Price When Reviewed: £695 (standard), £1,295 (X)
By all rights, Speed Razor 2000 should be a pile of shoddy tosh. After the huge hype and failure of the white elephant Millennium Dome, the wobbly Millennium Bridge and the ho-hum provoking Windows 2000 – it seemed anything that takes its name from the new millennium could safely be said to be somewhere between severely underwhelming and complete crap.
Non-linear video-editing products (NLEs) seem to be setting a singular stance against this. Matrox’s RT2000 was really good, receiving a 4.5 mark when reviewed in May. Now Speed Razor 2000 (SR2000) has appeared with its big brother, SR2000 X, and they’re top notch.
Another thing that differentiates SR2000 and SR2000 X from the rest of the millennial gush is the complete lack of hype about the packages. Look at the feature set and it really doesn’t look that impressive – but in-sync has seen the new millennium as a time to go back to the beginning and start again, not a time to concentrate on headline-grabbing whizz-bang.
SR2000 is based upon Speed Razor 4.8, but features a completely rewritten engine. SR2000 X is essentially SR2000 with extra high-end features built in. They replace the complete range of versions of Speed Razor with SR2000 replacing the lower end S and SE and 2000 X replacing the higher RT.
As both versions use essentially the same code, they support all of the capture boards that previous versions (RT, S and SE) used to individually work with. These include many boards from Pinnacle (such as DC30, Targa and Reeltime ranges), DPS (Perception), NewTek (Video Toaster) and Matrox (the Digisuite range). This openness is great as it allows users to upgrade their boards without having to upgrade their software at the same time. It also allows users to pick just which version suits their needs and budgets.
This also means that almost all of the comments made about SR2000 in this review also can apply to SR2000 X. Fortunately, the rewritten engine hasn’t resulted in too many format changes: existing Speed Razor projects can be opened without conversion and the associated minor changes that always appear with importation.
The most obvious changes are in the interface’s look-&-feel. Before, Speed Razor looked much like a standard pre-Internet Explorer 5 Windows application – but it’s bang up-to-date with 3D buttons and the like. Most of the changes are cosmetic, but some are useful, such as the replacement of text buttons on the toolbar with icons that allows more buttons to be included.
In-sync has also given the application a central background bounding box – making it look more like Premiere than Dreamweaver. Some users will be horrified with this, but in-sync assures us that this is in response to many comments from Speed Razor users. In practical terms, it seem sensible, allowing you to move the whole application around your desktop in one go and use shortcut keys for all windows, rather than just the one you have selected.
On the surface, these are the only differences between SR2000 and SR 4.8. This might not seem like much, but with the rewritten engine it makes all the difference. Rendering is faster, RAM previews are clearer, and it falls over less often.
SR2000 X is adds some new features – including the ability to export Apple QuickTime movies – a welcome addition considering Apple’s growing marketshare of the DV and streaming video market.
You can now customize the GUI in any way, including adding buttons to any toobar and reassigning the shortcut keys to any configuration you wish. Keys can also be set to a number of presets, including Avid and Premiere. This might seem minor, but if you’ve spent years learning the shortcuts to another application you don’t want to start again. You can also use a range of external controls such as jog/shuttle boxes and Avid keyboards – useful if you already own one.
The main new feature in SR2000 X, however, are the new bins. Originally Speed Razor had a single library for clips, effects and transitions – but now multiple bins are possible. While a welcome addition, many users still prefer to use the single library, which has a filtering system.
Where multiple bins work well is in the capture of clips. Batch capture now takes place within the bins, and everything possible you could want is here – from automatic video/audio sync to support for all but the most obscure decks. Even if you have a really old or rare deck you can correct settings by hand.
Other great tricks include the ability to capture low-res clips so, for example, you could create the basic edit on a laptop at home (or even on your way home). Clip sorting can be done by every criteria imaginable and you can even use the timecodes in the capture list to direct the deck to points on the tape. It’s all amazingly well though out, even down to the large start/stop button in the centre of the window that’s always easy to find.
The development team at in-sync has delivered an extremely well thought-out upgrade that answers the criticisms that people have laid at Speed Razor. A revamped interface that offers great flexibility, intelligent support for the likes of Apple QuickTime, fully customizable shortcut keys and general speed bumps to the engine make this a compelling upgrade. Best of all, it now sports a bin-based asset management and batch-capture system that’s streets ahead of anything else in the class of DV-editing system.