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July 2007 Archives

July 1, 2007

Dell Colors on CNET TV

Rich DeMuro of CNET TV covered the Dell event that I blogged earlier in the week at Macy's Herald Square in New York City -- introducing the colorful new Inspiron notebooks.

I have a cameo starting at around 38 seconds in -- don't blink or you'll miss it ...

CNET TV - Dell's new colors - 6/26/07 - http://www.cnettv.com/9710-1_53-28104.html

July 2, 2007

Summary: CyberLink PowerDirector 6

CyberLink PowerDirector 6 is designed to make video editing straightforward and simple, especially for home users who want good results quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

While PowerDirector supports higher-end features like the new high-def formats and widescreen DVD, its focus is on "magic" automated assists for video editing, and sharing through portable devices (Apple iPod and Sony PSP) and the Web (YouTube).

Key new features include improved Magic editing tools, advanced options for PiP overlays, support for high-definition video and widescreen aspect ratios, a new DVD template designer, and easy publishing on the web.

There's now just a single version of PowerDirector priced at $89. Released in March 2007, it's available as a boxed retail product, or as a 417 MB download.

You can try out CyberLink PowerDirector for yourself by downloading the trial version from the CyberLink website -- it's a 30-day trial with some other limitations, and 192 MB.

The PowerDirector interface is built around a four-step workflow, using the Mode buttons at the top of the screen:

Capture mode: Capture from camcorders (DV, HDV), TV, PC cameras, CD, DVD
- Batch capture, Detect scenes
Edit mode: Import Media, Trim, Fix/Enhance with Magic Tools
- Add Effects, PiP Picture in Picture Objects, Titles, Transitions,
- Audio Mixing, Voice-Over Recording, DVD Chapters, DVD Subtitles
Produce mode: Export to Video File, Streaming Video
- Write to DV/HDV Tape, Upload to YouTube/MediaMax
Create Disc mode: Author and burn DVD, Design menus

See full article: Summary: CyberLink PowerDirector 6, on these workflow modes and highlighting the new features.

See the Video Editing Software Gallery with related products, consumer and professional.

    Find CyberLink PowerDirector 6 on Amazon.com.

July 5, 2007

Adobe Soundbooth: Audio for Video (Updated)

Adobe has just shipped the last part of its Adobe Creative Suite 3 -- the CS3 Production Premium suite of video tools -- including the new Adobe Soundbooth for audio editing

Adobe Soundbooth is targeted for creative professionals without the deep audio expertise of users of Adobe Audition. Soundbooth is all about quick and efficient preparation of audio tracks, so it focuses on the key tasks in preparing audio clips for use in video productions -- recording, editing, cleaning, and enhancing.

Soundbooth brings the magic of Audition's advanced technology into specific tasks, and allowing you to experiment dynamically with adjustable parameters. As a bonus, it also provides looping tools and the AutoComposer for customizing royalty-free soundtracks.

See my updated article: Adobe Soundbooth: Audio for Video

See Hart's Audition blog for updates from Hart Shafer, the product manager for Adobe's audio products.

    Find Adobe Soundbooth CS3 on Amazon.com

    Find Adobe CS3 Production Premium on Amazon.com

Adobe CS3 Production Premium Ships

Adobe has shipped the last part of its Adobe Creative Suite 3 -- the CS3 Production Premium suite of video tools -- with After Effects, Premiere Pro, Encore for DVD, plus the new Soundbooth for audio (replacing Audition in the suite), plus the new tools from Serious Magic: OnLocation for video monitoring and recording. and Ultra for video keying.

CS3 includes some 13 applications, bundled in 6 suites, plus 6 additional technology components.

Besides the Production suite focused on video editing, Adobe also offers Design suites (featuring Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign), and Web suites (featuring Flash and Dreamweaver). Or if you want them all, the full Adobe CS3 Master Collection is also now available.

See the Adobe Creative Suite 3: Summary article for details on the suites and the individual applications.

If you already have a Design or Web suite, see the earlier Adobe CS3: Upgrading to Master Collection post for information on upgrading with the Production tools.

