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Old November 4th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #1
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Problem shooting helicopter aerials

Hi everyone,

I'm working on a project for the local Sheriff's department, and we used one of their helicopters to go up and shoot some aerial footage of the county, beaches, etc. I also did some shooting around the hangar of the other aircraft they operate.

After landing, I reviewed some of the footage in the camera and it played fine. Two days later, I sat down with the Corporal who is overseeing the project to look at what I've shot so far. When I put in the first tape, it wouldn't play. The camera sees timecode on the tape and I can fast forward or rewind while playing and see video... but when I hit "play" all I get is a blue screen and the timecode freezes where it is. In addition to the aerial footage, nothing shot in the hangar (while all of the aircraft were powered down) will play either. (For a sample of what it looks like while fast-forwarding, go to Aerial footage issue and watch. Note there's some line of distortion in the lower-third of the frame)

It isn't the tape itself nor is it the camera, because before sitting down to review the footage, I had gone out and shot some on the end of the second aerial tape, and it plays with no problem.

Any ideas on what could have caused this problem? They fly every day, so rescheduling isn't an issue, but I don't want to spend another two hours in the air and not have any usable footage at the end.

(Camera: Canon XH A1, set to HDV 30F)
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Old November 4th, 2008, 11:11 AM   #2
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Check and make sure that your playback settings match how you shot it - if you've shot in SD since then, it's possible that the settings won't let it play back.

You could also see if you can track down an HV30 or something - might help you troubleshoot.
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Old November 4th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #3
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I am the only person who uses that camera. The settings were the same as before, I checked.
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Old November 4th, 2008, 11:46 AM   #4
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Clogged heads maybe....
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Old November 4th, 2008, 02:35 PM   #5
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Sounds like a rough problem. I've never had anything like that happen to me before on my A1.

If you were able to see it before, no problem, I would find another camera if you can and try to play it on that. If it doesn't play, it sounds like maybe the tape was damaged somehow. If it plays fine, you may have a head problem of some sort on your A1.

I've had trouble with timecode going from one camcorder to another before, but never on the same camera. There's no error message?
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Old November 4th, 2008, 08:27 PM   #6
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Was it shot in SP or LP mode?
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Old November 4th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #7
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Corey.


It might be a dampness issue with the tape.

If you brought the camera out of a cool environment, jumped in, flew out and then shot close to the water and it was warm and humid in the cabin, then went high and shot some wide views and things cooled down or you played it back later in the cooler environment, there might have been some dewing and tape damage from clinging and stretching.

You may be able to get it back by fast-forwarding and rewinding a few times to dry off any damp spots on the tape, then put a cleaning tape through the camera. Chances are that the damage is done and doing these tricks is just heroics.

You are likely looking at a re-shoot. Don't re-use that tape on a critical project or preferably at all unless you find that the camera itself was at fault.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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Sounds like an alignment issue. Try finding another camera to play back the tape and see if it plays on that machine. I would worry that something is shifting in the camera and it is getting out of alignment. Take an old tape you know is good and see if it plays back properly. The vibration of the helicopter ride could have shifted the alignment or loosened up something which is allowing the tape to play back at the wrong height to the heads.
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Old November 13th, 2008, 10:20 AM   #9
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The engineers at my station suggested that I look into whether or not some forces at work caused the tape to slightly shift on the heads, which explains why there's video on the tape but not a consistent control track.

Regarding temperature/moisture, the camera is kept in the air-conditioned headquarters but the outside temperature was in the mid-70's with moderate to low humidity the day we filmed.

I should note (and I forgot to do so in the original post) that I shot about 15 minutes of footage down at the gun range that morning, which I've recently realized has the same playback issue a the aerial footage. This causes my thoughts to lean towards some sort of EMI, but I'm still not sure how I could have had EMI and still had the tape play back later that day with no problems.

I'll be going up again sometime in the near future. Immediately after filming I'll be capturing the footage into the edit system in case the same problem arises once again. I'll update afterwards. Thanks for all of the replies.
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