Sony U-Matic questions at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > The Long Black Line

The Long Black Line
Tape, tape and more tape; and decks; HDV, DV, VHS and more.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 9th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #1
Tourist
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 7
Sony U-Matic questions

I am in the midst of making a documentary that requires viewing about 50-60 hours of material on 3/4" U-Matic tapes, and then digitizing what I need. So, I have a few questions about the different VTR's I can find out there, the importance of TBC, and doing this in a manner that will reduce the possibility of damaging the tapes. Answers to any or all of these questions would be greatly appreciated!

- I am looking at the VO-9850 and BVU-950. There is a quite a difference in price (with the 950 being much more expensive than the 9850). What is the main reason for this price disparity?
- Are there any other models I should look at?
- Do all U-Matic VTR's play all the formats? (regular, S, SP, SSP)

- How important is TBC?
- Does any VTR editor have it built in?
- Are they difficult to use/understand for someone new to this whole process?
- Do any KONA or BMD cards nowadays have some kind of TBC built in?

- Any tips on overall maintenance to make sure no tapes get ruined?

Thanks!
Matt Weckel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 9th, 2012, 08:29 PM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 58
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Hi Matt;

I own both a BVU 900 (playback only version of the 950) and a VO 9850. The BVU is the 'broadcast' line, and the VO is the 'industrial' line is the easiest way to describe them. The BVU series is over engineered, with a transport that does not need to unload to rewind... etc etc... My BVU 900 has a TBC card in it , I think it was an option, but yes you want a TBC to clean up your picture.
Not all models with play both SP and standard Umatic. The VO 9850 and BVU 900 series will play both.

If you don't NEED SP compatability. look for a nice VO-5850 deck... Speaking from years of experience , if the machine is maintained well it will work fine... if it needs a new pinch roller etc. it will damage tapes ...

Make sure the machine is clean, and like I said... number one thing to check first is the pinch roller. (if its really 'shiny' its time for replacement) ....
__________________
Canon XL-H1A / Canon XH-A1S / Still shooting some tape / Mac Pro 2013 / Final Cut Pro X
Dave Barnes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 10th, 2012, 03:52 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,699
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Weckel View Post
I am in the midst of making a documentary that requires viewing about 50-60 hours of material on 3/4" U-Matic tapes, and then digitizing what I need. So, I have a few questions about the different VTR's I can find out there, the importance of TBC, and doing this in a manner that will reduce the possibility of damaging the tapes.
Personally, I'd recommend digitising as you go to minimise the amount the U-matic tapes need to be played.

One sensible route may be to dub from U-matic to a DVCAM deck as you view, then each U-matic tape only needs to be played through once. You can then selectively digitise into the NLE from the DVCAM tapes. (You could even use a DV camera with analogue in instead of a deck.)
Quote:
How important is TBC?
Much less than it used to be! I wouldn't like to generalise, but capture cards, DVCAM decks etc may mean no need for a separate TBC.

The essence of a TBC is to digitally encode the video with reference to off tape sync pulses, then output it with reference to a stable sync source. I'd hope the capture card etc will digitally encode with reference to incoming syncs anyway - the question is whether it can handle the jitter. (But a TBC may not be able to anyway!)

The only real answer is try it!
David Heath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 11th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,615
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

A TBC is very important when playing back 3/4 as the condition of the tape may be poor. A decent TBC built for 3/4 will have drop out compensation (DOC) built in. The internal Sony TBC cards have this, external TBCs may or may not. This is a circuit that detects missing information on the tape due to oxide loss and replaces it with information from either the previous frame or doubles the image info above the area of loss. While you can probably digitize without a TBC, it really depends on the recording. You also need to get familiar with the tracking and skew controls as these will really help you get the best transfer. All digitizers (A/D converters, DV decks, DVD recorders) have a form of time base correction in them. These are traditionally considered frame synchronizers as they fix the timing of the analog signal prior to sampling. Years ago these were designed to retime satellite signals so you could mix a live feed into a news program. A TBC specifically was designed to fix signals playing off a VTR which has it own set of issues, skew being one of them. Over the years the definition of a TBC has loosened as the issues presented by 3/4 tape became less of an industry wide concern. Many SVHS decks came with TBCs built in and DV doesn't need timing correction.

