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  1. Hello,

    For a little back story my Grandfather passed away in march and he had a large collection of family events recorded on VHS.
    I volunteered to digitize them.

    I am wondering if there is anyway to correct the issues in the attached video.

    https://youtu.be/nBHlKTR86Kc

    I have 2 JVC vcrs and a SEARS brand that I run through an ELGATO capture card and an HDMI upscaler.

    I am assuming the issues in the video are with the tape but is there anything I can do to correct it?
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  2. Hard to say for sure: several common issues can result in garbage playback similar to your clip.

    Some additional info might help narrow down the possibilities. Approx how old are these tapes? If only one or two brands, what are the brand names of the tapes? Were they stored in the house or in garage? Are all the tapes playing like this, or just a few, and if a few, are they all the same brand with videos from around the same time period? Do you get this same problem with the same tapes on all the VCRs? Finally (and most important): do you have any other tapes of your own that you know for sure are good that you can check the VCRs with? IOW, after playing one of these bad tapes, if you put a "known good" tape into that same VCR does the good tape play normally?

    That last is significant because the issue your sample resembles most is a deteriorating tape that clogged the heads of the VCR. This would be confirmed if the VCR has trouble playing "good" tapes after using it to play a problem tape. Tapes that shed oxide and clog the VCR video heads can be difficult to digitize, because once the heads clog you get this mess. OTOH sometimes the shedding is temporary, mostly due to the tape not being played for many years: fast forward to the end and rewind a couple times before serious playback, and the issue might lessen or go away.

    If your VCRs don't seem to be clogged and you can alternate between bad and good tapes with no playback problems on the good tapes, then there's something more specific going on with the poor tapes. Could be almost anything, from wrinkle damage to just being poorly recorded in the first place. It was not that unusual for VCRs and camcorders to drift wildly off spec, creating tapes that would appear to play fine on the units that made them, but are very hard to play years later when used in other VCRs that are working properly. There could be an extreme tracking variance or other electromechanical issue involved, which might require "de-tuning" a proper VCR to try and reproduce the original VCR/camcorder defect.

    Once you report back with more details on how many of the tapes are like this, and whether they share similarities of age or tape brand, perhaps more targeted advice will turn up from members who've encountered comparable glitches.
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  3. Orsetto brings up a good point: can you still play the good tapes once you have tried to transfer one of the bad tapes? I've never seen tape shedding with VHS tapes (it was common with tape formulations used in other formats), but it certainly cannot be ruled out.

    Does this same thing happen on both of your VCRs when playing that same tape?

    Can you tell if this one tape was recorded at a different speed than the others? The 6-hour speed often causes problems.

    Finally, here is something you should try: when I encounter tapes like this, I always switch my VCR to manual tracking and see if I can get the picture to show up by running the tracking control back and forth. If this works, you will probably have to capture in segments and then stitch those together in post. This is because once you get the picture to lock in, the tracking may drift, since it is now no longer using the signal on the tape to lock the tracking, and you may have to continually adjust the control as it plays.

    Most of the problems like this that I've seen over the years were NOT tape deterioration, but instead were probably there from day one and likely caused by heat, either during taping, or when the camera was left in a hot car.
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  4. First off I am incredibly grateful for your help. I have used multiple VCRs that have tested good on other tapes.

    Approx how old are these tapes?
    mid 80s to mid 90s

    If only one or two brands, what are the brand names of the tapes?
    Multiple Brands, MEMOREX HS, Polaroid supercolor pls t-120

    Were they stored in the house or in garage?
    Both, in canada and in texas (snow birds for 30 years). So pretty sure they have seen some swings in temp.

    Are all the tapes playing like this, or just a few, and if a few, are they all the same brand with videos from around the same time period?
    Just a few and not the same brands. Not the entire tape plays like it seems like sections are crappy and some stop playing after crappy part

    Do you get this same problem with the same tapes on all the VCRs?
    Yes some treat the bad spot differently. One VCR goes blue and one play it warped with all the audio pitched deeper.

