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Thread: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wedding

  1. #1

    Default TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wedding

    This is everyone's nightmare. And it's just happened to me.

    The brief: yesterday I shot a wedding with a rental camera (DVX100) and 3 of the 4 tapes are almost totally pixelated = splotchs of pixelation in random locations anywhere from once every 5 seconds (very rare) to 4 or 5 times per second (very common). Most of the sound is gone too.
    Tomorrow I got to return the camera - what are my rights? What should I be aware of? Who's gonna sue me? Can they? I did everything I think could've been expected of me:
    1-I'm using Panasonic PQ63 (prof. quality) tapes.
    2-I tested the rental camera the morning before the wedding: I shot 15 min. of video when suddenly the RED "X" came on the screen. I shut it down, fired it up, no more RED "X", then shot some more and captured it all. Upon capture I found rainbow pixelation at the point where the RED "X" came on. Then the image was fine from the point where I fired up again. Having experienced this problem before on my own DVX, I stuck in the Panasonic Tape Cleaner Cassette, ran it. Then tested the camera with another 10 min of shooting. No problems. No RED "X". Figured the facility just gave it to me with dirty heads and that was that. Everything was fine, now that they were clean, right? So off I went to shoot the wedding. Confident that if the heads got dirty again, the RED "X" would come on... (Confidence bites)

    At the wedding dinner, I finally had a chance to pop in a tape and see how things were looking - normally I don't do this but since it was a rental I wanted to be sure. Please keep in mind that at this point I'd already shot 4 tapes and the RED "X" had not once reappeared - so you can imagine my "glee" when I pushed play an saw the pixel spotches I described above. That was tape 4. I checked tape 3. Same problem. Tape 2. Same thing.
    Trying to keep my cool, I ran the Panasonic Cleaning Tape in again, and went back to the dinner tables to shoot some more footage and see if things were fixed. They weren't.
    At this point, 11PM, I called the rental facilty, told the guy of my dilemna and how I felt (more deflated and let down than anything). He said he was sorry and they'd see what they could do on Monday. I got off the phone, pulled out my old (trusty) Sony TRV950 and began shooting another 2 tapes.
    (I'd never before brought along a back up camera - but am so glad I did this time.)

    Today I tried capturing the tapes. Turns out the 1st tape is perfect. Not a single splotch (well except for the very 1st frame - weird). The others, Tape 2, 3, 4, coulnd't even be captured because FinalCut kept saying there's a problem with the tape. (These were virgin tapes, straight out of the plastic rap, and purchased this same week.) Anyhow, to solve the capture problem I analogically copied (S-Video) the 3 bad tapes over to the Sony. And then captured those copies. From what I can see, the pixelization is there most of the time, but sometimes it does go away for up to a minute.

    Anyhow, what's my next move? Do I have any rights in relation to the rental house? I imagine they won't charge me the weekend rental but what about all the extra work it's going to take to try and create something decent from the crap I have recorded - or worse, from the mammoth discount I feel obliged to give the bride and groom who won't even be able to hear their wedding vows, nor their brothers playing violin, etc. Can I get sued myself from the couple?
    I would really love advice, if not sympathy. Has this happened to any of you? What'd you do?

    PD: The irony: my DVX100AE was in the shop being repaired after a fall, for some very slight pixelation on the first few frames of every cut. Since the replacement parts didn't make it in ontime I opted to rent - and got far worse pixelation than had I stuck with my own camera.

    By the way: I asked the facility over the phone before the rental, "is the camera new?" they said yes, they'd aquired it recently.

    When I picked it up on Friday, I saw it was the DVX, not the DVX-A. I mentioned this and they said that even so, it was still new, that they'd bought it recently. I checked the hour meter and it had 92 hours on it (relatively new, I guess, seeing how mine has 650). Still, I think it was deceiving to say that it was "new" when the DVX hasn't even been sold for over 2 years. You agree?

