Video Literacy Counts

Kudos to Videomaker for jumping into the high school “media literacy” fray with the September 1994 article, Video in Schools. Having taught media studies at the high school level for seven years, I am convinced that it should be an integral facet in any contemporary curriculum. I’m ecstatic that your staff embraces the need for this realm of study for today’s youth.

As the article mentioned, it is ironic that the world’s leading exporter and consumer of mass media–the United States–lags behind the rest of the world educational community in producing settings where students can explore this all-important discipline.


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A media class is much more than “Video 101.” The video medium cab be used practically and creatively in any subject area. It’s the language that today’s youth speak. Parents and educators would be wise to add this language to their expertise. Mr. Gibb could not be more correct when he says, “it is the new literacy.”

Below are a few resources for media education:

The National Telemedia Council, Inc.
120 E. Wilson St.
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Center for Media and Values
1962 S. Shenandoah St.
Los Angeles, California 90034

“Visual Messages, Integrating Imagery to Instruction” by David Considine @ Gail Haley, Teacher Idea Press, 1992
Englewood, Colorado.
Tom Piotrowski
Port Republic, New Jersey

Where’s the Hi8?

I recently purchased a Sony Hi8 Handycam camera from a Sony distributor. I should have seen the handwriting on the wall when they didn’t have any Hi8 videotape for sale. It took a dozen phone calls to locate anyone in southeastern Wisconsin with Hi8 stock.

I purchased a half dozen two-hour TDK-ME tapes, which I used to record my son’s graduation from MIT, and then his roommate’s wedding. When I tried to replay the tape, the heads were all crudded up. I purchased a Hi8 head cleaning tape from a local camera store after searching two weeks to find one, only to discover that Sony prohibits the use of a “wet” type head cleaner.

After more than 20 phone calls, I located a shop that had one Sony Hi8 head cleaning tape. It seemed to do the trick. The local videotape service station repairperson stated that I should never use an “ME” type tape in my camera because it gums up the heads. What do you do if the only tape available is TDK-ME?

Then the fun began. The tape jammed in the camera. I called the local Sony authorized repair station and explained my problem. He said he would not be able to look at it for at least three weeks–oh, and by the way if I was using TDK Hi8 in the camera when it jammed, there would be a $60 minimum charge since it is then not covered under warranty. “Everyone knows that you can’t use TDK tape in a Sony Handycam without having it jam.”

“OK then, sell me a Sony Hi8 tape.”

“We don’t carry them. But we can order a case for you and you can have them in four to six weeks. Which of the four types do you want?”

“What’s the difference between the four?”

“Well the two hour tapes range in price from $11 to about $25.”

“What’s the difference between the $11 tape and the $25 tape?”

“About $14 dollars.”

Great! It looks like my new Hi8 Handycam is going to retire on the library shelf next to my BetaMax and 8-track tape deck.

The only tape available in the marketplace voids the manufacturer’s warranty, and the only tape that it is allowed to use doesn’t have any support materials, specifications or availability.

I wouldn’t mind the six weeks’ wait for some tape (it’s going to take that long to get the TDK tape out of the camera anyway)–if I only had some idea as to the quality differences between the four types.

I need to know: 1) which type will not gum up the heads; 2) which tape will retain the image the longest; and 3) which tape will provide the highest resolution. The $25 tape is an ME type. Does that mean I shouldn’t use it?

It would be great if Videomaker published an easy-to-understand evaluation of all the Hi8 tapes available, along with any manufacturer restrictions on their use.
John Hankwitz

According to Sony representatives, any Hi8 tape–MP or ME–should work fine in your camcorder. There are no warranty concerns with any specific brand.

The four consumer Sony Hi8 tapes you mention have identical formulations and are priced by tape length–30, 60, 120, and 180 minutes. Only the 180 length is an ME tape. Sony suggests their own dry cleaning tape (part #V825) for head cleaning.

Don’t ditch your Hi8 camcorder just yet. Instead, try a different service representative.

-Doug Polk

For Comparison’s Sake

I would like to add my vote to October’s letter to the editor regarding product comparisons. I appreciate your detailed reviews, but they really leave me on my own in making selections, as they never compare products directly. The last instance which gave me a problem was trying to figure out the pros and cons between today’s popular digital video mixers.
Jane Lederer
Hamden, Connecticut

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