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Old October 19th, 2007, 06:59 PM   #1
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Is RT.X2 Worth it?

I'm looking at changing my editing package for a variety of reasons to CS3. Is it worth getting the RT.X2?
I currently edit on Dual Core Pentium, 2 gb ram and good vid card with Windows XP. I currently shoot with an XL2, and HD is not in the near (1 year) future.
The RT.X2 looks like a great add on if I was shooting in HD, but is it really worth the extra dollars with just DV? How much does it really speed up the rendering process? What other features does it give?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 09:12 PM   #2
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Lets put it this way, and here is the truth from experience with and without the matrox cards. I began with a X10, then moved to the X100 on DV. Both of those cards were pretty good. It was extremely rare that I had to render much of anything. The only thing I would do was drop a clip on the timeline after capturing, edit it, maybe export it to a movie and the movie export process on my Pentium 4 3.0GHz was about 1/4 of realtime. If I used the mpeg export, it wasn't as fast, but definately not over 1/2 of realtime. That was with using the matrox effects and controls, which for the most part until you began heavy stacking was in realtime..

With the X2, with dv, given that the computers are much stronger, with a Pentium D 945, 2GB of ram, I was able to edit and stack effects on 8 layers of video with effects(yes, matrox effects), as long as I was running DV. I had full manipulation of the effects and layers, and unless I was using heavy effects such as the shines and surface finishes(I cannot remember the exact name of it at the moment since I really don't use it much), I "never, and I mean never had to render anything" while I was editing. That was the nice thing about the card. The software alone on the other hand to me is simply annoying. You capture something or import a clip and have to render it. You do a dissolve and have to render it. Yes, you can look at it at a degraded either speed or resolution, but I am used to the Matrox workflow which is "all the time, realtime".. Period.

I cannot speak for anyone elses system, but my girlfriend asked me once what was the difference after reading some forums that I was on. She had done a few montages on my system with the X2 in it, so she was used to dropping pictures(as long as they are not ridiculously oversized or "default scale to frame", you can work easily with them) on the timeline, setting dissolves, moving them with the motion and the like, all in realtime. So to show her the difference, I removed the drivers, unplugged the card and let her do the same thing in native premiere. She said herself that it was simply terrible and a pain to work in. You will get people that say there is no difference with the having the hardware cards and not, but there is definately one when you have a system with a hardware card working correctly. There is no mistaking that in the slightest. It definately helps with HD also. The difference is dramatic, but not as astounding as working in the SD resolutions on my machine, and I have a quad. I can on this machine stack 4 layers of HDV with simpler effects in realtime and 3 layers of titles without a problem. If your a cuts only editor for the most part and use titles, cross dissolves, a few mattes, black video, color corrections, slow speed and things of that nature, you would as I do, have a ball for the most part and rendering is pretty non existent, even in HDV resolutions. For the more demanding effects, you need a pretty strong gpu(I don't use alot of these effects, but when I do, it's still pretty fast to render them), but they can still be stacked pretty easily.

The matrox cards pack alot of punch, and they are easier to work with. Their benefits actually are underestimated and looked down upon by alot of individuals, but at the same time, many people have never worked on one of their platforms and are simply going off of what someone else has said. With that being said, you do have to know something about computers to work with them if your building the machine yourself(which I would recommend) or go with a matrox gold dealer builder who will stand behind the product and machine.

So to answer your question, "is it worth it?" I would say definately yes, and definately no. It depends on what you are looking to do and how much you may want to learn about pc's. Getting my first Matrox card actually set me on the path to learning and building computers. Now, because of them, it is a non issue for me. For others, they may not have the time to learn, and this is just being honest, so for them, you have to look at if you have the coin to shell out for a quality turnkey. So you really have to weigh your options.

But anyone that chimes in on this for an opinion, will have varied opinions based on their experience with Matrox products and also their knowledge of computers I would guess. Sorry about the long post.

D
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Old October 20th, 2007, 04:50 AM   #3
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If you do event videography or stuff like that and need it done quick and good, go for RT.X2. It cuts through HDV like butter, even with multiple tracks and FX.

