Computer Video News - June 2003

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Canopus cuts loose

Launch of own video editing program prepares Canopus for the days of software-only editing

Canopus is set to launch in May its own full-featured Windows video editing program, having to date largely relied on programs made by Adobe, Sonic Foundry and Ulead to run on its editing cards. Edius will have an SRP of £469 (inc VAT), but be available until the end of August at an introductory price of £233.
The move won't just save Canopus money on buying in Adobe Premiere or other programs. Far more importantly, it's a major step in preparing for the day when the ever increasing speed of processors and graphics cards does away with the need - at semi-pro and home-user level - for sophisticated editing hardware such as the company's DVStorm card.
Edius initially works only with Canopus's DVRex RT and DVStorm editing cards, where it offers real-time external previewing, but will, according to the company's European arm, be offered in future in an OHCI version that will run on standard FireWire hardware. This will be a relatively easy transition, seemingly. The program is already hardware independent and fully scalable to take advantage of increasing processor speeds and features such as multi-processors and sophisticated CPU instructions (Hyper-Threading, MMX, SSE and SSE2 and 3DNow!). In addition, it's said to use full YUV colour space processing and work with the processors on some graphics cards to speed up effects rendering.
The program's floating window design is fully customisable and best suited for work across two monitors. It includes a timeline, bin and effect selector window; dual or single preview monitors; novel timecode and audio level overlay displays; drop-down buttons; and a real-time waveform and vectorscope window for monitoring video levels while capturing and previewing. DV device control with batch capture is built in, along with analogue deck control via the RS-422 connector on the DVRex RT Pro card.
There is an unlimited number of tracks for video, audio, graphics and titles, plus audio waveform display; voiceover recording to timeline; and unlimited undo/redo. The timeline provides an array of editing techniques - three-point, four-point and ripple, slip and slide editing, as well as audio/video split editing.
Nice touches include ShuttleScrub jog/shuttle control by rotating the mouse over the preview window, and similar fast edit options where flicking the mouse on the preview window left or right sets a clip's start-point and end-point, and flicking it down sends the clip to the timeline.
There are 27 customisable real-time video filters, including white/black balance, colour balance, chroma-keying, luma-keying and 2D/3D picture-in-picture effects. Also in the bundle is a version of Canopus's special effects and transition software, Xplode, giving over 40 groups of customisable, real-time 2D/3D transitions.
Inscriber TitleExpress RT is included, too, with 170-plus customisable title templates. This offers numerous real-time title-motion effects - such as blur, dissolve, slide, wipe and laser - and these, it's said, can be applied to unlimited title and graphics layers.
Also in-pack is a lite version of Canopus's media re-purposing program, ProCoder, that's said to have export options for MPEG-1/2, Windows Media, RealVideo, QuickTime and Canopus's own DV AVI format. What the program doesn't have, though, is any direct DVD authoring features - though these may arrive in a MkII or later versions of Edius.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 2000/XP, a dedicated video hard disk (10MByte/sec sustained transfer rate), a 1GHz Pentium III or Athlon processor and 256MByte RAM (2GHz/512MByte recommended).

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188;

Canopus educational prices

Canopus has announced new educational pricing for its latest hardware and software. Educational institutions in the UK and Ireland can get 25 per cent off the maker's retail price for hardware, and up to 50 per cent off software - including the new Edius professional video editing program (though not off the introductory price of £233, inc VAT).
The savings, which are also open to students with valid student ID cards, apply only to Canopus's own hardware/software - not to third party products sold by the company, or bundled with hardware.

