tape blog

From digital files back to analogue tape

The bread and butter work of Greatbear 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, 0 comments

Real time transfers – digitising tape media

In theory the work we do at Greatbear 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 video tape, 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, 14 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 video, using the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings, as our guide, we deliver FFV1 lossless files..

Posted by debra in audio tape, digitisation expertise, video tape, 0 comments
VHS / Hi8 video tapes digitised for The Great Hip Hop Hoax

VHS / Hi8 video tapes digitised for The Great Hip Hop Hoax

For a while now we’ve been working with film maker Jeanie Finlay on various projects, digitising archive video footage in varying tape formats and standards.

Her latest project, soon to be premiered in the US:
…is a film about truth, lies and the legacy of faking everything..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 0 comments

digitising tape issues

The main work of Great Bear is to make analogue and digital tape-based media accessible for people living in a digital intensive environment. But once your tape-based media has been digitised, is that the end of the story? Do you never need to think about preservation again? What issues arise for..

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

Collection of obsolete of audio and video tape machines for digitisation

Over a several years, Greatbear has been collecting and restoring old audio and video tape machines. By trawling through the online car boot sale that is ebay, or travelling round the country to visit real ones, the collection has built up over time and now constitutes over seventy working machines..

Posted by debra in video tape, 1 comment

Digitising U-matic tape: Diagnosing & Treatment

We have recently completed a job for Quarry Faces, the Mendip Hills Community Heritage Project which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Quarry Faces gave us 20 U-matic video tapes that were commissioned for a corporate video in the 1980s.

The Quarry Faces project aims to tell the..

Posted by debra in video tape, 0 comments

The Grain of Video Tape

From U-matic to VHS, Betacam to Blu Ray, Standard Definition to High Definition, the formats we use to watch visual media are constantly evolving.

Yet have you ever paused to consider what is at stake in the changing way audio-visual media is presented to us? Is viewing High Definition film..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 0 comments

Nakamichi 680 Discrete Head Cassette Deck and Music & Liberation

In 2012 Greatbear digitised a selection of audio and audio-visual tape for the Heritage Lottery Funded exhibition, Music & Liberation.

The first job was to migrate a short film by a feminist film making collective called Women in Moving Pictures who were based in Bristol in the early 1980s…

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

video machine room equipment racks / patchbay rewire

With the work we are involved with we have to use, keep working and store a large amount of old and usually large tape machines and other electronics. With a couple of machines it’s easy to store and easy to connect but as you grow and the variety and scope of machines develops it can soon become..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 0 comments

video tape obsolescence – spares supplies disappearing

Greatbear protects tape-based analogue and digital media from the wave of obsolescence faced by these formats. The speed of technological change in the 20th and 21st centuries has been, and continues to be, breathtaking. Consider the amount of tapes and machines that have been made since the invention..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 8 comments

VHS-C and full size VHS (NTSC and PAL)

‘We’re not sure what on here’ is a common phrase used by customers who send tape to the Greatbear. Spurred on by curiosity or creative necessity, they contact us to help them solve the mystery.

This is exactly what documentary film maker Jeanie Finlay did when she sent us..

Posted by debra in video tape, 0 comments

greatbear at work

A selection of images from the Greatbear engine room on a typical day at the office.

Repairing, cleaning, baking, testing, sorting and transferring are our daily bread. The work is done to the backdrop of miscellaneous audio and audio-visual recordings ranging from early 1990s house music to..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, video tape, 0 comments
Digital Betacam tapes

Digital Betacam tapes

As well as analogue tape, at Greatbear we also migrate digital tape to digital files. Digital media has become synonymous with the everyday consumption of information in the 21st century. Yet it may come as a surprise for people to encounter digital tape when we are so comfortable with the seemingly..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 1 comment

Digitising Betacam SP video tapes

We have recently been digitising Betacam SP (‘superior performance’) video recordings, a cassette based component analogue format that is used extensively in the broadcast world. Betacam SP offered fantastic video and audio quality from its introduction in 1986, and a very similar digital..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 1 comment

Sony High Density V-60H video tape digitised for Comhaltas

We were recently contacted by Frank Whelan of the Comhaltas Regional Resource Centre who wanted us to digitise a recording of the Fleadh Cheoil traditional music festival in Buncranna, Co. Donegal in 1975.

