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NEWS - JANUARY 2005
version of Pinnacle Studio 9 adds A/B editing, chromakey, PiP, Double
Layer DVD burning and Dolby Digital Stereo
The latest, Plus,
version of Pinnacle's big-selling budget video editing program Studio
9 (review, Apr 04, p44) is aimed at users wanting extra professional
features, and likely to sell for £60 (inc VAT).
Top of the list of enhancements is the addition of a second video track,
making it possible to carry out A/B editing, keyframable picture-in-picture
(PiP) effects, and chromakeying - for superimposing a foreground image
over a greenscreen (or bluescreen) background image - as in TV news
and weather reports. Also significant are support for Dolby Digital
Stereo (in place of pseudo-Pro Logic) and for burning DVD Video projects
to Double Layer DVD+R discs.
Slideshow creation has been significantly improved with features such
as red-eye removal; image-rotation; and pan-and-zoom animation controls
that turn still images into moving video. Picture slideshows can also
be brought to life with music, titles and transitions.
Initially, Studio 9 Plus is being sold as a step-up from the original
Studio 9, with existing users able to upgrade for £40. However,
although upgrades will still be available, it looks likely that the
Plus version will soon replace the original, which, though priced at
£55 on Pinnacle's own net store, is available for £40 from
third-party online shops such as amazon.uk.
Pinnacle is offering Studio 9 Plus bundled with a whole range of goodies
for £90. The other items in the Studio MediaSuite package are
a green chromakeying cloth backdrop measuring 5ft x 6ft (1524mm x 1830mm)
and a raft of software. There's Corel PhotoBook for photo editing and
sharing, plus a bunch of Pinnacle's own products - Instant DVD Recorder
for direct-to-disc DVD capturing and burning; Instant CD/DVD for CD/DVD
burning, copying and data backup; Media Manager for digital media organising;
the Instant Cinema DVD player; and Pinnacle/Steinberg WaveLab Lite for
Studio 9 Plus will also start to be bundled with the Deluxe versions
of Studio hardware such as Studio MovieBox Deluxe and Studio AV/DV Deluxe,
which already include the Hollywood FX Plus 3D transitions and effects
Canopus Let's Edit 2
video editor gains real-time previews, DVD authoring, AVI-2 support
and mixed-format editing
Canopus is making
a more aggressive play for the entry-level DV market with a version
2 update of its well-respected OHCI-compatible editor Let's Edit for
Windows XP (V1 review, Feb 04, p38). This carries an SRP £99 inc
VAT (£35 for an upgrade from previous versions).
New to Let's Edit 2 are real-time previewing of transition and filter
effects via FireWire, and claimed frame-accurate editing of mixed-format
sources, including DV, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. There's also DVD burning directly
from the timeline, and CD ripping for directly importing audio from
disc. Capture of long video clips is now enabled with support for AVI-2
files. Let's Edit allows sequences to be storyboarded in its clip bin
or more accurately edited on a timeline, allowing assemble and insert
editing and rubber banding for audio.
There's also a voice-over recording tool and a simple encode-and-burn
feature for exporting edits to DVD. The program seems pitched at a middle
ground between the most basic entry-level programs and more advanced
programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Canopus's own Edius. And, with
Adobe's Premiere Elements (news, Dec 04, p15) and Vegas's Movie Studio+DVD
(news, p16) already on their way, ambitious beginners might find themselves
spoilt for choice.
Wacom Intuos MkIII
range of three graphics tablets with ExpressKeys and Touch Strips
range of graphic tablets takes in three models - A6 (£153 inc
VAT), A5 (£235) and A4 (£345) size - all in stylish dark
blue/grey with shiny work-area surrounds, and featuring built-in ExpressKeys
and Touch Strips to speed up workflow. Active working areas are 127(w)
x 102(d)mm (A6); 203(w) x 152(d)mm (A5) and 305(w) x 231(d)mm (A4).
ExpressKeys are programmable four-button keypads that sit at the top
corners of each tablet - or one in the top-left corner of the smallest
(A6) tablet. They provide shortcut functions within certain applications
and, by default, are assigned to the Ctrl, Alt, Shift and spacebar keys
of a keyboard.
