Great DV Shootout 2002
Page 4 of 7

Jeff Medeiros, Pinnacle Systems:

Hollywood FX nags
Hollywood FX RT will keep reminding you of the glories of its more advanced versions Click image for a larger view.
Hollywood FX has some fun graphics to play with. Click for QuickTime movie
Hollywood FX has some fun graphics to play with. Click image for a QuickTime movie.

"Pro-One offers more than Storm:

  • "Because Storm renders all effects on the CPU, it has no real time 3D effects. Pro-ONE provides up to three independent 3D effects, using sophisticated models and video mapping on objects, all of which can be simultaneously applied in real time. Rounding out the Pro-ONE real time features are a large range of keyframeable effects parameters, real time field based slow (or fast) motion on two different video clips and automatic image stabilization.
  • "Pro-ONE incorporates a hardware accelerated 3D effects engine combined with sophisticated software processing to provide real time effects and image processing.
  • "Pro-ONE offers more then RT2500: Unlike the RT2500, Pro-ONE provides multiple real time effects and filters allowing for complex creative combinations. Real time 3D effects can be simultaneously performed on two independent video clips and a graphic image while manipulating size, rotation, 3D motion and advanced edge softness controls.
  • "Pro-One allows real time mapping of video into textured 3D models that are animated in 3D space. Typical broadcast looks can be created such as a "Nightline" side by side interview or a flying "sports slab" transition, where video is mapped in real time onto a 3D object with texture-mapped graphics on the sides."

Charlie's Comments:
Jeff is right about the DVStorm's paucity of 3D effects. When Jeff wrote this comment, Canopus didn't offer any 3D effects on DVStorm at all, but has since slip-streamed a few effects that are almost completely canned, that is, barely adjustable. One of the nicest ones is a spinning sphere effect that pointed the way to even better 3D moves from Canopus in the future. But the DVStorm is definitely playing catch-up in the 3D effects department, so if you like lots of real time flying goop, DVStorm is not for you ... yet.

No question, Pro-ONE has the RT2500 beat when it comes to simultaneous 3D effects in real time. Yes, it can do the two-boxes a la Nightline, which is part of the Hollywood FX RT package, but the effect isn't as customizable as I'd like to see.
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Of course, if you want to pay to upgrade to the Bronze, Silver or Gold edition of Hollywood FX, well, then you can customize until the cows come home. If not, this "lite" version will continue to nag you until you do. But sheesh -- this is a pet peeve of mine -- why not just bundle the real thing instead of this crippled version? However in Hollywood FX RT's defense, I will say that it's seriously powerful even in its somewhat diminished state, particularly in this real time-enabled version.

I had tons of fun playing with those effects, particularly the "sports slab" transition where you are able to put your own custom still graphic on the bottom of the slab. We were all just hooting with delight over some of these kooky effects. Heaven help us, though, if we ever use any of these in a real production, unless, of course, we're trying to be funny.

Patrick Beaulieu, Matrox:
"There's nothing revolutionary about Pro-ONE, Pinnacle is playing catch-up. Their 3D graphics engine offers equivalent performance to the RT2500 but they chose to sacrifice video quality for more effects in real time. With PRO-One you're stuck with poor video filtering and hard, aliased edges on most effects. If you want better quality, you have to render for a LONG time. They are missing important real time features such as blur and cropping.

"Canopus doesn't have real time 3D. Even if you don't use funky transitions, you still need basic 3D. Flipping helps maintain the line of axis during a dialog shot. Rotation fixes tripod shots that weren't leveled. Cropping and zooming eliminate framing errors. Only Matrox offers ALL these professional tools. DVStorm gives you 10 graphics layers but you can't re-position any of them. Matrox lets you blur, rotate, zoom, scale, and animate your graphics for professional results. If you want lots of layers, our multi-layer compositing engine kicks in to get the job done in no time.

"RT2500 is the best value with the quality and features you need most, PLUS unique tools like SinglePass DV scan and capture, MPEG-2 IBP capture for DVD, free WYSIWYG After Effects plug-in, and batch web encoding."

