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In Software Downloads:
Magix Video Deluxe Plus
Vegas 4.0

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Sony DVD Architect and Vegas go pro

DVD Architect adds real-time external previewing, subtitles, multiple audio tracks and timeline, while Vegas gains improved customisation, better MPEG support, network rendering and HD capabilities

Updated versions of DVD Architect and Vegas - the flagship NLE programs Sony acquired when it took over Sonic Foundry's desktop software division - are now available, and look to offer a number of improvements over the last versions (review, Jun 03, p34) that boost their professional credentials.
Vegas 5 costs £369 (inc VAT) as an electronic download (£132 for an upgrade) and £464 for the retail version, while Vegas with DVD Architect 2 is £527 if downloaded (£164 for an upgrade). The retail pack is £544 and also comes with Boris Graffiti 3.0 LTD for enhanced 2D and 3D titling, and the Magic Bullet Movie Looks effects plug-in (review, p50).
Headline new features in DVD Architect 2 include real-time preview to an external monitor via a FireWire camcorder; support for multiple subtitles and up to eight audio tracks; a fully-fledged timeline; the ability to import separate elementary audio and video streams; and programmable end-actions for menus and media - so, for instance, a playfirst video background could be set to loop, halt or start the DVD playing at the first menu. All windows are dockable on any edge of the interface or can be floated - alone or grouped in palettes.
The most obvious and immediate improvement in Vegas 5 is the addition of scrubbing on the timeline and in the trim window (video-only, mind). In previous versions, dragging the edit cursor along the timeline merely marked out an area of the timeline. Similarly, pressing the space bar while the timeline or trim window is playing now stops the edit cursor, rather than causing it to jump back to its original position - something that confused editors used to working with other programs.
Improved MPEG-2 creation includes a two-pass variable bit-rate encoding option and support for Transport stream - the format used by HDV cameras. High Definition 4:2:2 is supported and six HD presets are available from 720-24p (1,280 x 720, 23.976 fps) up to 1080-60i (1,920 x 1,080, 29.970 fps). Integration with DVD Architect is improved, and it's now possible to type in text for multiple sub-titles and have this brought into DVD Architect 2 - V1 had no sub-title support at all.
Vegas 5's main interface is more customisable than V4's. Keyboard shortcuts can be changed as required and transferred as a set to other PCs. Any of the program's windows can be floated, and any of ten different interface layouts can be instantly recalled - improving usability with dual monitors.
Pros will also appreciate the addition of network rendering. Render-only versions of Vegas can be installed on two additional PCs, though it's not possible to remotely render MPEG-2, AC-3 or MP3 - presumably to avoid paying three lots of encoder license fee for each type of file. Macromedia Flash .swf files can be imported into Vegas and into DVD Architect, too.
With V5, it's possible to add pointers in the clip bin to selected portions of clips, not just whole clips, without affecting the original clip or wasting space creating a new video file for each sub-clip. Also on the long list of new features are 3D track-motion and compositing; keyframable Bezier masks; support for external hardware control boxes including joysticks, Contour Shuttle and the Mackie Control; and real-time control during playback of volume and audio/video effects.
The list continues with the ability to record audio into multiple tracks while playing back the timeline; the option to create videos with 5.1 surround sound suitable for playback in cinemas (which have different speaker layouts to home audio systems - see image, left); support for independently applying plug-ins to all six surround-sound channels; instant reverse of audio or video on timeline; import of Acid music loops; real-time pitch-shifting (one semitone at a time); and changing the opacity or volume of multiple clips simultaneously.

