(GTH Note: This review naturally takes the videomaker's viewpoint. However the ACE works with ANY video source and will also correct other people's mistakes or equipment faults! Home Cinema owners wanting perfect results also find it ideal.)
A video processor is essential for correcting colour, contrast and brightness faults when dubbing from one generation to the next. Some edit controllers offer these basic functions but there are not many standalone processors on the market dedicated to improving videos in such a sophisticated way as the Advanced Colour Enhancer (ACE) from GTH Electronics.
The ACE looks like something out of an old power station but it actually contains contemporary digital 4:2:2 processing technology. The range of controls on offer will deal with every type of common aberration that can occur, plus there are a comprehensive range of fades, wipes and digital effects.
Any type of camcorder can be connected to the unit. Round the back are input and output sockets for S-Video, composite video and stereo audio phonos. In addition there's a Scart output option for connecting to a VHS VCR.
Colour controls are divided into saturation, balance and shift. Saturation allows you to vary the amount of colour from zero (black and white) to twice the normal colour. Balance is useful for correcting skin tones without altering the white balance. Moving the knob anticlockwise makes skin seem more yellow, clockwise makes it more pink. The Shift control is very useful for eliminating colour bleed, which is often exaggerated when dubbing. The control moves the colour part of the picture horizontally. (GTH Note: Vertical Shift has now been added to cure colour droop.)
There are three knobs for altering white balance, one each for adjusting the red, green and blue components. Clockwise rotation increases the relevant colour and anticlockwise decreases it. As well as redressing incorrect colour cast they can be used for creating tints.
There are two knobs in the video controls section for adjusting contrast and brightness. The standard setting is with the pointer at the top so the value of each can be increased or decreased and the range of values offered are more than sufficient for tweaking slight aberrations.
Under a section labelled special effects are two controls for adjusting sharpness and for 'digitising' the image. A boost in sharpness is often needed when copying while reduction can be used for excessive graininess.
By increasing the digitise control, the number of colour and brightness levels in the picture are reduced, creating a cartoon-like effect. When digitising, it's best to set the sharpness control to its minimum, this helps to reduce the dottiness of the image.
There are two invert buttons on the ACE that can be used to reverse colours. There is a choice of just black and white (video control), just colours or both, useful for viewing colour negatives as positives. The unit also has the facility to conjure up a clear deep blue or red screen via a couple of push buttons on the right. With both buttons depressed you get the standard colour bars pattern.
There are a total of 15 different fades and wipes which are created using the push buttons and speed/manual knob in the centre of the unit. In auto mode, all actions are triggered by pressing the action button with the duration (between one and five seconds) determined by the knob's position. In manual mode, the knob controls the duration of the effect. There's also the option for fading or bypassing the audio.
Additionally, special effects including a widescreen effect and sepia tone can be created by combining various buttons and colour controls.
Finally, there's a bypass button for reverting the image back to being completely unprocessed, useful if you're unsure whether a fault is on the original tape or you've managed to make a mess of the settings.
For £250 the ACE is good value for correcting imperfect images, maintaining image quality when dubbing and adding special effects.
Camcorder User "GOLD", Rating 87%
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