Obsolete technology digital transfers

The BFI can provide an unparalleled comprehensive service in both machinery and expertise when it comes to the creation of new digital materials from obsolete video and audio formats.


The BFI has its own bespoke equipment for the cleaning of 1” and 2” tapes. The machines were made by VRS Data and have been specifically adapted to suit the needs of archival material.

The BFI can also provide cleaning for other popular formats, including all forms of Betacam, U-Matic, VHS and SVHS.


Splicing tape: the BFI is one of the few places in the world with the specialised equipment and expertise needed to splice 2” Quadruplex tape. Unlike virtually all other videotape formats, 2” Quad has the capability of being spliced, therefore many old tapes have damaged or aged splices that need to be fixed.

Video Dubbing and Restoration

1” C Format

The BFI can playback all PAL 1” C-Format tapes on its AMPEX VPR3 VTRs. Plays all spool sizes up to 3hrs and can also play non-standard recordings.

2” Quad

Can play low- band, high- band and super highband in PAL and SECAM recordings. Also have the ability to replay ½ speed Quad recordings.

Unparalleled expertise as the BFI has to date successfully dubbed over 36,000 2” tapes.

Philips N-1500

Only the BFI can dub off Philips N-1500 at high capacity rate. So far we have successfully dubbed 500 N-1500 as part of an HLF-Funded Nationwide preservation project.

½” Open Reel: All common formats

We’re responsible for the restoration of the lost Steptoe and Son episodes, as well as The Complete and Utter History of Britain and a recent restoration of Joseph Beuys material for a Tate Modern exhibition.

Other formats include:

  • D2
  • D3
  • Betacam/SP
  • Betamax
  • Video8/Hi8
  • MII
  • Philips 1700
  • Akai ¼”


Adjustable optical head for damaged and shrunken optical tracks.

Extractor equipment for work on acetic magnetic tracks.

Digital Formats

The BFI can dub materials to the full range of popular analogue and digital formats, including encoding to a variety of compressed file formats including MPEG2 and MPEG4 (h.264).

Generally we charge a £250 ‘inspection’ fee and then £250 per tape processed.

For any enquiries please get in touch.

Charles Fairall
J Paul Getty Jnr Conservation Centre
Kingshill Way
Herts HP4 3TP
Tel +44 (0)1442 876301

  • What the archive contains

    What the archive contains

    We hold an extraordinarily varied collection of film and television titles and related materials.

Read more

Read more

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.