I am in the process of archiving all of my old Video8 cassettes. I have successfully transferred all of my old tapes to digital formats accept one. Apparently the very last recording I made with my old camera was made with misaligned heads. There are horizontal lines across the entire recording, and the sound is absent. The original camera (a Panasonic from 1993) is dead, but I am able to play the tape on a newer generation camera - albeit with the horizontal lines and missing sound.
I know there are recovery services that specialize in recovering tapes recorded on misaligned heads, but I am having trouble locating any that really know what they are doing in my local market. I thought I would come here and check to see if anyone had some recommendations...
Greg in Orange County, CA
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You live in Orange County, California. Home to Hollywood. There are more production houses than you can shake a stick at!
Go to one that specializes in transfers - even though it might not cater to regular consumers (and maybe that's better in this case...) - and ask about transferring Video8 tapes that were recorded mis-aligned. See if they can do it with a deck that can be modified, by an engineer, to match your amount of misalignment. If they can, they'll tell you. If they can't, they ought to know a company that DOES (places like that usually know most of their competition).
This reads like not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Hopefully someone else will read this thread and offer a suggestion or reference.
FYI - Hollywood is not located in Orange County. It is in Los Angeles. And most industry production work isn't done in Hollywood anyway - it is done in the Valley since that is where almost all the studios are located.
Not having ever been a resident there, I don't know all the geographical delineations. But any "negative attitude" is in your perception. And there WAS information there.
I have dealt with these kinds of tapes before, having managed the multimedia department of a production house. This included many Consumer, Prosumer & Professional tape format decks. Including Video8/Hi8/Digital8.
The electronic & mechanical tinkering necessary to fix this is WAAAYYYY beyond the ability of a regular consumer or hobbyist. Particularly difficult is the fact that 8's all use automatic tracking (as opposed to VHS/Beta/etc's manual tracking) and the fact that the form factor is that much more miniature (but thank goodness you aren't having to deal with modding DAT tape!).
So I'm not just being a sourpuss. You do NOT want to go down any road EXCEPT to have it done as a service, at a professional transfer house.
Do I know of any in your vacinity? No. If I had worked with one on similar problems, I'd let you know. So, you're going to have to get out an LA Metro-area phone book and start making calls, or do a Google search. I'm not going to do that legwork for you. What's the big deal if you have to make a day outing to go ~2 counties away for something so special?
Is that better?
There are no external tracking controls on Video8 or Hi-8 devices. To fix your issue, you must find a technician willing to purposely misalign a Video8 playback device to match the bad recording. I did this sort of thing 15 years ago, but would not dream of doing it now. It is a major pain and threatens to damage equipment for which replacement parts are harder to find these days. That is why there is not a set service that someone can quickly recommend off the tops of their heads. YOU are going to have to do the footwork, looking up video restoration services in your area, and actually talking to someone to see if they are willing to screw up their machines to accommodate your needs.
I posted on this forum only after several days of exhaustive Internet search, and calling all over the southland. Here is a common response that I got from a professional restoration/archival company:
Thank you for the inquiry but I'm sorry to say that we cannot help you with your project at this time. I understand the issue you are describing but the resolution, if any, is a time consuming, expensive and speculative job. I suggest you seek alternative vendors to help you with this tape recovery,
So yes I was snippy about the "forest for the trees" comment, but if there truly are dozens of companies in Hollywood, or Burbank, or Culver City who can do this work, I have been unable to find one. And yes, I used to work in Advertising so I have been at studios all over the place down here. Most professional production houses would never touch a job like this - it is too small and too labor intensive - so I have to find some one-man or boutique shop that would look at it almost like a technical challenge.
So what I am asking is if anyone knows SOMEONE specifically that would take this job and their contact info. It doesn't HAVE to be in Southern Cal - I am even looking at places in the UK at this point. I am looking to you all as the pros who are passionate about the subject. I don't want you to view me as some loser who is too lazy to do his own footwork. I have simply run out of options.
Might take a while, but will be on the lookout.
A crack top Broadcast TV engineer should actually have no trouble making the mod for this (and then setting it back again after). I used a local TV retiree to do our jobs in Illinois back then. But those old-school guys are getting harder to find (retiring), and I guess that since a "generation" (or more) of technology has since passed, the new techies and their management are skittish to risk it in this world of "replace, don't fix".
Thank you! I don't know if this will help, but here's a screenshot of what the entire video looks like:
8 horizontal lines from top to bottom. Slightly wider at bottom and narrowing as you go to the top of the frame. The lines are fixed - they do not move over the course of the video. No sound except occasional pops.
That error could also be a simple tape speed issue SP, EP, LP. That type of error sometimes shows PAL vs. NTSC issues.
Also, AFAIK Panasonic never made a camera using 8mm cassettes, so you may want to double check which camera was used.
Actually, that's better than what I though it would look like.
You know, it might be possible to just do a full capture as-is on a regular deck and then run it through AVISynth to do the cleanup.
Looks like you've got tearing/skew overall, combined with bands (I see 9, not 8) of horizontally displaced sections. If these are static (don't move around during playback either horizontally or vertically) should be a good candidate for fixing. Dynamic changes would make it much harder. I think you were looking at the lines as being the problem. Actually, they are more likely the result of the bands being skewed respective to each other. Or there are 2 separate aspects of the problem.
I'll defer to others here who work more exhaustively with AVISynth...
Aah, but there's no sound!
Back to the drawing board.
What if you were to buy another exact working model of the cam you used to have (via eBay or whatever) and offer it to one of these houses to work on (instead of their own decks)? Just a thought.
bonsainut - We get a ton of new members here who are lazy bastards who are incapable of even doing the simplest of Google/Yahoo/etc. searches. Your first post did contain enough info to show that did actually try, but sometimes spelling this out in detail (ie. "I went to 12 different restoration shops and none of them was willing to touch this job") is helpful around here. We're not perfect. People may miss details in your posts when you clearly placed them there.
Anyway, perhaps you should contact our member lordsmurf.
He's not allowed to plug himself here, but he's been around for a long time and if I had messed up tapes like those, I'd trust him to do the work. He might like a challenge like this. You'll have to contact him to see what it's going to cost.
A lot of guys have hundreds of home tapes that NOBODY, not even them, is ever going to watch again yet they decide that they simply must save them all. If you've got a ton of tapes and aren't rich, you might consider prioritizing what really needs to be saved. It's probably not going to be cheap at all to do the work so trying to save 200 tapes that nobody is going to watch may not make a lot of sense. We honestly had a guy recently who is planning on saving over 200 home video tapes he made, so I'm not being facetious in throwing that number out.
Just a little more information. This camera was used somewhat sparingly. We used it for about 6 years, and only have 10 tapes. I recently went to convert everything into digital, and found that the camera was DOA. I went on eBay and could not find another SHARP VL-NIU. However I was able to purchase a SAMSUNG SCL906 in like new condition. I used the SAMSUNG to play and convert the first 9 tapes that we ever recorded on the SHARP. It is only this final tape - the last one that we recorded (chronologically) that has this problem. The content was recorded between February 1999 and October 2000 at which point we bought a MiniDV camera and left this format behind.
One last thing.
I am having trouble capturing the video in the same quality that it is being displayed on the camera. In other words, the screenshot above is representative of what the entire video looks like if I watch it on the camera LCD. If I export it to my PC however, the video stutters, shows color banding, stalls, and generally looks 2x as bad as what is showing on the camera. Fortunately because this setup worked flawlessly with the first 9 tapes, I am pretty sure it has to do with the way this final tape was recorded - and it is giving my video capture device fits.
But I just wanted to toss this info out there, in case it raises any red flags.
One tape to save is a huge mixed bag. On the plus side it does mean that you don't have a ridiculous amount of video to save here. On the negative side, it's probably going to be costly to make someone do what it's going to take to save it for only one tape. Again, contact lordsmurf.
I'm one of those crazy guys that view stuff like this as an interesting challenge = plus a way to educate myself. Because it is this single tape, I am not going to die if it is not recoverable. On the other hand, it is an important 18 months in the childhood of my son - at a time when we weren't taking a ton of video. Nowadays we have video phones, video palm cams, GoPros, webcams, and so many other devices that I have to really watch how much video is "worthy" of being saved.
That's the way I feel, too. Though others I've worked with have rolled their eyes at me, but it really does give satisfaction when you can tackle those kinds of puzzles, plus it does give you a more thorough and well-rounded understanding of media technology underpinnings and reasoning. This has served me in good stead.
I've also been there on the "lean early years, over-abundant(?) later years" family setup. Wish I had 1 camcorder to call my own when I got started. Now I have 4+ (not counting smartphones).
By the way, if I DO find some solution, I will be sure to post about it here...
Unlike VHS, the tracking (alignment) data was on the tape itself.
So when it will not behave, you're pretty much screwed. I gave up trying to fix misaligned Video8 and Hi8 years ago. You have to "break" a camera to have the same alignment, and it's 100% guesswork. It's worse than VHS, and that in itself is a headache.
Just be glad it's one tape! I've seen some people record everything on a bad camera, then toss the camera for whatever reason.
Wish I could be the bearer of better news.
I do have some advanced tricks up my sleeve (with great success in the past!), and what you're seeing may not be an alignment issue. But it's not something I'd want to do right now. Still getting my life back on track.