Video Tape recorders cannnot die.


TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

In its simplest form, Tape Archiving requires:-

1) Playback decks

2) Tape Cleaning Facilities

3) Tape Baking Incubator/Oven

4) Ingest Platforms

5) Storage

This article concentrates on what is often described as the weakest link, namely 1) above i.e. the Playback Decks and what could be another weak link, namely 2) i.e. Tape Cleaning Facilities. I have read several articles recently written in the belief that the playback of magnetic video tape will be all but dead in about 20 years due mainly due to lack of working VTRs this inspires me to do something about it.

I have spent my broadcasting career with my main focus on Video Tape Recording theory and practice having lectured for 22 years of which the bulk of that was at Ravensbourne College in Chislehurst, Kent in fact for 17 of those years. In parallel with this I have been running my small Business, Rogcon Broadcast Engineering, which focused on the repair, maintenance, hire and supply of decks supplying decks usually over periods of up to 3 years with full back up for repairs (and loan decks where possible)

For years now I have been preparing for being in a position to significantly extend the working life of Video Tape Recorders or to put it another way to be able to satisfy what I see as the inevitable requirement for Video tape playback facilities in the long term future.

DONT PANIC! I am not so mad that I predict a comeback of VCRs similar to the relatively recent Vinyl Record comeback, but I am determined to make a significant difference to the availability of working decks at the present and in the future.

I believe that this requires significant commitment not just financial in the worldwide search for what will inevitably be needed as listed below.

VTR DECKS we are slowly heading towards 300 examples and as you can imagine storage is a challenge.

SERVICE INFORMATION & TOOLS maintenance manuals (which were often never supplied in pdf form), extender cards, alignment tapes, good playback tapes which by necessity with use will deteriorate to poor playback tapes, new unused record tapes mainly to produce good playback tapes!, mechanical alignment jigs sometimes in the form of extremely expensive specialist Tool kits (example in photo) AND of course SPARES.

SPARES availability is a significant part of the challenge and is probably the biggest challenge of all. From the need for individual obsolete electronic components to complete head drums provides a whole range of challenges. It requires trying to predict what is needed, collecting as many new unused spares as possible, collecting the standard service replacement parts i.e. pinch rollers, head cleaning rollers, brakes, tension bands whilst at the same time developing techniques for the reconditioning of these items for the long term future (and keeping worn items for this purpose of course)

Re-manufacturing of these parts will be the long term future but of course is expensive although some common failure items can (and will be able to be) created using 3-D printers. There are still some Video Head Drum reconditioning suppliers mainly in the USA now doing an excellent job and I am working with them closely. Currently they are supply significant numbers of U-Matic reconditioned drums worldwide!

An example is that we have found that several examples of the Sony BVH-3000 series of 1 C-Format have a seized or partially seized drum which is caused by a casting made from what used to be called monkey metal changing shape so we are planning to get these made on a 3-D printer.

Although we have been working on VTRs for a long time now by far the bulk of our work has up until recently been on the recent current formats so there are significant mechanical (and electronic) challenges when something unfamiliar comes along e.g the Ampex DCT deck which I managed to obtain recently, described below.

What is DCT? well to quickly summarize, D1 is Digital Component (Sony); D2 is Digital Composite (Sony & Ampex); D3 is Digital Composite (Panasonic); D4 there is no D4 as it is an unlucky number!; D5 is Digital Component (Panasonic); D9 is Digital Component & Digital-S (JVC); Digital Betacam is Digital Component (Sony); DCT is Digital Component (Ampex)

The initial challenge with our AMPEX Model DCT700d DCT Deck was to get this 70kg/0.5kW beast into the workshop and on the bench! After careful inspection and declaring it safe to switch on standing at a distance of course we had safe start up with significant unfamiliar mechanical noise which then stopped with an Air Pressure failure on the very dim display. We then serviced the display which improved significantly and set about replacing the several pipes for the compressed air guides which was definitely a new experience. You will see the air pipes and compressor in photos (DCT compressor & DCTdeck lifted3) with the tape transport lifted, a useful feature of this deck (photo DCTdeck lifted1,2&3). The work is still ongoing.

There are a few very early 1/2 open Reel format decks monochrome and colour which we will be attempting to re-furbish in the near future see photo (half inch)

Finally there is a significant need in archiving for Tape Cleaning and Oven (Incubator) Baking facilities so I have obtained a good range of these for hire see photos (1inch Cformat cleaner, 2tape cleaners, half inch cassette cleaner(Sony), Umatic cleaner) , including a rare Panasonic D3/D5 tape cleaning machine (D3D5 cleaner and/or D3D5 cleaner closeup)

As a footnote we have Oven (Incubator) Tape Baking facilities and plan to have these available for hire if there is a demand.


Tags: iss128 | rogcon | vtr | achiving | betacam | ravensoburne | dct | ampex | dct700 | umatic | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Oxygen DCT at IBC2011

    Oxygen DCT at IBC2011

  • Thear Technology at BVE 2013

    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

  • Autocue at NAB 2012

    Autocue at NAB 2012

  • Thear Technology Limited at BVE 2012

    Thear Technology Limited at BVE 2012

  • Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

    Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

  • Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2012

    Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2012

  • Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2011

    Oxygen DCT at BVE North 2011


Articles
Using Wireless Transmission
Jeremy Benning Wireless acquisition is a staple of live sports, entertainment and reality shows where cable free capture permits shots not previously possible, for health and safety reasons, and gives the camera-operator greater artistic licence to roam. The same is increasingly true of narrative drama where cinematographers are keen to work handheld or Steadicam where that helps tell the story. Any equipment which frees their movement and time by being lighter, easier to use and reliable in performance is going to tick a lot of boxes.
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | Jeremy Benning
Contributing Author Jeremy Benning Click to read or download PDF
Giving Welsh sport a global audience
Adam Amor From the Ospreys Rugby Union team, to the Football Association of Wales, as well as national cycling, swimming and boxing coverage, Port Talbot based Buffoon Film and Media has been heavily involved in putting Welsh sports on the world stage.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | atem | buffoon | micro studio camera | Adam Amor
Contributing Author Adam Amor Click to read or download PDF
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
The brave new world of software based production
Boromy Ung In today’s rapidly evolving broadcast industry, the only constant media organizations can truly count on is change — and the need to adapt as rapidly and cost-effectively as possible. One of the biggest agents of change is the IP revolution, driving broadcasters to migrate their operations to all-software solutions running on commodity, IT-based technologies.
Tags: iss134 | chyronhego | graphics | sports | ott | Boromy Ung
Contributing Author Boromy Ung Click to read or download PDF
Protecting the continuity of transmission
Lorna Garrett Your viewers love you. You consistently bring them their preferred channels 24/7. They’ve come to rely on you for their viewing pleasure. They never miss cheering on their beloved sports teams. They’re the envy of their friends as they watch live concerts of their favourite bands. They gather the family around and catch up on their must-see shows. They don’t have a bad word to say about you.
Tags: iss134 | garland | gpl | streaming | artel | disaster recovery | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF