This month:


For Kids and Puppies

PV-A207 VHS-C Palmcorder
($500)
Panasonic
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
(201) 348-9090
http://www.panasonic.com

tech specs

So you say you’re not after the very latest camcorder with all of the bells and whistles; you just want a little something that you can use on weekends, birthday parties and holidays. You don’t care all that much about editing accuracy, manual controls, or the crisp, brilliant colors of expensive digital camcorders; you just want something you can use to tape the kids or the pets as they frolic in the sun.

If this is you, the current camcorder marketplace has got you covered. Although this year’s models include many excellent new features for serious videographers, the point-and-shoot market is currently stronger than ever.

Panasonic’s PV-A207 is a good example of the kind of quality you can get from a simple, low-end VHS-C unit. With all-automatic, single-button operation, a color viewfinder and a 14:1 optical zoom lens, the PV-A207 will appeal to those who just want to shoot some decent video now and again.

The Basics

The PV-A207 looks very similar to most other Panasonic VHS-C camcorders. A little bit taller than most compact cameras, it nonetheless is very light and fits easily in the palm, offering easy access to almost all controls with the thumb and fingers. The only exceptions to this are the VCR tape transport controls (Play, Rewind, Fast Forward, etc.), which are curiously positioned on the bottom of the viewfinder. The only easy way to access them is to flip the viewfinder forward into its locked position, which makes viewing recently recorded footage in the field a little more difficult than it might otherwise be.

The viewfinder itself is a 1/2-inch color LCD model that provides resolution on a par with most color viewfinders in its class: sufficient for most focusing applications, but a bit hard to work with in tricky situations like macro (closeup) shots.

Turning on the camcorder for the first time, one notices the built-in lens cover. It remains closed at all times except when the unit is in Camera mode. This is quite handy, as it keeps dust and grime off the lens when it’s not in use, and it’s impossible to lose (unlike most lens caps, which have a tendency to migrate to the very bottom of a camera bag or even the occasional miscellaneous kitchen drawer).

Once it’s powered up, the camcorder operates in full automatic mode quite well; the only thing you really have to learn how to operate to get decent images is the Zoom rocker. When you manipulate the zoom, a number appears in the upper left-hand corner of the viewfinder indicating the zoom ratio you’re currently operating at (2x, 9x, 14x, etc). Other information in the viewfinder includes battery remaining, tape remaining, a 10-second reminder for keeping track of shot length, tape speed (SP or SLP), operating mode (Record, Pause, etc.), plus indicators for high-speed shutter, light on/off, date and time, manual focus and fade. It’s possible to select which information you want to show up in the viewfinder; pressing the Display button repeatedly will remove each of the above items from the display, one by one.

Those who are familiar with camcorders will perhaps note that one indicator is missing: the tape counter. The only way to keep track of where you are on the tape is through the tape remaining indicator, which only provides a simple graphic, or through the Time/date stamp, which actually superimposes the time and the date on the video you’re recording.

A Little Control

If you find that simply picking up the camcorder and shooting isn’t enough for your video tastes, there are a few extra controls available on the PV-A207. Manual focus is one. All camcorders should have this essential feature, but some point-and-shoot models leave it out. The PV-A207, however, allows you to take control of your focus with a small wheel located under the lens.

Other important controls include backlight compensation for dealing with tricky lighting situations; a manual shutter-speed control that ranges from 1/60th to 1/10000th of a second; a built-in auto-fade control; and a simple titler. These features, while not extensive by any means, will give you a certain amount of control over your video productions that other point-and-shoot models won’t.

All in all, the PV-A207 is a good little unit, one that will capture decent-looking images with a minimum of fuss. Experienced videographers might find it lacking several key features, but casual video enthusiasts should find it sufficient for their needs.


