Videoguys' User Spotlight - Edit 1 Media
Review for RT.X2 by Chris & Laura Randall - Edit 1 Media
Chris and Laura Randall have owned Edit 1 Media based out of the Seattle area for over 7 years. In that short amount of time, they have quickly become known as the high-end videographers in the area and are on the referral lists of the most prestigious vendors in Seattle. Chris and Laura currently shoot with Sony PD-170's and rent Sony Z1U's for HDV productions. They edit with the Adobe Production Studio Premium and Matrox RTx2 and RTx100 systems. The couple is very active in the videography community as presenters, trainers, reviewers, forum participants, and chairing their local videography association. Their training video, titled "The Dissection of a Same Day Edit" can be purchased from the 4EverGroup or Pixel Pops online stores.
The Matrox RT.X2 is a long awaited answer to HDV editing. For wedding and event videographers looking for an HDV editing solution, their timing couldn't have been more perfect. With the flood of inexpensive HDV cameras on the market, current Matrox RT.x100 users have been looking for an HDV editing solution but haven't been willing to step up to the Matrox AXIO line due to its cost. Matrox has since released the Matrox AXIO LE, a lighter version of the AXIO at a lower cost than the original AXIO. The great thing about the RT.X2 is that Matrox used a lot of the core technologies that were created for the higher end AXIO line and folded them into the RTX2 product.
First I would like to describe what the Matrox RT.X2 card does for video editing. For those who are familiar with editing on Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 or earlier versions, you are all too familiar with the Realtime Preview. The Realtime Preview allows you to see your video with effects as it would play back in realtime. Unfortunately, you often have to render out these effects before you can export your video to DVD or other formats. And sometimes the real time playback is at a reduced frame rate. With the RT.X2 card, you eliminate the need to render your video before exporting your project. Video playback is smooth with multiple effects applied and scrubbing of the timeline is lightning fast.
But the RT.X2 does so much more than provide realtime playback of SD and HDV video. When Matrox created the AXIO line, they decided to create many hardware accelerated effects that utilize the same effects controls as the standard effects that ship with Premiere. This will be familiar to those who use Premiere as a stand alone product but will be somewhat foreign to those used to using the RT.x100 system. With the RT.x100, all of the Matrox Realtime Effects had their own user interface. This interface came with many presets and gave the user the ability to save custom presets. Although the effects controls were basic in design, you still had plenty of ability to keyframe the effects. With the RT.X2, you now use Premiere's Effect Control Window and After Effects style keyframing. For those who were used to the old Matrox Effects Panel, this can be a bit frustrating until you get used to using the effects control window to manipulate all of your effects. The RT.X2 does ship with many custom presets which are located in the Presets folder but I do miss some of the original presets that came with the RT.x100. On the plus side, having the Matrox Effects emulate how Premiere controls their effects gives the user more professional results and streamlines the process.
For those who are looking to start editing HDV footage, the RT.X2 allows you to mix SD and HDV footage all on the same timeline in realtime and output to SD DVD's. This is great for those who may have recently purchased an HDV camera but still have SD equipment that is used as a second or third camera. The Premiere 2.0 Multicam feature can also be utilized with mixed formats and output in realtime. This is a real timesaver and performs remarkably well with 2 to 3 cameras.
In order to edit HDV, Matrox recommends getting a Dual Core editing computer. In my case, I went with the ASUS A8NSLI Deluxe. I have had success using Asus motherboards in the past with Matrox products and chose this board based on the Matrox guidelines of using the NForce 4 Chipset. I also chose the AMD 4800+ X2 processor along with an Antec Titan Case with a 650w Power Supply. The RTx2 card is a full size PCI-E card and does require a larger case. For graphics, Matrox recommends the ATI X1800XT Dual Head card. This card has given the best performance when accelerating the Flex GPU effects such as the Adobe Motion Effect and Matrox Old Movie effect. The key point I want to make here, is to be sure you double check the specifications and tested systems information on the Matrox website. If you go outside the range of tested products, you will most likely have issues. This is very important!
Speaking of effects, the RTx2 is packed with tons of great realtime effects. Effects that are accelerated by the CPU include Speed Changes, Color Correction, Chroma and Luma Keying, Matrox Transitions and Realtime Upscaling and Downscaling of HD and SD footage. Graphics Card Accelerated effects include the Premiere Motion Effect, Advanced 3D Digital Video Effect (DVE), Shadow, Soft Focus/Blur/Glow, Mask & Mask Blur, Shine, Lens Flare, Old Movie Effect plus 10 others. The performance of these effects improve with faster processors and better graphics cards. The advantage to this scalable design is that it allows you to easily improve performance as better performing processors and graphics cards become available.
For weddings, the slow motion is hard to beat and the RTX2 makes all speed changes real-time. Frame blending means your slow motion video is fluid and smooth. There is also the option of selecting Field Based slow motion which is ideal for sports videos and other fast-moving footage which requires that 'edge'.
The filters I use the most for our weddings are Soft Focus/Blur, Color Correction and Old Movie. Each filter has loads of options for customizing your look and are all in real-time. However, when some of these filters are used together on the same clip may need to have the transitions rendered since one may be CPU based and the other may be GPU based. But that small amount of rendering is a small sacrifice for the overall performance of this card.
Another great feature of the RTx2 card is accelerated export of your video to various formats, including export to DVD, and multimedia formats including Windows Media files, Flash, and Adobe Clip Notes. You will find the Matrox Media Encoder to be identical to the one that Adobe Provides. A typical 1 hour timeline can take as little as 30 minutes to export to Mpeg 2 format, depending on the speed of your system and the amount of filters in the project. This time saving feature alone is almost worth the cost of the upgrade to me!
The RTX2 allows full resolution output for SD and HDV. We have a 42" LCD HDTV set up in our office and use it for viewing full screen previews from Premiere Pro, After Effects, Encore and Photoshop. In other words, I can watch my video full screen just as my client will see it while I'm still working on it. I can view my DVD menus in Photoshop on the TV just as my client will see it on their set at home.
Matrox still has more product development for the RTX2 in the works. They are in the process of adding support for the JVC ProHD GY-HD100U in the form of release 2 of the RT.X2 driver software. This will include 4 new effects. Cube, Impressionist, Ripple and Twirl. This latest set of drivers will be available to all new and current RT.X2 users for free.
In conclusion, the Matrox RTX2 is a stable realtime HDV editing solution that adds filters and time-saving features to Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. Dynamic Link and WYSIWYG video output allows users to view their work just as the client would. Most people will need to upgrade or build a new system to accommodate the card and its requirements, so it's not an inexpensive upgrade, but you will have a professional SD and HDV editing system that rivals much more expensive options.
|As a follow up to their excellent article we asked Chris & Laura about HD and this is what they had to say:
HD is a monstrous issue right now with wedding videographers. For us, when clients inquire about High Definition, it is a $1000 upgrade since we rent the cameras. In 2006 only 2 out of our 40 weddings were filmed in HDV. We are waiting for the next generation of HDV cameras to come out and still have not yet invested into either HDDVD or Blu-Ray. When we show clients HDV footage on our LCD HDTV, they are blown away. But many of them notice that the SD footage looks really good too, as long as it is played on a non HDTV. The problem is for clients who upgrade to a HDTV in the future, their SD video will look sort of bleary since most HDTV's try to up- convert SD footage. It's almost like watching VHS footage! And we try to explain to them that they have to make the decision before their wedding is filmed.