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Old March 11th, 2007, 12:03 AM   #1
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Future Innovation.

Since the major video manufacturers are planning on obsoleting videotape in the near future and have already started doing so with S-VHS and Hi-8, what will be the true video format of the future?

I'm betting it will be the P2-card style of recording. Right now the price is something like 50 to a 100 bucks a minute for HD quality, but in a couple of years that will surely be much much less. This type of recording technology is bullet proof and can survive a trip through the washing machine.

What I'm wondering is, once this technology really takes over, will it be that hard to build an analog interface connector onto a P-Card that all existing camcorders could send their analog signals to?

Still own a TRV-900 Sony camcorder but the drum is worn and you don't feel like replacing it, then slap a P2-Card onto the side of the camcorder with a built in P-2 slot. I've heard that the raw analog signal out of the side of every camcorder is actually higher in quality than if one records directly to the tape format inside the camera. Even the DVX-100 supposedly has more quality coming out of the analog ports than is being recorded inside on videotape. Once P2-Card technology takes over, is it possible that cameras made in the past 20 years that still work could still be useful if all it would take is an interface between the P2-card and the camcorder output connectors?

There are several great reasons to preserve older video cameras, especially if the built in camera tape mechanism can be completely bypassed when the camcorder is used. Imagine a Beachtek type of product with a P2-Card slot. It would be neat to know one could actually use any camcorder made in the last 20 years without having to deal with the tape transport / format that is built into the camcorder whenever one wanted to emulate a certain camera or time-period "look".
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:20 PM   #2
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End of video tape coming any day now? I don't know if I'd be so sure about that.

I just checked around and a 32 minute P2 card was listed for around $1200. So the equation seems to me to be something like 63 minute tape around $4, 64 minute P2 card around $2400, which makes P2 about 600 times as expensive as tape. Numbers may be off because I didn't make exhaustive searches, but i think the order of magnitude is correct.

With numbers like this, it's hard to believe that the demise of tape is just around the corner.

Of course, I can see a lot of reasons for P2 to succeed in some environments, and understand it's cost effectiveness in some applications, but it's hard for me to envision the consumer/prosumer jumping on the P2 bandwagon any time soon.

Most of my experience with tape itself is not for video, but for computer use, but in that environment, about 90% or more of the failures in customer shops are related to the drive electronics (and heads themselves) and not the mechanisms. I know it's counter intuitive, but that's the kind of field experience that we (as manufacturers) see. And it wasn't that much different on disk drives either - most failures were not mechanical, even going back 20 or more years.

Good mechanisms run pretty much forever and we test some of our tape automation products to millions of cycles. Admittedly, flying head tape drives may have more exposure to mechanical problems than the linear recording systems used for computers today, and the durability of consumer level drives has to be less than the stuff we build for high end computing systems, but still, it isn't clear to me that eliminating the mechanism will radically improve the durability. Connectors are a major source of problems and I wonder about the number of insertions and ejections the connectors on a PC card (or in the camera) can take before wear becomes an issue.

Again, don't get me wrong. I can see why P2 cards would be great in some environments, but I also think the economics dictate that tape will be with us for a long time to come.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:56 PM   #3
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Well, what needs to eventually happen is for a company to create non moving hard drives or get larger compact flash cards that are not so expensive. I don't see how anyone can spend $1200 for a 32 minute card - seems so overpriced. I do think it would be nice if there was a completely tapless yet cost effective camera out there to be able to record to compact flash or similar.

I see you can get 16 GB compact flash cards from stores in the $200-$300 range, which will hold about 2 hours of HDV Material if they are fast enough... Although still more expensive than tape, much cheaper than p2.....
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Old March 11th, 2007, 11:19 PM   #4
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As I understand what Panasonic did, they actually stuffed 4 SD memory cards inside a PC card form factor enclosure, and then Raided them - perhaps for speed, as I think flash memory may have a problem keeping up with a high data rate. or maybe I'm nuts (could be!) and they did it for some other reason.

Getting all this inside the small enclosure obviously cost a bunch of development bucks.

A couple of 2 1/2 inch hard drives could fit inside a camera - so it ought to be technically feasible to build the equivalent of a Firestore into the camera and if the drives were removable then a simple USB or firewire enclosure ought to be enough to attach them to a PC. I think this would have a lot better price point than P2.

But then again, I've never used a P2 card system, so I'm just speculating.

I have been in the computer storage business for around 30 years, though

And I was in software and consulting etc for another 20 years before that - so I'm not a kid by any means

Even in the computer biz, we've been saying that tape is dead for a lot of years now, but it still continues to be a pretty good business.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 12:17 AM   #5
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Yeah, Hard Drives would be nice - especially if you had a couple that were removeable, kind of like the Firestore FS-3 line.

