NVIDIA has the answer!

In the last few months, we’ve been receiving emails and telephone calls from independent filmmakers and students of filmmaking about affordable graphics cards for the systems they use for digital film editing.

Most of these newcomers to the world of filmmaking had been using HD consumer camcorders, such as Cannon HF 20, to shoot their films in HD and, when editing on their desktop Windows systems, they had problems dealing with .mts files. Most of them claimed their computers had crippled after importing the .mts files into any of the well known Windows-based video editing programs, such as Adobe Premier Pro CS4, Pinnacle’s Studio 14, or Sony’s Vegas Pro 9. When we compiled information about the configurations of the computers used by this group of our readers, we noticed that all of them are using low end/gaming targeted motherboard-integrated graphics chips or graphics cards. We understood that these are beginners with no or a very-low budget for buying a high-end graphics card, therefore we contacted NVIDIA for an answer and, after a few telephone conferences, agreed that trying the NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 may be the answer.

The NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 is an entry level graphics card in NVIDIA’s collection and, with a street price of around $170, is quite affordable. The FX 580 also solved another problem; most of the consumer computers owned by the filmmakers in question had no more than 9.5 inches to spare (in length) to hold a graphics card and FX 580 was just the right fit, as most of the other pro cards were longer than 9.5 inches. The similar computers lack the capacity to provide enough power to meet the demand of some high-end graphics cards which require dedicated power; the FX 580 does not need any power support.

To conduct our test, we wanted to create a configuration similar to the basic systems some of our young filmmakers own. We got a computer from ZT Systems. This computer had a core 2 Quad Q9300 2.50 GhzCPU, 4 GIG of RAM, a 500 GIG hard drive, a CD/DVD writer and a motherboard integrated NVIDIA graphic chips with 32 MB of video RAM. The OS on this system was Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. We installed Adobe Premier Pro CS4, Pinnacle’s Studio 14, Sony Vegas Pro 9 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 on this system and imported footage shot by Cannon’s HF 20 in HD. When we started our editing, we experienced the same problems explained by our readers: programs were either crashing or worked extremely slow.
In our next step, we installed the NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 in the ZT Systems PC and found that Windows 7 recognizes the card and installs drivers for it. Sometimes these drivers can be outdated, so we went ahead and grabbed updated drivers from NVIDIA’s website. After the installation of the NVIDIA Quadro FX 580, we experienced an amazing boost in the system’s performance. Now, all of the video editing programs we were testing with .mts compressed HD files were playing back video smoothly, even in full screen playback mode.

The 512 MB GDDR3 GPU Memory of the NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 is enough for any 2D work, and even for some of your 3D work if you are using any 3D packages for creating animation or visual effects for your films. We will be reviewing NVIDIA’s Quadro FX 580 in the near future and we hope to cover more high-end NVIDIA graphics cards when Adobe Premier Pro CS5 is released.

We strongly recommend the NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 to anyone with a low budget and serious video editing projects.

To learn more about NVIDIA Quadro FX 580, click here.


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Sam Tehrani

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