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How to get started with computer video editing

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Edition gains DVD authoring and RT preview

DVD creation on the timeline and real-time preview with Pinnacle Edition V5

Pinnacle's big-value, CV-award-winning professional video editing program Edition has had its first major overhaul since being acquired from Fast. With the launch of V5 (SRP £499, inc VAT) Edition gains real-time previewing - a feature long overdue - and DVD creation on the timeline, something available with no other editor apart from Pinnacle's own budget offering, Studio 8.

As before, the program runs only on Windows XP or 2000 and comes with a PCI OHCI FireWire card - though works with any FireWire port - as long as it's OHCI standard. The software will also be sold in a £629 bundle, known as Edition Pro. The extra £130 buys a 128MByte 3D graphics card fitted with a FireWire port and inputs and outputs for analogue audio and composite video and S-video, plus a breakout box that brings the connections round to the front for easy reach.

Using the analogue ports on the Pro's AGP card - which looks to be a variant of ATI's All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500DV - it's possible to preview effects in real-time on a TV set or video monitor, and also capture and output analogue footage, not just DV. Would-be purchasers who already have a 3D graphics card with at least 64MByte on board will be able to stick with that, but won't have analogue input/output capabilities, nor any external real-time monitoring - this will be restricted to the program's on-screen preview window, though non-real-time external preview will be possible on a TV set or monitor fed from a DV camcorder connected by FireWire to the PC.

As with previous versions of Edition, V5 requires a powerful PC. The suggested minimum spec is for a 1.8GHz processor, 256MByte RAM and a dedicated video hard disk. Recommended spec, though, is for a dual-processor system - two Intel Xeon or equivalent AMD processors - with 512MByte RAM.

The program should still be useable on the lesser of the two specs because it can preview footage at reduced frame rates on PCs that are too slow to preview at full speed. And, as before, rendering can take place in the background.

Edition 5 doesn't come with the same software bundle as its forerunners, though. As an incentive to early adopters, V4.0 (and 4.5) were bundled with two of Pinnacle's professional programs - the Commotion 4.1 compositing and rotoscoping tool, and DVD authoring program Impression DVD Pro. However, the package does still include TitleDeko, Hollywood Effects, and AlphaMagicFx. Commotion will be missed, but Impression less so - it's hard to use, and V5's built-in DVD authoring capabilities may be substitute enough.

These are said to include a dedicated timeline DVD menu track; MPEG-2 export from the timeline (and burn-to-DVD with constant/variable bit-rate options); simple menu creation using a wizard and high quality DVD templates; the ability to fully customise menus with motion backgrounds and buttons (with or without effects and filters applied) using a full-screen editor with drag-and-drop linkage to timeline; automatic chapter generation from edit points; chapter markers across multiple tracks; and support for alpha masks and the importing of menu graphics from Adobe Photoshop PSD layered files.

On the real-time side, Edition is claimed to offer three or more DV streams of effects, plus graphic overlays (five streams with recommended system specification). It's reckoned to mix and match use of the PC's processor and a 3D graphics card to optimise performance. CPU-based transitions and filters include colour correction; cross-dissolve (with or without black); gradient wipe (with or without border); move; scale; rotate; borders; soft shadows; crop; blur chromakey blue/green screening; invert; posterise; solarise; and mosaic.

The graphics card is used for page peel/curl; wipe effects (such as clock, gradient, radial, push, slide, inset); iris effects; picture-in-picture; lens flare; magnify; multi-shape crop; and more.

Among other features said to be of note are scene detection (by time-code or content); enhanced video and audio scrubbing; unlimited video, audio and image tracks; and export options for Windows Media, QuickTime, AVI, and SVCD and VCD, as well as DVD.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228; www.pinnaclesys.com

Final Cut Pro on a budget

Apple launches low-price, DV-only Final Cut Express

With its launch of Final Cut Express - a low-cost (£249, inc VAT), DV-only version of Final Cut Pro - Apple looks set to kill off all remaining competition in video editing software on the Mac platform.

Low-end competitors were already throttled by the free version of iMovie that comes with all new Macs, and any resistance from Adobe - possible because Premiere is much cheaper than Final Cut Pro (£560 vs £829) - now looks likely to come to an end.

