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mediacaster broadband & content

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contents

volume 3 number 1 www.mediacaster.com

Lee Rickwood EDITOR (416) 510-6865 lrickwood@mediacastermagazine.com James A. Cook SENIOR PUBLISHER (416) 510-6871 jcook@mediacastermagazine.com Anne Miron ART DIRECTOR Gary White PRODUCTION MANAGER (416) 510-6760 Lily Malicdem CUSTOMER SERVICE (416) 442-5600 ext 3547 Cindi Holder CIRCULATION MANAGER (416) 442-5600 ext 3544

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Alex Papanou VICE-PRESIDENT Bruce Creighton PRESIDENT

features

EDITORIAL DEADLINE Five weeks before publication date mediacaster is published 4 times a year, serving Canada’s cable and related industries, by Business Information Group.

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HEAD OFFICE: 12 Concorde Place, Ste 800, Toronto, ON M3C 4J2 Tel: (416) 442-5600; Toll Free: Canada 1-800-2687742; U.S.: 1-800-387-0273 Fax: (416) 510-5140 ISSN 0840-9153 www.mediacastermagazine.com

Broadcasters, Operators, Technologists Still Waiting for Media Convergence

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Remembering Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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New Funding Support

SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Subscriptions in Canada and U.S. $45.95 for one year; foreign $59.95 (U.S. and foreign in U.S. funds). Single copy, $5.00; Directory, $46.95 each. Canadian subscribers must add GST and Provincial tax where necessary. gst registration #809751274RT0001. For reprints call: 416-510-6871 Publications Mail Agreement 40069240. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Circulation Dept. Mediacaster, 800-12 Concorde Place, Toronto, ON M3C 4J2. USPS#016-247. US office of publication: 2424 Niagara Falls Blvd. Niagara Falls, N.Y. 143040357. Periodical Postage Paid at Niagara Falls, NY, USA. 14092. Postmaster send address correction to Mediacaster, P.O. Box 1118, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304. From time to time we make our subscription list available to select companies and organizations whose product or service may interest you. If you do not wish your contact information to be made available, please contact us via one of the following methods: Phone: 1-800-668-2374; Fax: 416442-2191; E-Mail: privacy officer@businessinformationgroup.ca; Mail to: Privacy Officer-Business Information Group, Suite 800-12 Concorde Pl., Toronto, ON Canada M3C 4J2 Copyright © 2008 by Mediacaster® Magazine. All rights reserved. The contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the Publisher.

For Cultural Media, Video Gaming

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Independent Spirit at VFS Hits the Heights with HD

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regulars 4 12 20 22

The View from Here bits & bytes tools of the trade Parting Shots Three Step Plan for Improving Internet Profits By Brent Sampson

March 2008

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The View from Here

Should ISPs Pay the Freight? Musicians, filmmakers, digerati seek compensation for downloads and online activities

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Lee Rickwood editor

embers of Canada’s digital media content creation community are calling for cash! Efforts to find new and innovative ways to compensate content creators are dominating industry discussions, conferences and conventions - among other venues. One case in point — the recent Canadian Music Week in Toronto. The international music convention was packed with people whose main interest was courtrooms as much as concert halls, lawyers as much as musicians. Several standing-room only sessions helped attendees learn about music downloads, digital rights, new compensation methodologies and proposed solutions to the issues that are tearing apart the industry’s long-standing business model. Music file sharing has shown itself to be the popular way to get new tunes, but unpaid or illegal downloads are undermining musicians, composers songwriters and creators, conference attendees heard. However, most were in agreement that suing the fan was counter-productive in the long run. One solution — a flat fixed fee on Internet services, as proposed by the Songwriters Association of Canada (and others). The fee (say, $5) offers users potentially unlimited access to online music, but it hits everyone who’s online — whether they download tunes or not. Similarly, at the PrimeTime TV and Movie Producers’ conference in Ottawa, interactive media creators and online program distributors said want money from the use of their content, too. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should flow a portion of their collected service fees into a fund from which content creators would draw, they say. Of course, should any such fee be attached to

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online activities, it will find its way back to the end consumer eventually. Resistance from ISPs and telecom providers is likely more about having to convince customers to fork over extra money, than it is about losing bottom-line revenues. However, the tracking and administration of such fees — both collecting and distributing — remains a cloudy dark patch over many such proposals, also causing resistance and uncertainty. As well, you can bet that many of those folks who now get ‘stuff’ for free are resistant at the notion of having to pay for it — at least, without getting quality, access and other product guarantees in return. Restrictive digital rights management tools should be eliminated if universal fees are applied to downloading. Privacy and security should be protected. The throttle should be taken off Internet transmission speeds, and access restrictions 'neutralized' in the light of any fixed fees. In many ways, what was once seen as an invaluable and almost priceless product — the content itself — is today being seen as a loss leader for something else, something even more desirable. A new song is tied to an autographed CD or choice concert seating. The online video stream is a teaser for a console game or DVD at special ‘member’s prices’. Physical or digital content should be seen as more than merely the end result of a commercial transaction. It can form the basis of a cultural connection, one that adds value as the audience grows and a community is formed. Content creators and service providers must realize that, in today’s socially networked Web 2.0 world, building a community of interest with relevancy and integrity is just as important m as grabbing the cash.

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Go to SPEE


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delivery distribution

Broadcasters, Operators, Technologists Still Waiting for Media Convergence By Lee Rickwood

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he past few years have seen a move towards more interactive television (ITV) services, and what’s called single-screen applications: an advanced combination of high definition television with PC-like capabilities for data exchange, menu navigation, program guides and other interactive services. Convergence may be dead, but nevertheless, the North American distribution market — especially cable service providers — is looking to roll out new ITV technology and services as a way to attract and retain customers in the bundle battle. Now that the so-called tru2way (neé open cable) standards are ready for implementation and broader deployment, are we about to see an explosion of converged, single-screen ITV services from broadcasters and operators, or will the deployment be

delayed further as battles rage among cablecos, telcos and satellite operators. Good programming is more and more available through broadband delivery, and younger audiences especially are very comfortable when bypassing traditional TV platforms (VoD, PPV or otherwise). They’re using the Internet as a primary source of entertainment, and not just musical entertainment. And not just traditional TV, either. Sophisticated interactive capabilities mean that socalled alternate reality (AR) and multi-player video (MPV) online games and mash-ups are drawing audiences to more advanced set-tops (or gaming consoles) that support software-based interactive programming and related services. Interactive TV strategies and tactics for monetizing the single-screen must, therefore, open up

FAST FACTS DATA OVER CABLE SERVICE INTERFACE SPECIFICATIONS (DOCSIS) • international standard developed by CableLabs with tech companies such as: Broadcom, Cisco, Conexant, Intel, Motorola, Netgear, Terayon, and Texas Instruments. • includes two main components: a cable modem at the customer end, and a cable modem termination system at the CATV head-end.

