ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

I Can Convert Your Betacam SP Tapes —

As part of my work for the Game Developers Conference as historian and archivist, I have been given their entire backlog of recorded conference tapes. Many of them have not seen the light of day since they were recorded – others were converted to RealMedia format, and then guess what happened next. We’ve been holding off on me doing more weblog entries while I slam through the backlog and they switch hosting servers, but I’ve been busy in the meantime. Here’s the tapes I’ve completed in the last month:

There’s lots of great material in there – presentations, panels, contests, performances – and they’ll all hit the light of day. I promise. But as I go through the next phase of tapes, the remainder of the piles, it occurred to me there would be great advantage to offering to the world a chance to convert some BetacamSP tapes, if you have them.

If you’re not sure what those look like, here’s the two form factors of BetacamSP that fit in this machine:

Just to complete the show and tell, the BetacamSP machine, the Sony UVW-1800, and the whole setup looks like this:

So, what exactly am I offering here?

Well, my theory is that there are a lot of folks out there with a few of these tapes – either a one-off handed to them from someone dumping materials, or which a company or companies paid a creator to make a bunch of years ago. You don’t want to go through all this effort to get this setup together just to do a few tapes – well, here I am. I want to see history saved, and these tapes are not getting younger. Most of the GDC tapes I have, in fact the straight majority, are 100% fine, but a few aren’t as hot as they could be. I want to make sure other folks don’t have one-off tapes that they can’t get to.

Digitizing the way I do produces a .ts file, which almost everything can deal with – it’s basically MPEG-2 format. I’m finding files between 1-4 gigabytes, very manageable, and from which all sorts of other formats can be derived.

Additionally, I can see about having your .ts file go right to, where you can point everyone to it, upload a copy to Youtube, describe what it is, the whole deal.

So, if you are finding this via a web search or another method, hi. Contact me at and we’ll see about saving your magnetic memories.

Categorised as: Archive Team | jason his own self

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One Comment

  1. Chris Barts says:

    I noticed how the Archive Team is mirroring the timezone data that a goddamned astrology company is now asserting copyright over. Discussion of this mess on Hacker News. Good job. Gonzo archiving at its best.

    (Firefox wants to ‘correct’ ‘gonzo’ to ‘Gorgonzola’. This certainly does stink.)