you’ll notice about shooting with the EX1 is the gorgeous LCD screen that Sony’s put on this model. Popping out from under the built-in microphone, it is 3.5 inches diagonally and it's packed with a 1920x480 resolution. It also is easily viewable in full sunlight. The image quality you get from this screen is simply amazing, and it’s the first LCD panel that we felt accurate enough to

IT'S THE FIRST LCD PANEL ACCURATE ENOUGH TO JUDGE FOCUS FOR HD. judge focus for HD shooting. There is a standard viewfinder in the back too, but it pales in comparison to the resolution of the LCD screen. The display options are bountiful; if they were all turned on at the same time, we rather doubt that you could see the image you were shooting. There are Zebra stripes (2 levels), peaking, histogram, audio levels, formatting guides, safe guides — all in addition to the standard battery, lens and media information. You can set up the EX1 to give you any combination of information you may require. One display option that deserves special mention is the depth-of-field scale. This useful feature tells you exactly where and how much of your image is in focus. This is especially helpful as the 1/2" CMOS sensors give much more control over this key image property, and once you start using it, you will miss it on any other camcorder lacking this feature. Some of the buttons can be hard to reach, especially those under the lens, and the main power switch (Camera/

Off/Media) is too easy to slide back and forth, usually taking two or three tries to turn the camera off. Also due to the heat that this camcorder generates, there’s a ventilation slot that runs through the side of the camcorder. While the camcorder itself is not exposed, and only the heat sink is open to the elements, we can’t help but feel this is going to be a natural place for sand, water and grit to collect. Sony has assured us that the EX1 will operate using a rain cover or an underwater housing that may block these ventilation slots. With tape-based camcorders, we had gotten used to a run-up time, the time after you pressed record and before the camcorder actually started recording the scene. With HDV, this time had tended to get even longer. We’re delighted to find that, with the solidstate EX1, once you hit the record button, you start recording instantly. It’s little touches like this that make you miss tape a lot less.

Editing the Footage

With the myriad digital HD formats camcorder manufacturers are using, a new concern for any purchaser is: will I be able to edit with that format? The answer as of this writing is yes, if you are a Final Cut Pro 6.02 or Sony Vegas 8 user. If you use another software package, check for support for your system. You will need to download some drivers and software from the Sony site, but once they are installed, the system is fairly straightforward. On our MacBookPro, we simply inserted the SxS card into the ExpressCard slot, copied the footage from the card to the hard drive using Sony’s transfer soft-

Sony’s PMW-EX1

ware, imported the clips into Final Cut Pro and edited away happily. The transfer speed from the card to a FireWire hard drive was about 1.3 x real time, so it certainly beat digitizing tape. Using the USB connector on the camera was just a bit slower. Another nice feature is that, if you shoot in the SP modes, you can use the FireWire port on the EX1 and control and digitize from it just as if it were a tape-based HDV camcorder.

Conclusion

Simply put, the images that came out of the Sony PMW-EX1 are the best HD video we’ve ever had come through our doors. While there are some concerns about the unit ergonomically, the EX1’s video performance, combined with the new SxS solid state recording system make this camcorder a strong contender in the eternal trade off of image quality versus price. SUMMARY

The Sony PMW-EX1's excellent image quality and slick SxS solid-state recording make it a one-of-a-kind solution for professional videographers. John Burkhart is Videomaker's Editor-in-Chief.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13683 in the subject line.

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2/7/2008 3:53:17 PM


Systemax Endeavor BTO 038669 Workstation

TEST BENCH

Off to Work by Charles Fu l t o n Systemax Inc. 11 Harbor Park Drive Port Washington, NY 11050 www.systemaxpc.com

STRENGTHS • Well-built, cleanly-assembled • Logically-configured, easily-customizable storage WEAKNESSES • Loud out of the box • Many software updates required • No FireWire port

$2,999

It’s entirely likely you’ve never heard of Systemax. But you probably have heard of TigerDirect, depending on your geekiness quotient (and there’s nothing wrong with being a geek — it’s a badge many of us at Videomaker wear with much pride). Systemax has its own line of computers, primarily sold through its TigerDirect and Global Computer Supply websites, and it is breaking into the video production-capable workstation fray with the Endeavor BTO 038669, a well-designed and cleanly-assembled system. Let’s take a closer look.

A Big Rig

The case itself is gigantic — one of the deepest (dimensionally-speaking) systems we’ve seen in quite some time. It includes locks for the front and side

14 251_c5_TestBench.indd 14

Kingston fully-buffered 667MHz modules), three PCI-X slots, one standard PCI slot, one PCI-e x16 slot and one PCI-e x4 slot. There’s also an Intelligent Platform Management Interface slot, though this slot will probably not get much use from most of our readers. Unless, of course, you do have managed servers elsewhere in your video production workflow — and if that’s the case, knock yourself

panels. We see one of the system’s nice touches immediately after opening the case: there’s a storage area for extra drive rails, as well as threaded holes that accommodate extra screws for mounting more drives later. For icing, all of the Endeavor's neatly-kept interior featuring plenty of fans cables were carefully routed to provide optimum air circulation. Also inside is a gigantic Supermicro X7DA3+ motherboard, featuring two CPU sockets (one occupied with an Intel Xeon E5310 1.6GHz quad-core CPU), dual Intel gigabit Ethernet ports, eight DDR2 RAM sockets (two occupied with 1GB VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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2/7/2008 3:53:32 PM


Intensity Pro introduces professional HDMI and analog editing in HD and SD for $349 Intensity Pro is the only capture and playback card for Windows™ and Mac OS X™ with HDMI and analog connections. Intensity Pro allows you to upgrade to Hollywood production quality with uncompressed or compressed video capture and playback using large screen HDTVs.

Connect to Anything! Intensity Pro includes HDMI and component analog, NTSC/PAL and S-video connections in a low cost plug-in card. Capture from HDMI cameras, VHS and Video8 decks, gaming consoles, set-top boxes and more. Playback to large screen televisions and video projectors.

Beyond the Limits of HDV

Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X

HDV’s heavy compression and limited 1440 x 1080 resolution can cause problems with quality and editing. Intensity Pro eliminates these problems and lets you choose from uncompressed video, Online JPEG and Apple ProRes 422 for full 1920 x 1080 HDTV resolution. Now you can capture in 1080i HD, 720p HD or NTSC/PAL video.

Intensity Pro is fully compatible with both Adobe Premiere Pro on Windows™ and Mac OS X™, Apple Final Cut Pro on Mac OS X™, as well as Motion™, Color™, DVD Studio Pro™, After Effects™, Photoshop™, Encore DVD™, Combustion™, Fusion™ and many more.

Playback to your Big Screen HDTV Use Intensity Pro’s HDMI or analog output for incredible big screen video monitoring. Unlike FireWire™ based solutions, Intensity uses an uncompressed video connection direct to Final Cut Pro’s real time effects renderer. No FireWire compression means all CPU processing is dedicated to more effects and video layers!

251blackmagic.indd 48 Videomaker-IntPro.indd 1

Intensity Pro

$349 Learn more today at www.blackmagic-design.com

1/25/2008 4:58:58 PM 24/1/08 10:36:17 AM


Systemax Endeavor

TEST BENCH

TECH SPECS

OS Microsoft Windows XP Professional RAM 2GB, PC2-5300 DDR2 (ECC, fully-buffered, dual-channel) Processor Intel Xeon E5310 Quad Core (1.6GHz) Number of Physical Processors 1 Hard Drive Capacity 1TB Hard Drive Interface SATA Video Editing Software Included Windows Movie Maker Analog Video Capture Card Included No DVD Burner Lite-On DH20A3P Software Included Nero 7 Essentials Multiple Monitor Connections Yes

out. Rounding out the motherboard features: Realtek HD audio and Adaptec AIC-9410W SAS controller onboard, parallel and serial ports, and plenty of USB ports (two connected to the front panel and four on the rear of the system). Oddly, this is another workstation that has come through the door recently that omits FireWire. We’re still slightly perplexed as to why any workstation wouldn’t have a FireWire port. Then again, if your video workflow has migrated to AVCHD, P2 or a hard drive-based camcorder, for instance, it doesn’t actually matter in terms of input. Perhaps this is the better way to think of this situation: it’s ready to handle more than just a milquetoast DV or HDV data stream. You'll also find in the box: a 750W power supply, a Lite-On DH20A3P DVD burner, an Nvidia Quadro FX 3500-based graphics card w/ dual DVI outputs, and a floppy drive.

First Boot

The first thing we noticed is that it’s loud. The system takes ventilation seri-

16 251_c5_TestBench.indd 16

ously: there are two 80mm front fans, a 120mm rear fan, an 80mm fan in the power supply and a CPU cooler fan contributing to the noise generated by the system. After completing the boot cycle and not hearing the system fans slow down a bit, we rebooted and entered the BIOS settings, where we changed the fan

THE SUSTAINED DATA TRANSFER RATE TURNED OUT PRETTY STRONG. speed setting. The system finally got quieter at that point. When our ears stopped ringing, we proceeded on with the tests. The system is configured with a stripe set of two Seagate 250GB 7200rpm drives as its boot volume, and it includes two mirrored Seagate 500GB 7200rpm drives as its data volume. This is an interesting drive configuration strategy, and it is fully accommodated by the motherboard's Adaptec hardware. You can also configure the boot drive as a mirror, upgrade to 10K drives, or get both upgrades on the boot and/or storage volumes.

Software

Windows XP Professional (32-bit) booted a bit more slowly than we expected, particularly considering we were looking at a machine with a striped volume. The operating system shipped unactivated, and, when we ran Windows Update, it indicated that 66 critical patches were needed to get the system where it should be. Once we got the system updated, we ran PerfectDisk 2008 to defragment the boot volume and hopefully breathe some speed into it. That strategy worked out quite well — the system subsequently booted in about half the time previously required. The system ships with a pretty basic array of software, including

Adobe Reader 8 and Nero 7 Essentials (however, both indicated that they needed updates — this indicates that, even though the system is built-toorder, the disk images Systemax is using are pretty mature). Be sure to get an antivirus tool, or be prepared to keep the system off your home network, as the system does not ship with antivirus software.

On the Bench

The stripe set used for booting turned out to be quite sprightly, according to HDTune 2.54. The array’s data transfer rate ranged from 79.6-140.3MB/sec, averaging a very respectable 113.8MB/sec. Unbeknownst to us, the mirror set arrived having been marked for verification by the controller, so the first time we ran the benchmark, we got some bizarrely slow performance numbers as the disk controller scrubbed through the disk. Upon rebooting the system, we hit Ctrl-A to enter the SAS controller’s BIOS configuration screen and allowed the machine to continue the verify task more quickly (without operating system intervention). Ultimately, the sustained data transfer rate turned out to be a pretty strong 38.865.3MB/sec, averaging 58.9MB/sec. The controller can handle burst transfers of up to 93.3MB/sec.

Overall

We found Systemax’ Endeavor Xeon Workstation to be a solidly-built unit. It’s ready for pretty much any serious video suite you’re ready to throw at it. We don’t think there’s a lot that this machine wouldn’t be able to do, really. SUMMARY

A straightforward workstation that is ready for practically any video work. Charles Fulton is Videomaker's Associate Editor.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13680 in the subject line.

VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

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Establish your horizon Your creative vision knows no limits. Where others end, you continue to the next horizon. Your production technology needs to keep up with you. New Vegas™ Pro 8 software delivers the ultimate all-in-one video and audio production environment for creative visionaries like you. Its unique, progressive approach to video production, unrivaled audio control and powerful DVD authoring tools set it apart from other non-linear editors. Having established the benchmark for speed and ease of use, this new version moves the bar higher with additional features that offer increased power, functionality, and creative potential. Now with ProType Titling Technology, multicamera editing, a comprehensive channel-based audio mixing console, Blu-ray Disc™ burning, and superior 32-bit float engine processing – in addition to its robust support for HDV, XDCAM ™, 5.1 surround encoding, and 3D compositing – Vegas Pro 8 offers an unlimited array of opportunities to reach your production goals. It’s more than audio, more than video, more than media. It’s your vision, a notch above the rest. Reach that new horizon with the power of Vegas Pro 8. Learn more at www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegash

Copyright © 2007. Sony Creative Software Inc. All rights reserved.

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2/6/2008 12:31:24 PM 12/6/07 4:33:35 PM


LG Electronics GGW-H20L Blu-ray Disc Burner/HD DVD-ROM Drive

TEST BENCH

2 Drives in One by Charles Fult o n LG Electronics USA 1000 Sylvan Avenue Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 http://us.lge.com

STRENGTHS • Solid hardware • Easy to connect to computer, if you have an extra SATA connector • Easy to keep firmware up-to-date WEAKNESSES •Disappointing software bundle

$400 So, you’ve been sitting on the sidelines next to everyone else, waiting for one of the competing high-definition disc formats to die. But you’ve got clients clamoring for high definition. What to do? Lucky for you, LG just made this decision a little easier with its GGW-H20L drive. Borrowing from a tried-and-true methodology used by the original combo drives (CD burners with the ability to read DVD-ROM discs), LG takes that design one step further by designing a drive that can read CD, DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc and write CDs, DVD+R(W), DVDR(W) and BD-R(E), including dual-layer variants of applicable formats. The only unsupported format we notice is DVD-RAM, but, of course, this is hardly a major format.

Setting Up

The H20L connects to your machine quickly, as it uses SATA connections instead of the old ATA interface to attach to your computer. Obviously, this means you need a recent computer — LG’s spec sheet states that you

18 251_c5_TestBench.indd 18

need a machine with a CPU at least as powerful as an Intel Pentium D 3.2GHz, Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, at least 1GB of RAM and 30GB of available hard disk space (60GB for Blu-ray Disc authoring). We attached the drive to an HP xw4600 workstation inside of 15 minutes. The most complex part of it was figuring out which row of

THE H20L CONNECTS TO YOUR MACHINE QUICKLY WITH THE SATA INTERFACE. holes to screw into so we could slide the drive into the case. Attaching the SATA data and power connectors was easier than pie. Windows XP promptly recognized the drive upon boot. We then installed the provided CyberLink Hi-Def Suite, which includes PowerDVD 7.3, a player that claims to handle HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc; PowerProducer, a disc-authoring

program; LabelPrint, a LightScribe-capable labeling program; Power2Go, a drag-and-drop burning application; InstantBurn, a packet-writing application for rewriteable discs; and CyberLink Advisor, which informs you whether your system is capable of playing Bluray Disc or HD DVD program material. Also included is an LG applet that verifies that your drive has the most recent firmware (our drive shipped with version YL02, the most recent version as of press time).

Warming Up the Bench

Before testing, we ran CyberLink Advisor to see what our system was capable of. It indicated that our system would probably be able to play either Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD programming without an issue, but it didn’t recognize our system’s NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700 video card offhand — though a webpage that CyberLink Advisor linked to indicated that any NVIDIA hardware with its PureVideo HD technology would be able to handle the video from any HD disc in hardware

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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Discover the Matrox RT.X2 Hardware Advantage for Adobe CS3 Production Premium Matrox RT.X2 gives you the realtime editing power and additional productivity tools you need to get the most from Adobe® Premiere® Pro CS3 or Adobe CS3 Production Premium. Whether you work in DV, HDV, P2 MXF, or a combination, you’ll find that RT.X2 goes far beyond the capabilities of software-only in all aspects of video production – capture, editing, content creation, and delivery. Matrox RT.X2 will save you time on every project, letting you concentrate on creating your best work and building your business.

New value-priced bundle Matrox RT.X2 card and breakout box Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 • Adobe Encore CS3 Adobe OnLocation CS3 • Adobe Bridge CS3 Adobe Device Central CS3 Professionally designed templates

REAL realtime editing — Full resolution, full frame rate editing of more layers and more effects, even on demanding HD projects and mixed format timelines. Enjoy smooth, responsive HDV scrubbing. Realtime HD monitoring — See your projects in their full HD glory. Output component to an HD monitor. Output over DVI to an inexpensive flat panel display. Downscale in real time to view HD projects in SD. RT.X2 does it all. Fast, versatile output — Print-to-tape in real time and benefit from accelerated exports to DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, QuickTime, Flash Video, and other multimedia formats with Matrox Media Encoder. Extensive camera support — RT.X2 supports a continuously building repertoire of formats, frame rates, and codecs not supported in software alone. Get smooth workflow with many new camera models from Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony.

Visit us at NAB 2008 Booth #SL320 Contact us today for the name of a dealer near you. 1.800.361.4903 (US and Canada), +1.514.822.6364, www.matrox.com/video Matrox is a registered trademark and Matrox RT.X2 is a trademark of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. Adobe, Adobe Premiere, Encore, and Creative Suite are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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2/4/2008 4:40:51 PM


LG Electronics GGW-H20L

TEST BENCH

TECH SPECS

Supported Discs and Maximum Speeds DVD+R and DVD-R (16x write, 12x read), DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL (4x write, 8x read), DVD+RW (8x write, 10x read), DVD-RW (6x write, 10x read), DVD-ROM (16x read), CD-ROM (40x read), CD-R (40x read/write), CD-RW (24x write, 40x read), BD-R (6x read/write), BD-R DL (4x write, 4.8x read), BD-RE (2x read/write, single- or dual-layer), BD-ROM (6x read), BD-ROM DL (4.8x read), HD DVD-ROM (3x read, single- or dual-layer) Interface SATA Sustained Maximum Data Transfer Rate CD: 600KB/sec (40x); DVD: 22.16MB/sec (16x); HD DVD: 109.65Mb/sec (3x); BD: 215.79Mb/sec (6x) LightScribe Yes Buffer Underrun Protection Yes Buffer 4MB Dimensions Half-height, 7-1/4" deep without many issues to speak of. We did upgrade the graphics drivers from version 162.52 to version 162.65 first, for good measure. We tested the software’s playback capabilities with PowerDVD. We were armed with two high-definition discs: One Six Right, a documentary on flight on HD DVD, and a Blu-ray Disc that we

WE HIT PAY DIRT WITH THE DISCOVERY OF ARCSOFT'S TOTALMEDIA THEATRE. had burned with Sonic DVDit Pro a few months ago. When it first launched, a message popped up to say that we could get the most recent version of the software (build 3514) by clicking the link, but we waited too long to click it, and it went away. One Six Right started with no trouble, but it simply looped when it got to where the menu should’ve appeared. No menu actually showed up. There was an option to navigate through the disc by dragging the mouse, but changing the option didn’t make a bit of

20 251_c5_TestBench.indd 20

difference. So we tried the Blu-ray Disc — all the software did was give us an error message. Remember the message that offered to send us to the latest software version? Understandably, we now wanted to give that software a whirl. Within the software, however, we were unable to find a way to get back to that link, and digging around on CyberLink and LG’s sites also proved fruitless. Temporarily defeated, we uninstalled the CyberLink software, along with some other software that we thought could’ve been conflicting with the CyberLink software, and we also removed a bunch of accumulated crud that had built up in the computer’s registry. Upon reinstalling, we also chose not to install most of the suite and followed that link to get the update as soon as we saw it. The new build of the software didn’t change much from our point of view, though — we still couldn’t play either of our test discs successfully.

A Different Tack

We’ve always found ourselves with a “we can make this work” attitude here at Videomaker. This time was no exception. Faced with a bundled suite

that didn’t meet our expectations, we tried a quick search on the internet for alternative players. We hit pay dirt with the discovery of ArcSoft’s TotalMedia Theatre, a disc player app that retails for $90. It plays Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD, AVCHD, DVD, VCD and CD, along with a litany of other formats. We downloaded the trial version to give it a try, and lo and behold, it successfully played the HD DVD, allowing us to access the menu from the beginning and also while we were playing the program. However, the Blu-ray Disc we had still didn’t work. At this point, we decided to simply try burning our own Blu-ray Disc, so we fired up a copy of Adobe Encore CS3. We put together a quick Blu-ray Disc with some HDV footage we had on hand and set it up to burn. It took a bit of time to transcode, but we had a disc moments later. TotalMedia Theatre had no trouble with this disc, which it identified as a BDMV. We were able to navigate through our new disc with no trouble, and the picture was excellent.

Made It Work!

We liked LG’s hardware a lot, but we’re really disappointed with the provided software. The best way to get this drive would probably be to get an OEM version from your favorite mail-order house to save a few bucks versus the retail cost of the drive and use the money you save to buy a better choice in authoring software, as well as playback software (if you want to — unless you already have a set-top Blu-ray Disc player, we suppose). SUMMARY

A great drive, but a much better value as an OEM, rather than retail, package. Charles Fulton is Videomaker’s Associate Editor.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13684 in the subject line.

VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

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Videomaker_PVT_March2008_V2.pdf

1/25/08

11:06:48 AM

Video Transfer

Take your

C

TV

Video

DVD/VHS

Gaming

M

Y

CM

to your

MY

CY

CMY

K

iPod

PSP

Hard Drives Flash Sticks

Actual size

NO

PC/MAC REQUIRED

iPod not

included

Available exclusively at Best Buy or www.pinnaclesys.com/pvt Š2003-2008 Pinnacle Systems, Inc. and its licensors and/or affiliates. All rights reserved. You agree not to remove any product identification or notices of the property restrictions from Pinnacle Systems' products or manuals. Pinnacle Systems, Pinnacle and the Pinnacle Pinwheel logo are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of Pinnacle Systems, Inc. and its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Apple and iPod are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the US and other countries. All mentioned trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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1/25/2008 1:19:15 PM


FxFactory Pro 2.0 Visual Effects Software

TEST BENCH

Visually Effective by Mike VanH e l d e r Noise Industries 77 Appleton St. #3 Boston, MA 02116 www.noiseindustries.com

STRENGTHS • Very fast rendering times • Highly extensible and customizable • Wide range of effects included with basic purchase WEAKNESSES • Requires extensive previous experience to use all the features

The release of version 2.0 of Noise Industries’ FxFactory Pro, a collection of visual effect plug-ins for FinalCut Studio, Motion and FinalCut Express, gives the skilled video editor a versatile new set of options for jazzing up his or her work. Built using Apple’s FxPlug architecture, the FxFactory product offers something more than just a bunch of effects and transitions. FxFactory Pro 2.0 is available for download from the Noise Industries website (www.noiseindustries.com) as a 15-day free trial, with the option to purchase the full retail version of the product for $399. The trial comes with several sets of plug-ins preinstalled, and there are additional sets available for download, free and otherwise. The installation onto our system (a Power Mac G5 with a 2GHz PowerPC processor, 2 gigs of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE graphics card) was extremely smooth. We downloaded a disc image, ran the installation file contained within, entered some information when prompted, and we were done.

