VIDEO CAMERA 1997

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ALL MIXED UP...

 

STANDFIRST

Over the past couple of years digital video mixers have become a lot more affordable, now Hama have thrown their hat into the ring, with the DVM 1000

 

COPY

Mixing or wiping two video sources is one of the most basic post-production effects, yet it requires a lot of expensive technology, that has until fairly recently been out of reach of most home video movie makers. Hama are the latest camcorder accessory company to market a ‘low-cost’ video mixer, the DVM-1000 is just starting to appear in dealers showrooms, where it will be selling for just under £600. Low cost in this context is a relative term, £600 is still a lot of money, but when you consider that less than a couple of years ago the cheapest two-channel digital video mixers cost well over £1000 it’s fair to say that the technology has become a lot more affordable.

 

The DVM-1000 is an unusually straightforward design; Hama have decided not to kit it out with lots of additional effects and post production facilities,  that may  be duplicated elsewhere in the system. The two input channels are designated A and B. A is the main effects channel and both channels can handle either composite or S-Video configured signals. For some strange reason Hama have used a SCART socket for channel A, and phonos plus an S-Video socket for Channel B; the VCR output is another SCART. Phonos and S-Video all round would have been preferable, but this odd mixture of socket types only confuses matters.

 

Basic facilities include cross fade and wipe, there are around 30 rather geometric wipe patterns to choose from, we gave up counting and there’s no list or chart in the  instructions. Mixes and wipes can be performed manually, using the  T-bar, or automatically, with a time delay of between 1 to 8 seconds. Wipe selection is via two control knobs, for selecting the vertical and horizontal curtains. The two audio channels can be set to follow the video, or controlled manually, each channel has it’s own level adjustment.

 

The extra video effects include a variable speed strobe/freeze mode on channel A; and there is chroma and luma keying with presets for red, green or blue backgrounds. Unfortunately keying levels for both effect are fixed, which seems like a bit of an oversight as it makes scene and background lighting that much more critical. The ‘Paint’ option exaggerates colour contrast on channels A and B (or both) but again there’s no level control. Lastly, brightness and colour levels can be reversed separately, or together on both channels using the ‘invert’ function.

 

If you’ve only got one video source it is still possible to create some eye catching effects by splitting the signal so that it passes through both channels. The signal passing through channel A can be processed using the strobe/freeze and invert functions, and mixed or wiped to channel B. Effects can be triggered externally -- via an edit controller  or PC  -- using the mixer’s GPI interface. Suitable connecting cables are available from Hama.   

 

The mixer is built inside the same familiar sloping two-tone consoles that Hama use for most of their other post-production devices. The controls are spread around the top panel in a slightly haphazard fashion, though you quickly get used to the layout. The three sliders on the left side set audio levels for channels A and  B; the third one controls the speed of the strobe effect. The five buttons running along the bottom edge switch audio-follow mode, strobe, invert and fade/wipe mode on and off, the last two buttons engage the paint and automix facilities. Five rotary switches in the middle are used to select the wipe effect, key and invert modes and set the automix speed.     

 

In spite of the S-Video inputs and outputs the mixer only processes composite video signals, so the potential for cross-colour effects exists. However, this depends on the source material, and provided you avoid subject material with a lot of fine patterning, it needn’t be a problem. It has no impact on resolution and a S-Video test signal passed through the B channel virtually unscathed. A very slight increase in noise is evident on channel A, though it’s so small as to be almost insignificant.

 

Wipe edges are sharply defined and the autofix/fade facility is quite smooth. The only minor disappointment is the rather staid selection of wipes, they’re all very conventional horizontal and vertical patterns. True, they can be combined to make some vaguely interesting steps and grids, but where are all the swirls and spins?  Even a few angles would have helped livened it up a bit... Chroma and luma keying are a bit restricted without any manual fine-tuning, as it stands you may have to do quite a bit of fiddling around with the lights to achieve a convincing superimposition effect.

 

The DVM-1000’s simplicity is both a strength and weakness. It’s possible to get it up and running, and doing useful things almost immediately, but once you get beyond the basics there’s not much else to get excited about. For a lot of video movie makers the facility to mix and wipe two video sources is more than enough -- and the DVM-1000 does all that very well indeed --  but we can’t help feeling that Hama may have been just a tad conservative. Those looking for a little more creative stimulation might well be tempted by more exotically appointed  mixers in the same price bracket.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model:                 Hama DVM 1000

Typical price:            £600

Features:                      2-channel digital vision mixer,

Effects:             mix/cross-fade, chroma & luma keying, wipe/fade, strobe, invert, fade, paint, 2-channel audio mixing,

Sockets:                       audio and video in (SCART, phono and S-Video), video out (SCART), GPI trigger (mini DIN) DC power

Dimensions:                  382 x 260 x 60 mm

Weight              2.2kg

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

 

Picture quality            ****      

Sound quality                ****

Features                       ***

Ease of use                   ****

VC Rating                     85%

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997 2407

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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