History Lesson
I enjoy Glen Calderone’s technical articles, but he’s not too up on his history.

Regarding his article “Recording’s History and Folklore” (Jan. ’95, page 66): that ain’t the way it happened.

The story starts in the 1920’s, when it was hip to smoke cigarettes tipped in real gold. The problem was that the gold powder came off on the debutant’s lips–a real King Midas kiss. A chemist working on a solution for bonding the powder in a plastic film was also a music lover. He got the idea of putting iron particles on one of his films and using it to record music. The iron filings he used were too large, however, and the experiment failed.


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One day, he discussed this with a friend who worked for BASF, a German chemical company. He came up with
the concept of using precipitated iron oxide, and thus the first practical audio tape was born, just before the second
world war.

Throughout the war, allied intelligence marveled at the clarity of Nazi propaganda broadcast, which were much
better than Sir Winston’s scratchy recordings. It wasn’t until we captured a German radio station that we learned the
secret–they were using tape!

Hugo Freudenthal, Ph.D.
Massapequa, NY

Legal Video: Not So Easy?
Your article “Making Money with your Camcorder” in the January ’95 issue caught my attention, since I was
thinking of getting involved in videotaping legal depositions.

This article makes it sound so simple to do, but it isn’t. After many visits to court reporting offices and
conversations with lawyers, I can tell you that there’s a lot the legal videographer must know.

Each state has its own video deposition laws. The common thread appears that each requires a time code
generator hooked up to the camera. In addition, you need a mike mixer to accomodate several lawyers and

A good amount of legal jargon is expected of the videographer as well. I suggest taking a certified course in
recording legal depositions to prevent the videomaker from being sued if something wasn’t done right.

This information should have been included in your article. It left me with a simple impression that all you need is
your camcorder and some clients to get involved in this field of videomaking. Not so!

Sheldon Sugar
Coral Springs, FL

Mail-Order Blues
I would like to pass on an observance about the advertisements placed by mail-order video equipment houses. I
confidently purchase almost all of my Mac stuff straight from the back of my Mac magazines and am a satisfied
believer in mail order. But what irks me is the reluctance of video equipment houses to print a price.

It is only on rare occasions that computer mail-order houses say “call” for prices–they know prosumers don’t have
the time to waste. I’m not naive–I know the game. I haggle computer mail-order houses on their prices, too. But the
absence of pricing says to me “flaky” and “dishonest.” If you have the best prices, then show us your low prices and
be proud of them! We deserve better customer services.

Randy Banis
Los Angeles, CA

Yes, Edit Jacks
I read your February Viewfinder about the lack of editing jacks on video products destined for the U.S. Add my
name to the list of dissatisfied customers.

I hope that if you receive enough complaints, you will be able to persuade companies to update their video
products for the American consumer.

Robert E. Loe
London, OH

Buyer’s Guide Correction
As a manufacturer and marketer of blank videotape, we at Maxell certainly appreciated your January 1995 buyer’s
guide. We were surprised to note, however, that tapes from Maxell Corporation of America were not referenced on
the charts covering the VHS, S-VHS and VHS-C tape categories.

Maxell is one of the leading full-line suppliers of videotape in all categories, and is the industry sales leader in
VHS-C. And, in the VHS category, Maxell’s T-120 HGX-GOLD videotape has been shown in testing to have
particularly robust figures in video signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio and color signal-to-noise ratio.

We hope this information is useful to the readers of Videomaker. Thank you for the opportunity to
offer these additional thoughts.

Peter N. Brinkman
National Marketing Manager
Consumer Audio/Video Products
Maxell Corporation of America

We apologize to Maxell and our readers for this oversight.

As to the “particularly robust” S/N figures, we’d like to point out that these figures often represent how a particular tape compares with the performance of a reference tape unique to each manufacturer; they tell you very little about how the tape compares with other brands.

–The Editors

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.