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Sharp's new Camera Combines Digital Stills and Video

Sharp VL-DX10U DV Camcorder/Still Video Camera Elite Video SD-3 Duplication StationBryce 3D SoftwareMitsubishi HS-U680 VHS VCRVideo Sphinx Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer

This month:

  • Mitsubishi HS-U680 VHS VCR
  • Video Sphinx Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer
  • SD-3 Duplication Station


    Jack of Two Trades

    Sharp VL-DX10U DV Camcorder/Still Video Camera
    ($3399)
    Sharp Electronics
    Sharp Plaza
    Mahwah, NJ 07656
    http://www.sharp-usa.com

    tech specs

    Can't decide whether to purchase a digital still camera or a DV camcorder? Like Canon with its Optura model, Sharp would like to end your deliberation with its new VL-DX10U, a compact unit that's both a DV camcorder and a RAM-based digital still recorder. The VL-DX10U looks much like a normal Sharp ViewCam, with its 3-inch active matrix LCD viewfinder and vertical handgrip. Only when you spot the VIDEO/STILL IMAGE switch does it become clear that the VL-DX10U is more than a mere DV camcorder.

    In addition to recording video on standard mini-DV videotapes, the VL-DX10U stores 720x480-pixel still images into non-volatile flash RAM. You can select from three different JPEG compression settings; the VL-DX10U will store 12 images in FINE mode, 24 in STANDARD mode and 48 in ECONOMY mode. You can mix-and-match quality settings if desired. Once in RAM, you can dump still images onto DV tape, grab frames off tape as still images and even offload the stills into your computer. The optura captures images in the same size, 720x480-pixel, but then saves them directly to tape, saving over 500 images on a 60 minute tape in SP mode. Unlike the VL-DX10U, the Optura records the still images in the DV format. Once an image is downloaded into a computer, with the appropriate software, it can be saved in any of the many graphic formats.

    The Physical
    Unlike most ViewCams, the VL-DX10U's handgrip doesn't swivel. Since the lens and screen are mounted to the same chassis, tilting the lens would make it impossible to see the screen. Instead, the handgrip slides straight down about an inch. Even in this position, I found the handgrip, strap and control layout to be uncomfortable. Folks with smaller hands may fare better.

    The VL-DX10U uses a single 1/4-inch, 410,000-pixel CCD. The minuscule lens (about the diameter of a penny) offers a 10x optical zoom range, with digital magnification to 25x. The zoom rocker is easy to operate with your right thumb, giving you good control of the four zoom speeds. Both digital image stabilization (DIS) and digital zoom affect image sharpness, the latter in ever-increasing amounts. A removable clear lens cover protects the lens from damage and dirt while shooting. Nice touch.

    Near the lens is a stereo condenser microphone; the back panel offers a plug-in power mike jack for external condenser microphones and a headphone jack. The back panel also sports a small speaker that puts out surprisingly loud, clear sound. In playback mode, the zoom rocker doubles as a volume control. Unfortunately, you can't adjust the volume of the headphone output while shooting.

    In an effort to keep the VL-DX10U small and light, there are no standard video, audio or digital outputs on the camcorder. Instead, you attach one of two different output modules to the side of the unit. One offers stereo audio, composite video and S-video outputs; the other has a digital output jack for transferring still images to a computer. The VL-DX10U has no FireWire input or output, nor will it record from an external analog source.

    The VL-DX10U doesn't speak FireWire, but it does speak infrared. When placed within a few feet of a compatible Infrared Data Association (IrDA) recorder or computer receiver, it will send and receive still image data. The VL-DX10U also boasts a nice IR remote with extensive video and still image controls.

    The VL-DX10U doesn't have a wealth of knobs and buttons, meaning the user must perform most functions from an on-screen menu. To the upper-left side of the viewfinder is a MENU button, which pages through the various menus pertaining to the VL-DX10U's mode. Most menu choices appear atop the video at the four edges of the viewfinder; you choose the item you want with a four-way rocker switch that falls under the left thumb. In some operating modes, menus fill the whole viewfinder. The only tricky thing about operating the VL-DX10U menu is remembering which of the four modes (play or record, still or video) you should use to perform desired functions.

