VIDEO CAMERA 1995

 BootLog.co.uk

HomeSoftwareArchiveTop TipsGlossaryOther Stuff

REVIEW

 

HEAD

STATION

 

INTRO

Future Videoís EC1000 controller assumes a new role as a pro-grade editing system when itís connected to a PC running V-Station for Windows

 

COPY

Our review of the Future EC1000 Mk II edit controller in the January issue of Video Camera was a little lukewarm, to say the least, but this highly accurate, though somewhat inflexible controller has been given a new lease of life with a PC software control program called V-Station for Windows.

 

V-Station takes advantage of the EC1000ís serial interface, which allows it to be controlled by a computer. Itís a very useful arrangement, the EC100ís key feature is hardwire control of two source decks and one record deck, moreover, because it can read the counter or time-codes (RCTC, VITC with adaptor) of both machines it is capable of near professional results. Itís also one of the very few controllers on the market that can carry out video and audio inserts. However, we felt that it was let down by the fact that it only had an 8-scene memory and it was not possible to indepenedently modify edit in and out points, once they had been set. V-Station changes all that, the EC100 is transformed into a sophistciated interface box for the hardware, whilst V-Station takes care of the management and control side of things.

 

The system addresses our two principle concerns with the EC1000, it increases the size of the scene memory from 8 to 10,000; and secondly, it generates a comprehensive edit decision list (EDL) whereby every parameter -- including cut points -- can be independently adjusted and edited. V-Station brings a number of other important facilities to the relationship, including A/B roll (with an external switcher) and numerous advanced EDL features, one of which is the option to save files to the industry-standard CMX format, so edits compiled on V-Station can be performed using professional equipment.

 

Before we start the guided tour a few words about what the system requires, in terms of PC hardware. V-Station is designed to run on an IBM PC or compatible with a 386, 486 or Pentium processor. The machine should to be reasonably quick, and it will need at least 4MB of RAM memory. V-Station runs under MS Windows and it needs version 3.1 or higher. The program takes up less than 2Mb of hard disc space but another couple of spare megabytes will come in handy for storing big EDL files. V-Station will work with almost any combination of video systems and formats, the only proviso is that both source and destination decks must have edit terminals, the system supports the most commonly used Control L and Panasonic 5-pin control protocols.

 

Needless to say itís also necessary to have an EC1000 controller, theyíre currently selling for around 400, we understand both packages (EC1000 and V-Station) will be bundled together at a competitive price, more details when we get them.

 

INSTALLATION

The software is supplied on a single 3.5 inch floppy and it comes with a serial cable, to link the PC to the EC100, the connecting leads needed to link the controller to the video decks are included in the EC1000 outfit. The program loads onto the PCís hard disc from the Windows Program Manager, thereís a minimum of formalities, the only thing it needs to know is which Com port will be used to link the PC to the EC1000, itís all quite painless.

 

When the program starts up it runs through a checking routine,  to make sure all of the hardware connections are in place -- it assumes the EC1000 controller has been set up properly --  if everything is okay controller and VTR icons are highlighted and its ready to go. Thereís an option to calibrate (rewind tape and reset counters) the connected decks before you begin. The display then changes to the edit desk. This has two VTR control panel windows, (or three depending how many source machines are connected). These have conventionally labelled transport buttons, activated by the mouse pointer, and a counter/timecode display. Clicking on the VTR letter (A, B or R) brings up a configuration panel for each deck with adjustments for preroll time, pre and post roll trims, offset, counter reset, timecode selection, tape transport options, counter zero and tape eject.

 

Above the VTR boxes is the EDL, the default display on our Beta program  showed just three lines, though we understand later versions could have 8 lines, in any case itís a simple enough matter to add more, or change the default in the programís ĎINIí file. To add extra lines just click on the last line and press shift and return on the keyboard. All of the windows can be moved around the edit desk, to suit individual preferences. At the top of the screen are menu and tool bars, the latter with icons, to quickly select frequently-used items from the menu.

 

UP AND RUNNING

The system functions on a number of levels, from basic video-only assemble edits, to video and audio inserts, with special effects, right up to A/B roll editing with two source machines and full post production facilities. To carry out simple two-machine edits simply locate the cut points of the beginning and end of each scene, using the tape transport buttons for the source machine. At the designated cut points click into the ĎSrc Iní and ĎSrc Outí (source in and out) fields in the EDL, using the right mouse button, immediately the counter or time code appears in the relevant box. The EC1000 controller supports all of the transport control functions available on the source deck, (including trick play and jog/shuttle), and itís possible to trim the edit points to within a single frame, even on uncoded material, as the controller automatically interopolates frame numbers. Itís also possible to modify the displayed cut point on the EDL at any time, simply by re-entering a new number, or by double clicking on the relevant field, which brings up a simple mouse-activated up/down display.

