Edit Controllers and Basketball Coaching

Basketball Diaries

Here is my situation: I am a basketball coach. We usually have 2-4 videos of an opposing team that we watch to learn their strategies and weaknesses. We want to clip 50 five-second plays out from each tape (e.g., offense play 1, offense play 2, defense 1, defense 2, out of bounds play 1, etc.) and merge them together into the above categories onto 1 tape in a pre-determined order. In other words, we have multiple source tapes, multiple clips at short intervals, and we need exact timing so that we can edit with precision.

We have been quoted as much as $25,000 to purchase a system that will do this. This seems outrageous for such a simple task. Can you help?


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Barb Smith

San Diego State University

The video editing machine youve described is an edit controller, and it comes in two basic flavors: stand-alone or computer-controlled. What youd do with an edit controller is mark the in points and out points of your video clips, then trim them and arrange them in any order you like before ordering your VCRs to copy them onto a master tape. Some edit controllers include ways to trigger other devices–such as special effects generators and titlers–to further enhance your productions. The better ones can keep track of multiple source decks and even multiple tapes for each deck, prompting you when to switch. (See our guide to edit controllers in the November issue.)

To use an edit controller, youll need one or more camcorders or VCRs that support the same edit control protocols–Control-L, Panasonic 5-pin, infrared, etc.–as your edit controller. And for the pinpoint accuracy you require, some form of time code is necessary, such as RCTC.

The person who told you that it would cost $25,000 to perform the task you describe is either very dishonest or hasnt been keeping up with trends in consumer technology. If you were shooting on Hi8 or S-VHS tape, for example, a complete system with two source decks, a special effects generator, a record deck, a titler and an edit controller can be had for under $7000. If you really want to operate on the cheap, and you have access to a 386 or better computer, you can get a computer-based edit controller that works with an existing Control-L camcorder and infrared VCR for under $300.

Righteous Dub

Can you tell me of any Hi8 editing VCRs that can perform an audio dub? Ive heard that there is such a thing, but I have not been able to find one.

Jeff Hoot


The specific feature that youre looking for is PCM (Pulse-Code Modulated) digital audio–a way of recording audio on its own portion of the Hi8 tape, separate from the video. Most Hi8 products use AFM (Audio Frequency Modulation) audio, a system that embeds the audio information into the video signal. With AFM audio, if you try to erase the audio, youll also erase the video (and vice-versa).

Sony is currently the only company that makes prosumer-level Hi8 VCRs that are capable of recording PCM audio. Until recently, a handful of relatively low-cost editing VCRs were available with this feature for under $2000. Now, however, youd have to buy a rather expensive ($3000 plus) deck from Sonys Business and Professional Division in order to use PCM audio in the Hi8 format. If youre interested in finding a recent-model used Hi8 deck with PCM audio, look for Sonys EVS 3000 or EVS 7000.

Dont Check That Camcorder

I have been wanting to take my expensive video equipment out of the country to shoot several projects. With the large amount of equipment Id have to carry on board, however, Im afraid I might have to check some of my luggage. Will I ever see it again? Will it arrive in a million small pieces? I fear that if I clearly identify the equipment cases for what they are, they will quickly be stolen. Those big, bulky boxes seem to scream, "Steal me first!"

What do big production companies do when they have to fly their equipment around? I can only imagine how much more dangerous it would be to take this expensive equipment into some Third World countries.

William Jones

Knoxville, Tennessee

Never mind the Third World countries: plenty of equipment gets stolen on flights right here within the continental United States. (Its happened to us here at Videomaker, believe it or not.) The best way to avoid problems is never to check expensive items at the luggage counter–but as you say, you might sometimes have more equipment than you can fit into a carry-on bag. In these circumstances, you might wish to have the goods shipped to your hotel before you leave (a somewhat expensive option, but usually safe). If you must check your expensive gear, try as hard as you can to make it appear like something else; stuff the camcorder into your suitcase between stacks of clothing, for example. Insurance is also a good idea, and might be more affordable than you think.

As for how the big production companies do it: usually, they try to rent whatever they can near the shoot, and have everything else shipped to the location. And never, ever would they check an expensive item at the luggage counter–not if they planned to stay in business for long.

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