Computer Video Magazine News October 2004

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DVD Workshop Express

Ulead cuts commercial duplication features from mid-market Windows DVD authoring program to launch half-price version with added Double Layer support

Ulead DVD Workshop Express is a half-price (SRP £150, inc VAT) version of the company's mid-range Windows DVD authoring program DVD Workshop 2.
Ulead says that Express provides corporate users and video hobbyists with the same workflow as the full DVD Workshop 2 but without making them pay £300 for commercial duplication features they won't use, such as support for DLT writers, Macrovision, CSS encryption and regional encoding.
Other differences include the absence from Express of plug-ins for capture from Micro MV or WMV, the maximum duration of motion menus - 30sec, rather than 254sec - and the range of supplied menu templates (37 v 61).
As standard, Express supports recording to Double Layer DVD+R9 8.5GByte media and offers two-pass MPEG-2 encoding along with real-time external TV preview on PCs fitted with twin-head graphics cards. These features are lacking from V2 of the full program but are available as a downloadable upgrade to V2.2.
Express allows users to directly encode all main video formats into MPEG and supports import of Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 audio and output of stereo AC-3. DVD projects can have two subtitle tracks and two audio tracks - compared with 32 and eight in the full version.
Users who want to create their own menu graphics can do so in Ulead's PhotoImpact image editing program, and import them into Express. Users of DVD Workshop V1 can upgrade to DVDWS Express for £76, while the figure is £100 for registered users of the full versions of Ulead MediaStudio 7 (or above), VideoStudio 8 (or later), PhotoImpact 8.5 (or above), DVD MovieFactory 3 Disc Creator (or later), and Cool3D Production Studio (or later).

Ulead UK; 01327 844880;

Affordable ArcSoft editing and authoring

ArcSoft adds DVD authoring to ShowBiz, with launch of £60 ShowBiz DVD 2

DVD authoring is the big new feature in ShowBiz DVD 2 - the latest version of ArcSoft's entry-level Windows editor that's often bundled with editing hardware such as Adaptec's VideOh! PCI.
Suggested price is £60, pitching the program directly against some big-name all-in-one editing/authoring solutions - Pinnacle Studio 9, Roxio Creator 7 and Ulead VideoStudio 8.
Workflow in ShowBiz DVD 2 uses three distinct, easy-to-follow modules for capturing (from analogue or digital sources), editing and authoring within a redesigned interface, offering customisable storyboard or timeline.
Among other selling points are additional text effects, styles and animations; auto/manual scene-detection during capture; real-time volume control for audio and video clips; smart rendering to cut output time for MPEG and DV AVI files; and video export to hard disk, DV tape, email or VHS.
On the authoring side, there is a wizard for creating DVD photo slideshows with optional pan-and-zoom for each still. DVD menus, titles and chapters are customisable, and variable bit-rate encoding is also possible.
ArcSoft gives minimum (recommended) system requirements as Windows 98SE; an 800MHz PIII processor (1.6GHz P4 or higher); DirectX 9.0 (Windows Media Player 9 recommended); 128MByte of RAM (512MByte of DDR RAM); 4GByte HDD for video capture and editing (a bigger 7,200rpm HDD); 400MByte free hard disk space for installation; and a 16-bit colour display at 1,024 x 768 resolution.


Canon XL camcorder - MkIII

XL2 doubles the resolution of the XL1S and offers more professional features for broadcasting and film-making

