VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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SEPTEMBER NEWS

 

VIRTUAL VIDEO

Miro Video DC1 TV is the rather long-winded name for a new plug-in board and software package for IBM compatible computers. It’s a powerful editing/processing system that enables video clips to be recorded, edited and generally fiddled around with on a computer. The finished video sequences can then be replayed and recorded by a VCR with what the manufacturers claim to be VHS quality. There’s a lot of work involved converting analogue video into a digital format, that can be processed by a computer; we’re talking cutting-edge technology here, which explains why the system costs the best part of £700; £900 if you opt for the full-spec package with Adobe Premiere image manipulation software. By the way, those prices do not include VAT.

 

Miro Video is designed to run on 486-based machines with at least 8Mb of RAM and a big hard disc, that’s important because digitised video, even in compressed form, eats up disc space and you’re going to need a couple of hundred megabytes spare to do anything meaningful with this system. The board occupies a spare ISA slot on the computer motherboard and functions independently of the PCs operating systems. It has both composite and S-Video inputs and outputs.

 

Included with board is a software suite called Video Studio, this includes a video capture utility that creates a sort of virtual VCR on the computer display, with mouse-operated transport controls and monitor screen. A second program, called Video Editor creates over 20 transition effects and processes sound files, it also features a simple non-linear editing program, so clips and effects can be strung together. The board uses M-JPEG digitising and supports other formats, including MS-Video 1, Indeo 3 and Cinepak, (used in the creation of CD ROM software). We’re evaluating a Miro Video board as we speak, look out for a full test report next month.

 

A VINE TIME

More PC-based video processing packages, this time from Vine Micros who, you may recall, brought us the Multi-Gen genlock adaptor. They’ve got two new products, Coriovision and Video X, and both can be used with IBM PC compatibles with a 386 (or higher) processor, preferably with at least 4Mb of memory.

 

Coriovision is a Windows-based AV mixer-processor, that can mix two free-running sources (composite or S-Video) and combine them using an extensive range of effects including wipes, fades, full dissolve and pans. Coriovision can also generate a selection of digital visual tricks, such as tumble and roll; additionally it can combine computer generated graphics and video using overlay and chroma key options. A video controller facility enables the computer to operate both video sources, for simple editing. The audio side features a three-channel sound mixer (2 stereo 1 mic.), all functions are controllable from the computer’s desktop display. Coriovision goes on sale this month and it will be selling for £995 (plus VAT); an optional JPEG compression unit, which will allow video clips to be recorded and played back from the computer’s hard disc costs an extra £500 (plus VAT).

 

Vine’s second new product is Video X, another AV mixer-processor designed to run in Windows and similar to Coriovision in that it has a two-channel video mixer, though images are not viewable on the computer screen. The effects are controlled from a graphic mixing console on the computer’s display. They include mosaic, strobe, plus wipes, fades and slide, there’s also an option to create custom effects with chroma and luma key functions. Still images can be captured from video and saved to disc as high-quality bitmap files. The video processor has adjustments for brightness, contrast, saturation, white level and colour correction. The audio facilities are based around a three-channel stereo mixer with controls for balance, bass and treble. Video X will be on sale by the time you read this and it costs £595 plus VAT. Test reports are planned for forthcoming issues.

 

WINDOWS ON A MAZE

Maze Technology have finally unveiled the long awaited Video Workshop for Windows. Video Workshop is a high-end editor and processor system for serious and semi-pro users with IBM PC/compatible computers. The complete package, which comprises two plug-in cards, contains its own on-board microprocessor so it makes minimal demands on the host computer’s memory and graphic resources. Facilities include full control of up to three machines (2-source, one record) via LANC , Panasonic 5-pin or infra-red control systems; a second version is available that uses an RS232 interface, for controlling professional VCRs. Source input and preview screens are generated on the computer monitor, along with picture-icons (picons) or mini still frames, taken at each edit point;  these allow the user to build up a kind of visual storyboard or ‘flick-book’ as they’re played back from the computer’s hard disc. With the use of an optional genlock the system can also be used to create titles, graphics and animation effects during replay. Video Workshop also includes synchronised playback of sound samples and effects, control of external devices, such as mixers and processors, via its GPI interface.

 

Video Workshop will run on any 386 or 486 machine with Windows 3.1 or higher and 4Mb or more of memory. The system includes a Windows accelerator card, and should sell for around £1,000; we’re on a promise to see one of the first production versions, hopefully within the next month or two, so watch this space.

 

GOING FOR GOLD

Goldstar will shortly be launching what appears to be a useful, camcorder-friendly VCR called the R-C903i. It’s a 4-head NICAM machine with stereo hi-fi sound and Video Plus+ timer programming. Four video recording heads means it should have good LP and trick play characteristics, but we’re most interested in the video movie-making facilities, like audio dub (on the mono linear soundtrack) a front-mounted AV terminal and built-in title generator, not to mention the price, which at £XXX sounds like pretty good value for money; we’ll let you know as soon as we can get our hands on one to test.

 

MAINTAINING STANDARDS

Video standards conversion has become less of an issue lately, with so many VCRs and laser disc players with NTSC replay facilities. They can play tapes and discs originating from North America or Japan on most reasonably modern PAL TVs, however, the conversion process is only partial and the outputs from these machines cannot be re-recorded on a PAL VCR. Moreover, there’s no equivalent facility on American or Japanese VCRs, that would enable PAL coded tapes and discs to be viewed on NTSC TVs. There are a couple of VCRs with on-board digital standards converters, that can do the job, but they’re either expensive, like the Panasonic NV-W1, or not much good, like a couple of almost forgotten Aiwa machines. Alternatively recordings can be professionally transcoded but now there’s another option in the shape of a pair of stand-alone digital trasncoders from Letropacks.

 

The two models are the VB200S, for one-way NTSC to PAL conversions, and the VB300S, which will convert NTSC  3.58, PAL and SECAM to NTSC 3.58/4.43 or PAL. Resolution is claimed to be 500 lines and they have integral timebase correction for rock-solid picture stability. Prices are £500 and £750 respectively.

 

MISSING LINK

After months of waiting we got ourselves all excited over the imminent arrival of the Philips VR-948 Super VHS VCR. The spec looked like just what the doctor ordered; all the bells and whistles a camcorder owner could wish for (stereo sound, jog/shuttle, front AV, insert edit, audio dub etc. etc.) plus it was going to be the first machine ever with both Control L and Panasonic 5-pin edit terminals. Then what happens? The edit terminals turn out to be nothing more than a fancy syncro-edit feature, what a let-down! You can find out just how annoyed we are on page XX...

 

WORTH THE WAIT

Some things are worth waiting for, though, and we include the Sony EV-S9000 Hi8 VCR on that list. This machine which we first told you about earlier in the year is the subject of an extensive test report next month. It’s painfully expensive, weighs a ton and doesn’t play VHS tapes but we reckon it’s just about the best VCR we’ve seen in quite some time. In addition to pin-sharp pictures it’s got not one, but two stereo soundtracks, normal FM hi-fi plus a dubbable PCM digital soundtrack. It has all the editing features you could want, including insert edit, front AV terminal, jog/shuttle dials, and an 8-scene assemble-edit controller, Control L edit terminal and timebase correction, for stable copies. Best of all, though, the controls are mounted on a motorised drawer that slides out from the front of the machine, now that’s got to be worth £1600 of anyone’s money, find out more next month.

 

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Ó R.Maybury 1994 2006

 


 

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