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 software.

Item 2. Flying Faders Computers delivered by Martech/Martinsound (by Dale Manquen, VP at Martech)

Item 3. The California State University Northridge Audio Technology Certificate Program (by Dale Manquen, ATCP coordinator and Ed Wong, Advisory Board member)

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.

Colin Pringle
Director of Marketing
AMS Neve plc
Tel: +44 (0)1282 457011
Fax: +44 (0)1282 417282

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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
14/07/97
Dale:
Can you please inform the user group that the FF software is now available directly from the UK.
They should request this software by fax, Attention David Walton, his fax number is 011 44 1282 417282, his phone number is 011 44 1282 457011.
This will make the delivery of the code and handbook much faster.

Thanks,
Nigel
Voice 818 753-8789

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
LA: 818-753 8789

International enquiries can be made direct to our HQ number:
+44 1282 457011

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Flying Faders Software V3.10 Release Notes

5/my/97

READ THIS FIRST!

  • You will have been supplied with a single floppy disk, marked SF00139_3D, which will allow you to upgrade your current software to RELEASE V3.10, while keeping your current data on your hard disk intact.

    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.

  • WARNINGS

  • Transfer of data between systems:
  • There have been a number of problems transferring data between systems, even those with identical fader layouts.

    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.

  • INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS

    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.)

  • 1. Insert the disk marked SF00139_3D into the drive.

    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.
    Also for systems with no Channel Events, you may now set the Channel Events back to 0. (The bug requiring you to set Channel Events to 1 has been fixed.)

    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.

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    CHANGES & FIXES

    FEATURES

    • Film and Stores options are now standard
    • Safe Stop has been enhanced for post-production
    • Disk commands have been restructured for safety reasons.

    MIXES

    • The problem where mixes could not be transferred between identical systems at V3.0(F) has been fixed.
    • If you loaded a mix from a smaller console without a reassign, then only the faders in the smaller mix were available for selection. Now the whole console is available.
    • Channel names are now read from V1.2 and V2.0 mixes.
    • When a larger mix is loaded without Reconfigure on, the mix is now loaded, and the extra data left unloaded. Previously, the system refused to load.
    • Mix conforming now Moves and Deletes on system without channel events.
    • The "Are you sure you want to Delete" message when you press Keep has been removed!
    • When loading mixes, the default channel names are now loaded, to assist the reassign process etc.
    • Mix Delete was confused when Titles were erased, and it wants to delete the Project. This was fixed.

    MUTES

    • With SAFE STOP or SAFETY NETS on, a mute that was in Isolate could toggle as tape is started.
    • The mute list could edit the wrong entry, particularly if you edited a mute whose time was a Preset.
    • The mute list could show Preset entries in the wrong part of the list.

    'CLEAR MIX MEMORY' Command

    • Sometimes this command would reset SOLO mode to GLOBAL. (The GLOBAL SOLO set is no longer cleared)
    • Mutes that were in ISOLATE, were sometimes set to READY when Clear Mix Memory was used.

    TIMECODE DISPLAY

    • The timecode display was sometimes erratic, particularly with 24 frame code.
    • With LOCAL ZERO on, the timecode display would flash 24:00:00:00 as you crossed zero.

    REASSIGN CHANNELS Option in LOAD window

    • Sometimes this would prevent the loading of a mix.
    • The Reassign Channels Map is now remembered so that if you are loading more than one mix from another studio, Flying Faders remembers the last map setting.

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    CHANNEL EVENTS

    • Mixes from Flying Faders version 2.nn would not load in a system using 3.nn.
    • Systems required that the MFAD.INI file be set to believe there was at least one channel event in order for various channel list boxes to work correctly, and mixes load correctly from systems with channel events..
    • If the Automate Channel Buttons window had no channels selected and you loaded a mix, the channel button automation data would not be loaded. As a result, if you enabled automation on them later on, there would be no data to play back. Now event data is loaded whether it is used or not.
    • EQ buttons would toggle if a change were made in the Automate Channel Buttons window, even if you were not automating EQ buttons.

