Self-help message board
How to contact us
Web links directory
Tips and advice
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition
Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)
How to get started with
computer video editing
Join our ongoing campaign
Low-cost real-time card from Matrox
the launch of the RT.X10 hardware/software bundle at an SRP of £469
(inc VAT), Matrox is finally starting to compete in the lower reaches
of the Windows real-time video editing market - territory in which Pinnacle's
DV500 has pretty much stood unchallenged.
The RT.X10 offers DV and analogue in/out, and is a cut-down version
of another recent Matrox launch, the £899 RT.X100. Like the X100,
the X10 comes with Adobe's Premiere 6 video editing software, centres
on a single PCI card, and uses software Codecs to cut the rendering
time of certain tasks when run on PCs with new-generation high-speed
The card's hardware is used to render in real-time a range of 60 Premiere
transitions and a spread of Matrox Flex 3D effects, including customisable,
true 3D goodies such as page curls, wipes and picture-in-picture effects
(but not cube, blur, ripple or mesh warps). Titling from within Premiere
is also said to be in real-time, as is the rendering of slow and fast
The X10 is said to handle four layers in real-time ñ two video
and two graphics ñ with the opacity of each layer adjustable.
Features are also said to include the ability to combine 11 effects
(compared with the X100's 16). Unlike the X100, the X10 has no real-time
output to DV only analogue and cant create MPEG-2
footage for SVCD and DVD in real-time from the timeline. Until Matrox
bundles Adobe Premiere 6.5 - or the user upgrades ñ encoding
will be carried out with Premiere 6's Ligos MPEG engine, rather than
the better-quality MainConcept MPEG-1/2 engine of V6.5.
CPU power is used for real-time colour correction which, though somewhat
less sophisticated than the X100 - with no RT chroma/Luma keying effects
with colour spill and noise correction - does offer a very useful one-click
auto white balance.
Carry-overs from the X100 include single-pass scan and capture from
DV; single-frame capture for animation; a lite version of Sonic's DVDit!
entry-level DVD authoring program; and web video creation in Windows
Media, Real Video and QuickTime formats, with free video hosting at
www.matrox.tv. A breakout box is supplied in-pack, providing inputs
and outputs for S-video, composite video and L-R analogue audio.
Matrox says that the recommended configuration for the X10 is a dual
2GHz Athlon Windows XP Pro system or a 2.2GHz P4, each with 512MByte
RAM. Minimum spec is put at a 1GHz P3 or 1.8GHz P4, with 256MByte RAM
and Windows XP (Home or Pro).
Matrox, 01753 665 500; www.matrox.com
Apple charges for OS 10.2, QT6 and online services
good news is that Jaguar - the latest version of Mac OS X, should be
available towards the end of the month, a little ahead of schedule.
The bad news is that Apple is charging everyone full price for it -
£99 inc VAT - the only exceptions being those who bought new Macs
after July 17, who'll be able to upgrade online for £14.
Further bad news is that purchasers of the Pro version of the latest
revision of Apple's QuickTime, V6, are also offered no discounts. They'll
have to pay full price - £25 - even if they'd already bought QT
The final bit of bird's dropping on the cake is that Apple is replacing
its free, OS X-bundled web/email services, iTools, with an almost identical
but chargeable product called .Mac (pronounced Dot Mac) and expected
to cost in the region of £100 a year, despite the fact that the
company isnt even supplying the services of an ISP.
Judging from what we've seen, Jaguar (OS 10.2) is little more than a
bug-fix with a few new applications and enhancements, some of which
ñ such as a proper SMB networking client, and integration between
mail and other applications ñ really ought to have been included
in earlier versions. Apple says there are 150 new features that are
only available from V10.2, but it remains to be seen how many Mac users
will find these sufficiently compelling to pay the ransom price.
Apple was at the very forefront of bringing DVD authoring to the masses,
so its rather shocking to have to report that OS 10.2 gains no
MPEG-2 support from the included standard version of QT6, and that the
same is true even for those who pay out for QT6 Pro. Each version does
have MPEG-4 capabilities, but even simple MPEG-2 playback is going to
have to be paid for. The price for the MPEG-2 playback plug-in is £19,
and, astonishingly, users who want playback in OS X and OS 9 will have
to pay out twice.
The standard version of QT6 is available as a free 19.2MByte download
and offers QT Player, Picture Viewer and browser plug-ins, as well as
what's described as instant-on streaming that's said to mean no buffering
and improved scrubbing through a video clip. QT Pro 6 adds full-screen
playback, streaming capabilities and support for editing footage from
a digital camcorder and outputting back to DV tape.