If you do features with lot of compositing and work outside premiere (say, in combustion), you will run into problems with RTX2. Footage captured with RTX2 is largely uncompatible with anything outside Adobe world. In this case, opt for Cineform and fast computer.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 05:18 AM   #4
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Hi Damon

Interesting post - I too like hardware and have been using a DVStorm for a number of years. It's now time to upgrade and I'm looking at CS3 with either an Axio or an RTX2.

On your RTX2 can you do realtime title rolls and crawls?

Many thanks

Graham
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Old October 20th, 2007, 06:29 AM   #5
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Graham, to be honest, I had to go test it since that is not an option I use. No, the crawls and rolls are not realtime, but to be honest, they really aren't needed. You can easily throw a DVE on the title, set two keyframes and have tons more options. That really to be honest is something I learned and back with the X100. Many people were complaining about realtime title rolls and crawls, when IMO, you have millions of ways to make your titles "pop" more than with a simplistic roll or crawl. I do the majority of my titles in photoshop and import them as layers with all of the blending options and the like if I really want.

So to answer your question, no, it will not do the rolls and crawls in realtime, but to be honest, I don't believe with the X2 they are even needed to be realtime.

I did also set a roll and crawl and compared it to setting a custom roll and crawl the way I mentioned. It took approx 3 minutes to create the simple roll title(maybe because I don't do it this way often, it took that long). No heavy font changes, but just setting it to roll on and off screen. I then had to render it, and for a 5 second title roll, it took approx 1 minute and 20 seconds(just being honest on the specs here). So in total, this title took approx 4 minutes and 20 seconds, give or take a few.

Now, with my workflow, I simply went to File, new Photoshop file, which launched photoshop after naming the file in premiere, I created a title with drop shadow, inner shadown and embossing. This whole process took me 45 seconds. I then simply Cntrl+S to save the file, and voila, it is in premiere! I then dropped it on the timeline, and what? It's realtime! No red render bar... LOL So we are now looking at what? 50 seconds. Now to animate it, since I am using HDV and on my monitor output, I want it in a specific spot, I simply in the effects window typed "DVE", which brought up the Matrox DVE, dropped it on the photoshop file, opened the effects controls tab, set two keyframes for the position(one with the title at the top of the screen, or basically off, and the other, further down the timeline dragging the Y position to off the bottom). There you have it, your title. The keyframing and selecting the DVE process took me all of one minute! And what? It's realtime! LOL So I am at approximately two minutes(I will give this a round up in order to be fair), and the title is ready to go since I am using the DVE. No red render bar, no rendering required. I could shoot an avi now if I really wanted, but this was just an experiment. Another thing I commonly do, is that I like my titles to fade in and out if I am animating them. So I then set four keyframes: two at the beginning of the PSD and two at the end which amps up to 100% opacity and the other two which amp down the opacity. Total time to do this, another minute. Which brings me to 3 minutes for a custom title with roll, drop shadow, opacity changes, embossing, and the like. Furthermore, I can always right click on the title, select "edit original", change the title to my liking in Photoshop, Cntrl+S, go back to premiere and the title is changed, with the flexibility and power of Photoshop. All in realtime! For me, therefore, a rolling or crawling title in realtime is really nothing to be concerned about. It is much faster and does not limit my options.

If you do a lot of titles, I could see this to be honest as a blessing or curse initially, depending on how you work. I am a keyframer, so this is awesome for me. I wasn't up until maybe the X2 I think, when Matrox switched from their older interface to the keyframe interface for effects controls. It really teaches you to work more effectively in After Effects and the like. It truly does become second nature thanks to this one little change that Matrox did. I was really one of those that was reluctant to learning the effects controls this way and to be honest was afraid of keyframes. But once I got a few titles and other effects done in this fashion, I discovered how fast it really does make you and allow you to be. To me, the realtime roll and crawl is the "older" way of working, with a limited number of options for the animating of a title, and then needing to render it. It is easily achieved with more flexibility and "spark" that can be added to your title, by "not" using the roll and crawl option on a matrox system.

With the flexibility of the system, you could also create another photoshop file, leave the title static if you wish, do something like create a bar or some pattern, save the pattern, tab back into Premiere, drop that pattern on the timeline, link the two(title and the pattern), add say a ripple to the pattern,drop a static dve on the two for one of the bottoms of the frame, and you now have an animated lower third! A very simplistic one, but still a lower third.

