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Amiga Graphics Media Software Television

Source of Amiga Video Toaster Software Released 394

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-linux-had-a-simple-nle dept.
bender writes "About a decade after the release of of the NewTek Video Toaster for the Amiga, OpenVideoToaster is now hosting the source code of the software! The Video Toaster ushered in the age of affordable desktop video in 1991 and was used in products such as Babylon 5 and Jurassic Park."
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Source of Amiga Video Toaster Software Released

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  • by tcopeland (32225) * <> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:39PM (#8220247) Homepage the report for Video Toaster CG [] as analyzed by CPD [].
  • Can it be reused ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ploum (632141) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:41PM (#8220264) Homepage
    I'm not sure at all, but can we excpect improvements in linux video editor with this code ?

    I don't know, I just ask.. I just imagine, for example, using some codes to build a NLE editor under Linux... Is it possible ?
  • What's the license? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by One Louder (595430) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:46PM (#8220288)
    I've downloaded some of the code, and neither the web site nor the source code itself seems to indicate under what license this code is being released.

    Public Domain? GPL? BSD?

    What are we allowed to do with it?

  • by MajorDick (735308) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:51PM (#8220326)
    I mean this is cool, that they released the source, but it it of any real value compared to currently available packages ? I mean we are talking about 15 year old code (maybe older from development to production) in a very dynamic medium.
  • by StandardCell (589682) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:51PM (#8220330)
    This is a significant development because Newtek [] brought to the desktop level what used to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment only broadcast stations could afford. It was an Amiga 2000 based box, which is why a reference exists to the Amiga in the first place. The original price was around $5000, and that didn't include the price of time-base correctors, frame-by-frame editing decks, cameras, etc.. But any professional videographer or low-end filmmaker suddenly had the most amazing set of tools to create what was in the hands of only the big players or the well funded. Their original promo video, called "Revolution," was an amazing demo. If you can find a copy, I suggest you view it and see that in 1991 terms this was a truly revolutionary concept.

    Beyond that, Amigas with Newtek's Lightwave software were used in the production of series like Babylon 5 and Seaquest DSV. Huge render farms with 10^3 computers were generating graphics for major television series. You had better believe that it's significant from a historical perspective.

    Today, Newtek's online editing setups are pretty interesting but vastly different. It's no skin off their backs to release the source because it's not really commercially valuable. That's because in the last couple of years editing come to the point where it is really accessible by the average person. I do technical consultation for video editors, and know for certain that the seed for desktop editing today was planted by Newtek's Video Toaster over 12 years ago.

    One last note: the Amiga technology back in 1984 was being bid upon by two companies. The company that won was Commodore, and we know what a debacle of excess and poor marketing they were. The other was International Business Machines [], who decided it wasn't valuable. Had IBM purchased the Amiga technology, it's very likely the computing landscape and development of multimedia technologies would have been a lot different and IMO advanced much further for the average person than history as it stands today shows.
  • by minnkota (576497) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:53PM (#8220341)
    This article refers to the original Amiga VideoToaster... which is basiclly a 68030 Amiga with a fancy linear video i/o board and some software for basic effects. It could capture single frames, but it couldn't even digitize a clip. It was basiclly a fancy video switch / mixer. In fact, the Toaster didn't even do ful 640x480, it was a bit less than that. OK for UHF broadcast though. [] There is no way this was used for film work. Especially when ILM had a building full of SGI workstations and servers.
  • by ThisIsFred (705426) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:53PM (#8220344) Journal
    Frame it and hang it on your wall probably. It's a nice gesture, don't get me wrong, but the code is little more than a curiosity. There are other open source projects out there that are much more capable, and that aren't limited to NTSC format.
  • Interesting.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chipset (639011) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @03:56PM (#8220362) Homepage
    Now, there have been rumors around for years about what the Amiga and corresponding technologies have been associated with. Max Headroom (for the background, if I remember).

