8-Bit Software
Back to Electron Games

TV DIRECTOR

 

 

Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only

 

Game Type          : Simulation of TV Studio; Cutting And Editing

Author             :

Standalone Release(s)   : 1986: TV DIRECTOR, Squirrel, £12.95

Compilation Release(s) : None

Stated compatibility    : Electron

Actual compatibility    : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128

Supplier            : SQUIRREL, 4 Bindloss Avenue, Eccles, MANCHESTER

Disc compatibility     : ADFS 1D00, CDFS 1D00, DFS 1D00

 

 

Instructions

"Use this suite of three programs to enable you to put together a sequence of up to 250 images in TV fashion to any sound track of your choice, complete with titles and credits.

 

By incorporating a VHS or Beta videorecorder into the setup, you should be able to put your efforts onto videocassette.

 

PICTURE MAKER - Although sample blocks of pictures are provided to get you started, you should find that this program enables you, after a little practice, to create your own images quickly and easily.

 

TV STUDIO (Gallery) - converts the keyboard into a twin bank vision mixer panel with fader (joystick preferable but not essential), eight preview monitors and output monitor.

 

PROGRAMME REVIEW - enables you to sit back and view the last 'take', possibly recording it on videocassette at the same time.

 

Full instructions are provided - and every effort is made to ensure that a fairly accurate atmosphere of the TV gallery does start the adrenelin running..."

 

Introduction

The purpose of the program is to enable budding vision mixers, directors, producers, etc to compile a set of basic pictures on a theme and, using the keyboard as a vision mixer panel, produce a sequence of images to fit their selected soundtrack. This can be recorded on to a suitably equipped domestic videorecorder.

 

The program comprises suite of three prorams, PICTURE MAKER, TV STUDIO and PROGRAMME REVIEW. Each program has its own menu which forms the main hub of the program - pressing <ESCAPE> or <RETURN>, depending on which area you happen to be in, will return you to it.

 

This manual describes the function of each program in order of use and explains one by one every Menu Option.

 

Getting Started

The programs on the cassette are recorded in the following order - it is advisable to PLAY the cassette using *CAT and note the counter numbers beside each of the titles listed in the RH column:-

   TV-DIR

   TV0

   TV1A

   TV2

   TVSTDO

   PMAKER

   BLOCKAB

   CAMS-A1

 

To load, type in CHAIN"TV-DIR", play tape and press <RETURN>. The first screen that will appear is the TV-STUDIO Menu - stop the cassette at this point.

 

You will see from the screened list of options that you could now load any or all of two datafiles (BLOCKAB or CAMS-A1) or PMAKER. It is important to appreciate that both BLOCK and CAMS- datafiles once loaded do not need to reloaded each time you switch from TV Studio to Picture Maker (or vice-versa). However as the TV Studio and Picture Maker programs have to share the same area of memory they have to be reloaded each time you 'switch':-

 

When 'switching', spool the cassette player to the beginning of PMAKER (or TVSTDO) - preferably using the tape counter numbers (or selecting the *COMMANDS option and hunting for the title with *CAT), and press the desired Menu option no.

 

Note - you cannot SAVE datafiles on this main cassette - you must use a separate blank cassette to store the picture BLOCK(s) you will have created using the PICTURE MAKER program or the Camera Sequences (CAMS-) you may wish to keep after a session in the Gallery.

 

Note - if you are having loading problems there is a duplicate set of programs recorded on the reverse of the cassette.

 

PICTURE MAKER - Introduction

The bank of sixteen pictures required for the TV STUDIO have to be made with up of 32x24 tiny squares giving a picture with the correct TV 4x3 aspect ratio. This 'chunky' type of picture is fitted into a mere 384 bytes and quite a number of them can therefore be held in computer memory altogether. The pictures can therefore be accessed and screened instantly - so that curring between pictures appears to be as fast as it is on TV. Four colours and twelve striped variations are available, and

by using the flashing colours in a thoughtful way, a certain degree of animation can be achieved.

 

PICTURE MAKER - Menu Options

1. WORKSPACE - presents you with a picture frame below a caption "Pic No W'. This is the Workspace and, if it is filled with 'garbage', pressing <DELETE> will clear it. Below the frame is 'S/BAR - Options' - pressing the Space bar displays a list of key options for workspace use. (Note - this is not a menu, just a list. You must return, using the Space bar again, to Workspace to use them).

 

WORKSPACE - Options

COPY - to consign the image in workspace to Picture Block in memory, NOT to tape as for that you will need Menu Option 5 - Save Single Picture).

