Sunday, June 21, 2009

One of my worst fears is the loss of unique, irreplaceable material through technical failure. Seven years ago, I found with horror that an interview recording on minidisc had screwed up. Fortunately, the interviewee was someone I knew well enough to ask if we could start again. When a similar situation occurred yesterday, as part of the research for my forthcoming Les Dawson book, I had no such luxury. The interviewees had given me 40 minutes of their soundcheck time before a concert. As my wife drove me back home, I scribbled down as much as I could remember from the conversation, in case the recording proved beyond repair.

Had it been a cassette tape, there would have been no problem (apart from tape hiss and all the other reasons I moved to minidisc in the first place), but digital recording devices tend to use things called tables of contents that tell playback machines where the relevant bits are. If the table of contents isn't written properly, the audio is inaccessible. I knew it was there, as I'd listened to a little of it before turning the machine off, which is when the TOC gets written. I'd read online that it was possible to clone the TOC from a working disc to the failed recording, unlocking the material within, so I gave it a try. I felt like a cross between an expectant father and a bomb disposal expert as I waited to see if the technique would save my recording. I'm happy to report that it did. I'm hoping I won't have to resort to the bomb disposal method ever again, but if I do, it will be with a great deal less trepidation.

Now to transcribe the ruddy thing...

2 comments:

Apres la Guerre said...

Glad to hear you retrieved the material. I never had a corrupted TOC, so I wasn't able to help. I had a small batch of defective discs once (KAO brand from Richer Sounds, circa 1998), but that was a whole different slice of toast.

LF Barfe said...

I'm at a loss as to how it happened. The first time was all my fault. I changed batteries without stopping the recording and turning the machine off. Ever since I've been very careful, and this one was nothing to do with me. I'll have to get a Zoom H2 or something eventually, but first I'm keen to use the 25 or so blanks I have left.