See the Video Editing Software Gallery and DVD Authoring Software Gallery for information and links to editing and authoring tools.

See the Adobe Blogs site for insights on using the Adobe CS3 applications

    Find Adobe CS3 Production Premium on Amazon.com

    Find Adobe CS3 Master Collection on Amazon.com

July 6, 2007

HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting

HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting is targeted to "non- or semi-technical managers and executives" who want an overview of the high-definition / digital TV transition and the its role in business. It's part of the NAB Executive Technology Briefings series published by the National Association of Broadcasters and Focal Press.

The book is written by Philip Cianci, who was involved in the original development of HDTV at Philips Research in the 1980s. He continued his HDTV participation at ESPN with the construction of the HD Digital Center and the debut of SportsCenter in HDTV.

Cianci provides a nice overview of the development of HDTV, the fundamentals of digital TV technology, and the business and political issues in play that got us to the sometimes confusing state of DTV and HDTV today.

The book can be used as an introduction to HDTV, particularly in the U.S., and as a handy reference for historical and technical details. The coverage walks a fine line -- a tad breezy for my technical perspective, and certainly deeper at times than those "non-technical managers" might need.

It concludes with coverage of emerging technologies including MPEG-4 and enhanced TV on the Internet.

    Find HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting on Amazon.com.

Contents and more details below ...

Continue reading "HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting" »

IPTV and Internet Video

IPTV and Internet Video is targeted to non-technical managers and executives in broadcast and multimedia companies, to provide an introduction to IPTV and Internet Video networks and applications -- terms, market, and the business of IPTV and Internet broadcast distribution.

The book is part of the NAB Executive Technology Briefings series published by the National Association of Broadcasters and Focal Press.

It is written by Wes Simpson and Howard Greenfield, experienced consultants, writers, and speakers in video and telecommunications.

The book begins with an explanation of using IP (Internet Protocol) for video, comparing broadcast-like IPTV to Internet Video clips. The chapters also include very helpful "Reality Check" segments that go beyond the general discussion to look in more detail at specific real-world applications and case studies, for example, showing how a company like MobiTV blurs the lines between the IPTV and Internet Video categories.

The authors then drill down into more detail on business models and required technology, examining issues and trade-offs for areas including IP transmission, compression, quality and security, servers, bandwidth, and set-top boxes.

The book concludes by looking at the business of setting up video service over the Internet, including types of streaming, system architecture, commercial components, content creation workflow, and related business issues. The final chapter then explores possible future extensions of these trends, particularly into mobile devices.

IPTV and Internet Video provides a comprehensive overview of the market and technology for Internet video services, and should be helpful to anyone who wants to understand the big picture, with sides of additional detail as required.

    Find IPTV and Internet Video on Amazon.com.

Contents and more details below ...

Continue reading "IPTV and Internet Video" »

July 8, 2007

Nero 7 Ultra Edition ENHANCED

Nero has continued to upgrade and expand its Nero 7 suite of tools for working with CD/DVD discs and digital media files. However, it's sometimes hard to keep track of what's going on with the product, since Nero confusingly does not use version numbers to identify its releases. By now, the current product release is identified by appending several superlatives to become Nero 7 Ultra Edition ENHANCED.

Nero is particularly strong with its core CD/DVD tools -- especially with disc burning using Nero Burning ROM, testing and understanding discs and drives with Nero ToolKit, and video and DVD conversion with Nero Recode.

And, like the Roxio Easy Media Creator (EMC) suite, Nero has expanded its suite to provide a broad collection of tools for handing digital media -- from data backup, to photo and audio editing, to video editing and DVD authoring. Plus, these suites offer tools to organize and manage all your media files, and share them across your home network. However, as with Roxio EMC, the Nero suite grown so large (Nero 7 is up to some 20 applications) that it includes a Nero StartSmart mini-application to help you figure out which tool to use to carry out a particular task.

The latest ENHANCED version adds Windows Vista support and additional high-def video formats, with editing and playback of AVCHD video and Blu-ray Disc (BD-AV), and enhanced Xbox 360 streaming capabilities. (The HD DVD Plug-In adds support for HD DVD playback for $24.99.)

If you want all-in-one collection of digital media tools, the Roxio Easy Media Creator suite has a broader collection of more powerful tools, including full VideoWave and PhotoSuite applications for video and audio editing. And Roxio has worked diligently to bring a friendly and consistent user interface to its collection of applications.

But the Nero 7 suite shines with its core capabilities and technology, including solid disc burning, media file format conversion, and support for high-def video, surround sound, and HD disc formats. So try it out.

Nero 7 Ultra Edition ENHANCED is available at retail for $99.99, and via download for $79.99. The additional HD-DVD plug-in costs $24.99. Nero offers free updates for users of previous versions of Nero 7. You also can download a 15-day trial version (173.57 MB).

See the DVD Authoring Software Gallery for more on DVD tools.

See my earlier article on Roxio Easy Media Creator 9

    Find Nero 7 Ultra Edition ENHANCED on Amazon.com

    Find Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 on Amazon.com

Details on the applications in the Nero 7 suite below ...

Continue reading "Nero 7 Ultra Edition ENHANCED" »

July 9, 2007

Smart Start-Ups: Profit by starting online communities

Intrigued by all the excitement about online social networks? Are you frustrated by the amazing success of apparently simple ideas -- photo and video sharing with Flickr and YouTube, online communities like MySpace and Facebook, tech tidbits like digg and reddit, online virtual shared worlds like Second Life, and now mobile micro-communication like Twitter? Do you have a hot idea like these that could explode into a Web 2.0 business?

If so, David Silver wants to help -- with his new book, Smart Start-Ups: How Entrepreneurs and Corporations Can Profit by Starting Online Communities (www.smartstart-ups.com).

Silver is the founder of Santa Fe Capital Group, an angel capital firm, and the author of thirty books on entrepreneurship and finance. He has been funding high-tech start-ups for the past three decades, and is looking for more. He doesn't want to start a new company, he wants to help you to do so -- and has written this book to flush out more good ideas to fund.

Smart Start-Ups starts with an explanation for understanding the opportunities of online communities, plus details and sage advice for evaluating and starting a new venture, including Silver's formula for evaluating business opportunities.

The second half of the book then elaborates specific examples of business opportunities just waiting to be created, with 19 chapters of start-up ideas, from specific markets like travel, art, and college sports, to meta-businesses managing online virtual money and arbitrating online disputes.

    Find Smart Start-Ups on Amazon.com

Contents and more details below ...

Continue reading "Smart Start-Ups: Profit by starting online communities" »

July 11, 2007

Downloading Clips from YouTube and Converting Flash Videos

YouTube and other short-form Web video sites are a huge hit, partially because of the way Flash Video makes them so easy to use -- just click on the video window, and the clip just starts playing. There's no fuss -- no separate player, no additional downloads, just the video playing right there in the browser.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Flash Player is "the world's most pervasive software platform," according to Adobe, reaching 98.7% of Internet-enabled desktops worldwide.

As Flash Video has become an extremely popular format for delivering video on the Internet, it is starting to be added as a video output format by both consumer and professional video editing tools -- Much as MPEG-2 become ubiquitous with the growth of DVD, and then MPEG-4 become an important feature with its use on the Apple iPod, Sony PSP, and mobile phones.

Yet, also like the MPEG formats, Flash was originally designed as a delivery format -- the final output to be played for the viewer -- and not as a general-purpose editing format like DV or AVI or QuickTime that could be saved, edited, and otherwise repurposed.

Sound familiar? Remember the early days of MPEG-2, when the DVD was a huge impenetrable block of stuff with the original content locked up inside -- playable, but not otherwise accessible? And then the early days of MPEG-4, when you could capture and play files on your mobile phone, but then struggled to find any solution for playing them on a computer (kudos to Apple QuickTime).

And now, of course, most video tools easily can crack open a DVD to extract the content, then edit MPEG-2 and even MPEG-4 files, and export clips with presets for the iPod, PSP, and more.

Now we're in the same beginning situation with Flash Video -- you can easily play it while browsing the Web, but there's no easy way to download those clips (.FLV and .SWF), much less play them on the desktop, or convert them to other formats.

