James over at Cinemassacre undertook to find out how many times you could copy VHS footage before it became completely unwatchable. It’s not exactly a well-controlled experiment: He doesn’t report the equipment he used to do the copying or the kind of tape involved and, somewhat annoyingly, he does not actually report the number of clips he spliced together to make his 3-minute video. Determining at what point the noisy footage is “unwatchable” is also sort of arbitrary. Still, interesting to watch. I personally counted 63 generations before the footage decayed into meaningless audiovisual noise. [Thanks, Billy Baque!]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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