VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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ASK RICK -- APRIL

 

SWISS SWAP

A Swiss friend has asked me to video her wedding.  I foresee a problem in providing her with an edited copy complete with sound.

 

I note that I can use my 8mm camcorderís RF adaptor in the I position in the UK and G position to feed a continental PAL TV, so where does the incompatibility arise?  Would the VHS copy tape be compatible with both systems?  Can I produce an edited VHS tape in the UK which she can play in Switzerland or must I give her the unedited 8mm tape to be edited over there?

 

J. Horwell

Grimsby, S.Humberside

 

A1.

No worries, go ahead and make your wedding video. Your Swiss friend will be able to replay your recordings on their own camcorders and VCRs, whether theyíre the 8mm master or copies transferred to VHS. The Swiss use the same PAL colour TV system as we do. There are differences, but they only concern the way TV signals are broadcast, which is why RF adaptors have switches, to change the signal output, but this doesnít affect the way recordings are made on the tape, which is the same on any PAL machine.

 

DECK DECISION

I purchased a Hitachi 2300E full-sized video camera about a year ago and now wish to edit and add music to my videos.  At present I do this using a tape deck and controlling the camera and VCR manually, having recorded titles, etc. previously on another tape.

 

I would be interested in purchasing an edit deck to use with my Hitachi and Ferguson VCR, can you please advise me.

 

R. Staniland

Ulceby, S. Humberside

 

A2

The simplest solution would be to buy a VCR with a built-in edit controller, that will replay designated sequences, and control the record-pause function on your Ferguson VCR. There used to be a few machines that could do that, unfortunately most of them have since been deleted or replaced but you might find one or two of them still around. Models to look out for include the Hitachi VT-780 and JVC HR-S6800. However, if flexibility and accuracy are important you would do well to consider a VCR that can be used in conjunction with an external edit controller, and that means it must have an edit terminal. There are two types in widespread use, Control L, and Panasonic 5-pin. The VCRs we suggest you look at are the Panasonic NV-HD700, and Sony SLV 715 or 825. As far as editing controllers are concerned you canít go far wrong with the Thumbís Up, which is currently selling for less than £200.

 

FADING GLORY

As a fairly recent convert to the world of video via 8mm cine I have become well and truly hooked.

 

However, with a limited budget and still waiting for the lottery to turn my numbers up, I seek your opinion on a small matter. I currently use a Camlink Edit 2 Baby to mix sound and while Iím quite happy with its general performance, I find that the enhance facility is really only a fader and the overall quality of my copy tape is rather poor.

 

Should I purchase a video image processor around £100 or would it be better to replace it with the all in one Vivanco VCR3014 AV Centre at £150?

 

D.  Grattan

Newtownabby, Co. Antrim

 

A3.

The Edit Baby is not responsible for the poor quality of your recordings (or at least it shouldnít be...), itís a fact of life when copying video recordings on domestic equipment. There is always going to be a reduction in resolution and an increase in noise and thereís nothing your can do about it. Video enhancer circuits simply amplify the video signal, which makes the image look a little sharper, but at the expense of increased noise levels. You can lessen the effects of copying by making sure you start out with the best quality recording, and that begins with the camcorder. Weíre not suggesting you go and buy a new machine, but bear that in mind when the time comes to replace your present one, and it may be worth thinking about a high-band model. Secondly always use the best quality tape you can get your hands on. Lastly, make sure your record or destination VCR is in tip-top condition, and again only use good quality, high grade tape. If you want a video processor for the effects fine, but donít buy one just for the enhancer facility.

 

EASY PC?

I am a camcorder novice with my first holiday video needing a serious edit.  Iíd like to edit the tape and add a CD soundtrack and titles using my equipment which consists of a JVC HR-J205EK VCR, Panasonic A1 Palmcorder and a Toshiba TV.  Can you recommend a stand alone or PC-based package that would best suit my needs as my budget is around £400?

 

R. Crooks

Richmond, Surrey

 

A4

Fortunately the Panasonic A1 has an edit terminal, so it can be used with a wide variety of edit controllers; the only one in your price range worth thinking about is the good old Thumbís Up, and that would leave you with enough spare cash to buy an AV processor. The Vivanco 3014 and Video Tech VEC 1030 both come to mind, or, if you want to dabble with some more advanced effects,  the Sima Video Edit 2X is worth a look.  PC packages that can do everything you want are well outside of your £400 budget, though if you can wait a while you might like to consider the latest version of Video Director editing system for the PC (instead of the Thumbs Up), which will be compatible with your camcorder.

 

STAY SHARP?

Can you please tell me if my old Sharp VC-105HMB VCR is capable of being used for editing purposes? 

 

I hope to be able to buy Maze Technologyís Video Workshop for Windows to enable me to wire my Sony FX500 and VCR up to computer control.  As the camcorder has Control-L interface I wondered if it would be possible to use a hard-wired input to the VCR via the VCR remote input socket, or am I into buying a new VCR as well?