Touch Strips act like scroll bars with presets allowing zooming and
scrolling in various applications. Both ExpressKeys and Touch Strips
can be customised for a program in the updated driver control panel
software that comes with each tablet. Tablets are compatible with USB-equipped
PCs running Windows 98SE (or above) or Mac OSX 10.2.6 (or later).
The Intuos3 range offers a resolution of 5,080 dpi - double that of
Intuos2 models. There are also said to be 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
in the pen tip and in the eraser of the redesigned Intuos3 Grip Pen
(supplied) and Airbrush (a £100 optional extra) - with the tablet
said to recognise a tilt angle of up to 60 degrees on both devices.
The cordless, induction-powered Grip Pen has been ergonomically styled
with left-handed and right-handed users in mind, and has a cushioned,
rubber sleeve to stop the pen slipping and alleviate wrist fatigue.
It also comes with changeable pen nibs. The stroke pen nib gives brushstrokes,
whereas the felt pen nib acts gives more friction on the tablet when
painting or drawing to mimic its namesake. The pen-stand has also been
changed to allow the pen to be rested vertically or horizontally.
Like the pen, the supplied induction-power mouse has been redesigned
and now carries five buttons. It is said to offer smooth tracking control,
and work at the same 5,080 dpi resolution as the pen and brush.
A custom-designed version of Corel's Painter 8 graphics program - Painter
Essentials 2 - comes in-pack and is said to take advantage of the airbrush
wheel, tip pressure and tilt, eraser and Tool ID functions of Intuos3
Sony Studio lites
Sony makes a play
for the consumer media market with lite versions of its Vegas+DVD, Acid
and Sound Forge software
Vegas Movie Studio
4.0 +DVD is the lead package in a trio of lite media editing programs
for Windows 2000 and XP from Sony. This is a cut-down version of the
video editing and DVD authoring package Vegas+DVD (review, Aug 04, p26)
and can be bought for US$100 from Sony's website - either as an electronic
download or a physical CD - although Sony's RRP in the UK is £99
Vegas Movie Studio works with OHCI FireWire ports and offers batch-capture
and scene-selection. The editing timeline has three video tracks and
three audio tracks - as opposed to unlimited tracks in the full Vegas
- though this is sufficient for assemble-editing, insert-editing, split-editing
and titling. New to version 4 is support for SWF Flash files, and a
selection of customisable 3D transitions. There's also a collection
of sample video and audio clips and sound effects.
Finished projects can be exported directly to www.acidplanet.com for
sharing online, or authored to DVD in the accompanying DVD Architect
Studio. Unlike the full Vegas 5 editor, Movie Studio provides no surround-sound
mixing capabilities, putting it a step behind Pinnacle's Studio 9 Plus
in that department. And, there's no AC-3 audio support - a big drawback
considering that Dolby encoding is now standard for many budget DVD
Other compromises include a lack of MP3 output, simplified effects (with
no advanced colour-correction tools, keyframable Bezier masks or 3D
track motion effects) and sound that's limited to 16-bit at 48kHz. External
monitor support is also unavailable in Movie Studio. Some things have
been added, however - such as red-eye removal for still images and dedicated
audio restoration filters. As with editing tools, DVD authoring features
are lightweight compared to those of the full DVD Architect program
included with the Vegas 5 +DVD bundle.
In fact, a first glance at the Architect Studio's feature set makes
it look a lot like V1 of DVD Architect - with no subtitling tools or
support for multiple audio tracks. Elementary MPEG streams aren't supported
either, forcing users to create multiplexed files with MPEG audio in
advance, or import AVI files and have Architect Studio encode them for
DVD authoring. Oddly for a program at this level, automated 'fit-to-disc'
compression settings are also disabled, leaving users to guess which
data rate will be best for their projects. The tools it does have do
look to be good though, with support for motion-menus, chapter-marking,
and 4:3 or 16:9 video. Menus can be designed from scratch, too, rather
than drawing solely on templates and wizards. There's a preview interface
with a remote control simulator, but no support for external monitors.
Acid Music Studio 5 is a loop-based music composition program pitched
at US$70 from Sony's website or £85 inc VAT at the full UK RRP.
