Osprey 210: Good?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Meander Thenet, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. I've been using a Canopus analog-DV converter to capture and it works
    okay. Gives me frame accurate editing and so forth. As long as I
    convert to a high bitrate MPEG2, the final output looks fine.

    Now that I convert lots of analog material to XviD and H264, I'd like to
    capture to a lossless codec instead of using DV compression for capture
    just to convert to yet another compressed format. I'm sure, just as
    people have advised, the final MPEG4 or H264 output will look better if I
    use a lossy compressor only once.

    I yearn to do some good captures to HuffYUV. Most of the Conexant 2388X
    and Brooktree BT87X chips I've tried on PCI cards just aren't satisfying

    I've heard the ViewCast Osprey cards are good enough to satisfy the real
    perfectionists. I can afford the Osprey 210. It's all I would need.
    Anyone willing to share personal experiences about it's performance?

    Like, DMA. It claims to do it well. True? Then there's sound and video
    on the same card. Do you think the clocks are sync'd and will eliminate
    audio skew problems?

    Any idea what video chip it uses? Is it an Osprey propietary thing or
    something from Philips, Conexant, or some other?

    Anyone using an Osprey through the VirtualDub WDM Wrapper for capture in
    full frame 640x480 or 720x480 to HuffYUV?

    Lots of questions, I know, and I'm sorry. Any Osprey experiences you
    feel like talking about will be appreciated. There's not much in the way
    of performance reviews about the Osprey line on the web that I can find.

    Meander Thenet, Oct 21, 2007
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  2. Meander Thenet

    David McCall Guest

    I had heard that the Osprey was pretty good too, but my results weren't
    I don't remember which card it was, but it may well have been the 210.
    I think they use the brooktree chips.

    David McCall, Oct 21, 2007
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  3. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    If this is truly the case, the hardware is likely not the problem.

    The problem is your analog source. It will/can be only
    so good, which is to say, never very good (when compared
    to a digital source).

    I have been through several analog capture cards over the
    years. I perform pipeline video inspections so had a ready
    excuse to try several.

    I captured to many formats, RGB24 (no compression at all)
    HuffYUV, others. I used my field pipeline recordings (SP-VHS)
    and clips from my small collection of LaserDiscs for testing.

    After compressing to one of many different target formats,
    using settings for each that would yield similar results (i.e. -
    lots of trial and error) my off-the-cuff conclusion was that
    with the same analog source (I used a LaserDisc so that the
    source would not degrade through many, many captures
    like tape would) and judicious/educated choices for the
    bitrate, etc. of the final format, you could not see much, if
    any, difference in the final clip WHEN PLAYED UNDER

    I emphasize the last statement for a reason.

    If you take a clip, and examine it frame-by-frame, of course
    you can find differences. So what. You don't watch clips
    frame-by-frame. You watch them as a stream. What matters
    is how the STREAM looks.

    Anyway, what I've found to make the biggest difference is the
    quality of the analog source and/or the playback equipment.

    If you want the best possible resluts, you want the noise in
    the analog source (which can never be elimininated, just reduced
    by varying degrees) to be as low as possible. Noise is a dastardly
    thing to compress - it isn't very predicitable - and ties up your
    CODEC (and you playback CPU) unnecessarily, gobbling
    bandwidth that could be better used on content that you WANT
    to see.

    Good, non-plastic transport mechanism VHS decks and perhaps
    some external signal processing (TBC's, etc.) help here. Also
    non-junk media (read: good name-brand blank tape if that's
    what you're using). Currently, I use an old JVC HRD-470U to
    play back video captured in the field. Quality of video played
    back on this machine is head and shoulders above playback
    on the junk Chinese "consumer" VHS machines you can buy
    (but not for much longer - tape is dying as a consumer
    format) at Best Buy, etc.

    Currently, I use a Winnov capture card to capture 704 x 480 @ 29.97
    to a 640G RAID-0 array of two HD's. It has an on-board hardware
    compressor that yields very good results, WITHOUT the gigantic
    file sizes of uncompressed .AVI's. Granted, with HD space being
    so cheap now, this doesn't matter much. But 10 years ago, when I
    started doing this, it mattered a LOT. Also, systems were vastly less
    powerful then than now, so PCI throughput also came into play.
    Winnov integrates the audio capture hardware on the card so audio
    de-sync is never a problem. I capture using AVI_IO which is coded
    specifically to also enforce A/V sync.

