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admin 11-06-2009 10:02 PM

Example of misaligned 8mm, cannot be restored [VIDEO]
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A colleague was having a hard time with a client tape, so it was referred my way for some advanced analysis and work.

Playback Problems...

Both the client and my colleague reported the tape as having garbled video and intermittent audio. At a specific time, the tape would suddenly and prematurely stop. The 8mm cameras, players and VTRs would eject the tape, with the decks refusing to play it or fast forward any further.

I was able to reproduce the error, from the garbled video and audio, complete with the sudden stop. Here's a sample of the video:

"Reload page to view video."

This is a classic example of the 8mm recorder being badly misaligned. Or an example of the tape being defective when it was blank. Without knowing more about the lineage of the deck, and any tapes that may have been recorded after this one, it's hard to say where the blame goes.

Open Sesame Says Me!

Tapes don't stop for signal-related reasons, they are physically damaged in some way. I pulled out the teeny-tiny screwdriver kit, and started to disassemble the tape. I noticed the screws had been turned before, tell-tale signs of missing paint.

As soon as I started to loosen the screws, the protective cover on the underside of the cassette fell off. It's not supposed to do that. To clarify, it's the gate found on the bottom of 8mm tapes, the type of gate that VHS should have had -- it keeps dust off the magnetic mylar film!

One of the tiny plastic studs that holds it in place was broken off and missing. I can only assume it was rattling around the tape somewhere, or had wedged itself in the film. However, I didn't find anything.

After manually spooling the tape to the "ejection spot", I quickly saw what was wrong. See image:

Attachment 379

Somebody tried to repair this tape, and did a somewhat crappy job. At least it wasn't Scotch tape, but the adhesive strip used was still too thick. In all honesty, it's best to repair broken tapes by re-spooling both halves into two new clamshells -- not taping or gluing it back together.

I'm just lucky the adhesive repair didn't ruin the heads on my very expensive Hi8 deck. It was on the non-play side of the tape (side facing the tape, not the deck, when the shell is opened in the playback position).

The Fix ... or Rather the Lack Thereof

I manually spooled the tape -- a very slow "fast forward" -- beyond the repair job and was able to play the tape. It's completely blank.

I have a feeling this tape was faulty from the start, that the plastic stud got caught in the film path, sliced it apart, and the tape split while it was being recorded. The bump in the spool would account for the appearance of misalignment. It stopped recording shortly thereafter. Somebody at some time then went on to repair it, where it got shelved for many years, possibly forgetting that this happened.

The garbled video and audio is most likely beyond repair. I wouldn't even know where to start. You'd literally have to "break" an 8mm player in a way that would realign the signal. Unlike VHS, 8mm does not have tracking controls.

This is probably one of the 10 worst tapes I've ever seen, excluding tapes from water, mold, mud or fire damage. For a cosmetically clean tape, it's pretty awful.

Just wanted to share more project notes with the readers and members of the site. :cool:

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