      

       'PIC NO ?' will appear asking for the number/letter you wish to allocate (Single Keypress System - 1-9/A-G equals 1 to 16). As you keypress, the image will be transferred to its appropriate slot in the Picture Storage area.

T -  the reverse of COPY. This time you are asked for the number/letter of the picture you wish to transfer to Workspace for modification, etc.

W - to Wash out the Workspace with an alternative to black (DELETE). When pressed, the W above frame will go - then pressing a colour key (1-9/A-G - equals 0 to 15) will replace every pixel with the selected colour.

C or J - takes you into 'paint' mode. Hold down a colour key and use the cursor keys or joystick to move the flashing dot around the 'canvas' to 'paint'. All other options are now cancelled until the Space bar produces the sup-caption 'S/BAR - Options' again.

CURSOR KEYS -     to move image up, down or sideways a little in the frame, press the appropriate cursor key. This is called framing by TV cameramen. (Some unwanted colour may appear along one edge - just recolour this small area later.)

I, O, M, U, R, L, Q - represent IN, OUT, Mirror, Upside Down, Right Half Mirrored, Left Half Mirrored, and Quarters. All are self explanatory and their convenienve will be appreciated after a little experimentation.

PALETTE - the default colours are 1. Black (Background), 2. Red, 3. Yellow, 4. White. To change or modify these, just follow the screen instructions.

RETURN TO MENU - press <RETURN>. As the <ESCAPE> key is adjacent to operational keys, it is disabled whilst this Main Option is in use.

 

You will be able to produce images very quickly and thus build up a block of sixteen pictures with a common theme to suit the soundtrack you have in mind. Remember that modifications to any of the pictures is a quick and easy job and loading and saving blocks of pictures (or single pictures) to tape is made quite easy if you follow the instructions contained in the rest of the Picture Maker Menu Options:-

 

2. LOAD SINGLE PICTURE -      simply type in the name and press <RETURN>, starting the tape as usual. It will load directly into Workspace.

 

3. LOAD PICTURE BLOCK -       the word 'BLOCK' is already anticipated - just enter the first two letter/digit code and hit <RETURN>, starting the tape as usual. This Picture Block is loaded automatically into slots 1-16.

 

4. SAVE PICTURE BLOCK -       you decide the code (one or two characters only) and we recommend that a separate cassette is used for storing Picture Blocks.

 

5. SAVE SINGLE PICTURE -      saves the image currently showing in Workspace.You decide the name (up to seven letters or digits). Again it is recommended that a separate cassette is used. Useul for storing extra images or moving pictures around the Picture Blocks.

 

6. TV STUDIO MENU -     occupies the same area of memory as PICTURE MAKER. See GETTING STARTED section.

 

8. * COMMANDS - to enable you to use star commands such as *CAT, *RENAME and *DELETE without having to leave the PICTURE MAKER program. The star is already anticipated, just enter the rest of the command press <RETURN> as instructed, starting tape as necessary.

 

TV STUDIO - Menu Options

1. GALLERY (Sub-menu) - see GALLERY section.

 

2. SAVE CAMERA SEQUENCE - a record is held in memory of each picture used, whether it was a special variation, whether it was faded up or down, mixed or cut - in short a complete list of everything that was selected in the gallery, how it was treated, and for how long. The limits are approx 250 cuts OR 125 mixes per 'run'. Thus a combination of, say, 50 mixes and 150 cuts could be expected each session. The word 'CAMS-' is already anticipated - just enter a suitable letter/digit code (up to two characters) and hit <RETURN>, starting the tape as usual.

 

3. PROGRAMME REVIEW (Sub-menu) - see PROGRAMME REVIEW section.

 

4. LOAD CAMERA SEQUENCE - enter the 1 or 2 character code when requested and press <RETURN>. If you have just been using the gallery in 'live' mode then the sequence will be in memory already.

 

5. LOAD PICTURE MAKER - position tape, press <RETURN>, etc.

 

6. LOAD PICTURE BLOCK - load in Picture Block as described in PICTURE MAKER Option 3. If you have just been using these pictures then re-loading them won't be necessary.

 

7. * COMMANDS - as described in PICTURE MAKER section.

 

GALLERY

The purpose of this program is to cut and mix together a sequence of images that have been carefully designed to match the soundtrack you will have already selected. These will, together with title and credit sequences, fit together in the accompanying PROGRAMME REVIEW section to produce a complete sound and vision output that could, if desired, be recorded onto a domestic videocassette.