    Is your need to capture analog video going to be on-going or is
    it only necessary until you get that pile of tapes done? That, as
    much as anything, will dictate what you should spend your money

    I think that working on the quality of your source material will
    make you happier, even though it may not be as cheap as buying an Osprey.
    V Green, Oct 21, 2007
  4. I understand what you're saying about the source material but I'm only
    trying to faithfully reproduce the source.

    Those Brooktree 8-bit chips are awful. Introduced artifact of many sorts
    are totally unacceptable.

    The 10-bit Conexant 23883 is somewhat better but it also introduces
    artifact. There's color shifting that takes place--oscillating visible
    color shifts. Like, if the background is an American flag, the Conexant
    23883 causes the white fields to "strobe" pink/white. It's visible in
    the preview without capture and it's visible when captured and it's, of
    course, visible when converted. There's other artifacting injected by
    the CX2388X chips.

    The Canopus Analog->DV converter doesn't introduce artifact. Captured DV
    looks just like the original source. I love that.

    If I was in your business, I'd use a DV camera to record straight to a
    hard drive. Much better resolution (525 lines) with DV as opposed to
    those 330 or 400 line analog cameras. As long as I wasn't going to
    convert the compressed DV to something else, it would be a perfect
    rendition of what the camera sees.

    However, my problem is that DV captures are compressed. I would capture
    an uncompressed AVI if I could find a capture device that would
    faithfully render the original video source signal. Unfortunately, the
    Brooktree and Conexant chips don't do that.

    Yes. I see your point. It looks fine when played back using the first
    generation codec--but--I plan to decompress and recompress. That's
    different. HuffYUV offers practically "lossless" compression but all the
    beautiful math involved is degraded by the artifacting injected by
    Conexant and Brooktree chips.

    My problem is that I haven't found an analog capture chip that will
    process the video data without corruption of some sort.

    I'm not trying to improve the original source. I'm just trying to
    perfectly reproduce the original analog source. The Canopus DV converter
    does that to an extraordinarily high degree of precision. I'm really
    happy with the way it interpretes and processes the source. However, the
    problem is that I can't capture to other codecs. It compresses to DV in
    the Canopus device.

    The Winnov card that makes you happy also has a hardware compressor
    doesn't it? I think so from your description. So, it's of no use to me.
    I can't capture raw video with it.

    I'd be happy with Conexant chips if they didn't introduce so much garbage
    but that garbage is multipled when compression by MPEG4 algorithms get
    done with it.

    So ... what I really need to hear is experience by someone who has an
    Osprey card. It's my only hope, so far, of finding a card with a video
    chip not made by Conexant (or Brooktree).

    I'd like to try a Philips/NEC chipped card but I can't seem to find one
    that doesn't have all that TV tuner garbage built in. I just want an
    analog capture card without the problems that a TV tuner adds to the mix.

    Any Osprey owners out there? Maybe Osprey cards have something besides
    Conexant or BrookTree chips?

    Meander Thenet, Oct 21, 2007
  5. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    Sure you can. You don't have to use the hardware
    V Green, Oct 21, 2007
  6. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    Ugh. Sorry about the double post. Good ol' OEX,
    never know what it's gonna do next...
    Yep. Ran an Intel ISVR3 for awhile so I know about that.
    I wish, but unfortunately not possible. Camera heads are NTSC designed to be
    underwater to 300'.

    Sure you can. You don't have to use the hardware
    compression. See page 2:

    From the Viewcast forum:
    I have osprey 230 installed on linux (Fedora 3)

    Sometimes linux load with bt878 driver (intial installation)
    and sometime it loads snd_bt87x driver for the card.
    Neither of them is correct driver. Video Capturing may
    work but audio generates unbearable noise.
    You can't rmmod these incorrect driver because some
    programs are using them (something in gnome gui)

    Before gnome desktop gui loaded, remove the wrong
    drivers (first snd_bt87x then bttv using rmmod) then load
    right one using "modprobe btaudio". These can be put
    into level 3 rc scripts to automate.

    From the 210 manual:


    The driver supports all Video for Windows capture
    driver capabilities that are available to the Bt878 / Ct878A
    hardware device. It is compatible with software video
    compressors, sound boards, video editing applications,
    and videoconferencing applications.



