ASK RICK -- JANUARY
When I use my Sennheiser MKE300 microphone on
my Sony V800 camcorder I get a fault, which consists of very short periods of
audio drop-out at frequent but irregular intervals. It occurs whether the camera is operating on a tripod completely
untouched or subject to movement. Other
members of my video club use this combination of equipment without any
I took it to be fixed but was told this was
incompatible equipment; a mono microphone with a stereo camera socket. They have tried a stereo microphone and
there is no problem. They say the
camera is within spec and accordingly the insurers will not pay. I am
mystified. Why me?
D. Longley, Fleet, Hants
Have you walked under any ladders recently,
maybe itís something to do the with juxtaposition of the moon and Uranus?
Thereís no obvious technical reason but the fact that it once was working, and
is now intermittent, means a fault of some description has developed in the
microphone. The point about mono/stereo compatibility is a red herring.
Assuming youíve had the mike for less than year it should still be under
guarantee. Take it back, and insist on a replacement.
After shooting several pursuits using my Hi8
Sony FX700 I have decided that I would like to try my hand at editing. Could you please suggest the best way to
edit Hi8 footage where I can end up with a final VHS copy of the highest
possible picture quality? The system
can consist of any range of different formats, my only requirements are that I
end up with a final VHS copy to give to friends and I donít want to have to use
the camcorder as the playback VCR.
Budget isnít really an issue at this early stage, I really only want
some sort of idea of the equipment I might need to buy.
R. Harris, Royston, Herts
Why donít you want to use your camcorder as
an edit source deck? Unless youíre planning to make a series of 3-hour epics,
the relatively small amount of extra use involved in a typical home video movie
wonít have any significant effect on the machineís life expectancy. The FX700
is well suited to the task, it has an edit terminal, and replay quality is
The alternative is a Hi8 deck, Sony have
three at the moment. The recently launched EVC-400 is the cheapest at £500,
then thereís the slightly more sophisticated EVC 2000, which has timecode
facilities and a jog/shuttle dial, it sells for £800; the top of the range
model is the EVS-9000, a semi-pro editing machine, with all the bells and whistles,
costing £1700. If you use an advanced edit controller -- with some sort of
memory or storage system -- with your source deck, then you can copy or edit
straight to VHS, and run off extra copies, without too much difficulty. If
youíre planning anything more elaborate -- extensive post production, fancy
audio mixes etc. -- then it might be better to edit to S-VHS, then use the edit
master to make VHS copies. I canít recommend specific VCRs, without knowing
much more about your needs, but you should be looking at top-end machines from
the major Japanese and European manufacturers, in the £500 to £800
WEAR AND TEAR
Could you tell me how many quality recordings
can be made from each compact video cassette I use with my Panasonic NV-S88?
Iíve been told that S-VHS compact cassettes
have a life of five recordings after which picture quality drops
dramatically. If this is the case
replacing tapes could prove very expensive.
S. Doyle, Nottingham
Where on earth did you hear that? Itís true there
can sometimes be a small increase in dropout during the first few record/play
cycles of a tapeís life, due to oxide shedding, but they normally settle down after
that. Unless thereís a fault on the machine there shouldnít be any further change
in performance for another several hundred cycles. Some manufacturers reckon you
wonít see any differences on their tapes inside a 1000 cycles, but weíve never
felt inclined to put that claim to the test. Suffice it to say you will get a
lot more than five outings on a Super VHS tape.
I decided to buy one of the JVC DV1 minicams;
however, there are a few things I am not sure of. Could you explain why it is
that I seem to get a better picture when I use composite leads direct from the
camera rather than when using its docking station and the S-Video output? Is the docking station at fault? I understand that the Lithium Ion battery
does not have a memory effect - is this the case?
The picture in low level lighting is not all
that good after trying all sorts of combinations -- could this be because of
the small size of its lens and, therefore, the amount of light it lets in? I
have no way of referencing this against another model.
