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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Movie making from your desktop
By Chris Long
BBC Click Online reporter

Not only are home video cameras getting cheaper and more powerful, but video editing on the home computer has also been developing, as Chris Long reports.

Chris Long
Chris Long demonstrated making a movie of himself in New York
The opening sequences from even some of the most classic films can often be recreated using the free software that comes with Windows XP.

Living in the space that most of us would assume Apple owns with its own iMovie, Movie Maker is as cheap and cheerful as it gets.

But it works - after a fashion, and is the starting point for today's PC desktop editor who does not want to move to the Macintosh.

Patrick Garrington, of the digital media firm Roxio, says: "If you're looking at downloadable packages that are free, they are often a very good introduction to the world of video editing and will certainly teach you the basics.

"Windows Movie Maker is a very good example of that, where you can learn the basic steps and play around with timeline editing and get used to the basic tools.

"Where the more advance packages like our own come into play are that you have much more power over things like titling, a wider selection of transitions and greater control over effects."

There is a raft of cheap and cheerful video editing packages, all of which attempt to be a bit more cuddly than their more expensive, broadcast quality, counterparts.

We are even seeing professional software such as a high-end rostrum camera programme being released for the home PC user.

Growing capabilities

In fact more and more professional features are moving down to the smaller, cheaper packages.

Patrick Garrington says: "Examples of those sorts of features would be blue screen photography. You now have the facility to do split screen video, so you can run two sections of video on the same screen.

"There are lots of new facilities that we've introduced - picture facilities are another good example."

People get something which makes them go: 'Wow, I can make movies'
Kevin O'Brien, Adobe
Kevin O'Brien of Adobe adds: "Now, with any commercial entry product you can bring a piece of text in, put a caption up, slide it in, have a bit of a graphic behind it, fade it up, fade it down. That has caused more of an impact, I think."

As processors develop more power and the software matures the PC's capabilities grow.

Kevin O'Brien says: "Every PC or Mac can play back DV quality at 25 frames per second or 30 frames per second, no problem at all.

"So having that power there, you then have the opportunity to do more real-time cross fades.

"This was a real struggle five years ago without some additional hardware bolted on.

"So you're bringing the hardware cost right down. People can just plug their camera in and can now reasonably shoot a piece of video.

"It may have some wobbly video but they can just filter that out, and then they get something which makes them go: 'Wow, I can make movies'.

The question has to be asked: What about the Macintosh in all this?

According to Kevin O'Brien, "the whole Mac versus PC thing is a total misnomer.

"We all have to work in data environments where there are shared assets.

"The whole point is to get the job done as easily and quickly as possible.

"It's just tools to do the job - they're all the same. I really don't think there's any argument to say one platform's better than another."

Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

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