Audio Problem with Camcorder/VCR Connection

I’ve outputted my final movie file from Adobe Premiere to DV. This DV tape is now my master copy and I use it to make multiple copies. When I hook the DV camcorder up to my VCR to make copies I run into an audio problem. There is a point in the video where the audio increases significantly (i.e. an explosion). If I try to copy from a Sony DCR-PC1 camcorder the audio gets scratchy at the high point. If I copy from a Sony DCR-VX700 to the VCR the audio gets muffled at the high points. It’s almost like the camera has a level sensitivity; when the audio increases, it automatically lowers it to compensate. How can I get around this and what is the best thing to do?

Russell Haddock


Apparently, the volume of the explosion on the DV tape is too high. Though it sounds different when played from each of your camcorders, it is too "hot" for your VCR to record without distortion of one kind or another. The best fix would be to reduce the sound level of only the explosion in your editing software, render the project again and output to a new DV master tape. If you no longer have the original file on your hard drive, simply capture the entire video from your DV tape, open it in a new Premiere project file, and reduce the volume of the explosion. By this method, unfortunately, you will reduce the volume of the entire sound mix at the precise moment of the explosion. Still, it could be a tolerable solution if there is nothing else important the viewer should hear during the explosion.

I have heard that 3:1 and 5:1 are excellent broadcast quality compression ratios, is this correct? Is video density (megabytes per second) equivalent to quality? More MB per second is better quality, right? I need to produce high quality industrial videos, so I need to be sure about this. Perhaps I have some sort of misunderstanding because I used to work on linear systems. I am accustomed to converting from analog to digital through a digitizing board, and setting up the compression ratio (3:1 to 100:1) to get more or less quality (more or less MB). Is it the same with my VAIO downloading from a DV camcorder?

Eloy Fernandez

VLSI Technologies, Venezuela

In general, greater video and audio quality will demand greater throughput (higher data rates expressed in MB/seconds). Capturing DV format video and audio through FireWire connections, however, is different from the digitization process you are used to. The DV signal is compressed at a fixed, unchangeable 5:1 by the camcorder before it is written to tape. FireWire capture boards and FireWire computers do not allow you to change this ratio when importing DV files to a hard drive. You will not be able to use the DV codec to increase the ratio in order to save space on your hard drive; neither will you be able to decrease it to improve the quality. You will probably be pleased with the quality of DV, however. The format can deliver resolutions of up to around 500 lines. Of course, all DV camcorders do not deliver the same resolution. Check our Benchmarks column for the performance of particular camcorders.

I work for a college and we want to save a large collection of standard VHS tapes from our video archive collection. I thought DVD would be the ideal way to go, but I can’t find a DVD recorder. Do they exist? If not, what do you suggest?

Wanda Butterly


Like librarians, videographers are curious to know when they can archive their work to a medium as durable as DVD. Let us not act in haste, however: like ice cream, writeable DVD comes in many flavors. Though DVD-R and DVD-RW drives are exceedingly expensive and have been slow in coming to market, DVD-RAM drives have begun to appear. See, for example, the Panasonic DVD-RAM drive mentioned in Quick Focus in the September issue. Decide carefully, however, if this is the format for your archiving project. The capacity of a DVD-RAM cartridge is smaller than DVD-R, and it is incompatible with the other DVD formats. You could, however, record your VHS library to DVD-RAM masters and have DVD duplicators make standard DVD-Video dubs from them.

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