On the right track

14th May 2004 at 01:00
There's something inherently satisfying about a program that identifies and addresses a single need or process. DigiRostrum (above) is such an application. Designed by Lumidium, a small software company, the program simulates the effect of a rostrum tracking camera. Originally written for professionals within the film industry, Lumidium called on the considerable expertise of Ken Morse, acknowledged as the UK's leading rostrum camera man.

The program comes in three strengths; DigiRostrum HD, PRO and DV. HD is primarily intended for sophisticated post-production film and television work but PRO and DV would very useful additions to a school's software collection. PRO, designed for use with editing and graphics programs from Pinnacle, Avid or Adobe, would augment any AV suite. DV - a real bargain at pound;50 - shares the same interface as its siblings but has more limited rendering facilities.

DigiRostrum performs a series of basic operations extremely well. Having established the start and finishing points of the tracking shot the user can rotate the virtual camera through 360o and zoom in or out of the image. If you think this sort of film technique is better left to graduates at film school, think again. Visitors to this year's BETT show will have noticed that the entry level for budding movie directors seems to be around five these days!

The educational potential is enormous. Not only do students learn how to compose shots using colour, movement and visual narrative, they can also film artwork and images in extremely fine detail. And with DigiRostrum, as Morse points out, they can do it quicker. "What we once did manually in eight hours, I can do in a quarter of an hour by computer."

Video files can be completed in a variety of formats and the tracking shot can be shown as a real-time preview or represented as a graph.

Intuitive controls notwithstanding, DigiRostrum is capable of executing a highly sophisticated set of manoeuvres and, as such, repays effort and application. Students may not get the instant gratification of clicking a "dissolve" or "mirror" button and witnessing a magical digital video transformation but they'll certainly learn a lot about basic film-making techniques. Highly recommended.

DigiRostrum Pro

Fitness for purpose *****

Ease of use ***

Features *****

Quality *****

Value for money ****

DigiRostrum DV

Fitness for purpose *****

Ease of use ***

Features ****

Quality *****

Value for money *****

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