THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO VIDEO TAPE COLLECTING
				      by
			      Philip J. Satterley
				  version 2.0
				  May 3, 1995
	 
	 STOP!!!!!! Before you read further, please read the tape
	 trading FAQ first.  Have you read it? Are you sure?!?!
	 Really, you aren't lying to me are you? Okay I believe you.
	 So you would like to start a video collection?  In this guide
	 you will find everything you need to know about video
	 collecting and trading.  
		Just to set the record straight, this guide is geared 
	 for a "non pre-recorded" video collecting.  Sure it's 
	 really easy to skip on over to the local video retail 
	 outlet and plunk down tons of money on all the Tim Burton 
	 releases and put them on the shelf. 
	 (thus ends the pre-recorded video collecting guide) Or to 
	 go down to your local video store, copy all the top 40 
	 new releases, come out with a list and expect to start 
	 trading (I can't tell you how many times that has happened 
	 to me!)  This guide deals with the collecting of recorded 
	 items such as TV shows, music videos, psychotronic films, 
	 cartoons, science fiction, amine, rare films, sitcoms, foreign 
	 television shows, spy shows, westerns, mysteries, TV pilots, 
	 classic commercials, film trailers, concerts, classic kids 
	 shows, and much more.  For simplicity's sake this guide will 
	 refer to collecting and trading classic television shows, 
	 although all the other categories such as music video, movies, 
	 etc. are applied to the same rules. It's just easter to 
	 refer to a specific example.
		At first, video collecting may seem a bit
	 intimidating, especially trading.  There are several people
	 who know alot about television shows, the trading process and
	 collecting in general and being a "newbie" feel reluctant to
	 ask questions that may seen stupid or pretend like you know
	 everything about collecting (quality rating of video is
	 usually subject to this). It takes time and experience to
	 learn about the process and with experience, you'll quickly 
	 get the hang of it, that's what I hope to do with this guide.
		How does one get into collecting?  Well many ways. 
	 For me it started while I was getting into music collecting. 
	 Being a GIANT fan of classic Genesis (with Peter Gabriel of
	 course) I was searching for any video I could find of the
	 band.  At a record store I came across a music collecting
	 publication (see FAQ for details) advertising large
	 collection of Genesis video, write for list.  It was from 
	 there I learned about how video trading exists.  Just 
	 the actual process sounded quite appealing, that's why I 
	 still do it today. How I got into television collecting 
	 was while attending a science fiction convention.  I came 
	 across dealers who were selling copies of classic television 
	 shows of things I haven't seen in years and stuff I didn't 
	 even know existed! (you mean there was a Green Hornet TV 
	 series?)  After reliasing there was a network of trading shows 
	 like music video (I was a music video collector at the time) 
	 I decided to get involved. I was thrilled at the idea of seeing 
	 old shows I grew up with once again.  Now enough with my 
	 life story.
	 WHY COLLECT?
		First of all I must say, start collecting what you 
	  enjoy. If you don't like watching it in the first place, 
	 there's no value in collecting it.  All items in
	 your collection should have some type of personal value to
	 you such as sentimental, entertainment or amusement. 
	 Even horrible things such as Olivia Newton John specials 
	 are amusing to watch while amongst friends creating a kind 
	 of "Cringe" value. Also collect things you may have the desire 
	 to watch again one day.  If you're sure you'll never want to 
	 see it again, tape over it, but keep in mind there were several 
	 things in my collection I said that about and quite enjoyed the 
	 second time around! (Seaquest D.S.V. is the PERFECT example of 
	 that for me).  
		Most collectors collect things they like to watch and there
	 are a few who do research. In my opinion there's NOTHING like
	 coming home from a hard day at work and plunking in front of
	 the TV and watching something I REALLY want to watch.  The
	 only drawback is it seems to take almost the same amount of 
	 time to pick something out as it takes to watch it!  Also 
	 seeing I don't like sports at all it keeps me entertained 
	 on Sundays. More "Advanced" collectors who trade frequently 
	  even may start collecting items not necessarily for themselves 
	  but for other collectors. Items with a "high trade value" may 
	  not be your cup of tea, but you may get alot of great things by 
	  trading with them. 
	 