Frank sent us an EIAJ ½ inch video that was recorded on a Sony High Density V-60H video..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 1 comment

Richard Lewis’ Tapes

At Greatbear we work on a range of digitising projects from national collections to personal one-offs. Today we received a ¼ inch open reel polyester and acetate based tape from Carmarthen based teacher Richard Lewis. The tapes are a good example of the types of personal material we are entrusted..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 0 comments

V2000 bad Frako capacitor in Grundig 2×4 Video 2000

Yet again bad capacitors have reared their electrolytic fluid! This time in a Grundig Video 2000 video tape player, or V2000.

Pictured above is a X2 mains film cap in the power supply of the video machine, made by Frako. This brand of capacitors are German and used in many Studer audio tape..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, video technology, machines, equipment, 2 comments

Sony V60H half inch reel to reel video archive baked and digitised

We’ve recently had an interesting archive of poorly stored and initially unplayable half inch, EIAJ, black and white video reels dating from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This format was commonly used in education and in industry and was much cheaper than the U-matic and one inch formats.

We..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 1 comment

broken DAT / degraded mouldy tape

Early tape based digital formats such as DAT, Tascam DTRS and ADAT, etc are often problematic now, partly with tape issues and also reliability and spares availability. In 20 or even 10 years time these machines will be much less serviceable than the analogue tape machines of the previous generation..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 1 comment

how to transfer video to dvd

So how do you do it?

Contact us, of course! No seriously, how to transfer video to dvd or any other digital format is a very simple concept but the reality can be pretty complex. As with much mature technology, the domestic video formats and machines were often made pretty straightforward..

Posted by greatbear in video tape, 0 comments

Repair Teac A3440 4 track Multitrack Reel to Reel

The Teac A3440 is a classic reel to reel tape recorder from the late 1970s, early ’80s significant in that you could use it to make 4 track multitrack recordings at 15 inches per second, the professional tape recording speed. At the time there was precious little else around at the price to..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, 6 comments

8 track cassette capstan motor Tascam 238 Syncaset

We specialise in tape transfers, many of which are multitrack cassette tapes.

Tascam, Fostex and Yamaha sold cassette multitrack recorders in the golden days of home recording in the 1980s and ’90s. The 4 track format was especially popular but an 8 track format was also developed that..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, 8 comments

copy tape to cd, convert video to dvd, is it a good thing?

Digital formats are great and the ease of access and distribution that an Audio CD and a Video DVD offers is fantastic at the moment with cheap players, recorders and personal computers. In the audio and video tape transfer business, getting your business website to rank well in the search engines..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 1 comment
Convert, Join, re encode AVCHD .MTS files in Ubuntu Linux

Convert, Join, re encode AVCHD .MTS files in Ubuntu Linux

One of our audio and video archive customers has a large collection of AVCHD video files that are stored in 1.9GB ‘chunks’ as xxxxx.MTS files. All these files are of 60 minute and longer duration and must be joined, deinterlaced, re encoded to a suitable size and bitrate then uploaded..

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

azimuth adjustment when you transfer and convert cassettes to cd

Cassette tapes run at a very slow speed of 17⁄8 inches per second (ips) with a very small track width of 1.59mm

Cassette decks when they left the factory or a service centre should have been aligned to a standard reference for the position of the record and play heads. Unfortunately they..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, 1 comment
repair of snapped DAT

repair of snapped DAT

We often get sent Digital Audio Tapes or DATs for transfer to .WAV computer files. As these recordings are already digital or ‘born digital’ the process should be straightforward. Our audio interface cards accept the SPDIF or AES digital audio stream from the DAT machine and record this..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 6 comments

Sony PCM 7030 DAT repair

We have several of these large, wonderful machines. It’s not often we need or want to get involved in DAT machine repair as generally they are not easy to service machines and many key transport parts are becoming unavailable. The Sony 7030 DAT though has been designed with easy servicing in..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, audio technology, machines, equipment, 4 comments

Tape baking of unreleased Shoes for Industry studio master

In amongst a batch of very mouldy quarter inch master tapes we were recently asked to look at was this unreleased recording by Shoes for Industry, the Bristol band on Fried Egg Records.

Like much late 1970s and ’80s studio recordings, this was recorded on Ampex branded tape that suffers..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 1 comment

Quarter inch reel to reel tape transfer of Jack Hawkins band archive

We were contacted recently by Jack Hawkins, the renowned arranger and band leader to consult on and digitise personal quarter inch open reel recordings of his band.

In case you don’t know, The Jack Hawkins band are probably best known for their performance of the track 30-60-90 made famous..

Posted by greatbear in audio tape, 0 comments