|Jack Watson’s Touch Vision Systems DIVISION PRO in repose.|
The program is organized ithe way a film editor thinks.
You can do in a day what would normally take a week behind a flatbed.
Tight production schedules and an eye on the bottom
line have propelled a number of changes in film editing over the
past few years. One innovation which has caught
the eye of many filmmakers is non-linear off-line editing. A number
of these systems are currently on the market with new manufacturers
cropping up almost weekly.
For the uninitiated, non-linear editing takes place
inside of a computer. If your production is shot on videotape with
time code you’re ready for a non-linear off-line edit. If you shot
on film, you’ll need to transfer your camera negative or work print
to videotape. This process is known as “telecine”. As the transfer
is done, time code is added to the resulting videotape. Editing
videotape footage with time code track is called “off-line”.
Before the actual editing can begin, a non-linear
system must first convert your video footage to digital issues/12/images.
These issues/12/images are stored on big and fast hard drives that are capable
of holding gigabytes worth of video and audio data. Once this has
been done, you can almost instantly access any scene or frame of
your, film. You can call up a screen which will display initial
frames of each scene logged, and by clicking the mouse button on
that scene you can place it on a time line which shows you the
order of scenes. After you have the scenes in the order you want
them, you can trim scene length and place wipes or dissolves between
scenes as you see fit. Add music and effects tracks (also captured
digitally), and you’re done with your first non-linear off-line
So why not just edit the first time in a high-end
editing suite? Simply put, it’s expensive. What most (not all)
nonlinear off-line editing systems do is produce an edit decision
list, commonly referred to as an EDL. The EDL can be stored on
a floppy disk in a number of formats that can be read by professional
edit controller systems. With your master tape in hand (complete
with time code), you can go to a professional post-production facility
and they will cue up your videotape on an incredibly expensive
tape deck. A few keystrokes later your master footage will be reassembled
just like it was in the off-line edit. The best part is that your “on-line” (expensive
edit time) is now a fraction of what it would have been had you
done all of your editing in this environment.
TouchVision Systems’ D/VISION PRO is one of the
better non-linear video editing systems currently available. Being
a hands-on kind of guy, I decided to build a D/VISION PRO system
myself from the ground up and find out all I could about it.
After ordering the D/VISION PRO software, Loren
Sears of Northwest Digital Media in Portland supplied me with the
necessary components. TouchVision will gladly acquaint you with
the qualified dealers in your area. I do not recommend that you
build a system yourself unless you’ve built a few PC platforms
and are thoroughly familiar with the construction process and initial
set-up steps involved. Call folks like Loren Sears. You might spend
a few more dollars, but the support and expertise is well worth
The program is organized
ithe way a film editor thinks. You can do in a day what would
normally take a week behind a flatbed.
I made several calls to both TouchVision and Loren
Sears about setup problems I encountered. The D/VISION PRO installation
manual, although excellent in most respects, needs to provide more
detail about which software files are necessary to get the system
up and running.
Computers `N Things, Inc. of Tacoma allowed me to
assemble the computer at their facility. This proved to be a wise
move on my part. Although I’m probably a little more computer literate
than most; I’m not in the habit of building them. Robert Nadasky,
Computers `N Things’ chief technician, oversaw my work and was
a great insurance policy in case something went wrong.
I installed software from the CDROM disk that came
with the package. Fairly straightforward. Although the system is
capable of operating through Windows, I chose to install it in
a DOS-based system to avoid any memory conflicts that Windows might
impose. In order to use the Crystal Flying Fonts (a high-end titling/
animation program included with D/VISION PRO), you need a CD-ROM
drive to download the program. Crystal Flying Fonts is perfect
for small video production companies that want to blow the socks
off their competitors. You can create dazzling fly-on graphics/logos
with light burst and reflections, just like the networks.
There are seven resolutions of capturing video data
for exporting to different formats. The highest is SuperRTV which
will output video equal to 3/4″ or SVHS. This is my favorite resolution
but also consumes the most disk space (about 600 KB/sec). I’m not
sure what it does to the actual video footage, but it goes in looking
like hard edge video and, when played back, takes on a film-like
quality. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I really liked
it and can see it being used effectively to produce on-line corporate/industrial
videos for in-house distribution.
Capturing is simple with machine control of your
VCR playback unit (the function keys on your computer keyboard
provide record, pause, play and stop commands much like a regular
VCR). During the capture phase you can log scenes with verbal description
as the computer records your video and audio. It’s really simple.
The D/VISION manual is very thorough in describing
all of the editing processes. However, to use the Crystal Flying
Fonts software effectively you need to buy another handbook from
Crystal Graphics. This extra manual should be part of a software
package that lists for almost $5,000.
The system is icon driven, and functions like a
quasi-Windows environment. It’s very intuitive and even without
reading the book you can, with a little experimentation, figure
out most of the editing options that are available.
One thing I find difficult about most non-linear
systems is that you have to go through several layers of on-screen
windows to find and implement various editing chores. Not so with
D/VISION PRO. It provides edit functions used most in the film
industry on the primary editing screen, and access is usually no
more than two mouse clicks away.
The designers of the system had to be old-time film
editors. The program is organized the way a film editor thinks.
You can do in a day what would normally take a week behind a flatbed.
You can create a film transfer log in several industry accepted
formats which will allow you to trace the video transfer back to
the film and Nagra reels from which they came. Cutting a negative
is then a simple and accurate process with a minimum of negative
The bundled Crystal Flying Fonts software by Crysta
lGraphics, Inc., Santa Clara, CA is one of the easiest animated
graphics programs I have ever used, and the flying logos that I’ve
already created are sensational. For small video companies that
want to blow the socks off competitors, having D/VISION PRO with
FLYING FONTS will allow you to create dazzling fly-on graphics/logos
just like the networks.
The whole process of building the D/VISION PRO took
about 8 hours. I call my system the money machine. I can now do
all my off-line (and some on-line) editing quickly and in-house,
with the client present. I can show several versions of their film
and make changes instantly.
Cut, print. Until next issue, that’s a wrap.