Recently, I started using a Canopus StormRack in our production business. This was a dramatic change for us as we've been long-time users of much more expensive systems like Media 100 and others. Our experience with desktop animation and nonlinear video systems heralds back to the early days of the Amiga and later to the early Mac-based systems. Because of this background, I have to admit that the Canopus name was almost unknown to me -- partly because it was a Windows-based system and also because its strongest market to date has been within the "Event Video" market, sometimes referred to as the "Wedding" videography segment of the market.
Our industry seems to have a history of drawing boundaries between what is a "professional" piece of equipment and what is a "hobbyist" piece of equipment. When our divisions are challenged by the incredible performance of ever-less expensive gear, we invent more divisions like "prosumer" and "broadcast professional" and "industrial professional."
Today, we now have "consumer" equipment that produces better image quality than the "broadcast" level gear that was available 7-10 years ago. So, if image quality isn't the sole and overwhelming factor in judging how and if a piece of equipment is worthy of our consideration, then what is?
Well, certainly image quality IS important. But I think that any of us attempting to make a living with this stuff have to also consider other factors that also come to bear in increasing your long-term financial prospects: These considerations are things like:
- manufacturer support,
- future upgradability and
In the manufacturer support category, Canopus actually surpasses many higher end NLE manufacturers with free technical support. All you pay for is a long distance phone call when you call Canopus, the advice is free.
As far as future upgradability, Canopus refers to a thing called "scalability." By using CPU power to carry much of the load of video-intensive processing, you can upgrade your video power by moving your system to a faster box.
On the value front, our current StormRack has a choice of two edit interfaces, more harddrive space standard inside the box than we have on either one of our "finishing" systems (all of which we had to purchase separately). We have 512 Mb of RAM, many real-time effects and an arsenal of 3D digital effects, a CD-RW/CD-R/DVD unit, accelerated MPEG processing (VERY accelerated), tape logging software, and the impressive power of two 1.2 GHz Athlon CPUs.
Of course, none of this would matter at all if the pictures aren't high quality. This unit has that covered as well. The best DV codec in the industry results in a picture that, no matter what any video engineer says, is of broadcastable image quality (provided the footage is well shot, as with any video format).
In our own company here at Kolb Communications, we focus on the "Corporate/Industrial" and "Television Spot" markets, as well as CD-ROM and DVD applications. We don't participate in the "Event Videography" market. But I can tell you that our work on the Canopus StormRack has been both worthy of broadcast and has seen broadcast.
With the Canopus StormRack, Iím not at all worried about being under-equipped. Some people wonder if they can do corporate video and higher-end projects on the Canopus. Me, I have found out from experience that Canopus isn't just for weddings anymore.
-- Tim Kolb
Tim Kolb has spent thirteen years in video production including time in television news and ten years at his own company, Kolb Communications. He is a multiple ITVA, Telly, American Advertising, and Emmy Award winner. His business focuses on corporate and commercial projects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org