Helping to write “The History of DJ” for DMC

SimplyDV is helping to tell the story of the DJ by creating new ProRes422 master files from DMC’s archive recordings.

Image of Sony BVU-SP U-Matic video recorder and Apple computer capture suite

Digitising 1980s BVU-SP U-Matic archive video footage for DMC

Through the Summer months of 2014 SimplyDV’s Colin Barrett has been overseeing the job of creating Quicktime ProRes422 HQ digital video files from an assortment of master videotapes that have been in the archive of DMC (the Disco Mix Club) since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The 3/4″ BVU, BVU-SP, Betacam, Betacam-SP and Digital Betacam format master tapes contain original broadcast-quality recordings of the now infamous DMC World DJ Mixing Championships that have taken place since 1986. The contest, which now takes place all over the world, was started by DMC’s founder and former Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Prince, and it’s to his credit that DMC is now considered to have played a vital role in the development of DJ mixing.

When creating a series of retrospective video programmes, of course, it’s necessary to have all of the required source footage in a form that can be edited on today’s computer-based systems. With editing being undertaken on Apple Mac systems and using Final Cut Pro X software, DMC’s production team required the best quality transfers of the analogue composite and component formats possible. That’s where SimplyDV came in.

A mix of old and new video technology

SimplyDV’s operations rely on an intriguing mix of old 1970s, 1980s and 1990s legacy video technology and the latest digital video capture and editing hardware and software.

This is currently being employed in the process of creating the Quicktime ProRes422 (HQ) video files from the latest batch of 30+ U-Matic source tapes with two videotape players dating from the 1980s; our trusty Sony VO-9850P and BVU-950P U-Matic SP players have been assigned to the task of playing in the source tapes to a G2 MSTC timebase corrector (video) and Soundcraft EP8 production mixer (audio) prior to be fed as Component Video to a BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro digital processing system. The resulting ProRes422 files are captured with a Thunderbolt-equipped Apple Mac using BlackMagic’s Media Express software before being written to an assortment of hard drives for supply to DMC in Maidenhead, Bucks (UK).

Great quality despite age!

What’s immediately noticeable from the playback of the master tapes – which range of camera source tapes recorded at the events to edited master tapes on BVU-SP, Beta-SP and DigiBeta – is just how well the quality has been preserved after a quarter of a century in boxes in an archive room! The VTRs have been providing a fabulous quality tape playback and we’re very pleased with the results in their new digital form.

Some of the digitised sequences already supplied to DMC’s Video Producer, John “Cutmaster” Swift (himself a former DMC World DJ Mixing champion) and Director Tony Prince and can be seen in Part 2 of History of DJ – The DMC Story here:

For more information on DMC’s ever-increasing digital video archive, see their website.

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