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Budget Simplicity

VM-2900A VHS Camcorder

($599)

Hitachi

3890 Steve Reynolds Blvd.

Norcross, GA 30093-3012

(770) 279-5600

http://www.hitachi.com

tech specs

The most recent growth in the consumer camcorder industry has come from opposite ends of the market. While much of the media attention has focused on high-end prosumer models in the Hi8, S-VHS and DV formats, it’s never been cheaper to buy a low-end 8mm, VHS or VHS-C model.

Hitachi’s VM-2900A is a full-size VHS camcorder that fits squarely into the latter category, offering a very inexpensive and easy way for the beginner to start making video. It isn’t the most impressive camcorder on the shelves, to be sure, but it does offer one of the best feature-to-price ratios in any format.

In Living Color

One of the first things a beginning videographer will see when he or she looks into the VM-2900A’s eyepiece is a feature that only appeared on expensive camcorders a couple of years ago: a color viewfinder. This gives videographers a way to check color problems–such as tricky white-balance situations and over-saturated hues–right in the viewfinder, without an external monitor.

Controls on the camcorder body are minimal. A typical record button/zoom rocker combination rests under the fingers of the right hand; the left side holds controls for the Auto Light, Fader, 100:1 Digital Zoom and 1.5X Instant Zoom features. Of these, the Auto Light and Fader controls are probably the most useful to beginners first learning the art of videography, because they provide an easy way to enhance the quality of videos without purchasing any extra hardware.

VCR transport controls (which do double duty as the unit’s built-in titler) line the top of the camcorder, as do the Date/Time Stamp, Display and Counter Reset buttons. A handy carrying strap also sits on top of the VM-2900A, making it easy to tote around while on vacation.

With the VM-2900A’s flying erase head and audio/video dub capability, it’s possible to use the unit as an effective record deck for simple edits. This means even more built-in flexibility for the beginner who’s not afraid to try a little two-finger crash editing, using the home VCR as a player and perhaps even inserting a little music or narration (with a simple audio mixer and microphone).

One Serious Flaw

The most amazing thing about the VM-2900A is its price. For the amount of features it carries, it’s truly a wonder that you can buy this camcorder for under $500 in a discount consumer electronics warehouse.

Alas, there’s a second price that one must consider when making a low-budget camcorder purchase: the price in quality. While many beginners are happy enough at first just to have a camcorder, they often end up with disappointment at the low quality of the recorded footage they get when they pop the finished tape into the VCR.

The word on the VM-2900A is that the quality of the recordings is not bad–certainly not great, but not bad. Resolution will suffer most when richly saturated colors or poorly lit scenes are the subject matter, so a little bit of planning for lighting, backgrounds and clothing color will go a long way toward producing decent-looking shots with this or any other inexpensive camcorder.

One serious flaw, however, mars this otherwise decent product: lack of manual-focus control. With no way to control the focus, beginning videographers will have to content themselves with whatever the autofocus system gives them. The VM-2900A’s system does perform well enough, however, with quick response times and little tendency to hunt for focus. Still, there’s no substitute for control. Hitachi–and other camcorder manufacturers who make all-automatic models–should consider adding a simple manual focus system on all of their cameras; it’s an essential feature that would be well worth an extra $50 to the beginning videographer.

Even so, Hitachi’s VM-2900A is an excellent value, one that beginners will appreciate for its wide range of features and capabilities.


Beginner’s Bundle

Home Video Producer
($329)
Videonics
1370 Dell Avenue
Campbell, CA 95008-6604
(408) 866-8300

tech specs

Manufacturers of video editing gear have been placing more focus on the beginner in recent months–a welcome trend, to be sure, and one that we at Videomaker always strive to support. Videonics’ Home Video Producer is a case in point. With a combination of low price and ease of use, this editing bundle was designed with the first-time video editor in mind.

A bundle of three separate editing products–the Thumbs Up 2000 edit controller, the Sound Effects Mixer 2000 and a handheld microphone for recording narration–the Home Video Producer aims to take video hobbyists to the first level of editing expertise, as well as provide them with a clear upgrade path when they’re ready for more complexity.

