Firewire Dropped Frames Problem with the Canon ZR60

by Walt Stoneburner
"Ok, this solution shouldn't work... why does it?"

The Symptom

Using the Canon ZR60 digital video camcorder connected to an Apple G4 via firewire, video works for a minute or two and then freezes. The results are the same with iChat, iMovie, and Final Cut Express. According to the system console logs, frames are being dropped. You've got a fast machine and a gob of memory. What gives?

A Totally Unobvious Solution

Normally, I scoff at "reboot" solutions, more so when I hear turn the power off.

But with this solution a little bit more is going on behind the scenes. I don't know why it works, but it solved my problem and was confirmed to solve someone else's who was having similar problems. It appears on Apple's site, as well as a less helpful suggestion.

  1. Shut down the computer.

  2. Disconnect all Firewire devices and all other cables, except the keyboard and mouse.

  3. Disconnect the computer from the power outlet and wait 5 minutes.

    I assume this is the magic step. A capicator must be discharging at this point, forgeting what devices were attached and what their configuration was. I suspect when the OS comes back up, it will be forced to poll for devices and reinitialize them.

    All I can say is that rebooting doesn't work. Shutting down doesn't working. Power cycling the device doesn't work. You must physically disconnect power from the CPU, have no devices plugged in, and wait for it to discharge. Weird, I know.

  4. Plug the computer back in and turn it on.

  5. Login.

  6. Reconnect the FireWire device. If you have more than one, do them one at at a time. Test each device after it's plugged in.

Strangely enough, doing this procedure once solved my problems for good. Prior to that, I had been having problems for several months.

If this procedure worked for you, please drop me a line -- I'd love to get confirmation this wasn't an illusion.

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