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Darker Video Toaster Reality

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Matthew B Cravit writes:

I noticed a comment in TidBITS-158 about the Video Toaster. You commented that it becomes an increasingly sophisticated and cool system. This is true; however, being a broadcasting and computer science major, I thought I'd offer a couple of caveats about the Toaster system:

  • The $5,000 price mentioned on the video tape is very low. To actually utilize the full capabilities of the Toaster requires the following:

     1         Video Toaster System
     4         Time base correctors
     1 or more Single frame controllable VCRs
     1 or more Single frame VCR controller boards
              (These two for doing 3-D animations)

Total cost for a complete system (S-VHS VCRs) is actually closer to $12,000 - $15,000 range.

  • Secondly, for anyone who works with a production studio (i.e. other video production equipment such as character generators, video switchers, etc.), BEWARE! The Video Toaster has major problems synching itself to other pieces of production equipment. Here at Michigan State, we attempted to play a 3-D animation from a Toaster onto a program we are producing. We fed the Toaster's (supposedly) genlocked, synched output into our Grass Valley Group Inc. video switcher, and even with a professional video engineer attempting to synch the Toaster and the switcher, the color information coming from the Toaster shifted so much that we could not use the resulting tape since it failed the FCC's requirements for broadcast video.

So, the toaster is a lot more expensive than NewTek claims. It also has trouble interacting properly with other production equipment. So if you are using it on its own and have money to burn, it's a great system. Otherwise, be prepared to waste a lot of time and money for marginal results.

Information from:
Matthew Cravit -- cravitma@studentc.msu.edu

 

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