VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

IQ CHALLENGE

 

INTRO

With all the attention focused on PC editing systems it’s easy to forget that not everyone has a computer, so it’s good to see new stand-alone edit controllers are still coming on to the market, including this one from IQ

 

COPY

It doesn’t happen very often, but every now again along comes one of those products that begs the question, ‘where have you been all my life...’? The IQ Studio Edit Controller if one of them. It’s a fairly ordinary-looking black box, similar in style and layout to the two other products in the IQ ‘Studio’ system (one is a titler, the other a processor), in fact the only thing that stands out is the price, just £169.99, making it one of, if not the cheapest edit controllers on the market. Until recently such a low price would have meant one thing, that it was a simple one-scene cut-box, and not really an edit controller at all, in the accepted sense.

 

We’re pleased to say that the Studio Edit Controller is the real thing;  it has a 190-scene memory, a fully modifiable edit decision list (EDL), fader and enhancer. It can handle composite and S-Video configured signals, and it works with both Sony and Panasonic camcorders fitted with Control L/LANC and 5-pin edit terminals. None of those features are unusual, but this is the first time they’ve appeared together on a controller costing less than £200.

 

The only thing missing is a timecode facility, which is a shame, but that’s not the market this controller is aimed at, and it would have added to the price. It’s been designed with family users in mind, who want to make presentable holiday or wedding videos, or possibly even small scale productions, and in that context it fits the bill precisely.

 

So far so good, but how easy is it to set-up and use? IQ rack up a few more brownie points with the instruction book, it’s not especially well written, but it is easy to follow. Each step is clearly explained, even the normally troublesome control configuration procedure went smoothly. The controller comes with two control leads, for Control L/LANC or Panasonic 5-pin equipped source machines, the record deck relies on infra-red remote commands sent from a fancy-looking wand; these have to be learnt from the machine’s handset. Learning IR is by far the simplest method; controllers with stored commands inevitably have gaps in their libraries. The set-up system on the Studio controller appears as a menu option on the on-screen display, all the user has to do is select the function to be learned, then point the handset at an IR sensor on the top panel, the display confirms that the command has been successfully stored by showing ‘OK’. The source machine control set-up is even easier, just select LANC or 5-pin from the menu options.

 

The instruction manual contains a blank edit decision list which the user is encouraged to photocopy. The idea is to watch the tape and note down each scene, before anything is committed to tape. To begin editing it’s necessary to clear the memory, then press the reset button, this automatically rewinds the tape in the record deck and resets the counter on the source machine. Next, play the master tape, and using the large ‘in’ and ‘out’ buttons mark the beginning and end of each scene. Unfortunately -- and this is the only real gripe -- the controller cannot cope with scene lengths of less than 3 seconds. The display screen shows counter information, and scene number. When all of the scenes have been stored the full EDL can be seen by pressing the ‘program’ button. The EDL is arranged into five columns; column 1 shows the running order, column 2 is the scene number, column 3 shows the transition effect and columns 4 and 5 are the counter numbers for each edit in and out point.

 

Basic changes are very easy to make; edit in and out points, for instance can be changed by moving a flashing cursor onto the counter number fields and pressing the ‘in’ and ‘out’ buttons to step the counter up or down, a second at a time, (it still won’t let the user create a scene lasting less than 3-seconds). Scene transitions are selected in the same way, there’s six options, including hard cuts and fades, to or from black or white. Other tasks are not so easy and swapping scenes around, for instance, involves copying both scene to their new positions, and deleting the original entries. It’s a bit convoluted, and it’s pays to keep a note of what you’re doing on paper, but provided you don’t want to make too many detailed alterations it’s tolerable.

 

Once the EDL has been finalised the program can be rehearsed for a final check, before committing it to tape. Pressing the blue ‘edit’ buttons sets the controller going, it takes over the transport functions of both decks, including putting the record machine into record-pause mode.

 

PERFORMANCE

The Studio controller cannot read timecodes, (it will display RCTC data, though not frame numbers), so accuracy is not a major issue. On our sample single cuts were made to within a second or +/- 25 frames of the cut points, edits made over a ten minute segment were no more than 3 seconds out after ten scenes, which isn’t too bad. Scene transitions, i.e. fades, are smooth and progressive; the enhancer doesn’t do a lot, we ended up leaving it on the minimum setting.

 

SUMMARY

IQ have got it just about right. The Studio edit controller  works with the widest possible range of equipment, it’s very easy to set up and use, and provided you’re not planning anything too ambitious, it has enough flexibility to suit most home video movie-makers, but above all it doesn’t cost a lot. Similarly equipped controllers normally sell for between two and three times as much, and even them some of them are not as easy to use as this one. Edit controllers have always been regarded as a bit of a luxury, with the arrival of the Studio controller they’re now no more expensive than most other post production devices. Now all we need is a few more camcorder manufacturers to fit edit terminals....

 

THE RIVALS

The only other budget controller worth considering is the Videonics Thumbs Up, which has been around for a couple of years now and can be found selling for less than £200. Camlink are also about to launch a new low-cost edit controller, called Vision 700, this will retail for just under £300. The specification is remarkably, if not uncannily similar to the IQ Studio... After that the price of controllers with any sort of specification, that is worth having, starts climbing.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                 IQ Studio Edit Controller

Guide price                  £169.99

Scene memory            190

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

                                   learnt IR commands

Timecode systems            none

Edit features                cut, fade (to/from black or white), preview, on-screen displays, modifiable EDL (cut, move, copy etc.), battery back up

 

Sockets                        AC in/out (phono & S-Video), edit control & IR wand (minijack), DC Power in

Power supply             12 volts DC (adapter supplied)

Dimensions                  270 x 170 x 50mm

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                +/-  frames

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money 9

Ease of use                 8

Performance              9 

Features                     9

 

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R Maybury 1995 2006

 

 

 

 


 

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