Firewire video transfer from camcorder to pc is pixelated

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    • #47983

      I’m trying to transfer video from a Canon ZR800 camcorder to my pc using a 4-pin to 4-pin firewire. The pc recognizes the camcorder no problem, but as soon as I start the transfer process, the video image in the preview screens of both the camera and the pc show that the video is randomly pixelating as the video is transferring.

      When I disconnect the firewire connection the video image on the camera plays smoothly….plug it back into the pc with the cable and it pixelates.

      I have tried the camera and the cable on two different computers with the same result.

      Also tried turning off the lcd screen on the camera as the video is transferred and still see pixelation on the computer screen

      Is it likely that the cable is defective or am I missing something?

      Many thanks,

    • #197360

      It’s more likely that your PC is too slow to keep up with the DV data flow.

    • #197361

      I guess I thought I had enough power with an Intel Core2 Duo CPU T8100 / 2.10 GHz and 3GB of memory and at least 100 GB of hard disk space available.

      If that is not sufficient, can you please advise as to what would be the minimum?



    • #197362

      Thank you for your efforts to help me with this problem.

      I actually got in touch with a live person at Canon tech support tonight and after we ran through the scenario including the hardware and video card I’m using (see below) he said that he thought that my video card may not be able to keep up with the speed of my CPU.

      Dell Studio 1535

      Intel Core2 Duo CPU T8100 / 2.10 GHz

      3GB of RAM

      At least 100 GB of hard disk space available

      Video card

      ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400

      Memory 1534 mb

      Core clock and memory clock 500 MHz

      He said that I might find ways to “tweak the video card” or optimize my system….

      I will look into that and figure out how to do both….however, it seems to me that I should have enough computer power relative to the CPU /memory / hard drive / video card to make this work without having to stand on my head and I’m really wondering if there is in fact, a problem either with the firewire cable or the camera itself.


    • #197363

      I have a question…

      are you seeing this pixelation as you are importing or after you import as you playback on the computer?

      if it jitters during import but plays back fine, just ignore it.

      otherwise try saving to an external firewire hd.

      my macbook has no trouble capturing dv to high-def formats….

      you might try more ram as I understand it pc’s need more ram than macs to do the same jobs.

    • #197364


      Before you spend money on new RAM, consider this from your description it’s one of three things:

      1. Your camera’s firewire input/output may be faulty
      2. Your 4-4-pin cable may be faulty
      3. All of the above

      Cheapest way to check is get another cable. Borrow one or buy one and then return it immediately after your tests to get your money back if it turns out to be a camera issue. Rule out the small stuff first before upgrading your computer components.

    • #197365

      If possible, turn off the preview while capturing.

    • #197366

      Thanks for your responses…

      The video jitters during import as well as after it has been fully imported and I play it off the hard drive.

      As a test, while I was viewing the video on the camera’s lcd screen while importing to the computer, the video is jittery while connected to the computer, so I deliberately unplugged the firewire from the computer and the jitteriness in the camera’s preview screen immediately disappears.

      I just bought another cable and tried it out and the same problem occurs trying it on two different machines. Which means I guess that the computers’ firewire ports are probably okay, but the camera’s port might have a problem.

      I did try turning off the LCD preview screen on the camera while importing…no difference. Not sure how to turn off preview monitor in Windows Movie Maker as it imports.

    • #197367

      Sony offers a fully functional 30 day free trial of all their software – I would suggest downloading Vegas (any flavor – Pro, Movie Studio, Platinum, etc…) and see if their capture gives you the same problems.

      Doesn’t cost anything to try…

    • #197368

      Sometimes I run into your “jittery” issue while digitizing and/or playing back from the computer, but when I output it to DVD it plays fine. There are occasions when the unit simply cannot give you smooth playback on computer preview, but the output is OK. Not always the case, and certainly disconcerting to say the least.

      That’s why a direct output to a standard monitor can be important, along with what you’re saying about the graphics card. I have to tell you though that a LOT likely has to do with Windows MOvie Maker, but I am NOT at all qualified to go further with that subject, being non PC oriented.

    • #197369

      The video card is not the problem. It has *nothing* to do with capture.

      Your Firewire port is either working, or not. There is no in-between. It sounds ike it is working.

      I have *never* seen a “bad” Firewire cable that causes download problems. And I use the cheapest Firewire cables I can find.

      If you are trying to capture DV, then try using the freeware program: Scenalyzer Live. It just works, even when the PC is too underpowered to capture the DV data stream.

      If you only have one hard-disk, then expect problems.

      If your hard-disk is a 5400 RPM disk, expect problems.

      If you are running Norton products, expect problems. (Norton Antivirus works great, but it is a resource hog).

      If you haven’t removed all the crapware installed by Dell, expect problems. (Much of it runs in the background, anticipating they you will click on the trial button. Consuming resources while they are idling below the surface.)

    • #197370

      Thank you for your responses….here’s where things stand.

      The hard disk on my PC is 7200 RPM and I use two external hard disks for storage

      I run AVG and Superantispyware rather than Norton or McAffee products.

