Quantcast Physically preparing VHS tapes prior to capture? - digitalFAQ Forum
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03-03-2021, 10:07 AM
rprilenski rprilenski is offline
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As I am in the process of getting capture workflow equipment. I wanted to ask what is the best way to physically prepare the tapes? Specifically, do I fast forward them and rewind once or twice in order to have the tape align and play in the best way possible?

Does fast forwarding and rewinding quickly make the heads dirty? Would it be best for me to have a separate VCR to do the ff/rw before putting the tape in the actual VCR used for capture?

Are there other tips that you would recommend?

Thank you!
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03-04-2021, 05:26 AM
timtape timtape is offline
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I guess the best way is to inspect the tapes for problems such as dirt or mould, or physical things like broken splices at an end or other damage.

A problem with fast wind is that usually it fully laces the tape up and so if there's any problem with the tape or the deck, damage can happen and very quickly.

Some older and more pro decks just wound the tape directly from one reel to the other, without even pulling a loop of tape out of the cassette. It could also be a slowish, smooth wind. I feel that's a safer way if the aim is to check an unknown tape for problems and if there is any doubt about the deck's mechanical condition, cleanliness of the tape path etc.

Ideally each tape is inspected and if needed cleaned and repaired before attempting a play, but I know that's not always possible.

Some of the later consumer VCR's boasted of "Jet Wind", like faster than fast. But the faster the tape is wound, the rougher the tape can wind, and as I said, if there's a problem in machine or tape, the more tape footage can be damaged in an instant.

I wouldnt play a valuable recording, let alone fast wind it, unless I was confident of the good condition of the tape and the deck. Fast winding with unknowns seems like too much of a risk.
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03-04-2021, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rprilenski View Post
do I fast forward them and rewind once or twice in order to have the tape align and play in the best way possible?
No!

Sometimes tapes are "one and done", meaning you had one chance to capture it. And if you FF/REW, you wasted the chance. The tape has flaked oxide, and the second pass will have visual damage. I have samples of this, need to upload some time.

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03-04-2021, 09:25 AM
rprilenski rprilenski is offline
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Thank you for the responses timtape and LS. I will be cautious about this and will not fast wind the tapes. Goodness gracious,I’ll triple check the settings on Vdub before playing the valuable tapes. And will use a dummy tape to nail down the masking settings, etc.

If for some reason I goofed the settings or want to use different settings for capture, how would you recommend I rewind the tape to capture again? Play -> Rewind or Stop -> Rewind? LS, you know the deck you are giving me inside and out, what is the best way to go about this?
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03-21-2021, 11:03 AM
Towncivilian Towncivilian is offline
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Something I always do is verify the “record protect” tab is broken off. It would be a nightmare if the VCR were to surreptitiously enter recording mode when a tape is inserted. I haven’t had that happen yet with a VHS, but it has occurred once with an irreplaceable audio cassette due to a dirty timer switch on the cassette deck and the record protect tabs still intact. Thankfully I noticed after a couple seconds, but the audio is still lost to the sands of time.
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03-21-2021, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Towncivilian View Post
Something I always do is verify the “record protect” tab is broken off.
Always!

Quote:
It would be a nightmare if the VCR were to surreptitiously enter recording mode when a tape is inserted. I haven’t had that happen yet with a VHS, but it has occurred once with an irreplaceable audio cassette due to a dirty timer switch on the cassette deck and the record protect tabs still intact. Thankfully I noticed after a couple seconds, but the audio is still lost to the sands of time.
Not the same, but I had a rare unreleased movie get "eaten" by a VCR many years ago. It took me at least 5 more years to track down a quality copy again. It was "only" a few minutes worth of footage, but loss is loss, and I felt terrible for a long time.

It was actually the fault of a friend, who REW while PLAY to see the scene again. Nobody saw that scene from that tape ever again. I was pissed at him for months, and never again let anybody touch my video hobby gear, and ESPECIALLY not my stash of rare tapes. Even now, I wonder what he was thinking that day, as he wasn't a video know-nothing.

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