Amiga Video Toaster: Useful or Boat Anchor?
February 7, 2006 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Is this Amiga video editing equipment in my classroom worth spending any time on at all?

I'm a teacher. The classroom that I teach in has a few Amiga computers that were used for video editing in years past (they have not been used for a while now). (there are also assorted monitors, a panasonic vhs video editing suite and other sundry items attached to this equipment

Is this equipment (pics 1,2,3,4,5) worth my time to try to get going? The systems power up and I am assuming that they'll both work. The question is, am I going to be able to do anything interesting with them once they are going?

I do have a few PC's with Adobe Premier and Pinnacle Studio that we do video editing with. I also have a Newtek "Tricaster", a pc based broadcast switcher.

Is there anything that the amiga "toasters" will do that I can't do with the new equipment?

Assuming the consensus is that I don't really need this equipment, is it something that I can sell/ebay and get any amount worth my time to package/ship it?
posted by davey_darling to Technology (12 answers total)
I doubt the system will do much 'new' or better than most of your current equipment. Though I don't know if Permier/Pinnacle are good for live video. Back in the mid 90's I used a Toaster for both live and pre-recorded graphics in video editing. We produced a daily junior high announcements show, "Primetime News from West" and used the Toaster for the chyron-type on-screen graphics and the cheesy-but-fun star-wipes.
posted by pithy comment at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2006

The Toaster I used in college had some great porno-esque wipes that featured silhouettes of naked women sauntering across the screen as a transition.

That's about all it is good for. Ditch the Toaster. Unless you are working with elementary school aged children, in which case it might be worth a shot as an educational tool.
posted by MrZero at 2:12 PM on February 7, 2006

You can get some money for it... it's not completely useless. But Toasters are very, very old technology... they allow you to overlay computer graphics on an image, and do switching from one image to another. They can't store and then edit the video, because Amigas just aren't powerful enough for that... the design is, after all, twenty years old. (the fact that they are STILL useful, after all these years, tells you something about just how powerful they were.)

So all your edits have to be done 'live', as you record to another tape... you can combine two sources and the Amiga's own (rather primitive) graphics. At least, this is assuming you have the Toaster I knew about and sold.... I dropped out of the Amiga world in about 1990, and I haven't followed it since. If your gear is newer than that, this info could easily be wrong.

I'm not familiar with the Tricaster, but any modern PC is going to be able to run rings around that equipment, if you get reasonably good video gear. You'll be able to do Non-Linear Editing (NLE) with it. If you don't already have that gear, though, it can be _quite_ expensive, and the Toaster was a really good device for the time. If you don't have anything better already, it's a lot better than nothing!

How much it's actually worth, I couldn't tell you. I think some broadcasters may still use Toasters, and they might want your machine for spare parts.

I'd somewhat interested in the 2000 myself... I have one here that doesn't work, and I could probably use the parts in yours to resurrect it. If you don't want to bother with EBay, drop me a note at me*taf_lter @ ma_lor.c!om, less the punctuation, and we might be able to work something out. But, because I don't need the Toaster, you'd probably get more if you EBayed it.
posted by Malor at 2:17 PM on February 7, 2006

The old amiga enthusiests that couldn't afford this stuff in the day might be interested in buying it now that it's cheaper and they have more disposable income (hopefully), so it wouldn't surprise me if this stuff still had some resale value.

If you're hurting for gear (eg students need to book time on the machines in advance), then a few students will probably be interested in figuring out on their own an older slower system that isn't always booked. Otherwise, I don't think there would be much appeal.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:19 PM on February 7, 2006

Malor - do you want to give a 1000 a good home? I couldn't ever throw it out. I wasn't so attached to the 500, 1200, 2000 or 3000UX. Something about the 1000, though.
posted by bh at 2:22 PM on February 7, 2006

There seems to be some VERY mild interest in Amiga products on Ebay...putting it up as a lot might be worth more than just throwing it out, but will not net much.
I work in television, and I would say that this equipment would do more to discourage students than anything else.
Imovie with a cheap 1 chip camera would be alot more effective and user-friendly for the kids.
posted by BillBishop at 2:31 PM on February 7, 2006

Malor - do you want to give a 1000 a good home? I couldn't ever throw it out. I wasn't so attached to the 500, 1200, 2000 or 3000UX. Something about the 1000, though.
Did you know that if you popped the top cover off a 1000, you'll see the signatures of the people who worked on its design? Molded in plastic, of course. But still spiffy! Oh, here's a link to a page with the signature panel.

Back to the OP: Yes, it might be worth your while to play around with it as a diversion, but I don't believe it'll get you anywhere compared to using Premiere. Everyone's using it now, and the Video Toaster and its ilk are limited in terms of its editing power and resolution.

Whatever you do, give the Amiga up to a good home!
posted by herrdoktor at 2:44 PM on February 7, 2006

bh, I had a 1000 and loved it.... but my old programs need a hard drive and at least 2.5 megs of RAM to be very useful. I don't have any of the equipment to expand a 1000 up to that level anymore, and haven't for a long time. So I'm afraid it would just be a doorstop here; I'd respect it and love it, but it would ultimately just collect dust, because I couldn' t really do anything with it.

I have all that stuff in my (broken) 2000, including an XT Bridgeboard with its own dedicated hard drive, which is why I was interested in the OP's machine.

There are probably real collectors who could use your 1000.... you might want to check out the Amiga-based boards. (yes, there are still some of the old diehards left!)

As an aside, if anyone is interested in running that ancient software, you can emulate the Amiga pretty darn well with the Amiga Forever software package from Cloanto. It's just a bundling of the WinUAE freeware program with (legal) ROMs and a bunch of other software, but it'll save you a lot of time... just install and go, not too much tinkering. I think it's about thirty bucks, but I haven't looked recently.

WinUAE does a great job emulating the Amiga... virtually everything will run, and look and sound essentially identical to the original. It's an amazing program.

davey_darling: I see an Amiga 2000+Toaster up on EBay right now for a hundred bucks with no bids, so I'm not sure if you will actually be able to sell your 2500. :(
posted by Malor at 3:10 PM on February 7, 2006

The inside cover of the A1000 is the main reason I still have it.
posted by bh at 3:14 PM on February 7, 2006

You can play Lemmings on it. That game rules.
posted by meehawl at 5:25 PM on February 7, 2006

You can play Lemmings on it. That game rules.

Now I've got that damn music stuck in my head again.
posted by 445supermag at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2006

I used Amigas in high school, in the late '90s, and they were still solid. Then in my broadcast com class, we used equipment that was maybe one step up from Amigas, and were told that a lot of local broadcasters still do use that level of equipment. So, as a teacher, you can give kids a shot at things that are still used, albeit in a limited manner. And who knows, you might spark their interest!
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 PM on February 7, 2006

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