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Old February 8th, 2006, 11:29 PM   #1
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Re-using Mini-DV tapes?

Normally, I shoot with 2 or 3 cameras, and depending on the event, I may use 2 tapes per camera = 6 tapes. After transferring everything to my PC, then editing it to a final production, I'll usually transfer the final production to a New Mini DV tape for storage.

My question is how many times can I over-write a Mini-DV tape before it starts losing quality or tape strength? Should I even re-use them at all or just discard the old tapes? I have no use for the original footage and usually overwrite them 6-8 months after an event.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old February 9th, 2006, 07:55 AM   #2
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I live by the rule that anything will degrade after the first generation.

Having said that, using used tape is aok, I see no problems. Its when you use it more than 2 or three times and you still expect to see the same quality come out. Its like writing in pencil then rubbing it out... Then do it about 4 or 5 more times and the paper starts to wear thin and it is no longer smooth to write on.

So if you belive you have the money to have "use once only" tapes, then I'd stick to it if you want some good quality, unaffected footage. If its a trip to the football, or family outing, I see no harm in a few re-uses.

My Film teacher once told me: "Everything degrades, no matter what they tell you. The moment you put the best footage onto film, or DVD, or even if you leave it in your computer, you've lost a lot of quality."

I'm not saying footage would look terrible, but if you know what to look for, there will always be something that wasnt there in the original stock footage.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:48 PM   #3
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1- I don't reuse tape because once I accidentally recorded over some material. But human error aside...

2- miniDV is a digital format, which stores the data as a bunch of 1s and 0s (with error correction). When you make copies, you will get a perfect copy of the video image (timecode and user bits may change though, depending on transfer methods). If there are too many errors reading the 1s and 0s (i.e. so much that error correction won't work), then you will get glitches / dropouts.

Re-using a tape should eventually cause more errors in reading the 1s and 0s. As the tape moves over the tape head, a small amount of the magnetic material will wear off. So eventually the tape will become worn out... I'm not sure exactly when that happens. It might be at like 150 passes on the tape???

Linear editing does increase wear and tear on the tapes. But almost no one does linear editing for miniDV.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #4
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I never reuse tapes simply because they become too unreliable and I don't like taking unecessary risks - tapes are so cheap now it isn't worth it for me to reuse them.
However, if you're just recording stuff for fun that you don't really care about, I don't see a problem with it.
You mention you copy the tapes to other ones for archiving - why not just archive the originals?
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Old February 9th, 2006, 05:50 PM   #5
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Well, after I do all my editing and have a final production complete, I'll transfer it back to DV tape for archiving the finished product, granted it will all fit on one tape. So far I have yet to create anything that doesn't fit to a 60 minute DV tape
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Old February 12th, 2006, 08:37 PM   #6
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since were talking about mini dv tapes here... i have a quick question.... should you rewind and wind tapes once a year to preserve them?
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Old February 12th, 2006, 08:58 PM   #7
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It says on the packaging to rewind them every year to preserve them, but in reality, it's not practical for everyone. I have over 200 tapes sitting around and I just can't go and rewind each one of them - too time consuming.
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