Computer Video News - December 2003

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Computer Video News

SIBC Show report

Colin Barrett reports from the candyland of Amsterdam's International Broadcasting Convention

A visit to a trade exhibition the size of IBC is a bit like being taken into a sweet shop and given only a few seconds to make your choice. And this year's International Broadcasting Convention, in Amsterdam's massive RAI Congress Centre, was very much a gigantic sweet shop. There were 11 halls accommodating over 995 exhibitors representing the whole spectrum of the broadcasting industry, and a claimed 25,000 visitors set a new record attendance.
IBC is aimed at everyone involved in TV and radio programming - taking in planning, acquisition, production, post-production, transmission and every conceivable means of distribution - and it attracts visitors from every corner of the broadcasting globe.
Many of the exhibitors, though, will be familiar to readers. Pinnacle, Microsoft, Matrox, Canopus, Sony, Apple, Discreet and Sonic were all there in force, together with an impressive number of smaller, more specialised exhibitors. Our first port of call was Pinnacle, which used the show not only to demonstrate its Liquid Chrome and Liquid Blue uncompressed 4:2:2 DV25 broadcast quality real-time editing and FX tools, but also to launch a new version of a package that itself only appeared a couple of months ago.
This year's show made it clear that, for DV-based prosumers, real-time is the way forward, and - judging by Pinnacle, Canopus, Matrox and Apple - that yesterday's state-of-the-art technologies are today's entry-level packages. And that's good news for those starting out in video editing, as well as for those who are willing and able to invest in the hardware and software that delivers tip-top performance.

PowerBook overhaul

Apple uprates edit-ready G4 laptops, and slots in two 15.2in models

Apple's range of edit-ready PowerBook laptop PCs now takes in five models priced between £1,299 and £2,399 (inc VAT), and spans three speeds of G4 processor (1GHz, 1.25GHz and 1.33GHz) and three screen sizes - 15.2in has been added to existing 12.1in and 17in options.
Three PowerBooks are fitted with DVD burners - the 17in range-leader and one model in each of the other two screen sizes. Others have combined CD-RW/DVD-ROM drives. As before, Apple describes the DVD burners as being DVD-R/CD-RW units, but we expect that, with software such as Roxio's Toast 6, rather than Apple's own, they will also be able to burn to DVD-RW media.
Shared features include two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port (FireWire 800 in the case of the 15in and 17in models), built-in wireless networking (Bluetooth 1.1 on all, and AirPort Extreme on 15in and 17in models featuring DVD burners); Ethernet wired networking (Gigabit on all but the 12in, which has 10/100Base-T); and a 56K V.92 modem. All run OS 10.2 and have Apple's video editor iMovie 3, but models with DVD burners also have the company's basic DVD authoring software iDVD 3.
The 12.1in PowerBooks (£1,299 and £1,449) use TFT displays with a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, and are fitted with 32MByte nVidia GeForce FX Go 5200 graphics processors. They also feature 1GHz G4 CPUs; 256MByte of DDR266 SDRAM; 40GByte Ultra ATA/100 hard disks; and mini-DVI out (S-video out is an optional extra).
Resolution on the 15in versions (£1,599 and £1,999) is 1,280 x 854 pixels, and the screen is driven by a 64MByte ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 processor. As well as a DVD burner, the extra £400 buys a 1.25GHz processor, rather than 1GHz; 512MByte of DDR333 SDRAM instead of 256MByte; a bigger hard disk (80GByte vs 60GByte), and a backlit keyboard. Each 15incher also has a DVI port and S-video out.
The 17in PowerBook has much the same spec as the 15in model with a DVD burner, except for it's bigger screen (having a resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels) and faster, 1.33GHz, G4 processor.

Apple UK, 0800 783 4846;

Avid tours UK universities

Xpress Pro open days at UK universities and colleges in November

Avid is running video editing open days at universities and colleges around the UK through November, offering workshops, master-classes and seminars for its Xpress Pro software (news, August 2003, p6, with SRP £1,530 inc VAT).
The company is also sponsoring the D&AD (British Design & Art Direction) Student Awards 2004, and will be encouraging students to enter at the open days. Further details and entry packs can be downloaded from
Confirmed venues are Wolverhampton University (Nov 5); Ravensbourne College (Nov 12); Chester College/Warrington Collegiate (Nov 19) ; and Portsmouth University (Nov 26). Other venues include Guildford/Surrey, Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, and Sheffield Hallam, but dates have yet to be finalised.

Avid, 01753 655999;

Farewell-hello Edition

Pinnacle replaces Edition 5 editing and DVD authoring packages with network-capable Liquid Edition 5.5 versions

Pinnacle Liquid Edition 5.5, announced at this year's IBC (show report, news, p6) is set to replace the company's low-end professional video editing program, Edition 5 (review, September 2003, p24).
Liquid Edition is said to allow clips and projects to be shared on networks with special effects programs - such as Pinnacle Commotion Pro (V4.1 review, February 2003, p24), Adobe After Effects (review of V6, p48) and Macromedia Flash MX - and be used on Pinnacle's Thunder servers and Dekocast graphics systems. The program also supports the use of networked drives for playback and effects rendering, and its projects are reckoned to be compatible with Liquid Blue, Chrome and Silver systems.
As with V5, Liquid Edition combines editing, compositing, effects and DVD authoring in a single interface, and comes in two version. Standard, £499 (inc VAT), is software-only; Pro, pitched at £629, includes a 128MByte 3D graphics card with a FireWire port and analogue inputs/outputs for audio and composite video and S-video. Pro comes with a breakout box to bring connections to the front of the PC, and offers real-time effects preview from the timeline on a PAL/NTSC TV set or video monitor.
As well as using the PC's CPU, the Pro version also takes advantage of the processor in the AGP card, and is reckoned to create over 1,000 real-time 2D/3D effects and chroma/luminance keyings, and offer background rendering of effects and support up to ten real-time streams. Pinnacle's CX primary and secondary colour corrector and dynamic slow-motion controls also feature.
Minimum requirements are said to be Windows XP/2000 (XP recommended); 1GHz CPU or 1.8GHz processor for Pro (dual 1.8GHz CPUs or faster); 256MByte of RAM (512MByte); a 64MByte graphics card and an SVGA monitor (capable of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels at 32-bit resolution); a dedicated video hard disk drive; and an OHCI-compliant FireWire card for the software-only version.

Man and Machine (UK distributor), 01844 261872;
Pinnacle, 01895 442003;

Avid Free DV arrives

Free DV-only Avid editing software for XP and OS X now available for download

Avid has at last made available for download the free, DV-only, video editing program for Mac OS X and Windows XP announced at Macworld 2003 (news, March 2003, p7).
Free DV, which is based on Xpress DV (review, January 2003, p30), was scheduled for a Spring launch, but only became available on the net in the second week of October. The downloads (from are quite large - 25.5MByte for Mac and 42MByte for Windows - but look to be worth getting hold of, judging by the brief time we've spent with the Win XP version, trying it on PIII 933MHz and P4 3.06GHz PCs.
Although Free DV has far fewer features than Xpress DV, it's not been totally hamstrung, and runs on laptop or desktop PCs - all that's required, apart from the appropriate OS, are an OHCI-standard FireWire port, QuickTime (all footage must be QT), and a system with sufficient hard disk space for captured footage.
The program comes with 16 RT effects, can use two video tracks and two audio tracks, and is said to support unlimited audio/video layers and YUV rendering. It has basic trimming and editing functions and a built-in titler applet, and allows previews on-screen or on a TV set or video monitor fed from a DV camcorder or VCR connected to a FireWire port.
Avid looks to be using Free DV as a way of introducing editors to what it describes as, 'the industry-standard editing interface used by more professionals than any other video editing solution'. The company clearly hopes that the freebie will bring users over to its Xpress DV and Xpress Pro packages, and the strategy may work - Avid's sister company Digidesign had a massive number of downloads of its free music editing program Pro Tools Free, and the experiment surely wouldn't be repeated if it hadn't been successful the first time round.

Avid, 01753 655999;

EditStudio update

Pure Motion updates EditStudio 4 budget editor to meet demands for higher-end features

