1. Avid Xpress DV
2. Pinnacle Pro-One
3. Matrox RT2500
4. Pinnacle Impressions DVD-Pro & Pinnacle DVD1000
5. Matrox RT Mac
6. Medea VideoRAID 2/120GB & VideoRack LP
7. Boris FX 6
8. Canopus DV Storm SE Plus
9. Commotion 4
10. EZ Keyboards
Special Achievement Honors: Pioneer DVR-A03
Congratulations to all the winners. Special thanks to the software and hardware engineers who put so much time & effort into creating and delivering these breakthrough products. For many of the items listed here we have more in depth articles available on our website. I have included these links whenever applicable.
2001 started out as a pretty slow year for new products and technology. At NAB we got a glimpse at what the year would have to offer. I am happy to report that 2001 will go down as one of the most important ever. The main reason for this is the birth of a new technology – affordable DVD authoring.
Putting our videos on DVD has been something we've all wanted to do for years. The growth of DVD player sales has outstripped every new technology ever introduced except color television. The reasons are many and obvious once you get to watch one. The video quality is superb and you can add additional content like multiple camera angles, additional audio tracks, still images, text and graphics. Not only do DVDs look great, they have menu driven navigation that allows the viewer to skip to the parts of the video they want to see. No more wasted time searching through a 2-hour tape to find that great 5-minute scene. Unlike videotape, DVDs will last for decades, so we don't have to worry about degradation and dropouts. It's perfect for archiving the years and year's worth of video footage you already have. Wedding, event, training and travel videos are much more interesting and powerful when you put them on an interactive DVD. They can be played on both home DVD players and computers equipped with DVD-ROM drives. It's no wonder that Blockbuster video has already started to phase out VHS and plans on being almost all DVD in 2003. DVD technology is going to replace VHS videotape over the next few years – it's just a matter of time and falling prices.
Pioneer began shipping the DVR-A03 in early spring, with a street price of well under $1,000. At this low price it was no wonder that supplies could not keep up with demand. Supply was so tight that many folks had to wait weeks or even months to get their units. Now not only are DVR-A03 burners readily available, but prices are dropping and additional new drives from Panasonic and HP are hitting the markets. DVD authoring and burning has become so important that we have created an entire section on our website dedicated to this new technology. The DVD Cookbook On Line goes into all the new technology, formats and products.
The first product that made it possible for you and me to make our own DVDs is the Pioneer DVR-A03. It was the first under $1,000 DVD burner to ever hit the marketplace and for that reason it is being given our highest possible award - "Special Achievement Honors".
Special Achievement Honor - Pioneer DVR-A03 $599.95
Congratulations, kudos, thanks and "Special Achievement Honors" to Pioneer for the incredible DVR-A03 DVD burner - the DVD production revolution could not have started without it! This award is only given to products that have such a dramatic impact on our industry that they revolutionize the way we edit and watch video. The first and only other time we have given out "Special Achievement Honors" was to Sony & Panasonic back in 1996 for the introduction of digital camcorders with FireWire ports. We feel that the introduction of affordable DVD production will have just as big an impact as DV did for digital videography.
What makes the A03 so remarkable is that not only is it the first affordable DVD-R drive, but it is loaded with other capabilities. The A03 supports DVD-R burning at 2x speed. You also get DVD-RW, which allows you to burn re-writable DVDs. While these disks are not as compatible on home DVD players, they offer the DVD creator the ability to experiment without having to use a new blank DVD-R disk every time. Want even more? The A03 also supports CD-R & CD-RW. No wonder Apple chose to call it the SuperDrive when they included it in top-of-the-line G4s this year.
DVR-A03 Specs | I want one!!
1. Avid Xpress DV 2.0 $1499
Xpress DV is a professional level non-linear editing program for DV. You get media management tools that go far and beyond those found in Premiere or Final Cut Pro. The interface is all Avid. That means you get the same look & feel of Avid systems used by broadcast professionals all over the world. It is completely customizable and so are the keyboard shortcuts. This means that you can optimize your Xpress DV for the way you edit, by putting the tools you need and use most within easy reach. You get professional level tools like the ability to nest multiple layers of video, graphics, filters & FX into a single layer. This makes working with complex projects so much easier. So does the fact that you get 32 layers of Undo/that you can selectively use. This means you don't have to destroy the last 9 things you did to change the filter or FX you did 10 moves earlier.
