Q. I’m a 17-year-old who currently uses a VHS-C camcorder, a VCR and a Videonics MX-1 video mixer to edit. I realize it’s outdated and by this time I should be using digital, but I have a question regarding digital camcorders: Is it possible to edit using a digital (video) camera with, say, my Videonics MX-1 video mixer?In other words, do most digital cameras have RCA output jacks? I would appreciate any help.
A. The answer to your question is "yes." All digital camcorders have analog outputs. Most units have an A/V mini-jack that plugs into the unit and terminates on the other end into a composite (RCA) video plug, and two plugs for stereo audio, also RCA. Your digital camcorder also has a Y/C (or S-video) output, which gives a much cleaner analog signal. Your MX-1 will accept S-video or RCA video inputs. The Videonics MXProDV, the big brother of the MX-1, accepts digital (IEEE 1394, FireWire) inputs, allowing linear editing of digital video.
On another note, don’t be so embarrassed by the equipment you use. You’re gaining invaluable knowledge and experience by performing linear, analog edits. Many folks who go straight into digital editing suffer from not having experienced the trials of maintaining the integrity of an analog signal path. Analog editors manage generation loss and noise concerns, then plan their editing moves accordingly. Pre-production planning, having a clear idea of your project goal and shot list, and having those elements prepared before entering the editing environment are key to analog editing. We wish you the best of luck and happy shuttling.
Q. I am shooting how-to videos for a volleyball coach at the local university. We are shooting in her gym under warehouse-type lighting that turns all the whites to yellow and the reds to a muddy maroon/brown. I’ve tried the white balance settings without success. (I’m using a Sony PC100 Mini DV, which has settings of Auto, Indoor, Outdoor and Hold.) Is it possible to add supplemental lighting of a particular color to balance things out and achieve white?Can I trick the white balance settings in my camera using colored cards and the Hold setting?If so, how do I determine which color to use? Is it as simple as using the color that is opposite of yellow on the color wheel?
A. Gymnasiums are notoriously difficult environments in which to white balance, so don’t feel alone. You have, most likely, mercury vapor lights, for which your camera does not have a preset. In addition, the floor of the gym, most often of a yellow hue, reflects a large amount of light and contributes to the color temperature of the light as well. If there are windows in the gym and you shoot during the day, you will get mixed temperatures from the two light sources. In that case, you may encounter different light temperatures, depending on where you point the lens.
Mercury vapor lights, if in fact that is what you are dealing with, do not contain certain portions of the visible spectrum and therefore make it very difficult for the camera to balance. Adding another light source, however, does not seem to be a logical answer to your situation. You would have to introduce a huge amount of light to the gym, and would be adding yet another color temperature to the mix.
Tricking the camera could be your best bet. First make sure the camera takes a reading off the white card and that it in fact is balancing to that card. You might try putting the card near the floor, which contains the most intense yellow light. If you still have no luck and you are sure that the camera is doing its job, try using color-correction filters mounted on your lens or use colored gels held in front of the lens to trick the camera when white balancing to the white card. You do not want to add the opposite color; you will in a sense be correcting the color temperature entering your camera and multiplying the offending hues. If you use the gel method, colors like yellow or amber will get your camera to cool down the temperature of the available light. The difficulty will be avoiding too drastic a swing in the cool direction.