I purposely waited until the "working day" week to answer this. You'll see why in by the end of my post...
Vidicraft gear was invented, patented and sold starting the early 1980s, and through into at least the late 1980s. Because the company was long gone by the time the Internet became mainstream (late 1990s), it's pretty much devoid of any information on this entity. The original address was at 3311 N.E. 35th Ave in Portland Oregon, which appears to be a residential area in Google Maps (street view).
Most of what I know about this company comes from memories of broadcasters, from people who worked at TV stations or cable companies, and were involved in any sort of hands-on analog video editing. So given that source, there are bound to be inaccuracies. However, the general information on costs and timelines is always consistent -- there's never widely divergent histories. (It was the early 2000s before I really became aware of the older Vidicraft gear, and that was largely due to the growth of eBay
in those first few years of the current century. Having started in the 1990s, I was more used to seeing other brands in small studio workflows, or integrated proc amp + TBC on racks.)
Vidicraft made several successive models of "detailers" (video sharpeners), proc amps (a.k.a. color processor/amplifier), switchers, and audio controls. I have an original pamphlet in the file cabinet, which came with my first still-in-box Vidicraft proc amp some 8 or so years ago.
Based on open patent documents online (using the same patent numbers now claimed by Sign Video), you can see that Vidicraft is really the Vidicraft Acquisition Corp
currently based in San Antonio, Texas. Maybe they are/were an investment group? Sounds like it. Maybe they financed the early days of what would become Sign Video?
In 1993, Vidicraft sold the TV/video products back to the workers or interests that were always behind the product. Same address in Portland. That new company was Studio 1 Productions
, and they still exist. I have a Studio 1 Production DR-1000 "image enhancer", which is essentially an s-video version of the Vidicraft Detailer II.
At some point in the early 2000s (likely 2002, based on the SignVideo.com domain whois), that company split up, with Studio 1 Productions moving solely into pre-post (a.k.a. "production") workflows, now selling shooting hardware/accessories and instructional videos. Studio 1 is now in Florida, on the coast outside Orlando.
Now, among those broadcasters I've spoken to in the past, there is some doubt as to whether the current Studio 1 is related to the Vidicraft-lineage Studio 1, but the dates match up (1993 founding), and then Studio 1's current site carries a disclaimer in a few places that they "no longer" carry certain products -- products once sold by Vidicraft and Studio 1, now sold by Sign Video.
The other half of the break-up became Sign Video Ltd
, which still carries products that are based on patents of the 1980s Vidicraft gear. These documents are easily found online. Sign Video is still in Portland, although now using a P.O. Box as the official address, as well as an address to a boring sign-less office building (again, as seen from Google Maps, via street view)
Further than that, the original 1982 patent names James A. Karlock
, and he's still in Portland -- and still at 3311 N.E. 35th Ave, as of December 2009! As recent as December 2010, he's been seen posting online concerning Portland government issues, and I have two email addresses for him. I waited until the "work week" to write this, because I'm also going to write him, requesting he either confirm or correct any information we have -- if he would be kind enough to do so.
As far as pricing goes
, it's always been several hundred dollars per device. SignVideo was as low as $300 pre-recession, with much of their gear now closer to $450. But I believe $200-400 was about right for the earlier days. (By comparision, Radio Shack's Archer gear was available for $99 back in 1984. Not very good, either -- not even close to Vidicraft quality. Aside from the lack of s-video connections, most Vidicraft gear has stood the test of time.)
In terms of build quality
, I never had an issue with Vidicraft products. Excluding the Detailer IV and end-of-life (for the brand) products, they were built from blue/black metal cases and strong plastic knobs. The Detailer II could be thrown at a wall, and the wall would be the only object in danger of damage. That's also true of Studio 1 and Sign Video gear. Built like mini tanks.
Now cross your fingers that Mr. Karlock is kind enough to post here.