August 2001 News

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

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
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Bigger, faster Maxtor

Maxtor has added a 100GByte hard drive, the DiamondMax D536DX, to its range of ATA/100, 5,400 rpm models. The drive can hold nearly eight hours of DV footage and has a street price of £241 (inc VAT) - just £20 more than the previous 80GByte range-leader.
Also newly available is a 60GByte 7,200rpm FireWire drive, the 3000DV (£320), claimed to be more than twice as fast as Maxtor's initial 60GByte and 80GByte 5,400rpm FireWire models.
Although Maxtor hasn't released much supporting technical information, the big speed increase with the new FireWire drive can't simply be down to faster rotational speed. Instead, the performance hike is likely to be more to do with improvements in the drive case's FireWire interface - an advance that other makers are also starting to come up with.
Along with Compaq, Microsoft, VIA Technologies and others, Maxtor is also involved with an initiative to produce drives of almost unimaginable capacity. A standard that the companies have submitted for consideration by the ANSI T13 committee would up the current drive size limit from 137GByte to 144PBytes - yes, PetaBytes - a 100,000-fold increase!
If approved, the initiative on huge-capacity drives will require new electronics in hard disks and motherboards - although hard disk controller cards dedicated to the new standard are likely to arrive first for use with standard motherboards.

Maxtor, 00331 41 806434;
Maxtor 'Big Drive' Initiative,
Price for Maxtor DiamondMax D536DX from Aria,

Virtual PC for Windows

Connectix Virtual PC for Windows (£175 inc VAT - but with discounts for education and bulk buying) allows multiple Windows operating systems to be run on a single PC. The program itself runs on Windows ME, NT and 2000, and - at the stated price - is supplied only with DOS2000. This allows users to use existing installation discs to install Ôguest' operating systems.
Our initial hopes for the program were that it would enable the use of legacy hardware under secondary operating systems, but this appears not to be the case. Virtual PC will only emulate specific devices, such as graphics or sound cards, and ignores all other devices installed on the host system - including video editing hardware (and that includes OHCI-compliant FireWire cards). However, it does automatically recognise existing network setups. USB is only supported for rodents and keyboards, and shared USB drive volumes.
Guest operating systems are launched just like any program under Windows. According to Connectix, a feature known as ÔSandboxing' allows email to be used within a guest operating system with complete protection against viruses, as that OS is seen a single file, with nothing for the virus to lock onto.
An obvious application will be for web designers, who can check the compatibility of their sites with different Windows-based operating systems and browsers. It may also enable the use of programs that are now incompatible with the most up-to-date operating systems.
Watch out for a full review very soon.


Vaio portable editing options

Latest FireWire-equipped laptops in Sony's Vaio range are the PG-SR31K (£1,802 inc VAT) and PCG-C1VFK (£,1702 inc VAT).
The PG-SR31K measures 259(w) x 32(h) x 209(d)mm, and weighs 1.36kg, including battery. The slightly cheaper PCG-C1VFK is a more petite 248(w) x 27(h) x 152(d)mm and weighs 1kg all up.
Each model has a modest 15GByte hard drive, 128MByte RAM, a built-in 56K modem, a MemoryStick port and support for Bluetooth wireless networking at speeds of up to 723Kbits per second. Unlike some previous Vaios, the newcomers don't have Adobe Premiere installed. Instead, they have Sony's own entry-level video editing program, Movie Shaker. However, as before, the PC's FireWire ports are likely to be set up with non-standard drivers, so users will need to change to standard OHCI drivers to run other editing programs, such as Premiere or MediaStudio.
The SR31K has a 750MHz Pentium III processor and a 10.4in TFT colour display that's fed by an S3 Savage graphics chip with 8MBytes RAM - providing a maximum resolution of 1024x768.
The C1VFK has a 667MHz Crusoe processor, and graphics provided by a 8MByte ATI Rage mobility chip, and distinguishes itself by having a built-in webcam - called ÔMotion Eye. This enables stills capture at resolutions up to 640 x 480 pixels, and motion capture at 160 x 120 pixels at ten frames per second or 30 frames per second using hardware overlay. Video capture from the Magic Eye is limited to 30 minutes. The C1VFK has a smaller TFT monitor than its brother, but this is very wide - 8.95in. Maximum resolution, though, is 1024 x 480, making it unable to display PAL DV at its full resolution.
As with Panasonic and its SD Card format, Sony is eager to impress on us the versatility of MemoryStick for media storage and use with MP3 players, while in the same breath, waxing lyrical about its built-in copy protection system.
Vaios were among the first PCs to have built-in FireWire ports but, in our tests, never managed to impress. It's hard to say from the spec whether these latest models are going to break the mould, but if we ever get the chance to review them (not likely, we guess), we'll let you know.

Sony, 0990 111999/424424;


Ulead, maker of MediaStudio Pro and VideoStudio editing software, is now offering CDs of high-resolution copyright-free video footage. Pick-a-Video is sold in Europe in packs of 15 CDs (UK price £234, inc VAT), consisting of three sets of five discs. One set is devoted to DV Type 1 PAL full res (720 x 576); another is QTime Photo JPEG PAL full res (720 x 576); and the last (which is on discs with a viewer program) is QTime low-res (for previewing at 160x 120). Each pack covers five themes - such as Sunrises and Sunsets; Coastal Scenes; City Lights, Transportation (1); and Water Worlds, in Pack 1 - and each theme contains 18 clips totalling about 200 secs per CD. Currently, three packs are available - two of scenery and one devoted to 3D computer animations.


