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burning arrives with a bang
burners hit the shops in numbers and at keen prices
The capacity limitations
of the 4.7GByte DVD blanks we all presently use will soon be a thing
of the past. A new generation of inexpensive burners has just arrived,
based on the Double-Layer (DVD+R9) 8.5GByte format co-developed by Philips
The beauty of the new disc is that it's claimed to hold up to four hours
of DVD-quality video. The downside (from Hollywood's viewpoint) is that
it will be possible to store cracked copies of movies on a single disc
without having to compromise quality by using the sort of powerful compression
offered by program's such as Pinnacle's Instant Copy (review Sep 03,
Although the first Double-Layer burners only started arriving in the
UK towards the end of May, there's already a wide range of models available,
most of which are priced at far less than we - and most pundits - could
NEC was among the first with hardware. The naked, OEM version of its
ND-2510A burner - with
cream or black fascia - is available from Ebuyer UK for just £68.50
(inc VAT, but not carriage). This ATAPI/IDE model is loosely based on
the ND-2500 (review, Jun 04, p80), and is reckoned to have write speeds
of 2.4x with DVD+R9, 8x with DVD-R/+R and 4x with DVD-RW/+RW - the norm
for most first-generation burners.
Next up at Ebuyer is the retail version of LiteOn's equivalent, the
SOHW-832S at £90. This comes bundled with cables, screws and Ahead's
Nero Express 6 software suite for Windows. Over at Novatech, LG's OEM
contender, the GSA-4120BA, is pitched at £84.60 and reckoned to
add DVD-RAM writing at speeds of up to 5x, plus ultra-fast, 12x DVD+R
burning. However, even this speed is already being bested - the more
expensive of two Philips EIDE models, the DVDR1640K (SRP £133)
is claimed to have 16x DVD+R capability. It's 'standard' speed companion
is the DVDRW885K, at £115.
External models look set to be keenly priced, too, judging by LaCie's
offering, the snappily-named d2 DL DVD-/+RW drive, SRP £131. This
carries FireWire 1394a and USB 2.0 connections and ships with Mac and
Windows disc recording software with Double-Layer burning capabilities
- Roxio Creator 7 for Windows (review, Jul 04, p26) and a lite version
of Toast 6 for Mac. There are also two other LaCie bundles for Mac users,
each at £147. One includes Roxio Toast 6 Titanium, the other Pixela
CaptyDVD 2.0 authoring software.
Sony is offering two models, each burdened with what looks to be an
unwarranted price premium. There's an internal ATAPI/EIDE burner, the
DRU-700A (£140 from Watford Electronics) and an external model,
DRX-700UL with 1394a and USB 2.0 ports (£229 from Dabs.com). Both
come with Ahead's Nero 6 suite, and the internal model has screws and
Double-Layer burners under other brands should also be arriving soon,
followed closely by set-top VCR replacements.
On the software side, existing users of Roxio Creator 7 can download
a 50MByte updater to add Double-Layer support - and Roxio is promising
an update for the suite's DVD authoring program DVD Builder. Ulead says
it's already added support in OEM versions of DVD MovieFactory 3 (retail
version reviewed, Jul 04, p34) and reckons that patches for its other
editing and authoring software will be arriving soon. And Cyberlink,
rapidly becoming one of the biggest OEM suppliers of writing software,
has also announced that its two burning applications - Power2Go and
PowerProducer 2 Gold - now support DVD+R9 Double-Layer recording.
But, there is a fly in the ointment. Double-Layer blank discs have been
slower to arrive. The stock situation is likely to have improved before
this issue of CV hits the streets, with the imminent arrival of shipments
of Double-Layer media from Verbatim, much of it destined for PC World
- at as yet unknown prices. However, according to Verbatim, full availability
depends on production yields increasing and may take until the end of
LaCie, 020 7872
LiteOn IT; www.liteonit.com
NEC, 020 8752 3535; www.nec.co.uk/datastorage.asp
Philips, www.philips.comRoxio, +49 7543 939882; www.roxio.co.uk
Sony Europe, 0870 2430056; www.sony-europe.com
Ulead; 01327 844880;www.ulead.co.ukVerbatim, www.verbatim-europe.com
in Premiere Pro
for Premiere Pro adds native MPEG capture and editing and fast export
- with HD as an option
plug-in promises to massively improve the MPEG capabilities of Adobe's
video editing program Premiere Pro (review, Dec 03, p30). The plug-in,
called MPEG Pro, adds native MPEG-1/2 capture and editing to Premiere
Pro and enhances its MPEG output speed, too. Price, as a download from
MainConcept, is £174 (inc VAT).
