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The article on computer editing (Video Camera February '97 ) was a lifeline to me but I don’t know what to buy. Could you help me please? My present computer is an Olivetti PC33, 80386/33MHz with 4Mb of RAM and a 40Mb hard disc. I use Windows 3.1. The article refers to a ‘wealth of PC software’, though presumably most of it is for more machines more advanced than my own. Maybe you could point me in the direction of software suitable for my (now small) computer.

John Ryan, Dunlaoghaire


As you’re aware your PC is now getting on a bit and most desktop video software is designed to run on much faster machines. If you’re keen to go down this route then your money might be better spent on a new computer. Normally I would suggest an upgrade but your Olivetti PC uses proprietary components, that can be expensive and difficult to obtain. A typical 386 ‘clone’ PC on the other hand, could be fitted with a fast Pentium-class processor and motherboard for less than £150. Add a bigger hard drive and extra memory and you’re in business for less than £300. However, assuming that you have a camcorder with a Control L/LANC editing terminal, then your best bet would be to get hold of an early version of Video Director, which will run quite happily on a 386 PC. You might also come across some old DOS titling programs, though unless you buy a VGA to PAL output card, or genlock, you’ll have no way of getting the graphics out of the PC, and on to tape. Several companies that specialise in old or discontinued software advertise regularly in magazines like Micro Mart and PC Mart.  



I am about to change my six year old Sony Video 8 camcorder and am thinking of either the Canon UC9Hi or Sony TR860, reports on both seem very good. I have a Sony 25F2 NICAM TV and Sony SLV-8l0 VCR; my query concerns playback and copying from a Hi 8 camcorder. As you probably know, whilst my TV has an S-Video input, the VCR does not, both however have AV (phono) and SCART inputs.


How should I connect the equipment together, and bearing in mind that I’m not planning to edit my recordings, would the RCTC facility on the Sony camcorder be wasted?

A. Burns, Leyland, Lancs


You will have to use the composite video output from the camcorder to the SCART AV input on the VCR, but there’s nothing to stop you connecting the S-Video output to the TV, so you can watch what you’re copying with the best picture quality. Your VCR can only make a low-band copy of your Hi8 recording, though it should still look pretty good. When playing back the copy the VCR and TV should be linked together using a SCART-to-SCART lead, this will carry a composite video signal. A feature like RCTC is never wasted, you might not want to edit your recordings now, but in a year or two’s time, who knows?



Having recently been presented with a Samsung VP-U10 camcorder to replace my standard 8 cine (not used in decades), the need to edit became apparent very quickly. Video Camera has provided me with a lot of info, and some confusion... I have been unable to decide what my particular camcorder could or could not work with. I have asked several purveyors of editing kit for details, but this has only provided more despair as I have come to realise that this is a business where add-ons rule and worse - my Camcorder did not have the required magic interface.


The next chapter begins after a salesperson tried to convinced me that I should purchase a PC, complete with a Hauppage Win-TV card. He assured me that I would be able to edit my video recordings on it, though I would need some ‘special’ software, that I would have to buy elsewhere. I almost fell for it. However, I casually asked the assistant the crunch question ‘how do I download the edited recordings’? This is when I discovered I needed a special  I/O card costing around £400, failing that I could buy a writable CD ROM deck costing £2000, or something called a ‘Zip Floppy’, that would hold around 10 minutes of edited video. I haven’t the budget for all this nonsense, so where do I go from here?

Kenneth Hodge, Aberdour, Fife


Buy a new camcorder, and make sure it’s fitted with either a Control L/LANC or Panasonic 5-pin editing terminal. Better still get some experience with manual editing using your Samsung machine, then you can move on to bigger and better things. The PC equipment you’ve seen is way too sophisticated. Even if you could afford it we would still advise you to steer clear of desktop video until you’ve got the hang of using your camcorder and some basic editing techniques.



Like many stills photographers I am now moving into the moving image and have recently brought a Panasonic NV-DX1. The results so far are truly excellent and I am now waiting for Panasonic to come out with a domestic edit controller. In the meantime, if I want to put music over the top of my recordings, I understand that I need a 3.5mm jack that goes from the camcorder to the line out of my hi-fi unit. However, I have been advised that because the noise levels that come out of the hi-fi unit are so high, I would also need a some kind of a resistor fitted to the lead. Panasonic UK have not been able to give me details of the exact requirements for such a lead -- I can’t understand why they don’t make a custom-made lead. Can you help?

A. J. Darby, Yelverton, Devon


You can audio dub one of the DX1’s stereo soundtracks but this machine doesn’t have a line audio input, so the only way to get new audio onto the soundtrack is either through the on-board microphone, or the external mike socket. This is configured for a high-impedance signal; if you connect it to the low-impedance  line output from a hi-fi system, then you will get horribly distorted sound and run the risk of blowing the camcorder’s input stage. There’s various ways around this, a resistor in the audio lead is the least elegant. A mixer microphone with a line input will work much better, something like the Hama 46120 and 46123 or IQ SDX800 should suit your needs.



I would like to use three camcorders as cameras, powered by their AC adapters or lead acid batteries, with no tapes loaded. The outputs would be fed into my MXl digital mixer, and then on to a recording VCR.  The sound would be recorded by separate microphones. My question is, if the event lasted two hours or more would this harm the camcorders in any way? Should the camcorders be in the record or VTR mode? Would the Video signal be reduced if the cable run from the camera to the mixer was more than 20 yards?

John A Young, Farnborough, Hants.


A lot of camcorders will automatically ‘time-out’ if they’re left in the record-standby mode, or without a tape, for more than a few minutes. One solution, that works on some models, it to leave the cassette compartment open. If that works, then you should cover the hatch, to prevent dust or airborne contaminants getting into the deck mechanism. Assuming that you’re using good quality, low-loss coaxial cable, then a standard 1 volt peak-to-peak composite video signals should suffer little or no degradation on cable lengths of up to 50 metres, after that you may need to use line amplifiers, to boost the signal and reduce the impact of noise.



Ó R. Maybury 1997 2603




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