Be careful purchasing a deck. I have two VO9850s and one VO5600. The VO5600 recently needed a good cleaning and lubrication. One VO9850 recently experienced motor failure and the replacement motor, which came from another broken deck as there are no new parts available anymore, failed also. The other VO9850 is working well fortunately since it is the one hooked up to a good TBC with a DOC. The VO5600 is not able to work with a DOC although it plays tapes in good condition back fine. You have to find a good repair person who has access to used parts, otherwise you might get a very large paperweight after only a few transfers.

The other issue is the brand of tapes you have. If they are Sony 3/4 you are probably is good shape unless they were stored in a hot place for a long time. Other brands are going to be problematic as the tape itself is probably degrading and becoming sticky. There is little you can do about this on your own. If not completely unplayable, I have found that degrading tapes will usually play once but can't be rewound in the machine as the friction overwhelms the motors. Problematic brands are AMPEX, 3M, Scotch, Kodak and Maxell. Fuji tape usually is good. The Sony K series of tape is a big problem. However you might have no problem, right now I am transferring a 1000 tape collection of 3/4 and BetaSP masters to DVD and most of the AMPEX tapes are either unplayable or can't be rewound after I have transferred them. Some of the tapes squeak loudly when played. But then I come across an AMPEX tape that plays fine and rewinds without problem. Who knows what was going on when these were manufactured.

The best thing to do is to transfer everything to DVCam tape (or DV if that's what you have, signal quality is the same) and do your capturing from that. Don't screen the 3/4 tapes first, just transfer them.
__________________
William Hohauser - New York City
Edit/Camera/DCP production/Animation
William Hohauser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 11th, 2012, 08:27 AM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,615
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Double post, not sure how that happened.
__________________
William Hohauser - New York City
Edit/Camera/DCP production/Animation

Last edited by William Hohauser; July 11th, 2012 at 01:27 PM.
William Hohauser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 11th, 2012, 08:54 AM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 49
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Matt -
I cannot over-emphasize that you may only get one good shot with each of these - particularly if they're lesser grade tapes. If you have any that are less critical, it would be good to use those to test and setup your system for transfer/capture. Once you're satisfied that things are in good working order, then go for the critical tapes. The lesser tapes especially may shed particles upon first playback - so also a good idea to thoroughly clean the heads in between tapes.
Dave Rochelle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 13th, 2012, 01:15 PM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,430
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

I just digitized a bunch of 3/4 tapes,and was pleasantly surprised at how robust they are! The tapes were originally recorded in 1982-89. I played them back on a VO-5850 without TBC, and they played perfectly. No visible dropouts, no apparent tape damage. I think the sheer size of the tapes makes it easier for a machine to properly read all the tracks. In contrast, 8mm video tapes from about the same era suffered from a lot of dropouts and tracking problems.
Warren Kawamoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 13th, 2012, 09:51 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,615
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

I have noticed that frequently the camera masters look great but sometimes the edit masters don't hold up very well.
__________________
William Hohauser - New York City
Edit/Camera/DCP production/Animation
William Hohauser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2012, 10:45 PM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Newark, Delaware
Posts: 1,029
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

I would go with the 9800 series if you can those things are tanks. BVU series will be less reliable but have more features that you dont need. I would use a frame syncing TBC if you can to help clean up dropout.
Randy Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2012, 11:29 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Reno, NV
Posts: 553
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
Problematic brands are AMPEX, 3M, Scotch, Kodak and Maxell. Fuji tape usually is good. The Sony K series of tape is a big problem.
Do you ever bake the tapes before playing them?
Eric Olson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2012, 08:50 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,615
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

NO! I have not found that technique is reliable or worth the chance of even worse problems from overheating. Plus I don't have an oven in the office.

The tape rescue facility I used in the past (now closed) would lubricate the 3/4 tape in a custom machine to reduce the friction and run a dub to DV or DigiBeta. The master could run at that point but it's days were numbered as the lubricant itself would eventually corrode the tape into uselessness.
__________________
William Hohauser - New York City
Edit/Camera/DCP production/Animation

Last edited by William Hohauser; July 23rd, 2012 at 09:23 AM.
William Hohauser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 20th, 2012, 05:09 PM   #12
Tourist
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 7
Re: Sony U-Matic questions

Thanks for the responses everyone.

I was able to get my hands on a BVU 950 for a great price, and it appears to be working (for the moment)...
Matt Weckel is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > The Long Black Line

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:12 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network