Kill Your Video Tape Recorder

Having come up through the ranks in Hollywood as a Sound Supervisor and eventually a picture editor during the “Digital Revolution” of the 1990s, I worked with just about every kind of tape deck known to man. Heck, when I started we were still sending MAG reels to the stage for dubbing.

We loved the DA-88 for audio because it had 8 tracks and was affordable enough to put in every editor’s rack. We loved the Digi-Beta because, well, it really was digital; and had lots of buttons and lights and it made us feel powerful! You really had to have some sort of engineering degree to use all of its functions but we were generally using it like a tape deck, so we didn’t care, it cost $30,000 dollars and looked cool in our editing suites!

The funniest thing about all of these “technologies” is that, while they were a definite improvement over analog tape, we were still operating in a tape based environment, and to a great degree we still are to this day!

We’ll spend $40,000 on a Media Composer only to have all of this clean digital picture go through two or three generations of export, ingest and transcoding between layback and final broadcast, creating many opportunities for signal and level degradation, errors in closed captioning and subtitling data, you name it.

For some reason though, we cling tightly to our tape decks. They are safe and tangible. We can hold the tapes in our hands and hear the servos winding the tape around the heads when we load a tape into the deck for layback. When we were at NAB this year, to introduce our digital file delivery we actually went “Office Space” on an old Sony BVW deck and smashed it with a sledge hammer in our parking lot to have a nice visual to grab people’s attention. Some of the reactions were hilarious. Many Engineers were absolutely beside themselves with anger because we smashed up a “perfectly good deck”. (Click here to see the result)

In reality, there is no such thing as a perfectly good deck. They are yesterday’s technology that no one wants to put out to pasture. In the process, many studios waste valuable resources in maintenance, tape stock, man hours etc., only to be left wishing there was an alternative at the end of the day.

As a matter of fact there is an easy way and we at Aberdeen are pioneering it! Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in fully implementing technology to make lives, jobs and our services better. One way we’ve done this is through our cloud-based digital delivery and transcoding service where clients upload their video file and we distribute file-based with closed captions to their airing stations across the country and around the world. As a result, we’ve eliminated tapes from our clients’ workflows!

About the Author:

Mike Lyle was a Sound Effects Supervisor and Picture Editor in Hollywood for over 15 years. He has had the good fortune of receiving 3 EMMY Awards, 5 Golden Reels a CAS award and 26 Nominations throughout his career. He is a member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as well as the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild Local 700. He was involved with setting up workflows for digital workstations beginning with the Wave Frame and Pro tools audio stations; and has edited on all professional picture systems from Lightworks and Media Composer, to Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier. Currently he is a Sales Engineer working in Compression and Delivery Technologies for Aberdeen Inc. in Rancho Santa Margarita.

For more information on this article, please contact Mike Lyle at 800-688-6621 or