Adobe is addressing this developing need with the Adobe Media Player,
a desktop media player due as a free beta later in 2007, which will provide the
ability to download and play back locally stored FLV files.

For professionals, the new Adobe Creative Suite 3 suite features the integration of Macromedia Flash into the Adobe product line, including exporting video (and even entire DVD productions) in Flash Video formats. And the Adobe Bridge media manager included with the CS3 suite can preview Flash Video files. But the CS3 tools do not import and edit Flash Video as a standard video format.

So, as in the early days of other new formats, the first answers are coming from small developers who can bring new technology into the market more quickly.

See full article for more details: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

Here's a summary of some of the alternatives to get you started, with more to follow ...

Continue reading "Downloading Clips from YouTube and Converting Flash Videos" »

July 14, 2007

Freeware Flash Tools: KeepVid, VLC, SUPER

To continue with our discussion of downloading and using Flash video on the desktop -- While this need is relatively new, the world of open source and freeware software has already responded with handy solutions. These are great for occasional use, but you may want to move up to the commercial tools for more options, friendlier interfaces, and more extensive production use.

The first step is to grab the Flash video off the Internet and download it as a file on your computer. This is not a typical feature for today's video sharing or even commercial sites with video, since the sites are focused on the video streaming experience -- and want to keep you in the browser to stay on the site (and view ads).

To grab a clip, the Keepvid site provides a free Web service to download videos as FLV files. Just enter the clip's URL, click the Download Link, and the browser saves the clip as a file on your computer.

Once the clip is downloaded as a Flash video ".flv" file, you still can't just double-click to play it, since today's video players were not designed to consider Flash video as a desktop format. You could set up a Web page to play the FLV file, but it's handier to just be able to play files directly.

To play FLV clips, download the free VideoLAN VLC Media Player. This is a highly portable multimedia player for multiple audio and video formats and DVDs. It also can be used as a streaming server.

Dive into the menus for options such as screen capture and displaying information about the file. The VLC Player also offers profusion of settings to customize both the interface (playlists, skins, gestures, visualizations) and playback options (codecs, filters).

Finally, to convert your Flash video files to other formats, download another free tool -- eRightSoft SUPER © for Windows.

SUPER © (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer) is a user interface to play and convert media formats, built on a collection of open source codecs.The interface is very busy, and studded with detailed options. Drag and drop to load the files to process, then click the Play button to preview the file.

Then to convert a file, you need to choose the general output file type (AVI, WMV, MPG, 3GP, etc., and then the specific compression parameters within that format. There are some presets (i.e., iPod and PSP), but for other formats you'll need to know the right options to choose. To help with this, double-click on the file's name to display a Analysis window with information on its audio and video streams.

See full article for more details: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

July 15, 2007

Applian Replay Tools: Record, Play, Convert Flash Video

To continue with our discussion of downloading and using Flash video on the desktop -- beyond the open source / freeware tools covered in the last installment, for more packaged solutions for recording, playing, converting, and editing Flash and other streaming formats check out the Replay line of Windows tools from Applian Technologies.

This discussion focuses on the three primary Applian tools for Flash video, which are also available as part of the Applian Audio Video Streaming Capture Suite ($99.95):

- Replay Media Catcher - Record streaming Flash and MP3 ($39.95)
- Applian FLV Player - Free Flash player
- Replay Converter - Convert video and audio files ($29.95)
- Replay A/V - Record and convert streaming Internet TV and Radio, Windows Media or Real ($49.95)
- Freecorder Upgrade - Record audio from sound card / speakers. as MP3 files
- Replay Music - Record streaming music to MP3 (via sound card) , auto ID songs
- Radio Wizard - Pause, rewind, fast-forward and record live Web radio
- Replay Player - Play recorded audio, skip ads
- Replay Screencast - Screen capture videos
- Replay Media Splitter - Extract / edit captured audio and video files

Applian Media Catcher is focused on grabbing streaming Flash video and MP3 audio ($39.95). It works with both progressive download (HTTP) as found on sites like YouTube, and with true streaming (RTMP) as found on commercial sites.

