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/// Usenet Mini-Review:  DPS Personal Animation Recorder
    ----------------------------------------------------
    By Michael B. Comet
    (mbc@po.cwru.edu)



        Hello to all in Renderland!  I have just gotten my DPS PAR a couple
days ago. Since I know others who read this are thinking of getting one, I
thought I'd post my view of it.  I will try to keep if brief.  I am not
affiliated with DPS.


MANUAL AND INTERFACE

        The manual is very good, and is nice and compact.  The user interface
is equally friendly and has the look of a traditional VTR for playback.  The
software takes up very little room on the standard amiga drive, though it
requires at least 1 Meg of RAM to run at all times.


STILLS AND ANIMATION PLAYBACK

        In my Amiga 3000/25 with the recommended Seagate 500 Meg drive, I
obtained true 30fps playback.  Very smooth, very good quality.  I have heard
that there are problems playing back at slower speeds, though I haven't
encountered that.  You can also drag the frame bar back and forth and move
one frame at a time with a mouse click.  Using the latter -- i.e, Rewind and
Fast Forward -- the frames actually go by faster than 30 fps!

        Those that use AREXX will be happy to know that the software has and
AREXX port so you can sequence playback and so on using it.

        The quality at the highest level Q23 is essentially identical (to me)
to the original image.  For stills, the storage benefits alone are
remarkable.  For animations, the program sets the Q level for you.  I have
seen it work at around 19 to 14 depending on the image.  14 is pretty
acceptable for video using both composite and SVHS (sorry, I can't test
MII/Betacam output).  However, JPEG type artifacting is still slightly
noticeable.  The NTSC composite output is very good, and the SVHS was almost
identical to the RGB from my Firecracker board.


DEFICIENCIES

        There are not really too many deficiencies in the device.  However
there are some things that are important to know.  One item is that
animations, while they can be looped on playback, do not loop without a
pause.  That is, if you have a 30 frame anim and play it, there will be
about a 1/2 second pause on the last frame.  To do a perfect pause-free loop
you must append the animation to itself some number of times.  The software
can do this quite easily so it is not really a problem, though more drive
space gets eaten this way.

        Also relating to projects, there seems to be no way in the software
to rename projects.  Also, with merging of animations in different projects,
I have not been able to find a way to splice together anims from the
different subdirectories.

        Playback speed is normally 30fps; however there is a button to select
slow playback.  As far as I can tell, you can set it only to preset values:
from 30fps to 15fps, then 7.5fps, and some more down lower.  I would like to
see user adjustable settings here.


OVERALL

        In all I have to say the PAR is great for 24 bit animations. There
is no longer any hassle of single framing with tape, etc., and it enables
the animator to view the anim easily and cut, paste, splice and mutilate
anims into a final piece.  It also has great capacity for still frame
storage.

        One really great thing is that everything happens with just the
click of a button.  No longer do you have to wait to decompress JPEG images
to show as stills.  No longer do you have to wait to load up animations.
Just click on a still frame and it appears on the output.  Click on an
animation, and the first frame is shown.  Hit play and it goes.  Really nice.

        For those looking for a single frames alternative at a reasonable
price, this is a great product.

CONTACT INFORMATION

        Digital Processing Systems
        11 Spiral Drive, Suite 10
        Florence, KY 41042
        USA
        Phone: 606-371-5533
        Fax:   606-371-3729

PS:  The best thing is it comes in a big box with that really cool picture
     of the VTR on the front eating the tape.  Impress your friends!