S. Anders, Thurso, Caithness
On some TVs thereís not a huge amount of
difference between composite and S-Video inputs, but colours should look
cleaner, and there shouldnít be any cross-colour effects, in densely patterned
areas of the picture. Are you sure the TV is properly configured for an S-Video
(Y/C) input? It might be worthwhile trying it on another TV, and see if thereís
Lithium ion batteries are far more tolerant
of repeated top-up charges, than nicads, and do not develop the so-called memory
effect, whereby they gradually loose their ability to hold a full charge.
Nevertheless, youíd be well advised to buy a spare, running time on the DV1 is
not that wonderful -- 20-30 minutes if your lucky, with a recharge time of two
and a half hour.
The DV1ís low-light performance is fairly
average -- the small lens doesnít help -- but itís not appreciably worse than
many analogue machines, and we always recommended laying on as much light as
possible when shooting indoors.
I have a computer that I do artwork on
through a drawing programme. I want to
incorporate this work into the editing of my camcorder recordings. I would like to know a way that I can
download these drawings onto a video tape. Cost is a factor: something in the
region of two or three hundred pounds would make it worthwhile.
P. Bartholomew, Alton, Hants
That should just about do it, though I trust
your PC is a reasonably up to date model, with at least a fast 486 processor,
8Mb or more of RAM memory and plenty of spare hard disc space. Youíre going to
need a VGA to video converter card or module. This fits inside your PC,
occupying one of the spare expansion slots; if you donít fancy poking around
inside your machine, get an external device that connects between the system
unit and monitor. The cheapest PC to TV converter Iíve seen lately is the Sound
Blaster TV Coder, which can be found for around £110, if you hunt through the
fat computer mags. The Miro DC1 Plus is a more advanced card-based converter,
that comes bundled with a lot of useful graphics software, including Adobe
Premiere and Photoshop. The AVer Media Video editor is another external unit,
this time with genlock, frame-grabbing and editing facilities, itís a little
outside your budget at £460, but the extra features are worth having, if you
want to go one step further and combine camcorder footage, with your graphics.
I have a Ferguson FC23 camera , a GSE 100
edit controller and Panasonic NV800 S-VHS VCR.
Now for my problem. My camera
doesnít have an edit socket or VITC generator.
I have been trying to track down a VITC generator accessory for my
camera. Would you happen to know of a
supplier or manufacturer who can provide me with one of these?
Can I purchase another model and then rewire
the pin configuration so that it works with my Ferguson?
R. Orr, Potters Bar, Herts
That brought back a few memories, the JVC
GR-S707 on which the GR23 was based, was a classic machine, launched around
1989 if memory serves. Itís good to know yours is still going strong. The
clip-on VITC generator module to which you refer wasnít -- to the best of my
knowledge -- ever marketed by Ferguson,
JVC still have a few left. You can order it through an authorised JVC dealer.
The part number is CG-P50E and it will cost you one hundred smackers. If youíre
on a tight budget, and not in a hurry, you could try advertising for a
second-hand one in our classified section; if we hear of one going cheap, weíll
let you know.
IN SEARCH OF THE LOST LEAD
I have just bought a Panasonic HD650B video
recorder. One of the reasons it
appealed to me was the inclusion of a sync edit socket on the front to enable
it to be connected to the LANC socket on my Sony camcorder.
However, I am finding it impossible to obtain
a suitable lead. Neither the Panasonic
technical or spares departments seem to know what I am talking about. Can you help please?
M. Palmer, Letchworth, Herts
Panasonic have always been a little cagey
about LANC compatibility, in any case theyíre probably not the first company
youíd go to in search of a specialist connecting lead. The cable you require
has a 2.5mm stereo minijack on both ends. You should be able to get one at any
half-decent video dealer, but in case you have any difficulty, Vivanco do one
(part no. 4911), and you can get one from Keene Electronics (ref. KLDE1) for
£5.99, they can be reached on (01332) 830550.
MIX AND MATCH?
The following equipment is available within
my family and we would like to progress into a little more sophisticated
editing: Philips VR522 VCR, Aiwa FX55 VCR, Canon E250 camcorder, Sony SLV 825
VCR, Sony TR805E camcorder, Atari ST FM computer. We are quite please with the
quality of reproduction from both camcorders through all three VCRs. The first copy, cameras to VHS via the VCRs
is always very good.
