From the Kitchen to Older Technology to Old Technology

People have been asking what I’ve been doing as far as “Baking” old 1/4 inch Audio Tapes from my Kay Boyle Documentary that I started shooting 28 years ago.  That’s right, 28 YEARS AGO!  Since the original 1/4 inch audio tapes had started to degrade, they were shedding the magnetic tape particles were coming off the base, the binder or glue was no longer holding.  The only way I know to “fix” this is to place a tape in to an oven or in my case a food dehydrator and bake the tape for 4 – 6 house at 130 degrees.

After a few tests to make sure I wasn’t going to destroy the original audio tapes it worked so then I started baking all of the tapes, two at a time, letting them cool and then inputting them in to Pro-Tools via my Nagra recorder.  The very same Nagra I used to record all of the tapes originally.  (Yes I still have it after all these years and it still works great.)  Multiply this by almost 50 tapes.

As I have been going through and listening to the tapes it’s wonderful to hear the people that I recorded (most of them have passed away) and to listen to this really young filmmaker asking questions and trying to figure out what the hell he’s talking about?  It’s interesting to listen to my younger self asking questions and my older self getting annoyed that I wasn’t asking the right follow ups.  Oh what a few years of experience does for us.

I have always said that the filmmaker who started this film was not as good as the filmmaker who’s going to finish it.  Just the baking and the transfers and bounces have been very time consuming but I’m getting to know a lot of old friends again and looking forward to getting back to work and finishing this film.

10 more tapes to go and then I’ll be updating you all about my progress both with the editing and the fundraising.  Here are a few pictures of my set up, Old technology meets older technology meets really old technology.  I do love the sound of analog though…

The Food Dehydrator baking the tapes.

Some of the “baked” tapes.

My Nagra recorder going in to an M-Box to a G5 and then to an older version of Pro Tools.

Ah technology…

A photo of Kay in her writing room in the 1930s.

And in the 1960s.