It used to be that people who bought S-VHS VCRs were interested in the advanced editing features as much as the high-quality image that came with those high-priced models. Lately that’s changed. As more video producers from beginner to advanced migrate toward computer-based editing systems, it’s harder to find S-VHS editing decks. Now, most VCR manufacturers market an inexpensive line of S-VHS VCRs to the home-theater crowd. These users want better video quality, but don’t need the editing features.
There is still one holdout in the consumer line of S-VHS editing VCRs, however, the Mitsubishi HS-U795. Not only will the HS-U795 serve as a great dubbing device for videographers who want to make copies of their Hi8 or Mini DV footage to S-VHS or VHS, but it also works as a record deck for linear editing, using a camcorder or second VCR as your source. If you’re looking for a simple and inexpensive way to edit your videos, the Mitsubishi HS-U795 could be your answer. While it has a lot to offer, don’t expect the professional features of its S-Video ancestors. As prices have dropped, so have some of the editing features that used to be considered standard equipment on an editing machine.
Ready, Set, Go
One of the first things we noticed was the remote control. With it, we easily accessed most of the VCR’s functions at the touch of a button. The VCR transport buttons (play, rewind, etc ) are conveniently placed so you don’t have to fumble around for the proper control. This remote made it very comfortable for living room editing. You can even use the jog/shuttle on the remote to cue your tape to the frame. The remote can be programmed to control your TV as well.
Linear Editing, Anyone?
The home-theater crowd should be pleased with the HS-U795, as it records and plays high-quality images in the S-VHS mode. But its real appeal to videographers lies in its editing capabilities. It is these that we ll focus on in this review. It’s got audio and video insert, a flying erase head for smooth edits, edit search and a jog/shuttle wheel for frame by frame advance.
Unfortunately, the HS-U795 doesn’t use any of the edit control protocols found on camcorders (like Control-S, or Control-L). When it comes to sending editing commands you ll have to make due with Mitsubishi’s proprietary remote-pause control. If you have another Mitsubishi VCR equipped for editing, you can use its edit control jack to synchronize it with the HS-U795 and to control both decks. If you use anything other than a Mitsubishi device, you have to rely on the two-finger edit. This basically means that you put the record deck into Record/Pause mode, the source deck into Play/Pause, and release pause on both machines at the same time to make an edit. The lack of a standard edit control protocol severely limits the potential of the HS-U795 as a serious tool for linear editing. Then again, linear editors are a dying breed. The lack of edit control may not be so much a shortcoming of this unit as a sign of the times.
We chose to connect a JVC S-VHS-C camcorder for use as our source deck, using an S-video cable for video and RCA audio cables to carry our sound. We lined up our source footage, pressed Play/Pause on the camcorder and then pressed Record and Pause on the HS-U795. The deck has a cool little feature called edit search that lets you advance or rewind your footage frame by frame to locate the exact spot where you d like to make an edit. This is where the jog/shuttle comes in very handy.
Cutting on the exact frame we selected was another matter. While the cuts weren’t accurate to the frame, the margin of error was minimal. We were able to cut within a few frames on each edit. We were pleased with this level of accuracy. With practice, an editor could probably compensate for the delay to make linear edits that are nearly frame accurate.
You can use audio dub to lay music over your footage to make a music video, or to add narration. To add music, just cable the RCA audio outputs of your boom box to the audio inputs on the VCR. Adding narration is a bit more involved. Because the HS-U795 doesn’t have a microphone input, you ll need to record your narration to your camcorder and then dub the audio from there, or use an audio mixer.
We pressed Play on the CD player and Audio Dub on the recorder and we were dubbing audio. We were disappointed to find that the deck has no manual audio level controls and no meters. This forced us to adjust all of our audio levels at the source end, and left us guessing as to whether our levels were too hot, too cold or just right.
We were excited to find video insert capabilities on this VCR. Video insert works much the same as the audio insert, only instead of recording audio, it inserts video over your original footage leaving your sound track untouched. This is a great feature to help cover up shaky or out of focus shots, and jump cuts. In our tests both the audio and video dub functions worked well.
The HS-U795 is an affordable S-VHS editing VCR that serves multiple purposes. You can perform linear edits. You can create both audio and video inserts over existing footage and you can use it as a dubbing solution for Mini DV, Hi8 or 8mm to S-VHS or VHS tapes, or use it to record the output of your computer-based editor. At this time in history, the best use for a VCR of this type may be to splice together a series of segments that are too large to store on your computer’s hard drive.
If you’re looking for a simple, no hassle linear editing solution, the Mitsubishi HS-U795 could be exactly what you ve been waiting for.
Video Inputs: composite x2, S-video x2, RF
Video Outputs: composite, S-video, RF
Audio Inputs: RCA x2
Audio Outputs: RCA x2
Edit Control Protocol: proprietary A/V
Other Features: preroll, audio & video insert, edit search, jog shuttle
Dimensions: 3-5/8 (Height) x 16-3/4 (Width) x 12-1/4 (Depth) inches
Weight: 9.3 pounds (approx)
- audio & video insert
- jog shuttle
- accurate pause editing
- no mike jack
- no audio monitor
- The HS-U795 has a few editing features, but is better suited for the home entertainment system than the edit bay.
9351 Jeronimo Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618-1904