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Large-Scale U-Matic Conversion

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Frank Jenkins
Large-Scale U-Matic Conversion
on Jan 30, 2015 at 3:25:29 am

Newbie and not a broadcaster.

I have a large-scale task to convert several thousand U-Matic, Beta, Hi-8, VHS, and other formats to a digital format. Preferably, all to a sustainable network location.

Of the media, several hundred or perhaps a thousand are U-Matic. Ages range from early-to-mid 80's and newer.

Using an outside service to convert the archive for me IS NOT AN OPTION AT ALL.

I currently have one working BVU-950, but I don't think it will last through the job.

I'm looking for the smartest possible ways to get this done, knowing that it will take my 8-man crew years to complete. The guys are very young and don't have any great ideas, other than to scour e-Bay, to get the equipment we need.

Dollar cost is not my main concern. I am confident that I can find the funding that I need, even if it runs into the six figures.

Please keep in mind that some of this tape is very old, was not archived in optimal conditions (temperature-controlled room with no pressure/humidity controls), so some of the tape will likely be brittle. I understand that I may not be able to recover all of the data.

I have a ton of computer experts. We run a Mac network, most of which was purchased last year. Thunderbolt, Adobe Premier, etc.

That said, I have some questions:
1) what is the best equipment to get this done?
2) is there certain equipment that will handle fragile stuff a little better?
3) is there a way or system (assuming I can find the equipment) to queue multiple machines/tapes so I can batch-process items?
4) what cataloging software do you recommend? Would like to load 15 or 20 user-defined fields.

Remember, it has to be done in-house.

I'll take pros/cons, discussions, insults, or whatever else you have for me. any help is greatly appreciated.


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Jack McGee
Re: Large-Scale U-Matic Conversion
on Jan 30, 2015 at 10:50:42 pm

Some time ago, we had a tape robot, made by Synergy Broadcasting in Addison, TX. It was pretty cool, automatically more or less, certainly unattended, digitize about 100 SVHS or Digital S tapes to MPG2.

Not sure this helps you now, but the successor company, techvideosolutions may have a line on old robot (we gave Synergy ours when we retired it).

At the time, you could have the robot formatted to to just about any cassette videotape format, including 3/4". And today, you could probably digitize it to any digital format.

Not saying it was particularly delicate with tapes, but no less than a person.

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