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i shot a bunch of footage not to long ago on a panasonic pv-gs150 that was more out of alignment than i knew. the camera was subsequently destroyed and when i attempted to play its cassettes on other, properly-aligned decks, the image was full of glitches and the sound dropped out constantly.
wherever i went thereafter, i took a tape with me and tried it on everyone’s deck, hoping to find one that was out of alignment in precisely the same way my destroyed deck was. no luck.
then i talked to a guy at a camera repair place in l.a. who said that if i bought a similar deck, he could align the heads to place all of the bad tapes. that is to say, he would mangle a good deck and throw it as much out of alignment as my lost pv-gs150, so that i could view and digitize the tapes. that seemed like magic to me, but i needed the footage, so i ebayed a used camera, paid him $100 to mis-align the deck, and it worked. i was amazed. the tapes that looked like a mess on every other deck in the world now play on this deck and i’m digitizing them quickly before the alignment changes.
what i’m curious to know is if it’s possible to deck alignment one’s self? i’ve read that you need an oscilliscope and a vectorscope, but that seems to me to be necessary only if you’re trying to align a deck to specs. whereas, if you’re just trying to align a deck to play a tape that was recorded on a mis-aligned deck, you only need to adjust it until the picture and sound clear up. does anyone know about this? am i thinking of it too much as if alignment were a v-hold knob? most everyplace i look says that these things need to be sent to the specialists; i at least want to know what they do and what magic wand they have before i admit that, all right, this magic is far too powerful for my wand.