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Old May 17th, 2005, 05:47 AM   #1
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Video Card Role in PC Based NLE System

This may be obvious to you old pros, but what exactly is the role of an editing card such as the Matrox RT100 or Canopus DVStorm on a PC based editing system using either Premiere Pro or Vegas software, especially if the PC is already equipped with an OHCI compliant Firewall port? Thinking about a workflow of shooting on miniDV camera such as Canon XL2, transfer through Firewire to PC, editing and FX in Premiere Pro/AfterEffects or Sony Vegas Suite, and output the final program either by printing direct to tape back out through Firewire to the camera in VTR mode or burning direct to DVD on the computer using either Adobe Encore or Sony DVD Architect. Other than providing for preview/program monitoring on a true NTSC monitor during the edit, in this chain of events where no external analog sources need to be captured or output and the computer already has the necessary Firewire ports to interface with the camera or a DV VTR, what functions does the card provide? From the promotional information on the respective web sites I know that they provide for hardware rendering etc but does that mean anything if the signal is not passing throught the card's own I/O ports on it's way in to the PC or out to an output device such as a VTR or no analog to/from digital conversions are involved? If I take a couple of AVI files already on disk that were captured from DV, load them into Premiere, make a few cuts and trims and an effect or two - maybe some supers, rolling titles, maybe a "Ken Burns" pan and zoom over a still or two, or keying in a talent standup in front of a scenic background - render the final cut and export it to Encore, and burn it to DVD, what functionality does a card such as the Matrox or Canopus provide to the process?

Steve
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Old May 17th, 2005, 10:12 AM   #2
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but what exactly is the roll of an editing card such as the Matrox RT100 or Canopus DVStorm on a PC based editing system using either Premiere Pro or Vegas software, especially if the PC is already equipped with an OHCI compliant Firewall port?

((these cards are DV Accelerators.. basically offering a hardware solution to the decoding of DV formatted files.. using their proprietary codecs, of course.. some are good, others are a lil questionable.. Also the method in which they accelerate are different and is purely determined by the chain u create.. in the end, these cards allow for multiple streams of video at once with effects "without" the need to render

I use the word "without" loosely, as the matrox system is a bit of a sham.. its good, but its a sham.. u still have to prerender the "red" elements... if u want full frames.. this defeats the purpose of realtime.. as the rtx/premiere builds a prerender file to alleviate the "graceful degredation" (or frame dropping for want of a better word) u might get during playback

The canopus system runs off a buffer system.. theoretically far more powerful than teh RTx, but since Canopus Storm2 ditched PremPro, the only thing going for it is for older based NLEs' and Edius.. Prem Pro is possible (ive had it running 5 video streams in realtime PiPs and colour corrections and it didnt fall over..) but u lose alot fo teh storms otehr features like storm fx plugin etc.. but that was on a dual xeon xp machine with 4gb ram... if u run prem6.5, win2k and storm2, u wont hav a prob..
The good thing about Prem 6.5 and Storm2 on XP.. is the fact that u can feed it 3 seperate capture streams and capture these ALL AT ONCE...

These cards only wrk with Premiere.. not vegas.. if they worked with vegas, Adobe would be out of business..

Moving on..


Thinking about a workflow of shooting on miniDV camera such as Canon XL2, transfer through Firewire to PC, editing and FX in Premiere Pro/AfterEffects or Sony Vegas Suite, and output the final program either by printing direct to tape back out through Firewire to the camera in VTR mode or burning direct to DVD on the computer using either Adobe Encore or Sony DVD Architect.

