VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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ASK RICK COPY APRIL

 

SOUND ONLY

On four occasions whilst making a video recording, and at different locations, my JVC GRS707 suddenly recorded sound only. Viewing the recording later I got the impression that the tape hadnít been used even though the sound track was clearly recorded.

 

At first I assumed that Iíd done something wrong during recording, but I was assured this wasnít the case.  On the third occasion this happened I took the camera to the repair centre where they kept it for a few weeks.  On its return I was told there was no fault found.

 

Two days later it went wrong again and it went back to the repairers, together with the recorded tape.  Again no fault was found, although it was suggested that the head was picking up tape debris.  As I only ever use new JVC S-VHS tapes of the best quality I donít see how this could happen.

 

I would be most grateful for advice on a possible cause of this malfunction.

 

C. Tello

Heathfield, E. Sussex

 

 A1

Itís difficult to say what has happened but intermittent faults like this one are a real pain to track down, though Iím rather surprised that the engineers couldnít find it after a Ďfew weeksí, and their suggestion that it was somehow caused by debris on the head smacks of a fob-off. The only circumstances when this machine can make an audio-only recording is when it is in the audio-dub mode. Itís unlikely you would be doing that by mistake, so we have to assume that the fault is either a failure somewhere in the video recording section, or some kind of switching problem, concerned with that facility. In either case thereís not much you can do about it, it will need professional help again, but maybe you can make it a little easier for the engineers. Make a note of the following. Are the blank sections completely unrecorded, in which case there will be a screen-full of random noise, or is there a video signal present -- the screen will be plain black or grey. Turn up the brightness on the TV to see if thereís any trace of a picture.

 

Check to see if the stereo soundtracks are there during blank recordings, if they are then the at least some parts of the head scanner circuitry and mechanical assembly is probably okay. See if you can instigate the fault by gently tapping the machine, especially around the control panel on the right side of the machine, close to where the audio-dub button is situated,  and if you do manage to make it happen again, note the circumstances, and whether or not thereís any disturbance to the image in the viewfinder. By the way, as the fault was still present when the machine was returned to you, you should take it back and insist they fix it free of charge as the original repair was clearly unsatisfactory.

 

SHARPER PICTURES?

Basically Iím your average home movie maker just wanting to record memories and tidy up my films, before saving it to VCR using titles, etc.

 

I bought a JVC GR-AX55 and have added an optional remote control handset and I am very pleased with the overall results.  However, I feel that some form of enhancement is required when transferring the original recording to my VCR which is a Sharp VC-A5011HM, as there is some loss of quality.

 

Can you advise if all enhancers can be used when copying VCR to VCR and recommend a reasonably priced one?

 

Ian John

Pontyclun, Mid Glamorgan

 

A2.

Letís get this straight, making copies of video recordings, using domestic equipment, results in a noticeable reduction in picture quality, mainly caused by additional noise generated by both video decks, the tape and copying leads to name just a few. Nothing can alter that fact, at least not until we get digital VCRs and camcorders. Video enhancers cannot replace the information lost to noise during the copying process, what they do is increase the amplitude of the video signal, in the hope that it will reduce the impact of the added noise in the picture. This process sometimes makes the image look very slightly sharper, but more often than not the effect gives the picture a harsh, ragged appearance. The best thing you can do is minimise the degradation in the first place, before you resort to enhancers, and that means using the very best quality video tape for both the original master recording, and any subsequent copies. Both machines should be maintained in tip-top condition, you might find decent quality head cleaners will improve picture quality as well. The Sharp A50 is a good machine for time-shifting and watching pre-recorded tapes but itís fair to say itís not the best machine for copying, if youíve got the money why not think about upgrading to an edit deck?

 

WORLD TRAVELLER

At the end of this year I shall be spending three months travelling around the world.  I had decided to purchase the Panasonic S85, then the S90 came out and I decided to go for that instead.  I had also thought of buying an edit controller compatible with the Panasonic NV-FS200 video recorder. 

 

However I am starting to have doubts as to whether Iím going in the right direction.  Even though I never normally use the LP facility when recording I thought it would be more convenient when abroad to cut down on the number of tapes I would need to purchase.  I see that the S90 doesnít have an LP recording mode and Iíd be interested to hear your comments on LP picture/sound quality on the S85.

