Desktop Video: Words to the Wise

One year ago, I dove head-first into a desktop video system, which I configured myself. I selected my hardware and software based in part on the reviews and advertisements I saw in Videomaker. It’s been a rocky year. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Buy a turnkey system. Otherwise, you’ll spend as much time (if not more) keeping the system running than you will actually editing on it.
  2. Tech support is sometimes helpful, but other times useless. Tech support personnel read from scripts; if your problem isn’t in the script, they’ll get back to you (which usually means you’re out of luck).
  3. Calling the manufacturer will only get you caught in a vicious circle, with everyone blaming everyone else for problems. Also, waiting for new drivers can be a waste of time. I’ve been waiting for 11 months now, with no end in sight.
  4. Render time is a drag. It’s totally changed the way I approach a project.
  5. Upgrades are not always a good idea. I upgraded my nonlinear editing software, and nothing worked right from then on. I finally ended up downgrading to the previous version of the software, and everything worked right again.
  6. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Hold on to your linear editing system. I find that I’m more efficient using the old-fashioned, tape-to-tape method of video editing.

A. Richards
Detroit, Michigan

Kudos for March

I just wanted Videomaker to know that as a videographer and linear editor (soon to be nonlinear), your March 1999 issue was extremely helpful to me. Usually the video magazines I receive are either over my head or too basic. The tips were creative, the Desktop Video Buyer’s Guide will help with future purchases and What’s Under the Hood: Inside your VCR or Camcorder helped answer several questions. Keep up the good work! As a graduate with a degree in Television Production, my school lacked in video engineering classes. Please consider more articles that would include this. Thanks!

Anne M. Press
Fairfax, Virginia

Legal Video Info, Part 2

In response to a letter written in the April 1999 issue of Videomaker, your publication directed readers toward the National Legal Video Association for information and advice regarding the legal videography profession.

Also active in the field is the American Guild of Court Videographers. The AGCV has been instructing professional videographers around the nation and even has international members in England and Canada. We certify professional videographers in the legal field by teaching them how to do depositions, day-in-the-life documentaries, settlement documentaries, mock trials, wills, scenes of accidents, proof of damages, etc. Our toll-free number is (800) 678-1990.

Gayle Marquette
Casper, Wyoming

EP Editing

I was very interested in the article VCRs for Editing in your April 1999 issue. However, the article did not give me the information I require regarding editing at extended play (EP) speeds.

You see, I am not a professional. My editing is linear and for my own satisfaction: removing commercials from off-the-air programs, editing Hi8 tapes for myself and friends, etc. For this purpose, I want a high-quality professional deck that will edit in the EP mode, as I find this satisfactory for my needs in most cases.

Frank Bailey
New York, New York

Sorry, Frank, there are no professional level editing VCRs on the market that record in EP mode. But, in our humble opinion, you’re better of without one.

In EP mode the tape moves at a slower rate, allowing each frame of video less real estate on the tape. The result: EP-recorded tapes look awful–especially when you subject them to a second generation in the editing process.

Lest you become penny-wise and pound-foolish, we suggest that you use standard-play speeds at all times for editing. Videotape is commonly available for about a dollar per hour of recording time. A "professional" VCR will set you back $1200 or more. You might think you’re saving a dollar here and there on videotape costs, but it would take a whole lot of tapes to make up the difference between an ordinary VCR and a high-quality editing VCR.

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