The User Experience

FxFactory launched right into its plug-in manager application, a visually pleas-

22 251_c5_TestBench.indd 22

ing and intuitive interface used to view which plug-in packages you have installed, and enable, disable or modify those packages or the plug-ins contained within. There’s also a handy button for acquiring and downloading additional plug-ins, free or otherwise. We fired up Final Cut and attempted to apply some of the Noise Industries effects to a couple of existing projects. They were located exactly where you’d expect them to be, named exactly what you’d expect them to be named and did what they were supposed to – well, there was a certain amount of experimentation and documentation-checking to see what some of the more oddly-named plug-ins would do, but once we figured out what they were supposed to do, that’s exactly what they actually did. Checking the documentation was simple, thanks to a prominent and easy-to-use help system included with the plug-in manager. The documentation itself is a little on the sparse side and tends to assume that you have at least some idea of what you’re doing, but it’s perfectly serviceable (as long as you do actually have some idea of what you’re doing, of course). We did find the demonstration and instructional

$399

15-day free trial available videos available on the Noise Industries website very helpful, both in previewing certain effects and helping us figure out what it was we were looking at.

A Strained Metaphor

The included plug-ins are versatile, they look good and they render quickly. We can attribute this last feature to the FxPlug architecture, which uses the processor on your graphics card instead of the central processing unit to do the heavy mathematical lifting. Unfortunately, writing a fair review of video effects and transitions is difficult. It’s a bit like trying to review one of those really big, fancy Swiss Army knives, with the multiple blades and utility tools. Is the model with the skinning blade, magnifying glass, tin shears, lemon zester and nose-hair plucker inherently better than the one with just two small blades and a corkscrew? Can you really honestly re-

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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TEST BENCH

FxFactory Pro 2.0

TECH SPECS

Requirements Mac OS X Leopard version 10.5, Mac OS X Tiger version 10.4.9 (or later), Mac computer with PowerPC G4, G5 or Intel processor Final Cut Studio 2 Final Cut Pro version 6.0 or later, Motion version 3.0 or later Final Cut Studio Final Cut Pro version 5.1.2 to 5.1.4, Motion version 2.1.2 Final Cut Express Version 4.0 or later Graphics Card (one of the following) ATI Radeon 9550, 9650, 9600, 9600 XT, 9700, 9800, 9800 XT, ATI Radeon X800, X850, X1600, X1900 XT, ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT, 2600 PRO, 2600 XT, ATI Mobility Radeon 9600, 9700, 9800, X1600, NVIDIA GeForce 6600, 6800 Ultra DDL, 6800 GT DDL, NVIDIA GeForce 7300, 7600, 7800 GT, 7800 Ultra, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, 8800 GT, NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500, 5600 view it if you’ve never had to sit around a campfire, zesting a lemon while plucking your nose hairs? Similarly, in our video-editing experience, we’ve never had to use a polka-dot transition, and we’ve never had to generate the distorted, rippling image of an oversized barcode. What we can say is that, if we ever did need to do either of those things, we would be very happy to use FxFactory to do it – and of course the more conventional, commonly-useful effects work just as well. For example, we could see ourselves using the Text Glow effect fairly often for dynamic title cards or captions, and several of the color-correction filters, while not revolutionary, would come in useful in a wide variety of situations.

Going Uncomfortably Deep

Even more exciting than fancy effects is the capability to go “under the hood� of the plug-in system. By using the plug-in manager in conjunction with Apple’s Quartz Composer, you can not only fiddle with existing plug-ins, but also create your own new ones just like the pros do. Noise Industries touts this feature as being so simple that you can do it “without writing a single line of code.� That much is true, but despite that fact, creating your own plug-ins is not a task for the beginner or even intermediate user, unless you love to tinker with these types of things. If you’ve used Quartz Composer or similar graphical node-based compos-

iting engines before, you should be pretty comfortable with the interface, and if you’ve had a lot of experience working with computer graphics and video effects, then you’d know what all the little fiddly bits do. If, for example, you’re familiar with Apple Shake, you should feel right at home. Otherwise, it’s a little daunting.

A Quality Product

Noise Industries has assembled a quality piece of software in FxFactory Pro, taken as a whole. The ability to customize the wide variety of offered plug-ins, the expandability offered by the ability to quickly and easily install additional plug-ins, and the seamless integration with FinalCut in specific and the Macintosh platform in general are all strong points in its favor, and the $399 price is competitive. Based on these factors, we can recommend FxFactory Pro 2.0 to the intermediate-to-advanced videographer who wants to apply a wide variety of post-processing digital effects. Let the post-production fun begin! SUMMARY

A quality set of highly-customizable special effects, transitions and video generators.

  

  

   

    





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Mike VanHelder is an IT professional with a sideline in film production.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13677 in the subject line.



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VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

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2/7/2008 3:54:37 PM


Ugrip Diamond MOS Handheld Camcorder System

TEST BENCH

Ugrip, We Dig It by Andrew Bur k e Ugrip US Distribution: Synergy Communications (631) 470-7476 www.pr-synergy.com STRENGTHS • Great craftsmanship • Very comfortable • Highly customizable

The Ugrip system is a pro camera stabilizer and organizer made up of multiple pieces which work together. Using Ugrip, we added mic receivers, hard drives, lights and handles to our prosumer camcorder, all while keeping it portable. Adding Ugrip handles, plates and fasteners to an out-of-the-box camcorder creates a wholly new tool. In fact, if you’re a video producer who enjoys adding multiple accessories to your camcorder (who doesn’t!?), then it’s likely the Ugrip system can add value to your production.

Gedda Grip

We like that our kit comes nestled in a Ugrip-branded StormCase waterproof hard case, although the parts inside seems like they can take a hit or two. Included in our Ugrip Diamond MOS Kit is a base plate similar to a tripod plate. The thick aluminum slab features a myriad of holes and mounts to attach other accessories to. Next, we have two arms and two 90-degree handles. The arms attach the handles to the base plate. The handles feature soft foam grips that feel durable, but are not so hard as to be uncomfortable. These three parts round out a basic Ugrip system, but we have more parts in our Diamond MOS Kit. We have a Ugrip Microport and a Multiport, each capable of

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firmly holding a camcorder accessory of choice, such as a wireless mic receiver. A Ugrip heavy-duty clamp is also included. This finely-crafted clamp is meant to be attached to the top handle of many prosumer camcorders, and it’s compatible with the other Ugrip parts, such as the Microport, Multiport and Firestore fastener (not included). The heavy-duty clamp, like the rest of the Ugrip system, features a hard-anodized black finish, aircraft-quality aluminum construction and polished bolts. For the diehard tool enthusiast, Ugrip includes a chrome-vanadium steel Allen wrench. It’s the only tool you need to assemble the product.

Meant for Movement

We quickly attach the Ugrip system to our Panasonic HVX200 HD camcorder. Amazingly, we use only the single supplied tool for the entire setup and customization, which takes all of ten minutes. After connecting the base plate, arms and 90-degree handles, we bend and swivel the product into a handful of combinations. The 90-degree handles bend smoothly to create a more comfortable handheld shooting experience. Our wrists can now relax! We attach the handles pointing upwards, towards the sky, and slide the arms forward towards the camcorder lens. This gives us a well-

WEAKNESSES • None

$1,324 balanced feel with the meaty HVX200. We hold the Ugrip with our hands at shoulder width apart, and start walking, panning and tilting. The Ugrip handles set wide provide a degree of stability that a bare camcorder just cannot compete with. Depending on our shooting situation, we can change the handles to point downward, too, giving us an advantage when making high-angle shots. We’re curious how the system will handle with a full load, so we add the Microport and Multiport, along with the heavy-duty clamp. With the Microport mounted below the camcorder, and the Multiport mounted above, we add our camcorder accessories: a mic receiver and a Focus Firestore. It’s a very sturdy way to add an accessory that we wouldn’t have been able to attach otherwise. Ugrip also supplied a LANC controller, which we added on the end of our 90-degree handle. This Bebop Zoom LANC controller doesn’t come with the kit, unfortunately, but the mount is supplied in the kit, which allows you to attach it to the grips. At first go, it didn’t jibe with our Panasonic brand camcorder, which takes a different connection. The lesson learned:

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Ugrip Diamond MOS

TEST BENCH

make sure to do your homework when purchasing! However, we threw on a Sony HDR-FX7 just to get a feel for the

LANC controller. The Ugrip system with the LANC controller gives the shooter a sense of balance and control.

TECH SPECS

Included Components Cameras and Camcorders Accommodated

2 x STA-SA01 standard arm, 2 x TIH SA01 90-degree adjustable grip, 1 x STH-SA01 standard grip, 1 x DVX-SA01 base plate, 1 x TMH-SA05 standard grip mini, 2 x TWA-SA01 arm reversed slot, 1 x HTM-MA01 heavy-duty clamp, 1 x KBP-SA01 bridge adapter, ZMO-SA01* Beebop Zoom LANC controller included separately (models range from $199-$295), Ugrip Storm Case (2300), Ugrip multi-tool Panasonic DVX100 series, HVX200 series, Varicam series, 50Bit series, 100Bit series; JVC D9 series, GYDV and GYHD series, DR-DV series; Sony PC300 series, PD100, PDX10, PD150, HDV series, DSR 500 series, Digi Beta series, HD series; Canon HV series, XH series, XL series, DC series, XM series; Arri 235; Aaton XTR 16mm, A-Minima. Intended to fit all cameras with 1/4" or 3/8" mount.

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Final Words

Our Diamond MOS Kit is made for the video professional, but there are more modest kits available. Just like a sports car, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a bit of sticker shock, but once you give it a test drive, it becomes clear that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth its price. SUMMARY

The Ugrip system is great for the video producer who loves camcorder accessories and ultra-high-quality tools. Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.

Page 1

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13681 in the subject line.

      

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FullPageAD_Template.indd 48

2/6/2008 3:36:57 PM


BY BRIAN PETERSON

othing screams “amateur” like shaky and jerky video. Sure, there are times when N you want to keep the camera moving, even erratically, but for the other 95% of the time, you want a solid system that does nothing but stay where you put it or move when you want it. In this Buyer’s Guide, we will review the most important functions and qualities of tripods, dollies, jibs and Steadicam-style devices.

eographer. The very best performers will contribute absolutely nothing to the final product. And it’s precisely that “nothing” that is the Holy Grail of cinematography. All tripods, dollies, jibs or motion stabilization devices are measured by how well they keep the camcorder stable and how well they allow the camera to pan, tilt or move. In short, you want systems that are both solid as a rock and smooth as silk.