((workflow... u need focus.. .by reading the above, it seems ur mind is flying with ideas and thoughts and concepts..
easiest way to deal with these is to list ur needs.. list ur wants.. and list ur dont wants.
now go download teh demos and see which one works for you..
If u need realtime output, consider Premiere.. if u prefer to larger and more dynamic toolset offered by Vegas, go for it..
But before u d, consider what you need it for.. Premier eis good, albeit ful of menus and stupid config boxes with a stupid amount of clickin tand dragging for the most menial task... (yeah ok im biased) but this amount of navigating wasted alot of my time, so i stuck with vegas..
The fact that u can render while u open a new instance of vegas and continue working on the same project, makes the realtime dv cards mentioned above obsolete.. for what u want.. both the packages u have mentioedn will do the job.. DVD Architect 3 and Vegas offer more within the production however.. mind u theyve only jsut been released so expect a similar response from adobe with PremPro2 comes out.. ))

Other than providing for preview/program monitoring on a true NTSC monitor during the edit, in this chain of events where no external analog sources need to be captured or output and the computer already has the necessary Firewire ports to interface with the camera or a DV VTR, what functions does the card provide?

((Answered above))


From the promotional information on the respective web sites I know that they provide for hardware rendering etc

((Vegas does not provide for hardware rendering.. never has.. teh only hardware u need is a good cpu and ram.. however, even with a crappy old non HT cpu and 1gb ram, i can render faster than realtime, so again, these cards are obsolete for me.. as they do it all in realtime... ))

but does that mean anything if the signal is not passing throught the card's own I/O ports on it's way in to the PC or out to an output device such as a VTR or no analog to/from digital conversions are involved?

((huh??????))


If I take a couple of AVI files already on disk that were captured from DV, load them into Premiere, make a few cuts and trims and an effect or two - maybe some supers, rolling titles, maybe a "Ken Burns" pan and zoom over a still or two, or keying in a talent standup in front of a scenic background - render the final cut and export it to Encore, and burn it to DVD, what functionality does a card such as the Matrox or Canopus provide to the process?

((mentioned above re- realtime dv output, realtime mpg output, realtime chromakeying, overlyaing etc etc ))

good luck with the decision...
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Old May 17th, 2005, 10:14 AM   #3
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by the way, id ask to retitle this thread as ur not refering to a video display card, yoru refering to a realtime DV card...

i was initially thinking u were looking for a gfx card.. lol
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Old May 19th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
u still have to prerender the "red" elements... if u want full frames.. this defeats the purpose of realtime
This isn't true. As long as the effect(s) used are within the limits of the RT.X100 system, it's pure real-time, no rendering required.

Also, once the real-time limit is reached, a RT.X100 system will still give a preview quality play back of any area that goes beyond the RT.X100's ability to play in full resolution. Matrox calls it "XtremePreview." In their words:

"When you exceed the realtime capabilities of the system, the XtremePreview feature kicks in to ensure smooth workflow. You still see your layers and effects in context, on your computer and NTSC/PAL monitors, without rendering. There's no interruption in the editing process. The frame rate of the playback will vary depending on the number of layers, the number of effects, and your system's resources."

Both the Canopus DVStorm and RT.X100 have limits to their true real-time play back abilities, but just because of that I wouldn't call either one a sham.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 05:12 PM   #5
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Steve,

Here are some of the benefits of a video editing card like the Matrox RT.X100.

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.

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.
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Old May 20th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #6
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This isn't true. As long as the effect(s) used are within the limits of the RT.X100 system, it's pure real-time, no rendering required.

((So in effect what im saying IS correct, being that once u get into the "red" stage (ie beyond the realtime capabilities of the card) you must render for full frame preview.. but as i mentioned, thats ok, coz its fast and accelerated by teh RTx anyway... definately faster than Vegas...))


Also, once the real-time limit is reached, a RT.X100 system will still give a preview quality play back of any area that goes beyond the RT.X100's ability to play in full resolution. Matrox calls it "XtremePreview." In their words:

"When you exceed the realtime capabilities of the system, the XtremePreview feature kicks in to ensure smooth workflow. You still see your layers and effects in context, on your computer and NTSC/PAL monitors, without rendering. There's no interruption in the editing process. The frame rate of the playback will vary depending on the number of layers, the number of effects, and your system's resources."