 

Also the S70 is getting glowing reports - should I be going for that and purchase a production mixer instead of having the facilities on camera?

 

If I am going to spend £1200 on a camcorder I want to be sure that itís the best one for my purposes.  Would I have problems charging up batteries abroad with a standard adaptor?

 

Kathy Weston

Eastleigh, Hants

 

A3.

Although the LP performance on the S85 is reasonable the deficiencies will become very obvious when you makes copies or edit from master recordings. There will be increased noise, reduced resolution and possibly unstable colours.  Forget LP recording, except in emergencies. Yes, youíre going to have to buy a few more tapes but they neednít take up too much space, you can always mail them home every so often.  Blanks are available pretty well everywhere, you can even use tapes designated for NTSC machines, and as a bonus you will get slightly longer running times than stated on the box. The chargers supplied with most camcorders (and all Panasonic machines) will work virtually anywhere in the world without adjustment, provided thereís a mains supply, from 110 to 240 volts AC 50/60 Hz.

 

If you can get a good deal on the S70 take it, but remember this is quite an old machine now, and more recent models are slightly smaller, plus they have improved picture quality, and facilities.

 

SONY SOUND

I purchased a new but greatly reduced Sony TR707 camera and I am very pleased with it.  My problem is the built-in microphone which picks up background sound which distorts what Iím filming.

 

It has been suggested that I purchase a bracket and separate microphone which fits in the tripod hole and the mic-in jack plug.  Both together will cost £80 which I canít afford.  Is there a cheaper way of doing this?

 

D. Derrick

Portsmouth, Hants

 

A4

You donít have to spend anything like £80. You can get accessory brackets that clip between the battery and the camcorder for less than £10, and stereo microphones start at around £25. If you want some recommendations take a look at the stereo mike survey we carried out last year, in the June 1994 issue. If you havenít got it then you can order a reprint, or a copy from our backnumbers department.

 

EDIT ENIGMA

I am puzzled as to why itís impossible to perform insert edits on 8mm recordings with PCM sound.  I understand why with VHS itís possible to perform insert edits and audio dubs as the linear soundtrack and video signals are recorded separately and so can be edited independently.

 

However, according to various articles Iíve read, it is possible to audio dub PCM sound on 8mm recordings as the PCM sound and video are also recorded separately, so why isnít it possible to perform insert edits whilst leaving the PCM sound untouched?  Can you please explain?

 

G. Farmer

Upminster, Essex

 

A5

It is technically possible for the reasons that you mention but Sony, who make the only domestic camcorders and VCRs with PCM stereo sound, choose not to offer this facility; they say itís to do with the way the 8mm format is configured, and rub salt into the wound by reminding us that they make pro machines with dubbable FM stereo soundtracks. However, we have heard of a modification which will switch off the PCM audio heads during insert edit recording, we understand this is available to fit certain 8mm decks (EV-S550 and EV-S1000) but we havenít tried it and as itís not made or approved by Sony, it will inevitably invalidate the manufacturers guarantee.

 

FALLING STANDARDS

For many years Iíve had a JVC video recorder HR-D725EK.  The results editing to it from my Panasonic NV-S7B without the benefit of S-VHS seem as good as direct from the camera to TV with S-VHS input.

 

However, itís beginning to fail in one or two areas now.  For example sometimes the sound fades away and the remote has just about had it.  On top of this, itís a nuisance having all the sockets at the back.

 

So what do I do with it?  Would the new Panasonic NV-HS1000 give me as good results and has it all the abilities of the old machine? 

 

E. Landsler

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

A6

Retire it to the bedroom, or give it to the kids, itís probably still got a few years left on the clock. If you can afford it the HS1000 would make a splendid companion for your S7, they could have been made for one another. The HS1000 is a highly specified Super-VHS machine, so youíll be able to make excellent copies, with minimal reduction in picture quality. Most importantly, it has a built-in 10-scene edit controller, and if used with the optional VITC decoder, is capable of near-professional results. It also has a full set of AV connection on the front, so no more messing around with wonky sockets. All you need now is £1200...

 

 

DIRECT ACTION

Being new to the world of video editing I purchased a second-hand Videonics Direct Ed Plus which I assumed would be the answer to my problems.