The Basics

The Heart in Your Head

Let’s face it, there’s very little about most stabilization devices, especially tripods, that will impress anyone except another vid-

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A good tripod can be your most trusted friend or the bane of your production. Beyond giving your camcorder a solid platform

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from which to pan and tilt, a tripod should also be easy to set up and operate in a variety of weather conditions. It must inhibit vibrations from wind and little bumps, resist twisting during pans even under high drag settings and be robust enough to handle being tossed into the back of a pickup truck over and over again. Most, but not all, tripods have two separable parts: the head and legs. The head is really at the heart of your tripod. The right one will let you “feel” the shot like there’s nothing between you and your subject, with just the right amount of resistance, called “drag.” There are many things to consider when choosing the right head for you. The first is the weight of your camcorder. Do not think that getting a head capable of supporting a heavier camcorder will make your shots more fluid and stable. It could do just the opposite. Try to match the weight of your camcorder to the middle of the rated range of a particular head. If you think you may be upgrading to a heavier camcorder in the future, look at heads that let you change the counter-balance springs. You can mix and match some heads with some legs, but, unless you have done

your homework, it’s best to stay with ones made by the same manufacturer. Watch out for heads claiming to have “fluid-like” action or some such claim. Many videographers know that a true fluid head with its variable and

smooth drag settings is what they want, but the high costs can make it tempting to consider alternatives if they don’t have professional aspirations. Non-fluid heads use friction between two lubricated plates to adjust the amount of

Manfrotto 190XPROB

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Monopods Dollies Jibs/Cranes/Booms Shoulder Mounts Pedestals

Mountable Supports

Body-Worn Supports Handheld Supports

Tabletop Tripods

Video Tripods Glidecam www.glidecam.com Hakuba, Velbon www.hakubausa.com Hi-Pod www.hi-pod.com Huntercam www.huntercamcradle.com Indie-Dolly www.indiedolly.com Induro www.indurogear.com Industry Advanced Technologies www.industryadvanced.com Joby www.joby.com JonyJib www.jonyjib.com JTL www.jtlcorp.com Kessler Crane www.kesslercrane.com Lenmar www.lenmar.com Levelcam www.levelcam.com Long Valley Equipment www.longvalleyequip.com Losmandy www.porta-jib.com Manfrotto www.bogenimaging.us Matthews www.msegrip.com Merkury Innovations www.merkuryinnovations.com

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Monopods Dollies Jibs/Cranes/Booms Shoulder Mounts Pedestals

Mountable Supports

Body-Worn Supports Handheld Supports

Tabletop Tripods

Video Tripods Anton Bauer www.antonbauer.com Benbo www.patersonphotographic.com Cambo www.cambo.com Camera Turret www.cameraturret.com Cartoni www.cartoni.com Celestron www.celestron.com Chrosziel www.16x9inc.com Cinekinetic www.cinekinetic.com Cobra Crane www.cobracrane.com Comely Productions www.camcrane.com Cullmann www.rtsphoto.com Davis & Sanford www.tiffen.com DigiPower www.digipowersolutions.com DV Caddie www.dvcaddie.com DVTEC www.dvtec.tv Dykortech www.advantajib.com Easyrig www.16x9inc.com Egripment www.egripment.com Elemack www.elemack.com Ergorest www.hpmarketingcorp.com EZ FX www.ezfx.com Giottos www.hpmarketingcorp.com Gitzo www.bogenimaging.us

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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Ad prepared for The Tıffen Company by Ignite Technology & Creative Partners, Inc. 917-881-5646 for insertion in Videomaker magazine.

New! Merlin Arm and Vest Kit.

Lights. Camera. Merlin! The Merlin is available from these and other fine dealers: abelcine.com adorama.com amazon.com berger-bros.com bhphotovideo.com calumetphoto.com evsonline.com jr.com natcam.com normancamera.com samys.com showcaseinc.com

251Tiffen.indd 48

The Steadicam Merlin® is action! Get in close. Fly through and around every scene with your camcorder, free of tripods or shoulder mounts— free of bumps and jitters —with the remarkable Merlin. Why do you need a Merlin? Merlin’s award-winning ultra light and rigid compact, ergonomic design evolved from years of development by Steadicam’s inventor, Garrett Brown, with feedback from the industry’s top professionals. Unlike built-in camera image stabilizing that works on small vibrations in two axes, the Merlin controls both large and small motions in all three axes for professional high-quality productions. It’s the difference between a camcorder’s “vibration help” vs Merlin’s full-scale stabilization.

The result? A completely new camera stabilization system, created for today’s ultracompact digital and advanced HD camcorders weighing up to five pounds. And with the new optional Arm and Vest Kit, up to seven pounds. Form follows function. Perfect balance. Compact size. Superior handling. Light weight, rigid metal construction. Fast on-location setup. Absolutely effortless moves and transitions. Sleek appearance. That’s the Merlin! Don’t trust your creativity to anything less than a Merlin. See the Merlin in action at tiffen.com. Then try it yourself at your local dealer. Steadicam Merlin: 2006 Award Honoree Steadicam Merlin Arm and Vest Kit: 2008 Award Honoree Innovation starts at Tıffen. The Tıffen Company 800.645.2522 Visit us at tiffen.com

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Slik www.thkphoto.com Slik-Daiwa Broadcast Products www.slikbroadcast.com Smith-Victor www.smithvictor.com Sony www.sonystyle.com Steadicam www.tiffen.com Steadytracker www.steadytracker.com Sticky Pod www.stickypod.com Studio 1 Productions www.studio1productions.com Sunpak www.tocad.com Switronix www.switronix.com THE pod www.bogenimaging.us Trek-Tech www.trek-tech.com Ugrip www.ugrip.dk Ultra Camera Mounts www.ultracameramounts.com Vanguard www.vanguardusa.com Varizoom www.varizoom.com Video Innovators www.videoinnovators.com Videosmith www.videosmith.com VidPro www.vidprousa.com Vinten www.vinten.com Vortex www.vortexoptics.com Zhumell www.zhumell.com

Monopods Dollies Jibs/Cranes/Booms Shoulder Mounts Pedestals

Mountable Supports

Body-Worn Supports Handheld Supports

Tabletop Tripods

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Compiled by Charles Fulton

Video Tripods

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Monopods Dollies Jibs/Cranes/Booms Shoulder Mounts Pedestals

Mountable Supports

Body-Worn Supports Handheld Supports

Tabletop Tripods

Video Tripods Microdolly www.microdolly.com Miller www.millertripods.com Monostat www.monostat.us National Geographic www.supporthexperience.com Novoflex www.hpmarketingcorp.com O’Connor www.ocon.com Pag USA www.pagusa.com Panpilot www.panpilot.com Panther www.panther.us Pedco www.pedcopods.com Peter Lisand www.peterlisand.com Plume (Handi-Pod) www.plumeltd.com Promaster www.promaster.com ProMax www.promax.com Quad Pods www.quad-pods.com Quik Pod www.quikpod.com Rabbit Audio Video www.rabbitav.com Ries www.riestripod.com Ronford-Baker www.ronfordbaker.co.uk Sachtler www.sachtler.com Sima www.simacorp.com Skycrane www.skycrane.com

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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drag and can feel quite smooth in the beginning and under moderate temperatures. Over time, however, the once-smooth pans and tilts will become rougher. In extreme cold or heat, these heads can be considerably stiffer or looser than you’d like.

Our Three-Legged Friends

Legs are most commonly made of aluminum, but some lighter-weight designs are carbon fiber. And yes, some are still made of wood. In fact, there are some cinematographers who swear by these “sticks,” claiming they dampen some types of vibration better than metal or composites. All legs need to resist twisting during pans, even in the cold, when the head is often stiffer, or when using higher drag settings. Legs have a few different design

Heavyweight vs. Lightweight Even the best tripod designs become more stable with added weight. But lugging a heavy-duty tripod to a remote location can be backbreaking. There are a couple of solutions. The first is obvious: buy two tripods. If you’re in love with your head, then just get a second set of lightweight legs. The second solution is to buy a mediumweight tripod and hang either sandbags or water-filled weights on the spreaders. Just be careful not to hang too much on mid-level spreaders.

configurations. Those with a crutch or split-leg design do a very good job of resisting twisting, but their added material can make them heavier than one-piece models. Some legs lock into place with levers that flip horizontally or vertically; others twist; and some you extend, level and lock by depressing spring-loaded tabs. If you often shoot low angles, make sure to look at the specs for the distance

from the ground. With some designs, this measurement is made from the ground to where the head connects, so be sure to include the height of the head in your calculations. To get as low as possible and to increase overall stability, many tripods incorporate removable spreaders that secure all three legs together at the mid-point or bottom. Finally, how the rubber hits the road (or rocks, or sand or wood) will

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be your last consideration. If you will be shooting on varied terrain, be sure to at least have feet that convert from rubber to spikes. Setting up on a rocky, windy cliff with flat rubber feet might get you great footage, but only after you’ve collected the pieces. Tripods have three basic leveling methods. The fastest uses the ball-and-socket design with a single hand-tightened locking mechanism for securing in place. The second system uses a plate design and requires you to adjust its position by loosening and tightening on two axes. The last design is the slowest and really has no separate adjustment for leveling. It requires you to lengthen or shorten each leg to get that “zero bubble.”

Smooth Moves

You automatically give your production a big-budget feel by gracefully moving the camera up, down and/or sideways. You make these types of shots by using a dolly, jib, crane or motion-stabilization device similar to Steadicam. Not long ago, most of these systems were too expensive for most of us to consider buying, but there have been many recent innovations that have made many affordable.

Kessler Crane KC8 Steadicam Merlin

Dollies can be anything from a glorified skateboard with a camcorder plate to complete ride-on carts that use various kinds of track for creating smooth-as-glass motion. There are many parts to these systems that all need to have tight tolerances, so it’s hard to single out any one for close scrutiny. If possible, this is one piece of equipment you definitely want to try before you buy. One inexpensive design simply adds three wheels to the bottom of your tripod. This may be a good solution for moving your camera from one place to another like in a gym, but don’t count on it to provide the smoothest shots.

Microdolly Camera Dolly System

Glidecam X10 System 01

One person can operate smaller jibs and cranes, and many can be broken down and stuffed into a mid-sized vehicle. Most use weights to counter-balance the system, and some even allow you to control the pan and tilt from the operating end. Like tripods, the heavier systems tend to be more stable but also require more weight. Along with cost, setup and breakdown time should be a major factor in your decision. Several manufacturers now make motion-stabilization devices that once were the exclusive domain of Steadicam. As with dollies, it is best to try before purchase, as they can vary so greatly in their feel and operation. Most use articulated support arms with a series of springs and tensioning devices attached to a vest. Unlike dollies, jibs and cranes, these devices require a lot of practice, and using one can be quite fatiguing. Be ready to invest several hours of practice to get consistently well-framed shots that are not only smooth but also in focus. But, after you get the hang of it, you may find that trusty old tripod spends more time in the truck than your dog. Contributing editor Brian Peterson is a video production consultant, trainer and lecturer.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13472 in the subject line.

34 251_Camcorder Supports BG.indd 34

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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User friendly design.

Functional design with tilt lock and friction control conveniently on the left.

Control counterbalance in four settings.

Perfection from all points of view. Manfrotto invites you to discover the new 503HDV video head. A head with revolutionary technical mechanisms, including the new Counterbalance System that gives controlled balance in 4 positions and an illuminated bubble level for low light situations. Finally, a head designed to work the way you do. The 530HDV is perfection just waiting to be experienced.

