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Tapeheads and the Quiet Return of VHS 446

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what-won't-hipsters-do-next dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Joshua Phillips writes that something was lost when videos went from magnetic tape and plastic, to plastic discs, and now to digital streams as browsing aisles is no more and the once-great video shops slowly board up their windows across the country. Future generations may know little of the days when buying a movie meant you owned it even if the Internet went down and when getting a movie meant you had to scour aisles of boxes in search of one whose cover art called back a story that echoed your interests. Josh Johnson, one of the filmmakers behind the upcoming documentary 'Rewind This!' hopes to tell the story of how and why home video came about, and how it changed our culture giving B movies and films that didn't make the silver screen their own chance to shine. 'Essentially, the rental market expanded, because of voracious consumer demand, into non-blockbuster, off-Hollywood video content which would never have had a theatrical life otherwise,' says Palmer. While researching the documentary Palmer found something interesting: there is a resurgence taking place of people going back to VHS because a massive number of films are 'trapped on VHS' with 30 and 40 percent of films released on VHS never to be seen again on any other format. 'Most of the true VHS fanatics are children of the 1980s,' says Palmer. 'Whether they are motivated by a sense of nostalgia or prefer the format for the grainy aesthetic qualities of magnetic tape or some other reason entirely unknown, each tapehead is unique like a snowflake.'"
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Tapeheads and the Quiet Return of VHS

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  • by bonch (38532) * on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:05AM (#38949775)

    Courtesy of the Onion:

    Blockbuster Offers Glimpse Of Movie Renting Past [youtube.com]

    • LOL! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:16AM (#38949813)

      grainy aesthetic qualities of magnetic tape

      Grainy? Has this moron ever SEEN a video off VHS? How about blurry with messed up tint? How about seeing annoying streaks across the screen from where the tape has worn?
       
      I can see the motive behind records and audio tapes (not my thing), but this is RETARDED.

      • by skids (119237)

        Well, I suppose the leet retro-format people are into LD [wikipedia.org] instead, which is still analog but doesn't wear so much. Of course, while there are some things that were only released on LD, more was released on VHS, so if getting at un-transcribed publications is the goal, one just has to hope there's well preserved stock.

      • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by epyT-R (613989) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:51AM (#38950007)

        I'd group the vinyl and tape people in with the vhs heads.. it's all nostalgia and or generational insecurity, with the new converts just trying to differentiate themselves socially with their peers. obviously it's legitimate to go to those older formats when the recording doesn't exist on the newer ones (or it's a bad transfer), but otherwise it's pure snobbery. properly done digital is superior to all those formats.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          the transfer would have to be pretty bad for the VHS to be superior.

          like if it came off a VHS or something...

          i've used VHS recently in production as a special effect. there is something cool about deliberately creasing the tape, then resetting the timer on the resulting glitch, so you can record something on the tape which will then glitch out on that exact spot.

          but there's nothing intrinsically good about the format whatsoever. the only worse format was U-matic, and that's mainly due to the size of the t

        • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:24AM (#38950155)

          properly done digital is superior to all those formats

          That is very rare. In many ways I view the quality of DVDs and Blurays as equivalent to that of VHS tapes. It's Apples and Oranges really. With VHS you had degradation and quality issues inherent to the format. With digital, which is usually done poorly, even on high end Blurays, you have the "waterfall effect" where the blocks become noticeable in high speed movement in the scene, most noticeably on water falls.

          If we had a nearly loss less compression algorithm, or better methods of dealing with such artifacts that would be nice, but for now it is not like digital is perfect fidelity.

          If I had to choose I would go with my 300 pound Pioneer LaserDisc player. It was expensive as hell, and I did not have to flip the discs. The quality though was just shy of DVD and still analog video. That meant no artifacts and no degradation (well a heck of lot less without laser rot). It was a nicer looking picture to me.

          Not to mention the audio was in many cases digital and the Elite players had optical connectors to your stereo system.

          I know it may sound crazy, but it really pisses me off when I see a $20+ Bluray title, with super high resolution compared to the LD, and yet still have bullshit encoding artifacts in high speed motion scenes. LD did not have that.

          One of the many reasons why I won't spend a dime on Bluray.