However, it's not likely that Final Cut Express will pull many users over from the Windows platform. There's no shortage of good Windows editing software - starting low-down with Pinnacle Studio 8 (sub-£60) and Ulead's VideoStudio 7 (£50) and rising up in the prosumer ranks through Sonic Foundry's Vegas 4 (£253), Ulead's MediaStudio Pro 7 (£300) and Pinnacle's Edition (£500).

In addition, the Windows version of Adobe Premiere can be readily bought for far less than its suggested price if bundled with a variety of editing hardware. The latest addition to that list is Canopus's ADVC-1394 analogue/DV capture card - £317 with the full version of Premiere 6.5.
Final Cut Express has much the same interface and real-time on-screen previewing capabilities as FCP, but has no analogue capture option, being restricted to MiniDV, DVCAM and DVCPRO devices. For a head-to-head between versions, see: www.apple.com/finalcut. It's said to offer professional-level tools for compositing, colour correction, titling (using an integrated version of Boris Calligraphy) and effects (over 200 transitions and blurs, borders and mattes). It can handle up to 99 tracks (but a nesting option makes the number almost unlimited) and is said to be able to mix up to eight audio tracks in real-time. Projects can be output via FireWire to DV tape, or to hard disk as QuickTime files or ready (with chapter points) for importing into iDVD or DVD Studio Pro for rendering to MPEG-2 and burning to DVD.

Minimum system requirements are said to be 256MByte RAM (384MByte recommended) and a FireWire-equipped 300MHz PowerPC G3 or G4, but - for achieving effects in real-time - at least a 500MHz PowerPC G4, iMac G4, eMac, or 667MHz PowerBook G4 is required.

Apple UK, 0800 783 4846; www.apple.com/uk


Canopus pro DV/analogue converter

Rack-mount Canopus converter offers component video and balanced audio I/Os

Canopus is launching an upmarket pro version of its CV-award-winning ADVC-100 two-way analogue/digital video converter (review, July 2002, p54).

The ADVC-500 has a stiff SRP of £1,169 (inc VAT) - over £900 more than the ADVC-100 - and comes as an industry-standard, 19in rack-mounted breakout box (one-unit high) with analogue and digital inputs and outputs.
The I/Os include one four-pin and one six-pin FireWire port; S-video (four-pin mini-DIN); composite and component video (BNC) connectors; and balanced (XLR) connectors and unbalanced (RCA) connectors for L-R audio.

The rear panel has switches for setting locked audio mode, for locking and synchronising the audio to the video during analogue-to-DV conversion; changing video format and standard (PAL to NTSC); and mixing down DV stereo audio pairs into a single analogue stereo channel.

The front has a mode switch; selectors for input line and audio sampling rate (32kHz, 12-bit stereo or 32/48kHz, 16-bit stereo); and L/R volume controls paired with peak audio meters.

The mains-powered box connects to Windows and Mac PCs via FireWire, allowing analogue-to-DV and DV-to-analogue conversion in real-time. This uses the Canopus DV Codec found in the company's other converter boxes and DV editing cards. The ADVC-500 comes with Windows software for adjusting its analogue input settings - brightness, contrast, saturation, hue and sharpness.

Canopus UK, 020 7793 1188; www.canopus-uk.com

Video Forum 2003 roundup

Comings and goings-on at the UK's largest video editing show

Claimed attendance at February's Video Forum 2003 show was over 7,000 - double the figure of the first event four years ago - and stand space was said to be up by 10 per cent on last year, with as many as half of the exhibitors already booked for 2004. In addition, the Sounds Expo show alongside is said to have attracted around 4,200 visitors to its audio equipment and software stands and packed seminars.

Computer Video's stand in the main show was often frantically busy, with our team of experts dealing with questions covering every aspect of video editing, DVD production and video streaming. Warm thanks to Alan Roberts, Guido Giles, Richard Jones and Tom Hardwick for their time and expertise. Likewise Hendrik Dacquin, Peter Wells and Ray Liffen who spent time on the stand and also presented seminars wearing CV hats. Our talks proved hugely popular, and all were fully-booked as were most of the other 80 or so free seminars from the likes of Adobe, Apple, BBC, Maxon and Sony.

Pinnacle shared a stand with Forum newcomer Discreet, where highlights included Pinnacle's video editors Edition, CineWave and Liquid Silver; Discreet's Cleaner 6 re-purposing tool for Mac (review, April 2003, p66); and 3D special effects and compositing programs Pinnacle Commotion (review, Feb 2002, p24) and Discreet's 3ds max 5 and Combustion 2.1 - both reviewed in this month's 3D animation feature, p80.