 

Next to the edit in and out points there are two additional fields, for specifying the record in and out points on the destination VCR, making it possible to determine where on the tape you want each scene to go. This is a powerful facility rarely, if ever seen outside of professional edit systems. If itís not required the system can automatically assign sequential record points, calculating the relevant counter readings as it goes.

 

Each line on the EDL can be cut, copied, pasted or deleted using the mouse to identify and move items around the EDL. If there are any changes to the EDL, the cut and record points can be automatically recalculated using a facility called clean and ripple, this will also ensure that there are no gaps or overlaps on the finished recording. Once the EDL is complete the edits may be rehearsed, or it can be performed.

 

ADVANCED OPTIONS

This is where it gets interesting, and V-Station leaves most other edit control systems standing. There are numerous advanced options, far too many to list here in fact, but hereís a few of the tastier items on the menus. The EDL has space to identify each scene, not just a few words, but room enough for up to 32,000 characters! Also on the EDL is a field called mode, this specifies the type of edit selected, ie video only, audio, audio and video insert etc etc....

 

The next field selects the transition effect or switcher assignment, depending how the rest of the system is configured. Basically it controls the EC1000ís GPI trigger, determining which effect or switching action is assigned to each scene. V-Station is pre-configured for Panasonic production mixers, plus Videonics MX-1 and Titlemaker, we understand support for other post production systems will be added as and when they become available.  

 

The system generates a wide variety of dialogue boxes, including program length, which can be called up at any time;  all cut points can be globally altered using modify time boxes. ĎZoomí on the menu bar brings up a large window from which it is possible to access a variety of specialised funtions, along with detailed information about each scene, and the status of the video decks. 

 

PERFOMANCE

First a few general points. The layout and design of the desktop is very straightforward, and it should look and feel familiar to anyone used to Windows-based software. Some of the more advanced operations can be a bit involved, fortunately the program has a comprehensive on-line help facility, and thereís always the instruction book...

 

When rehearsing or performing edits the screen becomes rather cluttered with boxes, obscuring the EDL, and other windows, so itís not always possible to see what is going on. The boxes can be moved, but not re-sized, which is a little inconvenient. Our system crashed a couple of times, and once or twice it went into slomo mode, where things happened very slowly, but we put this down to the fact that ours was an early version; any bugs should have sorted by the time it goes on sale. Otherwise it performed very well indeed.

 

Using timedcoded source material edit accuracy was consistently to within +/- 1 frame, we tried a number of VCR and camcorder permutations and on uncoded recordings we managed to acheive +/-5 frames without any trouble at all, using a mixture of Sony and Panasonic machines.

 

VERDICT

That really is only a snapshot of what the V-Station and EC1000 can do, we could fill another couple of pages on its more advanced facilities but suffice it to say that professionals will find much about the system familiar. Back in the real world of domestic camcorders and VCRs the only real problem with V-Station is that it is quite fussy about what it will work with, and it assumes that firstly both your VCR and camcorder have got suitable edit terminals, and you already have, or are prepared to get an EC1000 controller. If  you are so-blessed, and youíve got a PC as well, then youíre going to have to look long and hard to find a system that matches this one in terms of performance, flexibility and accuracy; and if you do manage to find one you can bet it will cost substantially more than £850.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                             Future Video V-Station for Windows

Guide price                              £250

System requirements               IBM PC or compatible with 386 processor or higher, 4Mb RAM, Windows 3.1, Future EC1000 edit controller

Scene memory                        10,000

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                            assemble edit, video insert, audio dub, AV insert, GPI trigger, time-lapse, frame number interpolation, preview EDL management (auto tag, auto calc, cut, copy, insert, delete, paste, sort, clean and ripple)

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                +/- 1 frames (timecode); +/- 8 frames (uncoded)

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money 7

Ease of use                 8

Performance              9 

Features                     9

 

---end---

R Maybury 1995 1001

 

 


 

[Home][Software][Archive][Top Tips][Glossary][Other Stuff]


Copyright (c) 2005 Rick Maybury Ltd.

admin@rickmaybury.com