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Computer Video news for June 2004

Ulead VideoStudio 8

Ulead sets its sights on Pinnacle's budget-editor crown. Version 8 of VideoStudio features improved editing, effects and audio control for under £50

A major overhaul of Ulead's VideoStudio video editing program looks at last to have equipped it with a feature-set to outdo the current budget editing market-leader, Pinnacle Studio 9 (review, Apr 04, p44).
Importantly, the retail version of VideoStudio 8 is set to sell for £50 (inc VAT) - £10 less than Studio. That price includes a lite version of Cool 3D V3.0 3D animation software for Windows, a 180-page manual, and a book on how to shoot video. Existing users can upgrade for £35.
Headline new features include a dedicated video overlay track; rubber-banding audio-level control on all three audio tracks, plus an audio mixer for real-time level adjustment; an enlarged, full-screen DV playback window; and auto music-track creation based on proven technology licensed from SmartSound - as used in Studio and Adobe Premiere.
Also on the long list of goodies is a digital rostrum camera (for panning and zooming around stills); support for anamorphic 16:9 widescreen capture and editing; and easier controls for picture-in-picture effects and titles. In P-in-P mode, overlay video can be dragged anywhere on screen, and there's similar flexibility with the titler - text can be edited, moved and resized anywhere, and animated along a path.
As with earlier versions, VideoStudio 8 can handle a good selection of still image and audio file formats, but now has MPEG-4 and DivX import and editing to add to the list of video file formats. This list already included MPEG-1/2, Sony MicroMV, WMV, QuickTime and AVI, plus DVD±VR on-disc editing.
The program retains its well-proven seven-tab interface - capture, edit, effect, overlay, title, audio and share - and, unlike Pinnacle Studio, it allows DV previewing via FireWire on a video monitor or TV set connected to a DV camcorder. A nice touch is that the preview monitor resizes to widescreen 16:9 when working with anamorphic 16:9 footage.
Other notable usability features include batch-convert of multiple files (video, audio or stills) to other formats; switchable scene-detection, and a number of editing enhancements. There's a a shuttle control for fast navigation to particular scenes on tape, a duration window where the time for multiple images appearing on-screen can be varied, and an expanded, full-screen storyboard view for arranging clips. Also neat is a Multi-Trim editing feature allowing long clips to be easily cut up and multiple segments extracted in one go.
Novices and those in a hurry will appreciate a new three-step movie wizard covering capture, editing (to a preset style) and output to hard disk, tape or DVD.
A new DVD wizard offers more menu presets on export to DVD than V7, and has options for adding a personal folder and a software DVD player to the disc. Another export option is to the web, using Neptune's web sharing services.
VideoStudio 8 requires Windows 98SE (or higher); an 800MHz PIII (or higher) CPU; 256MByte of RAM; and 600MByte free disk space for installation (at least 4GByte for video capture and editing). However, to take best advantage of the program's real-time capabilities, Ulead recommends a 2GHz or faster CPU with at least 512MByte of RAM and a 7,200rpm (or faster) hard disk.

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

 

Pinnacle USB 2 trio

Pinnacle USB 2.0 Windows boxes for video editing and watching/recording TV on a PC

Pinnacle is beefing up its consumer video arm with three external USB 2.0 products for capturing video to a USB 2.0-equipped PC, two of them priced under £100 (inc VAT).
Top of the tree is the intriguing Studio MovieBox Deluxe (£200), a cross between the company's two previous FA Porsche-designed standalone editing boxes - MovieBox DV (news, Jun 03, p8) and MovieBox USB (review, Dec 03, p64). This has inputs and outputs for DV, S-video and composite video, but connects to a PC by USB 2.0 and is even able to control an attached DV camcorder when, usually, this requires a FireWire connection to the PC.
Capture and editing are under the control of the bundled entry-level editor Pinnacle Studio 9 (review, Apr 04, p44). This is accompanied in-pack by Pinnacle's Hollywood FX Plus software, which runs as an add-in to Studio and provides 300-plus 3D effects, audio effects and customisable DVD menus.
The other two products are Dazzle-branded. Digital Video Creator 90 (£60) is an external, palm-sized box with analogue and DV ports. It comes with a lite version of Studio - Studio QuickStart - offering video-cleaning and colour-correction tools, and export options to VCD, SVCD, DVD, or the web.
The other new arrival is the Dazzle PCTV USB2 (£70) - a personal video recorder (PVR) powered via USB and aimed at those who can't (or don't want to) install an internal TV tuner card.
PCTV captures live PAL/NTSC TV from its built-in TV tuner, or video - as MPEG or DV - from VCRs, DVD players or cable set-top boxes. It includes CD/DVD burning and Time-Shift technology for recording and viewing programs as MPEG-1 files before they are finished.
Pinnacle says PCTV USB2 requires Windows XP; a 1GHz PIII/Athlon (or 1.2GHz Duron) CPU; at least 256MByte of RAM; DirectX 8.0 (or higher); and 5GByte available hard disk space or more.
Studio MovieBox Deluxe and Dazzle DVC 90 are said to need Windows 2K/XP; a 1.6GHz P4 (or better) CPU; at least 256MByte of RAM; DirectX 9.0a (or higher); and at least 5GByte free hard disk space.

