Since Thomson’s late-2005 acquisition of Canopus, the advancement of the EDIUS NLE has arguably been on the slow track, which has left many longtime EDIUS users feeling anxious for updates. In mid-2007 Grass Valley did release an interim update, version 4.5, which changed the user interface and offered a few improvements, but nothing major or groundbreaking. EDIUS users have been speculating all this time about what version 5 would include. With the September release of EDIUS 5 (Figure 1, right), the wait is over … was it worth it? For many users, it will be, even though a few key features are still in the works. For event producers, many of the new features that are now accessible will prove a big plus for workflow.
The biggest feature added in v5 is Microsoft Vista compatibility, although that comes with one caveat. It works under the Vista operating system, but it has not been rewritten as a true 64-bit application. It works great in a 64-bit environment but is still a 32-bit application.
If you are currently an EDIUS user and are using XP, there is no need to upgrade to Vista to get additional functionality—everything in EDIUS 5 is accessible to XP users. Upgrading to Vista would allow your system to access more RAM, giving you the ability to do more multitasking with other apps, but it doesn’t add new capabilities to EDIUS. If you haven’t upgraded to Vista, you won’t need to until you get a new computer.
There are many new features in EDIUS 5, and if you want to see a complete listing of them you can find it here. I’m not going to go into detail about all the new features because many of them don’t apply to the everyday workflow of an event video editor. But I do want to touch on a few of the features that I believe will have the most impact on your editing workflow.
The Layout Tool
In previous versions of EDIUS, the Layout tool was almost a hidden feature that many users didn’t even know about. In EDIUS 5, the Layout tool has been improved and can now function as an integral part of your editing workflow. The new Layout tools (Figure 2) will allow you to pan and zoom on a clip or still image, and it includes keyframes so it can easily be used to build a photomontage.
In the past, EDIUS users relied on an external or third-party application (such as the discontinued Canopus Imaginate) to build photomontages. The Layout tool won’t completely replace these dedicated image-animation tools, as it doesn’t yet have 3D capabilities, but the 2D capabilities will work for many of the things you need to do with still images or even video clips.
One thing the Layout tool can be used for is to create a picture-in-picture (PnP) effect. EDIUS 4 had great 2D and 3D PnP filters/keyers. With the new release of v5, the 3D PnP feature has lost some of its real-time functionality. Unless you need the 3D features with PnP, the functionality of the Layout tool will work great and provide lots of real-time output. Next time you need PnP capabilities, give the Layout tool a look.
If you own a Panasonic or Sony camera that records to P2 or SxS media, you’re familiar with the ability to add markers to your footage. The clip marker function of EDIUS 5 now imports those marker points with your files, and they will appear on your timeline.
A side benefit that applies even to editors not working with footage from these cameras is that you can now set clip markers on a clip, and these will stay with the clip as you move it on the timeline (Figure 3, below). For instance, you can bring up a song for a highlight segment in the preview window and set markers for your clip transitions. Drop this on the timeline, and your markers will move with the song if you need to move it around the timeline. For some workflows, this can be an added bonus.
One thing many users of previous versions of EDIUS will notice right away is that ProCoder Express is no longer included for easy encoding for exports. (But if you already have the full ProCoder 3, you can download an upgrade from Grass Valley that will allow you to export from the EDIUS 5 timeline using the popular transcoding tool.)
With ProCoder Express gone, when you use the Export to File function you will now see a new Exporter user interface (Figure 4, below). At first it seemed confusing and a little quirky to me, mainly because I was used to ProCoder Express. But once I spent a few minutes digging into the interface, I found it to be very powerful. I’ve created presets to streamline the export process, and it has become a great new feature for me. Figure 4 shows the new Exporter interface.
There are two key features of the new Exporter utility that were not available in ProCoder Express. One is its Batch Exporter. This is great for those times when you need to export a section to multiple formats. Set them up for batch export, and with one click all the different formats will be created.
The other feature of the new Exporter that is a big plus is the ability to encode using all available processor cores for MPEG encoding chores. ProCoder Express couldn’t utilize all cores, so the ability to encode using all the cores will really speed up the encoding process. This is one feature upgrade that will definitely have a big impact.
The only problem I found with the new Exporter is that the SD MPEG encoder will not export elementary streams for DVD authoring. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future update.
If you are an editor who utilized the Xplode transitions previously included in EDIUS, you may at first be disappointed with EDIUS 5 because the Xplode transitions are no longer included. Not to worry—GPUfx transitions have arrived. The new GPUfx transitions are much more extensive than the old Xplode. These transitions run in real time if you have a fast enough GPU.
If your GPU is not fast enough, the install process won’t even allow you to install the transitions. According to Grass Valley, you need at minimum a graphics card with 256MB RAM and Pixel Shader 3.0 support (512MB+ and Pixel Shader 4.0 preferred). Most graphics cards introduced in the past few years are up to the task, so most PCs will be able to handle (and be eligible to install) the GPU transitions. A capable graphics card is very inexpensive, so if an upgrade is required, it won’t be a costly one.
New Audio Rubberband Controls
Now here’s a feature I can really use. When editing a wedding video I frequently have to set rubberbands on the audio track to raise and lower the volume during the vows on the audio track for the groom’s mic. That’s a lot of clicking and dragging.
Now you can set a rubberband node when the celebrant stops and then when he or she starts again. You will need to move this section down on the groom’s mic so you don’t have the extra background noise. In previous versions, this meant placing two more nodes and dragging them down. Now just Alt-click between the two nodes and drag down. EDIUS will add the two extra nodes and drag down everything between them.