    If It Moves, Shoot It
    The VL-DX10U isn't exactly a feature-packed camcorder, but its video controls cover most of the basics. Autofocus is the default mode, though one menu gives you push-button manual focus control. There is no manual iris control or high-speed shutter, and white balance is either continuous auto or preset in any of its four scene modes.

    In "sports" mode, for example, shutter speed jumps to 1/500th of a second and white balance is automatically set for outdoor shooting. "Twilight" mode sets white balance for late evening or early morning sunlight. This is a somewhat unorthodox approach to setting white balance and shutter speed--Sharp clearly valued simplicity of operation over the flexibility of manual controls.

    Notably lacking is any sort of fade or picture effects. The VL-DX10U's only remarkable trick in video mode is its ability to lay a still to tape as a "title" when you begin recording. This is minimalist shooting at its finest--VL-DX10U users have little more than start, stop and zoom at their command.

    It's an exceptional tool for macro shooting, thanks to its high lens position--you can get the VL-DX10U's lens within about half an inch of a subject without casting a shadow.

    Be Still
    Flipped into still image mode, the unit functions like a traditional digital still camera. Image quality is fair in standard mode and only slightly better in fine mode. JPEG artifacts--image softness and blotchiness--are unmistakably present in economy mode, making still image mode virtually unusable. The VL-DX10U has no built-in flash or flash mount for still image shooting.

    The still image mode uses an on-screen control system similar to the video mode control system. It allows you to navigate through a grid of 16 thumbnail size images of existing stills, choose which stills to display, delete, copy to tape or transfer over the infrared link.

    The VL-DX10U comes with PixLab and EasyPhoto image transfer/editing software for Windows and Macintosh systems. The TWAIN acquisition software works like a charm, giving you a thumbnail catalog of still images when you connect the unit to a computer with the supplied serial cable.

    Impressions
    As a camcorder, the VL-DX10U leaves a few things to be desired such as manual iris, white balance and shutter speed, effects, fade, FireWire connection and battery gauge. These missing features might sting less if the Sharp turned in above-average image quality, but it doesn't.

    Video shot with the VL-DX10U looks a bit flat and soft regardless of lighting conditions, and noise jumps quickly as light levels decrease. The VL-DX10U falls short of DV format potential, producing video that looks more like that of a mid-line Hi8 or S-VHS camcorder. As the ears hear it, the microphone records crisp, intelligible sound. However, it also picks up lots of buzzes and clicks from nearby motors and buttons.

    The VL-DX10U's performance as a still image gatherer is better. It captures good-quality stills, and gives you plenty of control of the images once you store them. Ironically, its best still JPEGs aren't as crisp as a normal freeze-frame in a DV camcorder. This means that anyone with a DV camcorder and an inexpensive computer capture card (even one with analog inputs) can grab stills of higher image quality.

    A double-duty DV video/still video camera is a neat concept; one Sharp didn't exactly nail with the VL-DX10U. Folks in the market for a one-box image gatherer may want to hold out for the inevitable second-generation products.


    Playing God
    Bryce 3D Software
    ($199)
    MetaCreations
    MetaCorporation
    6303 Carpinteria, CA 93013
    http://www.metacreations.com

    tech specs

    As a videographer, you're familiar with the joy of creation. You probably create stories, characters, situations or locations all the time. But how would you like to create whole worlds? With Bryce 3D, you can. This software gives you the power to create any landscape or locale your mind can conceive, whether on this planet or some other.

    Bryce 3D shares some characteristics with "normal" 3D programs, including the ability to create complex objects from simple shapes, wrap objects in textures, place light sources and position your camera for the final render. Bryce 3D differentiates itself from all other breeds in its comprehensive control over terrain, natural textures, skies and realistic lighting effects. When you get your world looking the way you want it, Bryce 3D allows you to animate virtually any aspect of the scene.