 

GALLERY - Sub-Menu Options

1. VISION MIXER (<RETURN> to get back to menu) - The scene in the Gallery is dominated by two banks of four preview monitors (1-8) topped by a Transmission output monitor (TX). Below these is a vision mixer panel with two rows of identical numbers :-

       TTT

       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 T

       1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 T

 

This represents a twin bank vision mixer panel with its fader control in the upper position, activating the top row of numbered buttons. By adapting the computer keyboard (with or without joystick) we can perform the same functions. The numbers light up, and the screen fader is animated, to correspond with the action.

 

THE CUT

If a 'camera' number is pressed, not only will the picture from the selected 'camera' appear on the TX monitor but also the respective P/V monitor and vision mixer panel numbers will light up.

 

THE MIX

In order to change the TX picture by dissolving to another 'camera', you first press <CTRL>-A followed by the number of the next 'camera'. Both this number and the fader handle will light up. Nothing should then happen until the mix is started (using either joystick or the vertical cursor). The mixer fader on the screen will move down to the bottom bank and then go dark. The previous 'camera' number on the top bank will also go dark.

 

The action now remains on the bottom bank (row of numbers) until the next mix...

 

Recovery - If, having pressed <CTRL>-A with/without 'camera' number, you decide not to mix then just hit <CTRL>-A again. The lights on fader and next camera should go out and you will have recovered to the previous position.

 

THE FADE (UP or OUT)

This is merely a mix from or to 'nothing' - i.e. A black picture - found on Camera No.0

 

PICTURE BLOCKS (A & B)

In an actual TV studio gallery there might be only five or six preview sources, each of which would offer a large selection of different pictures - in this sumulation, you can call on each of your eight 'cameramen' to give you one other stock picture - by bringing Block B in to replace Block A - or vice-versa (Space Bar toggle). The indicator letter is shown on the left of the TX output monitor and also duplicated on the left side of the vision mixer panel. In addition to the second block of pictures you can ask for four variations of each picture......

 

SPECIAL EFFECTS

This selection of sixteen pictures can be extended to eighty by using some of the instant modifications to the basic picture that you may have met already in the PICTURE MAKER program. i.e. I - IN (Close up), O - OUT (Wide shot), R - Reverse Angle and Q - Quartering.

 

Now you have, in theory, another 4x16 (64) different images to call on whilst you are directing from your Gallery - making eighty in all.

 

These extra demands on your 'cameramen' are achieved by the vision mixer first pressing the appropriate 'effect' letter - nothing will happen until the camera number is pressed - then the variation will instantly appear on the TX monitor.

 

Any camera can be used.

 

Recovery - If, having pressed one of these four letters, you change your mind, you can instantly recover to your previous position by pressing any key (other than keys 0-80) such as Space Bar.

 

Although mixing through TO one of these four 'effects' is never possible, you can always 'mix' away FROM an 'effect' through to any standard preview 'camera' image.

 

THE START

Opening titles are ignored at this point - just start the soundtrack(s) rolling and either fade up from black, or cut, to the first camera at the appropriate moment as decided at rehearsal.

 

Shown on the first of the TX output monitor and also duplicated on the left side of the vision mixer panel is an oblong shape coloured BLUE - this is your 'Rehearsal' light. Until this is changed to RED (COPY key toggle) no recording of the Camera Sequence will take place. This blue light can be used to cancel a 'recording' of the Camera Sequence at any point, allowing you to re-set and begin again. When you do go into this "On-Air" situation and the rehearsal light turns red, the computer waits for the first operation, whether a cut or a fade-up from black, before starting to note the sequence.

 

THE FINISH

The closing credits are not seen in this TV Studio program either but are added, as are the opening titles, automatically during Programme Review. The credits will be triggered by a <RETURN> at the end of the recording session in the Gallery. This means that when you would be ready to roll the credits to be superimposed on the final picture, be it a colour scene or black, you press <RETURN>. As this is the key that takes you back to the Menu you will, therefore, be returned there promptly. When you've got your breath back and are ready to review your work then select Programme Review...

 

2. ALLOCATE DOUBLE FLASH RATE - In the Picture Make section it was mentioned that with careful creative use of the flashing coours some animation effects can be produced. If the soundtrack contains music then the flash rate can be adjusted to synchronise to it.

 

It is the job of this option not to reset that rate (that will be done during Programme Review) but to allocate to selected pictures a Double Flash Rate. (The basic flash rate having been allocated as part of the selected palette.)

 

3. SET FADE TIME or JOYSTICK - The program assumes no joystick is available. However, if you have one of the standard analogue resistive joysticks supplied by Acorn or similar (e.g. the Voltmace Delta 3B - with the Acorn Plus 1 of course) then it can be used by selecting this option and pressing <Y> when asked "Joystick?". If one is not available then a mix of 2.5 seconds duration can be triggered by pressing one of the vertical cursor keys at the appropriate moment.

