Today I tried to make use of my time for some housekeeping; in particular I started packing some old VHS cassettes that were on a stand in the “hall”. This, beside reminding me a lot of my childhood, made me think a lot.
VHS was the standard when I was a child, in Italy there was basically no presence of Betamax at all. Also, beside a huge amount of empty VHS that we bought to record movies and shows on TV, we got a lot of original VHS for a few movies and a lot of Disney classics. Show White, Cinderella, 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, The Lion King, Pochaontas, and so on, plus some other cassettes like Duck Tales, Chip & Dale, Darkwing Duck, …
This now amounts to five cardboard boxes full of cassettes (he kind of boxes you buy A4 paper in). For at least one of them (Matrix) I also bought the DVD of, as I don’t have a VHS player anymore. The last one I bought lasted about four years and then broke on a faulty cassette.
Nowadays, the only media I buy movies into is DVD, as DVD players are quite less expensive, as well as the media, and the quality is certainly superior. The price of this evolution is that I can’t see VHS anymore in my TV, we still got a VCR at home, but we almost never use it. I’ll just give the Disney cassettes to my sister so that my nephew can watch them, she still has a VHS player (actually a combo VHS + DVD).
But what made me think a lot is the risk of losing home-made cassettes. When my sister married ten years ago, the video of her marriage was delivered on a VHS.. beside the quality degrading with time, we can’t watch it again now, we’d need to get a new remastered version of it on DVD. My other sister married two years ago, and she has it on DVD already, both mounted and raw, which makes it easier to handle. My mother also has a few VHS that were recorded on a few trips she made when she was with Avon.
I tried in the past of importing VHS through a TV card, but the composite input/output has a very low quality, most good VHS players use component through EuroAV/SCART connection, to make it better, but it’s difficult to find cheap cards with those connections. I wonder what hardware would be needed to make a good job out of this.
At least, in Cowboy Bebop both VHS and Betamax were lost technologies, the authors seen enough in the future for that.. the same can’t be said for Evangelion authors: Shinji is often seen playing music out of a DAT-based portable player.
There’s still some Laserdiscs lying around at home… our fancy LD player died many years ago.