Q. In our school, we use a Philips Video 80 which is an old 3-camera system donated to us. We have tried
hooking up our Sony EV-S3000 (with built-in time base corrector) to one of the three video inputs, but we
get very dirty transitions when mixing the VCR with the cameras. The cameras mix together just fine. Is
there a cost-effective way to eliminate the distortion?
A. The EV-S3000 was a good deck and the built-in TBC put out a stable signal when playing back
tapes. The problem is that in order to mix your deck’s video with the Video 80’s, you need to connect the
EV-S3000 to the same sync signals that the Video 80 is using. But wait! There’s no external sync input on
the EV-S3000! What to do?
Try using the EV-S3000 with an external TBC. Many modern TBCs work with just the
video signal output from the deck; this would allow you to connect the EV-S3000 to the Video 80’s sync.
Look for a "black burst" output on the Video 80’s switcher and connect to that. If it doesn’t have a black
burst output, then connect to any unused composite video output on the Video 80. This should drive the
TBC with the proper timing.
Q. It appears that our town’s local access TV studio received a grant to upgrade their operation.
Apparently, they plan to go to S-VHS gear with A/B-roll editing capability. My question is: since mostly
volunteers and non-pros will use this gear (which will subject it to a variety of use and abuse), is this the
best way to get the biggest bang for the bucks? And can I expect any difference in the quality of my home
A. Most cablecast and public access stations have mandatory production and equipment safety classes
that volunteers must take and pass before they can use the equipment. I’m sure the station manager did the
proper homework when choosing what equipment to buy and replace.
Generally, any time new equipment upgrades the quality of the original signal, you’ll see
the results on your TV. However, if your home reception of this access channel was poor to begin with, it
may be due to interference anywhere along your cable line. If so, you may not see a major improvement
from your access station’s new gear.
Q. I’ve had suspicions about ME (metal evaporated) tape. I have more dropouts and flashes on this kind of
tape than any other. What gives?
Saint Paul, MN
A. Here’s a nutshell explanation: according to Sony, with ME tape, the magnetic metal oxide is spray-
evaporated onto the tape backing. With MP (metal partical) tape, a machine mechanically brushes the
oxide onto the backing. These methods result in an ME tape that provides the best possible frequency
response during the recording/playback process, but does not respond well to heavy use, such as the
constant shuttling involved while editing your tapes. The image quality of MP tape is not quite as good as
ME, but the tape is considerably more rugged and can better handle the stresses of editing. Undoubtedly,
different people will have different experiences with both tape formulations.
Q. We always talk about resolution specs for consumer-level gear, but what are the resolution specs for professional equipment such as Betacam SP, D1, D2, or MII? Also, is it true that you can use Betacam tape in Superbeta VCRs?
A. You seldom see resolution figures in the brochures for pro gear partly because pros realize that
resolution is just a small part of what makes up a high-quality NTSC signal. They find high-quality color
and rock-steady sync more interesting.
If you want to know the rough horizontal resolution capability of any piece of pro gear,
just find the video bandwidth in the specs and multiply each megahertz of bandwidth by 80. For example,
S-VHS has an approximate bandwidth of 5 MHz, so 5 X 80=400 lines.
Yes, the small Betacam tapes will fit into older Superbeta VCRs, but why spend that kind
of money when Beta tape is still on the market?
Q. If I want to copy a 30-minute tape, it takes me 30 minutes. Is there a faster way to copy tapes? I
tried the fast forward, but it only works on playback, not during recording. How do people who shoot
weddings and need thirty copies do this? Do they have recording VCRs stacked to the ceiling?
A. A video signal contains a great deal of information requiring specific speeds to record properly
along the length of the video tape. The same speeds are required again for proper playback.
You can see this on any VCR that has a jog/shuttle knob. Run a tape forward at high
speed and you’ll see the image bend, break up and sometimes collapse. If you squint, you’ll see enough of
the picture to know where you are on the tape, which is all you need for editing purposes. But if you
attempt to record at these high speeds, your recorder would also see these bent, broken pictures. And since
your recorder would be running at high speed itself, it would multiply this distortion (if it recorded
anything at all).
Yes, there is a place with thirty VCRs stacked to the ceiling to make thirty copies. It’s
called a video duplicating service (check the Yellow Pages). It exists so you won’t have to buy and control
all those VCRs!