Thumbs Up 2000

The heart of the Home Video Producer is the Thumbs Up 2000, a simple yet effective stand-alone edit controller that sends commands to a camcorder and a VCR via Control-L, Panasonic 5-pin and infrared connections. Those who are familiar with Videonics might know that this product is an upgrade of a previous model, the Thumbs Up editor.

The concept behind the Thumbs Up system couldn’t be simpler: you start by watching your video while it’s hooked up to the editor. Then, as you’re watching, any footage you want to keep gets the Thumbs Up button, while footage you want to leave behind gets a Thumbs Down. In a typical setup, you’d be watching the video from the camcorder, controlling the camcorder’s VCR controls through the Control-L or Panasonic 5-pin connection. Then, once you’ve marked all the scenes you want to keep with a Thumbs Up icon, you can hit the Edit button and sit back and watch all of your selected scenes copy onto your VCR (which is controlled through an infrared port on the backside of the editor). Sound simple? It is.

Editing accuracy with a system like this one can be a little bit sketchy. Without time code, the best you can hope for is around 1/4 of a second. Fortunately, if your source tape does have rewritable consumer time code (RCTC) or vertical-interval time code (VITC) written on it, the Thumbs Up 2000 will (in most cases) read this information through the Control-L or Panasonic 5-pin cable. This will allow you to be close to frame-accurate on the player side; the record side, however, will still be only as accurate as your record VCR can handle. With most consumer models, this means an editing accuracy limited to within +/-5 frames or so; better VCRs, however, may deliver very accurate edits–as close as 2 or 3 frames.

You say your camcorder doesn’t record time code? That’s okay; the Thumbs Up 2000 will write it for you. All you have to do is make a copy of the tape while the unit is in Time Code Write mode, and voila: you’ve got a time-coded tape, ready for editing. (Note: this does add an editing generation, and it requires that you copy to the same format; 8mm to VHS won’t work, and vice-versa.)

For a little added pizzazz, the Thumbs Up 2000 includes a built-in fader, video enhancer and black generator. Also, if you plan to upgrade your system to include a titler at some point, the Thumbs Up 2000 will allow you to trigger this device through a general-purpose interface (GPI) trigger.

A Little Audio Help

Also included in the Home Video Producer is a simple audio mixer/sound-effects box, the Sound Effects Mixer 2000. This device–which includes a handheld microphone and a pair of speakers for monitoring your efforts–includes hundreds of pre-programmed sound effects for use in your video productions. From gunshots and blood-curdling screams to eerie space music and police sirens, the Sound Effects Mixer 2000 has got most of the time-honored generic sound effects covered.

Located on the back of the unit is a handful of familiar-looking inputs and outputs. Setup is as easy as connecting the power, speakers, microphone and VCR (or other line-level audio device, such as a CD or tape player) to the appropriate inputs, then connecting a VCR or other line-level audio device to the mixer’s stereo output. This allows you to mix between the sounds generated by the Sound Effects Mixer 2000 (microphone and/or sound effects) and those coming from the line-level audio inputs (your tape’s audio, a song from a CD, etc.).

This type of recording (often called dubbing or mixing audio "on the fly") requires that you operate the audio manually, as you make a copy of the original. If your record VCR doesn’t support audio dubbing, this means adding a generation to the video footage as you re-record the audio. It’s a bit difficult to master at first, but if you practice, you’ll find that you can add and mix between songs, narration, sound effects and your original program audio with confidence.

Creating a Market

The great thing about products like the Home Video Producer is that they address one of the camcorder industry’s worst problems head-on: the problem of all those camcorders and tapes gathering dust in the closets of numerous potential home video editors. By giving consumers an easy, inexpensive way to make their tapes more interesting, Videonics is actually furthering the cause of the consumer video editing market. To this kind of low-cost, low-fuss consumer empowerment, we here at Videomaker say, "Thumbs Up!"


