ASK RICK -- NOVEMBER
OUT OF AFRICA
Is there any difference
between a VHS cassette that is labelled
High Quality HQ and one that is marked High Grade? Which is the best of the
two and how do I distinguish a good cassette from a poor quality one without having to compare prices?
Please bear in mind that we
do not have the PRO grade cassettes that you have over there.
D. S. Magagula
Apart from sticking to the
well-known brands there is no simple way of determining blank tape quality.
Video tape is a bit like washing powder, with all sorts of trick additives and
formulations and unfortunately there is no agreed grading structure so we have
the situation where some 'standard grade' tapes are better than anothers
'high-grade' product. The best advice
we can give is to take a look at the tape surveys we conducted in the August,
September and October issues, which should give you a better idea of what's
available from the major brands, most of whom, we understand, distribute their
products in your neck of the woods.
for my Hitachi VM-C1E camcorder
explains that amorphous heads
provide a clearer picture
and also that the flying erase
head eliminates glitches and
rainbow noise that occurs at the joints between
recordings. Except for some accidental switching from SP to LP mode, all
in-camcorder scene-to-scene joins have
been flawless as promised.
I expected glitch free
joins during editing too, although there would
occasionally be a rainbow shimmer,
hose-piping its way from
top to bottom of the recording, taking several seconds to clear. I've always ensured that a video about
to be copied is up and running before releasing pause on the NV-L25B.
This effect doesn't happen at every edit point, but occurs
when least expected.
I don't know if it matters that I haven't two Panasonic NV-L25B VCRs and can't at the moment make my
NV-L25B the copying machine so as to
utilise its 'edit' facility. Is there
an editing ploy I'm as yet unaware of, or is the heavy rainbowing on the
incoming video signal inevitable
with any manually
Can you suggest a possible
cure for this manifestation, or is it a
A. G. Scupham
The most likely cause of
the rainbow effect is vestiges of a previous recording on the tape you're
recording to, that is not being completely erased by your VCR, it has nothing
to do with your camcorder. When you edit or copy your recordings use a fresh
blank tape and your rainbows should disappear forever.
purchased a Ricoh 315 8mm video camera last year I was told it was a
clone of the Sony 305. I was quite happy with this statement; however since then I have seen many
references to other clones of the Sony 305 - Nikon, Yashica etc.,
but never a mention of the Ricoh 315. I also have a Sony 815 VCR which is
superb but I'm having difficulty with the insert edit. Only once have I managed to make an insert
edit without losing the original sound track.
However, since the first time,
I've been unable to repeat this.
Is this just a fluke? Lastly,
can I Audio Dub with this machine without losing the original sound
Stoke on Trent, Staffs
Richo-badged Sony machines,
like the others you mention, are mainly distributed through photographic
dealers; we do sometimes give clones a brief mention in our Buyers Guide but
only when we know about them, and we have to say some of those camera
manufacturers are not very good at telling us about their products. As far as
the reviews are concerned, we normally look at the original machine, which
usually goes on sale some time before the badge-engineered or cloned versions.
The insert edit facility on the 815 should only replace the video and stereo
hi-fi soundtracks, leaving the linear audio track intact, if it doesn't there's
something wrong with it. Are you sure you're not listening to the hi-fi tracks
when you replay your recording, which are selected by default? To hear the
linear audio track you have to manually select it, using the audio monitor
button on the remote handset. Audio dub works the other way around, allowing
you to record a new the mono linear
audio track, without affecting the video and hi-fi tracks, which contain the
I have a Sanyo VM-D66P
camcorder and Saisho VR1200 VCR. To this I've added a Sony RM-E33F editor and a
Hama VM-518 audio mixer. These are all connected up using the AV
input terminals on the VCR. After a short period of editing
(and the edited version is being recorded) the sound and colour will disappear. The image on the monitor looks like two 3D images out of sync: it's almost
like fast forward only at normal play speed! On playback the flickering image reappears but
not only in the place where it appeared
during editing! When the same
tape is played on other VCRs there is
nothing wrong with the recording. I
have had the VCR checked by engineers who assure me there is no apparent reason for these occurrences. Have you heard of this type of problem
before and have you any possible explanations? I don't know what to change - should I take up knitting instead?