Summer DVD entry for Adobe

Adobe Encore DVD packs in pro features missing from early-bird competitors

Adobe is entering the DVD authoring market in summer with Encore DVD, a Win XP program priced at around £530 and looking to have more professional features than any current sub-£1,000 Windows DVD-creation offering.
The program provides support for the Macrovision and CSS copy-protection systems; output to DLT tape masters in DPP format for mass duplication (with support for dual-layer 8.54GByte discs and regional coding); creation of eight audio streams and 32 subtitle streams; and type-in text for subtitles. In addition, it's able to add to DVD content that's readable only on PC DVD-ROM drives.
Integration with other Adobe programs is central to the workflow. Layered Photoshop images are at the heart of menu design. Encore does have menu templates and design tools but, for more elaborate work, pages and other graphics can be automatically opened within Photoshop using Encore's Edit Original option. Changes will be reflected over in Encore - without the PSD file having to be flattened for use, and remaining fully editable.
Markers can be imported from Premiere's timeline and converted to DVD chapter points. Encore's own editing tools allow files to be topped and tailed, but Premiere can be made to open source files if further editing is required - and the Encore project updated automatically with the changes. A similar Open Original option is also available for After Effects and Illustrator source files.
All four sister programs are bundled into Adobe's Digital Video Collection and there's talk that Encore will be added, too, without a major increase in the bundle's £1,200 price. This is despite the fact that Premiere and After Effects are likely to receive major overhauls around the time that Encore is launched, giving their integration a further boost.
At its core, though, Encore has technology licensed from Sonic Solutions - one of the companies to have made hay with DVD in Adobe's absence. Encore shares quite a few of the features of Sonic's upmarket timeline-based program, DVD Producer. But, unlike the Sonic product, Encore won't initially support dedicated hardware that boosts rendering speed, and will only encode to Dolby AC-3 in stereo, not in 5.1 surround-sound - though it can burn 5.1 content created in other applications.
What's not clear is whether Encore will be able to create and burn VCD and SVD projects or allow projects to be re-edited after the final files have been created - a feature found in Sonic's DVD Producer and in some versions of MyDVD. What's definitely not included, though, is support for multiple camera angles.
Even so, there's still plenty more on the features list. Sophisticated menu-design tools will be accompanied, it's promised, by a wide selection of high-quality, ready-made, but customisable, templates to make users' lives easier. Not surprisingly, Encore can create animated menus and backgrounds and write to the big five DVD recordable formats, including DVD-RAM. An MPEG encoder is built-in and comes with ready-to-use presets, as well as options to adjust settings and save them for later use. The encoder works with existing MPEG-2 footage, and can also use as its source AVI, Windows Media 9 and MPEG-1 files.
System requirements are said to be Win XP (Pro or Home); a P4 processor (no mention is made of AMD); 256MByte RAM; and 2GByte disk space for the installation. Only four burners are officially supported - the HP 200i; Panasonic SW-9571; Pioneer DVR-A05; and Sony DRU-500A - but others will be added as testing goes on.
The package will include a training DVD produced by Total Training holding around an hour's content.

Adobe, 020 8606 4001;

Scratch-resistant writable DVD

TDK claims that its ScratchProof DVD-R/-RW blanks are up to 100 times more scratch-resistant than other blank discs.
The company says that the discs use a hard-coat material applied with special spin-coating technology to resist scratches, fingerprints and dust - the main causes of read/write errors, and something that users frequently complain about. Discs will go out for around £4 for DVD-R and £7 for DVD-RW. ScratchProof DVD+R/+RW discs are promised shortly.

TDK, 01737 771 212;

Pinnacle outside the box

Pinnacle's expanded range of external editing solutions now includes low-cost analogue DV converter

Pinnacle is expanding its range of external editing solutions for Windows with the introduction of two sub-£200 FireWire and USB 2.0 packages that are bundled with V8.6 of the company's Studio editing and DVD-creation program - claimed to be far more stable than the current 8.5 version.
One, the MovieBox DV, goes out at £199 and thus looks to be the cheapest DV<>analogue converter box on the market (if you take off the price of the included £50 software). The other, MovieBox USB, costs £149 and works with USB 1.1 or 2.0.
Both can capture from composite and S-video sources and output to them as well. In addition, the DV version, which requires a standard OHCI FireWire port to be fitted to the PC, can also capture and output using FireWire.
Power supplies and cables to connect to a PC are included - a USB 2.0 cable in one case, and two FireWire cables in the other, one four-pin-to-six-pin the other six-pin-to-six-pin. Minimum system requirements are said to be a 500MHz Pentium or AMD processor, Win 98SE, 128MByte RAM and DirectX 8. Recommended specs are a 1GHz CPU, Win XP and 256MByte RAM. The installation takes up 300MByte of disk space before recording any video - which comes in at the rate of 45MByte/minute on the USB model and 216MByte/minute on the DV version.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

