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View Full Version : Adventures in Taping a Movie Off TV!



Ian F
10-10-2010, 05:58 PM
So I was taping Revenge of the Ninja off MGM HD and the pictures just breaks up and disappears for 8 minutes. When it comes back the picture is somehow cropped fullscreen (like if it was on an SD channel) until I switched channels back and forth. So annoying since the movie isn't out on DVD in Widescreen.

This reminded me of the trials and tribulations of taping stuff off TV when I was younger. You would have to worry about whether the tape worked, that you set the timer correctly (and off course that you never lost power), the channel switched properly, the wires were not hooked up correctly, or that signal was coming in bad. If none of those problems occurred you just then may get a working copy of a movie!

This was nothing like rewinding the tape or hitting play and hoping that the tape had anything on it. I remember times of getting two hours of white snow!

Anyone else have some horror stories from recording stuff (by VHS or DVD) off TV?

Paul Casey
10-10-2010, 06:17 PM
This was nothing like rewinding the tape or hitting play and hoping that the tape had anything on it. I remember times of getting two hours of white snow!

I never saw that one, but I like Michael Keaton, so I'm all for checking it out.

Robin Bougie
10-10-2010, 06:22 PM
I remember how devastated I was in 1990 when I went to watch the compilation VHS tape I'd put together taping all my fave videos from MTV's 120 MINUTES from the previous 2 months worth of shows, only to put it in and discover that someone else in the house had taped golf over it.

Somehow that it was one of the most boring-to-watch sports (fun to play, though) made it all that more infuriating.

Steve R
10-10-2010, 07:41 PM
When I used to record the Python and Fawlty Towers stuff off PBS the different running times would always throw me. I was tyring to get them all on one tape, or as many as I could, and they kept running over their alloted times...


And the topper was always the dreaded extra innings, overtime sports. You'd set the timer for a really cool movie that was going to come on right after some game. Course you wanted to record at high speed for the best picture...and it would start late and you'd miss the ending.

John K
10-10-2010, 10:25 PM
A similar thing happened to me, Robin, though in my case it was my own fault - I had a compilation tape of...something. I don't remember, I think it was commercials or various A/V ephemera. After several hours spent adding to it one Saturday evening (yes, I was popular in high school), I decided to relax with some Ebert & Roeper. I took the comp tape out, went out of the room, did some shit, came back and threw in a tape to record (which I was in the habit of doing at the time, because of the comp tape) and enjoyed myself. At the end, to my dismay, I found I had mistakenly recorded over the comp tape itself! All in the interest of adding to it. Terrible...

Of course, I've had all the usual troubles as everyone here. Setting timers in the old days was a giant hassle, and as things got "less" complicated they always became more difficult. In the late 90s early 00s we got some cable set-up that was supposed to sync with the VCR, so when we set something to record on the interactive guide, it would program the VCR in sync, too, to record the program. Of course, somehow these things always got out of whack, and it ended with you having to program the VCR and the cable box separately, to make sure the channel would switch at the right time and the tape player would also record. Sometimes, if you left the VCR on by accident, it would turn off at the record time and do nothing. If you forgot the box, you'd get whatever channel the cable had been left on, or the blue screen of no signal when the box was left on, and then turned *itself* off at the set time. Sometimes my dad would come downstairs in the middle of the recording and I'd find the tape switching halfway through to some stupid shit like AMERICAN PIE BAND CAMP...though it was often interesting to spy on his viewing habits. I can also remember taping complicated sets of instructions to the screen whenever I was leaving but had set something to record. This was particularly bad during premium channel preview weekends.

Once, I was incredibly excited about...something or other that was going to be on during the day, at noon. I set everything the night before and triple checked it, so I would be sure it would go off without a hitch. I checked it again in the morning and all was still well, and I marched off to school confident that my noontime program would end up flawlessly recorded, barring some major catastrophe. The day: Sept. 11, 2001. For obvious reasons, programming did not proceed as scheduled.

Jim R.
10-10-2010, 10:51 PM
Ever use a tape cleaner on your VCR's heads to clean it? Depending on what type you use, you could end up making the heads worse, ruining whatever tape you stick in next to watch or record with! Fun, no?

How about finding the right brand of tape to record with? I had a hell of a time doing that. I used Scotch and JVC a lot, but no brand was infallible. A lot of tapes I used would cause lines that traveled down the screen, flickers, flecks and other picture and sound problems. I once got excited when I saw MGM had their own brand of blank tape. Then I used it and found out it was just as crappy as most generic brands! I ended up throwing out most of my MGM (and other brands) tapes when there was too much distortion on the picture. Still, I have managed to keep around 600 videocassettes.

Daniel S.S.
10-10-2010, 11:13 PM
Yup, countless frustrating memories of lost recording attempts. I'd usually try to start recording a minute early and end a minute later than scheduled. So an 8:00 - 10:00 recording would be 7:59 - 10:01. On more than one occasion I would start a 12:00 AM - 2:00 AM recording at 11:59 PM - 2:01 AM - only to forget to account for the day change at midnight, because you had to set the day of the week, too. So I'd end up with a minute of the program, then nothing - "what the hell?" - then it would hit me what I did wrong. "FUCK!!"

Andrew Ellis
10-11-2010, 01:01 PM
It's always been an adventure. I've gone through all that stuff. On top of that I used to record stuff of foreign television. So I had this hi-tech VHS recorder that converted PAL to NTSC. But then it stopped working properly, so I had to bring an American recorder back from home and run the signal through the malfunctioning one to the American one in order to record. I could only connect the malfunctioning one to the Turkish TV set I had though, so I would think everything was fine, but I had forgotten to hit the button to convert the signal to NTSC and so when I played the tape back on the American one, it would be all messed up.

I still have this Turkish-language movie I recorded with all these sexy, voluptuous Turkish women in (and sometimes out of) skimpy bikinis. But it is an unconverted PAL signal recorded with an NTSC recorder, so it is ALL screwed up, but I've kept it for nostalgic reasons (yeah, nostalgic reasons, that's it. . .).

Even now back in America you have to deal with the interruptions by the Emergency Broadcast Network that will even screw up DVR recordings. Then my idiot local cable service actually put some signal on their programming, so you can't record on VHS at all. (What kind of half-assed pirates are using VHS these days anyway?)

Bryan Brassfield
10-11-2010, 02:56 PM
I tried to tape a Friday the 13th Marathon hosted by Joe Bob Briggs on TNT's Monstervision back in the day and set the timer wrong and missed the last 30 minutes.

I also accidentally taped over a bunch of stuff I had recorded as a kid on the family's old betamax because we had a free preview of HBO and I wanted to see some of the shitty horror movies they were playing at the time.

John K
10-12-2010, 12:47 AM
I forgot another favorite - rare but good. Using the cable box programmer, I would often record late Saturday night horror movies. Won unto me the nights with daylight savings time, however - I would invariably end up with only half the movie because of the time change fucking up the programming box, which thought the program was only an hour long. Short of manually programming the VCR and leaving the box on, I never found a way around it. An inescapable bug in the system set-up, I guess...