Computer Control Made Easy

VideoDirector Studio 200
($300)
Pinnacle Systems Inc.
P.O. Box 60746
Sunnyvale, CA 94088
(800) 474-6622
http://www.pinnaclesys.com

tech specs

A couple of years ago, Videomaker ran a test on VideoDirector, a simple, inexpensive computer-based edit controller. Using a device called a SmartCable and a software-based edit-decision list, VideoDirector was capable of controlling a camcorder with the Control-L protocol and any ordinary VCR for simple editing projects.

One of the most exciting things about the VideoDirector system (then owned by Gold Disk) was the versatility it offered when you added a few extra pieces of inexpensive hardware–specifically, a genlock device for overlaying computer-generated text onto moving video, and a sound card for adding music or sound effects. When coupled with a genlock device and a sound card, VideoDirector transformed into a complete editing system at a fraction of the cost of similar stand-alone equipment.

Now, the VideoDirector product line belongs to Pinnacle Systems, a company that previously focused its energies on expensive, high-end special-effects systems. With the acquisition of the VideoDirector line, Pinnacle hopes to make a bold entry into the consumer video editing market.

Not content to offer the same old product in a new package, the engineers at Pinnacle Systems came up with a new piece of hardware to bundle with VideoDirector–in essence, an external genlock and image-capture device that plugs into the parallel port of any 486-or-better PC. Together, the hardware and the software are sold as the VideoDirector Studio 200, a product that offers hobbyist videographers a price-to-performance ratio that’s hard to beat.

What Is That Thing?

You could consider the VideoDirector software to be the brains of the Studio 200 package, because that’s where you enter your editing instructions and tell the system what tricks you want it to perform. The heart of the product, however, is the Studio Mixer, a funny-looking piece of purple hardware that connects easily to your computer’s parallel port. This device performs four basic functions: image capture, logging, genlocking and special-effects transitions. Let’s look at each of these areas in a little more detail.

The Studio Mixer’s image-capture function is similar to those found in other popular camcorder-based frame grabbers, like Play’s Snappy or AITech’s AIGotcha. It allows you to grab images in three different resolutions: 320×240, 640×480 or 1100×1500. You can then save these images for use in any application or document that accepts bitmap (.bmp) files, including Web pages, newsletters, digital video clips and a host of others.

Autologging is another essential function that the Studio Mixer takes a small part in. When you first start editing with the Studio 200 package, one of the first things it asks you to do is insert one of your source tapes into the player deck. Then, after asking you to give the tape a name, the system will ask you if you’d like to proceed with autologging. Saying "yes" to this question sets in motion one of the more impressive features of the Studio 200 system. While playing the tape in real-time, the system identifies the starting point of each individual shot on the tape–in effect, each place where you hit the record/pause button on the camcorder. As it does so, it logs each separate clip in a Tape Library window within the program, identifying it with a single low-resolution picture icon (picon). These picons, representing each individual clip, will become the building blocks of your video in the editing process.

The genlocking function of the Studio Mixer allows you to overlay titles onto a moving video background. With the VideoDirector software’s built-in titling program, you gain access to a wider range of tools, fonts, styles, colors, graphics and animation options than are available on many stand-alone character generators. Want your titles to scoot across the bottom of the screen, or scroll upwards like a credit roll? Want to add more fonts and styles without buying a whole new piece of hardware? VideoDirector’s titling program allows you to do this and more.

Finally, the Studio Mixer includes hardware that aids in the creation of pseudo-A/B-roll transitions. What’s a pseudo-A/B-roll transition? Glad you asked. It’s a way of making professional-looking transitions between clips (dissolves, wipes, etc.) without all of the expensive hardware associated with most A/B-roll setups. Ordinarily, an A/B-roll system implies the use of two source decks and one player deck, plus a video mixer or special effects generator to perform the wipe, fade, dissolve or other transition. By grabbing the last frame of the outgoing clip as a still image and performing a transition between it and the incoming clip, the Studio 200 system eliminates the need for a pair of source decks. It isn’t true A/B-roll, but it does provide an inexpensive and nice-looking alternative.