MVS (UK distributor), 0845 456 0801;
Sony Pictures Digital, Sony

Premiere Pro upgrades

Adobe updates Premiere Pro to V1.5, adding improved project management, effects and After Effects integration, plus support for HD and Panasonic's 24P/24PA format

Less than a year after the launch of Premiere Pro (review, Dec 03, p30), Adobe is updating its flagship video editing program to V1.5, adding features it says users want and that consolidate the software's professional credentials. The full retail version remains at £617 (inc VAT). Upgrades cost £81 from Pro V1.0 and £199 from earlier versions - both with carriage on top.
Among the notable selling points are a revamped Project Manager, enhanced effects, improved integration with Adobe After Effects and Encore DVD, and support for High Definition (HD) and Panasonic's 24P/24PA camcorder format.
The Project Manager tool is said to quickly remove any unused content from a project, and to group media in one location on hard disk for improved archiving and content management. Adobe says that more precise audio editing is now possible by choosing to snap audio edits to specifically selected intra-frame samples. There are also two audio filters - DeHummer for removing background hum and DeEsser for getting rid of sibilance or hiss from speech.
Pro V1.5 has enhanced Bezier-keyframing controls for creating smoother motion paths to animate objects more naturally on-screen. An automatic Bezier option is also available in the Effects Controls and timeline for automatically smoothing a path.
Customised preferences for each keyframe in an effect can now be saved as a preset for reapplying to another effect. True 3D OpenGL-based effects created by the PC's graphics card, rather than the CPU, are reckoned to produce more realistic rolls and page curls, even as the image is rotated.
Four filters from Adobe Photoshop for improving image quality have been added - Auto Levels for adjusting each colour channel to correct contrast and colour cast; Auto Color for adjusting mid-tones; Auto Contrast for sharpening contrast to put more detail in light/dark areas; and Shadows/Highlights to improve over/underexposed areas of the picture.
Plug-ins for After Effects (V6 review, Dec 03, p48) are said to be accessible from within Premiere Pro, adding many more visual effects to a project, with content able to be copied and pasted between the two programs. And, Premiere Pro can now create markers that can be imported with projects into Encore DVD.
The program has gained EDL-import capability (earlier versions were limited to export only) and in/out support for AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) - the multimedia file format that simplifies the exchange of digital media (with metadata) across platforms and between systems and programs.
Import, edit and export of HD content at resolutions of 480p, 720p and 1080i is reckoned to be included using supported third-party hardware. And, support in V1.5 for capture of 24P progressive scan content means that the program is compatible with Panasonic camcorders such as the AG-VX100E DV camcorder (news, Dec 03, p8).
Minimum (recommended) system specs are said to be Windows XP; 800MHz PIII CPU (3GHz P4 processor); 256MByte RAM (1GByte); 800MByte spare hard disk space for installation; a1,280 x 1,024, 32-bit colour graphics adapter (OpenGL); and a DirectX-compatible sound card (multi-channel, Asio-compatible for surround-sound).

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4000;

Updated Adobe Video Collection

Adobe bundles Premiere Pro 1.5, After Effects 6.5, Encore DVD 1.5 and Audition 1.5 for £1,075

Version 2.5 of Adobe's money-saving Windows Video Collection suites include the latest program versions - Premiere Pro 1.5 for video editing, After Effects
6.5 for video compositing, editing and animation (news, p11), Encore DVD 1.5 for DVD authoring, and Audition 1.5 for
soundtrack creation.
Prices are £1,075 (inc VAT), Standard version, and £1,569 for Professional - with Photoshop CS and the Pro edition
of After Effects 6.5. Upgrading to
either costs £206.
Encore DVD V1.5 features workspaces, a larger library selection, playlists, QuickTime file import, and Photoshop CS integration for making changes to menus that are immediately seen in Encore.
Audition V1.5 has hotkeys for switching between different views - waveform, multitrack (timeline) and for CD burning. Thumbnails of video clips can now be seen in the timeline view. There's also support for AVI, Raw DV, MPEG and WMV import, and files can be previewed directly from the browser.
Other notables in Audition 1.5 are 500 extra music loops; 20 customisable sample sessions; 'true' VST plug-in support; time-stretching (without changing pitch); pitch-correction; a sequencer; and ReWire for importing sequences. There's also an auto click/pop eliminator, plus fitting stereo music to a surround sound environment; Center Channel Distractor for removing part of mix (vocals, say);
and a healing brush (much like Photoshop's) for removing unwanted sounds such as a cough.

