Test Bench:Edirol DV-7 Editing Appliance

$4,995

Edirol Corp.

425 Sequoia Drive, Suite 114

Bellingham, WA 98226

(800) 380-2580

www.edirol.com

Just as a dishwashing appliance washes dishes and a bread-baking machine bakes bread, so a video appliance makes video. A long time in the making, the Edirol DV-7 is a well thought-out video appliance with some impressive features we have not seen in its competitors. Not inexpensive by any measure, the DV-7 should appeal to video professionals who need stability, to corporations who need a new machine for producing training and marketing materials and even to high school and college multimedia departments looking for educational tools.

Control and Configuration

The DV-7, which uses the BeOS, booted in 90 seconds. We received the DV-7C controller ($325) with our unit, an optional edit controller that emulates some of the features of more traditional editing environments. The controller housed a jog/shuttle control, audio faders, mark in/out buttons, timeline navigation buttons and a large T-bar slider (used to zoom in and out on the timeline). In use, we found this accessory very enjoyable and easy to use, addictive even, but you don’t miss any functionality without it.

The DV-7 workspace is clear and uncluttered, with clearly labeled buttons and icons. There are very few shortcut keys associated with these buttons, however, meaning that you need to rely on mouse clicks for just about everything. Indeed, the included keyboard was useful only when naming projects and creating titles.

Down to Business

Edirol touts the DV-7 as a native DV platform. Analog footage transcodes to DV as it gets captured, so all video footage on the machine is always in DV format. We captured more than an hour of DV uninterrupted and without any problems. After we completed the capture, we used the scene detection (DV Auto Split) option to go back through the file and split it up into smaller scenes. This took place in real time, meaning that it took an additional hour. Scene detection was perfectly accurate.

Editing was drag-and-drop simplicity with timeline edge trimming. We were also able to trim clips in a source window using in and out points with the DV-7C controller. We added transitions to their own track below the main video track. Clips inserted on the timeline required source material that extended beyond the start or finish of the clip as it appeared on the timeline in order for transitions to function properly. In other words, to insert a transition, we had to drop a transition between two clips, trim the first clip back a little and trim the beginning of the second clip. Not hard at all, really, but a little extra work. The DV-7 offered us the ability to ripple insert or delete clips into the main video track and a storyboard mode offered even greater ease.

Audio control came from three audio tracks that displayed stereo audio as a single waveform. Despite sample rate changes throughout a single hour-long clip, the audio remained precisely synced to the video for the entire duration. The waveform, however, gradually became more and more misaligned with the actual audio and, towards the one-hour point, was off more than two seconds. We adjusted the level of the three audio tracks live using the faders on the DV-7C controller, a feature we really liked. Each audio track also utilized keyframeable volume envelopes for fading and ducking.

Real-Time Rendering

Edirol stresses that the DV-7 does real-time editing, which is more or less true. Crossfade and titles do not need rendering, for example, so 99 percent of your work happens in real time. The most basic saturation and brightness controls also apply instantly to source material. When rendering is required on the timeline for many of the other effects, the DV-7 has a neat background rendering feature that automatically renders material while you work, so even then, the process is painless and automatic, if not exactly real time.

The titler is a deceptively simple utility that contains just 22 fonts. Of course, you can perform all the standard operations you’d expect, such as font size, style, kerning, color, outline, drop shadow and scrolling titles. We discovered a fairly interesting set of frames, objects and backgrounds that you can use to create some fun graphics. When we saved these titles, returned to the timeline and inserted them into the project, everything was 100 percent real time and required no rendering whatsoever.

More complex effects must be fully rendered before they are inserted onto the timeline. For example, we carried out a 50 percent slow-motion effect on a one-minute clip. It took nine minutes and 33 seconds to render, with progress displayed (logically enough) in frames for video and numerically indicated in samples for audio (in additional to the progress bar). We could play back the fully rendered timeline at any time out any of the outputs, including sending DV data to a DV camcorder with full device control.

Engineering Excellence

The DV-7 is a well-designed product, including large stereo-style padded feet, a ground connection in back and PCI cards and IDE cable thoughtfully shielded to prevent interference. The capture software highlighted the selected connection and LEDs on the front panel also lit up the corresponding device input, making device connection a no-brainer. One full set of inputs resided along the front of the device, as was a 1/4-inch microphone input and a 1/4-inch headphone jack, each with its own level control.

We really liked this editing appliance. Somewhere there is a balance between simple and complex, between basic and bloated and the DV-7 seems to find this sweet spot.

TECH SPECS

Platform: proprietary Edirol DV-7 OS

Operation System: BeOS

Processor: Celeron 433MHz

RAM: 256MB RAM

Hard Disk: 60GB system

Video In/Out: composite (in: 2x/out 2x),

S-video (in: 2x/out 2x), DV (in/out: 2x)

Audio In/Out: RCA left and right (in: 2x/out 2x), microphone (1/4-inch), headphone (1/4-inch)

Other Hardware:

CD-ROM drive

STRENGTHS

  • Excellent in/out capabilities
  • Very thoughtful design features
  • Balances ease-of-use and features perfectly

    WEAKNESSES

  • Few, if any, shortcut keys
  • Audio waveform gradually becomes misaligned

    SUMMARY

  • This is a full-featured and uncompromising editing appliance.
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