DVRaptor RT 2 goes real-time

Canopus adds real-time Premiere 6.5 capabilities and disc authoring with MkII DVRaptor RT

Canopus's mid-market Windows editing card DVRaptor RT is being replaced by a version said to offer some of the real-time capabilities of its more expensive stablemate, DVStorm, for the keen price of £387 (inc VAT).
Multiple moving titles and graphics layers using up to three streams of video are reckoned to be possible using Premiere V6.5 (not included but an affordable £150 upgrade option), as well as over 30 simultaneous RT title and graphic layers, and real-time DV/analogue output.
DVRaptor RT2 offers DVD creation, too, thanks to the inclusion of a lite version of Ulead's DVD Workshop. MPEG rendering, though, won't be ultra fast, because Raptor uses Canopus's SoftMPG MPEG-1/2 encoder, rather than having a hardware encoder on-board as with DVStorm. The company's basic video editing program EzEdit is provided, too, along with its DV capture tool - offering single-pass scan and capture for up to three video streams at once (if an extra FireWire card - and fast hard disks - are fitted).
Rendering is said to be fully scalable - a faster processor boosts editing performance and RT capabilities. The card has 24 real-time video filter plug-ins - including colour correction, mosaic, emboss, picture-in-picture, chromakey, lumakey and chrominance - and its internal video keying is done in YUV, instead of the more usual RGB, for claimed better output quality and keying results, and with slow-mo quality apparently on a par with that of DVStorm.
For an extra £35, the card can come with RaptorRT Power Tools - normal price £81. These RT effects offer six video filters and eight 3D transitions, including customisable 3D picture-in-picture transitions, as well as white/black balancing, mirror, Raster Scroll and Tunnel Vision.
Ports are the same as on the MkI - four-pin DV in/out and S-video, composite video and L-R analogue audio outputs. Analogue input can be added by opting for a £539 bundle that has Canopus's ADVC-50 one-way (analogue>digital) converter as well as Power Tools. Also worth noting are the MkII's locked audio support for better video/audio synchronisation with DVCAM format, and the minimum spec - a 700MHz PIII processor, Win XP or 2K, and 256MByte of RAM; though a faster processor and more RAM will be needed for RT performance.

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188;

Panasonic DVD camcorder

DVD-R/DVD-RAM one-chip camcorder equipped with USB 1.1

Panasonic is to release, in July, a DVD camcorder that takes 8cm DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs housed in slim, round caddies.
The VDR-M30 (price still unknown, but expected to be well under £1,000) offers three MPEG-2 recording modes. Recording times on a 2.8GByte DVD-RAM disc are said to be between 18 and 60 minutes per side in Xtra mode (10Mbit/sec maximum variable bit-rate); half-an-hour in Fine (6Mbit/sec at constant bit-rate); and up to one hour in Standard (3Mbit/sec, CBR). On a 1.4GByte single-sided DVD-R, times are up to 30min in Fine, and up to an hour in Standard.
The M30 can record stills to DVD-RAM or SD memory card in three quality modes at a relatively lowly resolution of 640x480 pixels. A RAM disc will hold nearly 2000 JPEG stills, but the capacity of the supplied SD card (probably an 8MByte unit) isn't yet known.
The USB 1.1-equipped camcorder has a 0.25in/800,000 pixel imager CCD, and an F1.8/10x optical zoom lens with a focal length of 3.15-31.5mm and taking 30.5mm filters. Digital zoom is 240x. A 2.5in (112K pixel) colour LCD monitor is paired with a 0.44in (113K pixel) colour viewfinder, and there's an accessory shoe for a microphone or light.
Also on the features list are manual focus, white balance and exposure, and five program AE (auto exposure) settings. Ports include a four-pin AV output for composite video and analogue L-R audio; S-video output; and a stereo headphone socket.
The M30 weighs around 500g, and will come with an 8cm DVD-RAM disc, an AC adapter, a shoulder strap, an AV cable (RCA, four-pin), an IR remote controller, a lens cap and an as yet unannounced software bundle.