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4000;

Apple authoring MkIII

Storyboard view, more transitions, HD-to-SD MPEG-2 encoding, and DTS and AC-3 audio support are just some of DVD Studio Pro 3's features

Apple's professionally-featured DVD authoring program DVD Studio Pro (V2 review, Dec 03, p38) has had a significant overhaul and a slight price cut to £349 (inc VAT) - upgrades are £139.
New features in V3 are said to include an overview mode showing the connections between assets in an easy-to-grasp graphical form; more transitions; support for all professional audio formats (including DTS and AC-3); HD to SD MPEG-2 encoding; and improved integration with Adobe Photoshop and a number of Apple programs, notably the forthcoming HD version of the Final Cut Pro editor, and the all-new real-time motion-graphics program Motion.
The graphical view looks a bit like a free-form storyboard with thumbnail images in a series and arrows showing links, and any element on view can be edited with a click. This overview can be printed to show clients how the DVD looks and is navigated.
Studio Pro 3 has 30 additional transitions for adding to menu buttons, slideshows or video clips. These include blur, rotate and wipe effects said to preview in real-time and require no separate track. There are also alpha transitions for blending menus, titles and video.
Projects can be authored using DTS multi-channel, Dolby Digital Professional (AC-3) and stereo audio. A.Pack for Dolby Digital AC-3 audio encoding is included, as before, and WAV, QuickTime (single or multi-channel), AIFF and Sound Designer files can all be used.
Projects can be roughed out quickly in iDVD 4 and then imported into DVD SP3 to be finalled. Finished projects can be output to DVD-R as working DVD Video discs or to hard disk as a disc images, and - for commercial mastering - can be saved to hard disk, DVD-R or DLT (Digital Linear Tape).
Version 1.2 of Apple's MPEG-2 encoder Compressor is included and offers two-pass variable bit-rate encoding, plus encoding of High Definition content to SD MPEG-2 quality video. Settings are said to be adjustable in real-time to judge changes in video quality.
Photoshop content can be edited within Studio Pro, and it's also possible to import elements from various Apple programs, including chapter markers created in Final Cut Pro, titles from LiveType and royalty-free music from Soundtrack. Animated menus and titles created in Motion can be added to a DVD SP3 projects and edited in Motion with the changes automatically updating over in the authoring program.
Minimum (recommended) system requirements include Mac OS X 10.3.2; 733MHz PowerPC G4 Mac; 256MByte RAM (512MByte); AGP graphics card with 8MByte video memory (32MByte); and QuickTime 6.5.

Apple UK, 0800 783 4846;

Canopus Imaginate: Part II

Lower-price MkII Canopus still-image animation program adds storyboard, multiple-image support, templates and wizards

