Well, I just got back from NAB and I can't decide which is more amazing, the incredible growth of the industry or of Las Vegas!
Ironically, our industry appears to be following the same growth pattern as the city of high rollers. A few years ago Las Vegas wanted to be more consumer oriented and broader, while today the growth is clearly upwards and more high end. The same can be said for Desk Top Video Editing. Over the past few years we have seen an explosion in affordable, yet powerful hardware and software that brought non linear editing to the masses. At this year's NAB, the emphasis was in a shift towards the 'hi-end'. The products are becoming more sophisticated and powerful, but not necessarily more expensive. And by powerful, I don't mean higher video quality. With the introduction of FireWire/DV editing this past year, we have reached a level of video quality that is simply outstanding, with no need for improvement. The new products seen at NAB are harnessing this new found video quality and pushing it's performance in other areas, most notably speed, usability and features. I am not going to review new 'hi-end' products introduced at the show costing several thousand dollars and more. Instead I am going to tell you about the new affordable products introduced at NAB98 that tap into last years 'hi-end' technology!!!
Nothing better demonstrates this then the new Premiere 5.0! The first thing I noticed when I got to the Adobe booth was how much cleaner the interface is. By utilizing tabbed pull down windows you can customize your interface the way you want it, putting the features you want at your fingertips while hiding the ones you don't use.
The most impressive feature to me is called 3 point editing. Lets say you have a 30 second scene and you want to insert a 7 or 8 second clip into it. With 5.0, you mark the in (1) and out (2) point of the existing clip where you want the new clip to go. Now when you open up the new clip you want to insert. Rather then finding the exact 7 or 8 seconds you want, you simply select the in point (3). Premiere 5.0 now lets you automatically insert the new clip into the timeline, making the end point at the exact right spot for the insert. Better still, the 3rd point could be the out point!! Now premiere inserts the clip perfectly, making sure it ends on the exact frame you selected. Another feature I really liked is the ability to select a preferred transition, say a 3 second additive dissolve. This transition will automatically be added to the timeline every time you line up two tracks and select transition. Of course, you can then select any other transition available if you want to.
Another feature that I really love is the new navigation window. It gives you a graphical 'map' of your timeline that lets you quickly get to any point of your project. Then just with a simple mouse click the real timeline snaps to the point you selected on the map. Well, anyone who has ever tried to scroll through a long format (over 15 minute) video will appreciate this feature tremendously. Clip management tools and an all new dual window for previewing and trimming clips makes the actual editing process simpler and faster. Of course, Adobe added a slew of new filters and effects and the titling module is dramatically better then the clunky one found in 4.2.
Perhaps the most important feature of the new Premiere is one that is totally invisible to the end user. It's called the media abstraction layer, and basically, what it means is that Adobe has designed in the ability for hardware vendors to optimize for and add new features to Premiere. This is extremely exciting news and one that will make 5.0 based bundles more powerful then was previously possible. New features that take advantage of this media layer include cut list (or timeline) playback, hardware acceleration of effects/filters/transitions and even the ability to add real time effects.
Owners of any version of Premiere 4.x (including LE) can upgrade for $199.95. Pinnacle announced that they will switch to 5.0 in their DC30+ bundles once it begins shipping. If you buy a DC30+ that comes bundled with 4.2 after March 23rd, you will get a FREE upgrade to 5.0 through Pinnacle directly.
The first video capture card that will be optimized for 5.0 in the under $1000 marketplace is the new Bravado 2000. I had been given a beta version to work with that included the old 4.2 software. While the results were good, I felt that the bundle was lacking, well once 5.0 is added to the bundle, several new features come to life including cut list and much faster rendering. The Bravado 2000 is scheduled to ship this month, although Premiere 5.0 is still 4-6 weeks away. Every consumer who buys a B2k before 5.0 ships will be given a FREE upgrade. This is very cool!! It means that those buyers who step up to the plate early will actually get both 4.2 and 5.0 for the same very low price. And boy, did Truevision lower the price!! While on the show floor we negotiated a drop dead deal on the new Bravado $699.95!!!!
Premiere isn't the only software that has been improved dramatically. While the interface has stayed the same, Radius EditDV 1.5 is a significant upgrade. First, full batch capture and device control have been added. Second, rendering is 4x as fast on average. We clocked a 5 second dissolve at under 30 seconds!! Third, draft mode has been improved in two ways. A new 15 frame option has been added that makes rendering a 1 second dissolve almost real time. In addition, the overall image quality of draft mode is much sharper and pixilization is almost non existent. If you buy the EditDV today, you will be able to upgrade to 1.5 for FREE when it is shipping!
