HomeSoftwareArchiveTop TipsGlossaryOther Stuff




Having recently bought a Panasonic NV-S85B I have produced my first tape and I can see that some editing would be beneficial.  If I purchased an S-VHS VCR and used S-VHS tape could I edit onto it without losing any picture or sound quality?


There is a huge range of editors on the market and I'm unsure which would suit my needs.  I want to be able to easily pick the frame at which I want to stop/start copying and to review the results before committing them.  If possible, I would also like to be able to improve picture colour and sharpness.


I would also like to try animation using simple drawings, but my camcorder can't take single frames at a time.  Is there any way I could do this with an editor?


Sandra Earl

Warrington, Cheshire



You will still get some loss of picture quality if you edit to an S-VHS VCR, but it's relatively insignificant at this stage and your edited tapes will still look a lot better than a first-generation VHS recording. Your camcorder can be used with a time-code edit controller as it writes VITC data onto recordings. Unfortunately none of them are absolutely frame-accurate, and smooth cartoon or stop-frame animation is not really possible using domestic video equipment. As far as improving colour and sharpness are concerned, a few edit controllers and PC edit packages have basic video processing facilities but it shouldn't really be necessary if you're using first-generation S-VHS-C recordings as your edit masters. Picture quality should still be quite good by the time you make a third generation VHS copy of your edited S-VHS tape. Until you decide exactly how far you want to go in terms of editing and post production I suggest the Videonics 'Thumbs Up' edit controller, this should certainly meet all of your present needs.



After seeing Wallace and Grommett, my daughter would like to do some animation.  Being a stills photographer I know little about video cameras. 


After doing the rounds of photographic shops I know even less.  Buying Video Camera and Camcorder User has me even more confused.  I am aware that a single frame utility is rare, but in the Buyers' Guides in the two magazines seem to contradict each other as to which camcorder has an animation facility.  Can you help?


P. Land

Matlock, Derbys



The only analogue camcorder we can recall could ever do half-decent stop-frame animation was the Mitsubishi C35, though it was still quite jerky as the minimum recording interval was half a dozen frames (around a quarter of a second); in any case it has  long since gone out of production. You can still have some fun making simple stop-motion recordings with most ordinary machines but if you're really serious your best bet is to wait a while, and see what the  new generation of DVC digital camcorders has to offer.  Several of  them look quite promising in this respect.



My Sony TR303 has a 10X zoom which I mainly use for airshows where the subjects are quite a distance away.  I decided to purchase a 2x teleconverter - IQ Video 5400 which has a 37mm fitting and screws directly onto the camcorder lens.  When using this converter at the telephoto end of the scale it is excellent, but I can only zoom back half way on the zoom scale inside the viewfinder before I get a vignetting effect.  I am not concerned about zooming right back at wide angle, but I was wondering if you could recommend any fitment, or indeed different type, of converter that I can use.


P. Stannard

Amersham, Bucks



That's a common problem with tele converters, unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it, it's inherent in the optics. It happens with a lot of adaptors used on this machine; in fact I can't think off-hand of any that do not suffer from this problem. If anyone out there knows of one we'd be very interested to hear from you, and pass on the details to Mr Stannard.



I have recently bought a Sony DCR VX700 digital camcorder which gives superb results. There is one small niggle.  Figures or objects which are quite dark against a light background show a white halo edge to the right of the figure. This is not evident in other parts of the picture.  I have often noticed this in broadcast pictures, though not always, so it's not my TV set.  Can you tell me if this is inherent in the circuitry, or is it a fault on my model and what causes it?


R. Payne

London NW3



The 'halo' you describe indicates how well (or badly) a video system processes low frequency video information  By system we mean everything involved, from the image sensor, through video processing and recording, transmission and display, even the connecting cables can produce this effect. In other words there are any number of possible causes. It shows up most clearly when there's a sudden alteration in the level of the video signal, from one extreme to another, i.e. parts of the picture where there's a change from black to white. It's difficult to say where this is happening in your case, without making comparative tests with other camcorders and TVs, however, it is inevitable to some extent. The question is, is it excessive on your set-up, or are you being picky? Perhaps you could send us a tape so we can take a look at it on our equipment.



Two years ago I purchased a Sanyo EX30P camcorder which, with its associated editor, has given us hours of fun.  Inevitably the scope has widened to include minor productions and the limitations of the camcorder have given us some headaches.  We edit from camera to VHS and then make copies which are sometimes a bit ragged round the edges.


I am given to understand that accurate editing can only be achieved using camcorders equipped with timecode facilities.  Reading the reviews in the magazine I am impressed with the Canon UC8Hi and the Samsung VP-H66.  Your reviews do not even mention the absence of timecoding.  Am I missing a trick somewhere?


D. Motttershead

Warrington, Cheshire



Picture quality is not a function of the editing system, it's down to the recording and playback capabilities of your camcorder and VCR. You'll certainly notice a major improvement with either of the machines you mention, and don't forget the VCR, if that's a cheapo model, or it's getting a bit long in the tooth, then it might need replacing too.  Now, let's get time-code editing into perspective. The fact is frame-accurate editing is simply not possible using camcorders linked to the vast majority of domestic VCRs as these cannot be controlled with sufficient precision, to ensure cuts occur on a specified frame. There are a couple of exceptions involving high-end machines with hard-wire interfaces, but the general rule of thumb is that most time-code editing systems can get to within +/- 8 to 10 frames, or less than half a second; non time-code systems manage around +/- 20 frames, or about a second. That's more than sufficient for most forms of home video movie-making.


With care, and a favourable combination of camcorder, controller and VCR you should be able to improve slightly on those figures. However, ask yourself if you really need frame-accuracy, and how important it is to you;  if you can't live without it then you might need to think about using top-end domestic video components or  pro video equipment, neither of which are cheap.



I am using the Canon UC8Hi camcorder to record our daughter on film and am making copies on a Philips VR302 video recorder.  My question is regarding the SCART input on the video recorder.  For example, the VCR automatically switches the TV over to AV input when a tape is played by sending an instruction to do so via the data signal wires in the SCART cable.  But can the video recorder be controlled by the same data wires?  Also can an edit controller also be connected to the SCART connector on the VCR?


S. Lewis

85586 Poing, Germany



Nice idea, but no to everything... The simple switching function you describe is about the only thing most VCR and TV manufacturers seem to agree upon. Some manufacturers use SCART data lines for their own proprietary control systems, and Philips are trying to revive an idea from way back, that will enable their TVs and VCRs to communicate with one another using a data connection via SCART sockets. Their system is called Easy Link, it's based on an earlier idea called D2B (digital data bus), but for any of these systems to succeed all consumer electronics manufacturers have to agree on common data protocols and interfaces. So-called 'bus' systems are re-invented every so often, we understand several manufacturers are discussing a new one as we speak, but don't hold your breath.



Having just bought a Sanyo VM-EX280 camcorder, I find the results are good, but the lack of backlight compensation is quite a drawback, especially indoors when filming someone against a window.  Any suggestions for getting round this problem?  Selecting different AE settings makes no difference.


G. McManus

West Ayton, N.Yorks



Simple, avoid shooting your subjects against a window! The efficiency of backlight compensation systems vary -- some are quite good --  but none of them can perform miracles. Shooting against a strong light is asking a lot of any exposure system, so try not to do it. If there's no alternative do what the professionals do, pull the curtains and add extra interior light.




Three years ago I won a Panasonic NV-S7B camcorder; I already had a Ferguson Videostar 3V43 VCR.


Reading a recent edition of the magazine the IQ Studio Edit Controller looks good and within my price range of 200.  Could you advise me if this would be compatible with my existing equipment, or can you suggest something else?


D. Stevenson

Burton on Trent, Derbys



It's possible. The NV-S7 should be okay, it has the necessary 5-pin/RMC edit terminal, but a question mark hangs over the Fergy VCR. This machine, which is now over ten years old, has an infra-red remote control system, and the IQ Studio Edit has the facility to 'learn' IR commands, what we can't say for certain is whether or not it can handle the commands for such an old machine. We haven't got one to hand, so we can't say. Why not ask the dealer if you can try it out on your VCR, before you buy one. Alternatively, get a new video recorder.




I am going to buy my first camcorder to use on holiday and would like one that is easy to use, so that my wife can use it as well.


I have been looking for a while now and can't decide which one to buy or what I even needed.  I think I need 10 or 12X zoom, fuzzy logic, (passive) auto focus, low lux 2-3 on an 8mm camcorder.  What would you recommend in the 600 - 800 price range?


K. Firks

Bristol, Avon



Sorry, run that by me again? That sounds like an incredibly sexist attitude. Women are just as capable of operating a camcorder as a man, they're also safer drivers, and better at ironing shirts, it's only map-reading they're no good at... Women also tend to be more decisive.  What's all this  'can't decide',  and, 'I think I need'. Come on man, pull yourself together. You've got to make this decision on your own. Use the Buyer's Guide at the back of the mag, this lists a dozen or so machines in your price range. All you have to do is read through the comments and look at the pics, and see which one tickles your fancy.



My problem is putting sound on to a VCR tape whilst editing using the following equipment: 8mm Sony CCD F555E, Mitsubishi HS M55 VCR, Video Tech Processor VEC 1070 and Mitsubishi TV.


I have tried plugging a microphone into the processor and placing it near a speaker from the hi-fi deck with some success.  However, as I am a novice could you recommend what equipment I would need to have in order to control the sound onto the tape. 


I am also thinking of buying an edit controller - perhaps you suggest a few models, bearing in mind I have approximately 300 to spend.


R. Clark

Edenbridge, Kent



Sorry, am I missing something? Presumably your Video Tech 1070 came with an instruction manual. If not contact the dealer who sold it to you or call Video Tech immediately on (01622) 729872; we're sure they will be only too happy to supply you with a replacement. If you do have one -- it's the paper thing printed with words and diagrams -- then please refer to it! It goes into considerable detail, showing how to connect the processor between your source machine (the Sony camcorder) and the record deck (Mitsubishi VCR), to give you control over the sound and picture, including how to mix original sound from your camcorder footage with music from a hi-fi source, and/or commentary or sound effects from a microphone. 


Edit controllers in your price bracket, and suitable for use with your Sony F555 include the Thumb's Up and IQ Studio Edit Controller, both come with instruction books...



I see that the Thumbs Up 2000 has a facility to read time codes and write VITC.  I own a Canon UC8Hi and it is my practice to prepare an edited edition of my home videos onto a Toshiba NICAM VCR and then edit sound and add commentary by re-recording on a second VCR when, as I can expect, I lose a small degree of quality.


Would I benefit if I used in the first recording I used the Thumbs Up's ability to write VITC onto the first VHS tape?  Your response would be appreciated as I wish to purchase the most appropriate editor.


E. Naylor

Bradford on Avon, Wilts




No, not really. The main advantage in timecode editing is an improvement in accuracy, but in this context the timecode is added to a second generation recording, which then becomes the edit master for the final recording. That means you end up with a third generation copy, that could look a bit whiskery. Your UC8 has an edit control socket, so why not use it to make your final edited recording -- accuracy can be very good, to half a second or so -- and simply re-dub the mono soundtrack whilst you're editing, or later on, rather than make another copy.




I have encountered a worrying problem with some of my HI8 video tapes.  When replayed the tape will play normally for a while and then picture break-up will occur starting always about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of the screen, accompanied by a screeching on the soundtrack and by a very similar screeching from the camcorder itself.  I have found that if I stop then fast forward the tape about 3 minutes and back it to just before the original position I can continue to play it unaffected for a further period.  This doesn't appear to be related to particular parts of the tape.


