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Timoteo Doh
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Why Expensive Video Capture Cards?

Apr 16, 2012 3:25 AM

In these times of file based workflows, how important are video capture cards apart from being able to monitor timelines on external video monitors. Considering how expensive some of these cards are.

 
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    Apr 16, 2012 3:28 AM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Plain and simple: Capture cards have been useless for ages. The last one worth its money was the DV Storm in combination with Premiere 6.5, anything after that was a complete waste of money.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 4:18 AM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Some of the Blackmagic cards can be useful if you want/need to capture from an HDMI device.  Also if you need to capture analog video/audio. They're not terribly pricey and can be useful for those purposes (and monitoring, of course).

     

    But since most media is captured via solid state media in camcorders nowadays, you'd have little use if that were a primary part of your workflow.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 4:20 AM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Also, consider that you can use either an internal or external capture card in conjunction with a web streaming presentation to capture output of a typical HD camcorder using the HDMI output.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 4:27 AM   in reply to Christian Jolly

    If you are an editor that is generating video professionally for use in broadcast or just need a reliable way to monitor color and levels, hardware like the Kona 3 card is crucial equipment for your edit bay. It also allows clients to see an accurate representation of the product you are making for them on an external monitor. It allows you to accurately evaluate and correct color and video levels.  The SDI signal that it exports can also be sent to tape machines if you are doing long format projects (tv shows and movies) for mastering on digital tape machines. It really depends what kind of work you do and what your needs are.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 4:29 AM   in reply to Christian Jolly

    Let me reiterate the need for clear and presice terminology:

     

    CAPTURE is limited to ingesting material from tape based cameras over firewire and is only to DV, HDV or DVC-Pro sources.

     

    IMPORT is the copying of digital data from a memory card or camera based hard disk or DVD to a local hard disk.

     

    INGEST is the acquisition of video data by other means not covered by capturing or importing, such as HD-SDI or HDMI.

     

    If we all use the same terminology it makes communication a lot easier and avoids misunderstandings. Since the OP was very clear by using the word CAPTURE card, and using the above distinctions, the answer is clear. However, if someone mistakenly uses CAPTURE when actually meaning INGEST, things can get really confusing. Sorry to be such a nit-picker about these terms, but I think we can avoid a lot of confusion when we are accurate in describing what we mean, be it questions or answers.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 5:02 AM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Agree with Christian - for people working with DSLR video or 'live only' cameras (bullet cams, etc.) an external capture device is extremely important (hence the anger that DSLR manufacturers face whenever they release a  model that doesn't give a clean HDMI output!). Not only does an external recorder get you past the 4GB limit on writing to cards, but you can usually pull the uncompressed signal direct from the sensor. It's why the new hybrid systems (C300, Cinema1D, etc)  made such a play at NAB about their HDMI output features, and why Atmos and co. are feverishly updating firmware to support them. Even mid-range DSLRs can be hacked to create data far too quickly for the write speeds of in-camera storage cards, and data rates are getting faster every month. This time last year, who'd have thought that Thunderbolt was necessary when we had USB3?

     

    At the prosumer level, the ability to send a program feed from PP is probably less enticing as few people in that category will be writing to tape or sitting in front of a CRT reference display, but (to the surprise of many people outside the industry) tape remains the  supply format for many broadcasters. There's nothing wrong with an all-file distribution system and some channels use it, but the hardware investments in tape mean that major players are very reluctant to abandon all those nice gray boxes and the teams of bike messengers needed to cart them around

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 5:07 AM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    As a fellow proud owner of an actual paper dictionary (and not the digital kind that is constanly altered by members of the Internet), I appreciate your desire to prevent a muddying of terms Harm, but the DV Storm card that you mentioned was itself not primarily intended for the ingesting of material from DV, HDV or DVC-Pro sources, as the IEEE 1394 input was only a small part of the selling point (obviously a straight IEEE 1394 PCI card was much cheaper than the analog breakout device that Canopus was selling). So while technically correct by the definition you provided, at least for a portion of the DV Storm feature set, it is not a proper description of the totality of what that product does, which is to digitize and ingest analog signals.

