Maximum power at a low price: HP Z240 Workstation

Maximum power at a low price: HP Z240 Workstation

The HP Z240 has long been a workhorse for power-hungry small and medium businesses, such as design companies, video production studios and architecture firms. But today it gets even more powerful with a double-digit boost to its processing power, memory and the addition of a software receiver to seamlessly link up Apple, Linux and Windows environments.

Yes, it is true! The Z240 enables breakthrough productivity with a newly-integrated HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS) receiver, which begins shipping next month with all Z Workstations. The RGS allows users to securely connect Mac or MacBook to a Z Workstation and multitask between native Mac OS apps and super-charged Windows or Linux workstation apps, enabling smoother workflows for joint development, interactive edits and design reviews.

This is just one of the new features, based on feedback from in-the-trenches users. In fact, the third-gen Z240 workstation offers a powerful set of features that enable greater customisation and collaboration without compromising capacity, performance and reliability.

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“HP has the expertise to design a system that runs high-performance components at their maximum while delivering the best reliability possible,” said Josh Peterson, vice president, global product management for workstations, adding that “the Z240 is ideal for customers in the video editing, product design, architecture, engineering, education, public sector and image-viewing industries.”

The third-generation of HP’s desktop tower workstation now packs up 4.2 GHz of processing power into a system about the size of a carry-on suitcase, delivering world-class performance and reliability at the price point of a traditional desktop PC– from $879. Here is a list of some of the other features that make this an affordable, world-class performance workstation:

  • Integrated M.2 slot for expansion cards and connectors, freeing up a PCIe slot to use for HP Z Turbo Drives or other devices like Thunderbolt.
  • Next generation Intel processors, NVIDIA or AMD graphics, memory, and two optional ultra-fast HP Z Turbo Drives.
  • Up to 64 GB DDR4 ECC memory – a 100 percent increase in memory capacity compared to previous generations.
  • Choice of Windows 7, Windows 10 or Linux operating systems.

HP says that there are a couple of other nice touches that lend greater usability, too, including optional dust filters and carrying handles on the back and side of the tower. Though these might seem like small conveniences, these changes can improve performance and lower time spent on maintenance and troubleshooting over the long haul.

Maximum power at a low price: HP Z240 Workstation

The Z240’s components are ISV certified, so they are tested and vetted to work with leading professional software applications.In HP internal tests, the HP Z240 performed 13 percent faster for Autodesk Revit and 12 percent faster for AutoCAD – two key applications for designers and engineers.

“The 368,000 hours of grueling quality testing and ISV certification means the HP Z240 is designed as a long-term budget friendly solution.” said Josh Peterson.

Part of those many hours were dedicate to the Mac integration. The HP RGS Receiver for Mac is just one of the tools that HP provides to customers looking to increase power and performance by integrating HP Z Workstations with existing IT setups, part of the company’s unwavering commitment to the creative professional.

The HP Workstations are the technology innovation engines of companies around the globe, designing everything from cars to blockbuster movies. NASA is using mobile Z Workstations on the International Space Station and DreamWorks leverages Z Workstations for pioneering animated storytelling.

New light kits from Ikan

New Light Kits from Ikan

If you need lighting for our sets, explore the new light kits from Ikan, which offer more options and an almost infinite number of combinations, with the addition of the new products extending the current 2-point and 3-point lighting kits.

According to Ikan, “the combo lighting kit offers you more versatility because you can mix and match lights from the same line. For example, you could use a combination of Lyra lights such as a 1×1 for the key light, a 1/2 by 1 for the fill light, and a 1/2 by 1 for the backlight. You could also get something like the Rayden Daylight 5-point lighting combo kit and get 3 RW10s and 2 RW5s. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and what your shooting conditions are, the combination light kit can help you customize which lights to use. The maximum amount of lights you can get in a combo lighting kit is 5 while the minimum is 3 lights.”

The new 5-point lighting kit really extends what is possible to do with a set of lights. The kit offers the 3-point lights you’ll need including the key light, the fill light, and the backlight, as well as 2 additional lights, which can be used with a green screen, chroma keying, or lighting a background. With this kit, continues Ikan, “you get 5 lights, 5 stands, 2 bags to carry lights, and 2 stand bags. This kit helps you create whatever lighting setup that you want with a variety of Lyra lights or Rayden lights. All lighting kits come in either the Lyra line or the Rayden line and can’t be combined.”

