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VHS editing?


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#1 filmguy

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 05:59 PM

I shot many 400ft. rolls of super 16mm and had it transferred to digibeta. I then had VHS dubs made for screening purposes. I am extremely short on funds and am now trying to edit. I'm wondering if editing on VHS is a vialble option? I know it's rather old school. But for cost purposes is it an option for me to edit on VHS and then have the lab conform from my digibeta tapes? This would then give me a better quality picture, which could be transferred to DVD. However, in terms of sound- when would the mix happen? Would the sound mix happen after the lab conforms from my digibeta tapes. Could I edit on VHS, then have the picture conformed from my digibeta, then have the sound mixed on the digibeta and then transfer to DVD? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 03:58 PM

I shot many 400ft. rolls of super 16mm and had it transferred to digibeta. I then had VHS dubs made for screening purposes. I am extremely short on funds and am now trying to edit. I'm wondering if editing on VHS is a vialble option? I know it's rather old school. But for cost purposes is it an option for me to edit on VHS and then have the lab conform from my digibeta tapes? This would then give me a better quality picture, which could be transferred to DVD. However, in terms of sound- when would the mix happen? Would the sound mix happen after the lab conforms from my digibeta tapes. Could I edit on VHS, then have the picture conformed from my digibeta, then have the sound mixed on the digibeta and then transfer to DVD? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


You'd need to have burnt in time code on the VHS so you can conform your Digibeta tapes to the edit. You'd at need a 2 machine VHS editor to cut your pictures on.

You'd be best not to track lay on the VHS editor, they're extremely basic and the quality is poor.

Using this method, I suspect you'd be best doing the mix after the pictures are conformed, then you'll be able to spot any sync problems.

However, I think your costs are going to go up when you start doing the sound.
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#3 filmguy

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 05:14 PM

You'd need to have burnt in time code on the VHS so you can conform your Digibeta tapes to the edit. You'd at need a 2 machine VHS editor to cut your pictures on.

You'd be best not to track lay on the VHS editor, they're extremely basic and the quality is poor.

Using this method, I suspect you'd be best doing the mix after the pictures are conformed, then you'll be able to spot any sync problems.

However, I think your costs are going to go up when you start doing the sound.

Thanks for the feedback. Just to clarify, are you saying this method would wind up costing more in the long run? I thought picture edit on VHS, then conform digibeta, then sound mix from digibeta? Then I would pay maybe more for a sound mix, but my picture edit would be cheap?
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 06:34 PM

Thanks for the feedback. Just to clarify, are you saying this method would wind up costing more in the long run? I thought picture edit on VHS, then conform digibeta, then sound mix from digibeta? Then I would pay maybe more for a sound mix, but my picture edit would be cheap?


You'd need to cost it out with your lab and it depends where you're going to be laying your tracks on the DigiBeta. Just if a lab or facility are doing the track laying and mix it could add up. It could cost more than you buying a NLE and doing it yourself.

I assume you've already got the VHS kit, so you won't be paying for that.
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#5 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 05:25 PM

You'd need to cost it out with your lab and it depends where you're going to be laying your tracks on the DigiBeta. Just if a lab or facility are doing the track laying and mix it could add up. It could cost more than you buying a NLE and doing it yourself.

I assume you've already got the VHS kit, so you won't be paying for that.


Virtually no newbie who actually uses NLE gets it to work properly from the get go, especially when it comes to outputting back to tape. I have yet to see a truly intelligent AND simple to use NLE system. I would never recommend buying an NLE system to meet a deadline.

NLE is a tremendous resource but if you are a newbie, make sure that you are into computers to begin with, will be buying a computer that is designed to work with the NLE system you will be buying, have someone around to answer all your questions during the first few days you are working with your NLE set-up, will only be using it for your projects only at first, and you have no hard deadline to meet.

Otherwise, an offline VHS straight cut system, if you can find one, is actually a very logical approach if you already know what it is you will be assembling. As for sound, VHS sound is not that bad actually. However, it depends on the professional level of the equipment you are using.

The best quality, cheapest way to add sound on a VHS offline master is to first use a "scratch track" onto the linear channels so you have a sound guide. Here's where it gets a bit tricky. The ultra high end VHS edting systems actually use dolby noise reduction on the linear channels and separate what is normally known as mono linear into two separate insertable audio channels. The quality is actually acceptable, assuming when the tape is played back for bumping it is played back on a high end vhs machine with dolby playback specs. Generally, any VHS edit deck with a 9 pin/422 connector on the back of the machine also will have dolby noise reduction that is settable from a menu option.

HI-FI audio is incredibly good, but you won't be able to use it because it is imbedded in the picture area of the VHS, so the moment you do cutaway shots you will lose the audio that was imbedded prior to the cutaway shot being inserted.
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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 10:09 AM

I think cost, not time is the issue here. It's better spending the time developing a useful skill that you can apply to future projects.
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#7 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 10:32 AM

I would think that that would be a convoluted way of getting the picture cut. I'm not sure what it would cost to have somebody take your VHS master and conform the D-Beta to it, but it seems to me if you bought a harddrive and payed to have a post-house capture the footage for you, you could then cut it at home using an NLE (presuming you have a computer and Final Cut/Premier/Avid) and then when finished, take it back to the post-house and have them lay off a new D-Beta master. From there you could use it to do your sound mix and make duplicates. Again, I'm not sure how that would work into your budget, but doing a vhs to vhs edit seems extremely lo-fi to me. Perhaps I am a product of this digital era and can't see the benefit. Just a thought.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 11:45 AM

I would think that that would be a convoluted way of getting the picture cut. I'm not sure what it would cost to have somebody take your VHS master and conform the D-Beta to it, but it seems to me if you bought a harddrive and payed to have a post-house capture the footage for you, you could then cut it at home using an NLE (presuming you have a computer and Final Cut/Premier/Avid) and then when finished, take it back to the post-house and have them lay off a new D-Beta master. From there you could use it to do your sound mix and make duplicates. Again, I'm not sure how that would work into your budget, but doing a vhs to vhs edit seems extremely lo-fi to me. Perhaps I am a product of this digital era and can't see the benefit. Just a thought.


Since the project was shot on film, there most likely is a very reasonable filming ratio. So a low fi approach can work nicely, if access to a functioning VHS system is actually available.

I think cost, not time is the issue here. It's better spending the time developing a useful skill that you can apply to future projects.



I do agree with this concept. It just depends how much start up time is required for an NLE system versus a simple straight cuts vhs editing system. What also matters is how easy and inexpensively it will it be to make the VHS window burns if they have not already been made. It's possible that it might cost the same whether one makes a mini-dv copy or a vhs copy from the digitbeta, in which case it would be tempting to make mini-dv copies and now the NLE becomes the final version. Don't even go back to the digibeta unless the project is sold and maxium quality is desired.

But, one other thing to mention, to get matching time-code between a mini-dv dub and the digi-beta masters does require a higher end DV-Cam deck, and suddenly you could be looking at significantly more per hour to make the transfer than a simple VHS window burn.
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