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Independence from formats
Non linear Editing Moves Beyond Broadcast
NLE manufacturers declare independence from formats
(and dependence on the Web).
Outputting to the Internet and mixing formats were the major new trends
in nonlinear editing systems at IBC 99. Several manufacturers, notably
Media 100 and Avid, have taken the Internet to heart, and are targetting
Web users with systems capable of content creation and delivery. They
see Web video creation as the fastest growing market for nonlinear. Both
still sell Mac-based systems, but Apple itself has also realised the potential
of the Web video market, not just with Final Cut Pro (its mid-range broadcast
editing system), but also the new, very user-friendly iMovie edit package
which is being bundled with all its latest FireWire-equipped iMacs - complete
editing systems for under (Euros)1,300.
In the more demanding broadcast market, the ability to cater for multiple
compression formats on the same machine, and even on the same timeline,
has become a serious option, with most of the new machines offering greater
flexibility in i/o ports, file and compression formats and even the ability
to mix uncompressed and compressed footage in the same sequence.
Making machines easier to use has, however, not gained the same prominence.
Most makers are trying to conform their keyboard controls (at least) and
even user Interfaces to the dominant Avid standard. Jog/shuttle controllers
are more widely available than they were, but not noticably so. The reborn
Lightworks, when it reappears with new product at NAB, will still stand
out as having the most distinctive interface. Until then, the award for
most individual design goes to another UK manufacturer, Eidos, with its
new, and very attractive Judgement and Justice
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"The future of the Internet is going to contain a lot more media.
Video enabled Web sites are doubling every year, and that rate will increase,"
says Bill Miller, Avid chairman. As he points out, entertainment is already
listed as the number one reason for Internet use by 70% of users and video
will be the key to reaching this growing market.
The new Avid Xpress DV is its first step in creating the Web creation
tools which will output to any media, including the Internet.
It is DV-native (25Mbps), and will be under $10,000 complete when it is
available next Spring. It will be distributed by IBM as well as Avid,
to open it up to a wider market, and uses open plug-in software to allow
it export to any streaming codec, including Video for Windows, QuickTime
and RealNetworks' G2. It captures clips from a DV camera via FireWire
It offers rapid timeline editing, using drag and drop, and takes about
six seconds to render a one second effect (of which many are available
In the online, broadcast world, "nonlinear tools are going to take
over," says Miller. "Symphony and DS are doing it today. Network
production environments are going to be the wave of the future. Tape interchange
is going to die," he says.
"Cost effective versioning is going to drive a lot of what we do
in the future," especially as so many broadcasters need to create
different localised versions of their programmes, he adds.
Avid has sold more than 10,000 editing systems outside the Americas, and
has upgraded its best-selling Media Composer (now on version 9.0 software)
to allow two streams of uncompressed editing.
The latest Media Composer XL and Xpress 2.5 releases for the Mac were
shown at IBC 99 and Miller renewed Avid's commitment to the platform.
The introduction of Apple's new G4 hardware has meant Mac users now have
dual-stream uncompressed editing. The Millennium edition, due out mid-2000,
will also feature film support and 24p universal editing.
It also launched Avid Unity MediaNet 1.1 storage and networking solutions
at IBC 99, which will allow most Avid systems (Mac and NT) collaborate
over a network using shared media. It also supports video streaming, as
well as AAF and OMM, "to enable people to connect and collaborate,"
says Miller. It offers real-time connectivity, on multiple platforms,
for the NLE environment.
Avid Symphony 2.0, now includes 24p editing and mastering in native format
(which can then be delivered in any format). It has sophisticated pan
and scan controls for the creation of both widescreen and 4:3 versions.
Where the initial edit is done using a lower quality film-to-video transfer
(to save storage), it can automatically link the first EDL to a new EDL
for the high quality transfer. This will generate new timecode by referencing
the keycode on the film. Other features include very sophisticated colour
Softimage's resolution independent DS has now reached version 3.0, which
features better integration with 3D animation (it is built on the same
architecture as Sumatra, which it says introduced the nonlinear way of
working to animation and is integrated with DS for 2D and compositing).
Other enhancements include: a more efficient timeline (more like Media
Composer); the ability to mix and match media of different resolutions;
a new 3D DVE and titling engine; new keying tools and real-time keyers.
Performance has also been increased, so that effects which took an hour
to render previously now take ten minutes. Newly launched is DS HD, which
is tightly integrated with Media Composer and Symphony, and will cost
about $300,000 when available at NAB.
