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DV Expo Report, Part 1

Maybe they should call it "HDV Expo" By Charlie White

DV Expo West opened yesterday (12/8/04) in Los Angeles, and Digital Media Net was there. Looking for the newest DV gear and keeping his ears to the ground for the latest developments, your intrepid reporter will be your eyes and ears at this small but potent gathering on the Left Coast. After the first day of a two-day digi-vid sightseeing tour, the buzz all over the show floor was as easy to ascertain as it was to spell: HDV. Whos able to edit it? Whos editing it natively? When are they going to change this shows name to ?HDV Expo?

Canopus Edius NXThe first stop today was the Canopus booth, where the brand new Edius Pro 3.0 editing software held court, this time sporting a new HDV version of its HQ codec whose compression looks to me like its every bit as good as native HDV itself. Looking up close at a split screen of HDV and HQ, I have to say that without a doubt, Canopus, the company that has always been good at compression schemes of one kind or another, has done it again. The company is offering new Edius NX for HDV hardware and software to preview what I noticed were at least two stutter-free layers of HD and sometimes five layers, all in real time and then output it in real time, mind you for a mere $2000. Yes, its converting your HDV into Canopuss HQ codec, but thats not necessarily a bad thing. And Im starting to warm up to the Edius nonlinear editing software, too, an application that seems to just get better and better, as well as more Premiere-like, with each iteration. Now at version 3.0 ($700 for the software only), its especially built to play along with Canopuss HD hardware, and it shows. Sure, Premiere Pro will work with the Canopus hardware and codec, too, but not as well as Edius. The upgrade to Edius 3.0 is now shipping; look for the full version of Edius NX, along with the Premiere Pro plug-in, in a few days. Its real-time HDV, and it looks great. ?No one else can do this in this price range, Canopus CEO Hiro Yamada told Digital Media Net. 

What about disk space to store all this HDV stuff? Sure, any HD footage takes up a lot of room, and you need some speedy disks for all that data, too, but the good news is this technology is getting more reasonably-priced all the time. Well, some of it, at least. Thats what I noticed as I strolled by the Medéa booth, where multitudes of its eerie-looking cobalt-blue-lit drives were flashing away (see graphic below). Hooked up via Fibre Channel with another booth a half a block away, Medéa was demonstrating one of the benefits of this fiber-optic wizardry. Yes, it can carry lots of data, very quickly, over long distances, and the drives are quieter and run cooler than their SCSI equivalents. The best news is that while disk space is still steeply priced, Fibre Channel arrays are now cheaper than SCSI. The minions of Medéa told your humble narrator that their biggest Fibre Channel disk, the 3.2 Terabyte (TB) behemoth, while slightly slower at ?only 220MB per second compared to SCSIs 320MB/sec., costs $11,500, while its SCSI brother, also a 3.2TB array, runs a whopping $15,000. Ah, the wonders of the free enterprise system, where competition brings prices down. Let the price war begin!

These are some great-looking arrays from Medea, fast and quiet, too.

The next stop on our whirlwind tour was JVC to check on the progress of the companys forthcoming HDV camcorder. Since JVC was first with HDV almost two years ago, its new next-generation HDV camcorder is highly anticipated. Although the company teased us with a tech demo of an HDV camcorder at NAB last April, National Marketing Communications Manager David Walton told DMN that the new JVC HDV camcorder to be seen at NAB next April will be a different animal. Although Walton wouldnt say much about the new HDV model, he did mention that 24p is very important to HDV customers hint, hint. Meanwhile, back in the DV world (this event is called DV Expo, after all), JVC was showing its new GY-DV 5100U DV camcorder ($6495, shipping December, 2004). The 3-CCD standard definition camcorder (see graphic below) has a new DSP that gives you a sharper image, but the best feature is its hard disk recorder. The integrated recorder, made by Focus Enhancements, is not just hanging off the back of the camera, either its connected by a 52-pin bus connector that lets you see recording status in the viewfinder and more. Best of all, the drive itself can be removed from the camcorder and used as just another hard disk on your computer, from or to which you can edit your footage without transferring anything. Its great for hurried news shooters/editors. This is a fine example of the maturity of the DV format. Now bring on the new HDV, JVC. Were waiting.

JVC's GY-DV 5100U DV camcorder

Scouring the floor for more things new and unique, in a far corner was found Matrox, where the big announcement was its new 128MB Parhelia APVe PCI Express x16 graphics card ($349, available first quarter of next year). What makes this card unique is its dual-display monitor support with an additional HDTV component output, which is the first of its kind. It can also give you dual-DVI display support with a standard definition (SD) component output. Along for the ride is its WSIWYG support that Ive reviewed and praised before, letting you see in the HDTV monitor what youre actually getting when youre working in After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Combustion and even 3DS Max and LightWave 3D. Also on display was the forthcoming Axio HD, the companys successor to its venerable DigiSuite line of Premiere-based nonlinear editing hardware. Matrox officials told DMN the new product will be available in March of 2005, and will be sold through dealers as a turnkey system for around $25K, depending on storage. After spending about a half-hour with the system, I have to say that so far I think its excellent. It runs and integrates beautifully with Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5, and is capable of pumping through huge HD files without a hiccup. Matrox also revealed that it was working on HDV support, and even hinted at a lower-end HD editing hardware product in the works as well. But Axio looks to me like its ready to ship, where it was running like a Swiss watch and was able to handle any flavor of HD I saw thrown at it. Expect a full review coming up here on Digital Media Net as soon as the ship date draws near. 

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Related Keywords:DV Expo West, HDV, Canopus Edius, Flip4Mac, Medea, Telestream, Matrox Axio, Parhelia, HDTV, Edius NX, Charlie White

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