Much like 2001 this year started out pretty slow for new products. With the exception of the Pinnacle Studio Deluxe, not much was happening. Then along came the DV Expo East show in NYC this June. Suddenly a plethora of innovative new releases hit the market. As the summer went along, several more new products were introduced.
The last major product introduction that really blew the roof off of holiday sales this year was the Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD burner. With 4x burn speeds it meant you could now burn a full 4.7GB DVD in only 15 minutes!!
The biggest story in this years Top 10 was the emergence of new powerful software based Non-Linear Editing solutions.
Xpress DV, Edition, Vegas Video and Continuum AVX all taking full advantage of today's lightning fast CPUs, inexpensive memory and extremely fast high capacity EIDE drives. These software only solutions deliver performance unimaginable just 3 years ago even with hardware accelerator cards costing several thousand dollars! The latest generation of hardware based real-time solutions like the DV Storm and RTX.100 also get a significant portion of their real-time performance from software. With 3Ghz P4 systems around the corner I can't wait to see what new features and performance get unlocked with next year's releases!! So here they are, Videoguys' Top 10 products of 2002:
1. Matrox RTX.100 and the power of X
2. Avid Xpress DV 3.5
3. Pioneer DVR-A05
4. Pinnacle Studio Deluxe
5. Canopus DV Storm 2
6. Sonic ReelDVD 3
7. Matrox Parhelia
8. Boris Continuum Complete AVX
9. Medea VideoRAID RTR & RTS
10. Tie Pinnacle Edition & Vegas Video
1. Matrox RTX.100
With the introduction of the RTX.100 Matrox has established the new standard for Real-Time performance, stability and features. Matrox calls the underlying technology the “Power of X”. I just call it amazing. The RTX.100 leverages Matrox award winning 3D flex technology and pure CPU performance to deliver the year's most outstanding new product.
You get 100s of Matrox's now famous real-time 3D FX with a new more powerful yet easier to use keyframer. Next Matrox added a phenomenal real-time color correction tool with auto white balancing. You pick an area on the screen that should be white with the dropper. The real-time auto white balance does the rest. On top of this Matrox added real-time speed control and chroma keying. Want even more? How about real-time DV output plus real-time export of MPEG2 files that are ready for DVD authoring.!
Later in the year Matrox introduced the RTX.10, the little brother of the RTX.100. While not as feature rich as the RTX.100, the RTX.10 is based on the same “Power of X” core technology. At only $499.95 this is the low cost real-time solution to get for digital video editors with fast computers who are on a tight budget.
RTX.100 hands on review | RTX.100 Specs | RTX.10 Specs | BUY NOW!!
2. Avid Xpress DV 3.5
Avid actually introduced two major version upgrades of Xpress DV this year. The first was 3.0. This major upgrade added real-time performance to the Xpress DV interface. Now every filter and effect can be previewed in real-time on your VGA monitor and on a TV monitor using certain dual head graphics cards. With a 1.7 Ghz machine we were able to layer 3 motion PIP over a 4th video layer, with filters applied to all 4 layers plus a couple of graphics. That's pretty amazing since Xpress DV is a software only solution. And let's not forget this is in addition to Avid's 11th generation NLE editing interface and toolset.
Then this summer Avid upped the ante by releasing version 3.5 with two very important new features. The first was cross platform compatibility. XDV 3.5 now runs on both Windows XP and Mac OS – even cooler, you get both versions of the software in the box. Avid also added real-time color correction in version 3.5. Not a few simple tools, but an expert color correction toolset taken directly from their broadcast products.
At the end of 2002 Avid launched a competitive step up program that offers substantial savings on Xpress DV to owners of Final Cut Pro, Premiere and several other NLE products. We are happy to report that this fantastic promotion has been extended though March 31, 2003!!!
Xpress DV 3.x hands on review | Xpress DV Specs | Xpress DV PowerPack Specs | BUY NOW!!
