Videotape Archive Storage Tips and Conversion Ideas
I have some 200 plus tapes and digital material of all kinds stored, waiting for conversion. The formats include VHS, SVHS, Beta, 3/4, mini-DV, for starters. More tapes come in from our partners and various projects that also include these and other formats all the time.
The VHS tapes are perhaps the easiest to deal with, I have a Panasonic deck with a VHS bay and a DVD bay. It will either record on a VHS from a DVD or record on a DVD from the VHS bay. It is easy to put in a VHS tape (make sure it is rewound all the way or at least to the point you want to start recording), and then a blank DVD in the DVD archive storage essex
Then you just push a button down for 3 seconds and the unit will start recording automatically. I usually tell it to finalize rather than allow additional tapes to be added, it’s a lot less confusing when archiving when you only have one tape recorded on the disc.
Tape alignment problems can’t be corrected on this machine, I have had several tapes with this problem, so I’ll have to take them to someone else to transfer, who can adjust the alignment of the tape heads. I believe this deck plays SVHS, so that is not an issue for me. Many VHS decks don’t play that format well.
Damaged tapes are a problem, but many can be fixed if you know how, but you must be careful, you can ruin a tape totally. Take them to an expert before attempting opening them. I can fix a cassette tape with a bit of Scotch tape carefully applied, but that strategy can possibly gum up your heads, better to use professional grade repair tape.
Storing tapes is a challenge, and not everyone can afford a dehumidifier or the large amount of electricity they consume. A low-tech but effective way to preserve tapes is to buy those plastic storage boxes and then seal the tapes in with a bag of material that removes moisture, you can even use charcoal I understand. The challenge is that when you access the tapes, you let moisture in, so you must dry the material in your oven or something before putting it back in. Having a device that measures humidity is very important, and many museums keep the humidity at 50 percent.
If you have a master tape that is damaged for one reason or another, it can be “baked” by a professional company. I believe they bring it to 200 degrees for 20 min or so and it somehow restores the tape. Don’t try this at home!
Keep tapes well away from any magnetic devices such as TVs, speakers, anything that remotely could generate damaging rays.
Most cities have a business that will transfer your tapes for about $25 each to AVI, the best format if you want to edit. They can make a data DVD for you so you don’t have to decode DVD to edit it, which is not a big deal, it just depends on what you want.
If you don’t plan to edit, but just watch the footage, DVD is fine. Also, there are rumors that DVDs deteriorate faster than supposed, it’s possible, depending on the quality of the disc. Some are putting very valuable footage on crystal discs (or at least gold) and stashing them in safe deposit boxes, crystal discs last virtually forever.