Sandisk has some compact flash extreme IV Cards that claim they'll do about 40MB / sec, where as DV / HDV is a max of 25....I was just thinking compact flash for size and no moving parts to go bad....Also, If you get into a jam, you can get them from almost anywhere.

I would definately =like to see something out there and fast - it seems like we're long overdue for a solution - I know everybody wants to make money with their products, but the first company to do this at a good price point will be raking in the money.

If JVC made a tapless hard drive solution built in to say a HD-110 body, ditched the tape transport, upgraded the battery system to be either a permanent IDX or A/B mount, and dropped the price to around $3500, I would buy 10 - 20 of them, no joke.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 12:52 AM   #6
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Well, don't know about the 10 or 20 (I'm a rank amateur - just in this for fun and mainly shooting short clips to integrate with 3d CG stuff - as well as to learn something new)

But I'd definitely buy at least one!

So we know there's a market for at least 10 to 20 of them, just between you and me. Think we should call their market planning folks???
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Old March 12th, 2007, 03:20 AM   #7
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So we know there's a market for at least 10 to 20 of them, just between you and me. Think we should call their market planning folks???
Correction....with your 1, that makes 11 - 21! hahah, maybe it is time to call. Believe me, there would be lots of people on board....
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Old March 12th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #8
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OK, you talked me into it - I'll take 2. Now with a demonstrated growth rate of 10% to 20% in just 24 hours I'm sure it will be hard for them to resist.

Seriously, if the drives were easily swappable, the price per GB would be pretty reasonable, particularly if you could plug the drive into a USB (or firewire) docking station on your PC.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 10:10 PM   #9
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End of video tape coming any day now? I don't know if I'd be so sure about that......
Did you know that S-VHS tape has been discontinued, and I think so has Hi-8.
Mini-dv will probably survive for several more years because it has survived the change to HD (in the consumer world anyways).

Figure that the price of P-2 technology will drop in price by a half every 6 months to one year, then drop that price in half for the next 6-12 month period of time, the price drop will happen faster than many might expect. I'm just surmising this based on how hard drive prices dropped from 2,500 dollars for a nine-gig drive to something like a 500 gig for 200 bucks in a span of around 10-12 years.

I like tape for acquisiton and for final edit mastering, but the U.S. doesn't call the shots anymore when it comes to videotape manufacturing.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #10
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I just checked around and a 32 minute P2 card was listed for around $1200. So the equation seems to me to be something like 63 minute tape around $4, 64 minute P2 card around $2400, which makes P2 about 600 times as expensive as tape.
Sorry but that's a highly flawed comparison... tape is write-once media, and P2 is rewritable memory. If you use a P2 card one time and one time only, then sure, it's 600 times more expensive than tape. But nobody uses it that way, so your cost comparison is invalid. The whole point of P2 is to re-record over a card on a continuous basis, over and over again, just like the flash memory card in your digital still camera. Likewise, a P2 card pays for itself eventually.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 01:11 AM   #11
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Well, maybe.

I guess it depends on the rate at which you film new material, and whether you're a pro or a consumer and whether you really only record once on tape or not.

Frankly, once the clips are on disk, I don't really have any reason to keep the tape around any more than I would if the original were on a solid state memory medium, and I'm perfectly happy to re-use the tape at least a few times.

But that's just me - I think it depends totally on what your intended use of the media is, what value you put on an archive, how much you value the elimination of capture time, etc.

In order to develop a really good set of metrics, I think we have to consider different classes of users, and think about what their usage would imply for the long term availability of video tape

Consumers (normal people who take videos of their dogs, kids, vacations, etc) are probably at one end of the spectrum

I think most consumers fit your model of keeping the tape around forever, but that's probably because most people never transfer the content to disk for editing, but keep it around to playback on occasion. And there's no way most of these people (who probably paid less for their cameras than the price of a P2 card) are even going to consider such a card until it gets close to the price range of a tape cartridge. Although direct recording to DVD might be attractive to them.

I think these millions of consumers in aggregate buy a lot of tape. Probably most of what's sold although I have no direct evidence of this - I just think it's true.

Professionals who shoot a lot of material, and have a serious economic interest in having an archive of original takes, even after transfering their material to disk or other media probably also want to keep the tape forever, and I have no idea what these folks would do to maintain their archive if they used memory cards - unless of course they copied the re-usable cards to tape in order to free up the memory card for re-use, or were satisfied with a disk archive (Which if you work for a big company probably winds up being archived to tape in the end, albeit computer tape and not video tape.)

