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Crystal Ball 2002

Chazz Fires up the Prediction Machine: Will He Hit or Miss This Year? By Charlie White
Here they are: My predictions for 2002. Some of these are based on facts I've gleaned from various sources, some reliable and some not. Others are based on sheer logic, conjecture and even blind guessing. One of them I arrived at by throwing darts at the wall here at the Midwest Test Facility. You decide which is which -- hey, that's part of the fun! Best of all, a lot of them just might turn out to be true. The year before last, I got 10 for 10 right! For example, in this column in January 2000, immediately after the pumped-up debut of OS X at Macworld 2000, I predicted that there would be no professional digital video editing on Mac OS X for at least two years. At the time, a few numbskull readers wanted to know what planet I was from. But sure enough, here it is two years later and Final Cut Pro 3, the first pro editing software for OS X, was just released. Oh, OK, I missed it by two weeks, but that was pretty close. So here goes.

First, I think we are on the edge of an explosion in the DV world. The software and hardware for editing DV footage is getting easier to use, and most important of all, DV camcorders are beginning to be priced at just below that magic number, $500. I think by the end of this year, the next generation of DV editing cards and their software will make editing DV so easy that it will be truly plug-and-play with most things happening in real time. Its the DV renaissance, people, and 2002 is the year when it hits hard.

Its also going to be the year of the DVD renaissance, because the DVD+RW units are here, and their prices are dropping fast, along with the blank DVDs with which to feed them. Why DVD+RW instead of DVD-RW? Because in 2002 there will be a software driver released that allows DVD+RWs to store and erase files in the same way you can on a hard drive. Thats great for backing up files and storing huge amounts of data. Not so with DVD-RW, where if you want to store new files, the disc must first be erased entirely. Both are great for making your own DVDs, though, and I predict that video editing software developers will start enabling you to print to DVD from the timeline. I also predict that by the end of the year, DVD-R blanks will be selling for $3 and DVD+RW disks will cost $6, numbers that will see to it that there are 100 million blank DVD disks sold in 2002.

Another big trend for 2002 will be the advent of mass Napster-like trading of first-run major motion pictures over the Internet. If you thought the Napster debacle was messy, wait until the MPAA gets wind of people downloading the next version of Star Wars on their computers before its even made its way to theaters. Maybe this upcoming Star Wars version is aptly named, Attack of the Clones, because itll probably be the most pirated piece of copyrighted material in history. George Lucas wanted to embrace electronic technology, yes, but I dont think this is exactly what he had in mind. Its happening already with just about any Hollywood movie you can think of. Seemingly to the rescue will soon ride legions of digital rights management code-writers, attempting to lock up this valuable content with all manner of hare-brained schemes so that it can be controlled only by its producers. Alas, thats not going to work. This is going to be a major mess. The MPAA will try using the same strong-arm tactics that are working so miserably against the RIAA -- attacking its own customers. By the end of the year, we may even see cops knocking on peoples doors in the middle of the night looking for movie files on PCs. At some point, the public will rise up against this. Somethings got to give here, but I predict no one will be able to figure out what that would be by the end of 2002.

Next, I predict that Apple will finally unveil its new line of high speed computers using Motorolas 7460 G4 chips on March 21st at Macworld Tokyo. The big news will be that the Mac will finally cross the gigahertz barrier, and then perhaps finally Steve Jobs and his Apple PR flacks will stop trying to get us believe that megahertz dont matter. Theyre on thin ice now, especially with us content creators, after disappointing us all with that crazy pre-Macworld hype. Beyond that, the digital video editing crowd is too smart to be cowed by a vacuous slogan like "Megahertz Myth." Apple figured if they said that to us about a thousand times, wed believe it. Well, maybe it is a myth when youre comparing a 500 MHz PowerPC chip to a 700 MHz Pentium II, but not when youre comparing a 887 MHz G4 chip to a 2.2 GHz P4. When I see some really fast Macs, believe me, Ill be up front singing their praises. But so far, the only "stunning" (the company can't issue a press release without using this hyperbolic word) thing Apple has done is tell us to count on being blown away and then underwhelmed us at Macworld, again. That's pretty cocky behavior for a company whose worldwide market share has now shrunk to just 3.9% and whose revenues fell 33% last year.

But there is some hope. I think well see the new G4-toting Mac iLamps (iMacs) selling like hotcakes, because at 800 MHz, theyre almost as fast as the highest-end Mac G4 workstation, theyre not too expensive, and they are extraordinarily well-designed. I know, I know, being well-designed is the kiss of death in slob-infested Middle America, but maybe US computer-buying consumers will not be swayed against buying one because its so fantastically gorgeous, as theyve been with past Mac designs like the ill-fated Cube. Id really consider getting one for my eight-year-old daughter, but then I would have to sacrifice that $300 1-gigahertz Duron box I built for her which is faster than the iLamp when running the applications she actually uses. But wait, the iLamp's G4 runs some Photoshop filters faster than any PeeCee chip can, right? Oops. iLamp boots by default into OS X, and theres no Photoshop on OS X yet, so I guess, uh, well, we can just chant the words "Megahertz Myth" and everything will be all smoothed over.

What about HDTV? I think TV stations and cable providers will continue whining about how expensive it is to implement this big bad "new" format, and program producers and their electronics-manufacturer lap dogs will continue demanding digital rights management on everything. Meanwhile, consumers will not be willing to spend $2000 or more on a TV for which there is little content produced. By the end of the year, more stations will have gone digital, but theyll be all dressed up and no place to go except for those who are smart enough to realize that they can have four digital standard-definition channels instead of one HDTV channel. This HD stalemate will just sit there all year, while the video-on-demand (VOD)/interactive television (iTV) developers continue making steady progress toward what will prove to be the next killer app for the couch-potato crowd.

Finally, I predict that Media 100, after putting all its eggs in the Pegasus basket, will have something great to show everyone at this years NAB. Pegasus, touted by Media 100 as the machine that can create huge numbers of video layers without rendering, may be the real thing. The company has invited me to come to Marlboro, Massachusetts to see for myself in the next week or two, so stay tuned to this space, and Ill tell you all about it when I get back. From what Ive heard so far from reliable sources, its going to be a force with which to be reckoned.

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Charlie White, your humble storytellerCharlie White has been writing about new media and digital video since it was the laughingstock of the television industry. A technology journalist and columnist for the past seven years, White is also an Emmy-winning producer, video editor and shot-calling PBS TV director with 28 years broadcast experience. Talk back -- Send Chazz a note at [email protected].

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Related Keywords:Digital Video Editing, Charlie White, commentary, editorial, 2002 predictions, crystal ball, Media 100 Pegasus, Apple Mac, HDTV, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-R


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