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

May 13th, 2013

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 dusty, dark places where experts went to research esoteric knowledge. Archives are everywhere. They are dynamic, digital and personal, as well as being institutional, historical, corporate and civic.

The creation of personal archives is of course nothing new, but the digital age forces us to have a far more intimate relationship with information, and its organisation. Put simply, there is loads more information, and if it isn’t collected in a systematic way you may well drown in a sea of your own, not to mention everybody else’s, data. Maybe this is happening to you right now! If so, you need to embrace the archival moment and get your own collections in shape.

Part of this everyday information management is migrating archives stored on obsolete formats, such as the many different types of analogue and digital magnetic tape we work with at Great Bear. Digitising tape gives it new life, allowing it to be easily circulated, shared and used with today’s technologies.

A significant amount of the Great Bear’s work involves digitising the diverse collections people produce in their everyday working, creative and social lives.

Here are two recent digitisation projects which are a good example of our work.

Swansea Sound 1976

1/4 inch tape with water damage on the box

We were sent a number of ¼ inch reel to reel Scotch 3M tape ‘made for the BBC’ tape, recorded at the rate of 7 ½ inches per second from local radio station Swansea Sound in 1976. The tapes were all in good condition, although the boxes had some evidence of water damage. Over time the tension in the tape pack had also changed, so they required careful re-spooling before being played.

The recordings were fascinating to digitise because they communicated how little the format of radio programmes have changed since the late 1970s. Jingles, news reports, chat and music were all part of the show, and anyone familiar with BBC Radio 2 would certainly enjoy the recordings, that still seem to be played every Saturday morning!

Brian Pimm-Smith’s recording diaries and tape letters

A collection of Brian’s 1/4 inch tapes

Another collection was sent to us from Brian Pimm-Smith. Brian enthusiastically documented his life and work activities using a Uher open reel portable tape recorder which he acquired in 1963.  The box included many ¼ inch tapes that could record up to 10 minutes at 3 and ¾ inches per second. These tapes could also record up to 4 mono tracks at 10 minutes each, allowing for storage of up to forty minutes at a time. The main bulk of the collection is a series of spoken letters sent to and from Pimm-Smith and his parents, who between them lived in Britain, Pakistan, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Japan and Saudi-Arabia, but it also includes recordings of when Brian worked taking weather measurements for the British Antarctic Survey.

Some of the 1/4 inch tapes were marketed by companies such as Scotch and EMI specifically to be used as ‘voice letters’ that ‘links absent friends’. Despite this Pimm-Smith said that making such recordings was pretty rare, something ‘quite out there’ for most people. Brian’s mother nonetheless embraced the activity, as they shared correspondence back and forth between wherever they lived at the time.

Pimm 2

Voice Letters

The 1/4 inch tape boxes in themselves are a colourful record of international postage in the late 1960s. Sent from Pakistan, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan, the small boxes are plastered with stamps. The boxes were reinforced with sellotape to ensure the contents didn’t fall out (which is still stuck fast to the boxes, by the way, clearly demonstrating the surprising longevity of some forms of sticky tape). Pimm-Smith’s tapes are fascinating objects in themselves that bear the marks of travel through space in the form of postal stamp marks, and time, as they sit on the desk now in the Great Bear Studio.

Perhaps the most exciting and unique recording Brian has kept is the audio diary of his trip through the Sahara desert. For the trip Brian drove an early 70s Range Rover which had a cassette player-recorder, a technological device only available in Africa which used audio cassette tapes. This enabled him to document his impressions as he drove along. Brian describes how he had taken a portable typewriter with the intention of keeping a written diary, but he used the tape recorder because it was more ‘immediate.’ On hearing the digitised tapes Brian was amazed at how clear the recordings sound today, particularly because he was driving at the same time and there was likely to be background noise. You can hear the hum of the car engine in the extract below, but the voice is still clearly very audible.

http://www.thegreatbear.net/wp-content/uploads/blog-example-cassette-tape-1.mp3

Listen to Brian talk about problems with his tyre as he drove across the Sahara Desert in 1976

The stories Swansea Sound radio and Pimm-Smith’s collection tell are part of wider social histories. They tell us about communities and places, as well as the continuities of style in broadcast radio. They tell us how people used analogue tape recordings to document personal adventures and communicate with families who lived in different countries.

Both tapes are examples of the sheer diversity of personal, magnetic tape based archives that people have been keeping for years, and which we digitise at the Great Bear. Brian Pimm-Smith contacted Great Bear because he wanted to make his tapes accessible, and preserve them for future use. He is hoping one day to write a book from his many adventures and these recordings can now remind him not only of what he did, but how he felt in the moment he made them.