    Now, some people are saying it wasn't broadcast quality, however, a number of people disagree. When the video toaster came out, it replaced a 100K production system for 6K. It took video editing/production by storm. For example, the FOX affiliate in Anchorage used one for years. The station manager told me how it was just incredible and could do much more bang for the buck than anything out there (circa '95).

    The effects, depending on how you used them, could look cool or cheesy. Think of the effects of Home Improvement, when they did the scene changed. The one I remember out of the box for the Toaster was the legs crossing on-screen for a scene change.

    So, now's the real question... How easy or hard will this be to port? It looks to support other languages, as well. I noticed Kanjii support.

    Is the source code Amiga specific? I know they had other systems supported, but later. Amiga source code, at least the OS specific functions, are a lot different than coding today.

    Most of the apps they have source to didn't require the additional hardware that the VT came with, which is good.

    Personally, I think there might be some gems, but I doubt you'll see whole ports of the applications. Too much has changed since 91.
  • by (545967) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:05PM (#8220416)
    Us folks left in the Amiga community are kinda hoping for something nice from Amiga. A few of us in the area have our own Amiga user group [] and have managed to have two demos of the OS4 in the last few months.

    Keep you fingers crossed.
  • strange toaster fact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:08PM (#8220425)
    The Video Toaster's hardware was designed by Dana Carvey's brother, Brad. []
  • Brings back memories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jacobcaz (91509) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:08PM (#8220430) Homepage
    If nothing else, this site brings back fond memories of sitting in a small, dark room rolling back the B deck to hit the right cue point for the A/B roll (I didn't have access to frame accurate or RS422 controlled decks back then).

    My highschool got one of these back in 1992 or 1993 and I managed to convice them to give me THREE class periods of independent study time to shoot, write and edit our weekly "TV" show. It was a blast and it really taught me how to work under a deadline -- I was the only student doing the show and fourth period EVERY FRIDAY there had to be 15 minutes of show in the can ready to show.

    At the time, it was somewhat of a jewel on our school's crown to have a weekly, entirely student-produced show. We just thought it was more fun that trig.

    The last time I poked my head in my high school, they had several classes dedicated to broadcast and communications with a real teacher assigned to it and everything. They were also doing a daily show in lieu of the morning announcements over the PA system.

    I feel proud I got to do it my way and learn something in the process. God bless the Toaster -- and who coudln't resist tossing in a few Kiki effects or falling sheep here and there! ;-)

    Good times...

  • BSD??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:09PM (#8220434) Homepage Journal
    Geez, you microsofty, the correct term is guru meditation []. This is an article about the Amiga you know.

    Dan East
  • I used this back in High School - we had a "Broadcast Journalism" department, producing television shows for local networks, and a daily news broadcast (student body president, announcements, etc.) for which we hijacked the "Channel One" TV's.

    For a while, I could "spot" when it was being used somewhere - like in low budget syndicated television shows, or in the early days of small networks, like Comedy Central.

    The "problem" with it was - it was something you outgrew. That Commodore/Amiga went the way of the dodo didn't help, but really it was for small-time or hobbyist operations at best. Once your operation became big enough, you started looking elsewhere.

    I should probably go back and see if my alma mater's operation is still going, and what they use today.

  • by rampant mac (561036) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:11PM (#8220447)
    "What would be the comparable tool today for that type of video editing?"

    Final Cut Pro [] and Shake [].

    Though at Sundance this year, an enterprising individual edited and produced a movie for $218.32, using iMovie [].

  • by downix (84795) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:18PM (#8220496) Homepage
    The chipset provided the timing and genlock signals necessary for the toaster to work. It is these signals that make traditional editing machines so expensive to produce. The Amiga's chipset gave these to the toaster cards so Newtek didn't have to.

