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umut ergin
pixelizated wedding
on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:37:28 pm


I'm in panic because of a wedding I filmed for a client with Sony HDR-FX1. and when I want to capture the video,I remark that the video is pixelizated and the audio breaks up. I tried several cameras even sony hdr-fx1 to capture it, it is always the same. there are some 2 seconds of good image between the pixelization. And of course it stops when try to capture it. Is there a solution to fix it ?

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Mark Suszko
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 16, 2008 at 2:33:54 pm

If this was caused by a head clog during recording, there is no hope.
You seem to say the problem looks the same while playing the tape on multiple cameras; this tends to confirm the worst-case sceanrio.

Your description of the problem could use more detail.

One guess that would actually be good news is that the tape is fine but you are using wrong import settings.

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umut ergin
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 17, 2008 at 11:05:30 pm

I think you are right. Because I'm doing always the same. I film wedding with mini dv and editing with powermac G5 in final cut pro 6.0.4 with Pal dv template (I'm in paris). This time 1,5 hours of 4,5 hours recording time has pixelization problem.

I wanted to learn if there is a solution of head clog of the mini dv after recording ?

If you think there is really no hope. I'll pay back to client

THanx for your interest.

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Mark Suszko
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 18, 2008 at 2:27:58 am

If the clog happened during recording, there is no data to recover. But let's not surrender just yet.

Curious, though, that you had the supposed "clog" for that long of a run time; more typically in my experience, such things clear themselves after some minutes, or the camera stops altogether, and 1.5 hours of "clogged" recording seems suspicious. Particularly if the rest of the same tape after that section is fine. I would want to know what else changed there to make that happen. Did the camera give no alert indications of any kind? Like clog or dew warnings?

You have run cleaning tapes thru the camcorder several times, yes?

Are you recording in slow-speed mode, perhaps? Never use the slow-speed recording mode.

Was this Dv tape, or HDV or AVCHD?

Did you stop recording and re-start around the time of the bad recording part? Perhaps a setting got changed or lost during a battery exchange?

Do you ever stop and check play-backs in the field? (I bet you will after this).

Did you change brands of tape during this job? Never do that.

Are you REALLY certain about which format you recorded, vs. the "template" for capture? i.e., NTSC instead of PAL settings? Try it under EVERY setting, even obviously wrong ones, see if anything changes. Try the generic capture template in FCP. Try new easy setups, try trashing sequence icons and creating new ones. Try everything.

Can you take this tape to someone else to try and play or load it? If this is DV tape, See if someone near you has a Panasonic DVCPro deck with the cassette size adapter, and will do a test playback of your tape for you. It is a longshot, but sometimes the Panasonic deck can play back tapes that others can't. Usually the best playback comes right out of the originating camcorder, due to variables in the tape path, wear of heads and guides, tracking and tape tension, etc.

Let's leave the computer aside for a moment, remind me again: you play this tape back in the original camera that shot the footage, and what do you see in the camera viewfinder: motion, frozen stills, macro-blocks over stuttering motion, or some combination?

Is the audio there and clear, even if the picture is not?

Cue the tape up to a bad section. Take the tape out of the deck or camera, carefully unlatch the flip-up protective cover and inspect the actual tape surface. See anything remarkable or different from an identical tape you know is good? Like bad oxide, or grease on the tape?

Does that image playback in the camera change or improve during shuttle, pause, forward or reverse? If for example stills are OK, you could play the stills out one frame at a time into another recorder or the computer, and fix the speed later in post. I would do that if I was desperate, and it got the shots back. You should probably make a backup copy of this tape in any case, before you lose any more of it.

One reason I don't shoot weddings any longer is that I found it very nerve-wracking to trust a once in a lifetime event to just one camcorder, without affordable backup. If I was to do weddings today, even if I could not have a second camera on hand for back-up coverage, I would always run an external hard drive recorder in addition to shooting tape, for just this kind of eventuality. It will happen to anyone if they work in the business long enough. You owe it to the client bride that trusted you, to do whatever it takes to recover that footage, even if you lose money on the deal. Should the worst happen, refund them in full and offer to make them a free montage based on stills by the stills photographer, as part of your making amends.

This is your "Kobayashi Maru test".

Write back with answers to the above questions. Perhaps someone reading them will see an answer that I don't.