It's a lite version of Acid Pro (V4 review, Mar 03, p42) and offers
unlimited tracks. There's no surround-sound panning, though, and audio
resolution is limited to 16-bit/48KHz. The program comes with 1,000
ready-made audio loops, but allows users to record their own music,
automatically tweaking tempo and pitch if necessary to keep all elements
in time and in tune. There's a piano-roll editor, allowing music to
be corrected or drawn directly in, plus a Chopper editing tool, for
cloning sections of music; a metronome; a master bus track for applying
changes to the entire project; and a choice of time signatures other
than 4/4. Video scoring is supported, allowing music and sound effects
to be synchronised with movies. Effects include EQ, reverb, delay, chorus,
flange, phaser, distortion, and echo, and projects can be burned directly
Third of the array of lite media applications is Sound Forge Audio Studio,
selling at £85 (or US$70 from Sony's website). As with its big
brother Sound Forge (V7 review, Nov 04, p78), the program allows audio
to be recorded to the system, edited, processed, and exported or burned
to CD. Video can be edited and synced to video files with sub-frame
accuracy. General sound-editing tools include automatic merging of left
and right mono channels into a single stereo file, a ten-band graphic
equaliser, bit-depth conversion between 16-bit and eight-bit audio,
click and pop clean-up tools, and effects such as chorus, delay, reverb
and flange. CD ripping and burning options are provided, too. Unlike
the full Sound Forge, however, Audio Studio doesn't support DirectX
plug-ins or audio resolutions above 16-bit/48KHz.
Serious Magic Visual Communicator
kit with live chromakey and teleprompter
Visual Communicator is described as a quick and easy 'portable newsroom'
setup, consisting of a foldable greenscreen, tie-clip microphone, and
software for Windows desktop and laptop PCs. It uses DV camcorders or
webcams to record subjects against the greenscreen, and performs live
chromakey effects to replace the coloured background with a virtual
set - simultaneously displaying a script in a rolling teleprompter-style
display. The product comes in three flavours - Web, Pro or Studio.
Visual Communicator Web costs £152 inc VAT, and supports video
resolutions up to 320 x 240 pixels. Footage is saved in RealVideo or
Windows Media formats for use as email attachments or integrating into
websites for online streaming. Visual Communicator Pro costs £303,
and supports full DV resolution for capture and output, allowing finished
recordings to be saved as DV files or encoded to MPEG and published
as DVD or VCD discs. It has a richer assortment of supplied music files
and real-time effects such as backgrounds, transitions and titles, and
also allows PowerPoint presentations to be imported and used in projects.
The Studio version carries a £526 price tag, and enables live
video output as well as offering the means to switch between subjects
in an interview setting. It also includes tools to integrate video into
web pages, stream live over the net, and add chapter markers to archived
Apple launches £1,000
entry-level 1.8GHz G5 PowerMac
Apple is adding
a budget system to its line up of G5 desktop PowerMacs. In this case,
though, budget means a price tag of £1,099 including VAT, mouse
and keyboard, but no monitor.
The system has a single 1.8GHz 64-bit G5 processor - rather than dual-processors
as in the existing range - a 600MHz front-side bus, 256MByte of 400MHz
DDR SDRAM, a 7,200rpm/80GByte Sata hard drive, a dual-head 64MByte GeForce
FX 5200 Ultra graphics card in an 8x AGP port, and a SuperDrive DVD
burner capable of up to 8x burning.
There are three vacant PCI slots, giving plenty of expansion options,
along with a 56kps V92 modem, three FireWire ports - two FireWire 400
(1394a) and one fast FireWire 800 (1394b) - plus three USB 2.0 connections.
Fast networking via gigabit Ethernet comes as standard, but wireless
capabilities are extras - £35 for Bluetooth and £59 for
The latest version of Mac OSX is provided, along with a Classic environment
option and the usual extensive suite of software including iLife '04
(iTunes , iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand); Mail; iChat AV; Safari;
Address Book; QuickTime; iSync; iCal; DVD Player; Art Directors Toolkit;
EarthLink Total Access 2004; GraphicConverter; OmniGraffle; OmniOutliner;
QuickBooks for Mac New User Edition; Zinio Reader and Xcode Developer
While this budget system won't come close to the power of Apple's dual-processor
machines for real-time video editing, we're sure it'll find a ready
audience, not least among DVD authors looking for an affordable Mac
that can be expanded with a SCSI card for DLT mastering.
