Umatic Cassette Repair

Overview Need to repair a Umatic tape.


Use the scotch tape from the dispenser.  Just make sure that no sticky surface is "showing".


Great photos:

Good video (same video on youtube....but the audio is very poor):

Sticky Tape Syndrome

Overview Tapes we are talking about can be video tapes or audio tapes....they are all basically the same type of construction.  Tapes can absorb moisture over time and the surface can become sticky.  This sticky tape syndrome will prevent the tape form being transferred as the tape will gum up the heads on the reading machine.

What Causes This To Happen 

  • Storing the tapes in a very humid the tropics
  • Some audio tapes have been known to be more likely to break down over time


Tape baking is a common practice to remove the moisture.  We have a Excalibur Dehydrator that we use to bake the tape.

Bake the tape at 120 degrees F for 4 to 8 hours.  TESTED.


Tape:  BC Lib tape 2008-058 tape #1 on May 2, 2015

Came across a reel-to-reel tape that squeaked a lot in the middle of the tape and also left reside/dust below the machine and in the path.  The tape's digital file was good at the start and end but muffled and screechy in the middle.  The tape physically appeared different looking at it from the side of the reel....the first 1/4 inch of tape looked different (lighter in colour) than the rest of the tape.

Baked the tape at 130 F in the dehydrator for about 5 hours.  Let the tape acclimatize hanging on the reel-to-reel deck for about 20-30 minutes.  Ran the squealing and the digital file was perfect!!

U-Matic (20 minute tape) tape on May 20, 2015

Ran the tape and captured the audio and some of the video later on in the tape.  The tape had 2 musical numbers on it and only the second number sort of captured....the first one only the audio and the video was major snow!  Ran a test tape with bars and found the same snow and okay audio capture.  Cleaned the heads (several times...until no dirt appeared) and re-ran test tape...bars and audio good!

Baked the tape at 125 F in the dehydrator for 8-9 hours (in at 8am out at 5pm?).

Sample of Before and After


[audio mp3=""][/audio]

After - (fixed via baking):


The link below describes baking U-Matic tapes:

All Betacam and Umatic Tapes via AJA Kona LHe

Transfer Betacam or Betacam SP or U-matic or U-matic SP both large and small cassette to digital.
For Betacam:  Sony PVW2800 VCR deck
For U-matic:  Sony VO-9850 VCR deck, DPS-295
For all: AJA Kona LHe capture card installed in SPACE, AJA breakout box
  • Make sure that the component cables (3) and XLR cables (2) are connected to the breakout box.  The cables should all be labelled PVW2800 for Betacam processing or U-Matic for U-Matic tape processing.
  • Open Machina:
    • Under the "Setup" tab, select the audio and video folders to capture into.  These folders can be the same especially if the A/V file captures into one file.
    • Set the following under the "Capture" tab and the "File Options" section (to the right of the preview pane)
      • File Type: MOV Movie
      • Video/Audio: Video - Audio
      • Video Subtype: 8-bit YUV 4:2:2 '2vuy'
      • Audio Subtype: 48Hz 32-bit PCM Stereo
    • The file resulting from the above configuration will work for both PC and MAC environments.  There are many other options that work in some cases, but this is the only one that works for both PC and MAC.
  • Below the Machina preview pane on the left, make sure the tab is "capture now".  Click the red record button.
  • Start the VCR ... push "Play"
  • when the capture is done, click the red record button to stop the capture.

Issues with Capture Using Vegas

Unfortunately, Sony Vegas cannot be used to capture the footage from the AJA Kona LHe card as there is a bug in the Vegas software.  One can select the capture /sdi options and the AJA card, but the resulting file will be missing the audio.  I contact Sony support and they acknowledged the bug and said it would be fixed in a future release/build.  Last build I checked the problem was ver 12.0 build  394 (Nov 6, 2012).

Table of Codecs And Results

The following table tests Machina's various codecs on a PC and their compatibility with a MAC.   Note that VLC was not tested on the PC as I figured the results would be similar to the MAC.  "WinMP" is Windows 7 Media player.

Legend: A - audio only, V - video only, Y - both audio and video.