In the Affordable Zone

ES970 8mm Camcorder
($799)

Canon USA
One Canon Plaza
Lake Success, NY 10042-1113
(800) 828-4040
http://www.canon.com

tech specs

Canon, a longtime innovator in the consumer-electronics market, has recently developed a number of important technologies for camcorder owners. Rather than making the video camera a more intimidating and difficult-to-operate device, these new technologies have helped to simplify the task of shooting and editing video for the beginner, while improving image quality and overall performance for camcorder enthusiasts at all levels.

The company’s latest top-of-the-line 8mm model, the ES970, incorporates many of these new technologies in an attractive, affordable package. Those who are familiar with the Canon line will recognize most of its major features. Even so, it packs a handful of extras that set it a notch above its predecessors.

Lens First

Canon’s lenses have earned the company renown in both the still photography and video markets. In keeping with this tradition, the ES970 gathers its light with a powerful 22x optical zoom lens–currently, the longest optical zoom available on any consumer camcorder. This means that it’s possible to zoom in on a street sign a full city block away from the camcorder and resolve an image that’s sharp enough to read. This may not seem much to those who are used to working with film cameras, but in the world of consumer video, it’s quite an accomplishment.

Once you’ve zoomed in to that range, you may find it difficult to hold the camera steady. For this, Canon has included its optical image-stabilization system on the ES970. Because it adjusts to camera shake by manipulating the lens itself and not the electronic image, the Canon system eliminates the problem of resolution loss caused by electronic image-stabilization systems.

Another note on zooming with the ES970: the Zoom toggle located on the back of the camera body operates at a wide range of speeds. The further you push it, the faster it zooms. This makes it easy to nudge bit by bit until you’ve framed your subject perfectly, or to zoom in quickly for those shots that require a fast response (a wildlife shot, for example).

Familiar Buttons

A couple of years ago, Canon introduced their Flexizone autoexposure/autofocus system, which allows users to select which area of the scene they want the automatic focus and exposure systems to adjust themselves to. The ES970 incorporates this system in the following way: when you put the camcorder into Manual mode, a small box appears on the screen. A tiny joystick located at the back of the camera allows you to move the box across the screen with your thumb. The camcorder’s autoexposure and/or autofocus systems will then adjust for the area within the box. Example: you’d like to shift the focus of the shot from Grandmother in the background to a child in the foreground (a technique called a “rack focus”). With the Flexizone system on the ES970, all you have to do is move the box from Grandma to the kid, and the focus will follow suit. Exposure works the same way, and is quite handy for adjusting the iris in trick shots. This system doesn’t give you the control you’d have with a true manual iris, but it is easier to use.

Another important Canon innovation is the Custom Key system, a method of placing important controls right where they’re easiest to find. On the ES970, you can choose to assign one of 16 different functions to each of two Custom Keys. Available functions include Fade, Backlight Compensation, Manual Focus, Shutter, Image Stabilizer On/Off, Title, Date, Record Search and others.

Easy Editing, Too

Not content to rest on their laurels, Canon has also developed an easy-editing function, called Auto Edit, which works quite well with any consumer VCR currently on the market. To copy up to eight selected scenes from the ES970 to your home VHS VCR, all you have to do is the following: put the camcorder in Edit mode; select up to eight pairs of in and out points from your recorded footage; point the back of the camera at your VCR’s infrared receiver; make sure you connect the camcorder’s video and audio outputs to the VCR’s inputs; then press the Start command on the ES970’s Editing screen. The camcorder will then copy only the selected scenes onto your VHS tape. Shots thus copied can include titles from the camcorder’s built-in titler, and they can be recorded in any order–not necessarily just the order that they happen to appear on the tape.

None of these innovative systems that appear on the ES970 are new. Except for the 22x optical zoom, all have appeared on earlier Canon cameras. What is new, however, is the availability of all these options on a lower-priced unit. At $799 list, this camcorder is one of the better 8mm bargains available on the market today. Sure, you can get a cheaper 8mm camcorder. But you’d be hard pressed to find one with this combination of features for under $1000.