The other option that is very simple and even faster is to simply create a title in the titler(static), drop this title on the timeline, go back to your effects controls, presets, select dve and you will see tons of animated presets that you can also use for making an animated title even quicker than the photoshop route. This method would probably take you one or two minutes max to do, so your working even faster....

But that is my thought on the realtime rolls and crawls thing...

D
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Old October 20th, 2007, 11:00 AM   #6
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Hi Damon

Thanks for the lightning response. I fully take your point using Photoshop for short credit rolls, but I do danceshows etc which may have 300+ people in the credits, so cut-and-pasting into the titler, setting a font or two and then using the roll effect does it for me! I think that using Photoshop, I'd have to adjust the size of the image to fit the text and it would be an enormous file...

In Premiere 6.5, The title shows as "render required". I then Alt-scrub to see the beginning and end, then render. On my current DVStorm it takes about 25 minutes to render a 5 minute credit roll, so I guess CS3 and Matrox will improve things.

I'm going to arrange a demo before purchase and will try it out!

Many thanks

Graham
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Old October 24th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #7
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The RT.X2 is a good product, but you shouldn't really need it for DV. DV is much less CPU intensive than HDV, so the gains from RT.X2 will be fewer. DV should be able to be edited fine on any modern Core2 based system. (RT.X2 costs as much as new edit system) The only real advantage would be preview displays, but a secondary monitor on your VGA card achieves the same thing, or the next logical step would be the Intensity Pro from BMD for $350, for Analog or HDMI preview. The biggest advantage of using Premiere's DV engine over a 3rd party like Matrox or BMD is that I am told CS3 finally got the multithreading right, and renders and exports are much faster. We are still waiting for the professional HD extensions to catch up in that regard.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 03:42 AM   #8
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Graham!

Yes, I see your point. But in your Scenerio, if I were doing them, to be honest, with my workflow, with the X2, I would actually do a static title and then simply drop a DVE on it that moves from bottom to top(ala star wars) or the opposite, and simply do it in realtime.

And for the "only advantage it would have would be exporting the video to the monitor" with DV, not meaning to be sarcastic, but you obviously haven't used a Matrox X2 or any of their systems. Your speaking in terms of a simplistic I/O card that shoots video in and out of the system and allows for a preview to a monitor, in which the matrox system is not and does much, much more. What it is going to boil down to is not "shouldn't need it on a modern system" but a persons workflow, how much video has to be done and how fast it needs to be done.

Just like you said, you were "told" that the multithreading is right and rendering is much faster. It is a difference between being told and actually knowing for self. What I am basically saying is that rendering is not needed "AT ALL" for the vast majority of what you will do with the X2 system, depending on what your doing.

There in is the difference between the other cards you mentioned which for the most part are simply I/O and not accelerators.

An example, I have a small project that needs to be done by Friday. I still have some shooting to do. With my system, I simply capture, drag the clips to the timeline, drop a few cross dissolves, color corrections, do a little noise correction in Soundbooth, and "THEN" and "THEN ONLY" when I need to export to an avi or any sort of output for authoring or distribution, do I have to "export" the movie. NO TIME DURING WHAT I INDICATED DID I EVER HAVE TO RENDER! For DV that is a huge factor with the amount of video you are able to process. Even with HD in the scenerio I am mentioning, I never have to render as long as I keep my number of layers down. And at the same time, I have complete manipulation control. For example, the screen shot I am attaching, is a simplistic HDV 1080 timeline. Each clip has a color correction on it. Though, you don't see the green render bar above anything. Why? Because I didn't have to render anything to work with the timeline. I also have cross dissolves between each clip. I have a color matte, black video, a title imposed over a matte with a matrox ripple on the actual title(I started playing with the project as I typed this). When I added the matrox ripple I did have to render. The title is 5 seconds long and to render the ripple on HDV resolution took one second and it was good to go. I can manipulate my color correction and the like also without having to render. It depends on what you need to and want to do. But there is no question whether or not the card does indeed make a "huge" difference. Even with DV resolutions.

