Twelve Things Every Geek Should Want for Christmas
by Cutter Stevens
I know youíve all been hearing a lot about 64 bit these days. Iíve been
getting a lot of questions and requests to include it in my newsletter column.
Although for right now, all I will say is that for most video editors itís
still a myth.
Yes you can get 64 bit cpuís and run them on 64 bit OSís and pack your
computer full of memory. Nonetheless there really isnít an application
available that takes advantage of the capabilities. Itís coming. But it's not
It's the holiday season, so Iím going to talk about what every Geek should
want, and CAN get, on their wish list. By "Geek" I mean, Video/Film Professionals, technical
enthusiasts, etc. So don't be insulted. The term Geek, which I am proud to say I
am, has gotten an unwarranted bad rap. So for all you fellow Geeks, here's
twelve days of Christmas goodies for you.
On the first day of Christmas Cutter sold to me...
925 chipset motherboard from Abit.
has been a favorite of mine for a little while now in the single CPU class
motherboards. They have five flavors of the 925 chipset, but Iím only
going to talk about two, the AA8-DuraMax and the AA8XE. The other three are
essentially the same motherboards with a lot of stuff you donít need or
want for more money than theyíre worth. The only difference between
the two boards is the front side bus speed and the price. The AA8 has a 800
FSB while the XEís FSB runs at 1066.
Though 1066 FSB sounds extremely attractive, you can only attain that
speed by using the Extreme Pentium series 2MB Level 3 CPUís which cost a
premium. Unless youíre a 3D animator or compositor it just isnít worth
it for the cache. (Hah, get it, CashÖCacheÖhaha) Iím sorry, that was
horrible geek humor.
Anyway both motherboard's give me all the goodies I look for in a board
(unlike the Intel boards) without the stability issues (unlike itís Asus
Here's some of the goodies that stand out on the 925ís:
- PCI express graphics bus Ė
If you buy a new system without it, you're going to be sorry later.
Itís twice as fast as AGP8x and most of the new apps are loving it.
- DDR2 Memory Ė Faster, more
powerful ram (for the time being)
Iíd prefer six like on the old 875 but four is adequate for the time
being. Plus on the Abit, theyíre Silicon Image controllers rather than
Promise controllers which, in my experience, have substandard drivers.
- 7.1 surround audio--you may
not need it, but itís nice to have.
- The usual gigabit LAN, 1394
and USB2 on board and in abundance.
in all a great board, Iíve tested it with Matrox, Canopus, Pinnacle, Avid
Etc, with little or no problems (relating to the motherboard at
Back to that Christmas list. On the second day of Christmas Santa gave
- Nvidia's PCI
Express cards: QuadroFX 1400 and 540
This is the mid-level graphics card Iíll be using on most of my systems
in the future. The 1300 is a great card, but the 1400 is better for a
negligible price difference. If your doing 3D or compositing, this is going
to be the best price performance card on the market. For those of you with
special needs and the money to make me drool, the FX 3400 and FX 4400/g
cards are available for uber animators and compositors. Call me and Iíll
tell you all about it. And/or for more info on PCI Express, check out
my article, PCI Express the
Next Big Thing.
The second new little ditty I would like to metion is the FX540. This
alone is the lowest end workstation card the Nvidia has to offer. Alone the
card is really no big deal, but as an addition you can purchase a special
little break out box that featuresÖwait for itÖ.
BNC Component out, as well as s-video and composite.
Nvidia just sent me a test version of this card which should be shipping
before christmas. Basically using any software that uses overlay or direct
show will work with it. I personall tested it with Ulead Media studio,
Premiere, PowerDVD windows media player and Avid Xpress. Tired of having syc
delays going out firewire from you DV app, now you have a PCI express card
that takes the place of your parhelia feature display and adds bnc component
quality to the mixture.
We will be offering a number of Graphic card/ Software bundle prices at
considerable savings for the upcoming DV
Expo West (Dec. 8-10, LA Convention Center). Again, drop me a line,
Iíll tell you all about them.