Experience with two audio mixers has not been
very satisfactory as the video reproduction, even with enhancement, is never as
good as the straight through copy. Digital editing via a computer is suggested
as a good option. Can you please
suggest an appropriate configuration, hardware, software and cost and is the
Atari a worthwhile starting point?
We are not particularly concerned about
retaining stereo audio as this is not important within our type of subjects and
A.J. Griffiths, Overton on Dee, Clwyd
Youíve got the bones of a useful editing
system, but Iím afraid the Atari computer isnít going to be much use, other
than for producing simple titles or graphics, that can be recorded on a VCR,
using the PCís RF/video output. You really need to be thinking about an IBM PC
or compatible, preferably a Pentium model, or fast 486, with 8Mb of RAM. Thereís
plenty of good edit software around at the moment, and Iíd start by looking at
the Video Director range, from Gold Disk.
If you donít fancy buying a new PC then an
edit controller is a cheaper option. This will control both the Sony camcorder,
and one of the VCRs. You can still shoot footage on the Canon machine, but it
will have to be replayed on the Sony deck whilst editing. As for which one,
well, that depends on your budget, but any of the current crop of LANC-compatible
controllers from Bandridge, Hama, IQ etc. in the £250 to £350 bracket should be
PLAY IT AGAIN...
I would be grateful for your help. I want to buy a VHS video player with
jog/shuttle control incorporating a LANC output in the unit. I canít find one in any of the advertising
magazines and would appreciate as much info as possible.
H. Procter, Gumpsall, Manchester
Youíre not asking for much, are you? Are you
sure you mean a VHS player? I thought
they were those nasty little play-only decks, with no record facilities. Iím
not sure what you mean by a LANC output. A LANC or Control L edit terminal is a
two-way serial data communications port. Itís used by edit controllers to
operate the transport system on a camcorder or 8mm/Hi8 deck, and read counter
or time-code data. A couple of recent Philips and Panasonic VCRs have basic
LANC facilities, configured for syncro-start, to operate the play/pause
function on a camcorder, but thatís about as far as they go. Maybe youíre thinking
about the mighty Panasonic NV-HS1000, which does have an unadvertised LANC capability,
and a jog/shuttle dial. Itís still available too, for £1000.
PROTECT AND SURVIVE
I have been an enthusiastic videographer for
a few years, now using S-VHS and a full-sized AG455 camcorder, 5700 edit suite
and an AVE5 mixer. In January my first venture abroad will be on a silver anniversary
holiday to Kenya, with a soon to be purchased Panasonic NV-S77 S-VHS-C camcorder.
I have two questions:
The first one concerns power. We shall be
staying in hotels in Cairo and Nairobi, the rest of the time on a Nile cruise
ship or in safari lodges around the Masai Mara. Will I be able to charge the
batteries with whatever the local mains supply, or will I need any special
Question two; what special precautions should
I take to protect both the lens and the mechanism from damage by sand and dust?
Denise Bristow, Staines, Middlesex.
Sounds like fun, do you need anyone to carry
your bags? Assuming of course you have access to a mains supply in some of
those places you wonít have any difficulty charging your batteries. The charger
units supplied with pretty well all camcorders operate over a wide range of
voltages (110 to 250 VAC 50/60Hz) without need for adjustment. You will need a
plug adaptor, though, Iím afraid I canít help you with that one. A universal
travel adaptor should do the trick; 2-pin shaver sockets are fairly common in
hotel rooms. Just remember to take a few spares packs, you never know when youíll
get to a mains socket.
Looking after your camcorder in dusty and
sandy conditions is mostly common-sense. Protect the lens with a neutral
density (ND) filter, or maybe something a little stronger as itís going to be
very sunny. This will help with exposure on brightly lit scenes. Never open the
machine to change tapes when thereís a lot of dust around and keep it in a
closed carry bag whenever youíre not using it. When you get back to your hotel
room or cabin at the end of each day, carefully remove any sand or dust with a
” R. Maybury 1996 2310