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  #1  
09-18-2021, 03:53 PM
ddw_119 ddw_119 is online now
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Hello,

Recently I transferred most of my family videos (VHS and 8mm/Hi8) to DVD. Except for a few minor issues that I can accept, I was satisfied with all of the transfers...until I got to the final two 8mm cassettes. These two tapes suffer from frequent blue screens and audio dropout. However, when I rewind/fast-forward the tapes there are zero blue screens. I checked the LCD monitor and the blue screens appear on that during playback as well, so it's not my DVD recorder.

I also tried to play the tapes in slow motion (with the intention of burning two DVDs; one for the audio capture and one with the slow motion video that I could rip to the laptop and speed up back to normal speed). However, the camcorder I'm using for playback only allows 1 minute of slow motion play before resuming normal playback speed, when the blue screens and audio dropouts resume. The camera that originally recorded these tapes was a Sharp Viewcam. I have no idea what the actual model number was, as it was lost years ago.

I'm using a Sony Handycam CCD-TRV66 hooked up to a Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD recorder, which is all I can afford for this project. Any ideas on how to salvage these final two 8mm tapes? Can the tapes be repaired? Or is there another 8mm/Hi8 deck that will allow me to play back the entire tapes in slow motion (or at a slightly faster speed) so I can at least save the video if not the audio?

Thanks!
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  #2  
09-19-2021, 06:37 AM
timtape timtape is offline
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Do the earlier transferred tapes still play OK now?
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  #3  
09-19-2021, 07:54 AM
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Blue screen is issue with camera no locking signal. Probably audio as well. Seen this. The recording camera was misaligned. Hi8 doesn't have tracking, alignment data in signal.

The fix is to misalign a camera. Not fun, not easy. You're essentially breaking it on purpose.

That assumes the above question is "yes", camera still fine on earlier tapes.

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  #4  
09-19-2021, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timtape View Post
Do the earlier transferred tapes still play OK now?

Indeed, most of them do. As a matter of fact, I noticed a very slow downgrade in quality as I made my way to those two problem tapes.

As I mentioned in my first post, the tapes were recorded on a Sharp Viewcam but I couldn't tell you the exact model. I did some digging and the VL-E785 looks the closest to the model that I had. Still not 100% sure, though.


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Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Blue screen is issue with camera no locking signal. Probably audio as well. Seen this. The recording camera was misaligned. Hi8 doesn't have tracking, alignment data in signal.

The fix is to misalign a camera. Not fun, not easy. You're essentially breaking it on purpose.

Ugh. I wouldn't have the first clue how to do that, even if I had another Sharp Viewcam. I see they're not too expensive on eBay but my funds, for the time being, are shot. However, I would not be opposed to trying in the future with proper guidance. Is there a tutorial for this sort of thing?

I'm attaching a screencap of me filming myself in a mirror because the Sharp Viewcam I used is visible in the frame. I can't make out the model number but I thought I would provide it in case someone else can pinpoint it.


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File Type: png title_t00.mkv_snapshot_00.14.391.png (662.0 KB, 5 downloads)
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  #5  
09-19-2021, 08:35 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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I asked : "Do the earlier transferred tapes still play OK now?"

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Originally Posted by ddw_119 View Post
Indeed, most of them do. As a matter of fact, I noticed a very slow downgrade in quality as I made my way to those two problem tapes...
Tapes can slowly, cumulatively, deposit dirt onto the camcorder's tape path, degrading picture and sound playback. Only a tiny piece of dirt in the right place can seriously degrade image and sound. Eventually after more dirt accumulates, there's no picture or sound.

It's not certain but a good chance your camcorder's tape path has become dirty as a result of playing these tapes. The first thing I would do is pay an expert to properly clean the camcorder's tape path and check the camcorder generally.

It's easy forget the basics. In this game this is one of the basics.

Last edited by timtape; 09-19-2021 at 09:20 PM.
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  #6  
09-19-2021, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timtape View Post
I asked : "Do the earlier transferred tapes still play OK now?"



Tapes can slowly, cumulatively, deposit dirt onto the camcorder's tape path, degrading picture and sound playback. Only a tiny piece of dirt in the right place can seriously degrade image and sound. Eventually after more dirt accumulates, there's no picture or sound.