Apple Logic Express and Pro 7
Logic Pro and Logic
Express music-creation and audio-production programs upgraded to version
Apple is upgrading
its Logic audio software to V7. Logic Pro 7 carries an SRP of £699
(inc VAT) while Logic Express 7 - the lite version aimed at hobbyists
and the educational sector - goes out for £199.
With V7, Logic Pro gains three software instruments - the Sculpture
synthesiser, said to offer an inexhaustible variety of naturalistic
sounds centring around vibrating strings or bars; the Ultrabeat drum
machine offering 25 custom drum voices; and EFM1, mysteriously described
as providing everything from dreamy landscapes to punchy bell tones
with FM style!
Nine further effects plug-ins are added with V7, most notably Guitar
Amp Pro. This is said to recreate the sounds of eleven of the world's
best-known guitar amplifiers. Users can configure their own amps from
numerous options including 14 speaker-cabinet selections, microphone
type and placement, and EQ type and settings. Version 7 also sees new
pro mastering plug-ins such as Linear Phase EQ and professional metering.
Among the 100 claimed workflow enhancements is distributed audio processing
via gigabit Ethernet networks. This enables work to be shared among
suitable networked G5 Macs running OSX 10.3 (or later) - and these machines
can, of course, be located outside the studio, so as not to increase
background noise in the workroom. Others include Recall Channel Strips
that save all channel settings and parameters for future use; auto cross-fades;
and shuffle editing to restrain movement and prevent regions of a project
Support is provided for importing Apple GarageBand projects, and for
working with the Apple Loops open-standard file format used in GarageBand
and Apple's other entry-level music-creation program, Soundtrack.
Pro and lite versions of Logic V7 support audio at 16-bit and 24-bit
resolution, and sample rates up to 96kHz (Express) and 192kHz (Pro)
for recording and for playback of internal software instruments.
Logic Express - seen as the step up from GarageBand - offers scaled-back
features within the same Pro interface. These include 12 input channels
verses an unlimited number in Pro, and eight bus and auxilliary channels
rather than 64.
Express lacks many of the new features of its big brother, including
the new software instruments, the guitar amp plug-in and distributed
audio, and also doesn't offer surround-sound capabilities. However,
its features list does take in over 50 software instruments and plug-ins;
a studio-style mixer; and the ability to edit and print performances
using standard music notation.
Minimum requirements for Pro and Express include Mac OSX 10.3 (or later);
a PowerPC G4 processor (G5 or dual-G4 recommended); 512MByte of RAM;
and a DVD drive for software installation. Pro further requires low-latency
multi in/out audio hardware and a Midi interface.
Upgrading to Logic Pro 7 costs £199 for users of V6, Logic Platinum
and Logic Gold 5 or 6. Upgrading from Express 6 to Express 7 costs £69,
and £499 to Pro 7.
Hitachi EasyBak HDDs
External hard drives
for digital media storage
Hitachi is to launch
three external versions of its Deskstar and Travelstar hard drives under
the name 'EasyBak' - targeted largely at media enthusiasts and digital
First to be released will be EasyBak Travel, a battery-powered unit
housing a 40GByte Travelstar 2.25in drive and integrated memory card
reader. The device is self-contained, and operated with an LCD panel,
allowing files to be backed up from a range of card types, including
CompactFlash, SD Card, MultiMedia Card, MemoryStick; MemoryStick Pro,
SmartMedia, xD Cards, and Hitachi's own MicrodriveT media. The enclosure
also features a USB 2.0 port for connection to a Mac or Windows PC,
and works with the supplied Dantz Retrospect Backup software, allowing
it to be used for more general system backup.
Two devices are based around 7,200rpm Deskstar 3.5in drives with a choice
of 160, 250 and 400GByte capacities. EasyBak Data comes in a slate-grey
housing that can be stored horizontally or vertically, and connects
to computer systems via USB 2.0. It's designed to back up files from
systems and networks using the supplied Dantz Retrospect Backup software,
or the PC's own system and controls. The second drive, EasyBak Media
is much like EasyBak Data, but also includes a multi-format memory card
reader for immediate archiving of digital photos.