Then I guess there are professionals for whom the retention of the original material is of less concern and whose interest is primarily in the edited material. I can easily see why these folks would like the P2 cards and why they would be happy to re-use them and thus amortize the cost. On the other hand, I don't necessarily see why the same people wouldn't re-use their tapes at least a few times unless it were because of some concern with loss of quality or risk of breakage etc. But maybe if the tapes cost a few hundred dollars apiece, they might evaluate the equation differently and re-use the tape.

In other words, if price per hour of recorded material were roughly equivalent, then if the price were low enough, people would probably start thinking of P2 cards as write once, just like tape, and if the price were high, then they might re-use tape and P2 cards as well. If a 1GB CF card cost $3, I'd probaby never bother to erase my photos, and just keep the cards in a shoe box.

One thing I haven't mentioned, of course, is the value people put on the time required to transfer material from its original medium to another medium for edit. Here is one area where P2 card technology would have a clear advantage - although hard disk technology would be more of a competitor in this arena.

Anyhow, I don't necessarily disagree with anyone, I just think there are some points on the usage curve where my $ comparison is probably way off, and other points where it's right on.

And by the way, I bought a DTE device which cost a lot more than a case of tape because I put high value on eliminating capture time, And if I were earning my living with the camera, I could easily see myself spending the bucks for a P2 system. But again, that's just me.

Anyhow, long digression from the original subject which was how fast tape will disappear from the video scene. I vote for not so fast, partly because of the existence of a large current customer base and because the big companies are still selling a heck of a lot of tape based cameras, and the owners therof will represent a large and most likely profitable market segment for quite a few years to come.

Not sure how relevant it is to this particular discussion, but in the computer tape business (where I earn my living) there are some statistics that suggest strongly that the peak sales for any given type of tape occur about 10 to 15 years after the withdrawal from marketing of the tape drives that used it.

I think Hi8 came out about 18 or 20 years ago - not really sure, but I bought a Sony 8mm camera in the mid to late 80's. VHS was of course older, and I notice that people are still selling VHS cartridges.

Will video tape eventually disappear? Almost certainly. Will it disappear in my lifetime? Probably not, as I'm almost 67. After all, I can still buy 5 X 7 inch color film for my old Linhof camera.And we just ordered a new CD player with a vacuum tube final stage.

OK, let's not worry about when it will disappear entirely, but when it becomes marginalized by new technology. Maybe in my lifetime, maybe not. Definitely not tomorrow or the next day.

Thanks for the stimulus, sorry for the long response.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 05:05 AM   #12
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Sorry but that's a highly flawed comparison... tape is write-once media, and P2 is rewritable memory. If you use a P2 card one time and one time only, then sure, it's 600 times more expensive than tape. But nobody uses it that way, so your cost comparison is invalid. The whole point of P2 is to re-record over a card on a continuous basis, over and over again, just like the flash memory card in your digital still camera. Likewise, a P2 card pays for itself eventually.
You also have to factor in some form of storage to off load P2 cards when in the field, like a laptop and/or hard drive. An 8gb card is around 750 in the UK, while a laptop is around 600. I can buy a lot of ProHD tapes for my HD100 for 1350.

I'm not saying one is better or that one is the right answer. If you have the money, then P2 is a good way to go IMHO. My own personal experience prevented me from going with P2 as I didn't have the money, and I don't make a lot of money from film/video (yet!!). I went with tape. If panisonic gave away a free 8gb card with the HVX in the UK like in the US, then things may have been different.

P2 is attractive to me, as there is something great about not having to capture from tape and the time required, etc. I have been a DSLR photographer for a few years now and was glad to see the back of film!

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Old March 14th, 2007, 01:30 AM   #13
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P-2 technology, because it is reuseable, does have long term value because it can be reused over and over (we assume this anyways). However, it's either likely or possible that one will inadvertently rerecord and perhaps through miscommunication, mistakes, or unforseen circumstances, lose video footage forever that has production value of thousands of dollars.

The cost to consumers should be significantly less if they are happy with dv quality instead of HD quality.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 01:51 AM   #14
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I think that when you come right down to it the basic equation is simple.

If the medium that holds one hour of video costs $4 it can be considered "write once" if the user so wishes

If the medium that holds one hour of video costs $1200, it can't be considered "write once" unless the user is Bill Gates
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:20 AM   #15
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Sandisk has some compact flash extreme IV Cards that claim they'll do about 40MB / sec, where as DV / HDV is a max of 25....I was just thinking compact flash for size and no moving parts to go bad....Also, If you get into a jam, you can get them from almost anywhere.
It's even better.

miniDV and HDV is 25Mbps, megabit per second :-) While the new CF cards have 40Mbyte per second transfer speed. 13 times faster.

/Henrik
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