Please help! How do you clean mini-dv tape? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > The Long Black Line

The Long Black Line
Tape, tape and more tape; and decks; HDV, DV, VHS and more.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 1st, 2007, 12:31 AM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10
Please help! How do you clean mini-dv tape?

Does anyone know how to clean a mini-dv tape? Not the camera itself, mind you, but a tape. My XL1's heads became misaligned (I think) since shooting a wedding months ago. I've played the tapes back immediately after, before the problem occurred, but now the video shows bad blocky/pixelation noise. I hadn't played the tapes since knowing the camera went bad, but that might have been too late.

I've tried the tapes on 2 other cameras. One the first, the noise shows immediately. On the 3rd. tried just now, the picture started off clean but is quickly growing worse, degrading to the 'bad state' as it's played, so I stopped playing immediately.

I've been advised that the tapes themselves could be dirty. I don't think they're damaged since the distortion is different in each camera and they were never played for long through the cam w/bad heads. Please help??
Eric Neal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 1st, 2007, 09:25 AM   #2
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
Moved from our Canon XL1 forum to our Tape forum for better exposure.

Eric, since you're in a major U.S. city, I advise you to seek professional help. Call on Calumet or one of the other major dealers in your area and tap on their expertise. Of course you might get some good help here as well but you should look into the resources available to you there in Chicago.
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 1st, 2007, 02:51 PM   #3
New Boot
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Moved from our Canon XL1 forum to our Tape forum for better exposure.

Eric, since you're in a major U.S. city, I advise you to seek professional help. Call on Calumet or one of the other major dealers in your area and tap on their expertise. Of course you might get some good help here as well but you should look into the resources available to you there in Chicago.
That's great Chris, thank you. And sorry for posting in the wrong spot, I wasn't sure about that.
Eric Neal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 1st, 2007, 07:02 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Los Angeles, Ca USA
Posts: 542
Since the original camera had misaligned heads and you recorded the signal on that misaligned camera, it's possible that the tape is now playing back incorrectly because the newer digital decks have a different tape path configuration.

If your original camera has not been realigned yet, that might be your best chance to play back this tape correctly. Your second best chance might be to find another deck or camera that is misaligned in a similar path to your camera with the misaligned heads.
Alessandro Machi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 1st, 2007, 09:17 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi Eric..........

I'm curious as to why you believe your heads have become mis - aligned?

Have you tried running a decent head cleaning tape through the camera (XL1)?

Is it not playing back anything you previously shot?

If, after a good clean, can you shoot new footage (on a completely new tape) and play that back on the XL1?

Have you run a head cleaning tape on the other two cameras that wouldn't play this tape, and will they subsequently record and play back newly shot footage using a completely new tape?

Is it possible the tape that's playing up has somehow been affected by moisture?

I appologise if this sounds like the Inquisition, just trying to get a handle on what, exactly is going on, with what.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 12:04 AM   #6
New Boot
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10
Hi All, Thanks for the advice. I welcome the questions, Chris, you never know when someone will hit something you hadn't thought of.

The first thing I did was go out and purchase a Canon head cleaner, tried it a few times to no avail.

I've cleaned it, shot with brand news tapes and still get badly distorted images. The last few things shot with the camera were played back in various cameras and are barely watchable. Through my own research and from Canon's tech support, it sounds like the heads are misaligned, BUT I could be dead wrong and still trying to investigate.

The camera will only play back any/all tapes with this distortion and it definitely has ceased to shoot clear video. I recently directed a short film shot with a JVC GY100 and AGDVX100 cameras. The footage all played back 100% fine several times in the XL1 before the camera went bad. And the tapes are still fine and play back in every other camera I've tried them on.

The wedding footage tapes I'm trying to get cleaned show the distortion differently in each camera. A professional/friend suspects the tapes are dirty, which makes sense to me. Since the distortion is never in the same place and isn't consistent, I don't think the tapes are permanently damaged (I pray they're not). But if anyone has some good suggestions, I'm all ears.

Thanks again gang.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
I'm curious as to why you believe your heads have become mis - aligned?

Have you tried running a decent head cleaning tape through the camera (XL1)?

Is it not playing back anything you previously shot?

If, after a good clean, can you shoot new footage (on a completely new tape) and play that back on the XL1?

Have you run a head cleaning tape on the other two cameras that wouldn't play this tape, and will they subsequently record and play back newly shot footage using a completely new tape?

Is it possible the tape that's playing up has somehow been affected by moisture?

I appologise if this sounds like the Inquisition, just trying to get a handle on what, exactly is going on, with what.


CS
Eric Neal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 01:39 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi again............

Certainly sounds like you have a tape path/ alignement problem on the XL1 (if the pinch rollers have never been replaced, or not in the last couple of years, they're possibly shot anyway), but could be a dead head.