Neighbouring Avid, Canopus and Matrox stands demonstrated their latest video editing solutions - Avid Xpress DV 3.5 (review, January 2003, p30), Canopus DVStorm 2 (review, April 2003, p32) and Matrox RT.X10 (review, Dec 02, p52). The Matrox RT.X100 (review, November 2003, p30) was also shown - as part of the professional DVD bundle that includes a lite version of Sonic ReelDVD disc authoring software, on sale at the show for £839 (inc VAT) - just £30 more than the cost of the RT.X100 alone. Gee Broadcast shared the Matrox Video stand to show Incite's Editor 3.0 as part of the Matrox DigiSuite MAX system, while a separate stand in the ViZFx 2003 special effects area was demonstrating Matrox's Parhelia graphics card.

Canopus unveiled its ADVC-500 two-way AV/DV converter with component video and balanced/unbalanced audio I/Os. Also prominent were V2.1 of its Windows media re-purposing tool ProCoder, and the stills animation program Imaginate (review, Feb 03, p54).

Among the forum newcomers were Ulead, Dazzle and ADS Technologies. As well as running presentations on MediaStudio 7 and DVD Workshop, Ulead showed off its 3D titling and effects program for video production, Cool 3D Studio (news, April 2003, p10). System builder DVC gave presentations on DVD Workshop, Adobe After Effects, Avid Xpress DV, Canopus Imaginate and ProCoder, and showed the relative strengths and weaknesses of Canopus's Storm 2 and Matrox's RT.X100. Dazzle demonstrated two editing solutions that come with the full version of Premiere 6.5 - DV.Now AV Plus and the much-delayed Real-Time Video Producer. ADS unveiled USB Instant DVD for Mac - a USB 2.0/MPEG-2 capture solution that comes with Pixela capture, MPEG editing and DVD authoring software - and an upmarket FireWire raid system.

Distributor Holdan majored on Datavideo products - notably the four-channel SE-800 AV analogue/DVD mixer with component and FireWire inputs and the DN-100 DV Bank 120GByte camcorder-to-disk capture system which can dump its footage to Mac or Windows PCs. The DN-100 was shown paired with Datavideo's TL-1 Intervalometer - a device for capturing time-lapse and single-frame animation.

MI Broadcast was showcasing another DV-to-disk device - Videonics' FireStore. While the DN-100 is seen by Mac and Windows PCs as a DV device, video files on the FireStore appear in a separate drive on the desktop when it is plugged into a PC. JVC's stand had its GY-DV5000 three-CCD DV camcorder paired with a prototype FireStore FS-J unit.
Panasonic showed two portable desktop DVCPRO VTRs - the AJ-YAD250 and AG-DV2500. Each has FireWire and is fitted with inputs/outputs for S-video, composite video (BNC connectors) and analogue L-R audio. They work with MiniDV and full-sized DV cassettes, making them compatible with the company's AG-DVX100 pro MiniDV cinema camcorder. Next year's show runs 10-13 February 2004. See you there.

Video Forum; www.videoforum.co.uk
Sounds Expo; www.sounds-expo.co.uk
ViZFx; www.vizfx.co.uk

Faster, quieter dual-G4 PowerMacs

Latest fast, dual-processor PowerMacs are quieter and Apple offers relief for previous buyers, too

Apple's revamped range of desktop computers is led by the company's fastest machines to date - two DVD-burner-equipped, 1.42GHz dual-processor G4 Power Macs (£2,099 and £2,949, inc VAT).

Apple claims to have done everything it could to make its new dual-processor G4s run quietly. This is welcome news, since the previous generation of models had noise problems.

This would have come as no comfort to those who bought noisy models from the last range. At the time of the launch, Apple was still denying any problems, and refusing to modify mirror-door models so that they ran at an acceptable noise level.