Ok, one Last thing about Nvidia. This is for all you broadcasters; I
canít give you really any details until after DV expo. But I am going to
say this. At DV Expo go see the Quadro 4000SDI exhibit over at their booth.
Then come back and see me at the Ulead booth and Iím going to whisper a
few things in your ears that will get you very excitedójust trust me.
As it is, the FX 4000 is going to give full HD overlay output via two
channels of SDI. Think about itÖ.You're a broadcaster/compositer/animator
, just think about it.
I want to take a special moment
to tell you about another of our distributors, Jeff Burgess and Associates.
These guys have always taken care of me and my high end workstation needs
and by trickle down you as well. Ever wonder why it only takes a day to RMA
your workstation class graphics card. Iíll tell you why. Itís all these
guys. I call and say my client so and soís card just melted. They say
whatís there address Weíll set up a cross ship. Unlike other suppliers
they actually believe me when I say somethings broken. Itís that simple
on the third of Christmas Santa gave to me, Apple
Cinema Displays, MAC G5s
- You've got to love them Cinema
Displays, man oí man you just got to love them. They ainít cheep
($1300 to $3300) but they are beautiful. Check them out at the apple
website (www.apple.com) ohh..2560x1600 and I have confirmation theyíll
work with Windows, and Linux too.
- Bluefish renews its support for MAC
G5. So if you want to wait a bunch of weeks (5-7) for a G5 2.5Mgz
machine, I can pack it up with the latest and best HD/SD cards from
Bluefish 4:4:4. Or, if you want something much more economical, I am
happy to configure Decklink and Aurora cards in any G5 system as well.
On the fourth day of Christmas I got Liquid!!!!!!!!!!
- Pinnacle introduces Liquid
6.0 itís neat and available right now.
Liquid is as of right now the only app that I can truly stand behind.
Whether itís Liquid Edition Pro or ChromeHD, you are looking at a
beautiful application that takes care of all the professional features you
need. Yes, yes I can nit pick, but all in all its my favorite.
Right now Liquid Edition 6.0 software goes for $499, Liquid Edition Pro
with the new Component BOB runs $999, Broadcast version with expanded codec
support, $2000 and the big boy ChromeHD system, (depending on configuration)
starts at about$20,000. Each system runs the same software and has the same
capabilities only I/O and codec support changes.
For those of you who read my article last year, The
Truth About Chrome, theyíve added a bunch of new features.
- They improved the DVD on
timeline feature to include, yes, yesÖSUROUND SOUND mixing. Right now
Liquid is the only affordable app that will allow you to mix Dolby
surround sound period. Not Pro tools LE with Avid, not Vegas (without
the plug-in, check the price), not Premiere, not Final Cut Pro. That
only is worth the price of admission.
- Thereís even more codec
mixing on the timeline. Now you can mix any MPEG including MPEG2 IBP.HDV
- Liquid (including Edition) has
full, native support for the JVC 720P camera and the Sony 1080i cam. You
can mix it with SD footage on the timeline and with up or down conversion
depending on your global settings
- Multicam!!!!!!!!!! Depending
on the speed of your system, Liquid
has the capability of up to 16 multicams..16 !!
- As you may know Pinnacle
bought Steinberg, so now Liquid has full VST plug-in support and
integration with Pro Steinberg products.
There are of course many hardware differences between the Liquids
(Edition, Pro, Broadcast, ChromeHD), which I will be more than happy to
answer for you, so give me a call!
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to meÖ (I wish) Oh my
itís a Sony!!!
- Presenting the worldís
first consumer 1080i high definition camcorder, the Sony
Iím getting excited now. The other day a colleague of a colleague came
by with the Sony FX-1 (the consumer level one) and WOW, WOW. It looked
beautiful, superior color and resolution and luma. I only got to play with
it for a few moments (or what seemed to be) but itís simply beautiful.
Itís very light, has 3 1/3 inch CCDís, a 16x9 LCD and really nice
analog out. All for $3695 (our price). We all had our doubts about it at the
last NAB, but Iíll have to reluctantly say it was worth the wait. You want
it, You need itÖso buy it!!! It also make a wonderful holiday gift for
your favorite neighborhood engineer =8)
The Pro version, HVR-Z1U HDV
is due out in January and will retail for about $5900. Itís even cooler.