OS 10.2 includes enhancements made to its underlying Unix structure
and to Mail, the Sherlock search engine, Address Book and Finder. The
new, re-designed Finder includes spring-loaded folders - an OS 9 feature
missing in previous versions of OS X ñ and is said to provide
faster and better navigation with a new search engine. The provision
of a proper SMB networking client means there is improved, point-and-click
support for connecting to shared folders on Windows servers. Sherlock
has been completely rewritten for the Internet services with search
categories that provide ëlive' information ñ for example
share pricing and news.
Rendezvous is the title of some new and impressive wireless networking
technology that has been developed by Apple. It works over Ethernet,
AirPort 802.11 and FireWire, and uses the IP networking protocol. The
technology, Apple claims, requires zero configuration and automatically
finds Rendezvous-enabled devices attached to the network. Epsom, Hewlett-Packard
and Lexmark are said to be among the printer companies that are building
Rendezvous into new models.
OS 10.2 also has built-in Bluetooth wireless networking capabilities
that are used by a new application, iChat, for instant SMS text messaging
between Bluetooth-enabled devices. The enhanced Address book can dial
Bluetooth-enabled phones and receive incoming text messages. Mail has
a junk email filter claimed to intelligently highlight any spam for
easy deletion, and is able to play QT files within its email screen.
A range of content 2D, 3D, text and QT - is said to look better
under OS 10.2 on modern Macs thanks to new hardware-accelerated graphics
compositing technology - Quartz Extreme. This is also said to save time
and free up the PowerPC chipset by getting the graphics card to do most
of the rendering.
Apple UK, 0800 783 4846; www.euro.apple.com/uk
Broadband for £19 from fairADSL
New internet provider
fairADSL is offering broadband ADSL accounts for just £19 a month.
That's £5 cheaper than Pipex's home user service and £11
cheaper than BT IPStream Home 500.
An ADSL modem is not included in the price but although fairADSL does
offer a Fujitsu FDX310 and one microfilter for £92 (inc VAT and
shipping), the company doesn't force customers to buy from it.
Avid XpressDV 3.5 for Mac and Windows
With the introduction
of XpressDV 3.5, Avid now offers its cheapest DV editing software in
Mac OS X and Windows XP versions in a single box. 'Cheapest' is a relative
term, since V3.5 is priced at £1,528 (inc VAT), or £2,233
in its PowerPack version with additional plug-ins.
Avid says that XpressDV offers a professional colour correction toolset
ñ not just filters ñ based on the technology found in
its high-end Symphony video finishing system. Offline projects created
in V3.5 can now be imported into Symphony or Avid's Media Composer
digital editing system to create final online versions.
The program has customisable professional tools such as a vectorscope,
a waveform monitor and histograms for monitoring the brightness and
colour of video. Other features include adjustments for shadows, mid-tones,
highlights, hue, saturation, brightness, contrast and clip and for inverting
NaturalMatch is one notable new colour correction tool and is reckoned
to match and blend skin tones between clips with a single click of the
mouse. A three-pane window shows the previous, current and next frames
of a clip ñ along with reference frames and a split-screen mode
ñ for accurate colour matching.
The PowerPack bundle offers Avid DV FilmMaker's toolkit for working
from film cutlists of different film sizes. Also in the bundle are the
Illusion FX Pack, with 29 AVX special effect plug-ins ñ including
Flare, Lightning, Page Curl, Motion Blur, Melt and Kaleidoscope ñ
and the AVX image stabiliser plug-in which is said to remove unwanted
movement on a clip. The pack also has full versions of Boris FX and
Graffiti real-time 3D animation effects, and adds support for Adobe
Photoshop layers and After Effects files via the Boris plug-in.
For Mac, minimum specs are said to be a 400MHz G4 PowerPC with OS 10.1.4
and 256MByte RAM. For Windows, the list takes in XP Pro, a 750MHz P3
or P4 processor, 256MByte RAM and an approved FireWire card and graphics
card. However, things are rather complicated by the fact that Avid recommends
the software be installed only onto a very limited range of Compaq,
Dell, HP or IBM machines, or PCs built by approved dealers.
01753 655999; www.avid.com
Pinnacle Pro-ONE gains real-time DV output
Pinnacle is upgrading
the card in its Pro-One dual-stream analogue/digital editing bundle
to add real-time DV-out at no extra cost. The new version, Pro-ONE RTDV,
carries a suggested price of £821 (inc VAT), and will sell alongside
a subtly renamed version of the original ñ the Pro-ONE 2.0. This
will have an SRP of £621 - nearly £500 less than when launched
The hardware upgrade will put Pro-ONE in serious contention for the
first time with Canopus's Storm (which sells for about £800, but
is currently bundled with £400-plus of useful freebies) and also
give it a chance against Matrox's new replacement for the RT2500
the £900 RT.X100.
