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Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...

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John Applegate
Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Dec 31, 2005 at 7:54:42 am

I am interested in hearing from anyone that has made the leap from Pinnacle Studio to Liquid 6 or to Avid Liquid 7. My experiences with Studio 9 and then Studio 9 Plus and finally Studio 10 Plus have left me wondering if everything from Pinnacle systems is beta-ware. It is fairly clear to me at this point that the fragility of Pinnacle Studio and all of its variants increases exponentially with the length of the project, the number of video files referenced simultaneously and the use of features such as chroma keying, etc. My projects to date have focused on seasonal sports wrapups, a couple of weddings, and a number of family vacation DVDs. All in all, nothing too complex compared to the exploits of others in this audience. My longest production to date is 55 minutes in duration. It was an excrutiating experience using Pinnacle Studio to create this piece.

I am ready to move on to more complex projects and am in the market for a more robust NLE that will not penalize me with crashes, codec confusion or extreme lossiness just because I wish to create a piece greater than 20 minutes, or because I wish to utilize more than two video clips, or utilize multiple video formats in the same project, etc.

Under consideration presently are: Avid Express Pro, Sony's Vegas product and "perhaps" Avid Liquid 7. I don't want to rule out Avid Liquid prematurely if it truely is a totally different beast than Pinnacle's Studio line and if there is a history of being able to create more complex productions with it. It says "Avid" on the outside, but there is still "Pinnacle" on the inside. This concerns me. Is Avid Express 7 worthy of consideration? Any thoughts along these lines are welcome.

Thanks


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JDR12
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Dec 31, 2005 at 3:20:33 pm

I posted something very similar to what you saying. I used both Studio 9 and 10 Plus, and it crashed too many times. So, I used Cyberlink's Powerdirector 4 and it did the same thing. Like you, I used video (did not do the Chroma Keying) and alot of photos which seemed to be the biggest problem. I got the project done, but it took 5 dvd's and about 40 more hours to complete for a 35 minute long movie.

It seems every company says their product is the best, however, Liquid 7 seems to be getting alot of attention. If we are going to spend $500 on something, it better work and not crash all of the time. Liquid's problem to me (the less experienced editor) is that it has Pinnacle's name attached to it yet Avid is on it as well. So, if you and I are going to spend $500 on something, which we will, I think we both want to know what is best for us because whether it is Adobe, Liquid, etc. a sale will be made. We just want an honest assessment from those who have used the products and not just hyping them for a sale.

Do these companies guarantee their product or are we stuck with it if it does not work?


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John Applegate
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Dec 31, 2005 at 10:32:40 pm

My take is that Pinnacle Studio and competing products in its classification are designed for the occasional user with very simple projects less than 15 minutes in duration. The situation is not totally impossible.... Studio can be made stable for simple projects. It is simply that I was not successful in stabilizing it for complex ones. As an FYI, The steps that I took to stabilize Studio 9 Plus were as follows:

1) Perform a fresh install of XP w SP2. My machine: 768 MB of RAM, proc = AMD 2600XP, VC = Radeon 9800 pro, 0.75 TB of disk space spread across 4 drives, MB = Asus A7V8X
2) Load up lastest drivers for VC, motherboard, etc.
3) Load up Studio along with all of its patches.
4) Perform full disk defrag.
5) Turn off all non-essential OS services.
6) Perform capture and project creation.

Perhaps you could try these steps if you have not already... As you might surmise, the result is a machine dedicated to Pinnacle Studio. I did spend a LOT of time trying to get Studio 9 Plus to play well with other applications but to no avail.

Even the measures outlined above were insufficient for my last project which was 55 minutes in duration.

On the plus side, there are a number of things that I like about Studio: the timeline is intuitive, Smartsound integration is seamless, and project flow (Capture --> Edit --> make movie) is logical. So not all is sour grapes.

I looked to Studio 10 to help rescue me... According to Pinnacle's hype, Studio 10 was to be built from the ground up using part of the Liquid code base. With a dedicated machine, however Studio 10 Plus proved even more unstable than its predecessor. That experience, more than anything, has me questioning whether "Liquid" anything is worthy of consideration for my next upgrade. I don't mind dropping $500 - $ 1000 on my next NLE as long as it is rock solid and gets me where I want to go.


