Aurora Video Systems' new PipePro is a single-slot PCI card for Mac users which features SDI/Firewire input with embedded audio, analog component, S-Video and composite output, 4 channel AES audio
in, 6 channel AES audio out, RS-422 control, Genlock and many other features -- all for $799 (US). Here is Walter Biscardi's report for Cow members...
W ith the advent of the G5 and
super fast hard drive arrays; all the various capture cards used by Final Cut editors work with real-time effects and filters -- this, because real-time is now built right into Final Cut Pro. A
discussion on how much real-time a particular system offers is wholly dependant on your support system, i.e. CPU, drive speed, RAM, etc., and so these considerations won’t be a part of this review.
To learn how much your own personal system can realistically expect, is a discussion best left for the Cow's Final Cut Pro forum.
So now that Final Cut Pro offers so much real-time on its own, the discussion becomes, "How do I get my footage into the system? Firewire I/O?" Well that’s easy, just connect the source device to
any available FW spigot on your Mac. But SDI, Composite, S-Video and Component require some sort of internal card or external device to get the footage into and out of your Final Cut Pro
For those who use SDI and Firewire for the majority of their capturing, Aurora Video Systems www.auroravideosys.com has introduced the
PipePro, which lists for $799 (US). Don’t let the low cost of this card deceive you, the PipePro packs a lot of power and versatility in a small package.
The PipePro is a single slot PCI card that features:
- one SDI Input (with embedded audio, up to 8 channels in),
- two SDI outputs (each with embedded audio, up to 8 channels out)
- and a breakout cable with the following I/O:
- Analog Component, S-Video, Composite Output
- 4 Channel AES Audio Input
- 6 Channel AES Audio Output
- 2 Channel unbalanced Audio Output
- RS-422 control
Now I’m not a huge fan of breakout cables such as these, I prefer a breakout box so there’s only one cable coming out from the
Mac. But for only $799 I can’t expect to get a breakout box. Also, I think the combination of dedicated analog outputs and true RS-422 connectivity far outweigh the lack of a BOB.
If you need additional analog inputs, you can add any number of Analog to Digital converters that would connect to the SDI in.
My Test Set-up:
The editing system I used for this test was an Apple PowerMac G5, dual 2.0ghz machine with 3GB RAM, running Final Cut Pro 4.5 with Mac OS 10.3.4 and QuickTime 6.5.1. I worked with capturing both
8bit and 10bit uncompressed material via SDI (with embedded audio) from a Sony J3/902 multiformat Beta machine and feeding Analog Component out to a Sony PVM 20L5/1 monitor. The storage was handled
by two LaCie Big Disk Extreme Firewire 800 drives striped together as a 1TB RAID. The PipePro was installed in Slot 3 and the LaCie Firewire 800 PCI card was installed in Slot 4. The PipePro
drivers were version 2.0.2.
PipePro System Preferences:
PipePro installs a control pane into the System Preferences menu. Here is where you can verify the driver / firmware you’re running on the PipePro and perform some general setup.
Desktop Output allows you to send your Mac desktop out to the external monitor. Very very useful for creating graphics and checking them on your output. This is a dedicated output and is hot
at all times when you’re not using Final Cut Pro so there’s nothing to launch or startup. When Final Cut Pro is running, it automatically switches over to the output of FCP. After enabling Desktop
Output, you can go into your Display Preferences and set up the Monitor arrangement to place the output monitor wherever you choose.
Field Control lets you decide what you will see when you stop playback. Either both fields of an interlaced image or just one field. Single field is very useful when color correcting or
you’re just tired of seeing a jittery image every time you stop on a clip with motion.
NTSC Mode lets you choose between 7.5 IRE or 0 IRE on your output setup.
Genlock appears grayed-out because it’s actually an auto-detection type of set-up. When you connect a genlock source, PipePro automatically detects the input so this preference is not really
necessary. The folks I talked to at Aurora said this will probably be removed from future drivers.
Audio Out Control is pretty much the same deal. This pref is not necessary because the audio outputs are all hot. Again, I would expect this to be removed from future drivers.
Final Cut Pro Audio|Video Settings:
The PipePro installs a set of pre-sets directly into Final Cut Pro and which expand the feature-set choices for editors; these extras include:
For Capture and Sequence Pre-sets , you have the option of not only 8bit and 10bit uncompressed, but also the ability to capture to the DV/DVCPro codecs via SDI. This can be quite handy for
offline work whereby you can capture any uncompressed SDI source to DV without the need to dub down to DV tape with matched timecode.