          LD is too much of a pain in the ass though, not to mention new titles are not exactly being sold either. Never did see a burner or blank ones around either.....

          • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Informative)

            by gilgoomesh (966411) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @07:53AM (#38951857)

            As a video software engineer, I know your pain from a slightly different angle.

            Your "waterfall effect" is over quantization of DCT blocks (in rare cases it could also be misuse of the deblocking filters). It's pretty easy to avoid and most encoders can actually give feedback about quantization rates and whether artifacting will be visible in output frames.

            The problem is that people don't know how to use their encoders correctly, use them with completely the wrong settings and then don't inspect the output to see the result.

            The MPEG4 High Profile 4.1 used in BluRay discs is capable of practically flawless encoding at any motion rate if operated with a little care. MPEG4 allows custom and dynamic quantization and a two pass encoder can use the second pass to fix any mistakes by adapting the local bitrate and quantization method.

            I actually suspect though that you're seeing MPEG2 video getting pumped at an MPEG4 bitrate which is causing massive over quantization. This generally happens when studios have MPEG2 encoding hardware but no MPEG4 encoding hardware but they are told "keep your video at X bitrate" – even though this leaves half the disc empty and the video looking like a stream of 8x8 shiny cubes.

            Of course, some decoders don't implement deblocking algorithms correctly and actually *increase* blockiness in some cases. This would be the fault of your BluRay player – you'd need to play on a good software player and compare.

            And don't get me started on interlacing in digital video. It's a "feature" that has only ever made digital video worse and is somehow part of most broadcast standards. Aaarrgh!

          • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Informative)

            by dfghjk (711126) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @09:39AM (#38952673)

            "If I had to choose I would go with my 300 pound Pioneer LaserDisc player. It was expensive as hell, and I did not have to flip the discs. The quality though was just shy of DVD and still analog video. That meant no artifacts and no degradation (well a heck of lot less without laser rot). It was a nicer looking picture to me."

            Laserdisc was composite video. It had ENORMOUS degradation in the form of bandwidth limiting. Digital compression, with all its flaws, is far, far better at preserving information than Laserdisc's crude, sledgehammer approach. The only people who think that Laserdisc was good by today's standards are ignorant.

            "Not to mention the audio was in many cases digital and the Elite players had optical connectors to your stereo system."

            The audio of Laserdisc wasn't stereo, high bandwidth, or even digital!!! HiFi audio was bandaid'ed on after the fact. Pathetic. Then there was the crappy CAV/CLV choice where you got either good usability features at 30 minutes per side (rare) or got 60 minutes of video with poor usability. Embarrassing. Laserdisc sucked.

            "I know it may sound crazy, but it really pisses me off when I see a $20+ Bluray title, with super high resolution compared to the LD, and yet still have bullshit encoding artifacts in high speed motion scenes. LD did not have that."

            It's easy to produce a high quality image when there is no resolution. If a DVD were encoded using the Laserdisc's source signal you wouldn't see artifacting either, nor would you see a good picture. DVD's luma resolution is superior to LD but it's chroma resolution destroys LD due to the composite encoding. Then there's HD...

            "LD is too much of a pain in the ass though, not to mention new titles are not exactly being sold either. Never did see a burner or blank ones around either....."

            Wow, ridiculous. No one is making wax cylinders for Edison's phonograph either.

        • Re:LOL! (Score:4, Funny)

          by flapped (2444604) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:34AM (#38950197)
          Don't. There's not really any other point in tapes and vhs than nostalgia, but vinyl is in many ways superior to newer formats. Vinyl and mp3 are actually the only two formats anyone needs. Vinyl for home listening as it has superior sound quality, cover art you can actually see and lasts forever if handled properly, but on the flipside, is a pain in the ass to take away with you. Mp3 for traveling as it has no weight and you can easily listen to it anywhere, but has bad sound quality and no cover art whatsoever. What CD does better than mp3, vinyl does even better, and what CD does better than vinyl, mp3 does even better.
          • by Nursie (632944)

            Vinyl for home listening as it has superior sound quality

            No, it doesn't.

            CD audio is perfectly able to capture audio just as well as vinyl. There is nothing inherently superior about vinyl. Vinyl also wears out over time.