Charlie's Comments:
I can see Patrick's point about the aliased look of the Pro-ONE's graphics. To my eye, Matrox is ahead in the antialiasing department. And, cropping is important, especially if you want to remove something at the top of the frame that shouldn't be there, like a microphone or a distracting light.

Everybody is picking on Canopus for its lack of 3D -- rightfully so. And I think Patrick is right when he mentions all the problems you can fix with 3D effects, like correcting non-level shots and eliminating framing errors. But I wouldn't use flipping to maintain the line of axis in a dialog shot unless I was really desperate. I once did that to President Reagan (uh-oh -- showing my age again!) and people called to complain.

Also, the WYSIWIG After Effects plug-in is a good value, giving you the ability to really see what you're doing in Adobe's industry-standard compositor. The plug-in allows you to play back the After Effects timeline in an NTSC or PAL monitor. And, the way I see it, if you can't do it in real time within Premiere, might as well go for the power and flexibility of After Effects rather than waiting for rendering in Premiere.

Alex Kataoka, Canopus:
"While it's important to talk about real time features and price points, what really counts is the editing experience. DVStorm was specifically designed to reduce the amount of time video professionals spend waiting, so they can spend more time on the creative aspects of their productions.

"While all the systems in this review offer real time preview, DVStorm is the only one to offer render-free, real time DV output. Certainly real time preview is important and streamlines the editing process, but editors can still be stuck with long waits for DV output. By offering real time output of the filters and transitions most often used in a production, DVStorm significantly streamlines the production process. Furthermore, DVStorm delivers higher quality output through its internal 4:2:2 processing of real time effects.

"In December, real time 3D effects will be added to bring an unparalleled level of real time functionality to DVStorm. Thanks to its scalable technology architecture, these enhancements will be added to DVStorm through a simple software update. In addition, the scalable architecture is designed to take full advantage of escalating CPU power to deliver more real time features. This extends the life of DVStorm and delivers a much higher return on investment as users upgrade to more powerful computer systems."

Charlie's Comments:
I like what Alex wrote about the editing experience. And he's the one to say it, too, because I think the editing experience is the most pleasant on the Canopus DVStorm. Maybe that's because it's better-suited to my style of compositing, where I like to use lots of layers of text and fade things in and out a lot, without reaching for those hokey 3D effects. I also like the way the DVStorm feels, like it's more responsive. It just seems quicker and more eager to please. Of course, that's a subjective judgment, but it's a feeling I got that the render line appeared less with the DVStorm than with the other two.

DVStorm excels at layering. But the moves on and off are so limited, it's a shame. A few slides, some cheesy-looking wipes, and a "laser" write-on effect -- are it. But there's a really nice "blur dissolve" effect that's a true blur, so all is not lost.

And there's no doubt that the real time DV output is a big plus for the DVStorm, making it unique in that respect. But think of it this way: If you only occasionally need to output to DV, maybe one of the cheaper cards is the way to go. Keep in mind that if you don't add many effects to your productions, there is hardly any rendering to be done. You only need to render the effects -- not the clips -- when outputting to DV from the RT2500 and Pro-ONE. And even if you do use lots of effects, the rendering time with today's speedy processors isn't too bad. For example, for a 35-second segment I produced (that had about 75% effects -- I would consider that effects-heavy), it took 3:50 (three minutes and fifty seconds) to render it to DV tape. But if you're doing a half-hour program, this could get into some serious waiting.

When considering what's done in real time and what's not, think workflow. The most important aspect of this issue is the ability to see your effects in real time as you're editing them. It makes a huge difference to be able to tweak a dissolve in real time, until that "sweet spot" is nailed down. Then, when you're all done with your production, you can play the piece off to be recorded on VHS tape for approval, and after you make those inevitable changes, only then do you render for DV. That's the time to go get some lunch or hit the sack. Workflow -- that's the key.

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