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Old November 25th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #1
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Can't play back some MiniDV tapes

I was recently given some editing to do and was handed the footage on a series of MiniDV tapes. Until recently my camera equipment consisted of a Canon XL1 and XM1 (both PAL), neither of which can play the tapes. My initial thought was that the footage was either NTSC or had been shot in HDV (I did ask when I was given the tapes, but I was given them by the director and producer, who didn't know what their cameraman had used) so I borrowed an NTSC camera from a friend and tried them on that - still no luck.

So today I've finally made the step up to HDV myself and bought a Z1E which, as far as I can tell, can play back most formats. However that won't play the tapes back either, so I am at a loss as to what format the footage has been recorded in.

All cameras that I have tried have nagivated through the tapes (rewind, fast forward, play) with no problem and all display a timecode, so there's obviously some data there, although the frames on the time code do appear to skip occasionally (which is what led me to try an NTSC camera first). On my XL1 and XM1 the display turns light grey, on my friend's NTSC camera the LCD screen remained blue and on the Z1 the message 'Change to correct tape format' appears. As I've literally just got the Z1 this afternoon I'm still getting to grips with it, but am I correct in assuming that if it could play the tapes it would automatically switch to the appropriate settings?

So, with all that said, what settings could have been used to record the footage that the Z1 can't play back? Or, are there any play back settings that can/have to be set manually on the Z1?

I'm sure I'll get this sorted as soon as the cameraman gets back to me to tell me what he used, but in the meantime I'd love to get started on the editing if I can get my Z1 to play back the tapes.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #2
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I once had a client who wanted me to capture and edit video shot on his canon minidv camera. My sony deck/camera would not play it.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #3
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Paul, what country were the tapes were shot in, might be a start. What brand are they?
Clean your Z1 heads with the same brand tape head cleaner.

Try taking the tapes down to your local camera shop, even your TV outlet or a production house.
Cheers.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 03:18 AM   #4
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It is pretty common that some cameras record dv in such a manner that other dv cameras can't play back the tape. Infact your XL1 is one of the worst.. Try record a tape on your xl1 in 16:9 progressive and play that back on your z1. My guess.. blue screen.

Some old very very lowend sony dv cameras have the unique tendency to play back all dv tapes. Try one of those. Such as the DCR-HC52
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Old November 26th, 2009, 06:38 AM   #5
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I recall running into a problem where someone had recorded in LP mode. The tracks on that low speed are so tightly spaced that sometimes only that particular camera or deck can play them back.

On the other end of the range is DVCam. The track pitch is significantly wider, and only a DVCam deck can play them back. However the wider track pitch also makes these tapes more tolerant of slight tape variations and less likely mis-track.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 07:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Paul, what country were the tapes were shot in, might be a start. What brand are they?
Clean your Z1 heads with the same brand tape head cleaner.

Try taking the tapes down to your local camera shop, even your TV outlet or a production house.
Cheers.
They were shot in the UK, although surely the most pertinent question is what camera were they shot on, as the camera settings will be independent of the country its being used in. That's why my first thought was to try an NTSC camera (which was a Sony VX2100 now that I remember). The tapes are all Sony DV Premium ME DVM60 MiniDV tapes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nik Skjoth View Post
It is pretty common that some cameras record dv in such a manner that other dv cameras can't play back the tape. Infact your XL1 is one of the worst.. Try record a tape on your xl1 in 16:9 progressive and play that back on your z1. My guess.. blue screen.

Some old very very lowend sony dv cameras have the unique tendency to play back all dv tapes. Try one of those. Such as the DCR-HC52
Yeah, tell me about it. I'm used to the fact that tapes recorded on my XL1 won't play back in anything else. When I first got it, a friend gave me some tapes that he'd shot on his consumer Sony TRV90 that he'd tried to copy onto DVD using his DVD recorder but was having problems with the audio going out of sync, so he wanted me to get them onto DVD using my PC. They'd been recorded in LP and my XL1 wouldn't play them back. After a bit of searching I read somewhere that Sony and Canon LP speeds can be slightly different, which must have been the problem as I ended up borrowing the camera from him to capture the footage, along with some more of his tapes that had been recorded in SP and did play back in my XL1, but the LP tapes had to be played back in the cheap Sony. I ended up using it a lot to capture footage shot on the XL1 to minimise wear on the XL1 and just never shot in LP. My XM1 won't even play back tapes shot in the XL1, so I can always tell what has been shot on which camera! I've tried playing back a bunch of my old tapes on the Z1 and it mostly plays everything, but there is some skipping on the XL1 tapes.

I have made one discovery since posting last night - if I put one of these 'unplayable' tapes in the Z1, press play, ignore the ''Change to correct tape format' message and press fast forward, I can see the footage. It plays quickly, as in faster than real time, but not as fast as you would expect from play/fast forward. That makes me wonder if they've been shot in LP, but I've read that the Z1 can play back (although not record) in LP, although I can't find that mentioned anywhere in the manual. So at the moment I'm at a complete loss and I think only knowing the model of camera they were shot on can shed any light on this!
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