            There is no need for physical media. If you are getting a nice 'warm' sound from your vinyl, that is an artifact of the sound distortion being introduced by your amp, or other parts of your equipment, maybe even the mastering of the album. All of these things can be captured and played back

          • Except... uncompressed or lossless digital audio is now superior to vinyl, since the master copy theses days is always digital. Its like those proponents of valve amplifiers. The "warm" sound they produce is caused by distortion being added to the signal by the valves. Like that pick-up being dragged through the groove on the vinyl record... The only reason it works in the first place is the wiggles in the groove are larger than the imperfections.
            • by Joce640k (829181)

              The master copy is at a much higher bitrate/resolution than can be transferred to a CD.

          • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @10:05AM (#38952989) Journal

            Vinyl for home listening as it has superior sound quality

            I suspect you've been blasted on this already, but this is absolutely false. Vinyl has a higher noise floor and the sampling rate of digital audio is above the limit of human perception. If you're perceiving a difference, it's because of the mastering of the recordings. That or the placebo effect.

        • by GrahamCox (741991)
          I'd group the vinyl and tape people in with the vhs heads

          VHS is really a very poor quality video format. Just look at it! You can't really say that about vinyl and tape for audio, both of which are capable of high fidelity.

          I'm not a golden-eared vinyl afficionado, and in general I much prefer CDs, but there's a big difference between a good CD and a bad CD, much bigger than the difference between a good and bad vinyl recording. That's because of the stupidity of the labels over the last 15 years in in
      • Re:LOL! (Score:5, Informative)

        by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:20AM (#38950133) Homepage

        In fact, the author even gave the real reason for "going back to VHS":

        because a massive number of films are 'trapped on VHS' with 30 and 40 percent of films released on VHS never to be seen again on any other format

        If you want to see one of those movies, you really have no other choice but VHS. If they were released on DVD, I'm sure there would be no such thing as a "return of VHS".

  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:08AM (#38949783) Homepage
    Wannabes. The religious hipster cool kids have been getting their media via STONE TABLET for several millenniums now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ToThoseOfUs (2377416)

      Wannabes. The religious hipster cool kids have been getting their media via STONE TABLET for several millenniums now.

      Stone tablet... the really cool kids have been using the walls of caves.

    • by mazarin5 (309432)

      The real hipsters are into bluray. They were into it when everybody else wasn't even over it yet.

  • by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:10AM (#38949789) Homepage

    I have no desire to "go back to VHS" or even to own any VHS tapes. But as the article points out, there are several good movies that have not been released on DVD.

    In those cases, I'd much rather have someone's mp4 conversion off piratebay than a fresh VHS tape because VHS tapes do not last the way digital files do.

    Same is true for a number of good movies and TV series that were never released on VHS. You want to watch the original Batman '66? Be prepared for some TV Land logos in your mp4s.

    The only reason every video ever made is not available on demand is idiotic IP laws and greed. That is what we all want, not this piecemeal idiocy.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Same is true for a number of good movies and TV series that were never released on VHS. You want to watch the original Batman '66? Be prepared for some TV Land logos in your mp4s.

      I listen to and love live DJ mixes. One of the broadcasts that I have been enjoying for a number of years now is A State of Trance. Now, while the current episodes are filled with people sharing, finding older sets is down right impossible. However, once I do manage to get them, I let them seed. No point in sharing what everyone else has out there, but for the folks that really do want to hear what was being played years ago (or perhaps the poor sods with OCD and the "Got to get them all" mentality) I think

    • by mug funky (910186)

      not exactly.

      the main gotcha is supply and demand.

      how much cash is a licensor/distributor going to make from a DVD release of batman '66?

      how much cash would it cost to hunt down the film reels (if they exist), tapes, whatevers?

      how much would it cost to transfer the films to something good (even digibeta, which is 20 years old this year, is the best standard def has to offer)?

      how much would it cost to assemble everything into watchable form (ie, the film reels will have transfer notes, timing info, etc that n

  • While home video was certainly a net gain in availability of obscure films nationwide/worldwide, at a local level it destroyed many local cinemas who ran classic art films. It used to be that you could go to a screening of, say, an Ingmar Bergman film from several years prior, meet other cinephiles in your neighbourhood, and walk out of the cinema having passionate discussions with your peers about what you just saw.