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EditStream, Philips' networked news editing system, got its first European
showing at IBC 99. It allows multiple users to simultaneously access the
same audio and video material, add voice-overs and then almost instantly
conform material to air. Because each edit station doesn't have to have
direct access to the broadcast server, the system can easily be scaled
from three to more than 100 workstations without having to increase the
size of the broadcast server. Although it integrates best with Philips'
own Media Pool server, it can be used with most transmission servers.
The first seven workstation system has just been installed in Los Angeles.
Philips also plans to widen EditStream's appeal from broadcast to Internet
production. The broadcast model already offers several quality levels,
and Philips has now added MPEG-4 for video streaming on the Web. This
was first used, experimentally, for the World Athletics Championships
in Seville. As EditStream uses PC technology, it will be able to use low-cost
components for the Web application, to keep the price low. "The off-the-shelf
aspect [of EditStream] helps quite a bit in repositioning it for other
markets," says a spokesman.
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Panasonic introduced PostBox 2000, a mid-range system sporting mild M-JPEG
compression, at IBC 99. The latest in its MX series, it is being positioned
as a complete post-production solution, including real-time 2D and 3D
effects. New features include: 4:2:2 processing with optional SDI/AES/EBU
interface, built-in Zip and CD-ROM drives, and three PCI slots for expansion
The upgraded version 4.0 editing software "has all the features for
long-form editing," says Daryl Blair, Panasonic's European product
manager for non-linear and server. It includes: one-step editing to timeline;
slip-and-slide; variable audio speed; animation import; and automatic
audio split edits. It also uses a new jog/shuttle controller which is
claimed to give it significant operational speed advantages over rivals
and includes four faders and allows users easily access all editing and
The system supports multiple compression levels, and features real-time
audio mixing, a fully integrated character generator with real-time animations,
such as roll and crawl, and built-in paint program.
The turnkey system includes an art tablet and 70 minutes of on-line resolution
disk storage. "Everything is in the box. There is very little in
terms of options, just the 3D DVE board for real time effects," says
Blair. A DVCPRO-native version is about a year away.
Its QuickCutter is aimed at faster response times and users can mark up
shots while material is being input in 4x downloads, for rapid editing.
Options include SDTI and Fibre interfaces. Panasonic also has a new four
channel video server, which integrates very well with QuickCutter. QuickCutter
also forms the core of its DNA news system working with an SGI Origin
server over fibre which can begin playing out a file within only a few
seconds of it starting transfer from QuickCutter.
Version 3.0 software will be available in December which will have "vast
improvements on the audio side; much more flexibility in routing and processing
audio," including a MIDI-linked fader panel, says Blair. "The
original concept was to keep things as simple as possible, but people
wanted more features," he adds.
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Thomson's development and distribution agreement with Discreet Logic,
announced at IBC 99, marries its Nextore server with edit* for post-production
systems it is installing now. This integration allows edit* to cut directly
on the server, rather than sending material across a network, which frees
up a lot of router space and saves time by not having to do all those
serial digital transfers, says Nadeau.
The NT-based edit* can be used compressed or uncompressed (variable).
It can use parallel processing as it offers true multitasking and all
installations run on dual Pentium processors. It is also integrated with
paint*, effect* and 3D Studio for ease of adding graphics, effects and
The partnership with Thomson, makes edit* more attractive for news editing
(although it can also interchange material easily with Profile). It can
edit direct from tape to the timeline, to avoid the need to pre-digitise.
It also has a voice over feature and users can plug a microphone directly
into the system.
Discreet's high end systems are also extending their reach. "Probably
the most interesting development is that we are first to market delivering
a universal mastering solution which edits at 24 frames in high definition,
using Fire [version 3.6], which can output to film and any video format,"
says Marc Nadeau, Discreet's director of product management.
Its mid-range Smoke NLE is limited to video resolutions, but both Fire
and Smoke have been optimised for finishing episodic programming, with
new database tools and search functions, and better data management to
cope with projects containing one or two thousand shots. The software
is shipping now as a no-charge upgrade to existing users of version 3.0.
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Newly launched is DPS' Velocity (about £4500 for card and software),
which can do both compressed and uncompressed and features real-time 2D
and 3D effects. Although it has two video streams, it adds a third layer
if the DV option is installed. It can overlay live feeds (or graphics)
without having to digitise, so it effectively adds another stream. Although
they haven't yet implemented it, in theory it could offer three streams,
with the third stream coming directly from the hard drive.
