April 21
New Pro Tools Plugins Ship, Other Products Announced
Digidesign adds AV option for Pro Tools on Avid

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

Take a deep breath. Digidesign has announced a shockingly huge number of new products for Pro Tools and Avid systems, some of which have begun shipping. Several of these products were released for NAB and Musikmesse, but information about them has only now become available.

Pro Tools addons
An upgrade to Drawmer Dynamics plugin for Digidesign's Pro Tools|24 MIX systems has begun shipping. Dynamics is a gating, compression and limiting plugin; the gate portion is based on Drawmer's DS201 Noise Gate, while the expander, limiter and compression portions are based on the Drawmer DL241 Auto Compressor and DL251 Limiter. The new version boosts processing power from two instantiations per DSP chip to four.
Version 2.0 is available now for the Macintosh and Windows for $595.

Also now shipping for the Pro Tools|24 MIX systems are Dolby Surround Tools 2.0 plugins. The plugins allow for Dolby Surround encoding and Dolby Pro Logic decoding without the need for separate hardware. Version 2.0 boosts the number of surround panners to 10 per DSP chip. It also supports Gallery's Axis Panner system, which includes the Axis Panner professional joystick. Dolby Surround Tools allow mixing two-channel surround for television, interactive media, commercially released music and music video, all from within the Pro Tools environment. It also makes it possible to preview the result of matrix encoding (4-2-4 monitoring) on discrete four-channel elements (left, center, right, surround) that will subsequently be combined with other elements during the final mixing for feature film soundtracks. Surround Tools 2.0 is available now only for Macintosh for $795.

Digidesign has announced the availability of DirectConnect, a new host-based audio streaming plugin for Pro Tools|24 MIX systems. DirectConnect allows audio data from a software synthesizer or sampler to be routed directly into the Pro Tools mixer. Each input stream from the host application can be independently recorded, automated and mixed within the Pro Tools environment. A number of third-party applications support DirectConnect, including Koblo's Studio 9000, Reaktor by Native Instruments, Alkali by Audio Genetics and Retro AS-1 and Unity DS-1 by Bitheadz, with ReBirth by Propellerheads coming soon. DirectConnect features streaming of up to 32 channels of 24-bit audio directly into Pro Tools, integration of third-party applications, real-time automation and audio processing and total recall of the entire DirectConnect setup, if supported by the third-party application. DirectConnect requires Pro Tools software version 5.0 or late, and is available now as a free DigiRack plug-in for Mac OS-based Pro Tools|24 MIX systems. It will be included with the Pro Tools 5.01 software release. Free downloads for 5.0 users are available on Digidesign's Web site.

Digidesign has also started distributing CM Automation's Motor Mix, a low-cost control surface alternative for Pro Tools and other digital audio systems. Digidesign is positioning Motor Mix as a compact mixing and control surface for its home studio product, Digi 001. Motor Mix offers real-time, tactile control of any Pro Tools system and includes transport control, track arming, motorized faders, mute/solo switches, pan/send control and plug-in editing. It offers eight bank-switchable, 100 mm motorized faders, each of which is accompanied by a rotary knob for controlling panning, EQ, auxiliary send levels and plug-in settings. Up to four Motor Mix units can be linked, providing a total of 32 faders. All connections are on the back panel, including an accessory port and MIDI I/O port. Motor Mix is available now for $995.

The company is also now distributing Synchro Arts VocALign PRO and VocALign AS for Pro Tools systems. VocALign technology allows audio editors to match the timing of one audio signal to another automatically. VocALign now works as an AudioSuite Plugin The VocALign PRO bundle includes the VocALign AS AudioSuite plug-in and the stand-alone VocALign application, which works with all versions of Pro Tools software. Features found only in the VocALign Application include stereo processing capability and Syncho Arts' TimeMod time-stretching and compression algorithm. VocALign AS is available now for $495. VocALign Pro is currently shipping for $995. Both are available for the Mac OS platform only.

Digidesign is also shipping the SCSI64 Kit, a package that includes ATTO Technology's ExpressPCI Dual Channel Ultra/Wide SCSI accelerator (ExpressPCI-DC) card. The SCSI64 Kit is configured to deliver 64-track recording and playback. The ExpressPCI-DC card included in the SCSI64 Kit is optimized specifically for Digidesign products and bundled with two high-density 68-pin SCSI cables. The package requires no software, drivers or further configuration. The SCSI64 Kit is available only for Mac OS-based Pro Tools systems for $545.

In the category of soon to be released, Digidesign has announced version 2.0 of PostConform, an autoconforming solution for Mac OS-based computers. With this release, PostConform is now fully compatible with Digidesign's Pro Tools|24 and Pro Tools|24 MIX systems, according to the company. PostConform 2.0 is a standalone application that supports Pro Tools 4.x and 5.x session file formats and HFS and HFS+ Mac OS disk formats. The software is compatible with the newer G3 and G4 Macintosh computers and can use USB connections for Machine Control and MIDI Time Code. It also supports the Digidesign Universal Slave Driver. Digidesign didn't say when 2.0 would be released, but they did say it would cost $995.

The Virus TDM plugin for Pro Tools|24 MIX-based systems began shipping earlier this week. It offers the same basic algorithms as the Virus family of hardware synthesizers, including digital modeling of classic analog synths and a wide range of new sounds. The Virus plugin offers automation and processing control within the Pro Tools TDM mixing environment. Multiple Virus synth plugins can operate at the same time, allowing several 16-voice multi-timbral synthesizers to be created. Up to five are possible on a basic Pro Tools|24 MIXplus system, for a total of 80 voices. The Virus TDM plug-in uses the DSP resources of the Pro Tools|24 MIX cards. It's available for $795.

More Avid integration
Digidesign has also upped its commitment to integration with its parent company's systems with the release of AVoption and AVoption|XL for Avid editing systems. Both are hardware addons for integrating Pro Tools digital audio workstations with Avid video editing systems. Both the AVoption|XL and AVoption hardware options allows capture, import and playback of Avid-compatible video from within the Pro Tools application. AVoption|XL is a single PCI card with breakout box based on Avid's next generation Meridien technology and is fully compatible with all Meridien-based Media Composer|XL, XPress and Symphony systems. It supports video resolutions from 15:1 all the way up to uncompressed. AVoption is a two-card solution based on the ABVB hardware subsystem, compatible with Avid Media Composer and Film Composer systems. AVoption makes it possible to capture, import and play broadcast quality video from within Pro Tools sessions for all resolutions, up to AVR 77. AVoption is currently available for Mac OS Pro Tools systems for $7,995. AVoption|XL will be available in early 2000 for Mac OS, with Windows NT support to follow. Pricing was not available.

With the addition of FilmFrame, a new software module that adds 24 frame Film Composer media support to AVoption- or AVoption|XL-equipped Pro Tools systems, users can work natively at 24 frames per second in Pro Tools with picture elements that have been created by an Avid Film Composer video editing workstation. FilmFrame will be available soon for $4,995 as an additional option to Digidesign AVoption and AVoption|XL.

For more information, visit Digidesign at http://www.digidesign.com.

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