Magazine article American Cinematographer

Digital Video Editing: Expanding Creative Horizons

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Digital Video Editing: Expanding Creative Horizons

Article excerpt

The struggle for nonlinear systems is handling the sheer volume of material in a feature film.

Computers have made their huge impact felt in every area of the motion picture industry. No doubt, nonlinear editing systems will continue to evolve with the breathtaking speed of the young digital technologies. What follows is the fourth and final part of American Cinematographer's overview of the available systems. Stay tuned for further updates.

Digital F/X

The Video F/X ($16,000) is a Mac version of a desktop linear/ nonlinear editor. A Mac IIci with 8MB RAM, a 100MB hard drive, and two VTRs are all that's required to do full-blown A/B-roll editing, animation and character generation. Video/FX also provides a frame buffer, 32-bit paintbox and switcher. The cut and paste feature for the digitized clips is what makes this a nonlinear editor. The low-res images eat up about 10 megs per 30 seconds of digital video. The lack of split-edit audio features may deter seriousminded editors from classifying it as a professional tool, but the affordability makes it a commendable multi-media presentation device.

Digital Micronics, Inc.

Since the Video Toaster is not a real-time animator and can't playback 24-bit images live through the computer, one is forced to send files frame-by-frame to a recording device. One can couple the Toaster to a Sony industrial Hi8 9650 single-frame recording VCR (under $5,000) and automatically send rendered color images onto videotape one frame at a time. Or a Personal SFC (Nucleus Electronics, $379) animation controller can be coupled with a frame-accurate professional VCR capable of recording single frames. These offer much cheaper alternatives than outputting directly to an Abacus digital disc recorder the way Foundation Imaging did with CGI effects for Babylon 5. If your budget falls short of a single-frame recorder, the LightWave 3-D animations can be painstakingly recorded one frame at a time onto any standard VCR equipped with a flying erase head and insert editing mode. Another method is to convert the CG images to 4,096-color HAM mode and use an animation program to display them in real time.

An even better future solution might be to use one of the new nonlinear digital editors currently on the market to store CGI in a compressed format. The only digital editor available for the Amiga is Digital Micronics' Digital EditMaster ($2,495) which uses JPEGcapture technology. Animation frames are compressed and stored individually to the hard drive. A 100MB drive could conceivably store 30 seconds of broadcast-quality animation at a 10:1 compression ratio using a SCSI-II controller. The animation can then be played back in real time, directly to tape. The Digital EditMaster can be used as an input device to the Toaster, or as an output from the Toaster directly to the hard drive for nonlinear editing with live-action video footage. The edited end result can then be played back in real-time SOfps and recorded on any videotape format. Even an unaccelerated Amiga 2000 with SCSI-1 controller could display 3/4-inch quality full-frame, SOfps video at compression ratios of 15:1 to 100:1 (allowing 50 to 330 seconds recording time with a standard 100MB hard drive), depending upon the output format desired. As compression ratios go up, storage time increases, yet image quality suffers. …

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