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Streaming Media
Sync or Swim: Multicam Editing
Posted Dec 1, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

While not a prerequisite for top-notch wedding videography, shooting with three strategically placed camcorders will certainly help vault you into the upper echelon of the wedding and event business. Of course, jumping from one or two cameras to three or more carries numerous on-site challenges, not the least of which is hiring staff and making sure they get the footage you want. And then there's the attendant editing challenges: whether or not your editing system supports the simultaneous processing of three streams (which is in no way a necessity for post-producing a three-camera shoot, although it's certainly helpful), you'll have three times the footage to deal with. If that doesn't make your head swim, just try synching the audio, and discover the aural puzzle you'll have to assemble.

It's not an impossible task with conventional video editing software, but it almost cries out for specialized tools, especially for anyone whose editing time is tight. Enter three key recent releases unveiled in the last month that address just this need: United Media's Multicam plug-in, now available for Premiere Pro 1.5; Macrosystem's QuadCam, designed for their Casablanca black box post-production system; and Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6, which counts among its many new features the first dedicated multicam interface in a mainstream software NLE.

United Media's Multicam software promises single-click synchronization of multiple camera sources. You still have to use a flash or clapping trick to signify your sync points during shooting—much like the clapboard of old—but once you identify that point and mark it with a customizable keyboard shortcut, Multicam does the rest, for either two or four-camera sources and of course the videographer's magical three. Once the synchronization is locked in, you simply select the camera by track in the timeline—V1, V2, V3, or V4. Its new plug-in support is big news for multi-camera shooters who edit in Premiere. The two-camera version, MC2-PRO lists for $299, while the (up to) four-camera version, MC4-PRO, carries an MSRP of $599 (www.unitedmediainc.com).

Meanwhile Macrosystem Digital Video (www.casablanca.tv), provider of the proprietary-platform Casablanca video black boxes, has developed a new application called QuadCam that—you guessed it—supports real-time editing of up to four video streams from a multi-camera shoot. Designed specifically for the Casablanca platform and compatible with all Casablanca systems, QuadCam displays the video from two, three, or four cameras for preview in the scene bin. Select the current camera by clicking it, and Casablanca saves time information for each scene and camera change in the storyboard. The first scene selected is used as a "background" or default stream, and clips from other cameras are brought in as "inserts." (Effects and other accouterments are applied elsewhere in the Casablanca editing software.)

What brings it all together is SmartSync DV, Macrosystem's proprietary, patent-pending technology for time-synching video from 2-4 camcorders. According to Macrosystem press materials (and we'll test this theory in a future review, as soon as they can assemble a system for us), SmartSync DV can achieve video synchronization without the benefit of start claps or timecode. According to Macrosystem's Jason Horodyski, "It reads the internal time clock of each camera and synchronizes the clocks in such a way that the individual can switch between camera shots while the footage is rolling and the program will export a fully synchronized storyboard as the final product, complete with all the various camera shot changes." The product shipped in late October and costs $349 as a software add-on to a Casablanca editing system.

One multi-camera editor we do have a good (and positive) read on now is Pinnacle's Liquid Edition 6, reviewed by Jan Ozer in this issue [pp. 26]. The first NLE in its class to offer multi-camera support without the use of plug-ins or other outside influence (again, check out Ozer's review for more of Edition 6's many firsts), the new version of Liquid Edition sets up a virtual production board similar to QuadCam's to enable real-time switching among multiple camera sources. As with Multicam, you choose the master audio track you want and synch the video using timecode or other marker. The software-only version of Liquid Edition lists for $499; Liquid Edition PRO, which includes a USB 2.0 breakout box for additional I/O and uncompressed video support, has an MSRP of $999. Both versions include the multi-camera editing feature.

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