Are we facing a digital-only future?

Posted by Tim Chalklen on 01 October 2015
Filed under: analogue, digital

I picked up a reel-to-reel tape today, which had been "baked" to restore it back to playable quality in order to capture the tracks stored on it in digital form.

ampex-tape2.png

Now many of you reading this probably will be asking - "what on earth is that?". The same sort of questions I get asked by my children when I dig out CDs and, horror of horror, old music tapes.

Well, if you don't know, this is what we used to record studio productions on and "mix downs". I had promised myself for a long time that I would find someone who could take whatever was recorded on here and convert it to digital and finally got the time and wherewithal to do so - thanks to FX Group by the way.


A recent news article also got my interest - apparently there is a group trying to capture historical buildings and sites of global significance before the madmen of the world blow them up, so that we can preserve them as 3D digital printouts.

I also uncovered an old 35mm film camera the other day and all of this combined got me to really think about what in our world should we ensure we keep in it's original form? Whilst I was a late convert to digital photography (hence clinging onto the aforementioned camera) - I can still remember the thrill of working in the darkroom and seeing my photos take form right in front of my eyes. And - when did you last go back to that folder of 1,000s of digital photos and "take them out" to laugh over and cry over with friends and family?

Maybe it is our 20 year anniversary that has made me think back on what was, rather than my usual position of embracing all the new, exciting digital opportunities. But, I would love to hear of anything you believe can't really, truly, ever be 'digitised' or where you think that, in the process, we maybe have lost something for future generations.

P.S. If you ask nicely I might share the results of copying that old tape into MP3 format.
 

Tim Chalklen

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