Thanks Jim - very interesting read...
I was motivated to make one small addition relating to your comments about "long-term"
cures for analog tape - versus the more pragmatic (and cost sensible approach) to getting
material off analog carriers and into the more manageable digital domain.
Defining "short-term" and "long-term" is my concern. Some historical perspective; at the
advent of digital audio technologies, and when "fantastical claims" of digital as the
perfect audio medium were propagated by nearly everyone, Michael Gerzon was telling anyone
who would listen, "Don't Destroy The Archives."
For those that have not read that document, in reads like Nostradamus of the audio
archiving world - making predictions on how future developments might extract some
additional information from an analog source. It's not just the clear warning to
carefully hold on to our analog masters that makes an impression - his ideas of how these
future technologies could be used to correct technical faults of analog media, was
A good (and particularly current) example of this, is how "future" high-sample rate
technologies might allow the correction of wow and flutter irregularities of the original
recording. This is now possible, by using the high-frequency AC bias as the re-timing
source, along with sophisticated computer algorithms.
What new technologies might help our archives in the future? Hard to say. The one thing
I can say for sure is that technology is moving *faster* then ever before and there is
still a great interest in our analog recordings. So... defining "long-term" and
"short-term" might be difficult within this context.
Unfortunately, any new technology (example: a new SSS process) will often be accompanied
with marketing hoopla and statements that many of us will question. All I can say is...
thank God for that!
Sascom - Toronto
vox.905.825.5373 fax.905.469.1129 cel.905.580.2467
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jim Lindner
> Sent: May 14, 2007 3:47 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 'New' solution for stickey shed
> I read the postings on the Tape Ops page and have to agree
> with Peter
> and Richrad that some of the "statements of fact" which are claimed
> are not my experience either - or said in another way - there have
> been many tapes that are in a state that differ very substantially
> with some of the all encompassing statements - such as "there has
> never been a documented case of a non-backcoated tape having SSS".
> Sorry - I have seen a bunch. It may also be somewhat of a definition
> issue as well. Is it SSS or is it something else - without proper
> chemistry testing it is hard to tell, and some of those tests are
> destructive anyway..... but that does not seem to stop anyone from
> coming up with alternative treatment approaches. There is also a
> patent that has been granted to someone who claims that removing the
> back-coating will similarly cure tapes - and the patent has
> some real
> questionable statements as well. But there you have it. The biggest
> mystery to me is why Ampex - a company that HAS a patent on baking
> and one that has a history of vigorously protecting its IP has never
> done anything to protect its process. But that horse is long out of
> the barn - and I think it is in some ways beside the point.
> Now what I am about to say may be a bit controversial in these
> hallowed ARSC halls - virtual halls I suppose - but I will speak out
> and hope to not be accosted - or at least to not be accosted
> with too
> much vitriol. I will promise to go back to lurking after this little
> squeak. (that was a joke)....
> So here goes...
> In some ways I personally feel that I have "moved on" from this
> entire discussion - I don't think that the point any longer is to
> "cure" the tape forever so that it will be OK for analog
> playback. I
> think that a shorter term more pragmatic approach - which
> simply said
> is "get it off the bad stock" is a better bet. I think that this is
> particularly true in Audio - unless that particular reel has some
> artifactual value (i.e. it was owned by someone famous and is the
> only extant recording of its type) - then the point is to save the
> content in a fashion that is as clean as possible - and move on. I
> don't see that there will be a surfeit of operable 2" Studer
> 100 years from now to really deal with the legacy that is purported
> to be saved by saving the original carrier - and at some point we
> need to be comfortable enough to say - yeah - we have captured the
> content extremely well - and well enough is likely to be well
> enough.... forever... because at some point it has to be. The scale
> of the problem is SO large that any other philosophy is simply
> unworkable, as a practical matter.
> We have been doing some market research into the number of
> tapes that
> really are out there - and at the moment I am talking about Video
> tapes. I was always suspicious about the UNESCO claim of 200 million
> carriers. I just did not believe it - it did not make sense to me.
> Doing some real market research has provided some numbers that
> frankly stun me - and I have been in this for a LONG time -
> and still
> I am shocked. Here is one. Disney - has over 6 million tapes. One
> company. 6 Million. Now I have no idea how many audio tapes
> they have
> - but it is the scale that dwarfs the mind. MTV 1.5 million -
> that is
> MILLION. One vendor alone - I can't say who - sold more then 300
> MILLION Umatic carriers - and that was just in Europe. VHS tapes -
> more then 300 million blank tapes a year (not pre-recorded tapes,
> blank ones) for at least 15 years. I could go on - but the point is
> this. As a field - of people who care about the preservation of
> cultural heritage.... we need to move on and come up with better and
> faster and cheaper ways to transfer these tapes - because if
> we don't
> - it is game over for the huge and overwhelming percentage of them.
> Sure - with proper storage we can extend the life- but to what end?
