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REVIEW

 

HEAD

DEPUTY SHOWDOWN

 

INTRO

The Deputy has just ridden into town, a rootin-tootin PC based title generator that’s going to give them old-timers a real tough time...

 

COPY

Deputy CG is the sort of product anyone considering setting up a TV station, cable or satellite channel might well be interested in. It’s a professional quality character generator and graphics software package, designed to run on an IBM PC or compatible computer. To be brutally honest it’s not the sort of thing most home video movie-makers will feel particularly comfortable with -- even those conversant with PCs and multimedia --  but it is very well worth getting to know. Deputy was clearly written with industry professionals in mind and some previous knowledge and creative skills are useful, to get the best out of it, but only after you’ve managed to get it up and running!

 

Deputy CG’s system requirements appear quite modest at first but it is quite fussy what it will run on, particularly in the display department. It needs a 386 or 486 processor operating at 20Mhz  or faster, DOS 4 or higher, 1Mb of DOS memory at least 2Mb of extended memory,  7Mb of free hard disc space and a SVGA card with 1Mb memory, using one of  eight or so specified chip-sets, or else! For the record it needs one of the following: Tseng Labs ET4000, Trident 8900C/9000, AT1 28800-5 or 6, Western Digital WD90C11 (or higher), S3-86C801 or 86C928. Typically these cards cost around £60, if you system need upgrading. The PC will also need to be fitted with some kind of video output or genlock facility, in order to get images out of the machine, or mix them with other video sources.

 

OUTPUT CONFIGURATIONS

The output can be configured for NTSC or PAL display, the resolution in the case of PAL is 800 x 600 pixels, with up to 256 colours can be displayed at once. Video output cards with that kind of resolution are still quite expensive but MM Television, the UK distributors have established that that it will work with less sophisticated cards using the NTSC output of 640 x 480 pixels, that includes the excellent Vine Multigen, and inexpensive PC genlock cards, like the one now being marketed by Micro Eye for less than £100. In both cases the display will have reduced height, and some of the effects may not work as intended, even so resolution is still better than many rival title generator packages.

 

Deputy CG is a DOS program but it will run from within Windows, but we certainly didn’t fancy trying it after reading the warnings in the instruction manual. If this option is selected it will modify system files and it goes on to warn that it can only be installed once. If the program is removed it cannot be re-installed without completely re-installing Windows as well. For those of you unfamiliar with PCs that basically means it can be a demanding program, not for beginners or the feint-hearted.

 

ON SCREEN

Assuming you haven’t been frightened off, we’ll take a look now at what it can do.

Deputy features a range of specially chosen fonts, that look good on television. Ten are included, plus a working sample of industry favourite Cinnamon, and it has the facility to create custom fonts, or use and modify other types of font. It can create up to 99 pages, though in effect there is no limit. Deputy has a ‘wizziwig’ display (WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get), so there’s no waiting around for the computer to render images, or any need for paper printouts.

 

Text is composed using a reasonably powerful word processing facility with selectable justification and character spacing, auto and manual kerning plus effects such as underlining and italics, all of which can be varied on a character by character or line by line basis. Other character effects including shadow and edge fill, with variable shadow intensity. Text can be put inside boxes, with up to 6 of them on the screen at a time; each page can also have up to 6 colour gradients. Various other display options are possible, including animation, where images are defined as ‘MOBs’ or moveable object blocks, these can be made to appear and disappear in front of or behind other objects on the screen. Pages can be replayed singly, in sequence, or in groups and there’s a range of special effects that includes various wipe patterns, slides, corner pulls, reveals, random ‘blits’, fade roll and craw, ‘bounce’, ‘slingshot’ and ‘fly-by’. That’s more than enough to keep the most adventurous graphic artist amused for hours, and more than enough for the rest of us to make some really nasty-looking dogs-dinner titles...

 

VERDICT

That adds up to one very powerful program, very American in appearance and feel, and ideally suited for those who want to recreate the jazzy look of American TV news services like CNN, with lots of boxes, graduated tints and flying graphics. Deputy’s other strength lies in its mouse-controlled user interface, which unlike its main rival, the Maze PC Titler, is reasonably easy to use, once you’ve got used to it, and a programmable output, which can be used to create AV presentations for in-store announcement , exhibitions and information displays.

 

It’s not cheap, it has quite stringent system requirements and it makes few, if any,  compromises for beginners or newcomers to PC-based title generation. The instruction manual is written for those who already know their way around a PC, by people who we suspect work in the video industry. However, it’s not totally impenetrable and any reasonably determined enthusiast, with time to spare, should be able to get to grips with it, eventually...

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                              Shereff Deputy CG

Guide price                                £464 (inc VAT)

System requirements                 IBM PC or compatible, 386/486 20mhz. 4Mb RAM, 7Mb free space, MS compatible mouse, 1Mb SVGA card (see text), 550k free DOS memory, DOS 4.0 or higher

Display                         800 x 600 (PAL), 640 x 480 (NTSC)

No Pages                                unlimited

Fonts/sizes                              10/9 plus custom fonts

Character effects                   colour, gradient. flash, cycle, italics, shadow, edge, underline

Special effects               wipes, slides, corner pull, reveal, random ‘blits’, fade roll and craw, ‘bounce’, ‘slingshot’ and ‘fly-by’, animation and transition

Distributor                                 MM Television, 164 Abbey Street, Derby DE22 3SS. (0973) 204276.

 

VC VERDICT

Picture quality            10

Ease of use                   6

Value for money            7

 

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Ó R.Maybury 1994 2007

 

 

 

 

 


 

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