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I first started to use Liquid Edition when I was working in the QA development center for Pinnacle Systems. Because I was an old-school Adobe Premiere user, this “single-track” solution wasn't a working environment I felt comfortable with initially. However, I soon came to appreciate the power of unlimited video layers and saw immediate advantages to using off-the-Timeline DVD authoring and the real-time preview of filters and transitions—especially because I could access all these features without expensive or difficult-to-install hardware.

Finally I had discovered a way to edit and create DVDs, complete with special effects and titles, from within the one application, Liquid Edition. These features are the reason I now rarely use any other program to create my videos.

Although Liquid Edition offers affordable power and an incredible potential for creativity, you should still realize that no matter what type of video you are producing, you must make sure it is clearly and cleanly presented. Otherwise, your carefully nurtured production looks amateurish, the interest of the audience wanes, and you find you've wasted your time.

The secret to avoiding this painful scenario is simple: You must understand how to get the best from the software you are using—in this case, Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6. Once you know this, you are free to be as creative as you want.

Using This Book

This Visual QuickPro Guide, like others in the series, is a task-based reference book that uses each chapter to focus on a specific area of the application. For this guide, I use plain English to explain each function and I accompany each with a series of illustrations that explicitly show how each of the steps should work. Where necessary I use sidebars to illustrate particular topics in more depth.

This Book's Companion Web Page

To support this book Peachpit Press has a special area just for Liquid Edition users. Go to www.peachpit.com/liquid6vqp and you'll not only find details on where to download a fully working demo of Liquid Edition 6, but you can also download some of the sample clips used as examples throughout this book. I'll also use this area to update you—the reader—of any software updates and any changes these updates might make to the software.

This task-based approach—as opposed to a project-based one—allows you to use your own media or download the sample files from the publisher's Web site (see accompanying sidebar) while learning the techniques in this book. You can then choose to follow each chapter in order, or simply dip in and out of the areas you find most difficult to understand.

Going Pro

The “Pro” in the title of this book refers to the capability of the software rather than the aspirations of the reader. Liquid Edition is designed with a high creative ceiling. Users can produce simple, short videos for the Web or they can make a surround sound DVD movie. The only real limitation of Liquid Edition is the user's imagination.

Demo Version

If you want to try Liquid Edition 6 out before you buy it, you can download a demo version or call a special CD order line. For details, visit the Peachpit Web site at www.peachpit.com/liquid6vqp. The demo version has a time limitation and certain usage restrictions, but you can complete most of the task-based exercises in this book using the demo version.

The Pro in the title is also not a reference to the Liquid Edition Pro package. Remember, all versions of Liquid Edition share a common base program; those versions sold with extra hardware simply have advanced output facilities that any Liquid Edition owner with the relevant hardware can access.

Resetting the Interface

Liquid Edition 6 displays a demo sequence on the Timeline after the initial installation. This demo sequence can be used in the Appendix to test your computer; however, a new sequence must be started in order for your interface to match the screenshots in this book.

Liquid Variations

Liquid Edition 6 is sold as:

  • Liquid Edition DV

  • Liquid Edition Pro

The important thing to remember here is that the software remains the same in each version; the only difference is the hardware included in the packet. Here is the breakdown:

  • Liquid Edition DV supplied with a standard FireWire card

  • Liquid Edition Pro supplied with a USB DV/Analog converter with input and output sockets for Analog Composite, Component and S-Video, and also 5.1 surround sound. The analog output from this device allows you to monitor real-time previews on an external monitor such as a portable TV set (Figure i.1).

    Figure i.1. The MovieBox 5.1 Pro version allows you to monitor the output when you're developing a surround sound project.

✓ Tips

  • If you never need to output your projects directly to VHS or if you never need to capture from VHS, then you probably only need Liquid Edition DV. However, remember that the Pro version offers one very important advantage: It can display Realtime filters and transitions on a TV set without having to be rendered first.

  • The Edition Pro card—a special Pinnacle 64 MB AGP card with analog out, supplied with Liquid Edition 5.x (Figure i.2) —and the MovieBox Deluxe—a USB DV/analog converter supplied with Pinnacle Studio (Figure i.3)—will both give you access to the analog features of Liquid Edition 6.

    Figure i.2. The ATI Radeon 8500 adapted and rebadged by Pinnacle as the Pro card.

    Figure i.3. The MovieBox. A USB DV/analog converter with a case designed by Porsche no less!