Happily, though, Apple has seen the light, and is now offering a free DIY update kit - well, free apart from a US$20 surcharge for handling. The offer is open to Mac users worldwide, see: https://depot.info.apple.com/generic/index.html

The new 1.42GHz duals have 120GByte ATA/100 hard drives, are fitted with fast Pioneer DVD burners - SuperDrives in Apple parlance - and come with iDVD authoring software as part of the full iLife suite (review, this issue, p56). The burners are able to write DVD-Rs at 4x, CD-Rs at 16x, and CD-RWs at 8x. Despite the fact that the same burner (and previous generations) can also write to DVD-RW discs under Windows, Apple still hasn't managed to implement this feature under Mac OS - though DVD-RW discs can be used if owners splash out on Roxio's Toast software.
As with all modern Macs, the 1.42GHz duals are video-edit-ready, being equipped with FireWire ports for DV capture and output, and coming with iMovie editing software - V3, in this case. Apple continues to make the running in FireWire technology by fitting two types of port - a single new
and faster backwardly-compatible second-generation nine-pin IEEE1394b port, which Apple calls FireWire 800, and two of the original six-pin ports that the company has taken to calling FireWire 400.

The £2,099 Mac carries 512MByte of 333MHz DDR RAM and an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card with 64MByte of DDR video memory. The £2,949 model has a whopping 1.5GByte of RAM and is fitted with an nVidia GeForce4 Ti card with 128MByte of DDR video memory.

The range also includes a dual-1.25GHz model with an 80GByte ATA/100 hard drive and 256MByte of 333MHz DDR RAM (£1,599), and a single-processor model, at £1,149, with a 60GByte hard drive and 256MByte of 266MHz DDR RAM.

Each of the four PowerMacs has four USB 1.1 ports, a 56k modem and four 64-bit 33MHz PCI expansion slots, and is Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme ready - the top-spec model having cards for both networking protocols built-in.

Apple UK, 0800 783 4846; www.apple.com/uk

Faster, fitter Cleaner XL

Discreet boosts Cleaner for Windows with faster rendering, better MPEG-2 encoding, and new output options

Faster rendering, better-quality MPEG-1/2 files and a wider range of output file types are the main improvements claimed for Cleaner XL - the revamped Windows version of Discreet's media repurposing program, SRP £527, inc VAT.

Importantly, output to DVD-compatible MPEG-2 is said to be five times faster than from the previous version - Cleaner 5 - without requiring any updated hardware, and quality is said to be greatly improved, too. Much of the credit here, though, probably goes to Discreet's adoption of MainConcept's critically acclaimed and widely used MPEG engine.
But rendering times for all output types can be reduced further, the company says, by running the software on PCs with multiple processors or on single-processor machines that use Intel's hyper threading technology. Among other output options are Windows Media 9, QuickTime 6, MPEG-1 and 4, and Kinoma for Palm-based PDAs.

To further speed the workflow, the program offers 183 ready-to-use presets for output, along with a selection of editable filters and improved management of colour-space conversions. There are also advanced batch-processing options and a new automation feature - watch folders - on which Cleaner keeps an eye, ready to covert any new file that's saved to them.

Cleaner XL offers considerably more than its recently updated Mac sibling, Cleaner 6 (review, Apr 03, p66). This can't encode to the latest Windows Media format (only WM7), is unable to export to RealVideo natively under OS X, and has poorer quality MPEG-1/2 output - though it is better than V5's. Though not cheap, Cleaner XL is cheaper than one of its two main rivals, Canopus's £617 DV Procoder (review Sep/Oct 02, p26) and offers more functionality than the other, Sorenson's Squeeze 3 Compression Suite (news, Apr 03, p16).
Minimum system requirements for Cleaner XL are given as Windows 2000/XP; a PIII 800MHz CPU; 256MByte RAM; and a 1024x768 display.

Discreet, 0870 241 0416; www.discreet.com

More burn for your bucks

Roxio reworks CD Creator into a digital media suite incorporating DVD authoring

Roxio is replacing its flagship Windows CD creation suite Easy CD Creator Deluxe 5 with a more wide ranging suite - Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 Platinum (SRP £49.99 inc VAT; £34.99 for upgrades). This offers capture options from digital still cameras (and card readers), scanners, CDs, audio inputs, and analogue and digital video. According to Roxio, it lets users seamlessly edit and manage digital media resources and burn projects to DVD, SVCD, VCD and CD.

The suite has an all-new interface that floats - Mac-style - in the middle of the desktop, and shrinks to a toolbar at the top of the screen when any of the programs are run. The interface has five large buttons giving access to the main programs - DVD Builder; PhotoSuite; Audio Central; Creator Classic; and Disk Copy. Along the bottom are five smaller buttons for a drag-and-drop copying utility (Drag-to-Disc) which takes over from DirectCD; a CD and DVD label creator; a Flash-based tutorial; a range of on-line media services (including music downloads and image printing) currently restricted to the USA; and a couple of utilities - an audio and video disc player (VCD, SVCD and DVD) and a restore program - Retrieve - for copying back to hard disk data backed up over multiple CDs or DVDs, and a reader for which is installed on back-up discs so that data can be restored to any PC.

