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Judgement and Justice


by David Fox

Eidos Technologies is probably better known to most broadcasters as the creator of Laura Croft, and other computer game characters than as an NLE (Non Linear Editor) maker. Its Optima offline editing system has been reasonably popular with broadcasters in the UK, especially at the BBC, but has had less success elsewhere.

Judgement and Justice

Now, its new duo of online NLEs, Judgement and Justice, should change that. They have probably the most distinctive interface on the market (certainly the most pleasing to look at). The timeline is a "curved 3D surface" which is larger in the middle, where editors work, and should be particularly suited to long-form editing. "The idea is that you can always see a whole programme," says Eidos' technical director, Simon Protheroe.

Wherever you point at on the timeline, it shows a clip with timecode and graphic information, so you can still view it even if it is at the ends of the timeline - a click immediately brings it to the centre.

Although buttons light up to show they are working, "we've tried to make sure the visual interface isn't distracting from the video," he says. Usually it takes no more than two clicks from the upper level of the interface down through the context-sensitive menus to reach all the functions. "We've put a lot of thought into the interface, to make sure the information you need is on screen at any time," says Protheroe.

There are lots of very simple drag and drop functions (although it also uses all the standard keyboard shortcuts), and the bin arrangement makes it very easy to look through what is in each file. The tape transport controls are also very like one of the better designed consumer tape decks. "This is designed so you can get into it within 15 minutes and start cutting shots together," he claims.

"This application has been designed by editors, not engineers," he adds. The whole interface is easily customisable to suit an individual's way of working.

The titling function supports simple rolls and crawls and drop shadows. "We're trying to concentrate on doing a simple job well rather than doing Inscriber's job for them," he says. It includes standard QuickTime effects (such as dissolves, wipes, shutters and page turns). It depends on the hardware support whether something needs to be rendered or not. An SGI NT machine will do 3D page turns, etc., in real time, but others may only do simple dissolves in real time.

They are considering introducing a dedicated jog/shuttle wheel (probably next year).

"We're designing Judgement to be very good at one job and not jack of all trades. It is a scalpel, not a Swiss Army knife," he says.

Judgement, which should be available this month, will cost under $1,000, and runs under Windows NT, with any QuickTime-compatible video card (and plug-in software). It is multi-threaded so it can work on two or four processor PCs.

It is compression independent, working with DV, M-JPEG, MPEG-2 and uncompressed, and can work with dual stream video.

Justice, Eidos' high-end system, is designed as a finishing tool. It adds waveform audio editing and will host plug-ins, so users can access Boris FX (for example) from within the program rather than having to export and import clips as on Judgement. It will use any After Effects plug-ins and cost about $5,000 for the software (although it will probably be sold only bundled with hardware).

Meanwhile, Optima has been licensed to Creative Video Associates, who will be updating it and marketing it more widely. "Optima is a very special and unique editing system firmly established as the programme makers favourite offline. We look forward to developing and enhancing it as a product and introducing it to new markets in the UK and overseas," says Rob Champion, CVA's director of sales and marketing. CVA was previously UK reseller for Optima, and has recently worked with Eidos on developing it.

DEC 2000

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David Fox