Turnkey Editing Computer Review: Core Microsystems PhEnix DV-X2000

Core Microsystems’ PhEnix DV-X2000 is a feature-packed turnkey video editing system designed for the budget conscious video professional. The video board inside is the Pinnacle DC2000, which supports FireWire as well as all analog video I/Os: component, S-video and composite. The DC2000 also captures and digitizes in either .avi or MPEG-2 video.

In addition to analog & DV output, you can output MPEG 2 to tape or to DVD using bundled DVD authoring tools. The Pinnacle DC2000 is an upgrade from the DC1000, adding component video and balanced audio I/Os. In Addition, the DC2000 also supports RS-422 and RS-232 machine control.

The NT 4.0-based workstation comes in a full tower with a 300-watt power supply. There are plenty of slots and drive bays open for future expansion. Inside are dual Pentium III 800MHz processors – which make short work of most rendering tasks – and plenty of fans to keep it cool. Unfortunately, the cooling fans make a lot of noise. Don’t try doing any voice-overs or live mike work in the vicinity.

Bundled with Adobe Premiere 5.1 RT, Hollywood FX Bronze, Pixelan Video SpiceRack Effects, Sonic Foundry’s ACID Music, Minerva Impression CD, Pinnacle’s TitleDeko and Pipeline Pro VTR, the software side of this system is worthy.

Set up of the system is very simple, even though the system does not come with setup diagrams. The Pinnacle DC2000 breakout box, computer monitor, speakers and power cables are the extent of setup. Core does all system and software installations, and application icon shortcuts appear on the desktop.

DC 2000: Cheers and Jeers

The Pinnacle DC2000’s breakout box is a dream come true to the video editor who needs input support for analog gear. All the analog I/Os are present on the breakout box: component, S-video and composite (along with composite aux for reference). The FireWire port is on the card itself in the back of the computer. Analog audio I/Os are also onboard, with balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA, but this seemingly impressive attention to audio is only on the surface.

According to Pinnacle’s manual, the DC2000 card cannot capture audio without a video signal present. If you are taking source audio with video you’ll be fine, but if you want to digitize audio from a cassette player, mike or DAT machine, think again. Grab your mini phone plug, get on your hands and knees and find that Sound Blaster input on the back of the computer (it’s the one with the little mike icon). It’s currently the only way to capture audio without video.

MPEG-2, Too

You can, however edit MPEG 2 files. Historically you would have to edit .avi files for frame accuracy and then perform a time consuming conversion to MPEG 2. Pinnacle has patented SmartGOP technology, allowing frame-accurate edits within GOPs (groups of pictures) without the need for recompression.

Soft Touch

We were glad to find Pipeline Pro VTR included in the software bundle. The software-based analog device controller, Pipeline Pro VTR handles RS-422 and RS-232 control protocols, but be sure that your particular machine meets their requirements and that you receive the correct cabling for your setup. You need different cables to control the two different protocols. Although Core Microsystems assured us that the DV-X2000 ships with Pipeline Pro VTR, our test unit did not have the plug-in installed, so we were unable to test it.

Hollywood FX Bronze provides highly tweekable and keyframeable transition and color effects. Preset Hollywood FX render in less than 30 seconds, but if you apply frame blending or motion blur then rendering increases dramatically. Pinnacle FX, on-board Adobe transitions and static titles are all real-time so long as only one effect is playing at a time. Core also added Minerva Impression 2.0 CD and DVD authoring software to the list. Use of this program is simple and intuitive. If creating CD-ROMs or mastering for DVD onto Digital Linear Tape (DLT) is a feature you need, you will be glad to see this addition.


In Practice

We used a JVC DVL9800 to capture video through IEEE 1394. Although this camera is not on the list of compatible devices for the DC2000 we had no problems logging shots into the batch capture list and acquiring them (see list of the compatible cameras at www.pinnaclesys.com/support). We also took analog footage from a Panasonic AG 5700 S-VHS deck through the Y/C connection. The analog-captured video looked great with.

After completing our batch capture we edited a sequence of shots and added a variety of transition effects from the ample palette. With the standard Adobe transitions, Pinnacle effects and the Hollywood Bronze plug-in you get a lot of FX toys to play with.

Adobe Premiere RT 5.1 is a plus in the time saver department, when used with the Pinnacle hardware, (the Pinnacle effects are realtime) but standard Adobe transitions and the onboard Hollywood Bronze effects need rendering. The powerful dual-Pentium system made quick work rendering our effects. After it was finished, we rendered out our effects and printed the result through the S-video port. The final output of this board looked very good.

Summary

In the turnkey realm, many factors thwart the brave companies that choose to take on this endeavor. Assembling products from different manufacturers into one box that achieves the goal of digital capture, editing and output to media is a monumental task. Core Microsystems has taken some of the best products available in this price range and has assembled them in a great workstation at a great price.

TECH SPECS

Main Board: Supermicro P6DBE, dual processor support, 100MGz bus, Intel BX chipset

Processors: 2x Intel Pentium III 800MHz

Hard Disk Capacity/Type (system drive): 10.2GB/ Fujitsu IDE/ 5400rpm

Hard Disk Capacity/Type (A/V data): 60GB/ IBM Deskstar-ATA 100/ 7200rpm

CD-ROM: Teac 40x IDE

Memory: 2x 128MB (256) PC 100 SDRAM (1GB Max)

Monitor: NEC AS120, 21

Operating System: NT Workstation 4.0

Case: Full Tower w/6x 5.25 drive bays, 1x 3.5 drive bay/ 300 watt power supply

Expansion Slots: 5x 32bit PCI, 2x 16bit ISA, 1x 32bit AGP

Video Capture Card: Pinnacle Systems DC2000

Sound Card: Creative Labs SoundBlaster 128, PCI

Video I/O: Composite, S-video, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), Component (YUV)

Audio I/O: Unbalanced (RCA), Balanced (XLR)

STRENGTHS

  • Processing power
  • Expandability
  • Component, DV, S-video, composite I/O
  • Real time video and FX

WEAKNESSES

  • No analog audio capture without video through breakout box

SUMMARY
A powerful turnkey that can meet many people’s analog and digital needs.

Core Microsystems

96 Bonaventura Dr.

San Jose, CA 95134

(800) 886-2752

$5,990


www.coremicro.com

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