Wednesday, July 26

The End (of Tape) is Nigh

A press release by the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) states:

"From 1 October 2017 – exactly three years after File Delivery Day when file-based delivery became the preferred method of programme delivery to UK broadcasters – BBC, BT Sport, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV, Sky and UKTV will cease to accept delivery on videotape of programmes commissioned after this date."

In 1974, when I joined the BBC, audio tape recording was analogue, 15 ips for stereo, 7.5 for mono. Editing was by razor blade and sticky tape, 60° for stereo, 45° for mono (though some of us preferred 60° for both because the 45° slot in the EMI-block was often gouged into a single-track road with passing places through years of hard service.

Video tape was two inches wide and the machines, mostly AMPEX AVR2, quad format, were so complex, and put their minders under such nervous and intellectual strain, that the poor lads could never be allowed out of their basement cells and could only communicate with the rest of humanity by buzzer: buzz for yes, buzz-buzz for no.

Old guys now, such VT Engineers as managed to retire with their sanity almost intact can name their price doing their old job again on archiving projects. Because old quad tapes can only be played on old quad machines and there's nobody under 50 who even knows how to switch the machine on, never mind lacing it up, lining it up, changing the heads...  Life is fair, sometimes!