EditDV, from Digital Origin, is one of a range of video-editing packages available for the Mac. It was one of the first packages, and has become a comprehensive package for producing medium-to-long videos.
EditDV is bundled with several software titles, making it good value for money – as well as providing a suite of useful tools. It comes with Media Cleaner EZ, Photoshop 5.0 LE, SpiceRack Pro Lite and Peak LE 2.1. These are all reasonable cutdown versions of full-retail software, and it’s convenient to get everything bundled in one box.
It also ships with RotoDV, PaintDV and MotoDV, which complement the editing functionality of the core software. RotoDV is the most useful of them, and allows for rotoscoping or painting on sequential video frames. This technique is most frequently used for wire removal or adding special effects to video footage.
The software comes with a detailed printed manual and an Acrobat version on the CD. Also in the package is a quick reference guide and a set of stickers for your keyboard. Sadly, the stickers are not very clear on the black keys of the new USB and PowerBook keyboards. There’s also a six-pin to four-pin FireWire cable in the box.
Digital Origin recommends an additional drive for storing the DV files – at 210MB per minute, digital video can quickly fill most hard drives. 45 minutes of footage equates to about 10GB. Video editing puts the Mac under a heavy load, as it has to move the video from the disk drive, decode it and display it, or transfer it to the FireWire interface without dropping any frames of the footage.
Installation is relatively straight forward. Unfortunately, Digital Origin’s FireWire extensions conflict with Apple’s QuickTime FireWire DV Enabler – the installer prompts users to disable the extension. This will stop Premiere and Final Cut Pro from capturing DV files, but EditDV’s read-me states a solution is being developed.
There’s a good tutorial on the CD that covers how to use the editing environment, some special effects, and the titling functions.
The software supports only digital video, this means that the project settings are based around TV standards. This is either PAL or NTSC , with 16:9-wide-screen support. There are several different levels of audio capture supported – 32KHz, 44.1KHz (CD quality) and 48KHz.
Most consumer cameras use 32KHz audio, but the flexibility to base a project around CD- or DVD-quality audio is good. To back this up, audio can be exported at these sample rates either locked or unlocked. EditDV can also work with progressive-scan footage, common on more expensive cameras.
Once a project is set-up, the footage is either imported from a disk, or captured direct from the camera. It can then be organized into bins – a sort of virtual folder structure. Batch capture and logging are supported, so you can select the footage you want to capture by previewing it, then leave the capture to copy only the data needed to your drive. This can now be done directly from within EditDV.
EditDV has a clean interface, but it really requires a 1,024-x-768-pixel screen to be comfortable – a PowerBook screen is fine. For a longer editing session, a dual-monitor set-up would be a bonus. There are six windows to work with: source and monitor, sequencer (timeline), project window, sound level, special effects, and a controls window for the camera or DV tape deck.
It’s possible to output the footage directly to a TV connected to the camera. Previewing edits is much quicker like this, as the camera decodes the DV footage.
The editor is fast and efficient. When paused, it quickly resolves to the full-quality image. This makes previewing footage for editing easy. Almost all the major functions are mapped to single-key shortcuts. Once learned, this speeds editing no-end.
Digital Origin’s own DV codec makes displaying video very flexible. There are many detailed options for the codec, covering black and white points – which is useful if you’re combining computer-generated images and DV footage. The compression quality of the SoftDV codec is higher than that of the DV codec in QuickTime 4.1, as it causes less glitches on compression.
The editor supports several different types of editing: including three-point, ripple, roll, slip and slide. It can also add footage into a specified length of a programme, this four-point edit allows one clip to be swapped for another without affecting the carefully structured sequence of edits in the rest of the programme. The program is intuitive to use and is responsive – whether you’re putting together a rough-cut of the video, or doing some fine trimming of a clip.
There are quite a few special effects in the bundle. EditDV 2.0 supports the QuickTime effects architecture, which provides a selection of rendered effects and some standard SMPTE (a digital-time code) wipes and dissolves. There are also some 2D and 3D effects options for Picture in Picture tricks or spinning-video frames, using the Pan Zoom and Rotate suite. The titler is fully featured, providing a great range of typographic effects, from simple justification and gradient fills, to scrolling-text effects – all of which are key-frameable. Finally, there is a set of colour-replace, chroma and luma keying tools – which allow colour correction and blue-screen work within EditDV.
This is a solid editor for working with DV footage. If you have outgrown iMovie and are looking for a more complete package, then EditDV deserves your attention. Digital Origin recently announced that it will be adding Adobe After Effects 4.1 to the bundled software for EditDV 2.0. This will redress the weakness in compositing, and makes a good-value bundle even better. Adobe Premiere is about the same price, and Apple’s Final Cut Pro handles effects and editing – but costs more. However, EditDV does exacty what it sets out to do – it’s a great editor.