  2. #2

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    You should try playing the tapes in a real deck to see if the error correction can help you. The Sony DSR-2000? has the most error correction of any DV deck. When I had an alignment issue which meant the tapes could only be played on the original camcorder but not anything else the recommendation was to go to a very high end deck.
    As for the rental company they usually have their liability limited to the cost of the rental but if they are nice they might have a deck you can use or know someone who does. Good luck

  3. #3

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    Thanks a lot, I had no idea. I'm off to see them now, and at least I'll be able to mention that.

  4. #4

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    There's hope!
    I just got back from the Rental Facility. (They were very apologetic.) We tried one of the tapes in a DVXA but got the same pixelation. It was then tried in a small Handycam and amazingly enough, we were able to hear the violins! The facility is going to send the 3 bad tapes to another facility that has a large number of profesional magnetoscopes in order to see what they can salvage. They said they could probably save 80-90% of it. How do you spell relief?
    I'll keep you updated.

  5. #5

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    The facility just called and said that the better the VTR the worse it looked. Go figure (as to why or as to whether they're fibbing.) They said the best results were from a PD170, where the sound works but for every 10 seconds there's a drop out. They'll be loaning me the camera for free tomorrow to use it to capture.
    PS: They also said that while they were testing the faulty DVX, it totally died. RIP.

    If it serves anyone - those who currently use or own a DVXA and find they must suddenly shoot with the DVX (as was my case), be aware that neither the timecode nor the audio meters are constantly visible (at least I wasn't able to configure them to be - you must push a monitor button to see them on the display.) This threw me off at the shoot, since I'm used to constantly monitoring the audio levels visually - as I come and go from loud audio sources, like the choir or an interview 2 ft from camera.

  6. #6

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    Please keep us posted Mike, as to how the edit goes.

    I also liked your approach to the rental people, asking for help, not approaching them with your lawyer (rental guys work for a living too), and how it fit the old saying of drawing more bees with honey than vinegar.

  7. #7

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    Thanks, Snowleopard. It's true about being nice. People appreciate it, and like you said, they work for a living and I truly don't believe they were trying to do me any harm. As a courtesy I even offered to pay for the rental of the orig. camera - something they immediately refused. I think these are the things your parents teach you, the golden rule stuff. It's very real. If you're nice and actually try to understand where people are coming from they'll most often do the same.
    I must add that the owner of this company has been a real gentlemen throughout this whole ordeal. Today I asked them if they'd lend me not only the PD170 but the PC9 as well (which was the camera they initially got sound from while I was there) and he accepted. He even told me to tell him what costs this was going to entail me (kind of leaving it open), and then offered to edit the video themselves. Now it was my turn to politely refuse but still, that's pretty professional.

    Now onto the fun detective work part: finding a solution for all this pixelization. I just finished capturing the first tape with the PD170 and in still looks pretty bad, though way better than when viewed on the DVX or the TRV. I put the same tape into the PC9 and copied it (via S-Video) to my TRV950. What I noticed was quite interesting: not only was the quality better (fewer blothces), but it seems the blotches don't happen in the same place in the frame as the footage I'd captured with the PD170!!! This leads me to a possible solution: copy the orig. tapes numerous times onto fresh tapes, capture those copies, lay them down ontop of each other in the timeline and start cutting out the worst blotches from the top track and see if at that particular moment the pixelization is better on the track underneath!!
    Sounds like a plan, right? The idea would then be that once it's as clean as it can reasonably be, I'll print it out to tape to then have my new clean copy - which I'll then recapture and edit.
    I'll let you know how it works.
    cheers for now.

  8. #8

    Default Re: TRUE Horror story - camera rental / ruined wed

    Boy that sounds like a lot of work, and hours of time, but if you have no other choice...

    Perhaps you could get the rental guys to do some copying and or capturing for you? I can't imagine them cutting the whole thing, but maybe some duping wouldn't be too much to ask. I suppose right now you're just happy that it looks like you're ultimately going to be able to get back some 98% of your original footage, which must seem like a Godsend.

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