Signal Control

BVP-4 Plus Broadcast Video Processor

($1095)

Elite Video

321 Ouachita Avenue

Hot Springs, AR 71901

(501) 321-0440

http://www.elitevideo.com

tech specs

Back in September of 1995, Videomaker ran a review of Elite Video’s BVP-4 Broadcast Video Processor, a little phonebook-sized processing amplifier (proc amp) that gave prosumers an easy way to gain control of their video signals. Since then, Elite Video has released a newer version of the product, the BVP-4 Plus. Like its predecessor, the purpose of the BVP-4 Plus is to improve a video image by making adjustments to the color and black-and-white portions of the signal.

Why might you need to adjust your video signal in such a way? Well, if you find that some of your footage has coloration or lighting problems, such as poor white balance, bad flesh tones or noisy, grainy black areas, a proc amp will help you get things looking normal again. Professionals use them often in their work, as they can help turn a passable video production into a finished work of art.

The BVP-4 Plus looks very similar to the previous product, with all the same knobs and only a couple of changed names. The only apparent difference, in fact, is the color of the case, which is now flat black instead of white. Inside, however, the newer unit has a few changes–the most notable of which is the increased resolution (1200 lines vs. 800) and signal-to-noise ratio (68dB). Also, for those who own digital camcorders, the BVP-4 Plus has a switchable Digital Gamma Compensator circuit, which will increase the degree of highlights and detail in the darker areas of the picture.

On the back of the BVP-4 Plus are the video inputs and outputs. Both Y/C and composite inputs and outputs are available; you must select the input type with a switch, but both outputs are active while the unit is operating. This means it’s possible to route your signal to a pair of devices from a single input: one through the composite output, and one through Y/C.

Knobs and Dials

Across the front of the BVP-4 Plus, you’ll find nine knobs and five switches. From left to right, the controls are as follows: Power, HBF (herringbone filter), Split Screen, Color Level, Flesh Tone, a handful of Tint (color) adjustments, a pair of Luminance controls, Resolution Boost and Black Restore. Confusing? Perhaps, but a brief skim through the manual should familiarize you with what exactly each control is for, and how to use it to improve your videos. The manual, by the way, is not quite as helpful as it could be when it comes to tweaking the knobs of the BVP-4 Plus to get the kind of results you want.

The Herringbone filter reduces or eliminates a certain type of video noise, resulting from electrical interference somewhere in your video setup. Color Level (or saturation) allows you to add or take away color from your video, brightening up dull scenes or reducing color shots to black and white. The Flesh Tone knob restores reddish-toned skin back to its natural tone. The Tint adjustments give you 360 degrees of color correction, which means it’s possible to fix some pretty severe color problems in your videos without affecting the blacks or whites.

PTP (Point-to-Point) Luminance is a special type of luminance adjustment that sets the black, white and grey tones of your signal within the range you specify (i.e., by turning the knob). Next to the PTP Luminance control, an IRE Adjustment knob gives you control of the entire video level of the scene–similar to the Brightness control found on many monitors. A related control is the Black Restore, which can transform the darker portions of your video from a noisy, grainy flat black to a deep, rich jet black.

Used together, the above three controls can greatly improve the range of blacks and whites in your video, enhancing sharpness and proper shading. Be warned, however: haphazardly twisting these three knobs can send portions of your signal outside the range of accepted NTSC standards, causing a loss of sync (rolling or otherwise unstable picture). It’s also possible to introduce a significant amount of unwanted video noise (grainy splotches) in your picture if you’re not careful with these adjustments.

Finally, there’s the Resolution Boost control, which Elite Video claims will provide up to an additional 90 lines of horizontal resolution from any source, without introducing any artifacts or noise. The BVP-4 Plus borrows the same technology used by NASA’s satellites to reduce the amount of noise present in an image, and thus increase resolution. Indeed, use of this knob did increase the apparent resolution of source tapes played through it by enhancing the detail already present in the image. Images manipulated by the Resolution Boost control have an increased clarity and sharpness which will show up clearly on a resolution chart.