	 STARTING A COLLECTION
		In this section I'll go through every aspect of the
	 collection and the trading process.  This will give you a
	 clear understanding on what happens and how it goes about
	 happening.  First of all there's the TRADE. Video trading is
	 defined as exchanging a tape of recorded video for another
	 tape of recorded video with an equal amount of time recorded
	 on it.  The brand and grade of blank video tape the material
	 is recorded on should be comparable (see FAQ for descriptions) 
	 This is described as an "equal time" trade.  There are other 
	 variations in trading as well.  If a person is desperatly looking 
	 for a certain item on video they may offer a 2 for 1 trade 
	 (let's say 2 hours of his video for 1 hour of what he's looking for)  
	 If a person doesn't have anything to trade there are "Blank" trades. 
	 When I first started and didn't have much to trade I would
	 send a trader 2 NEW blank video cassettes along with enough
	 money for return postage.  They would record what I wanted on
	 one tape, send it back to me and keep the other blank for
	 themselves (for labor).  This is an excellant way of
	 starting a collection for the begining trader, but this MAY be 
	 considered a violation of fair use seeing some sort of profit 
	 is made. 
		There are also people who sell video or charge for 
	 wear on thier VCRs. There are many legal disputes about this.  
	 In the audio world there has been a large split of opinions 
	 concerning this subject.  In the past audio tape collectors 
	 who deal in non-profit trades find themselves in the "fair use 
	 exception" (see FAQ) because they do this only as a hobby and 
	 not a way to make money and , in their opinion, stealing from the 
	 artist. The other side are the people who take recordings of 
	 concerts, outtakes or demos and "press" them into a illegal "Bootleg"
	 CDs, tapes, or in the past records and sell them at conventions. 
	 These are known as "Bootleggers".  Many tape traders believe
	 bootleggers are giving them a bad reputation because of their
	 illegal activities.  The same opinions can apply to video
	 collectors and has been argued and argued.  All I can say is
	 people have their own opinion on the subject and are not
	 likely to change (I've seen too many large discussions among
	 the computer Internet newsgroups which are NEVER solved). 
	 
	 THE VIDEO LISTS
	 The common tool of the video collector is the list.
	 There are two lists I usually keep.  One is the trade list I
	 give to fellow collectors.  The second is my personal tape
	 inventory list so I know what's on which tape.  I'll start
	 with the inventory list.  An Inventory list has the tape
	 number (or volume number of a certain series) and lists
	 exactly what's on the tape, in what order and tape counter
	 readings (so you can find certain episodes). PLEASE take my 
	 advice, START YOUR LIST WITH YOUR FIRST TAPE! DAY ONE!!!!!  
	 You won't regret it when you have 200 tapes in your collection 
	 and you know what's on what tape. I remember my mother laughing 
	 when I had one tape in my collection and tape one was listed 
	 on the first page as "Tape 1".  She said "Do you really 
	 think you'll fill that notebook?" Now I have TWO looseleaf 
	 notebooks FILLED with over 5000 pages! I always pull them 
	 out when she visits for a good laugh.
		Now the second list is the trade list.  This is what's
	 usually swapped first amongst traders.  The trade list is a
	 listing of what's in your collection.  Trade lists can be put
	 together many different ways and most of them work just fine.
	 Naturally when you only have a couple of tapes it's best just
	 to write them on a piece of paper and even photocopying them
	 (to avoid a sore wrist writing out multiple copies.)  But as
	 your list grows it's much easier to keep things organized.  
	 If you have or have access to a word processor, USE IT!!!! It
	 helps quite alot, especially for large collections.
	 I must tell you there's nothing more frustrating than
	 receiving 100+ page list that's hand written and not in any
	 order whatsoever.  They just add things to the bottom of the
	 page and photocopy them.
	 A good, organized list always gets results.  For example 
	 here's how I organize my list.  First I list the title of 
	 the series alphabetically A-Z, so if I'm looking for  
	 Lost in Space, naturally I look under L. 
	 Secondly (next to the title of the series) I list running
	 time.  It's amazing how many people leave this out.  It makes
	 it pretty tough to determine how much time you want off the
	 person's list if you aren't sure of the running time of each
	 show. (I usually state time without commercials unless
	 original commercials are left in.)  Second I list quality
	 (another important thing to make sure you list). 
	 If all the episodes I have are the same quality I just give a
	 quality listing next to the title of the series.  If the
	 individual episodes varry, I put the quality next to each
	 episode title. The third thing I list is weather or not the
	 series is in stereo (an advantage to owning a hi-fi VCR). Now
	 I list the title of each individual episode in my collection.
	  Being a completist I also list the original network airdate
	 beside the episode so I can show what order the series ran
	 and what episodes are in each season. Finally, on the
	 left side of each episode I list which volume that certain
	 episode can be found.  It makes things MUCH easier to find!
		An easier method (and less space and time consuming) is 
	  the "rough list" This is where you list all of the shows you 
	  collect with the number of episodes of each show beside them.  
	  When the other trader finds a show of interest you can send 
	  them a specific listing of the episodes you have of that show. 
	  I usually send out a rough list but also keep a full trade list 
	  (as well as my inventory list) on computer so I can print out 
	  episode titles upon request.
		It's always a good idea to state your trade conditions
	 and quality rating definitions on the first page of the list.
	 Also on the last page it's always good to indicate all the
	 things you are looking for in a want list.
	 It's also nice to spice your list up with a nice cover and
	 maybe even pictures throughout your list.  TV guide provides
	 great list "decorations"!  Once you've seen other people's
	 lists you'll start getting ideas for yours.  Now make several
	 copies and you're ready to trade.
		Listing your episodes is great for collecting an
	 entire series, but how do you know how many episodes you have
	 of a series and how many you still need?  Episodes guides
	 solve that problem.  An episode guide is a listing of the
	 titles of episodes within a series.  These are simply the
	 best way of keeping track of your inventory by using them as
	 a checklist or to look up specific episode information you 
	 are looking for (airdate, guest stars, plot, etc.  
	 What I do is keep photocopies of the episode guides in a 
	 notebook and highlight the episodes I have with a 
	 highlighting pen, this way when I get more in I can check 
	 them off and see how many I have to go to complete the series.
	 Episode guides are also where I get my episode titles and
	 airdates for my list. There are several sources to get
	 episode guides but by far the easiest is the internet (see
	 FAQ)
	 
