Saving time in serious video editing
DV500 Plus from Pinnacle Systems
With the widespread adoption of highly portable compact digital video (DV) cameras capable of high quality presentation and reference material, tools for manipulating and authoring edited material are becoming both increasingly sophisticated and affordable.
PC editing of video has historically been hampered by the time required for the rendering of output and especially transitions.
Pinnacle’s DV500 dual stream video capture card enables output of productions to the video monitor and recording device in full quality as soon as they have been arranged.
This can include transitions if the supplied realtime Pinnacle effects are used throughout.
The days of complex multimedia installations have also gone with the DV500 detected and software installed smoothly under Windows 2000.
The PCI card back plate offers two IEEE1394 FireWire ports plus a D connector for analogue connectivity via the supplied BLUE Box breakout module.
This has a sensible metre long cable for convenient location on the desktop for S-video, composite video and left and right audio input and output for preview of the edited material on a TV monitor or recording to VHS tape.
Whilst DV is clearly preferable in terms of image quality, other benefits also become apparent during capture.
The DVTools applet offers FireWire device control, automatically scanning a tape for frame accurate in-camera edit points and creating a thumbnail browser from which a batch capture list can be created.
This automated video acquisition can be a great timesaver in itself.
Data volume and transfer rates are also an issue with video manipulation, putting a strain on all but the most recent IDE hard drives.
Pinnacle recommends you use a SCSI hard drive for real-time AV work although I found my EIDE disks acceptable.
In addition to checking whether connected DV devices and the DV500 are operational the DVExpert applet tests hard disk speed to determine which is best suited for saving and transferring DV data.
To save DV data to disk, approximately double the storage capacity of the final AVI file is required.
DVTools is limited to 2Gb files which represents just over nine minutes of video.
The DV500 natively supports two file formats – the old AVI 1 format with a 2Gb file size limit, and AVI 1.1, which, with OpenDML, can create terabyte file sizes.
This can be achieved using the bundled Adobe Premiere 5.1.
Real-time 2D transitions include cross-dissolves and wipes.
A real-time gradient wipe is also available, into which any of the 300 bundled Pixelan SpiceRack gradient bitmaps can be loaded.
Bitmaps with alpha channel can also be superimposed over moving video, and faded up and down in real-time.
Pinnacle also bundles HollywoodFX, a selection of 3D transitions that although not real-time can make use of available graphics card 3D acceleration for faster rendering.
Other bundled applets include TitleDeko titling software plug-in to complement Premiere’s capabilities and Sonic Foundry’s ACID Music for the production, arranging and editing of loop-based music tracks.
Minerva Impression CD-Pro enables the creation of MP2 and WAV images for burning on CD or DVD, together with a software MPEG-2 player, DirectX Media run-time drivers, and DVD style menu.
Alternatively by encoding to the lower quality MPEG-1 using TMPGEnc (tmpenc.com) VideoCD format disks can be created on CD-RW disks that are compatible with a number of DVD players that support VideoCD.
Other output options include recording directly to tape via the analogue output or to maintain quality use the second DV port to connect a digital VCR or camcorder although it should be borne in mind that many European camcorders do not support DV in.
Using device control, video can be dumped frame accurately from the timeline to a DV VCR.
At around £600 the DV500 allows high quality lossless video manipulation.
By including analogue input it offers maximum flexibility in video sources but if this is not a requirement the cheaper Studio DV Plus may suffice although this does not include the excellent Premiere either.
Although IEEE1394 FireWire ports are becoming increasingly familiar, especially on notebooks, the DV capture specific tools and real-time transitions will save considerable time when used for serious video editing.