When we talk about the leading software NLEs for videographers, we're generally speaking of five products (alphabetically): Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress DV, Pinnacle Liquid Edition, and Sony Pictures Vegas. Just outside that circle are Ulead MediaStudio Pro, which is faster and cheaper than the rest and more usable than most, but arguably not quite as feature-rich; and Canopus EDIUS Pro, which, in its first 2.5 versions, one might say, failed to make its intentions clear.
Canopus announced EDIUS Pro 3 on December 1, and demo'd the product at DV Expo West in Los Angeles the following week. Significantly, the announcement was somewhat buried under a related announcement: EDIUS NX for HDV, a $1,299 HW/SW HDV import and editing solution. EDIUS 3 is the software itself, released on its own with the full-step upgrade the name suggests.
On paper, EDIUS 3 is remarkably impressive, and seems well-equipped to make use of the company's other technology strengths. It supports "real-time, mixed-format" editing of a variety of types of HD and SD input, including DV, HDV, and MPEG-2. It also promises "bidirectional conversion" of HD and SD resolutions, though it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to convert from SD to HD (where do all those pixels come from?), "unrivaled" real-time transcoding, support for Canopus' acclaimed HQ HD codec, EDL import, and many other pro capabilities.
All of which sounds great, and none of which is terribly surprising, given Canopus' powerhouse digital video portfolio, which includes SD/HD editing systems, widely installed boards like DVStorm and DVRaptor, and the rock-solid ProCoder 2.0 transcoding solution.
What's least surprising about EDIUS' integration with systems like EDIUS HD, EDIUS SD, and EDIUS SP/NX for HDV, however, is that there's no chicken-egg confusion here; EDIUS started as the software component of the company's HW/SW editing systems, and its development arc has happened completely in conjunction with the development of those systems. Now, how much Canopus plans to do with it outside those systems remains anyone's guess. There's no question of how powerful it is within a powerful Canopus video solution, but how will it play elsewhere? And how important to Canopus is it that EDIUS compete with the likes of Xpress DV (which Avid has very effectively positioned for markets apart from its vaunted broadcast-level systems), Final Cut Pro, Vegas, Premiere Pro, and Liquid Edition? The DVStorm bundle clearly makes a good head-to-head match for Liquid Edition PRO, in terms of price point and functionality.
But how much of a contender EDIUS 3 will prove from a pure software standpoint depends largely on what Canopus has done to the interface between versions 2 and 3. The best products in the pro software space combine power and usability/accessibility; when Jan Ozer reviewed EDIUS 2 in June 2004 EMedia (pp. 36-38), he found EDIUS well behind the curve in usability. It's certainly understandable that a company focused on creating codecs and processing, encoding, and delivering video that would swamp others' systems wouldn't be as focused as a software company like Adobe or Sony Pictures on, say, docking editing windows, auto-color correction, or simultaneous application of multiple effects to the same clip (without rendering one before moving on to the next).
Canopus' press release announcing EDIUS 3 highlights performance issues: real-time preview and output and native Long GOP MPEG-2 support for HDV editing, plus the impressive credentials of the company's lossless codecs, and the product's compatibility with other Canopus offerings like DVStorm2 and DVRaptor RT2. It also notes streamlined workflow, direct-to-DVD timeline export, a new QuickTitler with roll/crawl support, and added interface customization options—all very exciting stuff. EDIUS is priced at $699 ($149 upgrade for registered EDIUS 2.x users), which puts it just on the high end of the prosumer NLE software class. But I still wonder: is Canopus really in the prosumer NLE software business?