7 Replies Latest reply: Jun 7, 2012 10:59 PM by Alchroma
Gary Markovich Level 1 (5 points)

I'm having a problem capturing the image from a tape. There is nothing wrong with the tape.


When I use the "Capture" function, the resulting image has a slight out-of-focus "shimmering" quality to it when played back on the canvas. (It looks kind of like when you look towards the horizon of an asphalt road on a hot day.)


It's strange, because the image from first 40 minutes plays fine, but the last 20 is of this unusable quality.  I'm using a Sony HC9 (a camera I've used dozens of times before with FCE), and the image on the camera's LCD looks fine, which suggests to me that it is neither a camera nor tape problem.  However, I can see on the "Capture" screen (and in the captured video files in the bin) that the image is degraded.


The camera is connected with a 400 FW to an OWC external drive, and that drive is connected by 800 FW to the iMac. There are no other devices or drives connected to the OWC drive at this time. Unfortunately, I only have one camera capable of playing back HDV tapes.


I tried capturing with iMovie, but the same problem occurs, which leads me to believe that it may be some kind of "settings" problem...maybe? Or a cable problem?


This problem had occurred on another project a month or two ago, but when I went back to and re-captured the portion of the tape that was problematic on the first attempt, it was resolved in the second attempt. But that's not happening today.


Any suggestions are appreciated.



iMac 27, Mac OS X (10.6.8), Two OWC 250 GB 400 Firewire Drives; 1 OWC 1TB 800 Firewire driv
  • MartinR Level 6 (14,870 points)

    Hard to say what might be causing this, but I am not inclined to suspect FCE or iMovie without first eliminating other factors.


    First thing I'd do is get a 4-pin to 9-pin FW cable (like this one from monoprice.com) and connect the HC9 directly to the FW800 port on your Mac.  Then try capturing some video from the camcorder.  (With no other FW devices connected to your Mac at the same time, not even your OWC FW drives ... for this test, you will have to capture to the internal drive on your iMac.)


    What version of FCE are you using?  And are you really running Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or did you upgrade to Lion (10.7.x)?


    Is this happening on multiple tapes, or just one tape?  How recently have you cleaned the heads in your HC9?

  • Gary Markovich Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks MartinR,


    I'm really running 10.6.8.


    I'm running FCE 4.0.1.


    I previously had  had successful captures with the versions listed above.*


    I cleaned the heads with the Sony tape cleaner.

    I haven't had the chance to try with a 4 pin to 9 pin cable yet, however.


    I tried another tape from a project from a few months ago, and it captures clearly, but when I put the tape for the current project in, I get the same results.  I've tried both Easy Set ups "HDV....1080i50" and "HDV...1080i60."


    I would describe the problem almost as if there were duplicate video tracks in a timeline, which appeared offset by a frame or two.





    As far as upgrading to 10.7, I'm always a little gun-shy to make changes to the system once I get everything running correctly, especially in the midst of a project.  I sometimes feel I'm dealing with a house of cards with FCE and my cobbled-together set-up.


    Message was edited by: Gary Markovich

  • MartinR Level 6 (14,870 points)

    Hi Gary,


    Regarding easy setup, you have to use the one that matches how you shot the video.  Assuming you are in North America that would be 60i  (HDV ...1080i60 easy setup) - don't use the 50i setup, that is for Europe.


    Regarding 10.7, I was not suggesting an upgrade. In fact I would definitely NOT upgrade to Lion if I wanted to continue using Final Cut Express (FCE is not supported on Lion, and users have encountered many problems with FCE on Lion) ... I was just trying to clarify exactly what versions you are using.


    If the problem appears to be with one tape but not others, well, that suggests where the problem may actually lie!  So far it sounds like the tape is the culprit.  Is it an older tape or a different brand from the tape(s) that capture ok?

  • Gary Markovich Level 1 (5 points)

    You are absolutely correct!


    What appeared on the camera's LCD screen seemed be unaffected, but when I plugged the camera into the TV via HDMI,. I could see that the problem was, indeed, on the original tape. My elderly eyes couldn't discern the problem on the small flip-out camera's screen.


    Hopefully, cleaning the tape heads will have corrected the problem in future projects. 

    Otherwise, I'll have to break the news to my wife that I need another new camera.


    Thanks for diagnosing the problem over the interwebs.

  • Alchroma Level 6 (18,260 points)

    G'Day Gary,


    "When I use the "Capture" function, the resulting image has a slight out-of-focus "shimmering" quality to it when played back on the canvas. (It looks kind of like when you look towards the horizon of an asphalt road on a hot day.)"


    I'll hazzard a guess as I've seen this type of thing before on tape base cameras.

    There has been a lot of "talk" about the cause....................blah blah blah.


    To summarize: Tapes use either dry or wet lube and when mixed a residue can be left on the tape path of your camera causing friction or chatter to occur resulting in something like you describe.


    Solution: Stick to the same brand and type of tapes.



  • Gary Markovich Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks Al,


    Thanks for the reminder, although I usually do, indeed, try to only use Sony tapes.  Maybe I should spring for the HD tapes, if I'm shooting HDV.


    I'm hoping the problem is dirty heads (which have now been cleaned), although a year or two ago, the camera displayed an error message to the effect that the heads needed cleaning. I didn't get that error message lately, though.


    And as my good friend up the street (who is from down under) says, G'Day to you as well!

  • Alchroma Level 6 (18,260 points)

    Here's some info from a previous post on tape:


    Metal Evaporated mini DV tape and tape used in HDV cameras are exactly the same. If someone tries to sell you HDV tape at a raised price (all things being equal) over mini DV they are ripping you.



    Not all mini DV tape is created equal and that is where you will pay more.



    General Overview: Tape is made on a wide roll and the the width sliced into narrow strips and then spooled onto the the reels.

    Tape from the centre of the width is determined to be the best quality, as the strips are gleaned closer to the edges the quality (price) falls.