Media Magnet: Viva Las Video

LAS VEGAS -- "I like the people at this show," my chatty cabbie said as we drove away from a day at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

What, I asked, did he particularly like about the olio that makes up the visitors and exhibitors at NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters convention?

"They give the best tips."

Well that makes sense, since in a city where everything is obscenely large, NAB was no exception. The show packed in about 120,000 people, took over every hotel, and took up both convention centers. Sony's booth alone was big enough to land a 747 in, with room left over for all the luggage the airlines have lost over the past 10 years.

Speaking of big things, DVD-authoring was all over the show floor -- and some of it even related to the Mac. Sonic Solutions ( www.sonic.com ) is finally bringing their consumer level DVD-authoring software, DVDit!, to the Macintosh in Introductory, Standard, and Professional Editions. Shipping in October, it will feature QuickTime video and audio compatibility, title and button creation, transcoding to MPEG-2, and writing to DVD-R or CD-R media.

In addition, ICE ( www.iced.com ) announced plans to accelerate Sonic's DVD products, including DVDit! ICE will dramatically speed up MPEG-2 encoding times by offloading the processor-intensive work from your Mac to ICE's BlueICE PCI card.

Apple also made headlines in the DVD arena with their announcement that they had acquired Astarte's ( www.astarte.de ) DVD-authoring software and technology. Astarte sells Mpack and DVD Director, so maybe a Final Cut Pro/DVD-authoring bundle is close at hand?

Also in video news, iPIX has created a video version of their immersive imaging technology. Their panoramic still scenes are similar to QuickTime VR, but are spherical -- allowing you to view the scene from any angle. This new technology allows the same effect, but with motion video -- and word is Steven Spielberg may use this new magic for upcoming movie trailers.

In the audio arena, Digigram ( www.digigram.com ) showed new versions of their VXpocket series, PC-slot sound cards for laptops (including PowerBooks). The VXPocket 440 ($1069) and VXPocket v2 ($729) offer 24-bit ASIO compatibility, S/PDIF input and output, and SMTPE time code input for synching with video applications.

As hard as it was to pull myself away from all these cool and expensive toys, the hour of my flight's departure was rapidly approaching.

Before I got out of the cab, I asked the driver which shows were the worst when it came to tipping.

"Jewelry, shoes, and porn."

Guilt-ridden, and sure that I had crossed paths with all three over my lifetime, I got out -- and left him a good tip.

Associate Features Editor JONATHAN SEFF ( jseff@macworld.com ) covers multimedia and storage for Macworld.

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