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Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme Pro Suite

Premiere Pro plus Matrox hardware equals a winning combination By Charlie White
Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme Pro SuiteWhen we reviewed the Matrox RT.X100 DV editing system about 18 months ago, we liked what we saw. Its a graceful blend of hardware power combined with host processing that makes digital video editing a nearly all-real-time, all-the-time proposition. Since then, Matrox has enhanced the feature set of its formidable DV editing system, and made the crucial leap to Adobe Premiere Pro as well. We took the new system out for a test drive and ended up liking the RT.X100 Xtreme Pro even more than its predecessor. Heres our review.

With all the intense naming conventions going on these days, Matrox had to get into the act, calling this product Xtreme Pro, which in this case I think is a pretty accurate description. When you pair it with Adobe Premiere Pro, the RT.X series earns a new credibility. Matrox says this product is geared toward the serious professional, but the trick here is, its not sold at a serious price. Think about it: For $1099, you get the Xtreme Pro Suite, which includes the full version of Premiere Pro along with its cohorts, Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit Pro) for music mixing and Adobe Encore DVD, and the acceleration hardware of the RT.X100 Xtreme Pro. For $400 more ($1499), you get the Xtreme Pro Collection, where Matrox tosses in a copy of Adobe After Effects 6.0. Not a bad deal considering that to get just Premiere Pro alone retails for $699, so in a sense, for the Xtreme Pro Suite you get Premiere Pro and then pay $400 more for the hardware along with Audition and Encore DVD.

Many prospective buyers of a hardware/software product like this often wonder what makes it worthwhile to spend the extra few hundred bucks to go with the RT hardware, and the answer lies in one word: Speed. Well, another word fits here, too, and thats Interactivity, or some might say Workflow. You change something on your timeline, and see the results right away. Thats well worth the price of admission. Added to that is the Matrox cards ability to capture DV or analog into DV format or even MPEG-2, letting you edit lots of effects in real time. Then it outputs that composition in real time back to DV or analog tape. Keep in mind that even though Premiere Pro gives you what many people call real-time effects, what it really gives you with just a 1394 card in your computer is real-time previews -- youll still be required to render those effects when its time to output your final project to tape. The RT.X100 Xtreme Pro gives you real-time everything (well, almost), with tons of crazy-looking 3D effects with its Flex 3D architecture, smooth slow motion, credit rolls, and a remarkable number of layers of video stacked one upon another all in real time. In fact, Matrox says you can combine 16 effects in real time, but I think that depends on how much processor power youre throwing at it. As an experiment, I tried adding all the effects I could to a stack of layers on the time line, and I was able to combine the following without getting the red line that means rendering: 5 layers of transparency, 2 channels of smooth (and I mean smooth) slow motion, 2 color correction channels, 2 channels of 3D effects (albeit the simpler 3D effects, not those crazy ones I mentioned), and two channels of cropping. Sheesh, thats 13 effects, all happening in real time. Then, after youre done with all your editing it lets you output all that back to DV or analog tape without rendering anything. Try that with a software-only setup.

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Related Keywords:Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme Pro Suite, DV editing system, hardware power, host processing, digital video editing, all-real-time, all-the-time, DV editing system, Adobe Premiere Pro


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