capsule review

VideoGenetics 1.0

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Video editing on a Mac has never been easier. With built-in FireWire ports on all new Macs and a free copy of iMovie, what else could you possibly need? How about a utility to help fix the colors in that washed-out old tape you're trying to edit together with the new footage from your snazzy digital camera? VideoGenetics 1.0 might be your ticket. It makes it easy to improve your footage, but it's got a few frustrating drawbacks.

VideoGenetics improves your video automatically through a process that QBeo calls Evolution. When you set the program in motion, it starts changing various parameters of your footage, including hue, color balance, and contrast, and lets you compare Before and After frames to decide when it should stop (or exactly how far along the Evolution process it should go). You can repeat the process for different sections of your video, or apply a variety of Evolutions for special effects. The program works as advertised-it enhances video without your having to understand or apply multiple image-correction filters.

VideoGenetics saves its effects in a separate effects file, leaving the original video file untouched. When you open the VideoGenetics-enhanced movie in a QuickTime-capable player or editor, it pulls the info it needs out of the original video file, as well as the VideoGenetics movie file. If you want to save a movie with its correction tracks all in one file, you can use the Save Rendered Movie command.

VideoGenetics also works with any QuickTime-supported format, such as MPEG and AVI. It's not limited to iMovie's DV format, as all iMovie plug-in effects are. You can also save Genotypes, or Evolutions that created results that you liked, for use on other clips-a timesaving feature.

Unfortunately, VideoGenetics doesn't provide any specific control over the dozen individual video parameters it changes. So if the Evolution was a little too red, for example, you can't just tone it down. Or if you know the problem is just one of poor contrast, you can't just make that change without changing everything else, too. That's frustrating, especially for an $80 utility.

The program also has some problems running under OS 9.1 with QuickTime 5 Preview 3; going back to OS 9 and QuickTime 4 solved them. QBeo did not observe these problems because it doesn't support the preview version of QuickTime, but QBeo is working on an OS X version, which it hopes to release in the near future, and perhaps those issues will disappear with that release.

Finally, VideoGenetics could use better documentation. Online Assistant windows tell you what to do in context, but without proper docs, even in electronic form, it took me a while to figure out the extent of the program's capabilities, or more accurately, its limitations.

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