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Casablanca in the Classroom
Connecting Equipment
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Getting Familiar with the Equipment

Several pieces of video equipment may be connected to your Casablanca.
The following are the most common:

  • Camcorder
  • Audio Mixer
  • VCR
  • Cassette Player
  • Video Monitor
  • CD Player

It's easy to identify the major pieces of equipment necessary to produce video with your Casablanca. It's more difficult, however, to know how to hook up the various cables, adapters and connectors necessary to go with it.

Cables connect the various pieces of video and audio equipment together in different configurations. Depending upon your specific equipment, some changes in cabling may be required to perform different functions in production, post-production and presentation. Cabling can be confusing because different brands and models of video equipment will have different input and output connectors. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your equipment and connectors.

After you determine the type of connections that you have on your equipment, follow the diagrams to connect it all together.

Try This:
Identify the equipment you already have available to you. According to the checklist above, which items should your school purchase to complete the media kit? Do some consumer research to find the most inexpensive means of acquiring these missing items. Prioritize these materials and give your "shopping list" to the person in charge of purchasing video equipment.

Draw diagrams of the proper configurations or set up the connections using the actual equipment to demonstrate your ability to:
  • Connect a VCR's video and audio outputs to the Casablanca's front inputs
  • Connect a camcorder's video and audio outputs to the Casablanca's front inputs
  • Connect the Casablanca's video and audio outputs to a VCR (for recording)
  • Connect the Casablanca's video and audio out puts to a televideo monitor
  • Connect a cassette player to the Casablanca
  • Connect a CD player to the Casablanca

If you have an audio mixer, try this:
  • Connect a VCR's audio output to the audio mixer
  • Connect a microphone to the audio mixer
  • Connect a cassette player to the audio mixer
  • Connect a CD player to the audio mixer
And then try this:
Hook up your equipment according to your diagram.

Tip:
After hooking up your equipment and ensuring that it's working properly, videotape the various cabling configurations for your equipment as a handy reference.

Note:
You can't connect a microphone directly into the Casablanca, but you can connect a camcorder to the Casablanca and use the camcorder's microphone to record voice onto the Casablanca.

Important Note:
The Casablanca will work with most VCRs, though many consumer-model VCRs need to be specially configured in order to record the Casablanca's output. You should refer to your VCR's operating manual to set the VCR to accept either "line" or "auxiliary" input. Adjusting this setting often requires using the remote control to access the VCR's on-screen menu. If you're lucky, however, the VCR will have a front input switch that will allow you to make the adjustment manually. This process will most likely have to be repeated if the VCR becomes unplugged at any time.

Deciding What Equipment To Buy
When buying audio equipment, especially through consumer electronics stores, ask about their return policy. It's often difficult to tell how well a piece of audio equipment will work without giving it a try first. Be sure to keep all cartons and wrappings and handle trial equipment carefully so that you may return items that do not suit your needs.

Microphone Selection

You should be aware of the differences in "pickup patterns" when selecting a mike. Pickup patterns are areas around a microphone within which it can receive sound). It's a good idea to have at least one of each type from the list below, depending upon the type of program you will be producing.

Note: Microphones have a wide range of costs, depending on power and quality.

  • General-purpose mikes are reasonably priced and readily available on the market. The most common of these is the Dynamic mike, which is quite rugged and doesn't require batteries.
  • Omnidirectional mikes have a 360-degree pickup radius (they capture sounds from all directions equally, and all sounds are given equal importance). "Omnis" are considered dynamic mikes.
  • Cardioid mikes have a semi-directional, heart-shaped pattern, which is wonderful for recording narration. The strongest pickup areas range up to about 170 degrees in front of the mike, but is diminished from behind.
  • Unidirectional mikes have a very narrow pickup radius. Mikes on cameras are unidirectional with a narrow pickup straight ahead. Sounds coming from the side or rear are not emphasized.

Headphones

Headphones are a necessity for good audio production. The camera operator, as well as an audio operator, can hear the audio quality while there's still time to make corrections. If a headset source is at the camera, the operator can hear what is actually recorded on tape. Inexpensive, "Walkman" style headphones will work in most situations, though "cup" headsets ($15-$30) shut out the sound around the camera operator and make it easier to concentrate on the audio track. (Some types of headphones may require an adapter in order to connect to your camcorder).

Audio Mixers

Audio mixers are used to control multiple sound sources simultaneously. An audio mixer might have one or more microphones plugged into it, as well as VCR audio sources, cassette players and CD players.

One feature to look for in a mixer is the presence of VU meters with either a needle or an LED readout. VU meters allow the user to "see" and adjust relative sound levels (if the volume is too high, for example, the signal could be distorted when it's recorded out to tape). Audio mixers will also have headphone output connectors to allow "monitoring" of programs during production.









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