Tape Digitisation

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Tape Digitisation


Our tape digitisation capacity includes both standalone and robotic (cart) based ingest – the former for legacy formats (including D3, u-matic, DV and HDV) and audio tapes such as DA88 and DAT, and the latter suitable for any digibeta variant (starting from Beta SP through to HDCAM-SR). The use of Sony Flexicarts allows us to digitise on a 24x7 basis at a very cost effective rate – and provides a high level of accuracy and quality. All ingests are frame accurate, and a monitored by our automation for any issues including video and audio channel conditions (digital formats only). This means should any issues occur during ingest, the orchestration will attempt another ingest, and then flag the tape for intervention should the issues persist. Metadata regarding any channel conditions and drop outs will be stored in our asset management alongside the media, and so can be presented / exported later in the process.

The system can capture via a number of different methods – which can easily be selected based on the content type. All captures are performed using Telestream Pipeline HD.

Timecode Capture – this method is used where the tapes are of a standard singular stripe with no timecode breaks. An in point and out point for the tape is provided, and the system will capture frame accurately to these points. Often media that is like this are TX or distribution masters.

In Point & Free Roll – this method is used where there is a clean stripe at the start of the tape, but that either there are timecode breaks, or the out point is not known. In this method, the automation will cue frame accurately to the in point – but then capture until it loses signal from the tape for more than a set tolerance (which is configurable) – or the end of the tape is reached. Often media fitting this category is sports events or off air captures where the tape deck was recording time of day – but was stopped and started repeatedly.

Crash Capture – this method is used where there is either no timecode on the tape or lots of timecode breaks. In this method, the automation will rewind to the head of the tape – and then begin capture until it loses signal from the tape for more than a set tolerance (which is configurable) – or the end of the tape is reached. Media that is commonly digitised like this are “gash” tapes where just edits were exported to tape, or for sports / off-air captures where there are a lot of timecode breaks and a bad stripe at the start of the tape.

Having these different methods available to us means that we can still leverage our automation to its best ability, regardless of the media type.

The goal is always to capture “as tape” – with then any video or audio processing or editing performed downstream – as this provides the most efficient and stable throughput. However, it is just as important to capture the details of the physical asset itself, as it is the video / audio on it – and so as part of our process our operators capture images of the physical asset – including the label and any record / QC report that might be present. This ensures again that there should be no need to return to the physical master once the digitisation process has completed.

These captures can be provided alongside the digital media as part of the fulfilment.