Redeye removal, digital home moviemaking, DVD playback is dark/light/dark/light

Week of January 4, 2004

Q: Is there any product that will effectively remove ‘red eye’ from pictures on my computer?
-Donald Wallick

A: Most image editing programs have a function to remove redeye from your pictures.   When you use the redeye removal tools, use the image zoom feature to make the eyes as large as possible.     With the eyes filling up your monitor, you will be able to make precise placement of redeye removal and only correct the parts that are actually red.

Q:   I am NOT a computer-geek, but do have an Apple iBook that I like very much.   My wife and I have a digital camera which we use to send pictures to our three-year-old grandson in New Mexico.   We’ve been thinking it might be good to get a “digital motion picture” camera that we could use when we’re there (usually 3+ times a year) and other occasions as well.   I believe there’s software on this machine to edit such video and keep it on CDs or something.   Is this possible without great “tech skills”?   If so, is there a camera you’d recommend for a couple retirees?

-Wesley Boots, Uniontown, PA

A:   Apple computers all include Apple’s iMovie program.   iMovie is great for editing video and is very easy to use, even for non-technical retirees such as yourself.   To save your videos on CDs, you will need Roxio’s Toast software, $99.00.   Toast will allow you to save your videos as a special VideoCD format, which will play on most consumer DVD players.

The “digital motion picture” camera, as you refer to it is called a digital camcorder.   To work with iMovie you will need a Digital 8 or MiniDV model.   There are many good digital camcorders available from many manufacturers.   My person preference are the Canon MiniDV models. They available for $500 or lessand will work perfectly with   your iBook.

Q: I received the “Family Guy” Vol. 1 4-DVD set for Christmas, but there appear to be picture quality issues when I play them on my DVD player.

The picture seems to fade slowly from a perfectly sharp image to one inwhich the color hues are way out of whack, as though someone is fiddling with the settings (e.g. skin becomes orange, picture becomes darker,etc.), then back to a normal picture, and so on.   This occurs on allepisodes throughout the whole episode.

My first thought is that this is some sort of copy protection scheme.   I am routing the video signal through my VCR, which then goes to the TV, so I wondered if something could “sense” this. From what I know about the technology, that seems far-fetched, but I certainly don’t claim to know all the possible tricks

-Kevin Fuhrman, Jacksonville, IL

A:   You are correct- it is a copy protection scheme called Macrovision that is causing your picture quality problems.   Macrovision is placed on DVDs so people cannot copy them with their VCRs.   Even when you are not copying, the Macrovision is picked up by the VCR and the picture is affected.

You can buy a device called an RF modulator for $30 or less to play your DVD player through your TV’s channel 3 or 4, bypassing the VCR.

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