The Camel’s Nose
I believe you are incorrect in saying manufacturers are protecting the high end of the business by limiting
the release of new technologies (“The Camel’s Nose,” February 1996). They’re actually doing the same
thing to both low-end consumers and high-end professional users: milking the market.
Ten years ago, I attended a professional conference and met a design engineer for a major
manufacturer. At the time, I was holding off another year in purchasing a new camera (I had three
Ikegamis at the time). I believed the digital age was just around the corner.
He told me then that I had about five more generations of cameras to buy before I’d see my first digital unit. “I could put a digital camera in your hands tomorrow,” he said, “but why should I do that if you’ll pay me every two years just to get a piece of it?” I held off another year–and since then I have purchased at least four generations of high-end video cameras. As you can see, the high-end professionals get the same treatment as the consumers.
Operations Manager, National Empowerment Television
Your March, 1996 article on time base correctors (“TBC Trivia,” page 22) contains several factual
A TBC does not produce noticeably “sharper video images” from first to second generation if the original is clean. This is because the improvement the TBC produces is offset by the inevitable degradation that occurs when a signal is processed (in this case, digitized). From the third generation on, the TBC’s effects should be seen.
A frame synchronizer is not a “stripped-down type of TBC.” It synchronizes two separate video sources by electronically delaying one source until the second one begins a new field. It does not correct time base error.
The Videonics MX-1 video mixer has a true dual-channel, infinite window TBC, not just a frame
synchronizer. The Videonics MX-1’s TBC meets FCC and RS-170A broadcast specifications.
David B. Clemens
You address some very good points in your letter regarding the differences between time base
correctors (TBCs) and frame synchronizers.
As you say, a frame synchronizer is not a “stripped-down” TBC. A frame synchronizer is simply an electronic device that synchronizes two different video signals so that they can be mixed; it does not provide correction for a video signal’s timing abnormalities. A TBC will correct these timing problems in addition to synchronizing two video signals. Hence a TBC will perform the functions of a frame synchronizer, but not vice-versa.
Finally, you are right to identify the Videonics MX-1 video mixer as having a true dual-channel, infinite-window time base corrector.
Freeware, not Shareware
Joe McCleskey provided some valuable information regarding the Internet in the article “Internet
Resources for Videomaking” (March 1996, page 104). However, I’m sure he will get lots of flame mail
from shareware programmers (I’m not one) regarding his definition of shareware in the glossary of
Shareware usually has a small ($10-$50) registration fee associated with it. Freeware, on the other hand, is free (as its name implies). I’m sure many people confuse the two, but it is important that a distinction be clearly defined, especially in national publications.
Here’s a better definition:
Shareware distribution gives users a chance to try software before buying it. If you try a shareware
program and continue using it, you are expected to register. Individual programs differ on details. Some
request registration while others require it; some specify a maximum trial period. With registration, you get anything from the simple right to continue using the software to an updated program with printed
Copyright laws apply to both shareware and commercial software, and the copyright holder
retains all rights, with a few specific exceptions as stated below. Shareware authors are accomplished
programmers, just like commercial authors, and the programs are of comparable quality. The main
difference is in the method of distribution. The author specifically grants the right to copy and distribute
the software, either to all and sundry or to a specific group. For example, some authors require written
permission before a commercial disk vendor may copy their shareware.
Shareware is a distribution method, not a type of software. You should find software that suits
your needs and pocketbook, whether it’s commercial or shareware. The shareware system makes fitting
your needs easier, because you can try before you buy. And because the overhead is low, prices are low
also. Shareware has the ultimate money-back guarantee–if you don’t use the product, you don’t pay for
An excellent (if somewhat lengthy) discourse on the topic. Our error was in trying to be too brief.
Readers, take heed, and make your Internet software downloads accordingly.