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How Much do Videotapes Really Degrade?

In Box

Re: Longevity Woes
I am replying to the letter signed by R.A. Clark in the February 1996 issue of Videomaker, on the matter of lifespan of videotapes. I regret I cannot find my September '95 issue to refresh me on the material he covered, but can offer my own observations and experiences.

I entered into the video profession in 1984, have shot over 100 weddings, and have a tape library (no off-TV copies included) of approximately 250 full-size cassettes. I also have about 50 of the 20-minute cassettes shot on my first JVC camera. I upgraded to S-VHS in the spring of 1989. These tapes have been stored in a vertical position in a clothes closet at room temperature first in Brandon, Florida, and for the past five years in Fort Meyers, Florida.

Before writing this letter, I replayed several of my oldest (11 years) tapes. I could not detect any deterioration in either sound or picture. I have read somewhere that tapes should be played at least once a year. I haven't time for that. I have also read that tapes should be stored unrewound. I haven't. All my tapes were made at SP (no long-play stuff).

In replaying tapes, I have noted that my use of the medium has improved since 1984. Come on, Mr. Clark. Are your first tapes really deteriorating, or are you becoming more critical of your use of the medium?

Robert B. Tuttle
Fort Meyers, Florida


Demographic Research
I feel as though I must thoroughly compliment you on your magazine. I have been reading and collecting it since 1992, and have gained a great deal of knowledge that I did not learn in college, or even in the field.

Upon reading Jim Stinson's article on research (January 1996, page 96), I felt I had to write. I think that one of the most important kinds of research was left out of the article--audience and demographics. Chances are, if someone is going to the library to do research for their video, they're taking their video more seriously. I believe that it is important for serious videomakers to know who their intended audience is before they start production.

Vocabulary, spending habits, attention span, lifestyle and other kinds of demographic information can help to make your video a success, especially if you intend to sell it. In searching for this information, I've only hit upon one method: magazines. You can learn a great deal about your audience by trying to imagine which magazine they'd read, then studying that magazine for all of the above-mentioned attributes. I'm sure there are other ways (besides hiring a research firm) to do demographic research; as Stinson says, a good librarian would be more than willing to help.

Kevin D. Dearing
Oxnard, California


Career Moves
I just want to thank the staff at Videomaker for a job well done this last year. With the help of your informative magazine, I've accomplished one of the more important goals in my life, which was a high promotion in my line of work.

In order to gain this promotion, I had to make three industrial videos on the topic of quality control and safety procedures. All of these videos were needed in our corporate headquarters as soon as possible. I volunteered for the job immediately, and in less than one week the videos were sent to our HQ. Not only did I impress my co-workers and management with the quality of my work, but for the good attitude showed (having done the job during my regular working hours), I received the promotion.

What really amazed my co-workers was the amount of videomaking knowledge I had gained simply by reading Videomaker magazine.

Angel M. Menendez
Claremore, Oklahoma


The Mac Side
I am a subscriber to your journal and as a video hobbyist find its many informative articles very useful. In the February issue that I just received, I enjoyed the piece "The Mac Platform " by Scott Anderson. I wondered, though, why the author did not mention the new Power PC 8500AV, which comes bundled with all the requisite software and hardware (including 16MB of RAM and a 2GB hard drive). It seems to be a cheaper (approx. $5000) and more ready-to-use alternative than the sum total of all the add-on products that he mentions--at least for starters. To leave this baby out seems like a serious omission!

I'm currently working in the analog world with Video Director and a RocGen PROgraphics card, but am finding that very limiting. I want to move up to digital "Nirvana," and am eyeing the 8500AV (as I am sure plenty of videomakers are). An article featuring and evaluating this machine would be very timely and useful.

Ani Sanyal
Columbus, Ohio

Tags:  May 1996
Joe
McCleskey
Wed, 05/01/1996 - 12:00am