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06-05-2011, 08:44 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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First off the good news. If anyone remembers my previous project thread, there were some home movies that I was trying to obtain from family members that we were not really talking to anymore. I have managed to retrieve at least some of the tapes. I don't know if its all of them, but the ones I have were the most important ones I was looking for (pre-date our camcorder purchase in 1987).

Now the bad news. One of the tapes has evidence of slight mold damage, the best I can describe it is that it has a tiny white speck visible on the reel. The other two tapes appear "ok" to the eye. The tapes are in Betamax format (BII speed). Currently I have a Sony Betamax deck that I need to have sent to the shop for cleaning and static tracking alignment that I would like to use for the transfers but I'm afraid of contaminating the deck with unseen mold. Are there any at-home solutions to deal with very minor mold problems? I was thinking maybe its possible to completely fast forward and rewind the tape in a spare VCR to knock the mold loose. I do have a $10 thrift store Sanyo Beta deck that I can sacrifice for this project, those machines wind the tape in the cassette in the shell away from the heads. It needs new belts so I don't care what happens to it.

My only other option is to send them out to a recommended service for cleaning and transfer, but thats big $$$ and I'm kinda OCD about quality of the final product (I know my equipment can do the transfer "right"). If anything I would have them transferred to a hard drive lossless and I'd handle DVD creation myself.
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  #2  
06-07-2011, 08:40 AM
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Your FF/REW idea was a nice try, but that's a dead end.

Mold is a spore, and it's alive. It sticks to something that was moist, and grows like the nasty fungi that it is. Generally speaking, mold has a high tolerance of temperatures, and a long life span, so never assume it's "dead mold" or "old mold" (meaning "too old" to be a problem) as I've seen discussed on other sites in the past. It often spreads by way of household dust (a good reason to keep tapes in dust covers!!!), and will fling off into any equipment where the tape gets played.

The only choice to "fix" this problem is to clean the tapes ---- and/or possibly bake the tapes, using a special kind of chemistry oven. No, not the oven in your kitchen, unless you want a smelly pile of black goo. For this, you absolutely must use a reliable service. It's not safe to do on your own, and you likely lack the proper tools. VideoInterchange specializes in serious physical tape damage (in contrast to The Digital FAQ, who specializes in signal damage and minor physical defects/damage).

From their site:
Quote:
Anywhere moisture or high humidity is present and the environment or the air contains even trace amounts of mold spores and other organic materials that serve as a "food" source, it's only a matter of time before mold spores decide that your video tape might be a nice place to live ! They perhaps "think" to themselves: "Hmmm..... A constant source of water - plenty of food and nice & dark in here.... This looks nice - Luxury accomodations ! - - - Think I'll move in and and start a large family !").... This is especially a problem in the tropical maritime climates where constant high humidity is the norm. You can't do much about airborne spores or other organics in the air, nor is it advisable to leave your tapes out in the sun. The only avenue left to stop mold development or growth is to cut off their water supply. Storing tapes in an environmentally controlled area or better yet, in an airtight bag with a small packet of silica gel placed inside is one solution. Another would be to purchase a vacume sealer. The moulds and fungi if left to grow, can eventually infiltrate into the binder layer given enough time, making their removal impossible without destroying the tape.

Cleanliness of a video tape is of prime importance. Even common household dust is a mixture of fragments of human skin, pet dander, minute particles of mineral or plant material, textile fibers, industrial smoke, grease from airborne sources , and plethora of other organic and inorganic materials. This chemical concoction often consists of the spores of countless moulds, fungi and micro-organisms which live on the organic material contained in the "dust". Much of the dirt is hygroscopic - meaning simply that it acts as a sponge. This increased moisture retention further encourages the growth of moulds, as well as increases the corrosiveness of airborne salts. It also serves to dramatically speed up the process of hydrolysis in tapes. (sort of a "double whammy")... The organic material often consists of fatty acids that promote the release of Palmetic and Hexadecanoic Acids that appear as a white substance on the tapes which must be removed before playback is attempted.

Properly cleaning an old video tape is best accomplished by gently passing both sides over Pellon ® tissue or a simple lint free fabric. Pellon is the trade name for a cloth like material, made of synthetic fiber, that was originally designed and produced to be used as a shirt collar stiffener, though it makes an ideal tape cleaner. Pellon ® (a trade-name) is low abrasive and non-dusting.

