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  1. Hello.

    So I am trying to transfer some Mini DV tapes to my computer and I keep running into problem after problem. I have written here multiple times as I was having trouble connecting the camera to my DVD recorder (no cord would work). I finally decided to try transfering it through Firewire directly to my computer. I purchased a Firewire card that just arrived a couple days ago. Surprisingly, the card worked great and the transfer themselves look great, BUT now the camera itself is having problems playing the tapes.
    The problems are the following:
    -Random metallic "bleeps" in the audio (approx. every 10th - 20th second) during playback
    -Random audio drop outs in the audio (not as often as the aforementioned bleeps, but at least a couple times during each 60 seconds)
    -Every now and then there will be a "skip" / "jerk" motion in the video or pixelated artifacts.

    All of the above are COMPLETELY RANDOM and do not appear in the exact same locations. If I get a metallic bleep / audio drop out etc, I can rewind the tape, play the same location back and not get the noise that time.

    Logic tells me the problem is the camera itself and not the tapes, as I know for a fact these tapes were playing perfectly fine without any of these problems in my old DV camera (that I sold over a decade ago). This camera (Sony DCR-PC100E) is something someone gave away as they weren't using anymore.

    I bought a head cleaning tape and attempted to run that in the camera, but the camera rejects that tape and won't even play it.

    My questions are:
    1. What is most likely the reason for these problems? Dirty video heads in the camera? Or are they more likely damaged? Is there a possible fix?
    2. If the problems are due to the camera and not the tapes, do you think that the camera can worsen / destroy the tapes by playing them?

    I wouldn't mind spending money buying a used camera, if that will for sure make my tapes play without these errors, but I don't want to spend $100 to $150 (that is the cheapest I've found second hand DV cameras for in my country) if the tapes are likely to play this way in the next camera too, if this current camera has done something to the tapes.

    What do you think?
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  2. Member
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    Most likely the tape is shedding and causing head clogs. Try winding it end-to-end a couple of times to get the junk to fall out, then blow debris out of the transport. If the tape is disintegrating badly, you may be stuck with whatever you can get.
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  3. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    there was also a problem long ago with different tape manufacturers using wet or dry lubes on the tapes. after using a tape with liquid graphite lube if you switched to a tape with powdered graphite lube you could end up with clogging heads.

    the sony minidv tape cleaner used to be an ok one. hard to find now but some still available on amazon.


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  4. I noticed something else, that may or may not be of any importance.
    All the tapes that I'm having trouble with were recorded on my old camera. It was also a Sony camera, but a different model. I know the tapes played fine on that camera, but not on this camera I'm using now.
    However, among all the tapes I have, ONE of them was actually recorded on this very camera I'm using now, and that particular tape does not contain these artifacts.
    Is it possible that tapes recorded on one Sony camera would play bad in a different Sony camera?
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    Originally Posted by guy24s View Post
    Is it possible that tapes recorded on one Sony camera would play bad in a different Sony camera?
    It is quite possible. Cameras are subject to shock that can subtly alter the alignment of tape guides. Then, tapes don't play properly in any other machine. However, you would expect to see more consistent playback errors in that circumstance.
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  6. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Could be the misalignment is just enough that some errors get corrected, but some cannot.

    The hard part would be finding out which device was responsible for the misalignment, the old one or the new.
    You could take the new one to a repair shop and have the tech/engineer run alignment tools and verify that it is in spec, but if the culprit is the old device, you might have to get a spare device that the engineer would purposely mis-align so that you can get the material off those tapes.

    But if you don't have too many of those old tapes, and as you say the tapes don't always have playback errors in the same spot during different runs, you could:

    1. Do multiple recording passes of each tape (at least 3 or 5, but odd #s).
    2. Sync & top/tails clip them so they are identical in # and order of frames (no dropped frames leftover).
    3. Run a MEDIAN filter process on the group (in Avisynth or similar).
    4. Save the results to lossless intermediate files.

    They should be clean, then.

    Otherwise, might try the option of a transfer service, as long as they know of the issue and agree not to charge for error-laden copies.

    Scott
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  7. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    if you use pro editing software you can use the multicam option to load multiple copies of the captures and cut losslessly between the versions to create an error free copy of the tape. and you can print back to tape for a storage copy.
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  8. Yes I thought about that (making multiple transfers and then piecing together the good parts). It's just incredible time consuming as it's about 30 tapes, each one containing 30 to 60 minutes of recordings.
    Before I go down that route, I decided to try them in a different camera, just to see how they would play there. Probably I will experience the same problem there, but I figured it might be worth a try. I'll get the other camera tomorrow evening. It will be a Panasonic NV-GS120.
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  9. Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    if you use pro editing software you can use the multicam option to load multiple copies of the captures and cut losslessly between the versions to create an error free copy of the tape. and you can print back to tape for a storage copy.
    Just so I know, if I end up having to do it that way, could you name a few softwares that can do this? Also if there are any guides available would be really great as I have not much experience with editing video digitally.
    And by lossless, do you mean I can open the DV AVI containers files, edit and save back to the same format without any reencoding taking place?
    I don't need to record them back to tape, but I would like to be able to edit and save them in the same quality and format they are after transfering them from the tape to my computer through Firewire.
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  10. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    vegas pro or premiere pro are 2 popular ones. and yes dv avi can be losslessly edited and saved back to file or tape as dv avi if all you are doing is cutting/joining. if you add any effects, color correct, change anything then re-encoding is of course required.
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  11. Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    vegas pro or premiere pro are 2 popular ones. and yes dv avi can be losslessly edited and saved back to file or tape as dv avi if all you are doing is cutting/joining. if you add any effects, color correct, change anything then re-encoding is of course required.
    Thank you for the suggestions!
    However, it turned out to be the camera that was the problem. I tried the tapes in a different camera I managed to borrow and they all play fine there, so the problem has been solved.
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