    Finally (and most important): do you have any other tapes of your own that you know for sure are good that you can check the VCRs with? IOW, after playing one of these bad tapes, if you put a "known good" tape into that same VCR does the good tape play normally?
    The known good tapes seem to work fine I have cleaned them using a printer paper method I found on this forum

    I am not sure about the speed the VCR detects sp. I will look into manual tracking I don't see an option on any of my vcrs except for the Tape Eater
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  5. Originally Posted by ChanG View Post
    I will look into manual tracking I don't see an option on any of my vcrs except for the Tape Eater
    I'm pretty sure that manual tracking is available on every VCR. Most of the later VCRs had it incorporated into the channel up/down buttons on the VCR itself (press "up" or "down" to manually adjust, and press up and down together to return to auto tracking). The manual for the VCR will tell you for sure.
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  6. Member DB83's Avatar
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    This, to my eyes (and ears), is a result of long-play tapes recorded in a different machine.


    And why or why are you trying to upscale before you even know they playback ok ?
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  7. Member
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    Hi guys

    I am not sure how to create a new post?

    Could someone help me?
    I just bought a VHS cassette player - Philips - it did look new to me. I have bought scarT cable, so I connected to the TV and then I searched in source and I found the scart option. The cassette was playing - with sound and picture. However after a certain time when I inserted several different cassettes there was no sound nor picture anymore. I was keep trying and then with a different cassette I did get both sound and picture. But it just gone after few minutes. So at the moment I am not able to watch anything as there is no picture or sound on the screen. When I put the cassette in the player there is a blue screen, showing that cassette in as the blank blue screen changes to a different blue. But then when I play nothing appears. Just the normal blue screen when there is no signal! Anyone has any idea what I should do ? I did try to rewind and FF while playing but that does not work
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  8. Member
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    I would go the problem spot, eject the tape and open the flap.
    Can you see any sign of tape damage? Creased, scrunched up, edge damage, etc, etc.
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  9. ChanG, when DB83 remarked on the sound from your sample clip I realized I hadn't actually listened to it (since it was 95% video noise I never thought to turn up my speakers). I agree with him the funky slowed-down sound is a tell-tale sign of major playback problems. When I've experienced that slowed-down garbled sound issue in the past, its almost always been due to edge damage on the tape ruining the control track signal the VCR relies on to determine proper playback speed. The edge damage causes massive video noise, and can incorrectly slow the tape speed from SP to LP or LP to EP as the VCR gets confused. Slowed sound is a sure-fire indicator the tape is playing at a slower speed than it was recorded (the reverse issue- a brief speedup- is also common at points where the tape sat stopped in the middle for a long time before starting another recording.)

    At the point where you see this garbling effect, eject the tape, use your fingernail or a pen tip to press the release button on the left side of the flap (with flap facing you), lift up the flap, and check if the tape has physical damage (esp ragged edges). If there is such damage, unfortunately there isn't any practical way to repair it. If no damage is apparent, the tape is either dirty or it needs much higher than average manual tracking adjustment during playback (discussed above in the post by johnmeyer: as he noted, most VCRs use the channel up/down buttons or front panel jog/shuttle thumbwheel to adjust manual tracking).

    For undamaged tapes that aren't tracking well, you might consider adding a Panasonic VCR to your system, which would offer a somewhat different range of tracking adjustment and performance. Your JVCs are not particularly good at tracking difficult tapes, esp tapes they didn't record themselves: most Panasonics do a better job there, esp with slower LP or EP/SLP tapes. A decent Panasonic or similar Quasar can be easily found at garage sales or via Craigs List for about $25, or just ask around to friends/relatives to see if they have a Panasonic sitting unused that you could borrow. But avoid the very newest tiny chintzy Panasonics made after 2001: check the mfr date on the rear panel, looking for dates between 1996 and 2000. Another VCR with wide tracking range is the Mitsubishi HS-U448 or 449 (circa 1998), but these tend to be a little more expensive at about $50 on eBay.
    Last edited by orsetto; 13th May 2020 at 12:57.
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