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In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

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

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Apple back in the race with G5s

Edit-ready dual-2GHz PowerMac tops G5 64-bit-processor trio

Having been left trailing for too long in the processor-speed stakes by Intel and AMD, Apple is coming back into the running with the August launch of three PowerMac desktop PCs centred on new IBM-built 64-bit G5 processors.
Fastest processor in the initial line-up is rated at 2GHz, and two are built into the range-leading PowerMac to give performance claimed as better than that of a dual-Intel Xeon 3.06MHz PC. Price, without monitor, will be £2,300 (inc VAT). The other PowerMacs are single-processor models, one 1.8GHz (£1,850), the other 1.6GHz (£1,550). As usual, all the newcomers are edit-ready, being equipped with FireWire and coming with Apple's iLife suite of video-editing, DVD-creation and image-manipulation software.
Carrying on from the last generation of PowerMacs, the machines have two types of FireWire port - standard (400Mbit/sec) IEEE 1394a, and the newer (800Mbit/sec) IEEE 1394b - which Apple calls FireWire 400 and 800.
Looking down the list of selling points, it's hard to find any other modern technology that's not been built in somewhere. The top model's motherboard has a 1GHz front-side bus and a dual-channel memory interface; bus speed is 900MHz and 800MHz on the single-processor systems. The top two models can take a whopping 8GByte of 400MHz 128-bit DDR SDRAM, though come with 512MByte as standard. The base model has 256MByte of 333MHz SDRAM, and is limited to 4GByte in total - twice as much as current Mac 32-bit systems can hold.
The two leading machines have three 64-bit PCI-X card expansion slots - one 133MHz and two 100MHz; the base model has three 33MHz/64-bit slots. Each machine has an 8x AGP port fitted with a 64MByte graphics card - an ATI Radeon 9600 Pro in the dual model and an nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra in the others.
Hard disk drives are of the new Serial ATA standard - there's an 80GByte drive in the base model and a 160GByte drive in each of the others.
Naturally, DVD burners - SuperDrives, in Apple's parlance - are built-in. Initially, it looks as though Apple is sticking with the proven Pioneer DVR-105 (review, March 2003, p38), though this may change when Pioneer's four-way burner, the DVR-106 (news, August 2003, p8; review, next month), starts to come available in volume.
The G5s come in newly-designed aluminium cases. These have ventilation holes across almost the entire facia and are divided into four thermal zones cooled by nine, quiet, low-speed fans (total claimed noise rating 32dB), with ducting on the motherboard for further airflow control.
Three ports are located at the front of the case for easy access - one FireWire 400, one USB 2.0 and a headphone socket. Around the back there's another FireWire 400, a single FireWire 800, two USB 2.0s and sockets for the built-in modem, Gigabit Ethernet, and analogue and optical (SPDIF) audio in/out - with support for 5.1 surround sound. All are wireless-ready, with built-in aerials, and can be equipped with AirPort Extreme (based on 802.11g) or Bluetooth hardware.
Until the launch of an operating system with full 64-bit support - OS 10.3 (Panther), due towards the end of the year, the 64-bit Macs will be loaded with a tweaked version of OS 10.2.x - code-named Smeagol - said to be able to take advantage of the available high bandwidths.

Apple UK, 0800 783 4846;

Premiere revival

Wholesale revamp of Adobe Premiere promises ever-keener competition

While Adobe Premiere isn't going to have an easy time of it in the next year or so, expectations of its rapid decline from prominence in the face of strong competition on the Windows platform - from Canopus Edius, Pinnacle Edition 5 and Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7 - may turn out to be misplaced.
The huge list of new and extended features available in the forthcoming version 7 - Premiere Pro as Adobe is calling it - shows that the program (likely price £620, inc VAT) still has much to offer, though only to users of Windows XP; the program won't run on any other version of Windows, and isn't expected to appear soon - if ever at all - on the Apple Mac platform.
A new-look interface includes a completely reworked timeline and a floating multi-function toolbar. The timeline no longer offers a two-track, A-B, method of applying transitions. And, it effectively has an unlimited number of tracks because, as with Pinnacle Edition and Apple Final Cut Pro, timelines can be nested within one another.
The audio side has been greatly beefed up, too. V7 will provide sample-level audio editing, and support two key industry standards - the Asio multi-channel audio transfer protocol, and VST plug-in filters. The mixer gains surround sound controls - with Minnetonka's Surcode AC-3 surround sound encoder built-in (review, June 03, p46). Users will have three free encodes before having to pay a US$299 registration fee.
From Adobe's perspective, the headline feature is what it calls a render-free editing experience. It looks as though it will be possible to preview all basic transitions and effects in real-time within the program and on a video monitor connected to the PC's FireWire card - though a fast processor (or two) will be needed to take best advantage. Much of the credit for improved real-time capabilities can be attributed to the program's adoption of native YUV processing - rather than RGB.
Full DVD authoring is not part of V7 - Adobe wants users to buy its forthcoming dedicated authoring program Encore DVD (news, June 2003, p7) - but Pro does gain two-pass MPEG-2 encoding, and will offer direct-to-DVD export for distributing or archiving DVD-compliant MPEG files, as well as being able to export directly into Encore. Export generally has been improved, and V7 will be able to output Windows Media 9, RealMedia 9 and AAF - improving its suitability for web-related work.
Pro will also be tightly integrated with other Adobe programs. It can import layered Photoshop files as sequences with layers arranged on separate tracks; and is set to work hand-in-glove with V6 of Adobe After Effects, due to be introduced at much the same time (news, p8).

