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Old January 2nd, 2009, 02:33 AM   #1
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MiniDV Tapes Quality Endurance?

Hello at all, I am new to this Forum. I need your help about 3 DV concerns I have:
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1) Do MiniDV Tapes dergrade by the number of times they are played as it happens when they are re-recorded?

2) If recorded MiniDV Tapes are ideally stored, what is their approximate Shelf Life before starting being degraded?

3) After how many hours of CamCorder use is it advisable to perform Head Cleaning using Head Cleaning Tapes?
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I would be really thankful for any help!
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:07 AM   #2
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1) If you're rough with your tapes, constantly stopping, starting, shuttling, cueing and reviewing, ejecting, reloading then they will indeed be subject to stresses and strains. Tape is very thin, vulnerable, complex and cheap - so treat it with care and understanding.

Re-recording a tape is exactly the same as playing the tape from an engineering stress-inducing pov, so don't be afraid to do either. Reusing tape is the *only* way to retrieve the information from it.

2) Tens of years. The signal is digital and very hard to erase or corrupt. I used a 10 year old Sony tape just last month. Perfect.

3) Depends. If you work in very dusty or smokey environments, change tape types a lot and don't box your cassettes but pile them in your pockets then you'll be using the head cleaner more frequently than if you're a careful operator.

tom.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:49 AM   #3
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Have to agee,after a tape debate somewhere i decideded to test some of my earliest 1998 dv tapes and all the ones i tested still played perfectly.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 08:16 AM   #4
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Artifacts

The most common issue I've had with reusing tapes is artifacts showing up in freshly recorded video. I've had this happen after only a few uses, and it can completely ruin a much needed shot. It's basically little squares of previously recorded material showing through your new footage. Often these squares will just be green or purple, which is effing annoying. I decided to start blanking over my tapes, in an effort to reduce artifacting. I'll rewind the tape(in a deck other than the camera if possible to avoid head wear), and set up the camera to record with the lens cap on. Another way is to set up the tape in your deck, and drop a black screen onto your timeline in your edit software, making sure it will be long enough for the tape to run out. Then just record the black onto the entire tape.

In reality, if there is a problem with the tape, this technique will likely not fix it. Sometimes though, the artifacts are caused by a head that needs cleaning, so don't just throw out the tape without checking it(unless you have some money to burn). I've simply started to use this technique because the artifacting isn't as easy to see when it is black, as opposed so some colour unnatural to your shot. It will get you by in a news shoot, but you're still screwed in most other applications. Thats why it's best to carry a few brand new tapes with you, in case theres something you absolutely must get in the first shot.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 09:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Ratelle View Post
I decided to start blanking over my tapes, in an effort to reduce artifacting.
Halving the life expectancy of your whole tape deck (not just the heads) is a huge price to pay for re-using tapes Matt.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:18 AM   #6
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Thats true...perhaps I'll just always use new tapes from now on. No harm in starting a library of footage I suppose!
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 11:30 AM   #7
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You wouldn't use a new untested microphone on every new shoot yet they cost tens of times more than even the most expensive HDV tape. So why use an untested, very complex (28 precision parts), very cheap component part called the tape cassette? Once I've tested the tape (come home from a shoot, rewound it and played it into my pc) I know it's a goodie - better than any new tape right off the shelf.

Remember - at the price we pay for tape there's no human inspection whatsoever. You and I are the testers.

tom.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 05:18 PM   #8
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Tom, I have to say that is one of the most UNIQUE "arguments" I've ever heard for reusing tape. I'm not sold but thanks for the viewpoint.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:04 AM   #9
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It's not really an argument Shaun - I'm just advocating that we test all of our equipment before we head out on an important shoot. We test expensive equipment so we should be even more aware that cheap equipment needs more throrough testing. Cheap complex equipment that's had no human end-of-line inspection (tape) falls neatly into this category.

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Old March 5th, 2009, 11:02 AM   #10
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I had the exact thing that Matt describes with the "blocks" showing through.

Here is what I found. I've been testing various modes, etc. with a new Canon HV30 with a Sony Premium DVC tape (blue wrapper).

I recorded, and re-recorded tests on the first few minutes of the tape. Initially everything looked great, but after rewinding and re-recording just a few times, I started getting these "block" artifacts. At first I thought the camera was defective, (which it actually was, but for a completely different reason- a hair or dirt on some internal part of the camera showed on full zoom).

With a new tape, the recordings seemed fine. I had no idea how poodle-ish tapes can be.

My conclusion is to NEVER rewind until the end of a one hour tape, and just use a new tape after that. The few dollars for a new tape can be thought of like a new roll of film.

Jonathan
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Old March 6th, 2009, 06:31 PM   #11
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FWIW, I have tapes from 10 years ago that play as good as the day they were recorded (same is true for 20 year old Video8 tapes). Stored in a draw - nothing fancy. I also have one particular tape that I have played, wound, paused more than 30 times and it is just fine (9 years old). I use it for software development.
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Old March 7th, 2009, 02:31 AM   #12
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Hi
This is one of the reasons I'm desparate to go tapeless...these cheap flimsy cassettes are a real weak link in the system...

For each job I alwqays use a new tape... only very rarely a re-used a tape...(once shot and edited they go to my archive box). I have had very few drop outs and after many hundreds of them run through several different cameras I have yet to have a faulty tape...

So to pick up on Tom's argument the law of probabilities tells me that I'm safe with new tape stock. So what if re-using tape actually increases drop outs?
To my mind its the whole tape mechanism too that is part of this weak link...small springs, heads and rollers that can clog and eat tapes, just so much to go wrong... God how do I ever shoot and assignment?

An SXS workflow is looking better every day... just need the spondoolies now...

Cheers
Gareth
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Old March 7th, 2009, 06:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Gareth Watkins View Post
So to pick up on Tom's argument the law of probabilities tells me that I'm safe with new tape stock.
Tom's argument is quite the opposite Gareth. If the production process from raw materials to finished MiniDV tape is 99.99% perfect (Ho Ho Ho) then there are tens and tens of faulty MiniDV tapes sitting on dealer's shelves waiting for you and me to buy them.

The full take over of flash memory can't come soon enough.

tom.
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Old March 7th, 2009, 01:09 PM   #14
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I reused non-full tapes a few times this summer and I lost track of what footage was on what tape, etc. THe footage was just fine with the multiple uses, but for me it was not even close to being worth the hassle of tracking down that b-cam footage from event X and finding which other event had those few minutes.

I decided it was well worth it to just buy another 50 tapes from a big supplier and be done with it. It only ran me $150 or so for the tapes, and now I"m set for this years shoots (hopefully I'll run out 1/2 way through which means a busy year!)
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