WEDNESDAYS PM PT

Go to SPEEDtv.com for more details

©2008 Speed Channel, Inc. All rights reserved.

9 /10 PM ET


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delivery distribution The new tru2way user interface is shown in a mock-up from technology and service provider Integra5. The company is demonstrating technology solutions for DOCSIS 3.0 broadband environments that combine the interactivity of a PC with the high quality image display of a TV.

MORE FAST FACTS DATA OVER CABLE SERVICE INTERFACE SPECIFICATIONS (DOCSIS) • implementation enables via tru2way support for all cable services now delivered to set-top boxes and other devices, with planned implementation covering more than 90 million U.S. homes by the end of 2008.

the set-top box mentality and address emerging phenomena such as user-generated content creation and delivery; multi-media networking in the home or small office setting; multichannel satellite TV and IPTV subscription; even interactive telephony services. “The age of the closed, proprietary cable box is behind us,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said during a keynote address and recent unveiling of tru2way technology at the Consumer Electronic Show - the first such presentation by a senior cableco exec at the world’s largest consumer gadget gathering. Underscoring the new converging landscape is the announced partnership between Comcast and Panasonic, one that will enable cable service features and functions to be embedded into consumer electronics devices. “It’s a totally different business model,” Roberts explained. “The entire cable industry will support tru2way by the end of this year” when anticipated products from companies such as Panasonic, LG, Samsung Motorola, TiVo, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems hit the market. Also announced as a necessary and complimentary technology were specifications from DOCSIS 3.0, the next generation modem successor to broadband. DOCSIS 3 defines the newest ‘Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications’ for high speed distribution over cable networks. Earlier cable networks could only support limit-

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ed transmissions within a single downstream channel of around 40 Mbps maximum throughput. DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades support multiple channel usage technology, and shared downstream data rates of 160 Mbps or higher (and upstream data rates of 120 Mbps or higher). Here in Canada, Videotron has clocked speeds up to 98 Mbps (in early trials of so-called pre-DOCSIS 3.0 wideband technology from Cisco) via eight bonded channels: speeds up to 320 Mbps are theoretically achievable. The company is offering 30 and 50 Mbps Internet service packages, beginning with roll-outs in Laval. Videotron began beta testing Wideband technology in 2007 as part of its partnership with Cisco. “The new modem, developed in collaboration with Cisco, combined with our robust and reliable network, now make it possible for us to offer the full entertainment experience that connected families are looking for,” said Manon Brouillette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Content and Product Development at Videotron. As an example of the increased speed, Videotron described how its Ultimate Speed Internet 30 package makes it possible to download a music track in two seconds and a movie of almost 2 GB in about eight minutes. With Ultimate Speed Internet 50, it will take ten seconds to download a full CD containing 10 tracks and five minutes for a movie of almost 2 GB. No U.S. cable operators have yet to offer pre-certification DOCSIS 3.0 speeds to consumers, though


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delivery distribution Comcast promises to have 20 per cent of its footprint wired with the new standard by the end of this year. The open standards of DOCSIS allows content creators, broadcasters, cable operators and equipment manufactures to blend voice, video, data and wireless content into real-time applications that span a single screen — although that screen might be a TV, PC or mobile device — and a single delivery platform. Ideally, the platform communicates with either standard cable or tru2way set-top boxes, enabling companies to offer richly converged media services that operators can customize based on themes, affinity groups or other customer preferences. One such company, Israel-based Integra5, is demonstrating how quad play bundles can be blended into converged services for simultaneous delivery across TVs and PCs. For example, one of its service provider customers has commercially deployed a PC Caller ID application, powered by Integra5 technology, to increase market differentiation and enhance bundled service value propositions. PC Caller ID delivers notifications of an incoming caller’s name and number to a subscriber’s PC screen before the phone rings. The proven revenue — and loyalty-building benefits of early converged services — such as TV Caller ID - have led to service provider demand for additional applications that span all devices in the home including TVs, PCs, and landline and mobile phones. In a recent survey of Comporium TV Caller ID subscribers, more than 40% said they want to receive converged services across both TVs and PCs, and over 80% want more converged communications beyond caller ID. “TV Caller ID has whet consumer appetite for converged services, and as a result, we’re beginning to see operators take a more holistic view of all devices in the home, launching both TV- and PCbased services to deliver a seamless subscriber experience,” said Meredith FlynnRipley, CEO of Integra5. “With the network-based i5 CSP, service providers can effortlessly launch these advanced services to harness this significant cross-device market opportunity and stay one step ahead of the competition.” The first market launch of TV and PC simultaneous services will not be the last. m

MORE FAST FACTS DATA OVER CABLE SERVICE INTERFACE SPECIFICATIONS (DOCSIS) • DOCSIS Maximum Useable Speeds Downstream

Upstream

1.x 38 Mbps

9 Mbps

2.0 38 Mbps 3.0 152+ Mbps (4-ch)

27 Mbps 108+ Mbps

iConverter ® Managed Media Converters and Network Interface Devices. "Carrier-Grade fiber demarcation for Ethernet business services"

Technologies Supported: 10, 100, 10/100 Ethernet, T1/E1, T3/DS3/E3, OC3/STM-1, OC12/STM-4, and Serial RS-232/422/485 Module Types: Network Interface Devices, Copper UTP to Fiber, Fiber to Fiber, Coax to Fiber, Redundant Fiber and Copper, and 4-Port Copper Switches

"iConverter® is a Registred Trade Mark of Omnitron Systems Technology, Inc."

March 2008

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people note

remembering Sir Arthur C. Clarke:

Prophet of Satellite Communications Signals to ‘You People Down on Earth’

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, pictured here in his hand-built dune roller in 2003, was dedicated to his vision that technology could both help the individual and bring benefits to all mankind. Photograph courtesy Neil McAleer, author and official biographer of Arthur Clarke. Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography: Contemporary Books 1992

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cience fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died March 19, 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the age of 90. Telecommunicators around the world remember and honour Sir Arthur for making popular the concept of geostationary satellite communications. Clarke predicted that global connectivity would be possible via a network of geostationary satellites spaced at equal intervals around the Earth’s equator.

