NAB 2001 - The State of Digital Video


One company that continues to show leadership in the DV market is Discreet. You have to give the company credit, they are like a finely tuned machine. When they roll out a new product they level no rock unturned, from featuring early users, to lots of partnership agreements, and of course, solid channel sales that give the company immediate distribution into the market.

Combustion has been no exception. The company's compositing package, Combustion has been on the market for exactly a year. The product is being bundled with almost every possible compatible hardware and software partner imaginable and is getting great reviews from users and press alike. Priced at $2,995, Combustion had a great showing at NAB.

Discreet also used NAB to showcase heatwave, the company's new workflow solution. Heatwave is basically an infrastructure solution that brings together a number of Discreet's infrastructure products such as jobnet and backdraft as well as their standard video and graphics tools. Additionally, it incorporates a host of third party applications from various networks and supports multiple OS' and platforms.

Aside from heatwave, the Discreet is very focused on pushing 3D graphics onto the web. 3D Studio Max is the leading 3D animation package used by animators and seems to be the modeling package of choice at the moment for 3D web content. At NAB Discreet was showcasing the recently announced collaboration the company has with Macromedia. There is now a 3D Studio Max Exporter for Macromedia Director Shockwave Studio.

Media 100

Media 100 has done a great job of modifying its product offering over the past 12 months. Instead of being completely streaming-centric, the company is looking beyond streaming to providing development tools that assist the overall workflow, from data acquisition, editing, designing effects and delivering multiple broadcast mediums.

And the company's product line reflects this shift, with announcements such as Cleaner XL. Cleaner XL is based on a new acceleration board, the Media 100 CrystalICE which helps speed up the encoding process, and is priced at $5,995.

Media 100 launched two new hardware-accelerated boards, the Media 100 ICE and ICE Ultra, both based on the BlueICE 166 boards for acceleration of Adobe After Effects 5, with pricing starting at $3,750. Further software support is scheduled in a few months.

Media 100 also made several technology announcements of where it's headed in the future. The company demonstrated its new automated enterprise stream technology for high volume streaming based on its Cleaner technology. Separately, they announced their support of MPEG-4 and have partnered with PacketVideo and DiamondBack Vision to explore new MPEG-4 encoding capabilities.


Newtek, if you remember from several years back, gained early recognition in the video editing space for a great product called the VideoToaster. The Toaster, as it has come to be known, had a great impact on the early video editing market because it was a relatively inexpensive solution that ran on the Amiga. As a result, it gave independent videographers access to a solution they could use to create good quality video at a relatively low cost. With the death of the Amiga and more competition coming into the space, Newtek struggled for many years to regain its footing in the digital video space. In 2000 they released the VideoToaster for NT, and while it supported uncompressed video and was reasonably priced it did not really get Newtek back in the game.

Now the company has the Video Toaster 2, the product that Newtek believes more closely resembles the original. This new version supports live switching, real-time editing of compressed and uncompressed video, as well as advanced streaming capabilities.

The new Video Toaster 2 interface

Newtek has incorporated some interesting features into Video Toaster 2, such as ToasterEdit for real-time feedback, dual streaming capabilities for edited productions and live events, and the company's proprietary Cross Keyer technology which lets users paint right in the vectorscope window to select a multiple range of chroma key colors. In addition, Video Toaster 2 comes with a number of software bundles included such as LightWave Express for 3D animation, Aura 2 for video paint and compositing, and insync's Speed Razor editing system. Priced at $4,995, Video Toaster 2 is scheduled for release in July. We should know by the end of this year if Newtek has a winner.