Tape is finally dead.

farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:08 PM
Unless you're luck enough to own an XDCAM EX camera you might have missed this minor revolution.
Thanks to Sony's update to the EX firmware and an enterprising Australian we can now record nearly 1 hour of FullHD to SDHC memory cards. These 16GB cards are now so cheap (AUD 60) they can be used the same as tape, put them on the shelf or hand them to clients at the end of the shoot. A card reader cost me $18. I can drag and drop the native camera footage onto the PPro (FCP works too but haven't tried it myself) timeline for instant editing.

I've looked at other archiving solutions including XDCAM Pro Disks and LTO tape, these are cheaper per GB but given the cost of the drives and the extra work involved not a serious competitor.

The only question that remains is the longevity of flash memory.
My own concern is these cards are so small they pose a physical problems such as how to label them and how to store them.



blink3times wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:45 PM
"Tape is finally dead."

Then why is Canon getting ready to put the new HV40 on the store shelves? Why was Sony's 2008 prosumer cams all HDV?
Brad C. wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:50 PM
Bob- I couldn't agree with you more. I know I've only been doing this for about 5 months now, but I've been eat, sleep, and breathing videography as much as I can. I've learned so much in a short time, and one thing for certain is that HDV is certainly on the way out. It was a consideration for a short time but I'm glad I went with solid state workflow. AVCHD still hasn't matured yet, but I'm glad I invested in the concept for now. It's so nice to go shoot video and just drop files into the computer and start right away. I save all my files to disk storage so I wipe my card clean every time. Read/write cycles on an SDHC card is suppose to be ridiculously good so its not like they need to be replaced often unless you just hand them over to clients to keep.

The new JVC GY-HM100 is another step forward towards better workflow for the solid state crowd. Much like the P2 system in an HVX, it allows continuous recording from slot A to slot B without stopping (or so they say). And this is with SDHC cards!!! How cool is that? Two 16gig cards or two 32gig cards would last a long time anyway, and then if you start dumping info and keep going? Wow.
I hope the reviews on this camera are good and the imager is better than JVC has been producing on the lower levels. I really like it.

Chienworks wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:01 PM
I'd also point out that those cartridges work out to about $39 (US) each, and i can buy 60 minute tapes for about $4 (US) each. Nearly 10x the price doesn't seem like a viable replacement media to me.
ushere wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:04 PM
sorry bob, but i think talk of tapes death is a little premature.... well, at least among my clientele.

none of my major clients (and one is an international) have even considered leaving tape, as yet. it is still by far the most reliable (if stored correctly) archive medium, easily transportable (as opposed to easily losing a small ssd card!), and universally playable.

they did look at cards, hd's, etc., but i think they're all waiting for t1 connections (or better - HA!) so we can simply pump video from one location to another.

personally i like the idea of tapeless editing, but while i shoot for clients, tape reigns....

Spot|DSE wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:24 PM
it's not dead. Just dying. And fast.
Anyone notice that both Panasonic and Sony have dropped their mid-line DV tape?
But there are still HDV cams being launched, and still a LOT of DV cameras out there.
That said, tape has been a backup medium for us for almost 3 years now, since we bought XDCAM, and now EX. Even the 270...we never use tape in it. But...we're on the cutting edge, and so are you, Bob.
hell, in another forum I moderate, there is a SERIOUS discussion about whether to edit in 4:3 or widescreen. Seriously.
farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:58 PM
You're comparing apples to lemons.
You cannot record full HD to those tapes and you cannot overcrank to those tapes. If you can bear the capital cost of the Flash XDR ($5K) you can record full HD 10bit at 4:2:2 to CF cards. The nearest tape system is HDCAM SR and a 1 hour tape for that cost around $400 to say nothing of the capital outlay, power supplies, boffins to mother the thing etc.
Having got your footage onto SR, then your costs in post really start to bite. On the other hand the data from the CF cards can be loaded into Vegas etc via incredibly cheap card readers that you can buy almost anywhere. Good luck finding a HDCAM SR deck, even carrying the thing is a trauma.

randy-stewart wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:09 PM
...and let's not forget the project saving permanence of tape vs. cards. Senario: shot project, transferred to hard drive, wiped card, shot some more, transferred that, wiped card, edited the project just under deadline, hard drive crashed, freaked out, engineer friend was able to recover 90% of stored footage from the crashed drive...but had to reshoot the other 10%. With tape, would have just recaptured. Card users, remember to include "back-up" in your workflow ;-).
johnmeyer wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:46 PM
The only question that remains is the longevity of flash memoryI recommend you seriously look into that. I just tried to find some data on this, and was frustrated in my attempt. However, compared to optical, which I have researched extensively and believe will last for 100+ years (if stored correctly), and magnetic tape which -- especially with modern formulations -- can last decades, I don't think flash memory will be as robust.

However, perhaps someone else has some actual data that proves me wrong.