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


Portable analogue>DV converter

Canopus analogue-to-DV converter box for use with Mac or Windows laptops

The latest addition to Canopus's wide range of analogue>DV converters is a model designed for use with Mac or Windows portable PCs.
The ADVC-55 - SRP £163 (inc VAT) - takes its power from a computer's six-pin FireWire port, but can also run on PCs with four-pin ports by using a £28 optional extra, the ADVC55 AC Kit, which includes a four-pin-to-six-pin FireWire cable as well as an AC power adapter.
The ADVC-55 converts only one way - analogue-to-DV - and carries S-video, composite video and L/R analogue audio inputs at one end and a six-pin FireWire socket at the other. It's said to run on Windows 2K (SP3) or XP and Mac OS 10.2.7 (or later) and is bundled with a six-pin-to-six-pin FireWire cable.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com


MainConcept budget editor

Encoder maker releases uprated Windows video editing program with timeline DVD authoring and 3D titler

MainConcept, the highly-respected maker of video encoding software, has added a spread of new features to its Windows budget video editing program, Eve - notably timeline DVD authoring and helper wizards to speed up video capture and the creation of VCD, SVCD, and DVD discs.
Eve 2 is priced at £40 (inc VAT) as an electronic download (36.2MByte). Post-out of a program CD adds £5 to the cost, and a printed manual a further £8. The downloaded program is fully working, but adds a watermark to its output which can only be switched off after purchase..
Naturally, the program runs MainConcept's own Codecs, including DV and the MPEG encoder that's licensed for use in a wide range of mid-market editing software including Adobe Premiere Pro, Ulead MediaStudio 7 and Sony Vegas.
The features list now includes a 3D titler tool, claimed to give professional-looking titles, a picture-in-picture tool and additional real-time customisable effects, filters and transitions. The list also gains an AutoEdit option for creating movies automatically to a set theme, and an undo/redo function.
Also worth noting are that video can be captured from analogue or DV, rendering takes place in the background, and that there's a multi-trimmer tool for cutting several segments out of a clip. The interface, little changed in appearance from the previous version, offers drag-and-drop editing and the option to work in storyboard or timeline modes.
Eve is intended for use on Windows 2K or XP (Win 98SE and ME may have limitations burning CDs/DVDs and in using the titler), and is recommended to run with a 1GHz or faster CPU; 256MByte of RAM; DirectX 9.0b; a 1024 x 768 display in 32-bit colour; and OpenGL 1.2 for the 3D Titler. Users of Eve V1.0 can upgrade for free before October 1 by emailing their serial numbers to support@mainconcept.de. After that date, the upgrade will cost £11.MainConcept, 0049 241 401 0825; www.mainconcept.com


Free Adobe teach-in

Two-day Adobe software educational event in May focuses on Video Collection and Creative Suite

Adobe is running a free two-day educational event - Adobe Live - at the Olympia Conference Centre in London, May 26-27.
Central to the event are presentations and workshops on the company's video, imaging, publishing & design and advertising products, with emphasis on the Adobe's Video Collection (Premiere Pro, After Effects, Encore DVD and Audition) and Creative Suite (Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS, InDesign CS and GoLive CS).
A number of Adobe's technology partners, third-party developers, system integrators and authorised training providers will be in attendance and there will be a partner exhibition area for one-to-one contact with leading industry suppliers. Systems integrators and software developers will showcase complimentary products and services in the Adobe Solutions Village. For registration and information on the main presentations and workshops, go to: www.adobe.co.uk/live.

