Q. Some VCRs advertise a “quasi-Hi8 playback” feature. What does this mean, and how do the picture and
sound quality compare to playback from a standard Hi8 deck?
R. S. Hallstein
Rolling Hills, California
A. Basically, “quasi-Hi8 playback” means these decks have the minimum circuitry required to play
Hi8 tapes. The resulting picture, however, is rendered at standard 8mm resolution. Because 8mm and Hi8
formats record audio the same way, AFM sound quality will be unchanged.
If you simply want to view your Hi8 tapes, quasi-Hi8 playback is a
valuable feature. If you plan to edit from quasi-Hi8, you won’t enjoy the higher resolution of the true Hi8
Q. Your February ’95 issue ran an informative and very useful article on choosing and using music
libraries. However, I am a low-budget videomaker without the clout of the professional organizations. How
does a small, independent videomaker like myself go about obtaining a license to use copyrighted music
not on a royalty-free library?
Aiken, South Carolina
A. Actually, there are a lot of resources available to you. Permission to use copyrighted music
usually comes from BMI or ASCAP, two licensing agencies. The process is often as simple as writing a letter and explaining what you wish to use the music for. See Videomaker‘s October ’94 Sound
Reasoning column “Copyright Counts” for addresses and more info.
Q. Some time back, your magazine ran an article on how to drill a regular VHS tape so it would perform like an S-VHS tape. I misplaced the article–can you can tell me who manufactures a tool to do this?
Tarpon Springs, Florida
A. First off, simply drilling a hole in a VHS tape will not make it perform like an S-VHS
tape. S-VHS tapes use a much higher density oxide packing than regular tapes to support the higher
frequencies recorded. Coercivity and retentivity, or a tape’s ability to hold and store a magnetic charge, also
differ significantly between VHS and S-VHS. Because of this, drilled VHS tapes cannot match S-VHS tapes in recording performance.
If you still wish to modify VHS or 8mm tapes, SuperVid (Stone Mountain, GA) makes a tool
to safely drill the necessary holes. You can reach SuperVid at 404-413-8624.
Q. My deck does not have flying erase heads. Is there a way, short of replacing my deck, to record a
clean black leader on the start of a previously recorded tape? Perhaps I should use a bulk eraser before trying to record the black?
A. Woah! Put that bulk eraser back where you found it! Bulk erasers do just what their name
implies–they erase everything from your tape. It’s impossible, with a bulk eraser, to selectively erase specific parts of a recording.
Unfortunately, there’s no clean way to black the beginning of a tape without a flying erase
head. A stationary erase head, like the one in your deck, leaves several inches of unrecorded tape at the end
of each recording. This accounts for the video snow and noise you see. One solution would be to add black
when dubbing the tape. Record a bit of black first, put the record deck in pause, cue your source tape, and
make the dub. The only drawback with this method is the loss of a generation.
Q. The “smart cable” of my Video Director editor only hooks into a LANC input on Sony products.
Does this means I can’t use Video Director with my Panasonic S-VHS equipment?
Simi Valley, California
A. Panasonic’s 5-pin protocol is incompatible with Sony’s LANC system, so you’re out of luck on
that front. Keep your eyes open for a new version of Director with infrared emitters for both source and
record decks. This will guarantee compatibility with any deck or camcorder using infrared control, including your Panasonic equipment.
Q. Do you know of any firms that manufacture underwater video and sound transmitters and receivers? I hope to install a transmitter in a moving vehicle that I would then use to send images from inside a
submerged pipe. The pipe is three miles long, under 50 feet of water, and I’m trying to avoid using a cable at this distance. Also, do you know of any magazine devoted to camera inspection of underground pipes and sewers?
A. I’m unaware of any monthly magazine devoted to remote pipe inspection, but perhaps one of our readers knows of something. As for amphibious vehicles, you might do well to contact marine research
centers for more information. Concerning video transmission, several companies such as Recoton (Long
Island, NY) and Edmund Scientific (Barrington, NJ) sell transmitters that you may be able to modify for
underwater use. Visual Circuits (Brooklyn Park, MN) specializes in small cameras and transmitters. Any one of these companies may be able to help.