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a leaf out of Canopus's book, Matrox's latest dual-stream editing card
uses software Codecs to take advantage of the speed of modern processors.
But does this make it just a me-too product?
and its replacement, the RT2500, were innovative pieces of hardware,
but they had one or two weaknesses compared to some competitors. Pinnacle's
Pro-ONE could combine a few more basic effects in real-time, and Canopus's
DV Storm had real-time DV output. Matrox's RT2500 was great value, and
offered the most extensive collection of 3D video effects, but couldn't
be unreservedly recommended for all types of editing. With the RT.X100,
Matrox sets out to change all that, but doing so has required a radical
change in direction.
Previously, Matrox has relied on hardware for almost all effects
and video processing. The RT2500 used a C-Cube chipset to decode two
streams of DV or MPEG-2 I-frame video. These were mixed in hardware
with 3D effects processed through an on-board G450 graphics accelerator
ñ the result being output in real-time via analogue video connections.
While this gave dependable performance across a wide range of hardware
platforms, the two-stream limitation of the C-Cube chip meant that rendering
was required to output DV via FireWire, and upgrading the PC didnít
provide any benefit unless a lot of effects were
being used that went beyond the real-time capabilities. With the RT.X100,
Matrox has moved the video decoding into software, and added a host
of new software-processed effects as well. This, in theory, allows rendering
speeds (and editing capabilities) to improve with faster processors.
There are still a few features that remain in hardware, however. A graphics
chip - in this case a G550 - is called upon for 3D effects, and a Texas
Instruments chipset controls FireWire devices. The C-Cube video Codec
is still there, but now it has a different job. Instead of decoding
video, it provides two outstanding new features ñ real-time DV
output via FireWire, and real-time MPEG-2 encoding from the Premiere
timeline. A downside of the C-Cube job-swap is that the RT.X100 doesnít
support the RT2500ís MPEG-2 I-frame capture or editing.
Matrox's RT.X100 provides very strong competition for Pinnacle and
Canopus, and puts the onus on both competitors to launch new products.
Pinnacle's Pro-ONE offers a good general videographerís toolkit,
and Canopusís DV Storm is a solid performer for narrative video
making, but neither stands up well in comparison with the RT.X100.
With its real-time colour correction and keying, real-time DV and MPEG-2
output, and huge selection of 3D video effects, there's not much the
RT.X100 can't do. The only downside is some heavy-duty hardware requirements,
but thatís part and parcel of bringing so much functionality
into software ñ and besides, powerful PCs are getting cheaper
all the time. The next generation of editing cards offering even more
streams of video in real-time will require something faster than the
32-bit PCI bus, and thatís a whole new hardware platform for
most people. So, the RT.X100 is likely to be the most fully featured
editing card for under £1,000 for a while, unless 64-bit adaptors
such as Newtekís Video Toaster 2 enter the mainstream. Until
then, or until Pinnacle or Canopus strikes back, Matrox's RT.X100 is
going to be viewed by many as the king of editing cards.
For the full review,
see the November 2002 issue of Computer Video.
Reviewed in November's issue:
Pinnacle Studio 8
Epson Stylus Photo 950
In November's news:
moves to dual-processors
Panasonic £550 set-top DVD-R recorder
upgrade for DV500
JVC FireWire-equipped notebook PCs
capture-to-author DVD program
Formac Mac/Win analogue/DV converter
17in widescreen DVD burner Apple iMac
Canon MV5/5i bundled with Pinnacle Studio 7SE
Pinnacle Pro-ONE and DV500 Edition highlight in Evesham Video Tour 2002
Bug fixes for Apple FCP 3.0.2