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Old December 7th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #1
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Ugh, please help if you can

I think I just made the mistake of a lifetime but I'm hoping there's someway out. I just returned from egypt where I lived as a child. I took my two sons on a camel ride around the pyramids and shot some incredible footage. But . . . the tape says there's nothing there. It's my own fault. I had been travelling quite awhile and had used up all my tapes. So I started reusing tapes. I would shoot on the tapes and then play them back to make sure everything was kosher.
So I filmed my kids riding around the pyramids, rewound some tape, watched it on my canon hv20 and then kept recording. But when I went to download the footage. Nothing. By messing around . . . fast forwarding and then pressing play I was able to get the last twenty minutes off the tape. But whenever I press play during the first forty minutes of tape . . . the screen is blue.
I use a mixture of sony HD tapes and sony dvc premiums. Maybe I should not have mixed these two types of tape? I don't know. The lost footage is on an HD tape.
I've tried everything. Cleaned the heads on the camera. Rewound while playing. Fastforward/play. Shook it. Said prayers to Horus and Osris. No luck. Strangely, I tried recording over the first minute and it worked fine. That is I could play back a new recording. I am positive the footage is there because sometimes if I fast forward the tape in my camera I see shreds of the pyramids, sometimes not.
Anybody have any suggestions out there? I'm willing to try anything at this point.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #2
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Keep cleaning the camera and try another camera if possible.

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Old December 7th, 2007, 06:13 PM   #3
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Just to cover the bases, make sure you are trying to capture the tapes with an HD camera. You can't capture HD tapes with an SD camera. You probably already know that, but...

Good luck!
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Old March 5th, 2008, 09:29 PM   #4
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Well, I just received a new HV20 from BH and I ran the tape through the new cam. No luck. I also tried cleaning the other cam. No luck. I was able to pull the first twenty seconds and the last fifteen minutes. In the two dozen other times I've tried. Nothing.
When the tape reaches the first twenty seconds the tape keeps playing but the camera does not show that it's playing. If I stop it and then start it, it will show the correct time but only for a second and then go back to acting like it's not playing anything.
Two things give me hope. First is that I when I play it back in DV it says playback restricted but at least it does show the correct time sequence. That is it keeps playing., The second thing is that I know I played the tape back while I was filming and it showed the scene just fine.
Anybody have any comments? suggestions? wild guesses? on how to get this footage off my cam?
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Old March 6th, 2008, 05:19 AM   #5
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There is a chance the heads on the camera clogged and self-cleaned as the tape passed as sometimes they do.

Another possibilty is that the outer windings of the tape had become heated and stretched slightly as the tape wound onto the take-up spool, where it probably stayed stretched and the rest of the tape bound tight around it, kept it so even after it had cooled.

Back at home in a cooler environment, the tape may have shrunk back or may have become deformed and the tracks no longer may be registering properly with the head paths.

All I can suggest is to get as much as you can copied off it, rewind the tape, then replicate as far as possible the climatic conditions under which the tape was shot.

You may only get one go at it, so rather than warm up and dehumidify the tape and camera up for the playback and then start-stop-start-stop with selective capturing, let the whole thing copy in one hit, either to computer or to another camcorder or deck. If there are momentary bits which register correctly the picture may drop in and out.

Good luck.

Last edited by Bob Hart; March 6th, 2008 at 05:21 AM. Reason: added text
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Old March 6th, 2008, 10:26 PM   #6
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Matt,

It's pretty clear what you did. During your tape swaps you lost track of what was shot tapes and not shot tapes. The blue section was never recorded upon so in your fast forwarding to find a clean section of your tape you put in a fresh tape and fast forwarded the first 40 minutes.

Lesson learned; 1. Never rewind until you're in the edit bay. 2. The record tab is there for a reason.

Sorry and better luck next time.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 03:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
Matt,

It's pretty clear what you did. During your tape swaps you lost track of what was shot tapes and not shot tapes. The blue section was never recorded upon so in your fast forwarding to find a clean section of your tape you put in a fresh tape and fast forwarded the first 40 minutes.

Lesson learned; 1. Never rewind until you're in the edit bay. 2. The record tab is there for a reason.

Sorry and better luck next time.
If this is the case, maybe the footage you have lost, is actually on another tape that you haven't examined. I'd go through every tape that you might have had with you on this trip, even if you think they weren't used.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 07:27 AM   #8
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I think those are valid suppositions and I appreciate the responses because I am desperate. When I watch the footage straight through a large section is blue . . . but when I fast forward the tape at any point when the section is normally blue and then press play a .5 second of the original footage will bleep on the LCD before turning blue again. I'll get a quick view of the sphinx or my kid on a camel.
I'm failing at getting the footage off the tape.
One other thing, two nights ago I played the tape and it made a squeeky, squelchy sound and stopped half way through so I'm wondering if Bob might be onto something. But trying to recreate the climactic conditions of Egypt will be difficult in North Carolina.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 09:15 AM   #9
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One silly question.

