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Video Tapes Deteriorate 

All video tapes regardless of format share one thing in common: they are magnetic media. Over time magnetic partials naturally lose their charge and demagnetization can accelerate if they are stored near a magnetic source (loudspeaker, VCR, etc.). There have been numerous research studies done on the longevity of magnetic tape and the findings are… it depends. High quality tapes in cool dry storage can last up to 25 year with a 20% loss (20% loss is very noticeable, yet still viewable). Low quality tapes stored in not ideal conditions may experience a 20% loss in 10 years.

Pictures fade

The surface on which the print is made relies on a number of chemicals and chemical reactions to create the dyes at the time of processing. It is the combination of dyes typically, cyan (blue), magenta (red), and yellow that creates the final colors we see in a color photo. Unfortunately, these dyes, that is, these chemical reactions are inherently unstable. In fact, they begin to degrade as soon as the photo is printed. And light hitting a photo accelerates this process. Typically, there are two effects: a loss of detail in general, particularly in the highlights, and a color shift. As the magenta dye is most unstable when exposed to light, compared to the other two dyes, the result is a photo that can shift to a slightly greenish cast. Typically there will be significant fading of color prints in the 10 to 15 year timeframe.

Film Deteriorates

8mm film is susceptible to the same color fading as photos and is generally faster than in photos. Another concern with 8mm film is called “vinegar syndrome” which is a chemical reaction that produces acetic acid on the surface that actually smells like vinegar. The chemical reaction is triggered by heat and moisture and can onset as early as 25 years and causes the tape to become brittle. 

The Unthinkable

As we have witnessed all too often flood and fire can strike at any time without warning.

Enjoying the Memories

How long has it been since you and your loved ones have looked at your videos and old pictures? 


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