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  1. Member
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    Hello All-

    I am looking for all the tricks I can attempt to get the best image from old Hi8 and 8mm tapes when using a Digital8 camcorder (in this case a Sony TRV-520) to transfer video to PC.

    Specifically, I have old tapes that play back, but the image is barely visible through digital noise. If this were a VCR tape, I could easily playback in a player that allows adjustment of tracking, which I really feel this looks like. But I don't have a deck that plays these old tapes, let alone a tracking control. So what tricks can I use to attempt a better capture?

    As an example, I've heard that you can fast forward/rewind the entire tape before playing to help.

    I suspect this is an issue with many threads, I may not have found the best though. Thank you all for any input. Some of these tapes are from 1995. Need to get them off to a more secure format ASAP.
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    I have had the best luck using a Hi8 deck instead of a D8 camera. It seems to have more/better circuitry devoted to massaging the picture. But you still won't get a tracking control because 8 mm tracking is not manually adjustable.

    Winding the tape end-to-end can help to dislodge particles that would otherwise clog the heads. Some tapes are too degraded to play without artifacts, however.
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    Thanks. I'm trying to just use the equipment I have at hand. On one very old difficult tape I have tried rewinding a few times, each time I play I get a different result - sometimes scenes play long, other times short, sometimes only portions. I happen to have a Samsung hi8 model, I may try to play the tape in that one and pass it through sVideo to the Digital cam/PC.
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  4. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Have you cleaned your head, or used a cleaning tape? Cause the first time I played back my tapes after ~15 years of storage it just instantly clogged up the VCR head. Ended up fixing it with a cleaning tape.

    I'm transferring Video8(not Hi8) tapes with a TRV-460 and made a thread about it recently.
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/381533-Video8-Player-vs-Digital8-Camcorder-for-capturing-Video8

    Some other threads around this subject.
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/377084-Followup-to-Hi8-Capture-Comparison
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/378093-Video8-restoration-advice
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/378172-D8-Camcorder-Vs-High-End-Hi8-Deck-video8-cap...22#post2461722
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    Another advantage of a VCR is that it's much easier to open up and clean the heads manually. I avoid using abrasive cleaning tapes on this old and irreplaceable equipment.
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    Thanks, I'll check them out. Does anyone know of a site that has video examples of different types of Hi8/8mm playback problems?

    It would be informative to view the difference between, say, a dirty head vs. degrading tape stock, etc..
    Last edited by MtnFrost; 7th Dec 2016 at 16:25.
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    AV Artifact Atlas has a tidy gallery of horrors.
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  8. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Another advantage of a VCR is that it's much easier to open up and clean the heads manually. I avoid using abrasive cleaning tapes on this old and irreplaceable equipment.
    I would too but on these compact and portable devices you are probably more likely to hurt something opening it up to get to the head, than playing 10 seconds of abrasive tape which is sold with the purpose of cleaning the head.
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    Yeah, Karma - I hear you. I used 91% alchohol and a swab to clean the head and capstans.

    Thanks, JV
    Last edited by MtnFrost; 7th Dec 2016 at 16:46.
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  10. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MtnFrost View Post
    Yeah, Karma - I hear you. I used 91% alchohol and a swab to clean the head and capstans.

    Thanks, JV
    Is the noise gone from your tape?
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  11. Member
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    No, I have an extreme case of what might be digital dropout. At least on this first problematic tape. Cleaning didn't really change anything.
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  12. Member
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    Originally Posted by KarMa View Post
    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Another advantage of a VCR is that it's much easier to open up and clean the heads manually. I avoid using abrasive cleaning tapes on this old and irreplaceable equipment.
    I would too but on these compact and portable devices you are probably more likely to hurt something opening it up to get to the head, than playing 10 seconds of abrasive tape which is sold with the purpose of cleaning the head.
    Yup, that's where the deck has the advantage. Although I had a Sony TRV which required only removal of the top panel (two screws) and the drum was right there.
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    So to continue, I have several issues trying to convert old tapes. The first is oldest tapes, which have this sort of noise mixed with good video, and no sound:

    Click image for larger version

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    The second is missing audio when I do get a reasonable picture - nothing. I don't have and don't remember the original hi8 camcorder I recorded these with, but I do know I never played with any audio settings on that past camcorder. I keep hearing about PCM audio, but a Sony TRV520 should play sound.

    And then this morning, on a newer tape, the tape plays, with sound, but it acts as if each frame is a new video (inside scene analyzer 4.0) and from the playback in the camcorder plays slightly staccato.

    Thoughts?
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    Starting to sound like a combination of dodgy tapes and tracking issues with your TRV-520. 8 mm tolerances are notoriously small and audio (which is AFM laid down with the video) is often the first thing to go. It's unlikely you recorded PCM audio, but if you did, it won't play on the 520.
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    This certainly would not be the first nor the last time I've been frustrated that Hi8/8mm never had tracking controls on any of the equipment.

    I'd consider getting a deck for playback, but I'm really unwilling to shill out the cash for a possible *maybe* better playback. Also I was going to get a new tape to test with, but of course no one sells them, even at the local camera store.
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    As I recall, there is a common issue with a tape guide going out of alignment in these camcorders. So recent recordings made on the same camera play fine, but interchangeability is poor. There are techs who can pull the transport out and tweak it to match the alignment of any tape, but that takes skill and special tools.
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    Yeah, it's a shame it's just not a tiny adjustment screw you could tweak in very tiny offsets.
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    Well actually, it is. Azimuth is controlled by the height of the drum entrance and exit guides, which can be adjusted in small increments with a forked screwdriver. The problem is that they are held in place with set screws that are inaccessible until you partly dismantle the transport, juggling everything to maintain connections while the tape plays and you tweak the guides. The job is made easier with a docking jig, but of course you can't buy those anymore.
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    Okay, I have some amazing news. And it's ridiculous.

    So after searching the internet for other options I came across a thread where about 30 users all swore this technique worked. And it was something I just don't do. But I did, and now that image of noise further up this thread plays with sound, perfectly.

    I hit the camera while the tape was playing. Not hard, but with the heel of my hand on the bottom of the camera.

    It fixed playback for ALL the tapes I've tried. (And no, I don't have to hit it for each tape. Just did it once, and boom.)

    Unplayable tapes are now excellent. And these are tapes all the way back to 1995!
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    So you had a tape guide out of alignment and whacking the camera knocked it back. Better get those tapes converted before it goes out again!
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    You know it. I am already transferring like crazy. Thanks for your help!
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  22. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Guess this makes sense, since a camcorder would naturally get bumped around much more than a stationary VCR. Glad the old "just hit it till it works" did the trick.
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    About 15 tapes in, and never an issue since.
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  24. I am interested in some background: Can somebody please upload one ore more Hi8 clip(s) of about 10 secs+ which was captured with a Digital8 device?
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