Clean and Simple
FX-L Video Ed/it
Sima
6153 Mulford Street
Niles, IL 60714
($474.95)

Sima, known for simple and easy to use products,
continues its tradition with the FX-L Video Ed/it video
editing system. This is a stand alone, straight cuts
(with effects) video editor. Which means that while the
unit makes straight cuts (backing up one scene up against
another), it also allows you to perform simple wipes or
fades to and from colors as transitions between the cut
scenes.

Control

The unit offers no audio or video dubbing capabilities;
you mark both edit in and out points as the source tape
rolls. These major drawbacks limit the scale of editing
you can do.
But there are ways around this. Audio levels are
controllable, meaning you can eliminate one or both audio
tracks in favor of an audio track you record during
editing.

The layout of controls for the FX-L Video Ed/it is
logical and easy to understand. The control layout
consists of three areas. The upper section is a simple
audio mixer featuring one microphone input with its own
fader for voice overs. The lower section has controls for
the source (or Control-L) deck, a two video input
switcher and editing controls for both decks.

Taking up most of the right side is the special
effects section, with wipe selection buttons and a color
choice knob. All of these prove responsive during the
editing process. The rear panel has a large assortment of
input/output jacks for your audio and video, including S-
Video in and out jacks. There is a second composite
(only) input channel.

The unit does not offer complete deck control; there
are still some chores you must perform. For instance, you
must place the record deck in record-pause to initiate an
actual editing session. There are no reverse or play
controls for the record deck, but this is not a major
problem. Most of the controls are soft rubber push
buttons which do not feel responsive. Indeed a few did
not respond to the first few pushes.

The FX-L Video Ed/it uses a Control-L cable to operate
the source (or camcorder) side and a small cabled
infrared transceiver unit to operate the record (VCR)
side. You must teach the record deck the infrared pause
command from your remote for the deck you’re using. This
is a simple process of sending the pause command from
your VCR remote control directly to the control wand. A
flashing LED will confirm that the unit has mastered the
code.

The unit tested required several tries to learn the
codes. Once it caught on, however, the function worked
fine.

When received for testing, the infrared connector on the
back of the FX-L Video Ed/it needed repair. A phone call
to Sima revealed that although this has been a problem in
the past, it should not affect future units. In any
event, the repair was a simple one.

Effects

There are four wipe patterns to choose from–or you can
fade in and out, or edit by cuts. You may choose to fade
or wipe to black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta,
cyan or white. All of the wipe effects operate at a
single speed.

A very nifty feature is the Wipe Angle Adjuster, which
allows you to move a wipe through 180 degrees of
rotation. This affects each wipe strangely and uniquely,
making all of the wipes continuously variable. This is a
very interesting device not usually seen in simple video
editors.

If you have two video inputs, you can switch between
them (it glitches) with the source selector, but you
can’t mix between them. The closest thing to a dissolve
the FX-L Video Ed/it will perform is a fade from one
scene to black and from black (or any color) up to the
next scene.

Editing

Two methods of editing are available.
Program mode allows you to search through your tape and

assign up to 46 edit in- and edit out-points. You can

then preview these scenes and make adjustments if

desired. You enter and modify a small menu screen showing

your Save and Delete list. If happy with the results, you

can go into Make Tape. This will automatically assemble

your final finished tape.

The FX-L Video Ed/it accomplishes this by reading the
counter of the camcorder (or source player). Therefore,
you must have all the scenes you wish to use on a single
tape.

The second method of editing is manual; here you record
over each scene as you choose it. Manual editing grants
slightly more control of the editing process. You can
switch between source tapes since you’re not assembling,
and you can use any search features on the source or
record decks to adjust your edits. This is helpful, since
editing points caught on the fly allow limited accuracy
at best.

Conclusions

The manual that comes with the FX-L Video Ed/it is
comprehensive and explains all features of the unit.
Unfortunately, some explanations, such as the use of Save
and Delete as used in actual editing, require careful
reading.

The Sima FX-L Video Ed/it machine does all it says it
will. Due to its simplicity, this is not the machine for
you if you aspire to edit complex video productions. But
if you’re a amateur Videomaker who wishes to put all your
shots in the proper order and maybe throw in a wipe here
or a fade there, this may be just what you’re looking
for.

