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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Studio Edit Controller
Guide price £169.99
Systems Source deck:
LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin.
features cut, fade (to/from black or white), preview, on-screen
displays, modifiable EDL (cut, move, copy etc.), battery back up
in/out (phono & S-Video), edit control & IR wand (minijack), DC Power
supply 12 volts DC (adapter
x 170 x 50mm
accuracy +/- frames
R Maybury 1995 2006