I hope that tape is dead. However, does this also mean that HDV is dead?? I do not understand why all solid state HD camcorders (lower-end) are using AVCHD, and not one is using HDV. I know of absolutely no technical reason for this. I would buy an HDV solid state camcorder in a heartbeat, but have been reluctant to get AVCHD, especially now that I have done a complete job with the SR12, and found the video quality to be somewhat lacking.
farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:46 PM
If you read my original post the whole point was that cards are now so cheap there's no need to wipe them.
Certainly with XDCAM EX using SxS cards your scenario is entirely correct. Down here a 16GB SxS card costs $1,200. Now I can record the same thing to a card that costs $60 and getting cheaper.

Sony have enabled a change in the landscape and Bravo to them for doing that. While some might say they've shot themselves in the foot by killing off sales of SxS cards I think they're going to be selling a lot more XDCAM EX cameras and making a heap more money in the process.

farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:50 PM
This is the BIG question for sure.
For anything that has value beyond 5 years optical media is still the go for my money. We just don't know about flash memory.
There is some talk about someone developing a WORM variant of flash memory which should in theory outlast even archival optical media.

Jay Gladwell wrote on 1/15/2009, 5:09 PM

I have to go with Bob and Douglas on this one. Tape may not be dead, but it does have a terminal illness. It's days are numbered.

There was a time not too long along that I could not imagine going solid-state. Like Bob pointed out, it is more than viable now, based on the lower priced media "fixes" available.

Once you've done a job with media files rather than tape, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

You can't see it now, but the time will come. You'll have to see it to believe it. I did.

RalphM wrote on 1/15/2009, 5:56 PM
How are the flash memory cards at long form recording, such as a play with a 50 minute first act? How much time can one get on a card?
farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 6:06 PM
"How much time can one get on a card?"

As the EX cameras have two card slots you can keep recording forever, until you run out of cards or battery. Per card in HQ just under 1 hour per card 16GB.
blink3times wrote on 1/15/2009, 6:09 PM
"I hope that tape is dead. However, does this also mean that HDV is dead?? I do not understand why all solid state HD camcorders (lower-end) are using AVCHD, and not one is using HDV."

That's a bloody good question and I'd like to know the answer as well!

I'm all for this move to HDD... Flash... and all the rest of it. But what's with this avchd crap??? Why is this being rammed down our throat? I have no doubt that it will SOME DAY be a great codec/format that will carry us into the 1080/60p world, but it's hardly ready for prime time... heck... they haven't even really standardized it yet.
Tattoo wrote on 1/15/2009, 7:15 PM
Yep, gotta believe it's just a matter of time. Go buy a 4TB version of the Western Digital NAS (Network Attached Storage), put it in RAID 5 mode, which gives you extra speed & complete data backup (but brings you down to 2.7TB avail storage, apparently). That amount of storage is roughly equal to 200 DV/HDV tapes. At $4/tape that exactly matches the prices for the NAS ($800), however you have instant access to all of your video, extra speed & backup, and you can also use the drives for your normal computer data storage while you're filling them up. What's not to like? Drive capacity is only going to increase & prices decrease. Gotta think camera battery life is much improved saving to solid state instead of tape, too.

A cheap way to hand raw footage to clients? Okay, got me there, but what's to keep you from shooting on flash, saving to hard drive & using an older camera to transfer to a DV/HDV tape for the client? Surely you don't hand over your original tapes now, do you?

The technology for this is only getting cheaper/better. I see widespread adoption in the next two years!

John_Cline wrote on 1/15/2009, 7:35 PM
In my experience, RAID 5 does offer extra security against data loss, but it does not offer increased speed. If there is an affordable RAID 5 controller or NAS that gives any better than about 20 megabytes/secod write speed, I'd like to hear about it.
jabloomf1230 wrote on 1/15/2009, 9:19 PM
"Then why is Canon getting ready to put the new HV40 on the store shelves? Why was Sony's 2008 prosumer cams all HDV?"

Pure marketing on Canon's part. I can't answer why Sony is sticking with tape. But back to the HV40. Other than a pretty superfluous "native 24p mode", the HV40 is essentially an HV30 with a programmable button. Not only is tape dead, but optical drives are comatose and mechanical hard disk drives are also dying. Basically, any electronics equipment with moving parts for storage, is being phased out. SD cards and SSDs are replacing everything, except for archiving large quantities of data..
johnmeyer wrote on 1/15/2009, 9:23 PM
These 16GB cards are now so cheap (AUD 60) they can be used the same as tape ...To provide more data from a USA perspective, your AUD $60 is equivalent to $40.38 US. I just checked dealnews and I can get a 16 GB secure digital for $24.99 with free shipping. So, an even lower price than you quote.

DV tape holds about 14 GB, so it is almost exactly equivalent (DV video is 13 GB/hour, and most DV tapes actually hold about 65 minutes). I can get good Sony Premium miniDV tapes at my favorite tape supplier:

Tape Resources

for $2.20 each (in quantities of 20).

So despite the even lower price for SD media here in the states, tape is still a full order of magnitude (factor of ten) cheaper, and in most engineering or economic calculations when something is an order of magnitude bigger/smaller/cheaper/faster/etc., then it is not equivalent.

