Benchmark:Videonics MediaMotion 3.1 batch capture device
Media In Motion



Videonics MediaMotion 3.1 Batch Capture Device

($179)

Videonics, Inc.

1370 Dell Avenue

Campbell, CA 95008

(408) 866-8300

www.videonics.com

One of the most time-consuming parts of the nonlinear editing process is the logging and capturing of clips from the source tape to the computer’s hard drive. The process requires locating each clip on the source tape (or tapes) and recording them one by one. Automation of the process via machine control–batch capturing–is a great time-saver for those who have the necessary equipment.

If you have a nonlinear editing computer based on Adobe Premiere or Ulead MediaStudio Pro, then you can upgrade your system to include batch capturing capabilities by purchasing and installing Videonics’ MediaMotion 3.1. MediaMotion 3.1’s primary mission is to add device control to Premiere or MediaStudio–plain and simple–and it succeeds at its mission elegantly and inexpensively. There are a few minor quirks with the product, but by and large, MediaMotion 3.1 has much to offer the home nonlinear editor.

Plug it In

Included in the MediaMotion 3.1 box are a 3.5-inch diskette, a few cables and connectors, and one small black device called an AV/Net Module. The software installs easily into any Windows 95 or 98 computer, while the cables connect between your computer’s serial port and a camcorder or VCR.

Midway between the camcorder and VCR sits the AV/Net module. This ingenious little device might look familiar to those who have seen Videonics’ Video ToolKit. With a single AV/Net module, you can control up to four separate devices via standard machine-control protocols such as Control-L (LANC), Control-S, Panasonic 5-pin, RS-232, infrared (IR) or general purpose interface (GPI). What’s more, you can daisy chain your AV/Net modules, giving you control over up to seven separate devices from a single serial port on your computer.

Connecting the AV/Net modules is simple, if somewhat tedious. People who make use of standardized consumer protocols such as Control-L or Panasonic 5-pin will have an easier time of it; integrating an IR-controlled deck, however, can be a chore. This is because each manufacturer has its own set of IR codes, and sometimes these codes will vary from VCR to VCR. Like most IR-controlled products, MediaMotion requires a bit of trial and error to get this kind of connection working properly.

Be forewarned: MediaMotion’s AV/Net module requires an open serial port to operate. If your serial ports are all currently in use, you may have to re-configure your system to free one up. In our test computer (90MHz Pentium, 80MB RAM, Windows95, 4GB SCSI capture drive), we had to change the mouse we were using to a PS/2 mouse in order to make the serial port available for the AV/Net module. Other systems may require the installation of a serial-port switching mechanism, or perhaps a whole new serial port.

Operations

MediaMotion operated flawlessly in all of our test operations. Once you install the software, you’ll find a new set of functions available in the capture window of Premiere or MediaStudio Pro. From there, you can use the transport controls to shuttle forward and backward through your tapes and identify the in and out points of your clips.

Once MediaMotion is installed, preparing to edit can become a three-step process. First, you can log the in and out points of your clips into a batch list using the capture window, designating a file name and clip description for each clip as you go. Then, you check off only the clips you want to digitize from this list. Finally, tell the software to batch-capture all of the checked clips. If all of your clips are on the same tape, then you can set the program to batch-capture and leave the room while MediaMotion does its thing. If you have shots on several different tapes, MediaMotion will prompt you to insert the next tape when the time comes. Premiere will also ask you which "library" file should list the clips after capture. This file must reside in the same directory as the digitized clips. When opened in Premiere, it shows a picon (picture/icon) and file name for each clip digitized. You can drag picons from various libraries into your construction or project windows for editing.

You can save the batch list for future use. For example, you can create a separate batch list–an electronic log–for each of your tapes. At the start of a new project, you can open any or all of these, select and batch digitize only those clips pertinent to your new project. This makes it very easy to quickly bring any clip from any tape you’ve ever shot into a new composition.

Though MediaMotion can work off counter numbers, it works best with timecoded tapes. Not only does the capture process become more accurate, but it makes re-editing old projects a real possibility. If you save your original timecoded footage, the batch list and project file, you have everything you need to re-digitize clips and re-edit an old project. There’s no need to archive the clips themselves.

In short, the capabilities that MediaMotion can add to your existing nonlinear system are well worth the price. The ability to work with a wide range of consumer gear is perhaps one of its primary selling points; earlier batch-capture solutions targeted their market well above most consumer-level gear. If you own a nonlinear editing system that employs Premiere or MediaStudio Pro, then MediaMotion could be just the ticket for adding batch-capture capabilities to your video arsenal.

–Joe McCleskey

Tech Specs

Videonics MediaMotion 3.1

Platform: PC

Edit control protocols: Control-L (LANC), Control-S (record only), Panasonic 5-pin, RS-422, infrared (record only)

Time code support: VITC, LTC, RCTC

Minimum System Requirements:

Nonlinear computer capable of running Adobe Premiere 4.0 or above, or Ulead MediaStudio Pro 5.0 or above (Pentium processor, Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0, 32MB RAM, 256-color video display adapter, CD-ROM drive), one available serial port

Strengths

  • Controls a wide range of hardware
  • Easy to use

Weaknesses

  • Requires an open serial port to operate

Summary

A powerful, versatile and affordable batch capture solution.

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