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Richard Squires
Ram previewing HD material
on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:08:35 am

I have just purchased an Intensity Pro card for previewing HD material. I don't have a Raid since I do short form Motion Graphics. My machine is a Dual core 3 Ghz Mac Pro with 8 GB of ram installed running 10.4.11. My main application is After Effects although occasionally I use Motion. I also have Final Cut. I have just started to get work that requires HD and so I want to monitor my Ram Previews in HD. I have no problem setting up a 1440 x 1080 comp and using the HD to SD down conversion on the card. I output to a pro Sony monitor and also have a very good domestic Sony CRT that can accept HD signals although it prefers 1080i over 720p as it loses sync for some reason. I have successfully output from After Effects a 25 frame per second sequence and it's fine at this setting. However if I try to have After Effects ram preview without the down conversion, I get a frame rate of 8.6 which is woeful. What am I doing wrong and would it help if I used HDMI as at the moment my monitors are only component compatible. How do I change the format of the ram preview movie in After Effects as it is obviously too high a data rate for the intensity card to handle. I am having a similar issue with Motion although there at least the frame rate climbs to 15 or so.

Please give me some advise as I am tearing my hair out with this

all the best

Richard


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Richard Squires
Re: Ram previewing HD material
on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:08:31 pm

After doing some research on the web it seems I was mistaken in thinking that the Intensity Pro card can do what it claims to do. I'd say with pretty much %100 certainty that if you are working on an HD project in After Effects that is above 1280 x 720 and want to do a ram preview to an external monitor in real time with no dropped frames then you are out of luck. It seems to be a common problem, and I guess a limitation of hardware, software and everything in between. I was able to get a frame rate of 15 frames per second in a 1920 x 1080 comp in Motion, and that was after having rendered a ram preview of the timeline, but obviously this is far from useful in the real world. In AE it was 8.6 frames per sec!

The way around in After Effects I have found is to use the HD to SD conversion in the Intensity settings. This way I was able to ram preview in realtime with no dropped frames a 1440 x 1080 composition, but this was only a single layer without effects so I don't know if I'd be able to do a whole comp with multiple layers. I'll look into that. Also you can render out your project and monitor in HD through Blackmagic Media Express, using DVCProHD.

What is slightly annoying is that from all the blurb on the Blackmagic website the impression I got was that this was possible.

Design and Effects

Intensity even allows high end design and effects work, great for the special effects you've always wanted in Independent Films, use After Effects, Shake™, Motion™, Combustion™, Photoshop® and more. Intensity also includes an RGB QuickTime™ preview output for After Effects and Combustion™. And, you can always preview on the video-out interactively as you design and then play pre-renders using real time ram preview. When rendering your project, processing quality using the Blackmagic codec is full 16 bit, so you always get the advantage of uncompressed video.


Yes you can do SD ram previews no problem but the thrust of the Intensity cards marketing is towards HD not SD. So the inference above is that this is possible for HD when it's plainly not.

Also the application support is patchy to be honest. Shake monitoring is really not supported ( I've tried it and there's even an article on the Blackmagic site saying this) mostly due to Apple not updating Shake 4.1, but there should be caveats in the promotional blurb.

Intensity is an ideal companion for most video editing software. Mac OS X™ compatible software includes Final Cut Pro™, After Effects®, Photoshop®, Shake™, Motion™, iDVD™, DVD Studio Pro™, Cleaner™ and many more. Windows™ compatible software includes Premiere Pro®, After Effects®, Photoshop®, Encore DVD® and many more.

Now I'm not the litigious type but I am sure some people out there are. I do think some sort of disclaimer should be attached to some of the claims on the site. Unless you can convince me otherwise that I can in fact output a full HD Ram Preview from After Effects in native HD to a monitor through the Intensity Card


all the best

Richard




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