Tape & VCR Tips
by: High-Tech Productions / Blank Video Tape.com


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For Better Results when Shooting a Video: 

  • Never start recording at the very beginning of the tape.

  • Record 60 seconds of black (lens cap on) before your program.

  • Always try to use good quality tape. For a complete selection, visit our On-Line Store.

  • Always record at the fastest speed (SP) for the best results.

  • Try to light your subjects well and evenly.

  • Dim lit scenes will create snow and noise in your picture.

  • Put labels on correctly. Improperly placed labels can jam.

  • If your using the Mini DV format, keeping your video heads clean is very important. Click here for info on a Mini DV head cleaner.

  • For a novel touch, use a Test Pattern in the beginning of your tape.

  • Don't let video cassettes go through magnetic field.

  • Never touch the tape itself.

  • Don't use a cold cassette until it has warmed up to room temperature.

  • Don't leave a video tape in a car or anywhere where it will be exposed to extreme heat or cold.

  • Never drop or bang the cassette.

Tape Care and Storage: tapecare3.gif (1628 bytes)
  • Keep tapes in a dust free environment, away from direct sunlight.

  • Avoid high humidity and moisture.

  • Never store tapes near magnetic fields, (top of TV, speakers, etc.).

  • Try to give tapes 24 hours to adjust to extreme temperature and climate changes.

  • Fast-forward & rewind tapes every 2 years to prevent sticking.

  • Store tapes rewound and vertically in their case. The storage environment should not be hot, humid, dusty or smoky.

  • Plastic storage boxes are the best solution for long term storage.

For a complete selection of storage boxes,  Visit our On-Line Store.

Problems with
Picture Playback:

  • Picture rolls or jumps, bad picture - Adjust tracking control on VCR.

  • Playback has snow or noise - Use wet style head cleaner on your VCR for a few minutes.

  • No picture or sound - Make sure your TV & VCR are connected properly, and that TV is set to either channel 3 or 4, or TV is in video mode.

VCR Quick Facts


  • When a video head is cleaned, it only removes the dirt and grease that are currently on the video and audio heads. If the same dirty or worn out tape is played again in the machine it will cause the heads to become dirty again. Over using a head cleaning tape will cause premature failure of the VCR.


  • The majority of failures in VCR's is due to the rubber belts and idler's becoming hard and no longer having the traction required to pull the tape. One of the easiest ways to extend their life is by exercising them. By playing a Video Tape in your machine at least once a week will help ensure that the rubber parts stay soft and you can have many hours of enjoyment from your VCR.


  • Picture quality and tape speed go hand in hand.

  • The slower speed "SLP" will allow 6 hours of video to be recorded but in exchange gives you a poorer quality picture.

  • In the faster speed "SP" you record 2 hours and get a much better better picture.    also see: Tape Speed Info.



There are several signs that a video tape is wearing out:

  • When there are spots and speckles appearing on the picture that were not there when you were recording are signs that the material of the video tape is breaking down.

  • If the tape stops at the same place while playing every time is a sign that there is a problem with that part of the tape.

  • If you play a tape and the heads get dirty, and after cleaning the heads you reinsert that tape and the heads get dirty again is a sign that the tape is either damaged or has a substance on it.

  • If the tape comes out of the housing, (although this can usually be fixed), can hurt the tape heads if a wrinkle goes over them.

  • It is always cheaper to replace the tape than to keep using it and damaging the machine.

Camcorder & Recording Techniques

  • Always bring extra tapes and batteries with you. If something happens to the first one, it's good to have a backup.

  • Most camcorders have a "recording check" button which rewinds a few seconds of tape and plays it back in the viewfinder. When finished, it positions the tape right back where you left off. Use this button early in your taping session to be sure that your camcorder is functioning properly. It is really aggravating to tape an event and find out when you get home that the video head(s) was clogged or a tape broken.

  • When recording, do everything very slowly and smoothly. Moving quickly tends to make you "sea sick" when you watch it. Try to avoid walking with the camera on. 

  • Don't over-zoom. It's difficult to get a stable picture when you are zoomed to the maximum. Plan your zooms carefully. Don't search around for a target while zoomed. Find your target in "wide-angle" and then zoom toward it.

  • Auto focus is nice in the right places, but it is not always the best way to record. If there are objects in the foreground but you wish to record more distant subjects, the auto focus can easily get confused by motion of the camera or nearby objects. Switch to manual focus and adjust it for the objects you want to record. They will then stay in focus. The same is true of auto-iris (if your camera allows you to switch to manual).

  • If you put a date and time on the recording, put it in the first sequence and then turn it off. It's irritating to have the date and time in every shot.

  • Make a point of checking that the "record" indicator is on in the viewfinder each time you go into the record mode. Make sure to stop recording at the end of a sequence. A lot of tape has been shot of people's feet, floors, and the inside of camera bags. This also uses up your battery power and may make you lose shots later.

  • Label your tape immediately. One unlabeled tape looks just like every other one and you may accidentally tape over a special event just to time shift a soap opera. If the tape is one that you really want to keep, break off the erasure protect tab on the back side of your VHS or VHS-C cassette (or slide the switch on 8 mm cassettes).

  • When recording indoors don't forget to set the color balance switch to the position for incandescent light. If you don't, everything tends to look too yellow and too red -- colors will not look natural.

  • Use only lens tissue or a clean, soft cloth to clean your camcorder's lens. Using tissues may leave you with a greasy mess since some brands of tissue have skin lotion in them. A cloth with unseen particles of dirt on it can permanently scratch your lens.

Click Here for info on Camcorder Battery Packs.

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