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The Long Black Line
Tape, tape and more tape; and decks; HDV, DV, VHS and more.


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Old September 19th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #1
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HDV playback deck rant

Seriously! Do any of the great camera manufacturers (Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC) actually listen to consumers? Or do only the professionals get listened to?

I ask this because for almost two years now all I've wanted for my little studio was a reliable but INEXPENSIVE (say, around $300.00) HDV mini-dv deck to play and capture my footage and a fast, sturdy, and SAFE mini-dv tape rewinder!

Yet even the cheapest decks cost well over a grand and the only available rewinders are horrible pieces of plastic crap that will actually destroy your tapes! (I refer all of you to this thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=12691 )

Is it really that hard to design and manufacture these things to both work well and be affordable for the consumer? These are devices that both exist and are cheap for VHS consumers. Why not HDV Mini-DV?

Ok. Perhaps I'm getting too worked up over this. It's just that my FX1 is far too precious to be using it all the time for tape shuttling, playing, capturing, rewinding and fast-forwarding. I cringe knowing that my heads are needlessly wearing because the major companies, who can truly craft the type of reliable products I seek, are either indifferent or too greedy to sell anything less than overkill in regards to their decks and completely ignore the need for good rewinders!

What is it going to take to get someone in the upper echelons of these corporations to listen and say, "Hey! There's a market for this type of product! No one else is making this type of product. We can make these cheap and sell them for much less than our higher end models and make lots of money!"

I know some will say, "Buy a cheap camera!" or "Don't hold your breathe! Tape is on it's way out." But I don't want a benched camera that is saddled with the task of enduring constant wear on its heads. And I don't think tape will be completely gone within 5 years.

Or am I simply wrong about all of this? *sigh...* Thoughts? Solutions?
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Old September 20th, 2007, 01:10 AM   #2
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The market for a rewinder may not be that big. Though a rewinder that doesn't kill your tapes probably makes a lot of sense.

2- The market for VTRs is small / the companies feel that they can charge more for them. They have a few extra features over cameras that make them useful for certain market segments. e.g. Real-time TC burn is useful for anyone needing to make dailies or screeners.

For everyone else just buy a camera.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 01:11 AM   #3
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Geez, William...................

give yourself a break!

I've hammered my Canon XL1s for the last 6 years, shooting, shuttling, ingesting, re - writing etc etc etc. There is no sign that it is in danger of expiring any time soon.

I've had VCR's that have had 10 years hard slog and not a worn head in sight.

As for making what you want, cheap - forget it!

Cheap implies making them in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. There is no such market for these devices in that quantity.

Just flog your camera to death, hey, it's just a machine, designed to be used, and used hard. Precious yes, but, nevertheless, just a machine with a MTBF far in excess of what it's ever likely to experience with the vast majority of it's users.

Yes, tape IS on the way out, as inevitable as the sun coming up. Not today, but soon.

Kick back, enjoy what you do with your video, and stop worying about wearing your precious machine out - that's what it's for.

Look at it this way - even if, by some miracle, you managed to wear the heads out (not much chance) what's it going to cost to replace them? $500?

What's the point of worrying about it - it's a running cost, like changeing the spark plugs in your car (bit more exxy, but you get the idea).


CS
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:22 AM   #4
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William, Try this--
on a lot of my projects, I will use my A1 once to "dump" the whole tape into Premiere Pro, and then edit it. No shuttling back and forth with a deck, etc. Plus no long batch capture process that may require several attempts until a project is compketely captured.
It's a somewhat different way of working, but it does work for me!
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:37 AM   #5
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The cheap camera option is well worth considering....I paid $70 for a cheap Sharp camera and it was well worth it...
I've known many that have paid far less....
I'm not sure I understand why you don't consider that an option...

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Old September 20th, 2007, 11:26 AM   #6
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Hi there

I'm inclined to agree with Chris... just use the camera... I've done so with every camera I've ever owned and never had a problem.

The way technology is going... ie. at a gallop, you're unlikely to burn your camera out before it is obsolete. I shoot dozens of cassettes a year on my Z1 and all of them get downloaded to a hard drive through the firewire port.

If you have a studio using with a number of shooters a deck makes sense, but if you're a one man band like me I can't see the sense.

Cheers

Gareth
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Old September 20th, 2007, 11:49 AM   #7
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William I understand and agree with your point totally. I just surrender and pay my dues. The adage, "You need to spend money to make money" is very true, but what exactly should the money be spent on? That's all up to you and your buisness plan.

I bought a Sony DSR11 and just the incredible speed of the rewind and the ease of use does make it worth it's money in a way. The thing is there is lots of money to make with videography and a deck is a good investment if you are serious about the work.

I started by using a cheap 2nd cam as my deck. When I got serious, I bought a deck.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 12:10 PM   #8
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What about the firewire ports?

