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Old March 29th, 2011, 06:49 PM   #1
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Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Hello all, first post in a while, I have been shooting weddings about 4 years now and am looking into an upgrade to HD, shoulder mount and tape-less. My first question goes like this;

Should I be any more concerned about issues with file based recording than I am with tape based?

I have been fortunate enough to not experience any tape issues but am certainly lured to the ease of file based.

Thanks all, P.S. I am looking into the Sony HXR-MC2000U
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Old March 29th, 2011, 10:49 PM   #2
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

I recently tried the jump to tapeless by getting NX5 and ended up returning it because I didn't like the importing process. Be aware that Sony's current cameras shoot SD in mpeg-2 the same format that you burn dvds. This means it can't be directly imported into a non linear editing software without re-encoding as dv or another editable format. In addition you need to use software they supply to copy the files to your computer. Its still faster than capturing tapes but not as painless as one would hope for.

Its has its advantages like being able to shoot continuously without worrying about running out of tape. Conversely if the card fails or you lose power during shooting you could lose everything. For example the other day I was shooting on battery and it was getting low so I plugged in the power cable. The camera stopped recording and shut down and restarted. Because I was recording to tape, I simply pressed record again and it picked up where it last left off. I couldn't say the same for tapeless.

Lastly when your done editing in tape you don't need to do anything to back up because you always have your tape to go back to. Not so with tapeless. you need to copy it to another hard drive. Some times clients want the original footage or when I shoot as a second shooter I can simply give the other guy the tapes.

I'm not trying to tell you not to go tapeless, just be aware its not always better or faster, its different. Tapes have their disadvantages too but you likely know of them.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 01:11 AM   #3
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Hi Darryn,

I've recently bought a Canon XF300, which records to compact flash cards. I've previously shot with a Canon XL2, and a Canon HV30 for about 5 years. But for another project, I've shot on a Sony, ENG-style shoulder mount cam, which recorded to XDCam discs. While I'm somewhat familiar now with all 3 recording modes, I do have to say that I much prefer shooting tapeless than on miniDV tapes!

As Pete mentioned there are advantages/disadvantages to shooting tapeless. I did as much research as I could before going tapeless; and yes, read many a horror story about faulty media, losing footage, etc. etc. Of course, I've read about many people using their tapeless cams with nary a glitch.

For me, I've had to adapt to a tapeless format, among which I had to buy extra harddrives to archive footage. Drives are getting cheaper, seemingly by the minute, so the trade off between drives versus tapes (for recording then later archiving) isn't bad at all. I also had to upgrade my editing hardware to keep up with the file formats. (The Canon XF cams record to MXF files. And I use Adobe CS5 to edit.)

Maybe someone can loan you a tapeless camera and see how it works out with your workflow?

Best,
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Old March 30th, 2011, 03:22 AM   #4
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

"This means it can't be directly imported into a non linear editing software without re-encoding as dv or another editable format."

While I have not had this problem with Adobe CS4 and 5 on a PC, I understand it can be a a problem with Macs. My initial thought was why get an HD camera if you are going to continue shooting SD? Maybe if you need a particularly rapid transfer to DVD? (I recall some postings about folks who needed as-fast-as-possible turn-around after recording Sunday services at a large church; they found the transcode from SD was much faster than from HDV.) Maybe you are doing legal video in jjurisdiction that requires everything to be done in SD?

Personally, I've found that editing HDV and AVCHD and then exporting to DVD gives excellent results, noticably better than when I was shooting weddings and events in SD.

One caution though is that the HXR-MC2000U records AVCHD as its HD format.. AVCHD can be a very heavy load on not-so-new systems such a Core2 computer. If you do not have an I7 system with a fair amount of RAM, you might want to look at transcoding with a Cineform product. NeoHD is about $100 which is much less than the cost of a new computer. .



"In addition you need to use software they supply to copy the files to your computer."

Well, not exactly. You definitely need to copy files but that can be done without the Sony software. the reason you need to copy the files to your editing computer is that the camera doesn't give you enough bandwidth or speed to make it pleasant to use your camera as an editing drive. Now, if you have a Mac, I beleive you have to cpy the files (the whole directory structure) without the Sony software because, AFAIK, the Sony PMB ("Picture Motion Browser" software has not yet been ported to the Mac OS. (The NX5 uses a pro-division version called the "Conent Management Utility" which is more cumbersome and less intuitive than PMB and which I also believe has yet to be ported to the Mac OS.).