This is a small but handy addition that seems tailor-made for our workflow. Grass Valley must have listened to some event video editors who pointed out this issue to them. Give this feature a try. You will love it.
EDIUS 5 includes lots of third-party plug-in applications. These apps were only available as paid add-ons until now. You now get nearly $1,000 worth of plug-ins, which makes the cost of the upgrade ($249 if you bought your copy of EDIUS 4.x before Aug. 1, 2008—if you bought EDIUS 4.x between Aug. 1 and Oct. 1, the upgrade is free) a real bargain. Here’s a quick look at the plug-ins now included.
proDAD Vitascene: This application includes lots of filters and transitions. The Vitascene filters and transitions are also dependent on your GPU. A graphics card that works with GPU transitions from EDIUS may not be up to the task for Vitascene real-time playback. My 512MB graphics card is not up to the task for Vitascene, so my previews stutter and can be a little cumbersome, but they still work. For real-time Vitascene, a graphics card with 512MB RAM is recommended, although this doesn’t apply if you’re editing HD with HQ AVI files. Real-time performance in Vitascene with HD HQ AVI files isn’t possible at this point no matter how big your graphics card. But if you get a 256MB card, you should be in good shape for editing with other types of files. These can be found online for around $100. This $100 graphics card will set you up nicely for GPU effects and the Vitascene filters.
proDAD Mercalli: The Mercalli shake/anti-shake filter is another plug-in worth the upgrade alone. (You can see a video tutorial on how to use Mercalli at www.infotoday.com/eventdv/mercalli/mercalli.html.) I won’t go into the details of the filter since it has already been covered, but I will tell you it has paid for itself in just a few projects.
NewBlue, Inc. Motion, Art, and Film effects: NewBlue has recently become very popular, and the fact that EDIUS 5 includes most of the NewBlue filters and effects is definitely a bonus. They don’t run in real time, but if you need them for an occasional special look, they are handy to have in your arsenal.
Izotope, Inc. VST Audio Plug-Ins: VST plug-ins have been supported in EDIUS for the last few versions, but many of them didn’t work well and sometimes crashed the NLE. The new VSTs included with EDIUS are greatly improved and work well. I have tried the AudioRestore VST (Figure 5, below), and the results have been very good in my preliminary experiments. This plug-in will see regular use in my workflow. I haven’t experimented with many more of them, but there is a nice selection included that will be a good addition to your arsenal. Some users have reported the Izotope VSTs causing EDIUS to load slower, but once you’ve downloaded and installed the EDIUS 5.01 update, you can download an Izotope VST bridge fix from http://desktop.grassvalley/com to solve the problem.
Corel DVD MovieFactory: DVD MovieFactory is an entry-level DVD authoring application that’s less sophisticated and versatile than the tools most of us probably use, but it will do basic Blu-ray (BDMV) menu-driven discs. It won’t help you create complicated Blu-ray or Java menus, but for simple menus with custom-imported backgrounds and chapter buttons, DVD MovieFactory is up to the task. There is an update coming soon to MovieFactory that is rumored to be free to EDIUS 5 users.
HDSTORM and HDSPARK
Grass Valley has some new hardware offerings available that work with EDIUS 5 as well. Two that may be appealing to event editors are HDSTORM and HDSPARK.
HDSTORM is designed to be an upgrade to the DVSTORM hardware card; DVSTORM (like other older cards such as DVRaptor and DVRex) is not supported in EDIUS 5. HDSTORM provides input/output via HDMI. The output is frame-accurate, full-resolution playback of the timeline. The only downside of HDMI input is you won’t get scene detection or device control on import.
HDSTORM will prove handy for importing footage shot with the newer AVC-based camcorders with HDMI ports. HDSTORM does not speed up any transitions or effects in EDIUS, but it does contain an encoder chip to handle up-conversion to the Canopus HQ codec for easier editing.
The HDSPARK card (Figure 6, below) supports HDMI output only. It will allow frame-accurate, full-resolution real-time output from the timeline via HDMI, and at press time it was due to become available before the end of 2008. It will be sold in a package with a full version of EDIUS. The cost will only be an extra $100 above the cost of a full version of Version 5. I am hoping Grass Valley will consider selling HDSPARK as a stand-alone hardware card for those who already own copies of EDIUS. My workflow uses scene detection on import and I still shoot HDV (no AVC), so HDMI input is not a feature I need right now. The HDSPARK would be a perfect fit for my workflow.
When you purchase an HDSTORM or HDSPARK card from Grass Valley, you also get the full version of EDIUS 5. Upgrade pricing is available.
If you are currently using a version of EDIUS that is not v5, you should give some serious thought to upgrading. The plug-ins alone are worth the cost of the upgrade. The addition of the Mercalli anti-shake application, the new audio rubberband controls, and the Izotope VSTs have improved my workflow and final product.
It took a while for the loyal EDIUS users among us to get v5, and I’m glad the wait is over. Grass Valley hasn’t included every feature we asked for, but there are enough great new additions to make this version a winner.
Philip Hinkle (philip at frogmanproductions.com) runs Madison, Wis.-based video production company Frogman Productions. Founder and vice-president of the Wisconsin Digital Media Group, he won a 2008 WEVA CEA Gold in the Social Event category and a 2006 4EVER Group AAA Diamond, and he spoke at Video 07 & 08.