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Old December 9th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #1
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Dirty tapes--not camera heads. Help??!

So I am doing a job for a client who delivered 5 tapes of outdoor-filmed footage that she wanted me to edit. After logging all 5 I discovered that FCP wouldn't get more than a minute in to a capture without dropping frames.

Suspecting a dirty head, I went back to a tape I had imported just days before, without issue. Same problem. I cleaned the head of my camera (which I'm using to import) but I'm concerned about the fact that one or several of those 5 tapes is filthy. Can tapes be cleaned??

My current plan is to play them again, clean the head, play them again, clean the head, etc..., until they're clean. I don't want to start that mess until I get a second opinion, though. Any advice?
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Old December 9th, 2007, 02:27 AM   #2
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Hi Garrett, is it possible that this footage was shot in DVCAM mode? I was sent a DVCAM miniDV tape a few months back and it did all kinds of weird things. I thought the problem was my XL2's heads or the tape was dirty/bad, but it was just due to a slightly different data format on the tape. I could see the image, but the sound was pretty awful 90% of the time, and the speed seemed to go up and down, and there were little sparkly things all over the image. Is your problem similar?

It would seem if it's already captured, the software wouldn't have a playback problem. Did the footage look right in the camera's viewfinder during the capture?

Eric
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:21 AM   #3
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I appreciate your help, Eric! Interesting to hear about DVCAM mode's effects. I'm pretty sure that's not it. Here's what happens:

Playback on the viewfinder and on an NTSC display are totally fine, including audio. It appears that the footage was shot in some sort of 24p pulldown. (I initially assumed that her camera operator shot it on a Panasonic DVX 100A and my Canon couldn't play back the advanced pulldown mode; I asked her and she has no idea what camera was used nor how to get ahold of the camera operator to check....)

When I tried to capture in FCP it would make it for about 1 minute and then drop a frame. I tried iMovie, just for kicks, and it created new clips every few seconds, independent of when the start/stop of the footage actually was recorded. When I viewed the clips about 9 out of the 10 (of less than a minute each) had serious digital breakup, where 80% of the screen was covered with colored, pixelated noise, most of the time.

To be more thorough, I grabbed some footage that I had imported days before without problems. FCP also gave me dropped frames and iMovie gave me a lot of color pixelation, but not nearly as much as the other footage. (I hadn't seen any of this on the footage before logging this client's tapes.)

I'd only seen colored pixelation like that with a dirty head, so I started to clean.

Has anyone tried to import DVX-100A footage on a non-DVX-100A? I wonder if that's really my problem.

Thanks for your help!
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Old December 9th, 2007, 12:00 PM   #4
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Hmm, but it looks fine in the viewfinder.. That's really interesting. I don't have experience with this situation, but the fact that it looks fine in the camera you're capturing from would seem to indicate something else is wrong. Perhaps you just have the wrong capture mode?

The viewfinder should show 24P or 24Pa or 24F (Frame Mode), or something to that effect, which will tell you the mode to set the capture app to.

Also, you may want to try another Firewire cable just to rule that out. I had one here that was slightly bent coming out of the molded connector, and I was getting some random glitches every so often.

Your description sounds similar to my DVCAM tape problem. I had random colored boxes that were appearing (sparkling, sorta) all over the image and things just appeared 'odd'. But it did that in the viewfinder too.

This really sounds like the cable or something set wrong on the computer. If the camera can play the tape just fine, it doesn't sound like a head problem at all.

Hope this helps :)
Eric
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Old December 9th, 2007, 01:49 PM   #5
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Well, that's helpful to hear your input. If it were just the capture settings, though, my personal footage (that I had imported without hitch) should have worked the same as it did before, you know. I'll keep playing with it and let you know.

Last edited by Garrett Gibbons; December 9th, 2007 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old December 9th, 2007, 02:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Gibbons View Post
my personal footage (that I had imported without hitch) should have worked the same as it did before, you know.
Unless a setting got changed, so now you need to change it back to get them all to work properly as they should? :)

It's definitely worth checking.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #7
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Sorry, I didn't catch the part about the new capture not working quite perfectly. It sounds like there's some kind of wrong setting in there somewhere.

I think the general fix-all on Mac OS is to delete the preferences file and try again, no? Maybe that will work? Maybe rename the file to something else, then you still have the settings to rename back, if that doesn't solve the problem.

Keep us posted :)
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