To locate a Manfrotto dealer with products on display and in stock

go2 www.bogenimaging.us

Manfrotto US subsidiary: Bogen Imaging Inc. 201 818 9500 www.bogenimaging.us info@bogenimaging.com

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Getting the Most Out of Your Actors or Subjects

251_Creating_Characters1.indd 36

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Pinning up photos is a simple way to get a feel for the actors you want for your characters and to remind yourself of those you've interviewed and may consider casting.

glider pilot who can best carry your story’s main theme? If you do have a choice over your subject, don’t feel limited to making it human. A pet, a city, an institution can all be made into subjects that deliver your message and spark strong emotion in your audience. For both fiction and non-fiction, your character will have certain physical and mental qualities that contribute to your story. Is your character particularly strong, ugly, courageous, creative or smart? Anxious, sedate, compliant or headstrong? Even what may at first appear to be perfectly average characters will have qualities that have either landed them in their current predicaments or have shaped their responses to the events around them. More interestingly, just how did your character develop these qualities? Did your character develop physical or mental capacities by overcompensating for real or perceived weaknesses as a child? Be careful, however, not to focus on just one strength or weakness. If you do, you will create a two-dimensional character, one that is little more

Controlling Time Flashbacks are a common way to tell your subject's back-story in your movie. Also, even if you never reveal his future in your story, by telling your actor his subject's future, you help him to create a more rounded character.

than a caricature. Watch any superhero flick and you’ll know what we mean. It is your job to show your audience how your character uses or is used by these traits to either achieve some goal or be thwarted from it.

What & Why

As five year-olds, we all tortured our parents with the simple one-word question, “Why?” It is the same question that beleaguers every director when an actor whines, “What’s my motivation?” But it is perhaps the single most important question you can ask in developing your character. What does your character want more than anything else – and why? If you simply reveal that your character wants money, fame or power, you’ve done little more than produce a local news piece. You don’t have to be Woody Allen to know that people want these things to satisfy deeper cravings. It is these cravings that you must uncover and reveal, either explicitly or implicitly. Is your character’s quest for fame a search for fatherly approval? Is a bid for power a band-aid over a powerless or abused childhood? How you reveal these deeper and universal wants will determine how much your story develops as a psychological portrait. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction. Other important Whats to include in your character analysis are: What is your character willing to do to achieve a goal? Sometimes exploring what the character won’t do can set up an intriguing reversal later in the story. What

Future Present

Past

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VIDEOMAKER >>> Ap ri l 2008

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stands in the way? A powerful person, a corrupt institution or a 125-pound German Shepherd? What choices does your character have?

get the point. As the director, it is your job to keep the psychological underpinnings of the character alive in your actors, particularly if they are ama-

teurs. We can all recall forgettable films where we’ve remarked, “They wouldn’t have done that!” In fiction, every word and gesture must be believable and

Where & When

Where can be both physical and metaphysical. Physical locations will certainly give a sense of place for your character, but, for our discussion, the more important consideration is the metaphysical or psychological location. We’ve all had this where queried of us by confused friends who ask, “Where are you coming from?” It is by illustrating this place in your character’s

FLASHBACKS CAN BE USED TO REVEAL YOUR CHARACTER'S MOTIVATIONS.

#9930

psychological journey that you create a three-dimensional quality. It should be the sum of all your character’s experiences to date that form this Where. Knowing this gives you a roadmap to guide your character through the events presented in your story, and it will help determine if your character grows or remains unchanged. Both possibilities exist, and both reveal important aspects about your character. Don’t forget that you control time. Flashbacks, flash-forwards and historical recountings are all devices you can use to reveal your character’s motivations. They are also very useful in foreshadowing events in your story.

#9950

How

OK, How isn’t technically a W, but it occasionally tags along for the ride. This is perhaps where non-fiction and fiction end their character-development similarities. You either have a script or not, so we’ll look at both here. Fiction demands a script. A script demands actors. Actors demand direction. Directors demand…oh well, you

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SubScriber

Alert!

You may be contacted by unauthorized subscription agents asking you to renew your subscription. These companies are not authorized to represent Videomaker nor are they affiliated with us in any way. Please do not give out any personal, payment or credit card information to the companies listed below. Videomaker will not accept orders from these companies and if you choose to renew through them you will likely never receive any issues of Videomaker. Please do not renew your subscription by mail, phone or Internet through any of these unauthorized companies:

The interview is one of the most important parts of docu-making. Get the subject talking about feelings and reactions, not just facts. Then cover the interview with the most compelling B-roll.

“in character.” This means having a complete understanding of not just the words on the page, but the back-story as well. This back-story, sometimes called a character analysis or study, reveals all the mundane and sordid details that may not reveal themselves anywhere in the script but that give you, the director, the power to interpret how the character would respond in nearly any situation (see sidebar). For documentary or reality projects, a staple of this genre is the inter-

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Character Analysis Checklist Answers to these questions may or may not become part of your script or outline, but they are important in developing believable characters.

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Physical qualities Psychological characteristics Likes/dislikes Relationships Education Past successes/failures Formative childhood experiences Good/bad habits Dreams/aspirations Strengths/weaknesses Morals Main motivation

view. An interview is more than asking the right questions. Yes, you need to do enough research to formulate questions that elicit meaningful answers from your subject, but you also need to know when to simply shut up. This is much harder than it sounds, especially when you think you know what you want your subject to say. Always have a follow-up question in your head, but try letting silence, even an uncomfortable one, motivate your interviewee to volunteer an aspect of the story you hadn’t even considered. Stringing together a series of even inspirational interviews is usually not enough to develop a three-dimensional character. You must also show your character revealing aspects of personality and doing the things described, either through re-creations or other visual evidence. If your subject is anxious, be ready to grab closeups of wringing hands, fidgeting feet or darting glances. Creating interesting characters forms the core of any successful story. The more a story deepens or broadens our understanding and empathy with human achievement and struggles, the more we become immersed in it, enjoy it and even learn from it. Contributing editor Brian Peterson is a video production consultant, trainer and lecturer.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13756 in the subject line.

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2/7/2008 11:56:11 AM


In today’s films, it seems everywhere you look you see Visual FX. Visual FX are powerful tools when used correctly, but they are often frowned upon when they’re used for the wrong reasons.

Tutorial

By Paul Del Vecchio I like to use Visual FX to enhance the story I am trying to tell. If they have a purpose, make the shot look better and help tell a story, why not use them, right? The problem is that many people don’t know where to start. A few years ago, I was one of those people. However, by learning some Visual FX, I am now gearing up for my next film – a story I’ve been wanting to tell, but previously could not because I did not have the budget or knowledge of Visual FX. By learning a few Visual FX, I can now tell this story while keeping my budget extremely low. Therein lies the beauty of Visual FX: helping you tell your exciting story while keeping your budget low. My story is an apocalyptic one, but I’m sure you can find a way to apply this effect to your projects. In this demo, we'll be setting a house on fire. For the following tutorial, I will be using Adobe After Effects, but the methodology carries across to other apps like Discreet Combustion, Shake or Sony Vegas.

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BURN, BABY, BURN! Let’s face it. Many people become interested in Visual FX because they’re borderline pyros. I am not an exception to this statement. I love carnage and chaos (fictional, of course), so let’s get started.

Step 1: Find Your Fire

First, you need stock footage of fire and/or explosions. Before you go out and spend $600 on one stock footage explosion, do some research! You may be able to film it yourself (I don’t recommend it) or find cheap stock footage on the internet. I personally use www.DetonationFilms.com for my stock fire and explosions. They’re insanely cheap but great quality! Once you have a library of fire/ explosion footage, you can move on to the fun stuff.

Step 2: Make Your Background

Most fire footage is filmed over a black background. To remove this black background, you could use a Luma Key (Effect>Keying>Luma Key) and key out (remove) the darker areas, but there is a much easier solution: change the transfer mode of the fire footage to either Add or Screen. This essentially removes the black background and gives the fire a little bit of a glow. Add will give you more of a glow than Screen.

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VIDEOMAKER >>> Ap ri l 2008

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2/7/2008 11:30:47 AM


Step 3: Set Your Scale

Next you want to scale down the layer to fit inside the houseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s window. Click on the layer in the timeline, and press S for scale. The scale properties will come up. Click on the layer in the Composition window. A bounding box should appear that shows you the borders of the footage. Grab any side, and scale down the footage of the fire to fit inside your window. If you hold the Shift button while you scale, it will uniformly scale your image, preserving the aspect ratio. If the fire is too transparent, you can duplicate the footage (CTRL+D), and set the lower layerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s transfer mode to Lighten. Be careful, though, as this may overexpose your fire footage. If this is the case, apply an Exposure filter (Effect>Color Correction>Exposure) to your top fire footage layer, and bring the exposure setting down to match your footage. Of course, you can cycle through the transfer modes and see what looks best for your footage.

Step 4: Tweak for Reality

Next, you may want to saturate or desaturate the fire element to match your live footage. In this case, we need to desaturate the footage. Apply the Hue/Saturation effect (Effect>Color Correction>Hue/Saturation) and slide down the Master Saturation until it matches the footage. Here, I set the value to -56. Do this for both of your fire footage layers.

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Step 5: Burn It!

For the finishing touches, depending on the type of footage you have, you may want to add a little grain (Effect>Noise and Grain>Noise) or blur (Effect>Blur and Sharpen>Gaussian Blur) to match your live-action footage of the house. Here, I added a very small amount of Grain and set the Gaussian Blur level for both fire layers to 2.0. A plug-in that completely eliminates the flame transparency

issues when using a transfer mode is the Walker FX package (www.digieffects.com/products/walkerFX). It creates an alpha channel from the black background, thus resolving the transparency issue. Below is a picture of the results. Notice the transparency issue is resolved. You no longer need to add multiple layers of fire footage to fill in the transparent areas. At $149, it’s a great deal! Thanks, Digieffects!

Final Product

Your fire footage should blend pretty well with your background footage. Of course, there are no universal settings for these effects, due to different exposure settings, cameras, lighting conditions, etc., so experiment and find out what works best for your footage. Experimentation is key. Use this as a foundation for your own little tricks and techniques. Experiment, experiment, experiment! You’ll be surprised at what you come up with. Be sure to check the online tutorial, and... oh.. the light saber FX? That's in an upcoming demo!

Web Link

Paul Del Vecchio is a “do-it-all” director and owns Triple E Productions, a movie/video production company .

FEEDBACK

Follow along with our text tutorial by downloading the video tutorial at www.videomaker.com/tutorial/13745

46 251_Tutorial_BurningHouse.indd 46

For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13745 in the subject line.

VIDEOMAKER >>> APRIL 2008

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2/4/2008 4:50:28 PM


BASIC TRAINING YouTube – Step by Step

by Ky l e C a s s i d y

Everybody’s jumping on the YouTube bandwagon, from cats and kids to vacation travelers and pros. It’s fun and it’s easy. Here are some quick tips to getting started. About ten years ago, I was really into the idea of video letters. Many of my friends and family lived in disparate areas of the country, and I always had fun making up videos of my daily routine, editing them down, dubbing them to VHS, sticking them in envelopes, addressing the envelopes and watching them pile up on the table by the door because I hated going to the post office. So envelopes would sit there, unmailed, gathering dust. Then along came the internet to the rescue, with video file-sharing sites like YouTube. Now you can shoot video, edit it and upload it to a central location, where your friends and family (and, if you like, total strangers) can watch it. No postage necessary! YouTube is actually very simple to use, but very often the most difficult part of the journey is the first step. So this month, we’re going to walk you, step-by-step, through publishing video content on the world’s most popular video-sharing site.

