Great DV Shootout 2002
Page 5 of 7

Patrick Beaulieu, Matrox:
"Even with their new software release, Canopus does not offer true 3D effects. They have managed to fake a few canned ones in 2D, but flexibility and usability are lacking. Faster computers and scalability benefit all editing platforms, but it will be awhile before CPU power alone matches the quality and productivity achieved with affordable, dedicated hardware as on RT2500. Since DVStorm relies totally on CPU power for real time editing, you'll need to buy a new computer every 6 months to get incremental effects performance. Can you afford to do that?

"Real time DV-out is nice, when it works, but you never know when the computer will choke. You may be 75% through your export when you drop a frame. You need to stop, render, and export again. To REALLY save time, RT2500 gives you true real time DV-in (SinglePass DV scan and capture), which will save you hours on every project.

"Pinnacle would have you believe that RT2500 can't combine multiple effects in real time. In fact, it CAN combine effects, probably more than you'll typically need and at not cost to quality! You can easily combine a Flex 3D effect (blur, page curl, particle, PIP with 2-color border and true 3D shadow, etc.), plus a 3D DVE perspective, plus cropping, plus transparency, plus frame-based slow motion on 2 layers all in real time.
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"Bottom line -- At only $899 (including the $99 PRO Pack) Matrox RT2500 offers the best value to cost-conscious professionals for real time editing, DVD authoring and web streaming. It's a stable, reliable platform that provides all the tools you need to quickly produce high impact video. It offers many unique productivity features, superior real time 3D video quality, and the most comprehensive software bundle.

"Choose Matrox RT2500 and get yourself a DVD burner with the money you save!"

Charlie's Comments:
There they go again, picking on DVStorm for its lack of 3D effects. Keep an eye on the much-maligned Storm, though, because it's scalable with processor power, and that doesn't seem to be getting any slower lately. Expect more 3D effects and hopefully, more customizability from Canopus in the future.

In my testing, I had absolutely no trouble with the real time DV export on the DVStorm. It worked perfectly every time, with no delay in playing back the timeline onto DV tape. I didn't experience any dropped frames, and I did lots of exports to DV tape on the DVStorm. Maybe I was just lucky, but I think the export to DV "problem" is a non-issue. But Patrick's assertion about the "SinglePass" DV-in is true. I think Matrox's auto-capture routine is the best in the business, bar none. It truly could save you plenty of time, especially if you're capturing lots of footage.

As Patrick mentioned, you really can do a lot at the same time with the RT2500, like a page curl with a shadow along with a 3D DVE perspective, a border and cropping, but again, I wouldn't reach for any of these slow motion "capabilities" on any of the shoot-out contestants -- they were all herky-jerky.

I do think Patrick nails it when he talks value. Think of it: Adobe Premiere alone cost upwards of $550, so for $350 more you get lots of editing power that just ten years ago would have set you back a million dollars just for the 3D effects alone. Remember the Mirage? It was the only box that could do cylinders and curls, and it cost a million dollars and required a rocket scientist to operate. Now, at a thousandth of the cost, we have systems that are easy enough for even my 8-year-old daughter to play with. It's just amazing.

After weeks of testing, I get the impression that the RT2500 is the most stable and reliable of the bunch. It's been around longer than the other two, and has lots more effects choices, too. And, Matrox has made a significant effort to add configurability to its effects, so you can tweak them to move and swoosh just the way you want them to. For (as Matrox likes to say) "high impact," 3D-intensive video, it's a solid choice.

Alex Kataoka, Canopus:
"To clarify a few misconceptions, we have added real time 3D transitions to DVStorm, and thanks to our scalable, CPU-centric design, these enhancements are added through a simple software update. Canopus will continue to provide valuable new features, all through software updates. Because Pinnacle and Matrox boards are tied to the hardware, the only way their customers can realize new features is by buying new boards. This may boost revenues, but for the customer it means obsolescence in a short period of time.

"It was also mistakenly mentioned that our 10 graphic layers couldn't be repositioned. This is absolutely wrong. Not only can you reposition the graphic layers, you can scale and move them using real time Picture-In-Picture. Moreover, the real time motion filter adds real time in/out motion effects to titles.

"To truly evaluate the real time effectiveness of these systems, you also need to look at the number of video streams processed in real time. Unlike the RT2500 and Pro-One, which work with just two video streams, DVStorm gives users the power to process three video streams in real time, and the ability to add real time effects to all three streams. It's DVStorm's scalability that allows editors to stack multiple real time filters on multiple video streams and graphic layers.