    Sounds awfully like they're running a 878 or variant.
    My Winnov is using the Philips SAA7113H:


    + two Xilinx Spartan FPGA's to handle the compression.

    I see from their website that they are now using only one FPGA
    in their 2 gen cards, so I don't know if that's changed.

    I thought my 4400 card was here at home, but it must be down
    at my shop. It's newer than my 1000, so might have different
    chipset. I'll take a look and let you know.

    Have you looked at any of the USB2 capture devices?
    I am aware that they are probably even cheesier, but I just
    don't know ---
    V Green, Oct 21, 2007
  7. Meander Thenet

    Ken Maltby Guest

    IMHO, one of the best reference design capture card
    chipset is the one using the Philips SAA 7114H as the
    decoder-A/D converter and the Broadcom BCM 7040
    (Kfir-II) MPEG Encoder chip. The design was dropped
    by most card makers when Tivo bought up most of the
    production of the BCM 7040 chips for their Series 2

    There appear to be still some being made by V-One
    Multimedia in their Snazzi* III series of cards:



    Ken Maltby, Oct 22, 2007

  8. Hmmm. Very interesting! Videum 1000! MPEG if you want it, raw when you
    don't. I like the idea! And the price is reasonable.

    Do you know what chip is on the board? Or did they scrub it and put
    Winnov on it?

    Thanks for your forum paste. It confirms that which they told me in
    eMail today. It's just as your paste from that forum says: It's a BT878
    chip used in the Viewcast/Osprey 210. I'd be better off converting
    Canopus DV to MPEG 4 because the BT878 raw captures will be much worse.

    Meander Thenet, Oct 23, 2007
  9. Thanks for the lead. I've sent an eMail to Snazzi to see what chip is
    used on that card.

    I also asked them if the MPEG encoder can be bypassed during capture. I
    want to capture RAW and HuffYUV. So, if it's an MPEG only card, I'll
    have to pass up the Snazzi even though it will break my heart to give up
    that Philips chip.

    I've seen some of the videos posted to UseNet from those hacked TiVo's.
    No wonder TiVo nabbed the Philips/NEC chip. Those videos look good!

    The card by Winnow that Vance has will capture to VFW codecs. That's one
    thing that I need. I'm not sure what chips they use. Winnov seems to
    indicate that they use their own propietary chip ... although that could
    still mean that they use a Conexant design specified for themselves.

    Meander Thenet, Oct 24, 2007
  10. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    OK, I've got my other two Winnov boards here now.

    I also have a 1010 (the gen 2 card), and the video ADC chip is a
    Micronas VPX3226E:


    The 4400AV uses 4 Philips SAA7114H:


    The gen 1 1000 that I use alomst daily has a Philips SAA7113H:


    Bear in mind that these boards that I have are a few years
    old now and Winnov may have changed things. They seem
    to be pretty interested in "tweaking" their stuff for best
    performance. I would just email them and ask. They seem to
    like technical discussions so I would tell them exactly WHY
    you want what you want.

    The 4400 dropped hardware compression - it uses a supplied
    Morgan software MJPEG codec but also outputs raw. But it costs $950
    so you're probably not looking at it anyway. I only have it
    because Winnov gave me one when I was on the beta test
    team a few years ago.
    V Green, Oct 24, 2007
  11. Thanks! This is getting exciting! Thanks for your hard work. I
    understand what you mean about their constant upgrading. I've seen hints
    of the same from the few things I've gathered on the web. They constantly
    change their design--for the better, I'm sure.

    I just ordered a used Winnov card from eBay for $20 just to "get a feel."
    It has a Xilinx chip from what I see in the pictures. It's pretty old,
    though. A production solder splash under the epoxy indicates the year
    1997. The input/output jacks array suggest it's a Videum 1000 of some

    Your 1010 has a Micronas chip. Zurich! Yes!

    Your 4400 has Philips chip. Holland! Yes!

    So there is Micronas, and Philips, and Xilinx. I'm not kidding. This is
    getting exciting! Not a single mention of Conexant.

    Yes, you're right. $950 is more than I could ever convince my wife to let
    me spend on a single card for a video hobby but $200 - $400 is quite fine.