 

R. Heywood

Newbury, Berks

 

A5

Video Workshop is an advanced piece of kit, are you sure you really need it? If youíre simply after a way of using your PC as an edit controller then save yourself a few bob and get hold of a copy of Video Director for Windows -- weíve seen the original version selling for less than £50. It will allow you to accurately control your Sony camcorder, and your old Sharp VCR as well, using itís library of infra-red commands. The remote socket on that machine is designed for a corded control box; the command system was a proprietary one and not listed on any edit controller weíve come across.

 

BOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP

Iíve just acquired an Amiga A500 but it has no manual, and I have not been able to get one.  I want to use it for editing which I was told it was ideal for.

 

I have a Sony V700 camcorder, Panasonic MX12 mixer, Sony RME 700 edit controller and Sony SLV E8 VCR.  I am a novice to computing and would be very pleased if you could advise me on what I need to do and what software, if any, I need to buy.

 

G. Parsons

London SW19

 

A6

What do you want another edit controller for? Judging by the equipment you have already I would have thought the last thing you needed was an Amiga. The only facility it has to offer, that you havenít already got, would be as a title or special effects generator, but that would also involve you buying some additional equipment, like a genlock. I seriously suggest you get to know the computer first, before you go any further, and that means getting hold of an instruction manual. Assuming you have already tried Commodore UK you could put an ad in the Ďwantísí section of a magazine like Micro Mart.

 

NICAM

I have had a Grundig ST 63 NICAM digital stereo TV sitting in my living room for just under two years.

 

I would like to know when are ĎTHEYí going to fit the Rosemarky transmitter in my area with the appropriate equipment to broadcast NICAM?  By the way we are all paying for this service.

 

C. Lennie

Invergordon, Ross-shire

 

A7

Are we good to you or what? The availability (or otherwise) of NICAM is a little outside our province but we pulled a few strings and asked ĎTHEMí when you could expect to get stereo sound on your TV.  We spoke first to National Transcommunications, who operate the ITV and Channel 4 side of things, they told us that Rosemarky is due to be upgraded in the first quarter of 95, probably towards the end of March. No so good news from the BBC, their transmitter upgrade plans have been put on hold and they could give no firm date, or even a date when they could give us a date.... This is due to Government proposals to privatise the BBC transmitter network, a White Paper is expected shortly. One industry insider we spoke to suggested that some BBC transmitters may not be modified until next century, if ever!

 

LIVE WIRE

I have recently bought a Camlink MG39S2 wireless mic and found it not quite up to the sound quality I require.  Would it be possible to extend my wired microphone cable to the distance I want which is approx. 50ft?  The microphones I use are a Vivitar TVM-1 and Camlink EM200.

 

G. Taylor

Warrington, Cheshire

 

A8

Fifty feet is pushing it, but try it anyway. I suspect there will be an increase in noise, but it might not be too bad if you use a good quality, low-loss screened cable. The alternative is to feed the mike into a battery powered mixer, and carry the amplified line-level output on an extension lead. Once again use a good quality cable to minimise the effects of noise and impedance mis-matching.

 

 

MORE LENSES?

Iíve got a fantastic JVC GR-M7 Pro camcorder with an 11x multi function lens.  Could you tell me if there are any extra lenses I can use?  For example, can an extra 4x lens (or over) be fitted on my existing lens, without any loss of performance?

 

S. Leonard

Birmingham

 

A9

More lenses? The M7 Pro has one of the most versatile lens systems of any camcorder outside the Canon EX range. Not only have you got a powerful 11X zoom, it also has ultra wide, tele-macro, wide-macro and microscope options, what on earth do you want an extra 4X tele lens for?  Get closer to your subject!

 

WATER WORKS

I have recently taken up home movie making from the back of a speed boat. The problem is I canít keep the camera still!  At the time of filming the subjects seem to be in the shot, but when I replay the film at home, the picture flickers all over the place, and it goes from colour to black and white.

 

As most of my subjects seem to be water skiers can you tell me how to prevent this problem in future?

 

G. Rogers

Dunstable, Beds

 

A10

Few camcorders like being shaken violently (or getting wet....),  so short of buying a machine thatís more tolerant to this kind of treatment youíre going to have to devise some way of insulating the camcorder from the vibration of the boat. Unfortunately none of the methods weíve come up with at the VC office seem entirely practical (standing on a inflatable cushion, suspending the camcorder on a springy harness... ) so weíll throw this one open to our readers. If anyone out there has any ideas write in and weíll pass them on.

 

COMPATIBILITY PROBLEM?

A while ago I purchased a Toshiba NICAM digital TV together with a JVC HRD 980EK VCR.  Iíve been using a JVC GR-AX10 camcorder but now wish to upgrade to S-VHS-C. 

 

Almost every month there seems to be a new model of one make or another ; subsequently the Panasonic NVS85 is getting down to my price range.  Would it be compatible with my VCR? 

