ASK RICK MAY 1993
I've used a Sony M8E record-only 8mm camcorder
for several years and play the tapes back via a Sony EV-A300 recorder. I recently brought a new camcorder and
discovered that my old tapes played a lot sharper using it as the source
machine for re-recording.
This prompted me to consider buying one of the
Sony recorders to use as an editing source but found they didn't equal the
camera performance. It seems to me that
all machines will play each other's recorded material equally well, and various
cameras will likewise play each other's tapes to a high standard.
I just wonder why manufacturers don't supply an
edit replay machine that will match the camera's characteristics?
High Wycombe, Bucks
The differences you've noticed might be a
result of the on-going developments in camcorder design. Sony update their
camcorder ranges at least once, sometimes twice a year, so they're at the
leading edge of 8mm technology. On the other hand 8mm VCRs and decks tend to be
replaced at a more leisurely pace -- on average one new model every two and a
half years -- which means older decks might appear to lag behind camcorders
when it comes to the latest advanced in video replay. However, in practice we
haven't noticed any significant differences in replay quality on the most
recent Sony 8mm VCRs and their mid-range camcorders, if anything the decks are
I recently purchased a Sony 800 camcorder
together with an RME700 Edit Controller and JVC 5800 S-VHS video to start a
To my amazement the RME-700 couldn't control
the JVC for automatic assembly, despite the fact that it's possible when done
manually. Am I setting the controls
incorrectly, or should I sell the controller and buy something else?
It sounds as if you're doing something wrong.
The RME-700 has a learning IR remote control system and it should be able to
store the commands needed to control your JVC video recorder. Sony tell us that
they are not aware of any incompatibility problems with JVC equipment. Go back
to the instructions and re-read the section on page 18 which deals with the
We have two Sony V6000s linked together with a
Panasonic mixer and Sony RME-700 Editor.
When we try insert editing there is a glitch at the end of each edit.
Various controlled experiments have not solved this problem and at one point a
glitch appeared at the beginning.
The fault occurs even if the tape is Video 8
and not High 8. I've contacted the
local Sony Centre and they advised me to
contact the Sony Help line - to date I've had
no satisfactory answer. Are we doing
something wrong, or is this a common problem?
We spoke to Sony about this one and they
reckoned that insert edits on a set-up such as this -- i.e. V6000s as source
and record decks -- should be clean, if not they think there might be a fault
on the one used as the record deck, have you tried swapping them around? The V6000 is certainly capable of making
clean inserts using the counter-zero method; the V6000 has a flying erase head
which leads us to suppose that edit-out points on externally controlled inserts
should be glitch-free.
I own a Panasonic MS70B camcorder which uses 6V
Nicad batteries. The running time of
these is very short due to the motorised zoom control. I noticed that the 'switching off' voltage
was only 5.8 volts - not a lot of difference!
On contacting Panasonic I was told this was to
allow enough energy to unload a cassette on the semi-expiry of the 6V
Nicad. I understand this, but am not
pleased at the suggestion that I should buy more batteries! They weren't too keen
on my suggestion to upgrade the voltage to 7.2 volts as this could harm the
A few months later DSM came along with their
Ultimate Handex which had the same amount of power as I had mentioned to
Panasonic ( 7.2 Volts) and they assured me that this was perfectly safe. What are your thoughts on this?
It's unlikely that the zoom motor is the cause
of your reduced running times, zoom motors are surprisingly frugal and to have
any significant impact you would have to be using it all the time. The biggest
power drain is fast winding, and switching the deck on and off, rather than
using the power-saving standby function. There may also be a problem with the
battery, especially if you've been giving it repeated top-up charges, or
leaving it in a charged condition for long periods, in which case it may have
built up a 'memory' or suffer from cell imbalance. You might be able to return
it near full capacity by using a discharger, available from your local video
dealer for around œ20.00. However, the most likely cause of your frustration
are your own expectations. Running times quoted by manufacturers are often
outrageously optimistic and based on a continuous recording. In normal
intermittent operation you should halve those times, to be on the safe side.
