Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby dicky96 » 2019-1-14 @ 09:35

I could be wrong about this, but I was thinking about some of the hardware we used to use when I had a computer shop and was building PCs from 1993-2002.... especially the more unusual stuff like CD Writers with Caddies, and these 'Bigfoot' 5.25" Hard Drives that allegedly loaded large files faster because the drive could read more data on a single rotation of the platter.

For some reason I remembered having this 'Real Magic MPEG' card in stock that did some really impressive video effects for the time. We had it running on demo in the shop and only ever sold one PC build with a Real Magic that I can recall, and I can't remember there being anything much you could run on it apart from some demo CD and maybe a game that came with it.

I did a quick google and found some links to 'Sigma Designs Real Magic' and I am certain that was the brand, but if my memory serves me correctlty, the card we sold was an add-on to a regular SVGA card - like the voodoo 2 was - and I couldn't find any info on that one.

I don't remember now if it was ISA or PCI. Back in the day we were building a lot of VESA based PCs with QDI mobos, VGA and Multi-IO cards. We dealt with QDI a lot at the time and I even used to go down to the QDI main UK headquarters near Reading on occasion and meet their Tech Support guys.

I am not sure whether the Real Magic came before or after we switched production to PCI based. Most likely it was PCI.

Can anyone shed any light on that Real Magic card?
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby PTherapist » 2019-1-14 @ 10:06

The only one I ever remember seeing was the RealMagic Hollywood Plus card in the early 2000s, which was PCI. I don't know about any earlier versions, but with the Hollywood Plus it was pretty much solely used for DVD playback via it's own software. It was technically possible for 3rd party software to make use of the card, but I don't recall ever seeing that done as it only really had a short limited lifespan before PCs got fast enough not to need it.
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby root42 » 2019-1-14 @ 10:35

If it was from the mid 90s it was probably an ISA card like this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealMagic

You could play VCDs with it, which were predecessors of the DVD, using standard CD technology and MPEG1 for the codec. As Wikipedia says, there were also a handful of games that supported it.

Note that back then it was still spelled Reel Magic:

reelmagic.png
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby dicky96 » 2019-1-14 @ 11:51

Oh yes that is the one! So it was ISA not PCI. And it was an add on to the SVGA card like a the voodoo-2 was. As I said, we only ever sold one rig with one of these fitted, and that was the one we were using to demo in our shop. As it didn't seem popular (and was probably a bit pricey) I didn't bother to get another one in stock. I'll bet they are as rare as rocking horse poo these days but at least I remember using one, any one else ever had one of these? :blush: Does anyone here actually have one??
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby dicky96 » 2019-1-14 @ 12:16

Thanks for correcting to Reel Magic. Now I found a lot if interesting info including a list of games made for these cards

https://ancientelectronics.wordpress.co ... oder-card/
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby mil » 2019-1-14 @ 12:23

I have a couple of these cards, they are the newer shorter version with Voodoo 2 like passthrough. I am still missing the older longer version that used the internal VESA-feature connector.

I also have 3 of the 5 games that I know of that actually exists (I suspect the other games rumored were planed and never actually made):

Dragons Lair
Return to Zork (2 are avialble on ebay (not mine))
The Psychotron

Still missing from my collection:
Space Ace
The Horde
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby CrossBow777 » 2019-1-14 @ 15:36

I thought there was a version of Wing Commander III that made use of these cards? I know there was a DVD release of WC3...but I still remember a requirement being an MPEG decoder installed in your computer?
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby Koltoroc » 2019-1-14 @ 15:43

CrossBow777 wrote:I thought there was a version of Wing Commander III that made use of these cards? I know there was a DVD release of WC3...but I still remember a requirement being an MPEG decoder installed in your computer?


Never heard of that. However, there is a wing commander IV version on DVD that uses DVD video (MPEG2) and was sold in bundles with DVD drives and decoder cards. You probably remember that one
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Re: Real Magic MPEG VGA Cards

Postby mil » 2019-1-14 @ 17:08

CrossBow777 wrote:I thought there was a version of Wing Commander III that made use of these cards? I know there was a DVD release of WC3...but I still remember a requirement being an MPEG decoder installed in your computer?


I think that was Wing Commander IV, and it needed an MPEG2 PCI card. The ISA Reelmagic/Realmagic cards are only MPEG1.

The Creative Encore DVD-ROM kit was:
Creative DXR2 PCI MPEG decoder
Creative DVD drive
Wing Commander IV
CLAW

You can learn more about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Amhqdbj0vpQ

And you can learn more about the Reelmagic ISA MPEG1 cards here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcbJdNONj8M
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