How to make video tape programs – from slides – part 1
Albert J. Copley
Why Make Video Tapes
A legitimate question which should be asked is, “Why make video tapes from 35mm slides?” Why not simply make a new video tape instead? This is not a question answered simply; there are a variety of answers as follow:
1. Large collections of slides exist which are of historical value. In this category, are scientific, and educational images, news and travel images all of which could not be duplicated onto video without enormous expense and effort, and of course your family pictures. It is not possible to get these views onto video except by transfer of existing images onto video.
2. Slides may be borrowed from a variety of sources, then transferred onto video tape, and the originals returned.
3. Slides may be of an unusual subject matter that is difficult to make into video tape. Examples might be, star trails, or the first man on the moon.
4. A video tape is an item which you could lend to friends, relatives, or colleagues, whereas you might well hesitate to lend a tray of slides, which, if lost might be irreplaceable.
5. A copy of your video tape could easily be made, and given to colleagues, friends and relatives, as well as to other interested persons, more economically than the individual slides which it represents.
6. Once a tape is made, slides which have been used, will then be available for other purposes, that is, other slide shows, or other video tapes.
Advantages of Slides
on Video Tape
There are certain advantages in having slides on a video tape, instead of using a projection system. Some of these advantages are:
1. No need to darken room.
2. Tape may be played by a simple tape cassette insertion, slides are not upside down, backwards, spilled, or reversed.
3. Sound is synchronized with picture, always.
4. Once copied, onto video tape, slides are freed for other purposes.
5. The equivalent of about 10 carousel trays of slides may easily be put onto a single video tape, stored, and transported more conveniently. In practice, however, it is generally better not to put more than a single program of 15 to 25 minutes on a tape. At a timing of eight seconds per slide, 15 minutes would be about 112 slides. Do not try to fill a tape with the most slides possible. My assumption here is that you are making up a program.
Archival Storage: If your purpose is that of preserving slides in quantity, and wish to give sets to friends, relatives or colleagues, then of course, you would want to put massive quantities on a tape. On a two hour tape you would be able to put 720 slides if you decided on a 10 second time on each. Ten seconds is really quite a while to look at a picture. How much nicer it is to have several similar views of perhaps five to eight seconds each. Use the high recording speed. Quality will suffer if you use a slow recording speed. You will have a continuing battle with quality without exacerbating the problem.
As to whether or not putting slides on video tape represents a permanent storage; I call to mind the cylindrical records, the 78’s, the 45’s, the 33’s, and now our Cd’s which some people think are threatened by DAT digital audio tape). I also call to mind the Beta video tape format. Within the coming year Eastman Kodak will come out with a commercial service of putting slides on a two inch computer disk for playback through your television. Since it will be on a computer disk; it should be accessible by a computer, and storable on a computer as well. Who can say what the future will hold in terms of imaging, storage, and retrieval?
Disadvantages of Slides
on Video Tape
There are of course, disadvantages in using a television monitor for playback instead of a traditional slide projection screen. Some such disadvantages are:
1. The TV screen is much smaller, than a conventional projection screen. Thus it is not convenient to use for presentages in a large room to a large group of people. There are projection video machines, but these are not generally available in the classroom.
2. Resolution is not as great as slide projection. Within recent years the newer monitors have been greatly improved in this respect.
3. Slide order may not be changed so readily as with conventional slide projector sets. Insert recording is possible with the more sophisticated VCR’S, but still not as convenient as changing a slide physically.
4. A slide on video is not the quality of a slide on a projection screen. You must accept it for what it is, not for what is was. If you start with a bad slide, it will be worse on the video tape.
Slide to Video Tape Transfer
Alternate Methods of Transfer: There are several different methods bY which it is possible to transfer slides to video tape. You may get attachments which are to be put on the lens of the video camera enabling You to focus close enough to get only a single slide in the field of view.
