Motorcycle as Dolly
I am looking for a way to mount my video camera to my motorcycle. Do you have any recommendations?
If your camcorder is light enough, you could mount it to your helmet. Alan Gordon Enterprises makes a helmet-mount system thats adaptable for use with small-format camcorders; prices start at $240. Alan Gordon Enterprises can be reached at (213) 466-3561.
Home Video Improvements
I have used my Hi8 camcorder for a number of years. The shots I get are decent, but Id like to learn how to improve the overall quality and sharpness of my videos. Where do I go from here? Can you make any suggestions, or should I just upgrade to the next best camcorder?
The best way to ensure that your resolution is as sharp as it can be is to keep a close eye on your lighting. Many home videos lack sharpness and clarity due to inadequate lighting and/or improper iris settings. Just remember: a well-lit tape shot on VHS will look much better than a poorly lit tape shot on Hi8. In a nutshell: avoid backlit situations, keep the light falling onto your subject from behind the cameras field of view, and if it still looks murky–add more light.
As for upgrading to the next best camcorder–I guess that would be DV youre talking about, the hot new digital format. Upgrading to DV would certainly give you better pictures than you could get on your Hi8 camcorder, especially where color resolution is concerned. But even if you did go for the digital camera, youd still do well to keep a close eye on your lighting at all times.
Where to Begin?
Ive always been interested in shooting video, so when I recently found your magazine, I was delighted. I find your articles very interesting, but the problem Im having is that I dont know where to start. I want to learn how to edit, but I dont know if its as easy as buying a couple of VCRs. Theres a broad range of equipment and prices available; I just want the basics to get started in editing.
Rohnert Park, California
An excellent question, George. Luckily, all you really need to edit is a pair of VCRs–or even a camcorder and a VCR. Thats the most basic editing setup there is, and even this bare-bones approach will allow you to copy selected footage from your source tapes to an edit master. The procedure is as follows: cable the outputs of the source VCR or camcorder to the inputs of the record VCR; put the record VCR in pause/record mode; cue the source tape to the desired start point, then put that VCR into pause mode as well; release the pause button on both VCRs simultaneously; then hit pause again on the record VCR at the end of the segment. Repeat as necessary for each clip you want to save on the edit master–congratulations, youre editing video.
Some VCRs and camcorders provide features that enhance this simple editing process. These include jog/shuttle controls, which help you select footage to record; audio/video dub, which allows you to record a musical background track or add narration; and a titler, which gives you a way to add simple titles or credits.
I have unsuccessfully tried to copy clips from my daughters wedding taken with my Panasonic VHS-C Palmcorder to a standard VHS tape on a Sony VHS VCR. The dubbed tape has rolling bars, visual interference and no audio. What am I doing wrong?
San Jose, California
Youre probably not doing anything wrong. The first thing to check would be the connection between the camcorder and the VCR–which, in the case of the Palmcorder, is a 1/8-inch stereo mini jack that carries both composite video and mono audio. These types of connectors are notorious for becoming loose or broken, resulting in increased noise, picture degradation and sometimes outright loss of signal. If this seems to be your problem, you can replace the cable. If a new cable doesn’t change anything, the problem might be with the jack on the camcorder, which should be referred to a qualified camcorder-repair technician.