As for the tape, hmm. There was another chap had a similar problem a month or so ago, but concerning moisture in the tape cassette.

The problem is that, to my limited knowledge, there is not a commercially available tape cleaner for Mini DV tapes. I am not even aware of any "lash up" non commercial devices.

What I find confusing is that this tape did actually play back after it was first shot. Which means that if it got contaminated, it must have been in a camera (unless it went for a swim) and that camera is most likely the XL1. If that's the case the XL1 must be in a right state and it may not be a path/ head problem at all.

What I cannot figure out is what the contaminant could be and how it got there. If it's something sticky enough to trash anything that it comes into contact with, no tape cleaner I've ever heard of will remove it.

Which leaves me wondering whether you should spend a few hideously boring hours manually winding the tape through by hand (tape the cassete door open, release the reel locks and use a suitable instrument to wind the tape spool) and just see if there is anything visible on the tape.

This could all be to no avail, as if it's something sticky it's probably everywhere by now, with no way to adequately remove it from both the playing surface and the substrate backing it was wrapped against.

Best case, of course, is you wind it through, find the "grunge" and discover it will dissolve using a cotton bud and either distilled water or alcohol and you can clean both sides of the tape for a couple of feet either side of the disaster area.

Another avenue is to get the XL1 professionally cleaned/ aligned, with specific instructions to report on what, exactly, was required to return it to full functionality. Armed with that, you may have a better indicator as to how to tackle the tape issue.

Sorry, but that's the best I can do for the moment.

Keep us posted.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 12:45 PM   #8
New Boot
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10
Hi Chris,

Thanks very much for the advice. I'm preparing myself for the worst and while disheartening it's best to know what worst-best cases might be.

Re: your sticky substance theory, are you thinking the substance is only on a few feet of tape? Could that cause the entire tape to play badly (which is what's happening)? Just want to make sure I understand you.

I'm still scratching my head on when/how the tapes were damaged too. Like I said, they played fine in the XL1 right after they were shot and even a second time around later. When the camera started to have problems I hadn't played them through it again, but like magic the distortion is there when played on other cameras. Talk about a shocker. I'm really lost on how it could be all four tapes!

I always keep my tapes carefully stored and handled; I admit that I fail to rewind 50% of the time, but they immediately go into their case and stored away until next use. So I'm hoping that whatever substance could be there isn't, since I'm careful to avoid this.

At this point I'm not above wining through the tape. I just need to get an answer asap.

The latest legwork is that a local camera chain would be able to transfer the tapes to dvd. They're saying that their machines enhance image. Maybe I'll be able to get clean footage from that. Plus if the tapes play bad on them, they'll let me know.

I'm Googling stuff like crazy but all I can find is stuff on head cleaning tapes. Does anyone know if a wet cleaning head cleaner exists for mini-dv?

Thanks again gang...

Eric

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Certainly sounds like you have a tape path/ alignement problem on the XL1 (if the pinch rollers have never been replaced, or not in the last couple of years, they're possibly shot anyway), but could be a dead head.

As for the tape, hmm. There was another chap had a similar problem a month or so ago, but concerning moisture in the tape cassette.

The problem is that, to my limited knowledge, there is not a commercially available tape cleaner for Mini DV tapes. I am not even aware of any "lash up" non commercial devices.

What I find confusing is that this tape did actually play back after it was first shot. Which means that if it got contaminated, it must have been in a camera (unless it went for a swim) and that camera is most likely the XL1. If that's the case the XL1 must be in a right state and it may not be a path/ head problem at all.

What I cannot figure out is what the contaminant could be and how it got there. If it's something sticky enough to trash anything that it comes into contact with, no tape cleaner I've ever heard of will remove it.

Which leaves me wondering whether you should spend a few hideously boring hours manually winding the tape through by hand (tape the cassete door open, release the reel locks and use a suitable instrument to wind the tape spool) and just see if there is anything visible on the tape.

This could all be to no avail, as if it's something sticky it's probably everywhere by now, with no way to adequately remove it from both the playing surface and the substrate backing it was wrapped against.

Best case, of course, is you wind it through, find the "grunge" and discover it will dissolve using a cotton bud and either distilled water or alcohol and you can clean both sides of the tape for a couple of feet either side of the disaster area.

Another avenue is to get the XL1 professionally cleaned/ aligned, with specific instructions to report on what, exactly, was required to return it to full functionality. Armed with that, you may have a better indicator as to how to tackle the tape issue.

Sorry, but that's the best I can do for the moment.

Keep us posted.


CS
Eric Neal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 01:27 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
And again........

More thoughts...........

