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  1. I have just completed the project of digitising my family's home video tapes. Majority of them were Video8 except for the oldest two which were dubbed to VHS in 1990. Unfortunately the original recordings were lost when the video8 cassettes were re-used.

    I noticed in between recordings on one of the video8 tapes was a few seconds of the same footage that was dubbed to VHS. This allowed me to compare and see the generational loss side by side, which is quite substantial unfortunately. This is the result of dubbing on an early 80s VCR to an average TEAC tape: https://imgur.com/a/LCVUdz4

    It's a shame that the original recordings are gone, but a copy is better than no copy.

    Dubbing video8 to VHS doesn't make sense to me today, why create an inferior copy to store away and erase the original. Perhaps the loss in quality at the time wasn't noticeable at the time on a CRT? Were video8 cassettes expensive and therefore reused to save cost? Was this a common practice?
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  2. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Well I see some 8mm tapes on sale at Amazon UK for £20-£30 EACH

    And I well remember my inital purchase of a VHS or Betamax also costing a fortune.


    One thought re dubbing on to VHS could be the connection between older CRTs inasmuch that direct from camcorder to tv was not possible. Even older vcrs only had aerial connecters.
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    It's a pointless question. Clearly, with the knowledge we have now, you probably wouldn't do it. But I well remember that the cost of tapes was pretty significant and, as an keen videographer, I would shoot much more than I wanted to keep so I transferred all the time. I didn't use Video8, but the principle is the same; just buying a new tape when one was "used up" probably with only 10 minutes of decent video on it, was not an option. And with Video8 in particular, what would you have put it on if not for VHS? Betamax or whatever it was called? I still hear the cash register pinging.

    So, even if you knew the answer, there's nothing that can be done about it so you may as well forget it.

    Rather than lament the quality of my home movie tapes, I gaze in wonderment at what I can do with them now; never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd have such powerful tools for such cheap prices to edit and save for posterity our family videos.
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  4. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dan7y View Post
    Dubbing video8 to VHS doesn't make sense to me today, why create an inferior copy to store away and erase the original. Perhaps the loss in quality at the time wasn't noticeable at the time on a CRT? Were video8 cassettes expensive and therefore reused to save cost? Was this a common practice?
    It doesn't make sense today, but the tapes were not dubbed today. Back then, there were legit reasons to why they did this, The main reason off course is cost saving, compact tapes of any kind were expensive but full size VHS were cheap, So shoot, convert and reuse the same tapes over and over, not to mention VHS tapes are 2 hours, so you can fit 2 small tapes in one VHS tape which saves more money.

    Other reasons like the ability to share with family, VHS VCRs were very common back then so just give them the tape and let them watch it, Also convenience, just pop in the VHS tape, take the remote control sit back and enjoy the footage, you can rewind, pause ...etc, These things were fun back then. Another reason is that some people didn't like to use the camcorder for repeated playback because it's an expensive investment so they prefer to use the cheap VCR.
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    Brings back memories. Rented my first VHS machine from DER in London in 1979,
    E180 tape cost 10 UKP
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  6. Member DB83's Avatar
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    ^^ Exactly. And in terms of buying power back then not, as some argue, 'cheap'

    Of course as vcrs became more affordable so did the cost of blanks fall. 3 for a tenner became the 'norm'.
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  7. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    In the 1990 a blanc 60min Video8 cassette cost $29.99 while a 10pack 120min VHS blanks cost $9.99, In 1990 V8 is only 5 years old from the initial release, the first V8 camcorder cost around $1100 back then. So, it was a very wise choice to dub into VHS and keep reusing the expensive tapes.
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    Originally Posted by dan7y View Post
    Dubbing video8 to VHS doesn't make sense to me today, why create an inferior copy to store away and erase the original.
    Straight dub to VHS makes no sense to me either. It did make sense when one edited a 2-hour tedium down to a 3-5-10 minute highlight reel.

