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MGI VideoWave screen layout

MGI Video Wave

Turning your PC into a Production Studio

The marriage of the home PC and the home theater, also known as "Convergence," is marching along at breakneck speed.

One of the latest examples is MGI VideoWave, a nifty "video publishing" application with which you can edit your home camcorder movies into something less likely to cause neighborhood ennui or, if you have more lucrative pursuits in mind, to create corporate videos and Web site presentations.

MGI VideoWave (Windows 95 CD-ROM), brings to your desktop many features you may have seen only in professional studios a couple of years ago, and it’s a real hoot to use.

Your cinematic masterpiece is laid out in a very straightforward, storyboard-type "storyline" that displays each of your shots, scenes, or transitions, linearly from left to right across the top of your screen. It's in the storyline that you position your elements, dragging them into whatever order most pleases your artistic bent. You can re-arrange them at the drag of a mouse, experimenting at will until you achieve that perfect cut - or your eyes cross, whichever comes first.

You store your various elements in "Libraries," and drag them into the storyline or the main editing window, from which you can tweak the colors, edit them for length or even add animated text. Pressing the "Play" button beside the screen lets you preview the havoc you've just wreaked on the source material before applying the changes and forever writing them in electrons.

Depending on the hardware you have, you can capture shots from TV or other video sources. Likewise, you can capture audio via your sound card - and therefore from your favorite audio CD (assuming you have a CD-ROM drive).

Considering the capturing capabilities, you'd probably be wise to remember the words "copyright infringement" and the fuss they could bring if you help yourself to the wrong clips...

Remember, too, that these clips, especially the video ones, take up a horrendous amount of hard disk space, so you'd better have a few hundred megabytes sitting idly by for just such an emergency. Canadian-based MGI says you can get away with 100 Mb of "workspace," but they recommend an entire gig!

We'd kill for a spare gigabyte...

Once you have your masterpiece ready to go, you merely click on the "Produce" button, step through a couple of wizards, then go and have lunch while MGI VideoWave chugs away, turning all the pieces of "film" into an .AVI, .MPEG, or QuickTime file. The program crashed during our first two attempts at publishing - which is why you should always "save as you go" - but our subsequent attempts worked fine.

There are quite a few audio and video clips included with MGI VideoWave, and we used some to produce a "video commercial." The results were a little rough, but more because of our inexperience at video publishing than a flaw in the software itself.

MGI is really pushing the market envelope with VideoWave. It's priced low enough to entice the consumer market, but is hefty enough to work for the small business that needs an entry level "virtual video production suite." The latter will probably be the bigger market for now - at least until more consumers’ computers have the video capture cards that are a huge part of the whole picture.

Which, thanks to "convergence," will undoubtedly happen sooner than we can imagine.

 

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January 31, 2006