Video editing and production software

Adobe Premier Pro

The latest version of video-editing software from Adobe Systems Inc., Premier Pro 1.5, gives users real-time tools that provide precise management for virtually every aspect of video production, Adobe says. Frame-accurate control for short- and long-format projects enable precise results for every edit; a new project-manager feature simplifies consolidating, moving, and archiving content; and new audio and video plug-ins enable users to enhance the quality of the entire production.

Built to perform best on Microsoft Windows XP systems, Premier Pro 1.5 now integrates more fully with other Adobe products, such as Adobe After Effects 6.5, Photoshop CS, and Encore DVD 1.5. All of these applications use and recognize common elements and share familiar interface standards. Adobe says its latest software delivers the power and precision for outstanding performance on projects ranging from student or educator presentations to feature-length films.

Adobe Premier Pro 1.5 is available at a retail price of $699, though the company provides education and volume licensing discounts through third-party providers.

(800) 833-6687

Apple’s Final Cut Studio

Final Cut Studio, a new suite of tools from Apple Computer, bundles together several applications, including Apple’s high-definition (HD) digital video editor, Final Cut Pro 5; Soundtrack Pro, an audio editing tool; the graphics animator Motion 2; and a DVD authoring program, DVD Studio Pro 4. It retails for $1,299 but costs just $399 for schools. Volume licensing discounts also are available. The additional maintenance program, which costs $399, provides free upgrades for a period of 36 months. Anyone who purchased the maintenance plan for Final Cut Pro can upgrade to Studio at no additional charge, said Kirk Paulson, Apple’s senior director of professional application marketing.

“We’re providing [these customers with] the ability to produce [videos] in high definition with no incremental cost,” Paulson said. “There hasn’t been any other suite of applications that is as complete or integrated as the Final Cut suite.”

Final Cut Studio is a professional-grade tool that allows you to edit video and audio files on a laptop or desktop computer without the need for additional hardware. Motion 2 is a real-time graphics engine that animates text and objects on the screen. Soundtrack Pro helps editors perfect their soundtrack with music, dialog, and sound effects. Filters can remove wind, a cough, or the sound of an airplane overhead. Plus, there are 4,000 music loops and 1,000 sound effects to choose from, including scary or mystery music, footsteps, doors opening and closing, cars starting, and so on. Once a project is complete, you can compress the video for the web or burn it to a DVD in HD. It’s important that students start learning to edit in high definition, Paulson said, because that’s where the industry is headed.

Many teachers and students have had great success with the free set of iLife tools–iMovie, GarageBand, and iDVD–that come preloaded onto every Apple computer. But with Final Cut Studio, “we give them much more flexibility, and the sophistication of the tools is greater,” Paulson said, giving users more control over the creative process.

In its marketing, Apple has declared 2005 the Year of HD. iMovie HD, which supports the new high-definition video standard, is the version now installed on all new Apple computers. The major advantage of editing with Final Cut Studio over iMovie HD is the ability to minimize “generational loss,” Paulson said. Final Cut edits the native video and audio files, whereas a product like iMovie takes the original file and encodes it into an intermediate file format for editing.

(800) MY-APPLE

Avid Xpress Pro

Avid Technology Inc., a leader in video editing technology, sells its entire product line to education customers for steep discounts. “We don’t want students learning on a consumer-level tool. We want them learning on a professional tool,” said Steve Chazin, director of product marketing for Avid. Avid Xpress Pro, for example, which offers many of the capabilities of Avid’s high-end products, retails for $1,695–but educators and students can buy it for $295 per license.

“We’ve been doing this for 15 years, so we’ve perfected a lot for storytellers,” Chazin said. Multi-camera editing is one example. Avid’s technology allows editors to watch four cameras simultaneously on the same screen on one video track, which is ideal for seamlessly switching camera angles. Avid’s NaturalMatch technology compensates for different lighting and appearance caused by multiple cameras filming at different angles by autocorrecting the look of the entire timeline.

