I recently acquired a Matrox MXO2 Mini to use on my system.  Mainly for use with the new Avid Media Composer 5.0 for monitoring, but I got the MAX version to help speed up H.264 encoding.  I do a LOT of that for client approvals.  Yes, I still have the big boy, the MXO2.  But when I boot to my Avid partition, I swap a couple cables (control cable and HDMI) to my MXO2 Mini.  To have access to Compressor on my Avid partition, and to have access to a few FCP codecs like DVCPRO HD, XDCAM EX and HDV, I installed the full Final Cut Studio package.  Currently, they both have the same system requirements, so all is good.

Turns out I am now using this partition a lot for my current project.

I am editing a TV pilot and the producer and I don’t live close to each other.  On occasion he would come up when we are making major changes to the cut, but for the most part he will stay where he is on the beach (who wouldn’t?  I live in The Valley of L.A…even I don’t want to be here).  He will give me notes, and I will address them, and then compress them for him to watch.  Now, I would use iChat Theatre for these quick approvals, but the producer has a PC…no iChat.  And this doesn’t seem to work with his chat client.

So I found myself rendering out a lot of H.264 versions of the cut for him to watch.  Normally, I just activate QMASTER and then use the multiple processors to aid in the rendering of the files, but even that takes time.  This MXO2 Mini with the MAX option really speeds up this process.

For example.  I have a 5min14sec show that I want to export for him to watch.  I export a reference QT and take that into Compressor.  When I choose the H.264 LAN STREAMING at 960×540…if I use ONE processor, it takes 8 min and 51 seconds to complete.  If I use my QuickCluster I made with QMASTER, that process is sped up a tad… 5 min and 54 seconds.

OK, but if I use my MAX option, and a preset of theirs I made an adjustment to (to get 960×540), and use the one process, but the MAX technology, it takes 4 min and 2 seconds, faster than real time, and faster than all the processors working on it.  Nice.

Oh, yeah.  And this is with the TIMECODE READER filter enabled.  Running on an Octocore 3.0Ghz MacPro with 8GB RAM.

Now if I can only make my upload speeds faster. Stupid Cable modem…

8/17/10 EDIT:  A new driver has been released to address an audio issue in FCP 7.  Details can be found here.