Editing systems

This year, the shape of the editing world changed drastically through acquisitions and rebranding, as well as through new technologies.

First, Avid Technology announced its intent to buy Pinnacle Systems for $462 million. Then, Adobe Systems spent $3.4 billion on Macromedia. Media 100 was separated into an individual division of Optibase, and Discreet's products were rebranded under the parent company AutoDesk. Finally, Thomson announced the revival of the venerable Grass Valley name for its post-production products.

Much of the technology excitement at the show revolved around the relatively new HDV format. Both Sony and JVC released camcorders capable of making the long-GOP MPEG-2 format into a sophisticated acquisition medium, although Sony records HDV interlaced and JVC in progressive format. Despite that incompatibility, many edit systems stepped up to the challenge of posting both.

Pinnacle Systems

Having been the first to accomplish native HDV editing last year, improvements to Pinnacle's SmartEDIT technology version 6.1 software for the Liquid line of real-time NLEs lets you mix HDV, Panasonic's P2 and Sony's XDCAM on the same timeline. The HD option for Liquid chrome supports uncompressed SD and HD through its SD/HDI breakout box, and Liquid can provide multi-speed SDTI background capture, as well as handle the DVCPRO50 format.


This year, Apple Computer also included editing native HDV in its Mac-based editing software by upgrading it to Final Cut Pro 5 as part of its Final Cut Pro Suite of software modules. That is in part thanks to Apple's release of its new Tiger OS X 10.4 and QuickTime 7, which incorporate support of the H.264 codec. The other three components of Final Cut Pro Suite include Soundtrack Pro, offering a nifty waveform editor with flexible Action Layers; Motion 2, for real-time motion and animation graphics accelerated through 32-bit float rendering; and DVD Studio Pro 4, which, for the first time, enables burning HD DVDs directly from a PowerMac G 5.

Avid Technology

Although Avid decided to wait until later this year to provide native HDV editing, it introduced the new Avid Symphony Nitris. The product provides HD editors the power of bringing all the edit decisions, effects creation and associated metadata into the real-time finishing arena of Nitris DNA acceleration. The Media Composer Adrenaline HD NLEs received new version 2.1 software with 24fps HD support for film. And, the Avid DS Nitris family stepped up to version 7.6 with expanded DPX file-conform capabilities for digital intermediate (DI) workflows using 10-bit uncompressed HD and SK/4K media projects.

For desktop editors, Avid unveiled Avid XpressStudio HD built around Avid Xpress Pro HD video editing software, Avid Pro Tools LE audio editing/mixing, Avid 3D, Avid FX and Avid DVD by Sonic.

But perhaps one of Avid's most innovative introductions was Avid iNEWS Instinct, a newsroom composition tool that will let journalists create news stories by combining voiceover narration and video footage in a text-based content creation system, and then hand packages off to a more sophisticated craft editor for the inclusion of effects, titles and graphics.

Video Technics

Video Technics demonstrated its Proxy Editor for news applications. It provides enterprise-wide, low-res editing/browsing and asset management. While it's designed to work especially with the company's NewsFlow newsroom system, Proxy Editor is also compatible with Avid iNEWS and AP's ENPS.


Not only can the new EDIUS Pro 3.3 software offer HQ batch capture from HDV, it also has a new Format Support Modules feature that includes MXF interchange and support for XDCAM, P2 and VariCam. Two of the most useful enhancements from Canopus are a tape export wizard that assists in outputting to various recording devices and an export-to-HTML feature that lets editors print and share clip lists.

Leitch Technology

The new version 9.1 software for VelocityHD from Leitch can edit HDV through its own proprietary transcoder. VelocityHD also can handle VariCam's overcranking and undercranking for off-speed effects. To accompany VelocityQ and VelocityHD, Leitch previewed its new software-only VelocityX NLE. It also expanded its news editing line with the VelocityXNG, which is designed for journalists who need to work on laptops or in remote locations.


Another software-only offering came from Optibase in the form of Media 100 sw, which shares the same interface as its Media 100 HD. Although Mac-based, Media 100 sw is able to open any program created on their Media 100i for Windows, export material as a QuickTime movie and output via a Media 100i system to tape. The turnkey Media 100 HD received version 10.1 software, which includes a new Media 100 software codec that lets editors using Adobe After Effects and other third-party packages render out QuickTime movies and drop into a Media 100 HD project.


Feature film editors welcomed that Gee Broadcast brought the Lightworks system back to NAB this year with new Touch Version 2.0 software, bringing a more robust editing engine, better DVE effects, stripview enhancements and new plug-ins for Adobe After Effects, Sapphire, Primatte and Boris Continuum. Because the HD output from Lightworks is increasingly being used to prepare audience preview screenings, the company also showed the Lightworks Touch M. E. outboard audio mixer with nine motorized sliders on a Mackie console.

With DI creation becoming an increasing part of post-production, there were several moves toward handling this large file format. Previously, Avid's DS Nitris had been the only mainstream nonlinear system to handle 4K files, although not in real time. This year, however, it received some company.

Digital Video Systems (DVS)

CLIPSTER from DVS can edit, conform, color correct and finish a 2K DI in real time with its new version 2.0 software and then generate a 4K master with hardware assistance at half speed by rendering single-frame DPX files. CLIPSTER can record and play out data in any format, any resolution or color space in real time without conversions. When combined with DVS-SAN central DI storage, it has the bandwidth to handle three simultaneous 2K streams.

Digital Vision

If you need to work real-time 4K editing, consider the Film Cutter from Digital Vision, based on a single standard Windows NTFS workstation. Its Nucoda Digital Intermediate software also is used in Digital Vision's Nucoda Data Dailies and Nucoda Film Master color corrector systems.


For those who are primarily doing SD production, but only occasionally need high-end post production finishing or would just like to try it out, Quantel introduced the “Pay as you Go” concept. This allows users to adopt an eQ editing/effects/mastering system that handles both SD and HD tasks. With Pay as you Go, facilities can purchase an SD-enabled version of eQ and then incrementally turn on its HD (or higher) capabilities by purchasing a special password only for the time during which those features are needed.

This approach provides an extremely cost-effective approach to getting into the HD production business without the initial overhead of buying an HD system. Company officials said that the solution means customers don't have to pay extra for HD capability they won't use, yet full HD capability and functionality is there when projects demand.

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