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Real Prices for Real People

I just read your review of Realviz’s software in the January issue [“Ironically, The Image Factory from Realviz produces less manual labor for the user,” page 72]. I’m glad you pointed out their goofy pricing structure. While the software is great, they’re clearly shooting themselves in the foot. Just because it’s great software doesn’t mean it’s the only software — at least not forever. Soon enough someone will release an affordable, one-time-purchase-option program that does the same thing. The days of paying for continuing licenses on expensive computers is over. I hope Realviz learns this soon. I’d love to include MatchMover and ImageModeler in my suite of tools, but can’t justify those kinds of prices, especially for five-time-only use.
Dan Ablan
AGA Digital Studio

Realviz responds: Thank you for your positive comments on our tools. We appreciate the acknowledgement, and would like to clarify our pricing structure.

Realviz eliminated the pay-per-use structure several months ago and now offers a variety of affordable purchase options for our applications. We pay close attention to the needs of our user community and at the time the pay-per-use pricing structure was introduced, the average cost of match-moving applications was around $10,000. At that time, the pay-per-use option was met with enthusiasm from our user base, many of whom followed with an upgrade to a full license.

Our current pricing structure for ImageModeler, MatchMover, Stitcher, and ReTimer follows a scaled model tailored to meet the needs of animators and digital artists working in film, broadcast, CAD, and the Internet, based on their format-output needs. For specific pricing information, please email us atrealviz.usa@realviz.com.
Guillaume Duboc
and Yves R. Michel
Realviz

All-in-one Toaster?

I wanted to thank Tom Patrick McAuliffe for his review of NewTek’s Video Toaster [2] in the January issue [“NewTek’s new version of its Video Toaster raises a glass to the storyboard interface of the ’80s original,” page74].

I am curious to know his thoughts for using it as an (almost) turnkey package by independent producers shooting indie films. For instance, if someone were to shoot on DV or DVCPRO and add several composited layers of effects, video, etc., is it a near all-in-one-type package?

Again, thanks for your review and any professional insight you can give.
David Kovach
FiNetrics

Tom McAuliffe responds: I think that in general the new Toaster would be great for an independent project studio like you suggest. It’s a fully integrated solution at an attractive price point. However, as I said in the review, NewTek should add IEEE-1394/FireWire connectivity to the Toaster ASAP. This is a big drawback for me, as I shoot on DV and DVCAM just like the scenario you describe in your letter. But the product does follow the trend toward providing users an all-in-one solution.

On the composting and graphics side you’re in luck because the included Aura paint program and Lightwave 3D software are some of the best tools in the biz. There are also tons of cool realtime transition effects. And with the 2GB PC file limit dealt with, there should be no reason that you can’t use VT[2] to cut a film together, especially with all the new filters that will give you that saturated and grainy film-look that some adore.

But before purchasing any NLE, I’d go to a local dealership with some original and duplicated footage and spend an hour digitizing and cutting some scenes together. You should get a much better feel for a system, and then you’ll know that your money will be well spent.

Building on a story

I am a video producer and I just want to congratulate Steve Mullen on his article “Building a better NLE system” [January 2001, page 78]. People like me really appreciate it when someone from the same profession shares his experience and knowledge.

I purchased a Matrox RT2000 card because it was highly recommended from a number of sources. But the fact is I configured three different machines and I was never able to get it to work 100% right or in realtime. This article is going to help me a lot.
Paulo Feliciano
65th Services Squadron
Lajes-Azores-Portugal-E.U.

Reading material

I was very pleased with the “Recommended Reading” article [January 2001, page 20] and was interested in purchasing Doug Kelly’s Digital Compositing In Depth book. Where can I find it?
Mark Lindstrom
Lindstrom Productions

Douglas King responds: You should be able to find Coriolis books at your local bookstore, such as Barnes & Noble or Borders, where they have a large selection of computer books. Also, check out Amazon.com. Finally, you can go towww.coriolis.comfor more direct information.

Jacked

On page 42 of the article “2001: A projector odyssey” in the January 2001 issue, there is a statement that “Computer audio connects through mini-jacks on all projectors, and you can loop it out to an external amplifier with every projector except the [In Focus] LP350.” This is inaccurate. We are in the middle of evaluations of LCD projectors and have found that the Epson 8100i does not have an audio output jack of any kind. This was verified by physically inspecting the unit and calling Canadian and U.S. technical services — both took awhile to confirm this, I might add.
Richard Alsip
University of Manitoba

PowerBook editing revisited

Read your review from a while back about the Mac G3 PowerBook and Final Cut Pro [“Apple’s new PowerBook easily could be the only portable editing system you need,” June 2000, page 124]. I’m thinking of getting one because of the portability needs of some of my clients. Any thoughts or suggestions about it, especially with regard to additional hard drives? Many thanks.
Leigh Wilson,
Washington D.C.

Rick Shaw responds: I am currently in Johannesburg, South Africa with a 500MHz G3 Mac laptop with a 12GB internal drive. I purchased an extra 256MB of RAM so that it would have enough horsepower to handle the applications I need to use.

I have Final Cut Pro on it and it has been handy, but I brought it along mostly for the use of Adobe After Effects 4.1, Photoshop 6.0, and Electric Image. We are Ethernetting the PowerBook to the Avid at the edit facility, MNET, which is probably the largest subscription-based network facility in Africa. So far, the Mac has really proven invaluable for creating PAL animations and composites, which we are transferring to the Avid. The finished pieces were placed on a large, 16-screen monitor wall (the entire wall weighed three tons) and used as an element on the set. Additional animation effects created on the PowerBook will be used in a series of six half-hour shows about AIDS to be broadcast in PAL in Africa.

I also have purchased the VST Zip drive (250MB version), which has also helped us transfer files here. Everything has worked quite well, and there are two FireWire ports on the back of the machine if you wish to add additional hard drives. I’m using a mouse off a G4 to help make the PowerBook feel a bit more comfortable, but the trackpad isn’t that bad and hasn’t proven to be all that cumbersome.

As I’m sure you know, Apple has recently come out with a PowerBook G4. It’s thinner and lighter than the G3 PowerBook, but can’t yet accept the VST Zip internal drive that has been so helpful on this session. However, it does have a built-in DVD slot, which is a plus considering its only real competitor, the Sony VAIO, has no built-in DVD drive at all in its most portable unit. The Mac really shines, as well, in the area of battery life.

Considering the way this machine has performed, I’ve had several people beg me to leave it behind, as Macs are highly sought after but quite expensive to acquire here in South Africa.

Clarifications

In the article “The Best DAM Solutions” [February 2001, page 44], technical editor Dan Ochiva quoted marketshare statistics from a Gartner Group study. This was a 1998 study and should not be considered a gauge of the 2001 media asset management market. Some companies cited in the Gartner study continue to prosper, some are no longer in the asset management business, and other new players have successfully joined the market.

In the article “Wildcats turn PRO early” [February 2001, page 14], North-western’s school of journalism as well as its school of speech, radio, television, and film are reported as having purchased new DVCPRO equipment. In fact, only the latter purchased equipment.

In the article “Wall to Wall Video” [February 2001, page 30], the image used on pages 30 and 31 features Imtech’s Activu datawall in use at Thomas Weisel Partners’ trading room in San Francisco.

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