There’s some weird tracking at the bottom of my tapes. What is that?

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That’s a great question! They are called Overscan lines, and they have a lot to do with Title Safe. Back in the heyday of analog media, not all of the information recorded on a tape ended up being viewable on your TV. 

Title Safe is one of three portions of older TV screens, shown in the graphic below:




Title Safe was the largest, center area, defined as the portion of the TV screen where important information could be displayed without being distorted. Names and titles during credit scenes, important action sequences, and most graphics and logos were displayed in this zone.


Action Safe is the area in yellow, encompassing the green. It served as a buffer around the primary viewable area to make sure everything fits correctly on your TV. Oftentimes, there are small portions of the recorded image in this area. Broadcast stations would also place some information in this zone.


The last area is the Invisible Area. TVs used a feature called Overscan to cut a percentage of the edge of the frame to make sure the picture was crisp and clear. This cutting occurs in the Invisible Area as well as the Action Safe Area. By cutting away about 10% of the frame of your picture, the TV would have a crisp clear picture, edge to edge.


At the bottom of the following image, you can see an example from one of our recordings of some of the Overscan lines. They are right at the bottom of the picture and account for some small distortion. For the most part, they are very unobtrusive:




We believe in capturing 100% of the picture on your tapes, start to finish, but one of the byproducts of that belief is that the Overscan lines can be visible at the bottom of your files. 


Combining the two images above, you can see a representation of how much information might end up missing:




If the overscan lines are something you want to get rid of, definitely check out our digital files options (thumb drive or digital download). These file types are editable, allowing you to customize your memories into exactly what you’re looking for.


If you have any more questions, keep browsing our Help Center, or contact our Customer Support Team. We’re happy to help!

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