Digital – 8mm Videotape (Sony Handycam)

Scanning the first few tapes is going well, but it seems I’ve vastly under-rated the amount of online storage I’m going to need to pull off the entire TapeStore Database.  I started with a 500 GB media drive on the video acquisition system in addition to the “native” 140 GB Windows volume.  This is on a “vintage” PC from 2007 (at 10 years, it actually meets the criteria for the Retrochallenge!) running Windows VISTA.  While scanning the 8mm videotapes, I’ve been looking at other media; the VHS tapes are relatively low-res so I’m not worried about the filesize, but even with compression I’m going to be hard-pressed to store all the Ampex videotapes on this system.  I haven’t even gotten as far as the 9-track stuff yet.


This screen-shot shows the directory listing for the first 16 tape cassettes.  Yes, I can count.  Tape 13 broke while playing, necessitating another file (AV8MM0014) to store the remainder of the tape.  I have another broken tape that’s going to need some TLC before I can scan it, so the day isn’t over yet!


This version of Windows doesn’t give you much of a preview while importing video, so an outboard monitor makes it easier to see what’s actually going onto the hard drive.  I’m also taking notes on the content of each tape while it’s uploading for the purpose of building an index to the content of each tape while building the TapeStore database.

Each file created from an individual tape gets a simple, systematic “name” describing the type of media stored therein.  This series is named as follows:

  • AV — For “Audiovisual” media
  • 8mm — for the source format
  • A unique sequence number

Thus, the first file in this series was AV8MM0001 and so on, leading up to the current tape, AV8MM0017.  Each tape has a general title, such as “Aurora Band Concert”, a series of named scenes, and notes based on content keywords.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll organize the rest of the database, but I’m hoping to come up with something that can link related documents in the grand scheme of things — I might want to find both the original “un-cut” footage and edited copies of a tape, for instance.

It might seem redundant when viewed in the context of a relational database, but I hope to keep much of the meta-data “built-in” to the directory structure.