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Success Is On The Cards For Non-Linear Editing
by David Fox
The low to mid-range of the editing market is dominated by hardware/software combinations running on standard PC and Mac platforms. In particular there is a wide range of video hardware boards running Adobe Premiere - a much improved editor since its upgrade to version 6. But, hardware add-ons from Matrox, Pinnacle, DPS, Canopus or Digital Voodoo allow various nonlinear editors to cope with a wide range of broadcast needs, including shared media networks and even low-cost HD editing.
There are now five software-based NLEs using Matrox boards. Several others have created turnkey systems based on Matrox hardware, including Dayang Image and Panasonic. "The beauty of all these systems is that they share the same file formats," says Nabil Tarazi, vice president Europe, Matrox. Previously it was MJPEG, now it is MPEG-2 and DV. As about a dozen different servers use Matrox boards, "Anyone using any of these NLEs can use any of the servers."
Various paint, animation and graphics software also use the same file format. "So, at no point in the process are you doing transcoding or going back to uncompressed or analogue," he adds.
"It increases productivity as you are not wasting time transcoding, or suffering generation loss," adds Francesco Scartozzi, OEM sales manager, Matrox. "You're not copying a file from the acquisition station to the edit station. There is true media sharing throughout."
"Once you start acquiring, that material is instantly available to the edit station and can be worked on by different people," says Tarazi. "In time critical environments, such as a newsroom, the media is being accessed immediately," says Scartozzi.
Some manufacturers use different capabilities of the hardware, but all are essentially compatible," says Tarazi. The biggest differences are features, price and the user interface.
Matrox doesn't just work with Windows. For the Mac, its real-time RTMac system, which adds analogue i/o to Apple's FireWire, is bundled with either Apple Final Cut Pro or DVD Studio Pro software. It also outputs to Pal or NTSC monitors and enables dual-screen editing on the computer.
Matrox showed an all-digital Networked Broadcast Studio at IBC 2001 connecting servers for acquisition and playout with editing and graphics workstations on a Rorke Data Storage Area Network (SAN), allowing true media sharing. The demonstration system used Matrox DigiServer DTV, DigiSuite DTV, and CG2000 cards, a Vector-3 VectorBOX acquisition and playout server, Dayang Image's MagicEditor, Inscriber CG·FX titler, and Chyron Aprisa still/clip store.
Its new top-of-the-range DigiSuite Max adds 3D capabilities and real-time MPEG-2 and DV output. Dayang and Incite are already using it, and it also ships with Premiere. Other companies also intend to move to it, but not all have said they'll support it yet.
Being able to run on Max card, gives Incite users a second layer of uncompressed graphics, 1394 connections, and the ability to encode DV and MPEG video.
It is part of Incite's new, broader range of offerings. "Instead of one Incite, there will now be various bundles targeted at different markets, such as a broadcast bundle and a post bundle," says spokesman, Alexander McHattie.
The Incite Editor now has a new user interface, which can be customised, so users can set up their workspace as they want and re-size windows. It has dynamic motion control. Instead of rendering each clip, it now has the option of batch rendering.
It also has: Instant Replay allowing any number of NLEs edit material from an ingest system before capture is complete; real-time graphic animations, with alpha channel, over two streams of video; interpolated speed changes; networked file management; an integrated waveform/vectorscope; support for markers in clips; and timeline export to After Effects.
It now has duplex voice over, with timecode display, and 5.1 surround sound, 64 channels of real-time audio and effect and 24-bit/96kHz audio capture (although it is still 16-bit within the Incite software). There is also now a multi-camera editing option for quick cutting between synchronised material.
The new Incite Logger, for logging clips from a VTR, has the ability to add markers and use numerous parameters to organise clips. Its new Clip Manager manages media from initial clip selection to storage location. It allows users to add metadata and comments to captured clips, and improves file management. It is based the MXF standard and is CODEC independent.
Its new Render Server schedules and distributes rendering over multiple machines, allowing editors to continue working while the tasks are processed in the background.
At IBC, Pinnacle Systems announced it had bought FAST, which Ajay Chopra, its founder and chairman, believes opens up the mainstream broadcast market to it for the first time, especially in Europe. He also sees FAST software complimenting Pinnacle's Vortex networked news solution system as a high-end promo editor. The FAST software can also be customised to do cuts-only or simplified news editing. "A lot of our customers do not want to differentiate between news and post systems," he says. "NRK has journalist places and post places, and depending on their daily needs they go from one to the other," adds Alain Polger, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Pinnacle.
Vortex, which recently started shipping, is aimed at high-end ingest, content management and playout for news, and Chopra claims it is already doing well in the US. It ingests video once and copies don't have to be made of it for workstation editing - instead users work on proxies and all the conforming is done during playout. He believes that collaborative workflow will be the key thing for the future.
ORF, Austria, has become the first major buyer of FAST's latest blue ("everything in, anything out") NLE, installing 14 in its new newsroom, working principally with IMX MPEG-2 50Mbps material.
Pinnacle introduced the CineWave 2.0 RT desktop video editing system at IBC, offering real-time special effects with uncompressed, standard definition video.