One more thing: the BVP-4 Plus has a Split Screen control, which allows you to monitor the changes you’re making, providing a "before/after" look at what you’re doing to the video signal. Twisting the Split Screen knob moves a vertical line back and forth across the screen, allowing you to selectively view the changes you’ve made to specific portions of the screen.

Lookin’ Good

In essence, the BVP-4 Plus is everything its predecessor was and a little bit more. It’s a good way for prosumers to gain control over their video signals, and has the potential to create some very impressive effects. If you’re in the market for a proc amp, you may want to give it a try.


Multimedia Magician

Presto! Multimedia Suite

($129)

NewSoft, Inc.

47400 Seabridge Drive

Fremont, CA 94538

(800) 436-4365

Home

tech specs

Whatever else may be happening in the multimedia video market, one thing is certain: the bottom line keeps getting lower. Consumers can now purchase the creative tools for making their own CD-ROM productions for a song. And what was once available only to professionals is now almost as easy to procure as the latest video game.

NewSoft Inc.’s Presto! Multimedia Suite is a good example of the kind of video production tools that are now available for under $100 street price. A bundle of six separate software titles (VideoWorks, MediaPlayer, ImageFolio, PageManager, MediaClips and Kai’s Power Goo SE), Presto! Multimedia Suite is a product that seeks to bring the power of multimedia creation down to a lower price–and out to a wider audience.

Workin’ It

At the heart of the Presto! Multimedia Suite is VideoWorks, a somewhat limited video and audio editing package. This program will run on a variety of PCs, including 386 PCs equipped with Windows 3.1. With VideoWorks, you can either capture video and audio directly from your video capture card, or you can import existing video and audio clips into the program. The program will work at resolutions from 80×60 (about the size of a postage stamp) to 640×480 (full-size VHS-quality output). Similarly, color depth can be set at 8, 16 or 24 bits, for quality ranging from simple Web videos to full-color NTSC productions. Frame rates are also scalable right on up to 30 frames per second–but beware: many of the higher resolution, color depth or frame rate settings will depend on the quality of your existing video capture card, hard drive, graphics adapter and CPU.

Though a number of important video editing functions are available (such as fade in/fade out, cut-and-paste assembly, audio import, chroma keying, cropping, and a simple transition editor), the VideoWorks nonlinear system leaves something to be desired for most experienced video editors. Audio, for one thing, is limited to a single track per clip. Also, the number of steps that a multimedia video editor has to go through just to perform simple tasks is somewhat daunting. Even the most basic editing procedure–trimming and combining a number of clips–is cumbersome.

Next in line is MediaPlayer, a multimedia control panel for playing music CDs, MPEGs, PhotoCDs and other multimedia file types. Computer owners who have installed hardware products–such as graphics accelerator cards, MPEG playback devices and/or sound cards–probably have one or two types of media players already. The Presto! MediaPlayer, however, does give the advantage of gathering these various types of players into one program for easy access.

For still-image manipulation, there’s ImageFolio. ImageFolio is a simple yet functional design tool for working with many types of still image files, including .bmp, .jpg, .pcd, .pcx, .tga, .tif and others. When you first open the program, you’ll see a standard set of controls for crop, select, resize, paint bucket, etc–the usual tools found in still-image editors. ImageFolio is one of the more valuable pieces of software included in the Presto! Multimedia Suite, because it provides all of the basic elements needed for still-image production. Not that Adobe or any of the other major image-design software manufacturers need worry; graphics professionals aren’t likely to throw away their copies of Photoshop when they try out ImageFolio. Still, for most cottage-industry work and home-multimedia applications, ImageFolio is more than sufficient.

Need an easy way to scan photographs and other images for use in the Presto! Multimedia Suite? For this purpose, there’s PageManager, an application that gives you control over all your scanning operations. It’s quite a simple package, requiring only a TWAIN-compatible scanner for operation. With PageManager, you can easily drag and drop a thumbnail of any scanned item directly onto an icon of Photoshop, ImageFolio or any other application that accepts the scanned file type, and the chosen application will automatically open up to display the scanned image, ready for editing.