Technical Specifications

Sima FX-L Video Ed/it Editor

Video Inputs: 2-Composite video, 2-S-Video

Audio inputs: 2-stereo audio, mike input

Video Outputs: 1-Composite video

Audio outputs: 1-stereo audio

Edit control outputs: Source deck-Control L
Record deck-Infrared

EDL events: 46 edits

Transition effects: 4 wipe patterns, wipe angle, fade

Background generator: 8 solid colors

Other features: 3 fader stereo audio mix bus, automatic assembly editing,
on screen menus, mike and cables included

Dimensions: 2 1/2 (height) by 12 (width) by 8 (depth) inches

Weight: 2 1/2 pounds


All in One
SLV-R1000 S-VHS Hi-fi Deck
Sony Corporation
Park Ridge, NJ 07656
www.sony.com
($1499)

With this consumer editing deck, Sony replaces last
year’s SLV-R5. The SLV-R1000 is presently the only
consumer level S-VHS deck that will accept both Control-S
and Control-L editing protocols, while at the same time
offering insert audio and video editing.

The easy-to-use unit is also nice looking, with its
trendy, yet dull “satin” black finish. All the controls
hide behind the large pull-down front panel, which sports
a small center window where the black-on-white LCD
display shines through. The display brightness is
adjustable. In fact, this design concept seems to be a
trend with all Sony VCRs now.

Insert Editor

The Control-L editing protocol (the method by which the
source and record deck communicate) is most common in the
8mm formats. That this S-VHS deck includes Control L
opens up a wide variety of combinations as far as editing
is concerned. Further, video and audio insert editing
adds to its versatility.

Audio inserting to the hi-fi tracks embedded in the
video signal is impossible without erasing the picture as
well. When using the audio insert function on this deck,
the input audio inserts to the “Normal” monaural sound
track. The hi-fi audio tracks remain; but you can’t add
inserts to them.

The video insert function replaces the video and hi-fi
audio tracks, and leaves the normal audio alone. Of
course, if you use both audio and video insert it erases
and replaces everything but the control track. A flying
erase head assists in the edits.

So, while this unit may not have full audio inserting,
it does offer enough combinations to cover almost any
editing idea. Simple crash editing is also possible using
the pause control.

As an editor, the SLV-R1000 works well but is
definitely lacking in some areas. Unlike many recent Sony
products, this model offers no time code of any kind. The
real time counter used limits editing accuracy. As a
result, the SLV-R1000 is accurate to about 6 to 10
frames–when you’re lucky. With a good edit controller
such as Sony’s RM-E1000T, you can increase accuracy to
within the limits of counter slippage.

Another problem area in the SLV-R1000 is a single hi-fi
audio input level control. This sets the hi-fi record
levels nicely, but you can’t change the balance between
left and right channels. The use of a mixer before the
inputs will negate this problem.

Also, the deck has no built-in time base corrector
(TBC). Time base correction (the removal of timing errors
in the tape being played) is not so important in an
editing record deck. However, a TBC would be most
desirable when using this deck as a source deck.

A shuttle jog knob included on both the deck and remote
control allows viewable fast forward and reverse. To help
you find scenes and edit points, it will jog by 1/5
normal speed to 2X normal speed. The feel of this ring is
fine–but tape speed runs a little wild until you get
used to it. A single frame advance or retard control is
available on the remote (only) to hone in on edit points.

This deck will permits all insert editing, which means
you can lay down black on a tape (which gives you a
prerecorded control track). Then you do all your editing
through the insert mode. This has long produced the
cleanest edits in linear editing. A stable control signal
is always present. This is exactly how the pros do it.

Couch Potato Tools

This VCR offers the usual VHS or S-VHS formats using four
heads to provide all three tape speeds during playback. A
switch on the deck (only) toggles between S-VHS and VHS.
It is not automatic; if you load an S-VHS tape with the
switch off, it will record in VHS. The unit will record
in the SP and EP modes, but not LP.

