Restoring “The Residents”: Correcting Fixed and Variable Speed Changes in Video Recordings

Bill Seery and Maurice Schechter
Electronic Media Review, Volume Six: 2019-2020


Off-speed video recordings, whether due to video tape recorder (VTR) defects, tape slippage, poor maintenance, or low battery, present a challenge for proper tape playback. The complexity increases when tape speed varies over time. A rolling image that is not affected by changes in skew, tracking, or an external time base corrector (TBC) is typically the indicator of a speed problem. Several unique methods for correcting these issues will be presented using examples from the preservation of the pre-EIAJ ½-in. open reel recording of the first known video of The Residents, an American art collective best known for avant-garde music, performance, and multimedia works. The techniques discussed can be applied to a variety of early tape formats that use AC line locked synchronous motors, including ½-in. EIAJ and 1-in. Type A.

Keywords: Video preservation, The Residents, videotape


Bill Seery
Director of Preservation Services
The Standby Program

Maurice Schechter
Time Based Media Engineer
DuArt Restoration