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Re... Aaton Keykode System

In reply to>>I'd like some opinions on the Aaton keykode system.  I've heard
                 >>expensive but quite well-engineered, and offers some great
                 >>outputs and options.

Hi Rob,
The Aaton is not cheap but a fully configured, ie with the 4:2:2 I/O option,
system is a very
comprehensive data handler for film based post work. Although still based on a
host PC,
our 2 here are on 486 machines, the system has improved greatly in terms of
and features over the years. The other hardware involved are the Reader Heads
for 35mm
Keykode and 35mm Aaton code the latter of which is also used for 16mm combined
Aaton / Keykode reading, ( the data is all on the same side of the film for 16mm
and the head
is merely reversed on its mounting post for 16mm transfer.)  Once mounted on the
via a collar around the bottom left roller base the 35mm Keykode head is a
fixture with the second 35mm Aaton / 16mm Aaton & Keykode head sliding on or off
mounting post as required. Adjustments to the head positions or azimuth to
optimize for 
individual camera recordings of Aaton timecode is by precision screws / hex key.
In short
the hardware is minimal and well made and  has the advantage of being contact
free so 
there is no risk to the negative.

The system handles all the data collection and correllation of Keykode, film
wether Arri or Aaton code, video tape timecode, audio timecode and operator
data such as lab roll numbers, video roll numbers or audio roll numbers as well
general descriptions of scenes or takes and builds a unique data base on the
hard disk for each film title or job. This initial data, which will also include
idents for 525 and f1/f2 for 625, camera ID and the Aaton Tag, forms the
which, although it can be read directly by Avid & Lightworks, is more commonly
exported as a Flex file or the simpler Aaton List where all events are logged
there in/out points and comments can be attatched. The fourth method is to
extract from
the AatonBase a KeyLog which is compatible with Evertz. 

All of this data can be burnt into active picture area originally in composite
but now also
in 4:2:2 as well as much of it , in particular the full Keykode, being placed in
a new three
line VITC format.

All in all it is a very complete system that has improved greatly over the years
and although
it is now more complex the VDU and operator feedback are now better and much
user friendly.  It can still appear quite daunting when first encountered,a
situation not helped
by a charmingly quirky manual, but with a little application and by using the
test films they 
supply in tandem with a field joggable vtr, the mysteries soon unfold.

Once you build up a collection of configurations for all the film formats, cam /
audio speeds
TK speeds, film perfs, suite delays etc etc then daily use is a matter of test
film verification,
( just in case someone fiddled), adjustment for optimum film code reading, which
is not
an issue if you are mainly using it for Keykode reading, and off you go.

We have two systems here at VTR Ltd but within the Group there are another three
in many ways work a lot harder because of the nature of the work those suites
do. They
are often busy on 525 feature / commercial dalies exporting floppy disks with
the tapes
and work very well indeed.

As for your comments on Rank acting as Agents that is not the case in the UK and
I know
that the system is fully at home on any BTS machine. In fact one of the most
things about fitting the system onto our new Ranks was watching the Engineer
the Black & Decker to L750K of investment in order to run the cables to the
Heads. Lets hope that in future the factory may provide a few holes!

To anyone whose read this far thank you and may I wish everyone on the Group a
Happy Christmas and a prosperous and hassle free New Year.

Seamus O'Kane
VTR Ltd London.