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Issue: September 1, 2004

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

By: By Marc Loftus
For quite some time now, "Post" has been following the impact low-cost tools are having on the post industry. Many studios have adopted such tools for editing - particularly Apple's Final Cut Pro, which can handle high definition work in its latest release - and that trend is growing.

Sure high-end studios and manufacturers will argue that there is still a need for the more expensive/high performance gear. And companies like Avid, Quantel and Discreet continue to sell to these facilities that have little time to spare when it comes to demanding jobs. But these high-end manufacturers would have to recognize the threat posed from desktop tools, right? It wasn't long after Final Cut Pro started seeing some success that Avid introduced a low-cost editing tool of its own called Xpress, and as recently as NAB, a complete suite of inexpensive tools in Xpress Studio. Not that that's completely revolutionary. Adobe's Video Collection has been around for more than a year, with updates, and contains image manipulation tools that video pros love, along with its Premiere NLE, an audio tool and a DVD authoring application ? all for under $1,500. And at the recent SIGGRAPH show, Softimage introduced XSI V.4.0 Foundation, a sub-$500 animation tool designed to give the masses access to a powerful 3D content creation tool.

Andrew Little, a partner at the San Francisco-based software publisher Red Giant Software, called me to say he was excited to see Post's recent restoration coverage. His company is looking to impact that business the same way other desktop tool makers have affected their respective markets.

Red Giant has been working with an Ireland-based development team on Film Fix, an automated film restoration plug-in that will cost just $1,000. Snell & Wilcox and da Vinci, for example, offer dedicated tools costing substantially more.

Film Fix, now in beta, and shipping in early October, will repair seams, stabilize footage, remove dust and most notably, render across networked computers to maximize performance. Initially, it will be available as a plug-in for PC versions of After Effects and Digital Fusion, but a Mac OS X version is on the way too, and buyers will get both the Mac and PC versions when investing in the tool. Post's Ken McGorry takes a deeper look at the "democratization" of post tools on page 18 of this issue.