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Old July 13th, 2005, 08:11 PM   #1
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re-using tapes

ok. so i'm new to this but i know how frustrating time-code breaks can be from prior experience.

i have 6 new DV tapes, 3 of which are full, and i just captured video from a few of them.

i want to "erase" the tapes so i won't end up taping over an old shot and then carrying over into a new timecode (or.. at least i think thats how it works. i just remember that taping over a used tape is not pretty at capture-time)

i have a Panasonic GS250 if that matters. is there something i can do on-camera that will wipe the tape (do i just have to go to vcr mode and hit record and wait 60 min?

or is this just not done? if so, how do i avoid timecode headaches down the road?
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Old July 13th, 2005, 09:52 PM   #2
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The short answer is: DON'T DO IT!!!

Even by taping in VCR mode, you are basically using the tape for one pass, which is a huge no-no with the DV format.

Almost every time I've had serious errors on a DV tape, it's been from re-using the tapes. I'm not just talking about a digital dropout here and there, but long errors, where a portion of the image is ruined for several seconds at a time. I've done this by mistake a few times, and at least three times when it's been requested by a client. It always came back to bite me in the butt.

DV tapes have become one of the best values in videotape, ever. They provide simply stunning quality in a very inexpensive package. They are available anywhere. They have great runtimes for the size. They are, however one of the more fragile formats in wide use. Pop the $4 for a new tape, please.

To avoid timecode errors in the future, just make sure that you tape 20 seconds or so (maybe with the lens cap on?) before you take the tape out of the camera, then you'll have plenty of buffer later to forward to that point, say 5-10 seconds into the black, and run it another 10-15 seconds before taping something important.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 12:23 AM   #3
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Mini-DV tapes are kind of $2.60-3USD if you shop around and live in the US. You can also buy them from this site's sponsors... I think Pro Tape is a sponsor.

I would avoid re-using tape. User error and other errors are no fun.

If you do want to erase mini-DV tapes, you need a pretty powerful tape eraser. THe normal Realistic-brand tape erase sold by Radio SHack will not do it, although the high power one does (search the long black line forum).

Last edited by Glenn Chan; July 14th, 2005 at 04:57 AM.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 06:38 AM   #4
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Hi Matt,

Just in case you need to hear it from a third person, don't re-use tape. There's really no reason to do so. Tape is the least expensive component in the production chain. No yourself a favor and forget about re-using old tapes.
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Old July 19th, 2005, 08:28 AM   #5
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Well I guess you needed to hear it from someone on the other side of the argument. I re-use tapes quite sucessfully I might add. Why else would the tapes' paper insert have multiple rows to lable the tape, and several sets of stickers.

This season is the first I've started re-using. Tapes are a considerable expense if your an event videographer, shooting 1 1/2 hour 3-cam ceremonies and the like.

Just a bit of input from the "other side". I'll be sure to let you know if I every have problems. About 18 tapes so far and everything has been gold.
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Old July 19th, 2005, 11:24 AM   #6
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If you knew there was a 5% greater chance of tape failure would you still re-use tapes? If you are shooting a 3 cam wedding for 2 hours, that is 6 tapes, that is $18 for Sony Premium DV tapes. Like I said above, if it is worth shooting, it is worth $3. If it is a paid gig, you are playing with fire just to save what amounts to very little.


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Old July 19th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
If you knew there was a 5% greater chance of tape failure would you still re-use tapes? If you are shooting a 3 cam wedding for 2 hours, that is 6 tapes, that is $18 for Sony Premium DV tapes. Like I said above, if it is worth shooting, it is worth $3. If it is a paid gig, you are playing with fire just to save what amounts to very little.


ash =o)
That's just the ceremony- that's not including bridal prep, groom prep, recessional photosession, reception, etc. And that's only 1 gig- multiply that by the amount of gigs in one season and use $7 per tape beings I use Sony Excellence. It equates to a lot more than you'd believe.

Also there is no evidence a tape is more likely to fail if it's run more than once. If anyhting I've found greater reliability (less dropouts) on tapes that have been run once or twice already.

