Newspaper Video: Editing and apps. Part 2

In part one of this series of posts I listed a few of the basic things to look for in an editor and then the three big players (as I see them) in the editing software stakes – Avid, Apple and Adobe with Premier. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other options out there.

So if Avid, Apple or Premiere don’t tickle your fancy then what else is there out there for you?

Pinnacle

Talking of Avid. Avid bought video hardware and software company, Pinnacle, in 2005 although it continues to trade as consumer division of Avid. Well known for their video capture cards and associated software, Pinnacle have a fair bit of experience in the consumer end of video. That said, the products have been aimed squarely at the ‘enthusiast’ and even someone with a passing knowledge of video editing apps could find their apps simplistic.

That doesn’t mean they don’t work though, and the simple, straightforward interface may be just what is needed in a busy newsroom.

If you do want to do a quick search for alternatives to Premier elements or the apps mentioned below then Pinnacle’s Studio package may be worth a look. At less than 60 pounds it will handle most formats, although it doesn’t export flv. It’s based on the same code as the Avid Liquid software so you may want to head that way. At the price, it’s worth a look

Microsoft

It would seem unfair to mention apple and imovie without a mention for Microsoft’s Movie Maker app.

I think this is a great app, considering it’s free. It handles a number of formats and talks to camcorders as well as you would expect. It’s a little limited in its export options but who’s complaining when it’s free.

Sony

You would expect a name like Sony to have a good reputation in this area but they have a mixed history with editing. They have tried a few different systems in their pro market that attempt to leverage their success in hardware across to computer based systems.

I remember, many moons ago, going to a demo of their ES system which was essentially a shakey software program over the top of gutted versions of hardware. Their current system, the Xpri system, is a mix of hardware and software and sits well and truly in the broadcast market and outside the standard newsroom.

At a lower, none-broadcast, level Sony have rolled out their Vegas family of products.

Vegas video used to be made by Sonic Foundry, who were well known for their audio software (Sony now market a version of their Sound Forge software) and follows a common approach of larger companies in buying up software from smaller developers. Avid Liquid, for example, is based on a Pinnacle video product.

Buying in the experience at the lower end of the market seems to have served Sony well and Vegas is picking up a following. Like most video editing products in comes in a few flavors.

Vegas movie studio+dvd retails at the 70 pound mark and sits in the same market as premier elements and the i-life suite (imovie and idvd). It won’t do HDV which some of the newsrooms in the states are jumping in to big time – thanks to the screen grab possibilities – but for the cash its a contender for the low-end, test the water style approach.

Next in the range is Vegas Movie Studio +DVD platinum. Retailing at below the 120 pounds mark, it does include HDV support and more functionality when you connect a sony DVD camcorder. It also adds more export options but both versions have shockwave flash (swf) export.

At the top of the range and retailing at around the 300 pound mark is Vegas+DVD. The big addition at this price range is more support for hardware such as capture cards and Sony products like XDcam
All the Vegas products are windows only.

Media 100

At the same time Sony where struggling to get software right, Avid where pushing their market lead and looked uncatchable. But a number of smaller players where doing well in the film and broadcast market. Companies like Lightworks and Quantel are still around in the higher end market, but one that we thought had gone was Media 100. Media 100 was a mac based editor and direct competition for Avid and it worked well.

Now they are back and those with deep pocket might want to consider their Media 100 Producer package. It retails for around 500 pounds and, according to the web site can handle content captured using Final Cut Pro.

Ulead (bought by Corel)

If you have bought a scanner or printer in the last few years, chances are you have come across a Ulead app. Well known for their cheap and cheerful image editing apps like Photo impact, the company have also been churning out similarly jolly video and DVD apps for a while.

Top of the range is MediaStudio pro software which retails at around 130 pounds. It will do DV and HDV (very well apparently) and isnt averse to flash video either. It won’t export out to Flash but will do pretty much everything else.

If you are on a budget then Ulead’s Video Studio may appeal, coming it around the 40 pound mark. It gets good reviews and like the other apps in this post, it may be worth a look.

All Ulead applications run on Windows.

Recommendations

In the last two posts I’ve purposefully gone for application with a name behind them. I realize that’s no guarantee of quality, but there is more of a chance of support and development. If nothing else there will be a definite user community behind you.

But having listed them I guess I should put my money down and say which I would recommend.

Mac Users

This is an easy one. No money? then go with i-movie. It lacks multiple tracks and the interface can be slow at times but it works. With a bit more cash then Final Cut Express would be top of my list. It’s powerful enough to take you a way along the development of your content and it works well. Even with a lot more cash I would go with Express rather than the full Final Cut Pro in a newsroom. Not that FCP has problems, it was the app that made me switch from PC to mac and I use it a lot. It may simply be a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut in most newsrooms.

