At a Glance
Users of Avid Xpress Pro can now add hardware acceleration to the program via the Avid Mojo DNA (Digital Nonlinear Accelerator) unit, which connects via FireWire. The Mojo DNA serves as an analog- and digital-video–capture device and as a hardware accelerator, allowing real-time output of effects and mixed-resolution video in Avid Xpress Pro.
The unit measures 6.75 inches by 11.25 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds. On its back it has S-Video, video reference (RCA), and composite (RCA) video and analog audio (RCA) connections, along with a six-pin FireWire connector that connects to your computer, a four-pin FireWire connector that connects to a DV deck, and a power port. Avid sells an optional component video cable that uses the S-Video and composite video ports as connectors. This is an important add-on if you're
using a Beta SP deck. You'll need to buy two component adapter cables, one for inbound video and one for outbound. The lack of audio connections was disappointing.
Along with the AJA IO (see our review, page 31), the Mojo DNA unit is one of the first products capable of sending uncompressed video across FireWire. This feature allows Avid Xpress Pro to capture 1:1 uncompressed video footage. However, uncompressed video is only as good as the inputs, so using the optional component cables is important. These are suitable for Beta SP–quality video. The device doesn't have any SDI connections, so uncompressed digital video is not an option.
The Mojo DNA's key role is as a hardware video accelerator. It takes the burden off the host computer for rendering effects and coping with mixed-resolution video formats on a timeline, thereby saving considerable rendering time. It also provides support for 24P formats, reinserting 3:2 on-the-fly so you can view the video on a monitor.
The Mojo DNA monopolizes the FireWire bus while it's attached (the AJA IO has similar requirements). Plugging a FireWire drive into the same bus will cause the Mojo unit to malfunction. This is an important point, particularly for PowerBook users. If you have a 12-inch 1GHz PowerBook (with the Mojo), you will be able to capture only to your internal drive, which limits the system's usefulness. The 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks have PCMCIA-card expansion slots (the FireWire 800 port is on the same bus as FireWire 400, however). So you can buy an extra FireWire card and use FireWire drives with those PowerBook models.
Macworld's Buying Advice
The Avid Mojo DNA is a necessary addition to Avid Xpress Pro, especially if you intend to use offline formats, 24P footage, or uncompressed video.