Despite adding lots of new goodies in
V2 of its Windows still-image animation program Imaginate, Canopus has priced the software below the original (review, Feb 03, p54) - at an SRP of £140 (inc VAT), compared with £175. Upgrades from V1 are £34
Key new features include storyboard editing, with support for multiple images, not just one; the ability to add and
edit a soundtrack; and a collection of
productivity tools said to make project setup and configuration much simpler.
Multiple image file formats (BMP, JPEG, PSD, JNG, PNG, TIF, IFF, MNG, TGA, PCD and PCX) can be dragged to and arranged on Imaginate's storyboard to create photo montages, slideshows and presentations with or without dissolves.
Version 2 has smart wizards giving control over camera movements, video effects and scene lengths, plus over 190 preset camera-motion templates for applying panning and zooming actions - though a camera's size, rotation and 2D/3D positioning can still be adjusted as with projects designed from scratch. Each aspect of a sequence can now be keyframed - as can camera blur to make things more realistic - and users can
control the ease in/ease out properties
of each camera movement in the new Spline Editor window.
Audio (WAV, MP3, WMA, WMV, AIF, AVI, MPEG and ASF) can be imported to add narration or music to projects. Editing is carried out with an audio trimmer offering controls for setting in/out-points, adding fades and adjusting project duration to match an audio clip's length.
Video is exported in 4:3 or 16:9 format as uncompressed RGB AVI, (Microsoft) DV, or using any DirectShow AVI Codec. Imaginate 2 is said to be able to use any additional video Codecs installed on the same system, such as DivX or Canopus DV.
Minimum system requirements include Windows XP/2000 Pro; 800MHz Intel/AMD Athlon CPU; 256MByte RAM; and DirectX 9.0. Watch out for an early review, and also check out Lumidium's powerful £50 competitor DigiRostrum DV (review, p46)

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150;

Smarter After Effects

FireWire previewing, disk caching, enhanced text animation, animation presets and lots more features in AE 6.5

Enhancements with V6.5 of Adobe's Mac/Windows video compositing, editing and animation program After Effects are said to include FireWire previewing, disk caching, animation presets, more plug-ins, an improved Clone tool and better text animation.
There are two editions - Standard (£664 inc VAT) or Professional (£1,075). Pro builds on the Standard edition's core 2D/3D compositing, animation and effects engine, adding an advanced particle system, scripting, network rendering, 16-bit per channel colour and extra audio effects. Upgrading costs £81 from either edition of V6 (review, Dec 03, p48) and £199 if moving to the Standard edition from earlier versions or £288 to Pro.
Real-time performance in V6.5 is reckoned to have had a big boost, thanks to the use of disk caching. Previous versions relied solely on having loads of system RAM; the new arrangement uses continuous background rendering to disk.
Projects can also now be previewed full-screen via FireWire using a TV set or monitor connected to a DV camcorder or VCR. FireWire previews are available in the Composition window and also as each frame is processed for output in the Render Queue.
Among the 60-plus additional effects in the Standard edition are Smoke, Sparks and Blazing Rays of Light, while Pro adds another 30 16-bit effects including a Photo Filter that uses a colour layer to warm or cool footage.
More than 250 customisable text animation presets have been added. Text enhancements include setting blend modes between characters; randomising the order in which the range selector affects text in an animation; and writing scripts to automate text changes in animations (Pro only).
The Advanced Clone tool now has a visual overlay of the clone source so that source and target can be seen together, and five presets can be saved and accessed from the Paint palette for quickly making the same cloning change over several shots. Pro also adds improved control over tracking a layer's scale, and editing the motion path of a track point.
There are new grain-management tools for making video look more like film, or matching grain differences between different film stocks. Colour-correction tools allow fine-tuning in the HSL, RGB, CMY and YcbCr colour spaces with Colour Finesse's waveform monitor, vectorscope, histogram and correction-curve displays. These are paired with automatic colour-correction tools for contrast, colour, and shadow and highlights detail as found in Premiere Pro 6.5.
Improved integration with Premiere Pro includes importing Premiere Pro projects - reducing file size and production time. And, content can be copied and pasted or dragged and dropped between the two programs. Encore DVD menus can also be imported into AE 6.5 to create buttons with effects (multi-coloured glow, lightning, lens flare).
Other notable features include MPEG-2 export (Windows only) for working with DVD projects; expanded OpenGL graphics-card support for more accurate effects previewing; and wider compatibility with third-party programs using support for AAF and OMF (Avid) files.
Minimum (recommended) specs for Windows are XP with SP1 or 2K with SP4; a PIII or P4 CPU (multi-processors); 128MByte RAM (256MByte); QuickTime 6.5; DirectX 9.0b; and a 24-bit colour graphics card (OpenGL card). Things are similar for Macs, except that AE 6.5 needs OS X 10.3.2 and a PowerPC CPU (G5 processor).