    Sure, nowadays you can torrent the film or get it from Netflix, and then go on IMDB or Flixster to post a review or get into a masturbatory flame war with anonymous people who can't spell, but that in-real-life community aspect is gone except in a very few places.

    • While home video was certainly a net gain in availability of obscure films nationwide/worldwide, at a local level it destroyed many local cinemas who ran classic art films. It used to be that you could go to a screening of, say, an Ingmar Bergman film from several years prior, meet other cinephiles in your neighbourhood, and walk out of the cinema having passionate discussions with your peers about what you just saw.

      I'm really not sure VHS is the sole cause of this. There was another concurrently-developing technology - cable television - that may have had a hand in it as well.

      Back the 1980s I fell in love with a channel called "American Movie Classics" - at the time it really was showing classic American films (okay, obviously that doesn't mean Bergman) all the time, and with no commercial interruptions! The host, Bob Dorian, would lead into the movie with a little 2-minute piece that would sometimes be about the movi

    • As tech fans, we should realize that every single thing ever invented has it's upsides and downsides. Everything. Except possibly for vaccines, those are the closest we've come to inventing something with no downsides. Everything else I can think of had at least a few negative consequences, VHS and then digital included.
    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Those places were always a rarity in most of the United States and destined to become more rare as real estate prices and rents continued to rise. Far, far, far more people are exposed to those films via P2P and home video than a handful of art houses ever achieved.

  • You never owned it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:11AM (#38949795)

    Future generations may know little of the days when buying a movie meant you owned it even if the Internet went down and when getting a movie meant you had to scour aisles of boxes in search

    Ownership means you can do what you want. Like make copies and sell the copies of the contents of the tape as an example.

    You were a share cropper in the tape days, just like now.

    • by sjames (1099)

      At one time, however crappy the deal, you at least owned the license fair and square. Now even that may be revoked on a whim.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        That's why I still buy DVDs (on sale from Amazon, natch), even though the first/only thing I do with them is rip to h264 so they are accessible from the DVR.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Personally, I can't imagine why anyone does otherwise. I can more or less see it if the download is completely DRM free, but even then if it's going to cost as much or more than the same thing on physical media, why do it?

          • by Nutria (679911)

            Because you need a certain amount of geekiness to think about doing it, and technical acumen to actually set it up.

    • by skids (119237)

      Ownership of media conveys more rights than licensing it, in that the First-Sale Doctrine [wikipedia.org] is entrenched case law for hard product, wheras applying it to digitally streamed media is still subject to some legal churn, so only applies to those than can afford the tort. Also given current trends, first-sale rights are only likely to erode. [eff.org]

  • Some great films are indeed effectively trapped on VHS. In some cases they are never transferred to DVD/Blu-Ray, in other cases the quality of the transfer is pitiful compared to the VHS. In others, they are only available for a limited number of regions.

    One example: They Might Be Giants [amazon.com]

    (I was going to mention The Lighthorsemen [amazon.com], but there is allegedly a Blu-Ray that exists now - but is it truly available?)

    • Re:Trapped films (Score:5, Interesting)

      by evilsofa (947078) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:50AM (#38950265)
      It's not a film, but a very significant example of being trapped on VHS is CNN's Cold War documentary. 24 hour-long episodes covering the whole Cold War, start to finish, with an unbelievable roster of interviews including Fidel Castro, Walter Cronkite, Henry Kissinger, Robert MacNamara, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Lech Walesa, Aldritch Ames, Mikhail Gorbachev, and more. Never released to DVD, because the series came out in 1998. Then 9/11 hit, and material in episodes 19 and 20 that covered the Russian Afghan war were re-classified by the Bush administration; CNN would not be allowed to republish that material. The DVD market went big-time shortly after, and CNN decided not to transfer an incomplete product. If you ever get a chance to see it, do so. It's worth your time. It's a pity that you pretty much can't obtain it legally anymore.
  • aisles, not isles (Score:4, Informative)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:24AM (#38949869)
    "browsing isles is no more"

    TFA (http://techzwn.com/2012/02/interview-filmmakers-tell-of-the-home-video-revolution/ ) says "Something was lost when videos went from magnetic tape and plastic, to plastic discs, and now to digital streams. Browsing aisles is no more, as the once-great video shops slowly board up their windows across the country."