Audio cassette transfer and Martin Parr’s The Non Conformists

May 13th, 2013

1970s-audio-cassettes

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 tapes can often deteriorate at a fast rate because they were aimed at a mass consumer market, and therefore not made with longevity in mind. These tapes however were in excellent condition, and no issues arose in the digitisation process.

Here is what Susie Parr told us about the project behind the tapes, and the publishing plans for the material later this year. We were very happy to be part of a creative project that will enable the stories to be shown to new audiences because of digitisation.

‘In 1975 photographer Martin Parr moved to Hebden Bridge, a mill town in the Pennines, with some friends from art school in Manchester. In a project that was to last five years, he started photographing the area, documenting a traditional culture and way of life that were slowly declining. Susie Mitchell, who also lived in Hebden Bridge, wrote about the people and places that Martin photographed. Together they built up a record of the day to day lives of mill-workers, game-keepers, coal miners, hill-farmers and chapel-goers. As part of their research, Susie and Martin would tape record their conversations with some of the characters they met. Thirty years later, the elderly audio tapes have been digitised and the photographs and texts are going to be published by Aperture in a book called The Non Conformists. In September, an exhibition will open in London.’

Below is an audio snippet of one of the tapes. This is a raw unprocessed version, notice the tape hiss inherent in these types of recordings. Sympathetic noise reduction to reduce this type of noise, can be process on these file if necessary.

parr-cassette-oral-history-snippet-1975

8 track cartridges and museum tour

April 22nd, 2013

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 1980s as CDs became increasingly popular, the 8 track retains a cult following, as demonstrated by this video which takes a virtual tour around the 8 track museum in Dallas, Texas, USA.

At Great Bear we are equipped to transfer 8 track cartridges and NAB cartridges which were used primarily in professional contexts, such as to play jingles at radio stations.

 

Delivery formats – to compress or not compress

March 18th, 2013

Screenshot of software encoding a file to MP3 used at the Great Bear

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); DVCAM / miniDV and DVD.

For audio we offer Broadcast WAV (B-WAV) files on hard drive or optical media (CD) at 16 bit/44.1 KHz (commonly used for CDs) or 24 bit/96 KHz (which is the minimum recommended archival standard) and anything up to 24 bit / 192 Khz. We can also deliver access copies on CD or MP3 (that you could upload to the internet, or listen to on an ipod, for example).

Why are there so many digital file types and what distinguishes them from each other?

The main difference that is important to grasp is between an uncompressed digital file and a compressed one.

On the JISC Digital Media website, they describe uncompressed audio files as follows:

‘Uncompressed audio files are the most accurate digital representation of a soundwave, but can also be the   most resource-intensive method of recording and storing digital audio, both in terms of storage and management. Their accuracy makes them suitable for archiving and delivering audio at high resolution, and working with audio at a professional level, and they are the “master” audio format of choice.’

Why uncompressed?

As a Great Bear customer you may wonder why you need a large, uncompressed digital file if you only want to listen to your old analogue and digital tapes again. The simple answer is: we live in an age where information is dynamic rather static. An uncompressed digital recording captured at a high bit and KHz rate is the most stable media format you can store your data on. Technology is always changing and evolving, and not all types of digital files that are common today are safe from obsolescence.

It is important to consider questions of accessibility not only for the present moment, but also for the future. There may come a time when your digitised audio or video file needs to be migrated again, so that it can be played back on whatever device has become ‘the latest thing’ in a market driven by perpetual innovation. It is essential that you have access to the best quality digital file possible, should you need to transport your data in ten, fifteen or twenty years from now.

Compression and compromise?

Uncompressed digital files are sound and vision captured in their purest, ‘most accurate’ form. Parts of the original recording are not lost when the file is converted or saved. When a digital file is saved to a compressed, lossy format, some of its information is lost. Lossy compression eliminates ‘unnecessary’ bits of information, tailoring the file so that it is smaller. You can’t get the original file back after it has been compressed so you can’t use this sort of compression for anything that needs to be reproduced exactly. However it is possible to compress files to a lossless format, which does enable you to recreate the original file exactly.

In our day to day lives however we encounter far more compressed digital information than uncompressed.

There would be no HD TV, no satellite TV channels and no ipods/ MP3 players without compressed digital files. The main point of compression is to make these services affordable. It would be incredibly expensive, and it would take up so much data space, if the digital files that were streamed to televisions were uncompressed.