Fast brings AV support to studio

Having released FASTstudio DV as a software-only package for Windows 2000 users, FAST is set to add analogue video support using its own analogue/DV capture board, AV. Pricing and availability for the UK software/card bundle are still unknown, but pricing in Euros has been set on the continent.
The Basic Pack, costing 1,490 Euros (around £897) will consist of a AV board; dongle-protected FASTstudio.DV editing software; Boris FX LTD 5; Darim's MPEG encoder, DV MPEG 4; and Spruce's entry-level DVD authoring application, SpruceUp. AV owners will have an upgrade option for the software alone for 790 Euros (about £475).
A higher-priced bundle, Complete Pack (2,390 Euros - or £1,438), contains all the above hardware and software, along with FASTstudio.DV Production Pack, which provides a greater array of effects editors and editing tools. It also contains bitmap gradient transitions in the form of SpiceMaster 100 plus SoundForge XP audio tools. A complete software-only bundle for AV can be had for 1,690 Euros (£1,017). Look out for a review soon.

FAST, 020 8968 0411;

Matrox enters new Millennium

Matrox was the first company to push dual-head graphics cards into the mainstream with its Millennium G400 (review, September 99, p40) and, while the design has been streamlined with the G450, not much has changed in almost two years. The huge leaps in 3D performance with GeForce 2 chipsets, and the recent release of ATI's Radeon card, has meant that Matrox really had to do something to compete.
It's response is the Millennium G550 (expected street price £112 inc VAT). This uses a 32MByte RAMDAC, running at 360MHz, and which - coupled with an improved chipset - is claimed to make it the fastest desktop accelerator available. It supports resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 and, like its predecessors, features outputs for dual monitor support. The desktop can be spread across two monitors - the ideal setup for using many desktop video programs. Alternatively, one desktop can be mirrored on both. In contrast to forerunners, the G550's secondary output is digital, for use with compatible LCD monitors. One supplied adaptor allows this digital output to be used for conventional CRT monitors, and another lets it feed analogue video (say of DVD playback, or the entire desktop) via composite or S-Video to a normal TV set or VCR. While we're sure that the G550 will represent a substantial improvement in performance, and help the company catch up with the competition, early reports suggest that it's primarily geared towards offices and media use, and won't compete as a gamer's card.
Matrox's big hook for the G550 is the introduction of ÔHeadCasting' - with which a 3D head is generated, and used to provide a visual human element to internet meetings. Matrox claims that its headcasts can be delivered at high resolution over 56K dial-up modems. Webcams and streaming video are obviously preferable for communication within a company, but HeadCasting may prove popular where anonymity is important - such as in chat rooms and technical support services. Look out for a full review soon.

Matrox, 01753 665500;

Mac users on a Rol

Edirol's UA-100G USB audio effects processor has been made Mac-compatible. The device (£299 inc VAT) provides a MIDI interface, a mixer panel and an effects processor, and connects to a Mac via USB.
It has two MIDI ports, a built-in 24-bit DSP with 64 effects and a voice transformer, plus sockets for analogue line in, mic, guitar and headphones. The UA-100G has been programmed with a selection of Boss pedal effects for electric guitar players, and a range of vocal effects for singers.
One word of warning, the Mac-compatible version shipping now carries the same model name as earlier versions, so potential purchasers should double-check before buying.

Edirol, 0845 117 2001;

Kids on cams

First Light, a project aimed at encouraging youngsters to get involved in digital film making, has been launched by the Film Council. Lottery funds of £1million are available to support production of over 200 films over the next year, across the UK.
The project aims to allow individuals aged 8 to 18 easy access to the expertise and equipment necessary in the creative and technical aspects of digital film making, and to fund development of short films up to ten minutes long. Any youth organisation or individual can make an application for a one-off project, or up to ten separate works. For application forms write to HI8US First Light Ltd, Unit 419, The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4AA, or visit First Light's web site.

First Light,


Digital Anarchy
Digital Anarchy has released an updated version of its text-generator plug-in, Elements of Anarchy: Text 1.1, for Adobe After Effects and compatible applications - including Final Cut Pro 2, Commotion 4.0 and Electric Gasket for Avid. Streaming sets of characters akin to those in the opening sequence of The Matrix can be created, as well as scrolling text passages - like those used to epic effect in Star Wars. The product is £79 but the update is free to registered users.
Digital Anarchy, 001 650-575-7485;

Yelo DVD Update
July's review of the Yelo 800 DVD set-top DVD player (p64), said that the player might not be able to play discs nobbled with RCE coding. However, we've been alerted by messageboard regulars, Jeff Davies and Stuart B-M that manual region selection (and, hence RCE play) is possible. This is good news, as potential incompatibility with RCE discs was our only real criticism of the machine, which we now consider to be the nearest thing there is to a must-buy player. To access the regional settings menu, press Eject, Setup, Mute, Last and Next.
Yelo, 020 8366 1012;
Lynx DV, 01737 770 042;

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in August's issue:
Apple DVD Studio Pro 1.1

Apple G4 733 and iDVD
Packard Bell Video Dre@m

Pioneer DVR-A03
Panasonic LF-D311

In August's news:
Bigger, faster Maxtor
Virtual PC for Windows
Vaio portable editing options
Fast brings AV support to studio
Matrox enters new Millennium
Mac users on a Rol
Kids on cams
Digital Anarchy
Yelo DVD Update

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