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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Apple bets new, easy video editing programs will catch on

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Just as word processing made it easy to edit our printed thoughts a decade ago, the new generation of computers will make it just as easy to construct our video images -- personal statements, class projects, family events.

This week at the semiannual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs showed off his latest: software to create your own digital video disk, a process that until this week, required advanced and expensive professional equipment.

The computer industry, looking for a new reason for people to buy, thinks that video mail, online or on disk, is the next big thing.

Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, says: "We think about making it so easy that a second-grader can use it, mom and dad at home can use it. The fun is in making your own movie, putting together your own content. It's such an emotional experience to see your kids and yourself and your friends in your own movie."

Schiller says Macintosh-styled software is designed to simplify by cutting out steps in the process. "It's like driving a car, you start it up and put it in gear and it goes," he says. "You don't need to know how spark plugs work and how gasoline fires, you just want it go, and even have fun driving it.

"These applications are going to get cheaper and cheaper and I really do see a day when we're all going to be creating our own home videos and editing these videos on a PC," says Richard Gardner, software analyst for Solomon Smith Barney. "About one in seven cameras sold today is digital."

But some folks wonder if everybody is that creative and if this technology is really that simple to use.

Joel Symmes, an interactive producer says that mainstream acceptance, even of popular technology, can take years. "Editing software is easy to use, but I don't think it's going to be as widely accepted as, say, word processing was 10 years ago . . . I just don't know that everybody's going to run right out and buy it."

Still, the industry plunges ahead. At this year's Macworld Expo, the semiannual mecca for Mac addicts, video gizmos abound. A crane that elevates a camera by remote control swings a small digital camera 360 degrees overhead then swoops down for a close-up. This kind of gear, once the exclusive province of high-end professionals, is now manufactured in less expensive form for amateurs.

And would-be professionals.

Maya, a special-effects software used in most of the top Hollywood spectaculars, like "Perfect Storm," is available in a package for use on Macintosh computers.

Bruce Gee who was one of the early Macintosh engineers at Apple now makes software "plug-ins" that let iMovie users modify their amateur videos. A favorite selection is called "old movie." It adds streaks, scratches and faded color.

Who would think that video degradation would be in demand? Bruce did. "In a few seconds you have a movie that looks like an old Western movie, scratches on it and sepia tone and do all kinds of fun things."

Is it for everyone?

Apple's Schiller and the industry sure hope so. "Of course everyone's talents may vary, but you never know who has that inner, incredible director just waiting to come out, one child one adult who can now express themselves who couldn't before." And I think we all have a story inside we want to tell and here's a chance to finally be able to do it."

Remember sitting through a slide show of someone's vacation. Now at least you can fast forward.

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Macworld Expo

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