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50 years of videotape - this week


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#1 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 03:20 AM

If my information is correct, this week marks exactly 50 years since the first video tape recorder was demonstrated at NAB by Ampex.

I think that was the event that prompted Variety to run the now traditional headline "Film is Dead" for the first time.

Well, despite enormous growth and development in the use of videotape, and of newer recording media still, the Variety headline is still ahead of itself, half a century later.

Does that make the headline writer extremely far-sighted, or just plain wrong?
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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 07:29 AM

Good point. And how many formats have they gone through in those 50 years? One a year, one every second year? I mean, if I had crucial stuff (like the killing of Kennedy) on tape, could I even get Betamax, M-II or EBU B transfered today?
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 07:32 AM

I have a feeling film wil actually outlive videotape.
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#4 Stephen Williams

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:04 AM

I have a feeling film wil actually outlive videotape.


Max,

I guess videotape will be gone in 5-10 years, for News footage maybe sooner.

Stephen
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#5 Keith Mottram

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:15 AM

Max,

I guess videotape will be gone in 5-10 years, for News footage maybe sooner.

Stephen


I think that is probably a reasonable time frame for modern western networks, but I've got a feeling all those tapes and boxes will be dumped in the third world for another twenty years use.

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#6 Mike Kaminski

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 10:28 AM

Max,

I guess videotape will be gone in 5-10 years, for News footage maybe sooner.

Stephen


I dont think tape is going anywhere for at least ten years. I mean, Digibeta, BetaSP, DVCam, HDCam, all these relatively high resolution formats arent going to dissapear overnight; even miniDV is as popular as ever. People will always need hardcopy transfers to carry around and P2 cards and the like wont replace much cheaper tape storage for a while. Once HD takes over SD tape will begin to fade away but for low-cost transfers and field work it wont be obsolete for at least 10 years, likely much more with all the HD tape developments that will ensue--and even then, tape will still be used by consumers and low-budget filmmakers, plus all the third-world dumping that will inevitably result.
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#7 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 11:22 AM

People will always need hardcopy transfers to carry around and P2 cards and the like wont replace much cheaper tape storage for a while.


I'm very excited about the prospects of optical disks ( DVD, Blu-Ray, HD DVD) for long term hard storage. They offer random access, play almost endlessly without wearing out, offer different recording possibilities, are cheeper than tape. the play back devices require less maintainance etc. Why would any one pursue tape any longer?
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#8 Emre Safak

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 11:25 AM

I'm very excited about the prospects of optical disks ( DVD, Blu-Ray, HD DVD) for long term hard storage. They offer random access, play almost endlessly without wearing out, offer different recording possibilities, are cheeper than tape. the play back devices require less maintainance etc. Why would any one pursue tape any longer?

I don't know about optical media being better. Tape seems more archival than CDs and DVDs, which invariably get scratched or develop rot.
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#9 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 11:46 AM

Lots of good comments thus far.

Looking at my crystal ball:

Field and studio video acquisition onto solidstate (P2 and other memory chip devices), harddrives and optical disk/card devices will increase rapidly over the course of the next few years. By late 2007 or so, especially when optical device costs begin to drop significantly, this trend will start to accelerate.

Existing tape-based gear (camcorders and decks) will continue to be utilized, and new tape gear acquired, for several years. Their numbers may even increase in popularity for a few years. Also, devices which add value to existing tape-based gear -- such as camera-mounted solidstate, harddrive and optical video field recorders -- will continue to decrease in cost, size and weight and increase in ease-of-use and popularity.

But as solidstate, harddrive and optical devices continue to improve and become more affordable -- and all users become more familiar and comfortable with them -- in about 3-5 years we'll reach a tipping point after which tape-based acquisition will begin to rapidly decrease. By then, the econonics, ease-of-use and comfort level will greatly favor solidstate, harddrive and optical devices.

Wireless acquisition to a data network (LAN or Internet) will really start to take off within 2-3 years, and may even become more popular than solidstate, harddrive and optical devices in certain applications, both consumer and professional. This is something of a wildcard in the mix.

_Data_ tape will continue to be cost-effective for backup and "archiving" for 10-15 years, but will probably be gradually replaced by optical technology.

Meanwhile, film will continue to serve in its current role for at least several decades, with its use decreasing slowly over time as "HD" video technology continues (begins?) to gradually make inroads. It'll take at least 5-10 years for "HD" video to prove itself worthy of "replacing" film, especially at the mid-to-high-end of the business, and video's acceptance will continue to be very slow.

If/when video is used to shoot 15%-25% of mid-to-high-end productions, at that point we may see its rapid adoption to shoot 50%-75% of it -- but even then I bet film will continue to be used for at least 25%-50% of these production for many, many years ... as long as Kodak or Fuji keeps making stock.

Just my $0.02 US; I could be way wrong. :)
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#10 George T. Griswold Jr.

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 02:10 PM

The biggest obstacle now is the flood of competing formats. I won't list them all, but it creates a problem for freelancers like me. I stopped stressing out when a potential client calls for as format that I don't own. The Betacam days seem idyllic because everyone had it and everyone used it.

There is little chance that things will be simple. Wait and see. Then there is the battle of HD DVD formats-- sheesh!

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#11 Filip Plesha

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:26 PM

But film will be gone from cinematography one day...

Just think, how many of you here on this forum would go digital if someone offered you 8K uncompressed, noiseless, progressive, 16-bit color, foveon-type, digital camcorder that records 20 hours of such footage, and is compatible with everything that a panaflex is compatible with (accessories and lenses). I'm guessing a lot.

Same happened in photography. In 90's there were a lot of film shooters, but most of them were in it for quality, and were just waiting for something to chalange that quality. Then came 16Mpixel SLRS and 22 Mpixel MF backs and things like that, which performed just as well in prints as medium format transperencies.
And of course, many switched to digital, because the quality thing was no longer the issue.
Right now the film shooter community in photography consists of these types:
1. people who can't affoard such digital that could replace their film images in quality
2. people who don't even recognize color film as real photography
3. people who cling to some last remaining technical advantages of color film, like latitude in bride photography and stuff like that
4. people who consider digital photography to look plasticky and flat, and are addicterd to "le film look"
5. people who don't consider it photography, but synthetic electronic image capturing, and are shooting film because they want to get "real" images
6. people who shoot beyond 8x10 format (ULF) for its ridiculously high resolution and sharpness, and are waiting for 100 megapixels or beyond to show up


now for 1,3 and 6 , it's just a matter of time before they leave the film community.
2 will dissapear in time, 4 and 5 are are a very small market.


I believe there are similar profiles among DP's too, and the advance in technology will considerably reduce the number of those who favour film. The reason motion film industry is untouched by this digital revolution so far is because it's such a well oiled machine. still photography industry is much more fragile.
But there is another side of it, still industry can fall and recover faster, or can be reduced to smaller markets etc. but when Kodak motion picture industry falls, it will be like when a sequoia falls to the ground, and nobody will be able to salvage it
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#12 Mike Rizos

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:37 PM

If my information is correct, this week marks exactly 50 years since the first video tape recorder was demonstrated at NAB by Ampex.

I think that was the event that prompted Variety to run the now traditional headline "Film is Dead" for the first time.

Well, despite enormous growth and development in the use of videotape, and of newer recording media still, the Variety headline is still ahead of itself, half a century later.

Does that make the headline writer extremely far-sighted, or just plain wrong?

Hi,
It seems some people actually believed him. I often get asked: "Do they still make film for that?". And my neighbor upon seeing my Bolex remarked: " That's what Charlie Chaplin used to make movies".
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#13 timHealy

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:46 PM

Just think, how many of you here on this forum would go digital if someone offered you 8K uncompressed, noiseless, progressive, 16-bit color, foveon-type, digital camcorder that records 20 hours of such footage, and is compatible with everything that a panaflex is compatible with (accessories and lenses). I'm guessing a lot.


Though those stats sound good, I would need to see how it looks, how it over exposes, how it captures action etc, etc.

Best

Tim
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#14 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 09:58 AM

FWIW, 2005 was a record year for Kodak motion picture FILMS. B)

And the first year that more than half of Kodak's revenue came from DIGITAL imaging.

The best of BOTH worlds. :)
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#15 Aleksandar Bracinac

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 11:08 AM

I think that film will be replaced by digital in next 6-10 years. Yes, I am the fan of the film, but once when digital motion picture cameras alow high-speed 6mpix (3k) shooting in 10+ bits of color depth on enough compact storage, film will lost this run forever.

Alex
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#16 Rik Andino

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 03:25 PM

I think that film will be replaced by digital in next 6-10 years. Yes, I am the fan of the film, but once when digital motion picture cameras alow high-speed 6mpix (3k) shooting in 10+ bits of color depth on enough compact storage, film will lost this run forever.

Alex


I think it's a little more complicated than that...
A new camera alone won't change generations of folks accustomed to shooting on film...

A realistic estimation is probably one generation around 20 years...
By then most of the old school filmmakers will retire
And the new filmmakers will be more accustomed to digital imaging
Thus digital becomes the industry standard.

All of this of course speculation and can't really be proven
What is mostly for certain is
At some point in the future digital imaging will become the industry standard.
When and how and in what form is the unanswered question.

As for film, I'm sure there will still be a demand for it
It's a great medium and it has it's uses.

Next we should try to guess when the Democrats will regain the Presidency... :)
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#17 timHealy

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 04:16 PM

Next we should try to guess when the Democrats will regain the Presidency... :)


Well they could start right now by criticizing every leaky hole the republicans have left open. There are cracks all over the current administration and congress. The democrats just seem to be letting opportunity after opportunity go by. But perhaps thats for another forum.

Tim
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#18 Matt Butler

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 03:06 AM

50 years of videotape.Who can remember 2 inch Quad, 1 inch Helical, Quarter inch Colour Akai portapaks,
half inch B+W reel to reel J format, half inch Philips square casettes, three quarter inch Umatic?

Ever tried to play these then *state of the art* formats back? If you can locate an operational videotape deck, the adhesive substrate on the videotape has generally failed, covering the playback heads with a sticky deposit. Even then the major shows made back-up kines(film-recordings) for archive purposes.

So if we are doomed to repeat the past(as the saying goes) will any of our current formats fare any better?

cheers,
matt butler
occassional cinematographer
Sydney, Australia
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