    But, if your timing is off by even a percentage, your broadcast signal falls apart, rendering dependent systems, such as the toaster, useless for their primary job of interfacing with these signals. This is analog technology here, can't use digital techniques to solve the problems.
  • by notsoclever (748131) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:26PM (#8220549) Journal
    My understanding is that the Toaster itself did all of the graphics work, and that the Amiga was really just there to control it. Though the way it was implemented (the computer sent signals through the VBI portion of its composite video output) is still pretty Amiga-specific, but that could conceivably be done by a PC with custom hardware as well.

    Basically, Toaster was a hardware package with controlling software, not just a software package. You can't really port it to the PC any moreso than you can port, say, the custom software used in a flatbed scanner to a PC; you might be able to emulate the internal operation, but the hardware itself is missing.

  • That takes me back (Score:4, Interesting)

    by concordeonetwo (644570) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @04:29PM (#8220563)
    The Video Toaster I thought was the coolest thing. After I saw a demo of it once, I was totally amazed. As I recall, there was one famous video effect it did. That effect oddly was used by lots of those sucide cults, such as the famous Heaven's Gate in ther propaganda videos.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:00PM (#8220722)
    Dana Carvey's brother, Brad Carvey, designed the hardware in the Video Toaster.

    Brad is also the inspiration for Dana's portrayal of the "Garth" character in Wayne's World (on Saturday Night Live and the movies) -- you'll notice that Garth is essentially a quiet geeky guy who is really good with electronics.
  • by iota (527) * on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:05PM (#8220746) Homepage
    Well, I haven't seen anything either --
    So it is only safe to assume that the source follows normal copyrights, and you may not redistribute it in any way without permission. Until there is some announcement from NewTek that says otherwise, this is their code and only their code -- it can be used for "reference" or your personal source-code museum, but not much else.

  • The toaster still has one feature that you won't get without spending a sack of cash today, which is the four-input switcher. Being able to do realtime wipes and fades (not to mention, what's that effect called? Where only a portion of a video source is overlaid?) is pretty damned useful. I don't think I'd use a toaster for video editing today, but an A2500 with a toaster in it would make a neat mixer.
  • by donglekey (124433) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:11PM (#8220775) Homepage
    and Tim Jenison. Notice in Wayne's World 2 that Dana Carvey is wearing a Video Toaster t-shirt towards the end of the movie. Brad Carvey also went on to start Autumn Light which did the CG dragon fly at the begining of Men in Black.

    //from Topeka and works in CG because of help from Newtek
  • by gbulmash (688770) <semi_famous@y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:13PM (#8220786) Homepage Journal
    It's old technology, but still... Just for purely academic reasons, I think it would be interesting to see how a ported and tuned version would work on a high-end Pentium or AMD system.

    Of course, I don't program, so this is a "gee, it would be great if someone else did this" post,. Take it with as many grains of salt as you wish.

    - G
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Sunday February 08, 2004 @05:18PM (#8220821) Homepage Journal
    I'd be much more interested in the hardware (though the software certainly enhances its value) of both this, and the Amiga 2000. Obviously one will need AmigaDOS sources or a very, very good workalike, I don't know if AROS qualifies. Anyone ever use a toaster on AROS? Anyway if the hardware for the toaster and toaster flyer, and the Amiga 2500 were opened, then someone could make a super cheap little video editing box. It would be nice if they'd integrate a TBC, too, and replace (augment, actually) the composite video output with S-Video as well. It would fit easily within a 1U rack space, and require no active cooling. A small hard drive (say, a ~4GB laptop drive) would provide ample space for custom wipes, fonts, stills, and so on.

    It will probably never happen, even though I doubt that either device contains any licensed components.

  • by tiger99 (725715) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:00PM (#8221067)
    Being mainly an analogue designer, I find this very amusing.

    But there must be a solution. There are generally an almost infinite number of ways of doing something in hardware, as in software. Don't know much about the Amiga, but clearly the internal clocks would need to be synchronised to the incoming video, same as in an audio application. To get 16-bit audio with no corruption, at 44.1KHz sampling, needs about 200pS maximum jitter.But, I don't see why video needs to be so precise, well under one pixel would probably be about OK, say 10nS. The eye is much more easily fooled than the ear. You barely need 8-bit DACs either (24-bit colour), 7-bit is probably adequate.