NOTE: If attempting to remove moulds yourself, beware that some moulds pose a serious and potentially FATAL health risk. While most, if not the vast majority of moulds are benign, some strains and embedded viruses are nothing short of DEADLY under the right conditions. Dried spores can easily be dislodged and become airborne, making inhalation possible. (Translation: This might NOT be a good thing for your longevity or general well being).... Thus always wear impermeable gloves and an approved Bio mask at the very minimum. Do not re-use the gloves and dispose of them properly. Replace mask filter elements according to the manufacturers recommendations. (Note: A workshop dust mask is NOT the same as a positive pressure Bio Mask). If there is ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER in what you're dealing with, then contact a health professional before proceeding. Unless identified, treat all molds as a potentially serious health risk.

Many professional commercial tape cleaners employ a sapphire or ruby blade to break up the surface debris and burnish (scrape) the surface smooth & clean. Perhaps yet another bad analogy, but somewhat akin to a snowplow to remove the heavy "debris". The ruby or sapphire blades are effective on new tapes (ie: smooth paved roads if you will), but can totally trash an older tape with a binder just ready to delaminate. Like trying to plow snow from soft muddy driveway, the blade digs in and tears up surface. Thus the razor sharp scraper blade is the final blow and can peel the now aged softened binder right off the substrate. Never attempt to burnish a tape with any signs of mould if the binder is weak. The ruby/sapphire blade will scrape away the mould and sadly the binder as well. Then to add to the misery, mould spores can be thrown into the air where they can be inhaled. If not yet evident; removing mold requires specialized equipment and techniques. Before sending a vintage tape in for professional mold removal, make certain they have experience in handling such tapes.

In the case of just general cleaning where mold is not evident, most tapes we receive require but a single cleaning pass. Every so often, one will show up exhibiting severe mould growth, dust/grime, hexadecanoic acid deposits or any combination thereof. These are easy to spot, as they look like they might have just been fished out of a dumpster... (sadly, this isn't an exaggeration). Naturally, these tapes will require more than one cleaning pass, often using different specialized cleaning techniques, which is an additional charge.
I would send a hard drive, and request the video be stored as DV AVI or HuffYUV AVI.

A single tape will easily run in the $50-100 range, to treat for mold damage.


We don't even mess with mold-damaged tapes -- it's too dangerous (health risk, insurance liability, etc), and it's best to simply let the experts handle this one. (That's what we say about our own services, after all! Don't try to do something difficult yourself, let the pros handle it, that's why they have the equipment, training and experience. And you don't want to "learn on" an irreplaceable family video.) We outsource those to VideoInterchange. Same for flood-damaged or mud-damaged tapes (because those can contain raw sewage, etc).

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  #3  
06-07-2011, 09:38 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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I was looking at their services along with a local company ( http://www.specsbros.com/ any personal experience/reviews?). The good news is that it seems to be only one tape that was affected, and thankfully its the shortest tape (L-370, 1.5 hours at B-II speed). I'll look at sending it out after vacation. I have the funds already set aside to repair the Superbeta, I'll just devote them to getting this tape transferred (That VCR can wait). These tapes were stored in sleeves. It seems to have kept the damage low, the tapes without them were in worse condition.

I'm well aware of the dangers of mold and mildew and how much of a pain it is to get rid of. While NJ isn't any wheres near as humid as the south, we still have moisture problems in basements around here.
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06-07-2011, 09:55 AM
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The one thing I can say about Spec Bros is this: They don't say anything stupid on their site/documentation. And that alone counts for something in my book. Most video transfer services have asinine mythical inaccurate BS on their sites that clearly demonstrates their video knowledge came from Wikipedia and Best Buy salesmen. Show me 100 video services, and I'll show you 90 that don't know what they're doing.

SpecBros info seems fine, and I just looked again real quick.
VideoInterchange is also accurate, though it's been at least a year since I gave it a once-over.
And of course, we do our best to avoid wrong info, too! (Though we don't handle mold damage.)

VI gets backlogged sometimes. Not sure about Spec.
That may be your determining factor, more than anything else, to be honest about it.
I know Spec advertises a lot, especially in magazines like Broadcast Engineering. VI doesn't need to advertise.

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  #5  
06-07-2011, 09:59 AM
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This was written about a year ago: http://www.digitalFAQ.com/forum/vide...g-problem.html
Not that it adds anything to the conversation, just mentions Spec.

Don't let "local" influence you. Go for the best option, not the local option. If the best options happens to be local, then great.

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