Camera said 'Recording', but it wasn't. at

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Old June 10th, 2005, 01:53 AM   #1
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Location: Lake Tarawera, Rotorua, New Zealand
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Camera said 'Recording', but it wasn't.

I've just returned from an afternoons shoot thinking I'd shot 34 minutes of footage but in reality had about 5 minutes.

I was working on a pilot shooting four 45 second segments of a person to camera using a Canon xl1s. I've used xl1 family for five years. I had three takes of each segment plus a few cuttaways. Each of the segments was shot in different locations, with the camera stopping and starting each take. The camera was packed down and re-rigged four times.

The tape (Panasonic) was being used for the second time. The camera time code indicated I'd shot 34 mins, but in reality only had about 5 mins. of a glorious sunset, the last scene I took.

Has anybody else experienced this? Time code ticking over. Tally lamp flashing, but the tape not moving. It's a bit of a nark as I have to reshoot, recall tallent and audio guy. I always thought if the time code counter was operating the tape was actually being transported, but not necessarily so.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 12:52 PM   #2
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Location: Augusta Georgia
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Dear Owen,

I assume that you have rewound the tape and checked it for your missing footage. Have you tried to do a batch capture of the tape?

I have never had this type of problem.

What is the time code at the start of your 5 minutes of footage. Does it start with 0:00:00:00? What is the time code at the very start of the tape?

Was the tape rewound or reviewed at some point during your shooting?

Why don't you try recording on another tape (using an old scratch tape if you have one), starting and stopping the camera, then checking the results.

If it is a camera problem, you will want to find the out immediately.
Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
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Old June 10th, 2005, 01:23 PM   #3
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I was going to say the heads must be dirty, but you say you did get the last scene you shot? So the tape was never actually rolling on the earlier shots. Very strange.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #4
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Sound similiar to a problem I had, read here:
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Old June 10th, 2005, 09:16 PM   #5
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I had this problem with my Canon A-1 Hi-8 camcorder. Occasionally, it would stage a sit-down strike and fail to record, even though I'd pushed the button and the tally light was on. Sometimes, the tape would not roll and if I watched the time counter, I could detect this malfunction. However, it would sometimes roll tape, the time counter ran, the tally light was on, but still, it didn't record. Fortunately, this didn't happen often, but I could never trust it.

If your digital camcorder was showing that the timecode counter was running, while the record light was on, but not actually recording, the only way to detect it would be to look through the window in the tape hatch (if it has one) and see if the tape is moving. Obviously, you can't do this while videotaping without disrupting your footage.

I wouldn't trust this camcorder ever again for important subjects. I now have two that show such periodic behavior problems and even though they work fine most of the time, I never use them when I'm shooting something on assignment for anyone else. If your camcorder is still covered by warranty, I would demand that the manufacturer replace it. Fixing it wouldn't be good enough, as when they examined it, most likely it wouldn't malfunction and they'd send it back as though it was just fine. I wish I'd done this when one of mine showed this flaw, which is intolerable for anyone doing professional type work, while it was still under warranty. My other balky camcorder was under an extended warranty and it went back and forth to repair shops 3 times over a 5-month period and the record-failure problem was never fixed. I spent $150. on shipping and insurance, with no good results. Would you keep flying an airplane, that had an engine that ran perfectly, 99% of the time?

Yeah, you touched a raw spot on me, with this subject.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 09:23 PM   #6
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Hi Guys,

Sounds quite similar to what Kevin had. Yes I'd rewound the tape. The counter clocked upto about the 30min mark. The old previous footage was still there. Just didn't record. Funny that, as I had started and stopped recording several times. I have since run a few tests and found the problem was in the tape it's self. So I've biffed the tape out. It pays to check your footage as you go. I always do and have never had a problem. As I was against the clock and daylight was fading I didn't stop to check.

Yes the tape did start at zero. The counter just clocked up. The scary part is I've always thought if the counter was running it was recording. If this happened on a live one off event and no chance of a retake you would be really up the creek without a paddle!!!

Have been out shooting all day (now 3.15pm) Didn't experience that problem. Had a new one. The viewfinder packed up. Fortunately I had a small LCD to plug into the video out. I now have to go tonight and shoot a 40th birthday party. So here goes!!!

The camera goes back to Canon tomorrow, just 10 days outside the warranty period!!!! I'll present them with the whole deal.

Thanks and cheers,
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Old June 13th, 2005, 03:48 PM   #7
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I retired from a career of broadcasting and teleproduction, and head clogs have been a problem for some time. Here are some of my findings:

Video (or digital) heads tend to be either clogged or not. There's not much in-between.

Clogs can happen instantaneously, and may sometimes clear themselves just as quickly.

A cleaning tape may clean microscopic "burs" from a new head, thus making it less likely to clog.

A clogged head can destroy the surface of a tape, making the tape more likely to clog a head again. I (along with many others) was having problems with head clogging on a JVC D-VHS VCR. I kept cleaning the heads, and thought they were still dirty because every time I tried to play the beginning of a certain tape (which I KNEW to be good) the heads were clogged. What I later found to be the case was that the beginning of that tape had been destroyed (by the clogged heads) and would INSTANTLY clog heads. Another tape worked perfectly, but that particular tape would always clog heads. This process can start an epidemic - clogged head destroys tape - bad tape clogs heads - and on and on!

Some camcorders have circuits to detect a clogged head in record. On only one occasion I had a message on the screen of my JVC HD-10, telling to use a head-cleaning cassette, as the heads were clogged. This happened in the middle of a recording. Sure enough! The heads were clogged - the cleaning tape did the trick. This feature saved the day! I would have thought that a Canon XL1 would have this feature.

I only clean heads when they are clogged - which is very unpredictable.

The "revue" button on many cancorders is a quick way to check the last few seconds of your last recording - use it often!

Hope this helps!
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Old June 21st, 2005, 03:02 PM   #8
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Thank you Dave, I have kept your reply on file. In this case I think it must have been the tape.
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Old June 24th, 2005, 10:23 PM   #9
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Still primarily using analog

I've probably shot 500 30 minute betacam sp tapes. The first tape I ever put in the betacam recorded, clogged. (It was a night time shoot by a pier so humidity may have played a part.) One other time, on a non-paying gig, the heads clogged. Or should I say one head clogged.

In both instances I was able to double up the remaining field and still use the image! S-VHS I can't recall having problems. I once used a bad S-VHS record back and when I looked at the picture the chroma looked like a bad ion storm. Amazingly enough, I kicked up the DNR all the way when editing from the tape, (fortunately the performers didn't move very much, so chroma trails were not an issue) and the image actually held up! Another time the camera head started having what looked like an electrical field of luminence, and once again the D.N.R. minimized most of the bad effect.

All in all not too bad for several years of shooting, being able to use the tape even if it has a defect.

I wouldn't wish not knowing if the camera was truly running on anybody.
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