The Secret to Color Bars Revealed!

VX1000 Color Bars

After owning a Sony DCR-VX1000 for nearly a year, I have at last cracked the secret code to record the built-in color bars. You called my attention to this in your review of the review of Sony’s TRV900 in the May 1999 issue of Videomaker. I contacted Sony, and they explained the procedure. This is what they said:


  1. Turn the power switch to off.

  2. Place the start/stop button (right side) to off.

  3. Press the red record and photo mode buttons simultaneously.

  4. Turn the power switch on the Camcorder to "camera." The color bars will appear in the viewfinder.

  5. Record the color bars for several seconds, up to a minute.

Andy Miller

Wilsonville, OR


Water-proof Ammo Can Housing

I wanted to video tape whitewater rafting runs from the deck of a river raft, but did not want the expense of purchasing a manufactured underwater case with external controls. Instead, I purchased a .50-caliber ammo can from an Army surplus store, then padded it with ensolite that’s used for backpacker sleeping bags (it is non-porous and won’t absorb water). Next, I cut a two-inch hole in the end of the can in front of the camcorder’s lens and then I covered the hole with a four-inch square of 3/16-inch plexiglass. The window was sealed in place using a silicone sealant and eight machine screws with self-locking nylon insert nuts.

Of course, the camcorder can only be turned on and off by opening the box, so it costs some extra tape, but tape is cheap compared to the cost of a commercial water-proof box.

Glen Roberts

Buena Vista, CO

Editor’s Note: You might want to first test your new waterproof box with something inexpensive, like some tissue paper, to make sure your waterproof box is holding its seal before hitting the river with your expensive camcorder.


Acrylic Tally Light Transmitter

I have heard that many videographers, professionals and amateurs alike, sometimes have a problem telling whether or not they are recording. When they think they are recording, they’re not, and when they think they aren’t, they are. I solved this problem on my camcorder (a full-sized S-VHS model) by using a 3/16-inch acrylic rod. You can cut it with a hacksaw or simply break off a piece, to attach to your camcorder’s viewfinder. One end must touch the tally light, while the other end needs to be where it is easily visible. The red light illuminates the acrylic rod, so you know instantly whether you are recording or not.

Shape the acrylic rod to fit your viewfinder by carefully heating it up in the microwave (my microwave took five minutes, but time may vary). I used Velcro to attach the acrylic rod light transmitter to the viewfinder but gaffer’s or duct tape should work. I made two of these light transmitters, one for the camcorder’s viewfinder and one for a 3-inch LCD monitor on my camcorder.

Weldon Fox

Dallas, TX


More Film-to-Video Tips

I have a couple of suggestions to add to Art Aiello’s Saving Video Classics: Techniques for Film-to-Video Transfers in the January 1999 issue of Videomaker.

First, I’ve found it easy to avoid flicker by slightly increasing the projector speed. Many old projectors have a speed control. Turn it carefully, slowly speeding up the film until the flicker disappears, then mark this setting on the projector so you can return to it later.

Use white poster board for your screen. Set the camcorder as close to the screen as normal focusing allows. Put the camcorder under the projector on a tripod, as close in-line with the projector as possible. You will find that you will get much less distortion of the image than you do if you set your camcorder up at an angle. I have found that the focus is better, and I’ve never gotten hot spots.

David Tudor

Chesapeake, VA

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