1. You have a bust XL1. It will neither play old tapes, or record/ play new tapes.

2. You have 4 tapes (recorded on the XL1) that were not run through the XL1 subsequent to it's demise, but did play on the XL1 beforehand. They will not play correctly on other cameras either. Whether this other camera issue is related to anything is unclear - it may always have been the case?

Suggestions:

1. Try some of your other tapes shot on the XL1 prior to it's demise (and known to be good last time used) and see if THEY will play on these other cameras. It is possible the XL1 has always been "slightly off" enough to prevent tapes recorded on it from playing in other cameras.

2. Send off the XL1 with a handfull of "known good" recorded tapes and get it fixed/ cleaned / aligned so that it works (plays) with those pre - recorded tapes (ie. the head alignment, tho' possibly "off", is the same as before it's demise).

3. If the XL1 is now functional, and capable of playing "old" tapes, try running one of the "famous 4" through it and see what happens.

4. It should become evident during 1 , 2, & 3 above whether there is any credence to the "dirty tape" theory. I'm personaly starting to have my doubts.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 02:04 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Leeds, UK
Posts: 660
Images: 10
Read this at your own risk!!!

Have you done a well lit close visual inspection of the heads to check nothing is blocking a head. Spin the drum around as you inspect it with something non-linty (is that a word?) non-conductive and softish to check all the heads.

Get some compressed air in there maybe.

Get someone experienced to clean the heads with proper chamois swabs and head cleaning fluid. It's easy enough, just make sure to clean in the direction the tape travels over the heads/drum. this can be difficult with tiny DV heads which sit at a difficult angle. Maybe the tape door can come off easily on an XL1?

(Rotating with drum with a swab is a good idea while you at it)

If it's an old camera, and you are going to send it off for an expensive service anyway, on balance it can't do too much harm.
Duncan Craig is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 03:43 PM   #11
New Boot
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10
Hi guys,

1. I've played 'known good tapes' in the other cameras and they play fine. Some were shot shortly before the wedding, one was shot a few months after (before I knew there was a problem) and still plays in other cams, not the XL1. Mind-boggling.

2. Sounds like an excellent idea. Time is the only factor, but this might be the best solution.

Duncan, good advice. I've taken a peek inside, but still foggy on what the heck I'm looking at/for. Still doing homework on the mechanics. I just got some compressed air, giving that a shot.

I'm up for any more ideas, guys. Thanks again.

E

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
More thoughts...........

1. You have a bust XL1. It will neither play old tapes, or record/ play new tapes.

2. You have 4 tapes (recorded on the XL1) that were not run through the XL1 subsequent to it's demise, but did play on the XL1 beforehand. They will not play correctly on other cameras either. Whether this other camera issue is related to anything is unclear - it may always have been the case?

Suggestions:

1. Try some of your other tapes shot on the XL1 prior to it's demise (and known to be good last time used) and see if THEY will play on these other cameras. It is possible the XL1 has always been "slightly off" enough to prevent tapes recorded on it from playing in other cameras.

2. Send off the XL1 with a handfull of "known good" recorded tapes and get it fixed/ cleaned / aligned so that it works (plays) with those pre - recorded tapes (ie. the head alignment, tho' possibly "off", is the same as before it's demise).

3. If the XL1 is now functional, and capable of playing "old" tapes, try running one of the "famous 4" through it and see what happens.

4. It should become evident during 1 , 2, & 3 above whether there is any credence to the "dirty tape" theory. I'm personaly starting to have my doubts.


CS
Eric Neal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 2nd, 2007, 08:35 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
Posts: 3,634
Images: 18
Hi guys....

Whilst I admire your enthusiasm and gung - ho spirit Duncan, I really don't think the innards of a Mini DV tape deck is anywhere for the uninitiated to be poking around. It would be pretty easy to bust something that ain't bust already.

I really don't see any other course here except for a pro techie to get their hands on this camera.

It could be something as ""simple" as a huge splodge of something epoxied to the head - not easy to remove even with the correct knowledge and tools. Or not.


CS
Chris Soucy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 3rd, 2007, 06:19 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Leeds, UK
Posts: 660
Images: 10
I've cleaned heads on almost every type of deck from DV though to D1, Cassette to Quad. I came up through old school ranks of VT Assistant, VT OP, Edit Assistant, Junior to Senior Editor working in London W1 for a decade.

In every instance the only thing to really worry about, as I say is cleaning in the direction the tape travels over the head/drum.

And we're talking about (no offense) a buggered old XL1.

Geting to these heads is normally nowhere near as mentally trying as lifting out the tape loading mechanism from a Digideck, or as expensive. The entire camera cost a fifth of the price of a head on a Digi.

And I had suggested is was at his own risk. I suggested a proper visual inspection first. Hardly Gung Ho. Thanks, Duncan.
Duncan Craig is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > The Long Black Line

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:14 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network