7.2 volt batteries, like the one from DSM, are
perfectly safe as all camcorders have voltage regulator circuits, and they will
last a little while longer but the only way to get significantly longer running
times is to buy a higher capacity battery.
I have been endeavouring to transfer some cine
film to video using my Eumig projector together with an IQ Video Sound Mixer,
Hitachi Video Camera and Mitsubishi VCR.
I've managed to eliminate the horizontal white
line and have achieved an acceptable colour balance and sound input. However, I cannot get rid of the annoying
flicker that appears on the screen.
Is it necessary to use a camera with manual
override in order to synchronise the speeds of the two films and obtain a
It would have been helpful to know which
Hitachi camcorder you're using. If it's a relatively recent model then the
cause might be the machine's auto-exposure system which is selected by default
from switch on. Most models have a fairly simple AE system which varies the
shutter speed according to scene illumination, if so it's probably selecting a
high shutter speed, which is causing a strobing or flickering effect you
describe. The solution is to switch the AE off, in which case the shutter will
revert to the standard 1/50th of a second.
I have recently acquired the excellent Canon
EX1 Hi camera with a
x15 zoom lens (plus the x2 extender). I wish to
record small moving creatures such as water fleas and some other aquatic life,
using a vertically mounted camera attached to a microscope eyepiece.
I want to record some night life with my
infra-red nightsight (with a similar sized microscope adjusting eyepiece) and
wonder what the best way is to mate this unit to the camcorder. Didn't Canon make a lens mount converter
Unfortunately Canon do not market a microscope
adaptor but we know of a specialist company who are prepared to make them to
order, though be warned, it could be expensive. Have a chat with: Optical &
Textile 22 Victoria Road, New Barnet, Herts EN4 9PF. Telephone 081-441 2199
TAKING A DIM VIEW
My five year old Sony CCD V30E Video 8
camcorder has developed an annoying fault.
When I start to film, the picture in the viewfinder gets distorted and
jumps about, making filming impossible.
Sometimes if you switch it off and on again the
fault clears, but these days it doesn't work as well. This sometimes goes on for days and then gets better.
The machine was eventually sent to Sony and
their report said that they could not find a fault, even though I sent them a
tape showing the problem.
Is it possible that you can come up with an
answer to this annoying fault, or should I give my machine a decent burial?
It sounds as if the problem is in or around the
camera section, rather than the viewfinder. The fact that it is intermittent
and sometimes disappears altogether suggests that it is an electrical, rather
than a thermal or mechanical fault. Unfortunately they're often the most
difficult to track down and as you've discovered, the most perverse, stubbornly
refusing to appear as soon as they're on the repair bench. Unfortunately it's
not going to go away, which means a toss-up between a repair bill with labour
charges that could equal or exceed the value of your machine, or buying a new
one. We'd opt for the latter.
FROM LITTLE ACORNS...
I've compiled a program of display titles on my
Acorn A3000 computer incorporating various fades - it also enables me to
determine background colour and any combination of text colours.
It was my intention to photograph the screens
from my monitor using my Sony 8mm camera, but having tried all colour and
contrast combinations I'm unable to obtain satisfactory results.
I have read every article I can (including
those in Video Camera) to try to find out about the interface between computers
and camcorders and I find that what I really need is a Genlock which will allow
me to overlay my titles onto the camcorder output when editing to a VHS
As I cannot justify such an expense, is there
another way of converting the RGB output of my computer to composite video or
UHF so that I can insert my titles and fades onto a VHS tape in between
sections of camcorder output; can someone supply something along those lines or
am I barking up the wrong tree?
You may be in luck, we've not had an
opportunity to try them yet but we suspect that Vivanco's new range of video
processors and mixers may have just such a facility, they're certainly
configured for RGB inputs and outputs. We hope to be testing the VCR-3024 audio
mixer/video processor, VCR-5022 editor, VCR-3046 AV processor in the very near
future, so stay tuned.
CUT AND SHUT
I have a camcorder like many others with
shutter speeds in excess of 1/50th of a second.
