View Full Version : 3/4 inch video to digital
February 19th, 2007, 11:29 AM
Let me try this again (Please delete the other post):
I would like to convert an old college production---shot on 3/4-inch SP Videotape---to digital so I can author a DVD. I will be using my Canopus ADVC300 converter. I believe I can get my hands on a 3/4-inch tape deck, specifically the "Sony 5850."
Question: I don't know if any of you remember these 3/4-inch deck dinosaurs or not, but will they have the proper audio and video outputs to go into my canopus converter box (which has composite and s-video inputs)?
I have tried to attach a jpg of one of these dinosaurs.
February 19th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Hmm, should I be embarrassed to say I still have a 5600 in my equipment rack in the office? One of these days I'm going to get around to dubbing all of the old 3/4" masters and get rid of the monster.
In the meantime, it has composite video via BNC and RCA outs for audio--the 5850 might have XLR outs, though.
February 19th, 2007, 11:39 AM
I have a Sony VP720 I use for dubbing purposes. It has a BNC out for video. You'll need a BNC to RCA adapter to feed a composite video signal to your canopus. Two RCA audio cables for the audio as well of course.
I've done this a lot, no problems at all.
EDIT: Oops Charles, you beat me to it!
February 19th, 2007, 11:49 AM
Thanks for the responses. I assume it has a three prong
AC chord to plug into a traditional electrical wall outlet?
Just checking; I don't want to have to alter the outlets in my room.
February 19th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Well, thanks for bringing a smile to my day. That's a no kidding piece of professional video equipment. You can tell by how much it weighs ;)
It will have a three prong plug (it's not THAT old), and Richard's spot on about what you'll need for the transfer. Most of the professional world still uses BNC connectors for composite (and component) video.
Treat it gently, it deserves a bit of respect. Heck, at one point, it was a huge breakthrough. In it's day, it was THE standard. There was none of the complex tangle of formats, bit depths, codecs, etc. that make up the current landscape. Of course you paid for that simplicity. Charles, any chance you remember what you paid for your 5600?
February 19th, 2007, 12:28 PM
I might get my hands on
The Sony 5850 (pictured above), 5800, 9600, 9850, or JVC BRs810u.
What the difference is between those Sony models, I don't know. The higher numbered models, superior?
Where do you guys that have such decks go to have them serviced? I'm so electronically deficient that I don't think I'd attempt cleaning the video heads.
Probably a stupid question, but before I drop a few bucks on one, I'd like to know if there are places out there that service them.
February 19th, 2007, 02:40 PM
Oh, even more importantly, I just received this note about these types of machines. After reading the note, does anyone know if the Canopus advc300 has TBC or frame sync built in. Maybe I'm worrying for nothing, but the "SP" deck is no different than a regular deck, is it? Anyway, here's the note I got:
"If you want the highest quality, then you should use a TBC or frame sync when doing the copy. Some pro decks had TBCs in them and this would be best. The problem here is that you'll be shelling out a grand or more for an SP deck with a TBC.
Alternately, you could use a video editing card that has frame syncs on the input (most do). Your Canopus interface may also make use of a frame sync as it has to buffer the video somehow before doing the A-D conversion. Then you just need an SP 3/4 player. Any BVU series deck from BVU 850 and above would be SP -also VO 9000 series decks."
February 19th, 2007, 03:30 PM
The canopus 300 has a TBC built in, so you're good to go.
As to servicing the deck, if you're renting it, the place you're renting from will be servicing them. If you're buying, then ask the people you're buying from where THEY got them serviced.
I picked up my deck for twenty dollars. No Joke. There's a company in Florida that sells used broadcast gear, and they had a dozen of these old U-Matic Decks. (I have some u-matic footage, and I occasionally have to deal with it.) All they asked for was the shipping, as they were giving the decks away for free.
I clean the heads on them myself. It's MUCH easier than dealing with mini-dv. The drum is HUGE in comparison. I have a 'head cleaning' swab I got at an electronic supply store. Basically a little plastic handle with, I think, a deerskin chamois pad on the tip. A little bit of cleaning fluid (alcohol) and I rotate the drum by hand. Wipe the head GENTLY in the direction of rotation, NOT vertically as this will misalign the head... and they are good to go. These things were build like tanks, which is why they weigh so much.