EasyBak Travel should be available in shops by the time this issue is
in print, with the Data and Media versions following early in 2005.
Pricing is as yet unknown.
NTI Dragon Burn 4
Dragon Burn 4 provides
Mac OSX DL DVD+R support, VCD encoding tools and more
While Apple's own
software has successfully dominated the Mac consumer software markets
for DV editing and DVD authoring, killing the competition outright,
it has yet to deliver a death blow in the mainstream disc-burning arena.
Roxio's Toast is still alive and well - though under new management
at Sonic Solutions - and NTI is making good progress with the development
of its Dragon Burn software, V4 of which is now available online for
Mac OSX systems at US$50.
Part of Apple's problem is iLife's lack of support for the full range
of recordable DVD media (notably +R), and absence of advanced burning
tools and authoring features to create mixed mode CDs, and SVCD or VCD
discs. And it's these gaps that NTI intends to fill with Dragon Burn
As well as recordable CD and DVD-R/-RW discs, NTI's software supports
DVD+R discs, including 8.5GByte DL media, and DVD+RW. It's also claimed
to work with many burners that Apple's own software won't support. For
video users, the program allows creation of VCD and SVCD discs, and
will also burn DVDs from VOB files or Video_TS folders created in programs
such as Apple DVD Studio Pro. Dragon Burn also archives images from
digital cameras to DVD in a format that can, according to NTI, be recognised
and played by some of the latest set-top DVD players.
Supported audio formats include AAC, AIFF, CDDA, MP3, SD2 and WAV files,
and Dragon Burn's tools take in MP3 encoding, volume normalisation for
music tracks that come from different sources, CD-Text support, and
direct recording to CD from line or mic inputs. For data, the program
offers a simple drag-and-drop interface; provides a choice of data formats
such as ISO 9660, Joliet and UDF; and supports multi-session burning
to DVD+R. It will also recognise and burn common disc image file types,
including BIN, CUE, CDR, DMG, ISO, and NCD files. Multiple burners are
supported for making several copies simultaneously, and Discus labelling
software is provided to help make discs look pretty.
Video Forum 2005
The UK's leading
video-editing show, Video Forum, is moving from the Wembley Conference
Centre to Earls Court for 2005, and taking place January 25-27 (Tuesday-Thursday)
- about two weeks earlier than usual. Entry for visitors to the new
central-London event is free, but early online registration to secure
a badge is recommended for those who don't like queuing.
Some 150 exhibitors are expected, and there should be scores of free
seminars covering DVD and audio for video, lighting, post-production
and High Definition. Video Forum 2005 will also supported by two new
events - TV Tech 2005, focusing on HDTV and AVIT (Audio-Video-IT); and
i-deliver 2005, which is dedicated to digital TV and media streaming.
Watch out, too, for Computer Video Editing's stand - we hope to have
a large team of friendly experts in attendance, as usual, and to be
contributing to the seminars!
wireless network media player
The popularity of
network media players for serving up video and audio from home computers
appears to be rocketing, judging by the ever growing number of new devices
arriving on the market. And, it's reassuring for us to see how many
PC users are taking an interest in digital video and audio - and getting
their hands dirty with broadband internet and basic networking.
D-Link's DSM-320 is among the latest devices for accessing a computer's
audio and video files from a TV set and AV system. It sells at a not-outrageous
£130 and supports fast 802.11g wireless networking to boot. The
supplied UPnP Media Server software running under Windows 98SE, Me,
2000 or XP is used to sort files and make them accessible from the DSM-320.
The device receives data from the network with theoretical transfer
speeds of up to 54Mbit/sec wirelessly or 100Mbit/sec via wired Ethernet,
and feeds the media to a connected TV set and audio system
The D-Link box is small - 423(w) x 280(d) x 35(h)mm - silver-finished
and well-connected. In addition to composite and S-video outputs, there's
a Scart socket serving RGB video, plus stereo audio outputs - analogue
and digital SPDIF.
