Update – April 9, 2009: Vancouver Video Production Blog workflow featured on Matrox RTX2 User Forum.
After six months of workflow testing I completed my Matrox RT.X2 LE review for EventDV Magazine in December. The article appears in the March 2009 edition. The RT.X2 is a hardware card that provides real-time previews and accelerated exports for SD and HDV on my editing software, Premiere Pro CS3.
The RT.X2 handles HDV footage but for some reason does not support these specific AVI files, which are supported natively in Premiere Pro CS3. Seeing that CF recording is my current workflow, replacing my old MiniDV tape workflow, I was very concerned. Unfortunately Matrox did not have a solution to this problem and did not offer a timeline or promise of a fix in a future update and my calls to Sony Canada about the issue had them scratching their heads as to why the RT.X2 would have problems with a simple AVI file.
Why it Doesn’t Work
When I attended the recent MVCC Technology Expo, I sat-in on a Sony HDV presentation and something caught my attention on one of the slides for the HVR-MCR1K Compact Flash recorder – the words “AVI Type 1”.
Sony records AVI files on the CF card using the AVI Type 1 standard but Matrox only supports AVI type 2 files (Premiere Pro CS3 supports both Type 1 and Type 2). So in order to get my AVI files from CF card to work using the RT.X2 LE, I have to first convert them from AVI Type1 to AVI Type 2. I could use Premiere Pro CS3 to do the conversion but there is no way to quickly batch convert 100’s of individual files without creating a single larger file.
My solution was to use a program called the Canopus DV File Converter, a handy program that hasn’t been updated since V1.1 in 2001, and that I can no longer find on Canopus’ website. I found a free download at videohelp.com. The DV File Converter allows me to select multiple files and convert them to my choice of codec (I chose Microsoft DV AVI 2) and even lets me decide if I want to keep or delete the original files to save on hard drive space.
The conversion was very quick and because I can both batch convert and select my destination folder, I can convert all the files directly from my CF card to my project folder in a single step. The conversion and transfer time took 15 minutes for 2 hours of footage. Upon import into Premiere Pro CS3 I had to take the additional step of interpretting the footage to a pixel aspect ratio of 1.2 as it defaulted to 0.9 but I was able to select all my files and apply the change to all my clips.
The Bottom Line
The Canopus DV File converter allows me to benefit from a tapeless CF AVI SD workflow (longer record times and redundant tape back-up) while using the Matrox RT.X2 LE. And the best part is that the software doesn’t cost a dime.