You can check out some comparisons on DV411ís website at, http://dv411.com/hvrz1u.html
On the sixth day of Christmas every geek should want....an HD Link
from Black Magic.
- The HD
Link is a neat little gadget from Blackmagic Design. This is a simple
little widget that takes HD SDI signal and converts it to DVI. One of
the main complaints that I get about HD is the cost a good SDI monitor. This
is what I hearÖ
ĒOkay Cutter, I can afford the 20 grand for a HD editing workstation.
And yes, I can afford the storage to keep four hours of uncompressed HD.
Iíve found a reasonable rental house for a ďD whateverĒ or ďHDcamĒ
deck. (which could be DV411 btw, we rent too!) Now youíre telling me I
have to spend another five grand for an HD monitor or another ten if I want
a decent SDI flat panel???!!!! @#$%#$% You Cutter!!!!!!!Ē This
little guy, (HD Link from Blackmagic), is going to save me from a lot of bad
All it does is take a HD SDI signal from your deck or your I/O card and
convert it pixel for pixel, color space for color space and frame rate for
frame rate to your inexpensive DVI computer monitor. Itís only $695 and
itís got audio as well. Simple, inexpensive and does the jobówhich has
been the mark of Blackmagic Design, however this little guy is perhaps the
best idea Iíve come across in a long time. Bravo to the Aussies!
On the seventh day the Heavens rained down because Santa gave me VERY, very
fast G- Raid.
Firewire2 800 external hard drives.
G-Raid drives are cool, not so much because they are chrome polished steel
or because they look like little G5s, no no no. I am not impressed
with surface beauty or pretty packages (at least, not with my toys, well not
all of them, or at least not the oneís with namesÖlets just drop it!!)
No, the G-Raids are cool because they can sustain 60MB/s for just slightly
over $1 per gigabyte. That means you can edit multistream DV, HDV, MPEG2 and
in some circumstances uncompressed SD on your laptop or anything for that
matter. This little guy (around 4 pounds) doesnít discriminate either.
Its churns out its data on both PC and Mac equally as quickly. For those
of you not quite on the cutting edge...yet, the G-Raids also offer Firewire
400 ports. Once again simple, inexpensive and does the job.
And on the eighth day of Christmas, a very low cost present for everyone--geek
and non geek alike, Notebook coolers.
These days notebooks contain desktop processors and multiple hard drives,
DVD burners, the works. You can almost have a full workstation in the palm
of your hands. Unfortunately they get hot very fast resulting in sub par
performance and instability. This novel little product is a pedestal
fan works in conjunction with your notebooks exhaust system to provide significantly
lower system temps. Quiet as a
whisper (around 20dB if I were to hazard a guess) and powers it self through
your USB. No batteries!!! To make you smile even broader, this product only
costs around $40.
On the ninth day of Christmas there were keyboards for all!!
has just released USB and wireless keyboards for just about
Theyíve got them for Maya, Photoshop, Premiere, Avid, Edius, Liquid,
Vegas, Ulead and more. Their based on the ever popular Logitech keyboards
with multi colored laser etched keys. Yeah itís just a keyboard, but you'd
be surprised what a difference it makes when it comes to productivity. You'd
be surprised which shortcuts your missing on account of not reading the
You can choose just the keyboard or wireless mouse combo packages. Once
again just drop a line and I can give you pricing and availability for your
The tenth day of Christmas rolled around and boy was I tired. How much
holiday cheer can one geek survive? Then I saw.. Cubes???
are the new cool thing.
If you weren't aware, Cubes are the middle brother between workstations
and laptops. Theyíre tiny, but pack the punch of many workstations. You
are limited with what you can pack into them, but for software editors,
animators and compositors, a Cube makes terrific sense.
Our new custom Cubes are now based on the Antec Aria chassis and have
everything DV411 workstations have except for memory capacity and storage
space. We also offer systems
based on the popular Shuttle Cubes. As always, whatever you want Dv411
All of DV411's custom Cubes come with 2.8 to 3.6 GHzPci express graphics,
1 or 2 GB of Ram, 36GB 10K
system drives, 120 through 400GB video drives, A-108 Dual layer DVD burners,
Firewire 800 and all the goodies you know and love.
The eleventh day of Christmas came about, and Iíll have to admit my egg nog
hangover was bothering me something fierce. All I wanted to do was sit around
and watch home movies with the family. Luckily....Santa gave me a JVC-
SR-MV30 DVD recorder.
SR-MV30 DVD recorder.
This is for all of us are putting off transferring our VHS collections to
DVD. I donít want to do it, I canít afford to hire a monkey to do it!
What am I going to do? Some of this stuff I canít get anymore!
Fear no more, this little product will save you.
One side SVHS and one side DVD. One button transfer VHS to DVD and vice
versa. Your family wants a copy of that embarrassing video of your big
sister finding coal in her stocking 20 years ago? No problem pop it in,
laugh a bit and out comes a DVD.
More importantly, DVDís take
up much less space the that collection of 40,000 hours of footage you
canít bring yourself to throw out. It also has S video, composite
and Firewire inputs as well as a TBC. So everything from U-matic to
beta to hi-8 is as easy as pie. For a paltry $765 youíve run out of
excuses, your assistants are going to thank you when you can buy a big new
comfy couch with all the new space youíll gain.
And finally, on the twelfth day of Christmas, what I want all geeks to get
from me, Training DVDs.
- Training DVDs
Pick up a copy of Paul Mitton's or Anthony Martorina's Liquid
training DVD sets. Got the Premiere Pro blues, we also offer all of the Total
Training Adobe sets from Acrobat to After Effects.
I know all you Avid users are befuddled by v. 4ís changes, we offer
Avidís books and DVD sets for Xpress Pro, Studio and Essentials. Whether
you're proficient or need help with an app, there's a training set out there
So thatís it. Christmas list, done. If youíd like to take me up on my
suggestions, I invite you to come out to DV Expo West, December 8-10 at the Los
Angeles Convention Center. DV411 will be partnering with Ulead (booth
#235) featuring powerful and affordable native HDV editing workstations, with Ulead
MediaStudio Pro 7.
And hereís a bonus present, check out DVDWorkshop2.
RIGHT NOW!!! Go go go!!! It retails for $499 but thereís currently a promotion
for $399. Canít beat that. You get pretty much all the functionality of higher
end packages for 10 times less the cost; CCS encryption, surround sound, DLT and
Call me and Iíll give you a bundle deal with a Pioneer 108 dual layer
burner. Just mention, Cutter's Twelve Things for Christmas article.
Once again weíll be at DV Expo so come and say hello, pick my brain and
have a good time. There is going to be a lot of cool new stuff for both HD and
SD fronts. If you wonít be in the LA area, give me a call. Iím happy to
answer all your questions and add to this Christmas list. If you donít
have tickets already to DV Expo, weíve got several free passesÖif your nice,
you naughty oneís are on your own. You know who you are!
Itís the end of the year, I donít think there's a need to be geeky all
the time. So go buy yourself something that doesnít involve electricity
in any way. I recommend a nice bottle of Napa Valley wine or if you
donít drink, a nice wooden pencil and sharpener (no mechanical jobs) or God
forbid a book (with pages you have to turn).
It will help transport you back to those days of yesteryear when you
didnít have to work 90 hours a week.
Iíd like to take this final opportunity to thank you all. This is my
fifth year at DV411 and I couldnít ask for better clients.
Iíve gained many new friends in this industry from clients to
manufacturers. And even though I canít take all of these goodies on this
Christmas list home, thank you for allowing me to build your systems which have
provided me with enough technology to keep me very happy and content.
So right now Iím going to take my own advice and sit down by the
fire, pour myself a glass of wine and take a sledge hammer to my circuit
cutter ( @dv411.com )