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Could tape die before film


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#1 Werner Klipsch

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 07:29 PM

Yesterday my neighbor showed me a advertisement for a computer store that were offering 8 Gigabyte flash drives for less that the equivalent of $US100. I was still in shock from a similar offer a couple of months back for a 4 GigB stick for the same price!

I don't see film disappearing anytime soon but with the same capacity of a single-sided DVD now available for about what the original DVD blanks used to cost in Flash RAM, do you think the writing might be on the wall for tape?

I know there are DVD recorder-cams but I have a home DVD recorder and frankly I've found it to be painful to use! With a VCR you can just slam a tape in and hit record. I appreciate the quality of DVD recording but not the amount of whirring and clanking and 'please wait' - ing it goes through every time you press a button! And if there's a manufacturing fault in the disc or the power goes off at the wrong moment, you can lose your whole six hours of recording! If you crunch a bit of your VHS tape you might lose a couple of seconds!

Hard Disc recorders are much better but you can't take the data out and play it on the train on your laptop (well not without more whirring and clanking :D )

But, I can see all this rapidly being overtaken by the USB flash drives. Think: a little 'VCR' where you record a movie, pull the flash drive out and pay it on your laptop, of kid's backseat entertainment system.

So how far off can a cheap flash drive be that is the equivalent of say a Betacam tape? Or something the size of a video-8 tape that can hold 30 minutes or so of 1920 x 1080?

I can definitely see that future. What pictures actually go INTO the system remains to be seen.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 07:31 PM

Definitely tape may be obsolete before film. Everyone has been predicting the death of audio and videotape for some time now, it just hasn't quite arrived due to certain conveniences of tape.
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#3 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 07:49 PM

I can definitely see that future. What pictures actually go INTO the system remains to be seen.


I think that tape will be gone before film. There is somewhat of a psychological barrier to cross going tapeless - but this primarily a fear factor related to media management. With film to tape, the barrier is much more tangeable for producers as it introduces the question of what kind of quality sacrfices are being made and all the other issues surrounding digital vs film. In other words, there seems to be much less controversy surrounding the tape vs tapeless issue than the film vs digital issue.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 07:52 PM

Few people have an emotional connection to any recording media for digital files. I can't imagine getting misty-eyed over recording to discs versus a flash memory device...
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#5 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 08:10 PM

Few people have an emotional connection to any recording media for digital files. I can't imagine getting misty-eyed over recording to discs versus a flash memory device...


Ha. That's very true.


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#6 Carl Brighton

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 09:39 PM

I don't see film disappearing anytime soon but with the same capacity of a single-sided DVD now available for about what the original DVD blanks used to cost in Flash RAM, do you think the writing might be on the wall for tape?

It would be the ultinate irony, given that infamous 1956 headline in Variety: "FILM IS DEAD!!"
The reason for this somewhat premature ejaculation? Ampex had just demonstrated their VRX1000 2" videotape recorder.

The VRX1000 was the size of a large refrigerator, used hundreds of tubes, drew thousands of watts, the only way of editing was by cutting and splicing the invisible images on the tape using a special liquid-filled gadget filled with magnetic powder to find the frames, and it could only produce something less than broadcast quality black and white. But this was going to repace movie film "in a few years"! Presumably with the equally cumbersome 4" Image Orthicon TV cameras of the day providing the input :blink:

I can definitely see that future. What pictures actually go INTO the system remains to be seen.

Yes, there's an enormous amount of confusion about this out there. The bulk of the 16 and 35mm film shot today is immediately scanned by a telecine and all further editing is done digitally, whether the final product is going to be TV commercials, TV shows, and to a lesser extent, cinema release movies.

The main attraction of film is still its image quality, the fact that it also acts as its own high-resolution recording medium is probably incidental these days.

"Digital" imaging and "Digital" post production are two entirely different fields; the use of one in no way mandates the other. In fact Arri even have a "lite" version of the arrilaser specifically designed to transfer HD video onto 16mm negative, so impoverished film makers can still edit their films on traditional equiment!
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#7 Gavin Greenwalt

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Posted 20 April 2007 - 10:04 PM

As a capture format yes. But as a storage medium, tape may in the end have the 'last laugh' LTO tapes still are the only really viable long term digital storage solution.

I wouldn't doubt though that film will long outlast tape aquisition. The amazing thing about film is it requires no equipment to view. Once it's been recorded and processed, it exists. It is real. It's not a metaphor or analogy for an image. It's a real little picture.

The tipping point will be when a Flash card costs as much as a DVCAM tape. Then it's a disposable.
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 05:11 AM

As a capture format yes. But as a storage medium, tape may in the end have the 'last laugh' LTO tapes still are the only really viable long term digital storage solution.

I wouldn't doubt though that film will long outlast tape aquisition. The amazing thing about film is it requires no equipment to view. Once it's been recorded and processed, it exists. It is real. It's not a metaphor or analogy for an image. It's a real little picture.

The tipping point will be when a Flash card costs as much as a DVCAM tape. Then it's a disposable.


Yes, tape currently has one advantage over the HDD and flash memories and that is the price. Freelance camera people often have to hand the rushes over to the production company at the end of the day without having time for downloads. For this type of work you need relatively lower cost recording media that can be handed over to large organisations without worrying that your personal HDD/Flash memory gets lost.

If tape continues as data archive, will depend on how investors view the reliability of other media for this purpose. I suspect the industry will follow the direction that the IT/computer industry takes.

Film has it's own unique properties, which people feel enhances their production. Tape is basically a means of recording and doesn't bring a unique "look" by its use, other than perhaps picture break up and drop out.
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#9 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 06:08 AM

Tape as a capture medium has some serious flaws, but as a data storage solution, it has decades left in it.

Given the need for long term storage solutions for any footage not shot on film, I don't think the end is any where in sight for tape in the entertainment industry.
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#10 Alexander Joyce

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 06:27 AM

I think what we should be asking ourselves is how many of todays file formats and memory card formats will be around when tape and film finally dies out? None probably. Becuase in 2 years tops something new will have taken over and backwards compatability has never been the computer industries strong side.
Proprietary codecs and software that you will constantly rely on the producers to support and update and in a few years time when you upgrade your computer and it's got a newer OS on it that software might no longer function under it.

Ofcourse I'm biased as we have quite a bit invested in tape.
Just bought an SRW-1 and an SRW-5500 HDCAM SR to replace our "old" HDCAM recorders and I feel pretty happy with that. Good format that is universally accepted and for television work it will still be current for some time.
So if anyone is shooting in Scandinavia and don't want to drag one along from back home give me a yell :rolleyes:
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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 06:36 AM

I Becuase in 2 years tops something new will have taken over and backwards compatability has never been the computer industries strong side.


I understand that Word 2003 can't open Word 2007 files.
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#12 Carl Brighton

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 08:03 AM

I understand that Word 2003 can't open Word 2007 files.

Is that right?
It used to be like that up until about 2000, then the newer versions of Word started using a different save-ing technique where if for example a document written in Word 2003 only used features that were available in say Word 2000, it would save it in a Word 2000 compatible format. My laptop has Word 2000 on it and my ofice computer has Word 2003, but the laptop can always read the Word 2003 files.

However, anything is possible with Microsoft!
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