    I guess the Amiga uses a PLL to synchronise everything to the incoming video. It would be hard to do that on a modern PC, you would need to butcher the motherboard to inject your own clock signal, and the crude PLL clock multiplier in the CPU would probably mess it all up again. Sometimes older technology is best.

    Proper video editing cards for PCs are expensive because they have to run synchronously to the video, not the PC, amongst other things.

    Still, it is good that this software has been released. I wonder if the price of used Amigas is going to rise, as everyone wants a toaster?

  • by gabba_gabba_hey (309551) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:12PM (#8221127)
    more specifically:

    ~/unzip/CG/src$ grep -i fuck *
    NewCrawl.c: //if (RD->CursorPosition > 14) FUCK2();
    NewCrawl.c:VOID FakeFucked(VOID)
    NewFunction.c:char *DefNameFcn(void *fuck, int Entries)
    NewGadgets.c: LB = BufferedOpen("hd0:fuck",MODE_NEWFILE,80,R->ByteStr ip->Planes[1],DOSBase);
    NewGadgets.c:char *NameFcn(void *fuck, int Entries)
    Panel.c:char *NameFn(void *fuck, int Entries)
    cgrexx.c: if(DoLoadBook(ARG1(msg),NULL) ) // fucks up if page not empty
    cgrexx.c:// if(DoLoadBook(ret,NULL) ) // fucks up if page not empty
    newrender.a: XLABEL _FuckBM
    newrender.a: DUMPREG
    newrender.a: DUMPMEM ,(a0),#bm_SIZEOF

    ~/unzip/CG/src$ grep -i pussy *
    cgrexx.c: int DouchePussy=REFRESH_NONE;
    cgrexx.c: return(DouchePussy);
    cgrexx.c: if(IS_FUNCTION(msg)) DouchePussy=HandleCommand(msg);
    cgrexx.c: return(DouchePussy);
    cgrexx.c: int i,DouchePussy=REFRESH_NONE;
    cgrexx.c: if(iNULLid && Handler!=NULL) DouchePussy=Handler(msg);
    cgrexx.c: return(DouchePussy);

    fun fun...
  • Awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by b00fhead (669286) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:28PM (#8221222) Journal
    The first Amiga post of the year, and it's only February!

    Someone mentioned previously that the Amiga's custom chips provided the timing. Since UAE emulates the custom chips, is it possible to use this under UAE?
  • by kubrick (27291) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @06:58PM (#8221428)
    Another thing that adds to the confusion is that the Amiga also had a great 3D package called Lightwave, which enabled it to do 3D rendering for film output.

    I'm pretty sure that Newtek shipped a Toaster/Lightwave bundle for a number of years, so people may have used the term "Toaster" when referring to the 3D graphics the whole package produced as well.

    Regarding Jurassic Park, I think Amigas running Lightwave may have been used for some rendered storyboards, but definitely not for anything you see in the film.

    (Going by my memories of old Amiga magazines here...)
  • Switcher (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ryanw (131814) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @07:11PM (#8221504)
    My only experiance with video editing is with finalcutpro on osx. Is there anything like VideoToaster out there currently in the market for realtime video broadcasts? I know apple does their keynotes with several cameras, live, etc. Do they use Avid for this? Any ideas?
  • by xtronics (259660) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @09:37PM (#8222384) Homepage
    Toaster plus Flyer = NLE

    I think people should discount anything else in the post by rduke as he does not know anything about the toaster.

    I worked on this project (in 1995) testing hard drives to see if they were fast enough.