Avid Xpress Pro preserves the quality of a video by editing the native audio and video digital files. The software runs on both Macintosh and Windows computers, and users reportedly can switch platforms and edit the same files seamlessly. It accommodates up to 24 audio and video tracks and an unlimited number of layers. For example, you can adjust eight different tracks while listening to another. Filters allow you to remove hum and other background noise. Other features include picture-in-picture views, wipes, the ability to import graphics, and the ability to pan and zoom across still photos to make them look like fluid video. In addition, color-correction features mean videographers don’t have to worry about white balance or how to shoot under various lighting conditions.

Avid Free DV, which also works on Mac and Windows, is a free digital editor designed to give novices a glimpse of what is possible with Avid tools, Chazin said. Avid Free DV is not a trial copy and will not watermark the video; it just has less functionality and only 16 special effects.

(800) 949-2843

Macromedia Video Kit

Flash MX Professional 2004, from Macromedia Inc., provides powerful tools for editing and deploying video on the web. The Flash Video format (FLV), which is played back via the ubiquitous Flash Player, is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways of deploying video on the web, said Chris Hock, director of product management at Macromedia Inc.

The Macromedia Video Kit allows users who are not familiar with the Flash authoring tool to quickly add video to their web site via Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004. The kit is a set of tools and extensions for taking video, converting it to the FLV format, and inserting it into a web page.

“The benefit of Flash Video is it gives your web site viewers the best possible experience regardless of whether it is accessed from a PC or Mac,” Hock said. Viewers watching your video don’t have to download any large media players to view the video, and the video starts instantly, directly in the web page. Plus, Flash offers interactivity like no other video player, Macromedia says. For example, with Flash you could show a video of a subject matter expert presenting, and at the same time the video can be synchronized with graphics, traditional Flash animations, or even a quiz for students to answer.

Scott Trudeau, an instructional technology consultant for the Education Service Center Region 2 in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been encoding the center’s training videos in the Flash format for viewing online. Teachers were having difficulty accessing the files before, because they didn’t have the proper video player installed on their machines, he said. The audio and video compresses nicely, and he doesn’t need to know complex web coding because the Macromedia Video Kit and Dreamweaver do it for him.

The Macromedia Video Kit retails for $99. The Macromedia Studio MX 2004 software suite, which includes Flash Pro, retails for $899–but the price for schools is just $249. Studio MX 2004 includes Dreamweaver MX 2004, Flash MX Professional 2004, Fireworks MX 2004, FreeHand MX, and ColdFusion MX 6.1 Developer Edition.

(800) 470-7211

Serious Magic’s Visual Communicator 2

Visual Communicator 2, the latest version of video-editing software from Serious Magic Inc., is based on a video production process that eliminates traditional editing timelines to allow for dramatically faster video creation while making productions that look as if they were created for a television newscast, according to the company.

Visual Communicator 2 introduces Flex Recording, which allows users to shoot segments out of sequence or at different times. Flex Recording reportedly allows users to start in the middle, begin at the end, or update any section they’ve recorded at any time. Another feature, On-the-Fly Editing, gives users new ways to improve their productions by permitting them to add or change media such as PowerPoint slides, graphics, or video while recording their presentation. This feature is useful for those who wish to stream their presentations live over the internet, Serious Magic says, as it enables them to respond to viewers’ questions and answer them immediately while displaying complementary graphics or charts as examples.

A new function has been added to fade audio in or out, giving users more control over the mood of their video presentations. Users also can use the Review Anywhere feature to see their video production immediately before recording. With the Real-Time Scrubbing feature, users can scroll through their production forward, backward, and even in slow motion while seeing all special effects, video, and camera recordings immediately.

