August 2002 Computer Video news

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In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

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How to get started with computer video editing

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Premiere 6.5 adds OSX-compatibility and Windows MPEG-2 encoding

Although Adobe Premiere 6 remains the prosumer video editor against which all others are judged, a number of rivals have started to make the program look decidedly jaded. But many of the Premiere's most obvious shortcomings look to be addressed with the launch in September of V6.5, SRP £540 (inc VAT), in Mac and Windows versions.
The biggest change with the Mac version is its ability to run on Apple's new multi-tasking, multi-processor-aware operating system, OS X - not just OS 9. With the Windows version, the big news is the introduction of a built-in high-quality MPEG-2 encoder for DVD authoring. In each version, there's also a much needed all-new - and very powerful looking ñ titler.
There's little change to the main interface, so existing users will feel at home. Such folk can upgrade at a discount - £135 from previous full versions, and £182 from LE versions.
MainConcept's well-respected technology ñ already used by Ulead and Sonic Foundry ñ is at the heart of the Windows MPEG-2 encoder. It is also available for use with the Studio 3 editor, but Studio 3's maker, Pure Motion has had to stop selling its most recent variation on the MainConcept-based encoder - an MPEG plug-in for Premiere! V6.5 for Windows has an easy-to-use MPEG export window. This offers an extensive list of encoding options for DVD, SVCD and VCD creation, and launches the included lite version of Sonic's DVDit DVD authoring software when choosing DVD export.
Mac users haven't been totally forgotten when it comes to MPEG. Version 6.5 promises improved compatibility with Apple's DVD Studio Pro authoring program, with chapter markers on the Premiere timeline being recognised by Apple's program. In addition, Premiere DV movies created in V6.5 are said to be suitable for importing into Apple's lite DVD-authoring program, iDVD.
Adobe says that V6.5 offers real-time previewing of transitions, effects and titles, assuming the host computer is powerful enough. The company reckons all that's required is a 500MHz PIII under Windows, and a lowly 300MHz PowerPC processor for Mac systems - though one running OS 9.2.2 or OS 10.1.3. However, on the beta we've seen, the real-time capabilities look little different from those available with V6. The significant difference seems to be that V6.5 has an option to turn on real-time preview, where V6 requires the user to hold down the Alt key throughout real-time previewing.
The new built-in titler -Title Designer - is one of the best-looking titling tools we've seen, and is a big improvement over the very limited capabilities provided with V6. Title Designer appears to be based on Adobe's Illustrator, and has the same convenient mouse-drag parameter-changing controls with which users of Adobe After Effects will be familiar. It installs 90 fonts that are said to be especially suited to titling, and offers rolling, scrolling and sliding motions ñ but no 3D animation effects. Title Designer offers manual control over the usual wide range of text and background effects, but also has over 300 pre-designed templates to save time and effort ñ though these, too, are fully adjustable. Title compositions are automatically placed in the clip bin and - nice touch - even the most complex of titles is seen as one layer by Premiere, for instant previewing and reduced render time.
Version V6.5 comes with 30 After Effects plug-ins - five of them new, including a Lightning effect. Windows users also get three useful DirectX audio plug-ins from TC Works - Reverb, EQ and Dynamic - while Mac users are provided with a copy of TC Works SparkLE. This is a real-time audio editor that works with WAV, AIFF, SDI and QuickTime files; can decode MP3s; and is said to provide support for the industry-standard VST audio plug-in and ASIO hardware.
As with V6, the very useful SmartSound QuickTracks program is integrated into V6.5 for speedy creation of any length of music track. Some 27 QuickTracks sets are provided, including 11 that are said to have been updated to reflect the latest musical trends.

