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Give your video movies a professional touch by adding some titles, we've been taking a look at electronic title generators in this month's Shop Window



Title generators have become one of the fastest-selling  post-production accessories in recent months, and it's not difficult to see why. Although many camcorders have titling facilities they're often fairly basic, fiddly to use and you have to be organised enough to remember to use them in the first place! Electronic title generators, like the one's we're looking at here, are popular because they can all add titles retrospectively to existing footage, whilst copying or editing a recording from one machine to another, and they're a simple way of upgrading older or simpler machines that do not have their own on-board titler.


All of these title generators have built-in genlocks, this is what makes them so useful, because it enables the title generator to lock onto the incoming video signal (from the camcorder etc.) so it can synchronise and superimpose the title display on to the video output. We've been looking at a selection of the latest stand-alone titlers, plus one or two other devices that have built-in or add-on titling facilities. The scope of the title displays varies considerably, from budget units with a single font or typeface, right up to semi-professional units that compare well with computer-based graphics packages, but at a fraction of the cost.


They all stable, well-defined  graphics, though it's worth remembering that the more elaborate titlers, with a choice of character colours, effects and background, can be easier read when superimposed over bright scenes. With two exceptions they all have QWERTY-style keyboards, these vary dramatically in design and finger-friendliness, from the standard computer types we're used to, with proper moving keys, to rubbery calculator keypads. Admittedly we're a little biassed ane we have given keyboard construction a fairly high priority but we know all too well how it can affect the speed and accuracy of text entry; even in this specific context, a bad keyboard can make life unnecessarily difficult.


One final word of warning, don't be dazzled by lots of special effects; they're nice to have but unless they're used properly and with care you can easily end up with a gaudy-looking mess. Take a tip from the professionals and keep it simple!




The Vision 300 is due to be launched in a few weeks time and we were unable to obtain a review sample in time. Judging by the specifications and price it could be worth considering, we'll keep you posted.


Make/model       Camlink

Guide price        180

No. pages            8

Max lines            12

Max chars/line    variable

Fonts/sizes          2/2

Colours               8

Features             scroll (H & V), crawl, background,  auto display cycle

Connections        composite video,  S-Video


Title appearance    we'll let you know

Versatility             seems good

Value for money   not bad...


GSE MPE 200S 1200.00

Yes, you're right, the MPE-200 isn't a title generator, it's a powerful and sophisticated timecode edit controller, but the titler comes bundled with the package, so it's worth a quick look. The plug-in keyboard unit is a standard computer type, (though with German layout), even so it's reasonably easy to use. The titling facilities are a little thin on the ground, and the display options are limited but if you're in the market for a high-performance edit controller this could be a useful bonus.


Make/model          GSE MPE-2000SX     

Guide price            1200.00

No. pages               8

Max lines               12

Max chars/line       24

Fonts/sizes             1/4

Colours                  8

Features                coloured background/frame,

Connections          single lead to MPE-200


Title appearance      7

Versatility               6

Value for money      depends if you want an edit controller



Surprisingly versatile design, considering the price. The keyboard is just about useable, though it lacks any kind of feel, and the keys are too close together. A good assortment of effects and character selection, and one of the few titlers in this survey not to require a video input, which can be useful when composing.


Make/model           Hama VideoScript 550

Guide price             200

No. pages                10

Max lines                8

Max chars/line        24

Fonts/sizes              1/4

Colours                   8

Features                 fade, scroll (H & V), wipe, flash, character outline, background (black or white only), running text, H-width adjustment, demo mode, multi-lingual display, accented characters

Connections           composite video (phono), S-Video, stereo audio (phono)


Title appearance     9

Versatility              8

Value for money     9




Although not strictly a title generator the Take 2 video processor does nonetheless have titling facilities with the optional TG-901 keyboard unit, which on it's own costs 289, however it can only operate in conjunction witht the Take 2. The title facilities are fairly limited, and the rubber keyboard awkward to use, but the processing features available on the Take 2 can be used to create some very quite interesting effects.


Make/model          Intec Take 2/TG-901

Guide price            750

No. pages               30

Max lines               15

Max chars/line        16

Fonts/sizes             1/5

Colours                  inf. variable

Features                 scroll (V & H), stopwatch

Connections           single connection to Take 2


Title appearance     8

Versatility              8

Value for money    7 (only if you need the processing facilities)



JVC JX-T88 300

An imposing looking console, with good-sized QWERTY keyboard. SCART sockets for AV inputs and outputs are cumbersome, though there are three of them, with one for a monitor output. Average display capabilities with limited effects options. Solidly-built, competent performer but ultimately unexciting.


Make/model            JVC JX-T88

Guide price              300

No. pages                 10 (8 static, 2 scrollable)

Max lines                 12

Max chars/line         24

Fonts/sizes               1/4

Colours                    8

Features                   backgrounds, outline or boxed characters, scroll (V only on 2 pages), accented characters, 

Connections             AV in/out (SCART) monitor out (SCART), S-Video, stereo audio (phono)


Title appearance      7

Versatility               7

Value for money      8



Just arrived, the AVE1 is one of only two titlers to have a proper full-size computer-style keyboard, though it's no larger than most of the other units. A little light on the effects options, considering the price, though what it lacks in gimmicks it more than makes up for with it's excellent display capabilities and character set. Only one operational complaint, no on/off power indicator. Capable of very professional looking results, without the glitz.