DVStorm segment -- Click for QuickTime movie
DVStorm shines when you're compositing lots of layers of text and adding color correction, all in real time. Click image for a QuickTime movie.
Pro_ONE has a fine was to keyframe effects
Hey Canopus, take a look at Pinnacle's keyframing dialog box. This is how it should be done! Click images for a larger view.

"Again, if you're looking for a powerful, real time DV-editing solution that delivers render-free DV editing and output, render-free analog I/O, MPEG output for DVD, and a complete suite of digital video production tools (plus a breakout panel that provides easy access to video connectors), then DVStorm is for you. Unlike RT2500 and Pro-One, DVStorm combines an extensive real time feature set with stability and reliability, so you, the video professional, can get more done in less time. Don't just take our word for it; ask our users -- check out the user forums at"

Charlie's Comments:
Yes, I agree that DVStorm's ten graphic layers can be repositioned. But it's the severe limits on this positioning that makes the DVStorm's motion effects weak in the customizability department. You can bring them in from the side, top, or bottom, add a "laser" effect, and a few others, but it doesn't amount to much choice in movement around the screen.

But it's amazing how many layers you can stack up before this thing chokes. Really. It's every bit as powerful as Alex says, and then some.

If Canopus would just take a look at the keyframing dialog box of Pinnacle's Pro-ONE and the customizability of Matrox's 3D moves, maybe they'd get the general idea. Adding the ability to tweak more attributes of everything that moves would be a tremendous asset to DVStorm.

On the other hand, a great strength of DVStorm is its big selection of real time filters. For example, the old movie filter looks excellent (seen at the beginning of the DVStorm test video). You're able to tweak the size and intensity of parameters like hairs-in-the-gate, dust specks and luminance jitter. Also a big advantage is DVStorm's color correction capabilities, where you can adjust the red, green and blue values in hue and intensity, along with brightness and contrast, while looking at your results on a live waveform monitor. Sure, Matrox also offers good color correction facilities, but if you want to create real time transitions into or out of color-corrected shot, you're out of luck with the RT2500, but can do it with DVStorm. Advantage Canopus.

But with that power comes cost. At $1300, DVStorm is the most expensive of the bunch. I think that's too expensive. Add tons of 3D effects, more configurability, soft drop shadows and it just may be worth it.

Jeff Medeiros, Pinnacle Systems:
"All vendors agree that real-time 3-D capability is critical. Matrox correctly points out that 3D doesn't just mean cheesy transitions, it means video effects required by professionals. Canopus' rebuttal implicitly acknowledges the importance of real-time 3D by promising to offer this capability in the future.

"Furthermore, there is no question that Pro-ONE can implement broadcast-style 3D effects in real-time that must be rendered by both Canopus and Matrox (for example, the "Nightline" side-by-side interview or the flying "sports slab" transition). Matrox's only argument is to assert that the image quality of their (limited) real-time 3D effects is better than the image quality of Pro-ONE's (more sophisticated) real-time 3D effects. This assertion is totally baseless -- Pinnacle invites potential customers to see a demonstration of Pro-ONE and judge the image quality for themselves. Pro-ONE is the current state-of-the-art platform available for the Premiere-based video production market."

Charlie's Comments:
Agreed, Matrox's 3D effects are limited compared with Pinnacle's. But just using my own subjective eyeballs, Matrox's effects look less aliased and smoother to me. And I'm not just talking about the edges of the effects, but the video inside, too. For my tests I used shots of a building with an unusual slat-like design that really shows aliasing, and it was more noticeable on the Pinnacle equipment than on Matrox's.

Pro-ONE has a lot going for it, though. I was impressed with its ability to execute two 3D effects at the same time, something that I missed when moving from the Pro-ONE to either of the other systems. I am also crazy about TitleDeko-RT, especially since I used its big brother, the FXDeko at the Public TV station where I worked for many years, and it was, for me, like a comfortable pair of old shoes. It's also excellent the way you create the title in Deko and then hit F12 and there it is, in your Premiere bin (to be fair, you get similar functionality with the included Boris Graffiti Ltd. with DVStorm and Inscriber TitleExpress with RT2500). And, if Pro-ONE can't add a shadow at that point because you've used up all your real time layers, you can just add it to your text in Deko -- nice if you're not spinning the text around to give away the "non-true" nature of such a shadow.

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