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Formerly known as Liquid Edition and part of the Pinnacle empire, Liquid was acquired by Avid when it purchased Pinnacle at the end of 2005. Liquid Edition 6 hit the headlines back in 2004 as the first editing software to arrive with support for the high definition HDV video format, although the free 6.1 update was required before HDV capture actually worked. Since then, Liquid 7 was the first version under the Avid brand name, and has just been updated to 7.1.
In this second part of our trilogy on the current contenders for semi-professional video editing, our first being of Matrox’s RT.X2, we look at what’s new in this version, and how Liquid 7 compares to more hardware-oriented options. As with previous iterations, Liquid comes in two varieties – one with hardware and one with just software. However, since Liquid 6, the hardware has consisted of a USB 2 breakout box, which takes no part in effects rendering. So aside from video capture and output, everything Liquid does is performed in software, whichever version you buy.
Smooth as Liquid
Since its original release, Liquid has done things somewhat differently to the competition. Earlier versions introduced a clever system of background processing to take advantage of idle clock cycles for rendering effects, and this system is still available with 7. However, Liquid was also one of the first editing applications to harness the power of your existing graphics card for real-time effects rendering, back in 2003 – whilst most other vendors were still taking proprietary hardware approaches.
With version 7, Liquid still has a relatively steep learning curve for those weaned on the likes of Adobe Premiere. The interface still uses a timeline, but the effects toolset for example will be unfamiliar to users of other packages. Fortunately, the previous interface which took over Windows entirely has been ditched, and in an attempt to woo users of the lower end Pinnacle Studio software, some friendly wizards have now also been added. These are available through the Input, Edit and Output icons on the top right of the interface. The most notable new wizard is EZ Capture. As the name suggests, this allows you to bring in video without the rigmarole attached to the Logging Tool. The latter is very much aimed at ‘old school’ video professionals, forcing you down the time-consuming (but well organised) clip logging and batch capture route. EZ Capture also allows you to capture DV straight to MPEG-1 and 2 over FireWire – a handy time saver for disc production.