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Gary Bettan
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 1, 2006 at 1:48:17 pm

Yes you should migrate to Liquid! While Stduio and other low cost apps are cool, they have no where near the featurtes, performance or capabilities of our prosumer grade NLEs.

Check out this article on our website http://www.videoguys.com/Shootout2005.html

Any video editing product you buy from Videoguys.com comes with our 30 day satisfaction guarantee and free tech support.

Gary


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John Applegate
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 1, 2006 at 10:26:39 pm

Thanks VideoGuys for the feedback.... I have looked at the shootout piece and the latest interviews with the AVID's Tim Wilson regarding "Avid Liquid 7" and with "Spot" regarding Vegas 6. These are informative. Playing back what I think you are saying : "I should leave Avid Liquid 7 as a contender in my trade studies". Let me know if I am interpreting your response incorrectly. At this juncture I have not made a decision as to which NLE to migrate to. In other technical fields where I have more expertise, the best rule of thumb is to buy what the pro's use, or buy a reduced feature set of what the pro's use. From what I can tell (probably wrong), in the NLE universe that rule of thumb points in the direction of AVID Xpress something.... Still, Vegas looks interesting from the descriptions both at VideoGuys and elsewhere. I need to spend some more time thinking about my requirements, after which I may have some more worthy questions...

BTW. I filled out the product trial version request that is provided at the end of the shootout article, but have not recieved any demo/trial disks. Is that offer still in place?



Thanks


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Gary Bettan
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 2, 2006 at 12:17:51 am

Vegas & Liquid are my top 2 recommendations for you right now. Avid Xpress is great, but it may be overkill for you.

Send me a private email, and I'll get you out the trial software.

Gary


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JDR12
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 2, 2006 at 12:41:19 am

videoguy: Vegas & Liquid are my top 2 recommendations for you right now. Avid Xpress is great, but it may be overkill for you.

Send me a private email, and I'll get you out the trial software.

Gary


Gary, I just sent you an email for the trial software as well. When you say Express is overkill, what do you mean by that? If Liquid is what is said to be, it would seem to be more overkill that Express DV?

Also, how important is it to have the USB box as well? I was going to use my camcoder to transfer VHS to the computer (use firewire cable). I am looking at cost and the Express 4 deal where you get the usb box for under $500 looks like a better deal, yet if I can survive with out the box and can use Liquid, then that is an option. In my situation, I really cannot justify going over $500 for this software.

Thanks for the great insight. It makes my purchase to you seem alot more logical.


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JDR12
tesladude
on Jan 3, 2006 at 7:00:29 pm

John, do you have any thoughts on Adobe's products? I downloaded a free trial of Premiere 1.5 and the second I looked at it I was completely lost. Gary, I know you are sending me a free trial of Liquid. Talking to a novice here, in short, why or should you recommend Liquid to the less experienced user? Is it simply easier to use? I think this can be informative to others who are interested in buying Liquid. Once purchased, what is your recommendations on learning Liquid? Read books, troubleshoot and learn on the fly, etc? I know Premiere has some really awesome features but seems aimed towards the real pro and not someone who is doing nice yet not extremelly complicated projects.


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John Applegate
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 4, 2006 at 4:08:31 am

I downloaded the Adobe premier demo down some time ago, myself. Honestly, I didn't have enough personal time bandwidth to give it a fair shake. What I recall from the experience is that I would likely have to buy not only Premier but other Adobe packages to get what I want. If you want effects, you need to buy Adobe After Effects. If you want support building up DVD's you need to buy Adobe Encore, etc. That at least was my takeaway. I could be way off the mark here.. I'm a newbie also, so take my opinion with a healthy dose of salt. The best strategy is to define your requirements (What does your NLE have to do for you to be happy) and then purchase the product/bundle that best meets those requirements within the cost boggie that you are shooting for. Caution is in order... My requirements may differ from yours.. One of mine is a reasonable level of integration and capabilty via a minimal number applications. Adobe Premier appears to require the purchasing of many adjunct applications to get what I want. Perhaps they integrate into the premier framework, perhaps they don't. I do not know for sure....

