Retro Technology Is In?

I recently read a story stating that old vinyl records, (you know, what we used to call L.P.s), are making a comeback. And not just the old fogies, but new releases, but does anyone have a turntable to play them on anymore?

When audio cassette tapes entered the market, no one thought they'd take over the better-quality recordings found on vinyl, but when CDs came along, we were all hooked. Or were we hood-winked?

Yes, CDs offered instant track access, and they didn't pop or crackle, but, boy-oh-boy, when a CD cracked, your "album" was toast. At least with vinyl you could skip the needle over the scratch. 


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Well, the same thing happened to we who use video as our preferred medium. In the good old days, you didn't have to think about formats, codecs or bitrates, you only needed to know if your video was Hi8 or VHS. Then they came up with miniDV and everyone was happy.

Then… along came the DVD cameras, and some marketing spinner said it was the next best gadget to have, and where are they now? The DVD cams were clunky, with delayed starts, and the only benefit was, yep, instant access to a clip you shot without having to rewind.

I was just wondering, I don't suppose I really want to go back to the old days of VHS tape, of course, but I do like the digital video format, it's clean and easy to edit with. I use miniDV, but all these other digital acronyms, codecs and formats blow my mind: Mpeg, DVCAM, DVCPro, h.264 (Properly pronounced H-dot-2-6-4). Am I alone in the frustrations of this alphabet soup conundrum?

I told someone recently to keep that old Hi8 camera, in case he gets a client that needs some old video transferred. There's definitely a market for transferring analog footage. You can find out more on transferring old formats from author Tom Benford in our story "Digital Video Converters". There's also a market for transferring film, but it's a bit more cumbersome. (read our story, "How to Transfer Old Film" by Garret Maynard too).

And if you have a hankering for reproducing that "warm" sound that vinyl released, we even have stories showing you how to dub audio from a record player. Try this one on for size, "Unconventional Audio", by Hal Robertson. And what about all those record players that have now made their merry way to electronic waste piles? What a shame; good players, some of those; with diamond-point needles, too. But let's forget about 8-track cassettes, although, one advantage they had was, yep.. jumping to the next track in an instant. As for analog cams… I doubt anyone will lament the old VHS cameras anytime soon.



  1. Interesting blog post, VideoChick, but as a non-pro, I’m more than happy to use electronic bits in solid state media to capture, store, and edit video. What I’m glad to NOT do is to buy video tape every time I want to shoot some small clips. I’m more than happy to plug a device in a USB port to transfer my video, and to just erase it off the card after it’s on my backups. I’m also glad to not have to store the tape somewhere on a shelf.

    However, I think it would be a cool novelty to shoot some retro artsy video on a VHS machine…

  2. I will miss the fact that S-VHS is passing off the scene. I use a Panasonic S-VHS Camera and now they have stopped making the tapes, such is “Progress”!

  3. Yes, LloydChiro, you’re right. Storing tape is a pain. I can’t even count the many boxes, crates and grocery-bags of tapes, I’ve got that need sorting. From huge thick-sided 3/4″ cassettes and hour-long Betas when I worked in news to the hours and hours of “loosely labeled” miniDV tapes I shoot with now, and the myriad of VHS that holds copies of a bit of both. I’ve got a mess to sort through!

    Yes, sonicimprint, S-VHS was good in it’s day. I have a friend who is dubbing over as many S-VHS tapes as she can so she can re-use them and continue to shoot on that format with her old reliable camera!

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