Our News Archive. Just in case.
Affordable Real-Time NLE Systems?
A professional NLE platform for under $6K on NT is now a reality (computers and storage extra).
It used to be above $100K for a real-time system, then in 1996 Truevision came out with Targa 2000 RTX, and then SDX, with ticket prices over $15K for hardware and software (Avid McXpress RT).
Last year, in:sync announced a real-time NLE software for Matrox DigiSuite which is a killer platform: dual D1 lossless video, powerful on-board processors, Movie-2 bus, 4-channel balanced audio, many other features. At $15K for hardware and software, not including computers and storage -- it is still biting, though.
At this year's NAB, several new real-time solutions under $6K came out: Pinnacle Systems' Reeltime, DPS Perception RT and Matrox DigiSuite LE. To many observers, DigiSuite LE seemed to be the most promising: high data rates, in:sync Speed Razor and Discreet Logic Edit* running on it, Premiere 5.0 real-time plugins promised, features better than on the other two boards. Total solutions still over $10K for hardware and software, while other promised less features but still for under $6K.
So what happened today?
in:sync announced a bundle of its real-time software Speed Razor 4.0RT and Matrox DigiSuite LE for US $5,995.
There are several key advantages of this platform over other under $6K real-time solutions:
Read the Press Release published on Computervice' web page.
11/20/97 Belkin announces their Firewire cable (full text). They say "Belkin offers connectivity for all devices with cables available in both 4-pin (A/V) and 6-pin (PC) connector formats." We checked. Not until 1998.
11/17/97 Adaptec Endorses Sony's i.LINK
11/17/97 MGI Software Demonstrates Digital Video FireWire Version of MGI VideoWave - see Company Press Release. DV-enabled MGI VideoWave has been a collaborative effort of MGI Software and Adaptec, and is not planned to go retail yet, but will be bundled by 1394 hardware and camcorder manufacturers. It is likely to cost much less to OEMs (and therefore end-users) than Adobe Premiere.
As a harbinger of more things to come, DPS announced that they bought Star Media Systems Corp., lock, stock & barrel. Star Media is known as makers of Video Action, a video editing and special effects software program which runs on Windows NT Intel and DEC Alpha operating environments. Star Media also sells Power Surge, a family of 32-bit effects and transition plug-ins for Adobe Premiere, a competitor of Video Action.
Dr. Keith Lucas, CEO of DPS says: "While we continue with our commitment to be an open system manufacturer compatible with all video editing and effects software, this acquisition will allow us to give our customers a bundled hardware and software solution that fully optimizes the features of our multimedia and consumer products such as our recently introduced DPS Spark card."
Translation: We continue to sell hardware compatible with other software, but we also want to have software we can call our own.
Expect this to turn into an industry trend amongst smart video capture card vendors, while less intelligent video capture card makers bite the old dust. Already, dealers and distributors report a dramatic slowdown in the sales of analog capture boards. The trend definitely is towards DV (note that the only hardware mentioned by DPS is the Spark). Because DV and Firewire leave very little to product differentiation when all the chips are down (err... up & running), hardware vendors will fight it out with software. It's called the ultimate bundle: You buy the software, and the company to go with it.
In related news, Discreet Logic, who bought Denim Software last week, just signed an agreement to acquire nonlinear vendor D-Vision Systems for $20 Million in stock and cash. Denim Software won wide acclaim for their Illuminaire compositing program. D-Vision made quite a splash with their "OnLine" application at last NAB. Illuminaire runs on both Mac and NT, OnLine is NT only. It looks like Discreet is trying to round out their NT offerings. Discreet Logic is known in high-endian circles for their blazing products with names like "Flame," "Fire," "Flint," "Inferno," and even "Vapour."
Your Spark as a Soundboard: Yamaha Promises "100-plus channels of CD-quality digital audio" and "music data equivalent to that carried by several hundred MIDI cables" over one Firewire.
Firewire is much more than the conveyance of choice for DV. This has just been confirmed by Japan's Yamaha Corporation. Their "Specification for Audio and Music Data Transmission," which governs the transmission of digital audio and music data signals over the IEEE 1394-standard serial bus, has been approved by the 1394 Trade Association (1394 TA) companies.
The Specification for Audio and Music Data Transmission proposed by Yamaha and developed by the 1394 TA addresses audio and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) data transmission issues. With this specification, a simple plug-&-play cable connection can transmit the equivalent of 100-plus channels of CD-quality digital audio data and music data equivalent to that carried by several hundred MIDI cables. The connection of amplifiers to other equipment such as CD and MD players and tuners can now be accomplished sequentially with one cable running from the amplifier to the CD player, the MD device, and the tuner.
According to Yamaha's President Ueshima ,"users can expect to see CD and MD audio data equipment, electronic musical instruments, MIDI and other sound sources, and professional equipment such as digital mixers.'' But as customary with most new digital developments, copy protection paranoia is rearing its ugly head. "Until the necessary rules can be established for protecting the rights of the owners of copyrighted audio data," says a press release of Yamaha Corp.," initial uses of the specification will be for the transfer of audio data in the public domain and in professional equipment." Translation: You'll see this technology first in studios and on new Midi devices. The promise of untangling the wires behind your stereo will have to wait until twisted legal issues have been solved.
Yamaha plans to finish a chip this summer to allow manufacture of an IEEE 1394 audio equipment interface. In addition, the company plans to begin producing professional studio equipment, electronic musical instruments and high-end audio equipment conforming to the IEEE 1394 standard for release early next year (1998).
At the same time, Yamaha will also promote the application of its Specification for Audio and Music Data Transmission among consumer electronics and musical instrument manufacturers, especially among members of 1394 TA.
