Here are a list of links to sites
that I have found either essential, useful, or interesting, for one reason
or another. Just to reassure you - I DO NOT GET ANY REVENUE for referring
you to any of these sites.
back here regularly - this list is often updated with new stuff.
Mike Shaw's Hints and Tips - www.mikeshaw.co.uk
Mike is known world-wide for his
highly informative pages. They are full of information drawn from his own
experience, starting with his time as a Studio400 beta tester, through to
the present. There are also tips and and advice taken from the Pinnacle webboard over a long period, and contributions from other users.
Mike has recently overhauled this
site to focus on the generic Studio editing software that is used by
all the NLE products, and the original Studio400 Linear
product. Look out too for Mike's
regular informative newsletters.
Jos Roijakkers's Site - http://studio.club.tip.nl.
This site is for Dutch language
users. Some of this information has been translated by Jos, and is on Mike
Shaw's site but, if you understand the Dutch language, you will find
something new here. You may also recognise exerpts from my site here,
which Jos has translated. Jos, too, has taken the generic approach to the
Studio product range, and has combined all his sites into one, now with
the addition of the recent Studio7 and Hollywood FX products. You will also find an active
forum on this site, moderated by Jos.
Pete Archer's Site - www.petesvideo.com
Pete is an enthusiast who runs this
site in the USA. He has a practical user-oriented approach to his
movie-making, and new users will find his description of the system
enlightening. Pete also describes his foray into digital editing.
Karl Miller's Site - www.pdc.ca/video/StuEDL
This the long awaited contribution
from Karl, a regular contributor to the Pinnacle webboards. This site is
so new, I would not be able to do its description justice, so Karl has offered the following few words -
"StuEDL - the Studio
Translator" is a shareware software utility that gives any Pinnacle
"Studio" video editor access to Studio 200, a powerful
free-download videotape database manager and movie assembler.
Studio 400, DV, DC10plus, MP10, and
PCTV, from Pinnacle Systems Inc., have no tape library capabilities, but
StuEDL translates their "Edit Decision List" (EDL) or tape
capture data into Studio 200 format. Studio 200 can catalog, search,
sort, sift, split, combine, preview, and print any combination of tapes,
clips, collections, and projects. Studio 400 users also gain
accurate and reliable movie assembly.
Visit this site for a Studio 200
online tour and downloads, more information about StuEDL, and an
interesting collection of resources and links for all Studio video
Allen Pilgrim's Site (Visual
Appeal) - http://www.video777.com
Allen hosts a site under the attractive banner 'Visual Appeal'. If you
are into working with Pinnacle's Studio 7 editor and Hollywood FX plug-in,
then you will find much to interest you here. Allen has the enthusiasm, in
common with most of us amateurs, to maintain an active site - so visit it
often. You will also find some very amusing light relief here in the
Pinnacle Discussion Forums - http://wboard.pinnaclesys.com/default.htm
This is the homepage for Pinnacle's
video editing discussion forums. You can enter all of the consumer
webboards from here.
Computer Video Magazine - www.computervideo.net
If you want to keep up with latest
developments in the world of digital video editing, then this is the
key site to start at. There is a very active message board here that
covers all aspects of video editing.
ACE Video Enhancer - www.gthelectronics.com
I bought one of these some while
ago, and wouldn't be without it. This site gives you a good feel for what
the unit will do. It is worth the price, just for the 'Colour Shift'
control. Versions available for PAL/SECAM/NTSC.
If you think this unit is redundant
in this age of DV - think again. That final dub down to VHS will be done
using S-Video/C-Video connection. This is where the Ace also scores
strongly. It will fine-tune the image to perfection (digitally), to give
optimum quality to your distributed productions, and also give the
opportunity of adding an adjustable WIDESCREEN aspect ratio to your
This product is now available as a FULL
STANDARDS CONVERTER. This means that you can convert any video source
(PAL/SECAM/NTSC) to any standard - (e.g. convert NTSC input to PAL for
recording on PAL VCR, and vice versa), and have full simultaneous control
over all aspects of image quality.
