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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
Discussing the editing of all formats with Matrox, Pinnacle and more.


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Old January 18th, 2005, 02:02 PM   #1
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I'm a little confused...!

Could someone tell me - in simple and straight forward language, the advantage of having a hardware card such as a canopus.

I have a Radeon 9800pro graphics card which I find great for most applications. Now I know that getting a dedicated card like the canopus storm improves things - but I'm not sure exactly how...!!

At the moment I shoot video to produce 1 hr(ish) DVD's. Will my render time be reduced, or do these cards merely increase the speed of on screen effects etc...

Thanks in advance for your time to answer

Nick
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Old January 18th, 2005, 04:58 PM   #2
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A hardware editing card like Canopus or Matrox allows you to do more complex projects without rendering, and may also support real-time MPEG2 encoding. How useful this is depends on what you're trying to do, which hardware card you're talking about and how fast a computer you have.

For example, I have the Canopus DVStorm2, which accelerates both the editing process and MPEG2 encoding. On my single-processor computer running at 2.8 GHz, I can stack up to six layers of DV video using multiple picture-in-picture windows and play that in real time (without rendering) for viewing on my computer monitor plus simultaneous output to a DV camera or TV. I've heard reports of people playing up to 20 layers of video and/or graphics without rendering on faster computers, and now with the new Canopus NX card you can even edit multiple layers of HDV video in real time.

For MPEG2 encoding, the DVStorm and Matrox RT-X.100 offer real-time output, so a 90-minute video takes 90 minutes to render to MPEG2. But now on fast computers you can sometimes do that without a special hardware card, so this is becoming less important for DV work. For HDV, encoding to typical output formats is going to be excruciatingly slow until we get real-time hardware-based encoders for that, which is something Canopus is reportedly working on for future release.

It's important to note here that some so-called "real time" editing programs can't do nearly as much without rendering as hardware-based solutions. Everyone wants to claim they offer real-time editing, but you have to be very careful to find out what can and can't be done in real time. With a hardware card you'll get more real-time results on the same computer than you can using software only, which is important if you like to do complicated videos. But if you don't do particularly complex videos, investing in a faster computer may give you more benefits than buying one of the hardware-based editing products.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 05:08 AM   #3
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Good reply by Kevin. I myself do not use such a card for the
following reasons:

- money (ofcourse)
- compatability (usually only works with one or two programs [mostly Premiere] and sometimes only specific versions, ie: some older cards don't work with the new Premiere Pro for example or Windows XP)
- not available for my NLE (Sony Vegas) of choice
- I don't care too much for render times (I let it render overnight for example)
- I think (not sure) that those realtime hardware MPEG-2 encoders might produce not as good looking video as the top of the line software encoders (Canopus ProCoder, CCE & TMPGenc)

So all in all I'm not using such cards. But if you are working with
lots of effects and need rendering to happen fast and it is available
for the NLE you like to work with (or it is worth to switch) then it
definitely might be an interesting option.

Your current graphics card is actually not used at all (kinda) for
your video works. It just displays the interface and an overlay
for the video, that's like a walk in the park for the thing.

As Kevin explained these dedicated cards are specifically designed
to speed up your video work in both editing and rendering.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 08:52 AM   #4
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Hello Nick,

Basically I agree fully with Rob ( as usual :-)

I also HAD a Canopus DVStorm 2 and it was HORRIBLE! I knew it only worked with Premiere - or at least should have worked with. This was like 6 months ago and then NO driver from canopus worked 100% with Premiere Pro. If you register at Canopus site so that you can read their forums you'll see lots of angry & upset people ( if canopus doesn't delete their posts ).

The H/W MPEG2 was okay - didn't encode in realtime on my P4@3.2ghz - more like 80% of RT - quality was better than Mainconcept but worse than TMPGenc

IMHO -> You'd better spend all that money on

1. Your wife :-)
2. More internal memory
3. More HDD
4. Another computer ...

// Lazze \\
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Old January 19th, 2005, 10:53 AM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman :
<snip>
Your current graphics card is actually not used at all (kinda) for
your video works. It just displays the interface and an overlay
for the video, that's like a walk in the park for the thing.
</snip>
-->>>

This depends on the NLE you are using. Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6 was designed to take advantage of your graphics card. You can even select effects to use your CPU or your GPU. Pinnacle uses a technology they call SmartRT to harnesses the full power of your computer's on-board central processing unit(s) (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) to perform 1,000's of amazing format and resolution independent broadcast quality multi-stream 2D and true 3D real-time effects.

LE6 works with most of the ATI and nVidia graphics cards that have 128MB or more. So with LE6, you have no need for special proprietary hardware cards like Canopus.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 01:45 PM   #6
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Lars: the DVStorm works great if you combine it with Canopus' own Edius software, and is easily the most powerful real-time DV editing solution available today in that combination. There have been problems with the Premiere Pro drivers, and some people have switched to Matrox as a result for running that software. Regarding the hardware MPEG2 encoding, that should have worked in real time unless you were using lots of complex effects: I can render a two-layer project with extensive color correction and PIP effects in real time on a 2.8 GHz PC. That said, the value of DVStorm relative to other upgrade options has dimished over time as computers have gotten faster.