EditDV 1.5 wasn't the only exciting news announced from Radius at NAB. Radius is looking to become the number one multi-platform DV software company. PhotoDV now works on both Windows and Mac, and MotoDV for Windows was formally announced for July delivery. Available alone for under $500 or with the new Premiere 5.0 for under $800. The same exact hardware is used for both platforms, so Radius FireWire products are ideal for multi platform shops or Mac users who want the flexibility to migrate to PC in the future. Don't mistake the announcement of Windows products as meaning that Radius is leaving the Mac platform. Nothing could be farther then the truth. As evidence, Radius and Apple announced jointly that the new Apple FireWire card and future Apple configurations with FireWire built into the motherboard will include a light version of EditDV software. What Radius is doing is abandoning hardware. The future for Radius will be in having the best software available for DV based non linear editing, regardless of platform or hardware method for importing the DV data.
While we are on the subject of hardware and software, lets talk about a very important upgrade from Canopus. RexEdit 1.5 adds a host of new features and improved performance. RexEdit lets you select either hardware or software CODECs. This is a very significant feature. Canopus is investing heavily in software CODEC development, to the point that a 1 second dissolve is now under 30 seconds, and when 2.0 is released, it will be under 10!! Version 2.0 will also run a diagnostic test of the host system for the DVRex board and automatically render effects in the CODEC method that is faster!! Back to 1.5, Canopus is quietly turning their simple long form, cuts only timeline player into a true editing program. Several transitions including a dissolve have been added, and titling and filters are on the way!! While I was in the Canopus suite a couple of gentlemen from Sony were leaving. They were simply amazed at how good a job they had done with their CODEC. These two guys should know, considering they wrote the FireWire bluebook!!!
Best of all, Canopus has extended their Buy into DV promotion with Medea VideoRAIDs!!!
Another very cool item shown by Canopus is the TREX graphics card. This is a 4 meg scorcher based on their already award winning, top rated by gamers, Pure3D card. What makes it deserve mention in an NAB recap? How about the fact that it comes with both DV and MJPEG software CODECs for just over $300!! This means that with the TREX card installed you can playback and fully edit video. Think about the possibilities. Several users editing the same footage over a network; bringing home video files from the office using a removable storage device like a Jaz or Syjet; sharing your video with friends or family without them having to invest in a video capture card. Best off all, 10, 15 or more computers in a schools video lab all able to be used for editing. All the school needs is one or two machines with capture hardware. The kids then transfer their files over to their own machine either via network or removable media!!
The really big buzz at the Pinnacle booth was their new ReelTime product. This product takes full advantage of the new media abstraction layer in Premiere 5.0 by allowing you to do dual stream non linear editing in real time. No more make movie and no more waiting for rendering. While this product is not for our marketplace, I feel you should know about it. Why? Two reasons
1. Today's NLE breakthroughs will be coming to you. Maybe not next year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it comes before the millennium
2. ReelTime demonstrates Pinnacle's leadership in the industry and their understanding of the new opportunities that the media abstract layer in Premiere 5.0 has to offer. I heard it straight from Adobe themselves, nobody is doing a better job optimizing for premiere 5.0 then Pinnacle.
In addition to ReelTime, Pinnacle introduced a very exciting new product, the DC50. Basically it takes the DC30 up market by adding component (Betacam) inputs and outputs, for under $2000. Now professional animators, compositors and non linear editors can practice their craft using an affordable, proven solution. The DC50 will include INSTANT video and ship with Premiere 5.0 (if it is ready on time. If not, it will ship with 4.2 and a free upgrade). Pinnacle is talking to all the leading animation and compositing software vendors to see how they can optimize the DC50 for them and what utilities can they add to make the DC50 the best solution for their products. They are also looking into the possibility of additional bundles featuring some of these professional software solutions. Current DC30 and DC30+ owners will be offered an upgrade path to the DC50, but the details have yet to be worked out.
We are in the process of working out a very exciting upgrade program for AV Master owners to upgrade to the DV Master. While Fast has touted the guaranteed upgradability slogan in the past, the exact details of the deal were never that attractive. We hope to offer an upgrade program that will make AV Master owners very happy they bought Fast and very excited about moving up to the top rated DV Master!!!
There you have it, my NAB98 hi-lites. This page will be upgraded often during the next few weeks as the new products mentioned actually start shipping and I get permission form our vendors to let you in on some more 'goodies' that I am currently under NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement).