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Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX Essential to Video Journalist's Kit at UNICEF

Posted by Marc Leitner
March 21, 2011

Bob Coen is a video producer and global correspondent at UNICEF, the United Nations agency dedicated to upholding the rights of children around the globe. He's responsible for shooting video and producing stories for UNICEF's global website about the organization's work supporting education, health, and sanitation initiatives in developing countries and providing emergency relief in natural and man-made disasters.

"I work as a 'one-man-band' - shooting, writing, editing, and transmitting my stories on the road via FTP to UNICEF headquarters. The videos are also made available to international broadcasters and news organizations through UNIFEED, the daily satellite news feed from United Nations Headquarters in New York, "Bob commented. "So, the quick turnaround of broadcast quality video from remote and difficult locations is an essential part of what I do."

"I shoot primarily to AVCHD files with a Panasonic Lumix HDSLR camera and edit on a MacBook Pro running Final Cut Pro and Compressor. Most of the time I need to turn around stories quickly, in challenging conditions further complicated by a multi-step post-production workflow and very slow Internet connections in the places I work. Using the Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX technology helps me save precious time producing my broadcast-quality H.264 encodes."

"In 2010 I made several trips to cover humanitarian disasters, including the famine in Niger as well as the post-earthquake recovery and the cholera epidemic in Haiti. The unit was especially useful during my most recent trip to Haiti in late 2010. I was typically working 18 to 20 hour days - shooting all day, then spending long hours at night, editing, encoding, and transmitting. Using MXO2 Mini with MAX cut my H.264 encode times by up to 90% compared to when I previously used either Compressor or QuickTime to do it. I was assured of quick, high-quality encodes that also allowed me several extra hours of precious sleep!"

"I have also used MXO2 Mini for Apple TV and YouTube encodes and have been equally impressed with the speed and quality of the results. I plan to explore the unit's HD monitoring capabilities in the future."

"In my opinion Matrox MXO2 Mini with MAX is an indispensable piece of equipment that should be an essential part of any travelling video journalist's kit."

View some of Bob's work:

For children and families in Haiti, the long road from relief to recovery
UNICEF - Executive Director brings a message of hope to Haiti's most vulnerable
UNICEF - Supported campaign raises awareness about cholera prevention in Haiti

Safe Harbor TOP 10 products for 2010

Posted by Jeff Pulera
January 6, 2011

2010 really flew by, but not without some major happenings in the video and animation products world, so the Safe Harbor staff has put together a short list of products that we felt worthy of a Top 10 listing. Inclusion in the list is based on a variety of criteria and does not necessarily reflect sales numbers. So letís take a look at the Safe Harbor "Top 10 for í10," in no particular order.

Mac Pro - Mac users had Christmas in July with the highly anticipated release of the new Mac Pro workstations with up to 12 processing cores, more memory, and updated display card offerings that have proven very popular with HD editors seeking more horsepower. Fingers crossed for a new FCP for 2011!

EDIUS 6 - Grass Valley fans finally got their EDIUS 6 upgrades towards the end of the year, adding more than 100 new features, including 10-bit editing, 2k/4k resolution, and 16-camera multicam editing. EDIUS 6 provides native, realtime editing of many new tapeless HD video formats including Sony XDCAM, Panasonic P2 and Canon XF.Adobe CS5 - One of the biggest hits of the year may very well have been the release of Adobe Production Premium CS5. True 64-bit coding and the Mercury Playback Engine powered by nVidia GPUs have brought extraordinary speed improvements and increased productivity for Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects users.

Adobe CS5 - One of the biggest hits of the year may very well have been the release of Adobe Production Premium CS5. True 64-bit coding and the Mercury Playback Engine powered by nVidia GPUs have brought extraordinary speed improvements and increased productivity for Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects users.

Quadro by PNY - Speaking of nVidia, the new Quadro by PNY graphics cards have more CUDA cores, new Fermi architecture, and massive amounts of memory to provide amazing performance for video and graphics applications. Quadro cards were especially popular in new Tsunami workstation builds featuring Adobe CS5.

modo 501 Ė Billed as "the next evolution in 3D modeling, animation and rendering," modo 501 upgrades were a hot commodity, offering cleaner, faster rendering with speed improvements of 30-40%, simplified animation rigging, and more included content, among other new features.

Osprey 240e - The Viewcast Osprey 240e was a hit with school, government and business users looking for great performance and value in a PCIe analog video streaming card for the PC. The optional Simulstream software allows encoding of multiple codecs at once to reach a broader audience.

Cintiq 21UX - Graphics professionals were grabbing up every Wacom Cintiq 21UX we could get our hands on, as demand exceeded supply for many months. The newly-redesigned 21.3" drawing tablet allows users to draw directly on the screen with precise 2048-level pressure control using the advanced pen technology. If I had a nickel for every inquiry I got about this item, Iíd be writing this from a beach somewhere rather than watching it snow outside. :)

Maxwell Render 2/RealFlow 5 - Next Limit is tied with itself, treating users to long-awaited updates of both Maxwell Render 2 and RealFlow 5 for amazingly realistic simulations of light and water, with support now for more host applications. RealFlow has been used extensively in many recent blockbuster movies such as "Avatar," "District 9,"and "2012."

