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Computer Video April 2004 News

Third-generation MovieFactory

Ulead's MkIII budget Windows DVD authoring program adds motion to menus and buttons plus one-click fit-to-disc burning

The third version of Ulead's budget Windows DVD authoring program DVD MovieFactory (V1 review, Dec 01, p44) boasts more authoring, editing and burning features than before. It's being sold in two versions - Disc Creator, only available online for £50 (inc VAT), or £40 for the upgrade; and Standard for £30, or £25 for the upgrade. Creator gives additional data and audio burning features, along with Dolby Digital (AC-3) stereo audio support.
Motion-menu/button support, with real-time previewing, is a major authoring enhancement in V3. The main menu can also be 'hidden'. Chapter points can be created by content detection or at fixed time intervals or by scene detection. Instead of using one of 75 menu presets, video clips and music can be imported for use as background content.
Disc Direct - the program's direct-to-disc video-capture feature - bypasses the hard drive when burning to optical disc and has been enhanced to include a one-click capture-then-burn option to fit an entire DV tape's contents directly onto a single disc. There's also capture, import and encoding support for Sony MicroMV. Creator adds import support for MPEG video with AC-3 stereo audio and WMV and WMA files. It also includes AC-3 stereo audio encoding.
Editing tools have been greatly improved for multiple trimming of video clips with delete and retain selection. Audio can be replaced or added to the background and faded in/out or repeated to fit the video duration. A slideshow can be fitted to the length of an audio track, too. The Creator version also offers voice-track recording.
Transitions can be added between scene changes or between selected points on clips or images. Horizontal or vertical titles can be added anywhere in frame, with lots of frame and style settings available for video and slideshows.
In addition to customisable MPEG encoding settings, disc-burning enhancements include one-drive and on-the-fly disc copying, and the transfer of DVD-VR/+VR (rewritable) discs to DVD-Video for viewing on standard DVD players. DVD+VR support extends to on-disc content editing - including adding slideshows and, only in Creator, using Direct Disk capture to add new video. Creator is said to be able to carry out on-disc editing of DVD-RAM and DVD-RW discs recorded in set-top DVD recorders or PC drives, including adding, editing or deleting playlists. It also offers DVD-VR write support and 'easy-to-use' creation of data, Audio CD and MP3 CD/DVD.
MovieFactory 3 integrates disc label printing, and Creator comes with Ulead's own DVD Player - said to play MP3s, media files, music CDs, VCDs, DVDs and discs created by Ulead products.
System requirements are Windows 98SE (or above); an 800MHz or faster PIII/Athlon processor (at least 1.8GHz P4/1.7GHz Athlon for direct capture and burn from DV to DVD discs); 256MByte RAM (512MByte recommended); 400MByte of spare disk space for installation (5GByte or more for video capture or DVD burning); DirectX 9.0 (or above); and Windows-compatible sound and graphics cards - resolution of 800x600 (1024x768 recommend).

Ulead UK, 01327 844880; www.ulead.co.uk

Budget Canopus MPEG suite

'Easy-to-use', affordable and powerful MPEG editor with basic DVD authoring

MPEGCraft DVD is an affordable - SRP £81 (inc VAT) - MPEG video editing and DVD authoring package from Canopus.
The MPEG editor is reckoned to be easy to use and to offer frame-accurate trimming of GOP (Group of Pictures) MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 files, including those in Sony's MicroMV format. The editor is also said to allow multiple MPEG files to be joined up with the same degree of accuracy. The software features manual insertion of chapter-points or their automatic creation at the start of each new clip or at scene changes. To save time, only edited segments are re-encoded on export.
Making encoding faster still, there's reckoned to be support for a range of Canopus MPEG encoder hardware - the Storm Encoder, found in DVStorm2 (review, Apr 03, p32); the latest DVStorm2 Pro+, and the MPEGPRO MVR and MVR1000 cards.
Among additional MPEG encoding options added by the 'to MPEG Tool' are multiplexing and de-multiplexing of MPEG files; re-encoding of MPEG files including MPEG-1-to-MPEG-2 conversion; and DV AVI-to-MPEG encoding with in/out configuration.
An edited MPEG project can be burned to disc or saved as a DVD-Video system file for future authoring. DVD titles can also be authored to have looped playback that's especially suited to video displays. Currently, there's only support for DVD-R/-RW formats, but DVD+R/+RW capability is promised soon as a free upgrade.
Minimum system requirements are given as Windows XP (Home or Pro) or 2000 (SP2 or higher); an 800MHz CPU (2GHz recommended); 128MByte RAM; 20MByte free disk space for installation; a graphics card with hardware-based DirectDraw overlay; and Internet connection for product activation.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com


