Donald B. Trivette
The PC/VCR Connection
Remember those 8 mm home movies you took back in the 1960s and 70s...the ones stored away in a shoebox on the top shelf of a closet ...the ones you haven't seen in years because it's too much trouble to set up the projector and screen? Now, if you have a videocassette recorder (VCR), you can show them on your TV set.
The first step is to transfer the film to tape. There are commercial firms in most major cities that specialize in this service. Ask your video dealer to recommend one or call the tape editor at your local TV station for suggestions. The cost is quite reasonable-usually just $2 to $3 for 50 feet of film, plus about $6 for the cost of a two-hour tape. Most firms give substantial price breaks for 200- and 400-foot reels.
The picture quality of the tape can actually exceed that of the original film if the transfer is properly done. This means you should avoid firms that transfer the film to tape by projecting your movies on a screen and recording the image with a video camera. Because film and video have different speeds (18 frames per second versus 30 fps), taping from a movie screen can result in horizontal interference lines and flickering. Professional transfer firms have special equipment to overcome this problem.
Once the film is copied on tape, you can add music and narration if your VCR has dubbing features. If not, consider renting a VCR with those features and, while you have the second machine available, make copies of the tape for friends or relatives. As your tapes begin to take on a professional-looking quality, you'll want to add titles, too. Here's where your IBM PC or PCjr really shines.
All you need to make titles with your computer is a cable to connect the composite video output to the VCR. You'll need a shielded cable with a male RCA-type plug on both ends. (Electronics stores such as Radio Shack have them in different lengths for about $5. Or you can borrow one from a stereo system.) Plug one end of the cable into the video input jack on the back of the VCR. If your VCR is an older model with nothing but an antenna connection, you should rent or borrow a newer machine for best results. The other end of the cable plugs into the jack labeled V on the back of the PCjr, or into the jack on the PC's color/graphics adapter board. (If your PC only has the monochrome adapter, you lack the necessary hardware.)
Once the connection is made, you can record virtually anything that appears on your computer screen, although some color combinations that look good on an RGB monitor don't record well.
If your computer's display is a composite monitor, you'll have to disconnect it to plug the patch cable into the composite video output. That means you'll need to figure out some method for previewing the titles-the computer output. The easiest way is to connect a TV set to the VCR as usual. Then, whatever your computer is "playing" will be displayed on the TV and can be recorded by the VCRjust as though the PC were a TV station or cable system. Alternatively, you can view the computer output on an RGB monitor or TV connected directly to the PC or PCjr.
Creating Your Own Titles
The next step is to produce the titles. Things like: Christmas 1975, Eric's 4th Birthday, Vacation in Hawaii. You can use any program that produces text on the computer screen, preferably in a large size and in color. You'll want something that doesn't leave a menu line or blinking cursor on the screen.
For really professional results (at a professional price-$250), it's difficult to beat IBM's PC Story Board software. This program is designed for making animated graphics presentations. Besides having different sizes and styles of typeshadowed, outlined, and slanted in either direction-Story Board allows you to dissolve, wipe, explode, push, and weave from one screen to another. A whole series of titles can be stored on disk and played back automatically in a timed sequence.
Story Board is designed for corporate presentations, and although the results are spectacular, most of us can't justify spending $250 to title home videos. Fortunately, there's an economical alternative.
You can produce colorful, attractive titles with a very simple BASIC program-even if you're not a programmer. The program below produces three-line titles in colors; consult the COLOR statement (for text) in your BASIC manual to equate a color with a number (e.g., 1 =blue, 2 =green, etc.). Background colors must be in the range of 0 through 7; foreground (text) must be in the range of 0 through 15. Insert spaces ahead of the text to center the lines on the screen.
The INKEY$ statement in line 200 keeps the OK prompt off the bottom of the screen. On the PCjr, you can generate even larger characters by changing the number 40 in line 100 to 20. This displays 20 characters per line instead of 40.
IBM PC/PCjr Video Titter
For instructions on entering this listing, please refer to "COMPUTE's Guide to Typing In Programs" in this issue of COMPUTE!.
EH 10 REM The 3 title lines foll
JA 20 LINE1$=" CHRIS
GE 30 LINE2$=" 19
LK 40 LINE3$=" at Gra
LD 50 REM The colors for each of
the three lines follow
HA 60 COLO1=4 'This is re
d for line 1
OH 70 COLO2=7 'This is wh
ite for line 2
IM 80 COLO3=1 'This is bl
ue for line 3
AE 90 BACKGROUND=0 'This is bl
ack. Change 0 to 1 for blu
CI 100 WIDTH 40:CLS:KEY OFF:LOCA
IC 110 PRINT
EM 120 COLOR COLR1,BACKGROUND
FB 130 PRINT LINE1$
BE 140 PRINT:PRINT:PRINT
GN 150 COLOR COLR2
88 160 PRINT LINE2$
CK 170 PRINT:PRINT:PRINT
HC 180 COLOR COLR3
IL 190 PRINT LINE3$
KO 200 A$=INKEYS:IF AE="" THEN 2
81 210 WIDTH 80:COLOR 7,0
LP 220 END