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  1. Member
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    HI,

    I have some Umatic tapes I need to digitise and would like to know the best way to keep whatever quality is left in the tapes.

    The Umatic has 1 BNC for video out and 2 RCA for audio.

    The Surface Pro 3 PC has USB 2 and a Display Port. (Win 10 1803)

    I have seen small transfer gizmos with RCA to USB but not sure whether they are any good.

    I figure if I can get the BNC Video on the Umatic to the Surface USB, how do I get sound the as well?

    Could I also use the Umatic Audio RCA to a USB port on a USB Hub?

    Would appreciate any help.

    Thanks

    oz
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  2. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Something like the Easycap USB 2.0 (I'm not recommending this but just an example).

    They sell simple BNC to RCA converter jacks (BNC Male to RCA Female Adaptor).
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  3. Originally Posted by ozstar100 View Post
    Could I also use the Umatic Audio RCA to a USB port on a USB Hub?
    No. Now anyone just starting out may have asked that question, but you may be underestimating things a bit.

    If the tapes are important to you, you might want to consider a paid service because you're clearly just starting out, and may make some beginner's mistakes.

    Or, don't throw the tapes away afterwards; that way it could be retried later.

    Possibly clean the video heads first?
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    Don't go cleaning video heads without a reason. They are delicate and should be left alone unless they're clogged and the picture is trashed.

    You'll get the best U-matic result from a deck that has the "dub connector" and an outboard transcoder to convert the signal to s-video. I use a VO-9850 and a DPS-210 for NTSC. Then you can hook up to an inexpensive USB dongle.
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  5. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Don't go cleaning video heads without a reason. They are delicate and should be left alone unless they're clogged and the picture is trashed.
    Are they more delicate than VHS heads? Decks that are around today aren't new, they must have seen some days of service as well as some periods of rust.
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    Before you go further, what is the state of your deck? Are you sure it works correctly? Cleaning the video heads (only if necessary) is the tip of the iceberg. Umatic decks were professional equipment and used machines are likely at the end of their life when they're sold. There may be more required than just cleaning the heads to get it working properly/optimally.

    As Spiny Norman suggested, unless you have a lot of tapes, you're probably better off having the tapes transferred professionally. The catch is there aren't a lot of reputable places offering Umatic transfers. I suggest posting at digitalfaq.com and maybe lordsmurf will be able to help you find someon
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  7. Member
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    Originally Posted by Spiny Norman View Post
    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Don't go cleaning video heads without a reason. They are delicate and should be left alone unless they're clogged and the picture is trashed.
    Are they more delicate than VHS heads? Decks that are around today aren't new, they must have seen some days of service as well as some periods of rust.
    No, they are not. But all video heads are brittle and once they are broken, the deck becomes a doorstop. Video heads do not get dirty the same way that stationary heads do. They will stay clean in normal use with good tape. The purpose of cleaning is to remove debris that comes off a bad tape. Cleaning will not abate wear or rust.
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  8. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Umatic is pretty well known for having sticky tapes that shed on the heads, in recent decades. It wasn't like that back in the 80s but now that the tapes are nearing 30-40 years old, they have absorbed plenty of water. And the tape formula was not as good with Umatic when compared to later tape formats because of tape technological reasons. I know someone who had to clean the head after every use, maybe even after 10-20 minutes. It was that bad for him. I'm only recommending that much cleaning if it's truly shedding on the head and causing a noisy picture.
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  9. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    But all video heads are brittle and once they are broken, the deck becomes a doorstop
    I get so tired of "clean the heads" advice, because it's almost always wrong.

    The best advice is to always get Umatic professionally transferred, and then clean up digitally whatever mess is left. And there will always be mess. I've dealt with several in recent years, and it's often worse than an old VHS tape.
    Want my help? Ask here! (not via PM!)
    FAQs: Best Blank DiscsBest TBCsBest VCRs for captureRestore VHS
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  10. Member
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    @lordsmurf

    Do you do Umatic transfers for customers? Or is there anyone you could recommend?

    Sorry to keep throwing posters your way, but I trust your recommendations.
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    Originally Posted by KarMa View Post
    Umatic is pretty well known for having sticky tapes that shed on the heads, in recent decades. It wasn't like that back in the 80s but now that the tapes are nearing 30-40 years old, they have absorbed plenty of water. And the tape formula was not as good with Umatic when compared to later tape formats because of tape technological reasons. I know someone who had to clean the head after every use, maybe even after 10-20 minutes. It was that bad for him. I'm only recommending that much cleaning if it's truly shedding on the head and causing a noisy picture.
    Tapes that exhibit binder breakdown should be heat-treated before trying to play them. The entire transport will pick up gunk and the tape will be damaged otherwise, no matter how often you clean the heads. The problem is not nearly so common with U-matic as with audio tape. I have run into a few Scotch and particularly Ampex cassettes that required baking. The reels are removed and left in a dehydrator for 12 or more hours to temporarily cure the problem.
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  12. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Tapes that exhibit binder breakdown should be heat-treated before trying to play them. The entire transport will pick up gunk and the tape will be damaged otherwise, no matter how often you clean the heads. The problem is not nearly so common with U-matic as with audio tape. I have run into a few Scotch and particularly Ampex cassettes that required baking. The reels are removed and left in a dehydrator for 12 or more hours to temporarily cure the problem.
    Yeah I've recently had success with putting a literally sticky VHS tape in a low heat dehydrator for some time. This tape in question was not shedding but was simply acting like a rubber glove by gripping/sticking to the head and causing the head to stop when attempting to play, which leads to the machine simply shutting down to save itself. The low heat treatment made the tape playable. But I personally have not done this to a tape that constantly sheds as I don't have any, nor do I have a Umatic. But most issues with tapes are humidity absorption related so the dehydrators help with shedding.
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  13. Member
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    Many thanks guys for you advice and experience. Yes I know it's a tricky business.

    I'm going to get 1 pro done first to see how that is. But exy though.
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