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Dazzle Hollywood DV-Bridge

Bringing analog video into the DV world By Paulo de Andrade
Weird things happened when Digital Video gained popularity. Since the invention of videotape, companies had been spending millions to make video look better and better. Professionals were constantly awed at NAB whenever a new piece of gear produced pristine images. Quality was the No. 1 concern, and, having worked for a major television network, I was brainwashed into accepting nothing but pristine video. Editors developed eagle-sharp eyes, and any microscopic flaw was reason for concern.

Enter nonlinear editing and, with it, all flavors of data compression. All of a sudden those pristine images that took so much work to produce were being tainted by all sorts of artifacts. It drove me nuts! As hardware evolved and new compression codecs were developed, image quality began to improve, and prices started to drop. High-end professional editing gear offered pretty decent quality for those who could afford it, but consumer-grade equipment still offered pretty sad performance. As evolution continued, pros got uncompressed video, and the artifacts were gone. The promise of digital video was finally being delivered. But those with regular-sized pockets still had to deal with not only mediocre image quality but all sorts of other problems. That is, until DV.

DV brought to the average videomaker a great compromise between quality and cost. Ultra-fast and expensive SCSI disk arrays were not necessary anymore due to its ingenious 5:1 compression. Increased computer horsepower, faster IDE drives, inexpensive FireWire interfaces and new video editing software have helped to turn DV into a truly revolutionary format for nonlinear editing. It's true that DV is not a perfect format with it's 4:1:1 color handling and certain compression artifacts. But the quality is truly outstanding for the money.

As DV becomes the true standard for quality and as Macs and PCs are being shipped with 1394 interfaces, setting up a very capable nonlinear editing system has never been easier or more affordable. It's not surprising, therefore, to see professionals abandoning much more expensive technologies in favor of DV. Certainly not all footage that goes into an edit system originates in DV. Analog acquisition is still huge, and so is the availability of analog archival footage. Therefore, a good way to transfer analog video into the DV world is an essential part of the DV postproduction equation. While you can purchase an analog digitizing board for a computer and then convert the footage to a DV codec, it is much better to have the video converted to DV during the capturing process. This is exactly what the Dazzle Hollywood DV-Bridge does.

I have reviewed the Hollywood DV-Bridge on a 533 MHz G4 Mac. It was a perfect setup because the G4 already comes with two FireWire ports and is, therefore, ready to accept DV video. I have been using a $10,000 analog capture card on my NT-based nonlinear edit system, and I was wondering how well the $299 DV-Bridge would be able to handle the job. The source material I used for the review came from broadcast-quality MII raw footage, which is as good as analog gets, and it could easily show problems, if there were any.

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