Computer Video Editing Magazine News - December 2004

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COMPUTER VIDEO NEWS

Pinnacle Edition 6

Edition gets massive overhaul AND price cut. Major revamp sees Pinnacle's mid-market video editor gain Windows-standard menus, Studio-project importing, HDV support, and new audio engine with Dolby 5.1 and VST capabilities - plus £200 off software-only version

Among the many changes Pinnacle is making to its Liquid Edition real-time editing and DVD authoring package in the upgrade to V6 are support for HDV (High Definition Video), multi-cam editing with up to nine camera angles, and the addition of a new audio engine offering Dolby 5.1 surround-sound encoding and compatibility with VST and DirectX plug-ins.
The SRP for V6 Pro is £599 (inc VAT) - £20 less than its forerunner - while the software-only standard version goes out at £299. That's a whopping £200 less than V5.5 and makes it the cheapest of all competing mid-market editors.
One intriguing change is the hardware supplied with the Pro version. Instead of a dedicated AGP graphics card, this is a USB 2.0 external breakout box with inputs and outputs for DV and analogue audio and video (including component), plus SPDIF digital audio. All editing connections to the PC go through this box, which connects to the PC only via USB. Even DV camcorders and VCRs are controlled this way.
Despite the price cuts and numerous eye-catching new features, perhaps the three most significant changes with V6 are the addition of menus along the top of the interface, and wizard helpers to make importing and exporting easier, plus the program's claimed ability to import projects from Pinnacle's market-leading budget editor, Studio.
With Edition 5.5 and earlier versions, prospective users were all-too-often disorientated on discovering that menu choices had to be made from the bottom left of the program's interface. The interface held back sales in general as well as limiting the program's appeal to those considering upgrading from Pinnacle Studio. Existing Edition users - many of them pros who argue that the non-standard interface is highly efficient once mastered - can still opt for the 'classic' look. However, new users will feel more at home with menus in the 'right' place.
Upgrading from previous versions of Edition will cost £100 for the software-only version and £400 for Pro. UK Studio users can also upgrade for £150 to the software-only version - but not to Pro, unlike users in the USA. On the downside, V6 has no support for Windows 2000 - it only runs under Win XP (Pro or Home). This will slightly limit its appeal and increase the overall cost for some would-be users.
The program can capture and output via FireWire (through the USB breakout box in the case of Pro V6) using HDV camcorders such as Sony's latest HDR-FX1 and JVC's GR-HD1. Editing is reckoned to be in native HDV format, with the Liquid SmartRT real-time software engine taking advantage of the power of the PC's main processor and that of the graphics card to speed up rendering of standard definition and High Definition content (DV, MPEG-2 IBP, MPEG-2 I-Frame, uncompressed and HDV).
There are said to be 1,000-plus real-time effects available, with Edition 6 able to work with any footage for which there's an installed Codec and to seamlessly mix all types of video footage on the timeline. According to Pinnacle, it's possible to enjoy low-cost external previewing of HDV simply by connecting a PC monitor to the second output of a dual-head 256MByte 8x graphics card - cutting out the need for an expensive HD monitor.
The new audio engine uses technology acquired with the takeover of Steinberg so, naturally, as well as support for the VST plug-in standard created by Steinberg and full surround Dolby 5.1 mixing, there are other pro features such as a pitch-adjustment when speeding up or slowing video, plus send buses and output routing. Pros will also appreciate the flexible new one-step backing up of projects - to DVD, over a network or to a local hard disk.
As well as Win XP, system requirements for the software-only version are said to be a 1.8GHz Intel P4 or equivalent AMD processor (3GHz or dual 2.2GHz recommended) with HDV editing requiring a 3GHz P4 or equivalent (dual 3GHz); 512MByte of RAM (1GByte for HDV); an AV-rated 10Mbit/sec hard disk; DirectX 9; an OHCI-standard FireWire card; a sound card; and an AGP 4x graphics card with 64MByte of video memory (128MByte), though a 256MByte 8x card is needed for 1,080i HDV editing - with dual head output if HDV preview is required.
Edition Pro 6 needs a faster processor - a 3GHz P4 (dual-3GHz recommended, particularly for HDV editing) and what's described as a 'Certified USB 2.0 Controller'. However, there's no need for a FireWire card or a sound card - though it would be a pretty odd system today that lacked either.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228; www.pinnaclesys.co.uk


Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow

Easy-to-use, wizard-based Windows software suite for managing photos and created themed slideshows with music and effects

CD & DVD PictureShow 3 Deluxe (£30 inc VAT) is the latest version of Ulead's Windows image management and photo slideshow software suite, and can turn photos into themed CD or DVD slideshows complete with graphics, animated effects, transitions and music within a three-step workflow.
The suite includes the latest versions of the company's easy-to-use, digital photo slideshow package PictureShow, and digital media management program Photo Explorer.
Photo Explorer V8.5 is reckoned to offer a host of new features including Calendar View and Albums for better organising photos according to date. It also has new auto-fix functions to repair common photo problems using tools such as Auto Level, Adjust, Colour, Enhance, and Contrast.
Ulead says that CD & DVD PictureShow 3 Deluxe offers a quick and easy way of organising, enhancing and viewing photos as slideshows - with the program doing most of the work.
InstantShow slideshow templates are in themed sets, such as Birthday, Celebration, Holiday and Wedding. Once a theme is chosen, the software creates a slideshow with transitions, frames, music, and animated effects. To make slideshows more entertaining, users can include pan-and-zoom effects to add dynamic motion to photos, and insert fun props and clipart onto photos.
The software finishes off by creating a DVD menu following the same chosen theme. The menu includes graphics and customisable text, plus animated motion effects such as pan-and-zoom and lighting. The menu background can be customised - by importing photos or video for full motion menus. Double Layer DVD burning is possible, too. A tool for creating CD labels and indexes completes the package.

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


Premiere Elements

Low-cost, cut-down version of Adobe Premiere Pro has 16:9, direct-to-timeline capture, DVD timeline authoring plus real-time effects and DV previewing

Adobe is entering the home video editing market later this year with the launch of Premiere Elements - a low-cost lite version of its mid-market Windows XP video editing program Premiere Pro.
The package will include Photoshop Elements 3 - the latest version of the company's lite image editor - and cost £100 (inc VAT), but can currently be pre-ordered from Adobe for just £70.
Although Elements is pitched far lower than Premiere Pro's £456 SRP and intended to be easier to use - with assistance from a context-sensitive on-screen How To window - it looks to offer many of the features of its big brother. These include DVD authoring on the timeline and real-time previewing for checking the edit in progress on a TV set attached to the PC via a DV camcorder or DV VCR.
The opening screen gives three main options - create new project; open previous project; or capture video. Two further choices are given, to browse online tutorials or open project settings - these include the same DV PAL/NTSC, 4:3/16:9 (48kHz) templates as Pro.
DV-capture features include scene-detection, direct-to-timeline capture, and timecode-bridging. This is said to prevent capture being aborted when tapes have non-continuous timecode - recording is paused while the program looks ahead on the tape for the next recording.
The main interface has the familiar Media window (bin); a single preview monitor for toggling between clip and timeline views; and a timeline with up to 99 video tracks and 99 audio tracks. The timeline has basic tools for cutting and time-stretching, and will automatically shift clips to fill gaps when scenes are trimmed or rearranged. The monitor has the usual controls for previewing, adding timeline markers (for scoring music and adding chapter points), grabbing stills from video, and viewing/hiding safe-area margins. History and audio meter windows are also available.
There are buttons on the taskbar for opening the four most important secondary windows - Capture; Effects (offering 12 presets, 17 audio effects, 12 video effects and nine video transition categories); Adobe Title Designer (creating titles from scratch or from templates); and DVD layout.
DVD menus can be created from scratch or from one of 32 templates chosen from seven categories - Entertainment, General, Happy Birthday, New Baby, Sports, Travel and Wedding - and text, button titles and thumbnails can all be customised.
Another taskbar button is for placing the workspace in default Edit mode; and a sixth, Export, gives options to export the project to DVD or tape, or to hard disk as an MPEG, QuickTime or Windows Media file. There's import/export support for MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DV, AVI, Windows Media, QuickTime and WAV, plus import-only support for WMA, MP3 and PSD, and export-only to JPEG.
As well as Win XP, system requirements take in a 800MHz PIII or Athlon XP processor; 256MByte RAM; 1.2GByte free disk space for installation; a 1,204 x 768 16-bit display; DirectX 9-compatible sound and display drivers; a FireWire port for capture and previewing; and a DVD burner for creating DVD Video discs.

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4000; www.adobe.co.uk


Sony HDR-FX1

FireWire-equipped High Definition Video camcorder shoots in 1,080i HDV mode, recording as MPEG-2 to standard MiniDV tape

Sony is set to introduce a consumer High Definition Video camcorder, the HDR-FX1, in NTSC regions late this year and in PAL regions in early 2005. The NTSC version records at 60 frames-per-second, but the PAL version should operate at 50fps.
The FX1 will follow in the footsteps of JVC's pioneering MiniDV-based, 750/30p, single-chip camcorder, the GR-HD1, but use a three-chip CCD and offer a 1080i HDV mode (using 1,080 horizontal interlaced lines).
It can also shoot in two standard-definition modes - 16:9 with 1,440 vertical lines of resolution, and 4:3 - recorded to MiniDV tape in the usual way. HDV footage, though, is recorded to tape after real-time compression to a special version of MPEG-2, with audio saved as MPEG-1 Layer II.
Maximum HDV recording time is one hour - the same as a conventional DV recording made in SP mode. Sony says it will be offering a high-performance tape formulation designed for HDV material that should provide a low signal-to-noise ratio.
The CCD chips on the FX1 are said to be specially-built for HDV. They're each 1/3in in size and rated at 1.12 megapixels (1.04 megapixels effective). Ahead of them is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T 12x optical zoom lens (72mm filter diameter), reckoned to deliver high resolution and picture detail, and little lens flare or chromatic aberration.
Although the FX1 is similar in overall design to Sony's DSR-PD170 DVCAM camcorder, it has one obvious difference - the LCD monitor sits centrally at the front of the carrying handle, behind the on-board stereo mics, rather than down on the left side of the body. The monitor is a 3.5in/16:9 unit with 250,000 pixels, said to be glare-resistant and able to swivel through 270 degrees. Its novel location is claimed to give a better viewing angle when shooting with the camcorder on the shoulder.
The handle carries an additional zoom and camera start/stop button for low-angle shooting, while the body is said to have easily-accessible manual controls including focus, iris, gain and ND filters. Among the custom shooting functions offered are Cinematone Gamma and Cineframe - for 'a professional, film-like quality'. There's also a fade (black or white) and a slow-shutter digital picture effect.
As well as FireWire in/out (i.Link, as Sony would have it), there are in/outs for analogue L/R audio, composite video, S-video and component video. The component output is intended to take a 576i down-converted HDV signal to a standard TV set, or to a PC for editing. Significantly, though, native capture, editing and output of 1,080i footage has recently been added to many editing programs, including Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5, Canopus Edius Pro, Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6, Sony Vegas 5 and Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7.

Sony UK, 08705 111999; www.sony-europe.com

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Reviewed in this issue:

Dazzle DVC90
Red Giant Magic Bullet Editors
Serious Magic DV Rack
Serious Magic Ultra
Siren Opticopy

In December's news:

Pinnacle Edition 6
Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow
Premiere Elements
Sony HDR-FX1

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