Clip-art Clips

For those who just want a simple way to jazz up a presentation or a computer document, Presto! Multimedia Suite includes MediaClips, a collection of color images, video clips, music clips, sound effects and animation clips for use in your productions. These provide an easy way to jump right into multimedia production without installing a video capture card. Included are images of nature, MIDI and wave sound effects and songs, animations, short video clips and hundreds of others.

If these five products aren’t enough to suit your tastes, there’s Kai’s Power Goo SE (Special Edition), which gives you an easy, fun way to apply some animated special effects to your multimedia productions. For a complete run-down of the wonders of Kai’s Power Goo, see the Benchmarks review in the November 1996 issue of Videomaker.

Taken as a whole, the functionality offered by the Presto! Multimedia Suite is about what you’d expect for a $100 software package. It does have some serious flaws–the quirky nature of the VideoWorks program chief among them–but it might be a worthwhile investment for the beginning multimedia enthusiast who can’t get his or her hands on any other kind of video editing software. Even so, the widespread availability of full-featured solutions like Adobe Premiere and Ulead MediaStudio bundled with video capture card purchases might make it difficult for the Presto! Multimedia Suite to find its market. It is capable of performing simple, short manipulations on high-quality video clips that are destined for videotape output, but multimedia and Web developers will find it more to their liking than those who want a full-featured nonlinear editing system.


Canyon Maker

Bryce 2
($179)

MetaTools, Inc.
6303 Carpinteria Ave.
Carpinteria, CA 93013
(805) 566-6200
http://www.metatools.com

tech specs

Ever been to Bryce Canyon in Utah? The scenery is a mixture of breathtaking skies and surreal landscapes, the likes of which can’t be found anywhere else on our planet. It’s a great place to just relax and take in the natural beauty, or to record some stunning footage on your camcorder. It’s also the place that inspired Bryce 2, a very impressive 3D scene generator from MetaTools.

Based on an earlier Macintosh-only program, Bryce 2 is a Windows 95/NT or Power Macintosh software package that produces very lifelike 3D still scenes for use as backgrounds in videos, CD-ROMs, Web pages, games and printed materials. If you’ve ever seen an advertisement for the product, or seen it in use, you’ll know that the output quality is very good. What you may not know, however, is that it’s one of the easiest-to-use 3D products available.

Though it’s possible to run Bryce 2 on a 486 (or equivalent) computer, you’ll quickly wish you had a faster computer with more RAM once you try to render a Bryce scene on a slower computer. For this reason, we (and MetaTools) advise that you use a minimum of a Pentium or a PowerMacintosh motherboard with 32MB of RAM. Also required on the PC side is Windows95 or NT; Macintosh users will need System 7 or better.

Cool Interface

When you install Bryce 2 and open the program for the first time, you’ll see an interface that is itself a work of art. The workspace is divided into three main areas: a 3D toolbar across the top, a main viewing window where your Bryce scene will appear, and (to the left of the main window) a series of odd-shaped controls for moving around within the viewing window and rendering the final product. Unlike many 3D design programs, which break your artwork down into four separate views at once, Bryce 2 gives you a single viewing window that holds just one angle at a time of the scene you’re creating. This helps to make the program less intimidating to those who haven’t ever used a 3D program before.

When you first run the Bryce 2 program, a default scene with a wireframe ground plane and a light source (the sun) will appear in the main window. Above it, the Create toolbar gives you access to a number of simple tools for creating 3D artwork. A simple 3D cube, for example, is the button that’s used to make 3D cubes. Similarly, a cone, cylinder, pyramid, squashed pyramid, box and numerous other small shapes hold the controls for making a wide range of standard 3D objects–the basic building blocks of every 3D designer’s art. Also present are a few 2D design tools and a handful of light sources for illuminating your creations. The Create toolbar is only one of three that are available in this space above the main window; above the toolbar, three buttons (Create, Edit and Sky & Fog) allow you to toggle between the other toolbars when you need them.