Pinnacle Studio baits you into buying activation keys in order to get what I consider to be basic functionality (e.g. Codec packs, FX editor, Plus this/that, etc.) Despite this deficiency it does provide Hollywood FX, DVD composition support and the NLE piece in a single application. Which is good. Studio's interface is really simple, and that makes it easy for newbies to get started. Of the functions that it provides, it doesn't do any of them really well (IMO). I suspect, based on input from others that Liquid provides these capabilties to a greater degree.

Adobe seems to be a big player, but I don't want to have to buy 4 or 5 packages to get the functions that I want.

For us video newbies that did our teething on Pinnacle studio, it is probably a foregone conclusion that we will have to pick up a new, likely more complex, user interface as we move up the NLE food chain. I wouldn't let that piece of the puzzle deter you.


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JDR12
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 4, 2006 at 3:12:06 pm

Thanks for your input John. Let me know what you think of Liquid once you have had a chance to play with it some. Being new at this myself, $500 is alot of money to throw down on something that I do not know much about. I know that if I just put in the time to learn it, I will love any of these programs, yet I am not a pro and don't have the time nor know how to figure out a complicated software. I like how Pinnacle has their timeline, etc. setup, but was not impressed at all with the bugs it had. I am thinking Liquid runs somewhat like Studio which might be the final selling point to me, because I understand how to use their format unlike Adobe's where I look at it and have no clue what to do. I am just going to have to make a decision after trying out several free trials. Again, I am not doing tv shows, etc. here. Just some VHS to DVD editing and maybe dive into deeper things later on hence why I want a good stable software that will allow me to look into deeper effects, etc as I continue to learn how to do this. The cheaper software does not take care of my appetite for more features.


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John Applegate
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 4, 2006 at 6:12:21 pm

JDR, A document that may help you in examining the learning curve in going from Pinnacle Studio to Avid Liquid 7 is provided on the Avid site. See http://www.avid.com/content/8756/LiquidStudioTUT_7_0_EN.pdf

Note: Link fixed by Moderator


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JDR12
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 4, 2006 at 9:16:49 pm

John,

Can't seem to get the PDF to work. Can you resend that again?

Thanks,

John


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JDR12
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Jan 4, 2006 at 11:12:50 pm

Thanks moderator for the fix. John, excellent resource that I recommend any studio to liquid person to look over. I should get my trial copy soon. Let's colaborate a little bit once we both have had a chance to play with it some. Already, it seems to be much easier to use than Adobe.


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John Applegate
Follow up note on Liquid, Vegas and Xpress evaluations
on Jan 26, 2006 at 8:42:17 pm

JDR12 (John),


Just an FYI... I found out while re-installing Studio 10 a third time that the studio 10 bonus materials DVD has a liquid demo on it. Many functions are disabled but it is suffient to kick the tires. I don't know, but suspect, that earlier versions of Pinnacle Studio installation materials (v9.0) may also have a liquid demo on them. You may wish to check it out if you have not already made an NLE decision. Could be a venue for you to kick the tires...

I have been playing with Vegas and Liquid product demo's as well as Avids Xpress Free product (which is as its name implies - Free). Liquid and Xpress Free have what feels to be very similar work flows. Vegas is a different animal but very functional and in some cases, I think more intuitive than the other two. All three of these have been rock stable for me during my project creation tests. At this juncture, I am leaning towards Avid Liquid 7 as it can be had for $299 upgrade to Studio. Shoot me an e-mail if you would like more details.


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Matt Gray
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Feb 8, 2006 at 7:03:21 am

Tesladude...

There are a lot of good and fair recommendations here but I feel the need to interject.

I get a little put off by folks who lose confidence in their Pinnacle software due to stability issues. The software is demanding, yes. Just editing video is a demanding task. But I have found Pinnacle Studio software to be very good as long as you know a couple of easy work-arounds.

BACKGROUND:
I started in 02 with Studio 7. With patches it was terrific and I only weened off of it for Studio 9 (Studio 8 was just a bad product in all aspects) and then realized it was Studio 9 Plus that I was looking for. I've been using 9 plus since summer of last year (05) and it's been excellent. You DO have to get the latest patch for some out-of-the-box issues, yes.

I am not your typical "videographer". I do things much bigger and for bigger budgets. I do not wish to elaborate because the only important point is that I am experienced and very good at what I do. I have all the Adobe products and while I feel they are great, Studio is just incredibly easier to use. Especially if you know what you're doing.

