NAB Editing Preview: Expect Faster, More Versatile Systems

By Debra Kaufman

Faster processing speed and expanded format compatibilities will be the dual themes of video editing at NAB 2009. The show will also be marked by the return of Avid Technology after a one-year absence. But two other major editing players, Apple and Quantel, are taking a pass (Apple also missed the show last year).

“We are so rejuvenated about our commitment to this industry,” says Kirk Arnold, executive VP and general manager of Avid. “We want our broadcast customers to use the chance to engage with us directly.”

The faster processing speeds are a function of 64-bit system architectures, once the sole domain of super computers.

The 64-bit Adobe CS4 Production Premium will increase HD workflows from 50 percent to 200 percent, according to a company spokesman.

“That includes increased editing speed, rapid switching among tools and faster rendering,” he says. “A 64-bit system will deliver superior performance with most formats.”

The push to 64-bit operating systems is also driven by HD, relentless newsroom deadlines and the constant need to economize.

Sony Creative Software plans to showcase a 64-bit version of Vegas Pro 8.0c, which was announced at IBC.

“Sony Creative Software was one of the first developers to begin porting for 64-bit computing in collaboration with AMD, which developed the 64-bit extensions for the Windows operating system,” says Sony Creative Software VP of Global Marketing Dave Chaimson. “We’ve also extensively tested it with partners including Microsoft, Dell, Intel and AMD.”

Handling of multiple camera formats will be the other editing theme of this year’s NAB.

Moving local news acquisition into HD has been a patchwork effort among TV stations, and station editing centers are increasingly required to handle a variety of SD and HD formats.

“As we’re moving to HD, instead of moving to fewer formats, there are more formats than ever,” says Mark Narveson, Grass Valley director of product marketing for desktop and enterprise solutions.

“Within a station, even if you go to HD, you have legacy material as well as material coming in from stringers and people on the street,” he says. “This has increased complexity but doesn’t change the deadline.”

Grass Valley will show Edius with a.1 upgrade of Version 5, which was introduced at IBC.

“Multi-format editing improves with every release, and 5.1 increases that capability,” Narveson says.

According to Narveson, Edius how supports end-to-end workflows for DV, HDV, JPEG2000, XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD, P2, AVCHD, AVC-Intra, GFCAM (Ikegami).

Support for J2K means users can capture images with the Thomson Grass Valley Infinity digital media camcorder in J2K, edit with Edius 5 in J2K and output in J2K, all natively.

Editing in the native format of all these digital cameras, on the same timeline, means users can avoid transcoding, an important time-saver in the editorial prep process.

The new version also allows users to download a portion of a clip without downloading the entire clip, and to export from the timeline directly to BluRay for authoring.

“As new HD formats come up, we do our best to provide a codec for them,” says Narveson, who reports that Version 5.1 comes with a bundle of over $1,000 worth of third-party plug-ins and software.

Version 5.1 also offers tighter integration with the Grass Valley Aurora digital production workflow.

“Edius is now a full-on team player in the Aurora system,” he says. “You can edit in low-res with Aurora Edit and through MediaFrame, our basic database environment. Edius can see the program, import the EDL and re-edit it with effects available in Edius, drag and drop it into MediaFrame and it can be approved in full-res.”

Avid Technology is also ensuring that formats play well together, with improvements to Media Composer v3.5, Symphony v3.5 and NewsCutter v7.5.

One significant development is native, end-to-end support for Sony XDCAM HD and EX as well as Panasonic P2 formats, at all bandwidths.

Avid also more recently announced support for the RED camera, although that’s less likely to affect broadcasters. The goal is to allow broadcasters to produce HD news more cost-effectively, says an Avid spokesperson.

Integration with other systems has been an Avid hallmark for some time. Avid works in native MXF, similar to P2 and XDCAM formats, and is able to track Panasonic DVCPRO and AVCi as well as HDV and Quicktime files on the same timeline. Avid also integrates with EVS and Omneon server systems.

Other upgrades in Avid editing gear include new versions of its journalist audio and video editing and scripting solution, iNEWS Instinct 2.0, and Avid Interplay v1.6, which now also supports an end-to-end Long GOP workflow for the XDCAM HD and HDCAM EX formats.

“Our strategy is to open up the architecture so we can partner with folks across the industry and bring in best-of-breed solutions,” says Avid’s Arnold. “That drives collaboration and solves customers’ problems.”

Sony Creative is expected to announce expanded formats compatibility at NAB, but a spokesman declined to comment.

Vegas Pro 8.1 currently supports XDCAM HD 4:2:2/50 mb/s; XDCAM EX rendering, HVR-Z7 24p capture and editing; HVR-Z7 CF card import; and optimized AVC encoding and decoding.

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