Panasonic, 08705 357357;

Mightier than the mouse

Wacom pen-driven electronic drawing pads and interactive displays

Wacom reckons that its pen-driven graphic tablets (electronic drawing pads) are great add-ons for Mac and Windows video editing systems, making detailed artwork easier in the likes of Pinnacle Commotion and Adobe After Effects (and Photoshop, of course), and also in straight editing programs such as Adobe Premiere.
Its Intuos2 tablets - priced between £165 and £705 - start with an A6-size model with an active area of 127x106mm, and go up to A3 size, with a 316x457mm working surface. In between are two A4s (240x304mm, £430; and 304x316mm, £477), and a single A5 tablet (162x203mm, £301). Each ships with a ball-free cordless mouse. The mouse supplied with the A4 and A3 tablets is described as being 4D (rather than the normal 2D) by virtue of having 360 degree control and zooming capabilities.
The tablets connect by USB or serial leads, and the cordless pens and mice get their power from the tablet. A Grip pen and stand are included, along with drivers for Windows (95 to XP), and Mac OS (8.5 through to OS X, but still in beta for OS 10.2). The bundles are rounded off with set-up software and Corel's Painter Classic program.
The company also offers hardware with a more intuitive way of working than drawing on a tablet while looking up at a screen - but at a price. Its Cintiq 15in and 18in flat-panel TFT touch-screen interactive displays are £1,526 and £3,406. These monitors-cum-tablets connect via VGA (Win) or DVI (Mac), with control signals communicated via USB or serial port. They're mounted on tilting stands and the 18in model also swivels L-R through 180 degrees.
The Cintiqs come with pens, but both ranges can instead be used with an Airbrush pen (£100) and other pens designed for particular tasks such as creating the softer feel of a paint brush (the Stroke pen, £71); and writing as with a normal pen (the Ink Pen; £71).

Wacom; 0049 2151-36140;

Sony burn-all DVD laptops

Two portable PCs with DVD-R/-RW/+R/+RW burners join Vaio edit-ready, FireWire-equipped line-up

Sony's latest edit-ready FireWire-equipped Vaio laptops - the PCG-GRV616S and the PCG-GRX616SP - are fitted with writers able to burn to all four DVD formats, in much the same way as Sony's DRU-500A 5.25in IDE burner. Suggested retail prices, inc VAT, are £2,302 and £3,001.
The removable burners are said to write to all DVD disc formats at 1x; CD-R at 16x; and CD-RW at 8x. Read speeds are 2x for DVD-R/-RW and DVD+RW discs; 5x for DVD-ROM; and 24x for CD-ROM.
Included in the bundled software are Sony's own Click to DVD and Drag'n'Drop CD+DVD 3.0 programs for basic DVD burning, and - for video editing - a lite version of Adobe Premiere 6.0 plus Sony's entry-level MovieShaker. Also in-pack are Sony's DVgate suite and its Smart Capture video/stills grabber. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 is included for stills manipulation, along with Sony's PictureGear Studio imaging tools. The bundle is rounded off with QuickTime 5, SonicStage audio software, Norton Antivirus 2003, InterVideo's WinDVD 4.0 player, RealOne Player 6.0, Adobe Acrobat 5.1 and Callserve.
The more expensive GRX616SP has Windows XP Pro, but runs on a slower, 2.4GHz, mobile P4 processor than the GRV616S, which has a 2.6GHz processor and runs XP Home. However, it has a gigabyte of 266MHz DDR SDRAM - twice as much as the cheaper laptop - yet uses a ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics processor with 32MByte of DDR SDRAM - rather than the 616S's 64MByte Radeon 9000 - and provides a resolution of 1600x1200 on its 16.1in TFT monitor, rather than 1280x1024 on the S model.
Shared features take in a 60GByte hard drive and one Type III PC card slot, two Type II slots, and a Memory Stick slot. There is a single FireWire (i.Link) port, along with sockets for USB 1.1 (three), VGA, mic, headphone, printer, modem, Ethernet and S-video TV output. Neither model offers a floppy disk drive.
Each PC is 355mm wide and weighs around 3.8kg with battery and burner, but the SP is slightly shorter and shallower - 40(h) x 292(d)mm, vs 43(h) x 295(d)mm.

