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mini-DV playback on different cameras

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Kennon Shainmini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 9, 2007 at 11:55:16 am

I own two Canon GL-2's, and have access to a XL-1. I usually shoot with the two GL-2's at a wedding, and have the XL1 as back-up. I also use the XL-1 as a way of outputting finished videos onto tape for back-up, since one of my GL-2's doesn't record in LP mode, and the 2nd (which does record in LP) isn't recognized by my computer when I connect via firewire.

I noticed that when I play the LP tape from the 2nd GL-2 on the 1st to digitize, it doesn't play properly (visual artifiacts and choppy audio). But when I connect the two cameras, and record the LP tape as SP on the 1st GL-2, it will play fine. And while the LP tape from the XL-1 was playing fine on the 1st GL-2, now new recordings seems to playback weird.

If you're still with me:

Why would footage play fine on one camera, but not the other?
Why would a camera (GL-2) not be recognized by the computer? Is there any settings I can change on the camera?
Are LP issues common with Canon?

Thanks for any help-


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Doug GrahamRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 9, 2007 at 2:22:58 pm

The DV format uses a very small tape and heads, and it doesn't take much of a difference in head alignments for a tape that was recorded in one camera or deck to fail to play back in another. Using LP mode only makes the problem more likely to occur, since the tape speed is slower and the data packed into even narrower stripes. Most manufacturers will not guarantee that tapes recorded in LP mode will play back in anything other than the original camera.

I suggest using the camera you shot a tape with to transfer it to the computer. I also suggest that you stop using LP mode.

If you can isolate which camera is "different" from the others, send it in for servicing, along with a tape that was recorded on one of the other cameras. In your cover letter, ask them to realign the heads to correctly play the included tape. As an alternative, send all the cameras in and ask them to realign the heads to factory specs.

On the other problem, try to isolate whether the issue is with the Firewire cable you are using, the camera's Firewire port, or the computer's Firewire port, by swapping out cables, computers, and cameras and keeping track of what works and what doesn't. If it's the camera's port, that's another reason to send it in for service.


Regards,
Doug Graham


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Kennon ShainRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 12:55:34 am

Thanks Doug,

I didn't realize that the heads were so sensitive-I figured all tapes would play in everything. Thats a good thing to keep in mind, especially when hiring other cameramen to shoot for you (which I am starting to do more).

I can't record in LP on my main camera, but I always use the 2nd GL-2 to get the wide shot, so its easier to just set it for LP. That way, when I switch tapes on my 1st camera, I know the 2nd will back me up. Since I am usually a one-man show, its tough to get to the 2nd camera during the ceremony to switch tapes. And since most ceremonies don't go over 90 minutes, I'm good.

I never used LP mode until another videographer swore that there was no difference in quality, and that he uses it all the time. I think there is a small difference, but the convenience for a 2 camera shoot out-weighs the difference.

I always hate sending away cameras for repair, but maybe thats the best way to go. Is head alignment expensive?

I know the firewire cable and port on the computer is fine with the 1st GL-2 and the XL-1. Its just the 2nd GL-2 that won't be recognized by the computer. Thats why I think its the firewire port on the camera, but I did buy it almost new (slightly used). I just wasn't sure if there was some simple setting on the camera which would prevent it from being recognized.

Thanks!


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Kennon ShainRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 1:00:12 am

One more thing-the 2nd GL-2 does connect fine with the 1st via firewire. Its just when you connect it to the computer, it isn't recognized. So would it still be the firewire port?


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Steve EisenRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 1:12:33 am

DO NOT EVER USE LP MODE. if you need longer record times, invest in Focus Enhancements' Firestore.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Director-At-Large
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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Kennon ShainRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 3:31:28 am

Does it affect the tape quality? I think I heard it also makes the tape degrade faster over time. It just seems so much easier in event situations. Plus, when outputting a 2 hour wedding, it saves you from using two tapes (with a Panasonic 83 minute master).


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Steve EisenRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 3:38:38 pm

You are playing Russian Roulette by using both LP mode and 83 minute tape.

You are not losing any quality. DV is NOT VHS. Just like HDV is not DV.

83 minute tape is much thinner than 60 minute tape. You are taking a chance that the tape may stretch or even break.

I can not undertstand how CHEAP people are in not spending the money on two or even three tapes. They are also reusing their miniDV tape (dropouts). Think about what you are recording. Someone's once-in-a-lifetime event. You only have one chance to capture it.

There are alternatives. Yes you do have to spend money to do it. The DSR-11 is a great DV/DVCAM cam deck to have that will allow you to record over three hours in DVCAM mode and over 4.6 hours in DV mode.

Many people can tell you their experiences. What matters most, is giving your client the highest posibble standard they are paying for. Not how profitable you can be.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Director-At-Large
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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Kennon ShainRe: mini-DV playback on different cameras
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 4:34:58 pm

Thanks for the feedback Steve. I figured that something had to be sacrificed for the tape to be 83 minutes, so that makes sense that the tape would be thinner and easier to stretch. I just can't spend the $1000+ for a dsr-11 yet. And Master Quality tapes are expensive, which is why I was using LP mode. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and keep all in SP mode when outputting.

But I don't shoot in the field in LP mode because I'm cheap-it just helps out to have the wide camera recording throughout the ceremony. Shooting by myself, its pretty much impossible to switch tapes on the stationary cam when shooting my cam (I shoot on a monopod). I only use LP mode in live events with my stationary cam-but I guess I should try to limit it.

I do occasionally use a mini-DV tape twice, but never more. I do try to limit that, but I know of videographers who use it over and over and over. That does seem like a bad idea, especially since most tapes are only $5 each. Isn't 3 re-recordings on a tape when it starts to dropout?


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