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As such, he almost single-handedly created the long distance telephone, radio and satellite TV, and weather forecasting business. Back in October 1945, Clarke published a little-noticed technical paper entitled Extra-terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage? in the British magazine Wireless World. The paper said that just three artificial satellites could be used as relay stations for Earth-based communications.


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ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. For more than 140 years, ITU has coordinated shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that assure seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

It took nearly two decades, but in 1964, Syncom 3 became the first geostationary satellite to finally fulfill Clarke’s prediction — and the first to relay a television transmission over the Pacific Ocean: coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo to the United States. Looking back on these developments, in another of his books, How the World Was One — Beyond the Global Village, published in 1992, Clarke wrote: “Sometimes I’m afraid that you people down on Earth take the space stations for granted, forgetting the skill and science and courage that went to make them. How, often do you stop to think that all your long-distance phone calls, and most of your TV programmes, are routed through one or the other of the satellites?” Today, there are hundreds of satellites in orbit and providing communications to millions of people around the globe. We cannot imagine the planet without dedicated satellites used for meteorology and weather forecasting; telecommunications and broadcast program distribution; banking and financial connectivity; even homeland security and surveillance. “We owe Sir Arthur our gratitude for helping to usher in the space age and, in particular, the use of geostationary satellites for worldwide radio coverage,” said Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in a memorial message. “Satellite communication systems have a huge potential to offer, promising highcapacity transmission capabilities over wide areas. They have an important role to play in bridging the digital divide.” Clarke’s predictions for humanity included not only the satellite communications network, but other now familiar concepts

From broadband internet to latest-generation wireless technologies, from aeronautical and maritime navigation to radio astronomy and satellite-based meteorology, from phone and fax services to TV broadcasting and next-generation networks, ITU continues to play a central role in helping the world communicate.

including earthquake prediction and prevention; the freezing of humans (for space travel) and human organs (for preservation and research); and space guard, a project for the mapping of meteorites and asteroids that could crash into Earth. Clarke wrote more than 80 books involving science, and science fiction. His short story The Sentinel served as the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other famous works include The Exploration of Space, The Promise of Space, The Fountains of Paradise, his semi-autobiographical novel Glide Path, and Childhood’s End. Before his death, Clarke was working on his latest novel, The Last Theorem. He was born on 16 December 1917 in Minehead, Somerset in the United Kingdom and moved to Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, in 1956. m

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New Funding Support for Cultural Media, Video Gaming

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ood fights are raging over national funding for Canadian television production, staining established entities like the Income Tax Act and the Canadian Television Fund. But content creators in the digital media space are apparently cleaning up, tapping into provincial programs that provide financial support for new media initiatives such as video games, multimedia production centres and digital publishing projects. The Department of Canadian Heritage has allocated $14.5 million dollars per year to the Canada New Media Fund for a period of two years. Administered by Telefilm Canada, the Fund is a national program which supports the creation and the distribution of interactive digital cultural content products. But provincial programs often offer as much funding, with fewer strings attached. British Columbia recently announced funding for the creation of new Internet activities and original interactive entertainment, with 10 teams have been chosen from the 60 applicant pitches received in January. These teams will take part in two Digital Development Labs where they will work with experienced industry professionals to expand and refine their proposals — and ultimately compete for $20,000 in development awards. Ontario has recently invested more than $2 million in separate new media projects: $1.7 for 13 initiatives under the Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund, and $1 million through a pilot Video Game Prototype Initiative. Ontario Media Development Corporation’s President and CEO Karen Thorne-Stone today announced OMDC’s investment of $1 million in the development of two video game prototypes. The latter investment, made through the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), gives game developers Digital Extremes of London and Silicon Knights of St. Catharines money to create prototypes for their video game concepts, the idea being they will showcase their ideas and attract financing from publishers to create final, market-

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ready video games. “At $35 billion in global sales annually, the video game industry is one of the fastestgrowing business sectors,” explained OMDC President and CEO Karen Thorne-Stone. “By providing critical support at the prototyping stage, OMDC is helping Ontario game developers to retain a greater share of the intellectual property and to demand higher royalty payments — which help to grow the industry and keep jobs in the province.” Digital Extremes’ prototype is a third-person action game with an old school horror theme. Target platforms include Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and PC. Founded in 1993 by James Schmalz, Digital Extremes proudly ranks as one of the world’s top development studios in the interactive entertainment industry. Headquartered in London, Digital Extremes got its foothold in the industry through the shareware craze during the early 90’s. Written entirely in assembly language, Epic Pinball was released 10 months after development began. Epic Pinball was one of the most successful shareware games ever made, trailing only behind such industry greats as Duke3D, Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. More recently, Digital Extremes’ Toronto studio completed the new first-person shooter, Pariah that shipped to stores in May 2005. Currently, both teams have convened at Digital Extremes London to develop its newest IP, the next-generation action game, Dark Sector that is poised, as with Unreal, to take the gaming world by storm. “Digital Extremes is honoured to have been chosen to participate in the Video Game Prototype Initiative,” said Michael Schmalz, Chief Financial Officer, Digital Extremes. “We feel that programs such as the VGPI will enable Ontario game developers to take more financial and creative control over major game development projects and help ensure the benefits of these projects stay in Ontario. We look forward to collaborating with the OMDC on this and hopefully other


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projects in the future.” The Silicon Knights game, which is a thirdperson action/psychological thriller, will be completed in 2010 and is targeted for all next-generation systems. Silicon Knights was incorporated in July, 1992. Its first games were real-time strategy/action hybrids for the PC, Amiga and Atari. While developing its last PC game, Dark Legions (1994), the company began to focus on writing stories and the creation of backgrounds for characters. This resulted in the company’s first action adventure game, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996) for the Sony PlayStation. In 2000, Silicon Knights became an exclusive second party developer for Nintendo during which time we created the critically acclaimed, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002). Later with Nintendo and Konami, Silicon Knights(r) created Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (2004). Most recently, Silicon Knights broke away from exclusivity with Nintendo and is now working with Microsoft and Sega. “We believe that Ontario, and Niagara in particular, is an excellent place for a company to thrive, and, with the OMDC’s funding through the Video Game Prototype Initiative, it clearly shows that the Ontario government is on the same page,” said Denis Dyack, President and founder of Silicon Knights. “Ontario’s best natural resource is our people, and with all the great universities and colleges in Ontario, there’s an abundance of bright and creative talent. Most of Silicon Knights’ team are graduates of Ontario colleges and universities, and our team members are the best and brightest in their fields. This grant will encourage this great talent to stay within Ontario.” Dyack added, “We hope that this new program will flourish and help expand the Ontario video game industry.” OMDC Video Game Prototype Initiative decisions are made by a review panel of established industry developers and publishers and OMDC staff, including jurors Andrew Ayre, Other Ocean Interactive; Jay Cohen, UbiSoft Entertainment; and Dan Winters, Activision. As well, OMDC announced another $1.7 million investment as part of the second year of the Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund. Thirteen separate initiatives are covered, including: • E-Content Portal - a pilot web portal containing newly digitized books in an easy to use database allowing professors to customize law and history course packs for their students.