Adobe, 0870 6060325;

War and peace

Pinnacle declares war on Premiere Pro with £39 Edition software offer, while Canopus welcomes it and promises support

Adobe Premiere Pro has been greeted very differently by two companies with competing editing software - Pinnacle and Canopus.
Moving onto a war-footing, Pinnacle is offering the standard version of its own editing software - Edition 5 - for just £39 (inc VAT), a saving of over £460! However, the offer is only open to registered owners of two Pinnacle cards that use Premiere - the DV500 and Pro-ONE.
As well as hoping to lure these Premiere users over to Edition 5, Pinnacle is trying to recompense DV500 and Pro-ONE owners who might want to upgrade their current versions of Premiere to Pro and use it with their Pinnacle hardware - something that won't be possible, because Pinnacle isn't going to provide the necessary drivers.
Even so, Pinnacle says it will continue to fully support existing customers with versions of Premiere up to 6.5. For more about the offer - which runs until September 2003 - contact a local dealer or visit,, where it's also possible to order for free a trial version of Edition and a 'Discover Edition' training CD. Also see our review this month (p24) of Edition 5 Pro.
In contrast, and despite its recent launch of the Edius video editing program, Canopus says that it will fully support Adobe Premiere Pro on two current cards, DVStorm2 and DVRaptor RT2, and offer it as option on these cards later in the summer. Canopus has also complemented Adobe for re-engineered Premiere 'with an approach that delivers a wealth of features now and shows great potential for the future.'

Pinnacle, www.pinnaclesys.comtext

Adobe After Effects 6

V6 of Adobe's special effects program offers improved usability, greater speed and new features - at lower price

When serious video editors sit down to talk, they'll often separate into two groups - those who use and venerate After Effects, and those who failed to penetrate its forbidding interface, think life is too short to edit video frame-by-frame, or aren't willing to pay Adobe's inflated prices.
But, with the summer arrival of V6 of Adobe's special effects program, the user group looks set to grow considerably. Version 6 has a lot of intriguing new features but, more importantly, is far easier to use than its predecessors (though remains far from trivial), previews changes a lot faster and is more affordable than before. The pro version will go out for £1,170 (inc VAT) and standard for £650 - considerably more than in the USA ($999 and $699).
The revised user interface will force doubters to think again. It's more intuitive than in earlier versions, thanks to design improvements of many different function windows, and a dozen and one other refinements - including expanded tool tips, context-sensitive menus, and detailed online Help. Adobe lists the enhanced user interface last in its overview of the top 10 new features. We'd place it at the top, closely followed by the massive improvement in rendering speed. This is brought about largely by new support for OpenGL and makes live previews possible on fast PCs and further helps make the program feel more usable.
Of the many new features, the most intriguing is the program's text-animation engine, the like of which we've never seen before. It's possible to easily animate individual characters, words or lines within a single text layer and to speedily produce stunning 2D and 3D motion titles and idents - with all text remaining fully editable throughout.
Text and graphics capabilities have been improved in another way, by the addition of liquefy, warp and scribble effects using a vector-based engine that shares many elements with Photoshop.
Importantly, Adobe promises far better integration with projects created in the new WinXP-only version of the company's video editing program, Premiere Pro - due out at the same time (news, p7). With earlier versions, many of the properties of a Premiere project would be lost when brought into After Effects. With the latest versions of the two programs, though, it will be possible, Adobe claims, to bring in nested sequences - which will be seen as nested compositions - and to maintain keyframes on transparency, cross-dissolves and motion changes, and to have cropping appear as a mask.
Better integration with Photoshop is promised to deliver fully editable text in imported files (with formatting preserved), and the preservation of layers when multiple Photoshop files are imported as a sequence. Users will also be able to choose whether or not to resize imported layered files to match the dimensions of an After Effects composition.
Additional features available only on the Professional version of After Effects include scripted automation of rendering queues; a 2D motion tracker that's said to be up to 30 times faster than before; and a high-quality bought-in keying engine. This looks to offer something close to one-click keying while still offering a huge range of manual controls.

