New Technology 2006

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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by Michael Devney

Technology has moved on and moved on very quickly. The last time we did a technology update the internet was in its infancy and Dallas was cutting edge television programming! Ok, it hasn’t been that long but there are lots of nice new toys that could provide you or your dance company with a serious edge in terms of delivering multi media-content to your audience or just making your life that little bit easier.

We often get asked why a contemporary dance publication publishes such articles and our reply is always the same. Dancers and dance makers have to use computers, video cameras and all the other technological wonders of our age so we might as well point you in the right direction.

Pro Mac

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We start off, as always, with a computer. The MacBook Pro is Apple’s re-monikered Powerbook for 2006. Almost physically identical to its predecessor on the outside the same cannot be said for the inside. Gone are the old PowerPC processors that served Apple Computer’s so well in the past. They have been replaced with Intel Core Duo chips that, to cut a long story short, make the machines, by some estimates, almost twice as fast as the laptops they succeed.

Also added to the machines inner lid, at the top, is a tiny iSight camera for internet based video conferencing or for larking about with Apple’s new built in application called Photo Booth.

Another less obvious change is something called the Mag Safe power connector which will disconnect itself and help prevent your laptop from crashing to the floor should you accidentally snag the power cable (we are told this often happens to people too stupid not see a bright white cable in the middle of the room).

The machine comes with the full iLife suite of programs, iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, iDVD, Garageband and the all new iWeb (for making websites the really easy way) and all the usual email, web browsing and other toys that come with OSX. DVD/CD Rom burning is included as standard.

A further, and almost unbelievable feature, is called Boot Camp. This allows you to install Windows XP onto your sleek new laptop and run your computer as if were any other bug ridden, virus prone, Windows laptop in the world.

OSX is unaffected by installing Windows and you simply select which operating system you want to run when the computer boots up. Upon booting into Windows the machine acts and performs just as a normal PC laptop would with no drop in speed so any and all application should run without any problems should you need them.

The 15” MacBook pro with a 1.83Ghz Intel Core Duo Processor, 80GB Hard Disk, 512mb of Ram, 4 x Superdrive, Airport Extreme, Bluetooth and much more can be had for £1,429 (less for non profits and education)

[ MacBook Pro ]

Sony HVR A1E Pro HDV Camcorder

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Although Sony have given this camera the most ridiculously unimaginative name in history this is rather a snappy little video camera. Capable of shooting in both High Definition and Standard Definition this is a camera that can handle almost any shooting situation.

The camera’s signature feature is its incredibly small size. It is just 19cm long and 7cm wide which makes it ideal for transporting, especially on planes in your carry on luggage. Unlike most other professional camcorders this one uses a CMOS sensor (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) instead of 3xCCD (Charge Coupled Device). This has little or no effect on image quality however since CMOS sensors have been used and developed for may years in SLR photo cameras so the pedigree is on sure footing.

Combine that with its ability to shoot HD footage in widescreen format (16:9), shoot in progressive frame mode (for a pseudo film look), XLR audio connectors and did I mention this thing is smaller than a hamster? (a pretty big hamster at that! Ed!)

Image quality is excellent and a rugged design means it will survive the rigours of the professional dance world.

At present HD footage cannot be delivered to a third party via DVD since there are, as yet, no HD DVD players on general release in the UK and HD DVD burners are at present not widely available. HD footage can be viewed and edited on suitably equipped computers however, like the aforementioned MacBook Pro. You can also connect the camera directly to a HD plasma screen or monitor for playback.

£1,650, varies by supplier.

[ Sony ]

Canon Digital IXUS 55

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While digital SLR cameras become more and more common, small ‘point and shoot’ cameras can provide a great alternative to lugging around their larger, more expensive, brothers and their associated lenses and flash guns.

The IXUS range from Canon has a solid pedigree in digital camera terms and this one is no exception. An all metal construction with a resolution of 5 mega pixels, its tiny size (just 8.5cm long and a little over 2cm thick) and excellent image quality make this camera perfect for capturing the day to day moments sadly lacking from the websites of almost every dance company in the world.

Its small size makes it ideal for equipping on-tour dancers to provide visual feedback from workshops, performances, back stage and other moments that really should be documented. Because it’s a point and shoot camera there is little, if anything, to learn to use the camera and it connects easily to a computer for downloading and storing images once the onboard memory card is full.

The full metal construction makes it, almost, indestructible. Although this camera will be of little use in producing high quality low light images, such as dance performances in theaters, it is the perfect choice for the situations outlined above.

The low price should make this camera a part of any dance makers toolbox

£175, varies by supplier.

[ Canon IXUS 55 ]

Final Cut Studio

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Dance film production and video output is, pretty much, in dire straights but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t equip yourself with the best tools in the business to get the job done, especially when they cost as little as Final Cut Studio from Apple.

For just £899 you will get, in the box, Final Cut Pro 5.1, Motion 2, Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio Pro; a complete suite of tools to produce full blown digital film productions from almost any Mac computer you have lying around.

Final Cut Pro can handle all types of video from DV to Uncompressed HD straight out of the box with no additional hardware required for most of the formats you may want to use. The package itself is extremely intuitive and can handle all editing tasks from simple cutting to multi layered video compositing.

Motion is Apple’s way of creating animated graphics and even if you have no skills in that particular area you can easily use the built in templates to make stunning motion graphics. We would recommend spending some time learning the programme in-depth however as you will be missing out on a lot of functionality if you stick to the templates.

Soundtrack Pro, as its name suggests, enables you to edit multiple tracks of audio and music with a realtime video preview for precise editing. A library of 5000 sound effects is included in an easy to search database along with dozens of professional standard sound filters that give you very little reason for not blowing peoples ears of with some stunning sound work.

DVD Studio is a fairly straight forward DVD production system that can handle HD DVD, although there is no way to burn such material to DVD discs at present (at least nothing that is affordable or cost effective).

All of the packages are tightly integrated. If you need to add some motion graphics to a piece of video, for example, you simply highlight the video you want to augment, select the ‘send to Motion’ option from the Final Cut Pro menu and Motion will open with your video material in place for immediate editing. Clicking save in Motion sends it back to Final Cut so you can continue on your way. Easy to do and very powerful!

Final Cut Studio is a complex package that will take time to learn fully but the tight integration, rock solid stability and superb performance, especially on the new Intel Macs, is nothing short of amazing, especially when you consider the price.

£899 for full version, £499 for Upgrade, discounts available for education and non-profits.

[ Final Cut Studio ]

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