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     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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February 2001, Week 2 -- Video and How to Make it Go

    Video Wave 4

   "MGI's VideoWave 4" and "Ulead's Video Studio 5" easily top the current offerings for making movies for home and business. Typical business uses are for training films and product presentations.

   The process becomes much easier with new software, approaching professional results with care. A stumbling block has been the transfer speed of digital video to computer and back again. The longer it takes the more difficult it is to edit the video and create the smooth sequences you want. Editing video is a more or less constant process of shifting scenes and frames in and out.

 

   Ulead Studio 5 takes a direct approach to the speed problem: the program can look at more than 4 gigabytes of video on the hard drive (a little over 20 minutes of full motion video). There is nothing faster than swapping images back and forth using the hard drive, so this is a terrific way to edit. (If you have a FireWire or USB connection, the program works with those as well, and that much is fairly standard with editing programs these days.)

 

   Setup is straight-forward in Video Studio and the main controls look much like those on a VCR. Fussy editors will love the fact that there are 99 levels of "undo." Like many of the latest editing programs, this one detects scene changes and numbers them.

    Video Studio

   MGI's VideoWave 4 has some neat new features of its own, the most interesting being "TimeWarp," which allows you to create and mix fast and slow motion video with a tape running at normal speed. MGI will soon be coming out with a version of the Software for the Palm handheld computer. Price is expected to be $25.

   Ulead VideoStudio 5 and MGI VideoWave 4 both have a $100 list price. Phone info for Ulead: 310-896-6388; web: www.ulead.com. MGI phone: 888-644-7638 or 905-764-7000; web: www.mgisoft.com.

 

FireWire when ready Mr. Gridley

 

   The speed of FireWire makes video editing so much easier that it is almost essential. Even if you keep the video on the hard drive, FireWire will let you load it faster and send it back out to videotape faster.

 

 

   Belkin Components has a card that adds a FireWire connection to your laptop computer and another that adds it to desktop computers. Prices are $106 and $90 respectively and the cards are available for Both Windows and Macintosh. If one FireWire port isn't enough, Belkin has a four-port hub for $93.

   The advantage of FireWire is speed -- a transfer rate of up to 400 Mbps (megabits per second). That's about 30 times faster than USB connections. Of course, sometime this Spring, Belkin will have a USB, version 2 card, which will be even faster than FireWire. Technology always seems to play leapfrog.

 

   Belkin phone info: 800-223-5546 or 310-898-1100; web: www.belkin.com.

 

Internuts:

-- www.escapeartist.com  A site with information about living, working and retiring abroad. There has been a trend toward Americans retiring abroad in the past 20 years or so, particularly to Mexico, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Site also has links to magazines, like "Guatemala Lifestyles" and "International Living," plus information on offshore banking.

-- http://wun.tns.net  This is a great free newsletter from a Windows users group in San Diego. Lots of tips and tricks plus information on market studies, internet use, etc.

 

-- www.nutritionreports.com  Reports on exercise, diet, stress, etc. Current notes: One study shows that 30 minutes of exercise three times a week increases cognitive ability in the elderly and middle-aged. Eating cabbage and broccoli reduces the chance of a stroke.

-- www.topozone.com  Shows a printable topographic map (land contours) of any place in the United States. More countries will be added as the year goes on. Service is free.

-- www.ancestry.com Over one billion records in the database. After seven generations the average person has 8,000 relatives. Now there's a family gathering. The site is a subscription service; about half of it is free but the other half carries a charge. Interestingly, they claim to be the web's third largest subscription site. The first two are Consumer Reports Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

 

-- www.shutterfly.com  A photo printing service. Free processing for film and the first 25 prints, and so is an Adobe photo editing program. You can make personalized photo greeting cards on their site for around 50 cents apiece.

 

The return of the trackball

 

   LogiTech has a cordless trackball that works with either Macintosh or Windows. Track balls were common in the early game machines found in restaurants and video arcades and are still found in some laptops. (Think of it as a mouse turned upside down.) Quite a few people prefer them to the standard computer mouse control and here's their opportunity to switch back. The "Trackman FX" has an $80 list price. Phone info: 510-795-8500; web: www.logitech.com.

 

Instant photo albums

 

   PrintLife is in the business of converting your photos into hard bound albums. You choose the background and a layout plan of one to three pictures per page and they produce the books at $25 apiece. Turn-around time is 48 hours. We got one and it looks good. Makes a nice gift or presentation item. Phone: 781-279-2112; web: www.printlife.com.

 

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.

 

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