• A feasibility study for creating a multimedia production centre in the Ottawa region. • Mobile Experience Innovation Centre - A research and development collaboration between major industry, SME and academic/research partners that provides a forum to analyze and begin to gather capacity for research, commercialization of research and strategic foresight for Ontario’s mobile content industry. • Gutenberg 2.0 - providing advanced technology skills for mid-to-upper level executives in Ontario’s book publishing sector. • Canadian Publishers Digital Asset Augmentation - a project to facilitate the entry of a variety of Canadian book publishers into emerging digital markets. • A cross-sector Digital Music + Media Summit (DMS) for Ontario’s music and digital media leaders to find new revenue opportunities through partnerships for the enhancement of the consumer’s experience. • Books-to-Screen Database - an online link for book publishers to connect with film and television producers. • DocAgora Ontario (DAO) - a project to create a marketplace and alternative models for crossplatform documentary/new media projects. • Livres pour le Canada francais - an initiative to market and distribute French-Canadian books in all of French Canada through print, bookstores and media outlets. The Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund is a three-year $7.5 million fund, first launched in September 2006 to stimulate growth in Ontario’s entertainment and creative industries. The most recent projects were announced by the Honourable Aileen Carroll, Minister of Culture and Kevin Shea, OMDC Chair. OMDC administers the fund on behalf of the Ministry of Culture. “Ontario’s rapidly-growing entertainment and creative cluster makes a significant cultural and economic contribution to the life of the Province,” said Carroll. “I am delighted that this fund brings together a broad cross-section of Ontario’s cultural media organizations to create the kind of innovative solutions that will reinforce their global leadership.” “These 13 initiatives represent 107 companies, institutions and organizations from Ontario’s book, film and television, music and interactive digital March 2008

" [The] rapidly-growing entertainment and creative cluster makes a significant cultural and economic contribution to the life of the Province...”

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media cluster,” said Shea. “The synergies created by these projects will inspire others and will help shape our burgeoning knowledge economy.” Other unique projects include: Toronto Green Screen, an initiative that will enable Toronto (and eventually all Ontario) film and television productions to be independently certified as environmentally-friendly; Virtual Music Community, an Ottawabased project of l’Association des professionels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM) to help FrancoOntarian musicians sell music on the Internet using i-Tunes-linked Select Digital service; and Game ON! a set of programs and services that brings together Ontario’s leading video games industry leaders, educators, trainers and government agencies for the purpose of “powering ON” the Ontario games industry. Among other provincial new media initiatives, BC-based content creators and producers are competing for a spot in the inaugural Digital Development Labs project, designed to support the creation of new internet activities and original interactive entertainment. The Digital Development Labs are made possible by grants from the CBC Regional Program Development Fund and BC Film with support from New Media BC. The winners of the CBC development awards will be announced in May. The finalists for the Interactive Entertainment Lab, developing new kinds of interactive entertainment are: Poke Tag Empire - Annie Spencer and Justine Warrington An internet series and interactive website that explores how people are using social networking tools to empower themselves, their communities and their planet. Coma State - Dwayne Beaver and Rudy Thauberger A science fiction thriller mystery in webisodic format, to be developed and solved by viewers. Follows the psyche of a prisoner held in a coma state by a robot “caregiver” as punishment for a murder. The Healer - Hugh McClelland, Baird McLelland Bioengineering creates a young man with strange powers. He and the online audience must unravel the truth about his healing ability and the promise it holds for the future - before its power destroys him. Moments - Brian Livesay and David Montie, Digital Zoaria A creative collaboration space for people to share and explore a digital web of “moments” contributed by themselves and others in an attempt to express things that have profoundly affected their lives. 12 www.mediacastermagazine.com

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Four Walls - Brian Johnson and Trish Dolman, Screen Siren Pictures An ensemble piece with four characters, four converging narrative threads, four acts, four simultaneously visible screens and music — all controlled by collaborating users. The finalists for the Interactive Functionality Lab, developing new activities for users of CBC.CA/BC are: The Green Pages - Erica Hargreave, Kris Krug and Boris Mann, Ahimsa Media and Raincity Studios An environmental “channel” for the CBC BC website, featuring videos, environmental events, “greensumer reports”, green listings, stories and community blogs. Code Green - Rick Beairsto and Tracy Major, Laughing Mountains Communications An interactive website based on the TV series Code Green — with tools to assess home energy consumption as well as helpful “how to” information. The site will help homeowners reduce their ecological impact, and save money in the process. Escape Vancouver - Gosia Kamela and Elizabeth Yake, True West Films An interactive, multi-player, first person game based on navigating an escape route out of Vancouver and a contingency plan for survival in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Local Heroes - Deepak Sahasrabudhe, Soma Television An interactive website where heroic British Columbians can be nominated, ranked by popular vote and honoured on CBC’s website and radio and television programs. What’s for Dinner BC? - Todd Allen An interactive website featuring archives and daily menus, cooking tips, and tasty ideas from a wide variety of BC Chefs (professional and non-professional). “It’s great to see the variety and depth of ideas from the BC technology and interactive community around online service, functionality and content offerings,” says Nicholas W. Jones, Creative Director, CBC Digital Programming & Business Development. “The submissions we received confirm that we have a robust technology hot-spot here in BC. I am looking forward to working with the lab participants to flesh out and refine their proposals.” “I expected the submissions to be innovative and provocative and they were,” says John Kalangis, Executive in Charge of Original Interactive Programming for the CBC. “What stood out for me was how rich with personality, passion and skill they all were. These qualities are the most important to me as they ultimately separate the good from the great.” m


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bits bytes

people, places and players making news on the Canadian digital media scene New Content Delivery Network Uses Digital Vending Machines

Facebook Users Get Conferencing

Can’t get enough media online? Try the corner store.

