Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 2
Release of v3.10 Software
June 19, 1997
|Item 1. This news release from AMS
Neve describes the latest revision to the Flying Faders
Item 4. Newsletter feedback
Item 1. The following news release from AMS Neve describes the latest revision to the Flying Faders software. Every Flying Faders owner should take advantage of this generous offer immediately. If everyone upgrades, and everyone sets up the Configuration Files properly, we will have much better file interchange between studios. Assisting in making this happen is a top priority for the Users' Group.
NEW FLYING FADERS SOFTWARE RELEASE
AMS Neve has announced the release of Version 3.10 Flying Faders software. The new version of Flying Faders will be the final, definitive release of this popular automation package. It provides several feature enhancements. AMS Neve's Encore provides the forward development path as the company's console automation system. Encore combines the familiarity of Flying Faders with greater processing power and a modern computer interface. Flying Faders Version 3.10 is available to all Flying Faders owners and will also incorporate FILM and STORES features. These now form part of the standard Flying Faders package and are no longer chargeable.
A 'stationary' SAFE STOP facility has been added so that when the tape is stopped, the fader level match is written to the mix data but the faders do not move. Only when the mix is replayed will the faders move to the recorded match.
This 'stationary' option is particularly useful in post-production applications where it is necessary to invoke the SAFE STOP feature as a protection but keep the faders at their previous levels when moving from PLAY to REVERSE.
In addition, Version 3.10 offers safer disk formatting procedures. It is no longer possible to format via the COPY DISK window. The operator must use either MS-DOS pre-formatted disks, or use the FORMAT DISK utility under the Disk menu, before copying to floppy. Also for improved safety, the Mix and Special Files backup and restore utilities have been relocated from the Disk menu. In order to access these utilities, it is now necessary to exit Flying Faders and select from the MS-DOS menu designed for studio technicians.
In response to engineer feedback, this latest software release incorporates minor enhancements to several other areas including the handling of mutes and channel events.
How to order Flying Faders V3.10 software:
Version 3.10 is now available, together with a copy of the current Operator's Manual, to Flying Faders owners for a small handling charge. (Nigel Toates in the L.A. office said that the "handling fee" is only the shipping fees and that he is already delivering upgrade packages. DM )
Freelance engineers may download a copy of the Version 3.10 release notes and a full Operator's Manual from the AMS Neve web site
This information from Nigel Toates at AMS Neve will be useful for ordering the new Flying Faders software:
FORWARDED MESSAGE from Nigel Toates
The existence of buoyant secondhand markets in many regions means that records may be incomplete and users who have not received details of the new software by the end of May should contact their local AMS Neve office or distributor.
NY: 212-965 1400
International enquiries can be made
direct to our HQ number:
Flying Faders Software V3.10 Release Notes
READ THIS FIRST!
This document will give instructions on how to install this version, lists the changes and bug fixes, and the known bugs.
The document is structured to bring the important items to the front, and we would request that you at least read the Warning section, if nothing else.
This was caused by incorrect information being held in a definition file on a system, which led the systems to believe that the mix from another system was configured differently to reality. (Or that the loading system was configured differently to reality)
Subsequent to the these problems, it has been found that the original "Reassign Channels" section in the release notes was incorrect.
Please read and re-implement the instructions in the Section "Reassign Channels" in this document after you install the new software.
DANGER! Only attempt this installation when there are no vital mixes in memory. The procedure includes RESETTING your computer, which will wipe the Mix Ram.
(Note: The symbol <NAME> means press the key with the words NAME on it.)
2. Hold down the <CTRL>, <ALT> & <DEL> keys together to reboot the computer.
3. At the question, "Press any key to continue", select U to start the update, following the instructions on the screen.
4. This will upgrade your Flying Faders system to V3.10
6. After the main upgrade, if your System is pre V3.0, the tape constants file is overwritten to correct a minor bug. You can still get to your old file to look at any entries you may have added - the system saves it as c:\mfsys\mfad_old.tap
7. You will be asked if you
want to re-create your System Initialisation
File. You must select option 1 to rebuild this
file, there have been a number of syntax changes
which necessitates that this file is re-built.
Power users may wish to incorporate changes they have made to the old System Initialisation File. Your old file will be available as C:\MFSYS\MFAD_OLD.INI for reference.
