Pause: Dr. Monty’s Four Prescriptions for Computer Video

"Nurse Raster?"

"Yes, Dr. Monty?"

"I’ve got a full schedule today. Please prep the patients to go through the usual routine before sending them in."

Since his success with his star patient Vince Codac, Dr. Monty, cyber-video-psychotherapist has built a thriving practice serving desktop video producers. Today, four very different patients will seek his advice on what they should add to their systems to get them to perform as they would like.

Granny Sarah’s Titles

His first patient walks in, a wrinkled matron in gingham, with sparkling eyes. "Good morning Doctor Monty. Your receptionist told me you’re very busy today so I’ll keep my visit brief. I’ve got a simple camcorder–no control-L jacks or anything fancy, a VHS VCR, a TV/monitor and a 286 computer. I’ve been trying to use the computer to make titles, but the picture always has lines rolling through it when I try to shoot the titles off the VGA monitor. Can you prescribe something that won’t cost a lot of money?"

"I wish only that all my patients had such simple problems, Granny S. What you need is an encoder/scan converter. Some of them are made to plug into an expansion slot inside your computer–such as International Computer’s Video Out ($99); but to save you trouble, I’ll prescribe one you can simply plug into the VGA monitor port on the back of your computer. These range in price from around $99 to over $3000, offer resolutions from 640×480 to 1600×1280, and provide a variety of refresh rates, software and features. Plug your VGA monitor into one of the plugs on this encoder and run a video cable out to your VCR. The encoder will convert the VGA signal into a regular television (NTSC) signal so that you can record it, without flicker or rolling lines. For your needs, a mid-range 640×480 encoder should suffice. Why not try AITech’s Pocket Scan Converter? It costs about $139. Besides titles you can make with your word processing program you’ll be able to record to tape anything that appears on your VGA monitor."

"Sounds good, Dr. M. Does Medicare cover that?"

Cutting Frank’s Fires

"I can tell by your shiny red hat that you’re Frank the Fireman."

"Hi Doc. I’ve got basically the same equipment as Granny Sarah (spoke with her in your waiting room), except I have a Hi8 camera that writes and reads timecode. It has a control-L jack, too. Also, my computer’s a bit better: a 386 running Windows. I shoot fire sites when I’m on the job and I’d like to edit my footage for presentations I make about fire prevention. I’ve heard you can edit video on computers: is that ‘non-linear editing’?"

"Forget you ever heard that phrase, Frank. Non-linear isn’t for you. You’d have to buy a whole new system to do it."

"So I can’t use my computer to edit …"

"I didn’t say that. All you need is a computer-based edit controller. One such system, the FutureVideo V-Station ($795) can give your computer control over several devices for A/B-roll editing with transitions and titles. For example, you could use it to control the Videonics Titlemaker 3000 titler (around $799) and the Videonics MXPro ($1799) special effects generator. The V-Station itself requires no better a computer than you already have.
"But even that may be more than you need for your cuts-only tapes. Instead, I’ll prescribe the Pinnacle VideoDirector Studio 200. It will run you $249, and will even enable your computer to make simple animated titles and overlays."

"Not bad. Thanks, Doc."

Don the Dude-Sayer’s Disc-Making Desires

"Hey dude."

"Hello, Don. Please hitch up those saggy pants and have a seat."

"I’ve got my old man’s old camcorder; also his old Pentium 90 computer with 32 megs of RAM and a two-gig EIDE hard drive. Wanna try downloading and streaming video clips from my Web site and putting them on a CD-ROM I want to produce: ‘How to Surf Your Sidewalk.’"

"You couldn’t have come at a better time, Don. All you need is a video capture board (also called a video digitizer). Recently, there has been a boom of capture boards costing less than $500. These aren’t made for professional television production, but they can deliver video good enough for the World Wide Web and most CD-ROM uses. Some, like the Matrox Mystique-Rainbow Runner combination (about $438) add video capture capabilities to the computer’s SVGA card. Others, such as DataVideo’s MD-1000TV Video Producer ($349) require installation in their own expansion slots. Still others, such as the FutureTel Video Sphinx Pro ($399) simply plug into your computer’s parallel port. All of these come bundled with non-linear editing software which is usually not so full-featured as, say, the full version of Adobe Premiere; but with enough title options, transitions and special effects to keep things interesting. You could plug your television monitor into your system to make editing a bit easier, but you won’t need to, as the video will play in a window on your SVGA monitor with most of these devices."

"Cool. Later."

