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Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris

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Richy Long
Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on May 22, 2005 at 3:58:57 pm

Please Help!! This week we will be making the decision to either upgrade our smoke to version 6.7 on Linux (then eventually to 7) or buy an Avid DS Nitris. I've been on smoke octane for 5 years & have been pretty happy. I think the new features I saw at NAB in v.7 will be awesome! The issue is that the Avid guys are trying VERY hard to convince us that the DS is a better system. They've raised some interesting points that I would like to get some feedback on from other smoke users. Some of the main points for us are:
-8 real time video streams in SD
-better editor
-lower hardware upgrade cost (replacing cpu's for faster performance)
-10 bit SD & HD
-remote processing license included
-DNxHD (10-bit, 220MBps) compression standard (I saw this at NAB & was amazed. Neither I nor anyone else in the demo could see the difference in the split screen comparison)
So, what makes smoke better? Any insight would be greatly appreciated, especially from those who have worked on both systems.

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Re: Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on May 23, 2005 at 11:43:19 am

Hi Richy,

we've done an evaluation on both products recently as we're about to upgrade and in the end, despite the fact that we've always been Avid based, we've decided to go for Smoke. There are definatly pro's and con's though.

In favour of DS: it's 10 bit, the RP is free, it slots easily into an environment with other Avid products, it has a compositing tree and some very nice deep features.

However there are some major caveats. I'd be very wary of the low cost of hardware upgrade arguement. Because of the hardware dependant nature of Avid stuff hardware upgrades tend to cost an awfull lot in the long term, especially as the basic architecture of the system changes every few years. According to my experience at least, Smoke on Linux should offer a lower cost of ownership over the lifetime of the equipment.

Also the RP issue was marginalised for us because our Discreet re-seller gave us a good deal on Burn.

At the end of the day we're going for Smoke because the toolset suits our needs better than that of DS, Having said that I do think that Smoke on Linux needs to be 10 bit, sooner rather than later



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Chris Hanson
Re: Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on May 26, 2005 at 12:12:33 pm

Hi Richy,
As a discreet reseller, forgive me for doing the sales thing but we're all running businesses, and need to think of purchases with a business mind as well.
Like you said, you've been on smoke / Octane for years, I'm guessing your on-going hardware investment has been pretty minimal (maybe new stones at some stage) Anyone who's been on Avid for years probably has enough obsolete Avid hardware to fill a truck ! They might do you a good deal up front, but you might end up paying $$$$$ to keep the system current over the years. This means your cost of ownership is constantly rising, and that impacts on your bottom line.
Talk to your reseller about "subscription", which is their extended support option. A 3 year subscription package (added into the purchase price) will cover you for support, replacement parts and software upgrades for the next 3 years. It's not cheap, but it means you can accurately predict the total cost of ownership 'til mid 2008. (And it generally works out cheaper than renewing support every year and paying for upgrades)
It's not a "glamourous" feature of smoke, but sure turns accountants on :-)
chris - south africa

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Re: Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on May 28, 2005 at 12:37:20 am

Did the sales guy you you have to render the 8 layers??! and its in proxy mode
Did he mention yuv processing in DS and smoke is RGB which gets rid of the 8 bit, 10 bit thing for me. Anyway wont be far away,
Did he mention the upgrade costs? Talk to a DS person who bought and had to upgrade to nitris hardware, very very costly!
And finally, do you know anyone who is happy with it? I know of 5 returned to Avid for just not doing what it's suppose to do.


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Re: Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on Jul 27, 2005 at 2:42:27 pm

and did he mention the "somewhat overdue" 3d DVE...

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Re: Smoke Linux vs. Avid DS Nitris
on Sep 9, 2005 at 7:12:10 pm

I ran DS gear for 4 years. Overall I liked it alot, it was a good flexible editor with many ways to apply effects. One thing I liked was the ability to work any way I liked. I came from the Quantel pen and tablet arena and was glad I could keep the same workflow. But if your a mouse or trackball guy it works eaqually well. The most powerful argument for the DS is the effects tree. Absolutelty THE best way to create complicated layered effects. Also the creation and animation of verctor type is very good. Overall a very strond SD machine. That said I really hated it in HD. You really get the sense your pushing the CPU to the maximum with the data rates in HD. Renders with lots of layers gets really slow. Plugin licensing across a renderfarm can get touchy. I stopped using the remote render feature because it just wasn't very reliable for me. It might have been our particular setup.

The DNxHD codec is awesome to look at. It has SD level data rates and is good enough to pull greenscreen keys on. But, if you stard doing a bunch of layering with it, it gets dog slow. every frame has to be decoded to do effects and then the result re-encoded. Slow HD sessions become even slower. I wouldn't get a DS with a plan to do supervised HD sessions.

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