tape blog

Re-animating archives: Action Space’s V30H / V60H EIAJ 1/2″ video tapes

Re-animating archives: Action Space’s V30H / V60H EIAJ 1/2″ video tapes

One of the most interesting aspects of digitising magnetic tapes is what happens to them after they leave the Greatbear studio. Often transfers are done for private or personal interest, such as listening to the recording of loved ones, or for straightforward archival reasons. Yet in some cases material..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, video tape, 1 comment

Analogue to analogue – the Courtyard Music Group

Greatbear were recently approached by the Courtyard Music Group to help them complete the 100% analogue re-issue of their 1974 acid-folk album Just Our Way of Saying Hello.

Among Britfolk enthusiasts, news of the Courtyard Music Group’s plans to re-issue their album has been greeted with..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Videokunstarkivet’s Mouldy U-matic Video Tapes

Last year we featured the pioneering Norwegian Videokunstarkivet (Video Art Archive) on the Greatbear tape blog.

In one of our most popular posts, we discussed how Videokunstarkivet has created a state of the video art archive using open source software to preserve, manage and disseminate Norway’s..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, digitisation expertise, video tape, 0 comments
Mouldy DATs

Mouldy DATs

We have previously written on this blog about the problems that can occur when transferring Digital Audio Tapes (DATs).

According to preliminary findings from the British Library’s important survey of the UK’s sound collections, there are 3353 DAT tapes in the UK’s archives.

While..

Posted by debra in audio tape, digitisation expertise, 0 comments

Codecs and Wrappers for Digital Video

In the last Greatbear article we quoted sage advice from the International Association of Audiovisual Archivists: ‘Optimal preservation measures are always a compromise between many, often conflicting parameters.’ [1]

While this statement is true in general for many different multi-format..

Posted by debra in digitisation expertise, video tape, 1 comment
IASA – Resources and Research

IASA – Resources and Research

There are an astonishing amount of online resources relating to the preservation and re-formatting of magnetic tape collections.

Whether you need help identifying and assessing your collection, getting to grips with the latest video codec saga or trying to uncover esoteric technical information..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, audio tape, video tape, 0 comments
1″ Type A Video Tape – The Old Grey Whistle Test

1″ Type A Video Tape – The Old Grey Whistle Test

Sometimes genuine rarities turn up at the Greatbear studio. Our recent acquisition of four reels of ‘missing, believed wiped’ test recordings of cult BBC TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test is one such example.

It is not only the content of these recordings that are interesting, but their..

Posted by debra in video tape, 1 comment

Digitising small audiovisual collections: making decisions and taking action

Deciding when to digitise your magnetic tape collections can be daunting.

The Presto Centre, an advocacy organisation working to help ‘keep audiovisual content alive,’ have a graphic on their website which asks: ‘how digital are our members?’

They chart the different..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, audio tape, video tape, 0 comments

Save our Sounds – 2030 and the threat of audiovisual extinction

At the beginning of 2015, the British Library launched the landmark Save Our Sounds project.

The press release explained:
‘The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. Archival consensus..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, audio tape, video tape, 0 comments
1/2″ EIAJ video tape – aesthetic glitches

1/2″ EIAJ video tape – aesthetic glitches

The screening of Julien Temple’s new film The Clash: New Year’s Day 1977 at New Year put the spotlight on a video format dear to our hearts. 

Parts of the film were taken from footage shot on EIAJ 1/2″ video tape while Temple was at film school. EIAJ, whose hey day was..

Posted by debra in video tape, 0 comments

DVCAM transfers, error correction coding & misaligned machines

This article is inspired by a collection of DVCAM tapes sent in by London-based cultural heritage organisation Sweet Patootee. Below we will explore several issues that arise from the transfer of DVCAM tapes, one of the many Digital Video formats that emerged in the mid-1990s. A second article will..

Posted by debra in digitisation expertise, video tape, 0 comments

Reel-to-reel transfer of Anthony Rye, Selborne’s nature poet

We have recently transferred a number of recordings of the poet, Anthony Rye, reading his work. The tapes were sent by his Grandson Gabriel who was kind enough to tell us a bit more about Anthony’s life and work.

‘Anthony Francis Rye is intimately associated with the Hampshire village..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Transferring Digital Audio Tapes (DATs) to digital audio files

This post focuses on the problems that can arise with the transfer of Digital Audio Tapes (DATs).

An immature recording method (digital) on a mature recording format (magnetic tape), the audio digital recording revolution was never going to get it right first time (although DATs were not of..

Posted by debra in audio tape, digitisation expertise, 0 comments
Phyllis Tate’s Nocturn for Four Voices 3″ 1/4 inch reel to reel tape transfer

Phyllis Tate’s Nocturn for Four Voices 3″ 1/4 inch reel to reel tape transfer

We have recently transferred a previously unpublished 3” ¼ inch tape recording of British 20th century composer Phyllis Tate’s Nocturn for Four Voices. The tape is a 2-track stereo recording made at 7.5 inches per second (in/s) at the Purcell Room in London’s Southbank Centre in 1975, and was..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Obsolete technologies and contemporary sound art

At the recent Supernormal experimental arts and music festival held at Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, a number of artists were using analogue technologies to explore concepts that dovetail nicely with the work we do at Greatbear collecting, servicing and repairing obsolete tape machines.