Yamaha is also focussing on developing a musical instrument connection specification called mLAN. This specification will incorporate original Yamaha technology and will be an extension of the audio and music transmission specification. The company envisages that mLAN will conform to IEEE 1394 and they hope that mLan will become a specification that defines the protocol for transmission of multi-channel audio and MIDI data, as well as the connection and control of such equipment.
But Firewire will not stop at Audio and Midi. Next on the radar screen: Firewire scanners, Firewire printers, and, get this, Firewire will replace EIDE as the low-cost interface for hard drives, CD-ROMs or DVD equipment. Not because it's better: Because it's cheaper - and better.
They call it "the ultimate digital I/O solution." Adaptec's FireCard Ultra is a combination of a FireWire and an Ultra Wide SCSI host adapter on one small PCI board. This board had been rumored for quite some while here on DV & Firewire Central, and now it's officially announced.
Why put both Firewire and SCSI on one board? The benefits are clear. "PC manufacturers are expanding capabilities in their boxes," says Robin Selden, general manager of Adaptec's Advanced Media Products Group, "but they're running out of slots where they can add more boards. FireCard Ultra solves the PCI real estate problem by combining two versatile and powerful interfaces - FireWire and Ultra Wide SCSI - onto a single card."
The FireCard Ultra:
FireCard Ultra, the AHA-8945, combines FireWire (also known as IEEE-1394) and the AHA-2940UW SCSI interface onto a single PCI card. Up to 63 FireWire devices and fifteen SCSI devices can be connected directly to a FireCard Ultra host adapter installed in any PC or Mac.
FireCard Ultra has three FireWire connectors; two external, one internal. Each connector can support data transfers at speeds up to 200 Mbps (25 MB/sec). FireCard Ultra also has two Ultra Wide SCSI connectors; one internal 68-pin high density connector, and one external 68-pin very high density connector. These connectors support SCSI synchronous transfers at speeds up to 40 MB/sec.
According to their press release, the FireCard Ultra is currently destined for the OEM market. Samples of the AHA-8945 FireCard host adapter are available for system OEMs' evaluation now. FireCard Ultra ships with software support for Windows NT, Windows 95 and Mac O/S.
Work is under way to make 1394 go faster and further. Currently, as outlined by Roger Jennings in his excellent article "Fire on the Wire: The IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus", the speed of 1394 is "limited" to 200 Mbit/sec (twice the speed of 100Base). Devices don't have to use the available bandwidth, the Sony camcorders for instance run at 100 Mbit/sec, but the current Adaptec 8940 Firewire card can do 200. The length of the cable is limited to 4.5 meters, or around 14 feet. A transfer speed of 400 Mbit is already in the spec. And the spec will soon be obsolete, because the 1394 Trade Association has set up a task group called 1394b, which is destined to break these limitations.
As for speed, the next stop will be 800 Mbit/sec (probably by year end), and the group has set its sights on 3.2 Gigabit per second. That's three times the speed of the next-generation Gigabit Ethernet. By the way, when you listen to people in the 1394 Trade Association, you'll hear them talk in strange voices. Their Trade Association is called "the TA" (and that's not a terminal adapter), and when they say "S100," then they don't talk about the venerable bus of Altair lore, but about a speed of 100 Megabit. 800 Megabit is called "S800", 3.2 Gigabit is S3200, and so forth.
As for length of individual cable runs, there are several developments. As Roger Jennings said in an article in DV & Firewire central, the first development is called POF, or Plastic Optical Fiber. When Roger wrote his article, it wasn't clear whether POF would run for 50 or 70 meters, or, respectively, approx. 150 / 210 feet. But now several members of the 1394b group say that POF will go 50 meters.
If you want to span 100 meters (300 feet) with one high speed 1394 cable run, then you will in all likelihood do that using what the TA-folks call HPCF ("hard polymer clad silica optical fiber"). It's the better fiber, but will cost you a little more.
And for the real cheap people who want to use copper, the TA is working on 1394 over standard CAT 5 UTP (unshielded twisted pair) which will go an as yet unspecified distance (probably the same as 100Base T), but only at S100, or 100 Mbit/sec.
POF and HPCF are designed for all 1394 speeds, up to S3200 and beyond.
Radius started shipping Moto DV a software upgrade to PhotoDV that allows video input and output. Steve Holmlund of Radius announced lately that they "expect to ship MotoDV by the end of June." And, surprise, surprise in the software industry, they made that target.
First reviews of the Moto are very positive.
Charles F. McConathy, President of ProMax Systems, Inc., Irvine, CA, said on the DV-L listserver: "We will be marketing and support a Macintosh compatible Software CoDec product known as FireMAX, which is based on the technology supplied by Adaptec. The SRP of FireMAX is $995 with Premiere and $695 without." This is an interesting development for two reasons:
One: In April, Promax announced plans to sell the DV-Max , a hardware codec board based on Fast's DVMaster. It looks as if Promax is intending to sell both the FireMax and the DV-Max side-by-side.
The 8940 sure is getting popular ...
Sharp Adds Firewire to Camcorders, Predicts Sharp Price Reductions. This just in from Roger Jennings, DV Central's Editor-at-Large-&-Small: According to an article in the May 18, 1997 issue of "TWICE" ("This Week in Consumer Electronics"), Sharp has added an IEEE-1394 connector to their forthcoming VL-DC3U camcorder. The VL-DC3U, which sports Sharp's 4-inch LCD display and a 270-degree swiveling lens/CCD assembly, has a MSRP of $3,199 and is expected to be available in the U.S. by September. Chris Cudina, Sharp's video product marketing manager, says: "I don't think consumers understand the capabilities of FireWire completely, but it was an issue that, competitively, we needed to address." The article said Cudina "predicted pricing in the DVC-format camcorder market slipping quickly in the coming year."
updated 11 Oct 2007 at