Audio, Too

Also built into the Studio 200 system is a method of triggering MIDI, Wave or CD-based audio clips directly from the VideoDirector software’s edit-decision list, if your computer is equipped with a sound card. Thus, you could include any audio material from these sources in your productions, including sound effects, music, your own digitized narration or just about any other audio information you can think of.

What all of this adds up to is a very powerful system that’s available at a price any video hobbyist can afford–a solution that provides a level of quality that’s good enough for low-end prosumer work, yet simple enough for the beginning video editor to master.


One More DC

miroVIDEO DC10

($399)

miro Computer Products, Inc.

955 Commercial Street

Palo Alto, CA 94303-4908

(415) 855-0940

tech specs

Sitting on the front lines of the low-cost video digitizer wars is miro, a company that has been producing video digitizers since long before the Pentium or the Power Macintosh were available to the public. Always dedicated to providing low-cost solutions for digital video hobbyists and prosumers, miro’s latest offering is an attempt to bring the cost of nonlinear production down a few notches while still maintaining a decent level of video quality for output to tape.

Like the DC30, miro’s current flagship-model video digitizer, the DC10 is a PCI card that’s available for either Macintosh or PC-based systems. Its low price certainly makes it attractive to desktop video hobbyists and others who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a nonlinear system.

Hobbyist videographers, however, are just as wary about jumping into the digitizer wars as any seasoned veteran. They, too, have a number of minimum requirements they’d like to see fulfilled in any kind of video work they do–requirements like ease of use, decent-quality playback, audio/video synchronization, etc. To find out if the DC10 meets the needs of the hobbyist videographer, we installed it in our Benchmarks 133MHz Pentium computer (32MB RAM, Micronics PCI motherboard, Seagate 4GB wide SCSI drive, Adaptec 2940 SCSI controller) and put it through its paces.

Easy on the Accelerator?

Installation of the DC10 was very similar to that of the DC30–in short, because the two boards share much of the same hardware and drivers, any problems that people might have had installing the DC30 will probably apply to the DC10 as well. (Note: the DC30 captures audio along with the video; the DC10 does not.) In our review of the DC30 (February 1997 "Benchmarks"), we discovered that the board had some compatibility problems with graphics accelerators based on the S3 chip. Unfortunately, the DC10 seems to be exactly the same in this regard. When we installed the card using the standard Windows 95 installation procedure, we immediately encountered conflicts with the Diamond graphics card installed in our computer.

Fortunately, there are ways to work around this problem. The easiest is to reduce the computer’s display to 256 colors, thus reducing the amount of memory required by the graphics accelerator. This allows you to work in Ulead’s MediaStudio (bundled with the card), Adobe’s Premiere or any other AVI-based nonlinear editor while watching the output on an NTSC monitor. This method is cumbersome, and it makes your computer screen look pretty crummy, but it works. The hard way is to delve into the memory addresses of the various drivers loaded on your system and try to find the optimal configuration that works for your computer. Sound easy? It isn’t. And with each step in this kind of operation, you take the risk of upsetting the delicate balance of hardware-driver memory allocation that exists within the operating system.

Play it Again

The DC10 offers a few options for capture resolution, the maximum being 320×480 pixels, or about half of what many consider to be the minimum necessary for high-quality full-screen video output to tape (640×480). When working with a half-screen capture such as this, the board must interpolate the image, in effect doubling the number of horizontal pixels from 320 to 640. This results in a minor–but clearly visible–stair-step distortion of curved or sharply angled straight lines. This effect becomes more noticeable when you introduce motion into the scene, or when you play the image back on a large-screen television.

The maximum level of MJPEG compression available to the DC10 is 6:1. This provides a clear, crisp image at 320×480 resolution–but, once again, when you interpolate the compressed image to 640×480, digital artifacts become more visible. This results in a picture that has all the rich depth of color that the original possessed, but not the sharpness or clarity.

