The 1972 DCI Championships

- video restoration -

The Jim Jones (Troopers) Historic Video Library consists of approximately sixty early-1970s EIAJ 1/2-inch Sony video open-reel videotapes. The tapes were never intended to be archived, but rather were used instead for instructional purposes. As a result, they were frequently reused and many of the shows were lost - overwritten by other shows or rehearsals. However, many remarkable recordings remain, some of which are astonishing in their historic significance.

One such tape, of great interest, is shown at the left (the label has been blotted out for dramatic effect). Although they can appear to be in perfect condition, in fact most have deteriorated in various ways. For example, they all exhibit a common problem known as sticky shed, where the binding has collected moisture over the years and causes a sticky residue to emerge when played. On these tapes, it is so severe that playback halts after about 10 seconds. Before they can be successfully played, they need to be baked. This is accomplished by using a food dehydrator (shown at right) set at 130 degrees for about 4 hours.

After baking, the tapes can be played. I am fortunate to have one of the very best EIAJ decks (Panasonic NV-3160) and a couple of suitable time-base correctors (an AV-Tool-8710 and a Sony BVT-800) which are essential for stabilizing video images this old.

The video and audio are thus (1) transfered to computer, (2) stored in digital files, and (3) backups are made.

EIAJ video typically has poor long-term storage characteristics. Therefore, after capture, most of the videos display any of several problems which need to be corrected using computer software. The primary tool I use for this is called Virtualdub. A huge library of Virtualdub video filters are available which are designed for correcting various problems in degraded video. After months of trial-and-error, I have found the following filters to be useful in cleaning and stabilizing these video captures (listed with their authors):

Note the repair of horizontal static lines, stabilization of video, and improved contrast:

Video shakiness is also repaired (using DeShaker), but that of course cannot be appreciated in a still photograph. Maybe I'll post an example of that if I get time... the difference in quality is dramatic.

The AUDIO on these old tapes also needs considerable attention. All of the 1972 tapes had a nasty whine, both at 8000 Hz and at 16,000 Hz, making them very hard on the ears. Standard audio editing software was used, but the removal of the whine and general mastering was done using the paragraphic equalizer in a product called Ozone:

Although the audio could easily have been replaced with the excellent stereo DCI recordings from the same show, we believe that the audio on these videos is of high enough quality to deserve preservation. Hopefully, you will agree that these recordings have their own unique qualities and provide enjoyable listening.

The entire process of baking, capturing, repairing video and audio, stabilizing, and encoding takes several days per corps, once a set of appropriate filters has been identified. The two disks in this set reflect several months of effort.

Some problems persist in the videos and cannot be repaired. You may notice the following:

I hope that you enjoy these historic treasures in spite of their blemishes. Actually, finding these kinds of tapes in such remarkably good condition is rare - we are fortunate that the Troopers took good care of this precious library!


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