Do you remember that thing called a VCR, which played those artifacts known as videotapes? Odds are your VCR hasn’t seen any action in a long time, and you likely have a collection of VHS tapes collecting dust of weddings, graduations, holidays, birthdays and other memories.
Unfortunately, like photos shoved away in shoeboxes, videotapes can suffer the same damage and face the same risks. In fact, sometimes they have an even greater risk of being damaged before you ever get to convert videotape to DVD.
Convert Videotape to DVD to Avoid Losing Precious Memories
Videotapes have their own problems when it comes to withstanding the test of time, compared to the preservation of print photos or slides. Although fuzzy images captured by camcorders usually aren’t as clear as photographs, they’re still worth preserving. To preserve them though, you need to understand the threat of video decay and how to prevent it.
Videotape decay can happen to all “magnetic media,” including VHS, VHS-C, and SVHS. Videotapes essentially have three layers: binder, substrate, and backing. The first is magnetized, stores the tape’s information, and comes into contact with the VCR. The latter two layers are for stability, reducing friction since binders are thin. All media types have magnetic charge, therefore essentially “impermanent;” this usually causes videotape decay.
The Effects of Videotape Decay
Looking for a reason to convert videotape to DVD? Here are just a few ways videotape decay occurs, what it does to quality, and how fast it can happen.
Remanence Decay - This occurs when all magnetic particles lose charge over time. How fast this happens partially depends on the videotape’s chemistry makeup, but this causes color changes, poorer color quality and significant loss of detail.
Accidental Demagnetization - This usually results from storage near other magnetized objects, like audio speakers. Unfortunately, that’s not the only magnetized object causing videotapes to lose charge –videotape playback devices, like VCRs, will do this too. This usually happens with poorly maintained VCRs, but with everyone’s VCRs collecting dust, this is a leading cause for videotape decay. Every time a videotape is played, some of the tape’s information is permanently erased, leading to bad quality and sometimes complete loss.
Binder Wear Out -Video binder layers are lubricated, which diminishes during playback. This affects magnetic particles and causes information loss. Additionally, the binder layer can turn into a sticky mess, ruining the tape, and is usually caused by storing videotapes in even slightly humid environments. The more you try to play the sticky tape, the quicker the damage.
Adjusting Tracking and Rewinding - This actually causes tracking problems by stretching the backing and substrate layers, reducing quality. Simply, the older your videotape and/or the more you’ve played it, the quicker the decay.
Before you’re able to convert videotape to DVD, videotape decay can be avoided by proper storage. This includes keeping them in dry, cool, areas with a stable temperature and humidity levels.
Until you convert videotape to DVD, try storing tapes around 60 degrees (slightly warmer than what photos should be stored at.) Although there’s much emphasis placed on digital photo preservation, videotape preservation is important too -- it’s one more memory medium you don’t want to lose. If you’re ready to convert videotape to DVD, take a look at our packages and see which one is right for you.
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