Recorded on cassette.
There’s Billy’s birth and Mindi’s mirth
And Grandpa’s clarinet.
Each moment has been saved, you hope,
They can not be replaced.
So let’s assure your tapes endure
And never get erased.
The Master Tape
Let’s start at the beginning, folks,
Before you press Record.
Go find yourself a name brand tape,
The best you can afford.
Now pick a master format like
DV or Digital8.
S-VHS or Hi8 too,
These formats are top rate.
Get yourself a high-grade tape
’cause low-grade tends to stretch.
Your pictures will bend at the top.
You’ll look at them and retch.
Your master tape is finally done.
You set it on the table.
Unless you want it lost real soon,
You’d better make a label.
You title both cassette and box
So no one else will use it.
Unless you like your work erased
And someone stands accusd.
And MASTER is another word
To mark on your cassette,
So you can tell it clearly from
The copies it begets.
They look a lot the same you know,
Both content and the title,
But master’s what you copy from
If quality is vital.
Another thing to do
As soon as taping is complete
It’s something that will save you grief,
And Murphy’s Laws you’ll cheat.
Go find the safety tab,
It’s on the front of the cassette,
To render it record-proof
So erasure’s not a threat.
Later, should you change your mind,
And want to use it o’er,
Slide the button or tape the hole.
Full function you’ll restore.
A tape should last 100 plays,
Two hundred, thereabouts.
Don’t leave a tape in Pause too long
‘Cause that will wear it out.
If played inside a clean machine,
Adjusted and maintained,
Your tape will last a good long time.
Nice pictures are retained.
If you use a VCR that has
Its belts and clutches worn,
Your tape, once new, will soon be old
And wrinkled, scratched and torn.
Another thing that tapes dislike
Which bends them out of shape,
Is sitting unrewound for days,
Unthreaded and agape.
The rollers, guides and threading posts
Though gentle during play,
Will kink a tape if threaded there
Much longer than a day.
A video recording tape
Is not archival stuff.
It will last for many years
If treated well enough.
Longevity of the tape depends
On cleanliness of habit.
So don’t be dumb and let your friends
Put drinks and pizza on it.
Construction dust and clingy lint,
And cat hairs, crumbs and Coke,
And fingerprints, are bad for tape.
You shouldn’t even smoke.
Videocassettes, my friend,
If kept inside their box,
Will stay pristine and super clean,
Away from dust and knocks.
You store the cases on their ends
So edges of the tape
Aren’t resting on the cassette walls
To bend and fray and scrape.
And furthermore a tape stood up
Is less an invitation
To set upon it, heavy things,
Which cause tape deformation.
If ever you should mail a tape,
Use packaging with bubbles.
Those bags comprised of paper fluff
Leak dust and cause you troubles.
All tape abhors magnetic fields
Like motors, amps and speakers,
Demagnetizers, TV screens
And most electric creatures.
Of temperature and humidity,
Your tapes won’t be dismayed
At 70 degrees of Fahrenheit,
(That’s 20 Centigrade).
Humidity for tape falls in
The range that we like too.
At fifty-two percent or less
They’re comfy through and through.
The danger range for temperature
Is 40 degrees below,
Or plus one-forty, (60C);
The tape will stretch, you know.
One place you shouldn’t keep a tape,
Is in the sunny rays,
Your glove compartment, on your dash
Or trunk on torrid days.
There always will be accidents
And you will want to save
Your program so your spouse won’t send
You with it to the grave.
A slightly warped or cracked cassette
Will rub along the tape.
And fray or bend the edge so that
You can’t undo the scrape.
To solve the problem, wash your hands,
Then open the cassette,
And move the tape to ‘nother shell
That isn’t such a threat.
If liquid spills onto your tape,
It holds it like a wick.
Dismantle the cassette with care
And dab it off real quick.
And while your tape is still exposed,
Permit me to suggest:
A blow dry set at cool or warm
Evaporates the rest.
Playing the Troublesome Tape
Now let’s assume you’ve taken care
Of tapes upon your shelf.
It’s been some years since they’ve been played
You try one out yourself.
Your tape, it plays, but has the bends.
It flagwaves to and fro,
Collapsing into skinny lines.
Diagonal they go.
At first try your TV set,
The horizontal hold,
To stabilize your picture there.
Still garbage you behold?
Perhaps the tape or VCR
Is much too cold to play.
Inside, it gathers dampness and
Gets "sticky," as they say.
Let both machine and tape warm up,
To dry and work their best,
Or use the blow dry trick again
To speed along your quest.
If none of the above have worked,
Your tape has stretched or shrunk,
Don’t give up; you should try
Another trick before you’re sunk.
Fast forward your vexatious tape
And right up to the end.
The process will relax the tape
And "air it out," my friend.
The tape may slightly change its shape,
Returning to the norm.
Rewind the tape back to start
And now it may conform.
The Archival tape
No matter what the experts say
Nobody really knows
How long a tape will really last
‘Til it will decompose.
The tapes made 20 years ago
With effort can be played
But tape is so much different now
They say it won’t degrade.
We’ll never know if Billy’s birth
Will last until he’s wed.
Of course, your tape may prove itself
Right up ’til you’re dead.
A newer tape will come along,
Thanks to engineers.
So this debate will start again
In five or twenty years.
The biggest problem that we face
Is not the tape, but how
We’ll ever find a VCR
To play it years from now.
One way to make it possible
To find an "old" machine
Is buy one now, then seal it up
To keep for years, pristine.
A better bet is make a dupe
When passed ten years or so.
Accept a generation loss
But save a tale of woe.
And when you make your copy new
Employ your wisest guess
Of what format is likely not
To quickly obsolesce.
You’ve been so kind to tolerate
This little tape-care verse.
I’m not a Robert Frost, I know:
I’m 98 times worse.
My rhyme may make you shudder,
My meter may be trash.
Don’t cancel your subscription,
Videomaker needs the cash.
Don’t bother sending letters, too.
I promise I’ll desist
From spouting further poetry.
I found an exorcist.