On the TV side, the unit incorporates the VCR Plus+
system which allows quick and easy presets of up to eight
TV programs for recording. A feature called Cable Box
Control takes over channel selection of your cable box so
you can select channels from the remote (or the deck).

The only source for tracking and menu access controls,
the remote control includes all control functions on the
deck. This seems like a mistake; lose or damage the
remote and you lose control of these features.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a present trend with
manufacturers. The remote is also the only control for
the VCR Plus+ system.

With the remote (only) you can access the main menu
(displayed on your TV or monitor screen). You use the
remote to make tuner presets to store TV channels for
viewing, to fine tune these channels, to adapt your cable
box, to set the date and clock and to set up the VCR Plus
for operation. All of these settings are easy to achieve.
The SLV-R1000 boasts automatic video head cleaning, which
operates each time you insert or remove a tape.

This does not mean that the deck maintains itself. It
will require the routine maintenance and cleaning any
deck needs. Adaptive picture control (APC) automatically
optimizes the record/playback circuitry for the type of
tape you use (VHS or S-VHS).

The operator’s manual covers use of the remote control,
the editing functions and a number of other smaller
features. Details are easy to understand; each function
follows another in logical order.

The Straight Cut

Video from the SLV-R1000 is very nice. Resolution in S-
VHS is easily 400 lines. Playback of a color bars test

tape proved very accurate with minimal noise in the reds.

The SLV-R1000 is an excellent choice for those who can
get by without time code, and are looking for a good
straight cuts editing deck with insert editing features.

Technical Specifications

Sony SLV-R1000 S-VHS Deck

Format: S-VHS (VHS compatible)

Video Inputs: S-Video (x3), Composite (x3)

Audio inputs: Stereo (x3)

Video Outputs: S-Video (x2), Composite (x2)

Audio outputs: Stereo (x2)

Remote control: All deck controls plus TV channel and volume, setup menu
selections, VCR Plus+ settings, index marks, tracking
controls

Video quality controls: Sharpness, auto tracking, manual tracking from remote

Control protocol: Control-L, control-S

Other features: High-speed rewind, auto head cleaner, cable box control,
audio record level control, front panel display intensity
control

Dimensions: 4 5/8 (height) by 17 (width) by 15 (depth) inches

Weight: 15 pounds, 7 ounces


Sure Shot
VM-H71A Hi8 Camcorder
Hitachi of America
Norcross, GA 30093
(404) 279-5600
www.hitachi.com
($2099)

Ever been caught in the rain while shooting outdoors with
your camcorder? If you’re like me, you jam it under your
clothes, duck your head over it and run for the nearest
shelter. This won’t be necessary with the VM-H71A Hi8
camcorder by Hitachi. While not made for underwater use,
this new model does feature all-weather construction.

Seaworthy?

Hitachi uses a red rubber gasket (they call packing)
inside each doorway of the camcorder. This stuff is
rather fragile, so the manual gives specific instructions
on how to properly open and close all doors.

This results in a camcorder useful in most weather
conditions. Light to moderate rain storms will not cause
concern for water damage. Rumor has it that the unit will
operate fine submerged in one foot of water, but this is
not an underwater camcorder.

Aside from this waterproofing, the body boasts a
smooth, pleasing and functional appearance. Most of the
controls are on the rear panel, where they’re easy to
find and see. The zoom and record buttons are in the
traditional right hand positions. The fade to black
button and the EIS button (electronic image
stabilization) are both on the left side. They are easy
to find by feel.

The rear panel buttons include VCR play controls, 16-9
image size, back light, date and focus. Focus includes a
large knob that works as a continuous focus clutched
adjuster (it has no stops but continues to turn in either
direction). This is a poor design. Not only do you not
have to fit your fingers between the knob and your mouth,
the directional torque applied to the knob makes for
shaky camera shots.

Automatic focus is the alternative; but the auto focus
on the VM-H71A tested is noticeably slow to respond. When
it does respond, everything throughout the entire range
of the lens is crystal clear. White balance and iris are
fully automatic with no overrides.

Smooth Sailing

Electronic image stabilization (EIS) stabilizes the image
during handheld shots. Most such systems reveal a freeze
and jerk effect when you quickly pan, but the EIS on the
VM-H71A is considerably smoother.