      I removed all the bloatware from computer after I bought it.

      Aside from Windows Movie Maker (which is not what I normally use) I tried Adobe Premier Elements to capture the video with the same jittery results. That is the software that I’ve successfully used in the past to edit many videos that were transferred to the computer via DVD. This is the first time I’ve tried capturing video from a camera.

      I just tried Scenalyzer Live with the same jittery results.

      Now of course, I’m fixated on figuring this out.

    • #197371

      Can you put a few seconds of this problem where we can see it? You-tube or Vimeo?

    • #197372

      sounds like he is capturing to his system drive, which is ano no, he’ll fill it up before he can say defragment.

    • #197373

      I just uploaded a minute of video on YouTube.

      The URL is

    • #197374

      That’s a strong indicator of dirty heads on the camera, or that the tape is not being played back in the camera from which it was recorded. That kind of imaging is usually the result of either damaged tape or the digital equivalent of analog tape dropouts.

      If it is being played back in the unit from which it was recorded, another problem could be alignment of the tape heads, or that the tape transport system is out of whack.

      It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the firewire, your system or software – I’m 90% positive it’s the tape.

      Sorry, Earl

    • #197375

      We have tested three different tapes all taken with this camera.

      What is strange is that the video plays back perfectly and without a problem within the camera’s LCD screen, but as soon as I plug the camera into the computer, the distortion you see in the sample occurs. If I unplug the camera from the PC the distortion in the LCD screen goes away.

      We are borrowing this camera from someone who has never used it before except to film one event, and this is the first time anyone has ever tried to transfer video from it.

    • #197376

      “If I unplug the camera from the PC the distortion in the LCD screen goes away.”

      This is the part that I find most puzzling. The video *does* look like dirty heads, but unplugging the PC from the camera should NOT have any effect on the video on the camera LCD.

      Can you try another camera or deck?

    • #197377

      Well….I think I’ve found the source of the problem but not sure if it can be fixed.

      While making another transfer attempt, I was testing how securely the firewire cable was plugged into the camera’s port and I discovered that if I fiddled with that connection a bit the video cleared up during the transfer.

      That’s the good news….the bad news is that I can’t get it to work consistently. In order to clear up the corrupt video transfer while in progress, I have to gently jiggle the connector to find the clean connection and then hold the connector very tightly in the camera port. If I let go of the connector, the clean connection is lost.

      Just to make sure it wasn’t the cable itself having a problem, I reversed ends between the computer and the camera…same results….and I also used a totally different cable with the same results.

      The pins in the camera’s port appear to be aligned and intact, so I assume this means that the camera’s connector is either corroded or dirty.

      Any possibility I may be able to clean the port without killing the camera?

    • #197378


      Sounds like you’ve got a 4-pin input. Outside of using canned air to blow any dust or debris out, I’d not try to ‘clean’ those delicate parts. From what you mentioned, the firewire port sounds to be loose within the camera. Definitely try the canned air bit, but most likely it’s a mechanical issue. If your camera is still under warranty, RMA it for either repair or most likely replacement. If not, then you may have to just use some mildly adhesive tape to stabilize your cable until your transfer is done and you can get another rig. If you’re planning on sticking with tape, I’d suggest getting a small deck like a Sony GV-HD700 or the like so you won’t wear out your main camera’s heads or in this case, firewire ports with constant usage.

    • #197379

      A q-tip with a little bit of rubbing alcohol is good for cleaning as well if you do not have canned air. But do not use to much alcohol, only need a slight amount to clean it properly. You can also upgrade your camera with and let them fix the port and sell it to some one else.

    • #197380

      wd-40 is ok to use for cleaning electrical contacts…. not sure if I’d spray it in there, maybe q-tips…..

      remember wd-40 is rocket science!

    • #197381

      I’m currently capturing Standard DV video from my Sony HDR-HC1 camcorder onto my PC – 1.66GHz Core2Duo, 2GB RAM, 5400rpm HDD.

      Could quality degradation actually be happening, despite the fact that Sony Capturestated thatall went successful (no frame drops)?

    • #197382

      Please do not use WD40 to ‘clean’ the port! WD40 is for lubricating things, not cleaning! It is a ‘general purpose light oil’ this is electronice you are dealing with not a car engine or a rusty gate hinge! It will work well for the first few month then the dust and dirt will start to stick to the residue that the WD40 leaves and you will get even more problems. You can get from any electrical store, either a can of air that has been suggested before and just aim it into the port and clean out the dust, to give the conntacts a clean you can get ‘contact cleaner that is a alchohol based product. this will remove any grease or dirt particals that are on the contacts but will not leave a residue.

      Having looked at the footage on youtube – i get the same problem when you need to clean the heads on the camera. you can see the last track of the play head after the next one is being played. A head cleaning tape will sent you back about $20 (have just converted from s so sorry if it is wrong). 10 second of clean time and you should get the playback working again.

      if you do this and still no joy then you how many times have you used the tape? After say 10 recording the tape will be so worn it will no record or play back, and it is time to throw it away.