New Light Kits from Ikan

Lyra soft lights create a nice, clean shadow on any subject. These soft lights combine high CRI LED chips with a soft panel to create a beautiful, soft wrapping light as well as consistent color and brightness. With the Lyra soft lights, you can adjust all settings with a single knob and view the light output with precise measurements with the new LED readout.

Rayden LED lights offer high CRI 45-degree lenses to produce extremely bright light. With a 50-degree beam angle, you can easily light a large area with one fixture. The key feature of Rayden LED lights is its versatility: the 30-degree yoke, baby 5/8″ and junior 1 1/8″ combo pin allow you to attach and configure the light in different ways. “With Ikan’s light kits, we’ve always given you the ability to have options.

The new products are available, as mentioned above, in Daylight (5600K) as well as Bicolor (3200K-5600K). For a cinematographer or Director of Photography, “having more options is better on any production,” says Product Manager, Barry Garcia.

Fusion 8.2 now on Mac/Windows/Linux, for free

Blackmagic Design has announced that Fusion, a high-end VFX package, is now available on Linux as well as Mac OS X and Windows. Fusion 8.2 is a free public beta, available today.

Fusion's nodal interface
Fusion’s nodal interface allows freeform, unconstrained processing

The full press release follows:

Blackmagic Design Announces Fusion 8.2 is now available on Linux free of charge

The world’s most advanced visual effects and motion graphics software is now available on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux!

Fremont, CA – July 26, 2016 – Blackmagic Design today announced that Fusion visual effects software is now available on the Linux platform. Linux is extremely popular in the world’s leading visual effects production companies and this new Linux release is a major announcement for the visual effects industry.

This new Linux version of Fusion and Fusion Studio means visual effects artists can select their preferred computing platform, as Fusion is now available on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. All project files are common, so customers can work collaboratively, even when different artists are running different platforms on the same job.

In addition to the Fusion on Linux announcement, Blackmagic Design is also announcing that Fusion 8.2 is available as a free software download so customers can immediately download the software and use it for real work today. The Fusion 8.2 software is public beta and available on the Blackmagic Design web site free of charge.

This free version of Fusion can be used on any commercial production without restriction, however the paid edition of Fusion software, called Fusion 8.2 Studio, provides even more powerful features and is available at the low cost of $995. Fusion Studio customers get unlimited free render nodes and other multi user features. The most exciting aspect of Fusion Studio’s paid license is that there are no ongoing subscription, cloud licensing, maintenance fees or additional render node costs.

With full native support of Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, studios can run Fusion projects and workflows in mixed OS environments and easily integrate Fusion in existing studio pipelines using Python and Lua scripting. In addition, Fusion projects can be moved between the Mac, Windows and Linux versions so customers can work on the platform of their choice, or even in studios with mixed platforms.

Fusion has been one of Hollywood’s leading visual effects and motion graphics tools for over 25 years, and has been used on thousands of feature film and television projects, including blockbusters like Thor, Live Die and Repeat, the Hunger Games trilogy, The Martian and more.

Featuring a powerful node based interface, Fusion makes it extremely easy to build sophisticated visual effects compositions very quickly. Its massive toolset consists of hundreds of built in tools so customers can pull keys, track objects, rotoscope, retouch images, animate titles, create amazing particle effects and much more, all in a true 3D workspace.

Fusion can also import 3D models, point cloud data, cameras or even entire 3D scenes from Maya, 3ds Max or Lightwave and render them seamlessly with other elements. Deep pixel tools can be used to add volumetric fog, lighting and reflection mapping of rendered objects using world position passes so customers can create amazing atmospheric effects that render in seconds, instead of hours.

Since acquiring Fusion two years ago, Blackmagic Design engineers have massively updated the Fusion codebase making it easier for new users to learn, while maintaining the consistency and familiar workflow that long time users expect. Customers currently working with older visual effects solutions will find it easy to make the transition to Fusion on Linux.

Fusion 8.2 Studio on Linux also features a free render node license that can be installed on an unlimited number of render nodes. This allows large studios to create massive render farms at no additional cost, dramatically changing the economics of rendering for effects heavy blockbuster films and television shows.