Vince Codac Upgrades to Commercial Level


"My old friend, Vince. Looking a bit thicker now that you and the Mrs. are back together."

"Doing fine, Monty. Lately, I’ve been making Web clips like that kid wants to do. I have a similar computer, but mine’s a Pentium 133, not a "90." I want to get back into TV production though–making commercials for computer companies that sell turnkey non-linear editing systems. I know I need to upgrade."

"You’ll need a more full-powered capture board than the one I recommended to Don: one capable of running the full version of software like Adobe Premiere 4.2 or Ulead’s MediaStudio Pro. I’ll let you take your pick from among the Fast AV Master PLUS ($899), Pinnacle’s miroVIDEO DC30+ ($999) and the Truevision Bravado 2000 ($995)."
"To keep the motion of your moving pictures fluid, you’ll need one or more fast SCSI hard drives. I’m recommending at least one four-gig drive for your short productions. You can get one from companies such as Seagate or Micropolis for around $450.

"Of course, if money is no object, you might consider getting an even more powerful capture board like Truevision’s Targa 1000 (about $1795), or Fast’s VideoMachine with digital play and record ($3995).

"To save you time in digitizing your clips and to enable you to re-edit old projects without having to store your original footage digitally, I’d recommend equipping your non-linear editing system with machine control. That is, the ability to take control of the drive mechanism of your source deck (in your case, your camcorder). Videonics’ MediaMotion 2.6 plugs into your computer to give editing software like Adobe Premiere this kind of control. You can get one for $179.
"I’d also recommend a tape or disc drive for archiving your edit decision lists (called EDLs), important graphics and clips in case you decide to re-edit projects. A Ditto tape drive can be had from Iomega for $120.
"On the other hand, you might consider a whole new turnkey system, instead of upgrading your current computer. For example, DraCo’s nifty Casablanca is a fine machine for non-linear editing. It can be had for around $3995 including a 4-gig hard drive. Or you can get yourself NewTek’s Video Toaster/Flyer for $4995. Both these machines edit video well, but they don’t run Windows."

"Monty, is it wise to give me so many options? You know how easy it is for me to get overwhelmed by technology choices."

"Easy Vince. You’ve come quite a long way since dumpster-diving for computer parts. You can handle this decision yourself. Start by breathing deeply …"

Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief

[Sidebar 1]

Dr. Monty’s Four Prescriptions

Patient: Granny Sarah

Encoder for adding titles and computer demonstrations to linear cuts-only editing.

Non-control-L camcorder






286 computer with Windows applications & VGA monitor


AITech’s Pocket Scan Converter


Total System Cost


Patient:Frank the Fireman

Rx: Computer-based edit controller for logging and trimming tapes, and automating linear cuts-only editing.

Control-L camcorder with timecode






386 Computer with Windows applications


VideoDirector Studio 200


Total System Cost


Patient: Don the Dude-Sayer

Rx: Cheap capture card and software to non-linear edit video for CD-ROM or Web distribution.

Non-control-L camcorder with video inputs


Pentium 90 computer with 32MB RAM & Windows 95 applications


2GB EIDE hard drive


FutureTel Video Sphinx Pro


Total System Cost


Patient: Vince Codac

Rx: Mid-range capture card and software to non-linear edit video for videotape distribution. Tape drive for backup of EDLs.

Non-control-L camcorder with video inputs


Pentium 133 computer with 32MB RAM, Windows 95 applications, SVGA monitor


4GB Wide-SCSI hard drive




Backup-tape drive


Pinnacle miroVIDEO DC30+ with Adobe Premiere


Total System Cost


[Sidebar 2]

Manufacturer’s Mentioned

Adobe Systems
See the Benchmarks review of Premiere 4.2 in the September 1996 issue.



DraCo Systems
See the Benchmarks review of Casablanca in the April 1997 issue.

Fast Electronic U.S.
See the Benchmarks review of the AV Master in the October 1996 issue.


See the Benchmarks review of the V-STATION 3300 PLUS in the July 1996 issue.

International Computer


Matrox Graphics



Pinnacle Systems
See the Benchmarks reviews of the DC30 in the February 1997 issue and the VideoDirector in the June 1997 issue.


See the Benchmarks reviews of the Bravado 1000 (June 1996) and the Targa 1000 (November 1996).

Ulead Systems

See the Benchmarks review of the MediaStudio Pro 5.0 in the December 1997 issue.


See the Benchmarks
reviews of the MediaMotion 2.6 (August 1996) and the Titlemaker
3000 (April 1997).

Many of the reviews cited above are also available online at

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

Related Content