When you digitize your videos with the DC10, audio capture is handled separately by your computer’s sound card–a situation that often contributes to the problem of poor audio-video synchronization. In our setup, using the Creative Labs AWE32 Sound Blaster, we had problems capturing audio at CD quality (16-bit, 44MHz) without losing sync. Dropping the capture rate back to 11MHz (so-called "telephone quality") cured the problem, and resulted in audio that roughly approximated that of the VHS linear audio track.

Getting back to our original question: is the DC10 good enough for hobbyist work? Well–it depends on the hobbyist. Some will not be able to accept an image that looks the tiniest bit worse than second-generation Hi8 or S-VHS; some are happy with work that dips slightly below the quality of VHS. If you fit within the latter category–and you don’t mind spending some time in system configuration–the low cost of the DC10 may well appeal to you. Also, if you’re a CD-ROM or Web-based multimedia producer, the DC10 should be more than sufficient for your needs. If not, you’re probably better off seeking richer pastures, or waiting until the higher-resolution capture cards drop another notch in price.


Control Your Effects

Boris Effects Pro

($495)

Artel Software Inc.

374 Congress Street, Suite 308

Boston, MA 02210-1807

(617) 451-9900

http://www.artelsoft.com

tech specs

Nonlinear editing products, like their still-image photo editing cousins in the graphics profession, have embraced the open-architecture model of software development. This forward-thinking way of doing business allows third-party manufacturers to create enhancements to the existing product, actually changing the capabilities of the existing software for the better. In the world of nonlinear editors, these third-party additions usually take the form of special-effects enhancements–3D transitions, filters, particle systems and the like.

Many of these products come with a set number of pre-designed effects that you can dump into your nonlinear editor’s timeline interface. While this is very convenient for those who don’t want to spend time creating their own effects, it leaves those creative types who want to design their own visuals out in the cold.

For those nonlinear editors who want more control over their effects, there’s Boris Effects Pro, a professional-quality software package that plugs into most standard nonlinear editing platforms (including Adobe Premiere, In:Sync Razor, D-Vision Online and Fast VM Studio Plus). Available in both Macintosh and PC versions, Boris Effects Pro offers digital videographers the ability to create their own broadcast-quality transitions, titles and effects from the ground up.

We conducted our test of Boris Effects Pro with version 2.1 of the software on a Power Macintosh 7100/66 running Adobe Premiere 4.0. Though all references in this article will assume a Premiere-based system, the basics will remain the same regardless of your particular software/hardware configuration. Also, please note that the Macintosh version 2.1 of Boris Effects is equivalent to the Windows version 2.2 of the software.

Layer upon Layer

After you install Boris Effects Pro, you’ll notice a new icon in your nonlinear editor’s transitions window. To use Boris Effects, simply click on this new icon and drag it into the transitions timeline, just as you would with any other effect. To begin designing your own effects, however, you must double-click on the transition itself within the timeline. This brings up the preview screen, which shows you a low-resolution example of the effect you’re currently applying to the transition. From here, you can reach the program’s Main Panel by clicking on the Custom Settings button.

The Main Panel is intimidating to look upon at first, but a brief review of the manual should familiarize you with the basic controls available. The panel is divided into five main sections: the Preview window, which allows you to preview your effects; the Keyframe/Tracks window, which allows you to set keyframes and build layers for your effects; the Position box, which controls the location of each track on the screen; the Rotation box, which contains a set of controls for tumbling, spinning, rotating and pivoting a video stream, color or still image; and the Other Tools box, which covers miscellaneous items such as borders, masking, cropping, and other visual effects.

