B&H Photo Video Pro Video-Audio meets Video-A Brief History of Audio Manufactures Crossing Over to Develop Video Products
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Audio meets Video

A Brief History of Audio Manufacturers Crossing Over to Develop Video Products

By Ron Seifried

In today's media-centric world, the boundaries between audio and video production are being progressively blurred. This convergence of media has driven a number of manufacturers to start producing equipment and software outside of their original spheres. For several years, manufacturers who specialize in audio products have been crossing over to produce tools for professional video production, and in turn expanding the options for video specialists. Powerful audio tools that video editors are typically not familiar with are starting to pop up in video hardware and software. This is in part, thanks to designers who've worked in the audio world for years and are now plying their wares to the visual artist.

The trend began with Sonic Foundry, developers of Sound Forge and ACID audio-editing and loop packages. They produced a program called Vegas, which was designed initially as a digital audio workstation. Vegas quickly developed into a video editing system complete with multi-track audio and multi-format sequencing. These advances caught the attention of Sony, who purchased Vegas through their Media Software division.

The new Sony Vegas 8 includes Blu-ray recording from the timeline
The new Sony Vegas 8 includes Blu-ray recording from the timeline

Vegas had become (and remains) the non-linear editing system of firsts. It was the first to have external preview without any hardware, native 24p editing and 5.1 surround sound mixing. New to Vegas 8 are XDCAM file support, Multicam Editing, 32-bit floating point video processing, enhanced Titling features, Audio Mixing Console, recording to Blu-ray media from the timeline, and No-recompress rendering for long GOP HDV.

JL Cooper MSC-3000
JL Cooper MCS-3000

JL Cooper is one of the trendsetters of the audio to video development migration. Originally a music-synthesizer accessory developer, JL Cooper slowly began expanding the video end of their product line by producing hardware controllers for film editing, animation, and imaging. The MCS-3000 Series and MSC Spectrum controllers were designed to be the ideal hardware interface for color correctors and are fully compatible with the new Apple Color. Including transparent, back-lit, and track-ball mechanisms with free-spinning control rings, high-resolution rotary encoders, and programmable function keys, these modules facilitate greater ease in the fine art of color correcting in post production.

Apple Color features two screens, from Timeline based to 3D Color Space scope
Apple Color features two screens, from Timeline based to 3D Color Space scope

Perhaps the most dramatic recent news of a stalwart audio manufacturer migrating to video is Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) and their new V3HD hardware interface. This new video and audio I/O box supports SDI and HD-SDI, as well as component, s-video and composite, stand-alone format converters, RS-422 deck control, output of simultaneous HD and SDI signals, and 4-channel XLR analog audio, all connected to a Mac or Windows computer via a FireWire 800 connection. The real plus is that the V3HD supports DVCPRO HD with Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro (Windows only). Whether or not the pro video market accepts MOTU as a serious video manufacturer, or if the pro audio market is irked at the shift of the company's focus, remains to be seen. In any event, the V3HD is an exciting interface, and a solid example of a product that's the result of lots of forward thinking.

The new MOTU V3HD

The new MOTU V3HD

Unlike the Aja IoHD, the V3HD simultaneously outputs standard and high-def analog, optical audio I/O, as well as separate SDI and HD-SDI outputs. MOTU has a long history of delivering high-quality computer audio interfaces, and judging from the specs of its first foray into video production, its intention is to become a serious player in the video arena. Check out B&H's first look at the V3HD in a previous Pro Audio Newsletter.

With the future of media heading into portable handheld internet-connected devices, the melding of audio and video production seems imminent. Our technology is in the midst of an historical transition from the days of the CD player and full-length music album existing separately from the household television. It just makes sense that the more media-savvy the manufacturers and end users become, the better suited they will be to embrace these new developments in the melding of audio and video solutions.

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