Ever since Tony broke up with Judy, his personal hygiene had started slipping. Today, he was particularly
ripe. I opened a window and located myself upwind.
“Ready for the big edit session?” I asked. Tony insisted on helping me with my editing. This
dubious favor was in return for letting him sleep on my office floor until he could “get it back together.”
And also because he had smashed my stand-alone edit controller one night in a confused dash for the office
I could sense that it was going to be a long day. I had made workprint copies of my source tapes,
putting time code values for each frame right on the screen with a window burn system. We would create
our edit list “offline” with these workprint tapes, and save the originals for the final edit.
Putting the visual time code values on the video provided me with a simple, if tedious, way to
create an EDL (edit decision list). After assembling all the video clips, I could just play back the final tape,
pause it at each transition, and type the in and out points into a file on my Mac. Doing this off-line, on my
own time, would save me many dollars in the final edit.
I had shot a bunch of Hi8 footage at Lake Powell, and I needed to edit it to the song “A Night on
Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgski. Hundreds of cuts had to sync with this powerful music, building
up to a big lightning storm over the lake.
I started by laying down the music on the linear track of the record tape to cue the video clips. As
we listened to the piece, I could see Tony’s eyes start to moisten. “Judy loved classical music…” he trailed
off, quietly gulping down a sob. As any decent guy would, I pretended not to notice, and opened another
I cued up the first daytime shots spotlighting the amazing geology of Lake Powell. For each cut,
we searched for the perfect shot and I jotted down the starting frame number. Then Tony would rewind the
source tape sixty frames & put it into play/pause.
Next we turned our attention to the record tape. While jogging and shuttling, I listened to the
music and located the next edit-in point. Then I rewound fifty-five frames and put the record deck into
pause/record. Then, fingers on the pause buttons, we would punch them both simultaneously. If everything
went well, the source deck would begin its playback exactly as the recorder deck got up to speed and began
recording video frames.
Today, things weren’t going well. Tony couldn’t hit the floor with his hat, let alone punch
the right buttons at the right time. There had to be a better way.
After a couple of hours of this, I proposed an early lunch. Tony’s appetite was always good, but
misery seemed to enhance it. He quickly agreed.
When we got back from lunch, Shiela, our UPS driver, was just arriving with a package. She sneezed
as she handed it to me. “Sorry,” she said, “I have a miserable head cold.”
It was my new edit controller! Now I could gracefully excuse Tony from his self-appointed
penance and get back to editing on my own. I ripped the box open to see a cable and a diskette. I panicked.
Where’s the controller?
Then I remembered. The controller was sitting on my desk, disguised as my Macintosh computer.
Quickly, I connected the cable from the serial port of the Mac to the RS-422 connector on the playback
deck. I copied the software driver to the plug-in folder in Adobe Premiere, and then launched
Following the instructions, I started the controller software by selecting Device Control, under
Preferences in the File menu. I selected my freshly-installed driver and a dialog box popped up. I told it I
was using RS-422 and VITC (Vertical Interval Time Code).
I selected Movie Capture and I was thrilled to see a brand-new capture window. Instead of the
stark video window of old, there was a whole new crowd of buttons on-screen. The playback, jog, shuttle,
and other controls were now available, including In and Out points in SMPTE time code. As I clicked on
the buttons with my mouse, the tape deck promptly responded to my every whim, rewinding, fast-
forwarding and pausing on a dime.
While watching the source tape, I hit the In button (the “I” key also works) to log an in point.
When I got to the end of the clip, I pressed the Out button (or–you guessed it–the “O” key). I entered these
points by typing in the timecode numbers, then I selected the Auto-Record option and clicked Record. The
computer directed the tape deck to go to the desired frame, do a pre-roll and start playback while it
captured the video.
I recorded my sound track in Premiere. Now I could see the music as well as hear it.
Using the graphical display as a reference, I pasted my clips into place and hit the beat of the music dead-
on every time.
