Aussie Firm Pioneer a Unique Technology
V-CD is a massive format in Asia, where these common CD sized disks are available with literally umpteen thousand movies on them. Asia moved away from pre-recorded VHS video in favour of V-CD several years ago, and V-CD players are dirt cheap there.
V-CD has very real limitations, namely that the image is heavily MPEG compressed to fit onto the standard 600 meg CD, but people love the fact that you had immediate access. Until DVD arrives properly, V-CD is the now format for mass pre-recorded digital video. If you enjoy Kung Fu movies.
Being smart about it, SBA Music recently started to offer V-CD systems to clubs as a replacement for their VHS video systems. SBA Music (as ShowBiz Video, their previous name) have for some time rented VHS replay systems to clubs and bars where music video was required. They bundle compilations under license from the major record companies and provide music packages with the replay hardware on a monthly rental basis.
The original ShowBiz system had two VHS players with a cueing system that worked fine – many sites use this today. The V-CD system improved on this, but the missing link has always been that a DJ likes to mix music together. When playing a video clip, the only option has been to press the start button. The videoclip then plays at a fixed beat.
ENTER THE ‘BOX’
SBA Music GM Kylie Little conned me into checking out the system in Sydney. “We’ll talk about the technology” she sweetly cooed into the phone. Like a moth to bright light I went.
Take one V-CD, insert it into a Pioneer CDJ-500S CD player, press play and …. it plays. With vision too, which was not/is not what Pioneer intended, for the 500S is a pro CD player.
SBA have a breakout box cloned onto the front of the 500S which provides a video output. They have apparently tapped into the laser circuitry andsplit an output which feeds an MPEG card in the breakout box as far as I can gather. Thus a video output is supplied. Kylie was all coy about anything to do with HOW they did it.
Amazingly, when you slow down or speed up the V-CD it acts like a CD and….. slows down and speeds up. The vision does too.
Most staggering of all, the new Pioneer Master Tempo Control (a thing which everyone doesn’t understand HOW it does what it does) still works WITH the V-CD! What happens with the Master Tempo Control is that when activated you can speedup the tempo of your music but the VOCALS stay in pitch. The image is zapping along with the music running at up to +16% faster, but the vocals still sound ‘normal’. Or in other words, no chipmunk-ing!
IT’S A SYSTEM
SBA Music are offering the V-CD system for rental with music releases. The base system comprises two Pioneer CDJ-500S CD players with The Box, and a Videonics MX-1 Digital Video mixer with four inputs.
To use the system as supplied, a club needs a DJ audio mixer (or SBAcan supply one if required), a speaker system and a video monitor or projection system.
Naturally the system plays normal CD’s too. The massive attraction is that DJ’s suddenly have control over vision, which in the past was often controlled or mixed by the lighting person. The degree of control is a big issue too, with beat matching and all the nuances of contemporary music ‘turntable-ism’ available on one pair of CD players WITH video vision.
The MX-1 can also do a variety of cool pre-program medtransitions from one deck input to the other, and the extra inputs can be used for camera’s or a Titlemaker. A video monitor is a good idea for the DJ too.
SBA rent some of the extra stuff like Titlemakers, and can refer you to other rental outlets for things like TV screens and monitors. The pricing for the V-CD system is around A$1,250 per month, which includes software on V-CD sent to you twice a month. They typically load 17 – 19 tracks on each V-CD, and have around 27 different V-CD’s made up at presstime. Currently the library is being updated at a rate of 5 disks per month.