VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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LEADING ROLE

It always happens at the worst possible moment. You get a new piece of equipment home, or you’re setting up to copy or edit a recordings, and you’re missing one vital lead or connector. You can bet the shops will have just closed, and won’t be opening again until Monday morning...

 

Heavy-duty AV enthusiasts normally end up with large collections of obscure plugs and cables that mysteriously entwine themselves with each other, and even then you can never find the right one, but the sensible approach is to get hold of a multi-purpose lead kit, that covers the most frequently-encountered permutations. The Alba ACC2001 is a good place to start. To begin with it’s cheap, just £12.95, which is less that you would expect to pay for a single SCART-to SCART lead. The kit is neatly packed inside a blow-moulded carry case. A bit too neatly in fact, and once the leads have been unwrapped it’s almost impossible to get them back into their compartments...

 

The outfit centres on two SCART connectors, one wired for AV inputs, the other for outputs. They’re both fitted with 6-pin DIN sockets, which connect to the kit’s 2-metre link cable, terminated at both ends with a 6-pin DIN plug. This plugs into a variety of lead sets, including the other SCART connector, phono leads, 8-pin mini DIN’s plus a wide selection of adaptor plugs. The kit covers a lot of ground, and some of the connectors are rarely seen these days, on domestic equipment at least, but if means you shouldn’t get caught out. In fact the only significant omission are any S-Video leads. The quality of the leads and connectors is fairly average -- no gold plated contacts here -- but they’re not the sort of thing you would use for a permanent hook-ups, and it is great value for money.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                  Alba ACC2001 SCART Kit

Guide Price                   £12.95

Features                       SCART connector kit, to phono, mini jack, 5-pin DIN and BNC 

Contents                       1 AV in SCART, 1 AV out SCART, 2 x 6-pin DIN to 3 x phono, 2 x 5-pin DIN to 2 x phono, 1 x 6-pin DIN to 6-pin DIN, 1 x phono to 2 x phono, 1 x 8-pin mini DIN to 6-pin DIN, 2 x BNC to phono adaptors, 2 x 3.5mm jack to phono adaptors, 2 x SO239 to phono adaptors             

Distributor                     ALBA/BUSH ELECTRONICS, Harvard House, Thames Road, Barking, Essex IG11 OHX. Telephone 0181-594 5533

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   8

Well connected, at an affordable price

 

CUTTING REMARKS

Easy Cut is part of Hama’s ‘Starterkit’ range, and as the name implies this is a simple to use edit controller. Hama are probably best known for their high-end post-production systems, but they’ve recognised the need for more affordable equipment, without the frills and any unnecessary facilities. Nevertheless, Easy Cut is far from basic, and it can work with a wide range of camcorders and VCRs, though the source machines must have a Control L/LANC, or Panasonic’s 5/11-pin RMC edit terminal. The VCR can be almost any type, providing it has infra-red remote control. In addition to the editing facilities it has a three channel stereo audio mixer and video enhancer.

 

Easy Cut has a similar assortment of facilities to a couple of other edit controllers we’ve seen recently, and indeed the motherboard is manufactured by the same company, though the Hama version is styled to match the other Starterkit components and contains a number of enhancements. The outfit, which costs £200, is extremely well equipped. In addition to the controller, connecting leads and IR wand,  it also comes with a set of headphones and a microphone. The controller has a built-in library of IR commands, covering the most popular makes of VCR, other versions we’ve seen only have learning IR controls. Easy Cut has that as well, though the programmed commands make the set-up procedure a lot faster, or at least they should. The instructions are a bit vague in places and it’s possible to get into a tangle with some machines over their record-pause release control protocols.

 

Everything is controlled from an on-screen display, this shows scene numbers, counter readouts and transition effects. There are three to choose from: a straight cut, fade in or out to black, and fade in or out to white. Up to 192 scenes can be stored in the Easy Cut’s memory and once they’ve been defined -- by pressing the large in/out keys -- they can be displayed by an on-screen edit decision list (EDL). All of the main parameters can be changed, including scene order, scene length (edit in and out points), scene repeat etc. and transition effects. Some tasks are a little cumbersome though, especially if there are a lot of scenes to be re-worked. The controller automatically sorts the scenes into chronological order, irrespective of the order they were originally designated. There’s a preview mode, or the recording can be committed to tape, by pressing the blue ‘edit’ button. 