Video Playback choices do give you the option to switch a PAL output to Lower Field First if the project calls for that.
RS-422 control is handled via the direct connection to the PipePro break-out cables. What’s nice is that it is a standard RS-422 port on the PipePro connection so you don’t need to order any
special cables, just any standard RS-422 cable will work.
Using the PipePro:
Now for the past three years, we’ve used the Pinnacle CineWave exclusively in our shop so I had a pretty good benchmark to compare the PipePro with.
First off, capturing into Final Cut Pro was very snappy with the PipePro installed. Capture Now worked much faster for some reason when capturing using the PipePro vs. the CineWave or even
capturing straight DV. With the CineWave or straight DV via Firewire, there is a lag of 3 – 10 seconds between the time that you hit Capture Now to the time that FCP actually starts capturing. You
can compensate for this by shortening the Capture Now time limit.
With the Aurora codecs selected, I found that Capture Now started almost instantaneously no matter what the Capture Now limit was set to. Not really sure why this makes a difference, but it sure
made Capture Now much easier to work with. The SDI to DV/DVCPro capture worked perfectly and the footage that was captured dropped right into a DV timeline with no issues.
Frequent visitors to the Creative Cow are familiar with our own “Codec Guru” Marco Solario who has shown for years that Aurora has one of the best codecs in the business. I can say that after
finally seeing them first-hand there’s no doubt about that. The 8bit is incredibly clean and is suitable for probably 80% of my projects. The 10bit codec is just about as perfect as you can get.
There’s really not much more to say about the codecs except if you really want to see the nitty gritty, visit Marco’s codec page at http://codecs.onerivermedia.com
Synchronization between the Canvas Display and the external NTSC monitor is absolutely dead-on if you set the Playback Offset in Final Cut Pro to 0. That’s such a HUGE help when editing to the beat
or making some audio edits.
RS-422 control presented the one issue I really had with the PipePro. Final Cut Pro would just lose communication with the J3/902 at random times. Sometimes when logging and sometimes when
performing a batch capture. Closing and reopening Log and Capture resolved the issue. Aurora was not able to duplicate this issue in house and there was a question of whether or not the J3/902 had
something unique to its RS-422 setup that was causing the issue. I ended up pulling out my old Keyspan Serial Adapter and running the RS-422 with that for the remainder of the test.
All the video and audio outputs performed as expected, though I did not test the AES I/O because I don’t have any devices for those.
There’s not much else to say about the PipePro because once the footage is captured, you’re working within Final Cut Pro. All realtime effects and filters will be controlled by your system, not the
The editing system performed flawlessly during all testing and the PipePro has been running for over three months in the G5. I can honestly say that the combination of PipePro and Final Cut Pro 4.5
is the most stable editing system I’ve had since I started running Final Cut Pro three years ago. The system simply doesn’t crash, doesn’t unexpectedly quit and seems to totally behave itself. I
think in the three months that the card has been installed and FCP 4.5 is running, Final Cut Pro has unexpectedly quit once or twice. That means I’m not getting interrupted in the creative flow and
that’s really really good news.
Ok, compared to something like the CineWave, I give up I/O options in that CineWave offers pretty much anything in / anything out through its Breakout Boxes. CineWave also offers SD and HD on the
same card with additional RT features not provided directly by Final Cut Pro. But, all those features in the CineWave and I/O really start to add up in the pocketbook and for many folks are
features they may not need.
The PipePro comes in at $799 with SDI in directly on the card with Analog outs via the breakout cable. If I need additional analog inputs I can pick up something like the Aurora Diversity series
with Component Analog input for $699 or converters from AJA. The RT within Final Cut Pro is about equal, if not more with the PipePro when I’m running the Medea RTRX 1440 (10 drive SCSI
Low cost, excellent quality and stability. Can’t ask for much more. I’ll give the PipePro 4 out of 5 Cows, they lose one point for the RS-422 control issue.
Note: As of this writing, the Aurora PipePro has not been certified for use with Final Cut Pro 4.5. Aurora has
submitted the card and drivers to Apple for Certification.
If you arrived at this article by a direct link, please visit CreativeCow.net
for more great articles and the best pro-focused media forums on the Net
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
|A little animated about 24p?|
For those of us that are still ''young at heart'' and watch cartoons on TV, you'll notice that even today many animations are still hand drawn at 24 Frames Per Second (FPS) or 24 ''fips'' as it's sometimes referred. In this article, Marco Solorio explains why this time old honored technique can still be used today for maximizing your production time and most importantly, the look and feel of your animations.
