Friday, October 8, 2010

Mini DV Tapes of Death

I've always had a hate-hate relationship with MiniDV tapes. Tonight was even further evidence that Mini DV tapes were invented as stress multipliers by anti-social engineers. I'm convinced of it.

So I'm working on a documentary that's using some footage from some old Mini DV tapes which I've been loading in via the tape deck in an HVX200 firewired into the Mac here. Mostly they've been issue free thanks in no small part to FCP's ability to reconcile 12bit and 16bit audio post-capture but there is this one tape that refuses to cooperate.

And similar to the infamous Iomega Click of Death this tape seems to "infect" the tape drive and prevent other tapes from proper playback. So, for example, Tape A has a massive dropout and never recovers, remove it and pop in an immediately previously perfectly fine Tape B and it now too has playback issues -mainly blue horizontal stripes and no audio- which are identical to Tape A.

Neither Powering down everything or ejecting and inserting the tape multiple times nor cleaning the drive did any good. So I grabbed a tape that hadn't been in this camera before and tapped play. It plays perfectly fine.

Figuring the planets have moved out of some portentous alignment I popped the problematic tape back in the drive and it's fine, zero issues now, naturally.

So there you have it. If you have a problem Mini DV tape eject it and run some other tapes through the deck to clear out the evil and then try the possessed tape again. I yelled at the tape as well (deadlines...ha, love 'em) but statistically there isn't enough data to say that was of any appreciable help other than to boost my emasculated deflated ego.

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