	 SEALING THE DEAL
	 As you start trading, here are a few tips to keep in mind. 
	 First of all, when trading through mail make sure you verify
	 the deal in writing first.  If someone is sending me shows
	 I've indicated on my want list, I want them to write me first
	 and let me reply before they send them.  This is because I
	 may be getting the same show from a different source.
	 Another thing to remember as a courtesy is if another 
	 arrangement has not been made, always match the quality of 
	 tape stock and class of postage.  If they send a tape FIRST 
	 CLASS, I also send FIRST CLASS.  If you are on a budget 
	 it is a good idea to remember to agree on grade of tape and 
	 postage first so they don't send you professional grade tape 
	 via overnight express and expect the same.  Also while
	 mailing tapes wrap them in a plastic bag to prevent the "Gook"
	 that can be found inside most mailers from getting in the
	 tape (as well as the VCR) This stuff can destroy the inside
	 of a VCR as well as a tape! Plastic newspaper bags (the delivery 
	 persons use to keep the paper dry when they deliver it in the 
	 rain or snow) are the PERFECT size!!!!  I prefer other traders 
	 to write down what's on the tape on a separate piece of paper 
	 and leave the labels alone.  I have a certain way I like to 
	 label and catalog my tapes, and it's also harder to read other
	 people's handwriting.
	 
	 TAPING TIPS
	 Here are a few tips for good taping.  A good taping technique
	 is always helpful, especially for making other collectors
	 happy when doing their tapes.  Every collector had his or 
	 her own preferances, but here are a few I use.  
		First of all make sure you have a good VCR connection 
	 using the audio and video OUTPU and INPUT jacks connected 
	 by patch cables.  Using a coax cable for connecting is not 
	 recommended because the quality is not as good.  
	 If you have 2 decks and only one is Hi-Fi,
	 record on the Hi-Fi.  The Hi-Fi tracks produce a much better
	 audio signal.  When copying tapes (not off air taping), here 
	 are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
	 1) Make a "Black Tape". Yes, an entire tape with nothing but
	 black recorded on it.  Black is good for recording a leader
	 at the begining of your tapes and to put between episodes.
	 The easiest way to get one of these is actually just use 
	 the black at the begining of a pre-recorded cassette.  
	 Or, if you have a VCR equipt with a flying erase head, 
	 record the black signal several times over and over 
	 until the tape is full.  If you have a laser disk player 
	 (or know someone who does) take a laser disk recorded in CAV 
	 and leave it on still frame during the black, then simply 
	 record it until the tape is full.
	 2) Always use new tape stock when recording for traders. It's a
	 common courtesy NOT to use recycled tape.
	 3) When starting a tape, record at LEAST 20 to 30 seconds of
	 black at the begining.  This allows the deck to get up to
	 speed before the show starts during playback.  
	 4) Tape at LEAST 10 seconds of black between shows. This
	 helps selecting certain shows when the tape is 
	 used again for copying.
	 4) If there is space at the end try to fill the
	 tape with "filler".  Some of the BEST things in my collection
	 I received by someone filling the end of a tape. I have a 
	 large collection of unusual items such as TV trailers, cartoons, 
	 and TV commercials.  You might want to even highlight other items 
	 of interest in your collecting (this is good advertisement for 
	 future trades)I've even edited together a preview tape of other 
	 items in my collection I use exclusively for filling tape.
	 