History

YouTube started out in 2005 and grew rapidly. Today, people view nearly a hundred million videos on it every single day. Google recently bought it for $1.65 billion. (That’s with a “b.”) So obviously someone thinks it’s a valuable resource and here to stay. Creating a YouTube account is one of the easier things you’ll ever do on the internet, and it’s an account you’ll use a lot.

48 251_C10_Basic Training.indd 48

Putting Your Video Online

There are a few simple steps to getting your video from your computer to

YouTube. The minds there have worked long and hard to make this as painless a process as possible. Sign Up Go to www.youtube.com and click the Sign Up button; it’s at the very top of the screen. There are several different types of accounts: Standard, Director, Musician, Comedian and Guru. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, but the Directors’ entries ostensibly are expected to be professional edited videos. Videos uploaded from Standard accounts are limited to 10 minutes; the Director videos can be longer. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your registration, and then you’re in. Prepping Your Video YouTube will accept most popular video formats: AVI, MOV, MPG and WMV. The format that YouTube uses directly is MPEG-4 at 320x240, 30fps, with 64k MP3 mono audio.

VIDEOMAKER >>> Apri l 2008

VM048__A8-0AR3-0

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basic training

320x240? Are You Serious? Yes. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re talking about internet bandwidths here and bit rates comfortable for people on dial-ups. If people want to see your video in HDV, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for another venue. What YouTube and others like it give you is easy access by a lot of people. Video quality is the trade you make. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a trade thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been trending that way starting with the low-cost (and low-quality) VCD format being extremely popular in Asia, and more and more people watching movies on their laptops, iPods and other portable devices. At the moment, 320x240 is where a significant part of the viewing population is. Uploading Your Video After youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve logged into YouTube, look at the top of the screen for My Account. Click on that, and then select Videos. From there, click on the button that says Upload Videos. (Figure 1) Enter a description for your video (Standard accounts are limited to 10 minutes or 100MB). This description will help people decide whether or not they want to see your video, so be as descriptive as possible. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re loading videos only for friends, Doug and Jimmy at the Zoo will probably be sufficient, but if you want people you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know to watch it, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll want to be more descriptive. Here you can also select options to make your video public or private and to allow people to comment, make video responses, rate your video, embed your video on web pages and blogs, syndicate it and make it playable on mobile phones. (Figure 2) Click Next and use the Browse button to find your video. (Figure 3) YouTube takes your uploaded video and converts it automagically to a flash animation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; this may take several hours or just a few minutes. When your video is on the YouTube servers, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see URLs you can send to people so they can see your video directly. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also find the HTML code necessary to embed your video on a web page or blog. (Figure 4)

April 2008

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basic training

Sharing and Watching Your Video There you go. Clicking on My Videos will take you to your collection of online videos. You can email the URL to all the people in your Address Book,

With YouTube, you have your own channel page to view your own videos you've uploaded and those you subscribe to or list as your favorites.

April 2008

you can embed the video into a web page and you can share, save and rewatch favorite videos of your own. It’s a great big video world.

Some Other Things to Consider

Aside from rating your videos online and leaving comments about them, your friends and family can subscribe to your videos and receive a notification every time you update your collection. It’s all much more convenient than all that nonsense with stamps and envelopes. And since YouTube eagerly accepts video from cellphones and digital cameras, it’s relatively easy for even non-skilled moviemakers to join in the fun. A word of caution: be prudent in your video sharing. It might not be a good idea to be posting online video showing that you’re on vacation in the Bahamas, when other videos you've

posted show the location and luxurious contents of your home. Another downside to this program is YouTube automatically picks a frame from the exact center of your piece to represent it – this can make or kill a video. You get two options to change it, made at about the one-third and two-thirds mark, but you don’t get much to fiddle with. Who knows, in 20 years there may be a rule of filmmaking that your most amazing, eye-catching scene must come exactly halfway through your movie, and nobody will know why..... So now, get sharing! Contributing Editor Kyle Cassidy is a visual artist who writes extensively about technology.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13530 in the subject line.

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DISTRIBUTION Distributing the Goods

by An d r e w B u r k e

From YouTube to those that pay, video-sharing sites have risen from the obscure to dominate internet users’ online experience. Which one is best for your video? Families are using video-sharing websites to send home video to other family members, while entrepreneurs are posting video to gather an audience larger than they ever had before. Video-sharing sites offer tremendous bang for the buck, if you have high-speed internet access. It's free to join most sites, and some even pay you for your efforts.

Defining a Video-Sharing Site

More people than ever are using videosharing sites. But what are they and how do they work? They are privately-owned websites that specialize in showcasing video, and they are designed with ease of use in mind. The website compresses and houses the videos, so we don’t have to do that on our computers. The sites allow us to customize our own microsite with the videos and send invitations out to family. A typical sharing site homepage usually has dozens of little pictures that correspond to uploaded videos, usefully organized into column

Brightcove.com is a website that helps users distribute their video over the internet. It has several services to meet their various needs.

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categories like Favorites, Most Popular, Most Viewed, etc. That said, sharing sites don’t require us to make our videos public. We can add a video to YouTube and alert Cousin Rita, without letting the rest of the world see it, too. To watch videos on a video-sharing site, we aren’t generally required to share. We can sit back and watch millions of videos without giving up any of our personal information or our own videos. But as Videomaker readers, we want to be active participants in the new distribution medium.

Caveats and Privacy

When you are searching for that perfect way to share, there are many things to consider. Research the features and stability of the sharing site. Can you open a private account, or does the site mandate that you be public? Be sure to read the fine print on this feature, especially if you wish to send sensitive family videos to family only. Also look for a Family Filter, which is a way to censor certain adult content that exists on most sites. Many sharing sites give subscribers the ability to create Playlists or Favorites, which is a great feature, as it ditches the need to type in a search every time you want to watch that one video… "where was that

great video again?" Unfortunately, you’ll likely have to divulge some personal information and sign up for an account to use features like this. Since you’re a content creator, too, and are looking for more exposure for your video work, be sure to find out if a sharing site gives you added features and a specific title. Many sites offer Producer or Director labels that enhance the way viewers can find your video masterpiece. Some sharing sites allow you to create a custom video player, containing multiple videos that you can use and embed in your own website. Still, only a few sites actually pay you for posting video. The higher your viewership, the more dollars (or euros) you can rake in on the side.

Recommendations

YouTube was instrumental in starting the online video craze. This site boasts the largest viewership of any sharing site, while also being one of the most heavily viewed and easiest sites to use on the web. (See our story YouTube - Step by Step on page 48 of this issue). It’s a great site for both families and entrepreneurs. Check out its Group function, and invite family and friends to watch your videos. You Tube has even asked Videomaker to

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DISTRIBUTION

April 2008

Blip.tv (image left, not Bliptv.com) helps its users find sponsors for their shows. In doing so, it has built a strong network of video content. SpinXpress.com (center) connects producers together to enable collaboration and file sharing. Expert Village (image right) is a repository for how-to videos.

provide some videos for its Help content (www.youtube.com/video_toolbox). Brightcove has added great functionality to its custom video player. You can make tabs within the player to distinguish different collections of videos (yours or someone else’s). After you’ve compiled the list you want to share,

Brightcove allows you to embed its video player almost anywhere, including on a personal blog, on a website or at MySpace. Blip.tv is a great source for watching episodic web shows and creating an audience of your own. It has an abundance of better-than-TV content and an intui-

tive way to share and distribute video, even to mobile devices like cell phones. SpinXpress is a great video-sharing tool, although the site works a bit differently from the others listed here. It’s for video producers who want to share high-resolution videos and other documents, like project files and shot logs. review Jan 9, 2008 I Jan Ozer | proDAD‘s Mercalli is a versatile and usable image stabilization plugin that produces excellent results on footage with a range of stability issues. In testing, it produced results that were clearly preferable to SteadyMove, and it proved much more usable than After Effects. So even if you have both of these options at your disposal, Mercalli is well worth a look, especially since it only costs $119.

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DISTRIBUTION

Tubemogul.com allows users to centralize their online video uploads, making it a one-stop distribution shop. Tubemogul also tracks views.

There isn’t a big viewing audience to woo, but it’s a valuable tool that enables small groups of videographers to work with one another on the same video. Expert Village is an interesting site for the entrepreneur. Its mission is to

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april 2008

create the largest library of how-to videos. And they pay handsomely to producers that ship loads of quality videos. Byron Reese, CEO of Expert Village, says that they buy around 10,000 videos monthly. “They get paid every Friday, like a regular job,” says Reese. Expert Village is a terrific destination if you want to make and sell video. TubeMogul has a fun concept: a tool to easily track your video if you’re using multiple sharing sites. To really get a video “out there,” you’re going to want to send it everywhere. TubeMogul lets you manage and check your video stats for almost every sharing site. There’s still an abundance of up-andcoming sharing sites on the web. One of these budding sites may be the perfect niche for sharing your video with people of like interests. It could be a boon for video producers who get in early to reach a new audience.

What’s Expected for 2008

Video-sharing sites are starting to become integrated into social networks and regular ol’ websites, just like our Videomaker Lounge. Look for sharingsite functionality to become as popular as other website features like blogs. Also, some sites are targeting those who want to watch HD video and who have the proper internet connection to enjoy it. Video compression technologies and speedier Wi-Fi should make it happen. Video-sharing sites are fun and easy to use. There simply aren’t many drawbacks, unless, of course, you’re stingy and don’t want to share. Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.

F E E D BAC k For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13590 in the subject line.

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Editing Polished Work

by M o r g a n P a a r

From rough cut to finished product, you want to deliver the goods as cleanly as possible. Here are the Seven Steps to Creating an Excellent Polished Work. Your goal with your rough cut is to lay down your shots in the order in which you wish to tell your story. Chances are, if you’re producing a narrative, you decided the order of your scenes in pre-production, and you now just need to follow your storyboard as if it were a recipe and assemble the clips accordingly, picking the “best” take for each scene. Many documentaries “write themselves,” as the characters describe the subject matter. Either way, in the rough cut, you lay down the shot video and associated audio in the order you wish to tell the story, cutting out everything that does not move the story forward. Now it’s time to polish the rough cut into a smooth, shiny finished product. Unlike the rough cut, where you were lumping together footage to see how the juxtaposition and timing of clips

worked together, the polishing requires that you take out your “digital magnifying glass” and work on more of a frame-by-frame level of adjustment. Let’s look at seven aspects of the final edit that we’ll call the Polish Edit.

1. Edit Room Floor

We'll start with one of the most difficult of the steps: killing your favorites. This is not technically difficult, but it is psychologically hard. The general rule is that you should cut everything that does not move the story forward. But what about that unplanned shot of the rare ivorybilled woodpecker that flew out of the jungle and landed on the head of the Bengal tiger that walked onto the scene during the magic hour while your camera just happened to be rolling? Cut it! It’s difficult to be objective with Many professional video editing applications will allow you to have these edits, especially if multiple timelines open at once. If this is the case with your edityou are the one who shot ing software, consider using multiple timelines to piece together a the video. Many times rough cut on one timeline and deleted scenes on another. you need to listen to oth-

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ers who tell you that something is not working. It’s interesting to watch on DVD the extended director’s cuts of major Hollywood films to see scenes cut out of the original theatrical releases. Nine and a half times out of ten, you’ll find that it was appropriate to remove those scenes.

