First here's a video on what one of these can do. apologies for the bad quality, this video isn't my upload.
I've seen this device from time to time, but yesterday took the time to learn more about it. I was hoping that these would be classed as an old technology, and thought I could pick one up on ebay for $50.
Hell I was wrong. It seems these things are just rediculously hard to find, and I think the reality is if one does come up, I'd be paying thousands of dollars for it. But then this is the conclusion I've come to with the very (and I mean) very limited amount of information there seems to be about this wonderful tool on the internet.
Apparently the story is that they were first released in 1983 by Fairlight and manufactured by the company up to 1989; this despite the fact that they were selling well. The company went belly up during 1989 and then was restructured, thus these CVI's weren't made anymore.
I guess I'm wondering are these still available, but just under a different name? I was hoping to get one of these. and have it setup in my chain as camera > Fairlight CVI > Computer > Sony Vegas 8.
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I didn't even know they made the thing to begin with. Their music system was very well known however with many synthpop groups utilizing it (The Pet Shop Boys in particular). From the looks of the demo tape, most of that functionality can be had with the newer (and cheaper!) NewTek Video Toaster, which is sadly NTSC only. Some of the newer digital video mixers like the Panasonic WJ-MX series could do these effects as well.
Did this unit incorporate any sort of video switcher, or was it strictly an effects unit?
I deleted my post after realising you were referring to the Fairlight CVI. I though you were referring to the Fairlight CMI which is not the same thing.
Do you need this in realtime? Because if not, any PC could produce much better quality stuff with a decent NLE. That kind of thing was like using an Amiga as an in-line DVE device, and was often used with greenscreen for compositing. Pretty cheesy now. That looks like it did have frame-buffered A->D & D->A for use as a switcher as well (though it probably worked better/correctly if everything was genlocked).
Fairlight was the Ferrari of Digital Synth/Audio Workstations in their day (along with Synclavier), but that stuff PALES in comparison to what can be done with simple PC software now. Yes, I realize that was audio and you are talking about video. Fairlight shouldn't have tried to do a different market - they were in over their heads.
edit: oh I see, you were trying to get it into a PC. Since it wasn't for live/performance in realtime, you are doing yourself a disservice. Since you already have Vegas, it can probably do EVERYTHING that device could do (just not in realtime) and much more, and in much better quality. The quality of those devices was CGA at best.