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4001;

Philips slashes DVD+R/+RW set-top burner price to under £500

Two third-generation set-top DVD+R/+RW burners are to be launched by Philips this month, each virtually half the price of the model it replaces. The two machines, the DVDR880 (£499, inc VAT) and DVDR890 (£599), take over from the £800 DVDR980 and £900 DVDR985 ñ models that were introduced only few months ago (news, May 2002, p9).
Set-top burners have built-in tuners and timers, and are sold as hi-tech substitutes for VCRs. The newcomers - which feature VCRplus+ timer recording and an AC-3 decoder/encoder - have an almost identical spec to their forerunners, and to one another. However, as before, only the more expensive model has a FireWire port (which is input-only), though it does distinguish itself in a new way, by offering an extended record mode of six hours. This is in addition to the two-hour, three-hour and four-hour modes of its cheaper stable-mate and the previous-generation models.
Each model uses the MPEG-2 encoder that was introduced last time round and which is said to offer best-in-class video and audio quality, irrespective of recording time - a claim we've still not been able to test. The encoder is also reckoned to prevent recordings made at slow speeds from stopping short of their full recording time. This is most likely to happen if the material being recorded has a lot of movement that requires a higher data rate to maintain quality. Philips' encoder uses Smart VBR - a method of variable bit-rate writing - which constantly monitors the data-rate to work out if a recording is likely to over run, and reduces the data-rate (and quality) accordingly to fit everything in.
The Philips machines are claimed to play virtually all disc types, including the rival DVD-R/DVD-RW format, SVCD and VCD, audio CD and, unlike their predecessors, even MP3-CD. Sockets include front audio and S-video/composite video inputs, and two rear Scarts, one able to input RGB, the other to take it in.

Philips, 020 8665 6350;

Canopus one-way analogue/digital converter on a card

Canopus has come up with a novel, if not entirely satisfactory way of cutting the cost of analogue/DV converters. The company is introducing a product, the ADVC-50 (SRP £175, inc VAT), which takes the form of a PCI card, rather than a black box, and can convert only one way ñ from analogue to digital.
That means it's only suitable for users who want to bring analogue video footage into a FireWire-equipped computer for editing, and don't need to save DV projects back out to VHS or S-VHS tape. The ADVC-50 can be fitted inside a Mac or Windows PC, but doesn't have to be installed in the normal sense. It requires no drivers and does no more
than take its power from the PCI slot.
The card works with PAL or NTSC footage, uses Canopus's own DV Codec and is said to be the first inexpensive converter to support locked audio. It has one internal six-pin FireWire port, plus five sockets on its back-plate ñ a four-pin FireWire port, and inputs for S-video, composite video and L-R audio. Also in-pack are a six-pin-to-four-pin FireWire cable, and a housing for the card that fits into a PC's front-facing 5.25in drive bay.
The housing is used either because the PC has no free PCI slot, or simply to make the sockets on the card easier to access. There are no sockets or power connectors on the housing ñ it's just a shell to hold the card and has holes on the front through which protrude the card's own back-plate sockets. When the card is used in the bay, rather than a PCI slot, it needs an alternative source of power ñ and this is supplied by connecting it to the sort of power cable normally used for hard disks and CD-ROM drives.

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188;