Assuming that the VCR's
recording facilities check out, and the fact that edited tapes are allright
seems to confirm this, then the fault must lie somewhere between the VCR's
video output circuitry and the TV/monitor itself. You can easily check this for
yourself by substituting another TV. If it happens again suspect the VCR, if
not the TV is at fault. If that doesn't solve the problem knitting is indeed a
rewarding and therapeutic alternative to video movie-making.
The equipment I am using is
as follows: Panasonic NV-370 VHS video recorder (as the recording
machine); Ferguson FV51R
Video recorder as the playback
machine and a JVC GRAX2 camcorder. I have experienced two problems which I
hope you can help me with.
When dubbing from the
camcorder tape to a VHS tape there is
some loss of definition of
features and noise on the soundtrack which is not on the original camcorder
tape. Can you help me get rid of the
noise which sounds as if I've recorded
the mechanical sound of the video recorder or the camcorder cassette
adaptor (JVC CP6U)?
There will always be some
loss of definition when you copy or edit a recording from one machine to
another, the amount of degradation varies according to the performance and
condition of the two machines, and the quality of tape you are using. Under
ideal conditions the drop in quality on a second generation recording is hardly
noticeable. Your machines are all getting on a bit now but it may just be that
they need a couple of run-throughs with a good cleaner tape to bring them back
The noise on the soundtrack
is a mystery, it won't be the actual 'sound', of the adaptor but it could have
something to do with it, if the mechanicals are worn or there's excessive
friction, for example, which could affect the smooth running of the tape. The
first step is to make a tape to tape copy, without the adaptor; if the sound
persists then check the playback on the FV51 through a TV, if you can't hear
the noise then it's almost certainly being generated by the Panasonic machine's
recording circuitry and it needs expert help.
As a real greenhorn to
video perhaps you can help me. I rent a Finlandia TV, model C/D51LS2/B and the instruction book states that if you want
to connect an S-VHS video recorder via the SCART socket, you need to insert special code 21 to
get the best results. Does this mean
I can connect a V600 Hi8 via a 4 pin
mini DIN to a Scart lead and will I get a better picture?
Ashford Carbonell, Nr.
This set, which is
manufactured by Sanyo, has what is known as a configurable SCART AV socket.
Entering the digits 21, after pressing the 'status' button in the set-up
menu, changes the socket over from
composite to Y/C or S-Video input. This does indeed mean that you will get the
best from your Hi8 camcorder.
I have a Panasonic S-VHS MS1 but have difficulty when insert editing in making a clean join. I have practised pressing the counter memory
button at various points but it does not appear to be consistent in stopping at the point selected, resulting in unacceptable joins. I would
also like to progress to editing my tapes but am at a loss with all this
modern jargon: can you recommend a really good book that will explain it all in
It may be that you're
expecting too much from this facility. Insert edit on your machine uses the
real-time tape counter to designate the edit in and out points. The counter
isn't especially reliable to start with as the readout doesn't relate to what's
actually on the tape, so any slippage when you stop, start or fast wind the
tape, can cause timing errors, and the fact that the counter is calibrated in
seconds means that accuracy can never be better than plus or minus one second.
Sorry about the 'modern jargon' but you're going to have to learn to live with
it, if you want to progress in your video movie-making, you'll soon pick it up.
We're a little reluctant to recommend books as they tend to go out of date very
quickly, a good argument for sticking with us for the latest, up to the minute
information, but if pressed you could try the Camcorder Handbook, written by
Steve Parker, or wait a couple of months for XXX XXXXXX XXXXX , written by our
own illustrious editor Chris George, which is published in XXXXXX.
As a complete novice with a Sanyo VM-D9P 8mm
camcorder, Baird VC121E VCR
and a Ferguson Videostar FV 32L VCR (none of which appear to have
Audio Dub) I would be grateful of you could advise which editing machine would most suit my needs
which include the occasional wedding,
adding music and re-arranging scenes if possible.
One other thing , which I failed to notice prior to purchasing, is that the Sanyo doesn't
have an external microphone socket.
This seems to be a big disadvantage: is there any way to overcome this
or should I be thinking about an alternative model?
