Working with Video (Part 2)
Studio setting up
In the May issue I left you halfway through setting up your own private video studio, so we had better tie up the loose ends. Taking this task literally, this means connecting everything together. Wiring your whole studio is straightforward if you take each item on its own and follow the normal instructions in the manuals. If you are in doubt why not make yourself known at the local technical college? Almost certainly they will have an audio-visual 'king' (who will probably feel flattered to be regarded as an expert) or you could ask at your local amateur radio club if they have any amateur television enthusiasts (ATVers). As an ATV enthusiast myself, I can assure you we always help newcomers and of course we don't just play at closed circuit TV, we broadcast as well. Transmitting amateur television is a complete hobby in itself and I'll deal with this subject at length in another article soon.
In the discussion so far I have assumed monochrome operation because video "on the cheap" has to be in monochrome unless you are very lucky. Owning one colour camera is a step towards all colour production because (a) black and white sequences mixed in with colour can be extremely effective (we see far "too much" colour nowadays!) and (b) you can buy low-cost devices to colourise black and white images artificially. Sony make one which sells for around £75: using a black and white camera you can photograph titles and captions, for instance, and colourise these, then superimpose them over pictures obtained with a normal colour video camera. The main things to remember about colour operation are that you need more money, more lighting and the connection or rather interconnection of apparatus becomes more complicated if you want to achieve good results. The same basic principles apply, of course. As always, keep your eyes open for bargains — it's amazing what you may find in the small advertisements in 'Exchange and Mart'.
If you want to 'get into' video in a hurry books are the fastest way to pick up knowledge. Back in the January issue I reviewed a new book from Newnes called 'The Video Handbook'. Although expensive at £19.90 it is extremely comprehensive and you can't beat it, especially if you are interested in the more technical aspects. If you cannot find this book in your local library and fancy something a little easier on the pocket you will find a number of other video books on the market, most of them written for the American semi-professional user. They tend to deal a lot with reel to reel video machines and the models of camera mentioned are of course all American ones: they are, therefore, only partly appropriate for the European scene. The chapters on production techniques, staging, lighting and video photography are, however, fully relevant. They are all written for 'non-technical' readers and bits of them may make you squirm a little! The one I like the best is called 'The Video Primer' by Richard Robinson. Two editions can be found in the bookshops — one at £4.95 is a tall, narrow paperback of 380 pages while the other is a larger format hardback and costs about £8. The contents seem to be identical and needless to say, I purchased the cheaper edition. It is a very honest book and is down-to-earth in a way which European books seldom are. It shows you how to solder a PL-259 plug and how keying works in an effects generator. There is a comprehensive glossary at the back and it should keep you quiet for a weekend at least!
A few months ago I bemoaned the poor audio quality of many TV sets and mentioned that music on video was seldom 'hi-fi'. A step in the right direction is the decision of Magnetic Video to duplicate its videocassette releases with full Dolby stereo sound. This is a step in the right direction and anticipates my earlier prediction that stereo sound VCRs will appear during 1982. To hear the full stereo effect you will be able to connect your (new) VCR to your hi-fi system and there are also a number of TV sets with twin speakers for stereo coming on to the market now.
Another development is the ever-increasing number of pure and simple music tapes being released. An example is EMI's tape entitled 'The Tubes' Video': now you may or may not like The Tubes but seldom have I seen a more polished presentation. And in a hour or so you can develop a visual and musical theme so much more than a three minute segment on 'Top of the Pops'. Some first-rate concert performances are also available, such as ELO's extravaganza at Wembley Stadium, which is high on my 'want to get if only I could afford it' list. Here is the snag, of course, nobody will deny that these prerecorded tapes are desperately expensive, and unlike record albums, there's no way the average individual can afford to build up a collection. Well, not legally anyway.
For some reason that last thought brings me to video clubs. These are springing up like mushrooms nowadays and the rental charges for short periods can be very reasonable. Try to avoid the clubs which demand huge deposits: other clubs now work on a nominal deposit system. Some take a cheque which they promise not to bank unless you disappear off the face of the earth. Many clubs allow you to borrow a film overnight for £2 or less, which can be cheaper than going out to the cinema, well after counting the cost of fares, drinks and ice creams, it is! This welcome development may also be instrumental in bringing down the price of prerecorded tapes to purchase.
Finally, here's a novelty which may set a trend and should appeal to musicians who are also video owners. Denny Laine, of The Moody Blues and more recently Wings, has made a video for Fletcher Films entitled 'A Helping Hand from Denny Laine on Guitar'. In this recording Laine gives advice on choosing, tuning and playing the guitar as well as useful hints on songwriting and recording. Available on the three popular formats, the programme lasts for 59 minutes. Other artistes have been lined up for Fletcher, and Rick Wakeman is booked to perform on keyboards. I haven't been favoured with a review copy, so I cannot say if it's any good but it sounds like a good idea. Why not check it out if this is your scene?
Feature by Andy Emmerson
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!