When you check out the prices, you
will find these units are incredible value for money. (Check on how much
professional studios pay for similar facilities!)
Syntrillium - www.syntrillium.com
This is the home of the superb sound
file editor CoolEdit2000. It may be downloaded from this site for a 30 day
evaluation. I have used CoolEdit for over two years, and can
wholeheartedly recommend it. The latest version will both decode and
encode mp3 files. Amongst the many attractions of this editor is the
ability to use a Timecode timebase (including SMPTE and Drop Frame
formats), and an easy way of stretching or compressing sounds in time
without changing pitch (very useful for tailoring added soundtracks when
All Music Guide - www.allmusic.com
A superb database of
Composer/Artist/Song/Title/Album information of all genres. Also links to
the All Movie Guide, and All Game Guide. If you heard it or saw it, but
can't remember what, who or where, then this is the site to consult.
Soundfonts - www.utopialive.com
If you have one of the Creative Labs
Soundblaster Live! cards, and use MIDI files, then this site is for you.
If you compose your own music as well, then this site is a MUST. Utopia
have released a professional 32Mb GM soundfonts package that
replaces the 2, 4, and 8 Mb soundfonts that come with the card. The
results are astonishing - check out the mp3 samples of compositions
made with this amazing product on this site - they are almost
indistinguishable from a live performance. The low cost will amaze you
Looking for ways to add free
music to your movies, fed up with SmartSound, can't compose your own? Then
how about downloading some free MIDI files from the web (here's
a starting point, or here
for classical), playing them
through SB Live with Utopia Live, and recording them to wav files. If you
have a MIDI file editor (like Voyetra Orchestrator
) you can change the
composition to suit your own preference. Your audience will think you
hired an orchestra or band. Gone are the days of that second-rate PC MIDI
to make your own 'original' music? - www.musicmachines.net
Some while ago, Mike Shaw described a program to
me that he had recently re-discovered lurking in the depths of his hard
drive, although how it had got there he couldn't remember. From his
enthusiastic description, it sounded too good to be true. Called Microsoft
Music Producer, it apparently generates very acceptable MIDI music, based on
nothing more than a few verbal preferences. Mike had just invested in
a new PC, and now wanted to install this program on it, but could not
locate any installation disks. His enquiries to Microsoft produced a blank
- they had ditched it in 1997.
The subject came up again the other day in
conversation, so I decided to go on a 'Cyber-Expedition' to see if it was
possible to locate the origin of, or locate a source for, this long lost
treasure. What I eventually unearthed was an intriguing trail of
destruction, perpetrated by Microsoft, involving the annihilation of a
long list of innovative companies, amongst them being an outfit called Blue
Ribbon Soundworks Ltd. This company, I discovered, was the originator of the technology
behind Music Producer. Their roots were in the highly respected Amiga
camp, but were now making inroads into the Windows PC. A little more digging finally located a site hosted by an
enthusiast, Tom Smith, that contained some 'booty'.
This site was a real find. Tom has rescued
two utilities (Melody Maestro, and Super Jam) from obscurity, when
Microsoft enveloped Blue Ribbon Soundworks. They removed from the market all
Blue Ribbons' leading-edge music (midi) products, but tried developing
their most recent (Audio Tracks Professional) into Microsoft Music
Producer. This was available as a free download for a while, in beta
form, then released as a product (V1.0), but sadly deleted from their
catalogue shortly afterwards.
Melody Maestro or (its big brother)
Super Jam, will create midi music for you without the need to place a
single note anywhere! You just choose a style, mood, tempo etc., then
listen to various versions until you find one you like. You then add a
melody, which can also be auditioned and 'adjusted' to your liking and,
after a little more 'tinkering' (like selecting different instruments, and
placing them in various positions on the stereo 'stage'), you can save
your masterpiece as a midi file (easily converted to .wav). It is also
possible to save the composition in its own format too, so that it may be
recomposed or edited again at a later date.