Individuals, firms, consortia, NGOs and research centres made proposals and recommendations for greening the film & television industry, including conducting baseline research to examine existing practices within the Toronto/Ontario industry (among all levels and forms of screen-based productions); creating a best practices Green Production Guide; and developing protocols and recommendations toward a Green Screen-Based Certification Program.

Having received initial expressions of interest from suitably qualified and experienced consultants, project evaluators and coordinators made their first selects, and have invited finalists to submit a full proposal, to be announced later in the year.

CBC Television is one of the first broadcasters in North America to use BitTorrent, the Internet based peer to peer file sharing technology, to release prime time programming. The public broadcaster made available “high quality, DRM-free copies” of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister available in several different formats – including an iPod version. Unlike dramas, which might involve an outside producer, there were no issues of rights or compensation for actors, writers or others. As such, the program is being distributed with no embedded digital rights management tools or restrictions. BitTorrent is blocked by some Internet service providers as it can be used for illegal sharing of films and TV shows

Planet in Focus, the International Environmental Film & Video Festival and the Toronto Green Screen Initiative aims to create a set of sustainable best practices protocols leading to a certification program for the Toronto film and television industry, using a third party verification mechanism.

CBC Uses BitTorrent for Program Distro

Best Practices, Environmental Consultants for Film and TV Industry

Internet Media Technologies, a Vancouver-based technology holding company, says it’s developing patented technology to distribute digital entertainment — including music, videos, TV shows, ringtones and more — using satellite connected kiosks and vending machines. IMT says it wants to integrate digital vending machines to sell digital content products, and enable customers to listen to a brief sample, or view a video trailer, prior to any purchase. The digital content product can then be downloaded onsite to a customer’s MP3 player, cell phone or company-provided USB flash drive. IMT says September 2008 will see the launch of its new content delivery network, made up of “Digital Docking Stations” and digital vending machines. Each location will stash some 3,000 to 5,000 movies in a kiosk-sized space, available 24/7.

Facebook users can get more face time with friends, family and business partners, thanks to Ottawa,ON- based mobile communications provider iotum. Blog, podcast, video conferencing and social media connectivity using free mobile-to-mobile calls via the Internet, is supported by iotum’s Conference Call Facebook app, under agreements with international communications partners. Conference calls have been created to hold public tele-seminars, private meetings, family events, New Year’s Eve countdowns, political discussions and to record multi-person podcasts, iotum describes. Founded in 2003, privately held iotum has racked up a number of prestigious awards recently, including the CATA Alliance Innovation Award for Emerging Technology Achievement; DEMOgod at DEMO2006, as well as Business 2.0’s Next Net 25.

The 2008 PIF festival will be held in Toronto, October 22 - 26.

PunkTV.ca Drops the Stream Metal and alt rock website PunkTV.ca says it will use a hybrid Content Delivery Network solution to deliver music videos streaming in up to HD quality to fans worldwide. Based in Edmonton, PunkTV.ca cites over 10,000 text, radio, video and photo assets. Plans call for what company CEO Dixon Christie calls “drop streaming solutions”, premium subscription and pay per view models in the first quarter of 2008. PunkTV is working with technology from Itiva, and itedded advertising when streaming video over the Internet. PunkTV.ca says the massively scalable peer-to-peer component of its delivery technology has helped it build momentum on the music scene, and allowed it to secure new deals with major labels including Warner MusicCanada. March 2008

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people, places and players making news on the Canadian digital media scene Board Sees Future of Digital Content

Bill Buxton, Principal Scientist at Microsoft Research will deliver the opening keynote address at nextMEDIA - The Future of Digital Content, and will speak to emerging trends around physical computing and a human-centered approach to technological design and innovation.

nextMEDIA takes place this coming June, in Banff, AB. Content creators, broadcasters, financiers, carriers, digital publishers, technology solution-providers and advertisers from around the world are expected to attend.

Buxton has spent more than 30 years observing how people use technology and applying those insights to the human-computer interaction field. A former musician, software developer and computer scientist, Buxton was the first winner of the Canadian New Media Visionary of the Year Award in 2000. He’s now a senior researcher with Microsoft.

Advise on the content and context for this and future nextMEDIA conferences will be steered by a newly-installed Advisory Board, consisting of some two dozen key business leaders and industry players, and a nine member Executive Committee: Bryan Segal, Senior Director, comScore Media Metrix Canada; Eli Singer, Director of Social Media, Segal Communications; Gavin McGarry, Integrated Media Consultant; Michael Kasprow, Creative Director / VP, Trapeze Media; McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves, CEO & Founder, The Nimble Company; Robert Montgomery, CEO, Achilles Media; Sabrina Geremia, Head of Business Development, Entertainment & Media, Canada Sales, Google; Sara Diamond, President, Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD); and Terri Wills, Manager, Nordicity.

Web Start-Up Recommends Accountants, Tattoo Artists A new online site for recommending products and services for sale or hire is open for business, following a successful invite-only trial. It opened as invite-only in November 2007 and recently launched a Facebook application, allowing people that are connected on the massively popular social network to help each other find the services they need. Now, with a solid base of members and a huge list of recommendations ranging from doctors to hair stylists, accountants to tattooists, the site is open to everyone. GigPark is the creation of Noah Godfrey and Pema Hegan, the Founding Publisher and Founding Editor-in-Chief of Dose, a free daily magazine in five major cities and a comprehensive online service (dose.ca) for young Canadians. Godfrey says word of mouth and online research dominate consumer purchase deci-

sion-making, citing stats that show some two-thirds (62 %) of consumers read consumer-written product reviews online, and 93% identify word of mouth as the best, most reliable and trustworthy source about product and service information. Prior to Dose, Godfrey also worked in Business Development at MTV Networks, Corporate Strategy at AOL Time Warner, and Investment Banking at Salomon Smith Barney, all in New York. He graduated with an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University. Hegan was an Account Director for the award-winning Canadian ad agency Rethink, and worked at Michealides & Bednash. Originally from New Zealand, Pema began his career at Young & Rubicam Advertising and then started his own media company, Sonar.