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4000;

Bringing Dolby Digital 5.1 home

Dolby cuts cost of producing DIY DVDs in 5.1 surround sound

Dolby Laboratories says its licensing program for Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator
technology allows software developers to produce lower-cost consumer DVD authoring programs for mastering DVD soundtracks in 5.1-channel discreet
surround sound.
The move comes after the rapid increase in consumer DVD making and should mean that more creators of DIY DVDs will be able to afford to use 5.1 Dolby.
That will help them get more (or better quality) video footage on DVD discs, since
a 5.1 track takes less space up than stereo PCM.

Dolby Laboratories;

Sony shrinks DVD camcorders

Sony's cuts weight and size of its USB 2.0-equipped DVD camcorders

Sony latest DVD camcorders - the DCR-DVD201E (SRP £750 inc VAT) and DCR-DVD101E (£650) - are much lighter (by 150g) and smaller than their predecessors, the DVD200 and DVD100.
The USB 2.0-equipped cams record to 8cm DVD-R or DVD-RW discs, with MPEG-2 content laid down at one of three variable bit-rates - 9Mbit/sec (20-minutes' recording), 6Mbit/sec (30min) or 3Mbit/sec (60min).
Both are said to be able to record in 16:9 widescreen, but the DVD201 has a megapixel CCD and is reckoned to film in true 16:9 format by using the whole area of the CCD - providing higher picture resolution and a wider viewing angle with the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 10x optical zoom lens.
Chip size in the DVD201 is 1/4.7in, compared with 1/5in for its forerunner, the DVD200, but effective pixels for video remain the same at 690,000. The DVD101 has a smaller, 1/6in, CCD (400,000 effective pixels for video). Maximum JPEG stills resolution to disc is 1,152 x 864 pixels for the DVD201 and 640 x 480 for the DVD101.
The new-design 2.5in LCD screen on each camcorder is reckoned to give a brighter picture for use in high-contrast situations, and also has a start/stop button on the LCD frame itself - as well as at the rear - making self-filming easier.
A four-way dial on the lens barrel is used for adjusting manual focus and exposure levels and navigating through the menus - on/off buttons for manual focus and exposure are concealed under the LCD screen. Sony says that the release system for loading and unloading discs has improved, and opens much quicker than before.
Claimed continuous recording time with the supplied battery is up to two hours with the DVD201 and 15 minutes more with the DVD101. An optional long-life battery (price £tbc) is said to run for up to seven-and-a-half hours with the DVD201, and about an hour longer with the DVD101. Info about battery life and available recording time can be brought up on-screen using a dedicated button on the side of the lens barrel.
Additional ports include S-video, combined composite video and stereo analogue audio in/out, microphone and Lanc.
Both camcorders are bundled with Pixela's ImageMixer software for basic editing and disc creation, a USB cable, and one blank DVD-R disc.

Sony UK, 08705 111999;

Mac tracker

Beat the thieves - OS X tracking software finds stolen Macs online

Having a laptop computer stolen can be highly traumatic, and the loss of machine and data hugely costly. But, if it's a Mac, and running OS X, there's a chance to fight back, thanks to Sweet Cocoa's software, LapCop.
The program, which runs on desktop models, not just portables, is now at V2 and currently available for just US$25. What it does is continuously monitor the network and printer settings of the Mac - going into alert mode if any are changed without authorisation.
When the stolen Mac is next connected to the web via modem, Ethernet or AirPort (Apple's wireless networking), LapCop collects all the necessary information and sends out an alert to a monitoring server run by Sweet Cocoa via email. This includes the machine's serial number, the owner's name and address, internal and external IP addresses, and the IP address of the network router the Mac is connected to.
The server forwards the email to the real owner at a designated email address (not the one on the Mac!) who must send it to Sweet Cocoa to be analysed. The network that the stolen Mac is on is traced from the IP addresses in the alert email and the time it was sent - and the network administrator or ISP is then contacted. This information is also passed onto the police, hopefully to recover the stolen machine.
Further details, installation steps and downloads for Jaguar (OS X 10.2.x) and Panther (OS X 10.3.x) are given on the website below.