Cinema 4D R12 Ė Maxon offered a great 50% discount on new C4D R12 upgrades when bundled with the Maxon Service Agreement. Cinema 4D R12 is a powerful 3D modeling and animation program which was used for many of the VFX shots in "Iron Man 2." The R12 version is loaded with new features like Linear Workflow, Camera Deformer, Color Profile Support, and Render Queue.

Matrox MXO2 Mini Ė Last but certainly not least, we have the MXO2 Mini to round out the round up! The stylish little aluminum breakout box has been exceedingly popular with users of Mac and PC, laptop and desktop, and supports Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro CS5, and Avid Media Composer NLE editors. Who wouldnít want one to provide video capture and preview, 10-bit hardware up/down/cross conversion, and hardware-based realtime H.264 encoding (with the MAX option)?

I can only imagine what amazing new hardware and software offerings Iíll be writing about 12 months from now. Thank you to our loyal customers for a great 2010, and we look forward to serving you all in 2011, our 24th year of providing tools for video, animation and graphics professionals worldwide!

Capture Cards for Premiere Pro

Posted by Jeff Pulera
February 17, 2009

When editing with Adobe Premiere Pro on the PC, the only means of getting video in and out of the system is typically via 1394 Firewire. This may be fine if you only edit DV or HDV footage, but invariably, you or a client will need to work with some legacy analog footage from VHS, 8mm, 3/4" or other tape format.

If working with broadcast gear having SDI or HD-SDI connectors, youíll need a capture solution for those connections. Capture cards might also provide analog outputs that allow you to record to a VCR or DVD recorder, or view your work on a real video monitor rather than using the small computer screen preview.

For professional, broadcast-level work, AJA offers the XENA line of cards for use with Premiere Pro. There are several models to suit different needs and budgets, with I/O options for SD and HD video such as component and HD-SDI, along with professional audio connections like AES.

The AJA cards can capture uncompressed video in 10 or 12-bit resolution for stunning broadcast quality. Uncompressed footage requires special high-performance storage arrays though, so you also have the option to record to less demanding codecs like DVCPRO HD which have lighter storage requirements.

Depending on the XENA model you choose, you can get features like realtime up-down-cross convert, which can be a lifesaver in a studio setting where you may have to work with many different formats that producers and shooters provide. For example, you may be producing a documentary in 720p for cable TV, and halfway through the project, the TV station changes their required standard to 1080 HD. No problem, the Xena hardware can handle the conversion for you. The Xena card will also provide output to professional video monitors while editing, a must for accurate color grading.

Matrox RT.X2
Matrox RT.X2
For wedding, event and corporate producers that donít work with uncompressed video or high-end decks with SDI or HD-SDI, Matrox offers the RT.X2 hardware for use with Premiere Pro.

The RT.X2 can work with DV or HDV footage via Firewire, but also includes a breakout box that accepts and outputs composite, S-video and component video signals along with stereo RCA audio. P2 720p and XDCAM EX files can be imported directly for realtime playback as well.

For capturing HDV video, the RT.X2 offers the benefits of audio level meters, capture preview, scene detect, and even output to an HD display while capturing. These are features that Premiere Pro CS3 and CS4 alone canít provide.

The real strength of the RT.X2 is in the realtime effects plug-ins provided. By using Matrox Color Correction, Keying, 3D DVE and dozens of other provided effects, rendering is eliminate.! You can add effects and composite multiple layers of video and get immediate full-screen, full-frame rate playback to an external video display. Export to DVD, Blu-ray and web formats is also accelerated by using the realtime effects.

Another benefit of the RT.X2 hardware is its ability to mix SD and HD clips in the same project without rendering. The clips will be upscaled or downscaled automatically to suit the project settings. HD projects can also be output via analog as NTSC, with realtime downscaling applied to the output.

Black Magic Intensity Pro
Black Magic Intensity Pro

A third hardware capture option is the Intensity and Intensity Pro cards from Black Magic Design. These cards add the ability to capture from HDMI sources, such as most newer digital camcorders, and will also output to HDMI-equipped LCD panels. The Intensity offers HDMI only, while the Intensity Pro adds composite, S-video and component video I/O for more flexibility.

Users can capture to uncompressed or compressed formats to meet the needs of the project. HD video can be captured at the full 1920x1080 resolution for higher quality than the 1440x1080 native to HDV. Several capture formats are available including AVI, QuickTime, HDV, DV and Black Magicís own JPEG codec, and these can be mixed in the same Premiere Pro timeline.

There are many additional benefits of working with the XENA , RT.X2, and Intensity cards, but you get the idea Ė adding a hardware solution to Premiere Pro can improve your workflow in many ways, saving you time and money on every project!


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