 

If you wish to change this fade time then answer <N> to the above question. When you are asked "Pic No?" - enter a number for a test picture.

 

Using the left and right cursors, adjust the 2.5 second default figure of 250 (100ths of a second) displayed above the frame to your requirement. Press a vertical cursor to initiate the test fade to black. If you need to repeat the test, answer <N> to the question "Exit?" else press <Y>.

 

4. EXIT TO MAIN MENU

 


THE PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

To help all studio personnel (including the cameramen, director, floor manager, sound and vision crews) keep track of events, there is a clear headed person, usually female, who calls the shots on talkback, thus - "...on 4 coming to 3...on 3 coming to 2...on 2 coming to 6..." etc, etc.

 

When you are directing this show, whether you have someone vision mixing for you or not, you will find the services of a Production Assistant almost essential.

 

If a real P.S. is not around then a pre-recorded version, made on a second tape recorder whilst listening to the selected soundtrack on headphones, will be almost as good (as long as it is replayed on the same machine). Although it might mean that you have another machine to start at the beginning of each 'RUN', the bonus of this extra effort is that the more accurate atmosphere of the TV gallery does start the

adrenalin running...

 

COLOURS

Although the Picture Maker and Programme Review programs work within the colour range of the selected palette the necessity for the gallery program to be restricted to a permanent four colour palette (black background, red, yellow and blue) means that some of the chosen colours will, therefore, have been modified temporarily.

 

PROGRAMME REVIEW - Menu Options

The purpose of this program is to 'run' the finished TV programme complete with opening titles, closing credits and soundtrack to check that it 'works' both technically and artistically.

 

The Menu is the hub of the program - pressing <ESCAPE> should always return you here.

 

1. REVIEW PROGRAMME

Before you 'RUN' the MAIN SEQUENCE described below you should go through this checklist:-

1 - 16 Picture Block loaded

2 - Camera sequence loaded (If you have just come from directing a session in the Gallery then 1 and 2 above will already be in position)

3 - Main Soundtrack (presumably on tape) set up at the start (together with the talkback tape)

4 - Titles & Credits have been set up

5 - Flash rate correct

6 - Synchronisation Factor correct

7 - Fade time for title and credit sequences correct (The joystick is non-operable during the review)

 

MAIN SEQUENCE to RUN the Programme:-

As you press the <1> key, the screen will clear. If you are recording, you can now start your video recorder...

Now cue your soundtrack...

<SPACE> now fades up the opening caption...

<SPACE> again fades out the caption...

<SPACE> again starts the picture sequence... (Possibly in sync with the first bar of music?)

NOW SIT BACK and WATCH

The closing credit will appear automatically at the end of the camera sequence...

<SPACE> fades it out...

<SPACE> again takes out Company credit at foot of screen leaving the screen blank...

Stop soundtrack...

If recording, stop video recorder.

 

Probably the most difficult thing to arrange is the start of the tape soundtrack to match your opening picture sequence. Little advice can be given as the solution depends on the soundtrack chosen, the playing machine and the point at which you want the sound to start - you will have to arrange a system to suit your own circumstances.

 

Now, having got the sound to begin just where you want it, each time you 'run' you may find that the picture sequence ends too early or too late - this can be adjusted - See Synchronisation Option - P4.

 

FADE TIME

Fading up and down is done smoothly by the computer. The time is set by the 'Set Fade Time or Joystick' Option (in the Gallery Menu).

 

2. SET TITLES AND CREDITS - Simply answer each question asking for a name by entering the characters and pressing <RETURN>. A colour number also needs to be entered on the right of the screen.

 

3. SET BASIC FLASH RATE - Use the left and right cursors to modify displayed rate to match music track. The default rate is 25.

 

4. SYNCHRONISATION - This essential harmonious union between vision and sound, is achieved on the basis that the selected piece of recorded soundtrack takes exactly the same time to replay on each occasion (using the same equipment). This time is recorded by the program but an adjustment has to be made for the time taken by the computer to process this information on playback. The built-in adjustment factor is .990 - this may need to be changed if you find your pictures run slightly faster or

slower when reviewed. Modificatiuon is done on a trial and error basis. Make a note of the new factor and use it on future occasions.

 

5. EXIT TO MAIN MENU

 

SAMPLE PICTURE AND CAMERA DATA

The filename of the sample Picture Block provided is BLOCKAB - only the 'AB' need be entered - see Picture Maker Menu.

