In the 1980s, getting a VCR was a rite of passage. You could record your favourite shows and watch them forever. Then, acquiring a camcorder allowed you to capture weddings, birthdays, graduations and other special moments which, we assumed, could be passed down to future generations.
Unfortunately, like many of the movies and TV shows we recorded, videotapes haven’t stood the test of time.
As we watched Back to the Future or The A-Team, we were inadvertently assisting in the deterioration of those videotapes.
With every viewing, video cassettes run a magnetized strip across the VCR’s “heads” to create images. The binder layer, which holds the magnetic particles to the polyester base of the tape, comes in direct contact with the heads. When those magnetic particles lost their charge, the image degrades, which can happen over time or all at once
While VHS might have been top-notch technology back when you paused your copy of The Breakfast Club to go to the arcade to play Pac-Man, the analog process used to code information onto a magnetic videotape has a short life-span. The code fades after several uses, leading to grainy images.
VCR heads can also be partially demagnetized if not properly maintained. (Hence, all those VHS cleaning kits Blockbuster had on sale!) Humidity can also lead to the binder tape absorbing moisture becoming damaged.
“But I have VHS tapes, stored in a climate-controlled area, which haven’t been played in years. They should be okay, right?”
Think again! Any videotape fifteen years or older is in jeopardy of breakdown, which occurs when the binder layer decays. The magnetic material can literally turn to dust.
While you can pick up a DVD or Blu-Ray copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark at Walmart (or just search Netflix), you have to ask “What do I do about the video of Mom and Dad’s wedding?” There is a risk of losing such treasured memories to tape deterioration.
However, all is not lost, as Carman’s Foto Source and Fairview Photo Lab offer video transfer services. We can convert 8mm movies and VHS tapes to DVD. We can also transfer VHS, PAL or SECAM videotapes to the format you need. This allows you to ensure the safekeeping of your favourite memories and create copies to share with friends and families. (Another plus over VHS which loses quality the more copies you make.)
Modern digital recording has the edge over analog video because the digital codes embedded onto a CD or DVD are much higher in longevity. The quality found in DVDs are superior and will not deteriorate no matter how many times you watch it. This is not to say DVD is infallible, as they can fall victims to scratches if not stored properly, and can’t improve but preserve the quality of the images on your videotapes, Nevertheless, the format remains the best storage system currently available to ensure your family memories remain intact.
For more information regarding video transfers, visit our website at http://carmans.com/other-services.html