DVD Builder uses Ligos's MPEG encoder and can capture stills from digital cameras and card readers, and moving video from DV or analogue camcorders. On powerful PCs, it's said to be able to capture video, transcode it to MPEG-2 and burn it directly to DVD, all in real-time. Movie and slideshow projects can be burned to DVD, SVCD or VCD. There are options for custom menu backgrounds and automatic DVD chapter creation, but the emphasis throughout is on making life easy - rather than offering the greatest versatility.

The PhotoSuite application also allows the creation of slide shows, but only on VCD. It has a wide range of camera and scanner capture options, and can be used to organise and share digital images, as well as edit them with the basic tools including some rather effective options for the removal of red-eye, wrinkles and spots.

AudioCentral is where users can record, play, manage, rip and edit digital music. It can be used to create playlists, add visualizations and apply basic sound effects, such as normalize and reverb. Audio can be converted to MP3, WAV, OGG and WMA formats, though only the first three can be edited.

Drag-to-Disc - the replacement for DirectCD - brings up a small window at the bottom right of the main Windows interface onto which files can be dragged and dropped. Doing this will automatically format blank CDs and DVDs (all R and RW formats) and - unlike the drag-and-drop system built into Windows XP (which is switched on and off as needed) - there's no intermediate copying stage to waste hard disk space. As with DirectCD, it's possible to manually format discs, and there's a scandisc utility that, in some situations, can allow retrieval of data from faulty CDs and DVDs and repair of the disc.

In appearance, Disc Copy is little different from the basic and very easy-to-use disc copier utility in V5. However, it has two significant improvements - the ability to support Raw-mode copying of single-session data discs - which can sometimes enable awkward discs to be copied - and the ability to span large data files across up to 30 discs. The main improvements in the Label Creator applet are to the interface, new templates for DVD cases and MiniDiscs, and support for Twain scanners and cameras.

Roxio, 0049 240 545 080; www.roxio.com


AE 5.5 with Parhelia

Matrox's Parhelia 128MByte graphics card is being sold for £693 (inc VAT) in a money-saving bundle with the standard version of Adobe After Effects 5.5 motion graphics and visual effects software (Production Bundle, review, Sept/Oct 2002, p40). SRP for the card is £304, and £598 for the software - a theoretical saving of £209.

The Parhelia card supports three analogue monitors and two digital. With compatible software - including AE 5.5 - it also allows real-time previewing on a TV set or video monitor. Note, though, Parhelia is incompatible with all Canopus editing cards - a fact hidden on Matrox's site and absent from Canopus's.
Matrox, 01753 665500; www.matrox.com

TDK phone number

Our story on TDK's CD/DVD disc printer (news, Feb 2003, p12) included Matrox's phone number by mistake. Apologies to Matrox and to readers.
TDK, 01737 771 212; www.tdk-europe.com

Snazzi additions

Three DV/analogue MPEG editing packages are added to the Snazzi III range - PCI EVO (£150 inc VAT), USB2 EVO (£190), and AV.DV EVO (£230). Hardware is the same as in the III Gold range.

Each comes with Snazzi's Movie Mill MPEG capture tool, and the supplied video editor is Intervideo's entry-level WinProducer 3 DVD for VCD, SVCD, DVD and mini-DVD, and with support for MPEG-4. Also in-pack are InterVideo WinDVD 4 software DVD player and Ulead's MovieFactory 2.0 DVD.
The AV.DV also comes with Snazzi DV Studio for DV-to-MPEG capture and Muvee AutoProducer basic editor.
Holdan (UK distributor), 01457 851000; www.holdan.co.uk
Snazzi; www.snazzi.com

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


Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in May's issue:
Odixion DigiPrinter Universal
Apple iLife
Lightwave 7.5 & 3ds max 5.1
Discreet Combustion 2.1

In May's news:
Edition gains DVD authoring and RT
Final Cut Pro on a budget
Canopus pro DV/analogue converter
Video Forum 2003 roundup
Faster, quieter dual-G4 PowerMacs
Faster, fitter Cleaner XL
More burn for your bucks
AE 5.5 with Parhelia
TDK phone number
Snazzi additions

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