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Video Capture Card Review: Pinnacle DV500 PLUS

Video Capture Card Review: Pinnacle DV500 PLUS

Priced low and feature-packed, the Pinnacle DV500 PLUS works well with Premiere 6.0 and is well worth consideration as an editing solution.

The DV500 from Pinnacle Systems has been the solution of choice for thousands of desktop video editors around the world. Pinnacle has always been at the forefront of affordable, real-time digital video in this new age of PC editing. It's no surprise that its flagship prosumer product, the DV500, was improved and resurfaced as the DV500 PLUS: a single, 32-bit PCI board with breakout box and software bundle.

DV500 PLUS is ideal for the budget-minded prosumer who wants a real-time hardware solution that offers new features and full integration into Adobe Premiere 6.0.

Along for the Ride

A fine group of software products comes piggy-backed onto DV500 PLUS, enhancing the product and offering a wide range of output options. Taking a project to tape, is just one choice offered by the folks at Pinnacle. DV500 PLUS gives its full attention to MPEG-2 technology with a hardware encoder and compression software. You can now manipulate data rates for optimum CD, DVD and streaming-video authoring performance.

Boatload of Goods

The FireWire DV connect for the DV500 PLUS is on the PCI board itself and the blueBOX breakout box has S-video, composite and stereo RCA audio I/Os.

In the software bundle, Pinnacle includes Adobe Premiere 6.0 and was, by the way, the first hardware company fully functioning with the new Adobe upgrade. Pinnacle Systems DVTools software is a complete capture and device control palette, separate from the Adobe Premiere interface.

The bundled software and the DV500 PLUS card's effects mixer include over 300 digital real-time effects. Hollywood FX Copper provides a slew of 3D effects and transitions that run near real time in preset mode. Many of the effects can be customized, allowing control over the effect's flight path, lighting, shadows and motion blur.

Alpha Magic FX is a group of gradient effects for non-traditional transitions that can be very effective and useful in enhancing creativity.

TitleDeko RT is an additional titler that comes with the DV500 PLUS, along with the standard Premiere titler and Adobe's Inscriber. TitleDeko RT is a broadcast-quality titler that gives you precise control over graphic text. With an NTSC preview function, TitleDeko makes quick work of adding titles without having to go back and forth to tweak placement and to check for color compatibility with on-screen content. Lastly, Pinnacle Impression CD Pro lets you author MPEG-2 video files to CD.

Up and Running

We installed DV500 PLUS into a Pentium II 550MHz with 128MB of RAM running Windows 98. In the past, we haven't recommended that folks who were squeamish at the sight of their computer's guts perform video-hardware installation. But the DV500 PLUS install package was easy to get up and running. It should be noted that we used a test machine that had nothing but system software loaded onto it prior to the DV500 PLUS installation.

After the system recognized the new hardware and the software was loaded, we began our test by trying out the proprietary Pinnacle Systems DVTools, to see how the system worked with DV device control and capture functions. We were very impressed with the amount of input and output setting controls and the ease with which the setting windows were located. Having set up for DV capture with a Panasonic PV-DV950, we first let DVTools scan our stock footage tape to get a thumbnail list of shots using its automatic scene-detection function. This is a useful tool if your a tape contains multiple shots. You can get a macro view of your tape's content, then refine the in/out points when you capture shots to disk.

The scan function happens in playback mode, so scanning takes as long as your footage's duration. After scanning, the identified clips become poster frames in the Tape Gallery. From the Gallery's list we chose a few shots to capture and opened the clip windows to redefine their time code logs. The DV device control navigated us to the head of the clip and let us set in- and out-times. This was a real time-saving setup and overall, we were impressed with the DV500 PLUS's lively response with regard to the device control of our 3CCD Panasonic camcorder.

First-rate Mate

After capturing in DVTools, we batch-captured in Adobe Premiere 6.0 to see how well the two would work together in this regard. They worked great. With 10 shots in a bin we began testing DV500 PLUS's real-time attributes. Cutting together our 10-shot sequence, the DV500 PLUS had no trouble playing back the footage and outputting it to our NTSC monitor. It was necessary, however, to change the overlay mode to Primary Surface in order to get on-screen video onto our computer monitor.

Adding some standard Premiere transitions and several of the elaborate but less-useful effects from the included plug-ins, we found that the DV500 PLUS handled two-stream real-time playback with ease. Putting five static titles over the sequence, we began to see render indicators but these renders (some fairly complex with titles over transitions) chugged along and finished in less than a minute. Instant Video, Pinnacle's plug-in for Premiere, showed what portions of the program were available for real-time playback and which of the elements needed rendering.

Sounding Level

DV500 PLUS's compatibility with the new features in Premiere 6.0 is very impressive. In particular, the audio mixer functions worked smoothly. Using four tracks of audio with natural sound, voiceover and stereo music, we volume-adjusted tracks individually and ganged them together in groups with no problem at all.

Bottom Line

The DV500 from Pinnacle has toughed out the rough seas of do-it-yourself prosumer video editing and has evolved into the worthy DV500 PLUS. With the arrival of Premiere 6.0, the DV500 PLUS has risen to the challenge and made itself a fitting partner for the editing software of choice. Good job, Pinnacle.

Specifications

Price: $799
Minimum Processor: Pentium II
450MHz or faster compatible processor
Memory: 128MB
Operating System: Windows 98/98SE/ Me/ 2000
Video I/O: FireWire, S-video, Composite
Audio I/O: FireWire, Composite (unbalanced)
Bundled software: Pinnacle Systems DVTools, Adobe Premiere 6.0 (with included Adobe PhotoShop LE), Hollywood FX, Copper, Alpha Magic FX, Pinnacle Impression CD Pro, TitleDeko RT

STRENGTHS

  • Capture and device control
  • Integration with Premiere 6.0
  • Low price

WEAKNESSES

  • Overlay quirkiness

SUMMARY

  • Priced low and feature-packed, the Pinnacle DV500 PLUS works well with Premiere 6.0 and is well worth consideration as an editing solution.

Pinnacle Systems
280 North Bernardo Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 526-1600
www.pinnaclesys.com

Bruce
Coykendall
Tue, 10/02/2001 - 12:00am