Contrary to popular belief (that is, if you ever even considered the thought), all VHS tapes and VCR’s are simply not created equal. During the span of Action Video Service’s lifetime we’ve probably transferred a few hundred thousand VHS tapes to DVD and Digital Files. That’s a lot and they don’t all behave the same. We fully understand that some people opt to hop onto Ebay or Craigslist and buy their own VCR’s to handle the process of converting VHS to DVD. Years of experience has taught us that often times those same individuals eventually come into our studio after a lot of frustration (and many hours wasted gnashing their teeth) and choose to have us make a better transfer with well-maintained and professional equipment.
Understandably, the reality of most VCR’s you find online is that they’re going to be old and really not cared for over time. If you’re like me, when you actually owned a VCR, you probably never cleaned it. I know I sure didn’t – not even once. Surprisingly, I didn’t even know that was really necessary. But yes, cleaning and maintaining older equipment is vital for a decent transfer especially since new VCR’s are no longer being made. Believe me, just a single run of a tape can clog the heads of a VCR and repairing them isn’t cheap! This is just one of the things we do all the time at our studio to make your transfer the best it can possibly be – we actually clean and maintain our equipment.
What does all this have to do with VHS tapes and their equality? Take a look at the attached photo. Do you see the LARGE COGS vs SMALL COGS? Many of the duplication houses back in the 80’s and 90’s used really cheap tapes. Over time, they “stick” and simply won’t turn. We see this A LOT more often with tapes that have LARGE COGS (the center portion which the tape wraps around in the casing). We’ve noticed that when we open the cassette on the large cogs there is a lot of friction and unfortunately, there are times where even we have to give up on them. Our best advice is to get them transferred as quickly as possible before it’s too late!
There is also this logic that all VCR’s play tapes the exact same way. Again, this makes perfect sense, but reality is a very different story. At our studio, we’ve noticed that JVC decks have a better look on SONOGRAM VIDEOS as opposed to playing the exact same tape in a SONY deck. We’ve seen other times where videos shot in Super Long Play (SLP or LP) won’t play well in a JVC, but play beautifully in a different machine of a different manufacturer. The truth is that we ACTUALLY pay attention to these things and this is the reason so many clients have chosen us over time.
Here’s an example of a transfer by one of the larger companies retail chains (where they ship it off to be completed). The client received the tape looking exactly like you see on the left (with scrambled audio too)…they brought it to us and we re-transferred it for them and you can see a HUGE improvement. We get it, sometimes a tape just won’t play correctly, but in this case it looks like they were using a bad or dirty VCR with major tracking issues…in the end, they added 2 full hours of BLACK (NOTHINGNESS) to the end as well. Just another example of the lack of attention we see so often from other companies looking to transfer your tapes. Unfortunately for the client, these tapes are often shipped across the country, so even if there is a problem…there is no one local to help them understand what happened.
So again, before you venture onto the Internet looking to relive those wonderful times with often clunky, dirty, or broken equipment that can often times do MUCH MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD…consider your friends at Action Video Service who properly and professionally RESCUE YOUR MEMORIES just like we’ve done for our own families! Let us know how we can serve you.