A VCR by any other name, or, Blue-screen of death, meet your match!

JVC Video Deck

   We seem to have a trend on our hands. 

   There’s something to be said for quality. A few things, actually. One of these being “If it works, go with it.”  Our normal operating cameras around the office are the  JVC GY-HD100 and the JVC GY-HD250. (It’s sort of like the difference between your Ford Escort EX and LX. Details, baby. It’s where the devil is.)   These cameras, while not the top of the line, have proven themselves through countless filming sessions, regardless of duration, temperature outside, and the occasional mishap. Easy enough for the summer interns, dutiful enough for the professionals eclectic tastes. There’s really nothing bad I can say about them, except for the odd positioning of the LCD monitor. So let’s get to what this is really about. 

  We’ve learned the hard way about keeping like things together. Stripes with stripes, SONY with SONY. In a frustrating ( yet understandable) maneuver, the companies that construct our equipment are particular about making sure you stay loyal by making interface with rival programs and components as painful and expensive as possible-if it’s possible at all. (See previous blogs about SONY’s attempt at electro-fascism.) It would seem that  in order to get things done in a timely, hassle-free manner, you would make the sacrifice to ensure the same brand name across the board. After our foray into the world of SONY decks (by deck, I mean VCR, or Video Cassette Recorder.), we decided to buy a deck to match our camera. JVC with JVC. I can see the evil programmers wringing their evil programer hands. They’d won. They’d got us.  Through a JVC retailer we bought a simple BR-HD50. It met the criteria on almost every level of necessity: 1) It was a JVC instrument. 2) It was compatible with our editing software. 3) It was not a SONY product. {{editor’s note. The writer, nor any of us here at I’AMedia are anti-SONY. Any bias comes strictly from experience of buying or operating SONY hardware and the lack of compatibility found with existing and owned equipment. This refers mainly to film editing products. We use SONY headphones in our soundbooth, audio station, and on-site, and love them.}}

  The BR-HD50 is an unassuming thing to look at it.  Half the size of your average toaster, it sits neatly nestled between dual LCD monitors or sometimes alongside it’s estranged second-cousin, the Toshiba D-R410KU. After hooking everything up and powering it on, we were greeted with a warm, purplish screen of…nothingness. Hm. We’d been here before with a Beta deck, so we selected Life>Edit>Undo, and took it all apart. Slowly, ever so slowly, with manual in hand, we wired it back up – which isn’t really needed, because it IS a simple machine. For Video-Out, it has BNC, Y/C or Component. Audio is RCA. There’s a firewire port, an HDMI connect, but that’s about it. Firewire to computer, BNC out to LCD monitor…that’s it. Check the switches, annnnd…action!…annnd…purple!   

I’ll save you the drama that was us arguing about what was clearly in the manual, and our hairline reducing phonecalls to JVC. It turns out there’s a factory reset hidden deep in the catacombs of the sub-menus. We have to hold three buttons at the same time to access this menu. This is not in the manual. Still our lavender friend wants to play. I’m being drawn into its vastness. Everything takes on a violet hue, like I’ve been outside in the snow and only now come in for cocoa. Hey, JVC guy, no-go. Wait. There’s a secret secret-menu. It doesn’t even have it’s own menu option it’s so secret. It’s a ‘manufacturer’s reset’. Why would they need it? It was nothing when they started. What did they do to it that would require fail-safe mind wiping? Show me where JVC touched you, little BR-HD50.  The machine hummed, shut off, and rebooted, giving us the first visual we’d seen yet. Options set, Final Cut Pro open, capture now? Yes!  

No.  After a while, the machines alter ego comes forth. The purple screen of doom demands an audience. It isn’t that bad of a color.  Super secret menu? I’m being drawn in. Super super-secret menu? I am the hue. 

  It’s the second time little BR-HD50 has gone in for counseling. Hopefully the damage JVC did to this little deck can be brought to light so the healing can begin.


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