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  1. Member
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    Sep 2017
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    New! I don't know where to put this, but this is a problem that's plagued me for years and I'm wondering if maybe my tapes aren't destroyed, and it's actually just my camcorder...

    I've had this Sharp Viewcam from 1995 for over 20 years now. I have about 10 tapes of memories, all of them on Maxell 8mm MP 8 GX Metal tapes. 120 mins. (I do not think this is Hi8 or Digital8...maybe just Video 8. I'm not sure.)

    Many years ago (5-10 or so) the oldest of the tapes just quit working. I play them in the camcorder, and there's just nothing there. Pure static. Sometimes SOMETHING pops up and then it's gone again, but for the most part the tapes play as though there is nothing on them.

    The "younger" the tapes get the better they play, which makes me think it's just a tape degradation issue and those old tapes (1995, 1996) are just not going to work ever again.

    I was messing around with a tape from about 2002 tonight...it was working fine, and then it just kind of petered out and went back into static.

    I opened the tape and for all intents and purposes it looks just fine! I thought about it and thought...well, I don't know how dusty it is, really...it's been sealed up for years. The tapes themselves haven't really been exposed to much aside from time. Most people seem to not have problems with their old 8mm even when they're 20+ years old aside from some deterioration (pictures not as great) but here, I have tapes that straight up act like nothing is on them. Just static.

    Do you think it's my old camera? or my old tapes?

    I just watched a tape from 1999 and the entire 120 minutes worked just fine.

    This one from 2002 worked fine and then static-ed out.

    The one I'd really love to see is from 1996 but I haven't gotten to see it in so many years...

    What should I do? How will I know if this is tape degradation or camera issues?
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  2. Member
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    do you have the camera hooked up to your tv or are you playing them through the camera.
    when was the last time you cleaned the video heads inside the camera ??
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  3. Member
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    Never cleaned the heads ever that I can recall! And I am just watching these directly on the camera. No TV hookups.
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  4. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Probably need to clean your heads. Old Video8/Hi8 tapes seem to shed more in a Video8 VCR more often than all my old VHS tapes in my VHS VCR, in my experience. I use something like the V8-25CLD tape cleaner on my Video8 camcorder.

    This one from 2002 worked fine and then static-ed out.
    Pretty much a sign that this old tape is shedding on the head, causing there to be a thin film of oxided tape between the Video8 head and the tape. Pretty common occurrence whenever playing a tape for the first time in 2 decades. Yours tapes are probably fine, they just shed when you initially play the tape and should mostly stop after the first play.
    Last edited by KarMa; 2nd Sep 2017 at 01:20.
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  5. Unless your tapes have been stored in extremely poor conditions (extremely high heat, like an attic) they are probably fine. Shedding can certainly happen, but the I don't think that 8mm tapes used any of the formulations that were famous for shedding.

    Head cleaning might help, but most people that do this end up doing more harm than good, sometimes ruining their equipment. While the pros usually warn against using tape cleaning cassettes, as I've often pointed out, they are made by Sony themselves (the inventor of the 8mm format), so I would go ahead and buy one of those and use it. Read the directions TWICE before using. It is really, really important to not run the tape for longer than the time specified.

    So, I'm 99% certain that your tapes are OK.

    BTW another approach is to find a friend who has a working camcorder. Yet another approach is to find a working camcorder on eBay. My 8mm deck quit working in the middle of a big transfer project for a client, so while I was being repaired (it takes several months) I bought a really super Digital8 camcorder on eBay, one that was basically NIB. This actually did a better job with the tapes than my old deck.
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  6. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Take them all to a professional transfer house/service that knows about media preservation/restoration and has well-maintained pro Hi8 or D8 decks, and pay them to gingerly transfer them to digital formats, cleaning each along the way.

    As soon as possible. Good god!
    Don't say you weren't warned. Shame you weren't before my post.

    Scott
    (Worked professionally in the tranfer business for 20+ years)
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  7. Member
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    I have found that it helps to wind these old 8 mm cassettes from end to end (FF, then REW) before trying to play them. Encourages the loose junk to fall out and retensions the tape pack. Even then, you may be stuck cleaning the heads from time to time
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