    So the submitter actually changed it.

    Sigh.

    • Or, the original site spotted and fixed the mistake after the submitter copied and pasted it.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Or the slashdot editor 'corrected' it.

        (Unknown lamer? Who the fuck is that?)

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          "Or the slashdot editor 'corrected' it."

          I checked the submission, it had "isle"; the Slashdot "editor" was equally illiterate and didn't notice.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            "Or the slashdot editor 'corrected' it."

            I checked the submission, it had "isle"; the Slashdot "editor" was equally illiterate and didn't notice.

            You're just trying to do extra work to make up for those of us who don't bother reading the summaries half the time, let alone the articles. Investigating the submission? Inconceivable!

    • we hav seen teh enemey, & he iz us?
  • Stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconne c t e d . n et> on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:25AM (#38949875)

    Stupid article, stupid person, stupid premise, stupid argument. Stupid stupid stupid. Video has followed the same trajectory as audio, from analog to to digital physical to downloads. Except that analog video sucks just as much as, if not more so than, analog audio tapes. I know there's something of a vinyl resurgence, and I even think there's something to it (not audio quality, experience), but there's a reason nobody ever wants to screw around with audio tapes again. They're a pain in the ass, there's static, you need to rewind them, etc. Except video is even more finicky. Remember screwing with the tracking? Pulling the tape out of the box and finding it not rewound? Finding a particular scene?

    And is he seriously arguing that obscure films are *more* obscure now that you can watch them online, as opposed to finding them tucked away somewhere in the local video store? I'm also pretty sure that those obscure films have been digitized and are easy to "acquire" if you wanted to watch them.

    DVDs are superior to VHS in literally every respect. You don't have to rewind them, random access is as easy as sequential access, quality is better, audio is better (5.1 channels), smaller media, smaller players, quieter players, no static, no head cleaning, no moving parts in the media, cheaper media, extra features... the list goes on and on.

    Stupid.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconne c t e d . n et> on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:30AM (#38949901)

      I should add that I understand and accept that VHS was revolutionary for giving people the ability, for the first time, to consume media on their own schedule. Being able to record something to watch it later is a big deal, and we've actually taken a step backwards in that respect - less people have DVRs than had VHS recorders (though I'm not sure most people taped much - I know I only did it occasionally because it was a pain).

      But we moved away from VHS as soon as possible, much like we did with the hand-starter in a car. And that's a good thing.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        A lot of people who taped taped religiously though. It meant people could watch a daytime only show while going to work. People from that age group are generally baffled by DVR's though, and any of the rest of the technology I take for granted.

        Trying to explain to someone in their late 70's how to record with the 'push of a button' (ya right...) on one box, that they may or may not be able to access in another room on a different TV is not trivial. So I still see a lot of people with VCR's and stacks of

        • I'm sympathetic to that argument, but not with VHS/DVR. VHS is an astonishing pain to set up to record in advance. Substantially harder than setting the clock (which as we all know is nearly impossible, apparently). And even more difficult now that they're no longer publishing the "VCR+" codes (remember those?) that made it only mildly unpleasant instead of quite unpleasant. Recording a show that's currently on is equally easy for each - just hit the "record" button - except that the DVR will start from whe

  • Although VHS was very useful back in the 80's and 90's for recording various TV shows there was always playback issues between various brands of VHS machines simply because of how one machine recorded the show, the next one might have issues with grainy playback, fast forwarding or rewinding, or even audio issues. And remember the fun of buying the VHS cleaning tapes to try and keep the head(s) clean for optimal playback? Fun times!

    • by sjames (1099)

      Wow, you must have bought some really crappy VCRs!

    • Although VHS was very useful back in the 80's and 90's for recording various TV shows there was always playback issues between various brands of VHS machines simply because of how one machine recorded the show, the next one might have issues with grainy playback, fast forwarding or rewinding, or even audio issues. And remember the fun of buying the VHS cleaning tapes to try and keep the head(s) clean for optimal playback? Fun times!

      What I remember about VHS tapes is how they wear out. Our daughter had a handful of favorite tapes that she'd always want to watch - some I suspect were played 100 times, easy. Whether or not they were technically wearing down, or the magnetic bits were getting realigned, or whatever - after a certain point they'd always start to degrade.

