checklist of settings, solutions and workarounds in no
particular order. It may take a combination of changes to get
the system running smoothly. If the Spark system doesn't
adhere to the following rules though, then that's possibly why
it won't work properly.
have problems with NIC cards as it is a PCI bandwidth hog.
Set up a separate Windows user account with the NIC disabled
when editing. It may need to be removed altogether.
A fixed swap file
size should be set. To do this simply make the minimum and
maximum virtual memory setting the same. Try setting it at
87% of the RAM that is installed (it should not be set at
less than 48MB). Also try it at twice the RAM.
If the swap file is
set on a non-boot drive drive, always create a small one
on the boot drive as well (minimum of 32MB). If
the non-boot drive goes down without this extra swap file,
Windows may not boot up at all.
Win9x isn't ideal
for use with the Spark; if all else fails, WinNT4sp3
should be tried.
By default NT
enables 256K of level 2 cache. Users of NT4 with 512K of
L2 cache should manually inform NT about the extra memory
by editing the registry. Info on that is found here.
NT, keep in mind that if a software application is
installed and it subsequently asks you to reboot, or any
new hardware is added, the current service pack should be
re-installed. This is very important and ensures that
vital NT system files are not overwritten by third party
'variants' and will prevent certain faults such as server
the provider of the 1394 Driver should be Adaptec not
Microsoft. Ensure that this is the case by going to
Start>Control Panel>System>Device Manager and
selecting the 1394 controller. Go to Properties then
Driver and select Update Driver. Finally select show all
compatible drivers. Choose the latest version of Adaptec
provided driver, then update the driver by using the
update files from DPS's FTP site.
footage must be captured onto and played off an
approved SCSI AV drive.
drive should ideally be a separate disk from the boot
drive - not a partition.
and playback, the AV drive must be able to sustain
DV's continuous data rate of 3.6MB/s, but since
background Windows applications may momentarily interrupt
the process, 5MB/s minimum is recommended. Run Benchpress
and ensure that the drive meets this standard.
caching on the AV drive by using Adaptec's EZ-SCSI or
DV software that utilizes scratch disks or a temporary
file system to the AV drive. In Premiere, specify the
scratch disk option "Same as project", and save projects
onto the AV drive. All important speed sensitive files
such as previews will then end up on the AV drive.
drive should not be compressed, either with NTFS
compression or Win9x's DriveSpace. Set Windows Explorer to
show compressed drives in a different color.
data should be on the AV drive before the edit session
begins. Pulling WAVs, bitmaps and clips from other
sources, even another drive on the same PC, can cause
that the drive has the correct firmware version.
be at least 20% free space on all hard drives at all
times to retain an efficient working system.
v2.00final - Has a hard
time recognizing certain DV devices, and has capture
v2.01final - Bugged!
Causes 'Bad Format' errors that continue even
after it has been uninstalled. Delete all AVIs created
with this version and uninstall it immediately. AVOID
v2.01beta1 - Don't
uninstall it with Add/Remove as astonishingly it removes ALL
video and audio drivers and DLLs!
Considered to be one of the most reliable drivers.
Windows 95 and
Windows NT users
should try this one first. Get it here.
v2.02beta2 - Latest
beta. Possibly unstable, although some are having luck with
it. Direct reports from DPS indicate a potential registry
problem with Windows 98
- 2.02B2 may fix it. If captured filenames become garbled
and messed up, try this release. Get it here.
COMMON PROBLEMS AND
final - The release
version of 2.02 beta 2. Get it here.
The link is broken, go to http://www.dps.com,
select Driver Update, and select DSP Spark Direct DV
changing Spark drivers it's probably not a bad idea to
use the manual uninstall PDF from DPS.We have placed
it on a page here.
installing Spark and Premiere for the first time, ensure
that Premiere is installed first as the Spark
installation looks for edit packages such as Premiere and
installs a small 'preset' so it's possible to output to
the Spark codec. Although, the preset can be created
manually if the packages have been installed in the wrong
VA users suffering from glitchy scrubbing or crashes
should ensure that the Spark's drivers are set to `Output
video to desktop only' and not `Output video to DV Device
only' or `Output video to both'.
or brownouts. Noticeable in offices with ACs or homes with
white goods such as washing machines. An individual UPS
back-up battery system for the edit PC helps.
If installed, remove the NIC card. Also disable TSRs such
as virus killers, screen savers and power management
during edit sessions.
cable or firewire connection. Very common. Try a different
DV device and a new firewire cable.
identified culprit is the Supercom motherboard. Check the
date of the BIOS and, if necessary, download and flash the
latest BIOS upgrade. Click here
for Supercom's BIOS update page. Read all
documentation before attempting to flash the MB.
DROPOUTS OR 'CLIPPING'
Caused by firewire
transmissions of over modulated audio that exceeds the
auto gain setting on the DV device. It often happens when
a voice over is combined with a music track. Usually it's
unnoticeable when editing, and only appears when finally
outputting to tape. If the auto gain cannot be changed on
the DV device (usually it can't) then the audio will have
to be 'normalized'. To do this, render out the audio to a
single WAV and normalize it using a sound editor such as
Sound Forge or Goldwave. If that facility is not
available, reduce the volume level during the edit with
10% decrements and re-render and test until the clipping
appear during capture, and some systems suffer more than
others. Could be caused by electrical brownouts - see Firewire
Resets above. Other potential culprits are dirty
tape heads on the DV device or a slightly damaged DV tape.
