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Monday, June 30, 2008

Ray Harryhausen Turns 88

Stop motion animation master Ray Harryhausen turned 88 Sunday. You've undoubtably seen The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) or Clash Of the Titans (1981) he also produced or did special effects on dozens other films.

He began to make a name for himself making monster movies in the early '50s working with, among others, his mentor the great Willis O'Brien of King Kong (1933) fame.

Harryhausen is currently producing a new film War Eagles. A story originally planned to be made by legenday producer Merian C. Cooper with special effects by O'Brien but World War II intervened. The project was abandoned after the war but Harryhausen eventually acquired the rights and the movie is currently in Pre-Production.

Links:
Rays' official Site
Internet Movie Database Entry

Happy Birthday Ray!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Time Warp Ships

Mine should be here sometime next week!

From the Press Release:

NewTek announced it has begun shipping TimeWarp™, an external replay controller for the NewTek family of TriCaster™ products and VT[5]™. TimeWarp is a desktop controller that provides clip selection, marking and playback at selectable speeds, with complete external control of two digital disk recorders (DDRs).

“TimeWarp’s instant replay and slow motion is a great benefit for TriCaster and VT[5] production,” said Andrew Cross, NewTek’s Executive VP, Software Engineering. “Users will quickly be able to increase the quality and professionalism of their live production environment without the large, costly learning curves typically associated with new products.”

TimeWarp replay controller extends live production capabilities by providing a dedicated operator for video playback, and even allows for the flexibility of instant replay without requiring an additional replay box.

TimeWarp, which requires Software Update 2.0, enables producers to:

-Improve production quality by adding a dedicated replay operator
-Record a selected TriCaster or VT[5] input with instant access to that footage
-Surpass audience expectations with instant replay & slow motion at any venue
-Provide clients with productions that look more professional
-Mark in, Mark out, cue and play back clips without distracting the director

Friday, June 27, 2008

In an emergency...

The TriCaster portable live production studio is currently being used by Channel DMTV7, the city government station of Des Moines, Iowa, to produce and air daily press conferences and updates on the flood emergency after being forced to evacuate the City Hall production studios. Currently producing from the Des Moines Central Library, TriCaster is powering three press conferences and two thirty to sixty minute shows daily that keep residents abreast of flood-related developments.

Press conferences included addresses from Governor Chet Culver, Mayor Frank Cownie, Polk County Supervisors, as well as updates from the Emergency Operations Center, comprised of officials from fire, police, civil engineers, public works, Red Cross, etc. The production staff has moved operations twice since they left the City Hall studios on Wednesday, June 11. Currently broadcasting from the Des Moines Central Library, TriCaster is powering the channel’s entire daily production schedule, live news updates and council meetings.

“TriCaster has been an asset to those trying to safeguard life and property under unpleasant and unsure circumstances,” said Amelia Hamilton-Morris, Chief Communications Officer, City of Des Moines. “In fact, we’ve heard that people watching our TriCaster-powered channel have had no idea we are not in our normal studio. We’re looking to include TriCaster in our new studio update when we settle back in to City Hall.”
“In times of crisis, there is much information that needs to go out to the public and traditional broadcast outlets just can’t give the necessary amount of airtime. Technology like TriCaster allows city governments and first responders to broadcast emergency information 24/7,” said Philip Nelson, SVP Strategic Development, NewTek. “Adding in the flexibility to broadcast on television/cable, web stream and digital signage, more people can be reached when it really counts.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rendition Ships

Actually it shipped on the 20th. I didn't get the memo. In case you didn't know Rendition is a plugin for Adobe PhotoShop that lets you load and render lightwave objects directly in PhotoShop. This brings the photorealistic power of Lightwave to the PhotoShop user.

NewTek's Rendition Page
My previous post

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TriCasterOnline

Digital Arts is proud to announce our new online sales site TriCasterOnline.com

Here you will find a full range of TriCasters and accessories at some of the best prices on the web. All backed up by the service and support you expect from Digital Arts. We'll be adding more products as we go along so keep checking back.

The site has just gone live so if you run into any problems or have suggestions let us know.

TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade Ships

LiveText and the TriCaster 2.0 upgrades are shipping!