You can't just make a 55 minute project. Not in studio. That's not how it's done in filmmaking, and it's not how you should create your films. You need to think of the big picture and then segment your projects. For example, I just wrapped up a 3.5 hour project that consisted of about 16 individual segments. I create .avi files of each, import them into a program like Nero and build my DVD from there. I think users overlook the fact that you can manipulate your .avis elsewhere to combine as one larger feature. As long as you know how to do that.

Also, obviously you can't count on your Commodore 64 to handle these projects fluidly. I have a pretty powerful NLE (3.4Ghz, 2GB dual channel DDR2, X850XT Pro, 4 250GB SATA HDs) and I still get a little lag when employing multiple video (with effects and two sound tracks, etc). But if you think in 20 minute segments or so, you should be fine.

So what's my point? I just don't think it's right to throw away $300-$1500 for the latest buzz software when the one you have can most likely provide you with what you need at your level.

Just my thoughts.


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John Applegate
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Feb 8, 2006 at 6:04:33 pm

Hello QTofW,


The concept of segment composition and integration was not lost on me in my modest 55 minute project. I'm not quite creating story boards and running telecini yet for my productions but I do grok the basic "Dick and Jane meet film" concepts and can attest to the benefits of a modular approach. I do beg to differ with you on the wonders of PS, however. I'm glad that you had a positive experiece with the product, but my experience and those of many others who haunt these and other boards was not as positive. As a result many of us are not as enthralled with the PS product.

In my work I use all types of applications for design, simulation, analyis, you name it...... All very system taxing applications... I won't bore this audience with details of my profession , but the tools we use include home grown applications, commercial packages and opensource applications. Consequently, I know software stability when I see it and I find PS wanting. When the only solution offered by product support to resolve a application bug is to reload the OS, and re-install the application, something is fundementally broken. I think blaming the users is also poor form.

I am confident that the issues I experienced were attributable to PS and not my own lack of knowledge, which I admit to having... The reason that I am confident of this is that I have not run into any of the crash and stability problems with the Vegas 6, XpressFree and Liquid demo's that I have evaluated. Video, effect and audio track arrangements that proved troublesome in Studio have posed no challenge to these NLE's

Now, having said all this I still think PS is fine for someone just getting started. The price point is low and the workflow is about as easy as it gets. It is therefore a good entry point.

Since starting this thread, I have purchased Avid Liquid 7. Am presently running through the tutorials in the user guide. I have not run into any stability issues to date using the same m/c that I used for PS. I will post again after completing my first project with my conclusions for benefit of those, who like me, have struggled with Pinnacle Studio..


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Matt Gray
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Feb 9, 2006 at 6:49:18 pm

Don't get me wrong, I'll probably pick up the Avid L7 myself, I just find it curious that so many complain about Studio when I've had very little problem at all. And my tasks are pretty demanding.

What I REALLY want to know is this:

How does Avid L7 compare to Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5? I already have APP1.5 but Avid is only $500 and appears much more user friendly.

Please post about your new experiences with Avid.


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Gary Bettan
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Feb 9, 2006 at 7:49:59 pm

Prem Pro 1.5 is a solid NLE app, but it doesn't offer the integration or toolset of Liquid.

Here just a few of the big advantages of Liquid

1) Background Rendering
2) Multicam
3) Excellent color correction including secondary color correction
4) The best quality slo-motion around, and the ability to keyframe the speed control
5) Integrated DVD authoring
6) Real-time output via the Pro breakout box
7) An amazing assortmant of 3D transitions and effects
Cool GPU acceleration for real-time playback
9) Edit & Export WM9, MPEG4 and Dvix files
10) Open timeline with Native HDV suport.

We're running a fantastic promotion right now. Adobe Premeire owners get a $200 competitive upgrade rebate. Any version of Premeire 5.x or higher qualifies. Brings the cost down to $479.95 after rebate!! http://www.videoguys.com/avidliquid.html


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John Applegate
My conclusions on the move to Liquid
on Mar 17, 2006 at 5:48:44 am

Hello All,

I have two small 15 minute LE7 projects under my belt now and I would like to offer my impressions to those who have made it all the way through this thread and to those who may still be wondering whether it makes sense to consider a migration from Pinnacle Studio to Avid Liquid.. I am presently busy trying tyring to learn the finer points of the product, but think it makes sense to share my conclusions. I know that I would have appreciated having someone write down thier experiences with the transition from Studio to Liquid when I was contemplating the move,... So here it is.. See beginning of thread for concern areas initially
expressed.


