MINI DV Tape repair.


A lot of my work is done through the US Postal Service. I have clients that I have worked with for years and never even met before. Clients in Los Angeles, Maryland, and a cool cat on Maui, have trusted me with their work without ever meeting me in person. I don’t plan it this way, it just seems to happen. They find me online or through references and contact me. It usually works out great, but recently; I had a bit of a nightmare. I received a Mini DV tape in the mail and went about the process of capturing the footage to my machine. I cringed when I heard the horrible crinkle sound of tearing mylar. I stopped capture and pulled a shredded mess of broken Mini DV out of my capture deck.

So, I have this torn mess of tape in front of me and a head full of worries that my equipment might have damaged a client’s material. I examine the deck with a flashlight to see if anything looks out of place. The heads and capstans look fine. Luckily the broken tape didn’t damage anything, reinforcing my belief in always using a dedicated capture device for playback. It would be a shame to mess up the tape transport mechanism of your shiny new camera with a broken tape. I ran a couple of expendable tapes through the machine. Everything checked out, leaving my client’s tape as the logical suspect.

I carefully inspected the tape and found no visible trauma to the case or tape shell. It appeared that there was some sort of mechanical failure inside the shell that prevented the playback reel from moving. The take up reel was fine; it let out enough tape to run through the mechanism, but snapped when it met the immobile playback reel.

I broke the news to the client, who was understanding and accepted the situation without blame. The client offered me a bonus if I could salvage any of the footage. The tape broke towards the end so I assumed that the client never rewound it before mailing it. This meant that the footage was probably still on the unbroken portion of the tape. I am familiar with repairing larger tapes such as Hi8 and VHS. The internal operation of video tapes is sort of fascinating. If you have never seen one from the inside, grab a VHS tape and a screwdriver and tear it apart. Notice how there are little brakes on the reels to keep the tape from unspooling when not in a machine. This is what I believe failed in my client’s tape. If I was dealing with a VHS or Hi8 tape, I would simply remove the playback reel from the bad case and insert it in a new case. The only problem is that Mini DV tapes are very small. The screws that hold the case together are miniscule. I have a double ought Phillips screwdriver, but even that was too large to get a hold of the tiny screws of the Mini DV.

Flummoxed, I called up a colleague up at a Production house in San Francisco. The word was that a place called Pacific Video Repair in Santa Rosa, California specialized in all sorts of tape repair and recovery. With my client’s permission, (This was proprietary footage,) I sent the tape out for repair.

Pacific Video Repair did a fine job of seating the playback reel into a new tape shell in a matter of days. The best part if that they only charged twenty five bucks. Their website has other options and charges for various repairs. In extreme cases you can have them transfer recovered footage to DVD. The tape worked fine when I got it back in the mail and my client was elated. I cannot recommend Pacific Video Repair enough to fix a broken Mini DV tape.


~ by gregorysolis on March 24, 2008.

16 Responses to “MINI DV Tape repair.”

  1. Hi,
    I am a student of TV and video production. i want to fix a tape. its not mesh, but its a the black tape is broken. How much it cost me.
    Listen forward to hear from u

  2. mini dv repair

  3. Hi,
    I have a mini DV tape thats not playing right, at moments there is no audio, but if you rewind it a bit there is, so it is in there somewhere.. Also it shows little black squares on the video inconstant and if you play the same frame again, they’re not in the same place… but if i play other tapes on the same player they play just fine, so i really think it is the tape… how can i contact you and have you an idea about the priceline?

    thank you

  4. Hi,

    I recorded over about 10 minutes of video on a Mini-DV tape, 1 time. Both recordings were done in the last week.
    Can the 10 minutes be recovered ? Cost ?
    Scott Paul

  5. Hi,

    I recorded over about 2 minutes of video on a Mini-DV tape. Can the 2 minutes be recovered ?

  6. Hey I recorded over about 40~50 minutes of video on miniDV. Could you recover the old footage? cost?


  7. Hello,

    I have a mini DV tape that plays back nothing (black) in normal speed, yet shows and image when I fast forward or rewind. Can anything be done?


  8. Is it possible to recover overwritten clips of mini-dv tape ?

  9. Hi,
    I overrecorded 40 seconds, but really need that full record.
    Give me the cost and how much time do U need.

  10. How much to recover data from a minidv have some wedding footage that I really need

  11. I need an entire miniDV recover old footage. I over recorded the tape. I really need this, how much for this work?

  12. youtube video download…

    […]MINI DV Tape repair. « Gregory Solis’s Weblog[…]…

  13. I have two mini dvs where the tape is broken how much to fix them

  14. Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  15. Hi,
    I overrecorded 4 minutes one a mini dv tape. I really need that footage back. Is it possible?

  16. You should take part in a contest for one of the finest sites online. I most certainly will recommend this web site!

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