VIDEO CAMERA 1996

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LIGHT FANTASTIC

 

INTRO

If youíve got £600 to spend on a edit controller and AV processor  then take a good look at the new MPE200SX Light, a welcome new twist on an old favourite

 

COPY

Video movie-making accessories rarely stay around long enough to acquire classic status but the GSE MPE200X multi-production editor is one of those rare exceptions. This sophisticated editor, video processor and audio mixer first appeared in late 1992, and has remained a firm favourite with serious and semi-pro users ever since. Itís still going strong, but it has now been joined by the MPE-200SX Light, which as the name implies, is a slightly simplified version. Itís cheaper too, selling now for around £600, which is precisely half the price of the MPE-200SX when it was first launched, (though it has since drifted down to £900).

 

There are surprisingly few differences between the two products, at least hardly many that will concern most family video movie-makers, who GSE hope will be attracted to the 200SX Light now that the price has come down. In any event the 200SX Light can be easily upgraded, more about that in a moment. The main features remain largely unchanged, they are:

 

* 199 scene memory

* LANC/Panasonic 5-pin/ IR control protocols for replay and record decks

* VITC and RC timecode facilities

* VITC write on uncoded tapes

* video processing (colour, brightness, saturation)

* 3-channel stereo audio mixer

* 8-page titler

* SIR (sync pulse regeneration)

* upgradability using plug-in smart-card

 

For the record the Original 200SX has in addition full RGB colour control, GSE-Rapid Timecode compatibility and 12-wipe patterns. A separate keyboard for the title facility, and a headset with boom microphone were also included. Theyíve been left out of the Light package to save costs, but whereas the old model used the now defunct XT type keyboard, this one works with any standard AT keyboard, which is the sort that virtually all IBM PCs and compatibles use, and are widely available for less than £20. Holdan, the new distributors for GSE products, rightly assume many video movie makers either have, or can lay their hands on a microphone and headset.

 

Almost everything else remains the same. That includes the sloping black console, with the controls arranged more or less logically into groups, according to function. The input and output connections are based around multi-function DIN sockets; the unit comes with a selection of adaptor leads, that can cope with just about any combination of replay and record deck, including high-band models.

 

SETTING UP

Teaching the controller how to operate the two decks takes only a few minutes. The plug-in memory card is programmed with an up to date library of IR codes, this can be quickly and easily updated as and when new machines appear on the market. The card can also be used to upgrade the 200SX Light to full 200SX and Studio Set (the other MPE controller in the GSE range) specification. Cards cost £399 for the 200SX upgrade, and £499 for the Studio Set version.

 

All set-up operations are covered by an easy to follow, menu-driven on-screen display, which also shows how to connect everything up. Once thatís completed it checks the wiring, tests out the controls and carries out some preliminary calibration tests, to establish pre and post-roll times for the equipment itís going to be used with.

 

IN USE

Itís all very straightforward, cut points are flagged using a single edit in/out button; scene number and times are clearly shown on an inset panel on the monitor output. Data is logged by an on-screen edit decision list (EDL). Edit points can be easily amended; fades titles and special effects can also be added at this stage. The EDL can then be previewed, and if satisfactory, the final edit can be set in motion. The EDL can be permanently stored on VHS tape for further use.

 

Video processing is carried out using on-screen indicators. Changes to any of the main settings are stored in a non-volatile memory. The audio mixer is quite basic, but itís easy to use and the three stereo channels are more than adequate for most  people.

 

PERFORMANCE

Accuracy ultimately depends on the characteristics of the record and play decks, and the time taken to calibrate pre and post-roll times, but with a favourable combination of equipment, it is possible to consistently get to within two or three frames on timecoded material. On uncoded recordings accuracy dropped a little, to around half a second or a dozen or so frames, which is still very good, and fine for most editing jobs.

 

Video passes cleanly through the unit, with no additional noise evident on the outputs. Picture stability is very good, and the SIR system does a fine job of de-jittering old recordings. Titles and wipes are crisp and well defined.

 

THE VERDICT

We grumbled about the almost impenetrable instructions supplied with the MPE200SX; Holdan tell us theyíve been completely re-written for the Light version. Weíve yet to see them, so weíll have to take their word for it, but in just case, you have been warned.

 

Otherwise itís a real delight to use. General performance is very good, it plods along a bit at times, but it gets there in the end and edit accuracy has to potential to rival top-end and semi-pro systems. Our main concern with the MPE200SX was the price, which we felt was prohibitive for family users. This Light version makes it far more accessible, but without sacrificing any of the main features, ease of use, or performance. The facility to upgrade means that even if you do want to move on to bigger and better things, you wonít easily outgrow it. Recommended.

 

THE RIVALS

If youíve got £500 to £600 to spend on a video editor and AV processor you should also take a look at the Vivanco VCR 5034, which has a similar specification, and is actually a little cheaper than the 200SX Light. Otherwise thereís not a lot to choose from, unless youíre willing to spend substantially more, on something like the Hama 230; or significantly less, where thereís a good selection of basic edit controllers now selling for under £300, though none of them have anything like the range of facilities found on the 200SX Light.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                  GSE MPE 200SX Light

Guide price                    £600

Scene memory            199

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

                                    Record deck: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin, programmed IR commands

Timecode systems            RCTC, VITC

Edit features                  scene modify/copy/delete/move, preview, title/effect insert, EDL save to VCR

System features            3-channel audio mixer, video processor (brightness, contrast, saturation), 6-wipe patterns, title generator (2-fonts/4-sizes, 8 pages, 8 background and character colours, wipe effect), SIR (synch pulse reconstruction), VITC write

 

Sockets                        video in/out (phono & S-Video via DIN), edit control & IR wand (DIN), headphone, microphone (minjack), DC power in

Power supply             9 volt AC (mains adapter supplied)

Dimensions                   295 x 225 x 50mm

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                 +/-2 frames (RC-timecode), +/- 12 frame (non-timecode)

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money            9

Ease of use                   8

Performance                  9 

Features                       9

 

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R Maybury 1996 1308

 

 

 


 

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