      I use my tapes for a maximum of 4 times and then bin ( they do not go to the land fill i recycle them!), i have a six month rotation, so that there is nothing on the tape that is not unused and before i use them i ‘tape header’ them with 30 secs of bars and 5 secs of 0dB to check that they are ok.

      The moving of the firewire cable and getting a better picture is perhap due to the moving of the camera and the tape drive unit being moved getting rid of some of the dirt on the heads

      Have you just played it on the camera a looked to see if it is ok then? it a simple test to see if the camera is at fault or the tape.

      i do believe it is a dirt head problem and can be solve very quickly and cheaply..

      hope it all help

    • #197383

      “Have you just played it on the camera a looked to see if it is ok then? it a simple test to see if the camera is at fault or the tape?”

      Answering for the poster, and having read all the posts, that was actually indicated as having been done. Loose or poor connections due to wear or even a factory-related lack of quality control and faulty materials, is not at all an inconceivable thing.

      But I still think, as others have said, that what I’m seeing on the clip is a case of dirty or misaligned heads, bad tape or an act of God or nature.

      Even switching from one brand of tape to another (notoriously between Sony brand and Panasonic brand tapes) due to different lubricants used in the manufacturing, can cause similar problems.

    • #197384

      “Please do not use WD40 to ‘clean’ the port! WD40 is for lubricating things, not cleaning! It is a ‘general purpose light oil’ this is electronice you are dealing with not a car engine or a rusty gate hinge! It will work well for the first few month then the dust and dirt will start to stick to the residue that the WD40 leaves and you will get even more problems. You can get from any electrical store, either a can of air that has been suggested before and just aim it into the port and clean out the dust, to give the conntacts a clean you can get ‘contact cleaner that is a alchohol based product. this will remove any grease or dirt particals that are on the contacts but will not leave a residue.”

      your caution and advice are welcome….and you posted a good tip.

      But we’ll have to agree to disagree on the use of wd-40 on electronics.

      it does work. it is awesome for displacing water/moisture, preventing corrosion.

      It was developed by NASA to displace moisture first on rockets, then used electronics and parts.

      Water Displacement 40th formula……

      Don’t get it on your playheads, or parts lubricated with grease, but fine for electrical contacts, and cleaning… like the connection/power ports…

      I wouldn’t recommend it, if I didn’t know for sure…

      I’ve used it to clean up after a drink spill on a bose sound mixer board as well as cleaning circuit boards in a mac, and displacing water from a blackberry… aside from normal uses like ignition and electrical connectors on my motorcycle.

      it works, and a q-tip will remove most if not all residue, which is mineral oil…

    • #197385

      My thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I tried canned air on the firewire port with no luck and as it turns out, now I can’t replicate a clean transfer by jiggling the connection so not sure how real that was when I did it earlier.

      I also did another test which I should have tried sooner…..I connected the camera to our TV using the video cable that came with the camera and during playback experienced the same distortion as happened with the firewire transfer to computer so it is not a firewire problem.

      Even though the camera has only been used three times and each time with brand new tapes, the culprit is likely dirty heads as many of you have suggested, so I am going to purchase a head cleaning tape and see what happens.

      Because the tapes all play back clearly without corruption in the camera’s LCD screen when no transfer cables are connected, I assume that the tapes themselves may be okay, but that the playback through the camera to another device may be distorting the output of video.

      I wish I had another camera to test the tapes on, but so far I haven’t located one.

      I will let you know what happens after I try the cleaning the heads.

      Again, thanks for all the feedback.

    • #197386

      Problem solved !

      Sorry for the delay in reporting back….but I have been out of town for two weeks.

      I bought a Canon head cleaning tape and it worked…..the video is now clean both during and after transfer.

      Don’t know why the LCD screen reflected clean video when the heads were dirty…but it did.

      Thanks again for all the feedback.

    • #197387

      WD-40 is pure EVIL around electronics. It leaves behind a paraffin-like residue and will usually make conditions worse. The WD in WD-40 means “Water Displacement”

      WD-40 is only moderately evil in other applications. The only good use I’ve found for it is getting water out of a door lock so that it won’t freeze. You won’t find any in my studio.

    • #197388

      in looking at the link hbridge posted, that is a tape issue, nothing but. I have 3 Canon ZR camcorders, the 500, 800 and 930. I have experienced this effect when using a well used tape and then putting that tape in another camcorder for capture to the computer.

    • #197389

      The firewire port on my Canon ZR800 has stopped working. It looks like two pins might be broken off. Can I replace the firewire port.

    • #197390

      Also, another thought. Could your Hard drive bee too slow, that causing the issue. I transfer to an External drive because my C drive is too slow and drops too many frames. My external drive is a WD My Book 500 GB. You could try that and see if your issues end.

    • #301400

      I have recently taken a holiday film on Sony Handycam with harddrive in SD format HQ and I can't get it to download on my computer. Its not even recognising it.   I have previously recorded in SD format SP which has always worked fine.  Cabling appears to be fine.  Has anyone out there any ideas please. 

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