    You say they love technical discussions? That's refreshing. To me, that
    means they're not "afraid" and they're not shrouding poor performance
    behind marketing hyperbole.

    I also like the Winnov driver arrangement. I still use Windows 2000 for
    most things. Winnov has both WDM and VFW drivers for 2K, XP, and 2K3.
    Cool! That's some serious support! My usual dismal experience with other
    vendors is that support for one or more OS's is dropped quickly or there's
    a total switch to WDM. Winnov has it all.

    I don't see Vista drivers yet. No problem, I'm not really using Vista yet
    for anything but play and experimentation anyway.

    Thanks for all the info in this thread. Thanks, especially, Vance!

    Now I've got to eMail Winnov about the chip on current cards.

    Meander Thenet, Oct 24, 2007
  12. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    The Xilinx is the programmable logic array that they use
    to do the WNV1 hardware compression. The (hopefully)
    Philips or Micronics video DAC is one of the smaller SMT chips.
    They also used to run their own newsgroup. Unfortunately,
    it's no longer there. Probably not enough traffic.
    Hope it works for you. I found their stuff to be extremely
    stable, even 10 years ago when all everyone was doing was
    bitching about how their Brooktree based card was hosing
    their system and dropping frames.
    V Green, Oct 25, 2007
  13. I'm an idiot. I should have realized that when I saw FPGA at the Xilinx
    web site. The FP is, I guess, "Floating Point."

    I can't decipher anything else from the picture that was on eBay. The
    logos on the other chips just aren't visible to me.

    I don't know what I bought, actually. It looked like a Videum and I
    thought it was worth taking a chance on it for $20. Hell, it could be
    something from 10 years ago that isn't even supported any longer. I'm
    only hoping that their universal installer will find it.

    Here's a link to the eBay item that I bought:

    I presumed the PCBA-5000 Rev 29 to be just a printed circuit board spec

    Oh, well. Maybe it's not a Videum. Should know in a few days. It's
    coming by mail from New Hampshire.

    Meander The Net, Oct 25, 2007
  14. Just discovered through the Winnov identifier PDF that I bought an old
    Videum PCI (not the Wavi-97) but a little later.

    So, it's really old ... but ... I found the VFW driver for it at
    winnov.de so I'm good to go when it gets here. I guess it will work in
    VirtualDub and that's all I'm looking for.

    Can't find specs on it, though. Hope it's capable of 640 x 480.

    Meander The Net, Oct 25, 2007
  15. Field programmable

    Gene E. Bloch, Oct 25, 2007
  16. Thanks.
    Meander The Net, Oct 26, 2007
  17. Meander Thenet

    V Green Guest

    Yeh, I was gonna point you to the identifier .PDF.

    For what it's worth, it look like they were using Philips
    chips during that era.
    V Green, Oct 26, 2007
  18. Come to think of it, you've just demonstrated that you are field
    programmable: you've been programmed in the field to know what FPGA
    means :)

    Don't ask me why I felt I had to post this. Just a bit weird, I guess.
    Gene E. Bloch, Oct 27, 2007
  19. Yes. It came today. It's a Philips Sa7111.

    Well? Not a good first experience so far. The board is 10 years old,
    though, I realize that.

    Drops just about every other frame when I try to capture a 640x480 @
    30fps. Don't know what's up with that. Even does it when I do 15fps.

    Audio input registers on the software "vu meter" but audio isn't captured
    to a file. I've tried using Winnov capture and using VirtualDub capture.
    I've also tried using the Winnov capture utility to lay down only a *.wav
    file. No audio in it. I'm also seeing only 4-bit choices for *.wav. No
    16 bit. I guess that's one area where it's showing its age.

    So, first attempt was a miserable failure. I've got lots of things going
    on but I'm going to try some things over this weekend--
    uninstall,reinstall drivers, etc.

    All in all, it looks like the captures are grainier than I would like.
    So, even if all other things pan out, I'm going to have to decide if $240
    U.S. for a new board will be worth it. I'm sure things have improved in
    the 10 years since this board.

    Meander The Net, Oct 27, 2007
  20. Today "field," tomorrow "floating," and another day "flip." I'm volatile
    and quick to reprogram based on the mfg's specific connotation for the
    acronym, I'm sure.
    Meander The Net, Oct 27, 2007
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