one of a kind VHS Tape Damaged...

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by MarkSherm, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. MarkSherm

    MarkSherm Auditioning

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    My recently deceased relative (breast cancer victim) had made 7 VHS tapes of the last yrs of her life while traveling.

    I was planning on making DVD copies of these tape....but the VCR "ate" one of the tapes. I was able to extract the tape without breaking it, and rewound it (though it has wrinkles/creases where it was eaten - but not too bad).

    I have a panny dvd recorder and have made dvd copies of home movies in the past.

    If I buy a new VCR and try again with this tape....what is the likelihood that it will again be damaged beyond repair? - I have not tried to play previously eaten tapes in a VCR in the past? Would I have much better success taking the tape to a professional to reproduce onto a dvd?

    Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.
     
  2. Tony Kwong

    Tony Kwong Supporting Actor

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    I would take it out to a professional or maybe even you local city college tv studio if they allow you to use it. They will have better decks for this. Depending on the damage, putting bad tape into most VCR will result in worn/damage head issues. Make sure you tell them it's a bad tape, they may have a specifice deck for that. It's also good if you know the location of the damage.

    A friend of mine with an old industrial beta vcr made an odd auto/hand cranked vcr. He made it specificlly for scrubbing through worn tapes.
     
  3. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Or there's go the route of the professional recoverers...

    Vidipax does this for all sorts of things. But beware; it's probably something like $500/hour or so...

    (I highlight these people as 'professional recoverers' because thats their whole business: recovering magnetic recordings (audio and video) from any format: wire recordings to water damage.)

    Leo Kerr
     
  4. MarkSherm

    MarkSherm Auditioning

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    Thanks for the good advice, guys.

    The damage to the tape occurred about half-way through the recording over about a 6" section of tape that got caught up in the VCR heads - was running fine and then power flickered off and on which, I guess, caused the tape to loosen up in the VCR and get caught up in the heads. I extracted the tape and rewound it by hand.

    That was a good idea for a start - I will definitely look at some of the universities and see if they have equipment that could help (Duke, UNC and NC State are all nearby).

    Failing that, I will have to consider goint to a professional restorer (one of my relatives in Ohio used one many yrs ago to convert 1940s home movies of my grandparents onto VHS, but I guess she must've paid handsomely for it).
     
  5. John S

    John S Producer

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    Check, video production facilities / studios in your area in general. When I was regularly booking work in my recording studio, I did a few jobs similar to this.
     
  6. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    If you know where the bad spot is, you could play up to it, wait several minutes for the tape head to disengage (I wish to hell they would again make VCR's that disengaged the heads immediately on every stop) then fast forward a little past the bad spot, and resume playing.

    The amount of tape you would need to have a professional shop copy would then be very small.

    For a different reason I took the top off of a VCR and I could watch a tape as it played (dim light so the end of tape optical sensor is not accidentally randomly triggered). This could allow you to play up to a few inches from the bad spot.

    You would need some trial and error with a different good tape if you want to cut it close because re-engaging the head may position the tape for resuming play differently from where you thought, although for any given VCR the behavior upon resuming play is reasonably consistent for a given proportion of tape on each spool.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  7. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    Another thing you might try is to bring it to your local cable companies "Community Access" people & see if they will help you with your problem. They usually have the gear to deal with damaged tapes because they get damaged tapes submitted to them all the time from local people & they would probably help you out for free too or could tell you who could do it for you at a low price. You may also want to try calling some of your local TV Stations who are always receptive to help & they may offer to do it for you for free or again point you in the right direction of who could do it for you. Another person to try would be the TV Critic at your local newspaper as their usually in touch with the TV Stations & again can usually point you in the right direction or even find someone to do it for you. It might even make a good local story about your problem for the tv station or the newspaper so don't rule out giving them a call.
     
  8. MannyE

    MannyE Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark,

    There is no need to pay an exhorbitant rate for transferring your tape to DVD. In all likelyhood, the tape will play (with glitches) through the damaged section. Just take it to the transfer place and let them know about the damage.

    6 inches of tape is about three or four seconds, and chances are you will still be able to hear and see the picture even though it will look all glitchy.

    Good luck!
     

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