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Old June 16th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #1
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Problems with capturing footage: dirty heads?

Hi there, I'm pretty certain I know what my problem is, I just wanted to get a few other opinions on it, mainly to make sure it doesn't happen again.

So on Tuesday I shot for a production company on a XHA1 shooting mini DV. All went well and I thought nothing more of it. Until I got a message a few days later saying they where having problems capturing it. They thought I'd shot HDV or some sort of wrong setting.

I shoot a minutes test footage without changing the settings and manage to play it back on 3 different cameras. I agree to go in with my camera to try and sort it out.

There edit set up is they use 2 cheap mini dv cameras to capture the footage. So my first thought when I get in, is perhaps their heads are dirty. No one seems to know when they've been cleaned. I just want to check that it's nothing different such as a problem with the head alignment on my camera.

So what happens when the tape is played back. For the first 10 minutes there are horizontal lines going across, the sound is not effected. On their other camera and my own camera it's not so bad though its pixelated.

The tapes were new, it's not condensation, and it's not all the way through the tape. I put colour bars on the first minute of the tape. The second tape had a small amount of pixelation but only on a short section.

They have a tape deck so I will advice them to start using that. Any ideas or suggestions are welcomed,

Kathy
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Old June 16th, 2007, 12:04 PM   #2
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Kathy,

If I read your post correctly, you are stating that the problem tape, still had problems when you played it back on your camera, correct?

And you cleaned the heads on your camera, before playback, correct?

If you have tried the tape on their two cheap cameras, and yours as well - and it is banded and pixellated on all three, chances are the tape is corrupt and will not be 'recoverable'.

As to what caused it? Who knows. Possibly some contamination from the environement you were shooting in. It's possible dust or something entered the compartment when you loaded the tape, found it's way onto the tape heads, and found its way 'off' after a point. It happens.

You are saying that you are recording good video now with your camera? No further problems?
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Old June 16th, 2007, 12:42 PM   #3
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Hi Richard, thanks for your help. The problem occurred for the first 10 minutes or so on the first tape and also very briefly on the second tape. I loaded the tapes into the camera indoors, so I wouldn't have thought anything got in, but it's a possibility.

Since the two tapes I shot that day I've only recorded a very brief bit to see if I could play it back with those settings in another camera. (I could)

I haven't used a head cleaner yet, but I plan to get one next week and use it before I do any more filming.

I'm thinking I wont shoot anything important on the other tapes from that box, just wondering if it's worthwhile running them through my camera. Firstly it may help clean off any dirt and secondly I can play it back and see if any problems occur.

Thanks,

Kathy
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Old June 16th, 2007, 12:50 PM   #4
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It just goes to reinforce what I've said for years. Don't crack open a new Mini DV tape costing all of $3 and expect that all 28 parts will be working in perfect harmony. For important jobs always used tried and tested equipment, and that includes the tape of course. You'd never take along a new mic to a shoot without testing it out, would you? And that costs a lot more than $3 and has no moving parts.

tom.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 12:50 PM   #5
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It sounds like you have/had dirty heads. I wouldn't shoot anything of import without cleaning them first. I doubt that the whole box is bad, though it's possible I suppose.

My advice, get a head cleaner, and run it for ten seconds. Then, take a NEW tape out of the box, and load it in. Set you camera up, and aim it out the window or something. Roll the tape ALL the way through to the end.

Watch the first ten minutes of it. THEN watch the last five minutes CAREFULLY.

IF after having cleaned the heads, dropouts occur only at the beginning and very end of the tape, you could have a tensioning problem. Might be worth sending it in for checkup. Barring that, if its a repeatable phenomenom, then I'd send it in for servicing.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 02:19 PM   #6
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I'm hoping the problem isn't with my camera as it's still pretty new (I think I got it in February) I've stuck to using the same tape stock (sony) and haven't had a problem. I will certainly run through a cleaner and test a tape before I use the camera again.

Tom, from what I gathered it doesn't matter so much what tape you use, as long as you stick to the same kind. I can see the point about buying a cheaper tape, but if they where that bad I don't think they'd sell so many. I've heard of more problems with the more expensive ones on the market. Though I realise this is because people are hesitant to buy 2 extra tapes to run through the camera before they even begin shooting.

Kathy
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Old June 16th, 2007, 03:26 PM   #7
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Kathy,

I think what you're looking for is assurance that there isn't some problem with your camera. There's no real way for any of us to diagnose that over the internet. We can provide some trouble shooting tips to help you narrow down likely causes, but in the end, it's going to come down to being able to replicate the problem.

PROBLEM; A Tape that has been corrupted while being recorded on your camera. It won't play back correctly on your camera, or on anyone elses. IS THIS CORRECT?

PROBLEM; You have since recorded more material on the same brand of tape, and the corruption/pixellation DOES NOT OCCUR again. IS THIS CORRECT?


Suggested trouble shooting course of action.

FIRST CLEAN THE HEADS.

Untill you attempt this, it's all guesswork.

