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Gary Bettan
Telsadudes EXCELLENT post on why he chose Liquid!
on Mar 17, 2006 at 5:06:03 pm

Note: I have reposted this from the Curious, but gun-shy of considering Liquid... thread in this forum. You can read the entire thread here http://videoguys.forumexperts.com/viewtopic.php?t=111251

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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!!!
_________________
John Applegate
Systems Engineer

======================================

Thanx for the EXCELLENT post John!


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Jubilee Video
Re: Telsadudes EXCELLENT post on why he chose Liquid!
on Mar 19, 2006 at 12:41:57 am

Found this article extremely helpful in my decision process, I currently own Liquid 5.5 and Videoguys Tutorial to Match. Had laid it to rest, but recently decided to get back on track with LE.

This post has confirmed my desire to stick with LE and to possible upgrade to 7.0. As a previous LE 5.5 Owner do I qualify for a better deal than the $299 upgrade, and also what offers do the Videoguys have for me as a previous owner of your LE5.5, I am sure that a newer tutorial or a additional update is now on the table.

Thanks and hope for some feed back. I also own Studio 9plus. Very Happy


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