((yes, this is what i meant about "graceful degredation" being that it drops frames... Full res, yes, full frame, no way... but ther are ways around the RTx to ensure a consistantly smooth frame rate, by chaining your filters in certain priorities within the fx tree... on top of that, most RTx filters poo on Prem Filters anyway... using Matrox filters also speeds things up ))


Both the Canopus DVStorm and RT.X100 have limits to their true real-time play back abilities, but just because of that I wouldn't call either one a sham.

((I called them a sham, as there is a fine line between being truthful to what is being offered, compared to the real world applications of these cards.
Dont get me wrong, i love the RTx.. i think its an awsome card but its only let down is the fact that its locked in with Premiere6/Pro. HDV is also non existant for the system, so within 3 or so years these cards wil be obsolete.
Axio looks to be another good unit coming, out, but its totally in another class however it too is bogged down with being locked into PremPro. For the money of an Axio, id recommend Avid and a DNA unit which is HD ready, at least for my 15k, my system wont be obsolete.. ))

Moving back to the point and my comments on being a sham..
realtime.. what is it??
What does the public believe it is?? What has teh public ben exposed to?? What do they expect from realtime? What have they been CONDITIONED to expect from realtime?

The fact that i cannot loop a sequence and tweak my keys using StormFX.... however its still called realtime..
but i can easily loop a sequence and tweak and add and remove filters and keys within vegas while its playing back my video.. Storm cant do this.. EdiusSP cant even do this... so what is really realtime??
A card?? A DV Accelerator? its all on how we perceieve and USE these units.. not what the marketing companies say..

Is it Realtime processing of a said filter once youve stopped the work, or is it realtime non stop editing???

Many people have a different perception of what is realtime.. to me, realtime is when i can literally playback a sequence and edit as its playing back without the need to stop. When i can add and remove almost any filter, envelope, transition etc without stopping.... When i can feel the flow of the cut and continue to tighten as im watching it.. without stopping. When i can add an trim clips... without stopping...
THATS realtime editing.. to me it is anyway

Realtime PROCESSING on the other hand, is when i add these filters and i get full frame rates and full res when i play back.
When i dont have to render a sequence to deliver a finished product, when i dont have to create pre-render clips to give me full frames on the timeline... To me, prerendering defeats the purpose of "realtime". To me that prerendering puts these cards alongside every other SW application. The only advantage is speed, but with L6 and Vegas6 being what they are today... speed is no longera factor.
Transcoding to mpg using these cards is also realtime, however i can use a SW transcoding tool like Main Concept mpg22 encoder as a standalone and pump out 65fps, which is 2.5 times faster than realtime...
So again, the cards "realtime" performance is obsolete (in this case anyway)

Dont get me wrong, i like the RTx.. hell, these units are what put food on my table.. but peoples need to be educated to the limitations and the "concept" of realtime and what it really means..
Marketing companies have had it too good lately, and theyve gotten away with alot of misconceptions, leaving the dealerships hanging to deal with the disgruntled customer...

Rendering..
If i wanted to render, id stick with SW editors... but the RTx (as an example) requires prerendering of overprocessable areas. So with an RTx, you still have to render, and to me, that is not realtime.. if i didnt have to render, or it didnt drop frames, then yes i would concede that its realtime

Yes, the cards offer realtime processing on many levels and elements, however its not realtime in a true sense as it has been advertised and to which people have been led to believe...

I sell these units for a living, Im actually one of the larger suppliers of Pro video gear in Sydney, and offer training and support for users of these realtime cards, and the biggest complaint i get, is with regard to instability and the fact that the cards do not deliver in the way in which they are advertised.
Even though we build these units to spec, and have sold thousands over the years, the same complaint reigns true...

