You are here

New Tech Lets you Control Camera with the Blink of an Eye

Canon ES5000 Hi8 Camcorder
Panasonic PV-MP10 Color Video Printer
Toshiba Integrated Multimedia Monitor (TIMM)

What You See is What You Get

ES5000 Hi8 Camcorder
Canon USA, Inc.
One Canon Plaza
Lake Success, NY 11042
($2300)

Canon's ES5000 Hi8 camcorder, the latest addition to their ES line, incorporates "eye control" technology that enables users to operate virtually all camcorder features with simple eye movements. The eye control system defines a new level of interactivity between the camcorder and its operator.

How It Works
With the new system, a pair of light emitting diodes (LEDs) illuminate the user's eye with an invisible beam of infrared light. The light bounces off the user's eye through a mirror and condenser lens, eventually hitting a special sensor. A dedicated microprocessor then calculates the rotation of the eye.

The eye control focus system enables the ES5000 to detect which part of the viewfinder the user is looking at, prioritizing that area for autofocus or other functions. Most conventional autofocus systems are center-weighted, whereas eye-controlled focus allows you to track the subject whether it is off center, near or far. A simple shift of the eye eliminates the need to move the camera from the intended picture. With eye control technology, videomakers can creatively shift the focus to emphasize different subjects, foreground elements or backgrounds within a scene.

Seven eye control switches further enhance the interaction between the videomaker and the ES5000. You can select eye control switches from a menu displayed inside the viewfinder. They include the ability to add titles, activate record review, start and stop recording and the ability to fade to and from different scenes.

The ES5000 offers five digital transitions including overlap, scroll, wipe, zoom fade and fade trigger. The ES5000 also has six digital effects available. From the effects menu you can choose close-up, strobe, freeze, art, mosaic and 16:9 aspect ratio. Once you have selected an eye-controlled switch, the name of the function appears in the viewfinder. To activate the switch, simply stare at the function display for two seconds. Turning off the switch is just as easy--simply look at the display for two seconds and the effect will end.

You must calibrate the eye control system before it will work. The process takes less than 30 seconds while looking into the viewfinder. During the calibration process, the camera calculates user's eye characteristics to better track the operator's eye commands. The eye control system will calibrate for up to three different users. The system memory retains two of the settings until you perform the calibration process again. The third "guest" setting is not saved when you power the ES5000 down.

Zoom In
Finished in silver and black, the ES5000 looks like it's capable of warp speed. This unit is both compact and ergonomically designed. It's the smallest camcorder in the ES series, making it easy to carry and maneuver. Canon held nothing back when designing this top performer.

The ES5000 offers a powerful 20x optical zoom lens, plus a 40x digital zoom setting. Users can capture images from a lens range of 4mm wide to 80mm super-telephoto. You can record remote events and locations easily with the ES5000's longer focal lengths.

The unit offers seven different zoom speeds. The index zoom lever is very responsive, while the 40x zoom switch lacks a smooth on/off transition. There was hardly a time when I needed the 40x zoom, and no amount of image stabilization could completely steady the picture at this zoom setting. Canon's optical image stabilization system was extremely effective in compensating for handheld camera shake recorded at other lens ranges.

Canon also upgraded the color viewfinder on the ES5000 to a 0.7-inch, 180,000-pixel high- resolution LCD. The viewfinder displays a high level of detail, making accurate manual focus a possibility.

The ES5000 has four Programmed Auto Exposure modes in addition to "Easy Recording" and eye control modes. Like its predecessor (the ES2000), the ES5000 offers four special exposure modes which include portrait, low light, sports and sand and snow. The Programmed AE selector dial now sits on top, near the front of the ES5000 camcorder. The dial provides icons which identify the different programs, and its physical placement makes program selection easier.

