Digital Juice Inc.
1736 NE 25th Ave.
Ocala, FL 34470
The Editor’s Toolkit from Digital Juice defies simple classification. This 10-DVD collection includes a wide variety of animated visual elements that range from full-motion backgrounds to animated foreground elements to fonts to still images. Targeted at professional producers without the time or staff to create the on-screen extras that are almost a requirement in the 21st century, the slick visual elements in this package are broadcast-ready.
Graphics on the Fly
There is always a video production going on here at Videomaker, such as the constant updates to our instructional videos, so it wasn’t hard to find possible uses for this material. The Editor’s Toolkit contained complete matching sets that include not only lower-thirds, (title and graphics bars placed along the bottom of the screen), but also animated backgrounds for segment heads and frames. The quality was outstanding and if you have even a cursory understanding of overlays and transparencies, these elements are easy to use. We were impressed with the variety of styles, from conservative to radical, from subtle to in-your-face. Any of these sets would function in a variety of uses, from corporate to news to documentary.
You can browse the content by clicking thumbnails on the HTML Index pages. This plays back sample MOVs loaded from the disc. The process was not very fast, since it frequently involved going back through previous pages and large multimedia files pouring off our DVD drive. The included Juicer provided a better way to browse the discs. Install the 140MB-volume catalog to your hard disk, and the Juicer can browse instantaneously.
All of the animations reside on the discs as PNG file sequences, which is really ideal since this lossless compressed format supports alpha transparency. The Juicer can convert these typically 300-image sequences into just about any format. The critical Settings dialog was a little hard to figure out, even after watching the three-minute tutorial video.
How many files are going to be exported? Which formats support alpha channels? Once we answered these question, the Settings dialog did not contain an OK or Apply button, so after we changed our settings, we closed the dialog with the "x" in the upper right corner and wondered, "Will it save our settings?" We also found that the Juicer did not like certain codecs (e.g. the Canopus DV codec). These are all minor criticisms. The most important feature was the solid batch processing, in addition to the browsing aspect previously mentioned.
As videographers who still send 99 percent of our video back to a TV monitor, we find it annoying that very significant portions of the animated backgrounds occur well outside of the masked area (i.e. safe area) on a television. So while it is really easy to dump your 720×480 animation into the timeline, once it is there you to need to do some resizing to get it to look right on a TV. Perhaps this is standard practice, and indeed we’ve seen this in other animated background libraries, but we still wish we could just drag-and-drop and be done with it.
The 10 DVDs also include individual animated and still elements numbering in the hundreds, such as textures, mattes, photos and backgrounds. There are four two-minute tutorials targeted at Avid, StrataSphere, ToasterEdit and Premiere that were adequate overviews of the product. The matched sets feature was our favorite. It could instantly turn a competently shot and edited amateur piece into a production that is indistinguishable from a slick network segment.
Platform: PC or Mac (for Juicer)
Operating System: Win 95, 98, 2000, XP Mac OS 9 – OS X
Hard Disk: 140MB
Other Hardware: DVD-ROM drive