The bad news is that there's nothing you can do yourself. Without the right equipment and training, any attempt you make to repair your tape will probably just damage it further or destroy it completely. The good news is that there is plenty that other people can do. Many audio/video companies offer to repair broken MiniDV tapes. They will cut out the crinkled tape--unfortunately, that part is probably beyond repair--and splice the remaining tape together so that it's as good as new. You might lose a minute or two of footage, but you should be able to save most of the tape.
While they have your tape, you should pay a little extra to have the footage backed up to DVD. Most companies that offer media repair services will also copy tapes to DVDs or other media. A DVD backup will be sturdier than your original cassette and will let you copy and edit the footage on your own computer.
For instance, Pacific Video Repair in Occidental, California, will repair damaged MiniDV tapes for $20 and back up your tape to DVD for another $12.95. Spectra PhotoVideo in Vienna, Virginia, will repair your busted tape for a pricier $47.50, and a backup will cost between $19.50 and $39.50, depending on the length of the footage. Sony's own media factory in Dothan, Alabama, can also repair and back up tapes at a rate of $30 for the first hour and $25 for each additional hour of footage.
You might be able to find a local place to fix your tape, too. Look for nearby audio/video equipment shops or colleges with A/V departments. They usually have the equipment to repair media and might be able to do it faster and for less money. Just be warned: Getting a college student to fix your broken cassette might not be as wise as sending it to professionals to have it done. Good luck!
If you really wanted to do this yourself:
The cassette can be opened with the right tools.
If you repair the tape, cut the "eaten" bit off (Hopefully it's at the start of the tape) refit it and wind it on a few seconds so that no dirt or grease that got on the tape when you fixed it gets on the heads. The first couple of seconds of video tape is see through so that when it's rewound, a light sensor detects the start of the tape and shuts down the rewind mode, if this see through part of the tape is missing then if you rewind it, it'll not stop even though it's at the start.
If it's broken half way through then you'll have to use some repair tape. This is incredibly fiddly even on an audio tape, so for miniDV it's like repairing a watch. Make sure the sticky repair tape (not selotape!) is on the rear side not the front. Wind the tape past this repair part so that the join doesn't run past the video heads (to avoid damage to them).
Copy the tape and DON'T rewind it or use it ever again.
If the tape isn't too important then just chuck it out.. the potential damage that could occur by running it are too high....
A careful repair and use it once and you'll probably have no problems. However, as you can probably tell, the video heads are small and fragile, a rough bit of tape, join or goo will dirty or damage the heads which you don't want happening!
Last update: 12:15 PM Saturday, July 5, 2008