The tapes were originally shot back in 1992 and have been stored in normal living room conditions.  During my experiments and thinking that the problem might be related to the gradual heating up of the cassette I swapped the tape from camera to camera and indeed found some easing up of the problem until the second camera warmed up.


Is this some kind of tape tension problem, perhaps related to the cassette itself?  I have tried several courses of action to no avail.  Is this likely to become a more general problem, perhaps related to tape ageing, or storage conditions?


K. Kelleher

Basingstoke, Hants



We've got Hi8 tapes dating back seven years, that show few signs of deterioration, and some of them have been stored in quite appalling conditions (bottoms of draws, close to magnets etc.). Nevertheless it could be the tapes, especially if they're from the same manufacturer. Maybe they're slightly deformed, taking them just out of tolerance, as they warm up the deformation disappears. Possibly the recordings were made on a cold day in a cold machine. It could also be the a tolerance problem on the deck on which they were recorded.



I have got a Hitachi VME 110E camcorder which takes 8mm cassettes.  I read a recent article on filming in black and white and I started wondering how you could do this.  It said in the article that it is a simple digital effect which you can operate from a camcorder.  As my camcorder doesn't have this facility I was wondering whether there is a machine that can turn colour into black and white, or whether you can purchase black and white 8mm cassettes.


A. King

Newmarket, Suffolk



No, there's no such thing as black and white video tapes, they all record in glorious colour. Several camcorders do indeed have black and white recording facilities, I've never quite seen the point of it myself, but there's no accounting for taste. If for some inexplicable reason I should ever want to watch something in black and white I'll turn down the colour control on my TV.


There is a device that will turn colour recordings into black and white, and it's called a video processor. Several models are available, costing from around 120 upwards. They connect between the camcorder and a VCR, whilst editing or copying recordings. Just turn the colour control down and hey-presto, the picture will be recorded in black and white. On some up-market processors it's possible to juggle red, blue and green colour levels, so you could give the picture a light sepia tint, for that authentic olde-worlde look.




I want to upgrade some of my equipment to S-VHS then record a composite as edited tape.  I have just bought my MS4 S-VHS camcorder and a converter of S-VHS to composite - is this any good?


Also can you please tell me which is the best for video production, a monitor or a TV, especially when it comes to handling an S-VHS signal. 


Finally do you think converting an S-VHS to composite through this converter will do a good job?  My equipment is a Philips monitor with SCART sockets, Panasonic AVE5, Amiga A1200, Hama 292 Genlock and MS4 camcorder.


P. Olaniran

London E5



It's important to make a clear distinction between high-band (S-VHS and Hi8) and low-band (VHS and 8mm) equipment and formats. Recordings made on Super VHS/C and Hi8 recordings contain significantly more detail, less noise and fewer cross-colour artefacts, but in order to view the improved picture a high-band camcorder (or VCR) has to be connected by special S-Video lead to a suitable TV, that has an S-Video input facility, (don't worry about video monitors). Converting the S-Video output from high band camcorder to normal composite video, or using the composite video output and connecting it to a normal TV wipes out many of the improvements. The picture will look a little cleaner, but most of the extra detail is lost, and any cross-colour effects (patterning on fine lines etc.) will return.  


If picture quality is important to you then you should stick with high-band from beginning to end, that means shooting on a high band camcorder, editing to a S-VHS VCR and replaying the recording on a TV with S-Video input. The only point at which you should drop down to low band is when making VHS copies of your production for distribution to family or friends, who probably won't have access to a S-VHS video recorder.  Your mixture of equipment is forcing you into low-band operation, if you want to take full advantage of your high-band camcorder it's no good just upgrading one or two components, everything the video signal passes through needs to be S-Video compatible.




( R. Maybury 1996 1903



[Home][Software][Archive][Top Tips][Glossary][Other Stuff]

Copyright (c) 2005 Rick Maybury Ltd.