All forms of "Visual Media" are subject to a limited life span. The hidden danger of video tape is the relatively quick degradation of the tape and the signal recorded on it. For your convenience we have included a table below from the www.filmpreservation.org website that provides a limited guideline for preservation of most of the visual media you might have around your house.
Let's focus on VHS video tape for the moment. It was first introduced as Sony's Betamax format in 1/2" cassettes with a 60 minute record capability. It was never designed to archive "family memories" - it was born to be a cheap distribution medium in the late 70's for commercial/industrial training materials. The average shelf life is estimated to be around 5 -10 years* before it is rendered useless from various factors.
Close behind Sony, JVC followed with a lesser quality offering called VHS. (Video Home System) In VHS format the way the signal was recorded made for less picture quality than Betamax, but a two hour recording capability was a prize feature, so we as consumers adopted this system. This gave rise to inexpensive video cameras and recorders and home-based videography was launched.
The good news is we now have precious, never to be repeated memories captured. The bad news is that it's stored on what was never meant to be a long term storage solution, but rather an inexpensive and reasonable industrial distribution medium.
Your fondest "memories" now exist solely on a disposable by design medium . . . who knew?
What can you do?
It's simple! Take all of your old VHS tapes with kids, weddings, sports, pets, family and travel memories to your nearest Home Video Studio and have them transferred to a Gold Archival DVD. This is a real storage solution because our 24k Gold Archival DVD is rated to last for 100 years. This DVD is so tough that you can scratch it with a nail and it will still play.
Now, let's not forget that we can also organize and edit these tapes together and tell a more specific story. So think about how you might add to the family tree/archive with these old treasures and then distribute those to the rest of the family.
And even if you had Umatic 3/4" or 1/2" Betamax tapes there are still resources at Home Video Studios to capture those to DVD.
Sure it's another thing on your "to do" list, but it's a very important one, as it involves something totally irreplaceable . . . your memories.
As you are preparing your tapes to be transferred to Gold Archival DVD here are a few tips you need to know:
How to Handle Your Video Tapes
- Never touch the tape itself. Hold it by the side of the cassette
- Rewind the cassette before storing it.
- Keep away from curious kids; avoid dropping or banging the tapes.
- Keep cassettes away from magnetic fields (Top of the Old TV)
- Don't leave a cassette in the car where it will be exposed to heat and cold
- If using a new cassette and it's still cold, let it warm up to room temperature.
- Occasionally fast forward and rewind a tape that's being stored a long time.
How to Store Your Video Tapes
- Store in conditions that are stable, cool and dry.
- Stay away from hot, humid and dusty.
- Store cassettes in the cassette case.
- Store your tapes vertically and not flat to distribute the gravity pull equally, stably and avoid edge damage.
And from the www.filmpreservation.org site we get the following information:
Chemical decay is due to spontaneous chemical change. Fading of color dyes in photographs and degradation of binder layers in magnetic tape are examples of decay caused by chemical reactions occurring within the materials themselves. The speed of these reactions depends primarily on temperature, but moisture also plays a role. In general, the warmer the temperature of the storage area, and the higher the Relative Humidity, the faster the media collection will be affected by chemical decay.
Excessive dampness is a very serious environmental threat to media collections because it contributes not only to mechanical decay but to biological and chemical decay as well.