8. Now remove the floppy disk from the drive, and switch the power to the computer OFF and ON to load the new system.
CHANGES & FIXES
'CLEAR MIX MEMORY' Command
REASSIGN CHANNELS Option in LOAD window
Enhancements / Changes
FILM and STORES options
(The faders moved as if the global match button had been depressed using a one-frame glide rate.)
This form of SAFE STOP remains the default option
In version 3.10 a 'stationary' SAFE STOP option has been added, which means that when tape stops, although the match is written to the mix data, the faders do not move. Only when the mix is replayed will the faders move to the recorded match. This 'stationary' option is particularly useful in post-production where it is necessary to invoke the SAFE STOP feature as a protection, yet have the faders stay at their previous levels when going from PLAY to REVERSE.
The 'moving' SAFE STOP option (default) can be changed so that Flying Faders starts in the 'stationary' SAFE STOP mode, by entering the command (shown below), into the MFAD.INI file. However, if you only want to use 'stationary' SAFE STOP mode for one session, then the same command should be entered via the Diagnostics Window. Flying Faders will then revert to the default state ('moving') when it is reset, or the computer rebooted.
SAFE STOP Command is:
For 'stationary' SAFE STOP:
set movings off
For 'moving' SAFE STOP: (default)
set movings on)
MIX / FILES BACKUP-
Known Bugs in V3.10
· Tape control failure on boot-up
The latest version of Adams-Smith 2600SI software causes Flying Faders to fail the tape control communications the first time after boot-up.
After the system has failed, select "Reset Transport Controller" from the "Transport" menu. The system will then work correctly.
· AutoRecord Punch In/Out points wrong with a TimeLine
V3.10 will not work with some versions of TimeLine software. The Punch Out point becomes the Punch In point, and the Punch Out does not work.
Call TimeLine for the latest software.
Flying Faders V3.10 - Reassign Channels Feature.
To ensure mix compatibility between systems, it is important to set up your Flying Faders system to describe precisely the layout of your faders. If this is not done, then you will experience problems moving your mixes onto other systems.
The "Default" description file installed with the V3.xx software is unlikely to be representative of your system, and if you save mixes that will be loaded on other systems, the channels will not always reassign correctly, sometimes resulting in a "Mix not loaded..." message.
USING THE "Reassign Channels" FEATURE IN THE "Load" WINDOW.
To use the "Reassign Channels" feature of version 3.10 it is necessary to inform the Flying Faders system precisely what each channel is going to be before you save or load your mix. For example, if the first 8 channels are normal mono channels, and the next 2 are stereo masters, Flying Faders will need to be told. You define your system by putting channel information 'tags' in a file called C:\MFSYS\CHANDESC.TXT. Each line in this file defines a physical fader. For example, a file containing just the four lines:
indicates that this system has three channels, the first two of which are normal faders and the third of which is a group master.
· The second position is always a letter that describes the type of channel.
· The next 3 positions are a zero-padded number identifying individual faders of the same type.
Make sure that you separate this number from the other group with a space or tab character.
Editing the Channel Description File
To edit the CHANDESC.TXT file, you need to enter the "Text Pages..." screen. (Found under the "Options" menu)
Then click on "Special" while holding down the <CTRL> key.
This will display a menu, which includes the line "Channel Description File". Click on this line and the current CHANDESC.TXT file will be displayed for editing.
The file can be edited in the same way as the Initialisation file and the Tape Machines file.
2. If you are unsure about which fader number is which, then enter the "Show Diagnostics Window..." page, (found under the "System" menu) and type in 'test sw' to start the test switches' function. Then touching each fader knob in turn will display the fader number on the screen.
(Typing <CR> will terminate the test)
3. The "Mix Not Loaded" message is often traced to this feature not being correctly set-up. (Occasionally "Initialisation File" errors cause this as well)
Item 2. Flying Faders Computers delivered by Martech/Martinsound (by Dale Manquen, VP at Martech)
As you contemplate the upgrading of your Flying Faders software to V3.10, you may wish to review your computer hardware. The following list summarizes the types of computers which have been shipped to Neve by Martech. Some of these units are old enough and difficult enough to support to warrant replacement.