Graphics cards get interesting - and faster, too

New-generation go-faster ATi and Nvidia graphics cards promise acceleration features for video editors

The long-running battle between ATI and Nvidia for dominance in the graphics card market is entering a new phase with the introduction of the companies' latest ranges. As always, the headlines will be about the speed of competing graphics processors but, this time round, there's also technology of interest to video editors.
Nvidia says that its GeForce 6800 Series graphics processor has an on-chip programmable video processor - an industry first. This reduces the workload of the PC's main processor by providing hardware accelerated decoding and encoding of MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9 and DivX. For MPEG-2 decoding, 95 per cent of the work is claimed to be done by the video processor, while the figure for encoding is 60 per cent or more. However Nvidia has admitted that more software development is needed to enable the full functionality of the video processor.
ATI's forthcoming X800 series models feature accelerated MPEG-2 encoding/decoding and WMV9 decoding but so did some previous ATI cards, and even the new-generation models appear less capable in this area than Nvidia's. That's probably because ATI has focused instead on High Definition TV applications - which may be of massive interest to video editors in the USA but offer little immediate benefit in Europe.
Furthermore, the X800 series won't come into its own until motherboards start appearing on the market fitted with fast PCI-Express slots. At that point, ATI will introduce a Hi-Def PCI-Express version of its All-In-Wonder TV-tuner/graphics card combo - the company recently gave a joint demonstration with Pinnacle Systems of HD video editing over PCI Express. However, there's one neat little feature that ATI may implement - a multimedia header - the yellow block on the accompanying photograph - for connection to an A/V in/out panel conveniently-placed at the front of a PC.
Nvidia is making big claims about the video editing features of its new cards, and we look forward to testing them. Currently, though, all we know for sure about either companies' cards is that programs designed to fully exploit their fast 3D architecture should perform exceedingly well.

ATI, 01628 533115;
Nvidia, 0118 903 3000;

£999 Tiny Athlon 64 laptop

Sub-£1,000 FireWire-equipped XP Home Athlon 64 3200+ PC with 1GByte of RAM, four-format 4x DVD burner, 80GByte HDD and 15.1in screen

Tiny.Com's latest time-limited deal sees a powerful edit-ready Windows XP Home laptop PC available for £999 (inc VAT) for a week, between 9am on June 8 and 6pm June 15.
The MK64-3200 has an Athlon 64 3200+ processor, 1GByte RAM, a four-format 4x DVD burner and an 80GByte hard disk drive.
It features a 15in SXGA+ (1,400 x 1,050) resolution TFT screen; a 128MByte ATI Radeon 9600 graphics processor; FireWire and USB 2; 802.11b wireless networking; and a multi-format memory-card reader. Software includes CyberLink's PowerDVD suite, Pinnacle's Instant Copy, Microsoft Works 7, and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2003. Dimensions are 332(w) x 41(h) x285(d)mm and weight 3.6kg.;

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


Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in this issue:

Roxio Easy Media Creator 7

Lumidium DigiRostrum DV Ken Morse Edition

Total Training for Adobe After Effects 6

Red Giant Magic Bullet Movie Looks

In July's news:

Sony DVD Architect and Vegas go pro
Premiere Pro upgrades
Updated Adobe Video Collection
Apple authoring MkIII
Canopus Imaginate: Part II
Smarter After Effects
Bringing Dolby Digital 5.1 home
Sony shrinks DVD camcorders
Mac tracker
Graphics cards get interesting - and faster, too
£999 Tiny Athlon 64 laptop

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