On the left-hand side of the Create toolbar, a handful of simple icons helps you to create a basic landscape with a minimum of effort. These include the Ground plane, Water plane and Cloud plane controls. Each is a simple tool for placing these basic elements in your landscape; click on the button, and a 3D wireframe plane corresponding to the element you’ve chosen will appear in the main window. Once you’ve placed a plane, you can move it easily by selecting it with a click and dragging it up or down into position.

Next to these controls is the Terrain icon, which places a randomized chunk of fractal landscape in the center of your ground plane when you click on it. When chosen along with an appropriately placed Water plane, a single piece of terrain forms an island; multiple bits of terrain can make an archipelago, or perhaps a mountain range.

Materials

After you’ve sketched out the basics of your scene, Bryce 2 makes it easy to put a colorful and realistic covering of natural materials over your wireframes. Included in the software package are hundreds of pre-designed bitmapped coverings for all elements in your scene, including different types of cloud cover, terrain types, water configurations and pre-made 3D objects (such as rocks, trees, bushes and other various plant life) for making your scene look more realistic. To finish the simple scene outlined above, for example, you could choose the Arizona terrain type for your island, followed by a Cottonball Storm for some heavy, moody cloud cover. Then, the Foamy Seawater could give the entire surface of the water a mottled, choppy look of the open sea.

Rendering this scene on a Pentium 133 with 32MB of RAM takes about 10 minutes, and results in an end product that looks like it was designed by a high-paid 3D design professional. When rendered with the default settings, each scene is fully ray-traced and anti-aliased, which lends it an almost photorealistic quality. For those who don’t mind waiting a bit longer, Bryce 2 has a setting for Supreme Anti-aliasing, which can take nearly twice as long to render, but is well worth the wait in terms of image quality.

And this is just the beginning of Bryce 2’s functionality. For added flexibility, the program allows importation of several standard 3D file types, including the .dxf files used by many professionals. This means that you can import 3D models created in 3D Studio Max, Extreme 3D, Strata 3D, Fractal Design Poser, TrueSpace, Infini-D, Tree Pro, Ray Dream Designer and others.

A number of other creative systems within the program round out the design options nicely. The Terrain design tools allow you to sculpt your own highly realistic (or highly fantastic, if you prefer) landscapes from scratch. The Materials design tools let you create your own terrains and water types. And the Sky and Fog options give you ample room to experiment with the heavens. In fact, just about every corner of Bryce 2 is packed with powerful tools that can’t be found in any other 3D design program.

Need an impressive background for your titles, or for your 3D animations? Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to get into 3D design? Bryce 2 might be just what you’re looking for.


Tech Specs

Panasonic PV-A207 VHS-C Palmcorder

Format

VHS-C

Lens

14:1 optical zoom, 5.3-74.2mm focal length, 4-speed power zoom, f/1.6, inner focus, wide macro

Image sensor

1/4-inch CCD, 270,000-pixels

Viewfinder

0.5-inch color LCD

Focus

TTL auto, manual

Maximum shutter speed

1/10,000th of a second

Exposure

Auto, backlight compensation

White balance

Auto

Digital effects

None

Audio

Monaural

Inputs

None

Outputs

1/8-inch stereo mini phone plug to mono audio/composite video (RCA-style)

Edit interface

None

Other features

Built-in auto light, built-in lens cover, SLP recording, manual shutter speed control, fader, titler

Dimensions

4.25 (width) by 4.6 (height) by 7 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery)

2 pounds

Video Performance (approx.)

Horizontal resolution (camera)

280 lines

Horizontal resolution (playback)

210 lines

Performance Times

Pause to Record

2 seconds

Power-up to Record

3 seconds

Fast-forward/Rewind (30 min. tape)

3 minutes

Strengths

  • Decent picture quality
  • Easy to use
  • Manual shutter speed control

Weaknesses

  • No microphone or headphone jacks
  • No edit control
  • No standard A/V terminals

Summary

A point-and-shoot performer at a good price.