While compression is great for portability, it can result in a compromise on quality. As Simon Reynolds writes in his book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past about MP3 files:

‘Every so often I’ll get the proper CD version of an album I’ve fallen in love with as a download, and I’ll get a rude shock when confronted by the sense of dimension and spatiality in the music’s layers, the sculpted force of the drums, the sheer vividness of the sound. The difference between CD and MP3 is similar to that between “not from concentrate” orange juice and juice that’s been reconstituted from concentrate. (In this analogy vinyl would be ‘freshly squeezed, perhaps). Converting music to MP3 is a bit like the concentration process, and its done for much the same reason: it’s much cheaper to transport concentrate because without the water it takes up a lot loss volume and it weighs a lot less. But we can all taste the difference.’

As a society we are slowly coming to terms with the double challenge of hyper consumption and conservation thrown up by the mainstreaming of digital technology. Part of that challenge is to understand what happens to the digital data we use when we click ‘save as,’ or knowing what decisions need to be made about data we want to keep because it is important to us as individuals, or to wider society.

At Great Bear we can deliver digital files in compressed and uncompressed formats, and are happy to offer a free consultation should you need it to decide what to do with your tape based digital and analogue media.

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

March 1st, 2013

Silibil n' Brains on MTV

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 in the desperate pursuit of fame. The American dream, told by people who’d never even been to America.

We digitised a collection of VHS and Hi8 camcorder and full sized tapes and delivered Apple ProRes files for the edit.
See the trailer here:

www.hiphophoax.com / www.facebook.com/hiphophoax

digitising tape issues

January 25th, 2013

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 information management in the future, and how do they relate to our actions in the present?

This year (2013) the National Archives in the UK are facing a huge challenge as the ’20-year rule‘, in which the government will be releasing records when they are 20 years old, instead of 30, comes into effect. A huge part of this process is the digitisation of large amounts of material so they can be easily accessible to the public.

What does this have to do with the digitisation of tape you may be wondering? Well, mostly it provides food for thought. When you read the guidelines for the National Archives’ digitisation strategy, it raises many points that are worth thinking about for everyone living inside an information intensive environment, professional archivist or not. These guidelines suggest that many of the problems people face with analogue media, for example not being able to open, play or use formats such as tape, floppy disks  or even digital media, such as a cd-r, do not go away with the move toward wholesale digitisation. This is summed up nicely in the National Archive’s point about digital continuity. ‘If you hold selected digital records that are not yet due for transfer, you will need to maintain their digital continuity. This means ensuring that the records can be found, opened, understood, worked with and trusted over time and through change’. This statement encapsulates the essence of digital information management – the process whereby records are maintained and kept up to date with each technological permutation.

bnc bbc psf1/3 video cables

Later on in their recommendations they state something which may be surprising to people who assume that digitisation equates to some form of informational omnipotence: ‘Unlike paper records, digital records are very vulnerable and will not survive without active intervention. We cannot leave digital records on a shelf in an archive – they need active management and migration to remain accessible in the long term.’ These statements make clear that digital records are just as vulnerable as their analogue counterparts, which although subject to degrading, are in fact more robust than is often assumed.

What is the answer to ensuring that the data we create is usable in the future, is there an answer? It is clear on whatever format we choose to archive data there is always risk involved: the risk of going out of date, the risk of vulnerability, the risk of ‘not being able to leave them on the shelf’. Records, archives and data cannot, it seems, simply look after themselves. They have to adapt to their technological environments, as much as humans do.

Collection of obsolete of audio and video tape machines for digitisation

January 25th, 2013

Over a several years, Great Bear 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 and forty other machines that are used for spare parts and testing.

Amazingly, a good amount of the machines we have acquired have cost absolutely nothing: its all about having the canny knack of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. On several occasions we have been given fully functioning machines by film production houses who have been forced to make the latest technological transition because of changing industry standards. So what happens to these machines when their built-in obsolescence comes home to roost? They are either chucked in a skip, sold on ebay to a limited and sometimes lucrative market, or they are given to people like us who are continuing to make good use of them.

To  give you a picture of how quickly technological and, consequently, monetary value changes, consider this brief example. In 1991 the value of a Sony BVW D75 was $32,000 (or $52,037/ £32,920 in today’s money), but today it is worth absolutely nothing. Despite their lack of monetary value in today’s market economy, videotape machines from the 70s, 80s and 90s are exceptionally well made. They were built to last and were designed for heavy use in editing suites, where tape was freeze framed, rewound and played back again and again on a daily basis.

