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Old June 3rd, 2008, 08:40 AM   #1
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Is this a tape dropout or camera malfunction?

I've had drop outs before, but they just consisted of colored blocks of pixels, and only lasted a few frames. But recently I had what I thought was a drop out, but it looked a lot different from what I am used to. AND it ruined almost ten minutes of my footage, as opposed to just a few frames. Also the audio seemed to be missing on a few shots.

However, the problem spans the entirety of the shots it effects (between rolling and stopping the tape). The problem seems to take a different form with each press of the record button, and completely stops after the last affected shot. So it makes me wonder if there was a malfunction with my camera at the time of recording instead of a dropout on my tape?

I was using the Canon XH-A1 and a Sony DVM-63HD tape for this shoot.

I included a still frame. Yes that is a can of yams stuck to his tongue. Please tell me if you can identify this (whether it's a drop out or a camera malfunction) and what may be the problem. Thank you.

Mike Browning
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 10:02 AM   #2
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Clogged heads (clean your camera heads) mixed with a second pass over content previously written to tape.

First, don't reuse tape. It really isn't worth it.

Second, we all have differing opinions of how often (if ever) to use abrasive head cleaning cassettes. My standard is every 20 - 50 hours of tape run time, I'll use a head cleaner. I do this professionally so the increased head wear is less of an issue than bringing back unusable footage. Others will certainly disagree. This works for me.

Third, despite what some will tell you, stick to one brand of tape if at all possible. Not everyone who mixes tape stock has head clog issues but every time I use client supplied tape that isn't my regular stock, I get a head clog and need to "wear out" my heads prematurely with an AGGRESSIVE abrasive head cleaning.

BTW, welcome to the forum!
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 10:18 AM   #3
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Hi Shaun and thank you for the timely reply (and the welcome! I've been a browser for a while but first time posting).

This is even stranger now. For one, it was a new tape; I never reuse tapes.
Second, I just recently cleaned the heads (seven tapes ago actually). And thirdly, I always stick with these Sony tapes - I buy them in bulk.

I already follow your advise... so how else can the heads get "clogged"? Could it be some other factor?

Also I forgot to mention I'm using an HV20 to capture (to keep the wear off the A1's heads). I also use the same Sony tapes in it when I take it on shoots. Could it be that the HV20 did something to the tape when I put it in? I mean they're both Canons, so...

Any other thoughts on this?

Thanks
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 11:20 AM   #4
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I'd question the source of your tapes. That certainly LOOKS like a two pass tape as I can see a greenscreen scene as well as a close up interview underneath it. Unless the screen capture you sent is at a scene change and you did in fact shoot both of those images back to back.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 11:28 AM   #5
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It looks to me like a dirty head problem but remember that just cleaning the heads with a cleaning tape doesn't always remove all the gunk nor will it clean the transport and pinch rollers where that nasty stuff can also accumulate and cause problems.
I have been using 1 brand of tape in my cameras for years NEVER anything else and once in a while I get that kind of thing. It can be nothing more than 1 bad spot on 1 tape.
I'll state the obvious here. When using a cleaning tape follow the directions to the letter-too much of a "good" thing can be bad.

Don
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 11:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the input, Don. It's the 10 minutes that it lasts that has me thinking it's not just a tape issue.

And Don is right: head cleaners only look after the head drum assembly, not the rest of the tape path. Nor do abrasive tapes remove all the "gunk". Pro cleaning every year or so (depending on how much you actually use the camera) can make ALL the difference.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 02:26 PM   #7
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Oh yeah, I didn't see the 'ten minutes' part. I read right over it. I agree. Camera not tape. Take the camera in to have a good professional cleaning done and have them look at the head alignment as well as long as it's in for service.

Don
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 04:38 PM   #8
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Professional camera cleaning... will do, thanks! Sounds like time for one anyway; it's been a year.

On that note, anyone have experience with Canon's XL/XH owners' club? I have another shoot on the calendar next week and wonder how long it takes to get a loaner camera (as they promise) while they clean, etc.

Shaun: the image underneath is actually from earlier in the tape (shot just a couple hours before). It actually changed for each shot to a different frame from earlier in the tape, acting like a sort of hole. When I rewound the tape, I noticed each shot had a completely different frame in the messed up part. Would that be considered "gunk" or more of a glitch?

Thanks again for the input
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 05:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Browning View Post

Shaun: the image underneath is actually from earlier in the tape (shot just a couple hours before). It actually changed for each shot to a different frame from earlier in the tape, acting like a sort of hole. When I rewound the tape, I noticed each shot had a completely different frame in the messed up part. Would that be considered "gunk" or more of a glitch?
Sounds bizarre! I've seen stuff like that while fast forwarding in HDV, but never at regular speed playback. Um, space aliens playing with your camera near a time machine?

I have NO idea. Good luck!
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