Until recently, just about the only way to get a copy of Avid CinemaAvid Technology’s quick-and-easy video-editing systemwas to find it bundled with such multimedia Macs as the Performa 6400 and the Power Mac G3 All-in-One. No longer. Avid Technology has released Avid Cinema 1.2.2 as a stand-alone product. But aside from a tossed-in copy of QuickTime 3.0, there are no obvious improvements.
This is both good and bad news. Avid Cinema has always been the embodiment of simplicity. Within Avid Cinema, you’ll find Storyboard, the area where you plan your video production; Bring Video In, for capturing video from a composite-video or S-Video source; Edit Movie, where you arrange your clips as well as add transitions, titles, and sound; and Finish Movie, for sending your movie to videotape or saving it as a QuickTime movie. Just march through the tabs to make your movieplan, capture, edit, and outputand you’re done.
But as simple as this process may be, it’s never been very flexible. For example, if you prefer to capture one long clip and divide it into short pieces rather than capture short clips and string them together, you have to go through a laborious process of dividing, cutting, and renaming pieces and pasting them to and from the Storyboard. You’ll find that it’s easier to accede to the program’s design and simply capture in small chunks.
Another curious thing about Avid Cinema is that although the program requires QuickTime 3.0, it lacks some of QuickTime’s obvious advantages. For example, from within Avid Cinema you can compress your movies only with the JPEG and Cinepak codecs. Granted, you can save your work as an uncompressed QuickTime movie and then use QuickTime Pro to compress it with the Sorenson Video and QDesign Music codecs, but it seems odd that these compression schemes aren’t directly available within Avid Cinema.
In addition, Avid Cinema 1.2.2 works only with Power Macintosh G3 systems that contain Apple Computer’s Audio/Video I/O card. Owners of previous versions of Avid Cinema shouldn’t feel compelled to buy this version, with its minimal improvements, as it works only with new hardware. Also, Avid Cinema’s effects and transitions are all too brief. Sure, few people require a barn-door or dissolve effect that lasts seven seconds, but one could certainly wish for a fade-in or -out that lasts that long.