    An Interesting Interface
    Bryce 3D's interface may be unlike any you've ever seen. Instead of endless text menus and boring buttons, Bryce 3D's interface consists almost entirely of small 3D objects and pictures which represent functions. Want to place a terrain in your scene? Click on the three-dimensional mountain in the main "Create" palette. To add a shape, click on the shape. Even editing functions like resize, rotate and align use 3D objects. Submenus are highly graphical as well, using eye-pleasing graphical elements instead of text. Most importantly, Bryce 3D's visual approach works. Once you get a feel for the interface, its simplicity and elegance is a real treat.

    What the package's simplicity and elegance hide, at least at first glance, is its almost overwhelming creative power. Bryce 3D hands you control of the smallest, most nit-picky elements of a scene. Don't like the texture of a rock? Change it. Wish those slow-moving clouds were a little higher, a little wispier, a little more ruddy? No problem. This depth of control makes Bryce 3D the amazing software it is.

    Main controls include a sky and fog palette that allows you to adjust sun (or moon) position, ambient light, fog intensity and color, haze and cloud type, position, color and movement. Bryce 3D can even add stars, comets and realistic rainbows. A materials lab and deep texture editor allow you to create or edit virtually any type of surface or volume. Bryce 3D's ingenious terrain editor works somewhat like a paint package, converting pixel color to elevation. Creating even the most intricate-looking relief map is quick and easy.

    Finally, Bryce 3D will create infinite slabs filled with any type of material (water, for example). This allows you to sink the camera beneath the surface of a body of water for realistic underwater images.

    The Fourth Dimension
    Bryce 3D's ability to make photo-realistic still images is impressive; the ability to animate your creation is the real jaw-dropper. The package's animation system uses keyframes, between which it smoothly interpolates object motion or properties. You can animate camera position, sun position, lighting effects, clouds, terrain (erosion, for example) and water. Advanced motion path controls make it simple to create realistic movement, and time mapping curves aid in inertia effects.

    Bryce 3D's rendering engine is based on ray tracing which tracks the paths of millions of individual lightwaves as they bounce through a scene. This gives images a photo-realistic look, with accurate reflections, highlights and transparencies. However, ray tracing isn't the quickest way to build an image--complex scenes can take a long time to render in Bryce 3D. Bryce 3D offers two levels of anti-aliasing as well, which slows down the process if enabled. Multiply rendering time by the number of frames in your animation, and a completed movie can take hours to render. This is not unique to Bryce 3D--complex rendering takes a long time in any 3D package.

    Print to Tape
    Uses for Bryce 3D in video or multimedia are numerous. Whip up a cockpit-view animation of a spaceship landing, and key it into a viewport behind live actors. Create photo-realistic still images and key actors in front. Use Bryce 3D landscapes for title backgrounds. Animate the mysterious sightings of a remote-controlled deep-sea submersible. Send a space probe to another planet.

    Bryce 3D probably won't replace a standard 3D modeler and renderer for most video-related animation chores. Bryce 3D doesn't offer extrusions, lathe effects, inverse-kinematics for realistic "organic" motion, complex object linking and the like. Though you can import 3D text from another package, Bryce 3D doesn't generate it natively--this isn't the package for flying logos and flashy titles. And Bryce does not support any aftermarket MJPEG rendering hardware. But, Bryce does create full screen (640x480-pixels), 30 frames-per-second AVI files with Windows and Quicktime files using a Mac. Under Windows Bryce will render individual frames to the hard-drive as BMP, TIFF, and PSD and with a Mac it will render individual frames as TIFF, PSD, and PIC.

    What Bryce 3D does do--create and animate intricate new worlds--it does extremely well. This is a revolutionary, powerful product with an innovative user interface.

    You owe it to yourself to try Bryce 3D.


    For Work or Play
    Mitsubishi HS-U680 VHS VCR
    ($579)
    Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc.
    6100 Atlantic Boulevard
    Norcross, GA 30071
    http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com

    tech specs

    For many videographers, the humble VHS VCR does double duty. By day it may be dubbing off copies of the latest masterpiece; by night, it's back at work as the centerpiece of the home entertainment center. Finding a machine that handles work and play equally well can be a challenge. For those in need of such a VCR, Mitsubishi offers the HS-U680.