Shea Named to Intertainment Board Kevin Shea has joined the Board of Directors of Intertainment Media, the advertising and social networking solutions provider based in Richmond Hill, ON. Shea is the Chair of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Shea is also the owner and president of SheaChez Inc., a media industry consulting firm. As the former president and CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio as well as YTV Canada, he led both companies through the CRTC licensing and start-up processes. He also served as president and COO of the Global Television Network, and executive vicepresident at Bell Globemedia Inc. “I look forward to bringing my industry knowledge and corporate expertise to Intertainment and its Board of Directors. Intertainment has a very progressive group of product offerings and has an innovative platform to assist brands to build increased equity with their customer base,” commented Shea. Shea has also chaired the Toronto Tourism Recovery Alliance in the aftermath of SARS, sat on the Board (TV) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, as well as that of the Canadian Film Centre.

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people, places and players making news on the Canadian digital media scene NFB Extends Digital Outreach The National Film Board of Canada is extending its digital outreach, extending a DVD distribution agreement and piloting an e-cinema initiative in Atlantic Canada. The NFB gave Koch Entertainment’s Canadian division the rights to distribute more of its back catalogue on DVD for another two years. As much as 25 hours of additional programming per year will be made available under the terms of the extended sales, license and marketing agreement. Meanwhile, a network of e-cinema venues, operating in partnership with the Université de Moncton and local public libraries and arts organizations, is being piloted by the NFB. The NFB has equipped the New Brunswick communities for the duration of the three-year pilot project, and is responsible for the project’s installation and technical support. Electronic cinema allows smaller communities to download hard-to-get films instead of having to buy 35-millimetre film

prints from studios at about $2,000 a pop. E-cinema equipment is usually very light (it can be as simple as a server, a projector or an HDTV set and sound system), and so has expanded distribution potential, offering high-quality, cost-effective digital content to smaller community and municipal venues. “E-cinema is an opportunity for the NFB to reach out to Canadians wherever they are,” said Tom Perlmutter, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board of Canada. “We’re delighted to be offering a program of current and relevant NFB films, in French, on crucial topics expressing the reality of Acadian and Canadian life. This pilot project will be a model on which the NFB can base a Canada-wide network of community e-cinema.” Due to the massive expense that would be required to revamp North America’s thousands of movie theatres, Perlmutter says e-cinema is a long way from revolutionizing film distribution. “There are many small communities that

may not even have a cinema,” added Perlmutter. “And when they go to the local video stores, again the dominant offerings will be mainstream Hollywood releases. And even if they went to the trouble of finding smaller-budget films, which is sometimes hard to do, it’s a different thing when you have it as a cinematic experience, when you’re there watching it with this amazing quality that we’re able to provide with the HD projectors and servers.” E-cinema could eventually also be a boon to film producers in English Canada, who toil mightily to find audiences fotheir films amid the onslaught of American movies that hog theatres. “In English Canada, we always struggle to assert ourselves in the market in terms of feature films, and e-cinema could be used as an alternative network to build audiences for those films,” Perlmutter said. “Maybe they’ll do a first run in the commercial theatres and then be able to have a continued theatrical life through ecinema.”

Multi-Platform Content Creation Fellowship Launched

mediacaster broadband & content

Announcements of interest and relevance to the Canadian digital media and content creation industry may be submitted to mediacaster for possible inclusion in the magazine. Send your announcements to: editor@mediacastermagazine.com

Multi-platform content creators can hang with key players in the international digital and television content business, thanks to a new Telefilm Canada Content Creators Fellowship Program launching later this year, at V 29 of the Banff World Television Festival. Free registration for the Banff and nextMEDIA 2008 conferences, as well as a travel stipend and pre-arranged accommodation, are included in the Fellowship. The purpose of the program is to provide successful applicants the opportunity to meet in small group settings with leaders in the fields of creating, selling and marketing multi-platform content, organizers describe. By providing direct access to key executives, organizers added, the opportunities provided will help to break down the barriers that new entrants have in terms of getting access to the key industry decision makers who can help them turn their ideas into successful projects. The winners will be selected by a Jury consisting of three jurors. Mark Greenspan, Director of Digital Media for Achilles Media will sit on the jury as will one representative from the Banff Television Festival Foundation, and an industry representative. The Festival takes place at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, June 8 - 11, 2008. The Banff World Television Festival is a not-for-profit event produced by Achilles Media Ltd.

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continued from page 22 Concepts like “converting” the visitor come full circle when businesses add online advertising in addition to the more traditional, “paper” variety of magazines and newspapers.

2. Analyze, adapt and improve online advertising efforts.

Brent Sampson

With online advertising through Google, Yahoo, MSN and other players in the pay-per-click search engine marketing industries, businesses usually reap a higher ROI (return on investment) than through more traditional offline advertising. Additionally, online efforts are rewarded with valuable statistics that allow the advertiser to analyze, adapt and improve their efforts. For instance, online advertising is often measured in “cost-per-conversion” or CPC. The advertiser pays when the ad converts into action, typically measured when a user “clicks” on the ad to see more information about the business. At that point, it is up to the business to “convert” that user, either by acquiring a telephone number or e-mail address, which would constitute a “lead,” or by invoking a genuine purchase, which would constitute a paying customer. The number of times someone clicks on the online ad compared with the number of times someone becomes a “lead” or a “customer” provides the business with the CPC. When an online marketing effort is properly created, this CPC figure is available for every single ad in a campaign. The real trick to improving profits comes next: The business must analyze the CPC for each ad and make small, quantifiable changes. Does the CPC improve or worsen? By continually adapting the language in the ad and the website conversion page (usually called the “landing page”) a savvy business can increase the ROI through measurable means.

3. Leverage and moderate viral marketing. Ultimately, and ideally, a business may find itself involved in a “viral campaign” when advertising takes on a life of its own through the Internet. Viral marketing exists when there is a certain “buzz” about a business, product or service. As a result of that “buzz,” other Internet users share the message through social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook or YouTube. Suddenly, groups of people spread the word about the business, even though they represent no advertising expenditure. There are a number of ways to “kick start” a 16 www.mediacastermagazine.com

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viral campaign. For example, create a MySpace profile page or an AmazonConnect account and assign friends with similar interests. Write an article and distribute it through online article banks. Or better yet, write and publish a book about the business, product or service. Print-on-demand technology now allows individuals who never fancied himself/herself a writer to compose a non-fiction, informative book and sell it to the masses. Amazon, Google and eBay suddenly become untapped gold mines of new marketing opportunities or potential clients. All you need is a book. Too daunting? Start a blog on Blogger or Word Press; upload a video tour of the business on YouTube; create a community on Facebook that focuses on the benefits of the business.

