Benchmark:Canopus DVRaptor IEEE 1394 Capture Card

Canopus Lights a Fire in the Wire

DVRaptor IEEE 1394 Capture Card


Canopus Corporation

711 Charcot Avenue

San Jose, CA 95131

(408) 954-4500

To get the most out of your Mini DV or Digital8 camcorder, you need to have an IEEE 1394 (i.LINK or FireWire) port on your camcorder and on your computer. This port allows you to quickly transfer the information from a digital tape to a nonlinear editing system, without suffering the loss in quality associated with digitizing an analog video signal. Although some computers–like a Sony VAIO Digital Studio or an Apple G3–come equipped with an IEEE 1394 port, most videographers will have to install a port in the form of an expansion card if they want the full benefits of DV. One such expansion card is the Canopus DVRaptor, a PCI card that will give you DV, without turning into a digital nightmare.

Slap it in

The DVRaptor runs on either Windows 95, 98 or NT. To run it, you’ll need at least a Pentium-class 200MHz processor with 64MB of RAM. In actuality, consider 128MB of RAM as a starting point for a nonlinear editing system. You’ll also need a sound card, a CD-ROM and a video card that can do DirectDraw overlay (most modern VGA adapters can do this).

Installing the DVRaptor is a snap. After downloading the latest drivers, (–always download the latest drivers to save time and headaches in the long run) it was simply a matter of finding an open PCI slot, seating the card and installing the drivers.

There are a couple or nerdy things to keep in mind before you install the DVRaptor. First, there has been mention of trouble installing the DVRaptor in a shared PCI slot. On some computer’s motherboards there is an expansion slot that has both a PCI and an ISA slot. If your computer has a shared slot, make sure you install the DVRaptor in a PCI-only slot, even if you have to move another PCI card to the shared slot.

Second, the DVRaptor requires an IRQ 9 (Interrupt Request) or higher to install. You can find which IRQs you have open by going to settings / control panel / system / device manager. Then select "computer" and press properties. If IRQs 9-15 are filled, you’ll need to open one up for the DVRaptor. If IRQ 0-8 is open, simply adjust one of your devices using IRQ 9-15 so that it can use the lower numbered IRQ. If you don’t have an open IRQ, you can open one by disabling a device that you don’t use. Likely contenders for disabling: the secondary IDE controller (if you only have two IDE devices, or use SCSI), your parallel (printer) port (especially if you don’t use it) or an unused serial port.

Since the test computer (an Intel PII 350MHz with 192MB RAM) had a spare PCI slot and IRQ, the installation was a breeze: no troubles. After the first attempt, the DVRaptor was set to work.

Fire it up

To use the DVRaptor, you first want to capture video using the Raptor Video utility. This utility allows you to do manual capture, batch capture and seamless capture. Seamless capture lets you to capture all of the footage on a tape at once as a single clip. Of course, to capture a 60-minute tape you’ll need about 15GB of free hard disk space.

Capturing video from a camcorder is a snap. Canopus has a list of recommended camcorders for the DVRaptor (, but on a lark, we decided to test it with a camcorder that wasn’t on the list, Canon’s Elura. The DVRaptor handled the Elura nicely. It provided control of the camcorder through the Raptor Video menu, and captured video without a hitch.

Another nice feature of the DVRaptor is its two composite and two S-video connectors, so you can wire your camcorder into it to act as a pass-through to your NTSC monitor. This way, you’re able to monitor your video as you capture it. A final bonus: though we didn’t have the hardware to test it, Canopus claims that if you use a Microsoft Intellimouse, you can use the wheel on the mouse as a jog ring.

Edit the Moving Pictures

After you’ve captured your clips with the DVRaptor, you’re ready to use the included nonlinear editing software. The unit we tested came with Ulead MediaStudio Pro 5.0, but at press time, Canopus announced that the DVRaptor would soon ship with Adobe Premiere 5.1 instead. Canopus also said they began bundling Boris FX 3.5 with the DVRaptor. The DVRaptor SE, a DVRaptor with Adobe Premiere LE, is also available for $549.

All Things Reconsidered

All things considered, the DVRaptor is a great choice for the digital camcorder owner looking to get into all-digital nonlinear editing. It also includes a FireWire cable, something a lot of other devices don’t include. It’s simple to install, comes bundled with a nice array of editing and special effects software, and it works right out of the box. It is the kind of computer upgrade that you have to crack a case for, so if you’re feeling wary of opening your computer, it might be worth your while to bribe a local computer geek to handle the installation for you. The toughest part is if you have to free up an IRQ. Most users will find the installation to be easy enough.

On a final note, at the 1999 National Association of Broadcasters Convention (NAB), Canopus announced that the DVRaptor would soon be available for the BeOS. If you’re not aware, the BeOS is a newer operating system that was built from the ground up, with no backwards compatibility for DOS or the MacOS. It runs on either Intel-compatible or Mac PowerPC hardware (Apple hasn’t released all of the developer information for the G3 to Be, so the BeOS cannot run on a G3). Be promotes the BeOS as the "media-OS", and the demonstrations of it show an operating system that runs audio and video amazingly well. So if you’re looking into using Be, the DVRaptor could be the FireWire card you’ve been waiting for. –LL

Tech Specs – Canopus DVRaptor DV Capture Card

Platform: PC or BeOS

Codec: Canopus Software DV Codec

Bundled Software: Ulead MediaStudio Pro 5.0 (Canopus announced that Adobe Premiere 5.1 to be bundled by press time), Artel Software Boris FX 3.5, Raptor Video capture utility, Raptor Navigator tape cataloging tool

Inputs and Outputs: i.LINK, Composite x2, S-video x2 (analog in- and outputs are for preview only)

Minimum System Requirements

Processor: Pentium 200MHz


Operating System: Microsoft Windows 95/98/NT 4.0, BeOS (announced)

Other: AV Hard Drive, Sound Card, CD-ROM, VGA card with DirectDraw


  • easy installation
  • video preview
  • works with BeOS
  • included all the cables you need


  • might have to free an IRQ
  • doesn’t like shared PCI slot


An easy-to-install IEEE 1394 card that lives up to the hype.

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