WELL, HERE IT IS IN A NUTSHELLl: After all is said and done and after using Liquid 7 for the better part of a month, my overall conclusion is that Liquid "IS" a good upgrade for Studio users.... Read on if interested in the details that precipitated my conclusion.

Please note that I typed this off in a hurry so please forgive any typo and grammer artifacts in advance....

1.0 PRELIMINARY INFO -- MY CONTEXT

Some basic info to be aware of before placing any gain on my results and opinions....

1) I'm a hobbyist/video enthusiast. This is one of many hobbies...
2) I don't have an HD camera or an HD TV, so while HD sounds groovy, it is not a feature that I am gunning for presently nor was it considered.
3) I give my vidoes away free... My livelihood does not depend on my video making prowess. Which is probably good...
4) I am comfortable utilizing workarounds via tweaks, patches, etc. to get
things working while waiting for a patch, and am similarly comfortable conferring on forums with others to get assistance with issues/workarounds...
5) Cost is an important but not an overriding factor in my NLE decision.


If your context differs, then the criteria and ultimately the conclusion of this
trade study may not be applicable to you. Enough said... Moving on...

1.2 NLE SELECTION CRITERIA USED DURING DEMO EVALUATIONS:

Based on my context, here are the approximate criteria that I used when deciding:

GOTTA HAVES:

1) NLE needs to run on readily available hardware. I favor AMD processors and am agnostic when it comes to video cards. I expect my NLE to be hardware agnostic to the greatest extent possible within the PC landscape.

2) Stability - Experience with product demo has to be positive, no more than one crash during creation of a 10 minute trial project involving capture,

3) Chosen NLE must have good acceptance accross the industry. The idea being: "to the greatest extent practical - use what the pros use" - Turns out the pros use a lot of different software packages and hardware...

4) "Reasonable" level of integration enabling the user to stay within the same application to the greatest extent possible.

5) Support - The NLE vendor has to have good track record of publishing timely patches. Multiple active forum boards need to be available as this is a measure of the products field presence and the enthusiasm of its user base.

6) Migration Strategy - NLE purchase should be upgradeable to a more capable package in the event that the choice is made later to turn Video making into a small business.

7) 3rd Party Plugin support - The NLE has to be supported by a number of 3rd party plugin vendors. This is both a metric of market acceptance and of the products extensibility.



NICE TO HAVES:

A) HDV support
B) Integrated SmartSound support - I had a $200 investment in smartsound music that I wanted to take advantage if possible.
C) Lowest cost possible given the the other constraints.
D) Color correction.
E) 24P support

Again, If your context varies from mine, the criteria above may or may not make sense for you. Therefor your mileage may vary... Again, use at your own risk...


1.3 NLEs SELECTED FOR EVALUATION

Three products were taken for a spin: Vegas 6, LE 6 demo (treated as representative of LE7) and Avid Xpress free (treated as representative of Xpress DV and Xpress Pro). Based upon earlier experiences with Studio, Liquid was almost eliminated from contention from the "get-go".... It was guilty by association at that point. In the end I decided to cut it some slack and give it a shot - mostly because of the recommendations of existing Liquid users. The Avid Xpress free product was not a demo per se, but was considered sufficient to get a feel as to what the Xpress DV and Xpress pro products would be like. The Xpress free product was used in conjunction with the Avid Xpress DV manual to arrive at a composit conclusion.

My purpose for performing these evaluations was to answer the question of "which" mid range NLE to purchase. I knew that I was going to buy one of these at the onset but had not decided which, when I started this post.

I ruled out Apple's Final Cut Pro early, on the basis of both expense
(~$1300) and the need to buy a new platform (A Mac). I also ruled out Adobe Premier based on its cost point and what I percieve as lack of integration. The need to buy a host of additional Adobe packages to get the same level of integration that the other NLE's provide, more or less, out of the box made it unattractive - to me at least. In fairness though, Adobe does have a product (Production Studio) that appears to bundle all of the
functions together. Depending on the bundle, prices for this puppy vary from $1000 US to $1800 US at the time of this posting.