Unlike other high end visual effects software, there is no per node render “tax” with Fusion. When customers using Fusion 8.2 Studio need to meet a deadline and render scenes more quickly, they can simply add more render nodes instantly, and at zero cost.

“Fusion 8.2 on Linux gives visual effects and motion graphics artists working in facilities of any size a massive tool set,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “Fusion is the only integrated 3D compositing application that can also render 3D models, add volumetric effects, particles and even motion graphics. The most exciting part is that Linux users can download it today free! Then, once our customers grow, they can then purchase Fusion 8.2 Studio without the cost of ongoing subscriptions or render licensing so they can build huge multi-node render farms to speed up their work at no additional charge!”

Fusion 8 is available in two editions:

Fusion 8 for Mac and Windows is free for customers and is now available to download from the Blackmagic Design website. Fusion 8 is a full professional 3D visual effects and compositing system that is suitable for independent effects, motion graphics, and broadcast design artists. Fusion 8 features integrated 2D and 3D compositing and motion graphics software with a massive toolset featuring paint, rotoscope, titling, animation, multiple keyers, an amazing 3D particle system, advanced key-framing, GPU acceleration, and support for importing and rendering 3D models and scenes from other applications.

Fusion 8 Studio is available for $995 and has all of the same features as the free version, but also adds advanced optical flow image analysis tools for stereoscopic 3D work, retiming and stabilization. Fusion Studio also includes support for third-party OpenFX plugins, unlimited distributed network rendering, and Generation for studio wide multi user collaboration to track, manage, review and approve shots when working with large creative teams on complex projects. Fusion 8 Studio is also available in multi user licenses starting from US$8,955 for the 10 user license, US$17,895 for the 20 user license and US $44,495 for the 50 user license from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

Availability and Price

Fusion 8.2 public beta with support for Linux is available today for Mac, Windows and Linux as a free download from the Blackmagic Design website.

Fusion 8.2 Studio public beta is available for all customers with a Fusion Studio version 7.7 dongle or higher and can be downloaded for free from the Blackmagic Design website.

Drone+balloon+cam = the Balloon Cam

Drone+balloon+cam = the Balloon Cam

The prototype of the Balloon Cam was showcased in the Panasonic booth at Content Tokyo 2016, the 2nd Content Next – Advanced Content Technology Expo held at the Tokyo Big Sight from June 29 to July 1, 2016.

The Balloon Cam can be used for staging various sports and events. Panasonic will continue to conduct demonstration experiments to bring this camera to market and to bring to life solutions that can be used to push the boundaries of event production by combining this camera with other Panasonic products such as projectors.

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As staging of sports and events become more sophisticated and demand among organizers for innovative entertainment solutions increases, Panasonic has been providing its high resolution imaging solutions using projectors and cameras that help amplify the excitement. And to further push the envelope of events staged using imaging solutions that meet customers’ exacting needs, Panasonic has now developed this prototype, which combines a drone with a large balloon.

Since the drone is completely housed in the balloon, it enhances safety. Moreover, by optimally controlling the thrust force of the propeller, this all-new drone system realizes both excellent stability and mobility, says Panasonic. The Balloon Cam can be equipped with a camera, LED, and projector, so it can also light up and display a wide range of information.

Drone+balloon+cam = the Balloon CamPowered by 4 propellers, the “drone” can fly around event venues in synch with the planned performance. Furthermore, as it uses the buoyancy of the large balloon and saves energy while in flight, it can be used for long durations of time. In order to provide new entertainment solutions and services, Panasonic will further study the shape of the body, develop control technologies catered specifically to the Balloon Cam, and accumulate relevant know-how.

Panasonic AG-AC30 for weddings and low-light shooting

Panasonic AG-AC30 for weddings and low-light shooting

Presented as an entry-level camcorder, the Panasonic AG-AC30 does not skimp in professional features. It includes a powerful 20X optical zoom, wide-angle 29.5mm lens, LED light for low-light shooting, two-channel XLR audio inputs and simultaneous record or relay record with hot swap.