But, on a PC, there are a couple of significant advantages to using the PMB software for importing/copying files to the computer. One has to do with HD formats recording a meta-data file that NLEs need for decoding and displaying the video (especially true with AVHCD). PMB seamlessly and transparently brings those files along when you copy to the computer. The second advantage has to do with the flash memory and SD cards being formatted for 32 bit FAT. I gather that a 32 bit fat file system is used to that the memory and/or SD cards can be read by both PCs and Macs. The curse of 32-bit file system is that you wind up with your clips being spread between a series of 2.075 gig files. (The same thing is true when using a Sony MRC1 for recording from a tape-based camera). The PMB software brings the various component files into one large file.on the PC. Say, you have an hour long clip. The camera records 6 files, each with its own metadata. You can copy the whole directory to a PC or Mac, and import each of the files into your NLE. Or, using the PMB, the software brings them all in together and assembles them into a single large file which is seamless imported into the NLE. With the MRC units, you needed to use the importation utility because, if you did not, you could get an audio drop-out at the breakpoint between files that made up your segment. I understand this can happen as well with AVCHD files from flash memory units.


"Conversely if the card fails or you lose power during shooting you could lose everything."

Well, you won't lose everything from a power loss during shooting but you might lose as much as nine minutes of video if the camera shuts down before it saves the most recent segment. Here, again, we've got that pesky 32-bit FAT file system at work, except that it is sort of a good thing, this time. Because your clip is recorded in a series of nine-minute (2gb) files, a premature shutdown only wipes out the current file segment and maybe does not do that. The Sony cameras do have file recovery utilities that may bring back some of what you lost. That is "may" not "will for sure," so you takes your chances, as they say. All that being said, I can report a couple of errors where I absent mindedly shut off the NX5 or a CX without stopping recording and giving the camera time to save the file. Nonetheless, there seems to be some circuitry that did save the files on both occasions and I did not lose any footage. That may have been mere luck for me or the cameras may be more robust than one might think. Regardless, I've programmed myself to stopp the recording and wait for the light to stop flashing (signifying evything has been saved) before actually shutting down.

But here's the deal with power and battery life --- the tapeless cams run a whole lot longer. Without a tape mechanism going, the tapeless cams use a lot less power and can go for hours and hours. I've shot over five hours (recording time) with my CX550s and NX5, and never even come close to running out of battery power. I had an NP-950 battery in the NX5 and NPFV100s in the CX550 cams.

As for cards failing, do note that MC2000 can record to SD cards but it mainly records to a 64g flash drive. Both flash drives and SD cards are very reliable and pretty tough. I have one SD card that went through a wash in a shirt pocket and it still works fine. I started out going tapeless a couple of years ago by getting MRC units for my HDV cams. I was sure that I wanted the "belt and suspenders" of tape and a CF card but quickly found the cards so reliable that I stopped shooting tape. Whether this is a good idea or not depends on how paranoid you are. Likewise, when I got my NX5 a year ago, I got it with the FMU recording unit so that I would have immediate back-up to SD cards. I still leave the cards in the camera, but I have never needed to resort to them.


"Lastly when your done editing in tape you don't need to do anything to back up because you always have your tape to go back to. Not so with tapeless. you need to copy it to another hard drive. Some times clients want the original footage or when I shoot as a second shooter I can simply give the other guy the tapes."

Back-ups are an issue with tapeless recording. And, no doubt about it, tape is very inexpensive and a pretty durable way to store stuff .The Sony tapes at out local Costco can be had for about $2.25 each. They are so inexpensive that you can hand the tapes to somebody else and not particularly care if you get them back. With an MC2000, you can dump a copy of your flash memory drive to an SD card and do it far faster than you could copy a tape. But a 32 gb SD card costs $55 to $70, so you really want to make sure you get it back. In my business, I rarely shoot for somebody else and hardly ever have a gig where the customers wants source video. My contracts for corporate and event work say that the customer can have unedited video by paying for SD cards. (My wedding video contracts all say that the source video is mine and mine alone. Once in a while, a bridezilla has read something about requesting the original tapes but, so far, my going tapeless has provided the perfect way to quash that request.)