There are lots of options too, like
building up a multi-section composition. You can even sing into the
microphone and let the program compose a melody from that!
Here are a couple of examples I
'composed' with Melody Maestro in less than 5 minutes. Just click on them,
and they should play. Being midi files however, there is no guarantee you
will hear them exactly how I did (It depends on your soundcard).
Normally, for movies, you would record them as .wav to eliminate this
problem. For interest's sake, I also include these two in .mp3 format, so
you can hear exactly what I heard. These are naturally much bigger files,
and will take longer to download than the midi files. If you are
using a 56k modem, then the datarate will be too low to stream into your
player without the sound breaking up. To overcome this, right-click on the
files, then save them to disk by choosing 'Save Target As' - you can then
listen to them offline, without any interruption.
Best go quickly to Tom's site, and
read more about the programs, then download them (free), and start playing
with them yourself. If you combine these programs with Utopia GM files
(now available for soundcards other than SB Live!), and try 'trimming and
tuning' the sound with CoolEdit2000, you should be able to create
impressive original soundtracks (and sound 'bites') for all your movies in
no time at all.
Tom's site also has lots of other
'goodies' that are worth taking a look at, whilst you are there.
Microsoft technical help - www.microsoft.com/technet
Get help on problems, and the latest
patches and free upgrades on all Microsoft products. You can also access
their Knowledge Base from here - a huge information resource.
Find new drivers - www.helpdrivers.com
If you are desperately seeking a
driver update for that obscure peripheral, or just want to find where to
go to get driver advice on your current setup, then this new site is the place to
Stunning Screen Savers - http://users.owt.com/pixelate/pages/savers.htm
I am not a fan of screen savers, I
usually disable them (despite their monitor-saving properties), as they
are the kiss of death to video editors like Studio400, and they can play
havoc with CD writers. But this site is guaranteed
to turn the head of even the most ardent cynic. I will say no more - just
take a look. Try galaxies for starters - you will be stunned! - a cosmic
fireworks display par excellence (it also
runs as an application). I have to thank my astronomical (in the
star-gazing sense!) colleague Chris Seymour for this one.
HexEdit - File Viewer and editor
HexEdit V1.0 is an easy to use
but powerful binary file editor modelled on MS Word and the Visual Studio
hex editor. Complete C++/MFC source is available separately. It includes
many display options including optional character display (ASCII/EBCDIC),
autofit to window, increment/decrement font size, change font, graphic
chars, hex/decimal addresses etc. Editing tools include comprehensive
undo, fast keystroke macros (with configurable refresh rates and
error-handling), fast (Boyer-Moore) searches, comparisons, insert/overtype
mode etc. It also has full support for printing (page-range, selection
etc), clipboard (ASCII, binary, EBCDIC, Unicode, C source), help
(including context-sensitive help for all dialogs and controls). You can
also monitor over 50 different values at the cursor position including
Unicode and EBCDIC characters, 8/16/32/64 bit integers, IEEE/IBM floating
point numbers (big- or little-endian). This is a FREE program from Andrew
Phillips, and has to be the
best utility of its kind anywhere. Andrew's website is well worth a visit.
POSTSCRIPT ON HEXEDIT - This
program has just been upgraded to V2.1, and is now Shareware. It has
several refined options, an updated interface, and will now handle files
>4GByte. Andrew has
moved his website to a new address, which has been updated in the above
link. My recommendation still stands.
InnoSetup - A Superb Windows
Program Installer -
This program was a remarkable find, not only in
the excellence of its design, its flexibility, and simplicity of use, but
also in the fact that it is offered as freeware.
