Feldman's Digital Transfer Services

Photo of passport covers

By Appointment Only



12000 N. Nebraska Ave.

Tampa, FL  33612


U-Matic Video Tapes Converted To DVD or to a Hard Drive
"The Best in Tampa Bay, Florida"

In Tampa near St. Petersburg, Clearwater & Lakeland

VHS Video Tape

U-matic is a videocassette format first shown by Sony in prototype in October 1969, and introduced to the market in September 1971. It was among the first video formats to contain the videotape inside a cassette, as opposed to the various open-reel formats of the time. Unlike most other cassette-based tape formats, the supply and take-up reels in the cassette worked in opposite directions during playback, fast-forward and rewind: one reel would run clockwise while the other would run counter-clockwise. As part of its development, in March 1970, Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic), Victor Co. of Japan (JVC), and five non-Japanese companies reached agreement on unified standards.

The videotape was ¾ inches (1.9 cm) wide, so the format is often known as 'three-quarter-inch' or simply 'three-quarter'. U-matic was named after the shape of the tape path when it was threaded around the helical video head drum, which resembled the letter U. Betamax used this same type of "U-load" as well.

The total potential lines of horizontal resolution for standard U-matic is 280 lines per picture height. Vertical resolution is the NTSC standard of 486 visible scan lines.

U-matic is also available in a smaller cassette size, officially known as U-Matic S. Much like VHS-C, U-Matic S was developed as a more portable version of U-Matic, to be used in smaller sized S-format recorders such as the Sony VO-3800 (the first portable U-Matic S machine released by Sony in 1974), the Sony BVU-100, and the Sony VO-6800 (among others from Sony, Panasonic, and other manufacturers). S-format tapes can be played back in older top-loading standard U-Matic decks with the aid of an adapter (the KCA-1 from Sony) which fitted around an S-sized tape; newer front-loading machines can accept S-format tapes directly, as the tapes have a slot on the underside that rides along a tab. U-Matic S tapes had a maximum recording time of 20 minutes, although some tape manufacturers such as 3M came out with 30 minute tapes by loading the cassette with a thinner tape. It was the U-Matic S-format decks that ushered in the beginning of ENG, or Electronic News Gathering.

In the early 1980s, Sony introduced the semi backwards-compatible high-band or BVU (Broadcast Video U-matic) format, and the 'original' U-matic format became known as low-band. This high-band format had an improved colour recording system and lower noise levels. BVU gained immense popularity in ENG and location programme-making, spelling the end of 16mm film in everyday production. By the early 1990s, Sony's ½" Betacam SP format had all but replaced BVU outside of corporate and 'budget' programme making. Sony made a final improvement to BVU by further improving the recording system and giving it the same 'SP' suffix as Betacam. SP had a horizontal resolution of 330 lines. First generation BVU-SP and Beta-SP recordings were hard to tell apart, but despite this the writing was on the wall for the U-matic family.

U-matic would also see use for the storage of digital audio data. Most digital audio recordings from the 1980s were digitally mastered to U-matic tape. The Sony PCM-1600 PCM adaptor used a U-matic recorder as a transport. The PCM-1600 output standard "pseudo video" in 525/60 format, which appeared to be a video image of vibrating checkerboard patterns that could be recorded on a video recorder. The PCM-1600 was the first system used for mastering audio compact discs in the early 1980s, with the famous Compact Disc 44.1 kHz sampling rate based on a best-fit calculation for the U-matic's video horizontal-sync rate. The later PCM-1610 and 1630 units also used U-matic cassettes as a storage medium.

U-matic is no longer used as a mainstream production format, however it has found lasting appeal as a cheap, well specified, and hard-wearing format. Many television facilities the world-over still have a U-matic recorder for archive playback of material recorded in the 1980s. For example, the Library of Congress facility in Culpeper, VA, holds thousands of its titles on U-matic video, as a means of providing access copies and proof for copyright deposit of old television broadcasts and films.

Four decades after it was developed, the format is still used for the menial tasks of the industry, being more highly specialized and suited to the needs of production staff than the domestic VHS, although as time passes it has been replaced at the bottom of the tree of tape-based production formats by Betacam and Betacam SP as these in turn are replaced by Digital Betacam and HDCAM.

U-matic tapes were also used for easy transport of filmed scenes for dailies in the days before VHS, DVD, and portable hard drives. Several movies have surviving copies in this form. The first rough cut of Apocalypse Now, for example (the raw version of what became Apocalypse Now Redux), survived on three U-Matic cassettes.

Do you have old U-Matic video tapes stored in a closet? If you do, now is the time to transfer your video tapes to DVD or transfer the video tapes to a Mac or PC formatted hard drive.

How old are your videotapes? A typical Videotape will last only around 8- 10 years before the oxide covered plastic tape they are recorded on begins to degrade, tear or stretch. The colors fade and sometimes the picture is too snowy to watch. Before that happens to your video tapes, transfer them to DVD. We can transfer all consumer formats including VHS videotape, VHS-C videotape, 8MM videotape, Hi8 videotape, Digital 8 videotape, MiniDV videotape, and yes, even the old Betamax videotape. We can also convert foreign PAL and SECAM to the US standard NTSC and from NTSC to PAL and SECAM.

NOTE:  For more information about how video tapes and movies degrade over time and how to store your movies check our "How to Store and Care for Video Tapes" by clicking here.

Many of our clients want to know if they can edit their own home movie once they are transferred to DVD. The answer is two fold! Like a rented movie you can not edit a DVD once it is created. However, for many of our clients we digitize their old video tapes to a "movie format" on a computer hard drive. With this process our clients can add titles, delete bad footage and add movie-like transitions to their home movies. Once completed these movies can be easily converted to the "DVD format" to be enjoyed on a TV or PC.

Our Hillsborough County studio located in Tampa Florida just nine miles north of downtown converts and transfers video tapes to DVD. We also regularly serve clients from St. Petersburg, Clearwater and surrounding areas in Pinellas County and many cities and towns in Pasco County and Hardee County by converting old film types to DVD and audio tapes to CD. To see photos of the different video formats click here.

      1. VHS to DVD

      2. VHSC, VHS Compact, VHS-C to DVD

      3. 8mm video to DVD

      4. Hi8, HI-8 to DVD

      5. Mini DV to DVD

      6. MiniDV HD to DVD

      7. DVCAM to DVD

      8. Sony MicroMV to DVD

      9. Beta to DVD

      10. Beta Max to DVD

      11. BetaSP to DVD

      12. Mini DVD (8cm dvds) to DVD

      13. PAL to NTSC

      14. NTSC to PAL

      15. SECAM to NTSC

      16. NTSC to SECAM

      17. Umatic, U-Matic, UCA/U-Matic to DVD

      18. Audio Tapes to CD

If you are in the Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater area call for an appointment and bring in your video tapes or movies for us to convert. We are only 9 miles north of downtown Tampa. If you live outside of the Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk county area please call our studio prior to shipping your video and movie treasures to us.

If you would like the best quality DVDs for your old video tapes call our Tampa studio at 813-685-4343 M-F from 10-7. We also convert photos to dvd and slides to DVD.

We promise to convert your memories with the utmost care - the proper way!

Click Below For Other Conversion Information: