Simple Video Tools Take SpotlightTechXNY showcases amateur video-editing tools for DVD and CD from Adaptec, BHA, MedioStream, Pinnacle Systems, and Roxio.
Edward N. Albro, PCWorld.com
NEW YORK-- If software developers at PC Expo/TechXNY here this week are correct, hordes of parents out there have cute home video of their three-year-olds and no idea what to do with it. But by the time those parents return from their summer road trips, a small army of new products will be ready to help them share their vacation videos with granny.
A convergence of factors has prompted a particular interest among software developers in making products that can manipulate video. DVD players have become much more common in American households. Rewritable-DVD drives, esoteric and expensive last year, are accessible to the average user. And by next year, according to some predictions, sales of digital video camcorders will surpass sales of analog video cameras.
While people may have the equipment, many have little technical knowledge of how to handle the images in that hardware. That's why one word is on the lips of every developer of DVD-authoring and video editing programs: simplicity.
When does simple software become dumbed-down and impotent? Companies answer that question differently.
One approach that several vendors are taking is to assume most consumers have no desire to become the next Martin Scorsese. Programs from these vendors let you package your video clips attractively and burn them in most or all of the main formats for DVD or CD, but they provide only rudimentary editing tools, usually just allowing you to trim out portions of your video you don't like.
Three examples are BHA's B's DVD, Adaptec's VideOh, and MedioStream's NeoDVD 4. They support most DVD formats, including DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD+R, and DVD-RAM.
B's DVD from BHA gives you exceptional control over the menus and navigation for your DVD. You can drag and drop images to use as chapter logos, and you can use a looping segment of your video as a moving background for your menu. But it provides virtually no editing tools beyond trimming. The $30 program is scheduled to be available at the end of July.
Adaptec's VideOh DVD, priced at $200 and scheduled to ship at the end of July, combines hardware and software. An external box allows you to capture analog video, encode it into MPEG-2 format, and transfer it to your PC through a USB 2.0 connection (instead of the FireWire connection that video devices commonly use). Adaptec has partnered with Sonic Solutions to produce the bundled software, which allows you to capture video, do limited editing, and burn the video to DVD or to video CDs.
VideOh PCI, priced at $180, will be bundled with an internal PCI capture card instead of the external box. The $70 VideOh CD will come with an external device that encodes into MPEG-1 and uses a slower USB 1.1 connection; it burns to video CDs, which play in most DVD players.
The next version of NeoDVD Standard, scheduled for release by MedioStream in August and priced at $30, employs a spartan, minimalist interface to prevent feature overload from intimidating video newcomers. Each window that pops up is designed to give users as few options--and create as little confusion--as possible.
NeoDVD burns to all the major video formats but has a special feature for discs using the DVD+RW standard: The program can edit video directly on such discs. If you burn a disc and later want to change the sequence of clips or add or subtract scenes, you can save time by making the changes on the disc, rather than transferring the data back to your hard drive, making the changes, and then reburning the disc. A $50 Plus version enables you to create moving backgrounds for your menus and slide shows of still images.
The other approach that video software developers are favoring is to allow users to edit their videos by adding transitions and special effects, but to make the editing process as easy as possible.
Videowave Movie Creator is scheduled for release from Roxio in August, priced at $80. The package provides three editing modes with different levels of complexity. With the Cinemagic mode, advertised as "automatic editing," you choose a template for your video and the program does the rest. Its StoryBuilder mode allows more choice in transitions and segment titles, but still uses templates to largely automate the process. StoryLine editing, meanwhile, provides you with more-precise control of the pieces of your video.
Videowave also captures video and burns it to DVDs or CDs, or prepares it to stream over the Internet.
For true video-control freaks, there's Studio Version 8, a $99 package scheduled to ship in August from Pinnacle Systems. It also captures, edits, and burns video but gives you the most editing choices along the way. You can control not only the type but also the length of transitions. And you can put music, special effects, and narration on multiple audio tracks.
With all these programs coming out for amateur auteurs, nobody should have to suffer through another boring summer vacation video.
For other PC Expo/TechXNY product announcements and news, see PCWorld.com's ongoing coverage.