Adobe UK, 020 8606 4000


VideoWave 7 Pro goes solo

Roxio ships standalone VideoWave 7 Pro editor from Creator 7 Windows digital media suite

VideoWave 7 Pro - the entry-level Windows video editor in Roxio Creator 7 digital media management suite (news, May 04, p10) - will be available on its own at an SRP of £60 (inc VAT).
Oddly, that's just £10 less than the cost of the full suite, even though the standalone version offers no additional features compared with the version in the suite. Roxio's explanation is that it's aimed at editors who only want to capture, edit and burn.
VideoWave 7 Pro is said to include the Media Manager, smart capture utility, and easy-to-use label creation tool found in Creator. It also supports import and export of DivX files.
The interface gives a choice of storyboard or timeline views. The storyboard can be used for assembling clips or still images into a slideshow, and for adding transitions, narration, background music and effects. Stills can be animated using the Motion Pictures tool by panning, zooming or adding a motion path.
The expandable timeline offers up to 14 tracks for video, audio, transitions, effects, text and overlays. Effects are customisable and titles can be animated on a path. Professional effects include picture-in-picture and chromakeying. Audio levels are adjustable and narration can be added, too.
DVD Builder is the disc-authoring side of the software, for creation VCDs, SVCDs and DVDs, and comes with support for motion-menus and buttons. The tool includes over a dozen menu presets. It's also reckoned to support on-disc editing of content recorded by, say, a set-top DVD recorder for adding menus or extra content.
Time-saving features include SmartScan, to capture only selected scenes from DV footage, and Smart MPEG rendering - said to only render changes to MPEG-2 files on the timeline. Plug & Burn provides two-click direct-to-disc recording of incoming DV footage that's captured in real-time to MPEG-2 with Dolby Digital audio. CineMagic automatically turns selected clips into a movie with music.
Roxio says that minimum (recommended) requirements are Win 2K with SP4 (Win XP), a 1.2GHz PIII CPU (1.6GHz P4 for real-time MPEG-2 capture and burning), 256MByte of RAM and 1GByte free hard disk space for installation.

Roxio, 00 49 7543 939882; www.roxio.co.uk


Budget MPEG authoring

AVerMedia real-time £59 USB 2.0 MPEG-capture device includes lite version of Ulead DVD MovieFactory 2

AverMedia's DVD EZMaker USB 2.0 (£59 inc VAT) is an in-line, real-time MPEG-capture device with a USB plug at one end and analogue input connectors at the other - composite video, S-video and L/R audio.
Unlike USB 2.0 analogue MPEG capture boxes from Adaptec, ADS Technologies, Pinnacle (Dazzle) and Snazzi, AverMedia's product has no need for an external power supply but does need a PC powerful enough to do MPEG encoding. The company recommends at least a 1GHz PIII system (or equivalent) running Windows 98SE (or later) for smooth DVD-compatible MPEG-2 creation at up to 8Mbit/sec.
The package comes with drivers and a lite version of Ulead's entry-level authoring program, DVD MovieFactory 2. This can create VCDs, SVCDs and DVDs and offers direct-to-disc recording from an attached analogue source, and the ability to re-edit a disc created by the program.

Ideal Computing (UK distributor), 0871 7000 150; www.idealcomputing.co.uk
AVerMedia; www.averm.co.uk/avermedia/index.html