Although Adobe's program can already import MPEG files, these are transcoded
into whatever format the project is using (typically DV), then re-encoded
to MPEG when outputting for DVD disc writing. Having native MPEG support
cuts out the transcoding, and having timeline MPEG editing should make
life much easier.
The plug-in is said to support real-time encoding to DVD-compatible
MPEG-2 from analogue and digital sources (including Sony MicroMV) -
although the speed depends on system capabilities. It uses smart rendering
to re-encode only the changes made to an MPEG project, and allows external
previewing of the edit via FireWire, supporting resolutions up to 720
x 576 (PAL).
A version with high-definition capabilities - V1.0.4 - is also available
and priced at £244 as a download. This adds support for capture
from HDV sources, such as JVC's JY-HD10 HD MiniDV camcorder, editing
of the footage and export back to the JVC or to a D-VHS deck. Fully-working
but water-marked try-before-you-buy demos of both versions are also
available for download.
Minimum (recommended) system requirements are the same as for Premiere
Pro - Windows XP; an 800MHz PIII processor (3GHz P4); 256MByte of RAM
(1GByte-plus); a Microsoft DirectX-compatible sound card (multi-channel
Asio-compatible for surround sound support); and a 1,280 x 1,024, 32-bit
graphics card (OpenGL).
We carried out a few brief tests of V1.0.4 using Premiere Pro V1 and
standard definition files - DV AVI and MPEG-2 - and were impressed,
even though our test-bed was a relatively lowly PC with a Celeron 1.4GHz
CPU, 512MByte RAM and a venerable Matrox Millennium G400 graphics card.
MPEG-2 editing on the timeline was very responsive, as was on-screen
previewing (including that of un-rendered transitions and effects).
External monitoring via FireWire offered good colour rendition but had
to drop frames to keep up - though far fewer than we'd have expected
on such a low-spec system. Render speed was also surprisingly fast -
2.2x real-time for outputting a DV AVI to DVD-compliant MPEG-2 at an
average variable bit-rate of 6Mbit/sec, decreasing to 4.36x when carried
out as a two-pass encode.
241 401 0825; www.mainconcept.com
Apple Motion graphics
low-cost, easy-to-use alternative to Adobe After Effects
It might not be
as complex to use as Adobe After Effects (V6 review, Dec 03, p48) -
and that's all to the good - but Apple's motion-graphics software Motion
is said to use the same real-time design engine - drawing on the muscle
of PowerMac processors to produce real-time previewing of filters, effects
The program, out this summer at an attractive price of £199 (inc
VAT), offers a canvas workspace and tabbed timeline for adding and trimming
any QuickTime clip or audio track, and matching animation and effects
to video. Users of art tablets and pens can draw one of 40 Motion 'gestures'
(actually symbols) directly onto the interface to quickly launch tools
such as select or zoom and pan, open the Library, the Inspector (holding
an object's advanced controls), or the File Browser.
Keyframing an animation can be complicated and time-consuming, but Motion
simplifies things using 40 'behaviours' reckoned to instantly add natural-looking
movement to text and graphics. Behaviours come in four flavours - basic
(including position, rotation and opacity), text (affecting lines, words
or individual letters), simulation (for 'real world' movement such as
gravity), and parameter (for fine-tuning).
There's a Keyframe Editor in the timeline with advanced tools for adjusting,
copying and pasting keyframes between objects. Keyframes can also be
set using the Record-Animation button after repositioning an object
by dragging it or by using its parameter slider. These sliders can be
moved while the project plays back and their actions recorded. Whenever
an object is dragged, an alignment guide appears to show that object's
distance from the centre of the canvas or other objects.
Motion uses system fonts or preset type styles that are customised in
the Dashboards (contextual, semi-transparent floating palettes). Outlines,
glows, shadows and layout options are adjusted in the Inspector, along
with the creation of Bezier-controlled paths along which type can be
animated. Ten LiveFonts are provided, giving animated effects created
in 32-bit alpha channel for keying over video.
