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Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Home movies become big business
Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils Apple's iMac
Apple is undisputed leader in the multimedia field
The technology to produce your own films is becoming more accessible. Ian Hardy of BBC World's ClickOnline reports from New York on how Apple disciples are bidding to become tomorrow's digital film-makers.
In the 21st Century, computers have truly gone multimedia. Whereas once we got excited about writing letters with word-processing programs and designing shopping lists on spreadsheets, the fun has long gone from those activities.

Now it is all about music, video and photographs. Today even the cheapest computers come with the faster, larger hard drives necessary for storing hours of video or thousands of images.

The digital hub really had its genesis with iMovie

Philip Schiller, Apple
Just a few years ago making your own video was a challenge, but thanks to the invention of the mini digital video camera, easy to use editing equipment and DVD burners, it is now straightforward and affordable.

Thousands of people all around the world are making home movies for the first time and DIY multimedia is a top priority for every major consumer computer manufacturer.

Video made easy

The undisputed leader in the field is Apple, which has refashioned every one of its machines into a digital hub.

Police man using a video camera
Video cameras are everywhere
It recently announced a long list of extras that will make use of the hub concept, including iSync and iCal. Work on such projects has been stepped up dramatically since the success of the first hub application, released in 1999.

Philip Schiller of Apple said: "The digital hub really had its genesis with iMovie, which was the first application that Apple created where we connected together digital video cameras with the Mac in order to make video editing easy for everybody."

As the amount of video being shot by amateurs has increased, so too has the amount of editing software and techniques available.

The tape is first converted into a digital file on the computer via a firewire cable. It can then be cut and pasted, moved around, distorted and manipulated effortlessly without affecting the original material.

The final version is crushed into one file ready for burning on to a DVD. And it can all be done within the digital hub set-up.

Digital hubs

"You shoot a lot of material but 90% of it is garbage," said Charlie Russell of Avid.

Windows Media Center start menu
Microsoft focuses on home entertainment
"You need to pick out the 10% that are gems, put all the gems in the right sequence, timed out just right, add some music, some titles, some special effects, and you've got a brilliant movie."

Avid works on both Mac and Windows machines, which is just as well since Microsoft has announced its version of the digital hub, called Windows XP Media Center.

Part of the reason is undoubtedly cash. Just like the internet, the digital hub could slowly be turned into a money maker.

Almost everyone was taken by surprise at MacWorld when Apple announced that it was going to charge for its .Mac service, which had allowed people to build photo albums and stream video clips.

Media wars

The battle for digital hub supremacy is now in full force.

In America, Apple has started a no-holds-barred campaign at bus stops and on TV which takes direct aim at Microsoft.

The fighting is certain to become fiercer in the months to come. It is clear the digital hub, on whatever platform, is becoming a major trend in computing.

But every consumer will undoubtedly be watching the additional fees and service charges closely, as companies attempt to turn each of your computer gadgets into its own profit centre.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
08 Jan 02 | Business
27 Nov 01 | Business
24 Oct 01 | Entertainment
17 Oct 01 | Business
23 May 02 | Business
16 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
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