Yet as technology develops, there is no more need for the AMPEX BVW 75, Panasonic MII, Sony U-matic VTR BVU-800 and others like them. These machines become inoperable artifacts, casualties of a market and quality driven, technological evolution .

digitising u-Matic tape: Diagnosing & Treatment

January 25th, 2013

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 industry’s story, produce teaching materials for both educational purposes and general interest, and create an archive to preserve images and memories of quarrying over time.

This video we digitised was shot by Coloroll Films of Kilmarnock in 1985, and was delivered to us on u-matic tape. It features a giant walking crusher at Foster Yeoman’s Merehead Quarry (Torr Works).

Walking Crusher at Foster Yeoman Ltd’s Torr Works in 1985 from Quarry Faces on Vimeo.

The video tapes we were sent were high band recordings, rather low band and of very good quality. One AMPEX U-matic tape however was problematic as the tape shell / mechanism had degraded over time and needed careful hand rewinding and reshelling in a known good and newer cassette shell.

When faced with damaged tape, often people automatically assume it needs dehydrating, a process that forces the moisture out of the tape through stable, precise, low temperature baking. However if this is not what is wrong with the tape, dehydrating or ‘baking‘ as it is more commonly called, may in fact damage the tape. If you bake acetate tape that was commonly used in the 1950s and 1960s for example, it would be destroy it.

An oven used for baking tape

Ampex filed for a patent for the correct temperature to recover Ampex tapes. The patent referred to “a typical temperature used is 54’C. and a typical effective time is 16 hours”.

The simple truth is, there is no all encompassing answer to know what happens to tape when it degrades, or when the cassette shell mechanism malfunctions, and each tape that is sent to us is of course individual. Digitisation and the art of restoring old tape is a relatively new area, and no one has yet made a machine that is able to precisely diagnose what is wrong with each individual tape when problems occur. Is the tape suffering from sticky shed syndrome or binder hydrolysis, or is it ‘vinegar syndrome’, a condition which afflicts acetate tape? Only through careful diagnostic work, which at Great Bear includes using our range of in-house test tapes, can the correct remedy be found.

The Grain of Video Tape

January 8th, 2013

videotek-vtm-waveform-monitor-display

From U Matic to VHS, Betacam to Blu Ray, Standard Definition to High Definition, the formats we use to watch visual media is 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 and television always a better experience than previous formats? What is lost when the old form is supplanted by the new?

At Great Bear we have the pleasure of seeing the different textures, tones and aesthetics of tape-based Standard Definition video on a daily basis. The fuzzy grain of these videos contrasts starkly with the crisp, heightened colours of High Definition digital media we are increasingly used to seeing now on television, smartphones and tablets.

This is not however a romantic retreat to all things analogue in the face of an unstoppable digital revolution, although scratch the surface of culture and you will find many people are.

At Great Bear we always have one foot in the past, and one foot in the future. We act as a conduit between old and new media, ensuring that data stored on older media can continue to have a life in today’s digital intensive environments.

 

 

Nakamichi 680 Discrete Head Cassette Deck and Music & Liberation

January 8th, 2013

In 2012 Great Bear 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. The film shows how the Bristol Women’s Music Collective were using feminism to politicise music making and includes footage music workshops, group performances interspersed with self-defence classes and intimate conversations.

Film still in colour. Woman playing a saxophone.

Film still from ‘In Our Own Time’

Several copies of the film had been stored in the Feminist Archive South, including the master copies. Out of curiosity the u matic copy was initially digitised, before the original was migrated to high definition digital format.

Picture of a group women singing and playing guitar

Film Still from ‘In Our Own Time’

Another job digitsed a series of rare recordings on tape, donated by Maggie Nicols. This included rare footage of the pioneering Feminist Improvising Group, whose members included Sally Potter, Georgina Born and Lindsay Cooper. One of the tapes was originally recorded at half speed, a technique used to get more recording time. We used the Nakamichi 680 Discrete Head Cassette Deck to play back the tapes at the correct speed to ensure the highest quality transfer.

We also digitised a series of tapes from the open improvisation collective Maggie co-founded in 1980, Contradictions. This included the performance ‘Madness in a Circle’ and many other creative experiments.

Music & Liberation re-opens at Space Station Sixty-Five in London for the last four days of its UK-wide tour on 10 January, so if you want to listen to the music or watch the films make sure you catch it.

 

video machine room equipment racks / patchbay rewire

December 29th, 2012

greatbear video racks

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 a wiring and space nightmare.

Racks and patchbays are the answer and the time’s come to rewire our racks as many new / old machines have joined our collection as has different types of digitising work. Key to this is the need to accurately monitor and digitise several sources while having the flexibility to change the workflow quickly whenever.