 

I have a Sony CCD F385E and Mitsubishi HS-M59.  I have encountered various problems with the positioning of dubs on library tapes.  Also having selected cuts to make a movie the unit seems unable to find a cut sometimes.  In a few cases it has even given up trying and sulked.

 

In the Direct Ed literature there are warnings to switch off any memory which could, it says, mean switching off the tape counter. Is this possible with the M59 and could I have an incompatibility problem?

 

H. Moth

Eastleigh, Hants

 

A7

When it first appeared, around five or six years ago, Direct Ed was at the cutting edge of editing technology (no pun intended), and it offered many features previously unavailable outside of professional editing suites. The problem is that it was designed for the VCRs of the day, and for obvious reasons the manufacturers could take no account of the machines that came after it, hence there can be compatibility problems. We asked Brian Evans at Bandridge, who distribute Videonics products in the UK,  if theyíd ever come across the symptoms you describe and he came back with a number of suggestions for you to try.

 

First, turn down the picture sharpness control on your VCR. You canít turn off the counter but you should make sure the counter memory is switched out (thatís the memory they were referring to in the instructions). You should upgrade your library tape on a regular basis, Videonics suggest every six months, thatís to compensate for any changes in the characteristics of your VCR, caused by general wear and tear etc., and finally, switch off the blue screen mute, as this could be confusing the system if it comes on during unrecorded portions of the tape. They also tell us that some Mitsubishi and JVC machines have high-speed rewind systems that can sometimes confuse the Direct Ed as they shift into top gear.

 

If youíre still having problems Bandridge say they will be only too happy to test your Direct Ed out for you, which will at least tell you if your Mitsubishi VCR is the source of the trouble. You can contact them at: BANDRIDGE LTD, Premiere House, 18 Deer Park Road, Wimbledon, London SW1 3TU.

Telephone  0181-543 3633

 

 

SONY SHIMMER

My Canon E60 camcorder is almost three years old.  Whilst editing through my VCR several intermittent horizontal shimmering lines travel from top to bottom of the screen interrupting sound.

 

The camcorder tape is a new Sony Metal MP90 and the lines commence after some 60 minutes of my latest recording and appear at intervals of about 5 minutes or so, each enduring 1-2 seconds.

 

Perhaps you can advise me of the likely cause.

 

J. Kinnell

Whitkirk, Leeds

 

A8

It sounds very much like a manufacturing fault on the tape. Have you tried another one? If so then the only thing you can do is make a copy of the recording, editing out the shimmer, and return it to Sony and see what they have to say about it.

 

ABLE ATARI?

I own an Atari 520 STE upgraded to 1040.  I currently use Video Editor and Video Master and would like to know if there are any more programmes I could use as Iíd like to put titles onto the picture as well.

 

You cover the Amiga and PC.  Are you going to include any programmes for the Atari?

 

M. Roskilly

Havant, Hants

 

A9

You have a number of options, though all of them involve you buying extra hardware as thereís no way I know of to mix computer generated images, titles effects etc. from the Atari, with video from an external source, without a genlock, or a video mixer. The Atari STE is a fine machine but sadly poorly supported when it comes to this kind of application. If anyone out there knows of any useful video-related programs, utilities or hardware then weíd be only too happy to pass them on to the many Atari fans we know are out there. However, in the end we have to say youíre going to have to think about getting a PC or Amiga if you want to do any serious PC-based video editing or post production.

 

EDITORíS CHOICE

I have a Panasonic NV MS4 video camera and NV SD30B VCR.  Iím thinking of buying the VTG 228 Title Generator from Videotech.

 

Could you please advise me which would be the best Editor for me (around £300) to purchase?

 

R. Walker

Northwich, Cheshire

 

A10

Thereís really only one worth considering in that price range, taking into account the equipment youíve already got, and thatís the ubiquitous Thumbís Up from Videonics, which should leave you with enough change from your £300 to buy a half-decent audio mixer.

 

 

SLIPPERY SONY

I purchased a Sony TR805 camcorder mainly to achieve as good a picture quality as possible within my budget.

 

I find that when using Hi8 ME tapes to record, or in playback, frequent cleaning of the heads is required every 15 to 20 minutes.  I also usually have to use the head cleaner every time I insert an ME tape for playback.