Ninety-plus accelerated filters - across 12 categories - can be dragged
and dropped onto objects. These include standard effects such as Gaussian
blurs, distortion effects and glows, plus fancy effects such as kaleidoscope
and tunnel. The Photron PrimatteRT keyer is for creating blue-screen
or green-screen effects for chromakeying. And there's a particle-generator
for effects such as fire, smoke and sparkles. Bezier and B-Spline tools,
said to be easy to use, are available for drawing shapes that can be
filled with colour or a gradient, with an outline or with feathering
Apple's encoding tool Compressor 1.2 is included, and Motion is said
to integrate with Final Cut Pro HD 4.5 (news, p14) and DVD Studio Pro
3 (news, Jul 04, p10). Effects created in FCP are editable on the Motion
timeline (and vice versa) to reduce render times. Motion projects imported
into DVD SP3 are automatically rendered to MPEG-2 (for DVD) in the background.
Minimum (recommended) requirements are Mac OSX 10.3.3; an 867MHz G4
or G5 processor; 512MByte of RAM (2GByte or more); QuickTime 6.5; a
display with 1,024 x 768 resolution (1,280 x 1,024 resolution or higher);
and 10GByte free hard disk space for the application, templates and
a tutorial. The graphics card is important, too, and should be an nVidia
GeForce FX 5200 Ultra or Go5200, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 or 9700,
or a Radeon 9600, 9700 or 9800 Pro.
Apple UK, 0800 783
Major software upgrade
for the DV-7 series of one-box editors includes more effects and audio
tracks plus photo montaging
The Pro Expansion
Kit for Edirol DV-7 and DV-7R one-box video editors (review, Jun 02,
p56) looks to be a major software upgrade with over 100 features and
enhancements. Suggested retail price, though, is a stiff £399
The kit consists of an installation CD, written manuals, and a multi-port
flash card reader that's said to be plug-and-play ready via USB, and
accept CompactFlash, Microdrive, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, Secure
Digital (SD) Memory, and Memory Stick cards.
The software upgrade includes a new Scenemaking function for combining
any number of audio and video tracks on the timeline with frame accuracy
into a single clip, and turning off those not required in the mix.
Audio tracks have increased in number from three stereo to four stereo/eight
mono, and there's said to be improved effects processing and correction.
There's also Midi sync for locking to digital audio workstations such
as the VS series from parent company Roland.
Data and video-clip management sees improvements with multiple-clip
and item selection, database sorting, tagging, and deletion of used
material. On-screen graphics are said to be clearer, with help from
extra on-screen and keyboard shortcuts.
New transitions and picture effects include shuffles, cross-fades (including
colour), stretches, cross-zooms, swaps, 3D page turns, improved keyframable
P-in-P, mosaics and blurs. The upgrade also adds colour effects and
processing, including film effects, sepia, and various levels of aging.
The titling capabilities have been enhanced to include user presets
for font editing; extra scrolling and crawl options; auto formatting
of text fields and an import facility for large files. Stills, such
as photographs, can be turned into photo montages for video with the
new footage-from-stills function.
The DV-7 is currently priced at £2,000, while the DV-7R with real-time
editing capabilities in native DV is £2,500.
Edirol Europe, 0870
350 1515; www.edirol.co.uk
X-oom video tools
copying, DivX video editing, and video restoration programs for Windows
music entertainment company Emission UK is selling over the net a series
of entry-level Windows programs under the X-oom brand, including three
that are video-editing related.
Movie Clone Plus copies unprotected DVDs, while Video Clean is for restoring
and archiving video to disc. The price in each case is £27 (inc
VAT) for an electronic download or £33.64 (inc VAT and £3.65
carriage) if opting for a retail pack. The third offering, DivX2DVD,
is a DivX video editing and DVD creation program and costs £22
Movie Clone Plus is said to offer 1:1 copies of VCDs, SVCDs and DVDs
(including DVDs with Dolby 5.1 surround sound) and be able to shrink
an unprotected 9GByte DVD Video disc down onto a blank 4.7GByte disc.
Video Clean has restoration tools for removing picture noise and flicker;
correcting colour, brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, and
gamma; adjusting sharpness or volume; and removing adverts. It's reckoned
to be able to import MPEG, AVI, MOV and DivX, and record from a variety
of external sources including video recorders, DV camcorders (with device
control), TV tuner cards or boxes, and webcams.