Panasonic set-top DVD recorders

Three DVD-RAM/HDD recorders and a DVD-RAM/VHS combi for 2004

Hard disk drives are built into three out of four of Panasonic's set-top DVD-RAM recorders, due to arrive in early summer, the odd-man out being a DVD/VHS combi.
Hard drives of 80GByte capacity feature in two of the models - the E85H (RRP £599 inc VAT) and E100H (£999) - while a 160GByte unit is fitted to the third HDD offering, the E95H (price TBA). Least expensive of the new line-up is the DVD-RAM/VHS combi recorder - the £499 DMR-E75V - which has two tuners in order to be able to record two broadcasts simultaneously.
All have inputs and outputs for component video, composite video, S-video and analogue, along with digital audio out. In addition, the E100 and E95 have DV-in, plus SD and PC card slots, and the E95 and the E85 use PAL progressive scanning which is said to give better quality on plasma and LCD screens.
In EP (Extended Play) mode, recording time can stretch to eight hours per side, whether using DVD-RAM or single-sided DVD-R. Hard drives are said to hold 142 hours with the 80GByte models, and twice as much on 160GByte. Audio is recorded as two-channel Dolby Digital.
Footage can be copied either way between hard disk and optical disc, with transfers from hard disk being done with a single button press and at very high speeds - 24x to DVD-RAM and 32x to DVD-R, meaning a one-hour program can be transferred to DVD-RAM in less than three minutes, or to DVD-R in just two minutes.
It's possible to start watching a broadcast before it's finished being recording to disk. Recordings are said to be easily located, thanks to the thumbnails displayed by the new Advanced Direct Navigator - a thumbnail starts playing when its title is scrolled over using the remote control. A nice touch with the E100H is its ability to add thumbnail buttons to menu backgrounds on DVD-R.

Panasonic, 08705 357357; www.panasonic.co.uk


LaCie disc duplicator

Copy up to five discs, or erase rewritable media in the LaCie DVD Dupli-125

Recognising that making multiple copies of a newly-authored DVD is time-consuming with just one burner on the go, LaCie has joined the ranks of companies offering a better solution. The firm's DVD Dupli-125 - SRP £1,874 (inc VAT) - is a standalone CD/DVD system able to burn a non-copyright disc to five DVDs (or CDs) simultaneously.
The metallic tower has one DVD-ROM drive that's reckoned to read DVDs at 16x and CDs at 40x, plus five DVD-R/-RW burners rated at write-speeds of 4x for DVD-R, 2x for DVD-RW, 12x for CD-R and 8x for CD-RW. The make/model of the drives is not disclosed.
Supported disc formats are given as DVD-ROM, 4.7GByte DVD-Video, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-DA (audio), CD-Mixed Mode, CD-Extra, Video CD, CD-I, CD-Plus, Photo CD, and CD-RW.
The system can also erase five rewritable discs at a time and is claimed to be easy to use. It offers one-touch disc duplication and automatic format recognition of the master, and has just three control buttons accompanied by a two-row LCD screen for access to menus, settings and processes.
The Dupli-125 has a lockable Plexiglas door to protect the unit from dust and unauthorised use, measures 190(w) x 426(h) x 255(d)mm and weighs 14kg. It comes with a power cable, a ten-CD pack and a manual in PDF format on CD.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000; www.lacie.co.uk


Casablanca comes into 21st Century

3GHz Casablanca one-box editor with FireWire, background rendering and DVD authoring

Macro System is introducing a one-box editor with dramatically improved specs compared to previous Casablanca systems.
Bringing Casablanca in line with with today's Windows editing PCs, the Solitaire - SRP £3,170 (inc VAT) - uses PC architecture to improve editing performance. It will have a processor with a clock speed of at least 3GHz, paired with 512MByte of RAM and two 160GByte/7,200rpm hard disk drives (one removable). UK distributor Hama says an even faster CPU may be used when the editor ships in July.
Ports include S-video, composite video, analogue L/R audio and microphone. As well as conventional FireWire ports, there's an internal socket intended for an optional DV-to-hard-disk recorder - a Shining Technology CitiDisk DV (review, May 04, p46) - that's reckoned to import files at twice real-time.
The system has two removable drive bays - one with a dedicated tray for the CitiDisk. A backup button on the front of the system is said to give simple one-press drive backup of the removable drive to the internal hard disk.
Solitaire runs Macro System's Smart Edit 3.2 editing software, featuring background rendering, along with Arabesk 2.1 for basic DVD authoring and burning to DVD-R/-RW/+R media (but not DVD+RW). Use of MainConcept's Codec is said to provide support for HDV editing with VGA output up to 1600 x 1200 resolution, but not immediately - a future software upgrade is required.
We noticed that the Swiss arm of Macro System is pushing a version of Solitaire with a 300GByte HDD and 1GByte of RAM at a VAT-inclusive price of €7,295 (£5,000) but Holdan says it has no early plans to bring this to the UK.