2. Total Running Time

Most times, especially for a paid editing job, you will have a TRT or Total Running Time limitation that you must observe. The strictest example of this might be a segment for television. If you make an hour-long show for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), it will be not 60 minutes, but 52 minutes and thirty seconds – not one frame longer or shorter. If you shoot a wedding video or a short video for a film festival, you may have more leeway. Otherwise, you need to know your parameters and keep them in mind as you polish your way to a final cut.

3. Continuity and Transitions

We are putting continuity and transitions together because, as you check the continuity between your clips, you may decide to use one transition or another to assist with the continuity. As we have

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editing

April 2008

of the scene. Or perhaps a lightning-fast ten-frame wipe will get your point across better. Use as many frames as you need to best transition between your clips.

4. Sound Effects/ADR and Other Non-Natural Audio

Smoothing out transitions will require you to roll up your sleeves. As you move transitions forwards and backwards, your software may show the in and out frames in the preview monitor for accuracy.

said many, many times before, on the pages of the Videomaker magazine and website, your most-used transition will be a straight cut. But if you are editing a documentary and you need to slice up a locked-down, talking-head interview (static, tripod-mounted, medium-closeup shot), you may find yourself needing to use cross-dissolves, especially if11/1/06 you KF.DivaLite.VM1106.pdf

don’t have many cutaways or B roll. Also, when using rendered transitions such as cross-dissolves, remember that you can adjust the length of the transitions, if you have ample heads and tails on the clips you are affecting. Don’t always use the default 30-frame/one-second crossdissolve. Maybe a long three-second cross-dissolve will add to the emotion 4:31:05 PM

You may have added some sound effects during the rough-cut process, but sound effects, ADR (Automated or Automatic Dialog Replacement, aka looping), Foley (recreating and syncing incidental sounds such as footsteps) and other non-nat sounds usually happen after “picture lock,” when visual editing is complete. There is not much point spending time inserting sound elements into scenes that you might cut, so you usually start enriching the audio after you have a fairly solid rough cut, at the very least. Here, the old adage “less is more” still applies.

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editing

April 2008

jority of unbearable films at film festivals can credit their demise to poor sound. Good sound, of course, starts on location, but it ends with sweetening. Are the levels for every single sound element perfect? Your VU (volume-unit) meter or audiometer is your friend here, but not the final authority. An editor’s ear and common sense should determine the best decibel level for each element of audio. The main point is to examine each sound unit individually and then together with the other sounds in the scene, to make sure the levels are perfect.

Pay close attention to your audio mix. Visually, you can do this by playing back your rough cut and watching the VU meters for the main mix, as well as for the separate audio tracks.

6. Rhythm

It’s not the “big” sounds such as explosions and gunshots that are going to make your work excellent; it’s the subtle sounds. Viewers may not even notice background sounds like birds, wind, traffic and dogs barking in the distance, but they will notice if they are not there. These little sounds are naturally around us everywhere, every day. Stop for a moment and just listen to your audible environment. Now think about putting those sounds in your work. Do you have a scene in a dodgy, urban neighborhood? Well, make that police siren seem to come from way off in the distance, not up front, and you have the beginning of a rich soundscape.

5. Sound Sweetening

Sound sweetening is a time-consuming and maybe even painful process, but it’s so important. The ma-

This section does not appear towards the end of this article because it is enacted last; a good editor is thinking about rhythm even before she/he first sits down at the edit bay. An editor should always be conscious of rhythm. Producer/director Jim Jarmusch often listens to different types of music before and during an edit to put him in the “rhythmic mood” he wants for the edit. Good editors will often shave or add as little as a single frame, one-thirtieth (or one-twenty-forth) of a second to keep the rhythm. This is a frameby-frame procedure. Perfect rhythm can make or break an audience’s attention.

7. Color Correction

Color correction is purposefully last. This should be the final step for a couple of reasons. As with sound effects, there is not much point in finetuning the color of a clip if you will only edit it out later. Plus, new high-end color correctors or color grading applications, such as Apple’s Color, are stand-alone apps, not plug-ins or effects that work within the editor. Grading is to the picture what sweetening is to the sound. It deserves vast amounts of time to be properly tweaked. It’s not a one-click adjustment. Good grading can make the difference between having a good video and a great video.

Polished

There you have it: seven steps to a polished final cut. The main idea is to take the time and have the patience to zoom in close and make the fine-tuned adjustments that will make your video better than great, to make it perfect. Contributing editor Morgan Paar is a nomadic producer, shooter and editor, currently teaching high school video production.

FEEDBACk

Color finishing can be the most time-consuming for individuals. Look for applications that have an auto-correct feature to help save time.

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For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13506 in the subject line.

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Directing Directing Documentaries

by Robert G. Nu l p h , P h . D .

Documentaries are about real people in real places doing real things. Documentaries were the first films ever made.

In the late 1800s, the Lumière brothers presented Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), the first commercial moving picture venture. Since the early years of documentary production, directors have had to decide how best to present their stories. In this column, we will look at documentary production and the story, aesthetic and technical decisions you as the director have to make.

In the Beginning

Documentaries can be very personal stories, but you also have to pay attention to some distinct requirements that come with the production of this film form. Always remember that the content will dictate the form the documentary will take. However, it is you as the director who makes the ultimate decisions as to the style and look of the piece. You will determine what the audience sees, hears and understands about your subject. Don’t be naïve enough to believe that your documentary will not have a specific point of view. If you

are passionate about the subject, your film will have a point of view, and you have to determine what that POV is. Make sure your story’s information is accurate and clearly presented. Keep in mind that your story has to be of interest to your audience and involve a compelling character or group of characters. Once you have that story, it is time to consider the technical aspects.

A Question of Format

You will need to decide what format you want to use to shoot the documentary footage. Do your research to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each format. Film, DV and HD are all very different animals in terms of

FIGURE 1: How important are lighting and color temperature? These two shots, one "warm" and one "cool," were taken at the same time; the videographer just turned to face a different direction. In editing, you would never be able to cut these two shots together.

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equipment, lighting requirements and tech. When making your decision, take into account the accessibility of your subject matter and any difficulties a specific format or its equipment might present, the cost of each format and how the final project will be viewed. For a project that will be seen only on the web, it doesn’t make much sense to shoot it on film. Inversely, shooting on Mini DV will not give you the picture quality you need to show your documentary on the big screen.

Equipment

Choose equipment that will let you do what you need to do to tell the story. If you are going to spend days walking through the jungles of Africa or some other exotic location, you probably do not want to carry a large camera and a lot of gear. The script will dictate the type of equipment you use. Make sure you know your equipment well, so that you control it and it does not limit you. Don’t forget lighting requirements. Good video starts with great composition and good lighting. If you must shoot with natural light, make sure you carry a set of reflectors and bounce cards. It is amazing how just a little bit of lighting control can change the look of a shot.

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Directing

Clean, clear audio is very important, especially on documentaries. Hire someone whose sole purpose is to monitor audio and track levels.

Shooting

When shooting a documentary, you need to really know the ins and outs of your equipment. What camera settings will give the look you want? You may be able to survive mostly on factory settings, but do some test shoots in similar light conditions to make sure the results will be to your liking. Always check your iris settings. Never use auto iris unless you have to pan or tilt from a bright image to a darker image or vice versa. For this, put your iris on auto, and make the move slowly enough to allow camera time to compensate for changing light levels. Underexposed scenes get a muddy look that is very distracting. However, if the iris is open too far, the whites may be blown out and may cause a buzzing in the audio. Always watch your background. Do not shoot with bright windows and exterior doorways behind your talent unless you want a silhouette. White balance every time you change location or even the direction you are shooting. In Figure 1, you can see the effect on color temperature caused by just turning around. The author took these photographs three seconds apart, literally taking one shot,

April 2008

turning and shooting the other. Since the shots were photographed using film, there was no chance to white balance. As it is, it would be impossible to edit the two shots together without having it look like you shot the footage on two different days. Keep your shots simple and clean. Do not move the camera unless you have to. If you do have to pan or tilt or zoom, make the movements so they are smooth and at an equal tempo. When possible, use a tripod or other camera support. Nothing says “home movie” more than a shaky camera with no design to the movement. This isn’t to say you can’t do tracking shots with your talent; you just have to be very careful that, if the camera is not supposed to move, it doesn’t. To shoot very smooth tracking shots, get close to your talent, and zoom out as far as you can without distorting your talent’s face. Slowly walk beside or in front of your talent, rolling on the balls of your feet, keeping the camera as even as possible. If your camera has an image stabilizer built in, your tracking shot should look smooth and professional. Don’t forget cutaways! Beginning directors often forget these little details. Get shots of the world around you, the sights and sounds that are very much part of the story. You'll be glad, later when editing,

if you want to mic your talent with a lapel mic or boom mic. Although some disagree, general opinion is that, if you can afford a boom operator, the shotgun microphone mounted on a fishing pole (boom pole) can be less intimidating to the interviewee, and you have more control over the sound. Lavalier microphones are not only visible, they are also harder to control, because they pick up a wider sound pattern. You can hide a lav mic, but you have to monitor more closely for mic disturbances caused by clothing or jewelry. Non-professionals also have a tendency to play with the cables and the mic and feel uncomfortable wearing the mic. The boom mic, placed just out of shot, is easier to blend in post for a fuller and rounder sound. If you have only one mic, be sure the sound is as pristinely clean as possible. Unplug the fridge and turn off the air charger or anything else that may make noise, including all house, office or cell phones. You can blend lav and boom mics with more experienced sound mixers and elaborate equipment. Either way, always record 30 seconds of room tone while on location. After the interview, have your crew sit quietly while you record 30 seconds of natural background. This will help the editor remove background noise and fill in blank spaces.

Sound

Never take sound for granted. If at all possible, hire a sound person whose sole responsibility is the audio for your documentary. As a director, you have to monitor what your subjects are saying, but you should be listening for content, not for whether the audio is soft or loud enough or if there are extraneous sounds. Camera operators cannot split their attention well enough to shoot and listen. When choosing your audio equipment, decide

Place the camera close to the interviewer, so the subject is shown in a 3/4 angle, as opposed to a profile, which isn't flattering. He shouldn't look directly into the camera, which can make viewers uncomfortable.

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Interviews are an integral part of most documentaries. Unless the script calls for it, don’t have the subject speak directly to the camera. Sit or kneel directly to left of the camera at lens level and have interviewee talk to you. Set your camera up for the subject's comfort, not yours. The lens should be level with the subject’s neck, the center of a typical medium closeup (ofttimes called a bust shot, because it is from the bust line to a little above the head). Get to know your subjects; don’t feel like you have to jump right into the interview. Talk to them as you set up, explaining what you are doing and what your documentary is all about. Always turn off the tally light on your camera. It is a good idea never to tell the interviewee when the camera is on. Videotape is the cheapest component of your project, so shoot away. Often, if the subjects don’t know the camera is rolling, they will provide candid and very real performances. Most importantly: listen! Be attentive, ask follow-up questions and explore what the subject has to say. Go into the interview knowing what you are looking for, but be open to finding surprises. Keep track of everything your subject says. Always think of B-roll shots. When editing, you will want to let the images tell the story, so make sure you shoot well-lit images that support what your subject is saying. The less we see of the interview, the better.

