Canopus DVStorm, Page 2
Click for QuickTime movie: DVStorm real time example
[Click for QuickTime movie] All this in real time: Color correction, move in a title, move in a PIP, move out the PIP, dissolve out the title. Wow!
(Continued from Page 1) Now for the good news. This device can help you create lots of real time effects, and the price is right. If you have a machine that's extremely powerful, especially one with dual processors, DVStorm will smack your video around with hurricane force. Even if you have a tropical-storm grade computer like our Dell Dimension mentioned previously (256 MB RAM, 1 GHz P3 proc, 40GB Ultra ATA-100 disk) you're still able to do lots of sweet effects without rendering anything. For example, first I added color correction to a clip, and it played back in real time (impossible on a Matrox RT2000). I wanted to push it a little harder, so I added a PIP (picture-in-picture) effect on top of that. Played back flawlessly. OK, I said, let's add a moving title over that, with a dissolve in and out. It still played back all three effects without a hitch. How far could we go? Let's try to break it. I placed a high-quality blur on one of the clips, and poof. It couldn't play that back. I reached the limit of my machine. But here's the beauty of this system, a feature that reminds me of one of the main strengths of FAST's "Purple" editor -- the more powerful your computer, the more real time tricks DVStorm can perform. It's like that old saying, "A rising tide lifts all boats." So, think of the possibilities two years from now, when processors are running at 4 gigs and you install two of those hot chips on a motherboard with a gig of RAM. Wow. This DVStorm has the potential to be a Category 5 hurricane! Take a look at this table prepared by Canopus showing which effects are possible using which processors, and you'll see that the more power you have, the more effects you can do in real time. We tested lots of these, and our results closely matched the Canopus data.

Another nice feature is the ability to play back to DV without rendering. Other systems must render the effects you've added if you want to go back to DV with your final product. Of course, other boards like the RT2000 can play back to analog tape in real time, but only DVStorm can go straight back to DV with no waiting. This can really speed things up if you've edited a long-form program with lots of effects and you need to get it back on DV tape quickly. Other features are not quite so fast, though, like playing your video into an avi file, a process that takes about 2x real time. Or, outputting to MPEG, a process that's not too slow, also about 2x real time. Coming in a few months, though, according to Canopus, is a real time MPEG output feature that'll eliminate that wait. But it is nice to be able to select "Output to MPEG" in the Storm Edit application, and then select whichever flavor of MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 desired, and your files are delivered to you in short order via a software MPEG encoder.

Click for larger image -- Canopus Storm Edit screen shot
[Click for larger image] Storm Edit can do almost anything you'd want with video. Almost.

Let's take a closer look at the included Canopus applications. Storm Edit (screen shot pictured at left) is a quick and efficient editing application. If you're familiar with Rex Edit 2.91, it's the same app except Storm Edit has five title tracks, while Rex Edit has ten. Not burdened by the huge overhead of Premiere, the snappy app is able to do most of what you'd like to do with DVStorm, with a few exceptions. Adding transitions, filters and fades is a simple right-click away, and I like the edge-dragging interactivity you get on the time line. But it would be nice if you could do split audio edits with the thing -- the audio is a bit too hard to separate from the video.

However, it allows you to do one real time function that can't be done in Premiere: Slow Motion. But don't get too excited about this. The slow motion, even though it's a real time feature, is crappy. With only 1/2 speed available, it's not interpolated, so it looks jittery and shaky. I would never use this in any of my productions. If you want slow motion in real time, forget it, unless your threshold of acceptable quality is extremely low. And I have one other tiny bone to pick: When keying text, objects or PIPs, there's no soft edge for a drop shadow -- inexplicable because there's a soft edge for embossed edges. Maybe it's me, but I like to see a soft edge on a drop shadow -- it looks more professional and realistic. Seems like that wouldn't be too hard to fix, Canopus.

Next: My Favorite Canopus Application