Creating video-based media is something almost every corporation faces more often than most are prepared for. Common examples include sales pitches and trade show and training materials. In the past, you would pay dearly to have a professional production company come up with and produce your final product. Now, for less than US$10,000 — the price of a typical production tape — you can buy your own video editing system.
Aside from the fact that the system will pay for itself in a single session, the ability to create media in-house could greatly improve training, marketing, and human resources efforts.
We looked at the Avid Technology Inc. Xpress DV (digital video) 1.5 on IBM Corp.’s IntelliStation. If you’ve ever turned on a television set, the chances are good you’ve seen Avid at work. Most major TV stations and filmmakers use Avid software. It was natural then for the company to port its software to the business community.
Xpress can be used to create professional-quality videotapes, but the main thrust of the application is to create digital content for deployment on a network, Web site, CD-ROM, or DVD. Digital output options include MPEG-1, 2, and 4; Real Media; Windows Media/ASF; AVI and QuickTime; and Import OMF(r)/JFIF.
In short, we found the combination of Xpress on the IntelliStation made for a very capable solution. Because the only way to purchase Avid Xpress is on an IBM IntelliStation, we’re glad to say IBM’s workstation is up to the job.
With Xpress you could be making professional videos in a matter of hours. It was both powerful and simple to use, easily earning a score of Very Good.
In developing tools that allow the user to create something, the goal is to make the creative process as natural and easy as possible. Avid essentially invented the work space environment used by most video editing systems, and in Xpress it’s easy to follow what you are doing.
Although not as feature-rich as Adobe’s Premiere, Xpress is simpler and more efficient. For example, the video time line, which represents the clips, transitions, and effects that make up the video, is all displayed on one line, compared to Premiere’s three. Additional video and audio tracks are each represented as their own layers.
One slightly odd choice by the Xpress developers was to bundle the product with different applications that provide much of the post-video tasks. For example, Xpress comes with MediaCleanerEZ from Terran, which is a compression utility for video files, and Sonic Solution’s DVDit, which creates DVDs. Also, the utility used to import video from a DV camera is a little clunky, often needing to be reset in order to recognize the Canon Elura Mini DV we used.
Clearly, Avid spent its time making its technology usable by the average IT person and left the postproduction utilities to the experts. But we would rather they seamlessly integrate these utilities in future versions.
All said, Avid Xpress is a powerful editor that will have you making high-quality videos in a matter of hours. With the ability to create high-quality media in-house, you will undoubtedly find a plethora of uses that will make your messages clearer and keep your employees better informed.
Steve Jefferson is a senior editor in the Test Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD
Avid Xpress DV 1.5 on IBM IntelliStation
Business Case: The Avid Xpress DV on IBM IntelliStation is a cost-effective, powerful platform that will provide a complete and compelling video editing and production studio in a tidy package.
Technology Case: Avid is the undisputed champ of professional-grade video editing systems, and IBM’s IntelliStation makes a great platform. There is no need to mix and match capture card with software and the right hardware.
+ Powerful and easy to use
+ Preconfigured system takes the pain out of building one
– Weak integration with third-party utilities
Cost: $7,774 for a 933MHz system; $6,349 for a 733MHz system
Platform(s): Windows NT
Avid Technology Inc., Tewksbury, Mass.; (978) 640-6789; www.avid.com
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Prices listed are in US currency.