If all you want is an audio
dub facility there's plenty of good VCRs to choose from but if you want to do
some serious editing you might want to think about replacing your camcorder for
one with an edit terminal, so it can be used with an edit controller. There's
two types to look out for, the 5-Pin or RMC socket fitted to a number of
Panasonic machines, (and clones marketed by Philips and Blaupunkt); the
alternative is the Control L or LANC socket used on all Sony machines, a couple
of Canon's top end models and one current Sanyo camcorder. The second option is
to get a machine with an on-board assemble edit controller; there's two on the market at the moment, the
JVC AX55 (it's an optional extra on the AX35), and the Sanyo EX30 (which also
has a Control L socket), both machines can only handle a limited number of
scenes but they're convenient and very easy to use. Make sure that whatever machine you buy also has an external
microphone socket, as there's nothing much you can about the absence of one on
your present camcorder.
For the past few years I've
been using an Atari ST computer with
reasonable success to title my videos.
This is somewhat limited, so the time has come to upgrade.
Your magazine seems always
to refer to the Amiga as the ultimate
answer. I'd also like to incorporate
editing from the computer but have
never seen any reviews of Amiga editing software.
The cost of the A1200 plus
hard drive and monitor seems to equate
to the cost of a PC; the latter
would seem at this stage to be the better buy
- your advice would be
appreciated. My current equipment is a Panasonic MS1, JVC GRS70,
Panasonic FS90, Atari STFM,
Panasonic NV L25 and a Philips monitor.
To date the Atari ST hasn't
been an especially camcorder friendly computer but recently a couple of
low-cost genlocks have come onto the market, suitable for use with the ST
series. These allow you to mix text and graphics generated on your computer,
with the video signal from your camcorder. They're the Vine Multigen and Hama
Trilock, both of which cost around £360, that's cheaper than a new PC or Amiga,
and you won't have to junk your Atari. If you're determined to get a new
computer then it might pay you wait a little longer, the prices of IBM PCs and
compatibles are still falling, and there's a growing number of new editing and
titling software packages coming onto the market, as well as current
favourites, like Video Director and PC Titler.
THE RIGHT DIRECTION?HT
writing letters I much prefer to
wait to see if someone else has the same problems as I have, or wants to ask
the questions that I do. However I feel I cannot wait any longer and would like
to ask your advice on editing. I read
your articles each month and find them interesting. But the more I read, the more confused I get. I can't decide which editing set up would
suit me best, either an editing machine with add-ons, or to purchase hard and software for my computer or purchase the
Could you please advise me on same if possible
with prices. I could stretch my pocket to spend around £500. My palmcorder is a Canon UC1 Hi8 and the
computer an Amstrad PC3286.
The Video Director editing
software package from Gold Disk would make the most efficient use of your
present set-up, and as it costs around £180 you would have plenty of money left
over from your £500 budget to purchase some post production equipment, like an
audio mixer and video processor.
I required a spare 8mm tape
and following your report purchased a TDK P5 8mm 90 minute EHG at £7.25.
Instead of being housed in a hard
plastic case it was in a soft plastic sleeve. Is this the best protection?
I rang TDK and was informed that all their tapes are now packed in this way and my complaint would be
What are your comments
Old Portsmouth, Hants
We quite like the new style
slip cases, which do a good job of keeping dirt and other harmful contaminants
away from the tape, and they're a lot smaller and easier to carry. In any case
8mm cassettes are surprisingly tough, and the tape is very well protected.
Plastic cases give a little extra mechanical protection but not much; if you
are concerned about damaging your tapes then how about Sony's 'Sports' or
'Traveller' tapes which come with their own hard carry cases.
I've just purchased the JVC GR-M7 and the manual
refers to VHS Index Search System
(VISS), how convenient it is for dubbing or editing on VCRs with an Index
Can you please explain in
The index markers recorded
by your camcorder are helpful for locating the start of a new recording, or
finding a specific part of a recording if you make a manual index mark when
recording but they're not much use for editing as they're not accurate enough,
and cannot be spaced closely together. The actual marker is a series of
modified control track pulses, recorded along the edge of the tape, which can
be read when the tape is being fast wound
I would like to know if I can use a Y aerial socket to
connect two camcorders to my VCR without any damage to either. My VCR is a Panasonic G45 and the camcorders
are a Canon E250 and Panasonic MS2.
You could try, and it won't
cause any damage, but I suspect there's
going to be an awful lot of interference, caused by the two RF converters
interacting with each other, and if you plan to record the signal, (assuming
you can sort out the tuning) then the picture quality will be poor. You would
be better off connecting the AV outputs
from your camcorders to a switch box, or AV processor with two or more
switchable inputs, and connecting the output to the AV input of your VCR.
© R.Maybury 1993 0109