     

    Thus the ingesting of analog signals from the composite video input would not have fit your definition of "capture" as you suggested in your first post describing the product.

     

    I can say that AJA and Blackmagic both use the term "capture" with their HD-SDI and HDMI devices even when there is not a IEEE 1394 port onboard, so if there is a muddying of terms then it may well be from the industry's top down, rather than the other way.

     

    As my wife is fond of frequently correcting my grammar (which I actually tend to regard as quite proper anyway), I never fail to lay it on pretty thick when she drops a grammar bomb of her own. I of course do the same with her driving, on the rare occasion I'm bold enough to let her drive me on any major roads. You're free to pick the nits but if your goal was/is to be precise and clear then you might consider a revision of the terms or a revision of your description of the DV Storm. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

     

    This is all much like the conversations I have with my friends who produce wedding videos and call themselves "filmmakers" even though many of them have never seen any film themselves, let alone produced any content on it, or call themselves "cinematographers" even though they are highly unlikely to ever have their content screened at a cinema of any sort. I call myself a video producer and they look at me like I've been branded with a second class title even though I'm just trying to be clear about what it is that I do. I'm sure you could share your own opinions on the "filmmaker" or "cinematographer" terminology.

     
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    Sep 17, 2012 11:44 PM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    My Storm card is gathering dust in a PC's carcass two rooms away. I haven't used it in two years but can't bare to bin it.  Really a wonderful card, The RaptorRT as well. The RT Chroma Key was way more than Premeire could do alone, and could be run synchronously with the RT color correction and RT blur capabilities, as well as several other useful RT fx.

     

    For work I bought Premiere Pro 1.5, Audition, and Photoshop with a Canopus RaptorRT all for $599 from VideoGuys in 2004ish. That P4 system built for $900   I was proud of setting up a RT DV NLE system that had A\D ability, Pristine DV output and RT performance that was on par with system that cost 10 times as much.


    I'm equally enamored with the Mercury Playback Engine Hardware Acceleration. However the essential GTX or Quadro cards sort of serve in the same capacity  as the oldschool proprietary Capture\RT cards. While not used for capture, it does accelerate the RT capabilities of a properly configured system. Unlike a fixed RT I\O card, MPE performance can scale with your systems cpus, ram, and  choice of Nvidia card.

     

    On Topic....Modern capture cards... Very useful for Studio Capture. Analog, SDI switchers.or HDMI from cameras. Usually a fixed box integrated into control-room. Aja, Bluefish, BlackMagic are some better names. Also, you mentioned the playback\monitoring abilities these cards offer in your post. This fine monitoring ability is crucial to some peoples workflow. CS6 is supposed to help these 3rd party cards integrate better than some earlier versions.

     

     

    More from 2005.... I also chose a Matrox system..... different experience. The deal again was incredible, a premiere pro 1.5 combo suite with an upgrade to Premiere Pro 2.0 editing suite with After Affects and Audition. Plus a Matrox Card, which was a pain to get running and was never stable and offer little advantage over a vanilla kit. When the Matrox card worked, the RT color correction was a benefit, and the RT scaling & 3d perspective tools were useful. A little known benefit of a matrox card that made the purchase worthwhile for us was the ability output composite or S-video NTSC from any clip or stream  that would play in the windows media player. So we could always get odd materials to dv easy that way. Like a 3 hour landuse meeting that a tech forgot to roll tape on, but the web streaming box got it, at 360x240.  The Matrox card scaled it to NTSC.

    ... Then it Blew up. The end.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 7:21 AM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Not sure about your camcorder specifically, but some professional and "prosumer" camcorders allow you to send a video signal out of the HDMI port that bypasses the camera's internal compression, which means you could get a better quality video into your edit. This also means larger file sizes, but it's a relatively common workflow nowadays.