I was so excited that I had forgotten altogether about Tony. Now I looked up to see that he had a
smile on his face. He was talking to Shiela, who was blowing her nose and smiling back.
“I guess you won’t need me anymore now that you have a new edit controller,” he said. “So, uh…
Shiela has a lunch break now and she wants me to join her.”
I decided not to point out that he had just tossed down two double cheeseburgers, fries, apple pie
and a chocolate shake. I was just glad that Shiela had a cold. Hopefully, Tony would find a shower before
her sinuses drained.
They rode off in Shiela’s big brown truck and I returned to my project. Before I went any farther, I
knew I had better calibrate my equipment. Since I had timecode burned onto my video, I tried automatic
Premiere can actually read the visible timecode off the video and synchronize itself to it. First, I
needed to tell the program where the time code was on the screen. I selected Timecode Decoder from the
Movie Capture menu. I dragged out a box to surround the numbers in the time code, upped the contrast a
little and bingo! Premiere read the time code values right off the screen, displaying its own numbers in a
Then I selected Calibrate Timecode from the Movie Capture menu. Premiere took over, playing a
section of tape several times to home in on the exact timecode. After a couple of minutes, the clip showed
up in the Movie Capture window. The timecode numbers matched up perfectly from then on.
Now I was ready. From my notes, I reconstructed the video quickly. If clips needed trimming,
Premiere made fast work of them. Finally, I had all the pieces together, culminating in a frenzied,
spectacular, lightning and thunder ending.
The setup works like my old edit controller, only on steroids. With the video digitized, I can
preview and play “what if?” without spending the best days of my life watching tape shuttle back and
But the best part is this: I can noodle around on the Mac, polishing my edits to the frame. Then I
can save my EDL on disk, in a format that a professional studio editing machine can read directly. There
are export modules that allow Premiere to format diskettes for CMX, Grass Valley and Sony Professional
editors. This means that I can go from my humble, low-resolution video project to a full-blown BetaMax or
Digital Tape Master for a very small slice of studio time.
The EDL that Premiere creates can even specify dissolves and wipes on some editing machines. If
you plan to do your final edit at a professional facility, talk with your local post-production house and see
what kinds of wipes their video switcher offers. You can map the Premiere wipes to the codes required by
the switcher, and save that map to disk.
A problem occurs when you are dissolving between two clips on the same reel. A typical A/B-roll
editor can mix signals from two different decks, and put the result out to the record deck. But combining
the video from two separate parts of the same reel is impossible (except with nonlinear editors). To
solve this annoying problem, you need to make a copy of the offending clips and mix the copy
with the original. This mini-EDL of duplicated clips is the B-roll conform list. Premiere will automatically
create this list along with the EDL, if you desire.
For my first mini-epic on Lake Powell, all the edits were cuts-only. I selected CMX 3600 (under
Export in the File Menu), since that’s the EDL format used by my local bureau. Premiere ran through my
movie and wrote out the relevant in/out points needed by the editor.
When I was done, I had an EDL that worked flawlessly in post production. I was hooked. This
was definitely a big improvement over working with Tony.
There are several cable/software combinations on the market. One such product is ProVtr from
Pipeline Digital. It’s a Plug-in for Premiere, and has a cable to connect a Mac to 9-pin RS-422, RS-232 or
VISCA decks. They also have a product called AutoLog that can create log sheets for most of the popular
non-linear systems, including AVID, ImMIX, and Media 100. This is a handy way to off-load some of the
work from your more expensive systems.
Another popular product is the VideoToolkit from Abbate Video. This Mac product comes with a
cable and software to log clips and create edit lists. They also offer the VTK Plug-in for both Macs and
PCs that allows Premiere to handle the editing.
Abbate has cables that can control Sony decks with VISCA, Control-S and Control-L (or LANC)
protocols, Panasonic decks with Control-M and professional decks with RS-422 and RS-232. For the slave
deck, which really only needs to pause and record, Abbate has a simple infrared interface that can operate
almost any VCR. With all these protocols supported, the Abbate system is well-suited to mixing consumer
and professional equipment. Diaquest also makes a cable and Premiere Plug-in called the DQ-
Shop around. You really shouldn’t have to pay more than $100 for a cable and a Plug-in. That’s a
good price when you consider that it gives total machine control to a powerful editing program like
Premiere. The only downside is that Premiere doesn’t yet offer A/B-roll editing.