    At work, the HS-U680 provides a four-head transport with flying erase head, hi-fi record/playback, jog-shuttle control and edit jack for interfacing with other Mitsubishi VCRs. The HS-U680 also boasts audio and video dubbing, real-time counter, index search and Mitsubishi's PerfecTape record optimization system.

    Shuttling tape is a big part of the video-making process, and the HS-U680 offers fast, predictable control over tape movement. Both jog/shuttle controls (one on the VCR and one on the remote) work very well, allowing you to precisely locate scenes or edit points. Ultra-fast 250x fast-forward and rewind modes move tape through the VCR in a hurry. In all modes, the Mitsubishi transport seems smooth and solid.

    Though not an edit VCR per se, the HS-U680 does have an RCA-style edit control jack. Plug this into a compatible Mitsubishi VCR, and you can toggle record/pause and play/pause from a single unit. If you have the HS-U680 working as the source deck, it will preroll a few seconds before the edit for the cleanest possible transfer.

    Another thoughtful touch for "working" VCR owners is the HS-U680's dual outputs. The back panel has two composite video outputs, as well as two stereo audio outputs. The ability to route the deck's output in two different directions without re-patching is a real plus. One minor drawback is the HS-U680's lack of manual audio input level controls--auto record level is all you get.

    Mitsubishi's PerfecTape system records a brief test tone signal onto a tape to check its low-, mid- and high-frequency response. At the end of the test, the VCR displays the results with three bars, and rates the tape from "POOR" to "EXCELLENT". The PerfecTape circuitry then optimizes the record electronics for that particular tape formulation. Though the improvements are subtle, it's nice to know you're getting the best-possible recordings.

    Playtime
    At play, the Mitsubishi is equally well decked-out with convenient features. It offers VCR Plus+ Gold programming, a full-featured remote control, commercial skip when playing back time-shifted programs and a unique movie skip function. Movie skip scans past all those ads and trailers that sit at the beginning of a rental movie, starting playback where the movie actually begins. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but the feature scanned past seven minutes of preamble to start right at the beginning of "Conspiracy Theory." Very impressive.

    The HS-U680 will also control a cable box, DSS or Primestar receiver with direct cable or optional infrared emitter. If you have other Mitsubishi equipment in your system, the HS-U680 will integrate with it through its Active AV Network terminal.

    Like many VCRs today, the HS-U680 has few controls on its face. Users access most functions with the remote, moving through a series of multi-level menus. The menu system is well thought-out and easy to navigate, something you can't say about most VCRs. These menus allow you to enter VCR Plus+ codes, add or delete channels, set the clock, configure your cable box or satellite receiver. An easy, automatic "set all" function makes setting up the HS-U680 a breeze. If you do get stuck, Mitsubishi's large user's manual is extremely well written.

    Double Duty
    The Mitsubishi HS-U680 is an excellent deck for both editing/dubbing applications and normal home entertainment use. It offers very good image and sound quality, attractive cosmetics and large, bright fluorescent display. The HS-U680 I tested even had an undocumented bonus: though the manual makes no mention of it, the deck offered quasi-S-VHS playback with excellent picture quality.

    Folks in need of a VHS deck for work or play should check out the Mitsubishi HS-U680.


    Little Movies

    Video Sphinx Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer
    ($399)
    FutureTel, Inc.
    1092 E. Arques Avenue
    Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    http://www.sphinx2.com

    tech specs

    Video--it ain't just for tape anymore. Today, moving images appear in all sorts of "tapeless" media: CD-ROMs, Web pages and even email messages. Unlike productions distributed on videotape, the goal in these cases is not maximum image quality--it's small files. The more you can compress your video file, the faster it will download off the Web, or load off a CD-ROM drive.

    The MPEG-1 (Motion Pictures Expert Group) codec is still one of the best solutions for turning massive video files into little movies. Because MPEG discards information that stays constant between frames, it can crush video files and still maintain decent image quality. Products like the FutureTel Video Sphinx Pro digitize and compress MPEG movies in real time, giving you files that require as little space as seven megabytes per minute.

