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
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