Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 07/04/07 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

ADS Pyro AV SDI2DV Capture Device

By Kevin McAuliffe

I'm a big fan of competition, and as everyone probably knows, I am a huge fan of AJA and the capture cards/devices they make for Mac and PC, but I am also a big fan of getting the best possible value for my dollar, and when I found out that Pyro AV has an SDI2DV converter with firewire control capabilities, I was excited to try it out. Let's see how things went!

Installation 
Upon receiving the shipping box, I opened it and pulled the unit out (like a kid at Christmas) expecting to find the usual three items: a unit, a manual and an installation disc. A unit: check, a manual: check, and an installation disc: no check!!!!! To my surprise, no installation disc was included. Okay, maybe Pyro AV has all the drivers and easy setups on their website, so I jumped online and headed on over to their website, and to my surprise, nothing. 
 

Okay, well, maybe I should read the instruction manual (which I know that everyone always does) to get some additional information. To my surprise (or maybe not), when I unfolded the manual to try to see if I was missing something, I found that the "manual" was actually just a rewrite of all the information that was on the outside of the box with basic hookup instructions to connect the unit to your computer and your VTR. Needless to say, I was surprised. Well, maybe this is one of those rare pieces of hardware that needs very little instructions or explanation. Somehow, I highly doubt it! I'm starting to think that things are going downhill fast! Installation: 4 (out of 10)

 

 
 
 
Capturing
Here's where things get a little murky. Normally with units like this, I first treat them like they are simple SDI to DV converters, that have no ability to control a VTR, and I guess we'll go with the idea that it is simple plug and play. Plug your FireWire cable from the unit to your computer, and plug the SDI In/Out cables to and from your VTR. Sounds simple enough. 
 


Next, upon launching Final Cut, I had to pick an Easy Setup, and since I had no push in the right direction from Pyro AV, I figured that DV-NTSC was a pretty good place to start. Upon playing the VTR, and opening the capture tool, I had video. Thank goodness! Since I had the Capture Device set to Non-Controllable VTR, I had no Timecode, but we'll leave that until last. Next concern, Audio, of which I was getting none. I guess that Pyro AV figured the best place to put a "manual" was on the back of the unit, in the form of the jumper settings diagram. Okay , I guess it's better than nothing.

After tinkering around with the unit for a little bit, I got the audio working. So now, I have both audio and video working, and the unit captures perfectly! I'm starting to feel that maybe my reservations were a bit premature. Okay, time for deck control. Once I switched my capture preset back to DV, the timecode came alive right away, and was matching the VTR. I figured I would try a capture on the fly first, as in alot of cases, people will use this device to do offlines on laptops, and they will need to digitize alot of footage in one shot. Once I clicked the CAPTURE NOW button, the system captured for about 20 seconds, and then gave me a "Timecode Break" Error. Okay, no big deal, as that can happen from time to time. I backed the tape up and started capturing again, and it gave me a timecode error at about the 10 second mark. Maybe third times the charm. I backed the tape up again, and started it rolling, and it captured the whole clip (about 40 seconds). This started to get me worried, so I backed the tape up and started capturing again, and not really to my surprise, I got another timecode break about 35 seconds in. This problem was bothersome, as I know that the tape had no timecode breaks on it, and if it can't capture for more than 10-30 seconds without a "timecode" problem, people will get frustrated very quickly.
Capturing: 3 (out of 10)
 
Outputting 
Here's where the real fun began. Once I had a couple of clips in my timeline, I opened the "Edit to Tape" window, and prepped my output. Once I had my output timecode input, I hit "Assemble", and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. Upon checking what my deck was doing, it was jogging back frame by frame to find my in point, and about five minutes later, the VTR started rolling, and tried to assemble (as the assemble light was not on) onto my tape at the wrong timecode with no audio or video. Strange, so I figured I'd try it again, this time with just crash recording. No problems whatsoever. My "show" output onto tape with audio and video flawlessly (assuming flawlessly is without matching timecode or machine control). Okay, third times a charm, again, so I put my machine back in remote and clicked assemble, and I got the same result, so at this point, I gave up. I figured I'd give Pyro AV one last chance and go to the tech support website to look up and see if any other users were having the same problem, and you can see below what I discovered. 
 


 
Outputting: 2 (out of 10)
 
Final Total: 3 (out of 10)
 
Purchase Recommendation : Stay Away (for the time being)
 
Pros

  • Works great as a "Consumer capture device" (no deck control)

Cons

  • No Proper Manual, Easy Setups or Support
  • Price
  • Capture and Output with deck control is too flaky


I had hopes for SDI2DV, that it would provide users out there with a viable alternative to AJA's IoLD, but with a $1299 pricetag compared with IoLD's $990 pricetag, and the amount of problems I ran into, I cannot recommend this unit. I do however have a suggestion for ADS, and that is to either hire or find an editor who can really put this unit through it's paces, and come up with a proper instruction manual, support structure on their website and proper Easy Setups for the unit for all the Final Cut Pro Users out there for the Mac, as I still feel it has the potential to be a good product, it just seems like they rushed to get it out there, and didn't put enough practical research into it. 


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com


Related Keywords:ADS SDI2DV converter, video, VTR control, NLE

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