Beyond that, there are two or three kinds of back-ups to consider.

First, and foremost, what do you do about back-ups while you are editing and do not have source tapes if the computer rolls over on its back and puts its feet in the air? You can try to leave the job on the cameras until you have finished the edit. This is only good for jobs that have a very quick turn around, which is not always the case.. So, after feeding the files to the NLE system, I use a 2 TB Seagate USB drive to back-up the computer files overnight.. The local Costco has these drives for about $100 and they come with software that will also automatically back up whatever you want it to including making a bootable system restoration folder. To be sure, there are better solutions such as a DLT unit, but the hardware is more than my budget will allow. .

Second, what do you do for keeping the source files when the project will be dormant for a while? There are some projects do drag on for awhile where I may need the disk space of other work. Also, ther are legal videos (mostly depositions) where I may need to keep the source files for a year or two. You never know when the lawyers might need a deposition edited down for use as trial testimony. In theory, I could edit from a DVD (I've done this in a pinch when a lawyer brings me the DVD made by somebody else). Generally, though, I find it better to edit from source files. .For these situations, I store things on inexpensive USB drives as well as keeping copies of the DVDs that were produced.

Finally, what do you do to keep all the source files for years afterwards? With mini-DV and HDV, you could just toss the tapes into the folder. I did that for years and, frankly, the stuff I do is emphera. After a couple of years, nobody wants the source tapes any more. Sometimes, a kid who danced in a recital or sang in a show will be putting together an auditon disk and wants an excerpt of a particular dance or song from a show I videoed a year or two ago. All I do there is pull the segement off the DVD.

This may not be the case for other videographers, particularly if you do corporate or educational videos. That is where I think a DLT back-up system is probably the best long-term storage solution.

In theory, I could print out the timeline to an HDV tape, too. I've done that for a couple of projects where I might need to come back and add things later. You need to have an HDV cam available if you want to do this kind of archiving.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 08:33 AM   #5
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Thank you very much for the detailed replies !! I was certain if i posted here I would get great information. Often my theory's are oversimplified, but I was thinking (more like hoping) that I would slap on my giant Sony battery (I have and bring plenty) which with my VX2100 was good for at least 500-600 minutes, and shoot away. Typically I return home with 3-4 tapes worth of coverage, so I was thinking 64GB should provide room for 4-5 hours of capture. If I did fill it, could I then record to an card? When I capture in AVCHD format, is that creating mpeg4 files? I thought I could "download" to PC, leave on camera until finished, edit with either of my PC based NLE's on either of my 1 year old PC or Laptop? Nightly backup to external HDD (I do this now). In the past, I would save my Dvtapes as AVI and could edit quite simply, am I in for a rude awakening assuming I can edit mpeg4 just as simply? After 4 years I am finally very comfortable with my knowledge (although still quite limited) and experience with shooting SD, I am excited and also very nervous about getting my feet wet with HD.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 09:21 AM   #6
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Hi:

If you're using tape and having fun with your current camera I see no reason to change that, but if you're in for an upgrade, tape is a dead end:

The concerns with NLE was an issue some 5 years ago when computers weren't powerful enough to handle mpeg2 in real time and not all NLE software supported editing. Today mpeg2 is well supported, there may be some issues with mpeg4/avchd, basically it's the same story.

You need some vendor software plugin to transfer the files to your NLE, but it comes with the camera and integrates with most of the popular NLE solutions. It's really a trivial piece of software that stitches the files together as files can be at most 2GB due to the FAT disk format. You can do it yourself without, but it's a pain.

Could be that it is or was faster to convert DV after the NLE, but you save time transferring footage from file based storage compared to tape, I'm not convinced that DV will win with any significant advantage in the end.

Tape is not cheap storage, and will become more expensive or alternatives become even cheaper. You might get cheap DV tapes for $2-3, but pro tapes costs maybe $10, either hold 16GB, if you're optimistic that's about 10c/GB. You can actually get portable HDDs cheaper per GB, just saw a 2TB for about $100, that's 5c/GB. Add to that that you can't use tape as efficiently as disk storage, delete a clip on tape? only if it's the last one and you may get time code problems. On disk, just do it. And, whenever you go on a new project you'll likely use a new tape to be sure not to run out while shooting, meaning you'll have a number of only half used tapes.

