Recovery of older problematic video tapes cannot be rushed or they may be damaged permanently. Tapes can have a unique set of problems so a specific plan must be formulated that absolutely protects them as well as recover as much of the information that is possible.
- Playback of the tape grinds to a halt - Sticky Tape Syndrome.
Older tapes often have degradation of the the binder, begin to dry out and shed as it plays, clogging the playback heads and often sticking to itself. We usually can process these tapes for a very limited playback time period while capturing them to a hard drive.
- Water contamination - Either environmental or direct exposure.
We have recovered tapes from floods, hurricanes that have been submerged more than 3 weeks with a 99% recovery rate.
- Mold - Usually caused by extremely poor storage conditions.
Mold damaged tapes can clog the VCR playback heads and contaminate the area. The cassettes and reels are often replaced with new ones as well as the tape itself is throughly cleaned before any playback attempt is made.
- Damaged/Melted cassette/reel or broken tape
Recovery of fire damaged tapes usually requires breaking open the cassettes replacing both reels with new ones and transferring the unmelted portions of the tape. We have restored numerous tapes that were mere blobs of plastic. The tape cassette often melts over the reels and the enclosed tape thus providing some protection.
- Video problems - Over saturated colors or tracking problems.
- Audio problems - Weak, noisy or distorted.
- Discontinued Formats - Betamax, Reel-to-Reel, 3/4", etc.
We have several professional decks that represent the best ever made of a particular format. These are maintained on a regular basis by professional engineers so the quality of the playback and subsequent digital capture and encoding is the absolute best possible. Reel-to-Reel tapes, from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s are usually extremely hard to play and we have a few of the pre EIAJ era decks which are extremely rare. Recovery and enhancing footage from video artists of over 40 years ago, documenting events and people and letting them live again.
- All International Standards Supported - NTSC, PAL, SECAM.
- Conversions between Standards - NTSC files from PAL tapes, etc.
Restoration of older video tapes can take on many forms, some of the steps we do:
Depending on desired resolution of videos (SD or HD) we use a variety of dedicated hardware devices, mostly from Grass Valley or Blackmagic Design. Using the best playback decks for a particular format insures absolutely the best quality transfer. All the footage is further stabilized by using a TBC (Time Based Corrector) and greatly reduces age related anomalies. Since in many cases this may be the last time these tapes will be able to playback successfully it is so important to use the very best dedicated hardware to convert the analog video/audio into a proper digital format. We have several dedicated hard drives for capture and regularly backup all footage several times a day.
Once the footage is on a hard drive, much can be done with both the video and audio. Often details in dark shadows can be opened up somewhat revealing information that was perhaps hidden until now. Colors can be corrected, even when the original recording was way off, green faces can now resemble the humans that they belong to!
Many videos included multiple gaps and other undesired moments, these can be eliminated for a much more pleasant viewing experience.
Sometimes it seems audio is often neglected when restoring videos. But very often the audio is so important giving the people and events their important context.
We have a suite of software dedicated to improving both the video and audio and have restored many moments that were recorded but never were properly seen or heard before.