If you have a Mac with sufficient juice, you may wish to give Final Cut
Studio or Final Cut Pro a spin and ignore my comments. It just was a non-starter for me to consider Final Cut XXXX as I build all of my own Window$ based systems and have no Macs on hand. I do know that Final cut pro is used at a local film schools here in Minneapolis.....



1.4 MY THOUGHTS ON HOW THE THREE EVALUATION CANDIDATES FAIRED AGAINST THE EVALUATION CRITERIA:

LIQUID ---> OVERALL: GOOD

1) Hardware Support ---> Good, I found examples of forum users that had success with varying CPU's, motherboards, video cards, etc. The LE 6 demo also worked well on my Athlon system, a feat that Pinnacle studio had failed.

2) Stability ---> Good, I encountered no crashes during my test projects on LE6 demo.

3) Market Acceptance --> Reasonable. Acceptance in the semi-pro markets is apparent as evidenced by the large number of independent forums dedicated to liquid and as evidenced by availability of the product through many distributers. I did not detect strong evidence of its use in full pro environments (media, film, etc.). That doesn't mean that such support doesn't exist, it just means that I didn't uncover such evidence in the time I set aside for the evaluations. The Deko series of product seem to have more mind share in the broadcast industry than does the Liquid.

4) Integration --> Very Good. Liquid 6, integrates most of the tools needed to go from Capture to final output. Liquid 7 builds upon that by adding Smarsound quicktrack support. Some elements such as the titler are weak, but when all is said an done, there is enough there to kick out a production without buying extra packages.

5) Support --> Sufficient. I haunted some of the liquid boards to discern the history surrounding LE6.1. The Pinnacle pedigree showed through here as judged by the number of posts/issues attendant to 6.0. Eventually, 6.1 popped out and the user base din settled down. Also, there are a large number of Liquid tutorials on the Pinnacle web site, and formal training is available.

6) Migration Strategy --> Very Good. Three mechanisms present themselves as venues for future upgrades and enhancement when starting from Liquid: Product evolution, third party plugin support and the acquisition by Avid. In respect to the last venue, upgrade incentives may present themselves in the future as Avid consolidates it product mix. This, of course is only supposition on my part, however it is a common strateg that streamlines support, optimizes investment, and provides development focus for organizations built up through acquisitions. Another, and interesting, possibility could be a fusion of the Liquid and Xpress product lines down the the road. Again, supposition on my part, but certainly in the realm of things possible in the future...

7) 3rd Party Plugin support - Good. Boris, Adorage, Commotion, Stagetools plugins, etc.

------------------------------------

A) HDV support --> Yes,
B) Integrated SmartSound --> Yes, Liquid 7.0 has it, but the 6.1 demo did not.
C) Cost - Good relative to Xpress DV/Pro or Vegas.... $299.00 updgrade from Studio.
D) Color Correction --> Yes
E) 24P support --> The LE6 demo did not have it. LE7 claims to have it but the implementation doesn't really seem complete.. Niether capture @ 24P nor output @ 24P is possible. I'm not an expert on 24P but the behavior is not symmetrical to other media types and so those interested in 24P would be advised to dig into liquids support a little further.. This was not a critical issue in my decision making.


XPRESS FREE: Overall ---> Good.

Based upon the experience with the Xpress Free product in conjunction with a review of the Xpress DV and Xpress Pro Users Guides my conclusion is that both are very good but expensive.


1) Hardware Support ---> Very Good. Support for very wide range of hardware which is clearly defined on the Avid Support site. The Xpress Free product worked well on my Athlon system.

2) Stability ---> Good, I encountered no crashes during my test projects with Xpress Free. The overall workflow in Xpress seems has similararities with that of Liquid...

3) Market Acceptance --> Very Good. Acceptance in the semi-pro markets is apparent as evidenced by the large number of independent forums dedicated to liquid and as evidenced by availability of the product through many distributers. Xpress Pro is also utilized ubiquitously in the broadcast industry.

4) Integration --> Reasonable. Avid Xpress DV/Pro, make heavy use of plugins to complement functionality. Much more so than Liquid. Avid has recently added Smartsound support to Xpress DV and Express PRo products.