      Oh, and remember the alignment issues? And the little dials you'd use to fine-tune the channels?

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:34AM (#38949917) Homepage

    I guess this means me. I fit the demographic. I was born in the early 1980s.

    There is something 'missing' in the digital remasters of films, though arguably it's of a non-quantifiable aesthetic. Arguably, it's something of nostalgia, and I'd grant someone who argues it that way.

    I remember, as a child, watching The Lone Ranger. Not the black and white, but the movie made in the 1980s (or early 90s). It'd come off television and had the start and finish of the ad segmens; my grandfather had recorded it for us, carefully stopping/recording at the appropriate parts - but we still had parts of he "We now return you to USA's Friday Night Movie".

    My brother and I also had an VHS 'copy' of the original Batman serials from television in the late 1940s ( I think). The cars were big, there was no color, and the "Batmobile" was no different than any of the other cars. (Much better than the 1950s Batman, IMO.) The same goes for the b&w Superman, which we recorded off of reruns off TV, at some point. The Batman serials, we'd somehowmanaged to record about 20 seconds over the middle - some Micromachines commercial, right in the middle of a fight scene.

    Flashing forward, I saw most of my favorite movies first on VHS: Die Hard, The Saint, Braveheart, Terminator, Commando. A favorite VHS had character, of sorts. You could tell it was well watched when the colors had started to fade and there was static or muddled audio. There was no jumping around randomly for favorite scenes. Many of them had been recorded off the TV by one person or another and passed around amongst friends. It wasn't until over a decade later that saw the full, non-edited-for-TV version of Commando (awesome!).

    And then there was rainy days, snow days, or really-bad-storm days. You'd sit at home with the generator on (if you had one) and maybe watch movies while someone made food. You'd sort through a dozen different movies to find one that didn't suck, and you'd look for something to like or something to make fun of: it'd end up becoming a favorite for one reason or another.

    That said: most of these people need to get a life. :) While I will grant you that the 1980s was the last great decade of America (for some time to come, at least), if you get too wrapped up in 1980s VHS films, you've got something wrong with you. I believe the term is "reality avoidance".

    • While I will grant you that the 1980s was the last great decade of America (for some time to come, at least), if you get too wrapped up in 1980s VHS films, you've got something wrong with you. I believe the term is "reality avoidance".

      Especially since everybody who grew up in the 1980s knows that Betamax was better than VHS in every way.

  • [...] how it changed our culture giving B movies and films that didn't make the silver screen their own chance to shine.

    The advance in technology has helped this more than harmed it. These days, put it up on Youtube to get known. Hell, put up a concept on a website [ironsky.net] just in hopes of funding. The passing of VHS and the arrival of streaming has been democratizing. If you're afraid of losing it, burn it onto a DVD. That DVD you burned will outlast any VHS tape and will do so through many, many plays. How m

  • Edited for clarity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:35AM (#38949927) Homepage

    $HIPSTERS and the $MEANINGLESS_ADJECTIVE return of $OBSOLETE_KITSCH

    I am not a VHS fanatic. Even in the 80's, I hated the format. VHS tapes are/were made to the cheapest possible materials, so they wore out very easily and were highly susceptible to heat warping. Much like audio tapes, the sound tends to warble and even distort on overly bright video frames... such a kludgey format!

    I do think we need to preserve the content of these tapes, but not the medium itself. I've been an all-streaming guy for 8-9 years and have no desire to go backward.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I do think we need to preserve the content of these tapes, but not the medium itself.

      Copyright: 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
      Legally, we can't preserve these tapes and we'll all be dead by the time someone legally can.

      I've been an all-streaming guy for 8-9 years and have no desire to go backward.

      As an all streaming guy, you'll never have the opportunity to go backwards and neither will your children.
      Imagine a world where Disney can stop streaming a version of their film before the copyright expires and it disappears forever.
      Then, you can only stream the new remastered edition. And by "remastered" I mean "another 95 years o

    • Particularly magnetic tape, it is suffer to wear as it is played. Each time you watch something, it gets worse due to wear. The more you watch, the worse it looks.

      That and no generation loss are the big reasons digital formats are so totally superior. Even if VHS was a high end pro format, it still would suck compared to a similar digital format. The benefit of perfect reproduction of digital is just too massive.