You don't use new memory cards for every shoot, just as you don't use them for backup, they're too expensive. You copy it to some other storage media which you will anyway for NLE. Once you turn to file based format you can have the additional advantage of using RAID storage for additional data integrity, or cloud services for accessibility and you can easily use encrypted file systems for confidentiality.

Also, your tapes are only good for archival as long as long as you have the device to read them. Tape is dying and you might as well prepare for the future and take your past with you.

So, IMHO, you must have very strong arguments of backward compatibility or something to go with tape, the argument can't be price, convenience or security.

BR, Erik
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Old March 30th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #7
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryn Carroll View Post
Thank you very much for the detailed replies !! I was certain if i posted here I would get great information. Often my theory's are oversimplified, but I was thinking (more like hoping) that I would slap on my giant Sony battery (I have and bring plenty) which with my VX2100 was good for at least 500-600 minutes, and shoot away. Typically I return home with 3-4 tapes worth of coverage, so I was thinking 64GB should provide room for 4-5 hours of capture. If I did fill it, could I then record to an card? When I capture in AVCHD format, is that creating mpeg4 files? I thought I could "download" to PC, leave on camera until finished, edit with either of my PC based NLE's on either of my 1 year old PC or Laptop? Nightly backup to external HDD (I do this now). In the past, I would save my Dvtapes as AVI and could edit quite simply, am I in for a rude awakening assuming I can edit mpeg4 just as simply? After 4 years I am finally very comfortable with my knowledge (although still quite limited) and experience with shooting SD, I am excited and also very nervous about getting my feet wet with HD.
AVCHD is indeed MPEG4.

Sounds like you mostly have a workflow figured out. How well or poorly your 1 year-old PC or Laptop will handle AVCHD is hard to answer in the abstract. It depends in part on system specs and in part on your NLE. I'm running Adobe CS5 under Win 7 on a 1 year old I7 system with an MPE enabled video card and 12 gigs of RAM. I have edited 7 track multi-cam weddings which combined 3 AVCHD and 4 HDV streams. On my three-year-old Vista64 laptop with only 4 gigs of RAM running CS4, a single AVCHD track bogs down pretty quickly.

So, try testing it out. I've seen several postings where folks have mentioned places to download some AVCHD for testing, so I you could try to find some of that footage and test it out. An alternative is to buy an SD card, go to a store with AVCHD cams, make some test recordings and see how it works on your systems. If you've got a Mac, you probably have to do a Pro-Res conversion as Erik suggested. If you are on a PC, and AVCHD bogs it down, you also could try a Cineform product (the website has fully functional 30-day trial versions). These convert your MPEG 4/AVCHD footage to HD avi or mov files. The least expensive version is NeoScene. Sounds like you have plenty of hard drive space available. (A high def avi conversion from MPEG4 generally converts everything to "I" frames which results in an avi a file that is 5 or 6 times larger than the highly compressed AVCHD original.)

Like you, I have a bunch of large NPF batteries. (I used to shoot with VX2000s). These now get used with my MRC units and my NX5 and FX1000. I'm not familiar with the HXR MC2000 but I believe it can use those NPF batteries. You could well get 50% longer shooting with a tapeless cam.

AFAIK, the MC2000 is otherwise built around the same systems used in the older CX550v. These shoot only 1080i. You have to go to the just-released CX700/560 to get progressive modes (which include 1080/60p). You can get 6 hours of 24Mbps AVCHD (highest quality) on a 64 gig flash drive.

You can also record to SD cards. With the CX cams, you have to stop the camera and manually switch over to the SD card. They will not do relay recording (automatically switching over) nor will they do simultaneous recording to both media. I would guess that this is probably true of the MC2000.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 03:51 PM   #8
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

If you're not married to the idea of a Sony, you should check out the new Canon XA10:
Canon XA10 HD Professional Camcorder 4922B002 B&H Photo Video

Bigger sensor & dual SD card slots to go with the 64 GB onboard storage. AND it has XLR inputs, which the Sony doesn't.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #9
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

What I meant is if you lose power during a continuous shooting you can lose up 2gb, thats where the file is split. When shooting in SD mpeg2 that's up to 30 minutes. The other scenario which is much more unlikely if the card fails you could lose everything on it, which leads you to use multiple smaller cards, which also make importing more like tapes, instead you are baby sitting cards. granted for less time.

