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Video editing systems

There were two main trends that were most evident in editing systems this year — and neither of them an editing technology. Shared storage and workgroups are the new dominant themes. We saw the introduction of a large array of workgroup applications, the general improvement of SAN and MAN architectures, and the quick adoption of common interfaces based on Java and HTML, interfaces written for Linux, and so on. The story of video editing is now as much about sharing material between users, platforms, locations and bandwidths as it is about the editing interface and how many effects come with the box.

Most vendors have settled on the “timeline” editing interface introduced by Avid. No matter where you look, there is some version of stacked audio and video “tracks” along with effects icons and mini-monitor windows staring back from a VGA screen. It's only a couple of the higher-end vendors that continue to offer a GUI that works differently. Perhaps most notable among these is Quantel, which prefers to stick to the interface that Quantel editors know best, the filmstrip. A couple of other film-market products also have non-timeline edit interfaces as well. Only one that we could find, Matrix from Chrome Imaging, gives you a choice between a number of different GUIs from timelines to filmstrip style. It's the workflow and sharing that everyone's chasing.

Sony showed its XPRI editing system (See Pick Hits, pg 82) based on the MPEG IMX (a.k.a. MPEG I-frame) format introduced last year. Running under Windows 2000 on a pair of Intel Pentium III Xeon processors, the system offers high performance with HDCAM and MPEG IMX video files, but will handle standard MPEG material as well. Sony uses a set of edit-specific hardware control panels connected by USB that move the user away from the keyboard and mouse interface while keeping the relatively standard, timeline-style, on-screen editing presentation. The XPRI also works into Sony's workgroup media sharing systems with an optional SDTI interface card and support for MXF file transfers.

Discreet launched Heatwave this year. Not a video editing system in itself, Heatwave is rather a workgroup environment application that allows users to tie all of Discreet's editing, graphics and effect systems to a group of third-party applications. The goal of Heatwave is to provide largely platform-independent workflow and asset management between systems. Discreet also showed recently released new features for edit 6 including SlipStream, a new module that improves support for multi-camera editing as well as encoding and authoring tools.

At Quantel, the floor seemed awash with new editing gadgets. Introduced last summer at IBC, Quantel's iQ showed increased resolution for higher-end film work. Clipbox Studio made its debut, hooking up with AP's MOS integration initiative for newsroom environments. Editbox and Editbox FX get new software releases this spring and a product partnership with Panasonic brings out newsBYTE/Quickcutter, which is designed to move Quantel farther into the “open systems” arena for shared media across platforms. Quantel also continued to demonstrate its desire to pursue third-party software arrangements by showcasing almost 20 new plug-ins, helper apps and communications applications available for the various systems.

Also teaming up with Panasonic was Matrox for a new addition to the DNA/newsBYTE line, the newsBYTE 50. The system uses Matrox DigiSuite DTV and runs on an 800MHz Pentium III under Windows NT 4.0. The system offers the ability to edit DVCPRO and DVCPRO50 on one unit. This appears to be Panasonic's strategy this year — partnering up for editing and content creation systems while launching a wide array of new non-editing product.

Avid, in addition to announcing NewsCutter XP 2.0 and NewsCutter Mobile, and that Xpress DV 2.0 is shipping, also announced multiple additions to its existing product lines in the area of shared media management. Media Station XL, for instance, is designed as a dedicated digitizing and output workstation to allow users to enhance and separate some of the functions that have been done previously on, for example, a single NewsCutter or Media Composer workstation. Specifically for the newsroom side, Avid also announced a major upgrade to their AirSPACE workgroup product that adds many enhancements designed to bring further efficiencies to shared-storage news operations.

Other editing solutions on display were the dpsVelocity v8.0 NLE and dpsReality HD editing systems from DPS, along with the Newsflash II newsroom system from parent Leitch, an NLE that fully integrates with its VR technology servers.

Grass Valley Group's Vibrint Digital News Production Workgroup showed its stable of newsroom editing products based on the Profile Digital Media Platform: FeedClip, NewsEdit, and NewsQ, a manual playback application that supports simple two-channel A/B-roll playlist management.

Actually introduced at IBC last summer, Matrix from Chrome Imaging gathered large crowds in the Sands E-Topia exhibit. Matrix is one of a group of products out from an ever-growing number of vendors that blurs the lines between editing, compositing, paint, 3D effects, modeling and color correction. Designed for the moderate to high-end film and broadcast post markets, and with one or two GUI options a Quantel expert could love, Matrix offers compatibility with nearly any file format in use today and runs on Windows NT 4.0 and a “normal” Pentium processor.

Fast introduced Ivory, an uncompressed editing system running under Windows 2000 on a dedicated, stand-alone hardware platform. Fast also announced FASTwire. Largely a technology demonstration at this point, FASTwire is a first step into shared media management. It currently allows any Fast Multimedia application to communicate with SGI, Omneon and A.N.N servers, as well as Keyvia MediaWorks.

SGI announced the introduction of a set of new products in its Media Commerce group including StudioCentral Library 3.0 for shared asset management. Nearly all of SGI's new content management tools are designed to work with any editing system that uses SGI machines, including Alias!Wavefront, Discreet, 5D, etc.

JVC kept its presence in the newsroom market, offering the SR-VS20U, a dual-format editing VTR that records and plays both MiniDV and S-VHS cassettes in a single unit.

Other companies with a presence in editing were: ETC (Editing Technologies Corp), which showcased its NLE Series; Inscriber, which, in addition to showing its E-Clips playback system, announced bundling of its TitleMotion software with Sony's XPRI and Discreet's edit 6.0; and Pinnacle Systems, which showed its DVEXcel, a frame-based DVE offering a choice of one to four channels, each with video and key and three separate DVE engines.

Omneon Video Networks, while not producing an editing interface of its own, partnered up with a number of other vendors to showcase an array of cross-platform applications that could all share Omneon storage. Many of these applications were tied together using simple Java or JavaScript-based applications.

Cyborg S and Cyborg Si are the latest applications from 5D, incorporating a standard timeline editing interface with some fairly advanced rotoscoping, motion tracking and color-correction features. The Cyborg products also incorporate an array of tools designed specifically for cross-platform media management. The Si version handles SD and HD as well as EDL batch handlers.

Accom showed enhanced workgroup sharing capabilities for its AFFINITY editing system, demonstrating a high level of integration between the editor and the Abekas 6000 Multi-Flex server. Accom also demonstrated the AFFINITY/san, being developed to provide a more solid integration between Accom products.

Adobe showed off After Effects 5.0 and Premiere 6.0, the latter offering tools for export of edited material to the Web in either (or both) Windows Media or RealMedia formats.

Incite Multimedia Corporation offered Incite 2.8 designed to run under Windows 2000 and with the Matrox DigiSuite LX card. Incite 2.8 introduces Multi-Layer Compiling (Incite MLC). MLC files can be shared over a network with other Incite workstations.

Media 100 showed multiple additions to its product line, most with enhancements to tasks such as creating streaming content, optimizing content for wireless IP devices and new applications for Macintosh. Among these was the new Media 100i version 7.5, which claims a new “lossless” video codec.

Several years ago, Broadcast Engineering editor Brad Dick wrote in the front pages of this magazine of a day when video editors would sit at a workstation and entrust their precious material to a magical “black box.” They wouldn't care where the material was stored, how it was stored or what format it was in, as long as they could retrieve it on demand and end up with a product that was presentable for its intended purpose. Readers who remember that particular editorial may look back with a smile today as most of Brad's predictions are rapidly coming true.

Edward E. Williams, CSTE, is director of engineering at KPDX Engineering, Portland, OR.