If you clean the heads, and the problem no longer presents itself... problem solved. I always clean my heads before a major shoot. Ten or fifteen seconds is a good run for the head cleaner.


IF YOU CLEAN THE HEADS more than two or three times, and the problem persists - then there is a fault in the tracking alignment or with the heads themselves.

SOLUTION: Send it back to Canon.



PROBLEM; "It shouldn't be doing this! It's fairly new!"

Yeah, it happens. Good news is it should be under warranty.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #8
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Yeah thats pretty much how it is. I realise no one here can solve it simply by speaking over the internet. But it's good to speak to people who have had similar things happen or can offer advice. I will be calling the retailer first thing on monday. And I will more than likely get the tape heads cleaned. I'm a little hesitant about putting a tape through as it can be abrasive. But it does seem a lot simpler than doing it by hand. Luckily I have another camera I can use for my shoot next week.

The hardest thing at the moment is to narrow down exactly what caused the corruption. Unfortunately I never played back any of the footage in my camera before it was played in the other cameras. But it's not playing back correctly in any of the cameras/ decks we've tried. The problem did occur briefly on the second tape as well.

Would running a tape through (recording any old thing) before cleaning the heads do any harm? I'd do this just to see if the problem occurred at any point. As I haven't recorded a full tape since the problem cropped up.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old June 17th, 2007, 01:50 AM   #9
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I wouldn't worry too much about the abraisiveness of a head cleaning tape Kathy. In fact a friend of mine got distracted after he's started to run the head cleaner in his VX2000, and by time he realised the whole tape had run pased the heads. So not 10 seconds - more like ten minutes of cleaning (and heating and abraiding and no-gooding).

But you know what? No ill effects at all, and he had the camera a few years after that pink-cheek happening.

Next thing to say is that the head-cleaning tape is just that and only that.
It does nothing for the guides, rollers, capstan and pinch roller (9 components in a Mini DV deck) most of which revolve at the same relative speed as the passing cleaning tape, and it's these components that deserve your close attention every so often. Remember that simply recording one hour of DV means that 70 metres of tape pass through the mechanism, so a tape path clean is something to bear in mind. Your head cleaning tape will not help here.

Any problem with running a tape in the record mode from beginning to end? None at all, except that you've worn another hour off the heads and another hour off the many moving parts. Your A1 will be well out of date before the mechanism wears away.

tom.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 05:30 AM   #10
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Ah thanks Tom, I'll pick up a cleaning tape tomorrow. Today I'll run through a tape and see if the symptoms happen. I guess if I play back the tape first in the XHA1 and then in the PD150 I might be able to narrow down when and if the problem occurs.

Can you recommend anyone in central London who can do the full on cleaning, I'm also a bit worried it might affect the warranty. Though I'll check in with the guys I bought it from tomorrow to see what they suggest doing.

Thanks.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 07:43 AM   #11
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Just to update I recorded a tapes worth of footage looking out from my window. I played the first 10 minutes and the last 5 minutes of footage back on the XHA1 and no problems at all. I then played it back on the PD150 and still no problems. I guess the problem was either some dirt had gotten in and has now gotten out, or a dodgy tape.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 10:21 PM   #12
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Hey Kathy.

I recently helped a guy with his dropped frames problem. You might want to read this thread:

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=96409

Hope that helps.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 10:53 PM   #13
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I've had this problem

Hi Kathy,
I've experienced the same problem on the JVC HD101e in its first six months of operation. We ran into trouble after using some sony stock on the previous shoot and then pannasonic stock on the following shoot. The different tape formulas caused corruption on video for the first 15mins of recording. I learnt a valuable lesson from this day of recording.
As you experienced corruption on the second tape also i suspect this is not the case, but i'll ask the question
Have you mix matched stock on the camera ??
Allan
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Old June 18th, 2007, 04:09 AM   #14
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No I'm aware of the problem with mixing tape stocks. I stick to Sony. I think I may have used one Sony which was a slightly different (more expensive) than the other Sony tapes. That one was bought in China, but I doubt thats what the problem is.

Thanks for the link I'll take a look now.

Just looked and can confirm it's nothing to do with the capture card. As it played back incorrectly on my camera, which wasn't plugged in. It was also a lot more than a few dropped frames. But cheers for the idea.

Last edited by Kathy Stannard; June 18th, 2007 at 04:26 AM. Reason: To add update.
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Old June 18th, 2007, 10:11 AM   #15
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Kathy,

Just to recap. If you CAN'T get the problem to replicate itself on more tapes, than it was a one time affair. Could have been a bad tape, or something temporarily clogging the head that is gone now.

It happens.

If you can't get the problem to replicate itself, and you've cleaned the heads with a head cleaning tape, then all is as it should be, go about your normal shooting routine.

IF the problem manifests itself repeatedly (Hence my recommendation for recording a test tape or two... or THREE) from beginning to end, THEN you've got more than a dirty head, you've got potential dirty tape path/bad tape tension reel/ bad heads which would require a return trip to CANON.
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