DV.now AV is one of the first releases from Dazzle-Fast, the recent combination of the prosumer part of Fast with Dazzle. It takes Fast’s popular DV.now DV-based editing solution and adds an analog breakout box for a variety of purposes.
Out of the box, you get the DV.now AV card, a breakout box, drivers, capture software, a copy of Adobe Premiere, and a few added extras. The card takes the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port from DV.now, adds another and a connector for the breakout box. It now boasts a hardware converter – so there’s no need for you to plug your camera in with both DV and analog cables to power on-screen video previews – and a PAL monitor. DV cameras can be connected via FireWire for smooth onscreen video and PAL video through the breakout box.
Unlike the launch model of DV.now, the DV.now AV card installs quickly and easily – even on Windows NT. DV.now originally took a full Windows reinstall to uninstall it, but now it’s a breeze.
Take a breakout
It’s the breakout box that defines DV.now AV. It inputs and outputs stereo audio, CVBS and Y/C. The manual shows the box having DV throughput holes, which is an excellent idea for keeping your cables tidy and within reach, but unfortunately this doesn’t seen to have made onto the finished product. The box comes with a plastic stand – good for fixing the box vertically next to your monitor, rather than leaving it flopping around on top of your monitor or workstation.
Capturing from the AV ports is performed using a modified version of the standard DV.now capture application, Fast.forward. When we first reviewed DV.now, we were rather harsh on Fast.forward as it, like the rest of the software, was rather buggy and prone to crashes. Now on version 1.5, we’re happy to say that it’s reliable and easy to use.
Using a similar layout design to Fast’s higher-end editing tools, it’s streets ahead of Premiere’s own capture window. It looks like a traditional deck, covered with buttons and readouts. It’s also well laid out with everything immediately apparent at a glance.
Buttons at the top open and close windows, giving you instant access to a DV player (with full deck control), a separate hard drive player (good for comparing captured materials to originals), and a capture assistant for tape management and batch capture. DV.now AV adds an AV control window that lets you switch between DV/AV and the two AV input types using a clear signal path map. It also offers button controls for AV input settings, and output to devices such as PAL monitors.
Fast.forward also captured high-quality DV footage with no dropped frames in any of the tests that we performed. Analog capture was as good as you can get from composite signals once the input settings we tweaked accordingly and output quality on our PAL monitor was good.
Fast.forward can export captured materials to Premiere in three different ways: into a project bin, along the timeline consecutively, or split between the A and B tracks with overlaps (of a user-definable length) for adding transitions.
DV.now AV has hints of not being finished in time, with two manuals – one for DV.now and an AV add-on – that contain several serious omissions and errors. Nevertheless, it’s a robust and high-quality product.