Mysterious Snow Appears in Video Footage

Q. I recently shot a wedding and at one point I stopped the camera, rewound the tape and checked my
footage. I was dismayed to find the scenes mostly blanked out with snow. If I scanned the tape in reverse,
the image was there without the snow.

My question does not concern what caused the snow, but rather if there is anything I can do to restore the

Robert Tuttle
Fort Myers, Florida

A. Since you can see the image cleanly when running the tape in reverse, it’s likely you had a clog in just one or your camcorder’s two video recording heads. Thus every other scanline was recorded without snow.

There is equipment available to salvage such a tape. Advanced Images in Tarzana,
California claims to be able to restore tapes recorded with a clogged video head. You can reach them at
(818) 967-2665.

Q. What VCRs beside the Panasonic AG-W1 can translate foreign SECAM or PAL videos to NTSC?
Also, what video cameras beside the Sony CCD-VX3 offer time lapse or single frame recording
for animation?

Chris Wiler
Benicia, California

A. First question first: the industrial divisions of most companies produce standard-converting
VCRs. Though it’s a desktop video product, the Fast Video Machine will also act as a video
standards converter. Yet another option, Feral Industries makes a TBC that will transcode between NTSC
and PAL-M.

Now, for your second question: The Sony CCD-VX3 camcorder does time lapse and
simple animation, but
not single frame recording. In video, you can do single frame recordings
only with special VCRs. There are no consumer camcorders available with this feature.

At $2995, the Sanyo Industrial GVR-S950 S-VHS VCR is one of the least expensive units
capable of both single frame and time lapse recording. As with standard-converting VCRs, the industrial
divisions of most companies produce a single frame VCR for recording animation.

Q. I have four "lipstick" video cameras that I wish to see, one at a time, on a single LCD monitor. I would also like to control the zoom function of each camera from the monitor position. Can you help?

David Feign
Santa Ana, California

A. Any passive video switch with four inputs and one output should work. These are very inexpensive, but have one major drawback–there will be a very short picture breakup each time you switch inputs. It won’t hurt anything, but will create a problem if you plan to record the cameras’ output. To avoid this glitch, check out any of the consumer SEGs on the market with enough inputs (such as the Videonics MX-1). These will even allow you to do effects, but you will pay for them.

As far as external zoom control, do your cameras have C-mount lenses? If so, call the
CCTV (closed-circuit television) department of any of the major camera manufacturers for more info on
remote control zooms. You might also try one of the many after-market security accessories manufacturers.
If your cameras do not have "C" mounts, you will need to call the manufacturer directly to see what’s

Q. My Canon L-1 camcorder frequently fails to eject tapes after use. The caution light blinks and I can hear
the eject motor spinning, but the tape won’t eject. If I run the tape backward, and then forward, and then
stop, the tape will eject. Canon wants $195 minimum just to look at it. Have you or any of your readers
encountered this problem?

Al Ray
San Angelo, Texas

A. If you can make the tapes eject every time with this backward, forward, stop technique,
it’s unlikely the camcorder has internal damage. It sounds more like a sensor problem. You may get a
better repair rate from an independent, Canon-authorized repair center than from Canon

Q. I found your article "HDTV No More" from your June 1993 issue to be extremely interesting. In this article, the Colorcom company claimed its new technology would increase a television
picture to any degree of resolution. As this seems revolutionary, I have watched to see if their products
have come out, but I have heard nothing. Who can I call?

Sam Exmundo
Fremont, California

Q. Remember that resolution is only as good as that of the original recording. In theory, no
process will produce more resolution than is already present in the signal. That said, Colorcom still exists–you can reach them at their Bloomfield, Colorado office by calling (303) 465-0830.

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