Merger Could Mean Big Changes for Special Effects Software

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Avid Reality: Avid Technology recently acquired Elastic Reality, a leading developer of special effects software. This merger will allow Avid’s existing line of digital editing solutions to benefit from Elastic Reality’s compositing, morphing, paint and special effects capabilities.

Zip It: Iomega Corporation has introduced a new desktop computer storage system, an internal version of its popular “Zip” drive. Available in 100- and 25-megabyte formats, this interchangeable system provides up to 70 times the capacity of traditional floppy disks. The high-capacity Zip drive is well-suite to applications that require massive amounts of data storage–digital video, for example.

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Control X Lite ($299)
TV ONE Multimedia Solutions
Erlanger, Kentucky
(606) 282-8225

This Windows-based edit controller offers an external interface box and Visual Timeline editing software. Control X Lite will drive a Control-L (LANC), Panasonic 5-pin or RS-232 source VCR; record-side control is infrared. Control X Lite claims single-frame accuracy with VITC or RCTC time code. When relying on the VCR’s tape counter instead of time code, the software’s built in calibration system enhances accuracy.

Digital Video Producer ($395)
Asymetrix Corporation
Bellevue, Washington
(800) 448-6543

This is an affordable digital video capture and editing tool that allows users to build video clips right on their PC. A drag-and-drop interface and intuitive timeline allow for easy assembly of audio and video clips; these clips can include transitions, special effects and overlays. Two fully-functional preview screens allow viewing and editing of multiple video clips simultaneously. Windows-based software allows you to create transitions such as dissolves, wipes, irises and even filters.

Crystal Kaleidoscope ($1995)
Crystal Graphics Incorporated
Santa Clara, California

This 3D animation suite offers over $5000 worth of powerful PC-based software and 2D/3D clip-art CD-ROMs. Designed for video graphics artists and animators, the package includes Crystal TOPAS Professional 5.1, Fractal Design Painter 3, Kai’s Power Tools 2.0 Windows SE, Elastic Reality 1.01, Leadview 3.0 and lots of great clip art from manufacturers like Acuris and ImageTects.

Pixelock ($499) and PixelMaker ($499)
Power Pixel Technologies, Inc.
Santa Clara, California

Working together, the 32-bit Pixelock overlay and PixelMaker VGA cards allow you to combine video images and PC graphics on your desktop. Pixelock converts 24-bit VGA images into TV images, overlaying them onto live video. PixelMaker gives you graphics acceleration for displaying and editing high-quality graphics and captured images. PixelMaker also offers direct input of captured video for motion display, as well as simultaneous 24-bit VGA output.

Screen Tests

by David Brott

Snappy Video Snapshot ($199)
Play Incorporated
2890 Kilgore Road
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670-6133
(530) 851-0800

Snappy is a high-definition video digitizer capable of grabbing stills from any NTSC video source including VCRs, camcorders and TV tuners. Snappy’s advanced video capture chip digitizes 24-bit video stills at resolutions up to a whopping 1500×1125 pixels. Snappy is a true frame grabber, capable of capturing an image from moving video.

An on-screen control panel allows you to preview the video input and adjust various picture parameters. Once you grab your video still, you can save it in PCX, TIFF, BMP or JPEG formats. The Snappy “TWAIN” interface then enables you to transfer captured images into most PC graphics programs directly. For example, you might want to use captured still images as backgrounds or title pages for video or multimedia projects. In this case, loading stills into an image processing package gives you the added flexibility to modify these backgrounds before use.

Toward this end, the package comes bundled with Gryphon Morph 2.5 and Fauve Matisse SE. The Fauve Matisse software allows users to “composite” themselves into any picture they capture. Matisse offers functions like painting, retouching, titling, blending and creating textures. Gryphon’s Morph lets you do morphing of your own images. Installation is, well, a snap. The Snappy module has a DB25 connector that attaches directly to any PC’s parallel (printer) port. The module has one RCA-style video in, and one RCA through connector for routing the signal to a TV or monitor. A 9-volt battery comes pre-installed. Simply plug in the module, attach any NTSC external video source to the RCA video-in and you’re ready to digitize.

The software installs easily with the setup routine in Windows. You’ll need a 386 or better, and Windows 3.1 or later. Snappy requires 4MB of RAM and 8MB of available hard drive space. An S-video input adapter is available as an optional accessory.

With Snappy, you can be capturing, painting and morphing your first captured images within ten minutes. From storing your video albums onto your PC to capturing backgrounds for paint software, Snappy offers impressive creative power at a very reasonable price.

Ease of Learning: (4)
Ease of use: (4)

Documentation: (5)
Value: (5)

StoryLine Pro ($295)
Truby’s Writer’s Studio
1737 Midvale Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 920024-5512

Making a good dramatic video is like writing a good story. You need to carefully develop plot, characters, setting and conclusion. Once you master the storyline, video production follows more easily. Now you can put your computer to work for you in the crucial “writing phase” of your videomaking.

StoryLine Pro is an interactive software program that teaches writing technique and story development. Basically, StoryLine Pro for Windows shows you how to write a good script, coaching you through every stage of the process.

From film and video to multimedia, this program offers a hand-in-hand guide through the more difficult processes of writing a good script. Keeping track of fifteen or more sub-plots and character distinctions, for example, can be nearly impossible for the novice. With StoryLine Pro, it’s a breeze.

Scene development should always begin with a properly sequenced storyline; the program starts you out with what’s called the “Premise Pad.” This is where you can experiment with different stories. Starting here allows you the opportunity to organize your ideas and assign priorities. Seven key building blocks–including character needs, motivation and central casting–help you develop proper scene and story sequence. The software outlines scene lists and action tracks, which act as guides for story transition to stage and set. You can print your work at any point, in several different output formats.


amateur and professional writers will find StoryLine Pro a helpful guide. The software reminds you to stay focused and organized in your screenplay and script development. Marker boxes give structure to text for mapping scene and character development. The user’s manual stays on track from start to finish, and on-screen help is readily accessible.

Many writers, directors and producers can benefit from a comprehensive study of story organization. StoryLine Pro is a good place to start.

Ease of Learning: (3)
Ease of use: (3)
Documentation: (3)
Value: (4)
The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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