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Old April 10th, 2009, 11:26 PM   #1
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Analog tape archive method

Hopefully there are still some folks around that remember analog.

We're trying to archive a library of tapes that we shot years ago in BetaSP, MII and U-matic. We have decks for each, but are looking for a hardware method to get these tapes into a PC in an archival format that we can then store on removable hard drives and/or DVDs.We have an old Osprey 220 card with breakout, but the Beta deck's composite out needs reference video along with it, and the Osprey only has 1 composite input. I had purchased a Blackmagic Decklink card on ebay, but it turned out that it wouldn't play nice with my motherboard.

I would love any advice on this.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #2
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I'm not really sure that there is such a thing as an "archival format" in the digital world.

And I think that compared to hard drives or DVD, the tapes you currently have might actually have better archival life. Hard drives on the shelf are not great for really long term storage for a variety of reasons. And DVD media has a somewhat spotty track record for long term storage as well.

All the claims about DVD archival life are based on short term storage at elevated temperature, humidity, etc etc from which the so-called archival lifetime is extrapolated. Nobody has actually stored something on DVD and tried to read it back 30 years later. People HAVE stored stuff on magnetic tape and read it back 20, 30, 40 years later

Magnetic tape (at least the type currently used for system backup) probably has the best long term stability around, as it is engineered with long term shelf storage in mind. Unfortunately, the real issue will be finding a drive to read it in 20 or 30 years or more considering how fast the technolgy is developing.

Kind of a glum outlook indeed.

Best archival storage would probably involve keeping several copies on spinning hard drives which get backed up to tape periodically and which are copied to different drives occasionally. Likewise periodic copying of the tape copies to newer technologies is also a good idea in order to avoid tecnical obsolescence.

I know that the popular image of an archive is a sealed warehouse where things just sit, but in fact, the safest way is probably to keep the data on active storage that is appropriately managed - upgraded, backed up etc. Sort of like the ancient monks continuously copying the old texts from one piece of parchment to another.

Or to think of it another way, without the continual input of energy (ie management), everything will revert to its initial state - iron rusts, ice melts, paper rots, magnetized domains disappear, stone crumbles, etc etc.

I must be in a really optimistic state this AM.

Disclosure - I'm in the magnetic tape business having been involved with the development of LTO since its inception in the mid 90's, albeit on the business rather than the technical side.

And I do remember analog - when I was in college the height of high tech was a 20 inch slide rule.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #3
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Analog tape archive method

Thanks, but I wasn't really looking for help on the 'archive format'. we've already settled on that long ago. I was more in need of a solution for the actual ingest.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 03:40 PM   #4
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Steve, unless I'm missing something I don't see why you need reference video. On playback, the deck should be timing itself via TBC (timebase corrector). If your input card doesn't require reference, you should be gold. If the input card DOES require reference, use a T-connector to have the video "time" itself.

Or am I missing something? The only time you should need reference is to integrate into a system with "house sync"
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