	 When recording off-air for collectors, here are some things
	 to keep in mind:
	 1) Make sure you have a CLEAR signal.  If you are using an antenae 
	    when recording make sure it is a CLEAR signal throughout a program 
	     (make sure it won't fade out every 15 minutes or something like 
	      that)
	 2) Record on the Hi-Fi if you have it.
	 3) Record at LEAST one minute before the program starts and
	 at LEAST one minute after the program ends.  There's nothing
	 more frustrating then getting credits cut.
	 4) When recording 1/2 hour shows it is recommended to only
	 record 3 episodes per tape at SP.  It is VERY likely the last
	 episode will be cut if you put on 4 due to the extra 
	 minute recorded before and after each program.
	 5) When recording off-air it is NOT recommended to edit
	 commercials.  There is a strong chance that during a
	 commercial you'll start the recording too late or even not at
	 all!
	 
	 TAPING SPEEDS
	 Most common VCR's have multiple recording speeds.  There are
	 SP (2 hour), LP (4 hours) and SLP or EP (6 hour).  In the
	 early days when blank tapes cost about $12 each it was common
	 and more affordable to do all your taping at SLP.  Now that
	 the price of tapes have dropped DRASTICALLY things are much
	 different.  I usually don't record at SLP unless it's
	 something I plan to watch and then tape over.  The quality is
	 the pits up against SP. LP is quite uncommon seeing many of
	 the new machines don't offer that speed anymore.  Also
	 tracking is more difficult on Hi-Fi machined during playback.
	  When the picture is good, the audio is off and vice versa. 
	 SP taping is what's common among collectors (in fact
	 it's the only speed I accept). All of the above speeds are
	 related to NTSC VHS.  SVHS is a different story.  A
	 SVHS tape recorded in SLP looks just as good as one recorded
	 in normal SP.  Now that SVHS tapes are dropping in price, 
	 SVHS is becoming more common.  Hi8 is also becoming quite 
	 popular because of the quality and small size.
	 
	 TRADING AROUND THE WORLD
	 Up until a couple of years ago, this was pretty rare. 
	 Due to incompatable video systems around the world (see FAQ)
	 video trading was almost impossible.  The equipment was VERY
	 expensive (exceeding over the $10,000 price range!) and
	 having them converted was WAY too expensive ($75 a tape!).
	 The other method was a "Camera Transfer".  This was where a 
	 PAL VCR and monitor was set op and an NTSC camera was used to 
	 shoot the image off screen.  This way you could enjoy tinted 
	 or washed out color, no color or even reflections of the sun 
	 coming through the window on the PAL TV screen (acompanied by 
	 images of people walking back and fourth across the window) 
	 This was the most common method because it was the most inexpensive.
	 Now technology has caught up with that. Thanks to Panasonic, 
	 Aiwa and Sharp there are VCRs that can transfer to ANY standard in
	 the world!  Recently several VCRs coming out in Europe have a
	 special NTSC playback feature. This speeds the playback up to
	 NTSC as well as converting the color to PAL encoding.   This
	 allows for good watching but not converting.
	 Here are a few notes about trading overseas. 
	 First remember it will cost a bit more in postage (sending 1
	 tape to the U.K. costs about $5 for air mail).  Air mail or "Small 
	 Packet" is the quickest (about 10-14 days) Most videos are sent the 
	 "Small Packet" rate because regular rate is more expensive per ounce.  
	 The cheaper is surface but that can take up to 2 months! Not highly 
	 recommended. Customs slips are required on all packages.  
	 These are small green little labels stating the contents of the 
	 package, weather or not it is a "Gift", value of the package and 
	 weight.  These slips are free and available at any post office window.  
	 To save time and prevent holding up the line at the post office, 
	 take a stack of them home and fill them out beforehand.  
	 The clerk at the window will show you how to fill them out. 
	 When filling out the contents of the package, it goes through 
	 customs much faster when you state what general type of material is on 
	 the tape (TV show, home movie, etc.)  Your typical entry will say "1 
	 videocassette of television show" Also be sure to transfer your 
	 trader's tape in the proper format.  I've accidently sent many tapes 
	 in NTSC when they were supposed to be in PAL.
		When you commonly record video in PAL you generally get 3
	 hours per tape at SP speed (or 180 minutes) while over here we 
	 get 2 hours per tape at SP speed (120 minutes)  When trading 
	 PAL video for NTSC and vice-versa, I found it easiest to do it 
	 this way. 2 tapes of PAL at SP (6 hours) for 3 tapes of NTSC 
	 at SP (6 hours) even though the tape numbers don't equal, 
	 the time does.
	 