Hacker..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Digital preservations, aesthetics and approaches

Digital Preservation 2014, the annual meeting of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance is currently taking place in Washington, DC in the US.

The Library of Congress’s digital preservation blog The Signal..

Posted by debra in audio tape, video tape, 0 comments

New additions in the Greatbear Studio – BBC-adapted Studer Open reel tape machine

We recently acquired a new Studer open reel tape machine to add to our extensive collection of playback equipment.
This Studer is, however, different from the rest, because it originally belonged to BBC Bristol. It therefore bears the hall marks of a machine specifically adapted for broadcast..

Posted by debra in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, 0 comments

Future tape archaeology: speculations on the emulation of analogue environments

At the recent Keeping Tracks symposium held at the British Library, AV scoping analyst Adam Tovell stated that
‘there is consensus internationally that we as archivists have a 10-20 year window of opportunity in which to migrate the content of our physical sound collections to stable digital..

Posted by debra in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, video tape, video technology, machines, equipment, 0 comments

Capitalising on the archival market: SONY’s 185 TB tape cartridge

In Trevor Owen’s excellent blog post ‘What Do you Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers’, he outlines the different ways ‘archive’ is used to describe data sets and information management practices in contemporary society. While the article shows it..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Significant properties – technical challenges for digital preservation

A consistent focus of our blog is the technical and theoretical issues that emerge in the world of digital preservation. For example, we have explored the challenges archivists face when they have to appraise collections in order to select what materials are kept, and what are thrown away. Such complex..

Posted by debra in audio / video heritage, audio tape, video tape, 1 comment

Irene Brown’s reel to reel recordings of folk and Gaelic culture

We are currently migrating a collection of tapes made by Irene Brown who, in the late 1960s, was a school teacher living in Inverness. Irene was a member of the Inverness Folk Club and had a strong interest in singing, playing guitar and collecting the musical heritage of folk and Gaelic culture.

The..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Mistress or master? Digitising the cultural heritage of women’s movements

The Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) is full of quirky examples of how womyn tried to wrestle culture from the sordid grip of male domination.

Part of this process was reinventing the world in wimmin’s image, word and song; to create and reclaim a lasting herstory in which sisterhood..

Posted by debra in video tape, 0 comments

Seeing tracks: viewing magnetic information as an aid for tape digitisation

We use a Sigma Hi-Chemical MV-95 magnetic viewer  in order to aid our digitisation work. By pressing the viewer against the tape we are able to read the magnetic information recorded on it. The reader helps us to visually identify the position of the recorded tracks on the tape, and enables accurate..

Posted by debra in audio tape, video tape, 0 comments

Digital preservation – a selection of online resources

If you are new to the world of digital preservation, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of technical terms and professional practices to contend with, and the fact that standards never seem to stay in place for very long.

Fortunately, there are many resources related to digital..

Posted by debra in audio tape, video tape, 1 comment

Climate Change, Tape Mould and Digital Preservation

The summer of 2008 saw a spate of articles in the media focusing on a new threat to magnetic tapes.

The reason: the warm, wet weather was reported as a watershed moment in magnetic tape degradation, with climate change responsible for the march of mould consuming archival memories, from personal..

Posted by debra in audio tape, video tape, 0 comments

Digitising Stereo Master Hi-Fi VHS Audio Recordings

The history of amateur recording is peppered with examples of people who stretched technologies to their creative limit. Whether this comes in the form of hours spent trying things out and learning through doing, endlessly bouncing tracks in order to turn an 8-track recording into a 24-track epic..

Posted by debra in audio tape, video tape, 0 comments
‘Missing Believed Wiped’: The Search For Lost TV Treasures

‘Missing Believed Wiped’: The Search For Lost TV Treasures

Contemporary culture is often presented as drowning in mindless nostalgia, with everything that has ever been recorded circulating in a deluge of digital information.

Whole subcultures have emerged in this memory boom, as digital technologies enable people to come together via a shared passion..

Posted by debra in video tape, 0 comments

2″ Quad Video Tape Transfers – new service offered

We are pleased to announce that we are now able to support the transfer of 2″ Quadruplex Video Tape (PAL, SECAM & NTSC) to digital formats.

2” Quad was a popular broadcast analogue video tape format whose halcyon period ran from the late 1950s to the 1970s. The first quad video..

Posted by debra in video tape, 2 comments

Digitising Low Band U-matic Video Tapes – The resurgence of Philip Jap, pop icon

Philip Jap came from a time when mime, dance, slapped bass lines, mascara and techno-dystopic anthems were staple parts of a successful popular music career. Cut from the same new wave goth cloth as Gary Numan, Human League and John Foxx, sporting mesmeric dance moves like a male Kate Bush, Jap lit..

Posted by debra in video tape, 2 comments

Open Source Solutions for Digital Preservation

In a technological world that is rapidly changing how can digital information remain accessible?

One answer to this question lies in the use of open source technologies. As a digital preservation strategy it makes little sense to use codecs owned by Mac or Windows to save data in the long term…

Posted by debra in audio tape, digitisation expertise, video tape, 0 comments