Canon's replacement for its DM-XL1S interchangeable-lens, three-CCD, prosumer MiniDV camcorder, the XL2, adds interlaced (50i) and progressive/film-style (25P) 16:9 (widescreen) recording. Likely price is around £4,000 (inc VAT) when available from mid-September.
The main target is broadcasters and digital film-makers (in addition to existing security service, customs and police users). Professional features include two independent neutral density (ND) filters for filming in strong lighting conditions; and colour bars and 1kHz tone used for calibrating the video monitor/s and setting up the audio mixer at the editing stage.
The XL1 had a separate collarbone/shoulder-rest with two XLR connectors built-in for balanced audio recording. The rear of the XL2 comes with two built-in XLR audio jacks with 48V phantom power and four-channel recording capabilities that sit atop an attached, redesigned shoulder mount.
Also featured are three SMPTE timecode timer options found on broadcast camcorders for Record Run - continuous timecode interrupted by Rec start/stop; Free Run - continuous timecode running regardless of whether power is on/off, and commonly used in multi-camera shoots for later syncing up footage; and preset for manually setting timecode values, and usually used for numbering tapes in a long shoot.
The XL2 uses three 1/3in progressive scan CCDs, each with 800,000 pixels - 410,000 effective for 4:3 (720 x 576 resolution) and 550,000 effective for 16:9 widescreen (962 x 576) recording. That compares with figures for the XL1S of 320,000 pixels per chip (300,000 effective).
The supplied zoom lens is a 20x (5.4-108mm) unit, rather than 16x (5.5-88mm), and said to use similar fluorite elements to those in Canon's broadcast TV lenses and some pro-series EF lenses. These are reckoned to eliminate colour fringing around the edges of subjects - usually when they're lit from behind - and give greater clarity. The lens is interchangeable with other XL video lenses including those supplied with the XL1 and XL1S. In addition, an EF adapter (£300) is available to connect lenses from Canon's 60-strong EF range.
Naturally, the built-in image stabiliser is an optical unit. Canon says the XL2 also uses a third-generation signal processing circuit to improve the signal-to-noise ratio for better resolution and sensitivity, and reduced smear. Camera settings see more control over white balance, with separate R-, G-, B-gain settings. White balance can be automatic, manual, or preset to outdoor (5,600K) or indoor (3,200K) temperatures. CCD sensitivity adjustment has been expanded to seven steps covering -3dB to +18dB.
In addition to progressive/25P filming, there's a cinema mode said to give video film-like texture and tone. Gamma controls include knee adjustment to prevent white clipping (leading to loss of detail in bright highlights).
The XL2 has manual controls for coring (removing fine detail that doesn't contribute significantly to the picture but appears as noise), sharpness, noise reduction, colour gain and hue to further customise the cine-look. On the same lines, there are controls for film grain, and over master settings for RGB, setup level, master pedestal and gain - to produce softer, warmer pictures.
Also useful, the colour LCD viewfinder is now 2in (200,000 pixels), rather than 0.7in (180,000), and can flip open to act as a monitor. All 16:9 footage is displayed in letterbox mode.
The socket line-up is much as before - with a four-pin FireWire port for PC connection; and in/out for S-video, composite video and L/R audio - but there's now a BNC output for viewing on a professional monitor, too.
Among other points of note are easily-accessible dials on the body for gain, white balance, aspect ratio and frame rate; 30 shutter-speed steps from 1/6s to 1/16,000s; eight-step iris control from f1.6 to close; 13-step auto exposure (-2.0 to +2.0); claimed 0.8 lux minimum illumination; focus and zoom preset options; and two user-customisable keys.

Canon UK, 08705 143723;

NEC and Pioneer 16x DVD writers

Ultra fast 16x writing to DVD-R/+R media and support for double layer (DL) in burners from NEC and Pioneer