    MISCELLANEOUS-

    • MASTER TOUCH in AUTO ISOLATE sometimes crashed Flying Faders.
    • Delete occasionally did not function while in MIX CONFORMING.
    • The Incorrect Snapshot Loading / Saving problems is solved. When the lists were saved, the Mix Memory cleared, and the list reloaded, the lists were sometimes different between the PC and the automation computer.
    • Channel names were lost when leaving Flying Faders to go to Recall or DOS.
    • Locating to a negative foot/frame number did not work.
      Note: You must enter the desired locate number and then the minus sign. If the minus sign is entered first, Flying Faders will go to a time back from the present position, not to the foot/frames number.
    • In TRIM mode, faders that were in SAFE would be trimmed.
      Note: Now they can be selected but will ignore the trim setting.
    • The Label list is now correctly cleared when you exit Windows and request a Reset Automation
    • Minor Edit box length inconsistencies fixed.

    Enhancements / Changes

    FILM and STORES options

  • The Stores and Presentation, Foot/Frames timecode display, Mix Conforming and Multi-man Solo options are now part of the basic Flying Faders package, and need not be purchased separately.
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    SAFE STOP-

  • Before version 3.10, the SAFE STOP feature was a 'moving' SAFE STOP. This means that the faders would instantly match to the play pass when the tape was stopped and you see the match as written to the mix data.

    (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)

  • DISK FORMATTING-

  • For improved safety, in version 3.10 you can no longer format via the COPY DISK window. You must use either MS-DOS pre-formatted disks, or use the FORMAT DISK utility under the Disk menu, before copying to floppy.
  • MIX / FILES BACKUP-

  • Again, for improved safety, the "Mix and Special files" backup and restore utilities have been relocated. They are no longer under the Disk menu. In order to access these utilities, you must now exit Flying Faders (hold down the <CTRL> key and press the <Q> key) and select from the MS-DOS menu designed for studio technicians
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    Known Bugs in V3.10

    • Elevator Control gets confused
      Sometimes the list paging Elevators are at the bottom when the list is at the top. Clicking at the other end rectifies this.
  • Third Party Interfacing Problems:

    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.

    Workaround

    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.

    Fix

    Call TimeLine for the latest software.

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    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:

    1 1C001
    2 1C002
    3 1G001

    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 first number, separated by a space, defines the physical fader number.
  • The number before the letter indicates what section of the console the fader is in (always '1' except on multi-man desks).

    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.

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    Note:
    The first number defines the physical fader position. For instance, a line starting with 37 contains the information for fader number 37. (On a 48 channel desk this would normally be 1C037, but on a 32 channel desk with 6 groups, it could be 1G005)

    Make sure that you separate this number from the other group with a space or tab character.

    Key:
    C - Channel faders
    G - Group master faders
    P - Predub faders
    S - Audio sub masters
    M - Bus masters (like Main o/ps)
    R - Reverb returns
    E - External control
    Z - to be defined

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    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.

    NOTES:

  • 1. A BUG! The file needs at least 2 blank lines at the end, or the last line of text will be ignored.

    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)

  •  

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    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.

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    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:

    • The case must properly support the long Viper and Dualport cards.
    • The case and motherboard must be compatible,
    • The processor should be a 16-bit processor to minimize memory requirements. (The Flying Faders Windows software was developed to run on a 640 kbyte system, so memory beyond 2 MByte does not increase performance.)
    • The motherboard should have enough card slots for video, the Viper coprocessor, the Dualport Flying Faders interface, the TCSI Tape Controller Serial Interface (RS-232 card for Adams Smith/Timeline), the Neve Recall card, and the hard disk controller/IO ports board
    • The keyboard port must be compatible with the Flying Faders keyboards, including the V-Series custom keyboard when operated at the end of 10 meter and 20 meter extension cables.
    • The motherboard must be compatible with all of the interface cards .
    • The Neve Recall system must run properly with the motherboard. (Some computers are too fast!)
    • DOS 3.3 (for Recall systems) and DOS 6.22 must work properly
    • Oh, and Flying Faders should also run properly!

    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.

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    Several systems were shipped with a very nice Alaris brand motherboard.

    • This motherboard featured a 486SLC2 50 MHz processor;
    • The boards and processor chip were built at an IBM plant, and
    • Alaris offered a 3-year warranty.

    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."

     

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    Item 3. The California State University Northridge Audio Technology Certificate Program
    (by Dale Manquen, ATCP coordinator and Ed Wong, Advisory Board member)

    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.

     

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    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!

               
       

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