FAST MPEG-2 Editing

FAST Multimedia expects an early 1999 release of its 601 editing system. The 601 is a combination of hardware and software that will allow video editors to use the MPEG-2 standard.

The 601 system includes a PCI board, a 19-inch-wide box with inputs and outputs and FAST-Studio for Windows NT 4.0. The system performs cuts, dissolves and wipes in real-time. It also has an unlimited number of video, overlay and title tracks. The FAST-Studio software is completely compatible with Adobe Premiere and it’s plug-ins such as Boris Effects. The system uses S-video inputs and outputs, although a DV upgrade with i.LINK (IEEE 1394) inputs is slated for introduction later this year.

New Hard Drives are Hot

As many of you are already aware, digital video editing requires lots of hard drive space. But not all drives are created equal. The resulting quality of a digital video project relies heavily on the speed, fidelity and sustained data transfer rate of the hard drive. A good hard drive is a critical component for capturing and outputting full-screen, high-resolution video.

Fortunately for aspiring nonlinear editors, the hard drive manufacturing arena is experiencing significant technical innovation even as the drives continue to drop in price. Late last year, for example, IBM, Hitachi and Seagate each unveiled new high-powered storage devices. IBM and Hitachi both came out with new high-capacity SCSI drives while Seagate boasted its new SCSI would hit the market in February.

IBM added three new additions to its Ultrastar line. The 36XP,the 18ES and the 9LZX drives. The 36XP($1,575) is a 36.4GB behemoth that operates at 7,200 rpm and features a new Drive Temperature Indicator Processor (Drive-TIP) to reduce temperature-induced malfunctions. The 18ES($915) is IBM’s first SCSI hard drive to use the giant magnetoresistive (GMR) drive heads, which allow for more information to be stored in a smaller area on the drive. It also makes for a very fast drive. The 9LZX($850) spins its disks at a stunning 10,020 rpms.

Not to be outdone by its competitors, Hitachi announced its own new family of SCSI drives. Hitachi’s new drive spins at 7,200 rpm and can hold an impressive 36.8GB on a 3.5-inch disk drive. In demanding storage applications–such as video processing–high capacity must be matched by fast data access and high-speed data transfer rates. The new Hitachi drives support either Ultra SCSI-2 (LVD), which promises an 80MB per second data transfer rate, or Fibre Channel (FC-AL), which promises data transfer rates up to 100MB per second.

Seagate Technology unwrapped new versions of its Barracuda, Cheetah, and Medalist Pro drives. The Cheetah 50 is a 3.5-inch drive capable of storing up to 50GB of data with a speed of 10,000 rpm.

The Barracuda 50 is a combination of existing Barracuda and Cheetah technologies that won’t be available until February. These drives are Seagates’ answer to the rise in demand for high-performance disk-based storage systems. The prices for the Barracudas vary between $595 and $2275, depending on the model, and the prices for the Cheetahs range from $695 to $2100.

Throw it Away

It was bound to happen. An Auckland, New Zealand company called Disposable Video Camcorders recently applied for the patent on–you guessed it–the disposable camcorder. According to the company, the disposable camcorder, like its disposable still photo cousin, will use a reinforced cardboard body that surrounds a videocassette. To eliminate the need for a battery, the camcorder will use a hand-cranked motor to power the video circuitry and tape transport mechanisms. The company didn’t specify what format the camcorder would use or the price of the unit. Look for them soon in novelty stores and amusement parks everywhere.

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