Greetings, Digital Citizens! Welcome to Digital Revolution's new blog!
Mile End Films is making a documentary about actor Burt Reynolds and asked us to perform video tape transfers and media preservation for seven 3/4" Umatic Tapes. These tapes were particularly old and several had some mold build-up from being stored in a damp environment. With 3/4" Umatic tapes dating back more than 30 years Digital Revolution performs the following preparation: Bake, Hand Clean, and Transplant the tape reels into fresh 3M Broadcast Color Plus shells. All of these procedures need to be done carefully and thoughtfully. In the case of moldy tapes we use gloves, a mask and hand clean the entire tape with an alcohol cloth.
-Baking gets the moisture out of the tape so that it doesn't stick in the machine or rip oxide off of as it is played.
-Since oxide based tapes decompose relatively quickly, cleaning them keeps the machine playback heads from clogging and makes for a more residue free transfer. Alcohol acts as a good cleaner and kills mold.
-3M Broadcast Color Plus tape shells are made of all plastic non-moving parts so the tape tracks properly in them. We have them in stock as part of our transfer tools. Other tape shells have moving parts and springs that can dry out over time and cause poor tracking during playback.
The client's file format preference was Pro Res 422HQ. They were happy with our first set of digitized tapes. They had been having transfers done in other parts of the country as well. We told them to send us all of their “hopeless” tapes. They did. Two dozen more ¾” Umatics, all of them with severe moisture or mold build up. The programs were of particular interest to the filmmaker and included The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show, Awards Shows, Riverboat, Love American Style, Burt Reynolds late night shows etc.
The tapes spanned 1977-1983 and were manufactured by various companies including Sony, 3M and DuPont. Some of the tapes we had to bake longer than normal and hand clean several times because of the excessive mold & moisture. However, we were able to get all of them to playback except for the two DuPont Tapes. There were many companies that went into and out of the video tape manufacturing business over four decades. Our experience tells us that Sony, Fuji, Maxell, 3M (Scotch), Ampex & Quantegy last the longest.
Keep your eyes peeled for this upcoming documentary. It should be very entertaining!
For more information on how Digital Revolution can help preserve your media archive, contact me personally: Paul Grippaldi - firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-398-1200