What to know about 8mm Videotape stocks.
8mm Video Cameras and 8mm Videotapes had a fascinating ride in the 90’s. The 8mm cameras were set up to have higher contrast values when viewed on a monitor, making the cameras look higher resolution, but when the signal was actually recorded to tape, the result did not match what could be seen when the camera image was sent straight to a monitor.
This in turn created an interesting 8mm videotape recording paradigm that were a source of puzzlement and strategizing. The more durable 8mm tape had less coercivity (how much dynamic signal it could record), while the EV (evaporated tape) had a higher dynamic signal recording, but could literally begin dropping particles if the EV 8mm tape was shuttled back and forth.
Why such a range in tape? Why make a tape that was so fragile it was risky to shuttle back and forth?
When the hidden camera shows came out in the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s, 8mm cameras were the smallest, so the desire was to obtain the highest possible quality video recording, then immediately bump the camera masters to betacam sp for editing.
So when a client brings 8mm tapes in and wants them digitized, try and learn what the actual 8mm tape stock is and treat accordingly. The EV Tapes are definitely a wild card.
Meanwhile, once Digital 8 hit the scene, the obvious strategy was to immediately transfer via “fire wire” to an NLE editing platform. I am not totally sure about this, but I think the Digital 8 codec is basically identical to the mini-dv codec, but in a different tape size.
Was it “better” to use a more robust 8mm tape for recording to a Digital 8 format? One would think since the camera is recording one’s and zeros, as long as the more robust, no evaporated 8mm tapes could record the one’s and zero’s, the need for an evaporated tape for digital recording was probably not going to increase recording quality.
Another interest aspect to both 8mm video and mini-dv was both formats incorporated a slower record speed that ironically, was of similar quality to the regular speed recording. What was at stake was the “risk factor” of recording one’s and zeros in a more compact area when recording at a slower speed. I don’t recall how the audio was affected when recording at the slower speed. I have a recollection that when recording at the slower speed, there was no audio quality option, whereas when recording at the regular speed, there were two audio quality options.
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