Identifying Common Tape Issues for Restoration in PFClean


In our previous video restoration blog we showed you how to prepare your system for tape capture, in this blog we will describe some of the more common faults that you may come across during the restoration of tape based media.

01. Worst Nightmare, or is it?

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare; you put the tape into the deck knowing you have one or two chances of capture. You cross your fingers hoping it’s going to look OK… it doesn’t!  Don’t worry though because all is not lost! We will be recommending some useful tools to try inside of PFClean’s powerful new Telerack and trusted Workbench that can help make your video artifacts disappear. So let’s fast forward to the lists…

02. Back on Track with Telerack

One of the major new features of PFClean is the powerful Telerack video restoration engine. With an emphasis on speed and a focus on the most common defects, this is an ideal way to start your tape restoration especially in cases where fast turn around and large volume of media is involved. Why not check out the performance of Telerack in our webinar. Below is a list of common tape faults with tips of how they can be identified and how they can be easily fixed in Telerack:

Tape FaultDescriptionTelerack ToolRestored Example
Tape DropoutHorizontal line, usually bright that pops on screen for one or two frames that can be staggered in intensity.Fix StreaksTape Dropout
Off-Lock ErrorsLike dropout but larger and with greater frequency, with band of colour or misregistered image lasting no more than a frame usually.Fix Streaks/Fix Bands Off-Lock Errors
Timebase Corrector DumpingImage shifts briefly and returns to position.Stabilize Timebase Corrector Dumping
Excessive Tape NoiseTape noise will appear heavy in tapes that are multiple generations away from the original source and/or have started to deteriorate with age.De-noiseExcessive Tape Noise
Chroma SubsamplingHigh chrominance areas can lack fidelity, especially where the source is 4:1:1 or 4:2:0. Noticeable in areas of red.Chroma ResampleChroma Subsampling
Chroma FringingChroma fringing can appear in high value chrominance and specular detail, this is caused by crosstalk in the luma and chroma signals.Chroma CleanupChroma Fringing
Tape BandingAppearing as light or dark bands horizontally across the image lasting over a number of frames.Fix BandsTape Banding
Flickering, Scratches and DirtTape material that has been telecined from 16mm and 35mm can suffer all the artifacts that originate in the original film elements.Dustbust + De-Flicker + Fix ScratchFlickering, Scratches and Dirt
Scanline FlickeringMinor variances in luminance values between scanlines.Scanline De-FlickerScalene Flickering

03. Tried and Trusted: The Workbench

The Telerack is focussed on high performance video restoration. Ideal for the hours and hours of tape that can be found in archives. However, some fixes are so severe they require the precision that can be found in PFClean’s powerful Workbench. In the table below we will help you identify these severe faults and suggest a Workbench tool to help you restore your tape.

Tape FaultDescriptionWorkbench ToolRestored Example
Momentary Head ClogThick horizontal band or sometimes entire frame of misaligned and warped image, usually for a single frame.Fix FrameMomentary Head Clog
Scratched TapeThin horizontal line of misregistered image that remains static and constant for the duration of the scratch.Fix Frame/Fix BandsScratched Tape
Transverse Tape DamageHorizontal band or misregistered image that rolls up the screen usually from bottom to top.Fix FrameTransverse Tape Damage
Capstan Servo Off-LocksBrief moments of picture instability and sometimes picture breakup along with wow distortion in audio.
Stabilize + Fix Frame
+ Pan & Scan
Capstan Servo Off Locks
Mild Tape MistrackingThin band at the very top of the screen with segmented or misregistered image.Pan & ScanMild Tape Mistracking
Severe Tape MistrackingBreakup of the entire image resulting in multiple dark and light lines with bands of misregistered image, flickering, and loss of colour.Paint + Fix Frame
+ Pan & Scan
Severe Tape Mistracking
Lifted BlacksLifted blacks caused by transfer errors in the dubbing process.Video GradeLifted Blacks
Chroma Phase Convergence ErrorCan be observed via a vectorscope and waveform where chroma phase is out of alignment.Video GradeChroma Phase Convergence Error
Blocking and Compression ArtifactsHighly compressed formats such as mini DV can suffer macroblocking and image breakup easily during high dynamic and kinetic shots resulting in squares and mosquito noise around detail.Blocking ReductionBlocking and Compression Artifacts
Persistence TrailsLuminance/chroma trails appear in bright highlights and chroma; this persistence is where the luminance value has not had time to reset to zero causing a ghosting trail or comet.PaintPersistance Trails
Horizontal and Vertical Sync Pulse LossA merging of the adjoining frame. Vertical or a horizontal breakup in image.Paint + Fix Frame + Pan & ScanHorizontal and Vertical Sync Pulse Loss

04. Wait! It’s Not the End of the Tape Yet!

Once you have completed your tape restoration there’s no need to stop there. PFClean’s powerful Remaster and Standards nodes put you in control and allow you to upscale your content to HD and beyond as well as standards convert it to whatever region you choose. You’re also not limited by a linear path offered by other hardware solutions; create multiple outputs for different deliverable formats and export them all in one click of a button.

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