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HDV Now Ready to Edit at NAB2004

Vendors introduce low-cost HD gear

"The time for HDV is now" was the concensus of visitors to JVC's HDV-dominated booth at NAB2004. "The response to HDV and to our new products was sheer exuberance," said JVC spokesman Dave Walton. "It's no longer a question of whether HDV is a viable alternative to much more expensive HD options. For producers and broadcasters who visited us the big question was 'when will the new HDV gear be ready.'"

PRODUCTION

Unfortunately, the answer was not what they wanted to hear, "We're not sure yet when the camcorder and studio deck will be ready, but the stand-alone camera, with new 2/3-inch CMOS chips should be ready in July," Walton added. "We're hoping that the exuberance over HDV at NAB will help us move up delivery. However, we also want to be sure that the new gear will meet the needs of broadcasters, producers and filmmakers alike and that it will accelerate the transition to HD production."

Perhaps the most anticipated HDV product was JVC's full-sized HDV camcorder using the new generation of 2/3-inch CMOS CCDs by Rockwell Scientific. It can record in 720p, 480p and 480i, with 24p and 1080i capability. A new studio deck will play, record and output all the variations of HDV, plus DV, and will be competitively priced, Walton added. Ready now was a portable HDV player/recorder, the CU-VH1with a built-in encoder, FireWire Connectivity, LCD monitor, priced at $2,000.

Not to be left in the starting gate, Sony also fired its opening salvo in the battle for what could be a substantial market for HDV products. Sony showcased a model of its new 1/3-inch CCD HDV camcorder. While details were sketchy, one certainty is that it will scan 1080i, natively, and also output DV (480i). It may closely resemble popular DVCAM camcorders like the PD-150 with its flip-out monitor and 48 kHz audio with XLR jacks, etc. The final feature set will be determined with the help of customer feedback from NAB, according to Bob Ott, Sony's VP of marketing for professional video products.

"We have a long track record making popular pro camcorders and decks and want to get it right rather than rushing to market," he said. "It's a question of how many and which features we can include and still keep the price under $7K."

Sony also showed an HDV/ DV edit deck in development and as well as an optional HDV-HD/SDI converter, co-developed with Miranda Technologies, for lossless dubbing of HDV to HDCAM. However, none of their HDV gear is slated for delivery this year.

"With 450,000-plus DVCAM units sold we're concerned about legacy," Ott said. "We want an affordable path to HDV that is compatible with the large base of DV and DVCAM products in use."

With identical data rates (25 Mbps) between HDV and DV, computers and hard drives are expected to handle HDV footage without reformatting. However, to ensure that HDV adopters can edit their footage on familiar desktop platforms, Sony has been working with leading software developers like Avid, Canopus and Pinnacle Systems to develop desktop editing solutions for HDV. At NAB, its partners demonstrated their respective approaches to editing long GOP MPEG-2 at Sony's HDV display.

JVC dedicated a hefty portion of its booth to desktop and other HDV solutions developed with a long list of partners. One of the first, ULead Systems showed its second generation of HDV software within its Media Studio Pro7 video editing/ DVD authoring software. Ulead's plug-in enables native capture, multi-stream editing and output of HDV, plus device control. CineForm also introduced second generation HDV software. Aspect HD 2.2 includes Adobe Premiere Pro, Encore DVD and Audition. It is a software-based pipeline with real-time editing of HDV with Premiere Pro on a fast PC. Also new, Connect HD, uses Sony's Vegas software to edit the same AVI files.

Frame-accurate editing of HDV, in native MPEG-2 is now possible with software by Mediaware of Australia. EditXpress uses "third generation frame-accurate MPEG-2 HD and SD technology for fast, efficient native MPEG-2 editing. There is no format transcoding, hence no loss of quality when editing," according to Mediaware VP David Keightley.

Pinnacle Systems demonstrated native HDV editing for the PC and the Mac. With Liquid Editing for Workgroups, HDV remains in MPEG- 2, precluding video degradation.on standard PCs. With CinéWave 4.6, multiple streams of HD can be edited on the Mac and then output in HD and SD simultaneously, at full quality.

Heuris, the first to enable HDV editing on the Mac, released Pro Indie HD Toolkit and Indie HD Toolkit. The former features MPEG Power Professional, DTV-HD MPEG-2 encoding software, the XtoHD player utility and XtractorHDV import utility, -which extracts video and audio from HDV tapes into Final Cut Pro via FireWire.

Also for the Mac, Lumiere Media targets small-budget filmmakers using Final Cut Pro. Lumiere HD enables real- time HDV editing without rendering the timeline. HDV is converted to MPEG-2 friendly files for offline editing and later is conformed into an HD master.

BOXX Technologies unveiled a turnkey solution for real-time HDV editing using Cineform's (Applied Magic) Aspect HD and Adobe Premiere Pro, Encore DVD and Audition for a one box, HDV editing solution. Similarly, MacroSystem Digital Video unveiled Casablanca Solitaire with one-button backup and plenty of memory for fast editing of native MPEG-2.on a PC, targeting its global school and event videography market.

BitCentral demonstrated HDV editing for broadcasters. Quality is maintained by keeping the MPEG-2 video files in native HD while editing with any of several NLE codecs. The edited MPEG-2 files are fed to broadcasters. via satellite or the Internet using MediaPipe, without transcoding.

THE PAYOFF

The take home message from NAB2004 was clearly that there are now plenty of options for editing HDV on the desktop at different price points. If JVC, Sony and other manufacturers make good on the new cameras, decks and peripherals promised at NAB, producers and broadcasters should have an ample toolset with which to plumb the potential of this new HD format to fulfill its potential of democratizing HD production by making it affordable to the masses vs. the elite few.