Aether Films puts the EDIUS Pro through its paces

When the HDV camera was launched, Canopus was the only company in the world that had an editing solution ready to support the format. Danish Mumtaz of Aether Films, which was one of the first companies in the Middle East to invest in the Canopus EDIUS Pro, tells Digital Studio about his experience with the system.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  September 1, 2005

I|~|reviewbig.jpg|~|EDIUS Pro’s codec provides excellent Luma and Chroma sampling of both SD & HD video, says Mumtaz.|~|When a group of manufacturers congregated a few years ago and decided to manufacture affordable cameras that would enable DVcam users to migrate to High Definition, one company had the foresight to think ahead and create an editing solution for the HDV format at the time that the camera would be launched. While most vendors in the editing sector waited for the HDV camera to be released, Canopus released Edius Pro. By doing this, the company, which had thus far been popular in the the video editing industry, capitalised on an opportunity to launch itself into the HD market as well. One of the first companies in the Middle East to invest in the Edius Pro 3, a realtime non-linear editing (NLE) system from Canopus was Aether Films, a Dubai-based corporate film production house. With nothing but a manual to go by, Danish Mumtaz, producer and director at Aether Films began editing on the Edius Pro 3. Aether cites several reasons for choosing the Canopus. For one, it had clients in the Middle East that wanted to switch to high definition but did not have the budget to invest in a whole solution that used high-end HD cameras. For them, HDV was the obvious answer. “Our clients couldn’t really afford HD because we needed a whole set of other tools to make it work,” says Mumtaz. “But we did want to make a start somewhere in HD. So we looked at the HDV camera. Atlas TV [Dubai production house] had one, so we played around with it and did a trial on it. I was quite impressed with the results and then, we checked the rest of the editing kit we’d need to work in both HD and SD. Canopus’ Edius Pro fit the bill perfectly.” For Mumtaz, opting for Canopus was initially daunting. Having worked on Pinnacle Liquid and Final Cut Pro for a good bit of his editing career, Mumtaz admits he was leaning towards Pinnacle initially and would have liked to purchase the vendor’s new HDV systems. “I was leaning towards Pinnacle because it’s a system I was familiar with.” But John Robins, managing director of the Aether Media Group and self-professed tech junkie, was in the process of scanning the market place for the ideal solution and he felt that Canopus would cater to Aether Films’ need. “The objective was to look at a system that could handle HDV since this is the direction we wanted to move into as far as production format was concerned,” says Robins. The ultimate choice of a solution lay with Robins. He scanned the market and shortlisted the Avid, Pinnacle, Final Cut Pro and Canopus systems. “Canopus came out on top technically in all aspects,” says Robins. “There was a greater degree of intuitiveness of user interface. The Final Cut Pro system was marginally better although less sophisticated. The overall reliability of the EDIUS Pro in relation to how easy it was to service and replace parts seemed to be another significant reason for choosing the system. Also, its HDV handling and sophisticated capabilities made it the ultimate choice for me.” Since the software is based on the PC Platform, Aether Films had a CPU custom-built to its exact specifications. The hardware components from Canopus were then installed with the CPU. ||**||II|~||~||~|The system cost the company US $35,000. But once installed, Mumtaz and his team were impressed by the number of innovative features the EDIUS Pro had. He especially lauds the system’s HQ codec. “The codec provided excellent Luma and Chroma sampling of both SD & HD video and with an adjustable bit-rate, we could increase or decrease the video quality when capturing footage,” he says. Like every newbie, Mumtaz would have liked to have technical support at hand for the Edius Pro but presently, this is not available in the region. “This is typical with any new product in the market. Initially, when Pinnacle came down to Dubai, nobody supported it but now we have such a huge support network for it. Likewise, with Canopus, it will take some time but it will eventually get there,” explains Mumtaz. Among other projects, Aether Films also used the EDIUS Pro to make a 15-minute corporate film in Arabic, Spanish and French versions for the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. While on the project, Mumtaz ran into a significantly big problem. He realised that EDIUS Pro does not support multiple timelines. “If I have an edit on one timeline, in the same project, I can’t have another time line as well. I need to make a new project. This was a bit of a pain because the film was essentially 15 minutes long and it became a logistical challenge to make sure that everything was synchronised especially since we were making them in different languages. Canopus, however, does have an upgrade now that has resolved this issue,” says Mumtaz. For the new Premiere Pro, the Final Cut Pro or the Pinnacle, however, the multiple timeline in a project is a standard thing. “You can start with the timeline that gives you a rough cut and then, another time line all within the same project,” he adds. But in its defence, Mumtaz is quick to add that the EDIUS Pro proved to be extremely stable despite working on a 15-minute film on very high resolution. “The only other system that is as stable as the EDIUS Pro is probably the Final Cut Pro and that is because it runs on a Mac format. This is a PC-based format and it was surprisingly stable. In the three months that I have used it, the application has probably crashed two times and even when it did, it would do so very safely,” says Mumtaz. “It seemed to suggest: ‘you better save what you have worked on because I am starting to feel ill and am ready to crash.’ Both times, I was able to save my work and close before the system crashed. For me, this means that the system is remarkably reliable and stable.” ||**||III|~||~||~|Likewise, the producer also lauds EDIUS Pro’s colour correction feature. “Apart from the software tools, this is also because of the HQ codec. “There is just so much information in the codec that you can push your colour correction to a whole new level. Split screen colour correction in both horizontal and vertical controls, is extremely useful when matching shots that were filmed in different colour temperatures. Other manufacturers also have this feature. But the combination of the HQ codec and intuitive colour correction tools is what makes this system a cut above the rest.” One other feature that caught Mumtaz’s eye was the film-look filter. “All it does is allow you to either de-interlace the fields or blend them with a little blur and then place a vignette. It’s that simple really. It doesn’t look anywhere close to film, but it’s a lot softer than video, doesn’t involve any render time and it’s a look that I personally like,” says Mumtaz. “The major tools are more or less the same as any editing software. You’ve got your bins, cutting tools, preview windows and so on. It’s the little options that need to be learnt,” he adds. Mumtaz had about a week and a little more to train himself on the system before the film that was being shot was to be edited. Although the film had a great editor, he was new to the EDIUS Pro 3. “He didn’t know the machine so he looked to me to help him. We had a weird training process, where he’d show me a way to do something he’d discovered and I’d show him how to do something that I had found. And along the way, we learnt how to use it,” he says. Some of the projects produced to date on the system include a corporate film for the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Gas and a TV commercial for the F1 magazine. One other significant feature that Mumtaz lauds is the realtime, mixed format HD/SD editing, including HD, HDV, DV, MPEG-2, lossless and uncompressed video. “Usually, if we are working on an HD project, any SD footage will need to have aspect ratios resized and frame rates adjusted. The productivity gains from realtime mixed format editing are immense as there is no time-consuming format pre-conversion or preparation required prior to editing” explains Mumtaz. “I can also output [in realtime] SD footage to an HDV tape and vice versa.” But having worked on both Final Cut Pro as well as Pinnacle Liquid in post-production houses in the United States before coming down to Dubai, Mumtaz is certain that both vendors must now have released similar solutions. All in all, Mumtaz lauds the EDIUS Pro as a product that will do well in the video editing market. ||**||

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