8x speed DVD burners

LaCie and TDK introduce DVD burners capable of 8x speed burning to DVD-R/+R

The move to eight-speed DVD burning continues apace, with the introduction of two more new-generation high-speed drives, this time from LaCie and TDK.
The LaCie d2 Dual 8x DVD-/+RW Drive and the TDK DVW-A080412N high-speed DVD burners - expected to sell for under £200 (inc VAT) - are reckoned to write to DVD-R/+R media at 8x and DVD-RW/+RW at 4x like the new-generation burners from Pioneer and NEC (news, March 2003, p6).
CD write speeds on the LaCie are 24x for CD-R and CD-RW; and 32x to CD-R and 16x to CD-RW for the TDK. Read speeds for DVDs are 16x (LaCie) and 12x (TDK), and up to 40x for CDs.
The external LaCie DVD burner is encased in a sturdy metal alloy d2 housing that's said to dissipate heat to prolong the life of the drive. The Mac-only version (SRP £181) carries a FireWire port and is bundled with Roxio Toast 6 Titanium. The Windows version (£163) has FireWire and USB ports, and comes with Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 (Basic), Sonic MyDVD Suite (including the ArcSoft ShowBiz video editor) plus a lite version of Toast for Macs.
The internal TDK ATAPI/EIDE drive (£150) has a black front and tray to match the latest trend for black PCs. It's also said to feature a new quiet mechanism (below 45dB) that keeps vibrations to a minimum. Included software is Ahead's CD/DVD burning suite Nero 6 (news, October 2003, p10).

LaCie, 020 7872 8000; www.lacie.co.uk
TDK, 01737 771 212; www.tdk-europe.com


Canopus MPEG hardware

Replacement for Amber board is a real-time analogue<>MPEG-1/2 encoding/decoding card with 'enhanced' analogue video signal filtering, cleaning and stabilisation

Canopus's MVRD2200 - SRP £1,092 (inc VAT) - is a real-time analogue<>MPEG encoding/decoding PCI card that joins the company's MPEGPRO analogue-to-MPEG-1/2 real-time hardware encoder range (news, Oct 03, p6) in place of the Amber board.
It's claimed to feature enhanced analogue video signal filtering, cleaning and stabilisation, and to be scaleable up to full-D1 resolution video, with support for MPEG-2 Main profile at Main level (I, B, P frames) and I-frame-only MPEG-2 encoding.
Powerful pre-filtering is reckoned to provide advanced 3D Y/C separation to reduce colour noise and improved image quality; 3D digital noise-reduction in analogue video signals; a line time-base correction (LTBC) to correct jittery video images; and digital-frame synchronisation and auto gain controls.
Among the software utilities in-pack are the MPEG Station capture and playback utility, and a DV AVI-to-MPEG file converter. MPEG Station offers full-resolution overlay for previewing footage during capture, and customisable encoding options with support for variable bit-rate encoding between 1Mbit/sec and 15Mbit/sec. Other features include the addition of an Adobe Premiere export plug-in for encoding from the timeline, and a software development kit for creating customised software for MVRD2200-specific encoding tasks, including backward-compatibility with Amber and the company's MediaEdge LAN-based client/server video distribution system.
The card carries mini DIN inputs and outputs for S-video and composite video (using the supplied S-video converter cables), and analogue audio L/R (RCA) inputs and a 3.5mm stereo phono output.
Minimum system requirements are given as Windows 95 OSR2; an 800MHz CPU; 64MByte RAM; and a 16-bit graphics card supporting hardware-based DirectDraw overlay at 640 x 480 resolution.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com


Triple-connector HDDs

LaCie external hard disk drives with FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connections

LaCie is offering triple-interface connectivity on its latest range of large-capacity external hard disk drives. Each of the seven 7,200rpm drives in the d2 Triple Interface range (SRP£157-£810 inc VAT) has four ports - two high-speed FireWire 800 (IEEE1394b), one FireWire 400 (IEEE1394a), and one USB2.0 - and can be used with Mac or Windows PCs.
Disk capacities start at 160GByte, with a 2MByte buffer (SRP £157 inc VAT), and climb through 200GByte (2MByte; £187) and 250GByte (8MByte; £210). Capacities are even greater on the multi-disk Big Disk models - 320GByte (2MByte; £257), 400GByte (2MByte; £351), 500GByte (8MByte; £422), and 1,000GByte (8MByte; £810).
FireWire 800 offers theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 800Mbit/sec (100MByte/sec) and is backwardly-compatible with FireWire 400.
All d2 Triple Interface drives come with four cables - one nine-pin-to-nine-pin FW800, one six-pin-to-six-pin FW400, one four-pin-to-six-pin FW400, and one USB 2.0 - plus a drive-stand for upright desktop use, and an external power supply. LaCie drive-management utilities software is supplied for Mac and Windows.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000; www.lacie.co.uk


