There are a lot of simple repairs videomakers can do to save on big repair
bills. However, once you complete a repair, you must then remember where all
those little parts go to reassemble the unit. The solution to this problem lay
right at my fingertips, in the form of my trusty camcorder.
Before beginning a repair, I set up one of my camcorders and record the
dismantling process, adding verbal notations when needed. From powered audio
mixers to cassette players and toasters (the kind for bread), this method works
for me. Maybe it will for you.
Athabasca, Alberta, Canada
Many people are not crazy about the quality or choice of backgrounds that
today’s titlers give you. Well, how about using wallpaper to overlay your
If you go to a store that sells wallpaper, you can often pick up discontinued
samples for free. Light the pattern evenly, zooming in to fill the screen with
the wallpaper. You can either record the pattern on tape, or simply run your
camcorder’s video output directly into your titler.
I’ve found that patterns for bathrooms and kitchens work best. After trying
this in one of my videos, I received many positive comments about it.
If you need an S-video cable longer than the standard 6 foot length, it will be
difficult to find. Due to the small diameter of most S-video cables, any cables
over about 6 feet can cause video problems. The interaction between the
conductors, shield and internal resistance of the cable tend to reduce your
video’s high frequencies. The result is a loss of detail in proportion to the
length of the cable. Because of this, longer cables must be better
cables. Here’s what I do:
Cut a regular six foot S-video cable in half. Inside you’ll find two
individually-shielded cables. The red one carries the luminance signal and the
white one carries chrominance.
Solder red female RCA jacks to both bare ends of the red cable. Solder
white female RCA jacks to both white cables. Now purchase or build two high
quality composite video cables (say of RG-59 stock) with RCA male plugs at both
ends. If you make the cables yourself, use two red and two white male RCA
Connect your long composite cables between your now-severed S-video cable,
making sure not to cross your red and white connectors. I tie the two composite
cables together with plastic ties every six inches. With quality cable (like
Belden 8281) you can go as much as 100 feet without noticeable signal
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Adopt a Cell
Because I own six Sony batteries, I put off purchasing a Sharp ViewCam because my batteries wouldn’t fit it. However, by carefully filing smooth the plastic
node that protrudes from its center, the Sony battery fits and runs the camera
too! I also tried shaking the camera to see if it would fall off. It didn’t.
If all you prospective ViewCam buyers are holding back so your Sony batteries
won’t go to waste, go right ahead and use your old Sony batteries. By the way,
after the above modification, they still fit the Sony camera too.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
I have found an item that I think every videomaker will want to have in their
bags–a flexible clamp. Found at hardware or tool stores, the item is basically
a 22-inch long flexible gooseneck with a heavy squeeze clamp at each end. I
have found numerous uses for the tool, but most of the time I use it to hold a
flag as a lens shade.
Corpus Christi, Texas
An easy way to make interesting and creative titles requires only a large piece
of workable acetate (a thin sheet of clear plastic) available at most art
First, shoot some background video with light colors at the bottom. Play this
back on a monitor. Attach the acetate over the screen with tape. Add lettering
to the screen in the light area with magazine cutouts, a marker, or transfer
letters. The last two are also available at any art store.
Shoot all of this with your camcorder (cropping out the edges of the acetate
and screen). For an added special effect, play around with the color controls
of your monitor or TV for wild color combinations.
Use the autofocus to establish the focus of the scene, then turn it off. With
this procedure you accomplish two things. The first is that any time someone
walks in front of your camcorder, the lens will not attempt to readjust
(thereby ruining your shot). Second, you save battery power.
Carolina, Puerto Rico