Yeah, they run with standard edison plugs. You'll just need to pick up a BNC female to RCA male adapter. That is, the BNC end fits over a male connection, and leaves a MALE RCA exposed on the other end. Costs about two bucks at a good electronic supply store, about five at a Radio Shack.
EDIT: On second thought, if you're renting, DON'T crack the cover and service, you'll upset them no end.
February 19th, 2007, 05:21 PM
What makes one of these decks an "SP" deck?
I've noticed that some models are "SP" and many others of that time period were not called that? I guess, for my purposes, it wouldn't matter---just as long as it plays the 3/4-inch tape. Thanks for the input--
February 19th, 2007, 06:04 PM
BETA SP is a 3/4 inch format. The deck I have is an old U-Matic. It will NOT play SP tapes, but is from the same 'era' and 'bloodline' as the SP decks.
The model numbers will denote whether or not the decks are PLAYBACK only or PLAY and RECORD. Also, extra bells and whistles.
What tapes are you trying to transfer?
February 19th, 2007, 07:03 PM
Richard, although I got out of the bay area and (somewhat) video stuff temporarily about that time, I think that the only diff between Beta and Beta SP (which stands for Superior Performance) is that the SP decks were set up to use metal particle tape - the heads were harder material, and if you use the metal particle tape on a NON-SP machine it will tend to wear the heads out faster.
IIRC, ALL beta machines were based on half inch tape - the 3/4" models were all U-matic, from the first VP-1000's, V-1600's and VO-1800's (manual audio gain and no tuner) on up; first to Vo-2800, VO-2850, etc - at that time, the "50" add-on in the model # meant it was some sort of editing deck, as in "assemble" and sometimes "insert" editing. To get clean edits with tape formats, flying erase heads were needed to keep moire to a minimum.
Although VHS eventually beat out consumer Beta (the general public has always preferred quantity over quality) Beta had the last laugh and several more "incarnations", up to Digi-beta (perhaps beyond that, I mighta missed something there)
During that era I worked at Memorex as a video tech in their QA lab, was responsible for design and build of head protrusion measuring fixtures, training other techs, etc, for all new types of machines so we could evaluate our tape for headwear (along with chroma noise, s/n, dropouts, etc) and we all KNEW that Beta would beat the sox off of VHS because it was obviously BETTER. But like I said, the public spoke :=(
I also ran a successful video maintenance biz in the same time frame with a partner; he did mostly 2" quadruplex and I did mostly helical, although if one of us was busy the other could handle either part of the market.
AS to cleaning the heads of these machines (both u-matic and the half inch ones) I used to use q-tips and xylene (xylol), and I DID rub (VERY VERY gently) perpendicular to head travel, because it seemed to get the head cleaner - I always used a well-saturated q-tip, and immediately spun the heads up to both aid in drying and to let centrifugal force help dislodge any stray cotton strands that might have gotten stuck on the head. I also cleaned, then de-magged, then cleaned again (same with audio transports - magnetized heads tend to hold onto particles a bit hence the double cleaning)
I do NOT, repeat NOT, recommend this method to anyone who isn't trained in the GENTLE art of watch repair or similar, however - because doing it that way doesn't put the heads out of alignment exactly - it just DESTROYS them. The heads themselves were tiny little chunks of Hot Pressed Ferrite (That's what the "HPF" in literature stood for) and they don't "bend" or go out of alignment, they simply crumble because HPF is VERY brittle due to its extreme hardness.
So everyone, PLEASE stick to the cleaning method mentioned EARLIER in this thread, or likely suffer a broken video head - you'll probably have to look long and hard to find a video tech anywhere that still has the concentricity gauge and fixture that is needed to properly align a video head drum on these machines for decent playback, and that's if heads themselves are even still available - as I said, I've been away from this segment of video for about 3 decades now so for all I know, there may be a whole new resurgence of interest I'm not aware of.
BTW, ALWAYS let a machine's tape path DRY thoroughly before you try to run a tape - pretty much ALL solvents that will clean heads will ALSO soften oxide coatings and make MUD of your tape path. Not a pretty sight.
