ADS Tech may have taken a significant knock from Adobe's decision to stop supplying its video editing suite to hardware makers for bundling with low-priced cards (news report here) but it's bounced back hard by launching two affordable HDV editing and DVD-authoring packages – one based around the latest Sony Vegas+DVD pairing, the other centring on Ulead MediaStudio Pro 7 and DVD Workshop 2.0.
So, although as stocks run dry, it will soon no longer be possible to buy ADS's astonishingly cheap API-750 Pyro Professional (a £380 package pairing an OHCI FireWire card with Premiere, Encore DVD and Audition), ADS has attractive alternatives in place - and Adobe's move means, as we predicted, that yet another big-volume OEM partner will be majoring on rival software instead of Adobe's own.
UK pricing is not yet available but in the USA each bundle cost less than the supplied software sells for on its own. The Sony-centred package, Pyro Studio (API-757) is US$699 direct from ADS. The Ulead-based Pyro A/V Link DVD Edition (API-756) is $100 less.
Each package is said to able to capture, edit and export analogue and digital video in real time and includes two useful bits of hardware. One is a Pyro 1394 PCI card (32-bit but compatible with 64-bit slots and with three six-pin 1394a sockets); the other a Pyro AV Link external box that has composite, S-video and component (YPbPr) inputs and outputs, plus two FireWire connectors - six-pin for connecting the box to a PC, the other four-pin for capturing from and outputting to a camcorder.
The Sony-based bundle comes with the Vegas+DVD Production Suite. This consists of two main programs – the latest versions of the Vegas video editor (V6) using CineForm's intermediate Codec technology for compatibility with Sony and JVC HDV camcorders; and DVD Architect (V3). The final element is Sony's AC-3 Encoding applet that's able to output Dolby AC-3 in stereo or 5.1 surround sound.
HDV is the headline new features in Vegas 6. The program is said to support 601/709 colour spaces and offer "superior" frame-rate conversion including 24p, and precision up-conversion for mastering HD>SDI (serial digital interface). HDV projects can be exported as Windows Media 9 HD, Real Media, QuickTime, and the Sony YUV Codec for HD-SDI output.
On the same lines, there is new support for Blackmagic Design's DeckLink boards, allowing capture, editing, monitoring and print-to-tape using SDI and component SD and HD decks.
Dual-core CPUs look to be the up and coming thing, providing, in effect, two processors on a single chip for much improved performance. Vegas 6 is said to take advantage of this new development, and of traditional single-core multiprocessor configurations and Intel HT CPUs to "significantly" reduce the render time of complex projects.
Vegas is also said to have new next-generation monitoring tools, allowing full-screen timeline playback to LCD and CRT secondary displays via component or DVI connections, with support for scaling, deinterlacing, and colour profiles. The program is also reckoned to provide timeline monitoring using DeckLink cards at all supported resolutions.
DVD Architect was one of the first authoring programs to offer real-time external-monitor previewing via FireWire but it has lacked a number of features that serious authors regarded as essential.
In V4, though, many of the shortcoming have been addressed. It's now possible to import Adobe Photoshop layers for the creation of menus. And, authors who create DVD master for mass duplication, are far better served than with earlier versions.
There are new capabilities for exporting to DLT, DDP, and CMF — the formats most commonly required by professional duplicators – plus support for copy-protection tools, with settings for CSS and Macrovision (Type I, II, and III). Further strengthening the program's appeal to pros, it's now possible to include up to eight video tracks to add a selection of multiple viewing angles.
A nice new touch is the ability to fine tune the appearance of stills and video by applying correction filters. The filters list includes brightness and contrast, crop, anti-flicker, levels and auto levels. Also welcome, but arriving rather late in the day, is the ability to render only those portions of a project that have changed - to speed up production times.
DVD Architect 4 adds support for large-capacity dual-layer discs but we don't know whether or not it lets the author choose the layer break-point – something that no program we've yet looked at can do, yet is something we believe is an absolute must if hoping for truly professional results from self-burnt double-layer media.
The Ulead software bundle consists of full versions of the MediaStudio Pro 7 editor and DVD Workshop 2.0 authoring program, plus Ulead's own HD Plug-in 2.0 which adds HDV capabilities to MSP 7.
The plug-in allows users of MSP7 to edit native 1080i or 720p HD or SD MPEG-2, and footage is said to be converted without loss to Program Stream and back to Transport Stream. There's HDV device-control and batch capture, plus output to tape, DVD or back to an HDV camcorder. The list of supported camcorders takes in JVC's GR-HD1 and JY-HD10, plus Sony's HDR-FX1, HVR-Z1 and HVRM10, in NTSC or PAL.
MSP7 is said to offer real-time MPEG capture, preview and output, and comes with a couple of tools not normal found with editors – one for video painting, the other for CG graphics.
DVD Workshop, with its storyboard interface, is widely acknowledged as one of the easiest to use authoring programs and has set the pace of development on the Windows platform. Smart rendering is a long-time stand-out feature and there's no shortage of professional options, such as multiple subtitle and audio tracks; the ability to import assets from a wide variety of formats; and outputting to DVD, DLT, or DVD-9 with encryption and region coding.