Obsolete tape formats

From Digital Beta Cassettes to XDCAM tapes, according to UNESCO, 200 million hours of irreplaceable audio-visual content are at risk of being lost forever.


Blue laser used by SONY to record audio and video content on professional 12 cm discs.


High Definition digital format in native 16/9, 1920×1080.


1⁄4 inch tape ill-suited to difficult filming conditions.


1 inch B runs at 24 cm/sec with 2 heads recording segments of frames with 52 lines.


Using the same tape as Betamax, Betacam enabled the development of the professional camcorder.


Uses a 1/2’’ metal tape cassette for recordings of up to 3 hours.


A tape format similar to Betacam, only with metal tape.

Time is running out for tape

340,000 tapes the BBC Archive stored on D-3 tapes – an obsolete format. In the 1990s the BBC embarked on a massive project to copy its older video tapes onto D-3, but the D-3 cassettes themselves have become unstable and are being transferred again. Although there is doubt over whether the surviving D-3 machines will last long enough to play the 340,00 tapes which the corporation hold.

10 The number of years ago that a major Hollyood movie was release on VHS. This last release on the format was the 2006 release of “A History of Violence”.

800 ft piece of oxide coated mylar tape in the cartridge that acts as a recording medium is a long, extremely thin, fairly fragile piece of plastic.

40 years the war between Betamax and VHS.

37 types of professional and consumer tape formats available on the market between 1961 and 2016 (UK and Europe).

1951 Bing Crosby Enterprises demonstrate the world’s first video tape recording using an Ampex 200 tape recorder.

20% upper end of video signal loss for a well-stored video tape after 10-25 years.

D-4 There’s D-1, D-2, D-3, D-5 Professional formats but no D-4 since the terms is similar to the phrase for ‘death’ in Japanese.

9000 blockbuster stores at peak in 2004. There are now 11.

4 microns (1/20th the size of a human hair) could cause a tape dropout. This could be a speck of dirt or even a smoke particle from a cigarette.

Digitise your media and unlock the value in your tape library

According to Unesco, 200 million hours of irreplaceable audiovisual content are at risk of being lost forever. In fact, without urgent action, 50% of that could disappear within just 10 to 15 years.

So what's stopping us? The time is now to digitise your tape libraries.

  • Experts estimate video tape has a lifespan of 30 years. That’s in optimum conditions.
  • Greatest risk for video collections lies in the loss of playback equipment.
  • Video tape that is not digitized within the next ten years will in many cases be lost forever.
  • Valuable content, ripe for monetization, could be rotting away within your business or organisation

Imagen are offering new customers a subsidized rate to offset onboarding costs – plus fully funded digitization programmes for smaller collections.

Imagen’s content on-boarding programme includes tape encoding, bulk file ingest and cataloguing of small and large collections of media.

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