YSTV Archive

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A slightly grand term for a pile of mixed format tapes.

YSTV has video archive material dating back to the mind 1970s at the moment, although we can't play anything older than about 1984. Any contributions of material, or help accessing older formats would be greatly appreciated (if you've wondered off with any tapes from your time at York, we forgive you). In total 8 analogue and 3.5 digital formats are represented in the archive.

There has been an attempt to partially catalogue the VHS archive known as the Digital Archive project. Steven Perring has had success with the Yorkshire Film Archive, who have agreed to (at some future point), digitise and store our entire video archive in all formats.

Legacy Formats

These are formats that we are not adding to, and hope eventually to transfer to more accessible and durable formats. The urgency of these transfers depends on the durability of the source and the availability of suitable machines to play the archive tapes. For more on efforts so far, see the Archive Hunt page.

IVC 1" Open Reel

Current tapes dated between about 1975 and 1980. 10 inch (2400 foot long) metal reels of 1 inch wide video tape. Marked simply I.V.C. and a tape number, from which we presumed they were recorded on an International Video Corporation machine. This was the station's primary (only?) edit machine until it's demise in 1984 due to a terminal fault. This caused considerable disruption until a replacement edit system became available in 1985. Recent attempts to play these tapes suggest that in fact very little if any of the IVC format recordings remain on these tapes.

Sony 1" Open Reel

The same physical tapes as the IVC ones, but on different reels for a different machine. Tom Whitehouse recalls a Sony machine with flying erase heads (i.e. an insert edit machine) with an external colour adaptor unit that was never used. This was probably a Sony EV-320F (another picture here). Both the 1" machines were colour capable, interestingly. Obviously someone (probably in AV) had some ambitions to colour long before YSTV got there.

Sony Rover 1/2" Open Reel

These have similar dates to the IVC tapes, but are shorter 5 inch spools of 1/2 inch tape. Marked only as Sony Rover, they are presumed to come from one of the widespread Sony portable machines of the date, most of which conformed to the EIJA standard and so had interchangeable tapes. Stoic have one of these machines, but it doesn't work. Negotiations to try and get it working and in use are ongoing - they managed to dub their archive to Umatic before it gave out. Pictures of the kind of machine concerned here and here on the web.

Umatic and Mmatic

A very common semi-pro 3/4 inch cassette format, with two different sizes of shell to accommodate different amounts of tape. Playing times are about 20 mins and 60 mins respectively. These were the main format for edited content until about 1999 When did we move to U - it was in use in 1987?Unverified or incomplete information. YSTV still has a machine with close to new video heads replaced in 2000, so we can dub material off, the only problem is the volume of tapes to transfer!

Betamax

Used for a lot of early colour outside work during the 1980sUnverified or incomplete information, only a very few tapes from this date survive. Currently we don't have a working machine to play them, although we have two dud ones to work on. Good quality and have generally lasted well. The Sony F1 machine YSTV had replaced the Sony Rover as portable machine in the early 1980s, although it wasn't edit capable, so everything had to be dubbed back up to 1" open reel for editing productions.

VHS

This seems to have been the first format used to record live broadcasts as opposed to being used in production and only occasionally to record complete live shows for posterity. This was presumably aided by the relatively low cost of blank tapes. Unfortunately because they would play in domestic VCRs a large number of items have gone missing with their creators, so archive coverage is patchy. Picture quality is also variable, with some tapes having suffered major picture quality degradation over time. Playback is not a problem with a large number of VHS (and compatible S-VHS) machines still available.

Media 100

A significant amount of material edited on the Media 100 edit suite was transferred off to another machine and subsequently burnt to data CD. These CDs are still easily readable on modern machines, however the contents of the files are only accessible if they are re-imported (and re-typed) onto the Mac, because the video data is compressed with the proprietary video codec used by the Media 100qx capture card. Attempts to find a software codec for any available platform have so far failed - do let us know if you find one. In the mean time the only route out is to load the files back into the Mac, put them on a Premiere time line, and render to a standard format like DV, which then has to be transferred out over the Mac's 10M Ethernet port to the rest of the world for storage.

S-VHS

SVHS arrived sometime around 1994Unverified or incomplete information with the purchase of an SVHS Camcorder (a Panasonic MS4) and a recorder/player to go in the control room. Most things had to be dubbed to U-Matic for editing until the availability of the Media100 computer edit suite in 1998. A higher quality version of VHS, both in terms of number of lines and recording luma and chroma seperately, it later replaced Umatic for editing (around 2000, although further displaced by computer edit suites by 2003). It continues as a live program capture format, although now secondary to digital capture for repeats and archiving. Some outside broadcasts still rely on SVHS as the primary recording format, with digital copies being produced from the SVHS tape.

XviD

Derived from the MPEG-4 reference code, this is an open source lossy video codec from xvid.org. It was first used to encode DV video uploaded to the Video Server to economise on disk space. As this usage increased to include all video played out from the Video Server, it became useful to archive the files even after they were deleted from the system, to avoid time consuming capture from tape. As Premiere Pro will import compressed video files, it is now much more convenient to find clips from the digital archive on data DVDs than from SVHS tapes, so XviD compressed files have become the dominant format for archiving final productions.

Current Formats

These are used for current contributions to the archive. The aim is that they should be as durable and widely playable as possible for the future, whilst also preserving decent picture quality in a reasonable amount of space.


DV

This is found both as MiniDV format tape cassettes, and as DV data burnt to data DVDs. The latter are usually items from edit sessions that are likely to be needed again for editing in the future, so the quality loss of compressing and decompressing a more compressed format is undesirable. MiniDV is universal for outside filming, although direct capture of DV data to computer has replaced it for most studio work.

HDV

YSTV used HDV from 2008 for use in the HVR-HD1000E cameras.

mpg

YSTV uses this for recording onto the video server, It's literally the bitstream as it comes from the capture cards.