D6.2 Knowledge database and report on U-matic tape condition


  • 1. Document Scope
  • 2. Executive Summary
  • 3. Overview of this report
  • 4. Introduction to U-Matic
  • 5. Guidelines and Recommendations
  • 6. Tape Playability Tables
  • 7. Conclusions
  • Appendix A: Archive holdings of U-Matic
  • Appendix B: U-Matic problems found by archives
  • Appendix C: Cost of Transfter of U-Matic
  • Appendix D: Problems encountered during U-Matic tape transfer
  • Appendix E: Converting serial numbers to chemical groups
  • Appendix F: Analysis Method.

This report is intended to be used by people who want to assess the condition and risk of loss of their U-Matic tape collections, plan and cost U-Matic tape transfer projects and execute U-Matic tape transfer projects in an efficient and cost effective way. It is based on research undertaken at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) in France while transferring 50,000 U-matic tapes. This PrestoSpace deliverable includes an overview of U-Matic tapes in terms of years of production, manufacturers, holdings of audiovisual archives, the extent to which U-Matic is problematic to transfer and the cost and time need to transfer U-Matic tapes into digital form as well as guidelines and recommendations for planning and executing UMatic tape transfer projects. The set of appendices contain more details on the problems that can occur when transferring U-Matic tapes including the different types of defect (head clogging, dropouts, sticky tapes, etc.), which defects are common and which are rare, which are playability problems due to the formulation/degradation of the media, and what types of treatment are required.

This reports provides a practical and clear roadmap for undertaking the transfer of a U-Matic tape collection. Based on quantitative data on tape transfer problems, the report enables the archive to realistically plan transfer chains based on batches to be identified in advance. Although the costs of transfer identified may have changed since it was written, the approach suggested is still valuable and the methodology valid.