ProDAD Heroglyph test and review

Self Help | The Magazine | Downloads | Links | Tips & Advice | Help! I'm new | Contact Us | Subscribe | Home  

Inside the magazine
Self-help message board
Article reprints
How to contact us
Web links directory
Software downloads
Tips and advice
Fire-wire campaign
Subscribe today
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition

In Software Downloads:
Magix Video Deluxe Plus
Vegas 4.0

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
Join our ongoing campaign

ProDAD Heroglyph

Titling was one of the first areas of video editing to receive the desktop digital treatment. When flying 3D digital video effects were still the realm of hugely expensive Quantel boxes, Amiga programs such as Pro Video Post were doing extraordinary things with text for a pittance.
Since then, titling has become one area where whacky effects have become more acceptable. Even for a straight narrative video, an eye-catching title sequence can set the scene and grab viewers' interest. This is what ProDAD's Heroglyph is intended to help achieve. It aims to go beyond the average built-in titling program to offer greater text control and animation options.
Plug-in hero
Heroglyph can be used as a plug-in for Adobe Premiere, Ulead Media Studio and Canopus Edit, but also works as a standalone application. The latest service pack updater even includes support for Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 - the program we used for testing. Animations can be output to a video file directly from the standalone app, or embedded within a project created with one of the supported editing packages. So, Heroglyph can be used like a normal titler, although it doesn't feel like one when you're using it.
In fact, Heroglyph's interface is highly unorthodox. Some video and image editing plug-ins feel over-designed. Heroglyph, in contrast, has an ultra-stark appearance, especially on a 1,280 x 1,024 display. Loading the software calls up a library of title templates, categorised into four folders. Clicking on one brings up a preview in the window at the bottom left corner. This starts off quite small, but can be resized by grabbing the edges of the three panes in the interface. Once a template has been chosen, or a new title is started from scratch via the Open new project icon, the main layout interface will be called up.
Fun and games
This is where the fun and games begin. Heroglyph looks unlike any titling app we've used before, and it can be confusing - even though there is a certain logic to it. There are the usual toolbar icons for changing modes - an arrow button is for selecting and positioning, and another marked with the letter 'A' is for creating or editing the text itself. In text mode, it's still possible to move the text around.
Down the left side is a tree of options grouped fairly systematically - starting with basic settings such as font face, text positioning and alignment. The options generally get more esoteric further down the list, so shadows and perspective are nearer the bottom. However, there are some quirks, such as the fact that many functions appear more than once - the font can be chosen under Arrange as well as under Shape, for instance.
Heroglyph is a distinctly odd piece of software. The interface, while logical after getting to grips with it, isn't like that of any other titling app we've used before. The biggest problem it faces is not to do with its titling features, however. Its formatting, animation and layout capabilities are undoubtedly powerful, but the interface is uninspiring, and the lack of basic tools - notably an Undo function - pinpoint why Adobe has cornered so much of the graphical design market. Lack of Undo is an unforgivable omission in a piece of software nowadays.
The program isn't expensive, and is capable of some quite eye-catching results, but we can't help thinking that the interface is far too rough and ready. The duplication of settings, which ProDAD seems to think gives the user the ability to operate the program in any way they want to, just ends up being needlessly confusing. This is a V1 release, however. Hopefully, there will be an interface overhaul in the next version, along with a less rigid approach to animation.

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in this issue:

Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5
Adobe Encore DVD 1.5

Adobe After Effects 6.5

Canon Bubble Jet i865
ProDAD Heroglyph
ProDAD Adorage Magic

In October's news:

DVD Workshop Express
Affordable ArcSoft editing and authoring
Canon XL camcorder - MkIII
NEC and Pioneer 16x DVD writers
Curtain lifted slightly on 3D Edit
1,600GByte Raid storage
Remote control DVD burning
Canopus Mac/Win analogue<>digital converter
Hauppauge enhances network playback
ProLogic II Encoder for Mac
Take it to the max 7
Canopus Edius HDV support
Reflecmedia chromakey plug-in

Contact Us | Subscribe | Home (c) WVIP. Maintained by Mark Newman.