Pete: regarding Pinnacle Liquid Edition, that's my favorite example of a program which claims to offer real-time editing but doesn't seem to deliver on the promise. Maybe I had something set wrong, but I couldn't get LE5.5 to even do simple color correction without pausing for "background rendering," which is a polite term for "we can't really do real-time editing." And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think LE offers real-time DV output or real-time MPEG2 encoding from the timeline, so there's basically no point in the production process that it's actually a real-time tool. And now they want you to believe it can do HDV editing in real time, but user reports suggest that's not true even on today's fastest dual-processor computers. At this point I don't believe anything I hear about Pinnacle editing software unless I either try it myself or find someone who can report first-hand what actually works. Have you tried LE6, and if so what was your experience with it?
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Old January 19th, 2005, 04:41 PM   #7
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Thanks very much for all the replies guys.... I am now a little less confused...!!

I am using Liquid 5.5 which I think is an excellent NLE.

For the type of films I make, it is perfect. I don't use lots of effects and so would probably not benefit from a hardware card...(just as well looking at the price...!!)

I didn't realise that my graphics card was pretty much redundant though....

So I have an AMD 2800xp chip with 512mb of ram....so you reckon I'll see a quickening of render times if I update the CPU and memory instead then...>?!
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Old January 19th, 2005, 05:30 PM   #8
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Nick: if you already have LE5.5 then the only hardware card which would be relevant is the Pinnacle "Pro" card, which you may be able to find available on eBay for a reasonable price. Other than that, upgrading your processor and memory are the best ways to improve your performance, and that will of course benefit any other programs you run. In particular, a faster processor should help with your MPEG2 encoding times.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #9
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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6

<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Shaw :
<snip>
Pete: regarding Pinnacle Liquid Edition, that's my favorite example of a program which claims to offer real-time editing but doesn't seem to deliver on the promise. Maybe I had something set wrong, but I couldn't get LE5.5 to even do simple color correction without pausing for "background rendering," which is a polite term for "we can't really do real-time editing."
</snip> -->>>

Kevin,

First of all, I have no experience with LE 5.5. All of my comments, quotes, and links are for LE6. So, I'm not sure of the relevance of your experience with LE 5.5.

Second, the ability of LE (or any NLE) to do "real-time" rendering is contingent upon the specific hardware/software system you are running it on. You didn't specify your system, so I have no way of evaluating it.

If you will visit the Pinnacle LE forums, you will find many, many people who are experiencing the real-time rendering of special effects. Obviously, not ALL effects can be rendered in real-time. But Pinnacle does have 1,000's of effects which will render in real-time with a reasonable HW/SW system. An example of a reasonable system is P4 3GHZ, 1GB RAM, Ultra 100 7200 RPM hard drives, nVidia 5700 128MB, Windows XP SP1 or SP2.

Kevin, if you're having a problem wit LE 5.5 not rendering properly, then you may want to post a question in the Pinnacle forums. You'll find very good support from peers and Pinnacle support staff.

Hope this helps clear things up for you.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Nick Underwood :
<snip>
I didn't realise that my graphics card was pretty much redundant though....
</snip>
-->>>

Nick,

I'm not sure about LE 5.5, but for LE6 my previous point was that your graphics card CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. LE6 is designed to take advantage of your graphics card.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 07:54 AM   #11
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Thanks Pete. What kind of MPEG2 encoding times are you getting with your LE6 setup?
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Old January 20th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #12
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By Mpeg 2 encoding time I take it you refer to the render time to produce a DVD...?!!

Personally, I am getting a completed 1hr(ish) final cut with basic effects (if any) a render time of about 6 hours.

Is that about normal?
I will be intrigued to see how much faster a new processor and more ram will make.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 11:51 AM   #13
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<<<By Mpeg 2 encoding time I take it you refer to the render time to produce a DVD...?!! Personally, I am getting a completed 1hr(ish) final cut with basic effects (if any) a render time of about 6 hours. Is that about normal? -->>>

Yes, I'm talking about DVD file encoding time, which as you observed can be rather time-consuming. With my DVStorm hardware card I've been getting real-time MPEG2 encoding since computers were running at just over 1 GHz, so there's a good example of how the hardware can be useful. (I can generate a 90-minute DVD file in 90 minutes, and frequently do just that.)
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 04:51 PM   #14
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Thanks Kevin...very interesting.

The hardware card seems like a large outlay to save only a smallish amount of time though. I think I'll just continue to render overnight whilst I'm punching zzz's !!
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Old January 24th, 2005, 09:18 PM   #15
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<<<The hardware card seems like a large outlay to save only a smallish amount of time though. I think I'll just continue to render overnight whilst I'm punching zzz's !! >>>

If that works for you and you don't need the other advantages which a hardware card can offer, then save your money. Personally I find long DVD rendering times annoying, especially if you find out after the fact that you need to change something and render it again.
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