Testing Machina codecs for MAC
Codec Wrapper Type bits color space Realplayer Quicktime VLC Quicktime WinMP
2Vuy mov YUV 8 422 A A Y Y A
2Vuy avi YUV 8 422 N N V V V
2vuy mov YUV 8 422 Y Y Y Y A
2vuy avi YUV 8 422 V V V V V
8bit RGB apple mov 8 A A A Y A
8bit RGBA 444 mov 8 444 A A A Y A
10bit RGB full A mov Log RGB 10 444 A A A Y A
10bit RGB full A avi Log RGB 10 444 N N N V V
10bit RGB full B mov Log RGB 10 444 A A A Y A
10bit RGB full B avi Log RGB 10 444 N N N V V
10bit RGB log mov Log RGB 10 444 A A A Y A
10bit RGB log avi Log RGB 10 444 N N N V V
10bit RGB smpte A mov 10 A A A Y A
10bit RGB smpte B mov 10 A A A Y A
bgr avi RGB 8 444 V V V V V
bgra avi RGBA 8 4444 V V V V V
uyvy avi YUV 8 422 N N V V V
V210 mov YUV 10 422 A A A Y A
v210 mov YUV 10 422 A A A Y A
v210 avi YUV 10 422 N N N V V

Old Media - Where To Send

Overview Here's a list of old media that we cannot do and resources of places that can help.


Here's a neat website that list all the video tape formats:

3/4" U-matic Tape

(Commercial Electronics - Don)

We now handle 3/4" U-matic (Mar 2012).

Range: 1971 - early 1990's

History (highlight summary):

  • 3/4" U-Matic              1970
  • 3/4" U-Matic SP        1986

Formats: low-band, high-band, SP


  • timecoding

This format was introduced by Sony in 1971.  Although introduced as a consumer tape, it actually caught on more as a Pro tape.  By the mid '70's TV stations started using it.  There was also a U-Matic S format (max 20 mins) like the VHS-C tapes....designed for the portable units.  Many of the newer frontloading machines can accept the S format tapes without an adaptor (earlier top loading ones required an adaptor).  By the early 90's Betacam SP had more-or-less replaced U-matic.

Improvements made:

  • TBC circuitry....drop out compensation.
  • Dolby noise reduction
  • SP (superior performance) technology...improves video picture

1/2" Sony CV Video Tape

One of the first video tapes that was cheap enough for home use.  Introduced around the mid 1960's to early 1970's.

  1.      starts at $175 (baking will be required and is included) for 0 to 30 minutes

1/2" Sony EIAJ Video Tape

One of the first video tapes that was cheap enough for home use.  Introduced around 1969 and caught on in the early 1970's.  EIAJ-1 for B&W, and then later EIAJ-2 for color.  EIAJ-1 machines were the Sony AV-3600 and 3650 (editor), whereas the color machines were Sony AV-8600 and 8650 (editor).

  1.      starts at $95 ($135 if baking required) for 0 to 30 minutes
  3. VIVO Media Arts, Vancouver 604-872-8337 ext 2 (Alex Muir) $50 per hour
  4. Western Front, Vancouver.  Both machines are now working(Jan 2017).  Send referrals to (Kristy Waller): Archivist Western Front303 East 8th Avenue Vancouver BC V5T 1S1 Canada

    T. +1.604.876.9343 F. +1.604.876.4099 E. W.

1" Video Tape

From 1963 to 1988 there were some 15 different 1" video tape formats and at least that many machines to handle this tape.  We do not handle 1" tape and those that do charge around $250 per hour.  When they handle this tape, they need to first try several machines to find out which format the tape was recorded in.  The tape will also be sticky so they need to bake the tape to remove moisture before processing the tape.  Some places that handle these:

  3. Finale Editworks, Vancouver
    1. Rob Robinson (VTR guy) 604-876-7678 ext 321
    2. charged special rate of $140 per hour of video....transferred to Betacam SP (then I'd transfer to whatever?)


PAL miniDV

We Now provide this as we have a Sony DSR11

Vince Vindetti (Daystar Productions) has a DSR11 that can read PAL miniDV's and can dump them to DVD or whatever....don't forget the miniDV will hold 13.5GB.


Other References:

Also check out .... "Services That Others Provide (and we don't)"