Edition DV now compatible with OHCI cards and DV500

Pinnacle's keenly-priced professional Windows DV editing program, Edition DV 4 has been upgraded. Version 4.5 is said to work with OHCI-standard FireWire cards and analogue/DV converters, and to offer real-time effects (dissolves, wipes and titles) and full in/out capabilities with the company's own DV500 analogue/DV dual-stream card.
As with V4 - recent winner of an Editor's Choice award (review, July 2002, p32) - V4.5 carries an SRP of £499 inc VAT and will ship with an OHCI PCI FireWire card. Version 4 required the card to be running Pinnacle's own drivers - stopping it being used for FireWire peripherals such as hard drives. V4.5, though, is said to work with standard OHCI drivers and be able to run on any FireWire card or built-in FireWire port fully conforming to this standard. This should mean that Edition can be used with FireWire hard disks connected to the same FireWire card or port as a DV camcorder ñ rather than requiring a second card to be installed.
Edition 4.5's full compatibility with the DV500 allows Pinnacle to offer a compelling and affordable hardware/software pairing ñ Edition DV500. This has a suggested price that's just £50 more than the software alone, and only £10 more than the over-the-counter price of Adobe's Premiere editing software, a new version of which is due out shortly (news, this issue, p6).
Like the original (and still current) DV500 version sold with Premiere, which can be had for under £470, Edition DV500 includes a breakout box with S-video, composite video, and L/R audio in/outs. Edition V4.5's value is further enhanced by the hundreds of pounds worth of additional Pinnacle software that comes in-pack - the Impression DVD Pro 2.2 DVD authoring program (review, July 2002, p48); Hollywood FX and AlphaMagic FX for special effects; and TitleDeko.
Current Edition users can upgrade to V4.5 free, but the software will be available only on CD -not as an Internet download. Existing DV500 users running Premiere 6 will be offered various cheap Edition deals on Pinnacle's web site. The first will offer Edition for £119, but without a copy of Impression DVD Pro 2.2. The same deal is available for just £25 to owners of the desktop version of FASTstudio.DV3 - Edition's forerunner - though this offer was scheduled to end July 31.

Pinnacle, 01895 424210;

Low-cost Leef FireWire drive bays

Datavision, the company best know for its DV-in enabling Widgets, has taken on UK distribution of the Leef range of FireWire products, including inexpensive drive bays for 3.5in and 2.5in hard disks.
Each drive bay has two six-pin FireWire ports, comes with a six-pin-to-six-pin FireWire cable, and is keenly priced ñ £69 (inc VAT) for the 3.5in model and £65 for the 2.5in. The bays are said to support UltraATA/100 hard drives, run under Win XP, 2K, ME and 98SE, and MacOS 9 and OS X, and to use Oxford OXFW911 and Texas Instruments TSB41AB2 chipsets.
The 3.5in bay measures 132(w) x34(h) x220(d)mm, is powered from an external adaptor and has a power on/off switch. The 2.5in bay ñ petite at 80(w) x22(h) x140(d)mm - has a soft carry case but no power adaptor or on/off switch. It is powered from a PC's six-port FireWire port or ñ if the FireWire port isn't up to the job ñ via USB from a supplied adaptor cable.

Datavision, 01525 406886;

USB capture 'cable' from Pinnacle

Pinnacle is offering a novel external analogue-to-USB video capture device that takes the form of a chunky cable. The Linx Video Input Cable, SRP £40 (inc VAT), plugs directly into a Windows PC (98SE/ME/2000/XP) and comes with drivers and a lite version of Pinnacle's entry-level editing software, Studio 7 (review, Sept 2001, p32).
One end of the bright-yellow cable carries inputs (RCA composite video and stereo audio L/R - but no S-video) for connecting to a camcorder or VCR. The other is a USB 1.1 plug for a USB-equipped computer.
Linx captures AVIs at a relatively low resolution of 320x240 pixels, so isn't going to replace internal video capture cards, but does offer a quick and dirty way of bring analogue footage into a PC, without having to open up the case. Footage edited in Studio 7SE can be output as AVIs, or in MPEG1, MPEG2, RealVideo8 or Windows Media formats.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

Pinnacle adds DVD authoring and Sony MicroMV camcorder support to Studio budget editor

