A Wedding Video Almost Lost

Categories:Blog Post, Video

A while back I completed a most interesting project recovering a wedding video. Nothing unusual so far, but this was 36 years old on 1/2″ reel to reel tape in black and white and was almost lost, and before too long would certainly have been.

This video format was one of the first small systems. In the 1960s a number of companies produced video recorders using 1/2″ reel tape. All of them used their own standard which was not interchangeable.

In 1969 these companies got together and developed a common standard for 1/2″ tape, the E.I.A.J. format. Firstly in black and white and later in colour. The next format development in this area was the Umatic cassette, again 1/2″ tape but in a big cassette.

There are 2 big problems with any tape this old, first you must find a recorder still working that will play the tape and second hope that the tape itself is still playable. Many tapes this old have developed what is termed sticky syndrome. The glue that binds the magnetic coating to the tape base has combined with moisture in the air – and gone sticky.

It can often be dried out, but must be done carefully and it is only temporary. In this case it did work and although some sound was lost the video image was mostly saved.