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audio problem with miniDV tape

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Jeffrey Stoner
audio problem with miniDV tape
on May 4, 2007 at 4:41:52 pm

shot an event recently, and was using the on-camera mic. there is about a 10 minute portion of the tape where the audio is just completely gone. i happened to notice a few drop outs on the tape around the time of the audio problem, so i assumed it's not a mic related problem. the audio was fine on the next few tapes i used.

this is not a make-or-break segment for me (thankfully!) but i would obviously like to find out of the audio exists somewhere on the tape. i remember in the old analog days i had a similar issue, and by adjusting the tape head alignment, i was able to restore the audio. wouldn't dream of trying that with the miniDV stuff unless it's more do-able than i think.

suggestions? or am i SOL? :)


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Re: audio problem with miniDV tape
on May 5, 2007 at 4:46:24 am

I would run a tape cleaner through the camera

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Re: audio problem with miniDV tape
on May 7, 2007 at 3:37:44 pm

I would HIGHYLY recommend NOT to use a tape cleaner in your eqpt. Please have that camera cleaned and inspected at a pro house. It sounds as if:

A) your audio record heads are not making the connection.
B) you've got a bad connection in your on cam mic
C) your tape transport needs aligning

I had a camera take a small tumble once and it appeared to be fine. I tested with tape/test shooting - all seemed fine - but after recording an extremely important event I discovered to my shock a once in every five minute or so complete audio droput that would last 5-10 seconds. I've had that camera repaired - but to this day - do not trust it as an "audio" record device. It's strictly B-roll. How many events could your company survive a "no audio" disaster. (Don't test this at home)

Hope this helps. Kind Regards, Chris K.

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Rodney M
Re: audio problem with miniDV tape
on May 19, 2007 at 10:19:39 pm

If the next several tapes seemed to record OK, then my first thought is that somehow the record head got dirty but eventually cleaned itself (it does happen). Secondly, there could have been slack in the tape. Unfortunately, this still happens from time to time. It's not really practical to exercise the tape in the field, so most of the time you're taking a chance. Topher's advice of having it cleaned is certainly wise, though I've never really heard anybody say not to use a professional tape cleaner. In fact, I know pro videographers who will use them (in extreme circumstances) in the field when a problem arises.

Why shouldn't he use a professional tape cleaner. I'm not challenging anybody's position - I'm hoping to learn something new.

By the way Topher944, are you the same Topher I've seen on the Mazda forums?

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Re: audio problem with miniDV tape
on Jun 30, 2007 at 2:56:43 am

this seems relevant to a problem i've been dealing with lately. i shot a bunch of footage not to long ago on a panasonic pv-gs150 that was more out of alignment than i knew. the camera was subsequently destroyed and when i attempted to play its cassettes on other, properly-aligned decks, the image was full of glitches and the sound dropped out constantly.

wherever i went thereafter, i took a tape with me and tried it on everyone's deck, hoping to find one that was out of alignment in precisely the same way my destroyed deck was. no luck.

then i talked to a guy at a camera repair place in l.a. who said that if i bought a similar deck, he could align the heads to place all of the bad tapes. that is to say, he would mangle a good deck and throw it as much out of alignment as my lost pv-gs150, so that i could view and digitize the tapes. that seemed like magic to me, but i needed the footage, so i ebayed a used camera, paid him $100 to mis-align the deck, and it worked. i was amazed. the tapes that looked like a mess on every other deck in the world now play on this deck and i'm digitizing them quickly before the alignment changes.

what i'm curious to know is if it's possible to deck alignment one's self? i've read that you need an oscilliscope and a vectorscope, but that seems to me to be necessary only if you're trying to align a deck to specs. whereas, if you're just trying to align a deck to play a tape that was recorded on a mis-aligned deck, you only need to adjust it until the picture and sound clear up. does anyone know about this? am i thinking of it too much as if alignment were a v-hold knob? most everyplace i look says that these things need to be sent to the specialists; i at least want to know what they do and what magic wand they have before i admit that, all right, this magic is far too powerful for my wand.

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