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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old June 8th, 2005, 05:38 PM   #16
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I'll answer a couple of posts here:

1. It only stands to reason that Sony tapes are designed to compliment Sony tape transports.

2. Hopefully the cleaning tape instructions also mentioned to let the heads cool down for a minute between uses of the cleaning tape. Otherwise, if the heads get hot enough, the plastic detritus you are attempting to remove will be melted on. Then it's time for a new head if that happens.

This is because of the speed at which a DV drum rotates. It is much faster than the drums on larger formats.

3. Yes, there is another way to clean the heads but you have to take the door off the tape compartment in most recorders so you can access that area. Then the process is just like cleaning any other drum. A chamois (best use one that is glued on a stick) and the approved cleaning fluid are the appropriate tools.

WARNING - if you don't know how to do this, you risk instant head destruction. It is easy to clean heads in the correct manner. It is also easy to destroy them with an improper technique.

BTW, cleaning tapes don't do much for cleaning the transport bits. For that, one must use cleaning fluid and the appropriate foam-tipped cleaning sticks.

4. Cleaning tapes are quite abrasive and should only be used when you are having problems or, maybe once every 100 hours or so. I have cameras and a DSR-20 that have at least 1,000 hours on them and have never had a cleaning tape run through them. But I will not run anything but Sony tape in them no matter what. If a customer wants me to edit something on a non-Sony tape, they have to provide a deck or camera from which I can pull the video.

5. The DV signal is digital. The 'pulse' is there or it is not there. While more expensive tapes might have a marginal value, in the main, there are no meaningful differences and most of the supposed differences are marketing hype meant to separate you from more money.

Even the DVCAM tapes (and DVCAM itself) aren't necessary for those of us who operate in a NLE environment. DVCAM was designed to give the TV crews who use (still) linear editing systems and heavily reuse their tapes.
I talked to a Sonyfactory rep at NAB and he finally admitted that there is very little advantage to using DVCAM in the NLE studio.

I buy the least expensive Sony DV tapes available from the bulk resellers and pay under $4 per tape in quantities of 5 or more. I have never had a bad tape and I have never had a detectable dropout in 4+ years and hundreds of cassettes. Cameras are PD150's, VX-1000, DSR-300, & PC-110.

Furthermore, the local community college with which I am affiliated has VX-1000's and PD-1's that are over 8 years old and are all in great shape, transport-wise. Students are threatened with a instant expulsion from the Cinema classes and/or a$400 fine if they are ever caught using non-Sony tapes in the cameras or, indeed, anywhere in the studio unless it is in their personal gear. It works.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #17
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Now here's a thing....

Is it possible for tape tension to affect head contact..?
Right, so I grabbed one of the new tapes (Sony premium) and set it to record (Mac playing music..) for the whole tape.
When played back the first half (30 mins or so had the (now predictable) glitches... thereafter the glitches died out. I have now been viewing/listening to >20mins of glitch-free tape.
I will now try the same experiment again on another tape from the new batch. If the heads have (miraculously) cleaned themselves, then I would expect this new tape to record glitch-free right off the bat. If the problem is not solved, well.. let's wait and see. I guess if it exhibits the same problem (first 30mins with, second 30mins without glitches) then I've got to assume the problem's associated with the tape, cassette, or the mechanism in the camera - a tape tension problem perhaps..... Thoughts? I guess it is possible to have a bad tape batch, right? Unlikely, I agree, but theoretically possible...
I'll report back soon..
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Old June 8th, 2005, 09:10 PM   #18
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Tape tension has everything to do with head contact. But so does gunk on the heads (or the tape).

Tape is itself abrasive and will tend to clean the head, just not as fast as a cleaning tape.

On bigger machines, where people put in junk rental tapes, it is not unusual to clean the heads with the chamois and then have to run a bit of tape to clean up the final bits of gunk.
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Old June 9th, 2005, 09:14 AM   #19
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Second recording test on a new Sony Premium tape

Any guesses as to what the outcome was with the second recording test?
Well, it was the same as for the first tape: first 35 mins or so recorded with glitches / drop-outs - starting evry 1 - 3 seconds, and getting less frequent towards the middle of the tape. At about 30 mins the drop-outs were 10 - 30 seconds apart. From 40mins on however, the recording was fine, and could be captured to FCP without a hitch. No drop-outs at all.
Sounds pretty much like a tape tension issue - either in the camera itself, or in the tape cassette mechanism. I can't think of anything else which would be so time dependent... anyone agree?
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Old June 9th, 2005, 11:13 AM   #20
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There could be other reasons but all of them conclude with a talk with Sony and probably a trip to a repair center.
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Old June 9th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #21
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yep

I concur..

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Old June 13th, 2005, 08:20 AM   #22
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A work-around.....

Connecting the VX2100 to a second camera via Firewire allowed me to transfer the tape contents over to another tape (Pana on the Pansonic 953). The new tape has new timecode from the Pana, so I can now capture this new digital copy over to the Mac - without drop-outs..!
I still have the audio drop-outs to edit out, but now at least I have some usable (Non-degraded) video to work with...!
Phew...
Camera still needs fixing, but at least I'll be able to salvage some wedding footage....
Rgds,
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Old June 15th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #23
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Counterpoint

It's interesting to see all the threads about either/or tape usage. I have about 2000 hours on a PD-150, a PD-100a, and about 700 hrs on a PDX-10. After adding small format to twenty years of Betacam operation, I just continued to use the top end of the tape food chain- no matter the manufacturer. That is, I have used Fuji, Sony, and Panasonic tapes interchangeably these past four years in my DV cameras. (Fuji and Sony only in BetacamSP) My experience? No drop outs, and only one crunched tape. But, that was eaten by my portable GV-D1000. The dammaged tape was a Sony.

I've always used the more expensive tape emulsions, but wet vs. dry lubrication is an issue I'd not been aware of. Since it's apparently a potential problem, I will stick with Sony going forward, even though that's the only tape that's ever failed me...

Regarding tape integrity and format viability, DV may not be nearly as good as BetaSP in terms of resolution, but I must say that the drop-out rate on DV is the best of any format I've ever used in the past 23 years. Of course, all this might soon be a moot point if Panasonic's P2 cards are the wave of the future.

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Old June 17th, 2005, 11:28 AM   #24
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The outcome....

See above post re drop-outs..
VX head/transport professionally cleaned, and now no drop-puts.
Repair shop uses only Panasonic premium tapes, as they have had some
'bad' Sony premium tape in the past which caused drop out problems. They have never had a drop-out problem with the Pna tape.
Now that the camera is 'clean', I'm switching to Pana premium. Also means that the other camera I use (Panasonic 953) can share my tape stock...
What a saga....!
Rgds,
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