What went wrong with tapes

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    • #48480

      Recorded a wedding this weekend, using our usual set up, three canon gl2 cameras, maxell mini dv tapes(new), perfect weather and lighting. Ran head cleaner in all cameras before loading tapes 1.

      Tape 2 from camera 1 has only right edge of frame recorded, the rest is pix elated gray on entire length of tape, this is on play back in camera. Tape 3 camera 3 is completely black. Was using the lcd screen at time and all seemed fine until I started to capture video into Abode. Very uneasy now about lost wedding footage in the future. What could have happened?

    • #199183

      Faulty head cleaning tape. That would be my call. Picked up a lot of stuff in the first camcorder, deposited it on the heads of the other two. Use a New, Separate head cleaning tape for each camcorder next time, that means 3 new cleaning tapes.

    • #199184

      Are you playing back from the same cameras that recorded each tape? Have you tried swapping them in other cameras?

    • #199185

      I did play them back in the same camera they were recorded in. The second time I check one of the tapes it was no longer all black but has multicolored pix-elation. There were lots of hand held devices in the room, possible interference? Is there a DTE that comes highly recommended? Do not know if I can rely on tape anymore. Are there any other choices?

      Thanks for the replies.

    • #199186

      Becky, I have shot many weddings using MiniDV tape camcorders, I own 3 of them. Never an issue, I did transfer videos back to my camcorders using the original camcorder that shot the tape. Never once with all the hand held devices in the room was there any interfere with the tape. Tape is still the best recording medium going, to get a HD camcorder that could shoot the same Quality as your MiniDV tape camcorder, would cost in excess of $3300 for that HD camcorder.

    • #199187

      Sounds more like a head clog or internal board problem than digital interference. Having shot thousands of tapes in all sorts of locations, the only time I saw this problem was with an internal bridge connector that went in and out of order (DSR-300 ENG camcorder). The viewfinder showed no problems, and I got no warning lights. And this is a professional camera! It spooked me for a while afterwards, but I didn’t abandon tape because of it.

      I currently shoot tape and tapeless, often during the same event. I know of more people who lost data from a card than from a tape.

    • #199188

      Palladini and Oren what brand mini dv tape do you recommend? Do you think they have a shelf life ?

      Thanks for the replies.

    • #199189

      Becky you say you run head cleaning tapes at every wedding. On each occasion you use a head cleaning tape you substantially reduce the life of the video heads.

      Video service engineers recommend (a) only using a head cleaning tape if there is a recording or playback problem with either video or audio and (b) always use the same brand of DV tape for recording and playback.

      I use Sony DV tapes, and after many 100’s of hours of recording/playback I have never had a problem. Whilst I always carry a new head cleaning tape for each camera I have never had occasion to use a head cleaning tape.

    • #199190

      I use Sony tapes mostly, but have occasionally run other brands through my cameras (although I don’t recommend mixing brands). Almost all major brands (Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Fuji, Maxell and JVC) have high quality control standards, so other than the ultra-premium tapes, you’ll probably find few differences between any brands.

      As Rocky mentioned, don’t overclean the heads. The cleaning tapes are mildly abrasive, and you’ll eventually do more harm than good.

      Tapes do indeed have a shelf life that varies greatly by how they are stored. If they are in a temp/humidity stable environment, you can probably get 20+ years out of them. By then, it’s doubtful that the gear will still be around to play them back. Obviously, you want to keep them away from strong magnetic fields as well.

    • #199191

      I never used head cleaners, I would open the door and use lint free swabs and alchohol.I did have one problem after shooting in a dirty warehouse one time. I hope you can recover your footage. I always used sony brand tapeswith my sony cams.


    • #203944

      As I have been editing and reviewing my video, I noticed that the 2 bad tapes out of 12 recorded that night were recorded and removed from the cameras minutes within each other. My husband had them together in his suit pants pocket together for a short time. He did walk and stand by a large speaker being used by the MC at the time. we have wondered if the speaker may have effected the tapes. Otherwise we are still dumbfounded by why the tapes pix elated. Maybe it was the head cleaner,but would the cameras record tapes 1 fine and then mess tapes 2 and 3 up an hour or more later? And at the same time? Lots of possibilities I guess, We have not had this ever happen before. Our footage is lost but we have at least the third camera angle to work with, Thanks for all the responses, you guys are great!