There are a variety of electronic devices specially made for copying slides onto video tape for commercial purposes. Some of these devices get fairly expensive. You may project the slide onto a screen and use your video camera to record that image. This is the technique we are describing. By using this technique, you will be able to get acceptable images with a minimum of cost. The quality of the completed tape will closely reflect the care which you have taken in completing your task.
Projection Transfer Method: Slides need to be projected onto a piece of mat board. If you use a normal projection screen, the video camera will pick up the grain of the screen. If the mat board has a pebble type finish the video camera will pick it up. You need to have a smooth finish on your projection screen. Some people have had good luck with a slightly off white color of mat board. Others seem to get better results with a white mat board. I think this is because of differences in the white balance characteristics of the video camera. You will want to experiment to find which better suits your situation. Using the standby control on your camera, you will be able to start and stop the recording so as to omit the black-out when the projector is changing slides. Feed the signal from your video camera into a monitor and use it to guide your zooms and pans. You can compare the image on the projection screen with the one on the monitor in order to guide you pan. You will not be so likely to pan off the screen using this technique. Clean Your Slides: Get a can of “Dust Off” at a local photo supply store and just before inserting slides into a carousel tray for projection give them a short blast of dry air on each side. Do not blow on your slides, tiny flecks of moisture from your lips will cause problems. Over the course of time dust and stray dirt particles are attracted to the surface of your slides as iron filings to a magnet. This will be the cheapest and most convenient way you can clean up the appearance of your production. You will be glad you did.
Projector Placement: If you should have a dissolve control, you will be able to use two projectors, and dissolve your slides for a more convenient projection. Your slide projector and video camera need to be positioned to avoid a key-stone effect, that is the optical axis of each should be aligned close as possible to each other.
Think Horizontal: It is most convenient if you transfer a horizontal format slide onto video. A vertical format slide will require cropping of part of the slide resulting in a partial picture. If you send slides to a commercial transfer service, you are forced to stick with a horizontal format. By zooming and panning on a horizontal format slide, striking effects may be produced. If this technique is utilized properly, you can almost simulate a video effect. Zooms and pans, however are not available, except at great expense from commercial transfer services. Vertical Options: If you send a vertical slide to a commercial transfer service, they will have one of two possibilities. One is to show the slide in its entirety. The result seen on the video screen will be a narrow vertical picture, with a blank area on each side which represents the cardboard slide mount. The other option would be to crop the picture and transfer only the central portion of the picture. Thus, for example if you had a picture of a standing person; the transfer would show the person from mid chest down to somewhere about the waist. A vertical format would be great if you want to explore some panning effects. If you have available a tripod with a fluid head, you will be able to zoom in and then gradually pan up or down, as desired, to copy the picture. If you want effects of this nature produced commercially, they are available only at great expense. Effects of this style are not available at the corner drugstore type of transfer service.
Aspect Ratio: The ratio of the length to width of a screen is termed the aspect ratio.” Aspect ratios of slides and television screens are not the same. What this means, is that when you copy a slide onto video, you will lose part of the picture. If you frame it tight as possible you will lose the ends of the 35mm slide. If there is some critical information near the border of the picture it is lost. Also, some of the information which is close to the top and bottom will be slightly cropped in the transfer process. Commercial transfer operations crop a minimum of three to five percent to give themselves a safe margin.
Technique Details: Don’t worry about picking up noise at this time; it will be necessary, using this technique, to add sound later. A mistake many people make is to leave a slide showing on the screen for an inordinate length of time. Five to 10 seconds is ample for most slides. The human eye and brain are quick to grasp detail of a picture and are soon ready to go onto the next picture. If you leave the picture for a longer time, people will start looking at other things and get bored. A term for this is “attention span.” If you think you need a certain slide for a longer duration, why not try several very similar slides. Use a rapid change of slide, and you will find people watching your production. You should work in a darkened room. If you need a little light near your equipment, try not to get any extraneous light on your projection screen. You may have a problem with reflections bouncing from the walls then back onto the screen. n
COPYRIGHT 1991 Photographic Society of America, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group