Videoís EC1000 controller assumes a new role as a pro-grade editing system when
itís connected to a PC running V-Station for Windows
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Make/Model Future Video V-Station for Windows
Guide price £250
requirements IBM PC or compatible with 386 processor or higher, 4Mb
RAM, Windows 3.1, Future EC1000 edit controller
Systems Source deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin.
deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin
systems RCTC, SMPTE on audio track (with adapter)
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)
accuracy +/- 1 frames (timecode); +/- 8 frames (uncoded)
R Maybury 1995 1001