VIDEO CAMERA 1997

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PRO-TEST VOTE

 

INTRO

If you could design your own high-end video editing and post production system, we reckon it wouldnít be all that different to the GSE MPE 2000 PRO

 

COPY

If you havenít got £2000 to spend on editing and post production equipment, weíre prepared to bet a fair number of you will  be working out ways of getting the money together by the end of this review... The MPE-2000 PRO has everything you need, and quite a lot more besides, to make professional-looking video movies, but youíve heard all that before. What you wonít have seen previously is a fully integrated system on this scale, thatís capable of professional results, across all formats, (including DVC soon). Itís about as future-proof as itís possible to be, relatively simple to use, with unrivalled flexibility and versatility.

 

All well and good, but what exactly does it do? The easiest way to describe it, is to think of it as five separate devices. They are: a 2-machine A/B roll AV edit controller, a two-channel video mixer, video processor with timebase corrector, title generator and a four-channel audio mixer. Theyíre housed in three boxes, (four if you count the 6 volt AC mains adaptor). The core component is the Ďworkstationí; this handles all the AV inputs and outputs, control connections and it contains the operating software, in the form of a plug-in program card containing 1 megabyteís worth of flash EPROM. This will be exchanged by GSE, as and when new software becomes available, in order to keep up with new developments or equipment. Thereís space inside the box for a planned IEEE1394 or ĎFireWireí interface, with two blanked out panels on the front of the box for sockets; no firm details of price or availability yet, weíll keep you posted.

 

The second most important device is the operating console. It looks quite similar to other GSE products, though this time there are two jog/shuttle dials, and a few extra buttons. Finally thereís a laptop PC sized QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard has a captive cable that plugs into the console; the console connects to the workstation using a 4-metre lead. This means the workstation can be plumbed into the TV and VCR, and left there, until needed.  All other AV and edit control connections are handed by standard phono and mini DIN (in the case of S-Video or Y/C hook-ups). The playback and record decks can be controlled by a hard-wire connection, or by programmed infra-red commands.

 

Probably the easiest way to deal with it is to look at each system in turn, starting with the edit controller. Itís a full-spec A/B roll design, which means it can control two source video decks simultaneously. It can store details of up to 400 scenes, including cut points, transitions and AV effects. These are presented on a edit decision list (EDL), that can be amended, saved, stored and manipulated on a PC, or printed out, via a standard RS 232 serial interface. The controller can read RCTC, VITC and GSE Rapid timecodes, as well as normal counter data, and the control system will work with pretty well all types of VCR and camcorder that have Control L/LANC, Panasonic 5-pin, RS232 or IR remote control systems (though the latter will not be very accurate).

 

The digital video mixer is a two-channel design with full-frame timebase correction on both inputs. Either channel can be mixed to a range of 700 background colours or the other channel and a cracking selection of eye-catching transitions, wipes, fades and effects. We havenít got room to list all the permutations here but options include horizontal or vertical fades, curtains and blinds, A/B mix, chroma-key, luma-key, strobe, Ďpage turní, circular, rectangular and spiral fades, picture in picture, mosaic, freeze, flips and flying images. The video processor operates independently on both input channels, with adjustments for contrast, brightness, saturation and RGB colour correction. Thereís a split-screen viewing mode, for comparing the before and after effects, and a set of colour bars, with timecode display.

 

The title generator has more than enough facilities to keep ambitious video-makers happy; thereís three truetype fonts in four character sizes, a choice of 700 colours to play around with, for background, characters and effects. It has scroll, roll and fade functions, loop titling, superimpose, borders and a 20-page memory. Finally the audio mixer. Itís a four channel stereo design with manual or automatic source switching, manual and auto fade and -- youíll like this one -- programmed IR control for a range of CD players, that can be tied into the EDL.

 

INSTALLATION AND USE

Like any other edit controller it has to get to know the control systems and characteristics of the video decks and ancillary equipment itís to be used with. The system is controlled from a set of on-screen displays with stylised PC type graphics. Options are selected using an on-screen pointer, thatís controlled by a set of four cursor keys. Itís tedious to use, GSE should have gone the extra yard and devised some soft of mouse type control system.

 

Edit accuracy depends on the trouble taken at this stage to configure the system, it has an automatic learning facility, that establishes basic settings, that can be fine-tuned and stored. At this point itís worth giving the instructions a quick mention. Normally we live in fear of German products and their usually fierce manuals, but this one is different. It appears to have actually been written by someone with a grasp of the English language. Mind you, itís still quite heavy going, and you need to have a spent a bit of time with video equipment and editing, to find your way around.

 

Video processing can be carried out prior to editing. The adjustable split-screen displays the image from the source deck, overlaid with a set of picture controls. They can be set using the cursor controls, or the two jog/shuttle rings. Thereís a useful option to make the displays semi-transparent, so you can see whatís going on behind.

 

The editing bit is easy, simply select the program mode and the timecode or counter display, along with cut in and out points, plus elapsed time, are overlaid on the off-tape image for each machine. As edit points are entered the scene number is automatically incremented.  When the EDL is complete it can be displayed and modified -- including cut in and out points --  with transitions, effects and titles added as required.

 

PERFORMANCE

Using good quality source and record decks, with timecode recording and playback facilities, and provided youíve taken the trouble to configure the system, it is capable of near frame-accurate cuts. In fact weíll go so far as to say that on a good day, with hard-wired decks, accuracy is down to a single frame.  The video mixer is very clean, transitions and fades are glitch free; some types of material -- notably shuttered recordings -- can have a slightly jerky quality, otherwise thereís no additional noise or any other evidence of the digital processing taking place. The effects look very good indeed and the facility to tailor them means hours of endless fun. Thereís plenty to play around with on the titler too, characters are sharply defined and very stable. With so many facilities on offer, itís difficult to tear yourself away from all the knobs and buttons and actually get on to produce an edited video movie...

 

THE VERDICT

This is a very serious piece of kit -- the price tells you that -- itís not the sort of thing the average camcorder owners would use to edit their holiday movies. Itís aimed at enthusiasts and semi-pro users, who weíre reasonably sure will find very little to complain about. Our only gripes concern the cumbersome cursor controlled displays and slightly sluggish response times of some functions. AV performance is impeccable the range of facilities is simply mouth-watering and it should be able to keep up with new developments for some years to come. The price? Well, two grand probably sounds like a lot of money when youíve just spent £700 on a camcorder but in the semi-pro world itís peanuts. If you add up the cost of individual elements with the same sort of specification and performance, then take into account that this is a fully integrated system, then weíd have to say itís actually very good value, and comes highly recommended.  

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/Model                  GSE MPE-2000 PRO

What is it?                    A/B editor, video processor, AV mixer and titler

Guide price                    £2000

Scene memory            400

Control Systems            Source & record decks: LANC/Control L, Panasonic 5-pin, programmed IR , programmed IR commands

Timecode systems            RCTC, VITC, GSE-Rapid

Edit features                  modify edit points, copy move and delete scenes, change scene and tape number, add comment

 

Sockets                        composite video and line audio (phono), S-Video (miniDIN), control bus, remotes and GPI trigger (DIN), RS-232 serial bus (9-pin D socket)

Power supply             6 volts DC (adapter supplied)

Dimensions                   workstation: 335 x 65 x 145,  console: 410 x 55 x 270, keyboard: 320 x 35 x 154 mm

 

PERFORMANCE

Cut accuracy                 +/-1 frames (RC-timecode), +/- 6 frame (non-timecode)

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money            9

Ease of use                 7

Performance              9

Features                     9

 

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R Maybury 1997 0104

 

 

 


 

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