February 19th, 2007, 07:12 PM
My 3/4-inch project was produced on (I'm looking right at the master copy now) a Sony Umatic 60 minute SP tape, "KSP-60."
Does that mean it will only play in an "SP" machine?
(I seem to recall using non-SP tape on those machines though. Maybe my memory is fading.)
What about non-SP tapes? Won't they play in an SP machine?
Now I am confused about what deck to get, but I'm glad for the input from you and perhaps others familiar with this.
February 19th, 2007, 07:43 PM
Not positive, but I believe that the "SP" designation as Sony applied it to TAPES, meant that the tape was a "metal particle" tape - these tended to be more abrasive in addition to their higher coercivity, so were not recommended for "standard" machines - they should, however, PLAY in a standard machine; although the different flux levels might or might not cause moire or other picture artifacts. If you had very many of these tapes to dub, using a standard machine might cause quite a bit of extra wear on the heads of the machine - but with only the one tape, I would just play the tape and check for the above picture problems - if they don't appear, I'd feed it into your ADVC-300 (I have one, great box) and go for it... Steve
(BTW, it's likely that the amount of "artifacts" that show up would be worse with a machine that has worn heads - as video heads wear down, the signal saturates the heads easier(less mass) so you have to lower the record drive - playback from worn heads will be hotter, so equalization changes can be necessary to reduce the effects of "overdriving" the heads due to their increased sensitivity. It's not likely you have the service manual if this is a rented or borrowed machine, so you'll probably be limited to checking playback and if it looks OK you're golden.
February 19th, 2007, 08:18 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there were 3 main formats in Umatic (or 3/4 inch if you prefer), Loband, Hiband, and SP (or hiband SP). I believe "KSP" was the designation for the SP tapes produced by Sony - KCA being the designation for the standard loband tapes, and BCA the Hiband. In the UK, Loband was the most common, and the format of the vo-5800 (recorder/player) and vo-5850 (edit recorder) machines (I have one of each in my loft, probably causing the roof beams to sag!) - if I remember correctly you could record any format on any tape stock, but loband machines only playback loband, hiband play back loband and hiband, and SP machines played them all back. London Ad agencies used to like stuff on loband, and even up to about three years ago there were loads of loband machines in circulation, but I think after time the rollers began to perish and by now I'd be surprised if many places still had them. Hope this helps
February 19th, 2007, 08:26 PM
Thanks for the "update" - the last U-matics I worked on were VO-2850's, and at that time there was only one modulation range - apparently the higher numbered machines progressed to (likely) narrower video head gaps for increased frequency range, therefore could move up in modulation frequency for better high end/more resolution? When I get bored with Vegas and HDV, that might be a fun "walk down memory lane", thanks for the nudge :=) Steve
February 19th, 2007, 08:49 PM
Was the 2850 a top loader?
February 19th, 2007, 10:39 PM
Yeah, everything up to at least the 2850 were all top-loaders at that point in time, including the early VHS and Beta machines - I didn't have a front-loader til my second VHS machine, about 3 years after I left the SF Bay area in '78... Steve
February 19th, 2007, 10:50 PM
The SP stands for "Superior performance". It's likely you have U-Matic SP tapes... (Not BetamaxSP -The competitor to VHS, not BETACAM SP, the professional stock - the two are sometimes confused when referred to as 'Beta SP' my mistake)
Format name: 3/4" Umatic (aka 3/4" inch or Umatic)
3/4" Umatic SP (aka 3/4" SP or Umatic SP)
Analog or digital: Analog
3/4" Umatic -1971
3/4" Umatic SP - 1986
Dates in use:
3/4" Umatic -1971 to present
3/4" Umatic SP -1986 to present
Tape width: 3/4"
Cassette dimensions: Full-size cassettes are 8 5/8" x 5 3/8" x 1 3/16" and small cassettes are 7 1/4" x 4 5/8" x 1 3/16"
Tape container: Most common tape containers are heavy-duty plastic snap-closure boxes - typically blue, gray, black or tan. Some 3M tape boxes are black with rounded corners and have a sliding closure mechanism on the opening side.
