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DV Expo 2006The Conference's 10th Anniversary in Los Angeles
In the past 5 years, there has been a marked decline in attendance at NAB, Siggraph, and other digital media conventions around the country. While DVExpo has never been a very large convention, I was surprised to see such a small turn out by vendors and attendees this year. There were several companies who enjoyed more focused interest by the crowd.
While neither Adobe or Apple were lured to DV Expo as Exhibit Hall presentations, there was a series of instructional seminars at the Expo offered by Apple, After Effects presentations from Chris & Trish Meyer and Richard Harrington, and Flash Video by Will Law.
Other Adobe and Apple ground teams were represented in the exhibit hall. The members of the Plugin Pavilion, or many of them, manned booths to show off their plugins to both newbie and veteran users. Digital Anarchy, Automatic Duck, GridIron Software, Re:Vision FX, GenArts pulled people to the event. Plugin Pavilion regular Red Giant Software was also present in the Promax booth.
Automatic Duck's Wes Plate surely gets the award for most comfortable spot in the Los Angeles Convention Center. Equipped with a comfy leather sofa and chairs, it was an inviting area to sit and talk about the plugin.
If you don't know, Automatic Duck is the editorial standard for exchanging layer and cut information between Final Cut Pro, Avid, After Effects, Combustion, ProTools, Quantel and even Apple's Motion.
Some of the new features in version 3.0 allow for third party filters from Final Cut Pro (or Motion) to be recognized by Adobe After Effects. Avid Titles and FCP Text can now be converted into AE Text Layers (keeps source text information). ProImport 3.0 also has the added benefit of recognizing Avid DV50 footage. There are other key benefits to the plugin, but you'll have to catch Wes with his comfy couch or check out the website http://www.automaticduck.com
RE:Vision showed off their family of plugins which revealed one of their plugins I had never noticed before: ShadeShape. Although fearless leader (and frequent gallery subject) Pete Litwinowicz was not present, available leader, and fearless demo artist Pierre Jasmin took us through a couple of projects showing off the plugin's variety of options. The gallery, seen here: http://www.revisionfx.com/rsshadegal.htm shows the elegantly simple depth that is achieved with the plugin. Note the Lens reflection and distortion created with simple animated mattes. Sometimes small shows allow you to take a closer look at things you thought you were familiar with. Take another look at the RE:Vision website to see what you may have missed http://www.revisionfx.com.
GenArts was also on hand to show off their pristine effects line up. Although I showed up on day one, I arrived late to the event, just before the MGLA meeting. Todd (Prives) had already given out all of the publicity materials to an eager attendee swarm to his booth. Although there wasn't news of additional plugins for After Effects users, the Avid crowd should know that the new Version 2 is available for Windows and Mac, with 45+ new filters available. You can check out a gallery of AVX stills here: http://genarts.com/picture-index-avx.html.
When Todd wasn't at the booth showing off the plugins, I spotted him around the corner, talking with GridIron's Robyn Paton, who was helping Ben Piercey show off Nucleo and Nucleo Pro. Both pieces of software have been recently upgraded (Nucleo Standard v.1.0.8 and Nucleo Pro 1.0.3), and create a marked improvement in the usage of multiple processor. You can check out more about the Nucleo versions, and download the updates here: http://www.gridironsoftware.com
Digital Anarchy's Jim Tierney was like a vampire - I couldn't get a clear photograph of him. While I consider Digital Anarchy as the face of older plugins like Psunami (water) and graphic plugins like Anarchy Toolbox, Chaos Stock, 3D Assistants and Geomancy, I was a little surprised to see a lot of interest in the new plugin called Data Animator. While Jim has mentioned that there is a "LITE" version of the plugin - which will be an excellent way to create monitor fills, and graph-graphics. You can check out Data Animator here: http://digitalanarchy.com/data/data_main.html. If you want the LITE version, drop Jim an email, or post something here.
The big draw to the show (one of the reasons that I wanted to go) was the HD House, which supposedly was a panel discussion with case studies and examples of HD migration, usage, and studio environment. It was so packed full of people watching that I couldn't even think about getting near the area.
Instead, I went over to check out Red Giant Software's presentation in the Promax booth. Not surprisingly, an editor was checking out their Magic Bullet plugin for Final Cut Pro. There were many more editors and camera operators than there were compositors at this show. So while Red Giant Software has Knoll's Lens Factory, Trapcode Suite and Instant HD (among others) in its arsenal, there was more interest in their color grading plugin. See other Red Giant Software articles by clicking >HERE for MORE RGS<
On the other side of the hall, buried near the camera bags and reflectors was SmartSound's Sonic Fire. Or is it Sonic Fire's SmartSound? SonicFire is a music generator of sorts. With their concept of "Mood Mapping", they've made it really easy.... REALLY EASY for editors or compositors to pull from different libraries to quickly create unique and even loopable audio tracks. Sonicfire Pro is so easy and nice sounding, that it quickly drew a large crowd. While a convention floor is no place to demo sound solutions, you can check out a demo version of the software and check out Chris Meyer's tutorials to help you figure it out at the SmartSound site: http://www.smartsound.com/sonicfire/demos/index.html
Lastly, I checked out the main booths: the camera booths. Panasonic, Sony and Canon. I've been looking at DV cameras for a long time, but I haven't paid much attention to them until my friend, a Panasonic HVX200 user got me interested. As a newbie to the camera world, the HD options and 3-CCD vs. CMOS differences can be very confusing. My main interest is to see how he footage will work in my composites, and how the camera fits into the work pipeline (P2 card vs. tape deck vs. USB or Firewire vs. proprietary device).
Both Panasonic and Canon had a swarm of seasoned camera operators looking at the new hardware - examining setups and ease of use and scope readouts. Interestingly, many of these attendees were also interested (amused?) by the teeny-tiny HV10 camera from Canon. Although it records to miniDV tape and has a CMOS configuration rather than a CCD capture, it's tiny size and price make it a potentially entry-level, home-brew HD camera. I don't know if there's an easy way to convert to SD directly from camera, or even what the footage looks like. The Canon representative who was manning the HV10 camera told me that the camera was so new, they didn't have any test footage. I should have gone to the B&H booth to purchase some tape stock, but I was in a rush to hear the MGLA/BDA meeting.
There'll be more on all of this stuff coming up. Until then, check out the PluginCentral Forum here on DMN or the After Effects forum for more help on compositing and animation.
Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles. In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design. When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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