Migrate Analog to Digital to Facilitate a Modern Digital Content Workflow

A great deal of content still lives on magnetic media and film, but those formats will not last forever. The key to preserving and properly archiving your media library begins with a sound digitization strategy. Preserve South offers a portfolio of services specifically targeted at the digitization and preservation of your assets, allowing your media to live on for decades to come. Read more about the Importance of a Media Preservation Strategy.

Issues facing magnetic media and film include:


Sticky Shed Syndrome or Binder Hydrolysis

The material that binds magnetic particles to a base tape film is called the binder. Other than a degrading acetate base, the polyurethane binder is often considered the weakest link when it comes to magnetic tapes due to an inherent vice broadly referred to as “Soft Binder Syndrome” or, more specifically, as “Sticky Shed Syndrome.”  The polyurethane binder absorbs moisture from a humid environment through a chemical process called hydrolysis. The water molecules absorbed then cause the urethane to migrate to the tape surface, resulting in the fatal errors that can hinder or even prohibit playback. Binder breakdown will harm not only the recorded media but your playback equipment as well. Preservation Self-Assessment Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Chemical Breakdown

“In early stages of film chemical breakdown, heat and moisture in the surrounding atmosphere fuel the production of acetic acid. When enough acetic acid has been produced, the chemical process proceeds much more quickly,” Harvard Library Preservation.


Vinegar Syndrome

“More properly referred to as acetate film base degradation, vinegar syndrome is a very similar problem to nitrate base deterioration. Its causes are inherent in the chemical nature of the plastic and its progress very much depends on storage conditions,” National Film Preservation Foundation.


Failed Splices or Leader

Failed splices or “folds often occur in leaders and trailers, particularly when poor winding, untaped film ends, use of inadequate reels, or some other film ­handling deficiency,” Kodak.


Dust or Debris

Open or damaged film canisters are susceptible to dust, dirt, and other airborne debris. Static electricity associated with film acts as a magnet for outside contaminants.



“Mold can attack the gelatin binder of any film format. Although some film stocks are manufactured with fungicides incorporated into the gelatin, mold growth cannot be prevented with additives,” Filmcare.org.



“Shrinkage is the loss of the original dimensionality of the film. In the case of motion picture film, shrinkage of over 1% can present a serious problem, as the sprocket-holes of shrunken film will no longer properly align with projector sprocket teeth, resulting in damage on projection, printing, or scanning of the film,” Filmcare.org.




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