Sony Umatic

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This article is about a piece of equipment. For more information on what it is for or how to use it, try its documents wiki article.
Sony edit controller

The Umatic edit suite comprised an edit player and recorder, controlled by the edit controller (Sony RM440).

At the time, a second stand alone player/recorder was available but largely unused, other than being used to rewind tapes since it was much faster at rewinding as it didn't need to read the timecode off the tape - reducing head wear.

The 5 players of the apocalypse

A JVC SVHS machine and semi professional VHS player, with a dodgy play button, completed the edit areas in the station.

Names and numbers

In May 1995 the 3 Umatic players referred to by number, simply VT1 to VT3 with the recently aquired (S)VHS machines unlabelled.

By Autumn term 1996 the convention had changed, and VTA/VTB were the Umatic edit machines, with VTC the standalone Sony VO-5630 Umatic. VTD was the JVC SVHS and VTE the VHS - a sort of cascade of likely picture quality from A to E. A shortage of inputs on the Station Video Mux at the time lead to the creation of the aluminium switch box that selected between video from VTC and VTE. Nothing more than a toggle switch in a box (termination resistors weren't added until 1998), it is still refered to today as the "VTC/E switch" despite the lack of a VTC or VTE in the station.

When the Umatic edit machines were sold off following the introduction of digital editing the letters were not reassigned to avoid confusion to existing members (though no doubt confusion of new members) - so only VTC to VTE existed.

Letters or a numbers round

Later the completion of the JVC SVHS edit suite prompted a reshuffle, so VTA/VTB became the edit machines again, VTC stayed as the lone Umatic, VTD was missing, and VTE was the VHS still.

A brief flirt with numbers was used when the mono VHS tape copying machines were purchased in 1999Unverified or incomplete information. An explosion of drama barn and other society recordings meant that many copies of tapes were required. As these were typically in SVHS format only one copy could be made at once: a tiresome process. Tape suite 1 to 3 (TS1-TS3) allowed up to 4 copies in total to be made simultaneously, and their precareous position earned them the nickname "The Stack" instead of "Tape Suite". This was lucrative business - a £1 blank tape could be turned into £5 or £10 of revenue in a couple of hours.

New heads

The age of a machine does not necessarily reflect its picture quality. Indeed the YSTV Archive contained a great many poor quality tapes, logged in Tapelog, which slowly rubbed off excess dirt onto the more frequently used players.

For the Umatic machines this normally lead to a complete loss of picture overnight rather than a gradual decline, and a simple wipe with cotton wool and Mr Muscle window cleaner restored the picture just in time for the evening's programming.

Finally in 2000 some new heads were purchased, the VHS machine had slowly been losing tracking and £20 was spent on a new drum. Likewise the only remaining Umatic machine had taken a punishing, so £160 was spent on a new drum (fitted on 19th February 2000). The infrequent replacement of the heads meant it wasn't worth buying head alignment tools, and both machines were simply lined up by eye by spinning the drum by hand and looking for excentricity under a bright light.