3. Pioneer DVR-A05
With the introduction of the DVR-A03 last year Pioneer officially started the home DVD burning revolution. The DVR-A04 gave us some improved performance and better compatibility. This year's model the DVR-A05 takes it to the next level. With 4X DVD-R write speeds you can now burn a full 4.7GB DVD in just 15 minutes!! With a price of only $299.95 it is the must have NLE add-on of the year!!
Much has been made over the past year about the various DVD recordable formats. Here is how we see it. We've sold thousands of Pioneer drives, Pionner has sold millions of them. The bottom line - they work great. Our customers love them and they are creating some pretty amazing DVDs with them. There is no reason to pay 10-20% more for a burner that supports other formats. DVD-R is going to be the format you use for the DVDs you give your customers, friends and family. The Pioneer DVR-A05 is simply the best DVD-R burner available.
Even more exciting than DVR-A05s are our Videoguys' DVD bundles. These pre-configured bundles include everything you need to start producing your own DVDs except the computer!! We've got DVD bundles for all our most popular NLE systems. These bundles include the DVR-A05, the NLE solution with an upgraded authoring solution and bonus media. If you already have an NLE system, we've got great bundles with the DVR-A05 and our most popular authoring titles.
Videoguys' DVD Bundles | DVR-A05 Specs | BUY NOW!!
4. Pinnacle Studio 8 Deluxe
When Pinnacle first told us about the Studio Deluxe product we knew it was going to be a best seller. So many of our customers were looking for a low cost, easy to use solution that would allow them to edit their entire life's worth of video. Studio Deluxe was the world's first low cost NLE solution that combined both DV and analog inputs and outputs.
Now we have the next version, Studio 8 Deluxe with an even lower cost thanks to an incredible $100 mail in rebate from Pinnacle. That brings the cost down to under $200!!! Even cooler the new Studio 8 software has integrated DVD authoring. That's right, you can go directly from your video-editing project to DVD or CD!
Studio 8 Deluxe Specs | Studio 8 Deluxe Rebate | BUY NOW!!
5. Canopus DV Storm2
Back when the original DV Storm first shipped last year it was the only real-time solution that gave you real-time DV output. Since then several new cards have been introduced that also offer this feature. Not to be outdone, Canopus released the DV Storm2. From the beginning Canopus told us about their scalable technology and how the Storm would get better as CPUs got faster. Well with the DV Storm2 drivers Canopus delivered what they promised. Storm2 can handle up to 5 layers of video and 10 layers of graphics in real-time!!
The DV Storm2 includes the same core hardware plus the Storm Encoder card at no extra cost. The Storm Encoder card delivers outstanding quality MPEG2 files. You can capture directly into MPEG2 for archiving or export directly from the timeline in real-time. With all this great value it's easy to see why DV Storm 2 is one of the top NLE solutions around.
DV Storm2 Specs | BUY NOW!!
6. Sonic ReelDVD 3.0
Sonic ReelDVD makes it into the top 10 for two very important reasons. The first is the feature set. This is the most professional authoring solution around for under $5K. You get all the special features that take full advantage of the DVD spec. You get it all - motion menus, 8 audio tracks, 32 subtitle tracks, Digital Dolby Stereo including AC3 encoding, 16:9 video format support, chapter points, slide show and more. And you get all of this with drag & drop ease.
The second reason ReelDVD is in the top 10 is price. Just a year ago you would pay $1500 for this program. Now not only is it better, you can get it for under $1,000. For a limited time we are running a special DVD bundle that includes ReelDVD 3.0, Pioneer DVR-A05, 5 bonus DVD-Rs and Custom Flix for $999.95!!! Custom Flix is a new DVD publishing solution that is very cool. You send them a DVD you created and they set up a website for you to sell it. They process the sale, duplicate and send the DVD to your customers. You get the profits with none of the hassles!!
Videoguys' Insider Interview w/ Sonic | ReelDVD Specs | BUY NOW!!
7. Matrox Parhelia
The Matrox Parhelia is a 3-head graphics card. That means it can drive not just two VGA screens, but also a third. With the latest drivers this third screen can actually be a TV monitor!! I started using dual monitors for my home computer system this year. Not only is this set up great for video editing, but it's just as cool for web surfing, digital photography and other applications. With two screens I have twice as much real estate. I don't have to minimize one application to use another. Even cooler I can drag & drop stuff from on monitor to the other.
