"We would find a software program that was better in terms of ease and functionality than a software program we'd already installed on the system," says Tapematic general manager Bryan Ekus. "But many times we would find ourselves settling for less-than-desirable programs because of compatibility issues." What Tapematic needed to bring the Digital Creation Station—now branded as "Nextrium by Tapematic"—to market was a software bundle. Enter Ulead's Studio Quartet, which Ekus says gives the user the confidence of knowing that they're going to start a project and end it with software from the same manufacturer, so they don't have to worry about compatibility issues.
The Digital Creation Station is Tapematic's response to tape customers who said they've had to turn away business because they've yet to make the leap to optical media. The product is built around an Intel Xeon 2.66gHz dual processor architecture with 1GB RAM, 40GB system hard drive space and 120GB media storage drive space, as well as a dual-head 32MB video card, two DVD-ROM drives, and three Pioneer DVR-105 4X DVD drives. It also offers the gamut of video and audio inputs as well as a dual-port FireWire card for capture, plus eight channels of audio processing, aspect ratio conversion, and independent horizontal and vertical filtering. As Ulead director of sales and product management Mike Mickes describes it: "It provides a wide range of services such as analog tape-to-digital optical conversion, photo and film retouching, DVD mastering, animation and Web site creation, DVD authoring and short-run CD and DVD duplication." But all that hardware wouldn't do the job Tapematic wanted it to do without the right software package.
Ekus first approached Ulead after seeing MediaStudio Pro 7 at a trade show, where he was impressed with the NLE's capabilities. Studio Quartet combines Media Studio Pro 7 with Cool 3D Production Studio, for creating 3D titles and animated graphics; DVD Workshop AC-3 (an EMedia Editor's Choice winner) for creating motion menus and importing 5.1 surround sound into stereo AC-3 files; and PhotoImpact 8, for creating still graphics and enhancing and adding effects to photos.
"There were two objectives Tapematic set as criteria for the solution they offered their customers," Mickes says. "It had to be a system that could be up and running quickly with no additional manpower or long training requirements, and it had to be affordable and offer a quick return on investment." Studio Quartet sells for $795 on its own (and it's available at reduced rates as an upgrade for MediaStudio Pro 6 users); pricing for the scalable Digital Creation Station starts at $7995.
Both companies see the partnership as a way to expand their customer base. "Our target is any company (such as a good portion of our existing customer base) that currently does not have DVD editing, authoring, or duplicating capabilities," Ekus says, adding that even though Tapematic has been manufacturing CD and DVD replication equipment for years, it's "not feasible" for many of its customers to take that step. "The Digital Creation Station offers a company a simple, inexpensive entry point into optical production and allows them to expand their product line."
For Ulead, it's a matter of getting Studio Quartet in the hands of companies that haven't traditionally done digital video work. "Because we started in the retail consumer space, we've learned how to incorporate advanced features and complex functionality into an application that doesn't require a computer engineering degree to accomplish."