Also new is CineWave 1.2, which allows Apple's Final Cut Pro (included) work with a wide range of video formats, including HD. It incorporates the latest Commotion Pro 4.0, Pinnacle's integrated paint, compositing, and effects application for editors.
Also on show was the new Pro-ONE low-cost, real-time DV-based editing (using Premiere) and DVD authoring system. Now that Pinnacle owns FAST, it is looking at porting the purple DV software to the Pro-ONE as an alternative to Premiere.
At IBC, DPS (now part of Leitch) showed the latest version (7.6) of its Velocity NLE, which includes enhanced streaming support, DVD authoring, and fully integrated compositing (using Digital Fusion).
It also demonstrated its forthcoming dpsQuattrus PCI card. This can cope with four simultaneous streams of compressed or uncompressed (or mixed) video, with four (optional) built-in 3D DVEs, six graphics layers, and eight audio channels with dedicated digital signal processors. "All these functions are in hardware, so you don't have to rely on how fast the PC or PCI bus is," says Jonathan Fall, DPS product development manager for Europe.
It includes analogue i/o as standard, with SDI and/or DV i/o and digital audio (AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Embedded SDI) available as an option. It includes an integrated Ultra160 SCSI-3 disk controller
It will probably be launched at NAB 2002, together with Velocity version 8.0, which will take advantage of all the new hardware features. It is also talking to three other vendors about using their NLE software with Quattrus. Premiere can already be used with the existing dpsReality board - with two further companies talking about supporting that too.
Velocity 8.0 features will include: multiple timeline support, real-time garbage mattes, multi-camera editing, real-time support for video files with alpha channel, and support for a new, optional external audio mixing console with motorised faders and integrated jog/shuttle control. It will also have flexible timeline enhancements such as the ability to use eight real-time mono audio tracks (rather than four stereo pairs), independent variable track scaling, increased zoom-level precision, enhanced audio waveform representations and keyframing enhancements.
It also showed NetStreamer at IBC, which is similar to Pinnacle's StreamGenie except it can do six independent streams at once and has full remote control via TCP/IP. It can also run Velocity as part of a complete live Webcasting production system or content creation workstation.
DPS also introduced a new disk-based slow motion device for sports, Whiplash II, which can have from two to ten channels using spatially interpolated slo-mo. It will also ship a new clip and media store, Media File, later this year.
Canopus Storm can cope with up to five streams and has both analogue and DV outputs. The new DVStormSE is scalable technology. It offers 2D real-time effects on almost any PC, but as the CPU speed increases, it does more in real time, including 3D. Besides DV and analogue (S-Video and Composite video) input and output, it also offers MPEG output for DVD and Web streaming. It includes Premiere and Canopus StormEdit software for less than £1,000, including a breakout box. An optional real-time MPEG encoding module costs £395.
With Storm, users can have up to three effects streams, but Storm Rack (its turnkey system) can have five streams of video and as many of titles as users want.
StormEdit, or RexEdit or RaptorEdit are all essentially the same software, but as each card through the range has more capabilities, the software can use them. All the boards are also fully compatible with Premiere. Ulead Media Studio Pro can also be used on the consumer-level EZDV, DVRaptor-RT and the old DVRexRT, but the new DVRexRT Pro doesn't support it as it is not real-time software.
Canopus' new Xplode Professional 3D effects plug-in can be used with its own or other editing software. It boasts "lots of transitions [more than 600], unlimited 3D capabilities and is very easy to use," says Sean Mathis, its international sales manager.
It includes more than 50 groups of 3D transitions, all of which can be easily customised, and will work in real time if the card is capable of it. It has an overscan handling option that eliminates distortion, or noise, in the overscan area, for clean playback on a TV screen. There is real-time preview at lower resolution.
Canopus has also developed streaming technology based on its boards. Its new MediaEdge is an MPEG-1 and MPEG-2-based content delivery system, which can do video streaming, Video on Demand, and scheduled playback. It runs on Windows 2000 servers, adding the Canopus software and set-top boxes. It is aimed at use over a local area network rather than the Web, as Internet bandwidth can't handle it yet. Instead, it is aimed at such applications as showing trailers on TV screens in cinemas.
One potential user in Copenhagen is looking at using it to distribute news, weather channels, and destination specific travel information. As the system can control where every stream goes from the server, it means the information can be screen-specific. It can also link to Web data from other sites.
Digital Voodoo's new $7,995 Iridium XP HD is a high definition card for Mac-based broadcast designers and graphic artists. It has two 10-bit broadcast SDI outputs and a standard definition SDI down converter to allow users view HD and SD pictures simultaneously. Users can work with uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2:4 or 4:4:4:4 video.
There is also a slightly cheaper version (Iridium HD), without the downconverter, and a standard definition version (the Iridium SD) with two 10-bit broadcast SDI outputs and one composite output for preview.
It has also introduced an upgrade for its uncompressed D1 Desktop 64AV card which allows it capture and playback at off-line resolution as well as support for real-time 10 bit dissolves. It is a standard feature on all new D1 Desktop 64AVs.