Since its introduction some five years ago, the AMS Neve Digital Film Console (DFC) has cut a wide swath throughout the movie post production industry not only here in the United States but across Europe and other major film centers around the world. (And picked up an Academy Award in the process.) But nothing stands still. AMS Neve was careful not to jeopardize, however, the system’s acceptance by making changes for change’s sake. Opting to follow that tried-and-true design philosophy of “Don’t Fix It If It Ain’t Broke,” the talented team of designers in Burnley, England, has focused its attention on reacting to feedback from the long-form TV and film re-recording community, and implemented incremental rather than revolutionary changes. Major upgrades for the DFC2 are in automation, control surface features, DSP capabilities and the latest I/O options.
In addition to the industry-proven Encore automation with integrated MADI router and intuitive Desk Editor software, DFC2 features new EDL Automation Conforming Software that is designed to enhance project workflow by enabling multiple picture changes to be quickly applied to any project, in addition to the ability to import Change Lists. Remaining fully aligned with its philosophy of offering the “most user-friendly channel strip on a digital console” – including patented Logicators that provide instant visual reference to each knob position, touch-sensitive controls, flexible eight-band EQ, intuitive machine control and multipartition mixing that allows a console to be split to meet the specific demands of a mix project – DFC2 now features fiber-optic meter backlight technology with variable brightness control which, unlike fluorescent and incandescent technologies, retain its illumination level. And, drawing from a function already available on Capricorn and Logic MMC consoles, a new Banks feature enables six user-programmable sets of control-surface layouts to be recalled at the touch of a button. Within the dynamics section, an automated multiband compressor and powerful look-ahead compressor have also been added.
A new enhanced XSP Signal Processing Engine provides more horsepower for the DFC2, enabling 500 signal paths to be accommodated per processor tower. XSP operates at up to 96 kHz sampling rates; for enhanced flexibility, the latest 96 kHz-capable MADI I/O Suite includes MIOS (Modular I/O) with four-channel, dual- mic/line, 16-channel A/D converters, 16-channel D/A, or AES format ports. The SHARC-based XSP Engine also enables the powerful look-ahead compression, plus new signal processing features to be added. And the new AES960 features sample rate conversion on both the AES-format input and output ports, with configurations that can be saved. (Earlier-generation Digital Film Consoles can also be upgraded to DFC2 status via software and hardware additions.)
Encore Studio Computer now offers several options for easier transfer and interface to other systems via Ethernet or archiving, for example, to rewritable CD-ROMs. Now standard fare on 88R, Libra, DFC and Logic MMC consoles, Encore enables mix data to be transferred seamlessly between AMS Neve systems. (Encore will also read Flying Faders data files.) And the already feature-rich automation system now incorporates an Off-Line Mode that allows system information – I/O designations, for example, and control surface channel labels – to be entered into a database that can be uploaded into the DFC2. And Version 3.0 software will soon offer a powerful EDL Conform Mode, whereby picture changes can be applied to the automation data – automatically copying, deleting and inserting automation data. Also available is remote control of I/O interfaces via MADI ports, using Channel 55 of the 56-channel bitstream. (For example, each MIOS unit can provide up to 48 channels of 24-bit/96 kHz A/D-D/A converters with bidirectional sample-rate conversion that can be addressed from the DFC2’s control surface.)
The new snapshot storage-and-recall of Path Layouts (similar to that available on AMS Neve’s Logic MMC Consoles) is a powerful and extremely flexible tool, since it enables the operator to design up to six console surface layouts that can be recalled at the touch of a button. Layouts reflect the current control requirements – bringing channel sections into the center (‘sweet spot’) of the console surface, or moving elements (FX, Foley, Dialog, etc.) according to the mixer position’s, or selecting channels one at a time to develop just the degree of control precision that is needed to get the job done.
The control surface’s familiar alphanumeric displays of parameter values are retained, with servo-driven faders and assignable access to four layers per channel strip. Color-coding enables users to find the appropriate control easily, and once the topology has been learned it becomes extremely intuitive. All rotary controls and switches are touch sensitive, allowing changes to be made simply by grabbing the relevant knob and changing the settings.
All in all, while the new enhancements to AMS Neve’s DFC2 Digital Film Console are subtle in execution – the system, after all, already boasts a number of enviable technical and user features – but are advances which will ensure that TV and film mixers around the world continue to be offered some of the sharpest tools in the mixing and processing toolbox.
For further information contact AMS Neve at 212-965-1400 or 818-753-8789, www.ams-neve.com.