Vintage Video Tape Services

My goal these last few years, has been to be at least a small part of preserving our video history.

To that end, I have been gathering the best examples I can find of vintage tape machines and spare parts for them.

I can transfer any of these to either DVD, Betacam SP, Digital Betacam, DVCam, DVCPro or mini-DV. 
I also have a Final Cut Pro system, so I can digitize any of the formats I have to your external hard drive in about any compression format from DV25 up to 10 bit uncompressed.        

The following are the formats that I can transfer for you.  I've recently added a few "new" ones: 1/2" reel to reel EIAJ, 1/2" reel to reel Sony CV "skip field", 4:2:2 component digital D-1, Digital Betacam, Betacam SX, DVCPro, DVCam, 8mm digital and composite digital D-3.

2" quadruplex video tape

This is the "big daddy"...the original way to record live video. Invented in 1956, this professional only format lasted well into the 80's. Lot's of these recordings are still around, but the machines to play them are almost extinct. There were a few flavors of this format...the original low band monochrome,  then, a brief period of low band color, and the later, more common, high band color recordings. I can handle all of these. I have a stable of four RCA TR-70s and a couple of Ampex AVR-2's.

EIAJ 1/2" reel to reel

The first standardized format for industrial/non-broadcast video recorders.  It was introduced in 1969 and was used quite a bit in industrial and educational applications until the arrival of the cassette based 3/4" U-Matic. I remember a lot of college video projects being done in this format.  Wouldn't you love to see those today! 

3/4" U-Matic

This cassette type format used 3/4" tape in a plastic shell...much like a very large VHS tape. This format arrived in the early 70's as an industrial video format. It was also briefly marketed as a home recorder.

This format also signalled the end for film in television news, as a "portable" U-Matic and a "minicam" were a practical alternative to film. It's reign lasted from the mid 70's into the late 80's. There must still be millions of these tapes out there, but the machines to play them on are vanishing. I have the last generation Sony BVU-950 for this duty...featuring drop out compensation and time base correction. This machine will also play the later variant of U-Matic...the "SP" version using metal tape.

1" Type C

This reel to reel format replaced quadruplex in professional video. Its ability to do slow motion and still frames and its sheer editing speed made it "the" format for high end production from the very early 80's until well into the 90's. Lot's of material is still out there on 1" tape. I've found that it also holds up very well over time, and many 25 year old recordings will still play like the day they were made. I use the ultimate analog recorder for transfers here...the Ampex VPR-3 with the Zeus video processor. These machines make beautiful pictures, and I have enough spare machines, heads and parts to probably transfer every remaining recording out there. If you've got one tape, or a whole library, I can handle it.

M-II

This 1/2 inch component analog cassette format was Panasonic's answer to Sony's Betacam. It did not attain the wide distribution of Betacam, but was actually a pretty decent format quality-wise.

There were M-II recorders and players available that mirrored Sony's line of Betacam products...everything from dockable field recorders to full-blown studio editing recorders and players. The Panasonic AU-65H is considered by many to be the high point of M-II evolution and that is what I use to transfer M-II material.

D-1 4:2:2 component digital

D-1 is considered the first major professional digital video format.  Introduced by Sony and Bosch in 1986, it uses a unique 3/4" cassette, all it's own.  It records standard definition component video in an uncompressed form, and is known for it's superb image quality.  This was a very high-end production format, usually major markets, and as such, these complex, expensive machines were not produced in high numbers.  I just recently acquired an example of the last of the breed...a Sony DVR-2100.  My machine has the serial digital output option...making it possible to go directly to digital betacam or to Final Cut Pro completely in the digital realm.

D-2 composite digital

This cassette format briefly reigned in the early 90's in high end post production. It's an uncompressed digital process, using 3/4" metal tape in a shell vaguely resembling U-Matics. It's an amazing format, and I think it still has no equal in recording composite analog NTSC video. These machines were big and heavy, and like in many things, "big and heavy" means "good". I have some very big and very heavy iron here....the Ampex VPR-300, along with a Sony DVR-10 and a couple of Sony DVR-2 portables.

D-3 composite digital

This uncompressed composite digital 1/2" cassette tape format was introduced by Panasonic in 1991 as a lower cost alternative to D-2.  Panasonic made a line of D-3 camcorders as well, so there are probably quite a few of these tapes around.

VHS and S-VHS

VHS will outlast us all.....and every now and then, you need to get something from it. The way to go here is JVC...a BR-S822U to be exact. This is a professional editing deck with time code, drop out compensation and time base correction. I can even do a component dub to betacam from this deck. It also records and plays the metal tape version of the format....S-VHS, which saw a good bit of service in the industrial video arena.

8mm analog video tape

This small cassette format gained some traction in the industrial/professional video market when it first appeared. There are still some consumer camcorders out there that use it. I use a Sony EVO-9850 editing deck which features time base correction, drop out compensation and digital noise reduction.

Betamax

Yep, betamax....the original home format. Sony made so many variations on this theme, it's hard to keep track. Toward the end of its run, Sony made a professional betamax deck...built like a tank and plays (and records too, if you're really into it!) all the various speeds and incarnations of Betamax. I run this through an Ampex TBC-6 for drop out compensation and time base correction. It's amazing just how good some of these old betamax recordings look on this setup.