tape blog

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, digitisation expertise, 2 comments

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..

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

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..

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

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..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

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..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

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

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..

Posted by debra in video tape, video technology, machines, equipment, 0 comments
UNESCO World Audiovisual Heritage Day – 27 October

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..

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

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..

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

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

Bristol Archive Records – ¼ inch studio master tapes, ½ inch 8 track multi-track tapes, audio cassettes, DAT recordings and Betamax digital audio recordings

Bristol Archive Records is more than a record label. It releases music, books and through its website, documents the history of Bristol’s punk and reggae scenes from 1977 onwards. You can get lost for hours trawling through the scans of rare zines and photographs, profiles of record labels,..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 1 comment

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

7″ 8 track reel to reel tapes recorded on a Fostex A8

We were recently sent a collection of 7″ 8-track reel-to-reel tapes. All the 8-track tapes were recorded using Dolby C noise reduction on a Fostex A8 machine. They haven’t been stored in optimum conditions and as many were recorded on AMPEX tape, they need to be baked prior to transfer..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Digitisation strategies – back up, bit rot, decay and long term preservation

In a blog post a few weeks ago we reflected on several practical and ethical questions emerging from our digitisation work. To explore these issues further we decided to take an in-depth look at the British Library’s Digital Preservation Strategy 2013-2016 that was launched in March 2013…

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

Remembering Ray Dolby pioneer of analogue noise reduction

We have already written about noise reduction this week, but did so without acknowledging the life of Ray Dolby, one of the inventors of video tape recording while working at Ampex and the inventor and founder of Dolby Noise Reduction, who died on 12 September 2013.

An obituary in The Guardian..

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

Audio Noise Reduction and Finn’s World War Two Stories

We get a range of tape and video recordings to digitise at the Great Bear. Our attention is captured daily by things which are often unusual, interesting and historically significant in their own way.

Last week we received a recording of Pilot Officer Edwin Aldridge ‘Finn’ Haddock talking..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Measuring signals – challenges for the digitisation of sound and video

In a 2012 report entitled ‘Preserving Sound and Moving Pictures’ for the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Technology Watch Report series, Richard Wright outlines the unique challenges involved in digitising audio and audiovisual material. ‘Preserving the quality of the digitized..

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

Curating Digital Information or What Do You With Your Archive?

Today is the first day of iPres 2013, the 10th international conference on the preservation of digital objects held in Lisbon, Portugal. To mark the occasion we want to reflect on an issue that is increasingly important for the long term management of digital data: curation.

Anyone who has..

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

The Magnetist – Audio Cassettes in Contemporary Culture

As lovers of magnetic tape and obsolete media, we keep our eyes open for people who remain attached to the formats most have forgot.

A recent film posted on Vimeo features the creative life of part time chef, noise musician and tape DJ Micke, also known as ‘The Magnetist’.

The..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

C-120 Audio Cassette Transfer – the importance of high quality formats

In archiving, the simple truth is formats matter. If you want the best quality recording, that not only sounds good but has a strong chance of surviving over time, it needs to be recorded on an appropriate format.

Most of us, however, do not have specialised knowledge of recording technologies..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Greatbear Studio Visit – Archive for Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy

This week in the Greatbear Studio we are being visited by Michael Wright, Director of The Archive Trust for Research in Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy.

The Archive Trust for Research in Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy holds an extensive collection of audio and video recordings on..

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

How sustainable is digitisation?

Often when we think about the reasons to digitise magnetic tape collections we are considering the future. We digitise to make material accessible so it can be used again, or to preserve it so subsequent generations can benefit or learn from it. But how sustainable is digitisation and digital technology?..

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

Sony V62 EIAJ reel to reel video tape transfer for Barrie Hesketh

We have recently been sent a Sony V62 high density video tape by Barrie Hesketh. Barrie has had an active career in theatre and in 1966 he set up the Mull Little Theatre on the Isle of Mull off the West Coast of Scotland with his late wife Marianne Hesketh. Specialising in what Barrie calls the ‘imaginative..

Posted by debra in video tape, 2 comments

What is the future of analogue media?

In a recent blog article on the Presto Centre website, Richard Wright argues that ‘the audiovisual collections of the 20th century were analogue, and we are now at a critical time for considering the digital future of that analogue content.’ He goes on to say, emphatically:
‘All..

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

Copying U-matic tape: digitise via dub connector or composite video?

Digitising legacy and obsolete video formats in essence is simple but the technical details make the process more complex. Experience and knowledge are therefore needed to make the most appropriate choices for the medium.

The U-matic video format usually had two types of video output, composite..

Posted by greatbear in digitisation expertise, video tape, 7 comments

Digital Preservation – Planning for the Long Term

There are plenty of reflections on the Great Bear tape blog about the fragility of digital data, and the need to think about digitisation as part of a wider process of data migration your information will need to make in its lifetime.

We have also explored how fast moving technological change..

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

‘Mysterious little reddish-brown ribbon’: BASF Magnetic Recording Tape

‘It seems we are living in an age in which practically every dream comes true. At no time in the past have so many scientific discoveries and inventions changed our way of life and the face of the world. Yes, we live in the age of science! Maybe we are forgetting to be awed, or are we so used..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 0 comments

Repairing obsolete media – remembering how to fix things

A recent news report on the BBC website about recycling and repairing ‘old’ technology resonates strongly with the work of Greatbear.

The story focused on the work of Restart Project, a charity organisation who are encouraging positive behavioural change by empowering people to..

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

D-1 digital video transfer – new additions and economies of size

A recent addition to the Greatear digitising studio is a BTS D-1 digital video cassette recorder.

As revolutionary as it was at the time, early digital audio and video tape recording is more threatened with obsolescence than earlier analogue formats.

Introduced in 1986, D-1 was the very..

Posted by debra in video tape, video technology, machines, equipment, 1 comment

Digitising Audio Tape – Process, Time & Cost

Last week we wrote about the person time involved in transferring magnetic tape to digital files, and we want to tell you more about the processes involved in digitisation work.

While in theory the work of migrating media from one format to another can be simple, even the humble domestic cassette..

Posted by debra in audio tape, 2 comments