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Caring for Videotapes - FAQs

How should I store my videotapes?

Videotape is best stored upright (vertically), and in a cool, dry, stable environment – ideally a room or a cupboard where the temperature and humidity don’t fluctuate very much. Off the floor and in a clean box or container (not airtight) is best - you want to protect your videotape from pests and insects, and from damage by flooding or crushing.

How do I know what is on my videotapes?

Make it a practice to always label your tapes! Writing dates, names and places on the label on top of the tape itself is a great place to start.

If you come across unlabelled tapes at home, ask your family or flatmates for any information they might have – it may be that you need to have them transferred at a digitisation facility to solve the mystery.

How can I get my videotapes copied?

Videotape does have a limited life, even in the best storage conditions, so getting your precious tapes copied is a great idea. There are some good transfer facilities in New Zealand - a quick online search will identify your local options - but there are some considerations before you leave your tapes with them...

• You should advise the facility if there is mould, so their staff and equipment can be kept safe.
• Ask what process do the tapes undergo before digitisation? Are they cleaned? With chemical agents or by machine?
• What do they do if a tape is damaged during transfer? Do they splice it back together?
• Try and get a firm price. For instance, will it cost extra if a tape needs cleaning or repair?
• What kind of files / media will they produce from your tapes?
• Will they “clean up” or restore the picture and sound? Can they show you the before and after?

What kind of files should I ask for and how many DVD copies is enough?

Your transfer facility should be able to advise you on choosing a file format. Common formats which will play through any software programme are best. Make copies and keep them on more than one computer or hard drive.

DVDs are cheap to produce but vulnerable to damage so get a few copies (as well as a digital file) if you can afford it. And don't leave your DVDs in the sun!

Make sure you label the DVDs with a marker pen (do not attach a label to the disc) and name the digital files properly.

What do I do with the videotapes once they’ve been digitised? Does Ngā Taonga want my videotapes?

Never throw away your original audiovisual materials! If there is a problem with the digital files or DVDs you have made, you may be able to re-transfer from the original.

Feel free to contact Ngā Taonga if you believe your tapes could be considered for adding to the collection. Information on what we collect is available here and explains what kinds of material we’re looking for. If you decide to contact us, let us know that you've had your tape digitised and include as much information about the Who, What and When as you can.

What can I do with my old VCR player?

Ngā Taonga and other audiovisual archives are always looking to obtain working playback equipment in good order. Please contact us if you would like to donate your equipment.

My videotape is broken, the tape is unravelling – what can I do?!

Give us a call, we can advise! Our contact details can be found here