VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

FUTURE TENSE?

 

INTRO

Hereís a real blast from the past, an edit controller that first saw light of day back in 1986, but has it moved with the times?

 

COPY

Depending on how long youíve been involved with video movie-making, and how good your memory is, the Future Video EC-1000 PRO MK II edit controller might look familiar. Itís a reincarnation of the Woodbury WEC-1000 which we first told you about in one of the very first issues of Video Camera, back in 1990; it was actually launched in the USA four years earlier. The EC-1000 has been updated from the original WEC-1000 -- this is effectively the Mark III --  but theyíre still very obviously peas from the same pod. The main difference, though is the new controller can read RC timecodes, and some professional coding systems, though sadly not VITC.

 

Time for some basic facts and figures. The EC-1000 uses hard-wire control systems so both the source (playback) and destination (record) decks must have suitable editing terminals, either Control L (LANC) or Panasonic 5/11-pin (RMC). They donít have to be both the same, so you could use it to edit from a Sony camcorder to a Panasonic VCR, for example. It has an 8-scene memory and it can handle, or rather it will enable the record deck to make video or audio inserts. It can also carry out synchronised A/B roll edits from two source machines with an optional switch box; interface with a computer to create an edit decision list, and control external devices via a GPI trigger.

 

The price is just under £500, and it comes with a set of interface leads (Control L and 5-pin, unless you specify otherwise), a mains power adapter and a book, called The Real Facts About Desktop Editing. This is available separately for £16.99, which will be refunded if you buy an EC-1000. A ĎWindowsí based computer software package for IBM PCs and compatibles is being prepared. This will enable the EC-100 to be controlled by a PC via its serial interface; (details of how to interface the controller with other types of computer -- Amigas, Mac etc. -- are included in the instructions). The PC software will create an edit decision list and give access to a number of additional semi-pro features, including A/B roll. The price has still to be confirmed but the package is expected to cost £250 and £300.

 

The decision not to include an infra-red control system, so that it could be used with VCRs without edit terminals, is quite deliberate. We understand the necessary hardware and software for IR control has been developed by the US manufacturer, but there are no plans to market it. The reason they havenít done so is to maintain the systemís accuracy; the wired interface gives direct control over the deckís tape transport system, which reduces timing errors considerably and improves consistency, moreover, it enables audio and video insert edits, which are not possible using IR control systems.

 

DESIGN AND USE

The controller is a little longer and slightly fatter than a VHS cassette. The top panel is covered by touch-sensitive membrane marked with the various functions. In the top half thereís an LED display showing tape counter/time-code readout and cut number, in the bottom left-hand corner thereís a set of familiar-looking transport keys, and in the middle thereís the large edit controls. A set of buttons on the right side switch between record and playback decks and control mode selection. Thereís only two leads so connecting it up to the record and replay decks takes only a minute or two. The set-up procedures are also very straightforward and involves selecting a code number, relating to the make and model of the two decks, this automatically compensates for timing differences. For some reason we cannot understand the code is not stored, and it has to be reset every time the unit is switched on. The manual suggests leaving the controller switched on all the time but this seems a rather drastic, not to say wasteful solution.

 

Once the codes has been set operation is very simple, and we wouldnít dispute Futureís claim that anyone can figure out how to use it inside an hour, if you canít work it out in ten minutes thereís probably something wrong with you... The transport controls include still and frame advance, though the latter can only be used if that function is supported by the decks. Once each cut has been defined thereís the option to preview the edits, or commit them to tape. Cut points can be reviewed but they cannot be altered, in fact the only way to change them is to execute them again, or insert a new scene over the top. It should be possible to modify edit points using the PC control system but we havenít been able to verify that as it wasnít ready in time for this review.

 

Inserting new audio or video (or both) segments into a previously recorded tape is almost as simple, and because the system is hard-wired, accuracy is, or should be spot on, though again thereís no facility to amend the cut in or out points without re-doing them.

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy is exceptionally good, we tried it with a selection of camcorders and VCRs that were to hand and in all cases we were able to get to within +/- 15 frames on uncoded material, and around +/- 3 frames using timecode recordings, though in practice this kind of accuracy may be difficult to achieve; thereís no means of changing the edit points and the limited tape control facilities means cuts have to be defined manually on most machines, which brings the userís own reactions -- i.e. how quickly you can press the buttons -- into the equation. However, the most impressive thing we found was consistency, accuracy hardly wavered when cutting widely spaced segments, or if the programme involved the tape shuttling back and forth.

 

VERDICT

This is a difficult one. The Woodbury Mk I was a good controller in its day, and there was little in the way of competition but things have moved on and the EC-1000 has to survive in a world populated by a score or more of other edit controllers and PC-based editing packages. In its favour it has to be said that editing accuracy is high, itís very consistent, it can read RC timecode and it has a couple of unique tricks. Moreover, itís unique in that itís the only controller we know of that can be hard-wired to both Control L and Panasonic 5-pin equipped decks.

 

Unfortunately thereís rather too many minus points for our liking, starting with the price. For the same money you could get a Sony AL100, Thumbs Up or any one of half a dozen other controllers and PC packages, none of which are anything like as fussy about what they will work with, and useful facilities like on-screen displays, edit decision lists and in some cases VITC compatibility as well. The 8-scene memory is a bit mean, itís even smaller than the one on the original Woodbury controller (it had a 10-scene memory), and weíre not at all happy about being unable to modify cut points, we consider this a very basic facility. Setting the deck control codes every time itís switched on is a chore and suggesting that itís left switched on is absurd.  Despite the facelift and a few extra features this controller is still firmly rooted in 1986, but video movie-making has moved on, leaving the EC1000 far behind.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                 Future Video EC 1000 PRO MK II

Guide price                  £600

Scene memory            8

Control Systems            Source deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin. 

                                   Record deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin

Timecode systems            RCTC, SMPTE on audio track (with adapter)

Edit features                preview

 

Sockets                        edit control, serial control, GP1

Power supply             7.5volts DC (adapter supplied)

Dimensions                  210 x 39 x 112mm

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                +/- 3 frames (timecode); +/- 15 frames (uncoded)

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money 6

Ease of use                 8

Performance              8 

Features                     5

 

---end---

R Maybury 1994 2010

 

 

 


 

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