Pure Motion says that version 4 of its Windows entry-level video editor EditStudio includes many features and changes requested by users of V3, a number of which were raised in our review (June 2002, p68) when the program won a Good Value award.
Version 4, £59 (inc VAT), can preview edits via FireWire to a video monitor or TV set connected to a DV camcorder, and is claimed to provide smoother playback in the on-screen preview monitor than V3 (and with real-time viewing of effects). MPEG-1/2 encoding isn't built-in but, instead, comes from a plug-in costing £20 (or £15 if bought with the program) and offering output to files compliant with VCD, SVCD and DVD formats.
Text and effects can be keyframed in V4 for greater control in creating motion effects, and editing is reckoned to have been improved with more keyboard shortcuts and new trimming tools. These include the Close Gap tool for removing unwanted gaps between items, and the Stretch tool for changing a clip's frame rate. There are also new selection tools for working within layers.
Among other enhancements are automatic audio fades and crossfades; support for QuickTime 6 and Windows Media 9 file import; and, it's said, reduced use of memory and processor power when outputting to DV using DV Builder. Multiple effects can be applied to a region of a picture, and video and bitmap frames can be moved and resized. There are three new picture effects - Router Tracer for marking out journeys on a map; Knock Out for removing unwanted text and logos from footage; and Old Film for adding scratches. Pure Motion's Herb Garden Herbs - transition effects - now appear in Media Explorer and are ready to use.
Titling has been enhanced with more text fills and effects - including presets for making titles fly, glide, spin or zoom onto screen. Dynamic text tags have also been added to all text effects to include counters for time, timecode or frame-number that automatically update.
A free 30-day trial version of EditStudio 4 can be downloaded as a 14.5MByte file from: An unlock key giving access to a basic version of the program costs £20 (or £35 with the MPEG plug-in), and provides support for a maximum of six layers in a project, but not keyframing or DV previews. The code for the full feature-set is £59, or £74 with the MPEG plug-in. The full package is also available boxed, rather than as a download, for £90 and includes Herb Garden transitions, program tutorials and a printed manual. As a final option, there's EditStudio DV Complete, at £110, which adds a two-port (six-pin) FireWire PCI card.
Upgrades from previous versions are £20 for the full V4 (£35 with MPEG plug-in), or £49 for the boxed version.

Pure Motion, 07092 265 529;

LaCie four-way external burner

LaCie four-way DVD burner for Mac and Windows connects by FireWire or USB 2.0

LaCie's Dual DVD Recorder Drive is an external, high-speed, four-way DVD burner with connections for FireWire (1394a) and USB 2.0, and is pitched at an SRP of £228 (inc VAT).
The unit, housed in the company's distinctive stackable and side-mountable d2 aluminium enclosure, has a 2MByte buffer and is reckoned to write to DVD-R (4x), DVD-RW (2x), DVD+R (4x), DVD+RW (2.4x), CD-R (16x) and CD-RW (10x). Read speeds are DVD (12x) and CD (32x).
Power comes from an external AC adapter - less convenient than a standard kettle lead, but said to enable the burner to stay cool without the use of a fan, and to run more quietly. Included Windows software takes in Sonic MyDVD 4, WinDVD 4 and three Roxio programs - Easy CD&DVD Creator 6.1 Basic (OEM version) and DirectCD 5.3. Toast 5.2 Lite for Mac is also provided, along with USB 2.0 drivers for Win 98SE and online manuals. Also in-pack are cables for USB and FireWire and two blank discs - one CD-R the other DVD-R.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000;

Canopus's surprise software solution

Hardware specialist introduces £100 video editing program to work on any OHCI editing card, and offers it bundled with its own OHCI analogue/digital cards

Video editing hardware specialist Canopus has, as expected, introduced an editing program that should work on any OHCI-compatible editing card, not just its own non-standard cards. But, contrary to expectations, the newcomer is not an OHCI version of the company's recently launched middle-market program Edius (news, Oct 03, p9) but, instead, is an enhanced version of the basic editing program that has long been supplied with most of the company's editing cards.
The new £100 (inc VAT) program, Let's Edit, is claimed to be ultra-easy to use, yet offer quite sophisticated features, including real-time preview on-screen or to an external monitor, film-quality effects and 2D/3D transitions, and manual setting controls - in addition to simple presets - for files being output from the timeline for the creation of DVDs, SVCDs and VCDs, and for use on the web or for discs in QuickTime, Real and Windows Media formats.
As well as being sold on its own, the program is being bundled with an OHCI card in two packages - one at £230, the other £300. The card in the cheaper package, Let's Edit RT, is the same one that comes with the £235 ADVC-1394 bundle (review, Dec 02, p68). This has two in/out FireWire ports for DV (one six-pin, the other four-pin), plus analogue inputs - S-video, composite video and L/R audio.
The extra £70 buys Let's Edit RT+, where the card is a more recently launched OHCI model, the ACEDVio (news, Aug 03, p6). This adds analogue outputs and provides composite in/out by means of supplied adaptor cables for the S-video ports. All three versions come with Ulead's easy-to-use authoring program, DVD MovieFactory, and each version with a card also has a four-pin-to-four-pin FireWire cable.
Although recommended system specs for using Let's Edit start off with a fairly modest 800MHz processor and 256MByte RAM, what's actually needed to take advantage of the program's real-time capabilities is a processor of at least 2GHz (the faster the better), and 512MByte or more RAM.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150;

LG burns five ways

LG writer handles DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW and DVD-RAM

LG's Super Multi Write Plus (model GSA-4040B) is a five-way EIDE/ATAPI internal DVD burner that's able to record to DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW, and DVD-RAM formats. That makes it an alternative to Iomega's forthcoming Super DVD Writer (news, September 2003, p10) but, whereas the Iomega looks likely to sell for over £150 (inc VAT) when it does eventually arrive in the UK, the LG burner is already available and pitched at a much keener price - the best we've seen being £118 at Dabs Direct.
Burn speeds are said to be 4x for DVD-R and DVD+R; 3x for DVD-RAM; 2.4x for DVD+RW; and 2x for DVD-RW. For CD, they are 24x for CD-R and 16x for CD-RW. Read speeds are given as 12x for DVD and 32x for CD.
The LG has a 2MByte buffer, and couples this with underrun protection to help ensure successful burns. It's also said to use Defect Management technology when recording to DVD-RAM, preventing defective areas of the disc being written to.
In-pack, the LG has two Windows programs - CyberLink's DVD software player, PowerDVD, and B's Recorder GOLD for CD/DVD creation - as well as audio and IDE cables, a manual and a quickstart guide.

Dabs Direct;
LG, 01753 491500;

Royalty-free wedding goodies

Over 75GByte of professional, royalty-free wedding animations from Digital Juice

The Wedding Editors Toolkit - the latest collection of royalty-free samples from Digital Juice (likely price £464, inc VAT) - is said to feature over 75GByte of high-quality, professional, customisable animated graphics on ten DVDs.
There's a choice of more than 60 animated backgrounds, 90-plus wipes and transitions, 20 lower-thirds overlays, 20 overlays and 100 motion design elements, all with alpha channel support. The package also includes 25 fonts from Bitstream. Digital Juice says that the samples have a wide variety of uses - for openers, fillers between scenes, title overlays, transitions and wipes, as backgrounds for video and DVD menus - and are suitable for the web, too.
Also provided is the Juicer 2 animation processing program for Mac and Windows. This is said to convert the supplied QuickTime PNG files - without loss - into MPEG, AVI, QuickTime and M-JPEG, making them usable in almost any video editing software. Juicer 2 also allows adjustments to be made to duration, speed and colour.
Previews of content can be found at:

Holdan (UK distributor), 01457 851000;
Digital Juice, 01 352 369 0930;

Royalty-free music

Affordable, royalty-free TV and film music scores from specialists 2b Royalty-Free

Designer Soundscapes - described as the first collection of high-quality, low-cost royalty-free music from TV and film soundtrack specialist 2b Royalty-Free - is available at an introductory price of £35 (inc p&p and VAT).
The disc features 16 atmospheric underscores and 50-plus Soundtrack Tools - music effects for layering to create new soundtracks. All tracks (73 minutes in total) have been composed by the company's founder, Colin Willsher, who's said to have produced work for ITV, BBC, Channel 5 (UK), Discovery, National Geographic and Sky Sports. Tracks can be auditioned on the web from the URL below.

2b Royalty-Free, 023 8070 1682;

Four-hour DVD+R

Philips and MKM develop dual-layer DVD+R able to record up to Philips and Verbatim's parent MKM (Mitsubishi Kagaku Media) have developed a write-once, DVD+R dual-layer disc that's reckoned to store up to 8.5GByte on a single side and be compatible with most existing set-top DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.
Discs and suitable DVD recorders are planned for release next year, and their arrival will mean that good quality DIY DVD recordings will no longer be limited to about 2hrs as they are on current 4.7GByte media, which have 4.3GByte of usable space (assuming 1GByte is 1,024MByte, not 1,000). The 8.5GByte discs (with a 'real' capacity of 7.95GByte) have space enough to record close to four hours of DVD-quality video, or up to 16 hours of VHS-quality video.
The dual-layer DVD+R stores data on two thin embedded organic dye films separated by a spacer layer. A detailed explanation of the make-up of the new discs is here. All eyes will now be on the DVD Forum to see if it comes up with a DVD-R equivalent.

Philips, 020 8665 6350;

More news appears in December 2003's Computer Video magazine.



Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in this issue:

Adobe Premiere Pro 7

Adobe After Effects 6.0

Apple DVD Studio Pro 2

Pinnacle MovieBox USB

Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator

In December's news:

IBC 2003 Show report
Apple PowerBook overhaul
Pinnacle Edition relaunched
Avid FreeDV available for download
Pure Motion EditStudio 4 feature upgrade LaCie four-way external burner Canopus's OHCI-friendly LetsEdit
LG five-way burner
Royalty-free animation
Royalty-free music scores
Double recording time DVD discs

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