"When you're in uncompressed mode, you only get a single stream of
uncompressed video at one time, so you can't crossfade two uncompressed
streams at the same time," although at mild compression (up to about
15 MB per second), you can, says Peter Kavanagh, DPS' special projects
Analogue i/o is standard, but both SDI and 1394 are options. Users can
also spread the timeline across dual monitors. It has eight audio channels,
including real-time EQ, with Sonic Foundry Sound Forge software. It also
comes with Digital Fusion DFX compositing software and Inscriber CG.
DPS has added a Virtual Tape File System, which allows users to install
other software which isn't aware of the DPS disk and make it work with
it. When video is being played off the hard drive, users can still save
and retreive other files on it without disturbing video playout. The system
makes each frame of video simultaneously available in nine file formats:
SGI, TGA, BMP, PIC, TIF, IFF, VPB, RAS and RLA, which is particularly
useful for animation users.
Its Reality card (£2795) is aimed at animation output and compositing,
making it more of a digital disk recorder, although it can do simple editing.
As it uses the same hardware (which runs on NT), users can add the DVE
3D card and editing software to bring it up to Velocity spec. Both are
32-bit systems, so they don't have to render or store the alpha channel
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ED Passes Collage Exam
Pixel Power's uncompressed high-end editor, Collage EDit has been upgraded,
with more new effects, including page crawls; multi-level, selective,
unlimited undo; and a doubling (or more) in DVE render speed.
"We've made significant improvements to auto-conform speeds, by making
more optimised use of tape machines, using more intelligent machine control,
taking a sequence of clips on the fly and taking audio and video together
even if they don't overlap," says James Gilbert, Pixel Power's development
director. The revamp is aimed at establishing EDit as a finishing machine
for autoconforming, especially for long-form programming, and he claims
it makes EDit is "very cost effective" as an autoconform engine.
It is placing more emphasis on core editing use rather than effects, and
is trying to streamline the editing process, using a traditional control
panel, "to provide the same editing tools an editor would expect
from a linear suite," he says.
It has integrated character generation, paint and graphics (including
a complete Collage), and Gilbert claims "it's probably the most powerful
integrated graphics engine in any nonlinear editor."
The system has sold mainly to high-end post production facilities, with
about 20 installed in its first year. The basic system has 72 minutes
uncompressed storage, costing £65,000. Additional units of 72 minutes
(most installations have had two) cost £10,000. It can also do wavelet
compression (selected as it had fewer artifects than M-JPEG), variable
from 1.5:1 to 25:1.
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Just For You
Dutch NLE maker, 4u2 Systems, has expended its range of systems with
the launch of PraiSonic, an offline video/online audio machine, aimed
at audio-led editing. It is designed for programme makers and is simple
to use (9 keys and 4 function keys). It was designed in response to customer
demand for audio-oriented systems. "A lot of people are editing the
audio first," says Jan Trapman, 4u2 Systems' managing director.
"It's very important to make a system anyone could handle,"
to help take the pressure off the one or two more expensive systems he
says customers typically have.
The NT-based system can handle eight analogue and two digital audio channels
in and out, as well as three video tracks, and costs ¤12,000 for
a complete turnkey solution including audio mixers and effects and hardware.
Its DiVine online DV 25 editor has three video and eight audio tracks
and the same simple way of working, and costs ¤9,000 complete.
Its Viternity 2 offline editor (upgradable) costs ¤7,000 and SpotLIGHT,
its software for portable use with advanced logging and EDL output, costs
¤1,500, including a timecode/video grabber card.
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Play's Trinity system has offered editing from the beginning, but only
in linear mode, now it can also act as an NLE (or hybrid), with version
2.0 software. It does all the other things Trinity can do (switching,
effects, graphics, etc.), but incorporates a new card, Time Machine ($5,995),
which allows it access the hard drives, offering dual-stream real-time
video with eight channels of audio. As an NLE, it needs at least three
disks (SCSI-2 Ultra Wide), and runs its own Wavelet compression format
(which compresses from 3:1, which Play says is "virtually lossless",
to 25:1). An uncompressed version of Time Machine is in development.