From Sony:

"Editing test have shown that DV media begins to show picture disturbances after 150 passes."
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Old July 19th, 2005, 10:01 PM   #8
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I have a few tapes that I re-use. They are "scratch" tapes and I use them when I'm testing stuff and just shooting around. I don't care about the footage that's on these tapes. For anything "that matters" I never re-use. I just don't want to take the chance of screwing up an amazing one-time shot because of a re-used tape. There are plenty of other ways for me to screw a shot up...
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Old July 20th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #9
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I shot probably 5000 hours of DV so I can tell you that while problems are rare, they are more prone on re-used tapes which is why I stopped. More timecode errors, control track errors, drop outs, etc. Still, at best 1 tape in 10 with ANY kind of issue and maybe 1 in 100 with a bad problem. If you are using Sony EX, I assume you are recording in LP mode (no other reason to use those IMO) and LP mode will multiplt the problems I note above.

I say, use the $3 tapes and charge your clent $5 per tape to keep the masters. If they dont want to pay, buy a bulk eraser and sell them on eBay. You will be ahead of the game...



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Old July 27th, 2005, 12:30 PM   #10
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I will say that I have had very few problems with the DV format, but the only times I have had problems, was when re-using tapes.
Not worth the risk to me. Even if it cost me $50 per event, I would rather pay the $50 than worry that something might be messed up because I re-used tape.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 01:35 PM   #11
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one more...

All of the reasons listed above are enough evidence to never reuse tapes...but there is another for those who actually attempt a career in the acquisition/editing game: stock footage. There is never a day that I edit when I don't think of a shot I had done better or a natural sound captured more cleanly. I have many hours/years/decades of shooting film and video and I wish that I had all of the Beta, SVHS and VHS footage that I taped over, erased or threw away, (even though I saved a good portion of it), when I need a shot or a sound and all I have left is the memory of it. And, with DV (mini or otherwise), there is simply no reason not to catalogue and store these little (by comparison with the "old days") tapes.
If this is a serious career, then shoot and save. If not, dropouts will make little difference.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 01:44 PM   #12
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Glen's advice is for the ultra budget concious user only

Every new shot you take is done with new tape. Period. Otherwise you are no longer running a business, but micro-managing a low paying hobby.

There is no reason to play with the chances of a dropout or worse! ... a broken tape!!!

4 bucks is just so inconsequential and is always part of your hourly rate.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 02:55 PM   #13
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While the con (don't reuse tapes) argument has it's obvious merits, I wanted to get some feedback on some advice I've read in a most excellent book.

The advice is that the first thing you should do with a new tape is "stripe" it. By this they mean put the tape in the camera and record with the lens cap on until the tape runs out. The primary purpose of this is to establish an unbroken timecode throughout the entire length of the tape, preventing unexpected timecode breaks when you use the tape to record something.

Another benefit is that it shakes out any manufacturing defects that go undetected until you unwind the tape the first time.

We used this technique on our last production and I can say that having perfect timecode across six tapes was indispensible during the post stage. We had no signal issues or other tape-related snafu's. I'd also like to mention that we used very low-end cameras and inexpensive tape.

Maybe we were lucky but without evidence that tapes are more likely to fail the second time they are used, I find having good timecode to be more important, at least in our experience so far.

(bear in mind that we are shooting dramatic works where we can almost always "take two", so for those of you covering live action maybe this isn't for you).
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Old July 27th, 2005, 06:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy McKenzie
Every new shot you take is done with new tape. Period. Otherwise you are no longer running a business, but micro-managing a low paying hobby.
Jimmy, that is quite a big blanket statement you made- many could take offense to it as well. I know SEVERAL professional event videographers for whom re-using tapes is a normal practice. These aren't part-timers or hobbiest. They are some of the countries most elite wedding/event videographers.

Do what you see fit in regards to tape usage but there's no reason to insinuate that those who disagree with you are wrong...or as you say .... "micro-managing a low paying hobby". It's actually quite the opposite.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 11:14 PM   #15
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I heard of someone who reused a tape at an event then went home and found his wife in bed with another man.

Personally, I mixed tape brands at an event one night, and when I went to the concession stand at intermission I paid with $10 but only got change for a $5.

I've heard other stories too. When you add it all up it constitutes irrefutable evidence. Please don't reuse tapes or mix brands.

[Edit:] ;>)
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Last edited by David Ennis; July 27th, 2005 at 11:23 PM. Reason: I forgot to smile
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