by Doug Polk
PC Video Ed/It ($60)
Sima Products Company
6153 Mulford Street
Niles, IL 60714
Sima has a long history of making stand-alone video editors for the budget-
minded consumer, but this is their first venture into computer-controlled editing.
The PC Video Ed/It uses software and a priority cable that connects to any open
parallel port on your computer.
The cable carries control-L commands to your source VCR or camcorder, and
emits infrared for your record machine. This means that while you must have a
control-L capable source (mostly 8mm or Hi-8 machines), virtually any modern
VCR will act as the record machine.
Once you hook up the cable (you will need a 9V DC battery for the box at the
record end of the cable), you open up the software and configure your
First, you aim your VCR’s remote control at the cable box to teach the editor
the correct operation codes. Then, from the main menu, you pull down a
configuration screen to learn and test these codes. Once learned, you can save your
settings as a file in the program.
To edit your tapes, you use the simple main screen icons to control your source
machine and mark in and out points for each scene. Once you’ve marked all the
scenes you want, you go to the edit decision list (EDL) screen and make any
changes you desire. You can cut, move, copy, paste and delete any scene much like
a word processor.
Then, with a push of the Perform Edit button, the PC Video Ed/It takes over and
creates your edited master.
The PC Video Ed/It worked surprisingly well. The major problem with this unit
is a lack of time code on the source side. Every scene marked is referenced to the
real-time counter in the source camcorder, rendering accuracy that varies between
20 frames at best to a second or more at worst. Further, you can only use one
source tape during a session, so you must plan for this while shooting.
Beyond these limitations, the Sima PC Video Ed/It is a real bargain for those
looking for an entry-level computer-based editor.
Ease of Learning: (4)
Ease of use: (4)
Soundtrack Express ($70)
The Blue Ribbon Soundworks, Ltd.
1605 Chantilly Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30324
You need some cool original jazz to go behind your latest video masterpiece.
You don’t have the money to hire a bunch of jazzmen, you’ve got worries about
copyright hassles and you couldn’t strum a decent chord on the guitar in a million
years. What to do? You could buy out a music library, but such disk collections can
run into the hundreds of dollars. Or you could consider Soundtrack Express by
Blue Ribbon Soundworks.
Soundtrack Express works with any sound card or MIDI interface that’s
compatible with Windows 3.1 or better. Soundtrack Express uses 120 basic musical
progressions altered with 30 different musical styles. You can further alter these
with a number of different musical personality and band sound choices. Because of
this, the software creates a new and original piece of music every time you use
The main interface screen is where you “compose” your musical pieces. You
use a grid with musical instrument icons to control the volume and right/left
balance of each. To the left of the grid are the Style, Personality and Band
windows–the parts of the program that give you the most creative control over
Below this are sliders to control the tempo, activity and the key (pitch). The
activity slider increases the amount of activity (notes being played) in a given
measure, but does not increase the tempo.
On the right side of the screen is the compose section. You may set the length of
the music to any length of time above 3.3 seconds. Also on this side is the Perform
button, which starts the music when pushed. You’ll also find individual start, stop
and fast forward buttons.
Rounding out the controls are two ways to save your musical creations. An OLE
button lets you drag and drop your music into any presentation package that
recognizes OLE 2.0. Or, you can save your music as MIDI, STX or Clip files.
Soundtrack Express is easy to install and use. You’ll need a 386 or higher
computer with 4 MB of RAM and 4 MB of free hard disk space. It will also work
with numerous multimedia and business packages such as Microsoft’s Multimedia
Works and Powerpoint software.
Soundtrack Express is a ball to play with. Depending on the quality of your
soundboard, the music can sound very good. Most important of all is that you don’t
have to worry about copyrights or licensing fees. Anything you can create is yours
to use free. And at Soundtrack Express’s price, that’s a bargain.
Ease of Learning: (4)
Ease of use: (4)