5) Support --> Very Good. Frequent patches appear on the Avid web site and there are many, many user forums, books, training camps/materials, on line tutorials etc. On the down side the customer support model appears to be subscription based. This is professional tool so that is to be expected.

6) Migration Strategy -----> Excellent. My take (and I could be wrong... ) is that Xpress Pro with hardware assist is at the top of the NLE heap. Therefor you are "already there" if you go the Xpress Pro route. The learning curve (not one of the criteria used) is correspondingly more steep for Xpress DV and Xpress Pro, however. That being said, getting something basic out of Xpress Free was not overly onerous as most of the more complex features available in the Pro and DV series preducts were not present.

7) 3rd Party Plugin support - Very Good. Too many to number. The only product that seems to be in the same ball park is Adobe Premier Pro... Again, these are my perceptions which may depart marketdly from reality if further study were invested...

-----------------------------

A) HDV support --> The Xpress Free product had no HDV support, however the lastest versions of Xpress Pro and Xpress DV do. As one of these two would be purchased, I gave the Xpress products a checkmark in this column.

B) Integrated Smartsound --> Xpress Free product did not support Smartsound. The lastest versions of Xpress Pro does,however include SmartSound support.. I gave it a checkmark in this column.

C) Cost --> Xpress DV no hardware ~ $300 with rebates, Xpress Pro, no hardware ~ 1500, packages can go as high as $6000 depending on hardware and software bundle.

D) Color Correction ----> Yes

E) 24P support --> Xpress Free does not have it. Avid Xpress DV does not appear to have it either, however Avid Xpress Pro does... Again, this was not an overly important criteria for me.



VEGAS 6 DEMO ---> GOOD


1) Hardware Support ---> Good. Support for wide range of hardware. Vegas 6 worked well on my Athlon test system.

2) Stability ---> Good, I encountered no crashes during my test projects with Xpress Free. The workflow in Vegas is quite different form either Xpress or Liquid.

3) Market Acceptance --> Tolerable. It was really hard for me to gauge the market acceptance of Vegas. There are a few forums dedicated to Vegas, but not nearly as many as Liquid or Xpress. Could not locate very many examples of Vegas being used in production settings. Again, this could just be me not knowing where to look...

4) Integration --> Reasonable. Most places that sold Vegas provided bundles containing the NLE, and a DVD authoring tool.

5) Support --> Hard to tell.

6) Migration Strategy -----> Unknown. It is difficult to tell where Sony will be taking Vegas in the future. Obviously, product evolution is one venue by which capability will be enhanced. But beyond that, it would be difficult to guess.

7) 3rd Party Plugin support - Good. Boris and a few others seem to support Vegas.

-----------------------------

A) HDV support --> Yes

B) Integrated Smartsound --> No. Sony would direct you to thier ACID product instead at additional expense

C) Cost --> ~ $400, Other bundles throw in features such as DVD authoring totaling around $550 - $600.

D) Color Correction ----> Yes

E) 24P support --> Vegas does provide some 24P support as part of its HDV conversion function. It was not clear to me that capture and output could be accomplished natively using 24P. Again, could be that it was there but I missed it....



PRODUCT SELECTION

Based on the playing/evaluation described above taking into account, my context and my tactical/strategic needs, Liquid won me over. As a result I bought, installed and have been using LE 7.0. For the benefit of fellow Pinnacle studio users, I'll chonicle my conclusions on using LE7, but first an important point should be made: The decision to move over to LE 7.0 was dominated strongly by my context and tactical needs. A small change in these criteria would have led to the selection of a different NLE. For Example:

- If my livelihood depended on this choice, I would have selected Avid Xpress Pro and written the much greater cost off as a business expense. I would also have signed up for immersion training somewhere as the learning curve is steep.

- If my livelihood depended on this choice and I didn't like tweeking to get things running, I would have selected Avid Xpress Pro installed on pre-configured machine that is certified to work and is supported. Would
have signed up for training as well for the same reason described earlier.

- If there was no concern about migration, smartsound compatibility and future enhancements, Vegas would have been selected. I really enjoyed playing with Vegas. It is a different animal than either Liquid or Xpress
in both workflow and "feel". Its attention to sound is more acute than that of the other two products. I know.... "feel" is somewhat vague and fuzzy. I guess the best way to describe it was that it provided a sensation of being in closer proximity to the media as you are editing.



