VIDEO CAMERA 1996

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ARMCHAIR EDITOR

 

INTRO

Remote Cut from Hama is one of those Ďwhy hasnít someone done it beforeí sort of products. Editing home video movies just got a whole lot easier, as Rick Maybury has been finding out

 

COPY

Editing can be a chore, thereís no getting away from it. Itís okay once youíve got everything hooked up, and the actual editing process is usually quite enjoyable, but itís a pain having to connect everything up, in the knowledge that itís all got to be taken apart again an hour or two later. Then thereís the scourge of missing or faulty cables, and there never seems to be enough mains sockets...

 

How many over-long home video movies never receive the pruning they so richly deserve, simply because itís too much trouble to set up the editing equipment? Thatís clearly been a concern for the folk at Hama, who have sought to make video editing as simple and effortless as possible with a new controller, called Remote Cut. Itís just about to reach the shops, with a recommended selling price of £199.99.

 

Remote Cut is designed to be left permanently wired into a VCR, where it sits quietly in the background, minding its own business, until it is needed. When the time comes all the user has to do is make two simple connections by plugging a set of AV leads and the edit control cable from the camcorder into the front of the Remote Cut, then sit back in the armchair and get on with some editing.

 

Itís fairly obvious that Remote Cut is meant to appeal mainly to family users and occasional editors, rather than serious video movie-makers. Nevertheless the features list includes some fairly sophisticated entries:

 

* VITC and RC time-code facilities

* Control L/LANC and Panasonic 5-pin compatibility

* menu-controlled, multi-lingual on-screen display

* 1-page title generator

* hard cut or chequer-board wipe effect

* variable pre and post-roll timings

* pre-programmed and learning IR control

* 8 scene memory

 

The control unit is housed inside a small, discrete black box with a SCART socket on the back, this goes to the AV input on the back of the VCR. (Many VCRs these days have two SCART sockets, so Remote Cut  can be left connected). On the front thereís three phono and one S-Video socket for the camcorderís AV output connections, and a mini DIN socket, for the edit control lead. The outfit includes two leads, for machines with Control L/LANC or Panasonic 5-pin editing terminals, which covers pretty well all the edit-capable camcorders on the market. The record VCR is controlled by infra-red commands, thereís a powerful IR emitter on Remote Cutís front panel. If for any reasons this cannot communicate with the VCR thereís the option to use an optional plug-in wand, that can be placed near the machineís remote receptor window. The unit is powered by a 12 volt plug-in mains adaptor.

 

The control unit remains in a bypass mode until itís switched on. This means that VCR operation -- if itís connected to a satellite receiver and TV -- is not affected, but as soon as it is switched from standby mode it becomes like any other component in the AV chain and will automatically switch the devices to which it is connected, to AV input mode. There are no buttons or controls on the control box, theyíre all on the remote handset, not that thereís that many of them, in fact it has fewer keys than most TV remotes.

 

Configuring the controller takes only a few minutes. The first job is to select the operating language (English, French or German), and the input signal format (composite or S-Video). The controller has to get to know the playback deck; thereís a simple test routine that takes a couple of minutes to complete, during which time the controller runs through the various transport commands, to check that all is well, and set some pre and post roll timings. Lastly the make and model of the record VCR has to be chosen from the display showing the list stored in the controllers command library. Itís fairly comprehensive but if for some reason a machine isnít listed Remote Cut has a learning IR facility, that will replicate the commands from the VCRs remote handset.

 

EASY EDITING

To begin editing the player controls on the remote handset are used find the start of the first scene. The controls cover play, pause, fast forward and reverse picture search functions. The counter readout or time code are shown on the screen. To enter the first cut point simply press the red button with the scissors symbol. Alternatively the button marked with a chequer-board generates a simple mosaic wipe, instead of a hard cut.

 

When the cut-in point has been marked the left hand counter display is frozen and the cut-out point on the right of the screen starts counting. Press the scissors or chequer-board again to specify the edit-out point. Titles can be inserted at this stage. Remote Cut can generate a simple one-page title, with 4 font sizes. The display then increments to scene two, and the process is repeated. When all of the cuts and title effects have been entered, press the stop button and the display shows the edit decision list, complete with any title or wipe effects and a total time readout.

 

Itís no possible to alter any of the cut points, or to add or change effects on the EDL; the only option is a delete function, which erases the last entry. It doesnít have a preview function either, though itís a simple enough matter to turn the VCR off. To carry out the edit the record VCR needs to be in the record-pause mode. The controller starts editing as soon as the green button is pressed.

 

PERFORMANCE

Composite, S-Video and audio passed cleanly through the unit, with no perceptible increase in noise. We used out standard editing test routine to assess controller accuracy. We normally use a ten-scene sequence but due to this controllerís limited memory we had to confine the test to 8 segments. Using uncoded material cut points were to within just over one second or +/- 30 frames on a sequence of 8 cuts spread over 15 minutes. Changing to timecoded material had a dramatic improvement on accuracy, to +/- 5 frames; itís possible this could have been reduced further with some more tinkering around with the pre and post roll times. Both sets of results are good and compare well with other controllers in the same price bracket.

 

SUMMARY

Remote Cut is one of the most significant developments in home editing for quite a while. Thereís no doubt that it does the job it was designed to do, namely eliminate the effort involved in setting up and using a video editing system. We do have one reservation, and thatís the considerable frustration of being presented with a comprehensive edit decision list (EDL), that cannot be modified. The limited transport control facilities on the unit, and most Ďfamilyí camcorders, means that cut-points have to be specified Ďon-the-flyí with the tape moving. In other words accuracy is dependent to a large extent on the userís reactions, which can make it a rather hit and miss affair. On many other editors thatís not a problem, because timings can be altered on the EDL, scenes added, deleted or shifted around, but not in this case. Bar that omission (and maybe a slightly larger scene memory), Remote Cut would have received our highest commendation. As it stands we still have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone seeking effortless, hassle-free editing. Itís a brilliant idea, that will do much to take the sting out of editing, but we canít help feeling that with those extra facilities -- even if that had meant a slightly higher price -- it would have been the killer camcorder accessory of 1996. Letís hope thereís a Mk II version in the pipeline!

 

THE RIVALS

The budget end of the edit controller is hotting up, with old favourites like Thumbs Up now selling for around £150. Simple to use, sub £200 edit controllers from the likes of IQ, Bandridge and Camlink are well worth considering, and Hamaís own Easy Cut would also be on our shortlist but none of them come close to the simplicity and convenience of Remote Cut.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/Model                  Hama Remote Cut

Guide price                    £200

Scene memory            8 scenes

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

                                   Record deck: learning IR & stored commands

Timecode systems            VITC and RCTC

Edit features                  hard cut or chequer-board wipe

Additional features title generator, (1 page, 4-char sizes), remote control operation,

Sockets                        DC in, edit control (mini DIN), audio & Video in (phono & S-Video), AV out (SCART) external IR wand (mini DIN)

Power supply             12 volts AC (adapter supplied) 

Dimensions                   205 x 40 x 147mm

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                 +/-6  frames (timecode), +/-30 frames (non timecode)

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money            8

Ease of use                 9

Performance              8

Features                     8

 

---end---

R Maybury 1996 2005

 

 


 

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