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Video - 'Madeira - Pearl of the Atlantic'

by Tom Dragecevic

Reproduced from in focus 33 (July 1989)

As an underwater photographer I started out by taking still photographs in the Red Sea a few years ago - more as an amateur photographer learning to dive than a diver learning how to use a camera. So far my photographs haven't caught the collective imagination of BSoUP, but I am determined.

Last year I decided to branch out into video and made my first video which I called 'Madeira - Pearl of Atlantic'. This was shot in Garajau Bay. Madeira, Portugal in September 1988, using a Sony V90 camcorder (V8 format) in a Hypertech underwater housing. I chose this location because of the little-known migration of manta rays to the area between July and September.

The video, which runs for four minutes, was shot on eight dives, at a average depth of 15 to 35 metres. No lights were used - hence the monochromatic effect. The original footage was approximately four hours and it took me a week to decide which shots to select. This meant logging the video completely and commenting throughout. After a week the video was shortened to about twenty minutes and comprised what I found to be the best shots. It took me a further four days to edit this to the final version and add titles and mix the audio track.

At some point prior to my logging I had realised that I needed somehow to put these moving pictures together and after various consultations with 'experts' I have selected the following equipment -

Sony video editor RM-E 1OOV. Panasonic video mixer WJ-MX10 Two Sony V8 recorders Two video monitors Sound source (CD, tape, microphone) Sony Pro 90 camera (as a player) Stopwatch

Before explaining the reasoning behind my choice let me stress that I have had no chance as yet to experiment with alternative post-production equipment. V8 format was imposed on me by my camera equipment and so far I have not regretted it. The simplest way to edit and mix video is to use a camera as a player (if that facility is available) and a video recorder. For this to be effective, the recorder must have a flying erase head. As far as I am aware all V8 machines have this facility.
Without getting too technical. the flying erase head can produce a clean cut at the start and end of the recording rather than bands of squiggly lines across the TV screen.

With this system of camera and video recorder one can simply record shots in any order one wishes from the master to the final tape in one step. With the V8 format. on the newer machines one can lay down the sound track at a later stage (PCM mode on Sony).

To speed up the process of recording, one can use a video editor in either the single recording or programme mode. The editor works by controlling both the player and the recorder either directly or in the programmed mode.

The master tape is logged in editor by marking the start and end of the recording with the position of the tape being displayed in the LCD window. In the case of the Sony editor, eight recordings can be selected at any one time.

With the V8 format one is likely to come up with problems of incompatibility because the format has been developed by Sony.

This brings me to video mixing and effects. As anyone watching a TV programme may notice, there are a number of ways of moving from one image to another. In simple terms, one may cut from one shot to another by wiping or fading. Both wipes and fades give the finished product aesthetic appeal. The pre-requisite for mixing is to have two video players and one recorder.

A video mixer, as its names suggests, mixes two video images by means of wipes and fades. To be able to do this, the mixer must be synchronising the two video images. Normally this is achieved by what is called Genlocking.

A method of mixing I have adopted is to record a series of alternating shots from the master tape onto the two first-generation copies using the editor and then control one player using the editor while the other player is running continuously, the mixing done in real time and being recorded as a second generation tape. During the real time mixing of the final tape, I try to combine titling and sound mixing. The timing can be crucial, thus the need of a stop-watch.

One problematic effect which occurs in continuous copying of video images, using equipment other than Hi-Band, is rapid degradation of image. apparent as double imaging in the areas of high contrast. This can be partly dealt with by using gamma correctors. Presently I am explaining this to my Bank Manager. Do you think he will understand?

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