October 24, 2005

Review - Artbeats - HD Water Effects 1

Review by Steve Douglas

Lets face it, HD and HDV is here to stay and pretty soon the used equipment market for mini dv camcorders will be flooded with equipment for sale from those who will earnestly try to upgrade to the newer and better quality formats. As we have seen with the various editing NLEs which have upgraded their own software to HD and HDV compatibility so we will see third party plug ins as well as animations gearing up for this next generation of editing quality.

Already well known for their NTSC-720 X 486 footage and animations, Artbeats has amassed a sizeable number of HD footage collections as well which can be purchased either as individual clips or as entire collections. PAL versions are also offered for those not in the U.S.A. The standard definition collection of the same clips found within the HD Water Effects 1 package plus an additional 8 clips retails for $399.00 for the whole collection. However, you may buy individual SD clips from the collection for $149.00 a piece so as to better suit your needs and your wallet.

"Surface Water"

"Foamed Out"

All of the Artbeats High Definition libraries are provided at the full HD uncompressed 1920 X 1080 and generally average between 10 and 15 clips per collection. The Water Effects 1 collection consists of 12 separate HD clips with the shortest lasting approximately 9.29 seconds and the longest clocking in at 23.27 seconds. Included in each disc; there are two discs with the Water Effects 1 collection, are thumbnails of every animation which range from 1.6 to 17.6 Mbs. Having these makes it easier to preview the animation you are looking for as the full versions vary from 175.2 to 857.4 Mbs. Once a decision is made you will want to copy the animation to your hard drive before importing into your NLE. As with the SD collection, individual HD clips may be purchased for $300 per clip. It seems perfectly logical that buying the entire collection is the more prudent way to go. It is always better to get more bang for the buck.

"Surfing the Wave""

"Droplet in the Bucket"

Importing was a piece of cake. Once you have set your Final Cut Pro sequence settings to handle HD or HDV, I set mine for 1080i/60, Final Cut Pro will automatically treat the Artbeats progressive footage as interlaced. This is similar to using Artbeats standard definition collections which are also progressive clips in an NTSC composition. Each clip, once imported does need to be rendered though with my Dual 2GHz G5, 2 gigs ram, it didn't take long. Additional graphics, text, filters or transitions will naturally slow up the process.

Artbeats advertises with the moniker "Footage You Can Use" and they certainly do live up to that. Each clip has a beautiful clarity and resolution. I have seen and used many of the Artbeats SD footage before and always appreciated their high quality. Using the new HD versions takes it to an entire new level. While there are some trade offs inherent within the HDV format, I found no difficulties in matching the uncompressed HD Water Effects with footage shot on a Sony HDR-FX1.

"Footage YOU Can Use"


I have been witness to so many discussions regarding HDV and HD and have heard the many concerns regarding both. The bottom line is that, finally, using such high quality equipment is now within a reasonable financial reach of the many who previously have not had the budget to afford it. The availability of the Artbeats HD footage goes a long way towards supplying the frequently necessary supplements to any future HD or HDVproductions.

Steve Douglas, is an underwater videographer and contributor to numerous film festivals around the world. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, Steve has also worked on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld parks for their Atlantis production, and is one of the principal organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. Steve leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming filming excursions to Kenya, Bali and the Red Sea. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com


copyright © Steve Douglas 2005

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