Quote:
Originally Posted by William N Zarvis View Post
Thoughts?
I'm surprised that there are so many discussions about wear on heads. In my experience, the firewire port on cameras fails far sooner than anything else. I've seen four camera firewire ports die, between a few months and two years of age. I wouldn't mind if some heads died just to give me a little variety.

Sometimes it's due to visible hardware damage, such as when a pin comes un-glued and sticks up out of position (maybe they should try something stronger than Elmer's Glue?). Or when the entire port comes loose and starts falling apart. Other times it just gives up on life even when it looks happy on the outside (depression can strike anywhere, I guess).

When my first firewire port died, I read all the research to see what I could do about it. I immediately stopped reckless practices such as plugging it in without first powering down the camera, computer, microwave, air conditioner, and power for the entire neighborhood. I also started treating the unit more carefully when it's plugged in, although my wife thinks the Hazardous Materials Suit is too much. The port on my XH A1 should go out any time, it's been almost 7 months.

I will be happy when I can switch from firewire to a flash card reader.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #9
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So basically, "suck it up" is the way to go. Great. I guess I am being unreasonably picky.

But let me ask those of you who think I am worried over nothing this question: is it simply a matter of wasted money and loss of profit for some company to manufacture and sell what I am looking for? Wouldn't YOU buy a reliable Mini-HDV deck for around $300.00. I saw a Sony blu-ray player in BestBuy for that much yesterday.

Surely the tech and manufacturing techniques to craft such devices are by no means insanely expensive. The market for such devices may not be as big as home consumer video gear but I'm sure devices like the ones I'm envisioning would make a profit.

Then again, I'm only basing this argument on my own gauge of want fellow digital film makers have desired - myself included. Those specific empathic readings may be far too naive to justify what I am seeking.

A final question about using a camera as a deck. Anyone know of a HDV camera under $500.00 that would work well to the task of capturing and rewinding tapes? Someone said they got one for around $70.00!!! I find that an incredible steal. If they're that cheap, hell, I get one.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 04:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William N Zarvis View Post
A final question about using a camera as a deck. Anyone know of a HDV camera under $500.00 that would work well to the task of capturing and rewinding tapes? Someone said they got one for around $70.00!!! I find that an incredible steal. If they're that cheap, hell, I get one.
That was me William and obviously I wasn't paying attention. I didn't realize you were looking for a HD answer.....
I think it will be awhile before we will be able to score a $70 HD cam for capture :)

Good luck,
Bob T.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 05:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William N Zarvis View Post
Ok. Perhaps I'm getting too worked up over this.
Perhaps.
Quote:
It's just that my FX1 is far too precious to be using it all the time for tape shuttling, playing, capturing, rewinding and fast-forwarding.
No it ain't. Your FX1 was made for it. Look, if shuttling, playing, capturing, rewinding and fast-forwarding were really as hard on the transport chassis as you're making it out to be, then they wouldn't have put a VCR Playback mode on the camera in the first place. It's meant to be used as a playback deck... so it's okay to use it as one.

Quote:
I cringe knowing that my heads are needlessly wearing
Relax. No need to cringe. You could capture with it all day, all week long and you're not going to hurt it... this "ruin the heads" nonsense is one of biggest internet myths going. The most important reason not to use your FX1 as a deck is to keep it free for shooting. As has been suggested, just use a cheap consumer DV camcorder as a tape winder. There's no such thing as an HDV camcorder for $500 yet, but it'll probably happen soon enough... long before you actually wear out the heads on your FX1 anyway. You can spend less than $1000 on a good consumer HDV camcorder and use it for capturing video, and... guess what... also use it as a handy little camcorder as well for those occasions when you don't want to bring out the FX1.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 07:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Thieda View Post
The cheap camera option is well worth considering....I paid $70 for a cheap Sharp camera and it was well worth it...
I've known many that have paid far less....
I'm not sure I understand why you don't consider that an option...
Bob T.
These cameras don't recognize HDV. The cheapest new HDV camera is about $1000.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 07:54 PM   #13
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If all you want is a tape winder then those camcorders don't have to recognize HDV. That was his point... obviously it wouldn't work for capture but it makes a great rewinder.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 12:43 PM   #14
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Nice!

Chris,
Thanks for the clarification on this issue. After reading others comments and concerns about camera-head wear, I simply took it as a given that this was a legitimate concern. Now that I know it is a myth I think I will indulge my desire to buy a smaller HD cam and use that as a deck, a rewinder, and an occasional camera for those hard to fit places/shots.

Any suggestions for an small HD cam that plays mini HDV tapes and shoots great video? The Canon HV20 looks good but I hear it doesn't like capturing sony HD footage. Another myth?

Perhaps I should ask this question in the "Consumer High Definition Camcorders" thread section.
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