The camcorder’s lens offer 12:1 optical zoom with 24X
digital zoom. An odd but interesting lens feature is
Instant Zoom, which zooms in by 1.5 times the original
setting. Why a circuit for so small a change in image
size, when a minor touch of the zoom will do the same?
The regular zoom has two speeds; while the start and
speed changes are rather abrupt at first, with practice
they’re easy to use.

Living Color

The liquid crystal color viewfinder is an excellent
design. While resolution is low enough to make pixel
jaggies evident, it is high enough to promote good focus.
Color is excellent. The viewfinder tilts up or far enough
down to make for a more compact traveling profile. The
viewfinder has the most responsive and easily used
diopter adjuster of any camcorder probed in a while.

Other interesting features include “16-9,” which blacks
the top and bottom of the picture for a letterbox format;
this gives the impression of wide-screen shooting. It
also provides a “safe shooting” mask for upcoming 16-9
television videos. The camcorder has a one-stop backlight
button and a stereo microphone.

The built in stereo mike produces sharp, clear sound up
close; beyond 4 or 5 feet ambient sounds start
conflicting with voices. An external mike jack hides in a
doorway. The wired remote uses the same connection, so
you’ll have no mike input when you’re using the remote.
This same space shares the A/V dub cable connector–a
clumsy square multipin connector. Hitachi needs to return
to the standard RCA cables used by most other
manufacturers world wide. If the Hitachi A/V cable is
lost or damaged, due to a difference in the connector
styles RCA cables can not be used as replacements.

Two Remotes

There are two remote controls; one infrared and one hard-
wired. Both do pretty much the same things including full
transport control and access to the titler. The titler
offers simple one size and color (white) font that you
construct using arrows or other keys. You can make and
save more then one title for later use. Titles will key
in at any time during recording or playback.

The hard-wired remote offers access to the Syncro Edit
system, in which the VM-H71A acts as a source deck and
controls the record deck’s pause function. Edits can be
simple do-it, open-ended edits; or you can make an edit
event list and program up to four edits. The edit list
erases as you perform edits and is not saved. The titler
works in the editing mode. Using the VM-H71A as an edit
source is fully explained in the manual.

The manual with this camcorder is easy to understand
and use, and covers the camcorder completely.
Unfortunately, the table of contents is oddly laid out by
page number rather then topic, so a quick reference it is
not.

Color it Wet

All camera colors are accurate, if not fully brilliant.
Color rendition of the VCR section is just like the
camera. Video reds contained a minimum of noise.
Resolution of the camera section weighs in at about 500
horizontal lines. This is ideal for Hi8 VCR resolution.

If you’re looking for a camcorder that provides a good
Hi8 image, is quick and easy to use and doesn’t mind
getting wet on occasion, then the VM-H71A Hi8 camcorder
by Hitachi may be just the thing for you.

Technical Specifications


Hitachi VM-H71A Hi8 Camcorder

Format: Hi8 (8mm compatible)

Lens: Two-speed 12:1 optical zoom, f/1.8, 5-60mm focal length

Digital zoom: 24x

Focus: Auto or manual

Iris: Auto with switchable backlight

White balance: Auto, no override

Inputs: External mike

Video outputs: S-video, composite video (proprietary jack)

Audio outputs: stereo audio (proprietary jack)

Edit protocal: Syncro edit

Titler: 2 page, alphanumeric

Other features: Digital signal processing, 16 X 9 letterbox cropping,
fade, remote control, instant zoom, linear time counter,
diopter control, EIS (electronic image stabilization),
stereo microphone, in camera battery charge indicator,
setup menus

Dimensions: 3 7/16 (width) X 4 5/16 (height) X 9 (length) inches

Weight: 2.0 pounds

Video performance (approx.): Horizontal resolution (camera) 500 lines
Horizontal resolution (playback) 400 lines

Performance times (30 minute tape)
Pause to record: 1 second
Power up to record: 4 seconds
Fast forward/rewind: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

Doug Polk is Videomaker‘s technical editor. Send e-mail
to 71161,1722@cserve.com.

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