It was only a matter of time before someone realized that digital video professionals were getting tired of tweaking their PCs to optimize the performance of their editing software. What's surprising is that it's taken as long as it has for a turnkey workstation like VCA Fusion's "Empowered Editing System" to see the light of day.
VCA partnered with Mount Marion, New York-based Laird Telemedia to put together three systems, all of which feature Avid Xpress DV 3.0 built into Laird's DVora Media Engine, which the company calls the first PC designed specifically for digital video and audio applications. With integrated direct-to-digital inputs and outputs and horizontally stable RS170A SCH locked DV signal output, it's a unit that should find homes both in broadcast studios and post-production houses.
Housed in a non-magnetic aluminum cabinet, DVora includes a 16X10X40X CD-R/RW drive and seven expansion slots, 40GB system drive, 60GB storage drive, and 1.6gHz Pentium processor. An LTM-DVCBX breakout box also is available for broadcast applications.
But it's the combination with Avid that sets the system apart, said Joe Lipski, a system sales representative for VCA. "It's got the Avid name on it, which is the industry standard for non-linear post-production," Lipski says. "It's a cost-effective way to put people into Avid Xpress who are existing [Avid] Composer or [Cirrus Logic] Symphony users." And even though it's optimized for DV, with the proper media converters it can handle component, composite, Y/C, S-VHS and XLR balanced audio, Lipski says.
Xpress DV 3.0, which boasts a $1,699 suggested retail price on its own, bridges the gap between consumer-level and professional-level digital video editing. It offers more than 100 customizable real-time video effects including dissolves, titles, color effects, picture-in-picture, and motion effects; and eight video effects with unlimited nesting and desktop play delay, which eliminates camcorder and transcoder sync concerns. "If users are accustomed to working with Avid's Media Composer, they can make the jump to the DVora with Xpress pretty easily," Lipski says. The empowered editing systems make workgroup networking easy, too. Avid Unity LANshare provides support for project and storage sharing for up to 10 single-stream clients at 4:1 or lower resolutions.
So what's it cost? The basic "Silver" system includes the DVora engine with DV input/outputs, Avid Xpress 3.0, a 17" Samsung LCD monitor, a 14" Sony NTSC monitor and flat-panel speakers for $5995. For $8995, you get two LCD monitors and a pair of Roland 8w-powered audio monitors; the $10,495 "Platinum" version upgrades to 12w audio monitors. The two higher-end models also include the component, composite and Y/C inputs and outputs, and all the units include a Mackie 12x2 mic line mixer.
"The bottom line is that these are turnkey systems that really allow a user to plug and play without worrying about how the components are going to work together," Lipski says.