Yes, it is ONLY a Full HD recording machine, but it may be what many people need, so Panasonic decided to build it. The camcorder’s 29.5mm/F1.8 lens that allows the operator to fit more people and background into the frame, especially useful in narrow spaces is one of its key elements. Its powerful 20X optical/40x super-high resolution zoom facilitates shooting scenes that are difficult to access.

Panasonic indicates that “the effective area of the AC30’s 1/3.1-inch Back Side Illumination (BSI) sensor has been increased to achieve the high-image quality of 6.03M effective pixels, producing bright, beautiful shots even in dark places. The sensor’s processing speed is advanced to approximately 1.5 times conventional speed, and a new Noise Reduction function reduces noise for crisp, vibrant FHD images. The built-in LED Light – featuring color conversion and diffusion filters and an average illumination of 300 lux at 3.3 feet (1 meter) — is ideal for shooting events like nighttime weddings.”

Panasonic AG-AC30 for weddings and low-light shooting

With dual SD card slots and the capability to record on both cards simultaneously, the AC30’s Relay Auto Switch functionality provides dependable back-up recording or the ability to switch from one card to the other for extended recording times. The AC30 records in AVCHD to 28Mbps and MP4/MOV to 50Mbps.

The camcorder incorporates Intelligent AF (Auto Focus) with improvements in speed, tracking and stability. Focus assist functions include Focus Expand, Focus Peaking and Area Mode, which enables focusing in any desired area. Professional assist functions include a histogram display, color bar monitor and zebra pattern.

Panasonic AG-AC30 for weddings and low-light shootingOther key features encompass powerful 5-Axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S) that thoroughly suppresses blurring all the way from wide-angle to powerful zoom shots, and a three-manual, multi-purpose lens ring that provides fine adjustments and precise control of Focus, Zoom and Iris. An illuminating LED ring allows recording verification and serves as a tally light to make shooting smoother.

The AC30 offers a new 0.24-inch, 1.55 million-dot EVF, which can be tilted for added convenience. The versatile three-inch, slide-retractable LCD can serve as HD monitor and menu-setting touch panel. The two-channel XLR audio inputs enable the use of professional, high-performance microphones for recording high-quality sound, including connection to mics requiring a +48V phantom power supply and to audio equipment with +4dB output. The camcorder is also equipped with an HDMI interface.

The AC30 weighs just over three pounds. A lightweight, durable magnesium-alloy frame is used for the camcorder handle, increasing strength, and a large lens hood blocks light more effectively to reduce lens flare while permitting subjects to be seen from behind the hood.

The AG-AC30 will ship in August at a suggested list price under $1,800. Download the full brochure in PDF format to find more info, and visit Panasonic professional area to find more information.

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDR

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDR

The world’s smallest 360 camera is also the first that features live streaming: the Nico360. Sony, on the other hand, has huge TV sets on its new Bravia ZD9 line, which brings better 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR). Phase One shows two new lenses and Slik introduces tripods with a LED light. These are some of the industry news you may have missed last week.


Blue Ring Zooms for Phase One

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDRPhase One added two new Schneider Kreuznach lenses, 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6 and 75-150mm LS f/4.0-5.6 to its comprehensive family of lenses. These two Blue Ring zoom lenses feature impressive front glass elements, with front lens diameters of 63mm and 65mm respectively, delivering edge-to-edge coverage of full frame 645 format. Used on a Phase One XF 100MP system, the lenses are able to take full advantage of the sensor’s resolution; a 100MP capture renders a 100MP image with breathtaking fidelity.

Designed by Schneider Kreuznach and produced by Phase One Japan, Schneider Kreuznach “Blue Ring” zoom lenses are refined with robust, aerial-grade mechanics and manufactured to meet Phase One’s highest quality assurance standards. Their enhanced precision, mechanical build, and look and feel complement the Phase One XF Camera System design.


First 360 camera with live streaming

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDRIt’s touted by its creators as the world’s smallest 360 camera and the first 360 camera that features live streaming. The Nico360 is also, they say, the affordable 360 VR camera for everyone. Its price of $139 for the first batch of the camera, through the IndieGogo crowdfunding platform, does suggest the Hong Kong company behind the project is correct. Final market price will be $199.