My comment about using software to copy is in reference to the glitch or design of the NX5 where frames are dropped in between the 2gb files if you don't use their software to stitch the files.There are other things like meta data that are stored on the card like time code as separate files so if you ever need that.

Backup risk is greater with tapeless because you save them to one hard drive with many projects on it. if it fails you lose all the projects, where as with tapes the risk is spread out. It true you rarely if ever go back to backup I can only think of one or two times over the last 7 years.

As to why I shoot SD, for depo work I shoot up to 7 hrs and need to drop it off the same day or next day to the office. Think about trying to transcode that on a regular basis. My dance recital work doesn't warrant authoring SD and HD versions. No one is going to want to spend the extra money to cover my costs (printable bluray discs, extra time to encode, author and HDV tapes). When clients start to demand blu-ray then tapeless begin to make more sense.


The bottom line the benefits of tapeless are dependent on the type of video you shoot.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 10:53 PM   #10
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Pete Cofrancesco:

"Backup risk is greater with tapeless because you save them to one hard drive with many projects on it."

Me:

Not really. With any digital media it is accepted practice to not rely on having it stored in just one location, so most folks using tapeless format tend to store it on both optical media and hard drive or on multiple hard drives. I store original files on a pair of external hard drives immediately after coming off a "shoot" (in addition to that, while working on a project I also have those original files on the computer's internal drive.

These days, I purchase my external hard drives in pairs and within a short period of time pick up a third to have ready to replace the first one that shows signs of any problem.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 11:58 PM   #11
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Why not have the best of both worlds?

I'm an amateur, but were I in business, I'd go with tapeless for acquisition; there's an a tremendous benefit to the immediacy that tapeless memory cards offer. However, my first step after ingest into a computing system would be to write the video out to an LTO tape drive (a common tape drive used bty busnesses to back up computer systems). In this way, you have the ease-of-use with tapeless camera systems, and the permanency and security of long term storage on tape.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 02:19 AM   #12
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
What I meant is if you lose power during a continuous shooting you can lose up 2gb, thats where the file is split. When shooting in SD mpeg2 that's up to 30 minutes.
No, the camera continuously writes data to the card and since this is continuous writing to the end of the open file, most likely no data is lost in the event of a power failure. You may get a corrupt file system though but this can be recovered with one of the many tools that have been developed for computers over the last decades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
The other scenario which is much more unlikely if the card fails you could lose everything on it, which leads you to use multiple smaller cards, which also make importing more like tapes, instead you are baby sitting cards. granted for less time.
CF cards works more like a hard drive with the data integrity checks, bad blocks etc. There is no need to use multiple smaller cards for added security. If your card suffer an error it most likely may cause artifacts or affect the recording like dropped frames on tape.

The most likely complete failure of a CF card is that you displace it or loose it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
Backup risk is greater with tapeless because you save them to one hard drive with many projects on it. if it fails you lose all the projects, where as with tapes the risk is spread out. It true you rarely if ever go back to backup I can only think of one or two times over the last 7 years.
Like if you keep your tapes in the same box and your house burns to the ground? Not really.

The advantage of disk storage is that you can much faster create multiple copies of your work and store on different locations if necessary. You can store your data on RAID storage, that's an array of disk that depending on configuration provides security against one or more disk failures.

Disk space is cheap, even with redundant disks, you can get storage cheaper than tape.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
As to why I shoot SD, for depo work I shoot up to 7 hrs and need to drop it off the same day or next day to the office. Think about trying to transcode that on a regular basis. My dance recital work doesn't warrant authoring SD and HD versions. No one is going to want to spend the extra money to cover my costs.
Well, I did the calculation: 2x32GB CF cards 210euros, 2 TB HDD w. RAID 90euros. That allows me to store 83hs of HD video in 50Mbps. 83hs of tapes cost about 250euros will record in only 25Mbps - good enough for SD. So you very easily reach break even. For your 7hs recording day, that's 12 days of work. No one will spend extra money.