Discovery in the Moment

Finally, don’t forget the emotional center of your piece. Every good documentary has a compelling story with strong characters. Don’t just talk about the people and places, go there, show them and capture the essence of the moment. Document real people in real places doing real things. Contributing Editor Robert G. Nulph, Ph.D., is an independent video/film producer/director and teaches video production courses at the college level.

FEEDBACk For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13541 in the subject line.

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AUDIO Sound Control

by Hal R o b e r t s o n

Compression makes vocals easier to hear and volumes more consistent and brings out sounds that might get lost in a complicated mix.

Audio compressors are a staple in the production world. Every time you watch TV or listen to music, you’re hearing audio compression at work. If you’ve ever messed with a compressor, you know they have lots of knobs and buttons. But don’t let that scare you. With this simple story, you’ll have everything you need to put the squeeze on your audio tracks, giving them the professional sound everyone wants.

The Rules

Most audio compressors have a few standard adjustments. The rules for these features are the same whether you’re using a hardware compressor or a virtual model plugged into your audio software. The first adjustable option is Threshold. Threshold refers to the volume level at which you want the compression to start working. Measured in decibels or dB, a normal setting might be -10 to -20dB. The lower the threshold, the more compression you’ll hear. The next setting is Ratio – the actual

compression applied to the audio that reduces its dynamic range. A simple example is the standard 2:1 ratio. When volume increases by two decibels, the compressor will increase only one decibel upon output. The next two settings are related: Attack and Release. Measured in milliseconds, the attack setting determines how fast the compressor will react to the incoming audio. A short attack setting will catch most of the big audio spikes and keep them under control. A longer attack setting lets

Virtual Compression Software processors have transformed the audio production world. Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for racks full of gear, now you just install a small bit of computer code. The best part is that you can use multiple instances of that code – as many times as your computer will handle. This means you can have a compressor on every channel that needs one. Maybe one compressor works great on vocals, while another type is better suited to music duty. Don’t forget that there are many freeware audio compressors on the internet. Try several until you find the ones that work best for your production style.

66 251_C4_Audio.indd 66

some transients through, allowing the compressor to do its work on the average level. The release setting, also measured in milliseconds,

MOST AUDIO COMPRESSORS HAVE A FEW STANDARD ADJUSTMENTS. determines how long the compressor stays engaged. Shorter times allow the compressor to work very quickly and aggressively. Longer times offer a smoother result, averaging the effect of the device. The final setting is Gain or Makeup. When you compress audio, the actual signal level goes down; this is gain reduction. The makeup gain adjustment is last in the signal chain and allows you to compensate for reduced audio volume.

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audio

April 2008

Software compressors come in different shapes and sizes, but the main controls are the same. This particular compressor from Reaper features a Lowpass and Highpass filter in addition to the standard compressor.

compressor on the track, and open the adjustment section. We use Reaper’s ReaComp, but the principles are the same for most compressors. First, we’ll set a fairly short attack time of 20-30 milliseconds and a release time of around 125 milliseconds as a starting point. Depending on

PLAY AROUND WITH THE ADJUSTMENTS UNTIL YOU REALLY LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR. Not all compressors have every control. My first audio compressor was the venerable dbx 163 – a box with one slider labeled Compression and an arrow pointing toward More. How’s that for simple? At the other end of the scale, we have something like an Avalon VT-747 with tube circuitry, tunable filters and graphic equalizer – lots of knobs and buttons to deal with.

In Final Cut Pro, the compressor/limiter filter appears twice in the filter tab – once for each channel of audio. Each setting will have to be applied independently.

Compressor Tricks

In Use

Regardless of how much you spend, whether you use hardware or software, your compressor of choice has one job: keep audio levels under control. You usually insert compressors into the signal path before any tone controls or other processing. This provides an untarnished signal to work on. However, in the virtual world, it’s easy to place them before or after any other processor, offering unique audio treatment options. Let’s look at a couple of standard compressor applications: voice and music. You’ve recorded a nice, clean voiceover for your latest video project, but it just doesn’t cut through the speakers like you hoped. Insert a

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the voice, pacing and flow, we may adjust these settings up or down to achieve the right effect. Next, we set the compression ratio. In this case, a simple 3:1 ratio will work for our content. We may lower the ratio if the compression sounds too aggressive or raise it if there are too many volume fluctuations. All the basics are set now, but you won’t hear the compression working until we lower the threshold setting. A good starting place is -20dB. Listen closely to the effect, and play around with the adjustments until you really like what you hear. Use your system’s bypass function to listen to and compare the pre- and post-compression results. Compressing music is similar, but with different settings. Longer attack and release times will help retain some of the musical feel, while a lower ratio will provide smoother compression. The threshold should be higher too, depending on the overall level of the piece. A setting of -5 or -10 is a good starting point. Again, you’ll have to listen to the effect and adjust to taste. As with most signal processing, less is more. Many compressors offer another input called the Sidechain. Sidechain inputs allow you to

Yet another example of software compressors, this Broadcast Processor features auto gain control as well as three bands, to which the filter is applied uniquely.

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AUDIO

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An uncompressed audio file (image left) and a compressed file (image right) are hard to discern visually. The highlighted area shows the area where the compressor is hard at work.

trigger the compressor with another source. Every digital audio workstation approaches sidechaining differently, so youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to figure out how to patch this together on your own DAW system.

THE END RESULT IS A BRIGHT, CLEAN, NATURALSOUNDING VOCAL. One common use of a sidechaining is Ducking. You can use Ducking to automatically lower the volume of a music track during a voiceover. With a lower threshold and higher compression ratio, you can feed your voiceover track into the music compressor for a slick, professional track. Another use for the sidechain is DeEssing. It does exactly what it sounds like â&#x20AC;&#x201C; removing or minimizing the S sound from voices. The voice track is split (or duplicated) and run through a bandpass filter to isolate the offending frequency range. This signal is plugged into the sidechain input of the vocal compressor and only compresses the signal when this frequency is present. DeEssing is common practice on music and voice recordings. When you get it right, the

result is a bright, clean, naturalsounding vocal.

Compressors Galore

Do a quick Google search for â&#x20AC;&#x153;freeware vst compressor,â&#x20AC;? and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find dozens of options. Some of them will emulate the classic compressors from the past, while others will walk their own paths, yielding some very interesting results. One final type of compressor is the Multi-Band compressor. JBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Broadcast Processor is a perfect example. It splits the audio into three bands and applies separate compression settings to each. This is how mastering engineers and radio stations process their sound to get maximum clarity and loudness. In any case, the professionals use compressors on their projects every day, and you should too. Open up your audio software, download a few compressors and play with the sound. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never used compressors before, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be surprised, even shocked at the difference they make. Happy compressing.

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Contributing Editor Hal Robertson is a digital media producer and technology consultant.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13517 in the subject line.



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WHAT’S LEGAL p r o d u c e r ’s r i g h t s

by Mark Levy and Gina Gullace

How Fair Is Fair? Copyright Law and Fair Use

Originally, copyright laws were meant to protect people in creative fields from intellectual property theft. The judiciallyadded “fair use” concept allows for the honest exchange of words, music and images for the good of the artistic community and the culture at large.

Copyright Law

Copyright law gives artists and writers the right to claim exclusive ownership of their original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic creations; to profit from sales or other uses of the work; and to demand compensation from anyone who uses the work in whole or in part in any context or for any purpose. Copyright protects an artist’s personal expression of concepts, but not ideas, concepts, systems or factual information in the work. So, for example, Gone with the Wind is protected as Margaret Mitchell’s story about the Civil War, but the concept of a Civil War novel is not protected, nor is the idea of a love story between a brooding hero and a spirited heroine, nor are historical facts. As a copyright owner, you have the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to: a) reproduce the work in copies or sound recordings; b) prepare derivative works based on the original; c) distribute copies to the public by sale or rental, lease or loan and perform or display the work publicly via live or digital transmission, including images from a motion picture or other audiovisual work.

Fair Use

The fair use principle describes exceptions to general copyright law and limits these rights. Fair use allows users to copy portions of a work in a review for purposes of illustration or comment or to quote short passages in a scholarly or technical work, in order to illustrate or clarify the user’s observations. Journalists may also quote speeches or articles. They may transmit images

72 251_Legal.indd 72

or sounds associated with a work in or near a newsmaking event. Libraries may reproduce portions of a book to replace missing or damaged pages, and teachers or students may print small parts of a book or essay to illustrate a lesson. Parody is also fair use. For moviemakers, the issues of fair use most often involve addition of music to a video, reproduction of video images from other films and/or use of dialogue from other works. Courts consider and balance four factors in determining the fine line between fair use and copyright infringement.

Factoring In

Factor one is the nature of the work in question. Factual works are more likely than creative to pass the fair use test. The second factor is the purpose and character of the use, especially whether for commercial or non-profit educational purposes. E.g,, De Beers runs a diamond ad with a song by Landon Pigg, a relatively unknown musician. Clearly, the music helps De Beers sell its products, so it may use the music only with the artist’s permission. However, teachers who use the song to teach marketing students about using sentimental music to lure buyers, or to teach music students about melody lines and phrasing, probably wouldn’t need permission to copy. The third factor is the amount and substantiality of the excerpted work in relation to the whole work. Landon Pigg’s song runs for several minutes and has 225 words. De Beers uses about 5 seconds and a mere 42 words, but that is enough to convey the tone and meaning of the recording. Even a casual listener can walk away humming the melody, and so, again, permission is needed. The fourth factor is the potential effect the use will have on the value or potential market for the work. You could argue that Landon Pigg is getting free exposure from the ad. But say an unscrupulous

hacker were to download the song and make copies to sell for a quarter apiece. People who have heard and like the song but are unwilling to buy a whole CD might pay the hacker a quarter, thus reducing the economic value of Pigg’s creation and causing him to lose money.

Play Safe

Even if you believe your use of material is fair use, be safe and get permission, which often costs little or no money. Acknowledging the source is not enough. So do the research, write the letters and get approval, if possible, from the copyright holder of any work you want to use. This can save you time, money and headaches. When in doubt, consult a copyright attorney.

Public Domain

There’s no need to get permission to copy items in the public domain. The complicated issue of how long a copyright lasts might be a future topic. To read more, check out www.copyright. cornell.edu/public_domain. [See also this issue’s In Box, page 6.] For now, here’s the rule: anything created after January 1, 1978 is protected by the Copyright Act, even if it hasn’t been registered in the U.S. Copyright Office, for the author’s life plus 70 years. (For multiple creators, it’s the date the last person dies plus 70 years.) For a “work made for hire” by a company or corporation, or if the creator’s date of death is unknown, copyright term is 120 years from creation. Attorney Mark Levy specializes in intellectual property law. He has won many amateur moviemaking awards. Gina Gullace is Levy’s research assistant & editor of the Amateur Movie Makers Association’s AMMA Monitor.

FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editor@videomaker.com, use article #13772 in the subject line.

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April_2008  

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