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advanced video makers are still waiting for an affordable, truly professional
DVD authoring program to appear, there's no shortage of options for
the absolute novice. Pinnacle's Instant VideoAlbum is affordable and
accessible, but haven't we seen it somewhere before?
Regardless of how
many DVD burners come bundled with Sonic Solutions' MyDVD, the real
fight in the entry-level DVD authoring market appears to be between
Pinnacle and Ulead. Ulead's DVD MovieFactory is a very neat and simple
tool for quickly making DVD and VCD discs from video files. Pinnacle's
equivalent has, until recently, been a program called Expression - now
part of the InstantCD/DVD bundle (review, p50). But, along with the
introduction of InstantCD/DVD, Pinnacle is introducing a new beginner's
DVD authoring program - Instant VideoAlbum.
A new face
At first glance, Instant VideoAlbum looks significantly different
from Expression - the stylish Studio-family graphic interface is replaced
by something much more basic and functional. And, rather than having
the three-step workflow of capture, author and burn, VideoAlbum takes
a four-step approach, separating design and previewing into separate
stages. Aside from the visual makeover, however, not much seems to have
The capture interface features a large video monitor with buttons for
controlling playback of camcorders or decks connected via FireWire.
Users can choose to make a DVD, SVCD or VCD disc, and MPEG encoding
settings can be chosen from presets - with Automatic, Good or Best options
- or manually, choosing a target bitrate between 3,000 and 8,000Kbit/s.
When capture from a DV device is selected, a dialogue box appears, asking
users to specify a name and target directory for the files being imported.
Annoyingly, this box doesn't vanish when capture begins - it remains
on screen, showing a progress indicator and providing a Stop Import
button, but also partially obscuring the video display. Scene-detection
is provided, based on changes in time and date stamp for DV material.
Even though Instant VideoAlbum is closely based on Expression, the
changes Pinnacle has made to the video editing tools point it at a significantly
different market. While Expression is intended for quick and dirty burning
of edited material, Instant VideoAlbum is focused more on a simple transfer
from tape to disc. Users can make a disc with the order and structure
of their camcorder tapes, but without the boring repetitive landscapes,
embarrassing mishaps or long waiting-for-something-to-happen pauses
that always seem to find their way into home movies when you play them
back. It's hardly an inspiring stepping stone into the world of video
production, but even we have to concede that some people just aren't
that interested in video editing. And for those strange, misguided fools,
this program is highly recommended!
Read the full review
in March 2004's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in this issue:
Pinnacle Instant VideoAlbum
In March's news:
8x speed DVD burning
Pinnacle upgrades Studio
Edius gets OHCI support
Sony PD170 recall?
Apple updates budget video apps
Toast with Jam 6
The missing link?
DVD Video get interactive
Video Forum 2004
TDK CD/DVD printer
DV<>SDI video converter
Cut-price Xpress DV
Smart mains panel