Obsolete videotapes in Europe: a survey to map means & training needs

INA publish a study dedicated to not digitised obsolete video formats in Europe, and to the associated necessary skills.

The study, based on the information collected from European public and private broadcasters and other audiovisual institutions, through a questionnaire, aims at the design and implementation of a dedicated training programme.

Endangered video formats

Created in the late 50’s, the recording on magnetic videotape has considerably evolved for a half-century. A wide range of formats followed one another before computer storage media gradually replaced them. These materials are all, at different levels, obsolete and threatened by the disappearance of equipment and know-how.

Facing this situation, it has become urgent to tackle the issue of safeguarding these tapes and cassettes, particularly of Quad videotapes. Indeed, their obsolescence, for many years already, increasingly compromises the transfer to current media.


A questionnaire to map existing video collections and skills in Europe

In February 2020, INA opened a questionnaire sent to European audiovisual stakeholders (public and private broadcasters, Archives, patrimonial institutions, etc.). study analysing the collected answers was published in July 2020.

Addressing the challenges of digitisation, inventory or of technical resources and skills, this study contributes to:

  • Map the non-digitised video collections in Europe
  • Map the associated technical resources
  • Evaluate the training needs


Thus, despite the diversity of situations, this study highlights common challenges for the safeguarding of obsolete video formats, and in particular of Quad videotapes.

A dedicated training programme

As a first answer to this shared issues, INA proposes to design and organise a training programme for obsolete video formats digitisation. Based on the collected answers, this programme will be adapted to the needs and requirements highlighted in the study. It would be made of several training workshops, each one focused on a specific video format. The first one will be dedicated to Quadruplex videotapes and addressed to all European professionals working for the digitisation of video collections.

Thus, the objective is to promote and foster the preservation of European audiovisual heritage, by ensuring the sharing and sustainability of rare know-how, as well as to raise awareness about the necessary actions to safeguard these collections.

A study published in partnership with European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and International Federation of Television Archives(FIAT/IFTA).

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