ASK RICK – OCTOBER
After some research I have just bought a Sony
CCD TRV65E Hi8 camcorder. Could you
please give me some advice on what other equipment I would need to make
acceptable videos? As I am a complete
beginner, I don’t understand the stereo side of editing – I have read that I
can’t dub the soundtrack, but adverts seem to suggest I can.
D. Lawson Wright
It all depends on what you want to do, how
much you have to spend and how far you want to go with your new hobby. I suggest
you start with a tripod, and you might want to consider an external microphone and
a video light, if you plan to do a lot of shooting indoors. When you come to copy
or edit your recordings you'll need a good quality NICAM VCR. If you want to
progress to automated editing, then take a look at the August issue of Video
Camera, which featured a round up of the best stand-alone controllers. Audio
dubbing can sometimes be quite useful, though it's far easier to mix in a new
soundtrack at the editing or copying stage, where you will have much more
control. All you need is a simple stereo audio mixer, which will allow you to completely
replace the original soundtrack, mix in music, effects or a spoken commentary. Prices
start from below £20 for a basic stereo mixer. You will also find mixing
facilities on some mid-market edit controllers and video processors. Incidentally,
whilst it is true to say that the vast majority of 8mm and Hi 8 camcorders do
not have audio dub there is provision within the format for a second digital
PCM stereo soundtrack that can be dubbed independently of the main analogue hi-fi
soundtrack. However, to date only a small handful of semi-pro Sony machine has
I hope to purchase a Sony DCR-VX1000E digital
video camera soon and I would like to know what is the best way to copy and
edit mini DV tapes to VHS. Previously I
had an 8mm Sharp ViewCam VL-E31H and by the time I had copies it to VHS using
AV leads plugged into my VCR, the results were terrible.
At the moment I have a Sony KV-2982U TV and
SLV-E920UX VCR: I also have a PC, but I don’t think I’ll be needing this to
copy my tapes. With the equipment I
have will there be a good way to copy my mini DV tapes to VHS with minimal loss
of quality, or will I have to buy more equipment?
Assuming that your Sony VCR is in good
condition you should find that straightforward AV copies of digital recordings
look every bit as good as professionally produced rental tapes and off-air
recordings. The deterioration you noticed on your ViewCam edits was entirely
due to the fact that you were making a low-band recording from a low-band
source. In other words the extra noise introduced during the recording process
made an already noisy recording look even worse. With a DVC recording you're
starting out with a near broadcast quality picture containing far more
information than a standard analogue VHS video recorder can handle, so the
recording you end up with will be the best the VCR can possible produce. The
only other way to improve upon that would be to buy a Super VHS VCR, which has
even better performance characteristics. Otherwise go the whole hog and buy a
digital VCR (or a DV camcorder with DV enabled inputs), in which case you can
make perfect digital copies or 'clones'. The only small problem is cost;
digital VCRs cost from around £2500 upwards… You can use a PC for digital
editing, but it will need to be a high-spec machine, with a monster hard disc
drive, a special DV capture card and video output facilities.
OFF THE RAILS
Having had a Canon UC6000 for a few weeks I
am pleased with the results. My main reason for buying the camera was to film
my model railway: I would like your help and advice on editing my video
recordings. I want to add the sound of
real engines from a cassette and to edit the out of focus shouts. There appears
to be scores of editing devices on the market and I haven’t a clue which one
will suit my needs.
You're right, there are a lot of editing
systems to choose from but for basic day to day jobs any of the sub £200 models
would suit your needs. Since you want to fiddle with the soundtrack on your
recordings, shortlist models with audio mixing facilities. The Hama Easy Cut
(£200) will provide you with a one-box solution, though check that your VCR is
included on the list of command codes.
I own a Canon UC-X45. When I recorded a choir and played it back
through my TV the sound wasn’t very good.
Strangely enough, if I play it back through a cheap pair of stereo
earphones plugged directly into the camcorder, the sound is tremendously
improved. I have enquired at various camcorder shops as to whether an external
microphone would make a better recording, but cannot get a definite answer. Can
you advise me please? If such an
arrangement would help, what kind of microphone should I get?
I can't think of any reason why the
soundtrack should sound better through cheapie earphones, it's usually the
other way around, but the advice you have been given about an external microphone
is generally correct. It's asking a lot of a camcorder's built-in microphone to
pick up sounds more than three or four metres in front of the lens. It will of course,
but they will be mixed in with any other ambient sounds that happen to be
around at the time, which compete with the sounds you want to record. An
external stereo microphone with a long lead is the answer and ideally it should
be placed as close to the choir as possible. How close depends on where they
are located in relation to the camcorder, the grouping of the choir, the
acoustics of the room/hall/church etc and the sensitivity of the microphone. In
short you will need to experiment. If a long lead is a problem you might
consider a wireless microphone, though most models are mono only. If the choir
is using a microphone it might be asking whoever is responsible for the amplification
system if you can tap into it.
Before going on my holiday, I ran through quite
a bit of footage to get used to my new JVC camcorder – AX270. The results were
fine. I loaded the first JVC tape in Italy – no trouble at all. Switched on and pressed the record
button. The camera started recording,
but after about a minute or two an error sign popped up in the view screen and
the camera shut down.
As per instructions I turned off the power
and removed the battery and waited a few minutes, the reloaded the tape. The same thing happened again. I tried another tape and the camera recorded
with no more trouble. For some reason
it will not accept this tape. I took it
back to Dixons where it malfunctioned again.
They put the suspect tape into another JVC 270 and it went through
without a hitch. They then said it must
be the camera and advised me to contact JVC who referred me back to the dealer.
My question is why did this tape refuse to
record in my camera and yet go through another 270 okay? My camera has not given the slightest
trouble since and I am still very reluctant to suspect my camera. Can you
advise me what action to take, or even throw some light on the problem?
Hemel Hempstead, Herts
If the camcorder has been checked out and
given a clean bill of heath the prime suspect has to be the tape. The likeliest
cause is excessive friction, it's possible that it's at the limits of the specification,
and the second machine it was tried on was slightly less touchy that yours. The
only thing you can do is keep an eye on the situation, and if it occurs again, especially
if it happens on more than one tape, take the machine back to the dealer -- with
the errant tape -- and ask to have it re-tested.
ã R. Maybury 1998 2007