    Video Sphinx Pro compresses video at several different resolutions up to 352 by 240 pixels, with data rates ranging from 25kB to just under 400kB per second. This makes it obvious that this package was never meant to be a serious video production tool. In fact, the Video Sphinx Pro has no capabilities for outputting an edited movie back to tape. This product is best suited to the creation of compact video files meant for digital distribution.

    The Package
    The Video Sphinx Pro package consists of a hardware interface, connector cables and three software applications. The FutureTel hardware connects to your computer's printer port, either directly or by a short extension cable (supplied). Jacks include S-video in, composite video in/out, stereo audio in/out and DC power adapter input. The video and audio output jacks are pass-through connections for monitoring only. The Video Sphinx Pro doesn't convert between the S-video input and composite output, so you can't use an external monitor with the S-video input.

    Audio connections are on mini-stereo jacks; the supplied cables convert these to standard RCA-style connectors. The inclusion of audio inputs is a nice touch, and Video Sphinx Pro will digitize and embed stereo audio at several quality levels up to 48kHz sampling rate.

    Software includes the dedicated Video Sphinx Pro capture/edit application, as well as Kai's Photo Soap and Macromedia Backstage. Installation of the software is simple; configuring the computer to communicate with the hardware takes a bit more effort. The Video Sphinx Pro requires that your computer's parallel port operate in ECP (extended capabilities port) mode. ECP mode also gobbles up an additional DMA channel, which may cause conflicts if your system is already maxed-out. Once installed and configured, a test program verifies that the system is functioning properly.

    The Video Sphinx Pro software includes five modules: MPEG clip capture and trim, still image capture, multimedia show assembly, Clip Glue (editing) and an image/sound album. You'll spend most of your time using the capture/trim section of the software, which digitizes your clips relatively easily. Picture quality controls include hue, brightness, saturation and contrast. These controls don't affect the computer display or video passthrough, however--there's no way to see their effects until you play back the digitized clip.

    Placing video clips into the album makes it easy to get to them from the Clip Glue section of the software. Here, you butt MPEG clips together on a storyboard-style timeline. Editing functions are rudimentary--you can't adjust the length of clips or add transitions between them. A single audio track allows you to place an audio clip next to your MPEG clips, which then overrides the clips' embedded audio. There are no audio controls (volume or fade, for example) tied to the editing timeline.

    The software's Media Show section allows you to string together MPEG, MOV or AVI movies, still images and audio files for a simple slideshow-style production. The software assembles them in serial fashion, with a blank image for the audio clips and silence for the still images.

    The Video Sphinx Pro's still image capture module allows you to grab high-resolution images (1600x1200 pixels) from the video source, saving them in any of several different formats. The still capture software gives you little control over which frame you'll get, as it automatically strobes through to a new frozen image every second or so. Resolution, color accuracy and noise level of stills are quite good, but images show some definite artifacts in areas of motion.

    The Verdict
    Put simply, Video Sphinx Pro is an affordable way to capture and digitize medium-resolution MPEG videos for CD-ROM, multimedia, Web design and video email. Don't think of this package as a solution for editing those videos--its software lacks audio control, video effects, transitions and text or titling capabilities. For MPEG editing, you'll want to supplement Video Sphinx Pro with some more advanced software.


    Ten Copies at Once

    SD-3 Duplication Station
    ($599)
    Elite Video
    321 Ouachita Ave.
    Hot Springs, AR 71901
    (501) 321-0440
    http://www.elitevideo.com

    tech specs

    What's a videographer to do when everyone wants a copy of his or her latest video project? Worse yet, what if you're a wedding videographer, and everyone from the parents of the bride to the fifth cousin of the groom wants his own copy of the wedding video? In situations like these, you can either set aside a few workdays to make the copies one at a time, or you can use a device like Elite Video's SD-3 duplication station and finish the job in a few hours.

    In essence, the Elite Video SD-3 is a distribution amplifier. What's a distribution amplifier? It's a device that streamlines the task of making multiple copies of a video or audio tape. The amplifier portion of its name comes from the fact that whenever you split a single video and/or audio signal into multiple outputs, it's necessary to boost (amplify) each individual output to a level that your recording equipment can process without difficulty.