Xpress DV also includes a fantastic suite of audio editing tools. It is so easy to overlook the importance of audio, but once you gain access to this level of control, you'll be wondering how you ever lived without it. Most important is the rock solid stability and performance. You can easily work with multiple long format projects (each several hours in length) and never even have to exit the program, let alone reboot. Crashes are non-existent. The PowerPack includes a bunch of additional software, but the two most impressive are the Avid image stabilizer plug-in and the DV Filmakers toolkit. If your goal is to create your own feature film, documentary or other serious video editing project, Xpress DV is the software you must look into. To learn more about the Avid Xpress DV advantage, check out my interview with Alan Hoff, the Xpress DV product manager.
Xpress DV Specs | I want one!!
2. Pinnacle Pro-One $1199
With the introduction of the Pro-One Pinnacle has taken real-time NLE to the next level. You get real-time speed control, pan & zoom, PIP, color correction and Hollywood FX RT. You can combine up two layers of video with up to 10 layers of effects and filters and still stay real-time. Every real-time effect and filter is fully keyframable so you get total control over them so that they fit perfectly with your content. Another very cool new feature of the Pro-One is the automatic image stabilizer. This technology will automatically analyze the footage, and stabilize it. It's not perfect, but I've gotten some great results with it
The best part of the Pro-One is the real-time Hollywood FX. These are 3D transitions that go way beyond page curls and fly-ins. You can actually create multi-layered DVEs with animated graphics and motion tracks. These are the kinds of FX you see use by the networks for their news programs, sports and entertainment programs. As an example you can have 2 layers of full motion video flying in over moving graphics. Video 1 grows, as video 2 gets smaller. Then video 1 shrinks and Video 2 grows. All while flying around the screen with animated graphics and text in the background. This may sounds complicated, but it is not. In fact it is super easy to set up, with just a few mouse clicks and it plays immediately from the timeline in real-time!! Once you start using these complex real-time transitions and customizing them to meet your needs, all in real-time, you are going to see the overall production value of your projects go up. For more info about the Pro-One, check out my in depth hands on review.
Pro-ONE Specs | I want one!!
3. Matrox RT2500 $799.95
When the RT2000 shipped early last years it was a dramatic breakthrough in real-time non-linear editing and it was the first card for under $5,000 to offer you real-time 3D transitions. In May Matrox introduced the next generation of this technology, the RT2500. The most important improvement in the RT2500 is that it is a single PCI card. The original RT2000 was a two-card set and this created a lot of installation problems and compatibility issues. With the RT2500, these issues are all but eliminated. The RT2500 supports both DV and MPEG2 real-time editing. This makes it an excellent choice for digital videographer's wanting to produce professional quality DV output and DVD authoring. The included MegaPack 3 software gives you Matrox MediaTools an excellent single pass scan & capture utility, turns 60 existing Premiere transitions into real-time and adds new real-time colorization and cropping tools. In October Matrox reduced the cost of the RT2500, making it by far and away the most powerful real-time value for under $1,000 in the market today.
Matrox also announced the new ProPack, which delivers even more new features such as the ability to preview your After FX projects on a monitor. The new real-time mask feature lets you use your own customized shapes and the real-time blur filter is one of the most wished for new filters. If you buy the RT2500 before Dec 31st, you get the ProPack free (it is available for $99.95 to existing owners of RT2000/2500). One of the biggest advantages of the RT2500/2000 is that Matrox has been continuously improving the performance of this card while adding new exciting features. When you invest in one of these cards, you'll always be getting the best new features and FX.
RT2500 Specs | I want one!!
4. Pinnacle Impressions DVD-Pro $599.95 & Pinnacle DVD1000 $1499.95
What makes Impressions DVD Pro so amazing is the value and price. Now for well under $1,000 you can get the same award winning DVD authoring software that sold for over $5,000 just a year earlier. Impressions DVD Pro lets you author DVDs with multiple audio tracks, animated buttons and motion menus. With Impressions DVD-Pro you get the same kind of tools used by Hollywood to create the DVDs you can purchase or rent from your local video store. You can use the multiple audio tracks for adding different languages, narration or music. The Motion Menus will give your DVDs a much more professional look and feel.