What happens if you press play in the "blue section' where you know there is latent image, then "pause" the camera playback then play forward and pause again. Do you get visible still frames?
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Old March 7th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #10
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I tried it. Sometimes I do get a still frame and other times I do not.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 03:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Matt Buys View Post
I think those are valid suppositions and I appreciate the responses because I am desperate. When I watch the footage straight through a large section is blue . . . but when I fast forward the tape at any point when the section is normally blue and then press play a .5 second of the original footage will bleep on the LCD before turning blue again. I'll get a quick view of the sphinx or my kid on a camel.
I'm failing at getting the footage off the tape.
One other thing, two nights ago I played the tape and it made a squeeky, squelchy sound and stopped half way through so I'm wondering if Bob might be onto something. But trying to recreate the climactic conditions of Egypt will be difficult in North Carolina.
Considering that you can get some frames off the tape when in FF, this seems like the tracking alignment of this tape to the playing heads is out of synch. I assume that other tapes you have made recently with this camcorder are playing properly? The camcorder may have temporarily been rolling the tape off the tracking line when you shot this tape and since it has a track pitch of just 10um, this wouldn't take much to have happen. When you viewed the recording out in the field, it may still have been misaligned, but has since gotten back onto its proper position. As suggested, the heat and humidity might have been the cause.

I have a 19-year old ED-Beta VCR that has a tracking problem and won't show a picture when tapes are played at regular speed. But, when I put it in onscreen FF, visible frames flash by and are good enough to catch vid-caps on a connected picture-disk recorder. This is possible, because the FF speed pulls the tracks into a slightly different position, as they pass over the playback head. A commercial video copying or restoration company may be willing to temporarily adjust a VCR they have, to an exact misalignment of the heads, to match the track on this tape. They might be able to make a copy of the lost footage in this way.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 10:10 PM   #12
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Squeely squelchy sound?


Okay, that tape has likely experienced overheating and the binder may have leached through the oxide to the surface where it will both creating a more highly polished surface and also be coming off onto the guides.

These smooth surfaces catch like clingwrap, causing added friction or a braking effect on the tape as it passes through. This is where the squeeling comes from.

Alternatively, there may have been contamination of the tape by a drop of canned drink or juice, a pinpoint of spray or mist whilst on board a ferryboat, or simply condensation from moving in and out of aircon into humid outdoors heat.

There was a big, big issue with old reel-to-reel 1/2" EIAJ Sony brand tapes long ago when the tape thickness and formulation was changed to allow 42 minutes on 30 minute reels.

On analogue tapes this showed as a tracking error with skewed and distorted playback or total lockup. A digital signal is much less forgiving and either is or isn't, never maybe.

The binder rose through the oxide and the tapes would squeal and stick.

They could be recovered by running them through wood alcohol pads and drying them by spooling back and forth in a dry airflow for several cycles. They became permanently damaged however if you perservered with trying to recover vision from them in their "sticky" state. This clip was recovered from a tape which had been locking up and was given the wood alcohol treatment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzYZhmBR_PE

Strangely enough, the ones I had, partially rehabilitated themselves over time. I guess they dried out some more but they were still never the same if they had been forced through the machine and had become stretched.

If binder contamination or foreign substance contamination has happened with your camera, then a head cleaner may not work as the goo which builds up can be like dried-on coffee dust which sticks like tar. Maintenance on the camera might be a workshop job.

Anecdotally on this site there is past reference to a brand of the top grade, premium first class, most expensive, purportedly the absolutely best tapes you could get in MiniDV form factor for HDV being chroncially faulty in the manner you describe.

The cheaper workaday tapes did not present this problem.

There was also a bad run of VHS tapes way back. The tape band must have waved as it went through the slitter and when it pulled straight on the wind, got this cyclic rocking twist to it as it went through the player and of course it dropped out cruel bad and was unwatchable.

Cleaning cassettes with wood alcohol (methylated spirit) may not be the workable option as it was with 1/2" open reel tape as the tolerances in the machinery are much tighter and the tape stock itself is much easier to damage.

My next move would be to assume condensation has got into the tape and has spread through the winding. I would put the tape in a sealed container with as many silicagel packs as you can muster.

If these are old and saturated, they can be rehabilitated by drying off in a very slow fanforced oven.

Remove the tape cassette every day or so and rewind it once, fast forward it the following day and rewind it the next. Hopfully if there is a moisture contimation in the wind, it will dry out by this method. I would give it about 4 to 6 weeks of this treatment.

You might be able to hasten the process by putting the tape cassette in a vacuum environment to boil off any water at a lower temperature.

Don't try to operate the camera and cycle the tape in a vaccum environment with the camera remote control. This would certinly hasten the drying process but there may be damage done due to arcing across conductive paths in high RF areas of the camera circuitry.

The problem with this trick is that some solvents in the bind may also boil off and transport binder through the oxide coat to the surface and compound the problem.

As a last resort, try playing the tape in a DVCAM capable playback machine. The track angle of DVCAM is shallower and the tracks themselves slightly longer so a DVCAM machine may have a better ablity to match tape speed to distorted tracks.

Another two silly suggestions, but ----

Does your camera have a long play mode? Is it just possible, that the missing portion was recorded in a long play setting.

There is of course the NTSC and PAL thing. I don't know if your camera can do both. If it cannot then forget I ever mentioned this.

Good luck - No guarantees of course.

Last edited by Bob Hart; March 7th, 2008 at 10:31 PM. Reason: errors
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