The Nico360 offers 2560 x 1440/30fps video and photos up to 25MB on full 360?. Waterproof, with image stabilization, VR enabled, the Nano360 is built around a double 16MP sensor and a 1/4 ” mount allowing its use with multiple accessories. The team behind the project promises the delivery of a number of extra accessories for the camera, which will be available in October.


Sony ZD9: content as creators intended

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDRSony’s next generation TV technology expresses, says the company, what the content creators truly intended, bringing the real world into your living room. The new ZD9 series Bravia 4K HDR TV, offers television display technology with the ability to reproduce deeper black and the brighter lights and the colour of the real world. The new flagship Z series takes the lead atop Sony’s current line-up of premium 4K HDR TVs, which includes the award winning XD93 and XD940. The new “Z” moniker designates a significant leap forward and the ultimate in display technology. With this advance Sony brings 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) to a new level with ultra-contrast and even more realistic, accurate colour, in order to express what the content creators really intended.


Slik Lite a tripod with LED light

Slik tripods with a LED light, Sony with better 4K HDRThe new family of tripods from Slik, the Slik Lite series, introduces an industry first when it comes to tripods: a detachable LED light. Ideal, probably, for those night long exposures when you need some extra light to find your gear, and can not find your flashlight or the light lamp app on your smartphone. The tripod has a LED light!

The tripods from Slik also use the Rapid Flip Mechanism (RFM), which gives the ability to flip the legs of the tripod 180 degrees for a superior level of storage and portability. The RFM has brand new lock/release levers, which make locking and unlocking the legs fast and easy. Find more at Silk USA.

New monitors for photography and video

New monitors for photography and video

The new monitors announced by Philips are presented as offering UltraColor, so there’s no need for aspiring and semi-professional photographers, designers and video-makers to settle for displays that fail to do justice to their efforts.

The new models expand the line-up of UltraColor displays for home users, but Philips adds that these models will also satisfy aspiring and semi-professional photographers, designers and video-makers looking for displays able to offer good reproduction of color. The wider colour gamut of UltraColor produces more natural-looking greens, vivid reds and deeper blues, bringing media entertainment, images, and even productivity more alive – all complemented by fantastic full digital sound thanks to the inbuilt speakers.

UltraColor technology brings excellent colour performance to home entertainment and apps. Supporting a wider gamut – 85% of the NTSC gamut as opposed to the typical 72% – UltraColor expands on the range of colours that are perceived by users, for more true-to-life images. Unlike enhancements that work by tweaking software settings in order to adjust colour balance, UltraColor works through the actual chemistry in the panel: innovatively engineered adjustments to the colour chips are what make it possible. As well as UltraColor, the E-Line displays offer 16:9 Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution for rich detail and contrast, and feature Philips Flicker-free technology for an ultra-stable picture that keeps eyes fresh even after hours of viewing.

Artem Khomenko, Product Manager Philips monitors Europe at MMD, is confident that the new E-Line displays are hitting a sweet spot on the market: “We’re seeing a tremendous appetite among home users for colour performance that a few years back would have been the domain of professionals. With these UltraColor displays, MMD is providing home users with truly stunning colour for entertainment and home apps.”

The new E-Line displays also offer with neat cable storage, and are available in glossy black finish with the same slim, elegant metal stand as the other models already on the market. All feature edge-to-edge glass and a narrow border for a seamless appearance and minimal viewing distraction. The sleek lines are enhanced by a front panel that is totally free of touch buttons: instead, there is a discreetly placed EasySelect toggle key on the rear to make quick adjustments to monitor settings.

New monitors for photography and video

To give users even greater choice over picture quality, the displays include Philips Smart technologies: SmartContrast analyses what’s currently shown in the screen and automatically adjusts colours and backlight intensity for the best digital images and videos – great for the often darker hues of gaming applications. There’s also a special Economy mode for just-right display of everyday office applications and lower power consumption. SmartImage Lite, an exclusive leading-edge Philips technology, also analyses screen content and dynamically enhances contrast, colour saturation and image sharpness for ultimate display performance based on the scenario selected by users.

As usual with Philips monitors, smarphones and other MHL-capable mobile device can be connected to the monitors. This allows users to stream photos and videos straight to the 246E7QDAB and 276E7QDAB displays, and play mobile games or view photos and videos in Full HD UltraColor quality – accompanied by full digital sound. In addition, the mobile device is charged while it is hooked up to the display, which keeps battery power topped up no matter how long the session.