The opportunities are endless. Brent Sampson is the best-selling author of “Sell Your Book on Amazon” and the award-winning, “Self-Publishing Simplified.” As president and CEO of Outskirts Press, a company offering full-service, on-demand, custom book publishing services to authors seeking a fast, cost-effective way to publish and distribute their books worldwide, he has helped thousands of authors with writing, editing, marketing and entrepreneurship. Sampson is also a member of the board for the Education & Literacy Foundation. For more information, visit www.outskirtspress.com. m


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Independent Spirit at Vancouver Film School Hits the Heights with HD By Lee Rickwood

2008 is off to a great start for the staff and students at the Vancouver Film School.

S

tarting with a number of KickStart emerging filmmaker awards, VFS graduates have received $20,000 each from the Directors Guild of Canada and BC Film. What’s more, VFS is upgrading the video technology used across its various media training programs; it’s moving from standard definition to high definition to better prepare its graduates for jobs in an ever-changing industry. Those grads, meanwhile, are already achieving success at unprecedented heights, both by embracing new technologies and taking on creative new challenges. For example, Dan Baas, a graduate of the VFS Film Production program, was packing for a documentary expedition to the Himalayas as this issue of Mediacaster Magazine was heading to print. Joining a crew of Americans and Russians, Bass is aiming for the summit of Annapurna — he is a talented cinematographer and experienced climber, but never to this extent — more than 8,000 metres above sea level. “I’ve shot film in the mountains before, but it’s never been a big project like this,” he said prior to departure. He’s eagerly anticipating the challenges and rewards of that project, much

as his alma mater is eagerly anticipating its own big project — as a post-secondary film and entertainment institution, it is leading the way towards an all-HD environment. VFS is replacing all its standard definition film equipment, working with Sony of Canada and its high-definition (HD) technology. Students in the graduate film program work with both film and digital video technology, shooting with the Sony PDW-335 XDCAM since last fall. Now, the school is rolling out Sony’s new PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX compact HD cameras, which record onto SxS PRO memory cards. The school will also be incorporating Sony HDV products into its various multimedia programs. Cinematography is at the core of VFS’ visual media education and handson production training. Running six full terms, with some 56 carefully constructed lessons and workshops, the program delves into the craft of camera operation, crewing, lighting, documentary and dramatic production, finishing and digital colour correction. Film production, management and financing are also taught. And taught well, by all accounts. VFS Film Production grad Neil Kopp March 2008

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Vancouver Film School resides in an historic building in downtown Vancouver - but the aged exterior belies a state-of-theart training facility inside, one moving towards an all HD media production acquisition and production workflow.

just recently won a prestigious award at the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards. Kopp received the Piaget Producers Awards for his work on Old Joy and Paranoid Park, Gus Van Sant’s new release. The VFS Film program equips itself as any production company would, and it acts initially as a film producer would, getting students to properly manage a production budget. With realistic financial backing for film stock, DV tapes, film processing, batteries, Polaroid film, cameras, and other rentals, students learn to properly allocate funds through the entire production process. Successfully meeting the budget enables students to move on to other creative responsibilities throughout the school term - not to mention the preparation for the real-world challenges of professional filmmaking. The new technology purchases at VFS are part of a long-term plan and partnership, noted Marty Hasselbach, Managing Director of VFS, underscor18 www.mediacastermagazine.com

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ing the fact that VFS is one of the few film schools to roll HD out to all its programs, including film, multimedia and related disciplines. For example, integrating HD technology is crucial for students in Makeup Design, as visual details which would ordinarily be lost with SD suddenly pop out in HD. “We always try to stay as far ahead of the curve as possible and moving to HD helps us maintain that philosophy,” Hasselbach said. “Sony has a strong reputation as a leader and innovator in broadcast and HD technology, so we saw the Sony brand as a natural fit for our school.” According to VFS, storage was a big reason the school selected Sony. Sony’s XDCAM HD technology, relying as it does on optical disc storage, was seen to enable efficient workflows and archiving processes — and if you think that’s important in a production environment, imagine asset management with literally dozens of students and hundreds of project assignments. Other optical disc benefits VFS plans to realize include excellent overall quality, storage capacity, low cost and proxy video support, with less time spent downloading and transferring video footage. It’s all part of a three phase deployment project. The first phase, which began last October, saw the school integrate the latest Sony PDW-335 XDCAMs along with HDCAM and other related production equipment into its graduate film program. Working with the help of local Sony partner Precision Camera Inc., the transition to HD has been extremely smooth, said Hasselbach. The biggest issue students encountered so far, he described, is adjusting techniques for shooting, lighting, makeup and set design to account for HD’s superior resolution. That experience, he said, will be invaluable for students in their future careers. The second phase involves the deployment of the new PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX compact HD cameras, which record onto SxS PRO memory cards. VFS is the first Canadian educational customer to deploy the leading-edge XDCAM EX cameras, Sony says. The final phase of the HD upgrade will see VFS roll out numerous Sony HDV products to its various multimedia programs. Sometimes a project calls for the Super-16 palette, and VFS filmmakers will still have that option. “The fact that a leading film school like VFS is


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moving over completely to HD proves that the industry is rapidly shifting away from standard definition to newer HD technologies,” said Brian Young, Marketing Manager, Acquisition Systems, Broadcast Communication Solutions Group, Sony of Canada Ltd. “And the fact VFS is embracing all of Sony’s core HD technologies HDV, XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD along with HDCAM — shows VFS has a full understanding of Sony’s product benefits along with their various applications. We’re looking forward to a long and successful partnership with VFS.” m

Using a range of core HD technology, including Sony PDW-335 XDCAMs and new PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX compact high definition camcorders, students at VFS HD are being well-prepared for cutting-edge careers in film and media production.

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tools of the trade HDTOUCHSCREEN FROM HAI The new OmniTouch 5.7 is a colorful “plug and play” Touchscreen interface from MAI, Home Automatin Inc. It features a 5.7 inch LCD display using TFT technology for rich colors and enhanced viewing angles, displays video full screen (Touchscreen Hub and Encoder necessary for video), has a built-in speaker, and built-in USB drive connector to allow easy firmware updates. It allows control of lights and small appliances, security and temperature settings, pool and spa temperatures, ventilation, decorative lighting, audio systems, surveillance video, and other items linked to an HAI Home Control system.