As regards extra encoding time, you should balance that against the extra transfer time for tape. If you shoot 7hs tape you need another 7hs to import it into your project. With CF this takes about an hour, so now you've got a 6hs head start. As long as you don't need to transcode to an intermediate codec I very strongly believe that the CF workflow will bring you results faster, and it just happens that today you can work fine in mpeg2 natively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
The bottom line the benefits of tapeless are dependent on the type of video you shoot.
Well, the conclusion on this is that there really is no business case for tape today, except if you've already got it. And even so, if your in for an upgrade, there are plenty of arguments to take a step into the future ... which actually became today yesterday.

BR, Erik
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Old March 31st, 2011, 02:41 AM   #13
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

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Originally Posted by Gene Gajewski View Post
Why not have the best of both worlds?

I'm an amateur, but were I in business, I'd go with tapeless for acquisition; there's an a tremendous benefit to the immediacy that tapeless memory cards offer. However, my first step after ingest into a computing system would be to write the video out to an LTO tape drive (a common tape drive used bty busnesses to back up computer systems). In this way, you have the ease-of-use with tapeless camera systems, and the permanency and security of long term storage on tape.
It really doesn't make sense to use tape based backup today. Even businesses don't. Yup, been there, done that - 10 years ago!

Tape drives are prohibitively expensive and so are the tapes. HDD storage density have increased significantly over the last decade and with it the amount of data we store. Tape storage has not, the result is that tape storage simply can't keep up with the demands for space, 10 years ago I could take a complete backup of the entire faculty data in a single tape. Today, the space in a DV type tape is even exceeded by RAM in normal computers. And, tape is only permanent storage as long your as your tape drive keeps functioning.

Not to mention the overhead cost of retrieving data from tape backups: When you backup to tape you create a disk image on the tape, you have to read the entire disk image before you can retrieve the file you were looking for.

Today, multi-tiered systems are used:

- RAID for protection local disk failure.
- Separate backup on an external disk based storage solution
- Off site backup for site disaster

Or, if you go with the newest trends: Cloud solution for access everywhere. With cloud solutions you also offload the trouble of setting up HA systems that provide data integrity, backup and security. etc.

Sorry, those of you who are with tapes and have a good workflow, keep going. But don't consider tape if you're starting out or upgrading.

BR, Erik
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Old March 31st, 2011, 04:14 AM   #14
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

Are the LTO drives Gene is talking about really that inappropriate? From what I've been reading recently it kind of makes sense for archiving (not for backup). Looks like the tapes are about $70 for 1.5TB so it's not exactly cheap — but that represents about 70 hours of footage when shooting @ 35Mbps. I wouldn't mind being able to drop off an external hard drive and have a service archive it to LTO. I wouldn't necessarily want the machine myself. I did a quick search and it turns out that's a common theme: http://www.simvideo.com/blingtapearchiving.html
Linear Tape-Open - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tape archive technology, Part II | Brad on Broadcast
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Old March 31st, 2011, 11:07 AM   #15
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Re: Tape or Tape-Less This time?

On the tape issue - there's a range of considerations.

On RAID hard drive systems, well, that's a fault tolerant *online* system - but I think the purpose of tape in terms of video is for permanent *archival* purposes - offline. It's not necessary to back up an entire computer to a tape drive - only the video files need be tranferred to tape, and as Keith pointed out, you can get many, many hours onto a tape.

We can point out that hard drive storage is getting cheaper all the time. Of course, in an *offline* sense, who wants to store a bunch of USB drives at an offsite warehouse location? They're certainly more bulky than tape, and there's no economic benefit to the hard drive form as the likelyhood of actual usuage of the hard drive is low - we're merely archiving here and buying insurance. The tape is less bulky, and there's no electronics and little mechanicals to break down. (Of course *tape* drives can fail, but then so do hard drives - you simply replace them).

As for cloud based storage, it presents it's own issue to consider. For one, it's not a one time deal; you've got to keep on paying *rent* every month. Secondly, you dont *own* the data, meaning you don't control it. The cloud service you use could have a failure, the company could go out of business, etc. Third, cloud storage isn't exactly speedy.

All in all, considering tape archival storage from a holistic viewpoint - there's some definite advantage to be had.
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