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Media 100

by David Fox

Media 100 is ramping up to launch "Pegasus", a new "media super computer" that its President and CEO, John Molinari, claims will be "faster than any other system" and "do more concurrent real time functions" than any other rival, thanks to 240 MB per second sustained throughput. The editing and compositing system will be capable of unlimited layers, run multiple simultaneous streams and should cost between $25,000 and $50,000 for a turnkey solution.

Media 100 Pegasus

"Pegasus is the code-name for an R&D effort at our Marlboro headquarters which may result in one or more product announcements in the future," says Pete Shaw, Media 100's European marketing manager. "It is anticipated that the first product announcement to come out of the Pegasus project will be made in the first half of 2002, and it's highly likely that that product will be demonstrated at NAB."

It will run on a new hardware and software combination, although Molinari said the user interface would be familiar to existing Media 100 and Avid users. Most of the power will be in its new PCI cards with seven custom-built ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits). It is already up and running, with 40 Pegasus systems apparently in use at its Massachusetts HQ.

Other features include: uncompressed video, 10-bit colour and real-time bicubic subpixel operation, which Shaw says "provides vast improvements" in picture quality over the bilinear system most NLEs use.

They refused to say how its existing systems will fit in with Pegasus, but they have all been upgraded recently.

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The latest version of iFinish (v.4.5 - shown at IBC 2001) now offers the lossless capability of its Mac systems under Windows 2000. Also new is batch digitisation and EDL export/import on all models. Lossless is standard on the top-of-the-range V80 model, but all models can render to the lossless codec, so that if someone is doing graphics intensive work, they can use the lossless codec in After Effects and render to that. "Another advantage of the lossless codec over uncompressed is that you can mix clips of lossless and lossy in the same timeline, whereas uncompressed systems generally only let you work with uncompressed media throughout," explains Shaw.

The quality of lossless is almost the same as uncompressed, but the files are much smaller, making it easier to share around the network and it requires less storage.

It has also announced Windows 2000 compatibility for its ICE hardware acceleration for After Effects. ICE Basic has four 166MHz parallel processors, while ICE Ultra has eight. Both make a big difference in speed for multiple layers. "A weekend render can be done in half a day," he says.

Version 7.5 of its Mac software, launched at NAB, gave the same features to its Apple users. New features should be announced soon.

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At the low-end of the market, Media 100 no longer has a presence, as it sold its EditDV and IntroDV DV editing packages to Discreet along with its Cleaner media streaming software range. According to Shaw, this enables it "to focus on delivering our new, next-generation products. This doesn't mean Media 100 is abandoning streaming technology, however, as we will continue to have an OEM relationship with Discreet and include Cleaner in our Media 100 i and iFinish systems. Needless to say, Media 100 i and iFinish have closer interoperability with Cleaner than any other product on the market, and we intend to continue those close links."

FEB 2002

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    David Fox