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Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?

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Chas Smith
Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:55:44 pm

Finished an out-of-town shoot doing ENG style intvws, b-roll, etc. using my venerable Canon XH-A1. Shot 7 tapes...did spot checks on-site for audio, focus, etc. Everything looked and sounded good. Sony tapes were brand-new / from a trusted source I've been using for years and I always keep 'em cool etc. (not my first rodeo guys).

Anyways.... near the end of the shoot... a couple times I saw the "REMOVE CASSETTE" message in the display, which I promptly did and performed all the stuff like examine the tape for damage, power off, battery removal, wait 30 seconds, recite Ohms law while circling the camera, etc. I was able to record again without the error for a bit and spot-checked... things played back fine....BUT.... it did it a couple more times.

Thinking maybe the tape is the culprit... changed tapes...worked fine, recorded, checked playback...fine, sounds & looks good...BUT... trying to capture beginning with Tape #1 and the playback starts then freezes, starts then freezes...timecode is being read but starts, freezes, starts, freezes...etc. So I know there's a recorded audio / video on the tape. It's just the darn thing is doing what it's doing. AND it gave me the REMOVE CASSETTE message again...BUT... I insert a tape from a different time that I know is okay and it plays okay...no issue...SSSSooooooo

(And before anyone gives me answers like: go digital... let's not go there right now...I have buds who've had SD cards get corrupted ...that's a discussion for another thread, another time. AND YES...
I did clean the heads as per Canon's User's Manual instructions using a "dry cleaning cassette"... I know...I know... but Canon said to do it this way and that's the story I stick to.)

AS I WAS SAYING: for the moment my major concern is not so much the camcorder... it's the footage as this was a OTO event and I want to know if the raw footage can be captured. Or am I screwed?

AS FOR THE CAMERA: probably needs to be "looked at" by authorized Canon Tech and yeah I get that. I'm really more concerned about the footage right now than anything else. That's the real question I need addressed. I don't have a back-up HDV camcorder / player...
Got a call to a buddy who may help me out but for the time being...
has anyone ever had this happen to them and if so... is there any possibility that my raw footage is okay?

anxiously awaiting a thoughtful reply...thanks in advance.


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Paolo Castellano
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 25, 2013 at 10:00:37 am

Hello Chas,
you are not the first one to get this problem... It is common; lots of friends sent the camera to Canon service, and the answer was always the same "Please use tapes of better quality since the ones you're using leave tape particles over recording heads". Using the Panasonic Professional tapes (AY-DVM63PQ), the problem usually never reappears, but heads must be cleaned by service, the cleaning tape didn't worked on my camera.

BTW, to avoid any problems, many friends of mine are using the Datavideo DN-60 as recording backup (that I used too).

Best Regards,

Paolo.Castellano@ivs.it
http://www.ivsEdits.com
-----------------------
"Post Fata Resurgo"


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Chas Smith
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 25, 2013 at 5:57:34 pm

Thanks Paolo for your reply.

FWIW...here's a status update: not yet had a chance to playback on diff machine but have received some feedback from different sources. Other XHA1 users have reported this playback issue...citing tape quality as the culprit yet no verifiable proof other than recent experiences and trial & error.

One former colleague with a major mkt TV prdn unit sent my e-mail to their in-house tech staff and their concensus is that it sounds like

1. Control Track / Sync issue. This could be caused by tape path issue, excessive audio peaking, dirty heads... etc. But they can't explain why it would only happen on certain portions of the tape and not on others... The audio peaking would seem suspect as the problem seems to only appear on interviews. BUT the thing is I had AGC on the whole time and unless it's messed up, I can't see how it would have "peaked" enough to cause it to foulup every 2 seconds +/-

2. Dirty heads -- maybe but I seriously doubt it. I don't clean it too often but I do keep things clean and use new tape. And again...if this were the case...why only on some scenes and not the whole tape?

SOLUTION: see if it will playback on a more tolerant machine and copy or find a way to ingest it a section at a time and painstakenly reassemble in sync on timeline ARRRGGGHH!! Not sure how to do that since it plays-freezes-plays-freezes every 2 second sec so.

Guess if I can't plybk on diff machine... I'll contact a post/trnsfr house and see if they have any legacy machines to handle tape anomalies...Yuk!

Will post status as I learn more.


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Todd Terry
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 25, 2013 at 8:20:04 pm

If none of those solutions give you satisfaction, then the likely culprit is misaligned heads.

It happens very easily, and the heads are so tiny on those cameras that the tolerance is almost microscopic. ANY deviation from right-on-the-money can cause problems.

The compounding problem is also that if a head gets out of alignment, it is entirely possible to still record and play back tapes fine, sometimes without a clue that there even is a problem. The trouble will be discovered when you try to play back that tape in another machine, or try to play back a tape that was recorded before the misalignment. OR if the misalignment gets worse again (these things can happen in stages). Then the problem will be evident. It's sort of a situation that if it was recorded misaligned then it has to be played back in a device that is misaligned in exactly the same way (most likely in exactly the same camera in exactly the same situation).

At any rate, if you can capture now, I'd suggest capturing ALL your tapes immediately... and then get your camera to a tech for service promptly. You'll want to do all that capturing beforehand, because if tapes were recorded with a misaligned head, they might not play back properly once your camera heads have been properly aligned back to where they should be.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Chas Smith
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 25, 2013 at 8:31:22 pm

Hi Todd:

Thanks for your info... it's a good chance tape head alignment is at play here. The thing which is sooo puzzling is how it only seems to happen during the "interviews" mostly... I've not checked the entire tapes for fear of further damage (to either camera or tapes)...

But what I've observed is that I'll have two back-to-back interviews that have the play-freeze issue and then the next scene is run & gun b-roll that plays back perfectly!! :)

But later in the tape there may be another issue repeat on another interview (why just the interviews?)...again...I haven't looked at the entire tape...for reasons mentioned...just spot checking.

Crazy...crazy..crazy. But I'm thinking if I can get this to playback on anything...capture asap and keep fingers crossed.
That's my goal.

Thanks again!


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Joel Servetz
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:20:17 pm

This is for Paolo. I'm also using the DN-60 while simultaneously recording to tape. All was fine for a long time, then the last couple of shoots after "make media files" is performed, when I transfer the file to my computer and attempt to import the file into Vegas Pro I can only get the first few seconds of audio. I know the entire audio file is there because I can play the video in Windows Media Player, and it captures as a proper M2t file. Any ideas?

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com
http://www.rgbmediaservices.com


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Paolo Castellano
Re: Any XH-A1 users here face this issue?
on Sep 27, 2013 at 7:37:00 am

Hello,
in my experience the "play-freeze" problem happens at the beginning and at the end of the tape only. In the midde I never had problems; this is probably due to the different pressure of the tape over the heads.
I wasn't able to read a single tape with another camcorder, and I've tried on several ones.

Some months ago I helped a friend with my Sony HVR-HC3; if I'm not wrong, he was able to recover most of the video using the search mode (Fast forward); but the video quality was lower and there was NO AUDIO AT ALL!

About the DN-60, Joel, have you tried to read with Vegas files created in the past that you already edited without problems?

Best Regards,

Paolo.Castellano@ivs.it
http://www.ivsEdits.com
-----------------------
"Post Fata Resurgo"


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