TOS original broadcast tapes found - need player

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by bbbarton, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. bbbarton

    bbbarton Cadet Newbie

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    My dad and I were cleaning out a local TV studio building (they moved to a new building), and I feel like I hit the jackpot! I found several boxes containing the original Star Trek TOS series broadcast tapes. There are 74 tapes in all, and I'm sure they are the very tapes that this station broadcast on the air when I would get home from school in the 70's. It must be nearly all 3 seasons worth! I can't wait to watch them!

    That brings us to the rub. Each one is on what looks like an over-sized video cassette tape, and I don't recognize the format. Each box shows a format described as "UCA 60 Videocassette Color Plus". I looked this up on Wikipedia and it says that they are analog 3/4" magnetic tapes.

    Does anyone know where I can lay my hands on a video player that can play the UCA 60 format?
     
  2. NicholasM79

    NicholasM79 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That is indeed 3/4" tape. It was a very common format of the time at TV stations. I do have a working 3/4" VTR myself.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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  4. Dalen Quaice

    Dalen Quaice Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yep.. I have a few myself! UCA is definitely a 3/4" U-matic tape.

    Look on Ebay.

    The best machine out there is the Sony BVU-950 -- it is a broadcast deck with a built in TBC -- however, if you know nothing about video machines, you might want to get just a player deck.

    Example of a cheap player:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-VO-560...459?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item23263beb6b

    I wouldn't pay more than $ 300 for the top of the line deck. Just keep watching them on ebay. Sometimes they are dirt cheap.


    Look for Sony VO-, VP- and BVU- series decks. If the tapes are very, very old you may actually need a top load Type 2 Deck like a VO-2860 to play them. The later Type 9 decks do not handle those tapes very well. The BVU series machines are broadcast decks. They have better head switching (in the vertical interval). Many TV stations used the pro machines instead of the broadcast series because of the price difference.

    Another thing: you will probably need to repair some of the tapes if they are from 1977 or older. I suspect that upon rewinding the tapes, the take up reel will come loose from the supply reel inside the cassette. In that case, you need to take the screws out of the back of the cassette and rethread the leader onto the take up reel. Sometimes you will need to get a new cassette and put the old reels in the new cassette for them to play correctly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  5. NicholasM79

    NicholasM79 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I would be more concerned with the environment the tapes were stored in. I work at a TV station, and lots of our old 3/4" morgue tapes dating from 1979-1993 are in such bad shape that the oxide is wearing off of the tapes onto the heads of our machine as we try to play them back.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  6. bbbarton

    bbbarton Cadet Newbie

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    Wow, you guys rock! That's some really great information. The picture of the U-matic tape shown in the link looks exactly what I've found. Each tape is stored in a hard plastic case with a sliding latch. Also the building hasn't been abandoned that long, maybe a few weeks, so hopefully the tapes are in good shape. Also many of them have a sticker listing the last date that they were aired. All those dates are in the mid to late 80's, so again, they're likely in good shape. I'll look around for a suitable player, but I'm not sure I want to shell out $300 for it. I've got a buddy who's an AV guru at a local university. Maybe he can loan me a machine for a short while. One question: DQ mentions a type 2 or type 9 deck. I've searched, but don't find any mention of the difference. How can I figure out what type of deck these tapes are compatible with? They have no mfg markings on them, other than what looks like some lot numbers. In any case, I can't thank you guys enough for pointing me in the right direction. This is really a great forum. I can't get my post to appear in paragraphs. Sorry for the wall of text.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  7. Dalen Quaice

    Dalen Quaice Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Most tapes will play in a Type 9 deck. Type 9 is the last generation of Umatic machines made before they were discontinued. They do have the best quality picture and error correction. They are also easier on the tape when playing, and you want to handle the tapes gently if they are from the 70's. If possible, use one of these first -- only use an older deck if necessary. You can tell once the tapes tries to play. If the picture is strange looking/garbled, you need a earlier deck.

    Type 2 decks are top loading -- like the BVU-200, VO-2860... they also VERY heavy. I think around 75 lbs! The Type 9 decks are 60 lbs and a bit smaller in size. Some of the players are in the 35 lb range.

    Try asking your friend at university -- likely they have a machine. I would be shocked if they did not.

    If the dates are in the mid-80's, these maybe edited syndication copies -- Paramount recalled the 16mm films from syndication around 1984 and replaced them with video copies (35mm that was transferred to video on a telecine). 16mm films were distributed to TV stations prior to video tape and were uncut unless the station edited them. The station would transfer them to video on a film chain, which is essentially a 16mm projector with a TV camera mounted to it. Some stations would air directly off of the film chain while others would transfer to video and use the tape in their cart machines (automated control over multiple decks for airing commericals and programs).
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  8. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Yes, I remember when Star Trek first aired in syndication in the early '70s on KCOP channel 13 here in Los Angeles. The 16mm film prints were pretty crudely edited to make more time for commercials. The splices were obvious!
     
  9. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Fun nostalgia, but to watch? Meh. Grainy and as Scotpens pointed out, they'll probably be edited. Better off investing in the Blu-ray edition. :)
     
  10. Rocketeer

    Rocketeer Captain Captain

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    Sounds like a cool find. However, as Gary7 mentioned the viewing quality is probably questionable. The 3/4" tapes may be better off in a museum.

    I found some Star Trek VHS tapes in the attic and was wondering if I should give them away or just take to the recycling center. Nobody watches VHS anymore, right?

    If you really want to enjoy TOS, check out the remastered episodes. iTunes has Best of Vol 1 and 2 which has a lot of my favorites. It's a good buy if you don't want to purchase the full seasons.
     
  11. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I still use VHS quite extensively (though not primarily). So there are such people still out there. Might as well give them to Goodwill or something and get a tax deduction.
     
  12. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Tapes which have aged badly can be restored by 'baking', but the result's usually only good for a single 'salvage' play. The only colour copies of quite a few early '70s Doctor Who episodes were recovered from US stations and saved this way, so there's quite a bit of info on the techniques used on sites covering the missing Who episodes.
     
  13. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Nothing wrong with grain. Edits, yeah, those suck.

    I prefer to watch the VHS/Laserdisc prints over the remastered DVDs/Blu-Rays. Mostly because of the sound mix (something I've commented on to the point of ridiculousness by now). The right sound is more important to me than pristine HD sharpness.

    Personally, if digital copies of these tapes were ever made, I would LOVE to have some. They sure would answer some questions I've had over the years. bbbarton, if you ever want to dump these, shoot me a message. I have free, unlimted access to a U-matic player.
     
  14. billcosby

    billcosby Commodore Commodore

    An absolute score - enjoy and cherish those tapes. It hurts my soul to think of all the broadcast tapes over the years, thrown into landfills instead of sold (or given) to fans...
     
  15. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Huh. I have the complete VHS run of TOS. Also, the economy has hammered me. PM me for more.