Canopus DVStorm 2

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Canopus DVStorm 2

The wait for Canopus's Mk2 DVStorm is over, but just how well does it compare to its recently launched main rivals?

Canopus has grabbed some headlines with award winners such as ProCoder and Imaginate. But its main rivals have stolen most of the limelight with their introductions of sub-£1,000 video editing solutions - Matrox, with its RT.X100 and Pinnacle, with Pro-ONE RTDV. Canopus's new contender - DVStorm 2 - is perhaps its most important release yet, and it's taken us months to get one in for review, as Canopus has struggled to sort out bugs and make sure everything works right. On paper, the DVStorm 2 has very similar credentials to the latest Pinnacle and Matrox products - multiple real-time video and graphics streams, 3D real-time transitions, real-time output to DV, plus real-time MPEG-1 and 2 output. However, as we've come to expect from Canopus, there's plenty that's quirky and unique, as this isn't just a 'me-too' product.

Class leader
Canopus was the first in its class to bring out a real-time software engine, so one would hope that the technology was entirely mature by now. In fact, apart from the addition of the company's established hardware MPEG-2 encoder (which DVStorm SE users can purchase with their upgrade) DVStorm 2 is essentially a software update to DV Storm SE, albeit a massive one.

The good news is that, since the first release of DVStorm, with its initially shaky Premiere support, most capabilities are available within the Adobe software just as they are from within Canopus's own StormEdit. This is great for Premiere users moving over to Storm, as there's no need to learn a new editing application. In fact, StormEdit was always better suited to simpler narrative video-making without layering, and Premiere is the only option for taking advantage of DVStorm 2's new claimed capabilities of using up to five real-time video layers.

With DVStorm 2, Canopus has thrown down a real challenge to Pinnacle and Matrox. All three companies' products have their strengths and weaknesses, but which is best depends on the kind of editing required. The lack of even simple 3D for superimposed tracks is a limitation for Canopus, particularly for title sequences. It's also more expensive than Pinnacle's and Matrox's alternatives when the Premiere 6.5 option and StormBay are factored in. However, as with Canopus's previous offerings, DVStorm 2 keeps the focus on mainstream productivity rather than flashy effects, so for many (who may, of course, already have Premiere) this will make it an ideal choice. And for DVD authoring, its encoding and MPEG editing abilities are tantalisingly powerful.

James Morris

For the full review, see the April 2003 issue of Computer Video.

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