Performance
The eye calibration process was simple, meaning you'll be ready to begin recording in no time. Once calibrated, you simply set the program selector dial to one of the recording programs. A small frame then appears in the viewfinder, which follows the movement of your eye. Keep in mind that this takes some getting used to--I found it difficult to control the frame smoothly at first. After some practice, I was able to control the frame and focus to prioritize the important parts of the scene. When moving subjects appeared in the viewfinder, I was able to maintain sharp focus by simply following them with my eye.

Once you position the eye control frame on a stationary subject, you can lock the frame at that point by pressing the Frame Lock button. This is a nice feature if you are recording a stationary subject, because you don't have to keep looking at it in the viewfinder.

With the the eye control frame locked, you can use the other eye-control switches. You choose the function you want to use, and when your chosen switch appears in the viewfinder, you can operate it just by looking at it. Only one of the switches is available at a time.

Changing an eye control switch is easy, and I found having a frequently-used effect ready at a glance to be quite useful. You can even set the white balance by activating the switch with your eye. When you look at the switch again, it returns to the auto white balance setting.

This makes it possible to engage digital effects instantly without pulling the camcorder away from your eye or groping for buttons. Once you engage an eye control switch, you cannot use the autofocus, exposure lock and adjustment or other digital effects and mixing controls.

The ES5000's manual exposure and focus control wheels sit within easy reach of your left hand. Both control wheels are very responsive and easy to adjust. Pushing either button causes the controls to lock at that point of focus or exposure. Once locked, manual adjustment is achieved by adjusting the control wheels up or down. You shouldn't need to manually adjust either control too often, because both autofocus and auto-exposure are very accurate.

The ES5000 offers a record search function which lets the user locate a previously recorded scene. A record review button lets you play back the last seconds of a previously recorded scene in the viewfinder or on a preview monitor. The ES5000 has a wireless remote control which activates most camera functions from a short distance.

The ES5000 offers both headphone and external microphone jacks. Like the ES2000, this model's built-in mike picks up very little motor and button noises. The ES5000 has an automatic wind screen which helps to prevent wind noise from interfering with the sound track. You can shut this function off manually or with the eye control system when you want the microphone to be as sensitive as possible. The ES5000 offers powerful hi-fi stereo sound, with excellent playback quality.

The ES5000 is a compact, feature-packed camcorder. I found its image quality and resolution to be superb, while Canon's eye control system offers an unprecedented level of hands-free interaction between videomaker and machine. Canon's optical zoom system is the best I've seen, especially for a camcorder this size.

In the case of the Canon ES5000 Hi8 camcorder, good things do come in small packages.

Technical Specifications

Canon ES5000 Hi8 Camcorder

Format

Hi8

Lens

20:1 optical zoom, 40:1 digital zoom, 4-80mm focal length, 7 zoom speeds, f/1.6, inner focus, telemacro

Image sensor

1/4-inch CCD, 410,000 pixels

Viewfinder

0.7-inch color LCD, 180,000 pixels

Focus

TTL Auto, eye control, manual

Maximum shutter speed

1/10,000th of a second

Exposure

Auto, eye control auto, four Program AE modes

White balance

Auto, 5 presets, manual

Digital Effects

6 picture effects, 5 transitions

Audio

Stereo AFM

Inputs

Y/C video, composite video, external microphone

Outputs

Y/C video, composite video, stereo audio, headphone

Edit interface

LANC

Other features

Record search and review, optical image stabilization, line-in recording, remote control

Dimensions

4 (width) by 4.1 (height) by 6.9 (depth) inches

Weight

1.75 pounds (sans tape and battery)

Video Performance (approx.)

Horizontal resolution (camera)

430 lines

Horizontal resolution (playback)

400 lines

Performance times

Pause to record

0.5 second

Power up to record

2 seconds

Fast forward/rewind (30 min. tape)

1 minutes, 35 seconds


Pleasing Prints

PV-MP10 Color Video Printer
Panasonic
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
($1300)

Making high-quality still photos from any video source is easy with Panasonic's new PV-MP10 color video printer. With the PV-MP10, users can create storyboards, lay out photo albums and preserve shots from videotape. The PV-MP10's Y/C and composite jacks allow video inputs from a variety of sources including camcorders, VCRs, laserdisc players and video game systems. The video printer lets you scan through your tapes to capture and print only the most interesting shots. With the PV-MP10 you'll have a print in about 75 seconds. Try that with a still camera!