> Windows 9x
users may want to try Beepfix,
an MS-DOS based application that purportedly automates the
beep removal process from a captured AVI. When we last
tried it, it didn't work under Windows NT though.
also possible to remove the beeps manually by using a
sound editor such as Sound Forge or Goldwave. No other
remedies are known at this time.
recent DPS forum posting it was revealed that the
following may help with audio pops. Go to
Codecs. Double click on Microsoft PCM Converter to go to
it's properties. Change the priority to 1 and ensure "Use
this codec" is selected. Finally press the 'apply' button.
THE PLAYLIST TO WORK
ALL video clips must
have an audio track, even if it's silent.
must be rendered to the same sample rate.
ten second clock at the beginning of the playlist, as it
can take the Spark's playlist facility a few seconds to
'get up to speed'. Premiere 5.1 has a built in feature to
do this. Don't forget to add a silent audio track to it as
PLAYBACK, GREY PIXELS, OR DROPPED FRAMES ON CAPTURE
may be remedied by setting the desktop resolution to
800x600 256 colors during capture and playback. Under
Win9x, setting the graphic acceleration to zero might help
as well. None of this should adversely alter the final
images output to tape.
no other programs are running during capture and playback,
this includes TSR software such as virus killers and power
long (Premiere) render, the system sometimes may take a
little time to close the large AVI on the AV drive. It's a
good idea to wait a few seconds for this operation to
complete before attempting to play the footage back over
clip once just on the computer monitor, without sending it
through the firewire. When this initial playback has been
completed, often the clip can then be successfully
sent to the DV device, as the system will have cached a
sufficient portion of the clip to cover interruptions or
slow hard drives.
system has a FastTrak RAID then try going to Device
Manager, SCSI Controllers, Promise Technology Inc.
FASTTRAK Controller, Properties, Settings, and check to
make sure the Adapter Settings box reads
"TRANSFERMODE=2;COUNTTHRESHOLD=128;". If it doesn't, go to
Control Panel, UltraTune, select "Audio/Video Editing" and
move the "PCI bus utilization" slider all the way to
may have a fragmented hard drive. Try defragging the AV
drive; under Windows 9x select
Defragmenter. Unfortunately, Windows NT doesn't come with
a defragmentation package, so a third party one will have
to be purchased. Two good ones are Diskeeper
and Speed Disk, part of Norton
for NT. Ensure
that the drive is supposed to be defragged; some RAID
drives should not be defragged with third party
indicates that NT users should steer clear of service pack
4 and possibly service pack 5. These later service packs
may install certain DirectDraw elements from DX5/6 over
service pack 3's DX3. This may contribute to jerky
playback, or failed playback after a few seconds or
minutes. Unfortunately, uninstalling the service pack may
not be sufficient to remove the problem, and a fresh NT
install may be necessary. If the system works okay with
sp3 then upgrading to sp4/sp5 may not be the best move.
try formatting the AV drive as FAT not NTFS. Doing so
will limit you to 4GB partitions, but may increase the
drive's speed sufficiently.
a power supply problem; if the drive is internal check the
cable, if the drive is external check the PSU for
TWO GIG LIMIT
It's an OS problem, not a DPS Spark one. Currently it is
not possible to create a single file larger than 2GB
(approximately nine minutes and thirty seconds of DV)
with Windows or MacOS. Set up a batch capture list to
grab the rushes in over lapping chunks.
WITH ONE GIG+ FILES
If the system has problems playing back an AVI larger than
1GB, then check the interleave setting, it should be set
at 1 frame for large AVI files.
The Spark card is a 'bus-mastering' card, and needs to be in
a slot that allows for this to happen. These are usually the
first four slots that are closest to the processor. Try not
to use a slot greater than four.
Make sure the Spark has its own interrupt request (IRQ).
Check this in device manager, select the computer, then
click on properties. This should list all devices in the
computer that use IRQs. If one is being shared with the
Spark, try moving the IRQ of the other device inside
Windows, if this isn't possible, some BIOS manipulations
may have to be performed. It may be necessary to
physically move the card around, trading places with other
cards as necessary.
Ensure that the SCSI drive is terminated properly. If a
lot of spiking up and down is witnessed with Benchpress,
it is most likely there is a termination problem.
Spark app doesn't output to camera, try using Video
Although initial reports suggest that the core DLLs are
the same as the latest beta release, it may be of use to
try Hot Connect Ultra 2 from Adaptec as a
replacement for the Spark drivers. Get the latest releases
from Adaptec here.
down playback failure causes, load a recently captured AVI
into the Spark app. Select Monitor Out to get the image
out to the DV device and then wait - do not press play.
If the picture remains on your video monitor and the
firewire connection is retained for more than fifteen
minutes then it's possibly a problem with the hard drive,
SCSI connection, system speed etc. If the system fails
even without playing the AVI, then the Spark app is being
interrupted by another application or there's a possible
malfunction with the wn1394.vxd file. Check in Properties
that wn1394.vxd in Win\System is at least version
xxxxxx.30 or xxxxxx.32.
else fails, it might be necessary to refresh the system
from scratch. This could involve low leveling the hard
drives and re-installing the OS. As any number of software
drivers could be the cause of the system's failures,
initially only install drivers from disks that came with
the computer. It's also important to remember that only
essential software should be loaded onto the system, as
unnecessary third party applications might overwrite
working DLLs with incompatible ones. If possible, try
swapping hardware cards one by one with known working
peripherals. Keep testing the system at various stages and
do not install further apps if a problem is suspected.
Sometimes the most bizarre and unthinkable reasons are the
cause of system failures... Keep at it and good Luck!
Color/luminance shifts with transitions. Apparently only
affects PAL systems with MMX processors in them. It is
currently not known what causes it or how to properly remedy