ebay

Transfer Digital Betacam (DigiBeta) to Quicktime or AVI now, one day they will be obsolete

Even relatively recent born digital formats like Digital Betacam or DigiBeta, as it’s often referred to, should be viewed as a potentially obsolete format. This Standard Definition (SD) format while very popular for many years is not the preferred delivery format now the industry has embraced High Definition (HD). When serviced these machines are very reliable and would be worked hard in a production environment. Designed to be serviced with little expense spared these were some of Sony’s most expensive decks and even if second hand values of machines have dropped recently, new spares have not. As with most video formats though as they become less popular the spares availability will become a problem as parts inventory dry up. One day and it may not be that far away a popular format like DigiBeta will become a threatened, obsolete format.

Digibeta_close up right angle

Digital Betacam recorders  were introduced in 1993, superseding the Betacam and Betacam SP, while costing significantly less, and being dramatically smaller than (!), the D-1.

We are particularly pleased with this machine because there are relatively low hours on its original head drum (1000 hours). The average headlife for this format is up to three times that or more, depending on the environment it was used in.

If the machine was used in a heavy production environment, for example, it would be constantly drawing in air to cool the electronics and, potentially, large amounts of dust and debris with it. This is one of the factors affecting head life.

Part of the service kit installed on the digi-beta is designed to counter such damage because it allows you to replace the filters around the head drum area should they become clogged.

dvw-a510-digital-betacam-loading-gear

The big problem, as with so many of these machines, is acquiring relevant parts to ensure they can be serviced when they break down. Spare parts for digi-beta machines can be expensive, costing several thousand pounds for a replacement head drum.

This machine has needed some work recently to keep it running smoothly. The loading gear had split which meant it couldn’t load tapes and gave reel motor errors. These were fixed easily by replacing the broken parts. After these repairs were completed the picture was still however displaying errors. This was because the bearing on the pinch roller was worn resulting in too much movement in the tape path. With the problem diagnosed a new pinch roller was installed and our new machine is working beautifully!

So send us your digi-beta tapes!

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 0 comments

Collection of obsolete of audio and video tape machines for digitisation

Over a several years, Great Bear has been collecting and restoring old audio and video tape machines. By trawling through the online car boot sale that is ebay, or travelling round the country to visit real ones, the collection has built up over time and now constitutes over seventy working machines and forty other machines that are used for spare parts and testing.

Amazingly, a good amount of the machines we have acquired have cost absolutely nothing: its all about having the canny knack of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. On several occasions we have been given fully functioning machines by film production houses who have been forced to make the latest technological transition because of changing industry standards. So what happens to these machines when their built-in obsolescence comes home to roost? They are either chucked in a skip, sold on ebay to a limited and sometimes lucrative market, or they are given to people like us who are continuing to make good use of them.

To  give you a picture of how quickly technological and, consequently, monetary value changes, consider this brief example. In 1991 the value of a Sony BVW D75 was $32,000 (or $52,037/ £32,920 in today’s money), but today it is worth absolutely nothing. Despite their lack of monetary value in today’s market economy, videotape machines from the 70s, 80s and 90s are exceptionally well made. They were built to last and were designed for heavy use in editing suites, where tape was freeze framed, rewound and played back again and again on a daily basis.

Yet as technology develops, there is no more need for the AMPEX BVW 75, Panasonic MII, Sony U-matic VTR BVU-800 and others like them. These machines become inoperable artifacts, casualties of a market and quality driven, technological evolution .

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 1 comment

how not to pack a reel to reel

I use eBay alot. I have to, nobody makes new tape machine anymore and about two or three years ago it took over from the local freeads papers as a way to sell things you didn’t want.

I recently bought an old Teac X7 4 track 1/4″ reel to reel. Seemed like a good deal and I took a chance. With large heavy items I always ask politely if they can ensure it’s packed with lots of bubble wrap in preferably two boxes. I even offer to send the packagin myself if they haven’t budgeted for that or can’t be bothered to wrap that well!

This is what I received after a few days of waiting. The seller seemed excited, saying he’d specially bought a box that cost over £10…

reel_to_reel_packaging_bottom

Reel to Reel packaging bottom

The whole of the bottom of the box had cracked and fallen away. If it hadn’t of been for the nice Parcelforce people who lined it with a bit of cardboard I wouldn’t have got anything.

There was a Teac X7 in it but it didn’t look pretty and is a perfect example of how heavy items can destroy themselves and the packaging if not packed correctly.

reel_to_reel_packing_side

Reel to Reel packaging destroyed

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 0 comments