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Low-cost real-time card from Matrox

With 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 processors.
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 motion.
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 can’t 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 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;

Apple charges for OS 10.2, QT6 and online services

The 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 Pro 5.
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 isn’t 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 it’s 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;

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 the image.
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.

Avid Technology, 01753 655999;

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 last year.
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.

Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

Canon XM2 includes USB and analogue in/out

Although 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 card.
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 shoe.
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 2161;

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:

Canon UK, 0870 241 2161;

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 9.
According to the show’s 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;

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Reviewed in the latest issue:

Pinnacle DV500 DVD
Canopus ProCoder
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
Pinnacle Pro-ONE
Canon XM2
Canon competition
The Media Show

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