Heck, even exporting is faster the vast majority of the time, depending on what format your exporting to.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #9
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Trust me, we are on the same page. i don't have the RT.X2, I have the next step up, the AXIO-LE. Great card and solution, but totally unnecessary for DV editing. By rendering, I meant exports. I NEVER render, HD, DV, doesn't matter, but I do make lots of exports. The RT.X2 will help alot for HDV, as you pointed out, especially since it offloads HDV MPEG decompression from the CPU, but DV is not so highly compressed. The XL2 is a DV camera, and DV footage takes very little processing power to work with. By all reports, Adobe has really stepped up the only dedicated editing mode they offer in Premiere: DV. I am 99% HD and the rest Digibeta, so I never use DV files anymore, but I am convinced that RT.X2 is overkill for DV editing, unless you need some specific feature it offers. Same with the RTX1000, which exports MPEG2 in realtime, has analog I/O, and eliminates certain rendering, but still is un-needed in modern systems. It was designed to offer realtime in 500Mhz systems that couldn't otherwise cut it; systems now have few limitations with DV. The same amount of money spent on general system upgrades will improve performance in every other app as well instead of just accelerating Premiere with RT.X2. I wouldn't buy it "Just to make things faster"
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Old October 24th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #10
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Thanks guys

As I said, I like hardware systems and have been well pleased with the DVStorm. As I'm upgrading to CS3, I want hardware which will improve DV workflow and be ready when I upgrade to HD (probably XDCAM-HD). I think the Axio-LE fits the bill well, and am having a demo at a supplier tomorrow.

Mike - as you have one of these, have you come across any limitations/faults /problems with the Axio in either DV/HD modes? How stable is it with CS3 and the Axio 3 drivers? Any tips?

Many thanks

Graham
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Old October 24th, 2007, 06:48 PM   #11
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I wouldn't consider stability to be one of AXIO's strong points in CS3. VERY fast, but not always stabile. Native support for P2, XD, HDV and DV is nice. Faster than realtime exports. MPEG I-Frame 100Mb/s is a great file format with their hardware acceleration. We do find a lot of stability issues when mixing different formats in the same project, and you need a workstation class system to use it, Xeons, 4GB Ram, Raid, etc.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 08:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike McCarthy View Post
The RT.X2 will help alot for HDV, as you pointed out, especially since it offloads HDV MPEG decompression from the CPU, but DV is not so highly compressed. The XL2 is a DV camera, and DV footage takes very little processing power to work with. By all reports, Adobe has really stepped up the only dedicated editing mode they offer in Premiere: DV. ... The same amount of money spent on general system upgrades will improve performance in every other app as well instead of just accelerating Premiere with RT.X2.
I asked this question as I'm still at least a year away from HD, and the extra $1000 for the RT.X2 I feel could be better spent on other things, like more memory, a RAID, or a Double-Double next time I go to In and Out in LA. (Gotta feed the belly of the beast, after all!!!)
Thanks for the input so far
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Old October 25th, 2007, 02:22 AM   #13
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Mike

Thanks for your comments and the excellent site...

One queston - is it specifically mixed format stuff that Axio has problems with, or is it long projects. I often do 1.5-2 hour multi camera projects (shows) so am I likely to get problems?

Many thanks

Graham
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Old October 25th, 2007, 12:03 PM   #14
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The longest thing I have seen edited in Matrox at our facility was 15 minutes long, and we frequently get "out of memory" messages. Matrox openly recommends segmenting work longer than ten minutes into multiple projects. Some people have much better luck with this than others, and Ihave not been about to discover what factors trigger the memory problems. You idea is that different formats require different importers, that each cost RAM, which would explain why I have better luck in single format projects. Matrox works beautifully on commercials we cut, and 5 minute short form pieces.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #15
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Great thread. You guys have done a really good job explaining the RT.X2 hardware advantage with your workflows. Lots of people will post about how great just the software aone (Premeire Pro) is on their dual-core machine. Then they see or get to use an RT.X2 based system and they can't believe it. There is a big difference between kinda real-time previews and full real-time playback ALL the time. The RT.X2 and it's big brother the Axio LE add a layer of performance and features that make it well worth the investment.

We've put together some outstanding bundle values with the RT.X2 and either the full Adobe CS3 Production Premium and/or Pioneer Blu-Ray burner

http://www.videoguys.com/rtx2.html

Gary
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