     

    Check your particular needs and your specific camera to determine if it's possible for you and necessary (green screen work, heavy compositing or color grading, etc).

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 8:29 AM   in reply to Christian Jolly

    As Christian said, you can get a much higher quality capturing from the HDMI output of the camera, but this is only during a LIVE shoot - once the video hits the memory card in the camera, it has already been highly compressed (typically 4:2:0 color, Long-GOP, at 25Mbps or less) and you can't get that missing data back again.

     

    I have a dance recital weekend coming up that involves recording 6 shows over two days - about 15 hours of 1080i HD footage. I shoot with HDV, and last year brought my PC onsite and took the HDMI output from the camera into my Matrox MXO2 Mini. This allowed me to ingest directly to the computer hard drive, using the Matrox codec which is MPEG-2 I-Frame using 4:2:2 color at 100Mbps. Definitely a MUCH better image that native HDV, plus it saved me the 15+ hours of time to capture from the HDV tapes! Will be repeating that workflow this year as well.

     

    Of course, the MXO2 hardware also provides full HD monitoring to my LED display via HDMI from Premiere CS5.5, so external hardware is still an important part of my workflow that way besides capturing.

     

    Jeff Pulera

    Safe Harbor

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 8:48 AM   in reply to Dave Merchant

    Not only does an external recorder get you past the 4GB limit on writing to cards

     

    I'm curious about which external recording devices you're referring to here.  All the models I'm aware of are hamstrung to keep Mac compatibility (formatted in FAT32), and hence still suffer from the 4GB file limitation.

     

    If you know of a device that can be formatted as NTFS, I'd be interested in knowing about it.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 9:20 AM   in reply to Jim Simon

    I was actually talking about devices that act as a capture card (in a PCI slot or a shuttle, like the Intensity) - so you're writing direct to your computer disk drive. There are a select few self-contained recorders that can truly bypass the 4GB limit by formatting their internal drives as HFS+, such as the Ki Pro; and some which 'cheat' the 4GB limit by writing spanned MXF files to a FAT32 drive with Op-Atom tags so they can be reconstructed afterwards (Cinedeck etc)

     

    As far as I know, nobody's selling a self-contained recorder with NTFS-formatted storage.

     

    Jim Simon wrote:

     

     

    I'm curious about which external recording devices you're referring to here.  All the models I'm aware of are hamstrung to keep Mac compatibility (formatted in FAT32), and hence still suffer from the 4GB file limitation.

     

    If you know of a device that can be formatted as NTFS, I'd be interested in knowing about it.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 10:09 AM   in reply to Dave Merchant

    OK, that makes more sense.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 12:04 PM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    Timoteo Doh wrote:

     

    I'm a bit confused about this HDMI issue. I have a Sony Camcorder with an HDMI port. Also the camcorder records on the internal memory. I only have to import/copy the files onto my computer hard drive. How useful is the HDMI port and my Intensity Pro card to this process?

     

    Just to confirm what Jeff said, it is only during live recording. Once the content is recorded to the media (SDHC, P2, etc) you really cannot increase the quality by transcoding or running the footage out through HDMI. Some still do a transcode (either from the file/asset or via HDMI) to convert highly compressed footage such as AVCHD in order to prep for editing but that's becoming less and less necessary in most cases anyway.

     

    Check for your particular camera however...many camcorders will output the HDMI stream after it's processed, which isn't going to do any good. A few forum searches around the web will help you clarify how your device outputs HDMI signals.

     
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    Apr 16, 2012 3:23 PM   in reply to Timoteo Doh

    We need to input from composite, s-video, component, SDI and HDMI sources. We do not always need to capture uncompressed so a variety of CODEC options is especially useful. We also need to monitor the output of work in progress (in either SD or HD) on good quality video displays in the correct aspect ratio and see any interlacing issues. An I/O device is the only way we can achieve this and remains an essential part of every edit system we operate. Any whistles and bells that accompany the card are secondary to the requirement for good quality I/O.

     
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