After Effects keyer

Primatte Keyer V1.5 for After Effects chromakeying includes 16-bit mode support

The latest version of Red Giant Software's professional After Effects keyer plug-in Primatte Keyer costs £382 (inc VAT), or £112 to previous version users.
Version 1.5 supports eight-bit mode within After Effects 5.0 (or later), along with 16-bit mode in After Effects Production Bundle versions (AE6 review, Dec 03, p48). The plug-in now runs under MacOS X 10.2.x as well as under OS 10.1.x and OS 9, but can't run in Classic mode.
The edge colour of a chromakeyed composition can be altered to that of a complementary or selected colour, and mattes can be created by pulling a key from any colour background. There is also said to be easy keying of objects such as hair, water and smoke, and grain removal in the alpha channel. Foreground and background areas can be sampled directly using a mouse instead of standard slider controls to remove spill and to correct edges and transparency directly within the After Effects composition window.
Minimum requirements are said to be After Effects 5.0; Windows 2000, or Mac OS 9; 256MByte RAM; and a Power Mac G4 or 600MHz Windows PC.

The CarPark (UK distributor); www.thecarpark.net
Red Giant Software, 001 415 274 2000; www.redgiantsoftware.com


FireWire analogue/DV HDD recorder

Analogue/DV capture and playback with nNovia portable FireWire hard disk recorder

UK distributor Datavision says that the three-strong range of nNovia QuickCapture A2D portable FireWire hard disk recorders offer the unique ability to capture from analogue and DV sources to their internal drives, and act as analogue<>DV converters.
The largest-capacity recorder, 80GByte (£1,174), is reckoned to allow up to six hours of continuous capture to disk with SMPTE timecode. The two other models can store up to three hours (40GByte/£939) and four-and-a-half (60GByte/£1,056). Power comes from an external rechargeable battery or mains adapter/charger - both included in pack, along with a belt bag. The recorder measure 102(w) x 47(h) x 150(d)mm, and weighs 454g without battery.
Incoming analogue or DV signals are converted in real-time to a pre-selected, edit-ready file format - either AVI Type 2 (Windows or Canopus) or QuickTime. File format can be changed during manual or camera-triggered recording, creating a new bin (folder) on disk each time. There can be up to 99 numbered bins, each hold up to 128 video clip, and clips can be marked for logging important scenes. The device can then connect via FireWire to a Mac (OS9 or later) or Windows (98 or above) PC and be used like a standard external hard drive for editing.
There are buttons for record/playback functions - including fast forward/reverse (2x-32x), loop, and slow-motion playback -and these are paired with a backlit LCD screen showing file-number, timecode and remaining recording time.
The back of the QuickCapture A2D has a single six-pin FireWire port to connect to a DV device or computer, a 12V DC power input, and a three-position switch - VTR/HDD/OFF - for placing the unit in record/playback (VTR mode), sending files to the PC (HDD mode), or turning it off. Another connector, for use with the supplied break-out cable has inputs/outputs for composite video (BNC), S-video and unbalanced stereo analogue audio (RCA).

Datavision (UK distributor), 01525 406886; www.datavision.co.uk
nNovia, 001 408 436 1486; www.nNovia.com


Ready-made Canopus effects

Windows budget 3D transition effects software with 500+ ready-to-use presets

Canopus's budget 3D transition effects software for Windows, VideoFX Transitions, £50 (inc VAT), offers over 500 ready-to-use presets.
The customisable effects include 3D object transitions and wipes; over 22 categories of standard wipes, such as page peels and mosaic effects; and alpha transitions - animated, colour map, organic dissolves, wipes, shape wipes and vapour dissolves.
The desired effect is selected in the program's Transitions Organiser that supports custom-effects lists. Various elements of each transition can be adjusted in the SmartConfig interface - size, number, motion type, lighting and shadows - and digital stills can be blended with video, too.
Canopus says all transitions created in VideoFX Transitions are compatible with a range of video editing programs - Canopus's Let's Edit (news, Dec 03, p13), Adobe Premiere (Pro review, Dec 03, p30) and Ulead's VideoStudio and MediaStudio Pro (V7 review, Aug 03, p28). Online previews are available at: www.canopus-uk.com/UK/products/VideoFX_transitions/pt_videofx_trans.asp.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 2000/XP; an 800MHz processor (Intel or AMD); 128MByte of RAM; 150MByte free disk space for application; DirectX 9.0; and a graphics card that supports a 24-bit colour display at 1024x768 resolution.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com

Read more news in April 2004's Computer Video magazine.


 

Recent features...
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Reviewed in this issue:

World's fastest editing PCs
Pinnacle Liquid Edition 5.5
Pinnacle Studio 9
CyberLink PowerDirector 3
Boris Red 3GL

In April's news:

Third-generation MovieFactory
Budget Canopus MPEG suite
8x speed DVD burners
Canopus MPEG hardware
Triple-connector HDDs
After Effects keyer
FireWire analogue/DV HDD recorder
Ready-made Canopus effects

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