Hama PVAC Ltd (UK distributor), 01256 374700; www.hama.co.uk
Macro System Digital Video, 00 49 2335 9600; www.macrosystem.de


High-speed FireWire for laptops

LaCie and Miglia CardBus PC cards for IEEE 1394b laptop connectivity

It's typical. You wait ages, then two come along at once. LaCie and Miglia have both recently announced the arrival of high-speed FireWire CardBus cards for using FireWire 800 drives with laptop computers.
LaCie's offering, which will sell alongside the company's fast FireWire drives and PCI card (LaCie d2 U2&I800 hard drive review, Nov 03, p63), is the oddly-named FireWire 800 CardBus PC card. It has a likely street price of £58 (inc VAT) while Miglia's contender, the Alchemy FW 800 CB, is pitched at £69.
Each has three ports - two nine-pin FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b) and one six-pin FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a) - and can drive bus-powered peripherals by using an optional external mains adaptor costing £24 from LaCie and £24 from Miglia.
LaCie's card requires a 32-bit CardBus slot (we assume the same is true of the Miglia), but compatibility with operating systems is subtly different between the two. The LaCie is said to run at full speed under Mac OS 10.2.4 (or later) or Windows 2K/XP, and at standard FireWire speed on Mac OS 9.x or Windows 98SE/ME. The Miglia is reckoned to run full tilt under OS X 10.2.5 (or later) but is awaiting high-speed Win XP drivers from Microsoft. Until they arrive, XP is restricted to the same speed as Win 98SE and ME - FW400.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000; www.lacie.co.uk
Miglia Technology, 0870 607 0540; www.miglia.com


Panasonic DVD cams

Latest Panasonic DVD cams have USB 2.0 connections and two added recording modes, one audio-only

Having dipped a toe in the water last year with the introduction of a single DVD camcorder, Panasonic is set to double its range in June with the launch of the VDR-M50 and VDR-M70 (prices TBA).
The main differences between these and the current model (VDR-M30) is that they have USB 2.0 sockets, rather than USB 1.1 - for faster video transfer to and from a PC - plus an additional low data rate recording option (3Mbit/sec) to increase recording time on DVD-RAM discs to one hour per side.
As with the M30, the newcomers are clones of Hitachi models - the M50 being a close match with Hitachi's £740 DZ-MV380 (review, Mar 04, p35), and the M70 being a near equivalent to its £580 little sister, the MV350.
This means that both models record to 8cm DVD-RAM or DVD-R discs in slim caddies - and at three data rates. However - and presumably like Hitachi's as yet unannounced new-generation DVD cams - the Panasonics also offer a sound-only recording mode which can capture 30 minutes of LPCM audio.
Although USB drivers and PC connection cables are included, neither DVD cam comes with authoring or editing software. This is something of a relief, though, as the programs provided with current Hitachi models, Panasonic's own DVD-MovieAlbum SE and Sonic's MyDVD, are both pretty dire.
Panasonic, 08705 357357; www.panasonic.co.uk


Canopus and Holdan get creative

Customisable, royalty-free Digital Juice effects available for all Edius editors

Canopus Europe and Holdan - the European distributor of Digital Juice royalty-free content - have joined creative forces to offer users of Canopus Edius (review, p24) the chance to add fully customisable, broadcast-quality effects to their edits.
The Digital Juice Introductory Pack includes a selection of animated backgrounds, overlays, templates, lower-thirds and motion-design elements (all with alpha channels) taken from the Digital Juice Editors Toolkit range, plus tutorials to show what can be done with the content in the Canopus editor.
Edius owners are said to be able to use the Digital Juice files uncompressed - for no loss in quality - because of the program's real-time support for 32-bit uncompressed video with alpha channels. The pack will be bundled with all new versions of Edius, but existing users can get theirs by calling Holdan, or emailing sales@holdan.co.uk.

Holdan, 0845 130 4445; www.holdan.co.uk
Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com

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

Recent features...
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Reviewed in this issue:

Canopus Edius 2.0
Apple iLife ' 04
Buffalo WBS-G54A-CB1 & WLI-TX1-G54
Canon MV750I
Tiny Tornado

In this issue's news:

Ulead VideoStudio 8
Pinnacle USB 2 trio
Portable analogue>DV converter
MainConcept budget editor
Free Adobe Live teach-in
VideoWave 7 Pro goes solo
Budget MPEG authoring
Panasonic set-top DVD recorders
LaCie disc duplicator
Casablanca comes into 21st Century
High-speed FireWire for laptops
Panasonic DVD cams
Canopus and Holdan get creative

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