Adobe, 0870 6060325;

Pinnacle buys Dazzle

Pinnacle acquires Dazzle to become outright market leader in consumer video editing hardware

Pinnacle's long-running buying spree continues with its acquistion of the Dazzle consumer video editing business from SCM Microsystems - a move that makes Pinnacle the run-away market leader in consumer hardware, as well as software.
In exchange for $21.5 million of Pinnacle Systems' common stock, SCM delivers to Pinnacle - the software market leader - a hardware line-up that has a leading share in many countries. In the USA and UK, for instance, Dazzle holds over 50 per cent by volume of the low-end video editing hardware market, mostly external USB solutions, but also supplemented by its long-established Hollywood DV Bridge analogue<>DV converter.
Pinnacle says it will continue selling and supporting Dazzle products through its network of retailers and resellers. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of September, and means Pinnacle will 'acquire selected assets and liabilities, including all product rights, inventory, intellectual property, trade names and other rights related to the business'.

Dazzle, +49 89 95 95 5000;
Pinnacle, 01895 424228;

Lite Storm 2

Cut-price version of Canopus's RT analogue/DV editing solution lacks hardware MPEG encoding

With a likely street price of around £630 (inc VAT), Canopus's latest real-time analogue/DV editing solution, DVStorm 2 Lite, offers a saving of about £300 compared with DVStorm 2 (review, April 2003, p32), or £200 compared with the version which, like Lite, comes without Adobe Premiere 6.5.
Lite is said to provide all the real-time editing capabilities of Storm 2 but, on the downside, lacks high-speed MPEG-1/2 hardware encoding - MPEG conversions are instead carried out in software by Canopus's SoftMPEG encoder.
Other Canopus MPEG tools are also included - MpegCutter for trimming MPEG clips; MpegRe-encoder for high-speed conversions of high bit-rate files to lower bit-rates; and MpegExplorer for desktop search and preview of MPEG files. Also provided is Ulead DVD Workshop SE, for authoring and burning DVDs and Video CDs, plus Canopus's basic editing program, Storm Edit, and the company's DV capture tool.
For 3D effects, the bundle has Canopus Xplode and a lite version of Ulead's Cool 3D Production Suite - previously known as Cool 3D Studio (review, July 2003, p28) - while Sonic Foundry's Acid Style audio software is bundled for producing simple music tracks.
Other features common to both DVStorm 2 versions include render-free DV output; real-time colour correction with waveform/vectorscope; one-click auto white balancing; and DV chroma-keying.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150;

JVC MPEG-2 widescreen camcorder

JVC claims true 16:9 recording and frame-accurate editing with MiniDV-based progressive-scan MPEG-2 camcorder

Quite a few semi-pro camcorders are reckoned to record widescreen footage, but none do it quite like JVC's latest camcorder, the GR-PD1, or will look quite so attractive to videographers who want to make widescreen-format DVDs.
The camcorder, expected to go out for under £3,000 (inc VAT), uses an appropriately-shaped (1280x659 pixel) area on its CCD image sensor and saves video as editable MPEG-2 on standard MiniDV tape - though it can also record in 4:3 format, either as MPEG-2 or standard DV.
It comes with software developed by KDDI R&D Laboratories that's said to provide frame-accurate editing of the recorded MPEG-2 footage. The program, MPEG Edit Studio Pro 1.0 LE, is also used to edit footage from JVC's JY-HD10 MPEG-cam, the high-definition big-brother to the GR-PD1.
A capture/playback module is integrated into the program to bring footage in to a Windows XP PC by FireWire, and put it out again to the camcorder or a D-VHS VCR. As a final touch, the program can convert the editable MPEG-2 TS (transport stream - six-frame group of pictures) files that it captures into PS (program stream) format usable by Pixela's ImageMixer DVD authoring program - which JVC also supplies.
Despite having just one CCD imager, the GR-PD1 is said to offer colour resolution on a par with that of three-chip DV camcorders, thanks to a JVC-developed pixel-shifting technology, and the use of progressive scanning that samples the entire picture in one go, rather than as two separate fields.
The camcorder has an f1.8-f1.9 10x optical zoom lens promising consistent brightness throughout its range, and has a trio of analogue video outputs - S-video and composite video, plus component (Y/PB/PR) progressive output for use on modern high-frequency plasma screens, LCD and CRT TV sets, projection systems, and (naturally) JVC's latest PAL Progressive TV range.
Also on the features list are JPEG stills shooting at a resolution of 1,280x960 pixels; manual focus and zoom rings; auto/manual exposure and white balance; a 3.5in (200k pixel) colour LCD, together with a 0.44in (113k) colour viewfinder; plus a USB port for using the camcorder as a webcam with the supplied drivers. Weight, with battery and tape is 1.5kg, and dimensions are 99(h) x 115(w) x 272(d)mm.