People need to be educated before an investment is made, all im saying is that these companies prefer to keep their users in the dark until after the fact, which i dont believe is fair
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 08:10 PM   #7
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Peter,

I guess I'm confused. It almost sounds like you're complaining that the hardware accelerators aren't infinitely powerful, e.g., you can't stack an infinite amount of effects and still have them play back at full resolution. Why else would you say that "this defeats the purpose of realtime" in regards to having to render to get full resolution play back once you reach the limit of a hardware card? My RT.X system gives me real-time editing, and of course I have to render once I go past it's capabilities. There's no video editing card I know of that can do an infinite amount of effects in real-time. It's impossible, at least at this point. Having to render once the full resolution limit is reached does not defeat the purpose of the card.

Quote:
If i wanted to render, id stick with SW editors... but the RTx (as an example) requires prerendering of overprocessable areas. So with an RTx, you still have to render, and to me, that is not realtime.. if i didnt have to render, or it didnt drop frames, then yes i would concede that its realtime
With a video editing card like the R.TX you get full resolution editing/output to tape, plus real-time preview quality play back once the full resolution limit is reached, which is more than what most software editors can deliver at this point (most only give preview quality play back, and no real-time full resolution output to tape with effects). So I don't see what there is to criticize in this area. I would agree that if you are finding you need to render most of your project for final output most of the time even with a video editing card, then yes, you may as well stick with a software only solution.
Quote:
but peoples need to be educated to the limitations and the "concept" of realtime and what it really means..
Quote:
the biggest complaint i get, is with regard to instability and the fact that the cards do not deliver in the way in which they are advertised.
Quote:
People need to be educated before an investment is made
As a dealer, you could help in educating customers. Then you wouldn't get so many complaints after the purchase. Of course the marketing should be clearer about what a video editing card can actually do. Still, if people are dropping such large amounts of money on a video editing card without fully researching beforehand (that means reading more than just promotional materials), then they should bear some of the blame.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 01:47 AM   #8
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"Why else would you say that "this defeats the purpose of realtime" in regards to having to render to get full resolution play back once you reach the limit of a hardware card?"

its not just about rendering though..
I dnt think many people understood my post on "realtime" editing.. a dv encoder card like the RTx literally encodes in realtime, however it does not allow one to continuously playback video and add and remove filters or tweak other elements, or do any other process while its doing that one task..

thats what i mean..

as for encoding streams, of course it cant do everything.. they do a hellofalot though and teh rtx has been going strong now for over 2 yrs and theyre still goin out in truckloads..
they work, and they work well..

" I would agree that if you are finding you need to render most of your project for final output most of the time even with a video editing card, then yes, you may as well stick with a software only solution."

see but that there is my point...

As for teh investment people make with these.. i agree.. we can only show them so much without it becomeing a training session, and most of the time, they KNOW the limitations
as for stability, we buid the units to spec... however its Adobe Prem Pro which is usually the culprit..

90% oof clients are ok with it, but u get ur 10% of tose who liek to push the limits and when it falls over, it really does fall over..
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Old May 24th, 2005, 07:44 AM   #9
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Here's a few more points to help clarify the situation:

1) With Premeire Pro the RTX100 was and is the best real-time accelerator around. Not only does it add real-time playback performance via both DV and analog output, but it also adds some additional transitions, effects and filters that are not found in Premiere. These are also real-time.

2) RTX100 also gives you accelerated MPEG2 encoding for DVD authoring - directly from the timeline. For most projects this will result in real-time (ie a 1 hour timeline will take 1 hour to encode).

3) While the RTX100 is a phenomenal DV solution, it does not have an HD or HDV upgrade path. The chips on the card are simply not able to handle the higher reolutions.

4) Over the past 12-18 months we have seen a technology change in the industry. CPU speeds have gotten so fast and so has the other components in your computer (graphics, memory, storage, bus speeds) that you can achieve a remarkable amount of real-time performance without special hardware acceleration. Vegas was at the forefront of this technology change.

