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Like A DV Bridge Over Troubled Water
March 27th, 2001


Randy: Hey! Hey! Hey! What's all the yelling?!


Randy: Alright already! Shut up! What is wrong with you?

Gary: I can't believe we went with that awful title for this column.

Randy: Gee, I kind of liked it. I mean I was in some troubled water.

Gary: Oh, just you try and work in that title to the sad and pathetic story you are about to tell.

Randy: Well, I was funky!

Gary: I'll bet.

Randy: I was sad!

Gary: Oh yeah.

Randy: I was a desperate man.

Gary: Hallelujah, and what the hell are you trying to say?

Randy: Now that I have an oh-so-schweet G4, I've lost my analog video-in on my computer. I'm screwed.

Gary: What are you talking about? That beast has FireWire onboard. Just plug in your camcorder and video capture away.

Randy: Aye. There's the rub. I only have a Hi8 video camera with analog out.

Gary: Ouch! There is no video editing for you, unless you shell out a grand or so for a new DV camcorder.

Randy: Right, like I have anything left in the bank after I bought my new computer and monitor.

Gary: You could add a video card that has video out.

Randy: But I just got this machine with a perfectly good ATI Rage 128 card in the AGP slot. I don't want to take up a PCI slot with two video cards and I really don't want to spring $600 bucks for an AGP nVIDIA card.

Gary: Then I must say again, youa noa makea da movies.

Randy: But wait, brother. I have found salvation.

Gary: Are we still playing the preacher bit?

Randy: You don't think it's working anymore?

Gary: I don't think it worked in the first place. Just tell me what you found, so our readers can get on with their lives.

Randy: Well, I came across a cool little box called the Hollywood DV Bridge by Dazzle*.

Gary: So what does it do?

Randy: The DV Bridge is essentially a video/audio breakout box that plugs into your FireWire port and provides in and out analog video connections to your computer. It supports both NTSC and PAL video signals. All without taking up a PCI or AGP slot.

Man, that thing is HUGE! Not really.
The Hollywood DV Bridge is about the size of a paperback book.

Gary: Awesome! Sounds like they kind of took a PCI video card and built an external case for it.

Randy: Kind of. The Hollywood DV Bridge has both S-Video and analog video inputs as well as stereo audio inputs and a FireWire plug in the front of the device, and matching ports on the back for output. Just plug it into a free FireWire port on your computer and, poof-you have analogue video in and out. And no software necessary!

Gary: Excellent! With all those video and port connections it sounds like the Hollywood DV Bridge could solve lots of video conversion problems. I mean besides you being too cheap to buy a new DV camcorder.

Randy: Right you are, Gary.

Gary: About you being cheap?

Randy: No… about the versatility of the Hollywood DV Bridge. Not only does it let you capture from an analog video source and convert it into digital video, it also allows you to play digital source out to an analog recording source, like a VCR or straight to TV.

Gary: Hey, that would solve my video problem. I have been trying to save some old VCR tapes to digital video, but my DV camcorder doesn't have an analog video-in connection.

Randy: Right. Just plug in your VCR to the analog video-in on the Hollywood DV Bridge and plug in your DV camcorder to the FireWire out, and convert away. In fact for those types of conversion you don't even need a computer connected to the Hollywood DV Bridge.

Gary: But how do I tell the Hollywood DV Bridge which way I want the device to convert.

Randy: When you use the Hollywood DV Bridge as a stand-alone converter you can change the conversion direction via a small mode button on the back. Lights on the front of the device show your selection. You can toggle from digital to analog, analog to digital or pass mode, which allows you to connect two FireWire cameras together directly for direct digital tape transfers.

When the Hollywood DV Bridge is connected to your computer the device is supposed to autosense which ports you are connected to, and switch modes automatically. However my experience showed that the Hollywood DV Bridge can often switch itself out of the proper mode without warning. For instance, every time I stopped my Hi8 camcorder during a capture the Hollywood DV Bridge would switch to pass through mode and freeze my machine. Also, in Final Cut Pro I noticed every time I finished capturing in the Log and Capture window and then closed the window, the Hollywood DV Bridge would switch from analog to digital back to pass through mode. I just had to tap the mode button on the back to set it back, but I hope this issue is addressed in future versions of the Hollywood DV Bridge.

Gary: So your Hi8 camcorder lives again. Viva la analogue!

Randy: That it does, my would-be French friend. I have been able to capture at a full 720 x 480 and the Hollywood DV Bridge has pulled it through at 25Mbps without dropping a frame. While the quality of the picture was not quite as clean as real digital video on my computer monitor, this is an issue with my analogue video camera and not the Hollywood DV Bridge. When I played back the captured video on a standard TV, the image looked perfect. In fact the Hollywood DV Bridge allows you to view the video on a standard video monitor while you capture and edit on your computer screen. However, only FireWire capable video software will output a signal to the analog video-out connection. So, for example you can't display your desktop or the Apple DVD player through the analogue video-out connection

Gary: Too bad on that. That sure would be a handy feature. Maybe some of our readers know of a software utility that will output the desktop signal to the FireWire port. Any suggestions folks? But still the Hollywood DV Bridge sounds like a great video product. How about the setup and software that comes with the Hollywood DV Bridge?

Randy: As I mentioned before, there is no software. The Windows-only CD that comes with the Hollywood DV Bridge has drivers and both Dazzle MainActor and MGI VideoWave4 video editing applications. But the Hollywood DV Bridge works with any standard Mac video editing application, like iMovie, Premier, Strata VideoShop and Final Cut Pro.

As far as setup, its pretty much plug and play. The only issue I had required me to restart my computer and the Hollywood DV Bridge while I had a live video signal running. I guess the FireWire connection needed to see a video signal during the startup process to see the Hollywood DV Bridge. After I got this handy tip from the Dazzle Technical Support WebBoard, which, by the way, is the only form of online help support for this device, I captured and output video flawlessly.

Gary: This Hollywood DV Bridge must cost a nice chink of change.

Randy: It costs a lot less than a DV camcorder, about $300. About the same as a mid-range video card, except it doesn't take up any PCI slots.

Gary: Alright, kudos to Dazzle* on the great product.

Randy: Our few wish list items and some setup hassles aside, the Hollywood DV Bridge works as advertised. If you have the need to capture from analogue video sources or output to them this is the ideal solution. It's compact, easy and a lot cheaper than buying a new camera.

Gary: So about that column title… How about something less cheesy. Like, "Hollywood DV Bridge Allows Idiot to Remain a Cheap Bastard"?

Randy: Or maybe, "Hollywood DV Bridge article leaves Columnist Dead."

Gary: Well that wouldn't make any sense. One of us didn't die during the article.

Randy: At least… the cheap bastard didn't.

Gary: Uh… check please! See you next time folks!

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .

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