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Old December 18th, 2003, 07:53 PM   #1
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Do any of you "black" your tapes before using them?

I've read it is a good practice to record the full length of the tape with the lens cap on to get a continues time log on the tape, (no blue screen). This technique is mainly to make video editing easier at a later time. Seems logical but not practical unless you have a cheapo miniDV camera you can waste away the heads on doing this.

Do any of you do it? Can you buy pre "blacked" tapes?
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Old December 18th, 2003, 08:05 PM   #2
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You probably shouldn't do it. Blacking tapes is useful to give them continuous timecode. Some NLEs like FCP3 (not FCP4) don't like broken timecode.

If you are doing the shooting, you can avoid broken timecode. Use the end search feature on your camera to find the last timecode. You know if the timecode reset if the display shows 00:00:00;00 (something like that).

If you get broken timecode, you can fix it by making a dub with device control off. You need a 4pin-4pin firewire cable and you need to make sure the recording device is not copying the timecode but generating new timecode.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 08:09 PM   #3
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Interesting thought though.... Why don't the manufacturers sell tape that is already "formated". It took a while but floppy disks are all now pre-formated. Seems the same could be done with tapes (although, I'm sure at a greater cost).
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Old December 18th, 2003, 08:48 PM   #4
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I tear open the plastic, remove the tape from the case, put it in the camera, and press RECORD.

No blacking (waste of time and head use).
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Old December 18th, 2003, 10:04 PM   #5
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Edward has the right idea!

It is absolutely not neccesary to black your tapes prior to shooting. The only reason to black a tape is if you are planning to do "insert" edits, deck to deck.

The camera is going to record the current timecode over anything that you have previously recorded, regardless of whether it is "black" or actual pictures. This kind of defeats the purpose.

It also opens up the possibilty of broken TC as the times you previously recorded will, in all likelyhood, not match the new TC.

As far as wear and tear on your equipment...imagine buying 100 tapes and blacking all of them. Besides wasting your time, you now have 100 hours on your heads, transport systems, etc., and you still haven't shot anything!

As far as editing and broken TC are concerned, I just manually digitze the affected clip...no muss, no fuss, no having to dub.

I DO pre-stripe my tapes with 30 to 60 seconds of color bars, that way, I don't have to stop in the middle of a shoot and deal with it.

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Old December 18th, 2003, 10:42 PM   #6
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Yes, before taping the event we run about 30 seconds or so. This confirms the tape is OK AND gives me some pre-roll space if I need to recapture. However, I just record whatever the camera is seeing instead of color bars. This seems to work for us.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 03:22 AM   #7
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Color bars

Why do you record 30 seconds of colour bars on a digital camera? And why beforehand?

Surely colour bars are only useful if they are recorded at the same time as the material you are shooting, to show the camera's colour balance, and also on an analogue camera?

Just puzzled,

Julian
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Old December 19th, 2003, 03:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
...a good practice to record the full length of the tape with the lens cap on to get a continues time log on the tape, (no blue screen).
You forgot one thing: insert a dummy plug into the audio socket. You can buy one at Radio Shack. Personally, I don't find the need to strip miniDV tapes.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 07:09 AM   #9
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Since my NLE program seems to have a problem capturing from the beginning of the tape, I have adopted the practice of recording about 25 seconds with the lens cap on and then using the rec-search button to back the tape up to the 15 second mark. This insures that I'll be able to capture anything recorded on tape.

As soon as I open a new box of tapes, I'll do this to all of them so they are ready when needed.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 07:32 AM   #10
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Ditto to Ed's statement.

It's obvious that you would not stripe your tape with color bars on one camera if you are going to use it in another one as each camera will be different in its settings.

The reason SMPTE color bars are recorded is to properly set up your waveform/vectorscope levels for digitization regardless of whether your camera is digital or analog.

If you do not have SMPTE bars, it is still a good idea to record some kind of signal a few seconds into a new tape. This ensures that you begin recording away from any potential wrinkle or imperfection on the tape that may be caused by manufacturing process. It also gives you some pre-roll time.

It would really suck to begin shooting on a brand new tape and find that those critical few seconds are ruined because those first couple of inches of tape were flawed!

Frank, I am still trying to figure out why you would need a dummy plug if all you are doing is pre-striping your tapes, although I gather from your post, that you do not do it anyway. The only time we use a dummy plug to cancel the audio is during an evidence or crime scene shoot where any chatter on tape becomes part of the evidence, and taken out of context by an opposing attorney, could become a problem.

RB
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Old December 19th, 2003, 07:52 AM   #11
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From what I've read the procedure with a cam entails recording, to strip the tape, with a cap on the front and a dummy mic plug inserted. I presume so that audio isn't recorded?
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:08 AM   #12
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My understanding is contrary to what Rick Bravo has posted. According to Daniel Brown of Adobe, if you "stripe" your tape with time code, that time code is retained by the tape perpetually, regardless of tape-overs or gaps between scenes. Seems a good plan to me. I recognize the issue of extra time on the heads. As for the issue of audio and lens caps, that can be avoided by recording in VCR mode instead of camera mode. I have been burned by NOT doing this more than once. I try to make it a habit now.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:11 AM   #13
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This is digital. The tape will not know if it records black or white, sound or silence. It makes no difference if you leave the lens cap on or not, or if you plug the microphone jack or not.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:20 AM   #14
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If I blacked my tapes, it would cancel the "End Search" function which I find useful when I've had to rewind my tape a little for a check up playback. I just press "End Search" and I'm back on the last recorded frame, ready to shoot without gap in the time code.
On a blacked tape, it would always get me to the end of tape!

The only precaution to avoid breaks in time code: always start a shoot on the last recorded frames.

For a new tape, I begin with at least 10 sec. of a black still frame I've stored on the Memory Stick. My camcorder being very low-end, I can't mess with any setup, gain or color adjustment, so I always use the same test tape to get SMPTE color bars when I start a new editing session.
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Old December 19th, 2003, 08:34 AM   #15
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Jeff:
When you record in VCR mode without an input signal, you don't get black, you get "No Signal" which triggers the blue screen in playback. It will give you a time code though.

Tor:
If you black your tape by recording with the lens cap on, you get a full tape of ambiant sound and unwanted conversations from the camera mics. That's why Frank plugs the mic input: to cut the in-camera microphones.
For better blacks on consumer cams, turn the manual aperture control all the way down to shut the iris even if you put the lens cap on. In Auto-Iris, all you get is noise from the +18db gain.
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