Tech Specs

Canon ES970 8mm camcorder

Format

8mm

Lens

22:1 optical zoom, 3.9-85.8mm focal length, multi-speed power zoom, f/1.6, inner focus, wide macro

Image sensor

1/4-inch CCD, 270,000 pixels

Viewfinder

0.55-inch color LCD

Focus

TTL auto, Flexizone AF, focus lock, manual

Maximum shutter speed

1/10,000th of a second

Exposure

Auto, Flexizone AE, backlight compensation

White balance

Auto

Digital effects

None

Audio

AFM stereo

Inputs

Composite video (RCA-style), stereo audio, microphone (1/8-inch stereo mini)

Outputs

Composite video (RCA-style), stereo audio, headphones (1/8-inch stereo mini)

Edit interface

Control-L

Other features

Programmable custom keys, Flexizone AE/AF, infrared auto-edit, optical image stabilization

Dimensions

4.2 (width) by 4.4 (height) by 7.25 (depth) inches

Weight (sans tape and battery)

1 pound 11 ounces

Video Performance (approx.)

Horizontal resolution (camera)

280 lines

Horizontal resolution (playback)

210 lines

Performance Times

Pause to Record

1/2 second

Power-up to Record

4 seconds

Fast-forward/Rewind (30 min. tape)

1 minute 30 seconds

Strengths

  • Excellent telephoto lens
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Flexizone AE/AF
  • Infrared auto-edit

Weaknesses

  • None

Summary

An excellent camcorder for the serious hobbyist.


Tech Specs

Elite Video BVP-4 Plus Broadcast Video Processor

Video Inputs

Composite (RCA-style), S-video

Video Outputs

Composite (RCA-style), S-video

Resolution

Up to 1200 lines (with resolution boost improvement)

Signal-to-noise Ratio

68dB

Features

Split screen, color level, flesh tone, herringbone filter, 360-degree tint control, full IRE scale luminance adjustment, black restore, resolution boost, digital gamma compensation

Dimensions

3 1/8 (height) by 15 (width) by 7 3/4 (depth) inches

Weight

6 pounds

Strengths

  • Increases clarity and resolution
  • Improves flesh tones in most cases
  • Wide range of signal control

Weaknesses

  • Improper adjustment can create an unusable video signal

Summary

A great way for prosumers to gain control of their video signals.


Tech Specs

NewSoft Presto! Multimedia Suite

Bundled software

VideoWorks, MediaPlayer, ImageFolio, PageManager, Media Clips, Kai’s Power Goo SE

Minimum System Requirements

Platform

PC

Motherboard

386

RAM

4MB

Graphics Card

8-bit

Operating System

Windows 3.1 (Kai’s Power Goo requires Windows 95)

Recommended System

Motherboard

Pentium

RAM

16MB+

Graphics Card

24-bit (16 million colors)

Operating System

Windows 95

Strengths

  • Low cost
  • 24-bit, 640×480 output

Weaknesses

  • Difficult to perform simple editing functions
  • Only one track of audio available

Summary

A decent package for multimedia enthusiasts who don’t already have Premiere and/or Photoshop.


Tech Specs

MetaTools Bryce 2

Minimum System Requirements

Platform

Mac or PC

Motherboard

PC–Pentium
Mac–Power Macintosh

RAM

16MB

Graphics card

8-bit minimum (256 colors)

Operating system

Windows 95 or NT (PC); System 7.1 or later (Mac)

Recommended System

Motherboard

133MHz+ Pentium (PC); 604e PowerPC (Mac)

RAM

24MB+

Graphics card

24-bit; Direct3D (PC); QuickDraw 3D (Mac)

Strengths

  • Easy to learn
  • Sexy interface
  • Stunning output

Weaknesses

  • None

Summary

A great 3D graphics product for multimedia developers and video titling and graphics app

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