    Whenever 8-mm was used by pros (and it was mostly Hi8, not Video8), they treated it as film negative, bumping it up to a better format like Becacam or 1-inch for editing. In the worst case, they would edit on Umatic SP, which was lower res than Hi8, but held better from one generation to another.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    compact tapes of any kind were expensive but full size VHS were cheap, So shoot, convert and reuse the same tapes over and over
    One 8-mm cassette can hold as much as fifty Super8 cartidges. Shoot economically and store in a cool and dry place. Recently I've converted about a dozen of Video8 tapes from 1993 into digital, and now I am faced with a Herculean task of making a coherent road movie out of it, the constant yammering of my friend who shot it does not help. Here is a short highlight preview. I trimmed it after I had uploaded it on YouTube, so the quality suffered a bit, kind of like using a second copy off VHS

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    VHS tapes are 2 hours, so you can fit 2 small tapes in one VHS tape which saves more money.
    2-hr 8-mm cassettes became available in the late 1985. Later, 2.5-hr cassettes became available. 3-hr cassettes were rare and expensive; when they were released in 1993, they were priced at $35.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    Other reasons like the ability to share with family, VHS VCRs were very common back then
    No one would watch a 2-hour monotony. I have a couple of tapes like this as well - they have never been watched after they were recorded 30-something years ago. Could as well have thrown them into trash. Still photos are the best for memories, or maybe short 3-5 minute compilation videos.
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  9. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    One 8-mm cassette can hold as much as fifty Super8 cartidges. Shoot economically and store in a cool and dry place. Recently I've converted about a dozen of Video8 tapes from 1993 into digital, and now I am faced with a Herculean task of making a coherent road movie out of it, the constant yammering of my friend who shot it does not help. Here is a short highlight preview. I trimmed it after I had uploaded it on YouTube, so the quality suffered a bit, kind of like using a second copy off VHS
    You're comparing apples to oranges, In the 90's film is dead, I have no idea what's your point here ???

    2-hr 8-mm cassettes became available in the late 1985. Later, 2.5-hr cassettes became available. 3-hr cassettes were rare and expensive; when they were released in 1993, they were priced at $35.
    6Hr, 8hr VHS tapes also where available, In SP speed most V8 tapes were 60 min and VHS 120min, extreme cases are the exception.

    No one would watch a 2-hour monotony. I have a couple of tapes like this as well - they have never been watched after they were recorded 30-something years ago. Could as well have thrown them into trash. Still photos are the best for memories, or maybe short 3-5 compilation videos.
    Maybe in your family, In most families people watched home videos on VHS, people sent VHS tapes by mail to other families in VHS, it was the go to format not just for commercial movies but for everything pretty much.

    If you're arguing that people dubbed V8 tapes to VHS not because of the cost you failed miserably.
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    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    You're comparing apples to oranges, In the 90's film is dead, I have no idea what's your point here ???
    First of all, Super8 almost died around 1982-1984, when VHS-C and Video8 launched (just like vinyl almost died in the 1990s). But by the end of the 1980-s Super8 resurrected thanks to advanced amateurs and poor pros, because consumer-grade video could not compete with film, even with such a crappy format as Super8. An example is here and here. SVHS and Hi8 could barely compete with Super8.

    But even for family use, if people felt that a 3-minute film roll was usable in the 1960s and the 1970s, then a cassette that would fit fifty of such rolls would be even more usable IF people treated it as a 3-minute cartridge. Instead, they turned the camera on and kept shooting for minutes on. The result was boring garbage, which, when copied verbatim to a VHS tape remained the same boring garbage at lower quality, which no one - ok, barely anyone - would care to watch.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    6Hr, 8hr VHS tapes also where available, In SP speed most V8 tapes were 60 min and VHS 120min, extreme cases are the exception.
    There were no 6-hr or 8-hr VHS tapes. These were standard T120 tapes, which would run for 6 hours in EP mode. But 8-mm format also had LP mode, which doubled runtime.

    As I said, 120-minute 8-mm cassettes - specifically P6-120 - became available in the late 1985 and were as ubiquitous as T120 VHS cassettes.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    Maybe in your family, In most families people watched home videos on VHS, people sent VHS tapes by mail to other families in VHS, it was the go to format not just for commercial movies but for everything pretty much.
    I am not disagreeing that people sent and watched VHS tapes. I am saying that few if any would care to watch two hours of raw footage, maybe only when pressed by the person who shot the footage.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    If you're arguing that people dubbed V8 tapes to VHS not because of the cost you failed miserably.
    I did not disagree with that, I said that it would only make sense if they were edited, not just dubbed. I like old VHS-C cassettes because they are good for only 20 minutes, so one would shoot in a more economical style. Recently I edited several home videos from old home videos:
    So, 10:1 or 15:1 shooting ratio. These videos are unwatchable in their raw form, unless one is wasted and has nothing better to watch.

