10-08-2009, 09:03 PM
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I want to share a recent issue I came across with an unplayable 8mm tape. Below is part of the e-mail I sent out to that person...

The tape arrived. I put it in both players, and neither can play it. If I FF or pause while playing, I get some partial signal with distorted audio. 8mm pretty much works or it doesn't, unlike VHS which has various levels of problems. I have two guesses for you:
  1. This is a PAL 8mm tape, a recording made outside of North America (or with foreign equipment). I doubt this is the issue, but it's potential.
  2. The tape was recorded in a way that is out of spec with proper recording. The camera was badly out of alignment. The only way to play this will be to use that original camera again, or to "break" a camera in the exact same manner as the first.
It might even be in some kind of non-standard recording mode. It's not SP, but it's apparently not LP either. Doubtful, but I wouldn't rule it out right away.

You may have to buy a used 8mm camera, an oscilloscope, a service manual for the camera, and try to manually re-create the bad alignment used to record the tape, if the original is no longer available. I can't help with the process. I see some discussion for it online. Here, for example: http://www.electronicspoint.com/sony...ue-t58502.html. It's not going to be easy, but if the footage is worth saving, you may want to invest time/funds into it.

You may want to contact these folks http://www.videointerchange.com/video-history.htm#8mm. They do decent work. I doubt they can fix this either but maybe he knows somebody that does this kind of advanced restoration/rebuild. This link also explains some of what is happening here to your tape, an alignment "tracking" issues:

"Unlike VHS or Beta, the 8mm analog format had no separate linear control track. Instead, there is a low frequency Tracking Pilot signal interleaved on the video tracks. The plus side of this, is that the Control Pilot is integrally locked to the video tracks and thus no tracking control is provided or necessary. (as long as the tape hasn't been deformed). The downside to this scheme is that should the tape have sustained damaged for example in a mis-aligned deck, then the Pilot Tracking reference relative to the actual position on tape is lost, and proper tracking can never again be realized without specialized recovery techniques."

I thought this info may help some of our readers and forum members.

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