05-25-2023, 05:28 PM
kellyk2005 kellyk2005 is offline
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Looking for some insight into a playback problem with my Sony DCR-TRV720 Camcorder as I attempt to digitize our family tapes.

The playback of Hi8 tapes are very good and seem to playback reliably. The Digital8 tapes though, the playback gets "blocky"(Ive attached an image), but only when the there is a lot of movement in the recorded image, like when taping the kids jumping around or panning. When there is little movement in the recording I don't notice it much or at all.

Also, it "seems" to do this after the unit warms up for awhile, but not always. This morning I played a tape that exhibits this problem and it didn't start until 20 minutes into the tape, but last night it started right away with the same tape. Sometimes its worse than other times. There is no error code on the LCD that I have seen. it appears to be something related to digital playback.

I have a Sony cleaning tape and ran that a few times(10 seconds at a time) but it didn't make any difference.

Ive had it since new, maybe 300 hours total on it, took really good care of it, it's like-new, but of course its over 20 years old now. Ive sent a few estimate requests to some repair places, and they said it needs a new head. I kind of doubt that, since it plays back Hi8 tapes in stunning quality. Im guessing maybe a bad capacitor or something like that? if I knew that was likely the case, I am comfortable replacing a few caps, but don't want to tear into it otherwise.

Look for any advise on how possibly to proceed and what might be some likley causes?

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File Type: jpg Screenshot 2023-05-25 at 3.46.20 PM.jpg (132.8 KB, 15 downloads)

Last edited by kellyk2005; 05-25-2023 at 05:48 PM.
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05-26-2023, 06:53 AM
enois enois is offline
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Originally Posted by kellyk2005 View Post
but only when the there is a lot of movement in the recorded image, like when taping the kids jumping around or panning. When there is little movement in the recording I don't notice it much or at all.
In my humble opinion, probably the problem is exactly this. Rapid movement or "shake" of camera can cause slight drum-head speed rotation decrease, slight tape misalignment or slight tape speed variation, if so there is not much that can be done, the issue is recorded on tape.

Try a different camera, possibly a different model to see if can read the tape better. Some camera can recover tape error better than others, or simply a camera less worn out.
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05-26-2023, 02:45 PM
kellyk2005 kellyk2005 is offline
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Thanks for the response.

Since there was no violent shaking or movement of the camera while recording, just normal panning I wouldn't think thats the issue. I agree its probably the camera, not the tapes, since the same tapes that have the "blocky" artifacts on playback, sometimes play back at times with no artifacts. But I don't have access to another camera capable of playing digital8 without buying another used one from ebay with who knows what issues it may have and the used ones are not cheap.

Im probably going to need to send it in to be looked at, but the question is where is there a reputable repair company in southern calif. that is truly competent and capable of repairing this particular Sony camcorder. Most of them have terrible yelp reviews. I can see myself going down a rabbit hole with with having it repaired at the wrong place or replacing it with another used one from ebay.
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05-26-2023, 07:10 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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Are you sure the problem only happens during scenes with lots of panning or camera movement? Is so, this leads to the conclusion that enois is making: It is a problem that was caused when the tape was recorded and is not a playback problem. As stated, this happens when the drum speed is not constant during recording which can be caused by the motion of the camera during shooting. It probably happens to some extent even on typical "consumer shot" video, not just on really fast pans.

Why it should happen only on your Digital8 tapes is confusing though your analog tapes were made on a different camcorder (D8 camcorders cannot record in analog mode).

Anyway, if this was a "record time" issue, then the defect should always happen in the exact same place on the recording every time you play it back. If you can confirm this, there may be nothing wrong with your camcorder. If instead, the problem is occurring randomly at other places in the recording, especially in scenes where the camera was held nice and steady, then it is more likely a playback problem with your camcorder today.

