Lumidium DigiRostrum DV Ken Morese Edition test and review

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Lumidium DigiRostrum DV Ken Morse Edition

Animating stills for the screen can give fantastic effects but has traditionally required expensive rostrum camera equipment or software. Can a UK-based software house really have come up with a decent pocket-money alternative?

Using rostrum-mounted cameras to zoom into and around photographs, maps and other documents can produce some great video footage, but the kit can be expensive and hard to use. Compositing and editing programs such as Adobe After Effects and Sony Vegas can simulate rostrum cameras, but can be tricky to use and expensive.

Last year's launch of a program dedicated to the job, Canopus Imaginate, was welcome. It wasn't hugely expensive and had a comfortable interface and fairly intuitive operation. However, for some editors, even Imaginate's £175 price-tag was too much to shell out for a program they might only use now and again - though for some projects, of course, still-image animation can be of fundamental importance to the story.

Enter east-London-based Lumidium with DigiRostrum DV - a £50, DV-only version of the company's broadcast-standard rostrum technology. The DV version is one of three branded with the name of veteran broadcast technology guru Ken Morse. The others - DigiRostrum Pro (£450) and DigiRostrum HD (£750) - offer added functionality for broadcast-standard projects, including unlimited image file size and QuickTime support. QT support aside, for camcorder projects, there doesn't appear to be much missing from the DV version.

There are differences in approach between DigiRostrum DV and Canopus's offering, though be aware that a MkII version of Imaginate, priced at £140 (inc VAT) and with an upgraded features set, is due in the next few weeks.

DigiRostrum can output the two main types of DV (I and II), while Imaginate 1's DV output is Canopus's own flavour of DV Type II. Both programs can also output using any AVI Codec available on the host system.

DigiRostrum can import 10 types of still image file - BMP, Gif, JPG, PCD, PCT, PNG, RGB (Silicon Graphics), Ras (Sun Raster), Targa and Tif (though not LZW-compressed Tif). That's one more than Imaginate - the Canopus program can't handle the more advanced Silicon Graphics and Sun Raster formats, though it does support MNG, an animated variant of the PNG image format made up of successive frames of an animation. Unfortunately, though, Imaginate 1 loaded only the first frame of the MNG animations we threw at it. The two more expensive versions of DigiRostrum can bring in AVI video clips as source files, but this isn't possible with the DV version or with Imaginate.

Other features offered in Pro and HD versions include Motion Blur; 32-bit and alpha channel output; hundreds of keyframes; QuickTime support; unlimited image-file size; and Super Sampling - which is said to prevent image-flicker and shimmer that can be seen in areas of fine detail and high contrast when zooming out a long way. In addition, the HD version offers unlimited output frame size for High Definition projects.


DigiRostrum DV is a competent tool with professional-level features, though the lack of QuickTime support seems a little mean, even given the program's £50 ticket. We'd also like support for alpha channels, but maybe that's asking a lot at this price-point. A few niggles need ironing out, but a decent manual and a little bit of work under the hood is all that's required.

The program offers better and more intuitive control than Canopus's Imaginate 1, and also outstrips it in functionality in other areas. That's amazing given that DigiRostrum is so much cheaper and produced by a small independent UK outfit, rather than a big international company. The same comparison may hold true with the forthcoming Imaginate 2, but we've not had the chance to test that yet. One area where Imaginate wins out is in its ability to be used as a plug-in from within popular video editing programs such as Adobe Premiere and Canopus Edius. If Lumidium could crack that nut, DigiRostrum would be well on its way to being a mainstream contender.

DigiRostrum DV can be recommended to anyone wanting to produce decent image-pan DV footage - that includes pros as well as those on a tight budget. And, if Lumidium sorts out those niggles, the program should have a bright future. Download the free trial version and see for yourself.

Hugo Frazer

Read the full review in July 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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Lumidium DigiRostrum DV Ken Morse Edition

Total Training for Adobe After Effects 6

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Canopus Imaginate: Part II
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Graphics cards get interesting - and faster, too
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