Simplifying streaming video

Streaming video is indispensable for training, employee outreach, online

reportage, e-commerce and even political campaigns. Problem is, the production

of video for streaming is typically expensive and time-consuming.

But now, thanks to Pinnacle Systems' Studio DV, all you need is a digital

video (DV) or Digital8 camcorder, a Windows-based PC and $149 to produce

your own simple digital videos.

Pinnacle Systems' Studio DV is a blissfully simple video-capture/editing/encoding

solution aimed at the home movie market. While working with the latest version

Studio DV (Version 1.0.5, downloadable from www.pinnaclesys.com), I found

this package is ideally suited for basic professional use. It is no substitute

for the likes of Matrox DigiSuite DTV or Pinnacle DVD 2000 for broadcast-quality

work, but Studio DV knocks out simple, high-quality projects quickly with

minimal expense.

Studio DV's two-port IEEE-1394 (a.k.a. FireWire) digital video I/O card

plugs into any open PCI slot. The software requires Microsoft Corp.'s Windows

98, Windows Millennium Edition or Windows 2000. Studio DV is one of the

first digital video editing solutions, at any price, to support Windows

2000, and it supports it perfectly.

If you tremble at the thought of editing video, your fears will be assuaged

by the Studio DV software. Pinnacle's unified interface gently guides you

through the capture, editing and encoding processes.

During capture, Studio DV takes remote control of your DV or Digital8 camcorder.

An on-screen preview window shows your video as you capture, and you're

constantly informed of how much video data your hard disk will hold.

If you have a long tape to chop up, Studio DV allows you to digitize a low-resolution

copy of your video. You edit the low-resolution copy and Studio DV automatically

recaptures your tape at full DV quality. Because it only recaptures the

video clips you actually use, Studio DV keeps your hard disk from filling

up with discarded footage.

The capture process also automatically breaks your video into scenes, so

Studio DV has capabilities missing from most professional editors.

You can also use Studio DV to add background music, narration and sound

effects to your project. The included TitleDeko titling software produces

clean, professional-looking titles with minimal effort. TitleDeko scales

and layers imported graphics, including video-still frames captured from

your DV source.

Studio DV does everything in software, yet it manages to handle all but

the final video encoding in real-time. As you build your project on the

timeline, you can play portions of your edit, trim video clips and add transitional

effects without waiting for the software to render a preview file.

The simple interface is an almost consistent blessing. It falls short only

in the way it organizes your titles and graphics. File names are not displayed,

so you must sometimes preview several thumbnails to find the file you want.

Studio DV includes built-in video encoders for AVI (Windows video), MPEG

and RealVideo digital video formats. I tested external programs, including

Windows Media Encoder and a freeware MPEG encoder called Tsunami, with Studio

DV video files and got excellent results.

Software encoding is slower than the hardware encoding built into products

such as Pinnacle DV 500 and Matrox RT2000, but it isn't painfully slow:

On a 733 MHz Intel Corp. Pentium III system, a two-minute project took 18

minutes to encode to a quarter-screen MPEG file suitable for Web distribution.

The Tsunami encoder took 21 minutes to encode a beautiful full-resolution

MPEG file for CD or local-area network use.

Studio DV lacks high-end features such as video scaling and 3-D effects,

but its "back to basics" design makes Studio DV easier to use than more

costly editors. Studio DV is certainly the best way to get started in streaming

media, and if your needs are minimal, it could handle your simple in-house

video projects for a long time to come.

—Yager is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at

tyager@maxx.net.

REPORT CARD

Pinnacle Studio DV

Pinnacle Systems

(650) 526-1600

www.pinnaclesys.com

Price and availability: Studio DV is available for Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition andWindows 2000 systems at a suggested list price of $149. It is sold throughopen distribution and retail channels.

Remarks: Studio DV is built for consumers, but because of its features, qualityand stability, it is just right for simple professional use. Everythingyou need to capture, edit, title and encode digital video is in the box.If you dream of creating broadcast-quality work, you'll find Studio DV constraining.But for many basic in-house projects, Studio DV's ease of use and high degreeof integration make the trip from video capture to distribution short andpainless.

BY Tom Yager
August 28, 2000

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