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umut ergin
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 19, 2008 at 12:01:14 am

you're absolutely right when I saw that not all the cassettes but the first one and the just the 10 min of second and 5 minutes of middle of the fifth cassette, it is suspicious. before the marriage, I used a cleaning cassette, because I didn't use the camera for a long shot during last two months.

and when I was filming it, sony fx1, didn't give a warning error. I mean nothing suspicious.

before every marriage I film the first 1 min of the cassette- I use always panasonic miniDV brand - and after that I rewind to playback to control the image and the audio to see if everything is ok. and nothing was suspicious neither.

I film always with mini dv in SP mode.

in the marriage, I stopped recording to change the position but each time there was'nt timecode break. and when I look at the images, the pixeliated images along with the sound breaks doesn't correspond the start-stop points. it's like arbitrary.

I tried the differents options in fcp even with my macbook and I asked another wedding cameraman to try it. he found the same problem.

so what I'm doing now, hopelessly, I try to make a more complex editing with adobe aftereffects, I'll do several copies of the final dvd. and I payback the client.

this job is to live and to do the personals films, because I work just weekends. but always nerve-cracking about the possibility of problems which will be triste for the happy couples. this was the first technical problem, I suppose it will be the last one. I thought to buy a hard disk to capture directly to camera but these materiels are quite expensive to afford.

Thanks a lot to take a time to suggest me all the ways. I will look after even this problem if there is a solution. because I saw a lot of wedding cameraman has it before. And certains cameraman have also the dangereous experiences with the clients-they're right, I think.

again thanks

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Mark Suszko
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 19, 2008 at 9:11:34 pm

Zoot Alours!

I can't find anything obvious to explain it. One possible theory would involve dew buildup inside the camera, which is possible in high-humidity conditions where you move in and out of air-conditioned temps rapidly. Normally a dew sensor in the camera detects this and stops the camera if humidity or condensation inside is too high, and you have wait for the dew to evaporate or run a blow drier on low or no heat into the open mechanism to clear it faster. If the sensor or sensing circuitry didn't stop the camera in a dew causing condition, an effect called "sticktion" could occur and create clog-like behavior by disrupting the even tape speed, when the tape no longer slides evenly on guides and the head drum assembly.

An even more far-out theory would involve intermittent electromagnetic field interference from something close to the camera like a Blackberry PDA or cell phone in your pocket near the unit, particularly a web-enabled phone that continuously
checks in" with remote data sites even when on silent mode... Blackberries that are doing this "pinging" screw up my audio all the time, even hardwires. But usually only for a few seconds at a time, not minutes or hours. But my favorite theory is a choice between a simple head clog and accidental setting changes while paused or while changing batteries, also known as "pilot error". Very sorry.

That's it, I'm out of ideas. Bon Chance, Mes Ami.

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umut ergin
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 24, 2008 at 10:21:08 pm

Hi my friend,

for the first time I asked the same question in sony dv forum and now somebody sends me an answer. I send you this advice very interesting

I've just returned from a lengthy shoot with over 150 tapes and experienced exactly the same problem. It turned out to be a misalignment of the heads in the camera. We hired a VARIABLE SPEED deck for digitising. The deck - in rescue mode - automatically adjusts its speed to overcome the pixelation/dropout and we decided to dub the whole lot onto fresh tapes using this deck which effectively gave us a new set of 'virtual' rushes. Give it a try.

sorry in the mean time I gave the film to couple. they were very understanding people. and for longmetrage film I'm far away from paris. and I couldn't answer your post. I can try anayway all this but when I return to paris in a month


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Mark Suszko
Re: pixelizated wedding
on Oct 25, 2008 at 2:41:18 am

Interesting. Something like this is why I suggested you play the tape on a Panasonic DVCPro machine, I read somewhere that it has a slightly wider head assembly that can capture a little more of the tape, but it looks like you found an answer.

Are you going to try recovering the wedding footage after all with this technique?

I know it is going to cost you, but look at it this way: Wedding work is mainly referral business. There is nothing more powerful than having your customers recommend you to other people, and nothing hurts your business more than an unhappy customer warning others not to use you. It is generally worth it therefore to do anything it takes, to go beyond the average limits, in making things work or making them as happy as you can when things go bad. If you manage to rescue the footage after all, you can pass it on to them and they will really change their opinion of you and your dedication, for the better. You will be the guy that raised their dead footage back to life!

Good luck and better days ahead.

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