NewTek’s Virtual Set Editor 2 hits screens

NewTek’s Virtual Set Editor 2 hits screens

Weathermen up and down the country are brushing up on their best isobar and warm front moves, as NewTek announce Virtual Set Editor 2 is shipping. The latest version of their chroma program, VSE 2 lets you easily transform any location into a snazzy-looking studio environment.

More than your average layering application, it’s designed to work perfectly with NewTek’s TriCaster range to give you professional backdrops for dazzling audiences with, even if you’re broadcasting out of a broom cupboard. All you need is a lick of green paint.

Here’s what’s new in NewTek’s Virtual Set Editor 2:

– Collaborative workflow between artist and TriCaster operator, with dual installation on both a TriCaster XD system and an external Microsoft Windows workstation

– Customisable starter sets with multiple angles, realtime reflections and specular highlights

– User-friendly controls for quick and easy set creation, right out of the box

– Realistic virtual camera operation, with adjustable shots and animated movements – even while live

– Effortless import of layered PSD files – including keyed out areas – to support composition of sets using virtually any graphics creation tool

– Export as executable LiveSet installer for use with any TriCaster XD system

– Instant availability of new virtual sets and effects, with support for output and update over the network to any TriCaster XD model

 

For more information on all things TriCaster and Virtual Set Editor, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Video: Manfrotto’s Sympla range in hot matte box action

Video: Manfrotto’s Sympla range in hot matte box action

Manfrotto are widely known for their quality tripods and camera support systems, but for DSLR shooters, the Sympla range really is the business. Check out the hardware in Manfrottos’s ‘time lapse’ (or stop-motion, more accurately) video below.

For more information, call 03332 409 306, email audio@Jigsaw24.com or leave us a comment below. You can also keep up with more news, reviews and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.

What the new Apple releases and iPad mini mean for education

What the new Apple releases and iPad mini mean for education

Apple are really advancing technology for education at the moment, and their huge recent product launch helped back up their cause. Not only did they release the brand new iPad mini, which is ideal for the classroom, and new Mac hardware, they spent a good chunk of the presentation talking about how iBooks and iBooks Author were helping engage learners. Here are a few of the standout points.

iPad mini (and the updated iPad)

The release that’s got everyone talking, Apple’s iPad mini fills that niche between the regular-sized iPad and the iPod touch. At 7.9″, the tablet’s an ideal size for the classroom, as younger pupils who might have trouble holding the full size 9.7″ tablet will find the new design much more comfortable, and older students are able to hold iPad mini in one hand and use it as an e-reader (much like a Kindle). As Apple were keen to stress, the iPad mini will do everything the regular sized one will do – all apps work the same, as do all the configuration and management features. Of course, you still get access to some 275,000 apps in the App Store too.

Another problem the iPad mini addresses is in using the camera. We always find it a little awkward to shoot photos and videos using the rear-facing camera on the iPad, so the new slimmed down version should make the whole process much easier. There’s also a front-facing FaceTime HD camera so students can produce video diary-style reports. As usual, there’s a range of different storage capacities depending on how many documents, apps, songs and videos you want to load on, and a choice of black or white.

The regular iPad line-up also got a refresh, with 4th generation iPad Retina display models now sporting the new Lightning port recently launched on the iPhone 5, and a new chip which promises processing speeds of double that of iPad 2.

iBooks 3 and iBooks Author

The announcement of the new iBooks 3 and updated iBooks Author will see a huge improvement in the kinds of textbooks, both published and internal, that schools, colleges and universities will benefit from. In the US, iBooks now cover 80% of the curriculum, and the number of digital textbooks for the UK curriculum is on a significant rise too.

iBooks is Apple’s reader app, which has its own iBookstore and ability to create your own digital textbooks with iBooks Author. For an idea of what you can do with iBooks, check out our handy iBooks tutorials. Version 3 now lets you store books and save your place on iCloud to read on any device – pretty handy if students are reading a textbook on the iPad mini, then need to carry on from the same place on their iPhone or iPod for research and analysis around the text. With improved scrolling, sharing features and now 40 supported languages, this will be a real boost for education.

iBooks Author has also been updated, making it easier and faster to publish iBooks. There are new Apple templates, including a portrait template which wasn’t previously available, and better handling of custom fonts, widgets and mathematical functions which will help to close out the remainder of the school curriculum that hasn’t been covered by iBooks yet. They’re both available to download for free now.