Pioneer and NEC are among the first makers to launch DVD burners that write at 16x write speeds to single-layer DVD-R/+R, as well as supporting 4x writing to Double Layer 8.5GByte DVD+R9 media. In addition, each has high-speed CD-R writing - 48x in the case of the NEC, and 40x for the Pioneer.
NEC's burner is the ND-3500A (likely price £60-£70 inc VAT, less without software) and, like the existing DL-compatible ND-2510A, comes in beige, black and silver variants.
Pioneer is introducing two versions of its writer (prices as yet unknown). One, the fanless/'low-noise' DVR-A08XL, is aimed at the retail market. The other, the DVR-108, is for the OEM/system-builder market and of normal construction, without software. Pioneer's first DL-compatible offerings are available with beige or black fascias.
As has become the norm, suitable new media for the burners isn't available at launch time. Blank 16x discs are unlikely to arrive before October, but 4x DL discs aren't due until early 2005 - though NEC says that certain 2.4XL DL media can be written to at 4x.
For now, though, it's probably best to assume that DVD write speeds will be restricted to 2.4x for DL and 8x for DVD-R/+R. Also, since even 8x isn't a sustained write speed judging by our tests of other burners, it's not clear what the real (average) write speed will be with 16x media.
The DVR-A08XL has Pioneer's QuietDrive technology introduced with the DVR-A07XL. This uses a honeycomb-like material to reduce vibration from the drive mechanism, is paired with noise-dampening firmware, and does away with the need for an internal cooling fan.
Software bundled with the A08XL is the Windows-only Sonic MyDVD Studio Deluxe suite for capture, editing, authoring and burning. The suite also includes DLA (Drive Letter Access) for drag-and-drop copying to rewritable media; Simple Backup, said to be fast and easy to use; and the CinePlayer DVD player said to support the OpenDVD format.
It's not certain what software will come with the retail version of NEC's burner, but we're assuming it will include Ahead's Nero 6 SE suite - the package provided with the retail version of the NEC ND-2510A and the two DL burners we tested last month, LiteOn's SHOW-832S and Sony's DRU-700A.

NEC, 020 8752 3665;
Pioneer UK, 01753 789500;

Curtain lifted slightly on 3D Edit

More details revealed of Tenomichi's DirectX 9-based low-cost, high-power video editors

Tenomichi has released more information about 3D Edit, the DirectX 9-based software described by Paul Dutton as, 'One of the most exciting and revolutionary video editing programs' he'd seen this decade.
The program - price and availability still unknown (but expected to be highly affordable and arriving soon, we're assured) - uses the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) found in the graphics cards on most new Windows PCs to render video and add special FX - taking advantage of the power that's been built in largely to enhance the realism of computer games.
Tenomichi uses shader applets to manipulate video inside the GPU, and this is said to produce full-screen special effects in real-time and non-destructively - something that typically needs expensive purpose-built editing hardware but can, it's claimed, now be achieved using any DX9 graphics card.
Among the features offered are eight video tracks, five audio tracks, 3D special FX, 2D/3D transitions, 3D title-generation and what Tenomichi calls on-chip editing and on-chip rendering. There's also an audio editing desk for mixing sound, music and audio FX and this, like other elements of the program, operates within a three-dimensional 'Spatially Aware User Interface' where windows can pass through one another - something we've never seen in any other editor.
The novel interface design allows users to zoom right into video, to easily see small details, and has its help integrated in a totally novel way. For instance, rather than having an on-screen manual showing a picture of what button to press, 3D Edit's help makes the relevant button jiggle about while saying 'press me'!
The program is claimed to be able to capture from and output to analogue and digital on PCs with suitable hardware (as yet undefined), and work with any DVD recorder, too.


1,600GByte Raid storage

LaCie's Raid desktop system claimed to hold over one month of continuous MPEG-2 video