So, I think the "present progressive" verb is more appropriate: tape is dying. The present tense ("is dead") does not yet reflect reality, and given the price gap -- as well as the inertia of fifty years of audio and video tape use -- I think it will be quite a few years before we even reach a crossover (more solid state than tape being purchased) and even longer before we reach installed base crossover (more solid state on shelves than tape). This huge magnitude of existing tapes will keep tape machines around for a long, long time because we'll still need to grab stuff from the old inventory, and no one is ever going to be able to take the time to move it all from tape to something else.

bsuratt wrote on 1/15/2009, 10:12 PM
"4TB version of the Western Digital NAS (Network Attached Storage), put it in RAID 5"

RAID 5 is very safe but not totally safe... nor as safe as tape.
stopint wrote on 1/15/2009, 10:39 PM
i just read this in the feb 2009 edition of videomaker..."it's increasingly easy to make a case that tape is on its way out...but we would really be surprised if tape were to completely disappear in the next decade or so..."...i have no prob embracing change and i do have an avchd camera but i still like using and get better results with tape...
farss wrote on 1/15/2009, 11:24 PM
Well yes, "is dying" is indeed closer to the truth but it's been "dying" for a long time What I see is as an acquisition format it's now on a much steeper slope . May I should have said "is dying much faster".

I think the actual cost ratio is still a bit higher than 10:1, we're using class 4 SDHC cards e.g. Sandisk Ultra II. What is dramatic is the truly huge cost decrease in recording Full HD at 35Mb/sec. A few months back I had to use Sony's SxS cards at $1,200 for 16GB. Last month I was using SDHC Class 4 cards at $100 for 16GB. This week that dropped to $60.
We will not even consider what using P2 cards costs :)

Sure tape is at least 1/10th that cost. However a few months back it was 1/220th the cost.

Brad C. wrote on 1/16/2009, 2:08 AM
Not to mention survival rate. Bad things happen. Water gets spilled, things get dropped, kids pick up and play with, maybe left exposed in the sun, accidentally washed & dried, etc. etc.

I'd rather take my chances with secure solid state.

I've already done the washer/dryer routine on accident. Popped the card right into the reader and into the PC. Voila. Data still there safe and sound.

Are dropouts still an issue with tape? (I really don't know) Can a tape based machine keep recording properly during hard bumps or a drop? (Again, I really don't know, I'm asking)

What about storage space in the home? Im sure you can save more space in the work/storage area with HDD's/SDHC cards. While there are several HDV cams I would love to have right now, I don't know if I want tapes all over my house. Wife too! haha
ushere wrote on 1/16/2009, 3:09 AM
i'm NOT a luddite, but i have the distinct feeling the vast majority of people here are independents, self-creators, and the like, just like myself

however, i also shoot for a national broadcaster (ABC TV), an international racehorse company, and three well established independent producers who edit their programs with me for international release, among others....

i have talked with most of them about how they see the future and they all pretty much agree (bear in mind your looking at a bunch of old farts, youngest 53), that as far as they're concerned there is NOTHING to equal tape for many reasons, a few that i remember i'll list here;

security - every program i do in sd has both a master, a sub-master and a dupe in dvcam - CLEARLY LABELLED. the master and dupe they take, the sub stays with me. the very thought of having little sd cards (even in big holders) floating around with minute lettering on them, has them (and me) in fits of laughter.
hdv is simply a master and sub-master. everything else is rendered from the time line - and the whole .veg etc., is backed up on a dedicated hd. but my attempts at persuading them they DON'T need tape is laughed off. and having listened to some of their tales working with 'cutting edge' post facilities and the trauma's of mislaid / misread / incompatibility problems made me give up pretty damn fast

reliability - with (pro) tape you can play it anywhere, and reliably so (in my case) up to 20 years later (if store and looked after correctly). you are not dependent on card readers, pc power etc., not to mention the ease of 'mishandling / losing / erasing' a sd card.

cost - with literally 15+ hours of footage in a lot of the doco's i edit shooting tape is the only practical approach, not only financially. but as was pointed out, YOU go and find a sd card when you're three hundred miles from the nearest bloody pub! tape is incredibly cheap, resilient, easy to carry around, and (in an emergency) found on most supermarket shelves..

there were a lot more arguments, but i forgotten them. i'd like to shoot tapeless, but there are people and circumstances that, for the moment, you'd be hard pressed to find an alternative to the $2 x 1hr tape (ok, some of them shoot dvcam - 40min...)

not being argumentative, it's a friday night and i'm tired of reading how wonderful tomorrow's going to be when we can't even get today sorted out.

Jay Gladwell wrote on 1/16/2009, 4:28 AM

...as far as they're concerned there is NOTHING to equal tape for many reasons, a few that i remember i'll list here.

Anyone who says that has not worked with solid-state recording. Such a statement simply isn't true (or maybe accurate would be a better word).

Just watched a panel discussion yesterday of four DPs all who work freelance shooting programs for the national networks and the major cable channels. To make a long story short, they agree it's a matter of education--showing the "old farts" the quality, ease of use, and time-savings of solid-state media. Once they see it, they are amazed (as we all are). Once they've done one program with it, they never look back.