This HAI LCD monitor features a touchscreen interface

IKAN RACK MOUNTS ON DESKTOP NEW XSTREAMHD SOLUTION DELIVERS HD TO THE HOME

ikan’s new Uni-Racks are designed for rack-mountable audio/video equipment on the desktop. The Uni-Racks

XStreamHD’s recently-announced strategic partnership with

extremely stable. Both come complete with cage nuts and rack screws (a set of four for the Uni-Rack 2 and a set

pioneers of high-definition technology, DTS, Inc. and Seagate

of eight for the Uni-Rack 5).

Technology, will provide the first-ever transport network to deliver high-definition movies and music directly to the home,

(available in 2 RU and 5 RU configurations) tilt back at a 54 degree angle for comfortable viewing and are

The new ikan RM 4-25 rack mount is for control room environments. The all metal enclosed RM 4-25 contains

the company’s describe.

four 2.5 inch high resolution LCD

Offering up to 7.1 channels of DTS-HD Master Audio,

panels with front controls, a single

and featuring Seagate’s purpose-built DB35 Series hard

captive power input, and BNC

drives with up to an incredible one terabyte (TB) of storage,

composite inputs with full BNC

allowing consumers to use up to 2 TB of storage in one solu-

loop thru. The RM 4-25 also

tion, XStreamHD will provide access to HD movies, music,

swivels so the operator can

broadcast TV, electronic games, and more with unmatched

easily adjust the panels for the perfect viewing angle.

quality and convenience - without the limitations of program schedules or physical media.

New equipment racks, mounts and supports are available from ikan

X2O LAUNCHES NEXT GEN XPRESENTER PLATFORM Addressing the key steps in a digital signage workflow, from content authoring, scheduling and management, to distributio management and playout, X2O Media is launching Version 2.1 of its Xpresenter platform. Xpresenter 2.1 add a number of key enhancements, including Xpresenter Template Maker, which features the recently-patented and unique PowerPoint-based approach to content creation. Xpresenter includes an enhanced style gallery of graphics templates, video clip previewing, and tools for quickly resizing presentations to fit the varying dimensions of output displays. Xpresenter can be used in a variety of interactive configurations, including touch screens, and it can interface with or be driven by a number of different technologies including RFID, Bluetooth, magnetic stripe readers, and credit card readers.

Digital signage and broadcast display tools from X20

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QUANTEL DEMOS 3-D SOLUTIONS Fresh from its recent cross-Canada tour, Quantel is also showing off its Stereoscopic 3D post production technology, now being used in popular feature film and broadcast television titles, as well as an interactive, hands-on color correction tool, Pablo Neo. Stereoscopic 3D systems allow for real-time manipulation of 3D imagery, such as seen in recent releases from James Cameron, U2, Hannah Montana or Beowulf. Tools include realtime convergence, colorimetry, synchronization and editing. Stereo 3D options are available for 2K and 4K Pablo systems.

Pablo Neo is one of many Quantel products for 3D and DI workflows.

STREAMBOX MOBILE SOFTWARE ENCODER New software solutions for video streaming via broadband are available from Streambox. Its new Mobile Software Encoder uses ACT-L3 advanced proprietary compression technologies to provide unrivaled video quality at low data rates, with innovative error correction and bandwidth shaping technologies that enable users to correct the irregularities common to video delivery over satellite and IP/T1/E1 networks. The Mobile Software Encoder extends the news gathering capabilities of broadcasters, first responders, and citizen reporters, and it helps deliver live breaking news and events to the newsroom faster, smarter, and at a lower cost while at the same time powering video portals and social net-

Fusion F2 features 640GB of portable media storage.

working sites. A software-based solution ported to a variety of

FASTEST PORTABLE STORAGE

Windows mobile devices, the Streambox Mobile Software Encoder transports broadcast video over Wi-Fi and 3G networks for real-time and storeand-forward news coverage. The solution provides the ultimate in mobility without sacrificing performance, reliability, or quality.

The new Fusion F2 portable RAID storage system from Sonnet Technologies is designed for on-location video capture or remote use when grid power is unavailable. Fusion F2 features 640GB of storage, using two 2.5-inch drives mounted side by side in a rugged enclosure measuring just 5.9 by 6.2 by 0.72 inches. It supports data transfer rates up to twice as fast as a pair of FireWire 800 drives. Sonnet’s Fusion F2 features two eSATA data connections and is designed for use

Handheld streaming media solutions from Streambox Displayed

with the Sonnet Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34 adapter for the MacBook Pro and Windows notebooks. By connecting via SATA interface, Fusion F2 handily supports portable video capture in conjunction with an AJA Video Systems’ Io HD. Footage verification by a MacBook Pro/Fusion F2 system gives users the peace of mind to erase and reuse cards on location.

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A Three-Step Internet Plan for Improving Profits By Brent Sampson

Reality is catching up to the Internet’s potential. Online is where the customers are. It’s time for small and medium-sized business to follow suit. With Web 2.0 and the power of social networking, savvy companies are using the Internet to increase margins and improve profits. Here are some tips for using online resources to make your company more streamlined and profitable. 1. Go paperless wherever possible. Going “green” is one of today’s hottest business trends, but even before concerns about global warming made companies see the photosynthesis, the Internet was paving the way for a less paperdependent economy. Now the changes are so drastic they are literally depressing businesses that until recently were largely dependent upon paper - the post service and print publications, just to name two. Postal rates continue to increase and print magazine revenue continues to decline as businesses rely more on e-mail and online marketing to communicate with clients and acquire new ones. Following in the footsteps of the banking industry (one reason banks are relegating paper statements to the analog dustbin of history: money. Monthly statements printed on “dead trees” cost the bank dollars per customer, compared with just a few cents to distribute that same information electronically), for example, most businesses can experience an immediate increase in margins by invoicing customers and vendors via e-mail or through their own secure Web sites. A natural extension is to accept payments via secure servers. Most consumers are 22 www.mediacastermagazine.com

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confident in placing small orders through the Internet already - purchasing books on Amazon, for example - and as the fastest-growing online vertical, travel, can attest, those price points are climbing as customer confidence grows. In the wake of such trends, savvy business owners are encouraging customers and clients to use the Internet not only as a source of information, but as a convenient place to actually place an order. The number of website “storefronts” grows every year and many businesses are moving away from physical storefront launches in preference to virtual storefronts. Of course, receipts are then e-mailed to the consumer rather than printed out, another example of going paperless. When a consumer or potential client visits a business Web site, the goal of that business should be to share information, but also to “convert” the visitor. This can be done either by influencing a purchase, or acquiring some basic customer information such as an e-mail or phone number. Such tactics pave the way for another paperless endeavor: e-mail marketing rather than direct mail through the post office. continues on page 16


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