If you really want to get the most out of Impressions DVD-Pro, get the new DVD1000 bundle. This gives you the DC1000DV real-time NLE card and Impressions DVD-Pro for under $1,500. The DC1000DV is a full-featured real-time NLE system that gives you real-time Analog and DV output, using very sophisticated MPEG2 compression. The DC1000 hardware includes the DV option so you can capture directly from your DV cam into MPEG2 streams that are 100% DVD compliant and fully edit them. You can add titles, filters, FX and more, all in real-time – and you don't have to waste time transcoding your projects from DV to MPEG2. Even more impressive, you can go back and edit your DVD footage after you create your DVD, without having to go all the way back to the original footage. The DC1000 with all it's great MPEG2 editing technology was a year or two ahead of it's time. Now that you can combine it with an inexpensive DVD burner and the Impressions DVD-Pro authoring software, what you end up with is simply the best professional DVD solution around for under $5,000.
Impressions DVD Pro Specs| DVD1000 Specs | I want one!!
5. Matrox RT Mac $999.95
Since 1999 PC based non-linear editors have been taking full advantage of the power and performance of real-time editing. This year Matrox finally delivered these great features to Final Cut Pro users. The real-time FX you get with the RT Mac are the ones you need the most. Apply cross dissolve, wipe, slide, or iris effects between two video sources. Most of your favorite Final Cut Pro motion effects are now real-time and keyframable, including scaling, rotation, position, cropping, distortion, drop shadow, and opacity. You can work with up to 3 layers (2 video & 1 graphic or 1 video & 2 graphic) in real-time. Overlay titles & graphics over your video in real-time using the linear alpha keying.
The RT Mac gives you even more bang for your buck, because it adds additional features to your FCP system beyond real-time FX. You get dual monitor support and real-time analog I/O. These two features alone are worth several hundred dollars. The analog input allows you to capture older analog footage directly into your G4. The analog output means you can hook up a television monitor to the breakout box for full resolution previews or you can output directly to VHS or SVHS.
RTMac Specs | I want one!!
6. Medea VideoRAID 2/120GB $999.95 & VideoRack LP
For the 5th straight year, Medea has done it again, a Top 10 spot on our lists. The new 2-drive SCSI unit delivers 120GB of screaming fast storage for under $1,000. Not only has Medea given us more storage for less money, they've increased the sustained throughput to 30 Mb/sec. Enough for even the most demanding long format real-time editing projects. Are you working on multiple projects and DVD creations that require even more than 120GB? No problem. We've got 160GB units in stock for $1299 and a whopping 200GB unit is coming soon for under $1500!!!
Medea also introduced a new low profile rack mountable version of the VideoRAID RT lined called the VideoRack LP. These units are super-slim (1.75 inches tall) and perfect for your crowded NLE suite. You can take the rack mounts off the unit and put it under your monitor as a monitor stand. Don't let the small size fool you, these babies can handle up to 65 Mbs/sec of sustained throughput and they are available in 120, 240 and 300GB capacities.
VideoRaid SCSI Specs | VideoRack LP Specs | I want one!!
7. Boris FX 6 $399.95
I've always been a huge fan of Boris FX and each of the last two versions have made our top 10 lists. With 6.0 Boris has done it again, the new natural particle FX are incredible and we've been getting requests for just these kinds of FX for years. What FX am I talking about? How about the ability to add fire, smoke, rain, snow, sparks and clouds to your footage. Even cooler you can control the way these natural particles move and react to your video! Another really cool new feature is the addition of audio to the preview to RAM feature. Now you can easily coordinate your Boris FX filters and transitions to fit perfectly with your audio.
When we first started carrying Boris it was the worlds coolest 3D FX generator. Over the years it has evolved into much, much more. You can use it as a compositing tool. The new filters include Motion Blurs, Light Filters (so you can add a spotlight to your footage), 3D image shatters and displacement mapping. If there is only room in your budget for one plug-in Boris FX is the choice for you - even if your capture card includes real-time 3D transitions & FX. Boris FX 6 is a tool that you will find extremely versatile and useful, once you start using and becoming familiar with it, you'll find you can't live without it. To learn more about what's new in Boris FX 6, check out my interview with Tim Wilson, Director of Marketing.
Boris FX Specs | I want one!!
