Monday, September 24, 2012

Badminton Video Archives-FAQs

 Why are badminton videos before 1980 so difficult to find ?

1.    Well, prior to around 1976 or so, most live badminton matches may
       have been shown on TV but unless someone took the trouble to film
       them on site,by filming the images recorded by the video camera
       used for transmission,it is unlikely that the matches would have any
       records for replays.Film was really expensive and even if matches
       were filmed, their preservation is very expensive so much so that
       they will deteriorate over time and would cost a fortune to restore,
       something like 150 K US Dollars per minute to restore and has to
       be done frame by frame.
       That explains why many TV telecasts cannot be enjoyed again today,
       either no film records were made or even if some were made they
       may be damaged beyond repair and too expensive to restore.The
       best chance to watch limited footage is to resort to Newsreels
       preserved by footage companies like Pathe, Movietone, ITN ,AP
       and the like,although the National Archives of Indonesia,China and
       Denmark have done a lot to preserve footage.Malaysia too has done
       its part but to a limited extent.

2.    After 1976 or so magnetic videotape for recording TV programs
       became commercially available and some TV stations did record
       programs on videotape on formats such as U-Matic and the like
       but it was a only for a limited period of probably 1-2 years.Today
       the tapes cannot be played even if they are properly preserved
       because there are no more U-matic machines to play back the tapes
      .This explains why TV programs running from 1976 to 1978 are so
       rare to find nowadays.

3.    Around 1979 up to 1983 Sony Betamax was the de facto video
       format used for recording TV programs.After 1983 VHS was
       preferred and up to the late 90s VHS was the format for recording
       TV programs before digital formats like VCD, DVD and magnetic
       Hard discs took over. Betamax recordings are hard to find
       nowadays simply because there are few machines in existence that
       can playback the tapes.

       Both Betamax and VHS also had problems in preservation.The
       magnetic oxide was glued to the polyester or polypropylene tape
       by means of water based glues, after more than 10 years the tapes
       suffer hydrolysis,ie.the water evaporates to the surface of the tape
       causing the oxide to flake off or accumulate fungus.These tapes
       though can be restored in part by subjecting them to steam treatment,
       or for short clips drying the surface with a hair dryer,after which they
       will stabilise and can be played a limited number of times,after which
       they can be discarded after the video has been digitised.It is rare to
       be able to save 100 % of the images as the first meter or so of the
       tape will usually be damaged by mechanical abuse. That is why many
       of the images of videos prior to year 2000 are of poor quality.Poor
       quality tapes unplayed for decades and poorly stored and especially
       those with layers of tape glued together can no longer be salvaged
       Some badminton matches after 1979 may be recorded by TV
       companies for replays and many may have been recorded by
       individuals in countries like Indonesia or Denmark where Betamax was
       used,and many VHS tapings may have been made by fans in Malaysia
       or Singapore after 1980.Many coaches would have made personal
       recordings from 1979 onwards using their own videocams.

       CDRs prove too to be a problem and a lot of data are lost after
       several years because of chemical degradation after several years.So
       far DVDS have not presented so many problems of being unplayable,
       but experts will recommend the use of magnetic hard discs to store
       data as the most reliable, although they may become a problem when
       hardware technology advances rendering them incompatible with new

        It is likely that by 2020 videotapes in general would no longer be
        playable because of degradation so in all probability there is still
        limited time to digitise them.Still in my experience most of my
        videotapes have outlasted the cdrs and vcds of late 90s, a high
        percentage which have lost all data and become unplayable.

        It is seldom appreciated how much the humble videotape and its
        magnetic technology have contributed to the preservation of TV
        shows for archiving, a whole era of audio visual material from the
        80 s to 2000 was preserved for posterity.If only they had been
        available commercially in the 60s and 70s!

       The foregoing simply imply that for example :
       1) Some of us may be hoping that one day we may see movies of
           Eddy Choong  playing All -England or Hartono winning All-
           England in 1968,the live shows we watched on TV.Unfortunately
           it may not happen at all because no one in the TV stations filmed
           the event for replays or long term storage.
       2) We may hope to see whether the 1976 or 1978 All England was
            keenly contested, but it may not happen if TV companies did
            not record them on Umatic for storage and replays and even if
            they did the Umatic tapes no longer work.Same reason why we
            may never see Thomas Cup replays of the 1976 event.
        3) Some events after 1979 may not have been shown or recorded
            by the TV companies and the only hope lies in rich private
            individuals who bothered to tape them whenever they were
            shown on TV.

    In conclusion and after more than 10 years of work on this subject,
    I can safely say :

    1) About 80 % of all badminton films or videos of TV broadcasts
     have been found and made available.Most of those which have yet to be
     found or are lost  are films and videos of the 70s and early 80s.
    2) Some 70 % of all badminton matches ever shown on TV have
    been recorded, the remaining 30 % were not recorded and can never
    be seen again and many TV shows before 1979 fall into the latter
    So I think my original mission of salvaging badminton archives have
    practically come to an end and it is just a matter of releasing whatever's
    available on youtube or in the blog.
Explore the section Films and People

Read this interview on how the BBC manages archives :