Author Topic: Video and videotape stuff  (Read 12286 times)
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Video and videotape stuff « on: February 14, 2014, 04:48:29 PM » Author: themaritimegirl
The following post is a long and rather unstructured set of anecdotes regarding my interest in video and videotape recording. I didn't really know how to structure this, but I had a lot I wanted to say, so I just typed it all out. Enjoy.  :D

One of my interests is the recording of video, especially onto magnetic tape. This probably explains why my largest hobby is making YouTube videos. For as long as I remember I always wanted a camcorder. In 2003 or 2004 I got my first video camera; just a toy unit that connected to the composite inputs of a recorder. I made recordings with it onto VHS, but I'm not sure if any survive. Then in 2005, at the age of 11, I got my first real camcorder, a low-end JVC MiniDV unit. I practically documented my life with it from 2005 until 2008, and I have about 100 hours of video stored across 30 or 40 VHS tapes to show for it, including the first recording I ever made with it, on December 25, 2005.  ;D I also began using it for my YouTube videos once I acquired a FireWire card in 2009. I used that camcorder right up until this November when it could no longer make reliable recordings. I used it so heavily over 8 years that the tape transport mechanism literally began crumbling apart. My lighting videos on here up to that point were also recorded with it. In light of this, a friend of mine from YouTube sold me two Sony Digital8 camcorders for a very generous price, one from 2002 and the other from 2003, and I love them. I've so far recorded my mercury vapor light fixture videos with them.

Aside from camcorder stuff, I also like VCR stuff. A few weeks ago I acquired the second VCR I've ever owned, and the first I've bought for "coolness" purposes, an RCA VHS unit from around 1988. It works perfect, and just needs new belts which I'll get once I have the time and the will to spend the money. I just like the whole concept of using magnetic tape to record video. And for practical purposes it's still very useful (especially if you have a 4-head VCR), and of course, WAY more reliable than recordable DVDs. I'd like someday to acquire a nice vintage 4-head stereo VCR. I also wouldn't mind trying out a Betamax or Video8 VCR. I'm also on the lookout for a Casio VF-3000, a VERY rare portable TV/VCR combo. A few days ago I found the first one I've seen in 4 years on eBay, but unfortunately I was outbid. One of my best friends also owns a Betamax tape which we found back in high school, and we have no idea what's on it. So we're hoping someday I can come across a Betamax VCR to find out.  :P

I also really love the tube-based television cameras that were used from the 1960s into the 1980s. Paired with the quadruplex videotape that was used at the time for things like news broadcasts and sitcoms, they produce a soft, somewhat low-contrast picture which I quite like. One of my favorite aspects of them is the smearing effect that results when they are pointed at and moved about a light source.

Here's a few videos (no pun intended  :P) illustrating everything I've talked about here:

My Digital8 camcorders that I got this Christmas and currently use

My friend who sent me the camcorders, reviewing my broken camcorder which I sent him

My VCR I recently bought, including a demonstration using my camcorder as the input source

This 1970 Monty Python sketch directly exploits the difference between videotape and film for comedic effect

Anyone else interested in any of this stuff?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2014, 08:48:29 PM by TheMaritimeMan » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #1 on: May 12, 2014, 05:00:36 PM » Author: BG101
I certainly am, have always been interested in the technical side of things and one of my first jobs was a TV & video repairman. This was in the heyday of VHS popularity and we were seeing the first of the cheap, nasty badge-engineered stuff from the Far East, with the deck screwed to the chassis via the PCB making access difficult unless you made up special leads for each variant which came in. But there were still plenty of the decent decks about doing sterling service except for the odd belts, pinch rollers and occasionally heads which needed changing from time to time, with a good clean-up and regrease when needed.

Bread-and-butter work but fascinating nonetheless, I got to work on some interesting machines such as the infamous Philips Charlie-deck and the other one some engineers didn't like, the Panasonic G-Deck, all requiring precise assembly of gears etc. but very reliable when treated well! Keeps you thinking .. and always a reward when you work out what the was causing that very intermittent and strange fault which only occurred once in a blue moon, when you weren't looking .. miss those days.


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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 09:30:33 PM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
I went to Cleveland, OH for the Vacuum Cleaner Collectors' Club convention, and on the way back, I got this!

Screenshot.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 11:09:05 PM by TheUniversalDave1 » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #3 on: June 17, 2014, 08:18:16 PM » Author: themaritimegirl
That's a beauty! Quite a control panel on it!
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 09:40:01 PM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
Yep, and beneath that panel is a whole bunch MORE switches, knobs, and buttons. This was obviously a very expensive machine in its day. I recorded an hour of The History Channel on it tonight, and it did just great. The timer is super easy to program, too.
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #5 on: July 26, 2014, 10:47:05 PM » Author: themaritimegirl
I scored a really nice Panasonic 4-head stereo VCR from 2002 for $3 at a yard sale today. Unfortunately, it's life with me was short and sweet. It worked great, but it had a problem in which you had to push down on the tape after inserting it for it to load correctly. In trying to diagnose the problem, I removed the deck (it's of a modern design, with a single circuit board and the deck on top of it), and afterwards, not only could I not reattach the deck for some reason (it wouldn't sit completely flat on one side), but the whole VCR completely died. Now when I turn the VCR on it lights up for a few seconds, then goes back into standby mode. The deck shows absolutely no sign of life.

I don't know what could have happened. When the deck was removed I turned all the wheels to check for stripped gears, so maybe the mechanism requires everything to be in the right place, and I threw everything out of timing by moving it around? I have no clue. I'm pretty disgusted with myself since it was my first 4-head stereo VCR (and a decent one at that), and it did work before I started screwing around with it. At least it was cheap and not a vintage or rare unit. I've thrown it up on eBay for parts.
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #6 on: July 26, 2014, 11:09:16 PM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
I've had several things that I started fooling around with and destroyed them. I just can't seem to learn "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #7 on: July 26, 2014, 11:12:20 PM » Author: themaritimegirl
I've had many, as well, although this is the first in several years. That's the last time I manually manipulate a VCR's mechanical parts. Although I've done the same to my RCA and it's never fazed it a bit.

I have to admit, while I've heard great things about those particular Panasonic VCRs from the turn of the century, and I have no doubt that the electronic quality of this VCR was good, the physical build quality disappointed me. The case is entirely plastic except for the top, as are most of the deck's components. And it was made in Indonesia!   :P
« Last Edit: December 26, 2014, 08:49:47 PM by TheMaritimeMan » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #8 on: July 27, 2014, 11:13:11 AM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
I have a Panasonic Omnivision from around 1998 that was made in Japan, and it seems rather high quality. Years ago, I had a Quasar Omnivision that was made in Indonesia and it was a POS.
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 11:21:08 AM » Author: themaritimegirl
I did a little research, and it would seem that particular chassis (which was used for a TON of different models) was made from 1996 to 2003, with production moving from Japan to Indonesia around 2001. I see the older ones even used a VFD instead of an LED display, so they really must have cheapened them near the end...

Could you possibly post a picture of inside yours here for me? Just two screws in the back and the lid lifts off. Just curious to see if the Japanese ones use a different deck design. What model is it? Mine is a PV-V4612.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 11:27:02 AM by TheMaritimeMan » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #10 on: December 27, 2014, 12:09:52 AM » Author: themaritimegirl
I got two really neat older camcorders for Christmas; A JVC GR-AXM250 VHS-C unit from 2003 and a Sony Handycam CCD-TRV66 Hi8-XR unit from 1999. They both work perfect.  ;D

The GR-AXM250 was JVC's second-to-last VHS-C camcorder, and their lowest-end camcorder at the time. VHS-C is simply VHS in a smaller cassette - the tape and signal is exactly the same, and you can actually physically play the cassettes in a standard VCR using an adapter. VHS-C is a rather interesting format - it was the first camcorder-oriented video format, introduced in 1982, and competed primarily against Sony's Video8. Despite Video8 having a longer record time (90 minutes, vs. 30 on VHS-C) and being offered on higher quality, better-featured camcorders, and despite the eventual introduction of vastly superior formats, VHS-C somehow remained popular well into the 2000s, and you can still buy tapes today. I suppose the direct compatibility with VHS is the reason it held on so long. Not to mention it is by far the cheapest of all the camcorder videotape formats.

The JVC came with four unused tapes, three still in the wrapper! And an aftermarket battery which seems to hold at least a somewhat decent charge. For being a bottom-end camcorder based on an extremely out-of-date video medium for its time, the video quality is actually quite good. It's a 4-head mono design.

In great contrast to the JVC, the Handycam CCD-TRV66 was Sony's top-of-the-line analog camcorder in 1999. It was second only to the Digital8 camcorders which also debuted that year. Hi8-XR was a minor upgrade to Hi8 which increased video resolution from 400 to 440 lines. It was the pinnacle of consumer analog video - no other analog format surpassed Hi8-XR in quality. Likewise, the TRV66 is possibly one of the best consumer analog camcorders ever made - I found one anonymous opinion that it was at least the best analog camcorder Sony ever made.

This unit came with three batteries; the original Sony which appears to be completely dead, and two aftermarket batteries which hold an excellent charge. It came with four Hi8 tapes and, interestingly enough, one Video8 tape. One Hi8 was never used; the rest of the tapes contained recordings dating to 2005 and 2006. Hi8 camcorders can record on Video8 tape, but they record in a Video8-compatible mode which yields reduced quality. This camcorder is awesome - quality is just as good, if not better than my Digital8 camcorders.

I can't wait to review both of these on YouTube.  ;D
« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 12:12:09 AM by TheMaritimeMan » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #11 on: December 27, 2014, 12:27:42 AM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
The other day at Salvation Army, I scored a 1986 RCA VCR for $4.99. It's almost exactly like yours. It has the same belt path and XPR and all that stuff, it just isn't as modern looking. Every belt on there is completely flabby! It's a wonder they move the tape at all. I will be buying it that $11.95 belt kit from Studio Sound Electronics.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 10:53:40 AM by TheUniversalDave1 » Logged

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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #12 on: December 27, 2014, 12:50:56 AM » Author: themaritimegirl
Cool! What model is it?
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #13 on: December 27, 2014, 10:53:00 AM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
VMT-596.
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Re: Video and videotape stuff « Reply #14 on: December 27, 2014, 11:30:36 AM » Author: themaritimegirl
That's a fancy looking unit, VU meter and all! Only 2-head, presumably, but at least it's stereo.
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