The new Mac line-up

Apple don’t tend to just focus on one thing at their presentations, and took the opportunity to unveil a ton of new Macs that have some interesting points for education.

We’ve always recommended iMacs as the perfect desktop computer for the classroom – you get everything you need in one machine the size of a display, with no need for a tower. For the new version, Apple have slimmed the screen down to an incredible 5mm at its edges, and have got rid of the optical disc drive for this model (you can buy an additional SuperDrive to load DVDs, or wirelessly connect to another machine’s drive though).

For subjects where you need to see fine detail – video editing and production, and other graphics work – the new 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display is ideal. With 2560×1600 resolution, they have four times the number of pixels as the previous generation of MacBook Pros, and are powerful enough to run demanding editing software too. Apple’s smallest Mac also had an update – the Mac mini can now fit up to 16GB RAM and is still only 20cm x 20cm, which makes it perfect for the classroom or your desk.

For more information on the whole Apple iPad mini and new Mac range, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with all our classroom technology news and reviews by following @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page.

Creating Dr Brian Jones: Inside a designer’s workflow

Creating Dr Brian Jones: Inside a designer’s workflow

We recently launched an email campaign to promote the last of our Mac minis, but wanted to do something a bit different to a ‘Save £££!’ message. Our designer Simon Curd was charged with bringing a character to life that would tie together the emails with four different story strands. The result was Dr Brian Jones Jones – a swashbuckling adventurer from the Harrison Ford/Tom Selleck stable. We grilled Simon about his workflow in creating the eshots, and the Adobe Creative Suite 6 software and Wacom Intuos4 tablet he used to get the comic strip-style results, and that all-important ‘tache.

What was your initial brief?

“The brief was to produce a visually engaging story that could run for several emails and help promote the Mac minis that we had in stock. Once Dr Brian Jones had been chosen as the protagonist and his first adventure had been written, we had a whole session coming up with ideas for how the email could look and – after a quick fancy dress session – a comic book style illustration seemed the most apt solution.”

How did the idea for Dr Brian Jones come about?

“In my brief folder I found a document containing lots of different ideas for this campaign dreamt up by our copywriting team – I’m glad it was Dr Brian that got chosen. Having a character on a quest of this kind works well in a short strip because he has a simple, focused goal (in this case the age old quandary of how to acquire a Mac mini), and it works well over several episodes because the locations, situations and time in history can change drastically to keep it interesting.”

What were the first steps in creating Dr Brian?

“I started by making rough pencil sketches based on pictures of this other character called Indiana Jones, who bears some striking resemblances to Bri’ – I’m not sure whether the copywriters had heard of him previously. It was convenient for me that his attire made him so easily recognisable, but during the sketching stage our head of marketing looked over my shoulder and thought my drawing looked too Harrison Ford-y, so I rushed on the moustache and no one seemed to have a problem that he had become Tom Selleck.”

What did you use as inspiration for the artwork?

“Making a comic of this kind wasn’t something I had done before, so finding the right reference material came in really useful. I looked at drawings by graphic artists like Adrian Tomine and Daniel Clowse when I first needed to come up with Dr Brian himself, and there’s obviously a whole world of action hero comics out there that I could refer to whenever I got stuck, but it was also daunting trying to finish my first comic strip and comparing it to the work of such accomplished illustrators.”




Tell us about the tools you used…

“After I had roughly sketched each cell in pen on paper I would scan it in and trace over it in Illustrator. My Wacom Intuos4 tablet sped up this process no end and helped keep some of that hand-drawn quality that might have been lost otherwise – going about a project like this with a mouse would have been a lot more fiddly. When it came to colouring, I would often sample a colour from an actual Indiana Jones still and then use Illustrator’s colour tools to create a palette that worked around it. Because I was working on so many files with a lot of repeated elements and colours, Illustrator also made it easy to organise my work and make templates with things I knew I would need already there.”