Make/model             Panasonic WJ-AVE1

Guide price               500

No. pages                  10

Max lines                  12

Max chars/line          40

Fonts/sizes                3/16, plus graphics symbols

Colours                     8

Features                   scroll, roll, crawl, window,  stopwatch, date/time display, background, multi-lingual and accented characters, pop-up menus

Connections             composite video (phono), S-Video


Title appearance      10

Versatility                 8

Value for money       8



When it was launched eighteen months ago this was the first of the new generation of accessory title generators, and it is still the cheapest, but its rather basic display and typeface options and tiny keyboard are beginning to look dated by comparson with some of the more recent arrivals. Worth thinking about if your camcorder doesn't have any titling facilities, or you're on a very tight budget.


Make/model           Sima Screenwriter

Guide price             160

No. pages                7

Max lines                10

Max chars/line        24

Fonts/sizes              1/4

Colours                   white only

Features                 scroll (H & V), zoom, accented characters

Connections            composite video (phono), S-Video, stereo audio (phono)


Title appearance      7

Versatility               6

Value for money      8


SONY XV-T33F  275

Part of Sony's Family Studio range of post production units the T33 is unique in being the only title generator to be based around a computer-style graphics tablet. Titles and graphics are drawn directely onto the pressure-sensitive tablet using the stylus provided. There's a variety of effects and options, plus a palette of 14 colours. In the right hands it's possible to conjour up some rather eye-catching designs, though its alphanumeric capabilities and storage capacity are both limited. Great fun to use.


Make/model             Sony XV-T33F

Guide price               275

No. pages                  2

Max lines                  N/A

Max chars/line          N/A

Fonts/sizes                2

Colours                     14

Features                    graphics tablet, scroll, wipe, window, graphics, drag and draw, coloured backgrounds

Connections              composite video (phono)


Title appearance        8

Versatility                 8

Value for money        8



Highly advanced title generator for those seeking professional-looking results. Dozens of typefaces, styles and effects to choose from, possibly too many as it's all too easy to end up with garish and over-elaborate images -- use with caution. The midi-sized QWERTY keyboard is comfortable to use, logically laid out, with good editing facilities. Expensive but highly reccommended!


Make/model         Videonics Titlemaker

Guide price            600

No. pages               almost unlimited

Max lines               18

Max chars/line       36

Fonts/sizes             48/4                

Colours                 more than 1 million

Features                background, character, outline and border  colour/pattern/effects, cut, fade, scroll, crawl, wipe, dissolve, accented characters, demo mode  

Connections           composite video (phono), S-video,  stereo audio (phono)


Title appearance     10

Versatility              10

Value for money    7



Promising British newcomer with an eye-catching array of display options, including an extensive set of graphics symbols which can be used to compose a vast range of designs. Indifferent keyboard, lacking feel and rather small but well laid out. A good range of analogue controls, and the effects fader is most welcome. Well worth considering.


Make/model         Videotech VTG-228

Guide price           300

No. pages              16

Max lines               9

Max chars/line      54

Fonts/sizes            3/1 plus graphics symbols

Colours                 14

Features                borders, lines, graphics symbols, title fader, variable width, character shading, title/picture reversal, scroll (H & V), animation, stopwatch display, external control

Connections          composite video (phono), S-Video, stereo audio (phono), external control (DIN)


Title appearance    8

Versatility             9

Value for money    8





Someone somewhere must have throught the 4099's matrix keyboard was a good idea, but in spite of Vivanco's assurance that it becomes easier to use with practice, the selection of individual characters using two ot three buttons is still a slow and unweildy business. Maybe those unable to type will find it acceptable.The 4099's actual titlling facilities are fairly reasonable, for the price, with better than average graphics but the strange keyboard and control system is a major hinderance.


Make/model            Vivanco  VCR-4099

Guide price             199.99

No. pages                10    

Max lines                12

Max chars/line         24

Fonts/sizes              1/4 plus graphics

Colours                   8

Features                  scroll (V only), flash, coloured backgrounds, character shadow, graphics,  matrix keyboard

Connections           AV in/out (SCART, composite & S-Video), monitor out (SCART) external control and diagnostics (DIN)


Title appearance     7

Versatility              7

Value for money     8





BANDRIDGE LTD, Premiere House,  18 Deer Park Road,  Wimbledon,  London SW1 3TU.  Telephone 081-543 3633






HAMA Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, Hants RG24 OWF

Telephone (0256) 708110




LUXFOTO LTD Unit A3, Grovelands Avenue ,Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks RG11 5LB

Telephone (0734) 790620


JVC UK LTD JVC House, 6-8 Priestley Way, Eldonwall Trading Estate, Staples Corner,

London NW2 7AS.  Telephone 081-450 3282


LAMBA plc Albion Mills,  Albion Road, St Albans, Herts AL1 5EB.

Telephone (0727) 840527


PANASONIC UK LTD Panasonic House,  Willoughby Road, Bracknell,  Berkshire

RG12 4PF. Telephone (0344) 862444


PRISMA Europe Ltd Priory House, Pitsford Street, Birmingham, B18 6LX

Telephone 021 554 5540




SONY UK LTD Sony House,  South Street, Staines, Middlesex TW15 4AT. 

Telephone (0784) 467000




VIDEOTECH DESIGNS Unit 2 Kilnbridge Works, Lower Road, East Farleigh,

Maidstone, Kent ME15 OHP. Telephone (0622) 729872


VIVANCO  Unit C, ATA House, Boundary  Way, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7SS

Telephone (0442) 231616



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