It is described as a Windows Program Installer
but in fact, because of the way it is designed, it will install any file
(not necessarily a program), anywhere on a target machine using a single
compressed .exe file compiled by InnoSetup. This is something that many
high-end (and expensive) Program Installers would have difficulty in doing
(I know this, because I have tried them). As an example, it is possible to
create a single 'setup.exe' file, complied by InnoSetup which could create
a (set of) folder(s) anywhere on the target machine, then extract a number of .jpg
image files to it (them).
Of course, this is a long way from the complexity
of distributing a full-blown Windows application, but this is where InnoSetup
scores full marks too. It produces an installation interface to the target
user that matches the latest Win2k/XP wizard style (or the older
style if required), and provides the following key features to the
- Support for Win95/98, Win2k, XP,
ME, NT4.0, and (optionally) WinNT3.51
- Disk Spanning if necessary
- Customisable setup - Full,
- Complete Uninstall capabilities
- File copying - various
compressions, file version comparison, replace in-use files, shared
file counting, register DLL/OCX's and type libraries.
- Shortcuts created anywhere
- Creation of Registry and INI file
- Silent Install and Uninstall
- Compiler with full error checking
and progress logging
- Full Borland Delphi (2.0-5.0)
source code available.
- Extensive detailed Help and
The program is simplicity itself to
use - Installations are created by means of scripts, which I believe is
the best way to gain full control over intricate operations like this.
However, there is the option to use a Wizard approach too. This gives the
best of both worlds - use the wizard to create a script 'outline', then
polish the job by 'tuning' the script manually. The help files supplied
with InnoSetup are among the best that I have ever seen - these alone must
have taken a lot of effort to produce.
Jordan Russell is to be
congratulated on producing this package. It does exactly what he designed
it to do (and more), with no fuss, no problems - a 'must-have' for anyone
who distributes files, upgrades, or applications to 'the great unwashed'.
Jordan offers this 'free', but also provides the chance to make a nominal
'thank you donation' if you think it's appropriate - well worth
considering in my opinion. Take a look at his website for more details,
information on third-party extensions, and a link to an active InnoSetup
Newsgroup (there is a massive user-base).
Intel Performance Library Suite -
This site has 5 free libraries that
will prove invaluable to programmers working in areas of Graphics, DSP,
and Math. The DSP library alone contains vector functions similar to those
found in libraries supporting dedicated DSP chips, costing many thousands
of pounds. These libraries are highly optimised, and are very fast.
Delphi (Pascal), C++, Java, and VB are all
provided for, as are Borland and Microsoft compilers. Full pdf manuals are included.
No serious programmer should be without this set, but be prepared for lengthy
download times (files 10-20 MB).
Kite Aerial Photography - www.arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/
This site, crafted by Charles C.
Benton, is fascinating. There is everything here from construction of the
gadgetry used to get your camera aloft, to a huge gallery of photographic
images. You can easily spend a lot of time here. Charles takes his
kites with him everywhere, even on holiday. In a matter of minutes he's
got his kite up aloft, taken his shots, and reeled it all back in. Ever
thought about putting your old video camera through an altitude test....?
What a stunning addition that would be to your vacation masterpiece!
Fastest Search Engine Around - www.ussc.alltheweb.com
I have to thank Mike Shaw for
putting me on to this one. This search engine is really FAST - and
accurate. There are also lots of useful links here.
My Favourite Search Engine - www.google.com
This has got to be one of the best
search engines on the web. It rarely fails to find exactly what I am
looking for. I have now added this engine to search Sparky's World - try
Cheap 'Phone Calls from UK - www.axstel.com/smarttalk/
Save 90% on phone calls to
Australia, 85% on calls to USA, 75% on National Daytime calls in UK. Keep
your BT line, no extra charges, just precede your phone number with a
four digit number and you get these fabulous savings. I have saved over
£100 in the last 6 months on USA calls alone (my son lives there).
Absolutely no 'catches' to this. It really works. You even get proper
itemised billing free. Check it out yourself. (If you get as far as
filling in the application form, drop me an email and I will return my
registration number to you which will give you (and me) a one-off £5 free