See the press releases here and here

Let's check the scoreboard:
TriCaster Broadcast May 1 On Time
Updated TriCaster Studio May 8 Four days Late
Updated TriCaster Pro May 15 Two Days Early
Updated TriCaster 100 May 22 Nine Days Early
TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade May 29 Twenty-six days late

This is pretty good compared to old days. Let's hear it for NewTek. Watch this space for a hands on review of LiveText.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stan Winston Dead at 62

Oscar winning special effects master Stan Winston died of complications from multiple myeloma Sunday at his home in Malibu.

Aliens, Terminator 2&3, Jurassic Park, Preditor, Edwards Scissor Hands, Batman Returns, A.I., Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull among other films. He was currently working on the next Terminator movie.

Stan Winston almost single handedly dragged the film industry out of the 'Man in a Rubber Suit' monster mode. It's a sad day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Apology for the lack of posting

Southern Indiana has been hit with severe flooding as have many other places. My house was relatively undamaged by the flooding aside from a couple of inches of water in the basement but my drive way was completely washed out when my four acre pond overflowed. I now have a 42 foot wide, 20 foot deep ravine crossing my driveway. See pictures here. This makes access to the house more than a little difficult. It also took out our electrical, water and phone service.

As you can imagine I've had little free time while we try to stabilize the pond too prevent further erosion. I'll be posting pictures eventually of the sand bagging we are did this weekend. Things should be returning to a more normal schedule and hopefully regular posting will resume.

NBC Streams Olympic Wrestling Trials

From this press release:

The TriCaster will be used to stream the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling live from the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas June 13th through 15th.

Coverage of this event will feature competitions in 18 separate Olympic wrestling weight classes in three distinct Olympic styles (men’s freestyle, men’s Greco-Roman, and women’s freestyle) on the program for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The live web cast, hosted by veteran wrestling announcers Van Stokes and Scott Casber, will be seen on NBCOlympics.com at 5:00 pm PST each day.

“While the finals of this event are being taped and broadcast on June 22nd on MSNBC, the most enthusiastic wrestling fans will be able to see all the qualifying action live this weekend” said Philip Nelson, SVP Strategic Development, NewTek. “TriCaster’s portability and ease of use is giving USA Wrestling the chance to deliver this live, extended coverage of the United States Olympic Team Trials to a worldwide audience.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Official Lightwave3D Contest

Contest begins June 6, 2008 - Entries accepted beginning July 1, 2008

Grand Prize:
1 Full license of LightWave 3D Includes FREE upgrades for 5 years to this license
1 Full copy of SpeedEDIT™
3D Content Pack: Sports Theme
Desktop Images Visual FX Series Training Series
1 NewTek Baseball cap
1 Limited Edition LightWave T-shirt

Friday, June 6, 2008

TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade Hands On Review

I've been using TriCaster 2.0 upgrade software on my TriCaster Studio for a week or so and I've got to say it's a nice update. NewTek has listened to the users and have tweaked a whole bunch of things. They haven't changed so much that users will need to be retrained but they've fix a lot of little bothersome things in the interface.

Little things: the misnamed VCRs are now DDRs Digital Disk Recorder, still misnamed (they don't record just play) but at least we don't have to explain that no there aren't any video cassettes involved. The record and stream buttons are larger and the labels are more legible and for the original TriCaster you get the record time counter that the rest of the TriCaster Line has had all along. The interface now sports a new Ext option for the overlay. This is primarily to support LiveText. I'll cover LiveText at a later date once I've got my hands on it.

You can also record the main output back to the hard drive but it now uses a high data rate MPEG2 format that is compatible with everything from Final Cut Pro to Sony Vegas. You also have the option of recording the Effects bus rather than the main out. This is to support the TimeWarp replay controller so you can do a camera iso.

TriCaster 2.0 includes the new Edit Text tab with a full blown Character Generator with which you can create titles for use in either the video editor or in a live switch. You can even create scrolls and crawls now. The CG is easy to use, it works just like the CG in VT[5] but the interface has been improved a little.

The editor has a lot of under-the-hood improvements. The big changes here include support for HD clips and color wheel color correction. You can render your project for use during live productions (with alpha channels even) of course but also for iPods, PSP, MPEG2 for DVDs, Flash and WMV.