It's not certain but a good chance your camcorder's tape path has become dirty as a result of playing these tapes. The first thing I would do is pay an expert to properly clean the camcorder's tape path and check the camcorder generally.

It's easy forget the basics. In this game this is one of the basics.

It is easy to forget the basics! But I have indeed been keeping the Handycam clean. When I transferred all of my tapes I did so in chronological order of when they were recorded (starting with the oldest tape first). I'm sorry for not being clearer on that.

These 2 problem tapes have the blue screens and audio dropouts at almost the exact same points in the footage no matter how many times I rewind them and play them again. I think lordsmurf is right in that I would need to buy a "sacrificial" camera in order to save them. Now I just need help in identifying the camera that was used to record them. I provided a screencap of the camera in my previous post but I do wish it was better quality.
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09-19-2021, 10:59 PM
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I would also suggest sacrificing a cheap non-TBC camera, for proof of concept. If you have success, then recreate with a higher-end with-TBC unit.

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  #8  
09-19-2021, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
I would also suggest sacrificing a cheap non-TBC camera, for proof of concept. If you have success, then recreate with a higher-end with-TBC unit.
So I don't have to purchase the exact same camcorder that the tapes were recorded with?
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09-19-2021, 11:18 PM
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I would only buy the same model if it's cheap enough compared to other options.

The original model of the cameras is rarely as important as the exact camera that was used.

Aside: And do not confuse the "same camera" comment as others have done. That has created a myth. An original low-end camera will always suck compared to with-TBC cameras/VCRs. Quality (an oxymoron here!) will be bad to blah on non-TBC cameras/VCRs. The only reason to ever have an original non-TBC cameras/VCR is due to alignment/tracking issues, due to the original being (essentially) damaged/broken, thus creating bad tapes that don't play properly anywhere else.

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  #10  
09-20-2021, 01:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddw_119 View Post

These 2 problem tapes have the blue screens and audio dropouts at almost the exact same points in the footage no matter how many times I rewind them and play them again.
It might help to show us the point in playback where the picture and sound are fine and then start to degrade or dropout altogether. Then the point at which the fault disappears, if it does.

Perhaps the tape is physically damaged at those points. Regardless we need to see and hear what you are seeing and hearing.

If this was a valuable recording I wouldnt be playing, rewinding, replaying it multiple times for fear of damaging it. Especially these thin video tapes are incredibly thin and fragile.
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09-20-2021, 06:41 AM
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Second that, if you have an example of a section where the blue screen start it would be helpful in diagnosing it.

If the issue is something else than alignment, and the footage is very important, there are some camcorders/vcrs that do not bluescreen on bad signal. I have a Hitachi D8 camcorder I've used in a handful of cases where there was some recoverable video that was not due to aligment issues, as it does not blue screen like the Sony ones do. Those are pretty rare, though I would guess at least the late-model hitachis that are just hi8 would be quite similar, no idea about the older ones. I have no idea when it comes to other non-Sony ones though or the cheaper video8 only Sonys. The older generation non-tbc Sony Hi8 camcorders blank the screen as far as I know, same with most of their VCRs though again those are hard to come by and expensive. (The very simple ev-C400e I've used does not, while the fancier C2000e does.) I
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09-20-2021, 09:38 AM
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I burned a DVD of one of the major problem areas and ripped it with MakeMKV. Here is a sample.

One other thing I forgot to mention is that there is also audio crackling from time to time.


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File Type: mkv Example 1.mkv (10.76 MB, 9 downloads)
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09-21-2021, 07:42 AM
timtape timtape is offline
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Just on the misalignment question, if the camcorder became misaligned in the middle of recording, chances are it wouldnt then realign itself again. So I dont think a good signal dropping out and then recovering can be explained by temporary misalignment of the camcorder mech. More likely a dirty or damaged tape section at the dropout points.

Small format camcorder mechanisms had to be designed with incredibly precise tolerances and were a minor engineering marvel. I once shot a scene at a BBQ and as I walked past the BBQ, a little smoke must have temporarily entered the camera. On playback, the picture breaks up for a few seconds and then returns to normal after I had walked away from the smoke and it cleared from inside the camcorder. So even tiny smoke particles almost too small to see were enough to fractionally lift the tape off the writing heads, even though apparently the smoke did no lasting damage to the tape. We're talking tiny tolerances. The difference between a perfect picture and a blue screen can result from tiny, temporary changes.