This is a bit of a stretch because your specific problem is a bit different that the ones I've seen fixed (on YouTube), but there is one thing that you can try that might (temporarily) solve the problem. Its going to sound crazy but, with the tape removed and the camcorder off, hit the bottom of the camcorder a few times with the palm of your hand (watch the videos linked below first). It just might fix it. Sony 8mm camcorders are notorious for various connections inside "going bad". It is thought to be corrosion of the mating surfaces in the connections, usually a ribbon cable connection to a circuit board. By tapping the camcorder, the cable wiggles around enough relative to the board to displace the corrosion and reestablish the connection.

Check out these videos:

These show how the how the hitting or tapping the camcorder "fixes" problems:



This one shows how the problem should be fixed more permanently:

Note how many ribbon cables there are, all of which can have connection problems. Note too that your camcorder has to properly sense that the tape is digital or analog and then adapt, changing the speed that the video head spins at and the speed the tape moves across it (both higher for digital). This might account for why it can work for analog playback but not digital.

Obviously, try at your own risk, and there is no guarantee this will fix it, but it seems quite possible.
as they say, YMMV.

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05-27-2023, 09:17 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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If it is a thermal issue getting better air flow (e.g., a fan or near the discharge from an A/C unit - but too cool can lead to condensation issues) around the unit might help. (AM temps are ofen lower than PM temps.)

Have you tried record and playback test of the D8 unit to see if the problem arises with tapes made in it today?

You could try send a problem tape to a reliable service to see if they have the issue if borrowing a D8 player is not possible.

Finding reliable moderate cost repair for an old camcorder can be problematic although SoCal should be a good location for it. I've used:
for repair of a Canon HDV camcorder with success, but they were not cheap.
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05-29-2023, 07:50 PM
kellyk2005 kellyk2005 is offline
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So I have imported about 12 Hi8 tapes on this camcorder using iMovie, and they all import flawlessly and look great.

I have sampled all of my Digital8 Tapes, also recorded on this same camcorder over several years(2001-2008), and *every* one has the flawed playback (digital artifacts that look like little blocks all over the screen) where with scenes when the subject being taped move around a lot(not the camera itself), it gets worse, if the scene is fairly still, few or no artifacts until the subject moves or there is panning again.

I don't think its the tapes themselves, they were all stored together with the Hi8 tapes in reasonably good conditions inside the house in a mostly dry climate(southern cal.).

So it's defiantly something to do with the playback of digital tapes only. I have to assume the head/drum and mechanical is not the problem but who knows. Guess I'll have to either procure another D8 camcorder to import the rest of the tapes or send this one in, whichever is more cost effective.
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05-29-2023, 09:44 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Did you determine that the blocks are always at the same frames on a tape, or do they appear at different places/time on the tape when it is played again.

Did you try a record/playback test with the D8 recorder using tape not previously recorded?

In D8 recordings the head spins 2.5x faster than for Hi8/Video8 recordings and the tape moves 2x faster. Accurate tracking and tape alignment is more critical with D8. Any errors or shifts in alignment or scan jitter due to wear can result in read errors.

Since the blocks are mainly when the subject matter moves or the camera pans/tilts rapidly that may indicate that there is a tape read error and the player is providing error correction by repeating the missing data from the previous frame. This correction flaw becomes apparent if there is a change from the previous frame.
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06-19-2023, 04:23 PM
Doohickey Doohickey is offline
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"no artifacts until the subject moves or there is panning again.
" - this would somewhat indicate to me that the artefacts are also present in these no-movement parts, just that you don't see them because there is no movement which would make them visible.

The "stuck blocks" are happening because the player can't read the tape everywhere, so it shows the content of that block (part of the image) as it was during the last readable but of the tape, meaning that part of the image is not "updated" for some time. Without movement, you don't see the lack of "update", unless you look closely.

New player, or servicing this one, may solve the problem. Beware that there's very few places that still know how to service these properly, you might be better off getting a used working one instead. It could also be caused by the one that recorded the tape (e.g. if it was faulty), in this case there is nothing you can do. But if think that's rather unlikely, if the artefacts are everywhere on the tape and not only in specific times.
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camcorder, dcr-trv720, digital8, playback, sony

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