Flowing digital video sequences from camcorder to PC for editing, and then back to the camera with no loss of quality for transfer to a regular video recorder is now an exciting reality. The implications for creativity in all areas of the curriculum are far-reaching.
Think of the impact on media work when students can shoot video, and edit and present it. Think how much insight they will gain into the process of production. Think of all the fieldwork that can now be cut into some semblance of order and given meaning. Above all, think of the motivation for students who can get their hands on software and hardware that just a few years back would have been prohibitively expensive. Now there is quality desktop video production at your fingertips and under budget!
Apart from the iMac, with a notable exception from Tiny (see below), the PC world has not had the foresight to create a computer ready to use for video production. The good news is that it is simplicity itself to put the software on to a PC.
The easiest, but not the cheapest way, is to get a new PC. I used the LP200T from Time Computers. It is one of their newest and a new concept. Less bulky than an iMac it looks as though you just have a thin screen and a keyboard and you wonder where the bulky oatmeal coloured box is. All the computer intelligence is behind the screen. Let's hope that, in a couple of years, all computers will look like this. I would rather have one of these on my crowded desk than any other that I have seen recently. The specification is: Pentium 111, 10GB hard drive, DVD drive, 56K modem and 64mb memory. The really important detail is that it has a firewire (IEEE 1394) port for high-speed movement of digital video. This should be on most computers in the near future.
I used a Canon MV301i camcorder; it is digital and uses the small digital video cassettes. The crucial thing about the camcorder is that it needs to be able to send video out to the computer and receive it back. The magic words for that are "DV In and Out". Some cameras will only send the material out to the computer. Two-way is better.
The software is Videowave Version 4 from MGI. Easy to install and simple to use, it is intuitive. There is a CD-Rom with the program, and another two with clips and templates. The manual is only 56 pages. You download video from the camera and the clips are stored in the library. The software will even detect where you stopped and started filming, and will split the output accordingly. You simply drag the clips from the library, trim them in the cutting room and then drop them on the on-screen storyline. You can use various transitions between scenes, varying from cuts to fades to wipes.
When all that is done you render the scenes into the final video. You can choose which format you want it in. The software makes a complex technology simple. So simple that a child could do it, and they willI and how.
The really good news is that MGI also produces a package called Videowave DV Suite. This has the software Videowave 4 plus a card for installing three firewire ports into your computer. Your existing computer can be transformed into a video-editing unit if it is up to a certain standard. The machine should be at least a Pentium 2 (350 mhz) at least one gigabyte of workspace, preferably six. Any computer equipped like this can be transformed easily all for pound;100.
The Time LP200T from Time EducationPrice: pound;1395 Tel: 01282 777799 www.timeeducation.com
MGI Videowave Version 4
Price: pound;79.99 MGI Videowave DV Suite Price: pound;99.99 www.mgisoft.com
Canon MV30i Camcorder Price: pound;717.28www.empiredirect.co.uk
ONLINE STAR RATING: The Time LP200T
Suitability for purpose *****
Ease of use ****
Value for money *****