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Old August 11th, 2004, 11:20 AM   #1
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Archiving original material

Yes, I'd like a better medium than tape - no moving parts, low power consumption, random access straight to the scene I want, no scrunched tapes. However, I also want the stuff I shoot today to be accessable in 10 or 20 years time. Are memory cards able to do that at a comparable cost to tape (say 3/$5 per hour)?

Most of the time, I shoot steam trains, especially the tours that run on the UK main-line network. I'm conscious that they may be gone in a few years time, so I'm shooting all I can now. I'll probably only edit a quarter of what I take this year into programs straight away, but I'll come back to the rest later on. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a programme at the moment that uses footage taken over the last 14 years.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 11:41 AM   #2
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I split Mark's post from another thread. It's really a separate topic that merits its own discussion.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 12:02 PM   #3
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I wouldn't trust that anything you do today will be accessible years from now, as film is. I think good quality digital tape is probably the best bet because you can clone it to whatever the next new format is before what you have becomes obsolete. For example, I've got 16 year old stuff on Betacam SP that I dubbed to DVCAM via component out/in. There is a slight deterioration in quality from the original, but not noticeable to most people. Now that I've got that stuff on DVCAM, it's digital. When DVCAM (or DV25) starts to become obsolete, I can clone the stuff via firewire to whatever the next new thing is. Eventually firewire will disappear, but there would be an interim step, I'd think...ie., some new deck or device that would take firewire in.

The nice thing about digital tape is that you can make copies with no further degradation. And, even when a format disappears from common useage, dub houses will continue to have decks for a long time. For example, the dub house we use still has a 1" machine and a couple of 3/4" decks. So, I've got 1" and 3/4" tapes about 20 years old I can transfer to DVCAM if I need to; and I probably will do that in the near future. I'm sort of assuming that DV25 will give way to HDV or something like that in the next several years, but that new deck, whatever it may be (ie., tape, optical drive, chips, whatever) will have a firewire input.

I think people in the future are going to be in for a rude awakening about the whole archival thing. Today you can still watch film that's a hundred years old; you can watch 16mm film that's 50 years old, and you can still look at photographs that may be over a hundred years old (although a bit faded). But if you've got a 5-1/4 floppy disc with documents written in Wordstar on a CPM computer in the '80s, you're most likely screwed. People think that DVDs are the archival medium of wonder, but we're starting to hear stories of CDs dying in only a few years; and who knows if DVD players of today will be around in the future, or if DVDs will hold up over many years. My feeling is that if I have scripts or anything written I'd like to be around after I'm gone, I ought to print them out on good quality paper and file them in a box.
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Old August 11th, 2004, 12:21 PM   #4
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I've just participated in a similar discussion with fellow digital photographers. Within that world the topic of media longevity is also significant. But even more significant is the topic of format. For example, should photos be stored as camera RAW files (proprietary)? JPEGs? JPEG 2000s? TIFFs? PSDs? PNGs?

The general consensus in that world is that there is no definitive 100 year archival path, short of printing with certain inks and papers as Bill suggests.

Of course that's not an alternative for video. Film transfers are probably our closest best-bet.

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