For that, you need to move a bit upscale, to edit controllers with more sophisticated software and
external hardware. These outboard boxes only need one serial line to operate three devices, making A/B-
roll editing a snap. The V-Station 3300 from Future Video comes with three VCR control ports, three
timecode inputs and two GPI triggers. The Editizer from Technical Aesthetics Operations (TAO) offers a
similar crop of connectors, and throws in audio control and MIDI support as well. The nice thing about
these solutions is that you can really perform A/B-roll editing (with cuts-only transitions) right on your
If you have a computer and you work with video, you’re crazy not to have one of these computer-
based edit controllers.
Speaking of crazy, a squeaky-clean Tony came by the other day to pick up his dirty socks.
Somewhat undiplomatically, I pointed out that it had been a few months since he rode off with Shiela, and
the Center for Disease Control had long since taken his socks.
He pretended not to hear me and changed the subject. “That was the luckiest day of my life, when
Shiela delivered your edit controller. It was love at first sight,” he said.
Hey, if that’s what it takes to get Tony in the shower, it was worth every penny.
Scott Anderson is the president of Wild Duck Software, a computer graphics development
VSP on the Net netvideo (Sunnyvale, CA) launched its Internet video storage and compression
services, making it the first video service provider (VSP) for the Internet community. netvideo allows
businesses the ability to capitalize on the multimedia potential of the World Wide Web. netvideo promotes
the MPEG standard for video compression on the net.
Digital Frontier D-Vision Systems recently offered up four new 60 field-per-second, scaleable
digital video resolution (DVR) standards. The new DVRs are part of D-Vision’s latest line of Windows
NT/Windows 95-based digital non-linear editing products. The company hopes their DVRs will set new
standards for digital media.
VideoDirector Home 1.0 ($49)
Gold Disk Inc.
Santa Clara, California
VideoDirector Home version 1.0 is an affordable addition to the existing VideoDirector family of
products. It allows consumers to easily edit their videos into organized packages by selecting their favorite
video clips, arranging them in any order and recording them onto a master tape. The Windows-based
VideoDirector Home system will support any Control-L camcorder or deck on the source side; an infrared
emitter on the record side works with virtually any consumer camcorder or VCR.
Mountain View, California
trueSpace2 is a Windows-based 3D graphics and animation software package that makes 3D graphics
accessible to multimedia producers, animators, and videomakers. With trueSpace2, integration of organic
modeling, photorealistic raytracing and broadcast-quality animation are possible within a virtual reality-
style interface. The software supports 3D Studio, Wave Front and AutoCAD file formats, as well as Adobe
Photoshop plug-ins. trueSpace2 includes Caligari TrueClips, a CD-ROM of over 200 textures and 600 pre-
made 3D objects.
Horizons Technology, Inc.
San Diego, California
TrueMotion-S video is a software-only video compression and decompression tool that runs on Mac
and Windows platforms. The TrueMotion-S compressor works with such editing packages as Adobe
Premiere and VidEdit for Windows, creating intraframe files for ease of editing. TrueMotion-S offers a
640×480 pixel display at 30 fps; TrueMotion-S also supports a compression time ratio of 20:1 or less. The
decompressor, which runs on multiple platforms, offers pause, fast forward and reverse controls.