Users can edit using one, two or four real-time video monitors for fast
visual editing. Graphics are another strong selling point, with object-oriented
paint, animation and compositing tools, real-time character generation
including crawls, and a wide range of effects. Trinity NLE is the first
integration of Electric Image (which Play now owns) 3D technology, for
modelling, animation and ray tracing, into Trinity.
Features include: 3D Video Tracing, which allows users to create 3D graphic
animations with live relections, refractions, shadows and lighting from
multiple video sources simultaneously; colour correction; simultaneous
2D and 3D digital video effects, warp geometry effects, chroma, luma and
linear keying (all in real time).
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Frame To Frame
Editware's Super Edit is an NT-based hybrid tape/disk system designed
for use with Grass Valley's Profile servers. It costs $26,000 (plus the
Profile and audio mixer) and can edit direct from tape to Profile without
pre-digitising. It can also run Profile's media manager locally and control
four channels of Profile plus three other vision sources (or DVE, paint
system or switcher) - that is not a long-term limit, as it already controls
12 machines in the lab (available next Spring).
It supports MPEG-2 and M-JPEG Profiles and, for MPEG use, it can edit
any frame to any other frame within a Long GOP structure (16 frame GOP
or longer), as it can edit on any I, P or B frame. "It's not the
edit system which is being clever, it is the decoders within the MPEG
stream on the Profile which make it possible," says John Willis,
technical manager AVtek Systems, Editware's European distributors.
The interface is very traditional, with the look and feel of a linear
editing system, using a text timeline rather than a video timeline, and
the VPE Editing Controller. "We're aiming to put it into a broadcaster
who has decided to go with Profile networking but has vast expertise in
video tape," says Willis.
Although the Profile-based version was only introduced at IBC 99, Super
Edit has been around for a long time. Indeed, Editware claims it is the
longest supported product of any type in broadcast television, as it was
introduced in 1970. It is still writing software which will run on the
old systems (although the hardware is also upgradable).
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ReelTime Nitro is now shipping with in-sync Speed Razor. It delivers
two streams of video plus a graphics track and effects in real time. It
includes Pinnacle's own real-time Genie DVE, which offers customisable
effects, page peels, ripples, etc.
"In this part of the market, it's the only product which supports
real-time DV in AND out without rendering," claims Steve Schrier,
business development manager, Pinnacle Systems. The system is M-JPEG internally,
but converts to and from DV in real time using 601. "In the tests
we've done at 4.5MB per second it's transparent," he says.
A base version, board only without PC or storage, bundled with Premiere,
costs $4,000, rising to $10,000 with Speed Razor.
It also launched a dual-stream DV-native editing system at IBC 99, the
DV 500, which "is very much aimed at the pro-sumer level and will
cost less than $1,300," for board and Premiere, says Schrier. It
edits and creates effects in real-time, with DV (25Mbps) and analogue
i/o. It also comes bundled with FreeFX (which is free from Pinnacle's
Web site and works with all of its existing low-end technology). It produces
highly accelerated true 3D effects, including warps and mapping video
to 3D objects, when running on any graphics card with a Direct X chip
(although it can operate at lower performance using just the PC's CPU).
Its DC-1000 is a basic editing system bundled with Premiere, ACID Music
software, and Impression CD Pro (for CD authoring), while the DVD-1000
card, which does dual-stream MPEG-2 IPP editing, adds full Impression
software for DVD authoring to the DC-1000 package. It uses SmartGOP technology
which Schrier says is "really clever" and allows frame accurate
editing at higher packing densities. It can run on a fairly standard PC
with low-cost storage and comes with Y/C and DV i/o, with a component
option available at the end of the year and the possibility of SDI in
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Multilayering and multiprocessing are two of the advantages of Fast's
revamped 601 systems, which have also been improved in many other ways.
IBC 99 saw the launch of FAST-Studio version 2.0 software, with a whole
host of new audio and video editing features as well as FAST-Studio XL,
which allows the software take advantage of multiple processors.
Most of the version 2.0 improvements are in answer to user requests. "People
were annoyed with the speed, so handling times have been improved and
the general speed of the system is faster," says Darren Mostyn, freelance
editor, Online Creative, who works on technical development for Fast.
"The audio has been completely rewritten. There are a lot of extra
features, so you can globally raise the level of a track or apply global
panning. These have all been issues raised by users in the eight months
it's been on release," he says.