Did the look of the comic strip change much as you went along, and would you have changed anything?

“I think I was able to work quicker as I went along rather than the look of the strip changing, which was useful what with having deadlines, and I did try to make all four comics look consistent next to each other. Having said that, there are things I would like to have done differently looking back – put in more detail particularly in the backgrounds, change how certain cells are composed etc – but they’re all lessons I can use for the remake in 20 years.”

 

Did you get any feedback about the campaign?

“We had good feedback from our customer base during the campaign saying it was nice to receive marketing emails with an such an unconventional approach as this, which was really reassuring as the emails did look so different to the usual ones, we didn’t have any past results to tell us what to expect.”

– If you want to tool yourself up with the hardware and software Simon used to create Dr Brian (or if you want to sign up for our newsletters), call us for more info on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.

Visit follow @Jigsaw24Design and Like our Jigsaw24 Design Facebook page for more design tips.

See the Magma 3T and Avid Thunderbolt OMNI in action

See the Magma 3T and Avid Thunderbolt OMNI in action

Pro Tools HD Native users got a treat back at IBC when Avid unveiled their first Pro Tools Thunderbolt interface. If you’ve been looking to pair up your Pro Tools HD Native setup with a Thunderbolt-equipped iMac or MacBook Pro, you’re finally good to go – and there’s always the Magma ExpressBox 3T expansion chassis for Pro Tools HD X users. If you want to take a look at either, or feel this may mean a radical rethink of whether you’re choosing Pro Tools HD X or HD Native, get in touch with the team.

The Native Option

Designed to work as part of your Pro Tools HD Native setup, Avid’s own Thunderbolt offering is self-powered, Mountain Lion-compatible and will ship bundled with an HD OMNI, 8x8x8 or HD MADI interface. It has dual DigiLink Mini connectors, supports 64 channels of I/O and features a serial connector that allows you to connect a SYNC HD peripheral.

“Avid’s HD Native Thunderbolt is the newest addition to the Pro Tools HD family, giving you all the functionality of the PCIe HD Native card in a portable/desktop-friendly external Thunderbolt format,” explained our Pro Tools expert Rob Holsman when the interface was first released. “It offers 64 channels of I/O, is compatible with all the HD I/O series interfaces and is going to be perfect for anyone who wants a mobile system (it’s even bus powered), or would prefer to work on an iMac rather than having to shell out top cash for a Mac Pro.

“Of particular interest to video customers is the fact that HD Native Thunderbolt features a serial connection for a Sync HD peripheral, and the fact that it features an on-board headphone monitoring socket means you don’t have to opt for the OMNI I/O just to get this feature. Like the PCIe HD Native card, Avid will be shipping these in bundles with either an OMNI, HD MADI  or 8x8x8 interface and Pro Tools HD (10.3), and pricing will be identical to the PCIe versions of the bundles.”

The HDX option

The Magma ExpressBox 3T Expansion Chassis is a 3-slot expansion chassis for PCIe cards, with two of those slots being x8 and the other x4. The unit is powered via a standard IEC cable and there are internal power cables for cards such as the HDX cards, which require more power. Magma and Avid go way back, and in the event that Apple’s Mac Pros never get Thunderbolt connectivity, hooking this up to your iMac or MacBook Pro is Avid’s officially supported Thunderbolt workaround.

Simply fit the Pro Tools HDX or HD Native card(s) into the slots in the Expansion Chassis as if it were a Mac Pro, connect a Thunderbolt cable between your computer and the chassis, and turn it on. The chassis itself fires up as soon as you turn the computer on, and anyone using Pro Tools 10.2 or higher will be able to get to work straight away.

You can see some shots of our Magma ExpressBox 3T expansion chassis here.

Want to know more or see a unit in action? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Light at the end of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera tunnel?

Light at the end of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera tunnel?