      That aside, DVD is superior to VHS quality. DVD gets you quality around Betacam SP. It gets you

    • No kidding, and "each tapehead is unique like a snowflake" in the sense that it melts and becomes useless... When I was in college we swapped VHS tapes of shows that we liked and often someone would drop a compilation tape in the VCR during a party. Those tapes--and the VHS players--degraded to the point that they became mostly unwatchable in a matter of weeks. I hung on to a box of VHS tapes of the first few seasons of The Simpsons because the local TV commercials are hilarious and nostalgic, but what poss

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:38AM (#38949941)
    I have several VHS tapes from 1980s I need to transfer as magnetic tape does not keep its contents forever (and pushing 30 years is risky). Few months ago I viewed one, a movie shown on late night TV from a Los Angeles station. One of the commercials has Cal Worthington and his "dog" Spot (car dealer who had various animals from armadillos to bears). Probably can no longer do that these days. Tape also has when CNN had a interview with astronauts on the Shuttle, they only had a short window via ground stations as this was before TDRSS. Much of it was ironing out some technical issues. Crew could not hear audio from CNN though CNN anchors could hear them. They eventually got it to work. It was interesting because it seemed more authentic. Nowadays it's seems so staged. What I noticed is how anchors were more like journalists rather than celebrities. Other commercials had Federated stereo stores with goofy antics, and a lawyer commercial that begins with a car accident (staged with stills and sound effects of a crash) followed by a lawyer who says, "If your involved in serious accident, you need to seek legal advice immediately!" [don't bother calling paramedics]. Fasinating stuff of what was and used to be.
  • by BagOBones (574735) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:39AM (#38949949)

    http://kingtapes.net/index.php/faq/2-do-vhs-tapes-degrade-over-time [kingtapes.net]

    VHS degrades very quickly at room temperature and regular viewing... I know I could not stand watching some of my old ones after watching DVD for a few years, the color was so faded, it was awful!.

  • by n5vb (587569) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @01:41AM (#38949961)

    .. VHS was such poor quality that the fact that it won out over Beta always amazed me. Chroma channel of such poor bandwidth that the best you could say of VHS color is that you'd maybe get a blob of more or less the right color around that black and white object in the luma channel. Longitudinal audio tracks that did a record wipe effect any time a kink in the tape went over the audio head (granted, the RF audio on later stereo VHS was somewhat better). I thought about trying to edit on it once, but decided I didn't want to bother without any way to implement a timecode track. Even the 2 hour mode was crummy enough to not be anywhere close to broadcast quality, and that was in the analog vestigial-sideband 480i SD NTSC-M days of composite video.

    And cleaning tape heads, and aligning transports, and dreading the day the pinch roller got a bit too sticky and unwound your only copy of your favorite movie into a rat's nest inside the VCR. (And yes, I've extracted a few such tape nests from family members' VCR's. Entirely too many of them learned that I knew how to fix the things.)

    Beta was better. 3/4" U-Matic showed me what good was when it came to videotape formats. I was happy to leave VHS behind when I was able to record on Digital-8 format in broadcast quality, and once I got a camera that would record on an SD card in 720p I never looked back. I have heard that VHS tape makes reasonably good magnetic card stripes, though ..

  • I seem to have a different recollection ...

    'Essentially, the rental market expanded, because of voracious consumer demand,...

    ... caused primarily by monopolistic market-control practices of the big studios ...

    ... into non-blockbuster, off-Hollywood video content ....

    ... aka "prOn" ...

    ... which would never have had a theatrical life otherwise ...

    ... because the big media cartels wouldn't allow it due to either a perceived threat or risk aversion.

    The biggest advantage videotape created was the ability to

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:09AM (#38950087) Homepage Journal

    "Red Dwarf: Back to Earth (Part Two) (#9.2)" (2009)
      Dave Lister: What are these things?
    Kryten: They're Digital Versatile Discs, sir. DVDs for short. They were very popular in the early part of the 21st century before they died out and were replaced with what we use now.
    Dave Lister: Oh, you mean videos?
    Kryten: Precisely. Back then no one knew that the human race were utterly incapable of putting the DVDs back in their cases. Case in point: over 2 trillion went missing in just over 20 years. Videos are just too big to lose.
     