Prosumer video storage systems currently don't come with much bigger capacity than LaCie's Bigger Disk Extreme range. There are two models to choose from - one of 1,000GByte (unformatted) capacity (SRP £716 inc VAT), the other 1,600GByte (SRP £1,397).
LaCie quotes a bunch of figures for how much data can be held on one Terrabyte (1,000GByte) of formatted space. These are three days of DV footage (at a data rate of 13GByte per hour); one month of MPEG-2 video (1GByte/hour); and 21 months of non-stop music (4MByte per four-minute song).
Each model is a Raid 0 desktop system that uses four 7,200rpm, 3.5in drives - 400GByte in the 1.6TByte system and 250GByte in it's likkle brother - each with an 8MByte buffer. The systems are said not to require any drivers for setup under OSX and Windows XP/2000. There are two nine-pin FireWire 800 ports (IEEE 1394b) plus one six-pin FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394a). LaCie reckons data transfer speed can reach up to 85MByte/sec with FireWire 800 - up to 50 per cent faster than its first-generation FW800 drives.
The systems are housed in the company's distinctive aluminium and Zamac metal alloy casing that's said to dissipate heat well. This is in 5.25in 2U format measuring 88(w) x 268(h) x 173(d)mm and weighing 5kg. Kensington-style chain lock points are provided for security.
The boxes are stackable or can be rack-mounted in an optional 19in rack (£37) or positioned upright on a removable foot. Options for automatic on/off and hibernation are reckoned to save energy, reduce unnecessary noise and prolong drive life. There's also an 'ultra quiet' mode for editors needing to record audio.
Supplied accessories are a stand, an external power supply and three cables - one nine-pin-to-nine-pin FireWire 800, one six-pin-to-six-pin FireWire 400, and one four-pin-to-six-pin FireWire 400. Also in-pack are a LaCie Storage Utilities CD including LaCie Silverlining Pro for Mac OS 9.x and Silverlining 98 for Windows 98SE, plus SilverKeeper 1.1 backup software for Mac OS 9 and OSX.
FireWire 800 operation requires a compatible interface and Mac OSX 10.2.4 (or later) or Windows XP/2000. For standard FireWire, the minimum requirements are said to be an OHCI interface along with Mac OS 9 (with Apple FireWire support 2.3.3 or later) and 64MByte of RAM, or Windows 2000 running on a 350MHz PII PC with 64MByte of RAM.

LaCie, 020 7872 8000;

Remote control DVD burning

CyberLink MakeDVD adds DVD burning via remote control to Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs

MakeDVD is a disc-burning plug-in from CyberLink that will let owners of Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs burn DVDs from the comfort of the living room couch, using their MCE remote handsets.
MakeDVD (due to go on sale online soon - price still unknown) is based on the burning utility built into CyberLink's standalone PowerCinema media management and playback system for Windows. It's said to have an easy-to-use interface that fits in with Media Center Edition - there are large buttons and icons to simplify the selection of video clips for burning. A disc menu can be added before the content is burnt to disc using what's described as a simple click-and-burn process. Supported video formats are reckoned to include MPEG, AVI, DAT, WMV, ASF, and DVR-MS.


Canopus Mac/Win analogue<>digital converter

Portable two-way analogue/digital converter for Mac and Windows offers audio-only conversion option

Following the release at the beginning of the year of Canopus's portable one-way converter, the ADVC55, the company has brought out a two-way model, the ADVC110 - SRP £234 (inc VAT) - reckoned to be compatible with Mac OSX (10.1 or later) and Windows (2000 with SP3 or higher).
The ADVC110 features FireWire bus-powered operation, an audio-only conversion option, and works with PAL or NTSC footage. It carries inputs and outputs for composite video, S-video and analogue L/R audio (RCA), plus one six-pin FireWire port and one four-pin. No special drivers are said to be necessary - the box uses those of the operating system - and the box should work with any OHCI-compliant video editing program, ranging from Apple's Final Cut Pro and iLife to Microsoft's Movie Maker 2.
Canopus says that the unit can work as a standalone converter without a PC. Connected six-pin FireWire devices are powered through the supplied six-pin-to-six-pin cable, but four-pin FireWire devices must be powered using an optional external power supply (£27), and the same is true when using PCs with four-pin ports.
Like most of the company's DV line-up, the ADVC110 uses Canopus's DV hardware Codec technology. It also supports locked audio when converting from analogue to digital video for keeping the video in sync with associated audio.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150;

Hauppauge enhances network playback

Media playback system for networked Windows XP PCs now supports DivX and internet radio playback

