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Old February 3rd, 2006, 08:37 AM   #1
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Is my tape ruined? Is my camcorder to blame?

Greetings, all. This is my first post.

So, I was reviewing some footage that I shot on my XL1. I was playing the tape in my Canon ZR45. Somehow, the tape got tangled in some part of the transport mechanism during the rewind, very near the beginning of the tape, or so it seems. I was able to remove the tape very carefully with a bamboo skewer, and I un-twisted it and wound it back into the cassette. There is an area of about, I'd say, 6 or 7 inches of tape that is now quite wrinkled.

I realize that the footage in that area is most likely ruined. What about the rest of the tape, though? Is it safe to try and use the rest of the footage that is un-wrinkled? Should I advance the tape by hand past the wrinkled area? Is it likely the camcorder's fault? Is it likely just bad luck, and the camcorder's just fine?

I appreciate any comments.

Chris
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 08:21 PM   #2
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Hi Chris,

There is no sure deal here, but this is what I would do.

1. Wind tape by hand, well past the damage

2. Play the tape back in the original camera (XL-1) one time, capturing it or dubbing it as you do. If your capture is successful, then file the original far away. Hopefully you will never have to use the damaged tape again.

3. Run a tape head cleaner in both cameras. Be sure and follow the directions, it should only run for a few seconds.

4. Use a new tape and run some tests on the ZR45 first to see if you can recreate the problem. If it happens again, clean the heads and run some more tests. If that doesn't do it, then there is a problem in the camera tape mechanism and it might be ready to go back for repair.

5. Run tests on the XL-1, just so you can be sure it's okay. Same work flow as above.

6. Discard your test tape when done.

Other considerations:

1. Are you mixing tapes brands/types in either camera? Everything I read on this board suggest that you use one brand of tape and stick with it. If you must mix brands, then you must clean the heads before switching.

2. Are you using long running tapes? It is my understanding that the longer tapes are thinner stock, and so they might be more likely to fail. I do not use any tape stock longer than 63 minutes.

3. Are you using quality tapes? Cheap tape is just that...cheap. The better the tape stock, the less chance of problems, and the extra expense will save you headaches like this one later.

I hope this has been of some use.

Welcome to DVInfo and Good luck!

Brad Richmond
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Old February 6th, 2006, 08:38 AM   #3
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Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Brad. I will definitely take the steps you outlined and will report back on the results.

In answer to your other questions:

1. Early on in the life of my cameras (3-4 years ago) I did mix brands. This was before I knew that was a bad thing to do. I cleaned the heads when I found out, and ever since I've only used one brand.

2. I only use the standard, one-hour (on SP) miniDV tapes.

3. I use what I would consider mid-grade tapes. Correct me if I'm wrong. They're the Sony tapes that come in a blue box. The wrapping on the individual tapes, however, is red. The box lists them as "Premium" level.

Should I upgrade to a higher quality level?

Thank you!

Chris Yeiser
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Old February 9th, 2006, 07:14 PM   #4
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Hi Chris,

It sounds like you have most of it figured out already. Hopefully the tape was eaten because it was just a flaw on the tape and it isn't a problem with the camera.

I don't know if using the highest quality tape will help prevent this problem, however I think it's worth a couple extra bucks per 60 minutes of tape. It doesn't make sense to use thousands of dollars in equipment, invest hours of labor shooting and editing something that might only happen once, then use cheap tape stock. The phrase "penny wise and pound foolish" comes to mind.

I shoot Panasonic DVM63MQ. Other people swear by Sony and other brands, but I've had good luck with these tapes so I'm sticking with it. If I start having problems, then I would consider a change. For now it works for me.

One last thing. I never use a tape more than once! Since the Mini-DV tapes are so delicate, repeated passes only increase the chance of having problems. An added advantage to this is that there is virtually no chance of ever recording over something that you might want later. It's one less thing to worry about, and you never know when you might decide that you wish you still had that old shaky video of Fido chasing the ball.

Good luck! May all your video be steady, color balanced, and drop-out free!
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