 

B. Smith

Cheltenham, Glos

 

A11

It depends what you mean by compatible. Youíll be able to copy or edit recordings from the S85 on to any VHS (or 8mm VCR), but unless itís a high-band machine (Hi8 or S-VHS) you wonít be able to copy the recording at the full resolution. Thatís not a problem, most high-band camcorder owners prefer to edit or copy down to standard VHS which still gives a better picture than a VHS-C original or VHS to VHS copy, and allows the final recording to be played on any VCR.

 

 

CELLULAR DECAY

I have a Canon A2 Hi with three batteries.  Two of them have lost all inclination to hold a charge.  Is there somewhere that can put new life into them or are they completely dead?

 

The battery which is still charging and holding a normal charge is fine.

 

J. Sensicle

Leamington Spa, Warks

 

A12

Thereís an outside chance the batteries are suffering from one of the many maladies that afflict nicads -- some are curable -- but if they wonít hold a charge at all the likelihood is one or more of the cells inside has expired. If youíre feeling lucky buy a discharger/conditioner unit and take the packs through a couple of complete charge/discharge cycles. Even if it doesnít work itís still worth having as it will ensure your working battery is in peak condition. By the way, make sure you dispose of those old packs properly, donít just chuck them in the bin; the cadmium metal inside the cells is extremely toxic. Take them to a video dealer who will be able to send them back to the manufacturer for recycling.

 

SPECIAL SPECS?

I wear glasses and find it very awkward when using the viewfinder of my Sony 705E camcorder.  I like to use it without glasses but canít get the view clear in the viewfinder.  Can I get another lens fitted to correct this?

 

A. Baker

London SE11

 

A13

 

 

LEADING QUESTION

I have been shopping around with the view to buying some new edit/dubbing leads and I find there is a bewildering array of prices and quality varying from £6.99 right up to an amazing £69.99.

 

Would I really notice the difference in quality if I copied from 8mm to VHS using the more expensive leads as opposed to the less expensive ones?

 

What is the difference in the quality of the leads that are available?  I use a Samsung VP-E807 copying to a Panasonic VHS VCR.

 

G. Taylor

Warrington, Cheshire

 

A14

Yes there are differences, and we have seen some really cheap and nasty AV leads that do affect picture and sound quality, but when you get beyond the dross youíre into a situation where spending more means chasing diminishing returns. A lead costing £30 say, wonít perform three times better than one costing £10, in fact the electrical differences are likely to be so small that they will only be measurable on sensitive test equipment. Mind you, a £30 lead might last three times longer than a cheaper one, or it may be better made (though thatís not always the case, as we have discovered...). Your best bet is to stick with leads from well-known companies, brought from reputable dealers, and avoid the obvious bargain-basement products.

 

By the way, we keep getting asked about gold-plated leads, are they worth any paying extra for? Weíd say yes, but not too much more. The gold plating provides an excellent electrical contact, and it resists corrosion -- caused by sweaty fingers and atmospheric contaminants --  so if you do a lot of plugging and unplugging they could well be worth the extra.

 

 

COLOUR FLASH

Having bought some Super TDK XP Pro tapes for my camcorder, on editing Iíve discovered flashing from colour to black and white in the middle of the tape.  I canít replace this as it was shot on my holiday abroad.

 

I shall be returning the tape to the dealer; in the meantime I wondered if there is anything I could do, apart from cutting out the faults which would spoil the full sequences.

 

B. Whitehead

Chard, Somerset

 

A15

The most likely problem was a momentary glitch by your camcorder; if your machine has an insert edit function you could drop in a new scene over the top of the duff section. You could do something creative, like a talking head shot of you or a family member, with some commentary, or how about a sequence of still photographs taken during your holiday? If the tape is at fault then the only thing you can do is to edit the recording by copying the wanted parts using a VCR. You could just transfer the entire recording, pausing the machine during the flashing sequence, or have a bash at some proper editing -- changing the length of scenes, re-arranging the order etc. Try it, you canít hurt the original recording.

 

TIME LIMIT

I have started transferring my 8mm films to video.  The best results are achieved when I set the Canon A2 Hi on standby and record direct onto my Sony 825 VCR.  This makes a first generation copy which is far better than the ones I had transferred professionally.

 

There is one problem, however.  The A2 Hi only runs on standby for 7 minutes then switches off.  I fully appreciate the reason for this, but I wondered of there is any way that I can override this.  I realise that it is possible to switch to record but that would cause unnecessary wear on the motors and recording head.

 

T. Butcher

Withemsea, N. Humberside

 

A16

Have you tried leaving the cassette carrier in the open position? I must admit I havenít tried it on the A2 but it works on a lot of machines.

 

RICKS FASCINATING FACT

The auto exposure systems on most camcorders work so well that we hardly give them a second thought, thatís the idea after all. Although it seems like a relatively recent development the first camera with an auto-exposure system went on sale almost sixty years ago, in 1937 to be precise, when Kodak launched their Six-20 still camera. It had a photo-sensitive cell built into the camera, this measured the amount of light in the scene, and adjusted the speed of the cameraís shutter.

 

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1995 0601

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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