OBSERVATIONS WITH THE ACTUAL LE 7.0 PRODUCT:

The following discussions wrap up my observations.... Many of these are not things that the salesguys will harp on as they tend to be features common to all of the mid-range NLE's and are not differentiators. I will indicate below where this is the case...

THINGS THAT I APPRECIATE ABOUT LIQUID AS A STUDIO USER:

1) Project Management: In studio one has to manually manage media files and arrange them within the file system for maintenance and archival purposes. This is especially true with complex projects and long projects and in the context of working on multiple projects simultaneously. Liquid utilizes "racks" and folders to maintain media, EDL's and the like and these are linked together via the project construct. Like studio, clip definition is established by reference to the actual media - meaning that the raw media is not duplicated on your system. This is good in that disk space is conserved, however it is a real bear when you backup and archive the studio project file, raw media, music sound, etc. and have to locate and store everything manually. Liquid's backup function does all of the grunt work and allows the archive to be written to DVD for off site storage. Vegas and Avids Xpress products have similar features.

2) You can have as many video tracks as want... Studio sets the limit to 2 (3 if count the titler). All of the other NLE's examined provided this feature.

3) Color Correction ... Wow, I didn't know that I needed it until I started playing with it! Should have been one of my primary criteria! Color correction is useful for not only, well "correction" but also for effects. Liquid 7 has extensive color correction capabilities. The other NLE evaluated also have color correction functions.

4) The Logging Tool... In studio, one sets up the specifics of the capture, you turn it on the camera and blast away creating one big honking file on your hard drive. Ultimately the resulting monster file contains both gems of interest and a large amount of debis which has to be excised at edit time. Liquid provides a tool called the "logging tool" It allows you to preview the tape and select those portions you wish to transfer into a
digital file. Afterwards the logging tool can be instructed ("batch digitize"Wink these segments saving you the hassle of having to pick through a huge file to select the scenes. The other NLE's that I looked have capture capabilities that are also superior to that of Pinnacle Studio.

5) Development Team accountability... I started out with LE7, and there were some problems. Shortly thereafter SP1 came out. The Liquid project manager made a cameo appearance on the Avid Liquid support forums describing what the team was doing and attempted to provide an estimate of when the next patch was coming out. Service patch 2 came out thereafter and fixed most of the bugs that were causing me pain. This was a totally different experience than I had with Studio.... The company didn't blame the user, and didn't require that your entire machine be scrubbed and rebaselined to fix a problem. I don't know if this difference in attitude is attributable to the recent acquisition by Avid, or if the Liquid product has always been better supported, but there it is....

THINGS I FIND ANNOYING ABOUT LE 7.0

1) Title Deko pro - ouch! I was expecting more. Basically, it is just a wee bit more sophisticated than the titler provided in Studio.

2) Effects organization - When you first start using Liquid, you spend a lot of time hunting and pecking through the Fx library tab to find the effect that you want. An example of this can be seen in the 2D editors.... Out of the box Liquid provides 3 2D editors. Thats right 3 of them! All share a great number of capabilities in common but have little subtle differences that make each unique. From a user interface standpoint it would be better to fuse these into one 2D editor and provide the features/functions that differentiate the present editors as options in the "fused editor"... There are other examples of this...



THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE NEXT VERSION:

1) Dump Title Deko Pro and get a New titler - e.g. a Boris Grafitti light or a commotion light would be good.

2) Enhance the DVD capability - Something on par with DVDit...

3) Work a deal out with the boys at Smartsound and integrate the entire sonic Fire pro tool within Liquid. As a minimum make arrangements that allow SFP as a plugin..

Well thats it for me gang... Good luck on your NLE purchase decisions!!!


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Gary Bettan
Re: Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid...
on Mar 17, 2006 at 5:04:09 pm

THnax John! What a great post. Lots of good solid info that I think would be beneficial to many.

I would love to see you post it on the official Avid Liquid forum http://www.avid.com/exchange/forums/54/ShowForum.aspx

I have posted a link to it on the Videoguys blog today! http://www.videoguys.com/blog/

Gary


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