Videomaker FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do they call it a camcorder?
The word is takes its "cam" from "camera" and its "corder from "videotape recorder" just as the camcorder itself combines both a camera and a recording mechanism.

Q: Is it a good idea to use head-cleaning cassettes on my VCR or camcorder?
"Wet" head cleaners are okay; these usually come with a special cleaning solution that the mechanism carefully applies to the heads. While they may not always work as well as you’d like them to, at least
they won’t damage your gear. "Dry" head cleaners are questionable. They use an abrasive material that actually grinds the surface of the video head each time you use them. Professionals usually steer clear of this type of head cleaners because they can shorten the life of your video (and audio) heads.

Q: Should I be using a shooting script?
Probably, but there are several kinds. A professional training film demands a detailed prescription for
every word spoken and every shot made. A music video often needs a storyboard: simple drawings
intended to pre-visualize the shots. A more casual project may use only a short summary of the video to be made. But even the simplest video will benefit from a simple list of shots needed.

Q: How can I edit my videos without buying any fancy gear?
The easiest way to edit your videos involves simply recording the shots you want (in the order you
want) from your camcorder to your VCR. Though it won’t win you any awards, it will allow you to
separate the good footage from the bad.

Q: Can my equipment make insert and audio dub edits?
VHS equipment can perform these edits IF supplied with INSERT and/or DUB controls, which disable
the VCR’s fixed erase head. Consumer 8mm equipment cannot perform inserts and dubs, because, in
this format, picture and sound information are not recorded separately. Replacing either track replaces
both. (Note, however, that many 8mm camcorder owners edit to VHS assembly tapes; so they can
perform inserts and dubs if their decks have these controls.)

Q: How can I use my computer to create titles?
First you need at least a computer card that will output NTSC video. With it, you can use the output
from any Windows or Mac software that can generate text. You can also get dedicated computer
software for titling that includes effects such as crawls, rolls, and fades — and some editing systems
(such as the Video Machine from Fast Video) can add these effects to the output from other

Q: Do I have to worry about copyrights?
If you use copyrighted materials such as music, pictures, or other videotape, in a program, you must
obtain the rights to use them if you show that program publicly, and/or use it for any commercial
purpose. So if you are making a video for sale, or for a paying client –or if you will show it in public
(even without charging admission) you’re breaking the law if you don’t obtain proper permission from
the copyright holder.

Q: When do I need permissions to shoot and how do I get them?
You need permission to shoot on any private property, and indoors on public property, or wherever
your shooting might interfere with public access and use of the area. It’s a matter of common sense:
strolling down the street with a camcorder requires no permission; staging a car chase on the same
street definitely does.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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