I recently bought a Canon X2Hi camcorder
which I used to film a Yacht race and the results were fantastic. I decided to get the film edited
professionally as I donít have the facilities to edit film.
The results were okay but I now wish to do my
own editing which brings me to my question: what equipment do I need? I have a Hi8 camera and a Panasonic
VCR. Would one of the products like
Video Director Suite do what I want, or is this a toy? I have found the NZ agent for Videonics and
they have the Thumbs Up and the AB-1 in stock. What do I need and where do I
go? I would like to primarily get good
film-visual quality and it would be nice to add a few titles and music.
What are your suggestions?
The key to editing is not lots of expensive equipment,
it is possible to achieve some very good results using your camcorder, VCR and index
finger. Edit controllers are simply tools that automate the processes, and make
it more consistent. In the end it is you who decides what shots to use, when
and how they appear in the final sequence, and thatís something you canít buy.
None of the products you mention are toys, but they are all quite different.
Video Director is a PC-based package, it works well and comes highly recommended,
but it only makes sense if you have a PC. Thumbs-Up and the AB-1 are at the
opposite ends of the edit controller spectrum, I suggest you get to grips with
the former, which should leave you with some money left over for a simple audio
mixer and/or title generator. However, whatever you decide itís worth
remembering that editing starts before you press the stop/start button on your
camcorder, and the more effort you put into composing and organising your shots
the less work youíll have to do afterwards.
Having ordered and waited patiently for my
new AB-1 editing suite, it finally arrived and excitedly I wired it up and went
on to edit my videos. To my amazement
there was no on-screen RCTC, VITC or
LTC display. How can you be precise if
you canít see what it is you are editing?
You cannot look at the small crystal screen on the edit suite and watch
the TV screen. Am I really meant to
have two sets of eyes - one for the AB-1 and one for the TV screen?
Whilst it can sometimes be useful to have a
timecode display in your field of vision most people use the visual image on the
screen to decide where to makes their cuts, the numbers are merely a reference.
If it comes down to stepping between single frames then the playback deck will
normally be in freeze-frame mode, which leaves you plenty of time to refer to
both the screen and timecode display.
I have recently upgraded to Hi8 but as yet do
not have a TV with S-Video input. My
present television (Hitachi C2519) does have RGB input on the SCART socket. Can
you tell me if converting to RGB input via a converter such as the Canon RGB100
results in a significant and worthwhile increase in picture quality, bearing in
mind that the unit is usually priced at around £80.
It depends on your definition of significant
and worthwhile. You may see a small improvement; at the very least this kind of
set-up will eliminate patterning, but you have to ask yourself would the £80 be
better spent going towards a new TV? Shop
around, you can find good quality 25-inch NICAM sets -- with S-Video inputs -- selling
for less than £350. Your present TV must be a good seven or eight years old
which puts it close to retirement age, when expensive parts can and do start to
I enjoy filming wild-life which means sitting
in a hide for long periods of time. Looking
through the camcorderís tiny 0.7in viewfinder makes the eye get very tired. What I would like is a 2 to 4 inch black and
white monitor which is small enough to be mounted on or beside the camera to
act as a viewfinder. It needs to be
powered by a battery up to about 12v DC.
I have tried a colour LCD but even with the colour turned off the
picture is not good or sharp enough for focusing.
I would be grateful for your help.
They do exist, though itís unlikely youíll
find one at your local video dealer. Portable, battery-powered, flat-screen CRT
mono monitors are widely used in the surveillance industry, for setting up
security cameras, though be warned, theyíre not cheap. Weíve tracked down two
models, the Sony FDM-030 and the Computar PSM012. The Sony model has a 2.7-inch
screen and runs on 4 AA-sized batteries, it has recently been discontinued but
stocks are still available, the price is likely to be in the region of £270.
The PSM012 has 4-inch screen and is
also powered by internal batteries, it sells for around £350. Check Yellow Pages
for details of your nearest security specialist.
I notice that a new one-hour VHS-C tape from
JVC is now available, which prompts me to ask if itís likely to have any detrimental
effects on camcorder performance? Would the additional tape drag result in shorter
battery running time or perhaps, cause premature wear on the deck mechanism?
Your observations would be greatly
Mappleborough Green, Warks
In a word no. The tape substrate is slightly
thinner than regular formulations, and the shell has been redesigned to accommodate
the extra length, but to all intents and purposes it performs and behaves normally.
Itís just possible that it might
disagree with some very old machines or inferior deck mechanisms on very cheap camcorders,
though weíve yet to hear of any reports. As a matter of interest the JVC EC60
was one of the top performers in our tape test, late last year.
I have recently acquired a Sony TR780E
camcorder. I was surprised when I could
not record from my Panasonic NV-HD100 VCR onto the camcorder. Can you tell me why they donít make
camcorders that can record from a source other than through the lens and is
there any way I can make copies of my tapes without the extra cost of an
Blame it on the bureaucrats. The reason your
camcorder, and 99% of the others available in this country, do not have video
input sockets is down to EU import tariffs and quotas. Camcorders with a video input
facility are officially classified as VCRs, they are subject to a higher import
tax and this would be reflected in the selling price. Video input sockets are
fitted to a lot of models sold outside the EU. The next time youíre in the
market for a camcorder have a word with any friends or relatives you might have
in non-EU PAL counties, such as Australia, New Zealand or the Middle East. If
you want to make VHS to VHS copies, then Iím afraid youíll need a second VCR.
HIGH BAND, HIGH COST?
Regular readers of your magazine are advised
that as Hi8 and S-VHS camcorders give better and sharper pictures we should,
when purchasing, aim at one of these.
My present camera is the Sony F555E and
though satisfied with the results I have been considering upgrading to a Hi8
palmcorder because of the image stabiliser.
However, I feel that in order to benefit from the higher resolution I
should have to: 1. use Hi8 tapes, 2. own a S-VHS VCR and 3. use S-VHS tapes
unless I play through the super VHS socket of my television without the benefit
If I continue to use my present set up, i.e.
record and edit on my VHS VCR will the picture using a Hi8 camcorder be an
improvement? Must I use Hi8 tapes or
continue to use 8mm tapes as I do now?
Streatham Hill, London SW2
Maybe youíre missing the point. The main
advantage of Hi8 (or S-VHS-C) is to produce a high-quality master recording, so
that when you come to edit or duplicate your recordings, thereís a smaller
reduction in quality on the second generation copy, compared with an 8mm to VHS
(or VHS-C to VHS) transfer. However, in order to achieve the higher quality you
have to use Hi8 tapes, otherwise the machine will record in the standard (low
band) mode. Hi8 cassettes have ident holes, to tell the machine which type of
tape is being used. The usual reason for buying a Super VHS VCR, is if you want
to make third generation recordings, i.e., make multiple copies of your final
edited tape, in which case you would edit from Hi8 to S-VHS, then copy from
S-VHS to VHS.
I have just purchased a Sony SC5 Handycam. I am very pleased with this model; however,
I was surprised at a couple of its features.
First of all, the tape transport and loading mechanisms look rather
unique. Secondly, this Sony seems to use a rather tiny head drum. Are there any obvious advantages or disadvantages with using these mechanisms?
I donít think you have to look much further
than the features list, which begins by stating that it is ĎThe Worlds smallest
Hi8 camcorderí. The only real disadvantage is the cost of miniaturisation, otherwise
the SC5 has a perfectly normal record for performance and reliability.
Being new to the world of video, and having
recently purchased a Panasonic NV-S88B camcorder, I accepted the fact that it
would take a little time to become familiar with all the new technology. I have noticed that on occasion the picture
is blue for perhaps 2-4 seconds before correcting to the proper colour
balance. My usual setting of white
balance control is automatic.
I assumed that this delay in colour
correction might be normal behaviour for camcorders. Panasonicís service department assures me this is so. I was not totally convinced that this was
correct and having to edit out the first few seconds of the affected shots
seemed less than satisfactory. Am I
expecting too much from the automatic white balance?
Someone has been telling you porkies. Thereís
no way you should be suffering from that sort of picture disturbance. Auto
white balance kicks in from the moment you switch the machine to the
record/standby mode and operates continuously, not when you press the
stop/start button. From the sound of it thereís something else wrong with your
machine, if it is still under warranty insist that it is put right.
ON THE SLIDE
Until recently all my photography was still
camera and slides, but I purchased a Samsung VP-U10 so I am on the learning
curve. Some time ago I had all my
slides converted to video professionally and the results were awful. I set up my slide projector and screen and
viewed my slides through my Samsung, but I got the wind up. Do you think the
glare from the screen is too bright and might damage my camcorder? Being over 70 I had to buy a tripod, so I
think Iím ready to try.
I would be very grateful for any help.
Fortunately it takes a darn sight more than reflected
glare from a slide projector to damage the image sensor on your camcorder. It
may well cause over-exposure problems and Ďhot-spotsí in the recorded image,
though. If so it might be worth experimenting with lower a wattage projector
bulb, or try the old trick of giving the bulb a coat of Tippex correction
NINE IS FINE...
Just over a year ago I purchased the
Panasonic M-3000 which I believe is equivalent to the NV-M40. However, having
used this for some time there are some drawbacks. I should first like to
mention that I had no opportunity to try the camera before purchase. It is very difficult to locate a bird in a
bush while looking through a black and white viewfinder and the digital zoom is
practically useless over around 20X; even using a tripod the picture is
literally digitised. I noticed in last Octoberís Buyersí Guide that the NV-M40
gets a 9 for performance. Taking into
account the questionable digital zoom, and my other misgivings, I have to ask
is your score correct, or does my camera have a fault?
Weíll stick with that score. It was based on a
number of factors, the performance of the digital zoom was a relatively minor
consideration. We have always regarded digital zooms merely as an interesting
effect; add-on optical zooms or telephoto lenses are the only option, if you
want to maintain image quality. Your comments on the black and white viewfinder
are interesting. Many serious users prefer monochrome viewfinders -- compared
with colour LCD types -- as the brighter
image, higher resolution and better contrast range make it easier to adjust focus and exposure manually.
I have a JVC GR-S99 camera which has an
animation facility. I purchased this
second-hand and would like to know more of its history, as it does not appear
in any of the normal listings. Can you
Itís a real old-timer, launched back in
Summer 1990. It was one of JVCís earliest compact S-VHS-C machines, and the
first to use as 62mm DA4 head. It was also notable for having stereo hi-fi
sound -- a comparative rarity back then -- plus a variable time-lapse facility
and colour fader. Donít get too excited about the animation feature, it simply
shoots a dozen or so frames at a time (around 0.5 seconds), so stop-motion movement
looks very jerky. The original selling price was £1300 -- a lot of money then,
and now! We never got around to doing a stand-alone review, though it was
included in a couple of group tests, published in late 1990 and early 1991, where
it did quite well.
” R. Maybury 1997 1306