To which version does this book apply?

Software programs change their version numbers in gradual increments over their lifetime (from 1.0 to 6.0, for example). Often, the version numbers change in even smaller increments (from 6.0 to 6.1, to 6.2, and on up to 6.58, or something similar); these smaller increments often represent service packs (once know as bug fixes) and/or patches that allow users to access recently released hardware, such as advanced DVD burners with dual-layer capability.

Historically, these version increments don't significantly change the operation of the program. Therefore, this book applies to any version of Liquid Edition 6.x, where x is the number you have installed on your computer.

Adobe Premiere Translations

Adobe Premiere Pro is another popular NLE program, and many of the terms this program uses are now standard with most NLE users. However, not all of them are used in Liquid Edition, and sometimes the meaning of an identical function may be lost in translation.

To avoid confusion, I provide sidebars throughout this book that translate Liquid Edition features into something Premiere users recognize. For example, transferring media from DV tape to the computer is called digitizing in Liquid Edition and capturing in Adobe Premiere.

What's New in Version 6?

Version 6 isn't simply an upgrade; it's the concept of Liquid Edition matured. If you have worked with previous versions, you'll instantly notice that the interface has been redesigned with new users and professionals in mind and that it has a selection of exciting new features. Here are just a few:

  • High Definition Video (HDV). HDV is a high-definition version of the popular DV format that uses MPEG-2 compression to fit HD content onto the same DV tape stock. HDV uses a much higher resolution than DV to create clear, concise screen images. The difference in clarity is stunning.

    Liquid Edition 6 includes native support for HDV resolutions, which means you can capture directly from an HDV camera without having to convert to AVI.

    Although an HD film contains much more detail than Mini DV or Hi-8, it doesn't take up an exponential amount of space on your hard drive. This is because HD is MPEG-based, not AVI-based. This means the compression method is much more efficient, thus allowing for a smaller file size despite the greater resolution.

  • MPEG editing. Native MPEG editing is now available. This means Timelines can contain MPEG formats such as HDV, VCD, SVCD, elemental streams, and even VOB files.

  • Multi-format Timeline. You can mix AVI clips on the Timeline with MPEG film clips and vice versa without having to render the “alien” media. This is because Liquid Edition 6 has a new render system called SmartRender, which is able to use clips from a variety of different sources.

  • Improved Audio Editor. Before the arrival of version 6, the audio side of Liquid Edition was a weak point. In version 6, the Audio Editor has been rewritten to include VST plug-in support, 5.1 surround sound, Timeline Panning control, and a variety of improvements to the audio interface itself.

    Obviously the most exciting addition is the ability to create a 5.1 surround sound DVD using the included Dolby AC3 encoder.

  • A redesigned interface. The Liquid Edition interface now sports a much needed dab of color and the choice between two different menu systems: the new Drop-Down interface designed for users new to Liquid Edition; and the Classic Start-Button system, which is based on an older interface style and may be more comfortable for old-hand Liquid Edition users.

  • Intuitive FX editors. In this version, the look and feel of FX editors has also been altered to include a parameter curve editing system and an easier-to-use interface.

  • Greater scope for creativity. The ability to add and subtract effects has also been enhanced. It now includes Global Track FX (with which you can add an FX to the whole track).

  • More wizards. Previous versions of Liquid Edition featured just one wizard—the DVD Export wizard. Now import and export tasks are fully supported by wizards that attempt to ease you through the various ways in which you can bring in material to edit and then successfully export it again.

  • Multicamera editing. If you've ever used more than one camera to film the same event, you know the problems that can occur when you try to match up two (or more) films into the one edited video. There are a hundred workarounds to do this, but now version 6 allows you to capture these clips as virtual cameras, which can then be edited into one clip via a numbered Picture in Picture display.

  • Backup and export projects. Version 6 allows you to export a project with all its associated media (clips, sound, titles, and so on) to an external point, such as a DVD or an archived folder on your hard drive or network. This function allows you to back up your projects and also send them in an easily contained form to any editor in the world.

  • Matte and subtrack support. In version 6, you can simplify the process of using Matte Track by adding a secondary Matte Track to the Timeline instead of using a filter. The effect is real-time, and you can collapse the Matte track and subtracks allowing you to save on screen space.

  • Audio Timewarp. You can now apply a linear Timewarp filter to an audio clip, although its use is restricted to a value range between –50 and +200 percent.