If you’re the type who prefers to jump right into a program and start using it immediately, Boris Effects has got you covered. Included on the CD-ROM are a number of pre-designed effects that you can import and use immediately in your nonlinear timeline. These pre-designed effects are also a good way to learn how the program works; by previewing them and watching how they operate on the Main Panel, you can teach yourself how the effect was accomplished, and then (with a little help from the manual) add a little flair of your own.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the controls, it’s time to start designing your own effects from the ground up. To work with Boris Effects Pro, it’s imperative that you understand the concept of keyframes. In a nutshell, keyframes are what animators and digital video technicians use to make the computer do the grunt work of moving an object from one location to another across the screen. For example: place an image at one location on the screen (keyframe 1) and then place the same image at a different location (keyframe 2); set the amount of time between them (say, 3 seconds), and the computer provides all of the in-between frames to provide the illusion of movement. In our three-second example, this means that the computer would automatically insert the 90 intervening frames (30 frames per second times three seconds) into the digital video stream. Boris Effects Pro makes extensive use of keyframes to move video images, still pictures, solid colors or text files across the screen in a multitude of user-defined ways.

Also essential to the operation of Boris Effects Pro are the timeline-based effects tracks, which make up the other half of the Keyframe/Tracks window. The placement of keyframes on the tracks controls the movement of images on the screen. Similarly, the arrangement of tracks in the window determines the order (top to bottom) of the layers on the screen. Each track holds a single unit of visual information–a title, a moving video image, a still photo, etc. For overlaying text or graphics, Boris Effects Pro provides Alpha Channel controls which allow you to key out everything but the part of the image you want to display.

Boris Effects Pro supports "unlimited" tracks–which means, of course, that the only limit is the amount of RAM you have available in your computer. If you’re well-stocked in the memory department, you’ll find it entirely possible to execute an effect with several hundred layers, varying levels of opacity, and resolution that far surpasses the necessary requirements for television work.

Output to Tape

When it’s time to render all of those high-quality, multi-layer effects, many nonlinear video specialists might well cringe at the thought of how long a typical microcomputer can take to finish such a project. While Boris Effects Pro is not immune to the problem of slow rendering times on home computers, it does render its effects quite rapidly compared to many other products on the market. Rendering a five-second, three-layer 640×480 effect with VHS resolution on our PowerMac 7100/66 (72MB RAM) took approximately 8 minutes.

If Boris Effects Pro seems a little over–or under–the price point and capabilities you’re interested in, you should be aware that step-up versions for Media 100 or Avid MCXpress are available ($695), as is a step-down LE version ($195). Each has enhanced (or limited) features and controls to match the difference in price. Also, be sure to keep your eye out for frequent upgrades to the Boris Effects line.

To summarize: if quality and control are what you’re looking for in a plug-in nonlinear video effects package, consider Boris Effects Pro. Its powerful interface offers a wide range of capabilities for the experienced nonlinear video editor.


Tech Specs

Hitachi VM-2900A VHS Camcorder

Format

VHS

Lens

12:1 optical zoom, 100:1 digital zoom, 1.5X instant zoom, f/1.6, inner focus, telemacro

Image sensor

1/4-inch CCD, 270,000 pixels, fade in/out, flying erase head, titler, built-in auto light

Viewfinder

.55-inch color LCD

Focus

Auto

Maximum shutter speed

1/4000

Exposure

Auto

White balance

Auto

Digital effects

None

Audio

Mono

Inputs

Composite video (RCA-style)
Mono audio

Outputs

Composite video (RCA-style)
Mono audio

Edit interface

None

Other features

16:9 recording, audio/video dub, fade in/out, flying erase head, titler, built-in auto light

Dimensions

4.25 (width) by 8.3 (height) by 13.2 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery)

4.4 pounds

Video Performance (approx.)

