Video Digitising & Archival of Older Analogue Tapes
Long before we were shooting video on our smart phones or posting pictures of our meals on Instagram, analogue video was primarily used for recording family memories and information which we would one day want to look back on.
These old videos hold important memories or information from the past. They are a record of past special moments and details which would otherwise be forgotten. Desert boots, mullets, parachute pants, Reebok pumps & acid washed jeans, just to mention a few.
Throughout the 80s and early 90s, VHS was the primary consumer format used to record video. There are of course other formats such as Video 8, U-Matic, Betamax, DVCAM and DV tape but none of these were nearly as popular or as widely used as VHS
It may come as a surprise that the last company still manufacturing VHS VCR’s, Funai Electric, has just announced their decision to cease production of the once popular VHS tape recorder.
Understandably Funai Electric has seen declining sales and has had difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts, which has prompted them to cease production after 40 years. With these once essential household items no longer in production, it will mean that in time, millions of people will be left unable to view or transfer their precious memories from the dated format.
Transferring your VHS tapes is not a particularly expensive process, however as the playback machines become scarcer, the cost to maintain the equipment and the cost to transfer the content will increase as it has with other older obsolete formats.
Unless stored under stable temperature or archival conditions your old tapes may already be showing sign of degradation. Most are probably poorly stored away in a cupboard or box somewhere, gathering dust and potentially suffering from mould or other form of degredation. In time the content on these tapes may become completely irretrievable. If your memories hold any value you should consider transferring the footage sooner than later.
At FATS Digital we specialise in the transfer and archival of a wide range of analogue and digital video and audio formats. VHS, Video8, Hi-8, DV, Betamax, Betacam, U-matic, 1”, 8mm & 16mm film and many more. Our range of services include capturing simple DVD through to lossless JPEG2000 for archival purposes.
We’ve been in the business for 30 years and have all the equipment and knowledge to provide a professional outcome. We have all of the necessary restoration tools including cleaning and baking facilities.
When certain tape formats age, the binder that holds the magnetic recording material to the tape backing begins to absorb moisture. The tape becomes partially sticky. Attempting to play the tapes without first dehydrating the moisture can result in stiction, shredding of the magnetic material and in some cases complete failure of the tape. This is commonly referred to as sticky shed syndrome.
Although Sticky shed syndrome is often associated with particular brands of tape from the 1970’s – 1990’s, our experience is irrespective of brand and most libraries of videotape from this era exhibit this same issue.
The solution is to dehydrate the tapes in a dehumidifying oven at moderate temperatures (50-60° Celsius) for approximately 24 hours or more. It is not uncommon for us to go further and remove the tape from the physical carrier to assist the dehydration process. This process temporarily restores the tape by removing the moisture from the binder, allowing for the tape to be ingested (digitised) safely.
As mentioned earlier, most old tapes are stored in less than archival type conditions. Even after dehydrating, there may still be traces of mould, dust and dirt that will result in inconsistent quality playback. This is when tape cleaning equipment also become necessary.
FATS Digital use several RTI Proline tape cleaning evaluators to clean and polish tapes. The process removes any loose surface debris, and polishes the tapes leaving a clean layer of oxide.
Consumer & Professional
FATS Digital offer a range of services to suit all budgets. We have both consumer and professional options for the transfer of your footage, whether you simply require a playable DVD to view the content or a high quality mezzanine file in JPEG2000 or Prores for archival and future editing.
Although, playing back a digital file or DVD may not have that same nostalgic feeling that the old tape once did, you can be confident that the memories will be safely backed up and retrievable once again.
FATS currently performs video digitising and archiving services in varying formats and resolutions for a wide range of clients including state institutions, libraries, schools, universities, advertising agencies and television production companies.
If you would like further information on our video digitisation services contact one of our local offices.