Richard from westent is providing support in this video redesign and it will be an interesting challenge mixing the old with the new to get the highest quality transfers with the most efficiency.

video tape obsolescence – spares supplies disappearing

December 14th, 2012

Great Bear 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 of magnetic recording tape by Valdemar Poulson in 1894. Since then, the drive for efficiency and better quality has fueled the development of numerous formats which become eclipsed as each new product hits the market.

Close up of a V-MAG Head off an AMPEX 1" Machine

Close up of an individual V-MAG Head off an AMPEX 1″ Machine

Obsolescence for video tape is an issue for a number of reasons. Firstly the knowledge of how to repair older video machines is disappearing: as technology changes, people are no longer trained in the maintenance of such technology.

Another crucial issue is the lack of spare parts. For video tape machines, the most sought after parts are often drum heads. Video drum heads are difficult and expensive to make, they can’t be refurbished and there is no market for them, which makes them rare and sought after.

The nature of recording an audio signal is different from recording a video signal. Because of this,  video heads and the video tape transport had to be designed in a different way to audio heads. Audio drum heads are in fact easier to make and they can also be ‘relapped‘ (a sophisticated form of sanding down), so it is a fairly straightforward process to refurbish them.

Because of the specific problems facing video tape obsolescence we have to rely on ‘New Old Stock’, although sometimes it is possible to use parts from scrap machines. These are however less reliable because the drums heads are part of a mechanical process and if used extensively, they will inevitably be worn down.

Betacam Head Drum

Betacam Head Drum

One company – Video Magnetics Inc – remake video drum heads and specialize in the repair and alignment of Betacam SP, Digital Betacam, Betacam SX, DVCAM and DVC PRO recorders, cameras, camcorders and dockables. They do not however cover all the machines we use at Great Bear.

Luckily we are well stocked up with lots of spare parts, mainly through careful collecting with an eye to work in the future.

U-matic Head Drum

U-matic Head Drum

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

December 7th, 2012

‘We’re not sure what on here’ is a common phrase used by customers who send tape to the Great Bear. 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 VHS-C and full size VHS tapes that were used in her forthcoming film The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013).

Jeanie wanted us to deliver her digital files as Quicktime Pro Res files, an apple codec often used in professional film production because it offers a good compromise between quality and data size.

We are also digitising material for another of Jeanie’s films, ORION, which is currently in production. ORION is the story of Jimmy Ellis, an unknown singer, who was plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight as part of an audacious scheme that had him masquerade as Elvis back from the grave.

We have a series of US NTSC US VHS tapes to digitise for the film which includes copies of out takes, interviews and concert footage of Orion. The tapes were sent to us by the official (and only) Orion fan club based in Norway.

greatbear at work

December 7th, 2012

audio digitizing workstation

A selection of images from the Great Bear 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, ethnomusicological field recordings, corporate archives and everything else in-between.

Nakamichi audio cassette digitising rack at the Great Bear

Studer A 80 Master Studio with tapes waiting to be digitised

Studer A 80 Master Studio

 

Digital Betacam tapes

December 7th, 2012

As well as analogue tape, at Great Bear 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 formless circulation of digital information on computers, at the cinema, on televisions, smartphones, tablets and other forms of mobile media. It is important to remember that digital information has a long history, and it doesn’t need to be binary or electronic – abacuses, Morse code and Braille are all examples of digital systems.

Digital Betacam tapes were launched in 1993 and superseded both Betacam and Betacam SP. Betacam remains the main acquisition and delivery format for broadcasting because there is very little compression on the tape. It is a very reliable format because it has a tried and tested mature transport mechanism.

Sony Digital Betacam video tape

While Digital Betacam is a current broadcast format, technology will inevitably move on – there is often a 10 year lifespan for broadcast media, as the parent company (SONY in this case) will cease to support the playing machines through selling spare parts.

We were sent some Digital Betacam tapes by Uli Meyer Animation Studios who are based in London. Uli Meyer make 3 and 2 D commercials, long and short films and TV commercials. 5-10 years ago the company would have had Digital Betacam machines, but as technology develops it becomes harder to justify keeping machines that can take up a lot of physical space.

Sony J-3 digital betacam SDI playback machine

Workflow in broadcasting is also becoming increasingly ‘tape less’, making digital tape formats surplus to requirements. Another issue facing the Digital Betacam is that it records information in Standard Definition format. With broadcasters using High Definition only, the need to transfer digital information in line with contemporary technological requirements is imperative for large parts of industry.


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