These models may not be the first choice for many professional photographers or video-makers, but their low price make them attractive to those on a budget looking for a monitor for multiple uses that can also be used for editing photography or video. Available in Europe in August 2016, the displays cost GBP 159.00 ($210) for the 24-inch and GBP 229.00 ($303) for the 27-inch. No information yet, about when these displays will be available in North America.

ProShow 8: magic for photos and video

ProShow 8: more magic for photos and video

Allow me to be excited! A new version of my favorite slideshow creator just arrived in my mailbox to test, and it could not come at a better time: ProShow 8 boasts a new wizard that I want to try. But there is much more!

I could talk about magic, but it may be a coincidence. Yesterday night – or early today, as I went to bed at 5 in the morning – I selected some photos for a slideshow I want to create for a project I’ve photographed for some years now, and created a working folder to open the files in my version of ProShow 7, which is my slideshow creator and has been for years, since I discovered it. I use the Producer version, with all the bells and whistles.

I played a while with the options, and explored the wizard – which I don’t usually use – because I wanted to check how good it was. Well, it was “playtime” until 5 a.m., because these things are fascinating. More, I guess, than chasing Pokemons. I rather create slideshows.

Fast forward, and today I got one email from Katherine Paz, Marketing Coordinator at Photodex, with the press-release for the new version of the program. Yes, that’s a coincidence, but for me it is magic. Because later today I am going to install the new version and explore what the new wizard can do. What this means is that, in a near future, I’ll have a good excuse to write more about the new program and how well the wizard works. More about this soon, I hope.

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For now let me share with you some of the new things that ProShow 8 offers. For those that do not know the program, this is a Windows only software – except for the online version, which Mac users can try – that allows photographers and enthusiasts to create high quality photo, video and audio slideshows. ProShow offers a wide-array of special effects, built-in tools and a royalty free music library for making extraordinary professional video slideshows to share online, disc, or any device.

Photodex has kept implementing new things in each new version, and this is not different. New in ProShow 8 is a re-designed show wizard that gives users more control over a show’s look and feel. A streamlined interface offers a one-stop-shop for mixing content, music, FX and settings to quickly produce a professional slideshow. The wizard automatically picks effects and timing based on the theme, music, and desired energy level.

From what I see, now the wizard gives users more flexibility as it lets you manually pick effects and will maintain effects as the wizard runs. Before, you had to move to the timeline menu to adjust effects. I am quite interested in exploring this option, as it makes for a faster workflow. It is also possible to maximize the work area by selecting the dialog size that best fits each screen, something that I am sure I will appreciate on my 30 inch screen, where the actual Wizard window looks small.

ProShow 8: more magic for photos and video

When it comes to text, there are multiple options of text, font type, animations already present in ProShow products, besides the option to create your own, but this new version takes that further. New text bounding boxes in ProShow 8 offer improved control over caption layouts, enabling better looking designs and precise control of the interaction between text and imagery. New options for text alignment, wrapping, and automatic font sizing further enhance captions. More playing time promised with so many things to explore… I am going late to bed again tonight! Or early…

Slideshows are made to watch on screens, from your computer to TV sets. ProShow 8 offers advanced output options, with new AVCHD support and improved Blu-ray publishing. Want HD quality on a DVD disc? With new AVCHD output, now you can. ProShow 8 allows you to publish HD quality on a DVD disc that will play on all Blu-ray players. Simply use DVD media and your DVD burner to create full HD videos. There is also a new USB drive output built into ProShow 8. Save directly to your USB drive then pop it into your smart TV and share with everyone.

One important feature when you mix photos with video from different sources and then add audio is to have a way to get the correct level of audio in all the clips. Automatic volume levelling is a feature of the new version. To ensure consistent volume for music in your slideshows, ProShow 8 now automatically analyzes your soundtracks with audio volume leveling. This means you do not have to go through the cumbersome work of manually adjust your loud and quiet tracks. Still, you can control individual tracks if you want to.

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Slide styles are an essential part of ProShow, allowing for the creation of effects on the transitions between images. New slide style timing filters help you find effects that are best suited for short or long slides. Improved slide time editing gives you the ability to add or remove specific timing from selected slides. For example, select 5 slides, and add 1 second to each. It is a handy tool for making quick timing edits.