 

Apart from that most other operations are reasonably logical and straightforward. The controller has no timecodes facilities, it can read RC timecode data, though it treats it as a normal counter display. Cut accuracy is therefore dependent on the source machine’s counter, which in most cases will be to within +/- one second or 25 frames. There is a facility to alter machine timings, and with a little care it is possible to achieve cuts to within a dozen or so frames on a short sequence.

 

Easy Cut is a very welcome newcomer and should be of particular interest to home video move makers looking for a versatile and simple to use one-box editing and post-production system, at a very sensible price. Recommended.

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                  Hama Easy Cut

Guide Price                   £200

Scene memory            192

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

                                   programmed/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.)

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

Accessories                  IR control lead, Control L and 5-pin control cables, microphone and stand, headphones. 2 c stereo AV cables

Power supply             12 volts DC (adapter supplied)

Dimensions                   320 x 210 x 55mm     

Weight              0.8kg

Distributor                     HAMA Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, Hants RG24 OWF Telephone (01256) 708110

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   9

Outstanding mid-range edit controller

 

DIRECT ACTIONS

The Canadian company Gold Disc were one of the first to recognise the potential of computers as editing tools for home video movie making and their Video Director system is now in its fourth, (or fifth....?) incarnation. Video Director Suite follows hard on the heels of the simple ‘Home’ version (reviewed in the October issue) and like its stablemate, it has the facility to control source decks that do not have edit terminals. This is does by generating infra-red remote control commands, to operate the deck’s tape transport, but because there’s no direct link between the machine and the controller accuracy is rather poor.

 

Video Director is far more successful when it has hard-wire control over the source deck, using the supplied ‘smart cable’ which connects to the computer’s serial port.  One lead from the connector goes to the camcorder’s Control L/LANC socket (we’re still waiting the Panasonic 5-pin version), the other lead terminates in a small box containing infra-red transmitter and receiver diodes. The software supplied with Video Director is little changed from previous versions, though like the ‘Home’ version it has a label printer, that can be configured for all current tape formats.

 

The on-screen graphics are similar to the earlier Video Directors, with the same clear machine control and tape library/EDL windows. Once configured everything is controlled by pointing and clicking the mouse. The tape library display has the option to show captured frames from the source recording, to build up a visual storyboard, though this requires additional hardware, as does the ‘suite’ of applications that come with this package. They’re a collection of programs on a CD ROM. They can be loaded onto the PC’s hard disc, or run from the CD ROM. They include a title editor, animation editor and sound editor, but it’s important to restate that they’re totally dependent on the PC being  fitted with additional hardware, including a CD ROM drive, sound card and video capture/output cards, otherwise there’s no way of running the software, or getting titles, amimations or sound effects out of the computer and onto the edited footage.

 

Performance is little changed from previous versions. With a little perseverence it’s possible to get near frame-accurate cuts. The system is generally easy to use, though not especially fast -- the mouse slows it down, compared with dedicated controls -- nevertheless it’s quite capable of putting together quite complicated productions; the software is flexible and will appeal to newcomers and enthusiasts alike.

 

This latest version is designed to appeal more to PC enthusiasts with camcorders, rather than the other way around. Many of the features are dependant on the user having a highly specified multi-media machine,  with the requisite CD ROM drive and video cards; those with humbler machines would probably do best to stick with Video Diector Home and save themselves a few bob.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                  Video Director Suite

Guide Price                   £99.95

Control Systems            LANC/Control L,programmed/learnt IR commands

Timecode systems            RCTC, SMPTE

Edit features                  modifiable EDL (cut, move, copy etc.)

Distributor                     GOLD DISK UK, Castle Hill House, Castle Hill, Windsor, Bucks SL4 1PD Telephone (01753) 832238

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   9

Editing for PC enthusiasts

 

 

SPECIFICATION

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Features                        

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Dimensions                  

Weight             

Distributor                    

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                 

Guide Price                   £

Features                        

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Dimensions                  

Weight             

Distributor                    

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                 

Guide Price                   £

Features                        

Sockets                       

Dimensions                  

Weight             

Distributor                    

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                 

Guide Price                   £

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Sockets                       

Dimensions                  

Weight             

Distributor                    

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   X

 

 

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Ó R.Maybury 1995 2710

 


 

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