Great DV Shootout 2002
Page 7 of 7

Although I will pick a winner in this shootout, I must say that all three contestants are still standing. That's because all three systems are outstanding. That's not to say that each has a few improvements to make before perfection is reached. Namely, DVStorm needs lots more 3D functionality and more customizability of its motion effects, RT2500 needs real time DV output, real time chromakeying and the ability to do more layers of 3D effects, and Pro-ONE could also use real time chromakeying and real time DV output.

But jeez, things have come a long way since Matrox first showed me their RT2500 three years ago. This is the hottest segment in digital video right now, and foreshadows the promise of truly easy-to-use home DV. But they all still have miles to go before they sleep, and promises to keep. For example, I think there must be a way for camcorders to be truly plug-and-play with editing products like these. In each of the systems, I needed to find the camera control dialog boxes and configure something before the systems would work. That's OK for us here at the Midwest Test Facility, but for a consumer without any DV editing experience, any configuration woes at all are a potential show-stopper. For crying out loud -- it's a computer! Why not let IT figure out what kind of camcorder or tape machine is plugged into it? And I also have a bone to pick with the way all these systems seem to choke when it's time to compress the timeline, particularly for QuickTime streaming compression, a routine necessary for us to bring you these streaming video examples. Perhaps the problem is more the fault of Cleaner EZ (which I abandoned early on in favor of the full version of Cleaner), but the interplay between these editing systems and QuickTime compression for the Web was more like a war than a love-feast.
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Beyond that, all of these systems are extraordinarily difficult to install. If these were on a Mac, installation would be a non-issue. It's setup headaches like this, involving cryptic IRQs and other propeller-headed nonsense that give the PC its frequently well-deserved bad name. Thank goodness that each of these systems arrived here at the Midwest Test Facility in somewhat turnkey form. In fact, I have never, ever installed a DV capture card in any Wintel PC without some frustration, another factor that's a potential show-stopper for the uninitiated. If you're considering one of these systems, please do yourself a favor and get someone who has DV setup experience to install it for you. If you're a brave soul and want to give it a try yourself, at least check with the capture card manufacturer to see if your motherboard is compatible with the card you choose.

As for these cards themselves, choose the one that best fits your editing style and budget. If you're a big fan of flying, flipping boxes, use a lot of wild-looking transitions and have limited funds, go with the RT2500. If you like the idea of multiple 3D effects on screen at the same time but don't plan to output to DV, check out the Pro-ONE. It has lots of never-before-seen features and is a laudable 1.0 effort. Always nervous about 1.0 releases, it still seems a bit green for me -- I'll be much more interested in this card after it's been around for a while. If you like to layer lots of video together and want to use lots of filters in real time, and need to output to DV in real time, go with DV Storm. If it weren't so expensive, it would have certainly emerged from this shootout as my favorite. But for my money, the best overall value and highest quality would have to be the Matrox RT2500.

The Verdict:
Canopus DVStorm SE Plus Pinnacle Pro-ONE Matrox RT2500
Real Time Effects 9 8 8
Real Time 3D 4 9 8
Image Quality 7 7 9
DV I/O 10 5 5
Usability 9 8 8
Configurability 5 9 8
Overall speed 10 7 8
Price/value 5 6 10
Average 7.375 7.375 8 Winner

Charlie White, your humble storytellerCharlie White has been writing about new media and digital video since it was the laughingstock of the television industry. A technology journalist and columnist for the past seven years, White is also an Emmy-winning producer, video editor and shot-calling PBS TV director with 26 years broadcast experience. Talk back -- Send Chazz a note at [email protected].

The author would like to thank Art Director Marek Minecki and Midwest Test Facility Information Services Manager Drew Gagliano for their assistance in the preparation of this review.

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