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The Art of Storing Tapes

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Jay Huubs
The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 17, 2009 at 5:04:17 pm

I have umpteen million miniDV tapes from family events and a local roller derby league. Currently I have each event's tapes in a giant freezer ziploc baggie, and then place the bags into plastic tubs, which in turn get placed on a shelf. Is this an acceptable way to store tapes to preserve them? If not, how should I go about it? Thanks in advance.

"Life's a pitch and then you buy."
-Billy Mays


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 17, 2009 at 9:10:54 pm

In addition to dust, humidity and temperature are your main concerns. You've gota good start, if the room is kept cool.

Check out page 18 of this .pdf for some other guidelines:
http://www.amianet.org/resources/guides/fact_sheets.pdf

One of the authors of the paper, Jim Wheeler, has helped NASA with some pretty substantial tape data issues in the past. At any rate, it's a good reference for tape storage and common problems you might see.

The other thing is to make sure you can quickly find what you are looking for. Do you use a bar-code system with a database to track what is in each box, or do you have another system of organization that would be easy for others to use to track down specific tapes?



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Stephen Smith
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 17, 2009 at 9:47:20 pm

Jay, if you have something really important like the Apollo 11 Moonwalk you should be sure not to tape over it ;-) Look at this: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106637066




Stephen Smith
Lone Peak Productions

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Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 18, 2009 at 12:48:18 am

Somehow, I knew that comment was coming. ;-)

My personal opinion... (NOT speaking for the agency or any particular contractor) is that you might want to use that example as a warning to your bosses when they want to recycle tapes to save money. Actually the NASA tapes in question weren't even video, they were telemetry data tapes - that could have been converted to imagery if someone had considered it important enough to fund that effort back in the 1970s.

But I was in pre-school around that time, so I did the best I could with what I knew. ;-) Actually, I have to hand it to the group at Johnson Space Center. The tapes that *were* recovered were from the vaults there. They have the most comprehensive and detailed video archiving system of any NASA Center that I know about, and they still have to fight every year for funding and space.

It could have been much worse. Since they got rid of the film equipment at JSC (about 20 years after broadcast TV stations switched to NTSC videotape for production), there was an effort to get rid of all the "surplus" copies of footage that were on the shelves in the vault at JSC (The argument was that "they were copies" and cutting room floor footage... and that everything with historical value was consistently shipped to the National Archives long ago.) We have an Editor there who fought very hard to find homes for every piece of film that held *any shred* of historical value - even raw footage and a good portion of that also got shipped to cold storage in the National Archives.

Personally, I'm a pack rat. I've archive the final versions of every single show I've done for NASA since I started there. I estimate that's right around 300 videos. That said, I couldn't point you to the Boris RED project file that I used to create the lower 3rd for Neil Armstrong back in the spring of 2000. Well, I know that I saved it to an Exabyte 8mm tape drive and put that tape on my shelf, but the contract for video services changed hands several times since then so I doubt anyone in that department could pull it up - especially since the entire building my edit suite was in was mothballed a few years a due to budget constraints.

Sorry for the rant, but I would like to say that this isn't the fault of any archivist at NASA; in my opinion, it's a result of policies that were implemented to make the most of the budgets that NASA has had since the Apollo program ended... and if they weren't going to spend the money on flying the Saturn V rockets that had already been built, they certainly weren't going to pour any extra money into what they thought were "redundant" data tapes.

Again... just my own personal opinion.







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grinner hester
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 18, 2009 at 3:15:46 pm

Anything that traps moisture is not a good idea. On the shelf in their cases is much better.
Today a cheap firewire drive is your best bet.



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Mark Suszko
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 19, 2009 at 1:04:39 am

Those plastic ziplock bags would perhaps work better if you threw in a dessicant pack. If the outside temp drops, water vapor in the bags, trapped when they were sealed, will condense all over the tape.


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Stephen Smith
Re: The Art of Storing Tapes
on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:38:59 pm

[grinner] Today a cheap firewire drive is your best bet

I personally don't agree with that statement. Read this article: http://www.larryjordan.biz/articles/lj_hard_disk_warning.html




Stephen Smith
Lone Peak Productions

Check out the TV Show Open I did.


Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2


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