Real-time, render-free output to DV tape works only from the timeline
of Adobe Premiere ñ the included editing software ñ and
is largely the result of a new encoder chip that's been added
to the full-length 32-bit PCI card. This sits alongside a C-Cube chip
used for RT processing of effects, and an S3 graphics chip for RT 3D
effects rendering. Pinnacle says that RTDV can deliver real-time output
of two layers of video streams with titles, graphics, 3D effects and
up to ten filters.
The software bundle with each model is as per the original, and takes
in Impression DVD 2.2; DV Tools 2 for DV tape scanning and batch capturing;
Title Deko RT titler; Hollywoord FX RT 3D transitions; and the Alpha
Magic gradient wipe collection. The breakout box that completes the
hardware package has been updated with the addition of a FireWire port
so that all connections are easily accessible, not just the original
inputs and outputs for S-video, composite video and L/R audio.
Canon XM2 includes USB and analogue in/out
Canon's DM-XM1 camcorder carved out a good reputation in the semi-pro
MiniDV three-CCD sector, it had one major shortcoming - the absence
of any analogue inputs. This has been rectified with its replacement,
the XM2, due at the end of August with an SRP of £2,000 (inc VAT).
As well as having analogue in/out (composite and S-video), and, of course,
DV in/out like its forerunner, the XM2 carries a mini-USB socket for
downloading stills from the included 8MByte SD Memory Card or a MultiMedia
The size of the CCDs remains at 0.25in, but the number of effective
pixels is said to have increased from 300,000 to 440,000, to achieve
540 lines horizontal resolution and an improvement of 3dB in the signal-to-noise
ratio that enhances colour, low-light performance, range and resolution.
Pixel Shift technology is incorporated, and is designed to improve resolution
by one-and-a-half times on moving pictures. This happens by horizontally
shifting the green CCD block. Shifting the same CCD vertically is said
to reduce vertical smear on pictures by widening the dynamic range.
The XM2 allows capture to memory card of 1.7megapixel still images.
Like its predecessor, the XM2 is fitted with a professional L-Series
4.2 ñ 84mm fluorite lens and has an optical image stabiliser
to compensate for hand-held camera movement. A welcome touch is the
fitting of a full-size focus ring. Changes can be made to the colour,
phase, sharpness and black levels, then stored as custom settings. The
gain (brightness) is adjustable to a maximum of 18dB ñ as with
professional video cameras ñ and the shutter speed can be set
as low as 1/6 of a second. Another enhancement is Clear Scan ñ
offering a way to prevent flicker when filming computer monitors or
TV sets by adjusting the shutter speed.
The XM2 has built-in left/right non-directional microphones with three
frequency settings - Normal; Voice (for crisper speech); and Wind Screen
(for wind noise reduction). Audio levels for each channel can be set
manually with dials on the side of the camcorder, and there are options
for recording at the standard 16-bit/two-channel (48kHz) setting or
for 12-bit, four-channel (32kHz) audio. Audio can be visually monitored
in three ways ñ through the viewfinder, on the LCD monitor or
from a display on the body. Professional XLR audio
and BNC video sockets can be added using an optional adapter ñ
the MA300 (SRP, £150 inc VAT) ñ that slots onto the accessory
Also worth noting are options for time-lapse recording; analogue-to-digital
pass-through conversion; 16:9 (widescreen) effect; and colour-bar generation.
The resolution of the 2.5in LCD monitor is said to have been improved
but the TFT colour viewfinder has shrunk
from 0.55in to 0.44in. As well as an 8MByte SD Memory Card, the camcorder
comes with a USB cable, and USB driver software and digital imaging
software for Mac and Windows.
Canon UK, 0870 241
Canon contest offers four US$20,000 prizes
Canon is running
a competition to find original creative work in four digital categories
- movie-making, photography, graphics/illustration and web.
Each category in the Canon Digital Creators Contest has a top prize
(Gold Award) of US$20,000 and a compact digital stills camera or bubble
jet printer. Second place (Silver Award) in each category wins US$5,000
plus a Canon product. Total prize money is US$125,500, and other prizes
include the Canon Award and awards from sponsors in each division ñ
including from Adobe and Macromedia.
More details and registration forms can be found at: www.digicreators.com
Canon UK, 0870 241
Cardiff home to new media show
Cardiff City Hall
is the venue for the Media Show, a new trade exhibition and conference
covering video, TV, film and new media, and taking place October 8 and
According to the shows organiser, Genesis, the event will be the
largest of its kind outside of London and will give many visitors their
first chance to see the new range of products that will have been launched
and shown the month before at IBC in Amsterdam.
Genesis, 029 20
666 007; www.themediashow.co.uk
Reviewed in the latest issue:
Pinnacle DV500 DVD
Adobe After Effects 5.5
In the latest news:
Low-cost Matrox real-time card
Apple charges for OS 10.2
Broadband for £19 from fairADSL
Avid XpressDV 3.5
The Media Show