Remember the days of those precious family videos on VHS? Your 21st, your wedding, baby’s first steps, your child’s graduation? Life is so full of wonderful moments and milestones that we try to capture for longevity, to enjoy again in the future. 

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling (and the wrath of your spouse!!) on realising that you’ve mistakenly taped over your wedding video, just so you don’t miss the Saturday afternoon rugby match, or popped your graduation video into the VCR to tape Strictly Come Dancing? 

it's time to digitise old VHS tape

We’re stepping back in time here to the days before VOD, streaming services and catchup TV. Those precious memories saved on those old VHS tapes will be lost forever if they are not carefully protected. If you want to watch back your wedding tape from 50 years ago, it’s likely the tape will soon no longer be playable. The only way to protect and store those precious memories is to have these old formats digitised.  

The situation is the same for hundreds of thousands of hours of footage on magnetic tape containing valuable historical footage stored in National archives around the world. Although these physical tapes are being carefully stored in temperature-controlled environments, the footage on them will certainly be lost forever if not digitised. This is due to the magnetic tape format deteriorating to such an extent that it will no longer be playable.  

TMD is helping with this important work of digitisation, with two solutions: Mediaflex VTR (manual tape ingest) and Mediaflex Cart (automated bulk tape ingest). 

Mediaflex VTR

Mediaflex supports the manual ingest of videotapes whereby a person inserts the tape into the tape recorder, and the content is digitised via a connected encoder. The digital output is then processed in the same way as born-digital files in the Mediaflex system. This content can then be put through workflow tasks, whether automated or manual. 

Mediaflex Cart

Mediaflex supports the automated ingest of content from robotic videotape libraries, such as the Sony Flexi-Cart. Linked with the Mediaflex Orchestrator and associated schedules, it provides a highly efficient solution to bulk ingest without the need for operator intervention. The Mediaflex Cart client works together with Mediaflex and provides completely automated ingest. Mediaflex Cart scans the tapes held in the robot and when it recognises a number that is in a current ingest workflow, it automatically starts the task. The workflow may also include an assisted QC task using a suitable system such as Telestream VidChecker or Interra Baton. 

Mediaflex VTR Manual Tape Ingest

This huge and important task of digitising and preserving tapes really needs to be completed by 2025, which is the potential deadline by which magnetic tape may no longer be viable. These digital files then need to be managed and safely stored for future generations. Mediaflex is able to automate many of the process tasks involved to achieve this. Every piece of content that enters the system is populated with extensive metadata, making the essential aspect of discoverability and searchability of the content simple. The new digital content and metadata is instantly stored – safely and securely – with zero data loss. 

Read about how the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia are using Mediaflex to manage their content.

To find out more about protecting your valuable content, get in touch today.