  • When there are 20, 30, 40 million of these VCRs in the land, we will be invaded by millions of â(TM)tapeworms,â(TM) eating away at the very heart and essence of the most precious asset the copyright owner has, his copyrightâ

    Copyright Infringements (Audio and Video Recorders): Hearing on S. 1758
    Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 97th Cong., 1st and 2nd sess., 459
    (1982) (testimony of Jack Valenti, president, Motion Picture Association of
    America, Inc.).

  • by jjp9999 (2180664) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @02:33AM (#38950189) Homepage
    I partially moved back to VHS (but still have plenty of DVDs). It was more because of my 2-year-old who likes playing with the disks - around half my DVDs are scratched to the point of being barely watchable. Honestly though, after starting to pick up VHS again, there are some upsides. Videos sell for a dollar or less and they're just about invincible to kids. Of course, I still use DVDs though. I just have to keep them in high places.
  • The second link mentions that "bands are releasing full albums on VHS. Which, if youâ(TM)re an analog fetishist, is great news! Video tape contains audio of a quality just below that of DAT and far greater than your garden variety cassette tape."

    So there are reasons for using VHS, beyond pure nostalgia, or access to videos that aren't digitised.

    Though you can also use DVDs to get very high quality audio. You can use PCM audio or AC3 at 640 kbps and play it in a standard DVD player through your hif

    • Better than cassette? Ya sure, but then that's not hard. "Just below DAT?" no, not so much. With Hi-Fi enhancements yes it could get about 70dB SNR (CD and DAT are 96dB) on a new, unused tape. As with all analogue, it degraded over time and suffered generation loss.

      In terms of digital it isn't hard to do better than DAT/CD if you like either. You can use DVDs, but not like you think. The DVD-A standard allows for 6-channels of 24-bit, 96kHz audio to be stored. 144dB SNR, DC-48kHz response. In other words, w

  • I'm an 80s movie fanatic, and so many movies that were R-rated that I remember watching have been hacked up so bad for TV play that some of the best scenes are incomprehensible; e.g. the "f*gs in the shower!" scene from Once Bitten. This happens even with some commercial-less cable movie channels as well with modern releases. And, if it's a flick very unlikely to be purchased or rented, it's almost like the original content has been lost to time.

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @05:48AM (#38951109)
    I'm surprised that so many people are complaining about their tapes. Sure, the cheaper brands sucked but then they would, they were cheap. I only ever bought decent/high grade Fuji, Sony and TDK tapes and I'm finding I'm pleasantly surprised as I work through my VHS tapes (going back to 1981) as to how good they still look as I copy them to DVD. There were very few that had gone super grainy anbd those were typically cheap tapes. Like eveyrything, if you paid for quality, you got better results. Ditto for the decks themselves. If your only experience of VHS is a £40 machine from Dixons, no wonder you think it sucked but if you had say a Panasonic £500 deck, you'd find it wasn't too bad. That said, colour bleed on the reds still looks awful :-(
  • WTF? WHY? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 07, 2012 @07:19AM (#38951663) Homepage

    VHS is inferior in EVERY WAY to DVD. From the format it's self, you need at LEAST SVHS to get even 1/2 way to DVD. to the durability to the workflow for editing and creating a movie on tape.

    Only complete morons would be "gong back" to VHS. I'm glad it's gone, dead, buried. Hell I'm happy that DV, HDV, Umatic, and Beta are dead.

    Tape sucks, After working with Tape for 20+ years... I am glad it is dead.

    Head alignment causing the camera to not record correctly, crap tape clogging heads, head maintenance, belt replacement, pinch roller replacement, oh god no.

    Plus let's look at resolution. Regular VHS records and plays back 320X240 resolution MAX. SVHS doubled that. It's why all recordings looked smeared compared to the live broadcast. By the end of it's life Mass produced VHS was a lot better but still nothing like even a crappy made DVD. A SuperBit DVD will fake someone into believing they are watching a BluRay.

    Shelf life of Tape is horrid, I have had to spend days trying to figure out how to get a tape to play one last time after sitting in a controlled vault for 12 years. Many tapes would adhere to themselves.

    I can see an advantage with records, I can see an advantage with some other older stuff, but VHS was crap from day 1. It wasn't even the better format from day 1.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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