Latest post Mon, Dec 5 2011 10:21 PM by dave_ogunde. 2 replies.
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  • Wed, Jan 19 2011 6:02 PM

    • Sean E. Stall
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Wed, Jan 19 2011
    • Simsbury, CT
    • Posts 3
    • Points 45

    Avid DS 10.5 Review

    Hi All,

    I thought many of you might be interested in some recent success regarding the latest version of Avid DS 10.5.  The Development Team has done a masterful job migrating DS to Windows 7 and if this is any indication I see some very positive signs for DS in the near future.  If anything, I hope it gives some of you the confidence to continue to move forward with DS.


    Sean E. Stall
    Owner|Avid DS Artist|ACSR
    ironik design and post, inc.
    5 Woodhaven Drive  Simsbury, CT  06070
    o212.683.7225  c646.279.8808


    Avid DS v10.5 Review


    Platform:           HP z800 Liquid Cooled Dual-Hex Core (2 x 2.93) CPU, 12GB RAM

                            Windows 7 Professional OS

                            AJA Xena 2Ke/Kona3 Breakout Box

                            BM-Design MultiBridge for additional I/O options

                            BM-Design Workgroup VideoHub

                            AJA GEN-10 Sync Generator


    Storage:           Sonnet Fusion 12TB R800RAID SAS Storage



    Production Use:

    On location as a traveling unit for College Football’s Fiesta Bowl and National Championship Game.




    Portability:  The first thing I noticed was the drop in weight.  Our previous setup was an HP xw8400/Nitris/AJA dual-link running on Windows XP Pro with two Avid U320 Mediadocks striped across two chassis (24 disks) for 3.2TB of storage.  The z800 is rack-mountable, which was not available to us with the xw8400 and is equivalent in weight.  The Sonnet Fusion array weighs around 45 lbs. and is comprised of eight 1.5TB drives and an aluminum casing.  By removing the Avid U320 Mediadocks and Nitris BOB we lightened our vertical rack weight by about 250lbs.  All important aspects for a traveling rig.


    Startup:  We power on all units simultaneously, which are connected to a single line conditioner.  When powering up, the z800 loads incredibly fast and indexes the RAID quickly.  Even when we had added up to 5TB of media throughout the week, indexing was quick and painless.  The z800 is extremely stable and the AJA I/O comes on line immediately.  It was nice not having to load into the operating system and wait for driver loading and media indexing followed by starting up the Nitris BOB.  This saved us a lot of time in each of our strike and setup situations (Three different setups in two different locations).


    Performance:  In less than 10 seconds, the DS application launches to the Project Selection window.  This time may vary with the number of projects that are active on the workstation but this estimate is based on a dozen active projects of pretty decent size and complexity.  Most projects load between 10 – 20 seconds with a newly created project in about 5 – 10 seconds.  DS v10.5 performed admirably and hung up only a few times throughout two weeks of steady, around-the-clock, hard use.  We edited in 720p/59.94 projects using DVCProHD as the primary source.  Initially, when digitizing long captures from tape, DS would hiccup anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes in, but then DS would proceed to capture full 30 to 55 minute rips at a time without incident.  I’m not sure whether to attest this to bad ENG tapes or simply a brand new system going through the motions.  After the first day, we hadn’t noticed this happening again.  Both deck-controlled and live capture work well.  Batch capture works seamlessly as well.  We captured all material using DNxHD 220 compression and 4-8 channels of embedded audio.  Frequently the Capture Tool would only draw 7 available channels in the Audio Selection tab, making it impossible to capture the eighth channel.  A restart of the workstation and software, then entering Capture Mode immediately upon startup cleared this up at times, other times not.  It’s probably something to do with the code that was rewritten for Windows 7 and will be corrected but this really needs to be addressed.

    Linking to oversized files and working with them on the timeline was a snap.  Many of our vignettes were edited solely with pan and scanned 2k/3k files and the system didn’t show any signs of bogging down.  Importing of Quicktimes, MP3’s, WAV’s and sequential files was smooth and quick.  Rendering is ridiculously fast for everything from timewarps to composites to multiple plug-ins (Genarts Sapphire and Monster).  Many of our sequences were playable in real time without dropping frames even if not completely rendered (yellow ribbon, not red).  DS is incredibly stable with audio tracks expanded to reveal clips’ waveform info and Scroll Timeline enabled.  Output to tape was frame accurate including cross and downconverts and file export works well.  There is no longer the export of AVI Reference files from DS v10.5, but Quicktime References worked equally as well and we subsequently compressed in Sorenson Squeeze, Mpeg Streamclip or Adobe Media Encoder.  There are a few flaws in the Output Tool regarding file export.  When exporting Quicktimes of different flavors such as MPEG4, H.264 etc, the software will give an error for any file resolution selected other than full raster that matches the project you’re exporting from.  Half Res, Quarter Res and so on will all give QTEncoder.exe errors.  The development team is aware of this issue so hopefully it will be fixed in an upcoming QFE.


