Ask Videomaker. Questions and comments from our readers and answers from the editor.
DIY Capture Card Installations
Over the past several issues, I have noticed that you feel many of your readers would run into trouble if they tried to install a video capture card themselves. I'd like to offer you and your readers some very encouraging news on this front. Things have gotten much better and it really isn't that difficult to install a capture card in a current (less than 18-months old) computer. Here are the key reasons why:
1) Plug and play does actually work with today's video capture cards.
2) Most inexpensive FireWire cards (i.e. PyroDV, Studio DV or SIIG) are OHCI-compliant and the drivers are built into the operating system (Win98SE and above).
3) Disk drives, which used to be problematic, are faster than ever. Performance is high and prices are low.
One final piece of advice for your readers: Where you buy your capture card can be as important a decision as what card you buy. I just wanted to make sure your readers know they can do it themselves (even on an older computer) and that there are resources, such as our site, www.videoguys.com, that can help.
The Electronic Mailbox
To videographers who have concerns about how long videotapes will last, I can attest to the fact that they will last for many years.
I got started in video in 1980, and every one of my videos from that period is in mint condition. I have used some tapes over and over without a single problem, and with today's technology, the quality of tapes has greatly improved. This also applies to 8mm and Hi8. I have used those formats since their creation and I have only the highest praises. Amazing how 21 years have slipped by.
Paul A. Thomas
Yep, we have lots of old tapes (over 15 years) around that still work just fine, but we also have a tape from just seven years ago that is unwatchable and is now gone forever (excluding expensive restoration). Why did that happen? We don't know for sure, but we want to take a conservative stance on this one. We're sure you agree with us though: proper storage is easy and important. Tapes stored upright in a clean, dry place at room temperature will last longer than those tossed into a box and stored in your attic.
Pixel Problem Remedy
I have been teaching a high school video production course for almost four years now. The March issue was a big help with a few things. It was a nice ego boost to have just finished a week-long lesson on depth of field when the issue came in the mail.
My praise on this occasion, however, is a result of a wedding I shot for a side business I have. I had finished the editing and was putting it out to tape when I noticed some pixels popping up in the middle of the screen, as if there were some problem in the digital process. I re-rendered and got the same problem in different places.
Then I read the Home Video Hints on tape care. I had no idea you were going to solve the pixel problem in my client's wedding video. This time, I recorded black over the first minute (you recommended two minutes) in long play and then exported the production to the tape following that. I can ship out the tape tomorrow, thanks to your help.
Keep up the good work.
Santa Rosa, CA
About That Last Paragraph
The article, Get Those Tapes in Shape by Jim Stinson was very informative and easy to understand, until... the very last paragraph. I would appreciate some further detail and explanation about his comments following "If you edit on a computer..." I cannot figure out what he means to "cable its audio and video outputs", etc.
You're right, Tim; I could have made it clearer. Basically, the idea was to connect cable from the audio and video outputs of your editing system to the recording inputs of your camcorder and press Record, as if to output an edited program back to tape. That will disable the camcorder's lens and microphone; but since you aren't sending any information from the computer, the result will be a black tape with time-code.
-- Jim Stinson