SimplyDV ends audio reel transfer service

In order to concentrate on doing what we do best, we’ve taken the decision to end our reel tape transfer service.

Image of a collection of studio master audio tapes in various sizes, including 10" NAB quarter-inch spools

A collection of studio master audio tapes in various sizes, including 10″ NAB quarter-inch spools

In addition to offering multiple format video transfers, which forms the core of our business, we have also been offering an audio transfer service here in Milton Keynes. For over three years we’ve facilitated the transfer to CD and digital file formats of 1/4″ reel-to-reel audio tape, standard audio-cassette and also MiniDisc and Micricassette. However, it’s proved to be a difficult service to offer alongside the video transfer business due to the constant attention demanded by ageing audio tape technology. In short, the cost of maintaining 35-year-old (and more!) tape machines is costing us more than the revenue we get from the transfers themselves, and as equipment becomes unserviceable at reasonable cost we are finding it difficult to maintain the service at all.

For that reason we have taken the decision to withdraw the facility completely. We’ll try to support existing customers where we can but regrettably we won’t be accepting new business with immediate effect. The reality is that keeping old analogue audio technology is expensive both in terms of replacement parts and the availability of the human skills required to keep these old beasts going properly.

It’s always disappointing to let people down when they have precious memories and valuable master tapes to preserve for posterity in digital form, and it’s a decision we haven’t taken lightly, but it’s something we have to do.

Apologies for this. However, if you need video transfer services you know where to come!

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More Broadcast TV specification equipment added

Some of our competitors will transfer your home video very, very cheaply. But ask yourself how – and why!

Image of Snell & Wilcox KUDOS TBC-11P Timebase Corrector

Our Snell & Wilcox KUDOS TBC-11P Timebase Corrector cleans up those dodgy off-tape recordings!

Believe it or not, there are people who will facilitate the transfer of your home video recordings to DVD for much less than reasonable pocket money. The secret is that they buy clapped out old video machines on eBay, hook a couple of cables into an old DVD recorder and present you with the results. But as we don’t want to give you nightmares we’ll leave it there.

Not at SimplyDV; we justify our prices by offering a professional result – and that means that off-tape video signals have to be properly stabilised and processed to ensure that the resulting digital video recording looks and sounds as you’d expect.

To that end, we’ve just acquired yet another bit of broadcast TV standard kit – a droolerific Snell & Wilcox KUDOS TBC-11P Timebase Corrector that not only strips and rebuilds the timebase and returns a sequence to broadcast TV spec but it also plays its part in reducing image noise too. It came from a regional TV broadcasting centre and was in use within 15 minutes of being installed today. It is helping to significantly stabilise and tidy up some very dodgy-looking off-tape VHS signals recorded over 25 years ago.

At SimplyDV we really do go that extra mile to ensure that our valued customers are happy bunnies!

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Restoring old David “Kid” Jensen DJ interview

Restoring and digitally archiving a 1978 Sony Half-inch EIAJ High Density videotape interview with the former BBC Radio One DJ.

Image of Sony AV3670 EIAJ Videotape recorder with image of David Kid Jensen on monitor

Restoring a 1978 Kid Jensen interview

The Sony half-inch EIAJ black & white format videotape reel contains an interview I did with BBC Radio One DJ David “Kid” Jensen at what was the British Rail Social Club, Bletchley, on 25th April 1978.

It was conducted just after what was a brief personal appearance by the then Radio 1 DJ. It was shot using a Sony 2nd-generation “Portapak” camera and portable recorder kit and later edited for transmission on the Milton Keynes local community cable TV channel called Channel 40. The 9-minute interview, conducted by yours truly when a producer at the station, contains Jensen’s insights into the changing role of the “DJ” at the time and also looks at how UK radio might develop in the coming decade.

The master file of the interview will join many others that have been digitised from analogue videotapes whose contents help to reflect the development of the new city and will be filed with the The Living Archive at Milton Keynes Museum, for whom SimplyDV has been archiving a large collection of videotape recordings.

The one big problem with virtually all videotapes of this format is that they suffer from the condition known as Sticky Shed Syndrome in which the tape becomes hydrolised due to age. This has the effect of sticking to the guides and replay heads of the videotape recorder as it attempts to wind the tape between the two spools. This can only be cured by heating the tape spool in a special oven at a constant temperature of 60 degrees celsius for many hours. This particular reel took over three days to cure – and then only temporarily.

Thankfully, it is now playable and has been converted to an Apple ProRes422 master video file in preparation for archiving.

Do you have 1/2″ EIAJ Helical Reel-to-Reel videotapes dating from the late 1960s and 1970s whose contents require saving? If so, don’t delay! Contact us for more information!

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Latest acquisition: a 1971 Sony CV-2100ACE videotape recorder

In order to meet at increasing demand for digitally archiving very early low-guage video formats we need old technology!

Image of reel of half-inch tape playing on a Sony CV2100CE videotape recorder dating from 1971

This working Sony CV2100CE helical scan VTR dates from 1971.

Our latest acquisition is a Sony CV-2100ACE 1/2″ Helical Helical Scan B&W EIAJ VTR (Video Tape Recorder) dating from 1971. This is the exact same model as the first videotape recorder I ever used as a student in Plymouth in 1973. It replays and records Sony EIAJ “Low Density” video tapes and what’s absolutely amazing about this machine is that it still works after being in storage at the University of Reading (UK) for over 30 years!

What we’re finding is that the very old reel-to-reel helical scan half-inch videotape reels is that in almost every instance the tape itself requires lengthy heat treatment – known as “tape baking” in order to restore the tape binder – the layer of glue that binds the magnetic recording layer to the polyurethane backing. Over time, this layer absorbs moisture and causes the tape to stick to the playback heads and create massive problems. This condition, known in the audio and video industry as Sticky Shed Syndrome which requires a lengthy baking of the tape dehydrate the tape in order to re-bind the two layers. In our recent experience, this can take up to four days to achieve before the tape can be laced up onto a VTR and played reliably without squealing like a pig!

Tape Baking is something that we offer as well, of course. Please contact us to discuss methods and prices.

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