To use Media Catcher, launch the application and click the big green Start Recording button. Media Catcher than watches your Web activities, notices when you play a streaming file, and starts capturing it. You can go on to surf to other clips, while Media Catcher completes the capture in the background.

Once you've captured the Flash video files, you can view them with the Applian FLV Player -- available as a free download to play files or from a URL.

The FLV Player has nice clean interface with play controls under the video window. You can drag the (rather tiny) playhead to smoothly scan around in the clip. It also displays additional details on the video and audio format.

Once you have a Flash file on your desktop, you can use Applian Replay Converter to convert Flash and other media files to a variety of popular formats ($29.95).

You can build a list of input files to convert in the main window, select from the long drop-down list of output format presets, and then click the big button to start the conversion. Replay Converter exports to WMV, MPEG-4, and Flash Video, with multiple presets for different quality levels and the iPod, PSP, and mobile phones. It also can import video formats including AVI, QuickTime, Real Video, and DVD, and audio formats including WAV, MP3, WMA, AAC, and OGG.

See full article for more details: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

July 16, 2007

Flavors of Flash: Adobe Flash Uses and Formats

To continue with our discussion of downloading and using Flash video on the desktop -- Adobe Flash is all about animation, interactivity, and video. But Flash is not just one thing -- it's a range of Adobe tools for creating, delivering, and playing content; packaged in several file formats for animations and video; delivered using several steaming technologies; using two different video compression formats; and augmented with additional tools for video encoding.

Here's a brief summary -- see the full article and references for more information.

Flash Tools

- End users run the cross-platform Flash Player in their Web browser.

- Content creators and developers use the Adobe Flash CS3 Professional multimedia authoring tool.

- Internet hosting sites run the Flash Media Server to provide fully-interactive Flash streaming.

Flash File Formats

Flash files are typically packaged in two different file formats:

- ".swf" ("swiff") files are complete packaged Flash animations (known as "Flash movies"), ready to download from a website and view in the Flash player.

- ".flv" (Flash video) files are compressed video clips, ready to play from Flash animations, or stand-alone. We're interested here in downloading and converting these Flash videos on the desktop.

Flash Delivery

When you click a Flash video in a Web browser and have it play back, the content can actually be delivered in three different ways: embedded, progressive download, and streaming.

(Note that while we talk generally of "streaming" Web video when you play a clip on YouTube, Flash video may actually be delivered by progressive download from a standard Web server, or using true streaming from a dedicated Flash server.)

- Embedded video: The video is actually included in the Flash SWF file (best only for very short clips).

- Progressive download: The main SWF animation references video clips in external FLV files, accessed from standard websites. While the server just downloads the file, the player is smart -- so the Flash Player can provide the ability to skip around within the video. This is the best approach for getting started with Flash, and is still used by sites like YouTube.

- Streaming video: The FLV files are hosted on a server running the Flash Media Server, which provides true real-time streaming, including real-time broadcasting.

Flash Video Formats

Flash video actually uses two different video formats (the audio in Flash is primarily MP3):

- Sorenson Spark: Was used up through Flash Player 7. It is still used for sites like YouTube that are focused on ease of use with older browsers and players, and are not so demanding for video quality.

- On2 TrueMotion VP6: Was introduced for use with Flash Player 8 and later. Adobe recommends VP6 as the preferred video codec, providing the best combination of video quality while maintaining a small file size.

Flash Video Creation

Adobe offers thee paths for encoding video and audio into Flash Video format though its Adobe Flash CS3 Professional authoring tools: through the built-in Flash Video Import wizard, the stand-alone Flash 8 Video Encoder, and through the Flash Video QuickTime Export plug-in, which lets you encode audio and video into the FLV file format when exporting from third-party video editing applications that support QuickTime exporter plug-ins.

Other tools that can be used for encoding Flash video include Sorenson Squeeze and On2 Flix.

See full article for more details and references: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

    Find Adobe Flash CS3 Professional on Amazon.com

July 18, 2007

Creating Flash Videos: Sorenson Squeeze

To continue with our discussion of Flash video -- Sorenson Squeeze is a great encoding tool that supports encoding Flash video in both the older Spark and newewr VP6 video formats.

Squeeze is now up to version 4.5.6, with enhancements and fixes since Sorenson Squeeze version 4.5, released in November 2006, which integrated Apple’s H.264 MPEG-4, added new presets for Sony PSP, cell phones, and Blu-ray and HD-DVD disc, as well as boosting compression and preprocessing speeds.

The Squeeze software is available in several versions: the base Squeeze Suite application for Windows or Macintosh ($499), the enhanced Squeeze PowerPack ($649 Windows, $799 Mac), and Squeeze for Flash ($249) with just output to lash video in Spark and VP6 formats.

The PowerPack adds a command line interface, the On2 VP6 Pro encoder for Adobe Flash 8 video, and the Nate Caplin Training DVD. Mac users also receive the Telestream Flip4Mac encoder plug-in for Windows Media 9 .

Squeeze provides a clean and straightforward end-to-end workflow for importing, processing, and encoding media files.

First build a list of Input clips, including Windows Media, QuickTime, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4/H.264, 3GPP, AVI, DV, MP3, ASF, AAC, and WAV.

Next apply Filters to enhance the input. Squeeze supplies presets for brightening/darkening, and for cleaning up analog clips for use on the Web. Or apply your own filters, including contrast, deinterlace, noise reduction, and fade.

Then select the Output formats and adjust their compression settings. Squeeze can export to Windows Media Video, QuickTime, Real Media, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and Flash Video (FLV and SWF). Each format has a variety of pre-defined presets, for different data rates, streaming vs. progressive download, high-def to specific portable devices, and VCD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray disc.

Finally, click Squeeze It! to start the encoding process. You can output a file to a directory, or upload via FTP or to VitalStream for hosting. Plus, Squeeze can add the resulting files to iTunes for iPod playback, transfer to Sony PSP, and burn to DVD.

You can set up Squeeze to batch process a group of files with pre-defined templates, and even have Squeeze monitor a Watch Folder and automatically process any videos that are placed there.

See full article for more details and references: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

July 20, 2007

Converting Flash Video: TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress

To continue with our discussion of Flash video -- One of the first compression tools to address importing clips in Flash video format is TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress, which converts between most popular video formats, with assists like color correction and enhancement filters.

You may remember TMPGEnc from the original MPEG-1 encoder for VideoCD, which grew into the TMPGEncPlus video encoder tool and TMPGEnc DVD Author (also sold under the Tsunami brand). The TMPGEnc technology and products are now sold though the parent company, PEGASYS, as retail products and bundled by major manufacturers.

To convert files with MPGEnc XPress, use the Source tab to add clips to be processed. It imports video formats including AVI, DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Windows Media, Windows XP Media Center, QuickTime -- and now Flash Video. It also extracts content from DVDs.

As you import, use the Clip Editing tools to trim and apply enhancement filters including deinterlace, color correction, and noise reduction -- with a color histogram and vectorscope to help analyze the results. You also can create slideshows from photos or extracted video frames, complete with audio track.

Then use the Format tab to select the list of output formats to be created. The input clips can be processed individually, or can be combined together as a sequence into one file. MPGEnc XPress provides output templates for burning to disc and for exporting files in different formats. You also can create your own custom templates.

MPGEnc XPress exports video in MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, Windows Media, and DivX, as well as supporting high-definition MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 / H.264 file for export to the iPod, PSP, and other portable devices (but not output to Flash video).

Then click to the Encode tab to preview the output and start encoding. You can also transfer your project to the MPGEnc XPress Batch encode tool to process a collection of encoding projects as you continue to work. You can reschedule and prioritize the jobs, and reedit the parameters in MPGEnc XPress.

See full article for more details: Flash Video: Downloading from YouTube and Converting Video Files

July 27, 2007

Summary: Sony Sound Forge 9

While video editing tools like Sony Vegas+DVD Production Suite and Adobe Premiere Pro have strong support for audio, dedicated audio editing tools like Sony Sound Forge and Adobe Audition can do much more for cleaning and enhancing existing tracks, and creating, recording, and mixing new material.