Video can be cropped, edited and rearranged on the storyboard before
being encoded (with control over the bit-rate) for burning to disc.
There are 25-plus menu presets, but graphics can be imported for the
DivX2DVD includes a DivX file player as well as basic editor that supports
MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, QuickTime (MOV), WMF and other formats compatible
with Windows Media Player. Editing tools allow little more than removing
unwanted parts and adding transitions between files. The program can
author DVDs with menus and chapters, and burn PAL/NTSC VCD, SVCD and
The three programs run under Windows 98SE (or later) and need an 800MHz
(or faster) CPU and 128MByte of RAM. Video Clean additionally requires
X-oom web shop,
www.x-oom.co.uk; 0049 721 96458 8003
Emission UK, 020 8675 5175; www.emissionuk.com
High Def Final Cut Pro
Apple Final Cut
Pro 4.5 editor captures from DVCPRO HD sources via FireWire and from
supported third-party SD/HD cards
support is the key new feature in the latest update of Apple's video
editing program, Final Cut Pro (V4 review, Oct 03, p26). The HD version
(V4.5) is free to registered V4 users and £279 (inc VAT) to owners
of earlier versions. The standalone package is £699, as with V4,
and - also like V4 - there's support for FireWire capture from DV, DVCAM
and Panasonic DVCPRO 25 and DVCPRO 50 formats.
Version 4.5, which requires Mac OSX 10.3.2 or later, is said to be able
to capture HD via FireWire from DVCPRO HD source devices - such as the
latest FireWire-equipped Panasonic AJ-HD1200A deck - for working in
1080i and 720p HD resolutions from capture to export. It also offers
support for 8-bit and 10-bit uncompressed HD capture using compatible
third-party SD/HD PCI expansion cards, such as AJA's Kona 2 and Pinnacle's
CinéWave RT and CinéWave RT Pro.
Apple is expected to release an HDV-compatible upgrade for capturing
HD content compressed to MPEG-2 from JVC's HD MiniDV camcorders (JY-HD10
and GR-HD1), but users of Lumiere HDV and Heuris Indie HD and Pro-Indie
HD toolkit can use FCP 4.5 with HDV now.
Final Cut's interface is said to have been upgraded to cater for HD
- likewise its colour-correction tools and RT Extreme real-time playback
of effects, filters, transitions and composited video. Among other HD
features are XML format support and full-screen playback of HD content
via DVI on Apple monitors (which cost far less than typical HD monitors).
There's also said to be improved integration with other Apple software,
notably DVD Studio Pro 3; Logic Pro 6 (music/audio); Shake 3.5 (compositing);
and Motion, the new, low-cost motion-graphics program (news, p10).
The updater to V4.5 is a 10MByte download, but requires updates to Soundtrack
1.2 (29.5MByte), LiveType 1.1 (7.9MByte) and Compressor 1.1 (7.9MByte).
To run, FCP 4.5 also needs a 350MHz PowerPC G4 or G5 Mac (500MHz for
Soundtrack and RT Extreme; 1GHz for DVCPRO HD); 384MByte of RAM (512MByte/1GByte);
QuickTime 6.5; and a DVD drive for installation.
Apple UK, 0800 783
2b Royalty Free
releases album of TV-themed music tracks and loops
The latest album
of royalty-free music from 2b Royalty Free
is 'Total TV - Volume 1', a collection of CD tracks for television presentations,
commercials and media training.
The CD has a total running time of 75 minutes, sells for £35 (inc
VAT and carriage), but is on offer until the end of July for £31.
Styles include Entertainment, Daytime TV, Animals/Countryside, Late
Night/Jazz and Christmas, many of them with live brass recordings. There
are also 30-sec and 60-sec clips intended for commercials, along with
sound idents for daytime TV and a number of seasonal sound-clips for
weather forecasts. Pre-cut loops and extensions for each theme are also
included, in WAV format, for creating or extending tracks.
2b Royalty Free;
023 8070 1682; www.2b-royaltyfree.com
Edition bundled with free MovieBox DV analogue<>digital converter
until end of August
Until the end of
August, a free analogue<>digital converter, said to be worth £199
(inc VAT), is being bundled with Pinnacle's £499 Liquid Edition
video editing and DVD authoring program (review, Apr 04, p66).