Avid doesnt get a look in here, in either free or xpress versions. It’s shame but the FCP suite is just more flexible on the mac platform. The media 100 product looks interesting but can it compete with a native mac app on its home ground?

Windows Users.

This is a bit more tricky. You have more to go with here. Like the Mac I would advise trying the free stuff first. Cut your teeth (and your video) with Movie maker and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. With a bit more money to spend you are spoilt for choice. My money would probably go to Adobe and Premier Elements, just for the support and the knowledge that there are some bigger and more powerful applications up the food chain to work with and aim for. But it would be a close thing.

I hear good things about Vegas and you can’t knock the simplicity of Ulead products. A few demos should make the decision.

With a bit more money to spend you have a choice of the Premier pro and the Avid Liquid options. I would maybe lean to Avid for the combination of editing and DVD authoring. But I have edited on Avid products, big and small, for 10 years so maybe I’m biased. I know that the Avid stuff can be temperamental – you need to stick to the recommended machines if you invest – but I feel you get a bit more for your buck. That said I think the adobe option is a serious one, especially if your main users are photogs with experience of Adobe apps.

If money is no object then I would go Avid Xpress and splash out on the best hardware but I would have to seriously think about the Premier Pro.
In the next in the series, it’s the turn of the low/no cost options.

Are you using any of these apps? Let me know how they are working.

9 Replies to “Newspaper Video: Editing and apps. Part 2”

  1. Increasingly, I find myself using QuickTime Pro to put together short video reports. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but you can have multiple soundtracks (or export and then re-import a cleaned up soundtrack.) There are also text and other tracks available that I’ve only started to explore.

  2. Good point Mark.

    I’m including quicktime pro in the the last part of this series of posts. I was thinking of it as one of those apps that you may use but ‘did you know it also edits’ type thing. Its a powerful tool though and one worth exploring

  3. There’s a Pinnacle option that’s a step up from Studio — Liquid, or Liquid Pro. We’ve been using them both versions for several years now and are quite attached. Liquid is easy (one you get past some design oddities) and fast and does very high end work for about $600. Of course, with the Avid purchase, who knows how long the higher end Pinnacle stuff will be supported?

  4. Hi Regina

    I mentioned liquid in the First of these posts as it is now badged, in the UK anyway, as an Avid product so I included it along there. You are right though, its a neat app.

  5. I have tested the triple AAA apps (Apple, Adobe & Avid). TBH, none comes close to the speed and efficiency of SONY Vegas (and specifically Vegas Pro 8).

    WHY?

    Mike Jones put things in perspective for me last year about rethinking what an NLE is and about the forward thinking of editing video on Vegas. Although the AAA SUITES can accomplish what is required of them – they are based on an archaic methodology of separate apps being used by separate editors. The NLE is used by a video editor, the audio sweetening is done by an audio person, compositing is done in a compositing app by a SFX editor. Therefore, those who ascribe to the Solo VJ paradigm, are forced to learn three distinct applications which have their own steep learning curves.

    Then there’s Vegas Pro. Resource efficient and about as hardware neutral as can be for a Windows based application (Can even be used with Parallels on a MAC). Zen like in it’s interface and usage. Transitions are one step – not 3-5 as with other apps. Audio can be edited on the timeline and motion graphics can be handled as well. You never have to leave Vegas unless there is something that cannot be done in Vegas – which for the VAST majority of VJ’s is unlikely. I occasionally go into Sound Forge to do some custom tweaking of audio but other than that, I stay in Vegas.

    Want to add multiple video formats to the timeline – with Vegas, you just add them and keep editing – no rerendering, no waiting. Want to change the project properties in the middle of an edit – you can do so without having to recreate it as you would in the other apps.

    The problem I see is that my fellow Solo VJ’s have been duped into believing that to edit video as a so called “Professional” as the spin doctoring ad wizards would have them believe, they HAVE to use a suite of applications in order to accomplish their jobs. I posted on my blog why Vegas Pro is better suited for VJ’ism than any other app currently available. It’s only my viewpoint, but I feel it is pretty accurate.

    Newsrooms are in budgetary crunches as is plainly stated in various Newspapers VJ discussion arenas – why not utilize existing windows based hardware and make it last longer by using an efficient application that costs 1/3 of the suites, yet accomplishes 95% of these separate apps – all in one easy to learn application? For those who aren’t primary video shooters – SONY’s Vegas Studio Platinum edition can do much of what Vegas Pro 8 can – for less than $130.00.

    I’m not saying that Vegas can handle Hollywood type projects, but it can do for VJ’s what they need to get done – and do it in a shorter timeframe.

    Cliff Etzel – Solo Video Journalist (and SONY Vegas Pro Advocate)
    bluprojekt

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