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                        V-LAB MOTION TO THE RESCUE!
  David Nix                               

[I recently cried out for a review of V-Lab Motion, MacroSystem's new
low-cost non-linear tape editor.  To my rescue came David Nix, Amiga based
independent animator, with a story on how he and V-Lab Motion saved someone
else's day... -Jason]

I recently had an interesting emergency job to do for a collegue at the
school here and my trusty A4000 equiped with a V-Lab Motion managed to save
the day when a problem arose with the University's single frame equipment.
A operating system upgrade to the schools SGI lab proved to be incompatible
with the Lyon Lamb Minivas single frame controller - some sort of ROM
kernel trouble - and nothing was getting to videotape.  With a deadline of
only a day or two, waitingfor a fix from either Lyom Lamb or SGI was out of
the question, so we had to find a fast solution to get three 900 frame
animations out to video.  With the help of a couple of other Amiga based
packages, we saved the day.

We transfered the Alias .pix files to a Mac gig drive, which I physically
hooked up to the A4000.  Using MaxDOS software, I mounted the Mac drive.  
Then, I used ProControl and ADPro 2.5 to batch process the .pix files into
IFF files and save them to my gig drive.  Then using the MovieShop 2.1
software for the V-Lab, I imported the IFF's into MovieShop and saved them
to the V-Lab partition of my hard drive.  While it would have been possible
to use ADPro to directly convert the .pix files to JPEG, the process is a
tad slow, and I dont have the AREXX background to make the MovieShop
software write JPEG directly to it's own, specially formatted drive -
although it will allow for a wide variety of options such as this via
AREXX.  Guess it's time to learn a little AREXX.

Once imported into the MovieShop partion of the drive, it took just a
matter of seconds to blast it back, in real time, to video.  The ADPro
conversion took about 30 minutes per 300 frame segment to convert to IFF's,
and the MovieShop import procedure took about 45 minutes.  The actuall
output to SVHS took about 15 seconds per segment.  I should note that the
FTP transfer from the SGI workstation to the Mac HD took apx.  5 HOURS per
300 frame segment.

While I cant say for certian just how long this procedure would have taken
had the single frame equipment worked correctly, my experience has been
that it takes the single frame deck and related software about 45 seconds
or so per frame to complete the preroll and insert function.  In addition,
even the SGI based system requires that the image files go through a scan
line conversion box for output to NTSC.

The V-Lab Motion system has repeatedly proved itself to be a real boon to
my setup.  The ability to take practically any format image file from any
animation package (I use Imagine 3.1 at home) and blast it out at S video
resolutions in real time is a godsend.  While similar to the PAR in this
aspect, the V-Lab also includes a very comprehensive cut and paste
non-linear editing package that allows for grabbing S video footage in real
time and rearranging it to your hearts content, with transitions and
effects, and blasting it back out to tape, or in my case, using it as image
maps or for rotoscoping.  With the addition of the Tocotta audio board, you
can cut and paste audio as well.

I do not work for MacroSystems GmbH, or NoahJi's.  I did get to meet Jorg
Sprave, the president of MacroSystems and Eric Kloor of NoahJi's at
Siggraph last year, where they really jumped this product through the hoops
for me for two solid days before I decided it was what I needed.   While
still an evolving product, I feel comfortable in reccomending it,
especially to animators that incorporate captured video in their work.  
The V-Lab requires a SCSI II controller and drive for sufficient speed in
shoveling the large amount of data on and off your drive.  In my case, I
use an A4000 with a WarpEngine,18 megs of Ram and a Toshiba 1.2 gig drive.