Now we transfer Half-Inch Helical Scan EIAJ videotapes to digital formats

Getting that “old video recorder look” in software? No – we have the reel thing!

How funny – we’ve just received an email from Pixel Studios promoting a plugin for Final Cut Pro X (video editing software) called “ProVTR” which enables editors to turn their pristine, perfect HD video footage into something that looks like it’s played off an old video tape recorder.

Image of Sony AV3670E half-inch EIAJ videotape recorder in our state-of-the-art video digitising facility

One of our Sony AV-3670ACE half-inch helical scan VTRs

Why would we need that? Here at SimplyDV Towers we actually have the reel thing!!!

Here’s the latest acquisition – a Sony AV-3670ACE 1/2″ EIAJ-format Helical Scan VTR (videotape recorder) dating from 1973 and just serviced – one of two picked up from a man called Peter who has the very rare ability to restore these 40-year-old machines to good working order.

Look at the image more closely and you’ll see this very old piece of technology rubbing shoulders with the very latest new technology (a Blackmagic Design Teranex 2D proccessor) designed to improve and digitise video recordings. These two items of equipment have an age difference of 42 years! Truly, the old meets the new in order to perform a job that for many is a “once and for all” exercise.

Image of a reel of Sony 1/2" V60H EIAJ Helical Video Tape dating from 1978

A reel of Sony 1/2″ V60H EIAJ Helical Video Tape from 1978

By the way, those of you involved in the local Milton Keynes arts scene will be interested to see the label on the videotape – “Linford Festival 1978”. I didn’t shoot it even though I was working with the Milton Keynes cable TV station at the time, although it’s possible that I was there at the time. I can’t run it yet because the tape hasn’t played since then and will need baking for at least 24 hours at 60c to de-hydrolise it. I can’t wait to see it after all these years.

About the EIAJ Half-Inch Helican Scan “High Density” video recording format

This recording format was developed jointly by several main video brands in the 1960s and designed to give schools, colleges, businesses, military establishments and government agencies the ability to record and replay monochrome (black & white) video recordings at economical cost – at least compared to the technology used by broadcast TV companies at the time. Sony’s “High Density” format was the second format to be based upon half-inch monochrome technology, and was developed according to a specification agreed by the Electrical Industry Association of Japan (EIAJ) as a means of gaining interoperability between major manufacturers’ systems.

When used in combination with a second machine, the Sony AV-3670ACE recorder was capable of editing video sequences by re-recording clips supplied to it by the other VTR in playback mode and cutting clips together with minimal vertical sync interference.

What can we do for you?

If you have V30H or V31H reel-to-reel Sony half-inch videotapes dating from the 1970s that require transfer and conversion to a digital file format (DVD, MPEG-4/H.264 file, Apple ProRes422, 10-bit Uncompressed YUV 422 Quicktime, 8-bit Quicktime, Windows AVI, etc) for delivery back to you on DVD, hard drive, USB stick, etc., then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Colin at SimplyDV to discuss your requirements.


Please note that all old reels of the above will almost certainly not be fit to play when we first receive them. That’s because the tapes need a lengthy heat treatment process to fix the binder layer in the tape and to render them playable. Without this, our rare and precious machinery will be damaged. We there include the price of baking the tape in the total cost.

Price per transfer: £30.00 plus VAT per tape*. This excludes the cost of transfer media – such as hard drive, USB stick, etc., which is subject to separate quotation. Note that discounts will apply to transfer orders in excess of 10 units.

*Per hour of recorded material to be transferred. V62H reels run to approximately 60 mins, and V60H runs to approximately 40 mins. Please note that due to the amount of work involved in preparing EIAJ 1/2″ tapes for reproduction there is a minimum charge of £30.00 + VAT.

Credit where credit is due: Many thanks to Peter Smith of Crawley, Surrey, for the refurbs to these machines. Don’t retire Peter!

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