They've Come A Long Way The PV-MP10 weighs in at about 7.5 pounds. Earlier models weighed almost twice as much, were considerably larger and offered fewer features. Panasonic decided to up the ante with this model, incorporating a 10-bit artificial intelligent image processor that improves print quality and color accuracy.

The PV-MP10 can create 256 color gradations for each of three colors, allowing the unit to produce photos with a palette of up to 17 million colors. With a resolution of 464x672 pixels, picture reproduction is terrific. Using high-resolution video source formats such as DV, Hi8 and S-VHS, the PV- MP10 delivers great looking prints.

The PV-MP10 uses a thermal dye transfer system that heats the ink sheet to evaporate the ink of the three complementary colors (yellow, magenta, and cyan). It then prints them on 4-by-5-inch print paper. The evaporation process converts the ink into tiny particles so that very delicate color gradations are possible.

The prints are fade-resistant and can be heat laminated. The paper is sturdy, so you can even mail prints as postcards. Print paper is available in reams of 50 or in packages of 25 adhesive-backed sheets.

The PV-MP10 features composite and Y/C inputs and outputs. You can use a camcorder or VCR as your source input and connect to a preview monitor from the video printer's output. Using Y/C inputs will result in higher quality prints and less color bleed.

Memories
Panasonic's PV-MP10 stores pictures in both field and frame memory. For static video shots, frame memory combines two successive video fields to reproduce the maximum resolution and greatest picture detail. The field memory mode freezes a single video field, useful for grabbing fast action scenes.

The PV-MP10 will superimpose special titles that identify the date, time and action of particular events. You have the option of adding created titles in eight different colors. The PV-MP10's titler system allows you to move titles around on the image itself. The video printer will frame prints with special color borders as well. This is a nice feature for creating custom greeting cards.

A number of impressive print options are available with the PV-MP10. Once you select a picture, you can then zoom in on the image (x2) and print it in pieces to create a larger picture. The video printer also has a mirror feature that reverses the image, allowing you to transfer the resulting image to coffee mugs or ball caps if you have the heat-transfer equipment.

A multi-print function allows you to divide the screen into two, four or nine miniature frames and print them together on the same sheet. You could then cut these pictures and use them for storyboarding, picture IDs, or business cards.

You can preview all multi-image prints on-screen before activating the print function. With the PV-MP10's strobe feature, you can print a sequence of pictures taken at regular intervals from a scene onto a single sheet. This is useful for creating a series of still pictures to study motion. A "swing" mode captures more of the actual movement for analyzing fast-moving subjects such as a golf or tennis stroke.

Print Test
Ten minutes after unpacking the PV-MP10, I had my first print. The printer allows for picture adjustment to the tint, color, brightness and sharpness after an image is stored in memory.

Overall, the PV-MP10 performed very well. It printed terrific images while set in the normal mode. Any limitations in image quality appeared to be coming from at the video source itself. Zoom and multi-mage modes do reduce picture resolution noticeably.

Think of the video printer as an extension of your camcorder. It makes events that were captured only on video instantly available in the form of a print. In addition, multi-image stills offer a great way to catalog shots from lengthy videotaped events. And with a video printer, creating edit decision lists and storyboards is easy.

Technical Specifications

Panasonic PV-MP10 Video Printer

Print method

Thermal sublimation transfer

Print size

3.25 by 4.25 inches

Paper capacity

25 sheets

Print speed

75 seconds per sheet

Resolution

464x672 pixels

Print modes

multi-picture, strobe, zoom, multiple mini-copy

Inputs

Y/C video, composite video

Outputs

Y/C video, composite video

Dimensions

12.25 (width) by 3.4 (height) by 10.7 (depth) inches

Weight

7.5 pounds


Multi-Monitor

Toshiba Integrated Multimedia Monitor (TIMM)
Toshiba Imaging and Information Systems
1010 Johnson Drive
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089-6900
($999)

The Toshiba Integrated Multimedia Monitor (TIMM) combines television, video, and computer graphics into one design. The new 20-inch TIMM monitor is a multi-purpose presentation tool for use in the office, at home, or in the production studio. Finally, a monitor for all occasions.

Multi-Monitor
The TIMM monitor is a multimedia monitor that incorporates an 181 channel, cable-ready receiver. Picture quality is over 500 lines of horizontal resolution.

Built-in VGA compatibility provides an instant connection to DOS-based computers. In addition, Toshiba offers an optional adapter that will interface to Mac II computers. You can also connect your computer's audio outputs to the TIMM, and use it as a sound station. You can use the front control panel or remote control to adjust the volume.

The TIMM is the first multimedia monitor offering a remote control. The remote not only controls regular TV functions, but it also controls computer-related features such as picture sizing. This allows users to expand or contract the image either vertically or horizontally. Presentations in office conference rooms or trade show booths are now easier than ever with the TIMM monitor.

The TIMM monitor also features both composite and Y/C inputs for connection to camcorders, VCRs or other video componentry. The TIMM makes it very easy to switch between your computer application, video production or television program. An RGB/Video/TV mode button located on the front control panel of the monitor allows you to change video settings. You can also use the remote control to switch between video modes from up to 16 feet away. You'll need a 15-pin D-sub signal cable to connect the TIMM to your computer, a cable Toshiba doesn't include with the monitor.

Toshiba added a built-in 10-watt audio system to the TIMM. TIMM's high performance speakers are suspended in a tuned horn structure. This design improves stereo separation and enhances full- frequency performance. Toshiba's Sub-Bass System (SBS) circuit combines with dbx noise reduction to generate high sound quality.

Versatility
The TIMM monitor is more versatile than the average computer or video monitor. With the TIMM, I easily established a link between my computer and video editing bay.

One minute the TIMM's high resolution screen works as a fantastic video monitor in the production studio. At the push of the RGB button the TIMM becomes an awesome computer monitor displaying both graphics and an edit decision list from any PC-based edit controller. Once you've produced your video program, move the TIMM into the conference room for an on-screen presentation.

Complimenting the TIMM's visual attributes is its audio system. The TIMM's rich and clear sound reproduction eliminates the need for external speakers. All audio and video settings are adjusted using the on-screen menu system.

With your production studio or conference room shut down for the day, switch the TIMM to television mode and scan broadcast channels with its built-in tuner.

Toshiba states that an interference called "moire" may become visible with some computer signals, though I did not experience this effect while working in the RGB mode. The phenomenon is due to the interference between the dots or lines of the computer image and the shadow mask of the picture tube. The moire pattern varies according to the display mode of the computer image and the stripe pitch of the television. Adjusting the horizontal and vertical sizes of the picture in the "Options" menu reduces this effect.

If you've been searching for a way to integrate computer applications with your video production system, the TIMM's picture looks good from here.

Technical Specifications

Toshiba Integrated Multimedia Monitor (TIMM)

Format

NTSC, analog RGB

Inputs

Y/C video, composite video, RGB video, RF video, audio

Outputs

Variable audio

CRT

20-inch monitor, FST Black picture tube, Invar Shadow Mask

Horizontal resolution

More than 500 lines (NTSC), 640x480 pixels (RGB)

Screen view size

16.5 by 12.5 inches

Other features

181 channel cable-ready tuner, 10-watt audio system, Sub Bass System (SBS), dbx noise reduction, remote control

Dimensions

26.7 (width) by 24.1 (height) by 21.6 (depth) inches

Weight

56.2 pounds

Tags:  January 1996
David
Brott
Mon, 01/01/1996 - 12:00am