Went to the LAFCPUG (i.e. the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User’s Group) meeting on Thursday – I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe a bunch of pasty-white film editors sitting around and talking about the best way to cut a montage so as to satisfy the coke-snorting exec producer that he’s getting enough shots of his current girlfriend in so she won’t get all screechy on him. 

What I got instead was something of an  extended infomercial for all the latest&greatest toys relating to video editing.

Here’s a quick rundown:
Picture Ready! is a $2,400 application that requires that each computer that uses it have a "dongle" – i.e. a little USB device that plugs into the computer that tells the computer that it’s OK to run the software. I guess if you’re going to sell software for $2,400, you better have some kinda device to make sure that it can’t be pirated, since the incentive to pirate something that costs that much is obviously even higher than the incentive to pirate a $14.99 DVD.  Hacker’s start your recompilers!

Anyway – Picture Ready! allows you to cut & edit while still capturing multiple streams.  In other words, you can sit at your computer, while the video streams from a couple of cameras streaming in the video of an event come in and are captured, and you can mark segments from the cameras and put them in your bin, to assemble highlights.

One of the big markets for this is apparently the World Cup, where the editors are going to be watchingGoal various camera angles of a soccer match (or maybe even a bunch of soccer matches) and editing it out the highlights on the fl
y to be streamed either over the web or over mobile phones.  Since you wouldn’t want to try to watch a TV broadcast of the game (bandwidth and drop-outs would screw that up – as would your car/bus/train going through a tunnel) having the highlights assembled and RIGHT THERE when you want them … that’s the kind of service that makes financial sense.  Picture Ready! takes the place of about a 10-person crew, and does things that that crew in an editing trailer outside the stadium *still* couldn’t do.  It’s also great for reality-TV shows that are editing on the fly.  Kinda outside my needs at this time, but this could be interesting on down the road…

Next up was the Matrox MXO which was a hardware gadget that failed to impress: it had no end of problems trying to sync up with the big projector to show off what it can do.  Despite all this, I can see a world of use for this gadget. The first thing that is cool about it is that it sits between your Mac and your monitor, and allows you to use your plain Jane, straight from Circuit City monitor as a reference monitor – i.e., if you were about to ship out your video editing project to the pressing plant to have it made into DVDs, you’d want to see what it would look like when your customers who buy the DVDs take a look at it.  Regular computer monitors Dell_monitorwon’t do this – for a variety of very technical reasons having to do with screen flicker, refresh rate, color accuracy, etc – so if you want to do this, you either have to invest in a specialized monitor – like this one, which for a 9 inch display costs you about $650 – or this Dell for $2200 – or hire someone to do it for you each and every time.

The other thing the Matrox does well is allow you to record what you’re doing on the computer screen flicker-free.  That is, if you want to do a training video (as my wife Janine often does) and part of that training is showing you step-by-step what to click on and what to type on a computer screen, then to get decent quality flicker-free video requires all manner of jumping through the various video standards and display hoops.  (That was a remarkably tangled sentence, but I don’t feel like re-wording it, so I’ll let it stand.)

The next presentation was the one that everyone had been waiting for – Ted Schilowitz showed off the new Red HD camera.  This is the camera that for the past 1/2 year has been creating massive buzz in the videographer community, since it’s being built by an upstart company – Red was created because the owner of Oakley is a camera nut and wanted a camera that would do all the things that he wanted.

This is getting a bit long, so I will continue and give the Red camera its own post.  As you will see, it deserves it.