Adobe After Effects 3.0 ($995)
Adobe Systems Incorporated
Mountain View, California
Adobe After Effects 3.0 for Macintosh and Power Macintosh is a digital post-production package for film,
broadcast video and multimedia production. It provides seamless integration with Adobe Photoshop and
Adobe Illustrator, forming the core of a professional, integrated post-production suite. You can use After
Effects to create and deliver video at all quality levels from QuickTime movies and CD-ROM to digital
Video X ($1295), Control X ($795)
TV One Multimedia Solutions
1445 Jamike Drive, Suite 8
Erlanger, KY 41018
Looking for a Windows-based desktop video production system? TV One’s Video X and Control X
will transform your PC into a solid desktop production center. Video X is a single PC card that provides a
two-channel video mixer with digital effects and a two-channel video processor. It also includes a three-
channel stereo audio mixer and 24-bit digitizer.
Video X’s built-in frame synchronizers allow you to mix two video sources, such as a camcorder
or VCR. Video X offers several transitions and digital special effects like fades, wipes, slides, vertical
blinds, strobe and mosaics. The board also boasts chrominance and luminance keying functions.
In the “Edit X” mode, you can actually create your own special effects. After choosing an effect
from the existing library or from your own creations, a click of the mouse button instantly engages the
Video X will input and output both composite and S-Video signals. Video X provides picture
correction for each input channel, including color phase and saturation, brightness and contrast. Video X
allows you to save these adjustments and retrieve them later.
Video X’s 24-bit digitizer captures single frames of video for storage in the PC. The nice thing
about this function is the ability to recall these graphics later and mix them directly into your video.
Video X’s three-channel stereo audio mixer allows you to mix audio from CD players, ATR
recorders, and computer sound cards with your original VCR audio. The mixer also allows you to control
bass, treble, and balance of your audio.
Control X is a Windows-based edit control system with visual timeline interface. The system
consists of software and an external control box; the latter houses VCR control interfaces and connections
for Control X’s time code reader/generator. An A/B-roll system capable of controlling two source VCRs or
camcorders, Control X will also trigger transitions through the Video X card.
Control X controls two source VCRs via Sony Control-L (LANC), Panasonic 5-Pin or RS-232
serial. Control X will drive the record deck with any of the above protocols or infrared. Control X is frame
accurate when using a VCR system with VITC or RC time code. The software offers a deck calibration
feature which increases editing accuracy when not using time code.
On their own, Video X and Control X offer some solid video production capabilities. As a system,
they have a lot to offer at a reasonable price.
Ease of Learning: (4)
Ease of use: (4)
Digital Fotovix IIIS-D ($1139)
Tamron Industries, Inc.
99 Seaview Blvd.
Port Washington, New York 11050-4610
The Digital Fotovix IIIS-D is a still picture transfer unit with built-in digitizer, which connects to IBM-compatible or Macintosh computer with a standard SCSI interface. In addition to the built-in CCD camera, Digital Fotovix offers composite and S-video inputs for capturing both moving video or still photographic images.
Being directly connected to the Macintosh or PC platforms allows the user to incorporate captured
video into PC-based graphics applications. The standard driver software includes an Adobe Photoshop
Plug in, allowing users to grab captured images right into Photoshop. The Digital Fotovix system is easy to
install and fun to work with.
The Digital Fotovix captures 24-bit images with a maximum resolution of 640×480 pixels. The
unit’s camera boasts a 410,000-pixel, high-density CCD. A 3X zoom lens allows you to zoom in on
specific sections of any film image. The Digital Fotovix will process and color correct negative and
positive film well as video images.
In addition to accepting video image signals from VCRs and video cameras, the Digital Fotovix
has both composite and S-video output terminals. Thus you can display high-quality images from the
camera section of the Digital Fotovix on a video monitor, or recorded them onto a VCR or camcorder.
PC users will need an 80386 or better CPU and SCSI interface. Macintosh users will need at least
a 68030 or later CPU with 8MB or more of internal memory.
The Digital Fotovix’s ability to work with two computer formats, both as a digitizer and a video
output device for easy film-to-video transfer, makes it very valuable. The unit is lightweight and portable, a
nice benefit when you want to move the unit to different video workstations. Controls on both the Digital
Fotovix and its software respond with speed and accuracy, a real plus for videomakers who want to get
right to work.
Ease of Learning: (4)
Ease of use: (4)