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Information Today, Inc.
Jan Ozer is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and Web sites on digital video-related topics and the author of the new Pinnacle Studio 8 Visual QuickStart Guide published by Peach Pit Press.
Articles By Jan Ozer
No appreciable update to DVD Studio Pro, but output to Blu-ray and HD menu presets from the FCP timeline, and multiple new ProRes flavors for high-quality intermediate codec HD editing
Jan Ozer | The Microboards MX-2 features a great new print engine and GUI and print quality that's simply fabulous, with vibrant color and sharp detail and easily the best I’ve ever seen on a printer/duplicator.
Jan Ozer | Sooner or later, if you’ve been shooting or otherwise producing high-definition video, you’re going to want to create a Blu-ray Disc. At this point, your Blu-ray authoring options range from well under $100 to burn on a desktop recorder or duplicator, to close to $100,000 for a program capable of producing Blu-ray projects that you can have pressed at a replication facility. In this article, I’ll identify the relevant categories of Blu-ray authoring software and identify the features that differentiate programs within each category.
Jan Ozer | If you buy the Microboards CX-1, you'll be more than happy with print quality and ecstatic with performance. We'd like to see the cost of consumables come down, but that's true of most inkjet-based systems. Microboards has been shipping this software combination with its automated print and burn units forever, so it's mature and proven.
Jan Ozer | XLNT Idea's Nexis 100 AP CD/DVD Publisher costs hundreds less than most of its competitors, and offers a good blend of capacity, performance, print quality, and software usability. If you're considering an autoloading printer/recorder in the 50-disc capacity range, and you're not a Mac-based operation, the Nexis should definitely be on your short list.
Jan Ozer | Ulead DVD MovieFactory ($79.99) is the best choice I’ve seen for video producers who need to deliver both Blu-ray and HD DVD for their clients now. HD DVD authoring is about what you’d expect in terms of DVD authoring from a consumer product, but Blu-ray is more limited. If you need menus on your Blu-ray discs, Roxio DVDit Pro HD is a better choice, but it costs a bunch more and has its own player-related issues.
Jan Ozer | Not long ago, I briefly had the feeling that small-studio producers could actually drive HD market acceptance and perhaps even impact the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD marketing war. Then I bought another Blu-ray player and got a sudden dose of reality.
Jan Ozer | ScribePC is ideal for networked, high-volume shops with DVD-only or mixed CD/DVD duplication and printing jobs, especially those needing to serialize or otherwise customize their disc labels, and those whose workflow may be improved by passing disc duplication hosting on to a dedicated PC. The only significant deficit is the lack of a Mac client, so if you’re a Mac shop, this probably isn’t for you.
Jan Ozer | This first installment of a two-part series on HDV camcorders analyzes the features and usability of the three leading 3CCD models: the Sony FX1/Z1U, the JVC HD100, and the Canon XL H1. Next month we’ll do quality comparisons based on three live event shoots and lab testing.
Jan Ozer | With the Production Studio Premium bundle, Adobe delivers new capabilities that maintain feature parity with most relevant competitors and new integration features throughout the suite that will streamline the workflow for Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects users. Throw in the more unified and streamlined interfaces in all the applications, and you've got a powerful, comprehensible, and affordable product offering that's well worth a look for most event videographers.
Jan Ozer | There’s a lot that goes into the perfect DVD, but one of the most fundamental aspects is navigation, or how you control the way the viewer moves through the content on the DVD. In this tutorial, I identify which aspects of the user experience you can control, and how to do so in two leading prosumer authoring tools: Sonic Solutions’ DVDit Pro 6 and Apple’s DVD Studio Pro.
Jan Ozer | In our business, you’re only as good as the tools you can bring to bear on the wide variety of tasks we perform. I write mostly about major tools like computers, NLEs, and DVD authoring programs; here I want to identify some of the smaller, lesser-known tools that help me work more smoothly and efficiently.
Jan Ozer | In designing MediaStudio 8, Ulead obviously decided to pick their markets, not directly facing off against the 800-pound gorillas, but carving out unique pockets of utility, like proxy editing for those editing HDV on underpowered computers and the Smart Compositor for those needing some design assistance. Overall, the product is competent to above-average in most important features, and its friendly interface should be easy for editors navigating upwards from consumer programs, especially compared to the cryptic Pinnacle Liquid Edition and Avid Xpress DV.
Jan Ozer | In the final segment of our four-part series comparing five leading software NLEs—Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Xpress Pro HD, Liquid Edition, and Vegas—we’ll wrap things up with a look at slideshow creation capabilities, and we’ll render our test projects and compare speed and quality. Finally, we’ll crunch the numbers and draw some conclusions.
Jan Ozer | Sonic Solutions DVDit Pro 6 has something to offer nearly every class of user. Those moving up from consumer tools will find the program easy to learn and more flexible and powerful than their current tools. And those who’ve worked with other prosumer-level products will find DVDit much easier to use, and quickly realize that the capabilities enabled by the bundled eDVD are essential to producing compelling, competitive DVDs. All users will value the stability that DVDit brings to bear, and appreciate the newly redesigned interface, which is as intuitive as any we’ve seen for DVD authoring.
Jan Ozer | In August we kicked off a four-part series comparing five leading NLEs--Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress Pro, Pinnacle Liquid Edition, and Sony Vegas--based on key aspects of their performance in pro postproduction. Here we explore how they fare when editing what's arguably the hottest technology in videography today: HDV.
We’ve already reviewed the FX1 and found it to be a darling of a camcorder, as has the most of the rest of the world. Since you can expect the same audio/video quality from the Z1U, the $1,400 price disparity raises the inevitable question: when should you spend the extra dough and buy the professional version? In addition to producing outstanding quality in both DV and HDV modes, key advantages of the Z1U include DVCAM support, professional audio support, and new image adjustment capabilities like skin detail, black stretch, hypergain, and enhanced color correction.
In this first of four installments of the Battle of the Software NLEs, we'll compare five leading tools--Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress Pro, Pinnacle Liquid Edition, and Sony Vegas--as they performed in three operations essential to pro video editing: Overlay, Chromakey, and Color Correction.
Jan Ozer | While the theory of panning and zooming within HDV video holds reasonably true in practice, that doesn’t mean it’s actually practical.
Most of us assemble our edit bays piecemeal, upgrading equipment as we go to streamline our capture, editing, and authoring tasks. Given budget and time constraints, and the ever-present need to budget time, which postproduction pieces--faster CPUs, DDRs, added RAM, DVD burners--pay the biggest dividends fastest? Here we access cost savings over time to guide yoru configuration choices.
Jan Ozer|One thing I've learned over years of delivering video to clients: packaging matters. That's never been more true than on a recent project that yielded a four-disc set, and made me take inventory of all the DVD packages currently available to finish the job right.
Jan Ozer|After testing Sony's HDR-FX1, I’m an HDV believer. It’s not the second coming of DV, but it can be extremely useful in a number of circumstances, including when you need to down-sample the results to SD formats.
Jan Ozer|I enjoy doing video-based presentations and training, but the long days often get brutal, and the lessons learned by me and my fellow presenters are often harsh.
Jan Ozer|Planning a new 3-CCD DV camcorder purchase? Wondering which one best suits your videography needs? You’re in luck—EventDV’s first camcorder shootout compares three new 3-CCD models built with videographers in mind. They’re all leading contenders for the current pro/prosumer crown: Canon’s XL2, Panasonic’s AG-DVC60, and Sony’s HDV-capable HDR-FX1. Read on for the tale of the tape.
Jan Ozer|Though true HD systems are rare, there are several native, end-to-end HDV editing solutions available, including Pinnacle Edition and Ulead MediaStudio Pro, with support in Premiere Pro and Vegas coming in late 2004.
Does Pinnacle Edition 6 makes the transition from professional to non-professional editors with ease of use through Windows-style menus and wizards, and multiple controls for similar functions?
Unlike subtitles produced for DVDs, closed captions must fulfill specific requirements to meet official accessibility regulations.
Jan Ozer|Here I cover the next five wows of my Ten Wow Theory with shooting and editing
Jan Ozer|Shooting on a budget almost always means less than ideal lighting. To present your subjects in the best light, you’ll need to know what equipment to buy and how to use it, how to work without it when necessary, and how to adapt your lighting strategies to the idiosyncrasies of your shooting site. What constitutes “good lighting,” and how can you get it without breaking the bank? And how can you make sure it follows you wherever you shoot?
Jan Ozer| When you’re doing professional shoots, you’ve got two alternatives for capturing higher-quality audio: get really, really close to your subject, or get an external microphone. Assuming that close proximity is not always an option, with all the mics, connections, and strategies available, what do you need to know to do on-site sound right?
Jan Ozer|With all my video work, I take a “Ten Wow” strategy, and try to think of ways to earn 10 "wows" of praise. On a recent project, which included an event shoot, editing, and DVD authoring, I divided the ten evenly; five for shooting and editing, and five for DVD production. I’ll deal with the second five here.
Jan Ozer|To produce professional video on a budget, you need to master various visual and technical arts. But you also need to become a master of illusion, especially if you’re working as a crew of one. Here we explore the art of the single-camera shoot, and insert-editing techniques that will ensure that you have all the angles covered.
Jan Ozer | If you're already using Vegas 4, version 5 is a no-brainer upgrade. If your video productions are music-intensive, and you're not already using Vegas, you should be. Vegas can do virtually everything that Premiere Pro can do, and a whole lot more, but you'll get there faster and easier in Premiere Pro. Though vastly improved, DVD Architect still trails DVD Workshop and Encore in overall functionality.
Many of the questions I get from readers and see on Web forums relate to confusion about the formats and file types used in the video production process.
Jan Ozer| Compositing isn't as tough as you might think. With the right tools and some basic skills, creating video overlay effects and even "virtual sets" is easier than ever.
Jan Ozer | While a reasonably effective professional NLE, EDIUS feels a generation behind polished programs like Pinnacle Liquid Edition, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Apple Final Cut Pro. Though there are some performance bright spots--speedy rendering, a rich effects palette, and an excellent titling utility--there are also fundamental workflow problems.
Jan Ozer | A shootout between streaming codecs reveals that Real, Microsoft, and Sorenson have the edge over MPEG-4.
Jan Ozer | There's increasing reason to believe that, to paraphrase an old Southern expression, the MPEG-4 dog just won't hunt. It hasn't yet, and it probably never will, at least in any serious commercial way.
Is DVD Workshop 2 a worthy successor to its Editor’s Choice-winning forerunner? Happily, the answer is an unqualified yes, primarily because of the design flexibility and enhancements incorporated into the new version.
Making sense of the latest digital video camera offerings
Sony’s new DCR-VX2100 is a modest but likeable upgrade to the venerable VX2000 that’s positioned squarely in the sweet spot of mainstream prosumer camera usage.
All streaming video—whether from Apple (QuickTime), Microsoft (Windows Media), or RealNetworks (Real)—looks great when encoded at sufficiently high bit rates. The problem is getting it to your computer where it can play smoothly.
If you analyze Premiere across the complete range of relevant features, it’s a strong performer, particularly in critical areas like timeline editing and rendering. This is especially true when you consider the cast of Adobe products that surround Premiere. Some, like After Effects, buttress Premiere’s weaknesses in chromakeying and other special effects. Others, like Photoshop and Encore, are must-have production tools. For many producers, Adobe’s ability to bundle and aggressively price these tools gives Premiere an edge that no other editor can match.
Jan Ozer | With landmark recent releases from Adobe, Apple, Avid, Pinnacle, and Sony Pictures, today’s video-editing scene boasts a surfeit of showstoppers. But which one is truly today’s premier prosumer NLE?
Synopsis: NewTek's Video Toaster  is head and shoulders above the sub-$2,000 competition in terms of performance, capabilities, and feel. The only issues are whether you can justify the $3995 purchase price, and whether you can stomach jumping into a non-linear editing environment built more for TV producers than the average computer user. It's clearly the hottest hardware we've reviewed to date, with true, real-time operation for every tested effect. But it's clearly overkill for most DVD and Web producers, and the interface is best-suited for consistent, rather than casual users. This makes it better-suited for professional videographers, rather than corporate departments with infrequent video projects.
Saddled with the most challenging interface of any tool in its class, Pinnacle Edition is off-putting at first, to say the least. But stick with it and you’ll reap the rewards—that same interface is extraordinarily flexible, powerful, and inspiring. Overall, workflow is fast and efficient, and the software boasts versatile color correction, great stability, and the most ingenious use of hyperthreaded processing we’ve seen to date. All hail the new prosumer video editing king, at least for now. Bring on Premiere Pro.
Impression DVD-Pro has several features, like support for two camera angles and multiple-labguage and subtitle streams, that are unavailable on similarly priced products like DVD Workshop or DVDit! If you need these features, you can spend $599 for Impression, or $1500 for ReelDVD. These features are not available on Impression DVD SE, which will be bundled with many Pinnacle products-you'll have to pay $399 for the upgrade. If you're a graphics designer intimate with Photoshop, you'll probably like Impression, and you probably won't find the learning curve all that steep. If you're a sales, marketing, or training professional without a designer, you'll probably find DVD Workshop a better choice, even if you receive Impression in a bundle.
What differentiates one non-linear editing software package from another? We go straight to the sources, and let the manufacturers make their cases for five of the top corporate-level NLEs on the market.
Synopsis: Pinnacle makes several aggressive claims for its Pro-ONE professional video editing and authoring system, including “true” real-time 3D effects and a broader effects palette than its competition. The card does indeed deliver real-time 3D processing works fine with anti-aliasing off; the generous effects package does indeed deliver outstanding customization options. The bundle also includes the newly upgraded DVTools for tape scanning and batch capture and several Pinnacle utilities. At press time, the product lacked Windows 2000 and XP support, but Pinnacle has promised to remedy that before this review hits the streets.
When considering cameras, DV cards, editors, and workstations, aspiring videographers face a multitude of choices. We help you sort them out.