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FURNISHINGS : Multimedia Can Be Done at Home

December 01, 1990|From Video Magazine

The marriage of video and computers is called multimedia--the process of adding a computer's graphics, sound and interactive control to video.

It's been professionally available for years. In fact, the results can be seen on almost any news or sports program, where computer-generated graphics show statistics, introduce show segments and sometimes just add slick touches.

What's more, says the current issue of Video Magazine, the technology that makes this possible is finally available at the consumer level.

The basis for a home multimedia system consists of components many consumers already have: a camcorder, VCR and TV monitor. By adding a personal computer and a few peripherals, multimedia videos can be created.

A multimedia system can be put together for as little as $1,000. Here's the equipment you'll need:

First, the computer that's proved the most useful for multimedia production is Commodore's Amiga ($600-$3,000). A big selling point for the Amigas is their multi-tasking capability, which means they can perform two operations at once. This saves production time, which can run into the hundreds of hours. For example, multimedia makers can create animation with one program, while setting it to music with another.

The graphics software can cost between $100 and $200.

Next, you'll need a component called a genlock, which synchronizes and mixes the signals from the computer and the camcorder so the graphics can be superimposed over live video. Genlocks can cost $200 to $2,000, but a good one can be had for $350 to $750. The audio can come from any number of sources: the original camcorder tape, a narration microphone, an audio tape deck or the computer.

Optional pieces of equipment are a digitizer and a frame grabber, both of which convert individual frames of video into computer images that can be manipulated using graphics software. A digitizer will cost about $200, while a frame grabber could set you back about $750.

The difference between an ordinary videographer and a multimedia maker is the difference between a photographer and a painter. The former captures and edits what's in front of the lens. The latter has the ability to create and manipulate images. Creativity is limited only by the imagination and the capabilities of the hardware and software.

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