> What are we waiting for - other then retirement and to pass them on
> to the next person. Are we expecting a new generation of
> really cheap
> analog mass migration systems to come out of the mist and magically
> play back the tapes on a yet undefined new format to save for
> posterity - or is there another reality - one decidedly less
> sexy and
> grim - which is that there is not likely to be much work in these
> areas because manufacturers are looking elsewhere - and what we are
> saving them for - is for being thrown out - by someone else - but
> being thrown out nevertheless because at some point - it truly is
> game over -because there isnt much gear and there is certainly less
> Call this a plaintive cry to the field to stop working on stop-gap
> thinking and work toward a more comprehensive approach to the saving
> of all of this content. Painting these tapes with NUFinish is really
> besides the point. The point is that Analog is over, and the sooner
> we get to the really hard job of developing cost effective mass
> migration techniques to save the vast corpus the better. Now some of
> you may say my statements are self-serving - and I will fully and
> freely admit that I have worked very hard to develop these
> and have worked to commercialize them - but I do not see any other
> way to save the content, and I have been successful in driving the
> price lower and lower using new technology. But - we are just one
> company - and we need help - yes we need competition because THE
> point is to save the content - and to do that - we need to be
> thinking differently. The problem is not how do we stop a single
> troublesome tape from squeaking - the problem is how do we migrate
> the millions of recordings fast enough and cost effective enough and
> good enough - for the future. I don't see much of that going
> on - and
> it deeply concerns me. We need more people thinking this way
> - I want
> to read about techniques that can be applied to thousands of tapes
> that will allow fast and cost effective transfer. This is something
> that we ALL need to work on - the collective brains and expertise on
> this list and others needs to focus - we can differ in our
> philosophies but please let us not get so distracted by esoteric un-
> scaleable treatments, that we forget the whole point. Which is - to
> save the stuff. I am sad to say that collectively - all of us
> (including me)- have not been doing a very good job - we need to do
> MUCH better. We need to work together - and smarter. The risk
> of loss
> is simply too great.
> Ok - I am done - and I am running,,,,
> Jim Lindner
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> Media Matters LLC.
> SAMMA Systems LLC.
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> and access practices.
> On May 14, 2007, at 1:59 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:
> > At 07:48 AM 2007-05-14, Tom Fine wrote:
> >> Hi Konrad:
> >> Some of what this guy says is simply not right about sticky-shed.
> >> I can't comment on his "cure". I'll stick with baking
> tapes, which
> >> is proven to work.
> >> I'm hoping Richard Hess posts a long missive on this one. With
> >> this topic well-addressed many other places, I wonder why so much
> >> mythology persists?
> > Hello, Tom, Konrad,
> > Peter Brothers has posted an excellent hypothesis as to why the
> > chemical technique may work. If we consider that the short
> > chains which is the lower molecular weight, sticky stuff ends up
> > partially adsorbing to the magnetic particles when water is driven
> > out, then this mystery chemical could also be a water "magnet" and
> > can pull the water out of the coating allowing sites for the short
> > chains to adsorb. This is consistent with the baking process.
> > We certainly have seen tapes suffering from binder hydrolysis --
> > what I'm starting to call "Soft Binder Syndrome" (SBS). With non-
> > back-coated tapes there is a large population (not 100%,
> but close)
> > that do not respond to baking. These are the SBS without
> SSS tapes.
> > We used to call them "loss of lubricant" (LoL) until we found out
> > there was still ample lubricant in the tapes.
> > What we are seeing with the non-back-coated tapes that have SBS
> > (and squeal) is that they are in a rubbery phase at room
> > temperature because the breakdown of the polymers has caused the
> > temperature at which the surface turns from smooth to rubbery
> > (called the GLASS TRANSITION TEMPERATURE or Tg) has fallen
> to below
> > room temperature. What we do in these cases is play the tapes with
> > the tape and the player below the current Tg of the tape.
> > Measuring Tg is not easy -- you need to measure the Youngs Modulus
> > of the Coating (alone not on the basefilm) at various temperatures
> > and from that plot you can extract the Tg.
> > It all comes down to the tapes decaying and for all of the
> > polyester-polyurethane tapes it appears that moisture is the
> > catalyst for the breakdown -- hence as Peter says, it's all
> > Incubation/baking appears to cause enough movement in the tape pack
> > to break the layer-to-layer bonds that form under pressure
> > (especially near the hub) that causes pinning and pullouts. I have
> > found that slow (1.88 in/s) playback of the tape also helps
> in that
> > regard.
> > I think our goal here is to use reliable, tested processes and
> > digitize the content. I spent a substantial amount of effort
> > working on tapes that squealed and did not respond to baking. My
> > cold playing technique (which I encourage all of you to try and
> > respond back) should, in theory, work with SSS tape as well as SBS
> > (and I suggest that SSS is a subset of SBS), but the massive
> > amounts of debris generated by the backcoat/magcoat combination
> > overwhelms the capability of cold playback (at least right
> now) and
> > at pro play speeds, pullout is exacerbated due to the bonding
> > between backcoat and magcoat.
> > I do not think we've yet seen a documented case of LoL so
> > thankfully that myth is being put to bed. We used to think the
> > squealing Sony PR-150 and 3M 175 was LoL, but we now see
> that it is
> > SBS. By the way, the Tg of one sample of 175 was about +8C
> or about
> > 46F.
> > Keeping polyester polyurethane tapes dry (<40% RH) is a good way to
> > keep them feeling OK. I had a non-backcoated tape of this
> type that
> > had been peaking at 75% RH in storage "heal" after three months
> > storage at about 40% RH.
> > By the way, it is approximately a minute:day relationship between
> > thermal and moisture equilibrium--or at least that's a convenient
> > way to think of it. In other words if a tape takes 90 minutes to
> > reach thermal equilibrium throughout the pack, then it takes 90
> > days to reach moisture equilibrium. This is based on work with 1-
> > inch tapes so 1/4-inch tapes might not be as bad, but it seems to
> > match my experience.
> > My AES paper cites the reference for that.
> > In general, I am less happy with a chemical approach than a
> > physical/state approach (within limits) to the SBS/SSS problem as
> > there is a great chance of unknown, long-term damage from any
> > chemical approach. With that said, I have tried approaches to SBS
> > based on the LoL hypothesis and they were abysmal failures.
> > Konrad: we did have a belated success in your neck of the woods
> > with playing a tape in a fridge. Paul or Mike have the details. I
> > think it needed 48 hours of cold soak before it played.
> > Cheers,
> > Richard
> > Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> > Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
> > Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/
> > contact.htm
> > Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.