    Regarding 8-mm prices, see the attached image from 1990. Standard grade P6-120 is $5-$5.50. Hi-Fi grade (taking in consideration that AFM == Hi-Fi) T120 is $4.40-$5.80. Not a big difference. Even the cheapest everyday T120 tape is $2.95-$2.99. Saving $2-$2.50 difference at most while spending 2 hours dubbing the tape and eating up videoheads seems stupid to me. But people do a lot of stupid things every day.
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    Originally Posted by dan7y View Post
    Were video8 cassettes expensive and therefore reused to save cost?
    I like how "cost" is often a euphemism for
    - cheapskate
    - cheap-ass
    - tightwad
    - skinflint

    Sometimes people say "thrifty" to fool themselves into thinking it was a good decision.

    We are all cheap at some point. Own it.
    I buy store-brand cereal, because it's cheap. It doesn't "taste the same", but it can be close, or worse, or even better. Because it's not the same as the "brand names". Give me Fruit-O's, you can keep your 2x+$ Fruit Loops.

    It amazes me in recent years how some topics get so verbose, dancing around the topic of being cheap.

    The next issue is that most people did not realize they were pilfering their video quality. They had no clue they were ruining video quality by reusing the tapes. Small sub-20" CRTs didn't help matters. I only did that once, maybe twice, as I immediately saw the damage I was doing. So I bought a little less crap, and a few more tapes. My priority was video, not cigarettes/etc (the costly bad habits of many others).

    I see so much waste in this world, and yet people grouse about the costs of their "precious" irreplaceable video memories. Now (2020s), or then (80s/90s).
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 14th Feb 2024 at 01:56.
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  12. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    I like how "cost" is often a euphemism for
    - cheapskate
    - cheap-ass
    - tightwad
    - skinflint

    Sometimes people say "thrifty" to fool themselves into thinking it was a good decision.
    The same goes for recording in low speed to save on tape, I made the same remarks over at digitalfaq about being cheap and record in crappy LP/EP and most tapes end up being half full instead of full in SP and everyone jumped on me like I was insulting them directly, One or two members took it seriously.
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    Well, that was two minutes of my life wasted.
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    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    I like how "cost" is often a euphemism for
    - cheapskate
    The same goes for recording in low speed to save on tape, ... most tapes end up being half full instead of full
    Yes, I see that far too often. The tape was recorded in SLP, but only has 1 hour or less recorded. WTF?

    It's not so much that we're beating people up about past mistakes (as we all did them), but that the same people (or their kids) repeat new similar mistakes. And the #1 reason is always being too cheap.

    - recording SLP on camcorders in 80s/90s was bad
    - converting to deinterlaced H.264 with Easycaps/Elgatos in 10s/20s is also bad

    Learn a lesson here.

    Now, I never poo-poo EP/SLP entirely. There was a definite time and place for it, such as recording from TV, using quality tapes, on quality VCRs. (Including S-VHS-ET, and EP/SLP S-VHS is arguably as good as SP VHS.) But there were equally many wrong times for it, such as camcorders, or copying VHS>VHS (and without TBCs, of course), important recordings (example: family on TV news), etc.

    There are many ways to screw up video, and many people seem to find all of them. And repeatedly so, years/decades later. New formats, same mistakes (cheap, lazy).

    Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Well, that was two minutes of my life wasted.
    You sound like the kid in class who doesn't want to read the homework assignment. You learn nothing that way.
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    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    The same goes for recording in low speed to save on tape, I made the same remarks about being cheap and record in crappy LP/EP
    I've never used any other mode but SP. I would use EP if I were shooting VHS-C in Iraq in 1991, but in the early 1990s reporters preferred Hi8 - a better system overall, decent quality and 2 or 2.5 hours in SP mode.
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    That legacy still continues till today, Except with thousands of casualties a month mostly kids. Too blurry for Hi8 though, must have been edited and dubed.
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    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    That legacy still continues till today, Except with thousands of casualties a month mostly kids.
    Other regimes elsewhere are perpetrating the same right now. So sad.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    Too blurry for Hi8 though, must have been edited and dubed.
    Originally Posted by dan7y View Post
    why create an inferior copy to store away and erase the original
    Here there are a bunch of digitized programs from The 90's and CamNet. I believe the bulk of these have been shot on Hi8. Returning to the question of why create an inferior copy and erase the original, these digitized clips are 30p. I don't know what is worse: a blurry analog copy or a 30p digitized file. Both are bad, but people continue to "preserve" old recording by, well, downgrading them.

    Then again, at least these recordings are preserved and digitized at all. Here Judith Binder tells about her working together with Nancy Cain on their show using Hi8 cameras. They were called "people's CNN", this is tangible work that I wish I could do...

    Veering further offtopic, this is a small well-written book that I wholeheartedly recommend: Video Days: and What We Saw Through the Viewfinder. Nancy Cain died in 2021.
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