Last edited by timtape; 09-21-2021 at 08:00 AM.
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09-21-2021, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timtape View Post
Just on the misalignment question, if the camcorder became misaligned in the middle of recording, chances are it wouldnt then realign itself again. So I dont think a good signal dropping out and then recovering can be explained by temporary misalignment of the camcorder mech. More likely a dirty or damaged tape section at the dropout points.

If this is the case, then is there a way to confirm it as the problem and clean/repair the tapes? They are pretty important to me.

And, since I haven't said so before, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to try and help me out. It is much appreciated.
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09-22-2021, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
I would only buy the same model if it's cheap enough compared to other options.

The original model of the cameras is rarely as important as the exact camera that was used.

Aside: And do not confuse the "same camera" comment as others have done. That has created a myth. An original low-end camera will always suck compared to with-TBC cameras/VCRs. Quality (an oxymoron here!) will be bad to blah on non-TBC cameras/VCRs. The only reason to ever have an original non-TBC cameras/VCR is due to alignment/tracking issues, due to the original being (essentially) damaged/broken, thus creating bad tapes that don't play properly anywhere else.

After checking the screencap I posted above, I believe the camera that was used to record these tapes was either a Sharp Viewcam VL-E610 or VL-E630. Can "close enough" be "good enough" in this case, Lordsmurf?
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09-22-2021, 10:33 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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No, it's not the make or model as such but the exact same camera in which the tapes were recorded, which is still misaligned in exactly the same way, which after many years it may or may not be, and after all the years is in excellent working condition such that it plays really well and will not damage your tapes. That can be a tall order.

By contrast a real expert doesnt go through that hoopla and doesnt need to. They use one camera or deck in excellent condition and custom adjust it so that it will play even misaligned tapes at their best, which may still not look or sound perfect, but is the best that can be done.

But that assumes that misalignment is the problem with your two tapes. We dont know that.

You might consult experts like Specs Bros to inspect your two tapes. http://www.specsbros.com/

Last edited by timtape; 09-22-2021 at 10:49 PM.
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09-22-2021, 11:09 PM
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Ok, I understand now. I apologize. I guess my desperation to save these tapes made me a bit thickheaded.

The exact camera the tapes were recorded on no longer exists, unfortunately.

Timtape, thanks for the reference. I will look into it. If anyone else knows of other reputable tape rescue/restoration services, I'll gladly check them out as well. It's good to have options.
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09-25-2021, 01:40 PM
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I have one final (I hope) question regarding my problem before I admit defeat and seek out expert tape rescue.

When I play the tapes in slow motion, there is no blue screen whatsoever. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Handycam that I use only allows 1 minute of slow motion playback before resuming normal speed. I wanted to burn/rip the video in slow motion and then speed it back up to normal on the laptop. However, slow motion playback also allows no sound, and there is also the audio dropouts to consider.

My question is this (and please forgive me if it sounds silly): Is there an 8mm/Hi8/Digital8 camcorder that can play an entire tape in slow motion, and, if so, can it also play the sound in slow motion as well? If such a thing exists I can make a real effort to save these tapes post-transfer using software.
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09-25-2021, 03:06 PM
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I seem to remember the c2000e vcr we had here could play in jog/shuttle mode for longer at whatever speed though that's also without sound. (It also blended every 2 fields from what I remember). Otherwise as noted there are at least some hitachi camcorders that do not blue screen at all on bad signal and just outputs whatever is there, noise or not, though at least on the one i've used it's every more finicky about muting audio than the sonys. Maybe with a very old vcr or camcorder you could manually modify it to disable the sound muting by shorting the right pin/wire (I seem to remember seeing someone on youtube do that on a Hi8 vcr but can't remember who right now.)
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09-25-2021, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Otherwise as noted there are at least some hitachi camcorders that do not blue screen at all on bad signal and just outputs whatever is there, noise or not, though at least on the one i've used it's every more finicky about muting audio than the sonys.
Do you have any recommended models for a Hitachi 8mm camcorder?
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