    The reason it was so popular was that the compression used did not introduce artifacts from editing. It is because the compression does not use the previous frame data as some of the others do.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:10PM (#8222839) Homepage Journal

    One last note: the Amiga technology back in 1984 was being bid upon by two companies. The company that won was Commodore, and we know what a debacle of excess and poor marketing they were. The other was International Business Machines, who decided it wasn't valuable.

    Uh, no.

    The other company was Atari, headed by Jack "Business is War" Tramiel. He had just left Commodore to head up Atari, and was in negotiations with Amiga, Inc. to buy and develop their machine. In anticipation of closing the deal, Atari gave Amiga a $750K "advance", to be repaid if negotiations fell through.

    Well, Tramiel is a soundrel of the first rank, and used this "advance" as a lever against Amiga to try and buy the company cheap. Meanwhile, Dave Morris was also negotiating the sale of Amiga to Commodore, and managed to secure a better deal. (Commodore were also interested in annoying Tramiel.) After closing the deal, he flew back to California and, to their utter shock, repaid Atari.

    Tramiel was furious, and ordered his people to develop a competing machine. Thus was born the Atari 520XL, which was significantly cheaper, had a slightly faster CPU, no graphics accaleration, marginal sound, and a crap operating system. He positioned it directly against the Amiga and ran "attack" ads against it.

    Someone should write a book about this...


  • Re:Nice code, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scottgfx (68236) on Sunday February 08, 2004 @11:48PM (#8222992) Journal
    When B5 first started, I remember seeing pictures of the render farm of Amiga 2000s with `040 cards and toasters in them. Something like 50 or 80 Amigas sitting on shelves. I think back then, Screamernet wasn't yet built. Soon after B5 started, someone (Aspen Computers?) started building outboard rendering engines... The name Raptor comes to mind.

    I was still running Lightwave on a Toaster up until 1996.
  • by PowerBooker (636103) on Monday February 09, 2004 @01:49AM (#8223408) Homepage
    Man, I remember working on a Video Toaster editing station at Sul Ross University back in '94. It seemed to take at least 5 times to get the output you wanted out of it than it should have.

    I'm sure there are people really adept at Toaster, but it just seems like most of the sh*t you can now do on iMovie in just a fraction of the time.

    If I'm wrong, please give me some insight...

  • by nahual (235399) on Monday February 09, 2004 @02:22AM (#8223526) Homepage
    After you had a toaster, the natural step was to get a Flyer, is was a capturing card for NLE video.

    Basically the flyer could reproduce two videos at the same time, from two hard drives, and a third hard drive was used for sound, it used the toaster as a switcher, so it did not need to render de effects, they were ral time, so it was very fast, even for today standards.

    I made a living, editing on the flyer, from corporate videos, to TV comercials, we never get a complain about the quality.

    I miss the interface a lot, i could edit faster on a flyer, than on a modern Avid system.

    specially, i loved the arexx scripts to automate editing chores.

    For example, with one script, i just put the music track, and the script would automatically put fade in, put volumen down and up, and fade out to the music. It was just a mateer of minutes to put music to a video. Today i hve to adjust each level by hand.

    Another of my favorite scripts was to put video efect autmatically on my finished video. I would make a cut only edition, and then just put a soft cut in all my editions, in less thana aminute i could adjust all my efect, or chagen them glbally.

    Finally, my favorite trick was used to make music videos.

    First i load in the project all the video secuences i would like to use, then i load the music. Then i play the music and began to tap de rithm on the keyboard. Each tap would put a videsecuence in place. After that, a little cleaning, and voila, an instant music video. It aws wonderful and fun...

    I miss all that power...

    Unfortunatelly, the video signal was composite video. Today we are used to D2 quality. Altough still there are people who can,t see the diferences :)

    By the way... Spielberg was a toater Fan, he used the toaster (lightwave) for storyboarding, int one of the books aopbut how jurasic park was made, we see Spielberb playing wit an open toaster...

    After that photo, my chief never complained again that our toaster had almost always open... (screws are for cowards...) 8)

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis