Q. I am planning to start my own computer-based video production system. My workstation will consist of a Pentium computer with appropriate software, a video capture board and a Hi8 camcorder and one or two VCRs. My clients will want their finished product on the VHS format, so I’ll have to do some mass reproduction of the video onto VHS. Does it make sense to output the edited video from my computer to an S-VHS or VHS master tape for later dubbing?
Brooklyn, New York
A. Since you’re not dubbing directly from your computer to a VHS VCR for distribution, you’ll be adding another generation to your video production. Because of this, it makes more sense to output the
edited video from your computer to the higher-quality S-VHS format to minimize generation loss. You’ll get a cleaner dub from S-VHS than you would from a standard VHS master.
Dubbing from your computer to S-VHS not only offers you a high-quality master tape for future dubs, but it also “backs up” your video production. You can then free up that valuable hard disk space you’ll need for other video projects.
Q. In my haste to tape a sporting event on TV, I inadvertently put the wrong tape in the VCR. I did the unthinkable–I taped over a family event. Did I lose the family event forever?
A. Say “good-bye” to the family event–you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, all analog video
equipment supports either fixed or flying erase heads. These heads have one purpose–to completely
randomize (erase) the tape an instant before it gets re-recorded. Once the recording mechanism fired up, it completely erased your family event and the sports event took its place.
Q. I use Fast Video Machine Lite for editing. I noticed in your review of the DCR-VX1000 that you were successful in setting the Sony up as a source deck using the Y/C output and Control-L. What Video Machine driver did you use for the DCR-VX1000, and do you have any suggestions which would help me set it up?
A. To select a device, Video Machine has a Player Setup box where you can make individual settings for the device drivers. Video Machine offers a few different Sony drivers for controlling source and record decks or camcorders; some of the drivers that identify specific models will not work with other Sony equipment. There is one generic driver called “LANC-C with RCTC;” it will control a device via LANC-C control and read the time code as RCTC. This setting works with the DCR-VX1000.
The player setups contain default parameters. In general, you won’t have to change these parameters unless you’re using a device that Video Machine doesn’t support directly. The manual has a chapter on troubleshooting that offers guidelines for modifying these drivers.
Just a side note–due the popularity of the DCR-VX1000, Fast very well may release a
dedicated DCR-VX1000 and DCR-VX700 driver in the future.
Q. I have some difficulty understanding the differences between how analog and digital video signals are recorded to tape. What are some of the differences?
A. Both analog and digital video formats use magnetic tape to record their video signals. They have
this much in common, but that’s about all.
In an analog video signal, each frame of video is represented by a fluctuating signal (a
changing voltage). To record this, the camcorder’s tape heads actually store a magnetic “picture” of the
signal onto the surface of the videotape. The system has to exactly reproduce this picture, without much
error or unwanted noise, in order for a good image to result.
A digital system converts the analog video signal from the image sensor into digital data
before recording it onto tape. Instead of a fluctuating voltage signal, the digital video information goes
onto the tape as a series of binary digits (0s and 1s). Since it’s much easier to read and reproduce these
simple bits (just two possible values) than an intricate magnetic picture, digital systems usually offer a
higher-quality image and no generation loss.
Q. I’m considering starting my own video business, to tape weddings and other special events. I’ve read that
many videomakers use a Hi8 or Super-VHS camcorder for this specialty. Do I need to buy special editing
equipment for these types of camcorders?
A. If you don’t expect frame-accurate edits, you won’t need to buy special editing equipment to control
Hi8 or S-VHS camcorders. You can still edit manually by simultaneously pushing the pause/record button
on your VCR and the play button on your source camcorder.
A much better solution, however, is to use the edit control jack offered on many Hi8 and
Super-VHS camcorders. Sony’s LANC (Control-L) jack is common on many of their Hi8 camcorders. It
provides accuracy to within about five frames with the proper controller. Some Panasonic S-VHS
camcorders provide a 5-pin jack (Control-M), which gives you similar accuracy.
In either case, if you’re planning on entering the video production market, you’ll need to be competitive. You’ll achieve more accurate edits and better results by using an edit controller that supports time code.