tape blog

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 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..

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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..

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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..

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‘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..

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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, Video Tape, 0 comments

Early digital tape recordings on PCM/ U-matic and Betamax video tape

We are now used to living in a born-digital environment, but the transition from analogue to digital technologies did not happen overnight. In the late 1970s, early digital audio recordings were made possible by a hybrid analogue/digital system. It was composed by the humble transport and recording..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 1 comment

Digital Records of the First World War

Across the world, 2014-2018 will be remembered for its commitment to remembrance. The events being remembered are, of course, those related to the First World War.

What is most intriguing about the centenary of the First World War is that it is already an occasion for growing reflection on..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments

Digital Preservation – Establishing Standards and Challenges for 2014

2014 will no doubt present a year of new challenges for those involved in digital preservation. A key issue remains the sustainability of digitisation practices within a world yet to establish firm standards and guidelines. Creating lasting procedures capable of working across varied and international..

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End of year thank yous to our customers

What a year it has been in the life of Greatbear Analogue and Digital Media. As always the material customers have sent us to digitise has been fascinating and diverse, both in terms of the recordings themselves and the technical challenges presented in the transfer process. At the end of a busy..

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Voice Letter – Analogue Reel-to-Reel Tape Transfer

What can the packaging of a tape object tell you?

Even before a tape is played back prior to transfer the packaging can tell you a lot about how and where it has been stored, and what it was used for.

Whether the boxes include sparse notation or are covered in stamps from countries across..

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Digitising NAB radio broadcast cartridges

The NAB Cartridge (named after the National Association of Broadcasters) was a mainstay of radio broadcasting from the late 1950s-1990s. It was replaced by the mini disc and computerised broadcast automatons.

NAB Cartridges were used primarily for jingles, station identifications, commercials..

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Jack Hollingshead’s lost Apple recordings on reel-to-reel tape

Digital technologies have helped to salvage all manner of ‘lost’ or ‘forgotten’ recordings. Whole record labels, from the recently featured Bristol Archive Records to institutional collections like Smithsonian Folkways, are based on the principle of making ‘hard to access’..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments

UNESCO World Audiovisual Heritage Day – 27 October

In 2005 UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) decided to commemorate 27 October as World Audiovisual Heritage Day. The theme for 2013 was ‘Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation’. Even though we are a day late, we wanted to write a post to mark the..

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Digital Preservation and Copyright

Most customers who send us tape to digitise own the copyright of their recording: it is material they have created themselves, be it music, spoken word or film.

Occasionally customers are not so sure if they own the full copyright to their recordings. This is because a single piece of work..

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Digitise VHS Tapes – Bristol’s Meet Your Feet

We recently digitised some VHS tapes from when Bristol-based band Meet Your Feet performed on HTV in 1990. Meet Your Feet
‘formed in 1988 as a result of three of the women getting together to start a women’s music workshop, Meet Your Feet played its first gig in June 1988, when asked..

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 0 comments

1/2 inch EIAJ skipfield reel to reel videos transferred for Stephen Bell

We recently digitised a collection of 1/2 inch EIAJ skipfield reel to reel videos for Dr Stephen Bell, Lecturer in Computer Animation at Bournemouth University.

CLEWS SB 01 from Stephen Bell on Vimeo.

Stephen wrote about the piece:

‘The participatory art installation that..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, Video Tape, 0 comments