The TriCaster 2.0 software also includes a standard VFW driver so you can use whatever third party streaming encoder you want so if you just must have RealMedia you can. It is also flexible about your monitor resolution, even supporting wide screen displays.

The Upgrade for the TriCaster Pro is priced higher than for the other models because you are getting upgraded to the equivalent of the ProFX with LiveSets and LiveMatte. The TriCaster 100 doesn't get the LiveSets or LiveMatte but gets almost all the other features though it still won't be able to stream and record at the same time.

All in all this is a good upgrade and well worth the money unless you just use a bare minimum of the TriCaster's features. The upgrade lists for $495 for The TC 100, ProFX and Studio and $995 for the TriCaster Pro. Call us for our price. (1-800-692-6442).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

...You Can Dodge a Ball

See this post Opportunities Abound and Part One.

Part one had some sports ideas but for the wedding guy how about Fashion shoots for the Bride, she paid six grand for the dress and all anyone in the church is going to get a good look at is the back of it. SloMo, SoftFocus, Fantasy Locations (did someone say virtual set?) let Uncle Charlie with his Digital8 camera match that.

Switch the ceremony live (or edit on your laptop) and show highlights at the reception. If you're going to edit, tapeless camcorders are the way to go. If your switching the thing live anyway you might as well stream it so the family on the other coast can see it even if they can't afford the flight.

In general move upscale, everyone has a camcorder and every computer that leaves WalMart has editing software installed, you can't compete with that by lowering your prices. This goes for a lot of the event videography gigs, if you set up a single camera in the back of the hall for the dance recital your video is going to be a snooze and the parents aren't going to pop thirty bucks for it. You've got to add production value.

Funerals are another growth market for streaming. Team up with the local funeral homes, they can do the marketing and billing for you. Making it a pretty simple gig.

More ideas as they pop into my head.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

If You Can Dodge a Wrench...

After my post Opportunities Abound last week I started thinking. There really are lots of opportunities out there if you think outside the box a little. I've got several customers complaining their wedding business is drying up. In some places a lot of the traditional corporate work is disappearing or going to lower budgets at best. So what's a guy to do when his bread and butter work gets thin on the ground? To mix a metaphor.

Sports - The world is sports crazy. If you have seen the movie Dodgeball you'll remember "The Ocho" (ESPN 8) well, I looked into doing an alternate sports streaming web site and I found web sites devoted to every sport I could think of. So find an under served sport (and you should use this term loosely) go for it. Speed Chess might just be the next Texas Hold'em - you never know.

My town has a semi-pro football team, I'm trying to cut a deal to stream their games. I'm probably not going to get rich but I bet I can sell advertising on the web site and it will raise my visibility locally for sure.

Demo reels for high school athletes seeking college scholarships. Parents shoot footage of games you edit highlight reels. Well healed parents hire you to attend games and shoot footage to then edit into highlight reels. Hint: get several parents to chip in towards your fee. Throw in a few interview segments to show how well rounded the athlete/scholar is and impress the recruiters.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An interesting Idea

Ted Ruiz a long time VT and TriCaster user postulates on a couple of different forums that one way that some independent film makers might be able to get their movies made would be to do multi-camera, live switched shoots. This could reduce costs etc.

An interesting idea and it sure triggered some interesting conversation on both NewTek's forum and Yahoo Groups. My favorite comment (emphases added):

"...Every single shot of a film is in and of itself of piece of art. If
you have ever shot a film or been on set you would quickly realize the reason your senses come alive in the theater is becasue of the pains taking appoach to each and every shot, angle, line of dialouge, lighting, lenses, etc, etc, etc..."
Chris Skala
LifeStyle Video
I guess I go to the wrong movies!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Surprise SpeedEDIT Update 1.5.5

According to John Perkins over at NewTek:

"It is an incremental update to SE 1.5.1, so you should have the 1.5.1
update installed first.

It fixes several file reading problems
Fixes NTSC DVCam (Sony SD) MXFs
Fixes MXF audio problems on files over 2GB.
It fixes several MPEG reading/seeking/file length problems.
It adds support for TriCaster 2.0 projects
Adds an optimized reader for the TriCaster 2.0 I-Frame MPEG capture format."
Just thought you all should know. You can download it from Register.newtek.com as usual.