Sony Electronics, 08705 424424;

Ulead edit-on-DVD software

Latest Ulead video editing and DVD authoring programs support on-disc editing

Ulead says that three of its latest programs can be used with Panasonic's DVD Multidrive (SW-9571-CYY) to read, edit and write video created in the Video Recording (VR) format on DVD-RAM discs - and implies the same is true with DVD-RAM on all VR-compatible camcorders and EIDE/FireWire/USB 2 burners.
That means that the software - budget DVD authoring program DVD MovieFactory 2 and Ulead's two video editors, VideoStudio 7 and MediaStudio Pro 7 - should be usable with products such as the Panasonic's VDR-M30 camcorder (news, p10) and LF-D521 multi-burner, and probably with Hitachi's DZ-MV270 camcorder.
They should definitely work with two Hitachi DVD-RAM models due in summer, the DZ-MV350 and DZ-MV380, which have Flash Memory card slots and USB 2.0 connectivity, are about half the size of the DZ-MV270, and expected to sell for around £800. Whether they'll be usable with Sony's DVD100 and DVD200 camcorders (news, April 2003, p8), isn't clear, because these use DVD-RW for rewriting.
On the downside, VR-format DVD-RAM discs won't play in set-top DVD players or DVD-ROM drives that don't support VR - the majority, currently - and so will need to be converted to DVD-Video. That's in contrast with discs in the competing DVD+RW Real Time Video Format (DVD+VR) being pushed by the DVD+R/+RW camp, which are claimed not only to be editable but also playable in a wide range of machines.

Ulead; 01327 844880;


Pinnacle Edition 5 latest

More details about Pinnacle's Edition 5 video editing software have come available since we wrote our news story (May 03, p12). Drivers allowing the program to operate the DV500 editing card will be issued, but these will not allow real-time analogue output, which requires the AGP combi-card provided with Edition Pro. At a monitor resolution of 1600x1200, the program is claimed to allow a full PAL image to be previewed on the PC screen. Upgrade prices for users of V4.0 and 4.5 are expected to be trivial - and users are being promised good (though as yet unspecified) deals if opting for the Pro version with combi-card - perhaps half price. Similar deals are likely to be offered to owners of other Pinnacle hardware, and the company is also promising keenly priced cross-grades to owners of competing software. In a three-month-long promotion, Edition 5 (standard version) will be given free to purchasers of a range of Sony DVCAM kit - three camcorders (DSR-250P, DSR-PD150P, DSR-PDX10P) and the DSR-11 VTR.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

Final WM9 update

The release version of Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series is available as a 9.7MByte download for Windows XP and (13.3MByte for Win 98SE/ME/2000) at:
Features include support for faster streaming for broadband users; new video and audio Codecs; the ability to play back content in full 5.1 surround sound; rapid searching of personal media libraries; and the latest Smart Jukebox feature for easier management of digital media.

Microsoft, 0870 601 0100;

Read more news in June 2003's Computer Video magazine.


Recent features...
View the archive

Reviewed in June's issue:

Sonic Foundry Vegas 4.0 +DVD
SurCode Dolby V-Plug
Ulead DVD Workshop AC-3
Final Cut Express
Magix Video Deluxe 2.0 Plus

In June's news:

Canopus cuts loose
Canopus educational prices
Summer DVD entry for Adobe
Scratch-resistant writable DVD
Pinnacle outside the box
DVRaptor RT 2 goes real-time
Panasonic DVD camcorder
Mightier than the mouse
Sony burn-all DVD laptops
Ulead edit-on-DVD software
Pinnacle Edition 5 latest
Final WM9 update

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