“With all the new enhancements in ProShow 8, users have more control over nearly every aspect of their shows. From precise text placement to final output, we’ve streamlined the creative process and made it easier for our users to create compelling and impactful slideshows,” said David Eddy, CEO of Photodex Corporation.

With an integrated music library with lots of themes to choose from, a friendly interface and an almost inifnite number of slite styles to use and which are editable, options to mix video and photography and edit both, ProShow 8 is a handy tool to have around if you like to tell stories. Give it a try as there is a trial version to download from Photodex’s website.

ProShow 8 is available in two versions: ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer. ProShow 8 is available now for $69.95 (ProShow Gold) and $249.95 (ProShow Producer). Upgrades start from $44.95 for ProShow Gold and $89.95 for ProShow Producer.

Rogue: a Super Soft Silver reflector

Rogue: a Super Soft Silver reflector

Silver reflectors are great… to reflect light. But sometimes they create hot spots that you would prefer not to have to deal with. Rogue has the solution: their Super Soft Silver fabric offers a softer light.

Rogue’s reflector looks like any other reflector you can buy: round, collapsible, and available in 32″ (80cm). It has a white side and a silver side. The difference, though, is that the Rogue Super Soft Silver reflector aims to offer softer fill light and avoid hot spots in your fill light. To achieve that Rogue designed their own Super Soft Silver custom fabric to make a better 2-in-1 reflector. Other silver reflectors, states the company, “are typically made with inferior fabrics and a shiny silver surface which often produces a harsher fill light than desirable, especially when used with bright light sources.”

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Rogue’s custom Super Soft Silver fabric makes a more durable and longer lasting reflector that’s easier to use because it produces a bright fill light while eliminating the hot spots so commonly associated with shiny silver reflectors. The Super Soft Silver provides more kick than white fabric, while avoiding the harshness of the mirror like reflections produced by shiny silver reflectors. Those photographers who have used it say that the reflected light from this reflector is less directional and you will not see the hot spots you will get with shiny silver reflectors. That’s quite interesting and something I could think about using when I pick up a reflector for my flower photography. I wonder, also, if it can be used for video and offer similar results.

Photographer Erik Valind demonstrates, in a video (see above), how to fill in shadows with ambient light using the Rogue Super Soft Silver/Natural White reflector and shows the difference between standard silver reflectors and the new Rogue Super Soft Silver Reflector.

Rogue: a Super Soft Silver reflectorEven when it comes to white, the white on this reflector is different, what Rogue calls Natural White, remarkably neutral, providing a more natural and pleasing fill light. This is due to one thing: no optical brighteners are used in the base fabric. Optical brighteners reflect more blue light, which means you will add a bluish tint on your subject. Optical brighteners are common in the base fabric of most other reflectors, according to Rogue.

The custom fabric used in the reflector is heavy duty and the coating is thicker than most of the common reflectors so it should last longer. The reflector is available for $29.95 for the 32″ round version (which collapses to 12? diameter to easily stow in a gear bag), but Rogue will also have a 20″x40″ rectangle for the same price. There may be a larger version, 30″x45″ in the future, I was told when asking more information about the product. Price is not yet defined. You’ll find more information about the Rogue 2-in-1 Super Soft Silver collapsible reflector following the link.

R.I.P., VHS VCRs

Japan’s last manufacturer of VHS VCRs, Funai Electric Company, will end production of the recorders this month, as reported by Anime News Network. Funai sold 750,000 VHS machines last year, but it’s getting harder to get parts from suppliers and the market is declining, so it’s the end of the line for the format after 40 years of production, at least in the format’s homeland.

VHS Graveyard

The last pre-recorded tapes went out of production in 2008, and while you can still find blank stock new, I wouldn’t be surprised if supplies dry up in a hurry — so if you’re a fan of wobbly, low-res, color-under helical-scan video with a 629 kHz chroma carrier frequency, better stock up on gear and media now… although, with 40 years of production, it’s likely you’ll be able to find used VCRs and tapes for quite a few years to come.

(A tip o’ the hat to the AMIA Mailing List for the news.)