    In practice, the SD-3 turns out to be much more than just a distribution amplifier. It incorporates a number of features that were developed in other Elite Video products (the BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor, especially). Owing primarily to Elite Video's prior experience in the video enhancer/proc amp market, the SD-3 incorporates features like a robust 72dB video signal-to-noise ratio and RTX resolution enhancement.

    On the Box
    Along the front of the SD-3's rugged metal frame is a series of switches, which are described here in order from left to right.

    The RTX Resolution Enhancer's purpose, as stated in the product documentation, is to massage the video signal as it passes through the SD-3 in such a way as to make copies come out with greater resolution than the original. If this sounds fishy to you, then give yourself a pat on the back, because it's theoretically impossible to increase the resolution of a video signal once it's recorded onto tape. Even so, the RTX Resolution Enhancer does serve to increase the apparent clarity of some types of video images by pulling the resolution already present in the signal out of the electronic noise that threatens to swamp it. We don't recommend using it for every project you're copying, but if you keep a sharp eye on what it's doing to your signal, it can produce some impressive results - especially with footage shot on a poor-quality VHS or 8mm camcorder.

    Next is the Long Lines Compensator (LLC), which simply boosts the output of the signal by a few percentage points in order to make up for long cable throws (12 feet or more). Like all of the other features on the SD-3, the LLC control is best left switched off unless you really need it, because it significantly increases the amount of noise present in the signal.

    The Black Burst switch has two functions. The most common use is to lay down a black signal on as many as ten tapes at once in order to prepare them for duplication. The second use is listed in the manual as the ability to "provide a black burst signal for your entire video system with no looping." This is something of a joke, as any video system that required a black burst signal to synchronize a number of cameras and/or decks would probably exist only in a market several rungs above that of the SD-3.

    The last two switches on the SD-3 are provided as a way to alert you with an audible alarm if your copying system encounters problems. One switch enables the alarm, and the other determines which condition must be met before the alarm is tripped - either loss of sync (no signal) or uniform field sync (representing the blue screen that many VCRs display when a tape is finished playing).

    Inputs on the SD-3 include one RCA-style composite video connector, one S-video connector and a set of standard stereo audio connectors. Outputs include ten sets of composite video and stereo audio connectors, but curiously, the S-video connections were omitted on the output side. This is perhaps the SD-3's biggest drawback. There might be some benefit to using an S-video input to help with the SD-3's resolution enhancement, but when it comes time to make straight, unenhanced copies, the lack of S-video connections on the output side all but defeats the purpose of including one on the input side.

    In Use
    Copies made by the SD-3 come out looking crisp and clean, with audio and video intact. The location of all controls is convenient, and the placement of inputs and outputs is logical and easily accessible. For those who need even more outputs for more copies at a time, the SD-3 includes a Super Link Configuration option, which allows you to hook as many as ten SD-3 Duplication Stations together without significantly degrading the quality of the output.
    In general, we found the SD-3 Duplication Station to be an excellent product, keeping Elite Video's track record for quality merchandise. The lack of S-video outputs is a serious concern, but still, the quality of the copies it makes is easily good enough for the prosumer marketplace.

    Contributing editor Loren Alldrin is a freelance video and music producer.


    Tech Specs

    Sharp VL-DX10U Mini-DV Camcorder
    Format: DV
    Lens: 10:1 optical zoom (4.5-45mm), 25:1 digital zoom, four-speed power zoom, f/1.8, inner focus
    Image sensor: 1/4-inch, 410,000 pixels
    Viewfinder: 3-inch LCD
    Focus: auto, push-button manual
    Maximum shutter speed: 1/500
    Exposure: auto, three scene modes
    White balance: continuous auto, three scene mode presets
    Digital effects: none
    Audio: digital stereo
    Inputs: stereo microphone
    Outputs: S-video, composite video, stereo audio, stereo headphone, computer serial
    Still image memory: 2MB flash RAM
    Still image capacity: 12 (fine), 24 (standard), 48 (economy)
    Other features: Mac/Windows software for image download, TWAIN driver, infrared remote, IrDA emitter/receiver, sun shield, built-in speaker
    Dimensions: 6.5 (width) x 3.6 (height) x 2.3 (depth) inches
    Weight (sans tape and battery): 1.4 pounds

