tape blog

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, 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

Great Bear Studio Visit – Archive for Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy

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

The Archive for Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy holds an extensive collection of audio and video recordings on subjects in mathematics, physics and..

Posted by debra in Audio 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 reel to reel video, 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 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 Great Bear.

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 Obsolescence, 1 comment

D1 digital video transfer – new additions and economies of size

A recent addition to the greatear digitising studio is a BTS D1 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, 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, tape machines, 2 comments

From digital files back to analogue tape

The bread and butter work of Great Bear Analogue and Digital Media is to migrate analogue and digital magnetic tape to digital files, but recently we were asked by a customer to transfer a digital file to ¼ analogue tape.

The customer was concerned about the longevity of electronic digital..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, quarter inch tape, 0 comments

Real time transfers – digitising tape media

In theory the work we do at Great Bear is very simple: we migrate information from analogue or digital magnetic tape to electronic digital files.

Once transferred, digital files can be easily edited, tagged, accessed, shared or added to a database. Due to the ubiquitous nature of digital media..

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

Archiving for the digital long term: information management and migration

As an archival process digitisation offers the promise of a dream: improved accessibility, preservation and storage.

However the digital age is not without its archival headaches. News of the BBC’s plans to abandon their Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which aimed to make the BBC media..

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

Digitising Ampex U-matic KCS-20 Video Tapes

We are currently digitising a collection of U-matic Ampex KCS-20 video tapes for Keith Barnfather, the founder of Reeltime Pictures.

Reeltime Pictures are most well-known for their production of documentaries about the BBC series Doctor Who. They also made Doctor Who spin-off films, a kind..

Posted by debra in Video Tape, 2 comments

Digitise VHS Tape – Martin Smith’s Life Can Be Wonderful

In February 2013 we digitised a VHS tape from Martin Smith, the 1994 documentary Life Can Be Wonderful. The VHS tape was the only copy of the film Smith owned, and it is quite common for Great Bear to digitise projects where the film maker does not have the master copy. This is because original copies..

Posted by debra in VHS Transfer, 0 comments

Digitising & Restoring Personal Archives – 1/4 inch reel to reel audio tape

In today’s digital society most people have an archive. On personal computers, tablets and mobile devices we store, create and share vast amounts of information. We use archives to tell others about our lives, and the things that are important to us.

Gone are the days when archives were..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, Personal and Social History, quarter inch tape, 4 comments
Audio cassette transfer and Martin Parr’s The Non Conformists

Audio cassette transfer and Martin Parr’s The Non Conformists

We were recently sent a collection of recorded interviews with residents of Hebden Bridge, a mill town in the Pennines. They were recorded on regular, domestic tapes of the mid-1970s, the kind that were sold in shops such as Woolworths or WHSmith.

As magnetic cassette tapes go, these cheaper..

Posted by debra in Audio Tape, 0 comments

8 track cartridges and museum tour

8 track cartridges were a very popular domestic audio format in the United States, although there were also sold in the UK and Europe. The growth of the 8 track was synonymous with its use in car industry, as it allowed people to listen to music on the move.

Although phased out in the early..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 0 comments

Delivery formats – to compress or not compress

After we have migrated your analogue or digital tape to a digital file, we offer a range of delivery formats.

For audio visual these include Apple Quicktime /MOV in any codec, 10 bit uncompressed (recommended), AVI in any codec; any MacOS, Windows or GNU/Linux filesystem (HFS+, NTFS or EXT3);..

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