What makes the Parhelia a Top 10 product is the ability to drive a third TV monitor. I'm using this set-up with Xpress DV and After Effects. It is fantastic. I can preview my video clips on the TV monitor while I work. The preview video is full screen and full motion. The resolution is slightly lower because it uses frames rather than fields. Let me tell you, the video looks good and you'll barely notice the difference. The colors are true which is most important. I use the real-time color correction in XDV with Parhelia all the time with great results.
Beginning January we will be offering a fantastic bundle of the Matrox Parhelia card with the Standard version of After Effects for only $799.95!!
Parhelia Specs | BUY NOW!!
8. Boris Continuum Complete AVX
Every year the gang at Boris FX comes up with something new to make the Top 10 list. This year they've truly pushed their technology further than ever before. Continuum Complete AVX is a plug-in for Avid software that integrates the Boris FX special FX, particle effects and composting with Avid's interface. When you use these features it is just like using any other feature in Xpress DV. This makes using and mastering these new tools very easy for Avid editors.
What's the coolest thing about Continuum Complete AVX? How about 18 real-time effects that tap directly into Xpress DV's real-time core technology. Boris is the first and only plug-in on the market to take such a huge technological leap. And this is just the beginning folks, I expect to see more and more real-time filters and FX added over the next year. If you own Avid Xpress DV this is the plug-in software that you must have. Once you start using it you will never be able to edit without it.
Videoguys' Insider Interview w/ Boris FX | Coninuum Specs | BUY NOW!!
9. Medea VideoRAID RTR & RTS
Just like Boris, the gang at Medea finds a way each year to get on the Top 10 list. This year they've added a feature to their VideoRAIDs that can save you from disaster. Let's face it, even with today's outstanding reliability, hard drives sometimes fail. When they do, you lose everything - the raw footage, your project, all your work - gone in an instant. Medea Fail Safe redundant VideoRAIDs protect you from ever having this happen to you.
Using advanced RAID technology these drives not only protect your work, you can actually continue editing even after one of the drives in the RAID breaks down. That saves you time and money. At 13GB of storage per hour of video there is no easy way to back up and restore hours of video. Since you never have to worry about loosing your work, you don't have to waste time and money performing back-ups.
Videoguys' Insider Interview w/ Medea | VideoRAID RTR Specs | VideoRAID RTS Specs | BUY NOW!!
10. Pinnacle Edition & Sonic Foundry Vegas Video
Two new NLE software titles hit the market this year and I think both of them are worthy of our Top 10 list. Each one has pushed the envelope and delivered new features never before available at a very affordable price. Both automatically save your work for you while you edit and both will run equally well on a desktop or laptop computer - as long as you give them a fast CPU and plenty of RAM. Both have new editing interfaces that will take you some time to learn. Once you get the hang of them you will realize that they are very powerful and productive.
Edition gives you background rendering. While you are editing on your project, it renders whatever needs to be rendered. This is much cooler than it sounds. Since Edition renders in the background, you never have to stop what you are doing to render. NEVER! No matter how complex the sequence. While you keep on editing Edition keeps on working for you. The Edition DV500 bundle is a peek at the future - it combines the Edition software with Pinnacle real-time hardware. I expect some major new prodcuts from Pinnacle that combine the full capabilities of their hardware and software expertise in 2003!
Edition Specs | BUY NOW!!
Vegas Video 3
Vegas Video 3 the first NLE to deliver real-time previews via FireWire without the need for any extra hardware. By slightly lowering preview video quality and/or frame rate your project plays out via FireWire while you work. It is just a matter of time before CPUs become fast enough for Vegas Video to have real-time DV output that is full DV quality. For a limited time only, we've got a great bundle that includes Vegas Video, Sound Forge w/ Noise Reduction and Acid 4 w/ Loop Library for only $999.95!