VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

HAMA CHAMELEON

 

INTRO

Top-end edit controller have been a bit thin on the ground lately, but this one from Hama has definitely been worth the wait. Rick Maybury has been trying out the Video Cut 222, and heís quite impressed...

 

COPY

Serious edit controllers look like they belong in the Space Shuttle, and you need a degree in computer engineering to use them right? Wrong. Some of them might give that impression, but most of them are reasonably easy to use, once youíve read the instructions, and used them for a little while.

 

The  Hama Video Cut 222 suffers from a an entirely different sort of image problem, it looks far too simple to be able to do anything worthwhile, but as we know, appearances can be very deceptive. The 222 is actually one of the most sophisticated edit controllers on the market, itís also the cheapest stand-alone three-machine controller, though with a retail price of just under £700, perhaps we should say itís least expensive....

 

The general specification covers a lot of ground, hereís the highlights:

* 150-scene memory

* 30-wipe patterns

* timecode operation (RCTC, VITC, Rapid)

* VITC write

* menu-driven on-screen display and edit decision list

* 20-page title generator (24 characters per line, max 12 lines)

* AV fader

* jog/shuttle control for supported decks

* multi format (VHS/S-VHS-C, 8mm/Hi8) compatibility

* composite/S-Video compatibility and conversion

* external device control

* optional PC interface for EDL management

 

Itís off to a good start, but it gets better. The 222 has hard-wire machine control for all three decks, (two source, one record), plus stored-command and learning IR remote control for the record VCR. The options are Control L/LANC, Panasonic 5-Pin, PC-VCR and a new one, JVC. Thatís right, itís possible to use JVC camcorders as source decks, though before you rush out thereís a couple of ifs and buts. To begin with it will only work with machines fitted with a particular remote socket, youíll find a list of known compatible machines below. Secondly, it only works on VITC coded source tapes. The 222 can write VITC data, so second generation source tapes could be used, though this will entail some quality loss as the final recording will be a third generation copy.

 

The ease of the initial set-up and configuration is entirely machine dependent. If the source and record decks are straightforward mixture of Sony or Panasonic machines, no problem. More obscure VCRs might require some messing around with learning IR codes, and we suspect one or two odd-bods may not work at all, so check before you buy. The various options are selected from the on-screen display, and these include manual or automatic setting of pre-and post-roll times. Auto configuration is the simplest, it takes just a few minutes, once thatís done itís ready to use.

 

The display screen shows everything you need to know, superimposed over the source image. Compiling the edit list involves selecting the define scene menu, this brings up the tape counter or timecode displays for the edit in and out points, the first cut-point is found, using the jog/shuttle dial, and the red cut button pressed. The source machine controls all forward speed modes, and still, and cuts can be designated on the fly, or entered whilst the tape is stationery. Unfortunately the controller doesnít support reverse still, frame advance or play, which is available on some machines, and is very useful for quickly pinpointing a particular frame.

 

After the cut-in point has been stored the counter cursor moves to the edit-out field. Again  find the point and press the cut button. The display then changes to a simple title display, so the scene can be given a name or ident, if needed. This is then added to the edit decision list, and the display it moves to scene two, and so on.

 

Once the EDL has been compiled itís possible to move, copy or delete scenes, though surprisingly not directly alter cut points. They can be changed, either by dumping the EDL onto a PC, using an optional interface kit, or by re-running the scene and entering a new cut point. This rather awkward, not to say time-consuming process seems slightly incongruous on what is otherwise a very slick and easy to use system.

 

While weíre on the subject, there are a couple of other minor gripes. Getting the source deck into play mode requires a bit of fiddling about. First the jog shuttle button has to be pressed, then the spring-loaded shuttle dial turned to the play position, if itís released the deck returns to play-pause. To lock the play mode -- to review a longer scene -- itís necessary to press and hold the enter button for a moment or two. The instructions are a bit long winded in places, in others it skirts over what we would consider to be fairly important functions, like the wipe generator, for example. The 222 has 30 patterns, but nowhere could we find a graphic or description to show us what they were. The only way to find out is to select a pattern (requiring several button presses on the EDL menu), and watch a demo. A simple crib card would be very useful.

 

PERFORMANCE

In a word, outstanding. This is the first controller in quite a while that has actually managed to achieve frame-accurate cuts over our standard 10-scene test sequence. This was using a Sony Hi8 camcorder, with RCTC source tapes and Sony VCR, ideal conditions in fact, but it shows it can be done. Substituting a Panasonic camcorder for the source machine, and a JVC VCR resulted in a small reduction in accuracy, to around +/- 5 frames on VITC tapes, and +/-25 using the source deckís counter, but these are still very good results, and equal to anything weíve seen on high-end systems.

 

VERDICT

It might not look much, and £700 is a lot of money for an edit controller, but this is a very serious piece of kit. Edit accuracy can be excellent using RCTC material, though bear in mind what weíve said about ideal conditions. Even so, with a typical mix and match system it can still show most other controllers a clean pair of heels. Itís our duty to point out that there are cheaper controllers on the market, some of them are very good, but if accuracy, consistency and two-machine control are a prime concerns then this controller comes very highly recommended.

 

BOX COPY 1

Compatible JVC Camcorders

GV-S1000, GR-S707, GR-S99, GR-S70, GR-S90, GR-S50, GR-S77, GR-60, GR-SX9, GR.323, GR-M5, GR-M3, GR-AX7, GR-AX10, GR-AX50, GR-AW1, and Ferguson clones, SC16 and SC23

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                 Hama Video Cut 222

Guide price                  £699.99

Scene memory            150 scenes

Control Systems            Source deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-Pin, JVC Remote & PC-VCR 

                                   Record deck: learning infra-red, LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-Pin, JVC Remote & PC-VCR

Timecode systems            RCTC, VITC & RAPID

Edit features                save and delete, preview, preset effects

Effects                          30 wipe patterns, AV fade, cut, 30-page title generator, external device control

 

Sockets                        AV in/out (phono & SCART), S-Video in (mini DIN), Control L and IR wand (mini DIN) DC power in

Supplied accessories            mains adaptor,  Control L lead, Panasonic 5-pin (x2), IR wand

Power supply             12 volts DC (adapter supplied)

Dimensions                  272 x 258 x 60

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                frame-accurate on RCTC material. +/5 -frame VITC, +/- 25-frames uncoded

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money 8

Ease of use                 7

Performance              8

Features                     9

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1995 2507

 


 

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