The Pinnacle MovieBox DV converter box connects to a PC by FireWire
and has inputs and outputs for DV, S-video, composite video and L/R
audio. The box allows capture and output from/to analogue and DV devices,
plus external monitoring of rendered footage on Edition's timeline using
a TV set or video monitor attached to its analogue outputs.
repurposing tool for Windows gets HD support and a price-cut
Version 2 of Canopus's
media repurposing tool ProCoder offers a bunch of new features, including
High Definition support - yet sells for £351 (inc VAT) - nearly
half the price of its £617 forerunner, V1.5 (review, Nov 03, p56).
The Windows program is said to offer watch folders with network support,
an easy-to-use wizard and a Batch Manager tool. It's reckoned to support
720p and 1080i HD resolutions and accurately convert between HD and
SD resolutions and frame rates. Supported HD-compatible transcode formats
include MPEG, DivX, Windows Media High Definition Video (WMV HD) and
QuickTime. There's also support for HDV (High Definition Video) MPEG
transport streams, including HDTV broadcast streams and those created
by JVC's GR-HD1 and JY-HD10 HDV MiniDV-based camcorders.
Also supported is encoding MPEG-4 files with QuickTime or DivX Pro (using
the included full, licensed version) for high-quality, low-bit-rate
web footage or CD-ROM videos. Separate video and audio files can now
be combined into a single file to add music or narration to a video
When encoding MPEG-2 files for DVD, V2 is reckoned to be able to take
in timeline markers from Canopus Edius 2 (review, Jun 04, p24) and Adobe
Premiere Pro (review, Dec 03, p30) and automatically create DVD chapter
points. The program is claimed to comply with the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 by preserving closed captioning information encoded in the
source video, so it doesn't need re-inserting when converting broadcast
footage to DVD-compatible MPEG.
Watch folders that hold and automatically transcode video files can
be placed on a network, allowing users of other programs to have their
footage processed by ProCoder 2. Encoding jobs can be monitored, paused,
deleted or restarted in the new Batch Manager, and a wizard mode has
been added to simplify the encoding process.
ProCoder users who bought version 1.x on or after September 5, 2003
can upgrade for free to the full version 2.0 by completing an upgrade
claim form (www.canopus-uk.com/UK/products/ProCoder2/pt_procoder2_update.asp).
Others have to pay £93 for an upgrade.
Canopus sets minimum system requirements as Windows 2K/XP Pro; an 800MHz
Intel or AMD Athlon processor (multi-processor and Hyper-Threading support
included); 256MByte of RAM (512MByte for HD encoding); 80MByte free
disk space; DirectX 9.0; and a spare USB port.
Canopus UK, 0118
921 0150; www.canopus-uk.com
Free After Effects plug-ins
Suite of AE 6.5
Pro plug-ins and scripts for working in photographic colour space of
The Orphanage is
making available a set of High Dynamic Range (HDR) After Effects 6.5
Pro plug-ins and scripts that is free for non-commercial use in compositing
film, video and 3D content. For single-machine, commercial use, the
cost is US$499.
The software, known as eLin, in effect adds floating-point colour support
to After Effects, and is reckoned to increase the range of colours and
contrasts the program can handle - giving results that are more cinematic
Clear improvements are claimed for effects across the board, from motion
blur, depth-of-field and glows, and even basic transformations. The
same technology is said to have been used in the production of a number
of feature films, including Hellboy and The Day After Tomorrow.
The software supports industry-standard Cineon film scans and Industrial
Light & Magic's open source EXR file format. Sales and distribution
are handled by Red Giant Software, the company that sells The Orphanage's
Magic Bullet Suite HD plug-in for Adobe After Effects (review, Jun 04,
Red Giant (reseller);
The Orphanage, 001 323 469 6700; www.theorphanage.com
Reviewed in this issue:
Roxio VideoWave 7
Epson Stylus Photo R200
ADS Tech Instant DVD 2.0
burning arrives with a bang
MPEG editing in Premiere Pro
Apple Motion graphics
Edirol editor upgrade
X-oom video tools
High Def Final Cut Pro
TV-style theme music
Liquid Edition freebie
Cut-price ProCoder 2
Free After Effects plug-ins