I'm pretty new here (i.e. just happened upon the site a few hours ago after looking for help on google) and would like some help. I have several old home videos on VHS that I'm trying to convert to digital. I have a Canon Elura 80 miniDV camcorder that I'm using to capture the video from the VCR and then transferring the video to my computer via a firewire cable. The VCR is a Sanyo VWM-400, if that helps. I didn't grab the remote when I got the VCR from my parents, but they'll be sending it along shortly, but for the time being I can't access menu options on it.
Now, onto my problem. I got the video off one tape without any problems (only held 2 hours of video, so I would think it was recorded in SP mode). Then when I tried two other tapes, I would only get intermittent video getting picked up by the camcorder, what almost seemed like one out of every few seconds. At first I thought the tapes might be bad, but then I used the search function (fastforward while in play) and I could see all the video, so I know it's on the tapes. Then, I tried another tape and the first ~15 minutes of the tape worked fine, and then I noticed it suddenly was having the same issue as the last two tapes. The first 15 min still play fine, though.
So I have a couple ideas what it might be: I'm thinking there might be some SP/LP/EP mixup somewhere, and I might have to change the setting on the VCR (probably in the menu), or I'm thinking it's a tracking issue. Any ideas? It's been so long since I've used a VCR that any skill I had back then has vanished.
Thanks in advance,
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Connect the vcr directly to the TV and playback the troublesome tape(s). Could be tracking, creased/dirty tape clogging the head.
Speed selection on all vcr's has, as far as I'm aware always been automatic. However, if the tape is LP, some vcr's
may not deal with it well (not sure of the technical reason, perhaps somebody else will provide more info)
For first steps, do as suggested "Connect the vcr directly to the TV and playback the troublesome tape(s)." If that goes OK and it is found the tapes are "good enough" to play, then use a different method to capture the video. I would recommend some research on the topic. Unless the camera mentioned is capable of the digital conversion and the firewire is directly taking the signal into the computer (similar to the old Sonys), try a different capture method. Take a look at this: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/3839-transferring-vhs-family.html
As davexnet mentioned, some VCRs do not cope with tracks from another VCR very well, especially if the VCR that made the tape is of a different brand that is now playing it back. If the trouble is the tape, try another VCR to play it back.
Check lordsmurf's webpage for good, proven advise: http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video.htm
Thanks for the responses. I just tried something I saw recommended last night on Youtube: fast forwarding the tape all the way, then rewinding it all the way to "repack" the tape. Seems to have worked for this tape at least.