 

The filename of the sample Camera Sequence is CAMS-A1 - only the A1 need be entered - see TV Studio Menu.

 

THE VIDEO RECORDER

The vision connection to a video recorder can be made by using the modulated video output from the computer as an aerial - plugging it in the back of the video recorder (instead of the back of a TV) as explained in its instruction book. If you get some patterning on your screen as a result of doing this then your video recorder output channel frequency may need slight re-adjustment.

 

The sound connection will depend upon the tape or record player used - as explained in the video recorder instruction book. If you are not technically minded or have any doubts about any of these points, see your video dealer.

 

COPYRIGHT WARNING

If the soundtrack used is subject to copyright then the user of these programs is not excused any legal responsibilities inherent in that copyright.

 

 

Instructions' Source   : TV DIRECTOR (Squirrel) Back Inlay & Manual

 

Review (Electron User) - "Video Maker"

The tension mounts as you sit at your director's console. You switch the recording light to red and cue the soundtrack.

 

Before you is a choice of sixteen camera shots. Which one should you select for transmission? One moment of indecision and you'll have to call "Cut!" and start again.

 

That's the excitement offered to you by Squirrel Software with its latest release, TV DIRECTOR. In fact, you get the chance to design, produce and release your own videos using nothing more than your trusty computer.

 

There are, inevitably, a number of limitations so you won't get a top class animated video, but you will experience the thrill and pressure of video work. The possible uses, as the cliché goes, are only limited by your imagination.

 

The first stage in the video making process is to set the computer aside and plan on paper what you want to do. You can have up to sixteen camera shots which you must then create.

 

A picture making routine is included within the program for this purpose. At first sight, the graphics will be disappointing. The screen is divided up into a grid of 32 by 24 blocks and one of these blocks in the smallest area that can be defined.

 

This results is pictures being rather chunky. The reason for this is that the data for an entire picture is stored in just 384 bytes. It is thus possible to store sixteen pictures in memory and swap them around with great speed.

 

A bonus is that pictures can be created quickly. You move a cursor around with keys or joystick and hit the required colour number to set a block. If you can't remember colour numbers, hitting the spacebar will bring up a help page.

 

This gives details of special effects such as zoom, mirror images, inverting or quartering. All of these can be achieved by single key presses.

 

The program operates in Mode 5 which allows only four colours. The choice of four includes the full range of flashing colours (which can help with simple animation such as a winking eye) and a range of assorted stripes.

 

Director works with blocks of frames and normally you would save a block of up to sixteen pictures. This makes it possible for a team of people to work on separate machines, then merge their work into one block.

 

With the artwork completed, you are ready to move to the studio and produce the video. A display of eight monitors is shown and the other eight pictures are toggled with the spacebar. A central transmission monitor shows the currently selected camera shot.

 

It's as well to practice first, with the recording light still on blue. When you are ready switch to red, cue the sound and you're away. You cut to different cameras by hitting the appropriate camera number. With joysticks or cursor keys it is possible to mix or fade shots.

 

At this stage you can still use zoom facilities, mirror imagery or quartered shots, giving you a grand total of 64 possible shots to use.

 

When your sequence is complete, you can save it for future use and move to the preview session. Here you create your credit page and then you can see your video in full screen size.

 

The main problem is synchronising pictures with sound track. The program assumes a separate sound source and no use is made of the computer's noises.

 

It requires a bit of trial and error to know when to start your sequence to match the sound track, but practice makes perfect.

 

If you can send a signal to a video recorder you'll only need to achieve perfection once since you can replay it all from the video machine.

 

This can be done from the computer video output (which only gives monochrome) or from the poorer quality UHF socket. The sound system can be connected to the video recorder audio-in socket. Just what leads you will need will depend on the sockets on your video.

 

The programs are all driven by good clear menus. A sensible choice at each stage is the *command option which allows you to catalogue your cassette.

 

You can create graphics in picture maker and practice with them in the studio, flit back to picture maker to modify or create new pictures and so on.

 

A much more rigorous discipline is needed with cassettes. First create all the graphics, then do all studio work and finally preview and output to video.

 

One irritating little bug can cause the program to crash if you use too many letters in a filename. Otherwise, the whole system is coherently put together.

 

The instruction book is thorough but still makes for easy reading. Squirrel has put together a challenging and enjoyable package which could prove useful to many people.

 

In particular, schools who have pupils studying Information Technology should look seriously at TV DIRECTOR, perhaps as an alternative to teletext emulation packages.

Rog Frost, ELECTRON USER 5. 2