Fortunately, DV Expo, the show I caught at the LACC in December 2002 bodes much better for its backers—DV Magazine and its publisher, CMP United Business Media—and the digital video industry represented there. The video creation crowd—capture to post; hardware/software NLE; Windows, Mac, and proprietary system; and project studio to broadcast—came out in full force, and left the impression of an industry on the way up in these downturning times. And with the best Christmas gift they could ask for staring them in the face—Intel's new Hyperthreaded 3.06gHz Pentium 4 processor (see Jan Ozer's Moving Picture column, p. 62)—the NLE folks in particular seemed to have a lot going on.
First among first looks was Ulead Systems, who were on hand for a "technology preview" of the next full upgrade to their MediaStudio Pro, demo'd for me by product manager Travis White. Due for March 2003 release (big splash planned for NAB), MediaStudio Pro 7 boasts software-only, real-time editing, display, and output features for the professional video-editing software market. Echoing a popular theme at the show, MediaStudio Pro 7 features a multi-threaded code base to use dual processors and Intel's new Hyper-Threading Technology (HTT). This enables, they say, real-time preview and encoding, as well as real-time, full-screen display on a second CRT monitor, TV, or 1394 display device so users can preview video on something bigger than the 3"x4" window above the timeline. The software handles both Type-1 and Type-2 DV sources in all real-time, dual-display modes. This full-screen display can be sourced from the Timeline Preview and from any effect preview interface in the application, such as transition, motion path, and video filter dialogs. Another cool feature is MSP's new content-based scene detection feature, which allows users to identify scenes on their DV tapes quickly without having to capture the entire content of the tape. Other new enhancements to the $495 tool include real-time, multitrack audio mixing; more automatic, add-to-timeline options; and enhanced timecode and source management. New creative tools consist of an all-new title tool with advanced texture, shadow, and motion effects, as well as new video filters such as Old Film, Smart Blur, and Diffuse Glow. MSP 7 also supports the new Cool 3D Studio (another Ulead product introduced at the show), a $129 3D animation product for video professionals designed to deliver high-end 3D capabilities at a price significantly lower than that of tools with comparable feature sets. MSP 7 looks as powerful as any professional software NLE I've seen—on par with the likes of Premiere, XpressDV, and Final Cut Pro—what remains to be seen is if it can successfully take on Premiere on what has to date been Premiere's own turf.
Though none of the others had a new flagship software NLE to show, Adobe, Apple, and Avid were all on hand with the current versions of their tools, and Adobe was hinting pretty hard at their upcoming DVD plans, less so about Premiere 7.0. With no major new announcements, Apple was keeping busy enough running an SRO FCP demo throughout the first two days of the show.
Over on the DVD software side, Sonic Solutions was targeting the DV Expo West show for promotion of its to mid-level professional tools, Reel DVD and DVD Producer, both of which appeared in new versions in early Q4 2002. Joining Sonic in their booth was CustomFlix, the groundbreaking DVD fulfillment service provider, fresh off a newly inked deal to integrate Sonic's DVD Producer with their online service.