JVC, 0870 330 5000;

Iomega five-way DVD burner

Iomega announces world's first five-way DVD-R/-RW/-RAM/+R/+RW burner

The arrival of Iomega's latest ATAPI internal DVD burner - a high-speed, four-way model that goes out for around £175 (inc VAT) - has been rather overshadowed by the company's announcement in the USA of a world-first, a burner that adds a fifth format, DVD-RAM, and is due there in August (SRP US$330) and in Europe the following month.
Burn speeds of the five-way Iomega Super DVD Writer are said to be 4x for DVD-R and DVD+R, 3x for DVD-RAM, 2.4x for DVD+RW and 2x for DVD-RW. CD-Rs are said to burn at 24x, and CD-RWs at 16x. Read speeds are given as 12x for DVD and 32x for CD.
The currently available four-way Iomega Dual DVD Drive is similar in most respects, apart from lacking DVD-RAM, and having slightly slower CD writing - CD-R at 16x and CD-RW at 10x. It's bundled with Iomega's HotBurn Pro software for simple CD and DVD burning that works with Iomega's Automatic Backup tool for automatic file backup.
The latest version of Sonic MyDVD is included for DVD authoring. Sonic Cineplayer, MusicMatch and Adobe ActiveShare are also bundled for disc playback, music and photo management. Also in-pack are EIDE audio cables, mounting screws, and a Quick Install guide.
A similar software bundle looks set to be included with the five-way model, which is likely to share the same minimum system requirements as the four-way model - Windows 98; a 300MHz PIII processor; and 75MByte hard disk space for software installation.

Iomega, 020 7365 9527;

Four-way burning Sony laptops

DVD-R/-RW/+R/+RW DVD burners fitted to edit-ready GRT700 series Vaios

Four-way removable DVD burners come as standard on a trio of Sony Vaio edit-ready P4 laptop PCs.
VAT-inclusive prices for the stylish FireWire-equipped PCG-GRT700 series Windows XP PCs are £1,802 for the range-leading GRT716S (2.8GHz P4, 512MByte DDR SDRAM, 60GByte HDD), £1,503 for the GRT715M (2.8GHz, 512MByte, 40GByte) and £1,395 for the GRT715E (2.66GHz, 256MByte, 40GByte). RAM in each case can be expanded to 1GByte.
Burner write speeds are said to be 1x for DVD-R and DVD-RW, 2x for DVD+R and DVD+RW, and 24x for CD. The software bundle provided with each Vaio includes Sony's entry-level authoring program, Click to DVD, and a lite version of Adobe's Premiere 6.0 video editor.
Click to DVD offers menu-based disc creation from saved MPEG content, along with one-click, direct-to-DVD recording from a DV device connected via FireWire - though the encoded footage is burnt to disc without menus. The software bundle is completed by Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, Acrobat 5.1, Drag'n'Drop CD+DVD, DVgate, PictureGear Studio, QuickTime 5, SonicStage, Windows Media Player 9, RealOne player, and Vaio Media AV tools.
A major selling point is the displays - using Sony-developed Onyx Black LCD screen technology that's said to produce crisp, bright, high-contrast images. The screen on the 716S is a 16in SXGA+ (1,400x1,050 resolution), the others use 15in XGA displays (1,028x768). Screens on the top two machines are driven by Nvidia GeForce FX Go5600 graphics processors with 64MByte of video RAM, while the base model uses a 32MByte GeForce4 420 Go graphics board.
In addition to a single four-pin FireWire port, each Vaio has three USB 2.0 ports; connectors for a printer and built-in Ethernet and modem; AV-out (TV and line-output); and one socket for a microphone and another for speaker/headphone output - audio is 16-bit CD-quality and said to support surround sound.
Two PC Card (PCMCIA) slots and a MagicGate Memory Stick port are also standard, as are lithium ion batteries - with claimed life of two hours and 21 minutes on the 716S, and one hour and 45 minutes with the others. The 16in screen on the 716S makes it slightly larger overall than its stable-mates - 357(w) x 45(h) x300(d)mm, rather than 327(w) x 44(h) x272(d)mm - and, at 3.9kg, 700g heavier.

Sony Electronics, 08705 111999;

Read the full review in September 2003's Computer Video magazine.


Recent features...
View the archive

Reviewed in September's issue:

DVD reliability
Pinnacle Edition 5 Pro
Archos DEx DVD-RW 2
PowerQuest Drive Image 7

In September's news:
Apple back in the race with G5s
Premiere revival
War and peace
Adobe After Effects 6
Pinnacle buys Dazzle
Lite Storm 2
JVC MPEG-2 widescreen camcorder
Iomega five-way DVD burner
Four-way burning Sony laptops

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