Sony Sound Forge 9 is a professional digital audio production suite designed for the entire audio workflow: record, analyze, and edit.

Key features include: Record multiple sources simultaneously and surround sound, edit down to the sample level, work in high-fidelity 24-bit and 32-bit/64-bit float 192 kHz quality, edit from stereo to native multichannel surround sound, clean and enhance tracks with over 40 professional studio effects and processes, tune MIDI sample loops and loops for Sony ACID, model acoustic environments, design sound for multimedia, synchronize to video and export videos at HD, and master replication-ready CDs.

Sound Forge version 9 features end-to-end multichannel support, to record, edit, process, and export to multichannel Windows Media and Dolby Digital AC-3. It also includes workflow enhancements such as drag-and-drop editing between channels and new wet/dry mix and crossfade options for effects; plus audio analysis tools including phase scopes, mono compatibility meters, and multichannel spectrum analysis.

Version 9 also bundles three additional components now included with the product:
- Sony Noise Reduction 2 adds plug-ins for Noise Reduction, Audio Restoration, Click and Crackle Removal, and Clipped Peak Restoration.
- iZotope Mastering Effects Bundle adds four professional audio plug-ins: Mastering Reverb, Multiband-Band Compressor, IRC Limiter loudness maximizer, and Analog EQ parametric equalizer.
- Sony CD Architect adds professional mastering and layout for burning Red Book audio CDs with control over timing and tracks.

Sound Forge is available for Windows from Sony Creative Software ($319 boxed, or $299 downloaded). Sony also offers free trial downloads.

See full article: Summary: Sony Sound Forge 9 for Professional Audio Production

    Find Sony Sound Forge 9 on Amazon.com

July 4, 2007

Turtle Beach Ear Force AK-R8 Surround Headphones

(with Brian Dixon)

Whether you're a dedicated gamer who loves the excitement of chasing through virtual worlds, or a movie fan who enjoys playing DVDs on your widescreen PC, it's the power of 5.1 surround sound audio that gives the you-are-there feeling to make the entertainment come alive.

But we don't all have room to set up five speakers plus a subwoofer around our rooms, or we use notebooks that don't even have 5.1 connections. In addition, the neighbors might not appreciate our cranked-up audio, especially late at night. So we resort to stereo headphones, and miss out on the full surround experience.

So welcome the Turtle Beach Ear Force AK-R8 -- a "Professional Surround Sound Gaming Headphone System." The AK-R8 bundles surround-sound headphones with a USB audio interface to provide an immersive and personal listening experience on desktops or notebooks.

Key features include:
- True 5.1 surround sound from 8 discrete speakers
- Dual sub woofers for deep vibrating bass
- High fidelity large diaphragm drivers
- Detachable boom microphone -- removable and flexible
- Monitor outside sounds while wearing headphones
- USB audio interface with multi-channel amplifiers
- DSP surround sound environments with presets
- Comfortable, cushioned ear cups, self-adjusting headband
- Professional grade, durable construction

The surround headphones actually have eight separate speakers to provide more accurate audio positioning -- each earpiece has individual speakers for the front, center, rear, and subwoofer channels.

The Audio Advantage SRM USB audio adapter works as a USB sound card to add 5.1 / 7.1 channel surround sound to your system. Beyond built-in amplifiers to drive the 5.1 headphones, it also has an impressive array of analog and digital inputs and outputs. And it comes with Control Panel software to adjust virtual speaker configurations, equalization, environment, and effects.

TheTurtle Beach Ear Force AK-R8 is priced at $149.95, including surround headphones and USB audio adapter. The box also includes a USB cable, and optical S/PDIF adapter for connecting to home theater equipment.

See full article: Turtle Beach Ear Force AK-R8 Surround Headphones

See more on headsets and headphones in the Portable Audio Accessories Gallery

    Find the Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2 (headphones only) on Amazon.com.

Manifest Tech Site

About July 2007

Entries posted to Manifest Tech Blog in July 2007, listed from oldest to newest.

Previous: June 2007

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