To Shoot or Not to Shoot!

The January 2009 Viewfinder article called “Tiny Camcorders” got me thinking about the choices we make to dump all of one’s older analog video gear to upgrade to digital. While there are plenty of digital cameras that shoot video and many new stand alone camcorders to be had, sites like eBay have seen an abundance of 3CCD Hi8, and semi-pro digital SD camcorders being posted for auction/sale. Why? Because while you make a valid point that the new “tiny camcorders” do not produce fantastic video, they do make great video and so, too, do the older formats. My point is to say that while older format camcorders offer lower quality than SD digital camcorders, given the choice to catch a major newsworthy event or not to capture that moment, (Think Abraham Zapruder’s standard 8mm color home film of JFK’s last moments), has value.

I would encourage readers to pull out that old analog camcorder and dust it off and carry it with you everywhere you go. No matter the format, it is far more desirable to be able to document what could be historic than to capture nothing at all because you could not afford a new Digital HD camcorder so you left your old 8mm or Hi8 camcorder at home.
Carlossee’ Santiago Lumpkin
Detroit, MI

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Is Stock Music Royalty-free?

Thank you for the article “Taking Stock!” by Terry Michael. My question is: If I make up a song or use sound effects from “Garage Band” that came with my Apple Computer is that considered royalty free music that can be used in my videos?
Joseph Martinez

Yes, Joseph. As long as you’re not using custom-made samples from copyrighted material, you’re fine. Any loops from a program where you purchased that program legally, (from Apple or any other legitimate company) are good. If you use random samples downloaded from the web, care should be taken.
-The Editors

Not Quite Correct Captions for Story on Old Video Gear

Regarding your “End of Tape” story in Videomaker‘s April 2009 issue. There are pictures of some videotape machines on page 41 with some accompanying explanations in a yellow box.

There are some inaccuracies in that area. The bottom left picture is not a picture of RCA TR22s. Those are RCA TR-70s. I worked with those for years and know them intimately. I could still walk up to one and operate it, reaching down to the controls below the deck and adjust the proper ones for each head without looking at them. It is like playing a piano.

The text states that the quad tape was only a few minutes in length and inside a plastic container. That is incorrect for those quad machines. Those are reel-reel machines and one reel could hold up to 1.5 hours of tape @ 15 ips. The tape was not bar-coded and loaded into a carousel. That was the RCA TCR-100 Cart machine. It was still 2″ tape. It also did not hold 50 tapes. It was about half that on the rotating carousel. You loaded them in the carousel in the correct order of play. There was not a noisy suction device pulling the tape out of the cassette.

That may have been true in the Ampex version (ACR-25) but not the RCA version. The RCA version was totally mechanical. There were two decks similar to the decks of the TR-70 mounted on their sides inside of the machine. Lever arms would come down and push the cassette into the machine where the doors of the cassette would open and two large pins would go in and pull the tape up and down out of the cassette and then move it sideways into the “thread path”. We used to call the machine a “Rube Goldberg” device. You would dub the spot onto the tape, mark the in and out points and it would print a label that you put on the front of the cartridge.

The barcode labels were for the Sony Betacart machines where you loaded 40 carts into vertical bins. There were usually 4 beta decks mounted on the left side and an elevator would pull a cart out of the bin and load it into one of the decks. You would record onto those carts in a separate beta deck and print a bar-coded label from that machine. I worked with RCA decks from 1970 and beyond.
Jim Boland

Wow, you do know your machines, Jim! We received the information in a much longer text form and may have translated it incorrectly when we edited the story. We know our guys at WTVT know their machines, we just didn’t interpret the data properly. Our apologies and profound respect go out to all the old-time engineers that had to work on quads, 2-inch carts and other machines of the Golden Era.

Ah, the skills and knowledge we have that we no longer need… we wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog about just that subject recently. You’re invited to add your own “lost skills” story to the link. Find it on our blogs.
-The Editors

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