(In the following discussion, keep in mind that Flying Faders is a dual processor system. The PC processor does not operate the faders, but rather is responsible for Windows functions and I/O (video, keyboard, mouse, disks) operations. Faster PC processors will give a "snappier" response, but will not change fader operations. For example, Ed Wong comments:
"Our first system had an HP Vectra ES-12 with a 20 MByte MFM hard drive! When we acquired our second system, it had a 486SX. Since the second system was going into a smaller secondary console, we just swapped the 486SX in to our original "big" system so it would be running on the new platform.(and essentially have unlimited disk space) The engineers have noticed slightly faster screen redraws, faster initial startups and slightly faster mix saves. For our uses, these are nice, but the improvement is really negligible in the overall use of the system."
Neve Flying Faders shipments started with the Hewlett Packard Vectra ES-12, a 12 MHz 286 machine with a Seagate 40 MByte MFM-type hard drive. (The early Martech Beta test systems had a 20 MByte drive.) This computer is very well built, but the MFM drives are no longer available, the motherboard mounting is non-standard (prohibiting easy upgrading), and special Setup disks are required to set the CMOS memory. Martech has not successfully upgraded this unit.
After about the first six months of Flying Faders production, Martech changed to the HP Vectra QS-16, a 16 MHz 386SX machine using IDE protocol for the hard drive. We adopted a Quantum 40 MByte IDE drive. Like the ES-12, the motherboard mounting and Setup disks are non-standard, limiting motherboard upgrading.
When Neve in the U.S. began delivering "Custom Economy" Flying Faders systems for upgrading consoles other than Neve V Series consoles, the expensive HP computer was replaced by a clone computer. The functionality was unchanged, but the cost of the computer components dropped dramatically.
The first clone was a Chicony 386SX running at 20 MHz. The Quantum 40 MB drives were still used.
When the original Chicony motherboards became obsolete, Martech was forced to explore other motherboards. Unfortunately, none of the motherboards stay available for more than a few months! This is a big problem when every new type of motherboard must go through numerous qualification testing steps:
As you can see, the process of qualifying a computer system is rather time consuming. Martech has experienced problems in every one of the above areas in evaluating various combinations. As a result, we have stopped "chasing the technology" and standardized upon known working combinations. But even these combinations change as products evolve. (Have you tried to buy a 40 MBbyte hard drive lately? The entry level drive is now 900 MBytes!)
Martech has been through several motherboard combinations after the demise of our Chicony supply, but only two major versions will be listed here.
Several systems were shipped with a very nice Alaris brand motherboard.
Our only problem was that the board was too fast for Recall, but disabling the internal cache in the processor slowed the Recall operations enough to achieve proper operation. And then Alaris discontinued the board....
We have since standardized on using a 386SX 40 MHz board that uses a TI-built processor chip. This board isn't quite as fast as the Alaris card, but we were able to buy a sizable batch (50 units) as an investment against obsolence. We still have a number of these units available for new systems and upgrades.
Will other computers run Flying Faders? Certainly, but with unknown compatibility problems. Do we encourage you to try to grow your own computer? No, because you end up calling us when you have a problem! But AMS Neve in the U.S. does offer upgrade computers with software already installed. No, these Flying Faders replacement computers are not as cheap as generic clones at your local computer warehouse. But this is a low-volume item that resolves the setup, testing and compatibility issues. The choice (and risk) is yours.
Please contact your local AMS Neve office for computer support. Colin Pringle of AMS Neve advises, "We prefer to deal with any issues concerning computers directly with clients."
Item 3. The California State University
Northridge Audio Technology Certificate Program
Why is this item in a Flying Faders Newsletter? Well, not only is this topic of interest to anyone who has audio equipment that requires maintenance, but we discovered that every member at our last CSUN Audio Advisory Board meeting is or has been a Flying Faders customer!
CSUN has initiated a Certificate Program to prepare individuals for jobs as maintenance technicians in audio facilities. The one-year program is scheduled to start this Fall. The curriculum is being developed by a group of chief maintenance engineers from L.A. area recording, film, and television facilities. Students will be screened for basic knowledge, aptitude and people skills prior to acceptance into the program.
If you are interested in receiving more details, please contact Ed Wong or Dale Manquen. Much of the business of the Advisory Board is available through an Internet List Server. We need student candidates, internship opportunities and your ideas. We would appreciate your help on any or all of these.
Item 4. Newsletter feedback
Let us know how we are doing! Is this too much? What else would you like? We have a very detailed article started on the history and details of the various versions of motorized faders which Martech has shipped in Flying Faders systems. Is this of interest? How about a short article from you? We all need to participate to make this Users' Group work. Maybe you have a favorite Flying Faders story or you have found a neat way to do something special. Please drop us a note.
Bye for now!