The Visual Communicator software line consists of Visual Communicator Web, Visual Communicator Pro, and Visual Communicator Studio. Each version offers an on-screen teleprompter, customizable graphics and titles, real-time transitions, and virtual sets. A professional clip-on microphone and V-Screen foldable backdrop material for green screen effects also are included. Visual Communicator Web supports video resolutions up to 320 by 240 pixels. Visual Communicator Pro adds the ability to record videos in full broadcast resolution for DVD, videotape, video projection, and more. The Pro version features the ability to convert native PowerPoint shows into video presentations. The Studio version offers live video output and gives users the option to self-produce live broadcasts. Video can be streamed over the internet, posted to a web server, or viewed live on a large projection screen, monitor, or TV without expensive hardware or technically complex setups. Studio also allows users to publish their videos to web pages without learning HTML, as well as include chapter markers and links to display web pages, pictures, or PowerPoint slides alongside their video.

The Visual Communicator line is available to educators at a reduced cost. Educators can purchase Visual Communicator 2 Web for $132.97, Visual Communicator 2 Pro for $202.97, and Visual Communicator 2 Studio for $342.97. Volume discounts also might apply.

(916) 985-8000

Pinnacle Systems’ Studio Academic Toolkit

The Studio Academic Toolkit is a brand-new, education-focused video editing package that Pinnacle Systems Inc. plans to announce at the National Educational Computing Conference in Philadelphia June 27 to 30. The toolkit includes Pinnacle Studio Plus software bundled with educational resources, including a web site with examples of best practices and subject-specific curricula.

“We have, indeed, the simplest editing products on the market,” said Tanguy Leborgne, Pinnacle’s director of product marketing for consumer products.

Studio Plus, which employs a multi-track video editing interface, includes automated features to make video editing faster and easier, such as SmartCapture, which minimizes the space of videos on your hard disk, and SmartSound, which generates background music that fits the length of your edited movies. The toolkit also comes with a green sheet, so teachers and students can record video against a green backdrop and use the software’s Chroma Key feature to add in new background footage.

To meet the more sophisticated editing needs of high-schoolers, Pinnacle has created the Advanced Academy Toolkit. This toolkit bundles Pinnacle Liquid Edition, a professional-level editor, with educational content. “In Liquid, you can control everything,” Leborgne said. “Everything can be fine-tuned to the extreme.” Liquid Edition also supports HD content.

The Studio Academic Toolkit costs $79, and the Advanced Academy Toolkit costs $249. Pinnacle also offers educators a new site-licensing purchasing model. Purchasing fewer than 500 licenses of the Studio Academic Toolkit costs $999, between 500 and 1,500 licenses is $1,799, and more than 1,500 is $2,599. For the Advanced Academy Toolkit, fewer than 500 licenses costs $2,499, 500 to 1,500 licenses costs $3,999, and more than 1,500 licenses costs $4,649.

(800) 293-2948

TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio

Camtasia Studio, from TechSmith Corp., is a screen-recording program that replaces the video camera. While Camtasia includes some video editing capability, professionals tend to use a more robust program–like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere–to do the final editing, said Troy Stein, product manager for Camtasia. But Camtasia’s editing features are sufficient for most users.

“Most of our users aren’t full-on video editors,” Stein said. “Most of our users are business people or educators who don’t have full editing tools.”

Camtasia lets you record both video and audio. Once a recording is made, you can cut it, fade the audio in and out, re-record the narration, and add some zoom and pan effects. You can also encode it for streaming in Flash, QuickTime, or Windows Media Player format, or as an executable file.

The latest version of the software allows you to add markers throughout the presentation. This is ideal for long presentations, such as a one-hour Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, so the viewer can look at a table of contents and skip to the appropriate chapters.

Camtasia Studio allows teachers to go a step beyond simply archiving their PowerPoint presentations online for students. Instead, the entire essence of what made the lecture is preserved: the visuals along with the teacher’s narrative. The software costs $149 per license and runs on any Windows 2000 or XP computer.

(888) 750-0685

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