Can you please explain how this is possible
when a television picture is made up of two interleaving scans of 1/50th to give
a new picture of 25 times a second? How
is this possible with speeds of up to 1/10,000 seconds?
You're confusing exposure time, which is
controlled by the electronic shutter within the camera section of your camcorder,
with the configuration of the video output signal, which is not affected by the
shutter speed. The high-speed shutter circuitry
is on and around the CCD image sensor; when you
(or the machine's AE system) selects a higher shutter speed, the chip's photosensitive
elements are 'addressed' at a faster rate, decreasing the time it takes for a
single image or 'frame' to be captured. The resultant information is then
stored temporarily in a buffer memory and 'read' out at the normal frame rate,
it then goes on to be recorded on the tape in the usual way.
I recently purchased a JVC GR-S505 camera for
better picture quality. I taped some footage on a high band tape and played it
back through the television via an RF adaptor: the result was very good.
I went out and bought a television with an
S-Video socket, changed the switch on the camera to Y/C (the camera had
recorded in S-VHS mode) attached the S-lead from my camera to the TV - there
was no picture improvement at all.
I have been back to the shop and have been told
by their experts that there is a minuscule difference which neither I or my
family can see. Was there any point in
upgrading my television: is it the camera at fault or could it just be me?
It's a question of degrees. The differences
between VHS or Hi 8 recordings played back through the aerial socket on a
normal TV and Super VHS/C or Hi8 material shown on a TV, using an S-Video
connection are clear to see, even to the uninitiated. The picture is sharper,
there's more detail and less patterning or noise; under ideal conditions a
high-band recording can look almost as clear as an off-air TV picture. The
S-VHS recording you first saw, when using the RF connection will have been
quite good to start with, even though the signal was degraded slightly though
the adaptor, it will still have been better than a standard VHS recording, say.
Even so even so there should have been a marked difference when you changed to
your new TV. It could be the new set, or the camcorder, if possible try it with
another TV, if there's still no discernible difference have the camcorder
As a newcomer to the world of video, I've been
trying out the various features on my Canon 230 together with the other
equipment I have.
The one thing I cannot achieve is good video
reproduction of my computer screen. I
have various graphic programmes for my PC, but the playback version of the
things I've recorded from the computer is out of focus and the colour degenerated.
Is there a particular technique or filter I
don't know about? I've tried different shutter speeds but this only makes
Focusing shouldn't be a problem, if your
camcorder's AF system cannot get a lock on the screen switch to manual.
However, that won't help solve the fundamental incompatibility problems between
PCs and camcorders. On some set-ups a shutter
speed of 1/60th second has been known to help but clearly not in your case.
There's not a lot you can do about it, apart from buying a new computer or
investing in a VGA to video converter, so you can
view the output from your computer on a normal
TV, or record it on
a VCR. Check out the prices in one of the PC
Having just purchased my first camcorder -
Canon EX1 Hi - I'm now thinking about having a go at editing.
I've spoken to various dealers about which
Editing machine would best suit my needs and have received conflicting advise
in each case. It seems to be a choice
between the RME-700 and the GSE MPE-100S
- my budget is around œ1,000.
They're both very good. The RME-700 would be
our first choice if
we were using a Sony VCR (with a Control L
socket) as the record deck. The extra œ300 for the GSE MPE-100S buys a load of
fancy post production facilities, including audio mixing, effects and a smart
titler, the RME-700 has an on-board title generator but it's fairly basic.
We own a Canon E60 camcorder and have, up to
now, been very pleased with the results we've had from it. That was until we came home from our holiday
in Canada and the US.
Our main purpose there was to record the lovely
red and gold leaves that appear in the Autumn there, but when we got home and
played back the results the colours were green and brown!
The close-up shots we took are fine - reds and
golds everywhere; it's the distant shots that are wrong.
Can you please give an explanation as to why
this has happened?
Mrs. P Harrison
At a guess I'd say you didn't reset the WB
control to the prevailing conditions.
Can you help me with my troublesome Sony
CCD-V5000 camcorder? The problem
concerns repairs for wear and tear on a machine that, to my knowledge, has only
done 25 hours running. It's been
playing up ever since I bought it with severe colour bleed and false viewfinder
indications. To cap it all, in June last year, it suffered picture break-up
rendering it useless as a playback machine!
I sent it away for repair and was charged œ150
- when I complained the bill was reduced to œ120! It seems to me that either Sony ME tapes are highly abrasive, or
the tape path on the 5000 is badly designed: of course, the machine may have
so new when I bought it.
The camcorder is now making grinding noises
when running in fast forward - help!
Newcastle on Tyne
Sorry, no instant cures. There's no way a
machine with only 25 hours on the clock should behave in that way, either
you've been misled and it's had a hard life, or it's a rogue, either way it's
back to the repair bench.
As an absolute beginner with a brand new Sony
TR705 I came home with my newly-shot film confident that with a little editing
I could remove the inevitable mistakes and extra footage I didn't require.
I'd previously been told that to save wear and
tear on the camera I should transfer from Hi-8 to VHS and edit from there.
The first copy on to my JVC VCR was very
pleasing and quite good; the edited version was not. Was I wrongly advised or have I stumbled on a hidden problem?
Having then been reduced to editing between the
original direct from the camcorder to the VHS machine I soon realised how much
easier it would be if I could synchronise the two machines.
The only trouble with that seems to be that the
LANC socket on the camcorder seems incompatible with the system fitted to both
my JVC and Panasonic VCRs.
Is there a solution to this?
The reason your final production looks so rough
is that it's a copy of a copy, i.e. a third-generation recording. You really
shouldn't go beyond a second generation, which means using your
camcorder as the source deck. Unless you're
going into editing in a big way the extra workload on your camcorder shouldn't
be a problem. The LANC or Control L socket on your machine is not compatible
with anything you'll find on a JVC or Panasonic VCR but they can be made to
communicate with each other via an editing controller. There's plenty to choose
from, a good place to start looking it at Sony's own, or maybe one of the
growing number of universal controllers that operate the record deck via an IR
My camera is a Sony CCD F355E and my VCR a
Panasonic NV-J47B. Both can be switched
to Edit mode - when editing, should I switch both to Edit mode or only
one? If so, which will give the better
Wimbourne Minster, Dorset
The edit switches on both your camcorder and
VCR only affect the video output. They're intended to sharpen up the
synchronisation pulses of the output signal, as you may know, copying a video
recording from one machine to another degrades the signal. Make sure the edit
switch on your camcorder is in the on position, the one on the VCR won't have
any effect when using it to record from your camcorder.
Having recorded birds in flight at a shutter
speed of 1/1000th second on my JVC GR-S707 to playback in slow motion, is it
possible (using two JVC S-VHS recorders - using the VHS-C original in a
cassette adaptor) to make a successful recording in SP to be able to watch the
finished film without having to drop into manual slomo at specific scenes?
Would the Duet Edit work in this set-up, or
does the tape time signal make the idea impossible?
Tadcaster, N. Yorks
If you are asking if it's possible to make a
recording of the slow-motion replay of the tape in the source VCR the answer is
maybe. We've tried it several times in the past, with mixed results.
It depends on the combination of VCRs but
generally the results are disappointing. The duet editing facility has nothing
to do with this, it's designed to simplify control operation of two compatible
THE NUMBERS GAME
I have a Sony F340 and my tapes are edited via
a Hama Videoscript 50 and a Vivanco 3044 on to a Panasonic J35; playback is
from a Sony EVC3.
Obviously the F340 ensures an excellent
standard Video 8 initial image, but presumably I'm losing resolution at both
the EVC3 and J35 stages to the extent that the J35 imposes a maximum of 250
lines - the quoted resolution for these machines is about 260 lines for the
EVC3 and 250 for the J35.
My F340 camera resolves 270 lines, but when
editing I'm using VCR decks with a resolution down to 250 lines plus a video
processor and title generator with unknown effects. Do the processors impose a further penalty reducing resolution
below the 250 mark and, secondly, is there any benefit in the camera having a
higher resolution capability than that of the final VCR which is usually the
weakest link in the chain?
New Barnet, Herts
Wow, you're obsessed by numbers! No amount of
juggling is going to alter the fact that you're ending up with a third
generation copy of your original, and it's going to look ragged around the
edges! The processors are the least of your problems, the simplest way to
improve picture quality is skip a generation and edit directly to either VHS or
HITCH IN TIME
I own a Hitachi VM-S83 which allows me to
manually control the exposure. However,
because of movement such as zooming etc.,
within the same shot my camera tells me I am
under/over exposing. How much latitude
(in terms of aperture) have I got and does it
depend on the tape used?
Secondly, since reading that batteries should
be stored in a discharged state and unable to buy a discharger for my 9.6V
battery, I've been using the car inspection lamp. I have since heard that there should be a residual charge of 5V
for a 6V battery. Am I doing more harm
than good to my batteries?
Leyton, London E15
How long is a piece of string? The best way to
get to bet to know the exposure system on your camcorder is to use it, and no,
tape grade has no effect on exposure latitude, this is video...
Discharging your batteries on a car inspection
lamp is asking for trouble. Drain them too far and they will go into a state
known as reverse polarity and that's invariably fatal for nicads. There's
plenty of dischargers available for your type of battery, see the battery care
feature in the March issue of Video Camera.
I was surprised to find that on my Panasonic
M10 you cannot switch the microphone off.
The only way I know of doing so is to plug in an external mic with an
on/off switch which can cut the sound off completely when in the off position.
A built in switch on the built in microphone
would be a great help: is there a technical reason why this should not be so?
Why you should want to do such a thing escapes
me but the simplest way to mute the on-board mike on your machine is to insert
an unwired jack plug into the external mic socket.
I have inherited an extensive 8mm cine film
library and I wish to make a tape of edited highlights without cutting the
original film. I would, therefore, like
your advice on a few matters before starting.
What is the best way to edit a large variety of
scenes once these have been transferred onto video? Will it be possible to compensate to any degree for the varying levels
of brightness on the original film and, finally, what precautions are necessary
in making copies from the final edited video?
Rather than copy the film to video to edit it,
why not edit directly to video? The best way to do this is to use a transfer
screen or box, there's plenty to choose from, your local dealer should be able
to advise you which one will suit your particular set-up. Alternatively have a
word with our backnumbers department to see if they can get hold of the April
92 issue for you, it featured a comprehensive guide to cine transfer units.
I have kept a 49mm UV filter and Polarising
filter from my 35mm days. The handbook for my Mitsubishi HS-CX1 recommends I
use an ND filter for sunny situations, though it does have a position SKI to
cover these circumstances.
Will the polariser do the same job as an ND or
will the SKI setting be okay? Also,
when in use on a 35mm camera it was easy to find the right position in the
polariser's circular motion in the viewfinder.
However, in the CX1's black and white
viewfinder I find it impossible to tell when the polariser is doing its
job. Can you please advise with any
Leighton Buzzard, Beds
Polarising and ND filters have different
effects, and they're not the same as the SKI position on Mitsubishi CX
camcorders. This is designed to help when shooting high-contrast subjects
against a bright background (i.e. snow), by adjusting the machine's exposure
and white balance settings. On balance ND filters are better for shooting on
sunny days, and they're extra protection for the lens. Your polarising filter
NO SO SUPER VHS?
I read in your December '92 issue that S-VHS
recordings of off-air TV programmes don't look significantly better than
standard VHS. Can you explain why this is so?
The simple answer is noise. There's
comparatively little difference in the resolution, or the amount of detail in
an off-air TV picture, and a recording of an off-air picture made on Super VHS
VCR, but the signal-to-noise ratio of pictures recorded on VHS and Super VHS
VCRs are much higher. The eye and brain are far more sensitive to differences
in noise levels than resolution, so subjectively off-tape pictures, look
(C) R.Maybury 1993 2402