 

The instruction book that came with the Sony states that the video heads will be damaged of I use a commercially available wet type cleaning tape.  Although I already had a Vivanco wet type video 8 head cleaner I hesitated to use it and so purchased the recommended Sony V8 25 CLH dry type head cleaner.

 

Is this recommendation by Sony a con or will the use of my wet type cleaner really damage the video heads of the TR805? If so, how?

 

P. Wright

Carmarthen, Dyfed

 

A11

The main problem with wet cleaners is that users do not always read the instructions. It takes several minutes for the isopropyl alcohol cleaning fluid they use, to evaporate. If a tape is inserted immediately after use, while the head drum is still wet, thereís a very good chance the ultra-thin tape will stick to the drum and tangle, resulting in a very nasty mess. This is even more of a problem on ME tapes which have a history of sticking problems on some machines.

 

That aside Iím a little concerned that you need to clean your machine so often, and wonder if thereís some other problem that needs attention. Under normal circumstances I wouldnít expect it to need cleaning more than once every 10 to 15 hours of use. I presume the machine is still in guarantee, in which case ask your Sony dealer to have a look at it.

 

CANON IN CONTROL?

When copying from my Canon UC15 camcorder onto VHS I use the assemble edit method.  Could you suggest a suitable edit controller?

 

I normally copy onto a Mitsubishi HS 306B which is a hard-wired remote control.  I also own a Ferguson FV 31R which has an infra-red remote.

 

Can you please explain how to connect an Enhancer/Mixer, Vari-speed fader between camcorder and VCR?

 

N. Brodie

Aberdeen

 

A12

Sorry, no edit terminal, so no edit controller. These days Canon fit Control L/LANC edit terminals to almost all of their machines but, sadly, not the UC15, so thereís no way to automate the editing process. Thereís nothing to stop you using other items of video and audio post production, like the audio and video faders/mixers you mention, and these will connect between the AV output of your source machine (UC15) and your record VCR, using the audio and video input connections. Itís simply a matter of having the right cables and connectors, which in your case will be phono-to-phono (camcorder to processor) and phono-to-SCART (processor to VCR). Suitable leads are obtainable almost everywhere for less than £10; quite a few processors these days come with lead sets. The connections are clearly explained in the instruction books of both the UC15 and whatever device you use. By the way, the remote socket on the Mitsubishi VCR isnít much use for editing (or anything else for that matter), unless you have a second Mitsubishi machine with the same facility.

 

 

WIND WORRIES

Having made several tapes using my Panasonic NV-S85 camcorder I now wish to edit and re-record them onto S-VHS tapes and VHS tapes.

 

My TV is a Philips Matchline and the VCR is an old Mitsubishi which is due for replacement.  Iím considering a Mitsubishi HS-M1000 - will this combination be compatible and allow me to produce the edited tapes in both formats and will I need anything else?

 

Some of my tapes suffer from an undue amount of wind noise.  Is there any way of removing or disguising this when I edit and re-record?  What should I do in future to prevent this happening again?

 

G. Harris

Meopham, Kent

 

A13

The M1000 will do everything you want, youíll be able to make both high and low band copies or edits, and it will function happily with a wide range of edit controllers that use IR control for the destination deck. The only rider to that is, if you think youíre going to be doing a lot of editing then a VCR like the Panasonic HS100 might be worth considering as it has a built-in edit controller that can be used with your camcorder.

 

The best thing to do with wind noise is dub over it, add music, or a commentary. In future avoid pointing your camcorderís microphone into the wind, monitor the sound through headphones or an earphone, and maybe invest in a wind gag or separate microphone.

 

RICKíS FASCINATING FACT

Weíve been speculating about disc-based digital video recorders for years but now someone has gone and done it. Itís called the Geutebruck Multiscope and itís the first commercially available stand-along video disc recorder. Itís based around a standard 540 megabyte PC hard disc drive, that can store almost 30,000 frames of full colour video, using JPEG compression. The Multiscope has been designed for security and surveillance applications, but it can record several minutes worth of VHS-quality real-time video, or over two weeks worth of time-lapse recording. The software can actually address up to 256 gigabytes of hard disc storage, thatís enough for up to 6 days of continuous recording! The only problem is the price, the basic Multiscope £5,200, plus VAT, but give it time....

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1994 2102

 


 

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