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Old March 18th, 2006, 02:30 AM   #1
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VHS camera with pro features?

Does such a thing exist? I want to do a short where two dudes make a very independent film, using an old VHS camera. I'm talking VHS where you could take your tape out of the camera and stick it in a VCR and play it. Not even SVHS, plain old VHS.

I could shoot on the XL1s and copy to VHS and back and forth to degrade the footage (I've done it before), but if possible, I'd like to shoot on the real thing. That being said, I'd still want control over iris, white balance, focus, etc. XLR inputs or something I could get an adapter for would be good too. I know, two dudes like this wouldn't have such a nice cam, they'd have a cheapo auto-everything cam. But I'm taking a little liberty so the movie doesn't totally look like sh**. Even though it should.

Anyway, is there such a camera? If so, what model?
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Old March 18th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #2
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A camera of that vintage would be of questionable quality and the output might not be adequate for your intended use. You would be better off using a mini DV camera and lowering the video quality (and audio as well) in post. I think some of the Panasonic AG series cameras, like the AG-188, might fit your bill, if you can even find a working version.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 03:04 AM   #3
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Well, if I can do it post I guess that's easier. Last
time I did this, I couldn't find anything in Vegas
that looked right at all. I ended up going to Plus8
and using their VCR to dub back and forth between
miniDV and VHS for several generations, 'til it was
sufficiently ass-y looking.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 03:06 AM   #4
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I think you'll be looking for and old VHS-C or 8mm camcorder on eBay. Either of these will provide the requisite "quality" you are looking for. Else, perhaps one of the inumerable M3 tube cams on eBay feeding a VHS VCR. I really doubt you'll find many full-size VHS cams around any more. The alternatives are an S-VHS cam recording instead in VHS, or an old Hi8 recording in Video8 mode. The main problem, especially with the 8mm format, is dropouts, unless these add a certain bonus quality to your production. As you know, VHS, despite being a crappy format, responds well to the quality of the source. So any digital format is out.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 04:55 AM   #5
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I have a Hitachi VM-2100A VHS camera that my friends bought me last year as a joke. I tried looking up info on it online but all the results said it's a battery, which is weird because I have the camera in front of me and I definitely have the model number right.

Anyway, it has manual/servo zoom, manual/auto focus, manual/auto iris and white balance. It's a pretty cool camera except it never recorded for me. It powers up fine but didn't roll tape. If it would be of any use to you, email me at markutley@mumps.ca.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 07:46 AM   #6
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Assuming you're shooting "film style" here, there would be no way to tell that footage "shot" by your characters was actually shot by them as they were being filmed doing it. All they need is a prop camera, shouldn't need to be functional in any way except have all the external pieces present and perhaps have the loading door open and close to show them loading and removing the tape. The footage they supposedly shot would be done separately with your real camera in a POV shot from the shooter's perspective. Noising it up in post should be easy. After all, going from seeing them on the screen to seeing the footage they "shot" would be a cutaway anyway, right? Who could ever know (besides you) what the source footage of the cutaway came from or when it was really shot.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #7
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Support your local Goodwill.

I've noticed several VHS camcorders for sale cheap at several Goodwill locations.

Sometimes, Goodwill does have some nice vintage stuff.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #8
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do a search on ebay in the professional video equipment section under cameras and photo for vhs. there's some mean looking cams there.. some even have the interchangable fujinon lenses and all the gadgets.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 09:13 AM   #9
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"As you know, VHS, despite being a crappy format,
responds well to the quality of the source. So any digital format is out."

Not sure I understand this comment.

No, guys, they will have an entire movie they audience will see, that needs to look VHS-y. Not just a cutaway. Sincc the XL1s I should the intro to this whole thing is supposed to be the "good" looking footage, their movie should look substantially different. I can actually have it have less vertical resolution, like the real thing, that'd be ideal.

Check this out, it's the "prequel" (I use quotes 'cause it's not quite a prequel) to the short I'm going to do. Same idea, same setup, different type of film they end up making. You'll see what I mean about "nice" looking vs. VHS.

http://www.joshbass.com/joey_and_jerome_wm9.wmv

Now, I will be cheating a little, since they're suppose to make a pretentious quirky indie film, even though the lighting will look available as opposed to "lit", I was actually going to frame the shots in their film very artsy fartsy, to make it.. . .uh artsy fartsy.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #10
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use the xl1s in greenscreen.. everything automatic.. then degrade the quality in post.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 10:24 AM   #11
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rogue canadian mounties... lol.. i enjoyed your short.. and the zoom noise is great
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Old March 18th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #12
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You can record onto a standard VHS tape, using one of the older SVHS cameras. I've got an old AG-460 that might fit the bill.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 08:11 PM   #13
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Well, there's no hurry. I mean, a camera should be dirt cheap on ebay, right? As long as it works correctly and does what I want, that should do. If I have to pay 500 or more for an SVHS cam, then I'll just degrade in post.

I know everything SHOULD be in auto, but I might (read--probably will) take certain liberties. I dont want someone's face in silhouette 'cause I'm shooting outside and the autoiris tries to expose for the sky. That kinda stuff. Also, super artsy framing is a good (albeit, subtle for non film/movie/video people) joke about indies.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 12:29 AM   #14
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Josh, instead of buying something on ebay, check out the local rent a center. Places like that often rent VHS-C cams for a week for $100 a week. Rent it, use it, shoot it, turn it back in.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 01:05 AM   #15
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Who did the score?
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