8. Canopus DV Storm SE Plus $1299
The DV Storm was actually introduced in late 2000, too late to make last years top 10 list. Canopus recently renamed the product the SE Plus, so I'm going to take the liberty of including it in this years list. Much like the other Canopus cards that have graced our top 10 lists over the past several years, the big feature that makes the Storm a winner is Canopus' rock solid stability and performance. When you plan on editing video for a living, this is of the utmost importance. But don't think that Canopus has sacrificed on the real-time features to give you this stability. dom information The Storm is fully loaded. As long as you give it the power it needs, you are going to get a ton of real-time performance, especially when you use their Storm Edit NLE software.
The Storm uses Canopus' scalable technology. This means that the faster your computer, the more real-time performance you get. For the best results I recommend a dual 1+ Ghz processors and 512 megs of RAM. With this kind of a set up you'll be able to support multiple layers of FX, PIP, titles, color correction filters and more. The real-time color correction filters are far more powerful and professional than any of those offered by other real-time cards on the market. While the Storm lacks fancy real-time 3D transitions, what you do get are the go to transitions that wedding and event videographer's rely on most. The Storm also has an optional MPEG Encoder daughter card that allows you to output DVD ready MPEG2 streams directly from the timeline in nearly real-time.
Storm SE Plus Specs | I want one!!
9. Commotion 4 $399.95
Sometimes when you are editing video you find out that you need features and abilities that go way beyond video editing. The need to composite multiple layers of footage and manipulate each layer. When you reach this point, the tool to reach for is Commotion. Commotion is much more than just a compositing tool. You can manipulate individual frames of video using the same familiar tools like paint, draw, and clone you use everyday with your image editing software. It can also record your keystrokes and movements, so you can literally draw or paint your titles right onto your full motion video. The wire removal tool is really great, especially if you are using miniature models or trying to create special effects for your videos using stunts with wires. Commotion 4 does all this, and it does it much faster than previous versions. The improvement in rendering speed is dramatic. The compositing engine is up to 50% faster and the paint engine is up to twice as fast!
With Commotion Pro you get one of the coolest tools around, the Motion Tracker. This can be used for image stabilization or to hide someone's face with mosaic, or to remove an object from the video and replace it with something else. You also get the Primatte Keyer for creating complex blue/green screen FX. The Composit Wizard helps you color match your background and foreground footage so your composites look as realistic as possible. If you're creative enough to create complex composites and FX for your video, then Commotion is the tool to do it with. To learn more about what's new in Commotion 4, check out my interview with Colin Sharp the Manager of Software Sales at Pinnacle Systems.
Commotion Specs | I want one!!
10. EZ Keyboards $119.95
What is the best $120 you'll ever spend on your NLE editing system? One of these customized non-linear editing keyboards. Each keyboard is made specifically for the NLE app you use (Premiere, Xpress DV or FCP). You get all the keyboard shortcuts labeled and color-coded. Once you start using keyboard shortcuts you will see your NLE proficiency and productivity shoot through the roof. Don't be surprised if you start finishing your projects in two thirds or even ½ the time!! Another thing I like about these keyboards is that they look cool and they let people know that you are using your computer for much more than just basic email, spreadsheets or web surfing!
I can't mention the EZ Keyboard without telling you about our Premiere Super How-Too Bundle.You get the Premiere EZ Keyboard, our Premiere 6 Getting Started Video and Adita's brand new Premiere 6 CD-Rom Tutorial for $129.95. If you want to get the most out of your Premiere based NLE system, make sure you take advantage of our exclusive bundle offer. It is all the tools you need to get you up and running and proficient with Premiere 6.
EZ Keyboard Specs | I want one!!
There you have it, our Top 10 products of 2001. When we look back at it I am sure that 2001 will go down as one of the most important in our industry.
1. We've seen incredible advances in real-time NLE technology.
2. We've seen the introduction of new, more professional software products.
3. We've also seen the beginning of a major technology change in the industry – from tape to DVD.
Put this all together and it makes this one heck of a good time to be a digital videographer. The tools you use are now better, faster, more powerful and cheaper than ever before. Computer prices are tumbling and new 2Ghz P4 systems are starting to hit the shelves. Prices on Ram have dropped as well. This has made fully loaded 1.4 - 1.7 Ghz workstations with 512 Megs of RAMs extremely affordable. You can pick one of these up and configure a top notch real-time or Xpress DV NLE system with a DVD burner, full featured authoring software and over 100GB of video storage for well under $5,000!!!
To see just how good a deal you can get, check out our all new DVD Bundle Configurator - you won't believe how much you can save!!