Adobe, Sony Screenblast Debut New Software at DV Expo East
Posted Aug 1, 2003

This year's DV Expo East, held in July at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, may have been short on big product announcements, but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in quality, or at least relevance to the DV community. Most relevant, arguably, to most of that community: Adobe unveiled its long-awaited Premiere Pro NLE, one of four products included in its new Video Collection suite.

The Video Collection includes the latest versions of Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition (formerly Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro), as well as the new Encore DVD authoring software, which was launched at NAB but still not available for public consumption in July. "We realized that what people were looking for was a studio in a box," says David Trescot, senior director for Adobe's digital video products division. "With Video Collection, we can say ‘Here's a complete suite of DV applications.' Not everybody needs all of it, but just about everybody needs a little of it." The suite, which was expected to ship by press time, sells for $799 until September 30; after that, the price goes up to $999.

New features in Premiere include real-time editing, nestable timelines, advanced color correction, and keyframable effects parameters. It supports both HD and SD, as well as DV, DVD, CD, VCD, and SVCD formats. The standalone price is $699, with an upgrade from previous versions of Premiere costing $199. It's not, however, available for the Mac, marking a notable departure for a company whose video editing software has for years been identified closely with Apple.

"It was purely a business decision," Trescot says. "Since Premiere Pro is a 1.0, a brand new product, it didn't make sense to make the engineering investment to create a cross-platform product. With After Effects, we paid the cross-platform penalty five years ago. Apple now has three products that do video editing, so it just wasn't worth it to us to do that again."

After announcing Encore earlier this year, Encore will finally ship in early August. Based on Sonic's Authorscript DVD authoring engine and featuring a familiar Adobe-style interface, Encore's biggest attraction is that it integrates Photoshop directly into the software. Trescot says that Adobe decided to enter the DVD authoring arena as a matter of necessity: "Videotape is dead, and there's no Premiere customer who isn't doing DVD."

The Standard version of After Effects 6.0 that ships with the Video Collection includes 2D and 3D compositing, animation, and visual effects. The Professional version (available only as a separate purchase) includes additional visual effects as well as motion tracking and 3D channel effects. By itself, After Effects Standard sells for $699, while the Professional version is $999; both are available for Windows and Macintosh.

Adobe's Audition digital audio software rounds out the Video Collection. Acquired from Syntrillium, who pushed it to prominence as Cool Edit Pro, the tool offers sample-accurate editing, more than 45 digital signal processing tools and effects, and support for 24-bit/96kHz files for DVD sound production. The PC-only software sells for $299 on its own.

Manufacturers of turnkey NLE systems have been quick to embrace Adobe's new tools, and Canopus, Matrox and Cineform were already demonstrating plug-ins for Premiere Pro at DV Expo. "We think you'll see a broad range of users for Video Workshop, from DV to HD and everything in between," Trescot says.

Screenblast: No Helicopter Needed
Sony Screenblast had the other major announcement at DV Expo, new versions of its Screenblast Movie Studio and ACID software, both based on Sonic Foundry products acquired this summer. What sets these products apart from other video and audio editing software is a membership to the Screenblast Web site (, which features Hollywood-quality film clips (including some from Sony Pictures blockbusters like Charlie's Angels), ready-made templates and backgrounds, and audio selections.

"If you're putting together a DVD of your skiing trip and want to make it a little more fun, you could conceivably add footage of, say, a helicopter chase," says Andrew Schneider, senior vice president and general manager for Screenblast. "Unless you actually had enough money to bring in a helicopter, I suppose."

Schneider says that Sony decided to introduce the combination of software and content in 2001 when "we saw traction in the NLE consumer market." It brought its first retail software to market in October 2002; the new version of Movie Studio adds DVD authoring with Sonic Foundry's Vegas engine at its core, as well as Windows Media 9 and macromedia Flash SWF file support. The new ACID includes a free version of Sony SoundForge for editing and modifying loops or complete audio tracks.

Screenblast Movie Studio retails for $99.95, with ACID selling for $69.95, and each package includes a month's free membership to the Web site. The regular annual membership fee to Screenblast.com is $49.95, which includes access to all content as well as the ability to post a user gallery. Schneider says the gallery is designed both for consumers who want to share their projects with family and friends and for videographers who can use it to share projects in-progress with their clients. "It's the kind of thing that can save newly married couples a lot of trips to their videographer if they can see and approve what he's doing with their footage," he says.