Pinnacle's Studio 7 - about the easiest to use and best-spec'd Windows budget video editing program available ñ is being replaced with a version that offers background rendering and adds the ability to record projects directly from the timeline to DVD, VCD and SVCD.
Rather more surprising, Pinnacle says that Studio 8 ñ SRP £60 (inc VAT) ñ is compatible not just with DV camcorders but also with MPEG-2 footage output via FireWire from Sony's range of MicroMV camcorders.
That must be a big relief for Sony since, to date, the only other editing program that could cope with this footage was Sony's own Movie Shaker Plus. This shortcoming must have been holding back the MicroMV format since, as we pointed out in our review of the DCR-IP7E MicroMV camcorder (February 2002, p54), Movie Shaker Plus is basic, seriously flawed and not a patch on any of the leading budget editing programs.
The new DVD and VCD capabilities, though, are what will attract most new buyers to Studio 8. According to the company, the program offers sophisticated DVD menu features, such as moving video backgrounds and moving video in menu buttons, and allows users to add looping background music and easily create multiple linked and nested menus for complex interactivity.
Pinnacle is offering V8 as a £40 upgrade to users of the full V7 and free to those who have bought V7 in the UK between July 1 and September 30, 2002. The free upgrade also applies to purchasers of Pinnacle hardware that includes the full Studio 7 software ñ Studio DC10plus, Studio Deluxe, Studio DV and Studio DVplus.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

TerraTec £50 DVD authoring bundle

TerraTec's latest keenly priced DV editing bundle is a £50 hardware/software combination, the Cameo 200 DV, that includes Cyberlink's PowerDirector Pro 2 DE for DVD authoring.
The package runs on Win XP/2K/ME/98SE and centres on an OHCI PCI FireWire card with two six-pin ports (one internal, one external). PowerDirector Pro 2.0 DE is an all-in-one entry-level program with a drag-and-drop storyboard interface; and capture, edit, authoring and burn-to-disk capabilities. It's said to be able to output in MPEG-1/2, DV-AVI, Windows AVI and WMV (Windows Media Video) formats and to import AVI, MPEG-1/2, DAT, MP3, WAV, Audio CD, BMP, JPEG and TIF files.
Pro 2.0 DE is similar to the full version, but has fewer
video effects and offers four fewer audio tracks. On the authoring side, the wizard-based software is said to support chapters; interactive menus; a range of templates (30 in
total); slideshows; and previewing before burning to VCD, SVCD, DVD and miniDVD. Supported hardware is claimed to include CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW and DVD+RW.

TerraTec, 0118 982 1612;

WD 200GByte EIDE hard disk

There's set to be a new leader in the race to offer the biggest EIDE hard disk. Western Digital is launching a 200GByte/7,200rpm model, price still unknown, that will nose ahead of the current no.1, Maxtor, with its 160GByte/5,400rpm D540X-family drive, which can be had for under £210 (inc VAT).
The new-comer will sell alongside WD's established 7,200rpm Caviar models, which include 80GByte, 100GByte (review, May 2002, p76) and 120GByte drives.

Western Digital, 01372 360387;

Canopus £230 analogue/DV editing card

Canopus is launching a low-cost editing card ñ the ADVC1394, SPR £229 (inc VAT) ñ offering DV input and output, analogue input (but not output), and the ability to work on Mac and Windows PCs in PAL or NTSC formats.
Because it lacks analogue outputs, the card can't be used to save projects back out to VHS or S-VHS tape. That will considerably limit its appeal, though Apple users may like the idea of a card that adds analogue input and two extra FireWire ports ñ one an external four-pin, the other an internal six-pin.
The card has L/R audio inputs and a seven-pin video input for both S-video and composite video. It's said to be fully OHCI-compliant, and thus compatible with a wide range of Mac and Windows editing software, and also able to work directly with FireWire hard drives (and other FireWire peripherals), as well as DV camcorders.
Among the programs reckoned to be compatible with the card are Apple's iMovie and Final Cut Pro; Avid's XpressDV; and Adobe's Premiere 6. No Mac software is supplied, but two Windows programs are provided in-pack ñ a lite version of Sonic Foundry's Vegas Video 3.0 for video editing (review of full version, this issue, p76) and InterVideo WinProducer 3.0 DVD.
WinProducer 3 DVD is a timeline-based editor that can capture from analogue and DV sources; convert files to a range of formats including VCD-compliant MPEG-1, SVCD and DVD-compliant MPEG-2, and Windows Media Video MPEG-4; and create and burn projects to VCD, SVCD and DVD or save them back to tape.
Canopus says that the card's minimum system requirements are Mac OS9 or OSX running on a PowerPC Mac; and Win XP/2K Pro and ME running on an AMD Athlon 500MHz or PIII 600MHz PC fitted with a graphics card that has DirectDraw off-screen overlay, is DirectX 8 compliant and offers screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or better. An Ultra ATA/66 hard disk and 128MByte RAM are also recommended.
As with another newcomer from Canopus, the ADVC-50 analogue/digital converter card (news, this issue, p8), the ADVC1394 uses Canopus's own DV Codec and supports locked audio. A nice touch is pairing the card with a breakout box ñ a £76 optional extra ñ that mounts in a 5.25in drive bay to duplicate the card's sockets at the the front of a PC.