Since announcing the pesky sensor issue holding up the Blackmagic Cinema Camera shipping, we’ve – like you – been hanging on the every word of BMD CEO Grant Petty. This time round, he’s got some good news – new sensors are starting to see the light of day, which means production should start up again!

Here’s the official word from Grant, taken from a post on the Blackmagic forum: “The latest news is that sensors are starting to trickle through and we are testing them heavily and its looking good so far. Its going slower than we hoped because the sensor supplier is testing each sensor heavily to make sure they have correctly fixed the problem, and we are also testing heavily as we build cameras too. This is important as the only thing worse than a delay in shipping the cameras, is shipping thousands of them that have faults. So we want to make sure they are all good.”

So an actual shipping date is still up in the air, but is looking closer than before. Grant, ever gracious, went on to acknowledge the patience of those who have already pre-ordered their Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

“I appreciate how frustrating this has been for everyone, and its been more frustrating for us,” Grant said. “Most people are expecting delivery of 1 camera. We are expecting delivery of thousands, so this means it’s thousands of times more painful for us. You should see what a warehouse full of $20 million dollars of camera parts looks like. Its not good.

“I will have more updates mid to late next week,” he added promisingly.

– After shooting with it and grading the footage in DaVinci Resolve, we can confirm the BMCC is not all some marvellous dream, and we think it’s fab. You can visit our site to pre-order your Blackmagic Cinema Camera now.

Want to know more about the Blackmagic Cinema Camera? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Sony NXCAM camcorders get 10% education rebate

Sony NXCAM camcorders get 10% education rebate

Sony NEX-FS700 NXCAM camcorderSony NXCAM camcorders are ideal for teaching techniques used in filmmaking and documentary, so it’s great to see Sony launching an education discount across the full range. The scheme means we’re now able to offer a 10% rebate on all NXCAM camcorders – including Jigsaw24 favourites the HXR-NX70E and NEX-FS700E.

Also available with a new discounted price are the NEX-FS100, HXR-NX30 and HXR-NX5. The camcorders’ names don’t exactly leap off the page, but NXCAM as a recording format really is an exciting prospect for schools.

What is NXCAM?

NXCAM is a compression format for tapeless camcorders that compresses footage far more efficiently and gives a more professional picture quality. It’s supported by video editing software including Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, and lets you store footage on affordable Memory Stick Duo, SDHC card or – if you don’t mind forking out a bit extra – a slot-in flash memory unit. You can record to a card and the drive at the same time, giving students an instant backup copy of their work. An 11-hour recording time has made NXCAM a big hit with corporate and event videographers, but we think the fact that it offers both fully automated and fully manual control makes it perfect for educational settings (especially when students often forget to put the battery back on the charger!)

The Sony NXCAM range

Keen to provide solutions for those schools just getting into video production, right up to colleges offering more industry-applicable broadcast courses, Sony have discounted their full range of NXCAM camcorders. The NX line are entry-level cameras that are ideal for schools – easy to use, and ranging from the dinky, handheld NX30 and NX70 (this is also completely dust and rain proof!) to the shouldermount NX5. If you’re looking for something a bit more professional, it’s well worth looking at the great image quality and performance of the FS100 and FS700. These are the kind of cameras the pros take out to shoot adverts and promos, and will really impress prospective students and/or employers.

– Go to our website for 10% education rebate on our full range of Sony NXCAM camcorders.

To find out more about Sony’s Education Partner Programme, give us a call on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com or visit our site for the full Sony NXCAM range. For all the latest news, follow@Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter.

 

Video: Maxon’s CINEMA 4D 2012 demo reel

Video: Maxon’s CINEMA 4D 2012 demo reel

They say a picture paints a thousand words, but Maxon’s CINEMA 4D showreel paints a whole lexicon of linguistics. Check out some of these amazing projects animated with Maxon CINEMA 4D…

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

Video: GenArts’s VFX demo reel

Video: GenArts’s VFX demo reel

GenArts plug-ins are widely regarded as some of the best effects software in the business. No wonder they’re used in everything from glossy dramas like CSI and 24, to international ad campaigns including Coca Cola, Max Factor and General Motors.

To find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest media and entertainment news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.