Tape variations and/or identifying features: Full size cassettes are for use in recording and editing decks, and record up to 60 minutes. Small cassettes are used in field recording decks, and record up to 20 minutes in length. 3/4" Umatic cassettes are typically made from gray, black or tan plastic. Hubs can be any number of colors (blue, tan, red), and cassettes have a clear (or slightly blue) window that shows both reels. A small red plastic dot (which must be in place to record on the tape) may be found on the back of cassette. 3/4" Umatic SP cassettes are dark brown/maroon and have SP and the length written on the spine (3M brand).
February 20th, 2007, 12:29 AM
5xxx were the first front loaders.
BVU-850 was the pro version.
9xxx were the SP models
BVU-950 for the pro, BVU-960 for dynamic tracking.
all the 9 series had tbcs? I think so.
Any body want to buy any? I think we have about one of every model. Lots of 1" too.
I'm pretty sure SP was like 90% compatible. You wouldn't get the enhanced picture quality but you'd see a non-sp picture. non-sp would play in SP
February 20th, 2007, 04:41 AM
Well, the '84 vintage for U-matic SP explains my lack of info - left all that in '78, as I said. Found a dark pic of the 2850 in a site that has some other broadcast history, though -
And the main site, worked on quite a few of these; mostly dinosaurs like me :=(
During that phase, if you wanted broadcast legal color from a helical scan machine, just the TBC cost $5000, and the machine that could provide it with stable enough video so it could even WORK cost another $10k or so - kinda nice to be able to replace about $100,000 in gear with a $2k laptop and another $1k or less in software... Steve
February 20th, 2007, 04:44 AM
Thanks for the replies, gang. It sounds like were saying that--to be safe--get your hands on an SP machine, in the event it does give the image that little extra boost (if your master is on SP tape).
February 20th, 2007, 12:03 PM
Ultimately, I have a tough decision: Do I rent a non-SP deck but at least have the assurance of knowing that if something is wrong with the equipment, I won't be stuck. Or do I save forty bucks, buy an SP deck for 100 bucks--giving me a slight picture improvment---but what if the heads need cleaned? No matter how much I may trust the seller, what if it isn't up to the job once it's delivered to me?
My thinking at this point is to rent, but it just bothers me that the rental isn't an SP deck, and I'll be losing some quality. Ahhhh, decisions....
February 20th, 2007, 01:54 PM
might it not be easier to find a facility (like a local tv station) to just transfer the 3/4 footage to dv? Yes you give up some control, but you also don't have the headaches.
I have a ton of 3/4" tape from y tv news days, and a couple old V0-5600 decks, but haven't found the time to weed thru the jungle of tape to find those few precious moments the kids might like to see of their old man. ;) (all that stuff was edited on a 5800>RM440>5850 those decks were workhorses.)
February 20th, 2007, 02:21 PM
How much footage to you have to transfer? It MIGHt be more cost effective to have it done somewhere in house.
February 20th, 2007, 02:41 PM
I agree with Bill and Richard on this; for one thing, if the newer decks were capable of higher frequency modulation, probably some were switchable - so unless your tape has a "pro" label on it that includes whether it was recorded in hi-band or not, you wouldn't know whether it would even play properly on a non-SP machine.
Again, I'm talking out my butt here not knowing anything about the newer (to me) machines, but if there were choices available in a machine's modulation frequency(and tape formulation) then there was the chance it was recorded in a mode that may not be available in a "lesser" machine.
So taking the tape to someone who already has machines that CAN handle your tape would at the least tell you which band of modulation was used... Steve
February 20th, 2007, 02:42 PM
Whatever you do, don't wait any longer than you have to! We've had to transfer some 3/4 stuff. The process goes: clean the heads, dub about 30-45 seconds. Stop. Repeat. At the most, you get 1 minute before you need to stop and clean the heads. I believe the heads in this, our last working deck, are shot and loading up faster than they would ordinarily.
Under ideal conditions, a tape should last a good long time, but how many of us are storing tapes under ideal conditions?
February 20th, 2007, 04:50 PM
All the more reason to rent. Why rush a decision like this. Anything I decide upon will be better than 1/2 -inch video. Besides, the advc300 kicks some butt.