    Versatility:  We used Media Composer 5.03 software installed on the same workstation as a utility to transcode XDCam material and mapping to the storage RAID made the process pretty quick and immediately playable when importing the AFE into DS.  You simply configure your storages within DS to see the Avid Mediafiles folder as MXF/non-purge able.  One instance had us turning around a segment in about an hour using both tape and XDCam sources.  We simultaneously had DS and Media Composer open, digitizing from tape in DS while transcoding in MC to the same storage.  This operation went without a hitch and saved us valuable time as we were able to ingest 30 minutes of material across two ENG tapes and four XDCam cards in about 17 minutes total.  All material played back flawlessly and neither editing application errored out or locked up during or after the process.

    What’s cool about the storage options with v10.5 is that everything can be written to a single location without compromising throughput.  There’s no need to have a separate drive for audio while writing video to a storage array.  With our RAID storage, we have the comfort in knowing that now all of our media is protected.  We could even have our projects and archive folders in the same location if we choose.  The idea about DS software version is that you should be able to install it on a single drive computer if necessary and have functionality to a point.


    Conform:  Two different projects were restored from other clients’ v10.3 versions of DS and one project was conformed from an earlier version of Media Composer during the week.  The DS projects, comprised of MXF and native .GEN media, restored completely while the Media Composer project came through almost completely intact but for a single music track that we could not get to link up to the original media.  Once inside v10.5, there were no issues with any plug-ins and/or titles appearing as they were intended.  DS is great at re-linking to files without the cumbersome process of continually navigating to a specific location one by one where the original files exist.  Lasso your clips, select re-link and navigate just once.  Done.  All files will re-link as they were originally set.  Both the DS projects and the Media Composer project consisted of multiple video and audio tracks of different flavors (i.e. Stereo, Mono, etc.).  It’s pretty cool watching DS conform an MC project, creating all the tracks first from the metadata, and then filling in the timeline with its associated clips.  Just a geek thing I guess.


    Storage:  I would be remiss if I didn’t elaborate on the Sonnet Fusion series for SAS storage as part of our configuration.  While the z800 has its own onboard SAS connections, we preferred to use the card that came with the array because that’s what Sonnet recommends.  If we had run into any issues, we could remove the storage as a whole while troubleshooting.  As I mentioned earlier, the array is comprised of eight 1.5TB drives in an aluminum housing.  The weight is only about 45lbs.  The array runs quiet while emitting very little heat.  This is extremely important when setting up in some of the close confines we find ourselves on-location.  The throughput and stability are terrific.  Using a drive speed utility we found the read speeds to be upwards of 745mb/sec.  We didn’t test write speeds but judging by the simultaneous writing of files and media ingest it’s quite sufficient.


    Compatibility:  I’ve already made mention of Media Composer v5.03 software as a useful and compatible application on this workstation, but there are a number of key third party software applications that coexist quite nicely with DS.  Adobe’s CS4/CS5 work well, as does Nero 9, Sorenson Squeeze v6, Imagineer’s Mocha v2, Filezilla, MPEG StreamClip, Avid Metafuze and Microsoft Office Enterprise Edition to name a few.  I’ve already mentioned Genarts Sapphire and Monster plug-ins, and Boris FX, Ogi and several sound plugs work as well.


    Final Thoughts:  I’ve been putting Avid DS’s on-site for major sporting events and independent productions for several years now and the latest version of DS and hardware configuration is by far my favorite.  You’re not going to find many new features or added bells and whistles in this version as it was a release primarily to code it for Windows 7.  DS v10.5 does have some added RED and Quicktime support but more importantly it remains the only true 64bit application Avid has to offer and Win7 breathes new life into the future of this product.  I find that being on location at times feels like being on an island which is why I choose DS to be that all-in-one solution.  v10.5 coupled with the z800/AJA is incredibly stable and quick as lightning.  In a time sensitive environment such as live sports, it’s important to be able to rely on the speed and versatility of an application without the hassles of losing renders, continued crashing or lacking I/O options. 

    z800|Dual Hex-Core|AJA|48GBRam|Sonnet Fusion 12TB R800RAID [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jan 24 2011 3:33 PM In reply to

    • dermot
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Vancouver, Canada
    • Posts 524
    • Points 6,245

    Re: Avid DS 10.5 Review

    I thought many of you might be interested in some recent success regarding the latest version of Avid DS 10.5.  The Development Team has done a masterful job migrating DS to Windows 7 and if this is any indication I see some very positive signs for DS in the near future.  If anything, I hope it gives some of you the confidence to continue to move forward with DS.



    thanks Sean!





    8600 - 3700 - AJA 2Ke - u320 array - Dream Color [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Dec 5 2011 10:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Avid DS 10.5 Review

    Hi Sean,

    How did you connect your audio with AJA? I mean getting your audio to your studio monitor. I have the same system as yours and still having problems getting my audio from AJA K3 card and box.




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