When Media 100 acquired Digital Origin last year, the two companies infused CineStream with the best traits of their respective DV-editing programs, Media 100 and EditDV. The result? CineStream 3.0 combines powerful editing tools, including a multitrack timeline interface, with innovative, high-end features. CineStream's Event Stream technology, for example, lets you pepper video with Web commands that trigger streaming video or images from other sites--perfect if you plan to put video on the Web. Unfortunately, installation difficulties and several playback errors make CineStream problematic despite its new tools. Until CineStream fixes these glitches, go with Adobe Premiere instead.When Media 100 acquired Digital Origin last year, the two companies infused CineStream with the best traits of their respective DV-editing programs, Media 100 and EditDV. The result? CineStream 3.0 combines powerful editing tools, including a multitrack timeline interface, with innovative, high-end features. CineStream's Event Stream technology, for example, lets you pepper video with Web commands that trigger streaming video or images from other sites--perfect if you plan to put video on the Web. Unfortunately, installation difficulties and several playback errors make CineStream problematic despite its new tools. Until CineStream fixes these glitches, go with Adobe Premiere instead.
The CineStream installation on the Mac caused us no end of headaches. It took 10 different attempts to install CineStream on our test Mac, and even after we did, the software continually crashed. According to the company, many of the problems we uncovered have been fixed in an update that should be available within the next month. We had fewer problems with the PC installation, but even here, CineStream wouldn't install the transition filters that come bundled with the program (we had to install them manually). Fortunately, Media 100's tech support team was extremely helpful and answered all our e-mail questions within 24 hours. (You can reach tech support Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST or via e-mail anytime.)
Beyond its installation snafus, you'll enjoy CineStream's easy interface. To capture your video and import it into CineStream, just attach the DV camcorder or DV deck to the 1394 FireWire port on your computer, use CineStream's onscreen controls to set your start point, and then hit the Record button in the Capture window. CineStream stores the video clips in a folder you select on your hard drive. Naturally, you can also import graphics and audio from CD-ROM and other sources into the program. CineStream's batch capture mode, which automatically captures multiple video clips from one tape, comes in handy for larger projects.
If you're at all familiar with DV editors, you'll feel right at home in CineStream. The program's multitrack timeline interface, called the Sequencer, resembles a musical score where each line represents a video or audio clip; it takes up about 50 percent of the screen. The Project window (which displays thumbnails or lists of all the files you've captured) and the Monitor window (which shows enlarged frames from your video) occupy the rest. To begin your movie, just drag a clip from the Project window into the Sequencer or the Program Monitor. Then, simply click and drag to adjust the length of your clip. CineStream lets you lay down 100 audio, 300 video, and an unlimited number of effects (FX) tracks. But keep in mind: the more tracks you add, the greater the performance hit to your CPU.
Transitions: the good and the bad
CineStream offers a variety of high-quality transitions, from simple dissolves to Explode, where one video image expands into another. Unfortunately, after you place transitions between clips, there's no easy way to change their duration from the Sequencer. Instead, you must double-click the transition, type a duration into a pop-up dialog box, and click OK. We hope CineStream changes this clunky process in future versions.
When you're ready to preview a video, you have a choice of methods. If you want to view a single transition, click the Animate button, and CineStream takes one frame from the start and end clips and demonstrates how the transition should look. To see the real-time transition, render your entire video or just the frames involved in the transition. For a rough draft rendering, CineStream lets you render the video preview in draft DV format, which reduces the video's image quality to improve preview speed. Unfortunately, in our tests of the lowest draft DV setting, CineStream had a tendency to drop frames and stutter around transitions. This is especially noticeable when you add non-DV footage (say, an AVI animation) to your timeline, which completely bogs down the process. Fortunately, CineStream outputs to QuickTime, AVI, DV, RealVideo, and Windows Media Player formats.
Impressive Web features
But for all our grumbling, we were extremely impressed with CineStream's Event Stream technology. Event Stream lets you set individual frames or hot spots (clickable links) on the screen to call up Web graphics from other sites, link to URLs, or launch new Web sites or movies--handy when you're exporting movies to a Web site. The corresponding graphics or Web sites either appear on a different part of the screen--wait until the movie finishes before launching--or jump the whole presentation to another URL entirely. If you're offline, you can reference video or audio clips on a CD-ROM. To insert an Event Stream command, just position the cursor, choose the Event Stream action you want (such as Open URL), and then drag that action onto the FX channel of your video track. No other program we looked at matches CineStream's Event Stream functionality, so those who want to edit videos just for the Web should consider this program.
Work in progress
Like any new software, CineStream still has a few rough edges to smooth down. In any event, its simple drag-and-drop interface and the Event Stream technology give the app great potential. But for now, stick with Adobe Premiere for the PC or Final Cut Pro 2.0 for the Mac.