by Larry Lemm
711 Charcot Ave.
San Jose, CA 95131
There is something about rack-mounted equipment that seems to get serious gear hounds drooling. Likely its because professional gear usually comes with rack mounts and it looks really cool.
Canopus Corporation, famous in the video editing world for its DVRex-M1 and DV Raptor IEEE 1394 cards, has released the RexRack, a turnkey nonlinear editing system targeted at demanding, advanced video editors. The RexRack looks cool from the outside, and it has the performance to back up its good looks.
Rack em Up
The RexRack has two main components from Canopus, wrapped up in a beefy Pentium II computer and sealed in a rack-mountable case. It uses the Canopus DVRex-M1 for capture, and Canopus Rexfx as a graphics adapter and effects accelerator. You might already be familiar with the DVRex (see the review in the June 1998 issue of Videomaker, or read it online at www.videomaker.com). If you dont know, the DVRex is both an analog digitizer and a DV capture card. It has a breakout box that mounts in one of the full-size drive bays. Rexfx is a graphics card, based on the Nvidia TNT, that accelerates transitions and effects. These two Canopus components form the heart of this turnkey system.
On the computer end, Canopus uses an Intel Pentium II 450MHz that is on an Asus P2B motherboard. It has 128MB RAM and a Promise Fast Trak IDE RAID controller. In addition to the two hard drives, which compose the 33.6GB RAID for video and audio storage, there is a 10.1GB drive for storing software applications and the operating system. Finally, there is a 32x CD-ROM drive and a Creative Labs Soundblaster Live! Value soundcard.
RexRack ships with both Canopus Rex Edit editing software with Rex Video capture utility and Adobe Premiere 5.1. It also includes Artels Boris FX. All of this runs under Windows 98.
Putting the Rex to Work
To use the RexRack, you simply pull it out of the box, plug in the power cable, hook up the keyboard and mouse, and connect an SVGA monitor. Then plug your camcorder into the front-mounted FireWire, composite or component video jacks and you are ready to go. You can also plug a video monitor into the composite, component or BNC output jacks.
Canopus Rex Video utility takes care of capture. This utility supports batch capture, has audio level bars, and you can use the included Microsoft mouses wheel to scrub through the video. The RexRack performed well, and had no troubles at all capturing video using Sony DCR-TRV10 Mini DV camcorder.
Once youve captured your video, you need to edit it. You can use either Adobe Premiere 5.1 or Canopus Rex Edit for your nonlinear editing software. (Read a complete review of Adobe Premiere 5.1 in the June 1999 issue of Videomaker.) The install on the RexRack worked well without any glitches. For fancy 3D transitions, you can take advantage of Boris FX; with the Rexfx card, rendering was a very quick process.
Rex Edit is a simple, easy-to-use nonlinear editing program. It doesnt have some of the fancy bells and whistles that Premiere does, but for basic editing with transitions and titles Rex Edit is a winner. Rendering was fast in Rex Edit, and it did everything we asked without any trouble.
With the majority of the inputs and outputs in the front-mounted breakout box, it is easy to change your connections, eliminating the need to get to the back of the unit. The only connections on the back of the RexRack are the BNC outputs and one of the three i.LINK ports.
When it comes to setup, this system is one of the easiest turnkey systems on the market. You might think of it as a Casablanca on steroids. While this box costs more than most of the turnkey nonlinear editing appliances, it is as easy to use as the stand-alones and it provides all the expandability of the computer-based systems.
If there is a downside to the RexRack, it is the lack of digital audio SPDIF jacks. The SPDIF digital audio jacks (found on professional audio gear like DAT decks) are optional on the DVRex, and on a $7000 turnkey system, youd think that Canopus would include them. Otherwise, this system is a sure-fire winner that fits into any higher-end edit bay, even if you dont mount it on a rack.
Processor Pentium II 450MHz
Operating System Win98
Drives 10.1GB system, 33.6GB RAID for video storage, 32X CD-ROM, floppy
Sound Creative Labs Soundblaster Live! Value
Capture Card Canopus DVRex-M1
Video Card Canopus Rexfx 16MB AGP with effects accelerator
A/V Inputs and Outputs i.Link (IEEE 1394) x3, Composite Video in and out, S-video in x1 and out x2, BNC out, stereo RCA audio in x2 and out, digital RCA audio in and out, 1/8-inch audio in, 1/8-inch audio out, mini mike and 1/8-inch speaker out
Other Inputs and Outputs USB x2, COM x2, Parallel, PS/2 mouse, PS/2 keyboard, VGA
Included Accessories front-mounted breakout box, rackmountable case with 300W power supply, extra internal cooling fans, Promise Technology Fast Trak IDE RAID controller, i.LINK cable, keyboard, Microsoft wheel mouse, Microsoft Windows 98, Adobe Premiere 5.1, Artel Boris FX, Canopus Rex Edit