Horizontal resolution (camera)

270 lines

Horizontal resolution (playback)

210 lines

Performance Times

Pause to Record

1 second

Power-up to Record

4 seconds

Fast-forward/Rewind (30 min. tape)

1 minute, 20 seconds

Strengths

  • Low cost
  • Color viewfinder
  • Built-in light

Weaknesses

  • No manual controls

Summary

A good buy; would be a great buy if it had manual-focus capability


Tech Specs

Videonics Home Video Producer

Included in Bundle

  • Thumbs Up 2000 edit controller
  • Sound Effects Mixer 2000 audio mixer/sound effects generator
  • Microphone
  • Stereo audio playback speakers

Thumbs Up 2000

Control protocol

Control-L, Panasonic 5-pin, Infrared

Time code support

Vertical interval time code (VITC), Rewritable consumer time code (RCTC)

Memory capacity

400 (total) Thumbs up, Thumbs down or Title marks

Titler control

GPI trigger

Video input and output

Composite (RCA-style), S-video

Other features

Edit preview, video enhancer, video fader, black generator, time-code write capability

Dimensions

9.75 (width) by 5 (depth) by 2.25 (height) inches

Sound Effects Mixer 2000

Inputs

Stereo audio (RCA-style) x2
Microphone (1/8-inch mono phone plug)

Outputs

Stereo audio (RCA-style) x2
Headphone (1/8-inch stereo phone plug)

Mixer

2-channel, linear fader

Sound effects

77 sounds, 12 effects

Dimensions

9.75 (width) by 5 (depth) by 2.25 (height) inches

Strengths

  • Low cost
  • Easy to use
  • Time code support

Weaknesses

  • Lacks the power of a true EDL-based system
  • Infrared commands not very accurate

Summary

One of the best ways for beginners to learn the craft of video editing


Tech Specs

Pinnacle Systems VideoDirector Studio 200

Platform

PC

Software

VideoDirector Suite 3.0
Title Editor 3.0

Hardware

Studio Mixer (external genlock/image capture/special effects)

Interface

Parallel (standard 25-pin printer port)

Control protocols

Control-L

Video inputs and outputs

S-video, composite (RCA-style)

Studio Mixer dimensions

4.5 (depth) by 1.5 (width) by 6.5 (height) inches

Minimum System Requirements

Motherboard

IBM-compatible

Processor

386/33MHz

Memory

4MB RAM

Graphics board

24-bit

Input/output

One available COM port for Smart Cable; one 25-pin parallel port for Studio Mixer

Operating system

Windows 3.1

Recommended System

Memory

8MB RAM

Operating system

Windows 95

Strengths

  • Clear, crisp transition effects and titles
  • Very versatile
  • Low cost
  • External hardware makes installation easy

Weaknesses

  • No time code on record side

Summary

Possibly the most cost-effective video editing system in existence


Tech Specs

miroVIDEO DC10

Platform

PC or Mac

Bundled software

Ulead MediaStudio 2.5; miroMEDIA Manager

Video inputs and outputs

S-video, composite (RCA-style)

Minimum System Requirements

Motherboard

PCI local bus

Processor

Pentium; PowerPC

Memory

16MB RAM

Graphics

256 colors (8-bit)

Hard drive

SCSI-2

Operating system

Windows 95

Recommended System

Processor

100MHz+

Memory

32MB+ RAM

Graphics

65,536+ colors (16-bit+)
DirectDraw support

Strengths

  • Low cost

Weaknesses

  • Low resolution (640×240 maximum)
  • Hardware compatibility problems

Summary

A good buy for hobbyists or multimedia producers, but will not produce professional-quality results.


Tech Specs

Artel Software Boris Effects Pro

Platform

PC or Mac

Controls

3D Rotate, 3D Spin, 3D Position; Mask, Crop, Overlay

Other features

Alpha channel support, keyframe/timeline interface

Minimum System Requirements

Operating system

Windows 95 or NT (PC); Mac OS 7.5.2 or greater

Processor

Pentium (PC); PowerPC (Macintosh)

Memory

32MB RAM

Graphics

24-bit

Recommended System

Processor

133MHz+

Memory

64MB+ RAM

Hard drive

Wide SCSI-2

Other requirements

Must own one of the following: Media 100, Adobe Premiere, In:Sync Razor, D-Vision Online or Fast VM Studio Plus

Strengths

  • Excellent output quality
  • Fast render times (compared to similar products)

Weaknesses

  • Somewhat difficult to learn

Summary

A very fine piece of broadcast-quality effect

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