    Video Performance (approx.)
    Horizontal resolution (camera): 380
    Horizontal resolution (playback): 380

    Performance Times
    Pause to record: 1 second
    Power-up to record: 11 seconds
    Fast-forward/rewind (30 min. tape): 45 seconds

    Strengths

    • a camcorder and camera in one
    • serial computer interface

    Weaknesses
    • ho-hum video performance
    • loud motor and button noises

    Summary
    A great idea hampered by ho-hum video performance and a high price tag.



    MetaCreations Bryce 3D Software
    Platform: PC or Macintosh
    Rendering engine: ray tracing
    Animation engine: keyframe
    Import compatibility: DXF, 3DMF, OBJ
    Export compatibility: Photoshop 3, TIFF, Pict, BMP, Quicktime, AVI

    Minimum System Requirements (PC)
    Processor: Pentium class
    System: Windows 95/NT
    RAM: 16MB
    Video: 16- or 24-bit color

    Minimum System Requirements (Macintosh)
    Processor: Power PC
    System: 7.1 or greater
    RAM: 16MB
    Video: 16- or 24-bit color

    Strengths
    • Virtually unlimited creative control
    • Unique, innovative interface

    Weaknesses
    • No native text support

    Summary
    An exceptional package for rendering realistic landscapes of your own design.



    FutureTel Video Sphinx Pro MPEG-1 Video Digitizer
    CODEC: MPEG-1
    Inputs: S-video, composite video, stereo audio
    Outputs: composite video, stereo audio (all passthrough only)
    Platform: Windows PC
    Digitizing resolutions (NTSC): 352x240, 320x240, 176x112, 160x112
    Audio: 16-bit at 32kHz, 44.1kHz or 48kHz sampling rate
    Still image capture: 1600x1200 pixels max

    Minimum System Requirements
    Processor: Pentium 100MHz
    System: Windows 95
    RAM: 16MB
    Video: 16- or 24-bit color
    Interface: ECP parallel port

    Strengths
    • low cost
    • audio inputs

    Weaknesses
    • extremely limited editing functions

    Summary
    A low-cost solution better suited to digitizing MPEG-1 video than editing it.



    Mitsubishi HS-U680 VHS VCR
    Format: VHS
    Video heads: four (plus flying erase head)
    Video inputs: composite video (x2)
    Video outputs: composite video (x2)
    Audio inputs: stereo audio (x2)
    Audio outputs: stereo audio (x2)
    Edit control: Mitsubishi RCA edit terminal
    Other features: front-panel A/V inputs, jog/shuttle on VCR and remote, audio/video dub, quasi-S-VHS playback, PerfecTape record optimization, on-screen menu system, DSS or Primestar control, cable box control, commercial skip, movie advance, high-speed FF/REW, VCR Plus+ Gold support, auto clock set
    Dimensions: 17 (width) by 4 height by 12 (depth) inches
    Weight: 12 pounds

    Strengths
    • good image quality
    • smooth, solid transport
    • front-panel A/V inputs, dual outputs

    Weaknesses
    • no manual audio record levels

    Summary
    A fine VHS VCR for work or play.




    Elite Video SD-3 Duplication Station

    Inputs
    S-video, composite video, stereo audio

    Outputs
    Composite video, stereo audio (x10)

    Video signal-to-noise ratio
    72dB

    Audio signal-to-noise ratio
    68dB

    Features
    RTX Resolution Enhancement, Long Lines Compensation, Black Burst Generator, Loss of Sync Alarm, Super Link Configuration

    Strengths
    • Robust S/N ratio
    • Easy to expand outputs using Super Link Configuration

    Weaknesses
    • No S-video output

    Summary
    A good low-cost distribution amplifier with some ex
  • Tags:  May 1998
    Loren
    Alldrin
    Fri, 05/01/1998 - 12:00am