Avid has reworked Pinnacle’s Liquid Edition (and before it was a Pinnacle product, it was FAST FSDV) into Avid Liquid 7, adding SmartSound integration, additional format support, more realtime effects and HDV editing. Preserved are the various pricing/equipment strata. Upgrades from Liquid Edition to Liquid 7 without hardware changes are $199. Liquid by itself omits the USB 2.0 breakout box, and retails for $499. Owners of Liquid Edition can upgrade to Liquid 7 Pro for $699. There are also versions with SDI breakout boxes, referred to as Liquid Chrome HD, ranging in price from $4,995 to $11,995.
Out of the Box
We tested Avid Liquid 7 Pro on the NLE Systems Kanai Avid Liquid Pro Editing Solution (Videomaker, March 2006). From a look at the manual, there is a strong impression of an assumption that you have received formal training on Liquid. It was not out-of-the-box intuitive to make the program work after we first launched it, as compared to most other recent editing applications that have come through our doors. Avid Liquid 7 comes with a somewhat unusual help system, and an 1,122-page PDF manual installs with the system. The PDF manual is a good reference, but to really learn the system, you’ll definitely want to invest in some kind of third-party training, such as a book, online training, or a class.
When you start the program, you’re not far from the Import Wizard, which allows for easy capture from DV. You can also bring in a project from Pinnacle Studio 10, scan your network for clips, add other media (WMV, AVI, etc.), import still images and create titles. You can also use the software to edit multi-cam shoots without too many hassles, as well. We could successfully import pretty much everything we threw at it, except for some QuickTime DV files that we had received for our previous Videomaker Short Video Contest. A status display appears after a successful import run. Note, however, that if you want to import HDV, the help file does warn that some minor additional configuration is required–it’s not quite as plug-and-play easy as using a Mini DV camcorder.
There are a number of things that Liquid does differently than most other editing systems. For example, what you usually think of as bins are called racks in Liquid. (Oddly enough, even the Avid Xpress family of products calls bins “bins”.) It’s unclear to us exactly what Avid was thinking here–it would seem that preserving continuity between product lines would be a logical goal, if only to keep their Technical Support team with full heads of hair.
More importantly than this, though, we found that some habits learned in other editing systems (such as Vegas, Premiere Pro and FCP) generally can’t be easily ported to Liquid. For example, you can’t drag your freshly-imported media directly to the timeline–you have to select the clip in the rack and choose “Create Clips of Selected Media” from the right-click menu before you can actually add your media to your timeline.
As with other programs, clips with audio are automatically broken into video and audio tracks (the tracks in question are marked as V and S1) and locked together. However, if you want to use the video, you must drag the clip into a V timeline, otherwise, only the clip’s sound is available. Once a clip is on the timeline, a checkmark appears on the clip, which is a nice touch.
If you want to use the Clip Viewer, there’s no quick indication of where a clip ends–you have to scrub to the end of the track to see what the duration is. A clearer indication of clip duration would make the program much easier to use.
In what we think is one of the strangest features of Liquid, a user has to enable audio scrubbing separately. Once it is enabled, you have to press the Scroll Lock key to actually turn it on. Audio scrubbing also works much differently from video scrubbing in particular. Video scrubbing works as you’d expect (grab the play head, sweep it over the timeline and wherever you let go the play head will stay). However, audio scrubbing takes the audio into high speed and changes the picture to whatever video frame is under the cursor. When you release the mouse button, the play head snaps back to wherever the program was with the audio. Think of it like rolling back an open-reel tape by hand as opposed to just clicking on an audio track in an audio editor (or just about any other video editor in captivity).
There are color correction facilities in Liquid, but we couldn’t manage to make the waveform monitor give us any readings in real time. There is a color legalization function that can do strict ITU-R BT.601 color correction, which would be very useful in a broadcast or post environment.
You can also author DVDs within the timeline. A DVD Menus rack is provided and preloaded with templates, all of which look quite sharp and professionally-done.
To Liquify or Not?
If you want to break into the biz, we’d advise you to think carefully before investing in this software. FCP or Premiere Pro might be a better choice to invest in and start learning if you want to edit independent video or film; but Avid does claim a number of major broadcast operations among its installed base of Liquid users.
Trial Version Available: Yes (CD available)
Operating System: Windows XP SP1
Minimum CPU: Pentium 4 1.8GHz
Minimum RAM: 512MB
Batch Capture: Yes
Automatic Scene Detection: Yes
User Interface: Timeline
Number of Video Tracks: Unlimited
Number of Audio Tracks: Unlimited
Nesting Tracks: Yes
Audio/Video Level Envelopes: Yes
Audio Scrub: Yes
Background Rendering: Yes
Realtime Software Previews: Yes
Optimized for Dual Processor/Dual Core/HyperThreading: Yes
Third-party Plug-In Support: Yes
Batch Render: No
DVD Authoring Software Included: Yes
- Fairly stable
- Many interface oddities
An editing program that gets things done, but differently than its counterparts.
Charles Fulton is Videomaker‘s Associate Editor.
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