Hauppauge's MediaMVP network media player - £79 (inc VAT) until end of September - now supports DivX and internet radio playback via a free downloadable (6.9MByte) beta software upgrade.
Like network media players we've already reviewed - Pinnacle's XPWin2K ShowCenter and Neuston's Mac/Windows/Linux-compatible Virtuoso MC-500 - MediaMVP gives access to audio, video and images held on networked computers, so they can be enjoyed on a TV set or AV system from the comfort of a living room couch.
The lightweight box has Scart for video out and phonos for L/R audio out, and connects to networks via wired 10/100-BaseT Ethernet. It works only with Windows XP PCs that are running the supplied Hauppauge's MediaMVP server software, which is also used at the PC end to sort the computer's media content into menus and playlists. These appear as directory listings on the TV screen, and can be browsed with the Hauppauge's IR handset.
MediaMVP is said to be able to play MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video, JPEG and GIF stills and MP3 music - as individual files or in playlists. Still image slideshows can viewed with or without music.
As well as a handset with batteries, in-pack accessories consist of a stand; a plug-mounted power supply; an installer CD for the server software, a quick-install guide, a 1.5m Ethernet lead and a 1.5m Scart-to-Scart cable with additional L/R phono outputs at one end. Recommended minimum processor speed is 750MHz, but 1.8GHz for DivX playback.
The beta V2.2 22146 upgrade is at:

Hauppauge UK, 020 7378 1997;

ProLogic II Encoder for Mac

Create two-channel, stereo-compatible files from 5.1 surround sound mixes

Minnetonka now has available a Mac version of its standalone SurCode Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound matrix encoder.
SurCode for Dolby Pro Logic II OSX - £349 (inc VAT) from UK dealer Et Cetera Distribution - converts 5.1 surround sound mixes into two-channel, stereo-compatible audio file formats for television, games and music application playback.
The program, for OSX 10.2 or later, is reckoned to accept up to six master surround sound audio files in 32kHz, 44.1kHz or 48kHz PCM format (AIFF or WAV), and to allow source and output files to be played back at any time - with individual channels soloed and muted, and start/stop points specified.
Files are converted into the Dolby Pro Logic II format by matrix-encoding the centre, surround and LFE tracks into Left and Right tracks that become Lt/Rt (Left total/Right total) tracks. The result is output as a stereo-compatible AIFF or WAV file.
On playback of the Lt/Rt file, a Dolby Pro Logic II decoder picks up five full-range channels, relying on differences in amplitude and phase between the channels of the stereo signal. Such Dolby Pro Logic II files are also said to be backward-compatible with the huge number of Dolby Pro Logic receivers and decoders already in people's homes.

Dolby Laboratories
Et Cetera Distribution (UK dealer), 01706 228 039;
Minnetonka Audio Software, 001 952 449 6481;

Take it to the max 7

Version 7 of Discreet's 3ds max 3D modelling, animation and rendering software for Windows has Character Studio 4 character motion toolset

Version 7 of Discreet's 3D modelling, animation and rendering software for Windows, 3ds max, is expected to be on sale at the end of the year for £3,167 (inc VAT). Suggested upgrade prices are £699 for version 6 users, and £1,169 for V5.
Version 7 sees Discreet's character motion toolset Character Studio V4 added to the core of the program. Features of Character Studio include a constraint-based, non-linear animation mixer; scalable behavioural crowd simulation capabilities; and motion-capture filtering and editing tools.
Among other features are Normal Mapping, a workflow accelerator for gaming that adds extreme detail to low-polygon models with high-resolution maps, and Edit Poly Modifier - reckoned to significantly increase the speed and ease with which complex polygonal surfaces are treated, modified and animated.
Mental Ray V3.3 has been integrated, too. This is said to offer improved Global Illumination, support for Render to Texture and Normal Mapping, and Sub-Surface Scattering that disperses light for creating realistic skin effects and dense translucent-object rendering.
Also on the features list are a Skin Wrap Deformer, intended to ease the workflow when adding props and clothing to pre-skinned 3D models; Paint Selections, used to build selections with a brush-based interface; and improvements to the accuracy and viewpoint feedback of the program's snapping system.
The Custom Attributes Collector is said to enhance workflow when animating multiple custom attributes for any character set-up, and TurboSmooth is reckoned to smoothen out creation of high-resolution models. For mobile gaming, there's support for the latest JSR 184 exporter format as well as per-camera diagnostic tools.
Minimum (recommended) system requirements include Windows 2000 (SP4) or later; DirectX 9; a 300MHz PIII processor (dual Athlon, Xeon or Opteron); 512MByte of RAM (1GByte); and 500MByte swap space (2GByte).

