Nonlinear On-Line Systems

It's More than Buzz Words!

By Bob Turner

There was a large turnout of 155 attendees at the New England Section's Jan. 26 meeting at Cambridge Television Productions (Newton, MA) to see four of the latest in non-linear, on-line editing technology. Wilson Chao, President of Cambridge Television Productions and meeting host started the evening with some of his personal insights.

While Mr. Chao believes in non-linear's capabilities as on-line technology, he explained his success with non-linear off-line systems. With nine Avids and more on the way, non-linear off-line technology profits have surpassed allother aspects of his business last quarter and he expects off-line rentals to continue this trend. He also spoke of a $1500.00 PowerMac system using a $99 Avid VideoShop program that was cranking out full-screen QuickTime images in a room off the main meeting area. He encouraged participants to stick their heads in and look at the picture quality, "the equivalent to what was available on the high-end systems five years ago", and to see where price/performance is taking us.

Mr. Chao then introduced us to the four systems being presented and their presenters: Adobe Premiere on a PC with a Truevision 2000 Digitizing board,presented by Bob Lamm of Cync Corp.; Avid's Media Composer 1000 with the new 5.2 software presented by Martha McPherson, New England Representative; ADCOM Communications NightSuite, presented by John McDonald, Director of ADCOM's Multimedia Products Group; and Data Translation's Media 100, presented by Jean Georges of Advanced Visual Technology .The attendees broke up into 4 groups and rotated after 20 minute presentations.

Night Suite was the hot new product. Deliveries just began the week of the meeting. This Window-based product featured the highest picture quality of the evening with 2:1 MJPEG compression and an interface controller featuring ajog/shuttle knob and 8 flying faders. Real-time transitions, DVEs, motion effects, keying, dissolves and wipes were demonstrated.

The Mac-based Media 100 featured the new 2.0 software, high picture quality and their new "All-On-One Mastering" which lets you off-line on a low resolution"draft mode" that offers more than an hour per GB, and then auto-assemble the program with a 4:1 MJPEG compression "Online" quality. Version 2.0 software also features their "Field Interpolated Motion FX" for smooth motion effects.

The Media Composer 1000 presentation featured the new 5.2 software, which began delivering in December '94. AVR 27, Avid's highest picture quality and the new real-time keying and 2D digital effects where emphasized. Also impressive were the color correction capabilities; the new PhotoShop plug-in capabilities; the new multi-camera editing sub-system; and the significant improvements made in the GUI including larger picture windows. The eight video tracks (actually 3 layers each) were also demonstrated.

Adobe Premiere's new version 4.0 on a Windows-based platform using theTruevision 2000 digitizing board demonstated the high 60 field picture quality you can achieve on a low-end system. Prices were the feature that appeared to intrigue the audience most, with Premiere listing at $795.00 and the Truevision board at $5,995.00. This was the only true "open-architecture" system of the evening, based entirely on standard, off-the-shelf computer hardware, software and plug-ins. New 4.0 software features included character generator, trim window, faster rendering, faster previewing, multiple video and audio tracks, PhotoShop plug-ins, and the ability to export both EDLs and Multimedia video files.

Dessert was provided by Video Solut!ons. Conversations and demonstrationscontinued long after the 20 minute presentations and the "official" meeting adjourned. Many in attendence spoke of the meeting's success.

Bob Turner is a freelance video editor and Contributing Editor of Videography magazine. He can be reached at (617) 545-7769, 74774.1404@compuserve.com.