U.S. videographers have probably never heard of Datavideo Technologies, but many of them
have used the company’s equipment. Ambico markets Datavideo’s VP-274 Auto Video
Editor, a stand-alone edit controller, as the V-6331 in the U.S. Sima Products also markets
Datavideo products to American consumers. A British publication recently honored the VP-274, the frame-
accurate version that’s available in the European market, with a “best buy” award.
Why doesn’t Ambico market the upgraded version to its U.S. customers? “According to our
understanding of the U.S. market, from Sima and Ambico, the Auto Video Editor doesn’t sell in the U.S.,”
says Jack Lin, Datavideo’s president. Datavideo’s PE-100, a frame-accurate PC-based edit controller, will
be available soon in Europe for about $100 U.S.
With only one month remaining in 1996, it’s not likely that manufacturers will fulfill their promises of
delivering DVD products this year. Sony announced that it will not launch any DVD products
this year and other manufacturers, such as Panasonic and JVC, are now forecasting
The reason for the delay? Many fingers are pointing to the computer industry. Video equipment
manufacturers and software producers have agreed on a copy-protection system for the new digital format,
but computer manufacturers, accustomed to a history of open standards, are balking at the proposed
Until all three groups come to terms, we also won’t see any DV editing equipment. Both the DVD and DV
formats will use the same copy-protection scheme.
Sony Music is contributing the videos and Intel is providing the technology in a
“streaming video” trial. Unlike traditional video files, which viewers must download and save before
playing them back, streaming video plays while it is being downloaded. The data is discarded immediately
after playback, eliminating the need for space on the user’s hard drive. Visitors to the Intel and Sony web
sites can try out the new technology.
ImageMind Software has made it easier to play Internet video on any Windows PC with the
introduction of Video Express Viewer 1.0. The video file playback software allows users to play files from
the Internet, CD-ROMs, hard drives and intranets without downloading special players for each file type.
The 32-bit version will also play the newest “streaming media” formats.
Visions of U.S. announced the winners of its 12th annual home-video competition. Sponsored by Sony
Electronics and administered by the American Film Institute, the competition pays
homage to videos that explore social issues and are created with consumer video equipment.
The judges awarded the grand prize to a 15-year-old for Saturday, the teenager’s portrayal of a
“perfect day.” Other winning tapes included a documentary about women’s bullriding contests, a music
video that featured a couch in a freeway lane, a study of tagging and graffiti art, and a fictional exploration
of a young man’s identity.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has announced plans to release a new kind of desktop VCR for use with a PC.
The HV-PC1 will incorporate a scan converter which switches between the PC display mode and the
NTSC mode. The VCR will display video on a computer monitor, computer images on a TV monitor, and
record on VHS.
On the heels of similar introductions by Sony and Panasonic, Victor
Company of Japan (JVC‘s parent) announced it will begin selling a low-priced DV
camcorder in Japan. The GR-DVM1 is similar to the company’s GR-DV1, which it markets in the U.S., but
has a 2.5-inch LCD. JVC claims that the viewfinder’s polysilicon liquid crystal produces clear images,
even outdoors. The new model will retail in Japan for about $2,100 and JVC is considering marketing the it
in the U.S. next year. The company expects 80% of its Japanese camcorder sales to be digital by the end of
MTV and CBS Take Camcorders Seriously
When Steven Rosenbaum saw his first Sharp ViewCam in 1993, he announced to his wife that it would
revolutionize television news. He then proceeded to make it so.
The president of Broadcast News Network (BNN) is the creator of the MTV news series,
Unfiltered. Since 1995, the show’s producers have been sending Hi8 ViewCams to anyone who
has an innovative idea for a news story. “We’re looking for stories that haven’t been done anywhere else,”
The process is simple: Prospective newshounds call MTV (800-296-2445) with a story idea. If the
producers agree that the idea is compelling, they send the applicant a training video and a camcorder.
“Even people who’ve never shot video at least have a sense of how to do it,” says Rosenbaum. Besides,
production help is only a phone call away, although Rosenbaum admits that some of the footage can look
rough. When shooting is finished, the videographer ships the camcorder and tapes back to the producers,
who edit them for broadcast.
Just in case you’re thinking of sending your local news footage to MTV–don’t. Unsolicited tapes
are rejected and only video shot with the BNN ViewCams is used on the show.
Other networks are paying attention to BNN’s success with Unfiltered; CBS recently
signed the company to produce a news series. The Class of 2000 will document the four-year-long
journey of high school students leading to gradution at the millenium. The producers will give some of the
teens Sharp VL-D5000U DV ViewCams and set them loose to record their personal stories. Low-profile
consumer camcorders are perfect for easy-to-learn, unobtrusive recording of real-life situations, and the
DV format meets broadcast quality standards.
Gregory Gavin, Making Video for all the Right Reasons
Writer/producer/educator Gregory Gavin is improving his community with his wits, creative skills, and a
Hi8 camcorder. The local artist-in-residence at San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
spends most days teaching children how to build “art cars” at his WillPower Motors production facility.
Throughout the design and construction process, Gavin is teaching the kids how to analyze problems,
develop solutions and carry them out.
Gavin used the grassroots publicity generated from the soapbox cars to recruit kids and adults to
help produce a video centered on the cars. With his own TR700, a new microphone and borrowed lights,
he launched the production of “Bernaltown” last summer. Gavin held fundraisers and sold T-shirts (“A
neighborhood. An ideal. Now a motion picture.”) to help defray some of the cost. A local video group
donated the use of its editing equipment for the final cut to 3/4-inch SP.
The plot follows a community’s efforts to keep the dastardly villain, Dealer Dan, from turning a
local park into a casino. Gavin explains that, while “Bernaltown” isn’t produced by children, “I involved
them in the script development, they made costumes and props and several kids acted in scenes.” They’ve
even gone on field trips to the edit facility.
When he completes the edit, he plans to hold a free outdoor screening for the neighborhood. He
hasn’t thought much about what’s going to happen after that; perhaps enter “Bernaltown” in a few festivals
and submit it to the local PBS station. Since it’s designed like a TV show (Batman was the model),
Gavin could produce future episodes. “I’d like to turn TV around from something that comes at you from
out of nowhere into something that is culturally specific.”
by Chuck Peters
“How You Can Become The Successful Producer of No Budget Feature Films and
Northlight Media (1996, 1089 Medford Center Suite 436, Medford, OR 97504;
If you’re serious about producing feature length films and videos but you don’t have hundreds of
thousands of dollars to spend on production, this video is for you. This is a detailed look at the “how to’s”
of producing a motion picture on a shoestring budget. It’s a step-by-step guide through all stages of the
process, including scriptwriting, funding, choosing and renting equipment, finding and selecting a
production crew, directing and lighting. It describes the difference between film and video, secrets of
making videotape look like film, affordable special effects, audio and much, much more.
This well-researched presentation promises to save time, money and frustration and gives the
potential film maker solid information and insight into the “nuts and bolts” of movie making. Host David
Arthur, senior producer at Northlight Media, offers an in-depth look at this growing field. He shares his
personal experiences along the way, and offers encouragement and inspiration to the would-be
Accompanied by a printed manual, this course is a worthwhile investment for anyone who wishes
to make moves–especially those without a lot of cash. 4
Videotaping Kids for Fun or Profit
Zoran Karapancev (1996, ABC Productions & Publishing, 37 Larkhall Ave., Scarborough,
Ontario Canada M1J 1V2; $39.95)
An instructional video aimed at amateur and for-profit videographers alike, Videotaping Kids For
Fun or Profit from ABC Production and Publishing offers beginning videographers some of the many
tips and tools needed to produce professional looking videos of children. While the video contains several
good “tricks of the trade,” including camera positioning, shot selection, and other useful tips, the relative
awkwardness of the presentation obscures them.
Although the video primarily addresses those wishing to produce videos for money, it spends very
little time instructing the viewer how to do so. It leaves you with little more than a quick suggestion of how
to sell yourself and your product. And while it is possible to make profits producing videos of children at
school, in plays, recitals or athletic events, this video does not reveal any special “secrets” that would give
one videomaker the upper hand over another.
Probably the most helpful portions of the video are at the end. Here you’ll find full-length samples
of finished projects produced by ABC Production and Publishing shot in a variety of settings.
Unfortunately, the instructional portion of the tape doesn’t address many of the production styles and
techniques used in these samples, which leaves the average videomaker with more questions than answers.
Mark Shapiro (1996, SRS Productions, 8030 La Mesa Blvd, #112, La Mesa, CA 91941
Remember bringing home your first camcorder? Did you tear into the box and rush out to tape an
important event, only to realize that you had absolutely no idea what half of the 10 zillion buttons are there
for? Most of us can relate. If only we had watched Your Cam, produced and hosted by Mark
Shapiro, we might have avoided a great deal of frustration.
Aimed at first-time owners of Panasonic VHS and VHS-C camcorders, the hour-long tape teaches
everything there is to know about these cameras. This tape is not for professionals; it is exclusively for
those first-timers who wish to learn how to operate their camcorders. Shapiro explains each feature:
attaching the shoulder strap, affixing the power supply, setting the time and date, hooking your camcorder
up to a television, and a wide range of other functions. In addition, the tape supplies the beginning
videomaker with valuable lessons on basic camera operation such as focusing, zooming, macro focus, shot
selection and more.
Your Cam—Panasonic is one of a series of Your Cam videos that
describe camcorders from Sharp, Canon and other manufacturers. If yours is not a Panasonic camcorder,
you can probably find a Your Cam tape that covers your brand. It truly tells you “everything you
need to know about your camcorder.” 4
KEY TO RATINGS: 5-excellent, 4-very good, 3-good, 2-not so good, 1-poor