No Playback on XH A1? at
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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old January 5th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hemlock, Michigan
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No Playback on XH A1?

I've had three tapes do this over the past 2.5 years of operation with my XH A1.

Each time the symptoms were the same. Tape would play back with image during scan, but nothing during normal frame rates.

I was told that I could try to play back my tape in another deck/machine and see what would happen. Since I travel so much, that wasn't really a viable option.

When I saw the problem the first time my best guess was that the tape was out of alignment a bit. Like bad tracking on old VHS, 3/4, or Beta tapes.

Since this was digital, the lack of consistent data stream would knock the playback into the "blue screen" as the head wasn't reading enough 0's and 1's to create a usable signal. This was my guess.

So, for lack of a better solution at the time I pinched the tape carriage a bit while the tape was in play mode. Then I squeezed it gently but firmly. Then I put pressure in and up on the carriage. Playback ensued.

I would never recommend anyone risk yanking, pushing or prodding on the most delicate parts of their camera, but it worked for me. I held the carriage in place for 10 minutes and got my "lost" footage. (thankfully only 10 minutes)

But, as I say, it happened 2 other times. Both time I resorted to the same so-called solution. Pressure on the tape carriage. Gently but firmly, in and up.

Last month it happened again. The images below were my ad-hoc design to apply pressure to the carriage during the length of the 60-minute tape.

Obviously, the pressure re-aligns the tape just enough to be functional. I digitize the footage, label the tape BAD, and continue working.

Now, the head-scratching part of the problem relates to the question as to "Why does this happen randomly and usually only on one tape at a time?" Here's my guess: I thought back to all three times it happened and think I may have realized the issue. On all three tapes I remember loading the tape into the carriage in haste to continue shooting as fast as possible. By doing so, I believe I closed the carriage lid BEFORE the carriage has settled the tape completely to its proper alignment.

Usually, if you do this the carriage will force you to open the lid and re-seat the tape in you close it too fast. But, I think, that's there's this moment where the lid will close, the tape won't eject AND the carriage aligns improperly. Thus a misaligned tape that only plays back when the carriage is physically prodded upward.

That's my experience. Maybe it'll help you? Again, this is a pretty drastic thing to do to your camera, but if you need the footage and other options are exhausted...well...

p.s. - The images show a plastic toothbrush being used a lever to consistently push in and pull up the carriage over the course of an hour. The counter weight in the pic is two bath towels.
Matthew Nothelfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 5th, 2010, 03:49 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Sydney.
Posts: 2,887
Mathew you're correct, closing the lid before the transport has seated the tape will cause problems on any camera. You've bent something and levering it into play mode isn't helping either, I'd get it into the shop as soon as possible.

Pushing the transport anywhere but PUSH will also eventually stuff the thing.

And even in a hurry I wait until the tape has finished lacing itself up before closing the lid.

Drink more tap water. On admission at Sydney hospitals more than 5% of day patients are de-hydrated.
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Old January 5th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #3
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Location: Hemlock, Michigan
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For what it's worth, the camera works fine 99.5% of the time. And still operates as it should. 3 instances of bad alignment, tracking, whatever-you-call-it over the course of 29 months obviously isn't a normal occurrence. And sending a camera in for service when your a thousand miles deep into countryside of the Middle Kingdom doesn't allow for much options.

Also, this particular playback problem is not unknown from other users.

Keep in mind I'm not advocating this action to force a bad tape to playback, I'm just illustrating something that salvaged irreplaceable client footage for me. A client I was on the clock with, mind you.

At any rate, others that read this thread might consider what I've written if confounding playback issues happens to them as well.

As for the "too-soon" closing of the lid to the tape carriage as a possible culprit, that's just a wild speculation by me. There's no way for me to prove it, nor say for certain I did close the lid before proper tape seating/threading, as the tape loaded and claimed to record properly for all operational appearances. I'm just guessing on that one. Take my testimonial for what you will, I make no claims of certainty on any of this.

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Old January 13th, 2010, 10:19 AM   #4
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Location: Austin, Texas
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Brand of Tape

That sounds oddly similar to what used to happen to mine... for grins ....what brand of tape are you using?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 02:58 PM   #5
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Sony’s HDM-63VG.
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