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Technology seminar: Editors

Despite attendance topping 105,000, several of the biggest players in post production didn't have major editing announcements at NAB2006, which only left more time to examine the others who did.

What was worth seeing

Adobe unveiled the latest version of its Adobe Production Studio software last January, but it was still worth visiting the company's NAB booth to see how well Dynamic Link can interchange files between editing in Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, massaging image content and parameters in Photoshop CS2, and creating effects in After Effects 7.0 Professional without any intermediate rendering.

Apple brought a universal version of its Final Cut Studio suite of post-production software to the show, but the company did not even bother hosting a press conference to unveil it. In fact, despite the admirable stability of Final Cut Pro 5.1 cutting 24p material on both the existing Power Mac and new Intel-based Mac platforms, one of Apple's most impressive introductions was the new 17in MacBook Pro laptop system, which functions as fast as previous desktop towers.

However, some product partners are extending the reach of Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software into the realm of the digital intermediate (DI) with AJA Video's release of the new KONA 3 v2 card and Blackmagic Design's new Multibridge Extreme 5.5 board. Both leverage the new PCI Express architecture on the Power Mac G5 Quads to handle 2K resolutions. To reach those resolution heights in 10-bit RGB, Bluefish444 also announced it would be supporting Final Cut Studio across its entire product line, including a new 2K/HD driver for the SD|Greed video card, due out later this year.

Autodesk demonstrated that it has transferred all of its Media and Entertainment Division software products over to the Linux operating system. Although, the company will continue to support its legacy versions developed on the SGI OS. This has given Autodesk's Discreet line a significant speed boost with Discreet Inferno now providing five times the performance on Linux that it offer-ed on earlier SGI platforms like the Onyx 2.

The company also unveiled 10-bit RGB versions of its Discreet Smoke and Flint systems and brought out Autodesk Toxik 2007, a collaborative compositing software for feature film production. It now includes a paint system capable of working on high-resolution, high-dynamic range images.

The leader of the post-production parade, Avid, made a major announcement at NAB2006. The company introduced Interplay. This announcement almost overshadowed Avid's much anticipated release of software-only versions of the company's Media Composer systems for both PC and Mac.

Interplay is being touted as the world's first nonlinear workgroup collaboration system, giving everyone in the production chain integrated asset management, workflow automation and security control through a single system. The heart of Interplay is a client/server engine that works with any member of the Avid Unity MediaNetwork shared storage systems to form the backbone of a completely interoperable media production environment. It offers a facility-wide workflow that tracks all Avid projects, as well as more than 100 media and non-media file types, including multi-resolution video, Microsoft Office documents, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects layered files, MPEGs, TIFs and spreadsheets.

Showing the fruits of its Canopus acquisition, EDIUS Pro 4 NLE was launched at the Thomson Grass Valley booth. Version 4 features include multicam support for up to eight cameras, nested sequence editing, improved trimming tools and new parameter-based keyframe support for color correction. The new software provides support for Windows Media and includes EDIUS Speed Encoder for HDV, enabling fast HDV video output.

Canopus also presented EDIUS Broadcast, which incorporates all of the EDIUS Pro real-time editing capabilities in a streamlined interface. Designed to help post-production specialists get content to air quickly, it provides enhanced support for industry-standard formats, including Panasonic DVCPRO P2, DVCPRO 50, DVCPRO HD and VariCam; Sony's XDCAM; Windows Media; and, of course, Grass Valley's own Rev Pro storage from its IT-centric Infinity camcorders.

DVS introduced the latest version of CLIPSTER, a DI workstation that can handle up to 4K files on the set of a digital cinema shoot. CLIPSTER can now output in JPEG2000 for digital cinema applications and has a new content management system called Spycer, which can search through hundreds of terabytes of storage. Another DI system, the Nucoda Workstation from Digital Vision, handled 4K files with the power of its 17 processors, which are based on AMD's latest AMD64 multi-core technology.

The Media 100 line of NLEs, seen under the umbrella of its new owner Boris FX, now includes the Media 100 HD suite. It adds integrated 3-D compositing, titling and effects along with its new version 11 software to bring uncompressed 10-bit HD editing to Mac OS X systems.

The new Media 100 HDe, an entry-level HD option, can mix legacy Media 100 content with multiple QuickTime codecs and native DV material on the same timeline. If all you need is an SD editor, the company also now offers the Media 100 SDe, which features a modular design that allows users to add functions as their needs increase. Media 100 systems should be compatible with Intel-based Macs by this fall.

NewTek claimed to be the world's fastest video editor by running its new SpeedEDIT software on the APEXX 8 workstation from BOXX Technologies. The workstation is powered by 16 AMD Opteron processors. SpeedEDIT combines three-wheel color correction and four-band color selection and enables all editing functions to be performed directly within its unique timeline and storyboard interface.

Quantel has added the new eQ FX to its product line. eQ FX provides proprietary technologies, such as Quantel's TimeMagic acceleration hardware, 160 minutes of HD workspace, and the QColor in-context color-correction package of software and dedicated controls, including the latest Eiger 3.5 software. The company's latest real-time 4K color corrector, Pablo, performed real-time pan and scan by pulling a continuous 1.15GB of data from the disks.

Lightworks is stretching into mainstream broadcast post production with its new Alacrity MR system, which is designed for both multiformat HD and also multicam editing. Although it retains the familiar rotary “nudge” control that has made Lightworks systems the choice of many film editors accustomed to working on a flatbed edit table, the system adds sophisticated color correction and 3-D DVE effects capabilities to the swimming grounds of its familiar red shark icon.

At the Sony booth, attendees could see the XPRI NS family of NLEs based on the XPRI software platform. This new line includes a laptop field editor, a journalist's proxy editor and a full-resolution finishing system. XPRI NS is now an integral part of the SONAPS news production system. Sony also demonstrated its clever new Cinescore software that creates soundtracks based on themes and variations rather than music loops. Cinescore is capable of generating an unlimited number of fully-orchestrated compositions as WAV files, which are customized to a video project's duration and can be imported into any NLE.

The old made new

Proving that everything old becomes new again, Editware brought a new linear edit system to NAB2006 — the LE-2000. It can be used to replace the Sony BVE-2000, which Sony discontinued last year. Editware's system has a unique dedicated control panel, including jog and shuttle control, and can be configured to control from four to 10 source devices.

Why introduce a linear editor today when disk-based post is dominant? Many facilities have audio mixers and video switchers with a lot of serviceable life left in them and need a linear system to direct them. If only a minor fix is required on a master tape about to be shipped, there is still a call for an alternative that does not require everything to be digitized before it can be worked on. In this day of chasing the latest digital fad, it is good to see one company is smart enough to think inside the box.

L.T. Martin is a freelance writer and post-production consultant.