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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 April 19th, 2005, 03:25 PM   #1
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Why use an expensive capture card?

I am a former Canopus M1 capture card user. It was state of the art back in the days. The card cost $1200.00 new and - six months later - went unsupported (just like my $1800 MEDEA RAID array) when Windows XP hit the scene.

I upgraded to XP a couple years ago and decided to boycott Canopus and Medea, save my money, and try to find a cheaper solution. I came across an ADS Pyro card - nothing fancy - $60 dollars - 3 firewire ports. I have used this card on a Windows XP Pro system with Adobe Premiere to capture my miniDV footage to my computer hard disk for the last couple of years without any problems whatsoever.

I'm still seeing cards being sold at videoguys in the $1000-2000 range. What am I missing? If all I need to do is transfer my raw footage from tape to hard drive via firewire, why would I need a $2000 capture card to do that? What advantage does a $2000 card have over my $60 dollar card?

-Eric

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Last edited by Eric Lian; April 19th, 2005 at 03:27 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old April 19th, 2005, 05:42 PM   #2
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Short answer: You don't need a $1000-$2000 editing card to capture video. It doesn't do it any better than your $60 card.

On the other hand, there are benefits when it comes to editing. Some of them are:

1. True real-time effects that require no rendering before exporting to tape or MPEG-2, like titles, dissolves, color correction, fast/slow motion, chroma keying, etc.

2. Analog inputs/outputs that allow you to capture and export analog footage. It also insures that analog VHS dubs have the correct 7.5 IRE setup added. VHS dubs made from your DV camcorder will be too dark if your DV camera is one of those that don't add the 7.5 IRE setup. Additionally, you can have an external TV/broadcast monitor hooked up all the time to see the video you are editing without tying up your DV camcorder as a pass through device.

3. Some editing cards include plugins for viewing the output from applications such as Photoshop, After Effects, Adobe Encore DVD, etc, on your TV monitor. This is very handy as you can see exactly how your project will look on a TV without having to first export and then import your file to your editing application.

4. Real-time export to MPEG-2 for DVD authoring. The Matrox RT.X100 can hardware accelerate batch encoding to MPEG-1/2, Windows Media, and RealMedia formats.

Sometimes it's the little things. For example, the Matrox video scopes in the color correction filter let me isolate just the portion of the image I want to check, like a person's face. That's not something that is available in the Premiere Pro color corrector (though you may be able to achieve the same thing by zooming in on the image in the monitor).

Check out the Canopus, Pinnacle and Matrox web sites for more detailed information. If you only do short projects then I would say you wouldn't benefit as much as those who do longer projects.

And a word of caution. If you get a video editing card you need to be very careful to follow the manufacturers computer requirements. These cards can be very picky about what computer components they will work with. Even if you do follow the recommendations exactly you aren't always guaranteed smooth sailing.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 10:41 AM   #3
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Eric,

It was the DV camcorder that started the "cheap" digital editing revolution. The camcorder did the digital conversion so it could record digitally on tape. That means a IEEE 1394 "firewire" capture card only needs to transfer DATA from the tape to the hard drive. As time goes on, DV editing enhancements tend to diminish even those advantages that Christopher mentions.
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Old April 20th, 2005, 03:36 PM   #4
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As time goes on, DV editing enhancements tend to diminish even those advantages that Christopher mentions.
I agree. The need for an editing card is certainly diminishing. The advent of editing software like Ulead Media Studio Pro and Canopus Edius that can do true real-time editing that was once reserved only for hardware assisted editing is proof of that. I do have to wonder how this trend will be affected by HDV, which will need more processing power for real-time editing and output than DV.

And at this time not everyone uses one of those two editing applications that do real-time DV editing/exporting. If you don't, and are satisfied with previews and then having to render all effects, then great. But for someone like me, who does hour long projects with color correction on every clip, there are certainly advantages to hardware-assisted editing.

It will be nice when Premiere Pro can do true real-time without hardware assistance, like Media Studio Pro and Edius can.
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Old April 21st, 2005, 08:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses everyone.

Sounds like I'm not really missing anything at this point, but I just wanted to make sure because these cards are still being heavily pushed.

I shoot with two XL-1s, use two Sony GV-D1000s as my playback and capture decks going to my ADS Pyro fire wire card. I've been fully digital with no need for analog capture since 1998. The reason I bought the Canopus DVRex M1 back then was because I thought I would be importing analog footage through their breakout box - turns out I never used the anaolog inputs at all - and I really didn't know enough back then to make a good buying decision; could also be that cheap firewire cards didn't exist in 1998.

Render times are not really a big issue for me. By the time I'm ready to render, I need a reason to get up and walk away for a bit anyway.

Thanks again,

-Eric

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