Discreet, 0870 241 0416;

Canopus Edius HDV support

Edius for HDV720P offers native HDV format capture, editing and output

Canopus has released an HDV (High Definition Video) plug-in for its Edius 2 Windows real-time editing software.
Edius for HDV720P is likely to cost £821 (inc VAT) - double the price of Edius 2 alone - and includes a full V2.5 version of the video editor along with the company's media-repurposing program ProCoder 2. Also in-pack is Inscriber TitleMotion Pro for creating graphics, titles and motion effects.
The plug-in is said to allow direct capture of MPEG-2-compressed footage from a range of JVC HDV MiniDV camcorders - JY-HD10, JYHD10U and GR-HD1 - as well as from JVC's CU-VH1 deck. It's reckoned to support OHCI-compliant hardware as well as Canopus's DVRaptor RT2, DVStorm and DVRex RT series cards.
Canopus says HDV, DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and uncompressed video footage can be mixed together on the program's timeline and edited in real-time - with chapter support for DVD authoring on the timeline.
Minimum system requirements are given as, Windows XP; a 2.6GHz P4 processor (multi-processor and/or Hyper-Threading recommended); DirectX 9.0 or later; 256MByte of RAM (512MByte required for HD encoding); at least 800MByte free hard disk space for installation; a graphics card with hardware-based DirectDraw overlay and 32-bit colour display (1,024 x 768 resolution); a 5,400rpm/ATA100 hard disk dedicated to video (Ultra SCSI 160 or better recommended when playing two streams or more while reading uncompressed files); and a free USB 1.1 port for ProCoder 2's copy-protection dongle.

Canopus UK, 0118 921 0150;

Reflecmedia chromakey plug-in

Editing and compositing software plug-in for 'best' chromakey effects with Reflecmedia LiteRing and Chromatte

Mattenee, a software plug-in developed by The Pixel Farm, is said to recognise the specific blue or green light generated by Reflecmedia's LiteRing against its special Chromatte fabric, ensuring accurate chromakey effects with fewer user adjustments.
The plug-in, priced at a stiff £229 (inc VAT), is reckoned to work in many video editing and compositing programs, including Apple Final Cut Pro and Shake, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, and Eyeon Software's Digital Fusion.
Chromatte - co-developed originally with the BBC - is a flexible lightweight reflective fabric created specifically for chromakeying. It is made up of countless tiny glass beads said to behave like roadside cats' eyes. The fabric appears dark grey in ambient light, but when used with the camera-mounted LED light ring, the grey is seen by the camera as a pure and even blue- or green-coloured background, which is what's required for chromakeying.

Reflecmedia, 0161 217 0439;
The Pixel Farm;

Recent features...
View The Archive

Reviewed in this issue:

Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5
Adobe Encore DVD 1.5

Adobe After Effects 6.5

Canon Bubble Jet i865
ProDAD Heroglyph
ProDAD Adorage Magic

In October's news:

DVD Workshop Express
Affordable ArcSoft editing and authoring
Canon XL camcorder - MkIII
NEC and Pioneer 16x DVD writers
Curtain lifted slightly on 3D Edit
1,600GByte Raid storage
Remote control DVD burning
Canopus Mac/Win analogue<>digital converter
Hauppauge enhances network playback
ProLogic II Encoder for Mac
Take it to the max 7
Canopus Edius HDV support
Reflecmedia chromakey plug-in

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