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DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake

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William Bearden
DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Sep 28, 2007 at 11:10:04 pm

A couple of weeks ago we produced a banquet for a local church. We had a simple 2 camera setup which we took to i-mag and tape. The rental company sent Panasonic AJ-D650 DVC Pro record deck, into which we put a Sony 124 DVCAM blank tape. Now when I try to play the tape back, it shows a servo error and locks up after about 10 seconds of playing OK. I know we put the wrong media in the right machine...but is there any way to salvage the footage? Anyone know of a company who can make us a usable dub? Thanks in advance...I'm in a bind.

William Bearden
Memphis


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cowcowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:07:07 pm

I disagree with your initial premise.

Blank DVcam tape is the same tape and basically the same DV25 format as DVCpro. Recording on it should not present a big problem, IF you recorded it in DVC pro mode and are playing it back in DVC Pro mode. (Don't be surprised: unless you set the menu correctly and lock it in, the machine will continue to default to a native or previously set playback mode instead of what you want it to do)

I use this model Panasonic AJ-D650 DVC Pro deck daily, as well as the smaller "shoebox" sized DVC Pro decks. The problem is more likely the same one we've had: that the deck has some age on it and the motor is having trouble pulling against the torque of the very large tape load of those supur-long cassettes. Our shoeboxes struggle mightily to record on the dvcpro 120 minute tapes and often give up playing them after a few minutes... We sent the 650 in for maintenance and they seem fine now. The shoeboxes are not recommended to run those huge loads, but will do it for the first year or two...

What I'd try in your case is to fast-forward the cassette without allowing head contact, to the middle of the tape to unload the tape path a little, and see if it plays okay from there. Also try putting it in still and then slow advancing it. If that works, my diagnosis is confirmed.

Perhaps unpacking the tape by repeated fast forward and rewind end to end will loosen it up enough to get a playback. Or... Grab another deck, even a DVCam deck that can switch to DVC compatibility playback mode, and try to lay off the tape to shorter 66-minute cassettes. The rental company should probably send the deck in for service to the tape path, guides and motor, genral lube and clean too. It's what we had to do for ours at the 6-year mark. At least we don't have the bad capacitors anymore!:-)

Best of luck, please report back either way with results.



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William Bearden
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 1, 2007 at 4:47:09 pm

Mark,
Thanks so much for your help. We're trying your suggestions this afternoon. I had to go out of town but have one of the smartest guys I know on the case. Let me know if we can ever be of help. If you come to Memphis, I'll take you to Elvis' house.

Willy

Life is short...but it's wide.


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Tim Ward
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 1, 2007 at 11:24:13 pm

The tapes are NOT the same. Keep in mind that the 650 only records DVCPRO, and that DVCPRO requires metal-particle tape. DV and DVCAM use metal-evaporated tape. I'm not aware of DVCPRO decks being able to record DVCPRO onto ME tape, but it may be possible. Also, DVCPRO records two additional longitudinal tracks -- an audio track for high-speed transport modes and a control track for instant color-frame lock-up. It's possible that the ME tape doesn't allow for reliable recording of the entire DVCPRO signal, hence, the troubled playback.

If there is a deck that would be able to provide reliable playback, it'd probably be the Panasonic D455. It's the only DVCPRO deck that records on ME tape as well as MP.

tim


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Tim Ward
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 1, 2007 at 11:27:41 pm

The tapes are NOT the same. Keep in mind that the 650 only records DVCPRO, and that DVCPRO requires metal-particle tape. DV and DVCAM use metal-evaporated tape. I'm not aware of DVCPRO decks being able to record DVCPRO onto ME tape, but it may be possible. Also, DVCPRO records two additional longitudinal tracks -- an audio track for high-speed transport modes and a control track for instant color-frame lock-up. It's possible that the ME tape doesn't allow for reliable recording of the entire DVCPRO signal, hence, the troubled playback.

If there is a deck that would be able to provide reliable playback, it'd probably be the Panasonic D455. It's the only DVCPRO deck that records on ME tape as well as MP.

tim


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AlexHuber69
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:31:56 am

[Tim Ward] "The tapes are NOT the same."

Really...? Hmmm... learn something every day. Honestly I always thought they were the same. We have never had one lick of trouble using Panasonic tapes in DVcam machines or Sony tapes in Panny machines. I know,I know, you're not suppose to mix tape types... but in a pinch we have had to do it on more than a few occasions in the past ten years or so. I know other people who regularly mix them as well.

But hey better safe than sorry, I won't do that anymore.

To William, I was going to suggest trying another deck, I was suspecting a problem with that.


A.


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Tim Ward
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 3, 2007 at 1:35:50 am

Alex: We have never had one lick of trouble using Panasonic tapes in DVcam machines or Sony tapes in Panny machines.

Hey Alex, just to clarify for clarifying's sake: I was referring to the tape type that DVCPRO uses vs. the type that DV/DVCAM uses. Panasonic, as well as Sony, makes Metal Evaporated tape in large and mini sizes. Sony, however, does not make Metal Particle tape for DV (although they make it for their 1/2" formats). But of course, the "don't mix brands" thing is still a commonly-recommended practice.