Supported video formats are said to include AVI, QuickTime, Xvid, MPEG-1,
MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. DVD VOB files, though, aren't currently playable.
On the audio side, MP2, MP3, AIF, WAV and WMA files can be played, but
not Dolby AC-3. The device is claimed to recognise M3U and PLS playlists,
though, and allow viewing of stills in JPG, BMP, TIF, GIF, or Jpeg2000
formats. As well as retrieving files from networked PCs, the DSM-320
is reckoned to connect directly to the internet via ADSL routers to
access online radio stations, and also be able to communicate directly
with other UPnP hardware devices.
CyberLink PowerProducer 3
builds on CyberLink's DVD authoring tools, while Power2Go takes on the
general disc-burning market
software has never been at the top of our list for must-have video tools,
the company is determined to make a splash at the entry-level. Its basic
DVD authoring application PowerProducer is now at version 3, and sells
at £47 (inc VAT) from the company's website. New features include
a SmartFit option to automatically select MPEG compression rates according
to duration and available space on the target disc; improved menu templates,
including alpha blending effects; and support for 16x burning and double-layer
As with previous OEM versions we encountered when reviewing Double Layer
DVD burners, the program also encodes audio to Dolby AC-3 format. Menus
can be animated or still, but layout still seems to be dictated by ready-made
templates, leaving users with little hands-on control over the design.
The program comes with a version of CyberLink's basic DV editing program,
PowerDirector Express, as well as PhotoNow for image retouching.
Also from CyberLink is Power2Go 4 - a simple disc-burning application
for making music, data and multimedia discs. The program costs £27
and includes a light version of PowerProducer for video-disc creation.
Among the audio options are burning of Audio CDs and MP3/WMA CDs, as
well as Mixed Mode and CD Extra discs containing audio and data tracks.
Tools for CD ripping and playlist creation are also provided. Data burning
largely follows a simple drag-and-drop procedure, but has a handful
of advanced surprises, such as the ability to burn extra content onto
the lead-out of the disc. Disc-to-disc copying is also enabled.
Mac OSX 10.3.6
ready to download
An updater to Mac
OS X 10.3.6 is now available in two standalone versions and via auto
Software Update, and said to be recommended for all users. One standalone
version is a 92MByte combined update, for use with OSX 10.3 earlier
than 10.3.5, the other - 34MByte - is for use only with OSX 10.3.5.
Fixes are said to include a situation where Final Cut Pro HD 4.5 could
quit in 10.3.5; the monitor sometimes remaining dark when waking the
display from sleep on laptops; and a kernel-panic problem with wireless
USB broadband modems.
Enhancements are also claimed for FireWire and USB audio-device compatibility;
disc burning/recording; drivers for OpenGL technology and ATI and Nvida
GPUs; FileVault, FireWire 800 and WebDAV; and network file-sharing,
auto-mounts and application-launching. The update also has new versions
of Address Book, Calculator, Disk Utility, DVD Player, Image Capture,
Mail, Safari and Stickies.
Free training DVD
creator of interactive software training DVDs, has released Technics
- a free DVD sampler, showing off 30 scenes from its range of titles
for Avid Xpress Pro, Photoshop and Lightwave. Topics include general
editing in the Avid interface; digital restoration and texture creation
in Photoshop; and motion graphics, modelling and animation in Lightwave.
Given that Desktop Images' DVDs typically sell for around US$70 each,
the idea of being able to try before buying makes a lot of sense. Maddeningly
though, the offer is only open to US residents. Still, it seems like
a good idea for serious potential buyers to contact the company anyway,
as we'd hope that the rules might be bent in the interest of winning
Reviewed in this issue:
Canopus Imaginate 2
Adobe Audition 1.5
Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow
In January's news:
Studio 9 Plus
Canopus Let's Edit 2
Wacom Intuos MkIII
Sony Studio lites
Serious Magic Visual Communicator
Entry level Apple PowerMac
Apple Logic Express and Pro 7
Hitachi EasyBak HDDs
NTI Dragon Burn 4
Video Forum 2005
CyberLink PowerProducer 3
Mac OSX 10.3.6 ready to download
Free training DVD