VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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AMERICAN MADE EASY

There's no shortage of home-grown how-to-do-it videos, so is there room for yet another, and an American one at that? Easy Home Videos is a professional-looking production, presented by the seemingly knowledgeable Brian D. Ratty, but no attempt has been made to tailor the video for the UK market, other than converting it from the NTSC original to PAL. In addition to a reduction in picture quality this has resulted in some rather irritating gaffes, including innacurate information about how a camcorder works: 'one frame is recorded every 1/60th of a second', and misleading advice about shutter speeds. The section on editing is also rather disappointing, and the assertion that edit controllers work with all tape formats skirts the important issue that only a handful of camcorders have the necessary sockets, perhaps it is different in America...

 

It quickly becomes clear who sponsored the tape and although there is a cursory piece about the various formats the rest of the tape is mostly concerned with what can and cannot be done with a Canon UCS2 (PAL equivalent UC2Hi), camcorder and various Ambico accessories. To be fair Mr Ratty has plenty of helpful advice, most of it fairly basic but always worth repeating, and the tape is accompanied by a handy hints booklet but sadly neither tape nor book contain any new insights into video movie-making, that we might have expected from an American viewpoint, and almost nothing that you cannot learn from a British made tape, but without the mistakes. At the time of writing it was unclear whether or not the tape was going to be distributed by Canon Europe, but it will also be available from Photo Video, address below.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model        EASY HOME VIDEOS    

Guide Price         £TBA

Running time       60 minutes             

Distributor           CANON UK, Unit 4 Brent Trading Centre, North Circular Road, Neasden, London NW10 OJF. Telephone 081-459 1266/ Photo Video, 10 Vine Crescent, Sandiacre, Nottingham NG10 5BZ. Telephone (0602) 497145

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   6

Canon fans only

 

REMOTELY INTERESTING

Remember the days when you had to get up out of your chair to change the channel on the telly? That sort of tiresome physical activity is now almost unthinkable, thanks to infra red remote controls, indeed just about every electronic widget has one these days, but that has resulted in a worrying proliferation of button-boxes. Vivanco's ULR-200 can get rid of at least four of them at a stroke. It's a universal remote control handset, based around a 'learning' system that can duplicate up to 124 different commands.

 

The ULR-200's memory is organised into four 'banks', each one for a seperate device (TV, VCR, satellite receiver, camcorder etc), and each bank can have up to 31 commands. In addition it has a novel macro facility that will transmit a sequence of up to ten commands, by pressing a single button. This could be used to switch on the TV, set it to the video channel, switch on the VCR, then set it to play. That uses up four commands, try as we might we couldn't think of any situation where we'd need more than half a dozen sequenced commands, let alone ten, though it might make an amusing practical joke, if you could program it with commands to make your friends video, TV and hi-fi do strange things...

 

Programming is very straightforward, the ULR-200 and the remote it is to replace are placed head to head, a few centimetres apart, press the learn button and the button corresponding to the command you wish to learn, then press the matching button on the old remote, watch for the OK light, and its done. There's not a lot to go wrong, the instructions are just about adequate, it works well, even the price is reasonable, if you're suffering from a plague of black boxes this little gadget could provide you with some temporary relief.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model           VIVANCO ULR200

Guide Price             £30

What is it?               'universal' learning infra-red remote control             

Memory capacity    124 commands            

Memory backup      3-minutes (for battery change)

Power source           4 x AAA/UM-4 batteries

Battery life               approx six months

Dimensions              185 x 57 x 14 mm 

Distributor               VIVANCO, Unit C, ATA House, Boundary  Way, Hemel Hempstead HP2 7SS. Telephone (0442) 231616

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   9 

Rationalise your remotes

 

 

DOUBLE VISION

Vision 200 is off to a promising start, the smart two-tone cream and grey case has a distinctly professional look, functional and to the point. The same case style will be used on a number of other Camlink products, we'll be looking at more of them in the coming months. Meanwhile, back to Vision 200 which is a modestly-equipped AV processor with a 3-channel stereo audio mixer, audio and video faders, and a simple two-mode wipe generator, in fact just about everything you need to get started with some serious post-production work, Camlink even supply a set of three AV leads, a SCART adaptor, and a microphone. Best of all it won't cost you an arm and a leg, the basic Vision 200 outfit sells for just under £100. You might also come across a slightly different version, specially packaged for Dixons, it costs a little more but it comes with an instructional video.

 

Camlink have played it safe and used phono sockets for all of the main AV inputs and outputs, standard jack sockets are used for the microphone and headphone connections. On the sloping top panel the controls are clearly divided into four sections. The first copntains the on/off switch and input selector; next to that there's three sliders for the audio mixer. The next two sliders are the main audio and video faders (to and from black), and on the far right there's the wiper section and video by-pass switch. There's a choice of two wipes, horizontal or vertical, which can be either black or white. On the top row of the front panel there's an audio level indicator, made up of a row of winking green, orange and red LEDS, calibrated in decibels. The instructions don't divulge what it's for or what you're supposed to do with it, but it looks quite pretty...

 

It doesn't take long to get to know Vision 200, and it all works very well. Sliders have a nasty habit of being noisy, we're happy to report the ones used on this product are smooth, with a progressive action. The edges of the wipes are clean and there's no bleed-through on the video fade. The audio mixer is equally efficient, there's no additional noise, and no detectable colouration to the sound sources. The only thing Camlink might like to consider is changing the name on the supplied microphone, 'Taky' is not a name to inspire confidence.

 

Vision 200 is a welcome break from the dreary black boxes we've become accustomed to. The designers have struck a good compromise between trying to ape professional equipment, and the amateurish-looking processors that look as though they've been put togethjer in someone's garden shed. It works very well indeed, though it is quite basic and leaves you wanting more, but the price, at just under £100 is very reasonable.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model       CAMLINK VISION 200

Guide Price         £100

Features              3-channel stereo audio mixer, AV fader, wipe generator

Sockets               AV in/out 11 x phono, microphones and headphones 3 x std jack, DC power in

Supplied accs.     microphone and stand, 3 x phono to phono leads, 1 x SCART to phono adaptor, AC mains adaptor

Dimensions        300 x 175 x 40mm        

Distributor           LAMBA plc, Albion Mills, Albion Road, St Albans, Herts AL1 5EB. Telephone (0707) 266222

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   9

Vision of things to come?

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

Guide Price         £

Features             

Sockets               

Dimensions        

Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

Guide Price         £

Features             

Sockets               

Dimensions        

Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

Guide Price         £

Features             

Sockets               

Dimensions        

Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

Guide Price         £

Features             

Sockets               

Dimensions        

Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model      

Guide Price         £

Features             

Sockets                

Dimensions        

Weight               

Distributor          

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

 

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(c) R.Maybury 1993 1203

 


 

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