Plus more…

Obviously this list is just scratching the surface of what's new in version 6.0. On the technical side, there have been huge advances in the rendering department and in the overall operation and workflow of the application.

Below is a short list of some of the other features that are new to version 6. The majority of NLE editors will probably find these interesting.

  • Pinnacle Studio 9 project import and plug-in support

  • Ability to export to WM9 with custom presets

  • Surround sound mixer

  • Four-point editing

  • Dual-layer DVD support

  • Ability to update Waveform after it returns from XSend to WaveLab

Again this is not a definitive list, but it does give you some idea of the advances version 6 has made.

The Minimum System Specification

  • Windows XP SP1 or Windows 2000 with SP3 (Mac systems aren't supported by Liquid Edition 6)

  • 1.8 GHz CPU

  • 512 MB of memory

  • A large second hard drive, either SCSII or EIDE/SATA (EIDE/SATA drives must have a minimum spin speed of 7,200 rpm (revs per minute).

  • A graphics card with at least 64 MB of on-board memory

  • A sound card that is DirectX 9 compatible

  • An IEEE1394 PCI card (also known as a FireWire card)

  • A CD-ROM (to install the program)

✓ Tip

  • Windows XP is seen as the OS of choice for Liquid Edition 6. Windows 2000 users should bear this in mind.

A Second Hard Drive

A second dedicated video hard drive is essential if you want a reliable NLE computer system. This rule applies to any video editing software, not just Liquid Edition. Video editing on one hard drive (i.e., the one that Windows XP lives on) is not just a viable option because slow disc performance is one of the major bottlenecks in a PC. The secondary drive should be one that is as big as you can afford and has a spin speed of 7,200 rpm. Drives that spin at 5,400 rpm don't offer the performance you need for video editing.

The second drive should also “always” be formatted using NTFS. The alternative—FAT32—can only store 4 GB (approximately 18 minutes) of video, whereas NTFS can store up to 12 TB (more than you'll ever need). Serious editors will only use NTFS.

For details on hard drive use, see the Appendix, where you'll find a range of tips for improving the performance of your computer.

The Recommended System Specification

This type of program demands a performance level that exceeds most programs available today. Where high performance is required, there is only one simple rule to follow: Bigger is always better. If you are serious about video editing, you need something like the following:

  • 3.0 GHz or dual-processor system using 2x2.2 GHz CPU.

  • 1,024 MB of fast, reliable RAM.

  • A fast graphics card with at least 128 MB on board and DirectX 9.x support.

  • A DVD burner. This is essential if you want to author DVDs or create an archived backup of your project.

    HDV System Requirements

    If you intend to do the bulk of your editing in the HDV format, you need even more power than the specifications I recommend.

    Your CPU should be at least a 3.2 GHz with hyperthreading enabled, and your graphics card should be a PCI Express card with 256 MB on board and pixel shader support. The more RAM you have on your motherboard, the better.

  • A sound card with ASIO 2.0 compatibility. To edit in 5.1 surround sound, you need a sound card that supports this and a speaker system that allows you to accurately monitor the results.

  • A certified USB 2.0 interface. This is required if you're going to use MovieBox and MovieBox Pro. For a list of which USB interfaces are certified, visit the support page for Liquid Edition (www.Pinnaclesys.com).

Liquid Edition with a Laptop

You can also use Liquid Edition on a laptop but only if the laptop is powerful enough and is equipped with a graphics chip that has enough muscle to power the effects. To use Liquid Edition on a laptop, you'll also need an external FireWire hard drive on which to store your media clips.

Additional Equipment for the Power User

A Power user is a kind of superuser of NLE software. Typically, they start out as hobbyists and then progress until they are making money from their hobby by filming events such as weddings or training videos. Some even go on to make this a full-time career. If you are a budding Power user, you'll need a little more equipment:

  • A second VGA monitor so you can have a dual-screen layout.

  • MovieBox Pro if you want to output 5.1 surround sound.

  • A DV deck to transfer your tapes to the computer. Yes, you can use your camera. I do. But there is a price to pay if you do so—double the work means half the shelf life for your camera.

  • A quality VHS deck to output your projects onto tape and to capture from analog.

  • An EIDE/SATA expansion card. You'll use this to add more drives to your system, either as separate units or linked together in a RAID, forming one big drive from up to four others.

  • A removable drive bay. The alternative to a large hard drive or a RAID is simply to swap out hard drives for every project you work on.

  • Creative Edge
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