5) With Vegas and other real-time NLE solutions you get a very productive workflow while editing. Your previews are in real-time on the vga monitor. You'll also get some level of real-time preview via firewire output. This scales to meet the power of your computer and complexity of the video segment. So you won;t get full speed, full frame playback in rpreview. For final output you will need to render.

6) The rendering of vegas and other software based NLEs will vary greatly depending on the complexity of your timeline (ie video layers, filters and FX0 and the overall speed of your computer.

7) Some NLEs such as Liquid Edition will take advantage of your graphics cards GPU power to accerelate rendering and increase real-time performance. Vegas is CPU power only. You get no benefit from your graphics card.

8) Other NLEs like Avid Xpress Pro can utilize an external accelerator. Mojo attaches to your computer via FireWire and adds a tremendous level of real-time perfomance to Xpress Pro, as well as the ability to injest, edit and output uncompressed video.

9) HDV support. While Vegas, Liquid Edition and Premeire Pro now support HDV editing with real-time previews, you are going to have to render your final output. If you have one of the Sony HDV cams, you are shooting in 1080i. This is almost 5 times the data per second of video vs DV. So as you can imagine, the final rendering takes a ton of power, and it is still pretty slow. The quality is perfect and the final results are great, you just have to wait.

10) Eventually we are going to get HDV chipsets which will result in a new age of real-time hardware acceleration. The Edius HX for HDV already has a port on it just waitng for this. When the real-time HDV daughter card is available, you will be able to get HDV output directly from the timeline.

11) We are also waiting for a final HD optial disk standard. Right now the Blu-Ray and HD DVD camps are slugging it out. There is talk of compromise, but so far nothing. Microsoft is pushing WM9HD on standard DVD as an alternative, but set top players do not curretnly support this. When the optical HD standards are agred to, the HDV chipset mentioned above will also be tweaked to accelerate the encoding for this.

I hope this helps. We have a wealth of information about the products mentioned here on our website http://www.videoguys.com

Gary
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Old May 24th, 2005, 09:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
I dnt think many people understood my post on "realtime" editing.. a dv encoder card like the RTx literally encodes in realtime, however it does not allow one to continuously playback video and add and remove filters or tweak other elements, or do any other process while its doing that one task..
I think I may understand you now. It appears your definition of real-time goes beyond whether or not a video editing card can do full resolution play back and includes those workflow enhancements. I guess my workflow is different as I never felt a need for those features. (And the lack of the features you mentioned may be more a limitation with Premiere Pro than a limitation of the RT.X100.)

Gary,

Thanks for the post. There's a lot of good information there.
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Last edited by Christopher Lefchik; May 24th, 2005 at 03:16 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 10:57 AM   #11
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Thanks to whoever did it for correcting the spelling of "role" on the thread title. My typing fingers and brain are only marginally connected to each other! My spelling goes through amazing transmogrifications between my head and the keyboard.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 01:43 PM   #12
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Im glad you understood my meaning :) i guess ive gotten used to a non stop workflow and a render routine which allows me to render AND work on the same project at the same time.. My definition of realtime may be taken with a grain of salt, but i guess im going against standard practices.. lol
its the way marketing depts of these cards have set the "standard" to what people expect.. that what i dont like..

the rtx and storm2 are kick ass SD cards, no doubt.. its just a shame that the software theyre tied in doesnt suit certain workflows.

Heres hoping that Axio is the big bro to a hybrid AxioJnr, but Matrox are really REALLY going to have to push to sell it as i know MANY studios arent touching it due to the fact that its a premiere based Card.. its a shame, coz premiere has its merits, it also has its weaknesses like any NLE.. but for the money, theyre all going to be jumping for Avids and Adrenaline units... Being that Axio is there to take over where Digisuite left off, were talkin big bux here..

We'll jsut have to wait and se how it pans out.. who knows, Edius SP/NX for HDV may be the new tough kid on the block..

time will tell..
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