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro: Edit Faster with Overlay Editing
Editor, VFX artist, post-house owner, and plug-in developer Simon Ubsdell shows you how to edit faster and more easily using the very useful but not often known-about Overlay edit function in Premiere Pro. This Quick Tip tutorial also offers tips on grouping.
Art of the Edit
Always Be Editing: Sculptors & Bricklayers Revisited
Do you edit like a sculptor, or like a bricklayer? It seems a simple enough question, but as longtime editor, post house owner, and VFX software developer Simon Ubsdell shows, the implications for how this affects the way you edit can be profound. His advice, regardless of where you land on the spectrum? Always be editing.
Hearing The Handmaid's Tale: Jane Tattersall's Sound Career
With Emmy, BAFTA, Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel, Canadian Screen, and Directors Guild of Canada Awards among many more, Jane Tattersall shares insights into a career in sound editing entering its fourth decade with two young women just beginning their own careers in the field. Their conversation begins with Jane's work on the Hulu hit series, The Handmaid's Tale.
Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
Indie Film Sound Editing: A This Guy Edits Tutorial
ACE Award-nominated picture editor Sven Pape ("This Guy Edits") speaks with Sundance Award-winning sound editor Ugo Derouard on The 5 Five Steps of Audio Post Production: Sound Editing, Spotting, Dialog Editing, Sound Design, and Sound Mixing, paying special attention to the specific needs of, and techniques that can work best for, independent filmmakers.
Adobe After Effects
Stabilize 360 Video with Mocha VR
In this intermediate tutorial, Mocha Product Manager Martin Brennand takes you through smoothing the horizon in a Samsung Gear 360 shot using the Reorient Module in Mocha VR. Jittery 360 video footage can be made more watchable by stabilizing with Mocha’s planar tracking tools. The tutorial is done via the Adobe After Effects plug-in, but the techniques apply to all versions of Mocha VR.
DJI Mavic Pro In Depth Review - The Best 4K Drone?
VFX guru Tobias Gleissenberger was so delighted with the DJI Mavic Pro 4K drone that he bought (yes, bought) that he was inspired to take a break from making tutorials to create an in-depth review of this compact, lightweight, consumer drone offering terrific value. No, it's not a platform for your digital cinema camera, but if you're looking for a fast, fun, integrated 4K camera drone packed with features, the Mavic Pro might be for you. This review is delivered Surfaced Studio-style, with wit, high energy, and details you won't find anywhere else.
The Panasonic EVA1: Questions Answered!
Anticipation that Panasonic began building for their "mystery camera" at April's NAB Show 2017 was paid off at June's Cine Gear Expo 2017 in Hollywood, as Panasonic finally unveiled their AU-EVA1 cinema camera. Compact, lightweight, equipped with a newly designed 5.7K Super 35 sensor, and positioned between the Panasonic Lumix GH5 4K mirrorless camera and the VariCam LT 4K cinema camera, the AU-EVA1 is tailor-made for handheld shooting, but also well suited for documentaries, commercials, and music videos. Panasonic Cinema Product Manager, Mitch Gross has provided some answers to early questions about the EVA1’s target audience, shooting applications, Dual Native ISO, the 5.7K sensor, and more.
Art of the Edit
TV Workflow Supervisor Kylee Peña: The Benefits of Pressure
TV workflow supervisor Kylee Peña (Jane the Virgin, Colony) visits Adobe's "Make It" talk show to chat with host Jason Levine about the evolution of motion picture workflows, from the days of film and tape to our modern digital world of crazy-high shooting ratios and constantly evolving technology. She also expounds on the upside to creative constraints and tight deadlines. And don’t miss the lightning round!!!
Feature, People / Interview
Grading The LEGO Batman Movie: Animal Logic and FilmLight
Following successful collaborations on The Matrix, Legends of the Guardians, and Happy Feet, Sydney's Animal Logic worked with Warner Bros on The LEGO Movie from pitch to proof of concept to post. Animal Logic has gone even further on the latest LEGO animated feature, The LEGO Batman Movie, where they were embedded with the production for over a year. The range of their work pushed every aspect of the Baselight system for editorial, VFX, and HDR not just for post, but for the entire production process.