	 TOOLS OF THE "TRADE"
		So what type of equipment do you need?  There is a
	 misconception that all video collectors and traders must all
	 own the state of the art, top of the line, professional
	 studio equipment that only TV stations can afford.  Well
	 actually that's not the case.  If you are the casual taper, 2
	 vcr's are actually all you need.  Some begining traders can 
	 get by with 1 VCR and do off air recordings, but for copying 
	 tapes it's much easier to own 2 decks instead of renting them 
	 because it's alot cheaper in the long run (also now you can 
	 pick up a great deck for about $200) Also try to get decks 
	 labeled with "HQ" circuitry.  This provides better quality 
	 and much fewer dropouts.  If in a few years you collection 
	 starts to grow and you get more involved in trading you 
	 might want to invest in something bigger.  
		I ALWAYS recommend Hi-Fi decks.  Even if you don't 
	 collect things that are recorded in stereo, a Hi-Fi mono signal 
	 still sounds better (see FAQ).  Also if you do alot of off air 
	 taping yourself and would like to edit commercials, I would highly 
	 recommend a deck equipt with a "Jog Shuttle" and "Flying Erase 
	 Head".  These features give you the advantage of making clean 
	 to-the-frame edits without "Rainbow" lines you commonly get 
	 with other decks when you make an edit.  Nowadays you can 
	 get a good jog shuttle deck for about $400.  You might want 
	 to plan even further and invest in a S-VHS deck.  When I
	 purchased my first jog shuttle deck several years ago, 
	 I decided to spend the extra $100 and get the next higher 
	 SVHS model and I have to say I'm sure glad I did!  The price 
	 of SVHS tape is constantly dropping and you can record in 
	 SLP and it looks just as good as normal SP.
		Contraty to common belief, Beta is still a popular format. 
	 Superbeta Hi-Fi decks now run about $300 and blanks are about
	 $3.  You can record 3 hours at BetaII and the quality blows
	 standard VHS away. I know of MANY collectors who still deal
	 in Beta.  It's not really an exclusive format, but it's still
	 nice to have a Beta deck around.
		Then if you REALLY get into it, you might want to 
	 invest in other "accessories".  One thing I added to my 
	 system when I bought my second Hi-Fi deck was to put an audio 
	 equalizer between them for mixing audio.  Make sure it features a
	 bypass switch because you only want to use this when
	 necessary.  And if you really want to sink some money into your 
	 system you can purchase mixers, character generators, color  
	 correctors, time base correctors, patch bays and special effects 
	 generators.
		If you are a "scrounger" and like investigating pawn
	 shops, garage sales and flea markets, there are TONS of
	 things you can look out for.  In the 70's TV stations used
	 3/4 inch decks for playback, editing and recording.  Now
	 there is Betacam SP, 1 inch and digital formats they are now
	 using.  3/4" decks are now being thrown out, sold or even
	 given away and 3/4 inch tape stock is being given away by the
	 boxfull. So collectors are starting to pick these up because
	 they feature very high quality.  You can pick up a good older
	 deck for around $50, I got my 1972 model for that much and it
	 works GREAT! (it even has a tuner!) 
		If you have older tapes that were recorded a while back 
	 look out for older VCR's. Even though the early "piano key" 
	 models won't have all the bells and whistles, they'll track 
	 ANYTHING!  There isn't one tape I've come across my early 
	 machine won't track.  The older machines have more solid 
	 machinery and wider tracking ranges, so it's always nice to 
	 have one around just in case. Just some things to keep in 
	 mind while browzing.
		Video collecting and trading is a GREAT and
	 inexpensive hobby (a blank tape is actually cheaper than
	 going out to a movie).  
		I hope this guide has helped you and has given you a
	 greater understanding of this fascinating hobby.  It is
	 always beneficial to inform and get people involved in video
	 collecting because it doesn't create competition, it creates
	 more people to get stuff from!  A battle where BOTH sides
	 win! NOW GO OUT THERE AND START TRADING!!!!!
	 
	 HAPPY TRADES!
	 
	 Phil
	 Satterley

*************************************************************************
Special thanks to:
Micky DuPree
John Lavalie
Steve Phillips