William: We were able to get the tape to dub successfully onto a DVCAM deck

Man, I know that's a weight off! Glad you could work it out.


Mark: Tape stock is not a smart place to pinch pennies.

So true, and so overlooked. I'll add onto that by suggesting to all those who shoot on miniDV, BUY THE EXPENSIVE TAPES, and they aren't gonna be at Walmart. MiniDV tapes are the bottom-of-the-barrel in tapes. Anything rated for HDV or DVCAM is fine. I haven't come across any "cheap" tape for DVCPRO, but I've used Panasonic and Fuji the most there.

Well...that's my 2 cents.

tim


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Mark Suszko
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:38:06 am

I perused the 650 manual and what I get out of it is that it is *possible* to record using DVCAM tape but certainly not recommended, nor do they guarantee a useable playback, likely for the reasons Tim gave. Kinda like using beta oxide in a betacamSP deck that was only designed for metal tape. You can trick the machine into accepting it for a recording (I managed that one time by some accident, don't remember how) but the playback had a lot of dropouts.

Maybe they can salvage a playback, maybe not. The tape incompatibility, on top of the too-large of a load for the capstan and takeup motors to pull, that I think may be the major problem, well, that's two strikes down on them already. I'll be as surprised as anyone if they get a picture out of it.

Of all the things we spend money on in production, tape stock is the cheapest thing. Until you get the wrong kind or bring it back from the shoot with nothing on it. Tape stock is not a smart place to pinch pennies. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were expecting a DVCAM deck, that's all they had bought tape for, and the rental house or some reason didn't supply the proper stock when they delivered the DVCPo deck, and then the event was starting and it was too late.

We can still hope for a miracle, but it is looking more bleak I'm afraid.

This also points up the fact that a pro events shooter should have insurance. Because the upset bridezilla's lawyer is going to go hog wild when he discovers the wrong tape was used. Could wind up being one of the most expensive cassettes ever.


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cowcowcowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 2, 2007 at 3:02:06 am

This won't solve the problem either, but I thought I'd share this to help commiserate, to show that everybody makes mistakes.

Some work buddies of mine took a freelance gig outside of work shooting high school basketball finals one afternoon for a local Fox affiliate. They fed live signals by cable into a production truck where it was live switched to tape for a delayed broadcast that same evening. Game turned out to be a barnburner. Don't they always, when something goes wrong?:-)

Anyhow, the guys in the truck stopped the decks at halftime to conserve tape so they didn't have to double the tape stock cost. (Sound familiar?) These were betacamSP decks, where to record, you must press record PLUS play. If you just press the record button, you get movement of your time code display (which is what they were doing on purpose I suppose, running time of day jam synched decks for later editing to the notes taken by the hosts using their wristwatches to remotely log important plays) and you can even get audio meter movement and confirmation of video signal on the meters set E-E... but you're not REALLY recording unless BOTH buttons are pressed. Cue the forboding music...

You got it: they shot and switched the best second half of the season and never recorded an inch of it. A quick glance over at the decks showed timecode numbers advancing and meters twitching, good enough... Didn't catch it until the game was over. Worse, the time and advertising for airing the show was all bought up and scheduled. They were committed to airing *something*. In about three hours.

The station got a lot of press for the goof; they ran many apologies, and played the unremarkable first half that WAS recorded, then filled time for the rest of the scheduled program *describing* the second half that was lost, like an oral history documentary. I give them credit for grace under pressure, but MAN I'm glad I wasn't part of that shoot!

"Oh, you wanted to RECORD that?"


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William Bearden
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 2, 2007 at 1:14:01 pm

First of all, thanks to all of you who weighed in on this issue. Your thoughts and help were invaluable. It turns out that running the tape back and forth a few times to lessen the tension actually worked. We were able to get the tape to dub successfully onto a DVCAM deck (with the correct tape stock of course).

The lesson I've taken away is to always question what doesn't look right. I've been doing this kind of work for 25 years and when I walked into the venue that day I noticed the Panasonic recorders and thought it strange, but didn't mention it to the TD, with whom I've worked for years. I rent from the same company and had never seen anything but Sony decks on probably 40 shows I've done with them. After the fact, some of the guys at the company didn't even know they owned the Panasonic decks. The problem arose from a new person who keyed in the gear list. It was pulled from the warehouse in Nashville, loaded onto a truck and taken to my show in Memphis. No one questioned what should have been, if not obvious, then certainly curious. I know mistakes happen, but this ordeal has made me resolve to pay more attention to those "little shows" and "no brainer" setups. In this business we are defined by our last performance.

Willy Bearden/Memphis


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Mark Suszko
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 2, 2007 at 1:24:58 pm

Congrats on saving the show, great news.


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HowDoYouDoThat
Re: DVCAM / DVC PRO HUGE Mistake
on Oct 3, 2007 at 4:59:38 pm

Wow:

What great posts.

This how these forums should work.

Here is a little trick we use to ensure we're recording with TOD timecode. After setting TC's, and reset control track to 00:00:00 and you've rolled bars and tone and checked playback, switch display to control track. That way when you glance at deck you will know your recording. And you'll know exactly where you are on the master.

Control doesn't budge unless your rolling.



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