"It was already a good, solid, reliable system, but version 2.0 [which
is a free upgrade] adds a lot of little features people wanted,"
There is also new keyboard-assignable shuttle (using j, k and l as on
Avid). 601 can now do single stream uncompressed SDI, but can't mix together
uncompressed and MPEG-2 (which ranges from 5 - 50 Mbps dual stream).
Add-on software, 601-Print DVD takes a finished MPEG-2 sequence from 601
and turns it into a DVD file (it includes a DVD authoring package).
FAST-Studio XL adds the ability to do multiple layers and collapse them
into a single track (to allow users apply an effect to multiple layers
at once - similar to Avid's nesting). Advanced Sync locks any number of
tracks together. It also features a stereo waveform display and can bring
stereo clips into one track.
Although XL does better than the standard 601 background rendering, the
optional 601-InTime card increases the processing power (with six CPUs
on a card), and accelerates all functions, so that when the system is
rendering a user can still play back any clip.
The long-awaited blue will be able to mix compressed (MPEG and DV) with
uncompressed on the same timeline, but it is not shipping this year. Although
Mostyn says it is working, it is waiting for SDTI. It will use the same
software as 601, including the XL option.
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Station To Station
Sony's main NLE offering is the ES-3 edit station, which uses the FAST-Studio
XL software, "except we have manual fader support and they don't,"
says Stephen Lowenstein, marketing manager picture processing, Sony. The
hardware also includes all the video inputs (from 1394 to SDI and QSDI)
in the box and is gen-lockable. It is also DV-native, unlike 601.
It can also be fitted with the performance-enhancing InTime card, and
uncompressed via SDI will be available next year. "We're now seeing
[it] as able to address a much wider segment of the market and a wider
range of needs," says Jane Ashton, director product marketing, Sony.
"One of the things that people like about ES-3 is that it has a very
easy to use interface and the way that it can be customised depending
on how you want to approach it," she adds.
The ES-7 is a stand-alone editor for DVCAM, and was shown with new version
3.0 software at IBC 99, which includes "audio fader learn" which
allows users adjust the faders in real-time as the timeline is playing
back (or outputting to transmission or tape) and the system will modify
the audio to match (as already on the ES-3). There is also a built-in
waveform monitor and vectorscope, and it can display timecode and/or mark
in and out points on the video output monitor. Multiple clips can be grouped
together, with automatic timecode offsets, to create virtual cameras,
so that users can cut between camera angles on the fly. It can also offline
in DV and then autoconform from tape direct without digitising for higher
Sony also has two newsroom NLEs, the DNE-1000 and DNE-700, which are integrated
with its news servers.
2000 - 2010
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- An increasing number of broadcasters and freelancers are turning turning
to editing packages which can edit broadcast
quality material on a laptop.
- Apple Places Video At Core
Of Digital Hub The future of computing is video and audio production,
believes Apple Computer, and it wants to be at the heart of it. It already
markets its Macintosh computer as "the digital hub", not just
to consumers but professionals too.
- There is a wide range of video hardware
boards. We take a look at Matrox, Pinnacle, DPS, Canopus and Digital
- The Fastrack VS is the Lift system enhanced
by Editware - with improved its workflow.
- FAST's flagship editing system, blue,
finally turned up as a working product at IBC 2001
- Media 100's new editing and compositing
system "Pegasus" will be capable of unlimited layers,
run multiple simultaneous streams and should cost between $25,000 and
$50,000 for a turnkey solution.
- The EditPro/M from Athens-based Eagle
Research is a complete edit suite in a box offering half a Terabyte
of RAID disk storage.
- Pinnacle's Pro-ONE is native DV and can
handle up to ten effects in real time find out more.
- Avid's Media Composer line has been updated
with a DV option (25 and 50 Mbps), with real-time DVE.
- The latest version (Dimension 8.2) of Accom's
Affinity NLE adds "speed, speed, speed."
- Pinnacle buys FAST- Fairlight gets
Lightworks - Discreet purchases Media 100's Cleaner and CineStream products
- Discreet editing report The
new edit 6.5 is launched.
- News item on Boris FX - Nov 2001
- Review of Adobe Premiere 6.0, Photoshop
6.0 and After Effects 5.0
- Non Linear Editing - IBC 2000
- Apple's Final Cut Pro - low-cost
broadcast editing on the Mac.
- Fast's Purple - budget non linear
broadcast editor for PCs
- Judgement and Justice from Eidos
- quirky NLEs.