tape blog

ADAT digital multi-track recorders

ADAT digital multi-track recorders

The Alesis ADAT digital multi-track tape recorder is an iconic piece of early 1990s audio recording equipment.

ADATs used consumer S-VHS video tape to record up to 8 tracks of digital audio.

They were modular, meaning that each machine could be synched with up to 15 other ADAT machines…

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments
Audio Cassette Parallel Ingests

Audio Cassette Parallel Ingests

The scale of digitisation jobs we do at Great Bear often varies. We are asked by our customers to reformat single items to large quantities of tape and everything else inbetween.

Reformatting magnetic tape-based media always takes time and care.

Transfers have to be done in real time;..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments
British Stand Up Comedy Archive’s audiovisual collections

British Stand Up Comedy Archive’s audiovisual collections

Greatbear have recently worked with the British Stand Up Comedy Archive (BSUCA) to reformat a number of Digital Audio Tapes (DATs) and U-Matic video tapes from their collection.

Established in 2013 and based at the University of Kent’s Special Collections, the BSUCA aims ‘to celebrate,..

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Save Our Sounds’ £9.5 million boost

This article is a bit late to break this news, but it is worth highlighting again in case you missed it first time round.

In May 2015 the British Library were awarded over £9.5 million pounds by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help them deliver their hugely important Save Our Sounds project.

We..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments
Phil Johnson’s the Wild Bunch VHS video

Phil Johnson’s the Wild Bunch VHS video

As a business situated in the heart of Bristol, Greatbear is often called upon by Bristol’s artists to re-format their magnetic tape collections.

Previously we have transferred documentaries about the St. Paul’s Carnival and films from the Bristol-based Women in Moving Pictures..

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 0 comments
Type IV Metal Cassettes and Robert Chenciner’s Daghestan Collection

Type IV Metal Cassettes and Robert Chenciner’s Daghestan Collection

We recently received a fascinating collection of tapes from the archive of Robert Chenciner, an ethnographer with over thirty years experience studying the cultures, human rights and current affairs of Daghestan.

Daghestan is located in the north Caucasus region, its neighbouring countries..

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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 Great Bear 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..

Posted by debra in 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 Video Tape, 0 comments

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..

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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 Information Technology, 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 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 Great Bear 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 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 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 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..

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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..

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Obsolete technologies and contemporary sound art

At the recent Supernormal 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 Great Bear collecting, servicing and repairing obsolete tape machines.

Hacker Farm, for example, keep..

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..

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D1, D2 & D3 – histories of digital video tape

The images in this article are of the first digital video tape formats, the D1, D2 and D3. The tendency to continually downsize audiovisual technology is clearly apparent: the gargantuan shell of the D1 gradually shrinks to the D3, which resembles the size of a domestic VHS tape.

Behind every..

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 0 comments

Digitisation: methodologies, processing and archival practices

 We work with a range of customers at Great Bear, digitising anything from personal collections to the content of institutional archives. Because of this, what customers need from a digitisation service can be very different.
A key issue relates to the question of how much we process the digital..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, Video Tape, 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, 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