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188;

Pinnacle sub-£70 TV tuner card trio

Pinnacle's revamped range of Windows TV tuner cards now includes three PCI models priced at £30 (PCTV Rave), £50 (PCTV) and £70 (PCTV Pro).
Video editing software is supplied as standard - Pinnacle Studio 7SE with the PCTV and PCTV Pro, and a trial version of the full V7 with the PCTV Rave. All come with two other Pinnacle programs - Vision V5 for tuning and recording; and PCTV WebText for teletext (with direct links from text to internet pages) ñ and the top two also have Pinnacle's T-Rex
for multimedia file conversion. The main software bundle is reckoned to allow recordings to be made from a TV signal of any standard (PAL, NTSC or SECAM) and from analogue sources via S-video or composite video. In each case, footage is said to be converted in real-time to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 IBP format. The MPEG footage can be replayed or burnt direct-to-disk from the Vision capture library, and it's said to be possible to watch the start of a timed recording before the show has finished being recorded.
Each of the top two models comes with an IR remote handset and matching infrared receiver
that connects to a PC's nine-pin serial port. The range-leading PCTV Pro adds stereo FM radio reception, with audio capture to MPEG audio or Microsoft Windows Media Audio format (WMA), and supports Nicam and multi-channel TV sound. Stated minimum system requirements are Win XP/2000/ME/98SE and 98 and DirectX 8 (or higher); a PII 450MHz or Celeron 600MHz processor; and 128MByte RAM.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;


Ulead DVD Workshop 1.2 update supports DVD+R and speeds up DV-to-MPEG capture

Ulead's DVD Workshop version 1.2 update - available from the company's web site ñ is claimed to support the new DVD+R format and offer faster DV-to-MPEG capture and file transcoding.
It's also said to allow DVD-compliant MPEG files with different bit-rates and aspect ratios (4:3 or 16:9) to be used in a single project without transcoding, and to burn VIDEO_TS and Audio_TS folders direct-to-disc without first creating a disc image file. Also saving time, V1.2 is said to render only non-DVD compliant MPEG files while burning; and to write projects directly to DVD without first creating a temporary disc image.
Among other listed features are improved capture device support; better error reporting; the ability to use re-editable Ulead PhotoImpact UFO files in DVD menus and work with high-quality uncompressed linear PCM audio files; and reliable burning of large projects (4GByte DVD, and 580MByte VCD).

Ulead, 01327 844880;

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in August's issue:

Apple dual-1Ghz PowerMac
Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3
Red Submarine laptop

In August's news:

Premiere 6.updates
Philips cuts DVD burner price
Canopus analogue digital converter card
Edition DV now compatible with OHCI
Low-cost Leef FireWire drive bays
USB capture 'cable' from Pinnacle
Pinnacle adds DVD authoring
Sony MicroMV camcorder support
TerraTec £50 DVD authoring bundle
WD 200GByte EIDE hard disk
Canopus £230 analogue/DV editing card
Pinnacle sub-£70 TV tuner card trio

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