    • #203945


      I’m always careful around any type of speaker, whether it be a small computer speaker or the large speakers that are used at concerts, since some of the speakers don’t have magnetic shields that cancel the magnetic fields that a speaker can make. Most speakers made nowadays for computers and home audio equipment have the shielding, but a lot of older speakers just don’t have the sshielding. So if your husband was too close to the speaker and the speaker was creating a large magnetic field, he may’ve walked right into the area that would scramble the tape.

    • #203946

      I have two Canon GL1s and one XL1that occasionally have similar issues. Changing out your head cleaner is always a good idea. I realize it is not ideal under every circumstance, but I try to clean the head whenever I change tapes.

      The many ideaspresented above are all good suggestions. Here are a fewthoughts not mentioned previously:

      • All DV tapes aremetal vapor, which isexactlywhatit sounds like:Microscopic metal particles are super-heated to a vapor and adhered to the tape substrate in a vacuum chamber. This type of tape is great because itproduces a very high quality picture, but itcan alsobe more prone to flaking, causingtape drop-out and head clogs, resulting in image loss.
      • Tapes that have been stored a long time or under poor conditionscan be more prone to flaking. A few years ago we had to dispose of an entire batch of tape that we felt wecould no longer trust, because of poor performance. If you order tapes by the carton, see if you can find the lot numbers and manufacturing dates on the carton when you take delivery. It could have been sitting in a hot warehouse for years before it arrived on your doorstep.
      • Different tape manufacturers use different lubricants on the back side of the tape to reduce friction in the tape path. These lubricants can combine on the capstan and rollers in unexpected ways, producing a sticky build-up inside the camcorder. It may help to reduce problems if you choose a singlebrand of tape, rather than shopping for the best price.

      These may or may not apply to you, I just thought these ideas might help others withsimilar issues.

    • #203947

      Although I have never had a problem I always get concerned if I have the tape in my pocket with my cell phone. We have all had the experience where cell phones cause interference with the audio recording if too close. Is it possible he had the tapes near his cell phone?

      Any thoughts on this from others?

    • #203948

      The type of tape formulation used in digital video recording is very different from the old ferric oxide cassette audio tapes that could be damaged by being close to a strong field. I had up until last year an eraser designed for reel to reel audio tapes. I tried it with DV tapes and it was incapable of bulk erasing a DV tape. If you’ve been using tape cleaners regularly, I’d guess you’ve just prematurely worn the heads out. If so – it’s not curable apart from by replacement – a costly job!

      Like the others, I use a cleaning tape only if the short test recording I make before using the camera on a critical job shows problems. I mark the box with the date I used it, and once the manufacturers number is up, I dump it. I also keep track of when I do these cleans – and as the heads start to wear to dodgy levels, the period between cleans shortens.

      I have also followed the policy of standardising on one brand of tapes, and sticking to it. I’ve still got plenty for my old DV cameras, and cannot complain about unreliability. I also record, and then eject the tape. I rewind on a playback machine in the rack and capture it into the computer. I eject the tape, number it, log it and put it on the shelf. It will only only ever be used again, if the data file is lost or damaged in some way. When I have had to re-capture a tape, it’s only the third time past a video head and I’ve never had a problem with storage. It also means the camera mechanisms seem to last longer too!

    • #204086

      With the cellphone, you might also want to watch out for the carrying cases that you have your cellphone in. I have a belt holder for my iPhone, and when the lid is down to secure the phone it is being held in place by magnets. The magnets are designed to not damage the phone, but it does allow me to, when I don’t have the phone on my belt, attach the phone to a fridge or other magnetic surface.

      But I agree with the one tape solution as well. I tend to use only Maxell since, as far as the other tape manufacturers go, Maxell is the only manufacturer that doesn’t create the machine needed to record or playback the machine, unlike the other manufacturers where the tape is sort of a second thought, and the quality might not be where it should be (I’ve used JVC in the past for Mini-DV and I found that I had a lot more drop-outs with JVC, and the tape looked a lot thinner).

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