May 04 2008

Incomplete miniDV Capture Due to Broken Time Codes

Published by at 3:57 pm under Amateur Video

I attempted to capture a miniDV tape from my Sony HC-96 Handycam mniDV camera using Sony Vegas 7 but I could not get the entire tape to capture. Some tapes Vegas would capture almost all and others it almost seemed to jump around. The capture software would also warn of dropped frames.

The issue was not the capture software but miniDV’s time code. Unwittingly I was breaking the time code when by reviewing the tape and cued the tape past the end of the last footage I captured. I always let it play until I saw the blank blue screen so I did not overwrite any of my footage. Because the tape started past any previous footage, the time code would start over when I started recording again. If I reviewed a 60 minute miniDV tape in the Handycam, I could see the play time in the upper right of the HandyCam’s LCD screen never get to 60 minutes (actually 62 minutes for a 60 minute tape). The capture software uses the time code to determine the begin and end of the tape and will not capture an entire tape if the time code restarts.

To fix the broken time codes I used a miniDV tape deck to play the tape with the broken time code and recorded the play back on the Handycam. The recorded video had one consistent time code. I could of also used another miniDV camera to play back the footage – you just need the proper connectors.

Prior to realizing the issue was with the time codes, I thought the problem was due to dirty Handycam heads or because I was not capturing directly to an internal drive. In fact, I have few issues capturing to my Western Digital My Book Firewire External Hard Drive using Sony Vegas 7. Occasionally something goes awry and I have to recapture the tape to get all of the clips. I also don’t work on the computer during the capture process.

To avoid breaking the time code in the future, before I playback video or remove an unfinished tape from the Handycam, I shoot 5 seconds of junk footage. Before recording again, I rewind the tape to the beginning of the junk footage. This provides a buffer that can be safely overwritten well before the end of the time code so that the code does not start over.

I also don’t recommend taping up to or past 60 minutes of tape. If I have filled the entire DV tape, about 62 minutes, Sony Video Capture 6.0 will grab the first scene and the last 2 plus minutes of the tape when using the capture tape button. I end up having to use advanced capture, setting the time code in to 0:00:00;00 and the time code out to 00:59:59;00 and running Transport -> Advanced Capture – > Capture In/Out to grab the rest of the footage.

One response so far

One Response to “Incomplete miniDV Capture Due to Broken Time Codes”

  1. Keshavay says:

    Nice write up…usually I never reply to these thing but this time I will,Thanks for the great info.

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