Why do we even use Tape and XDCAM Discs anymore?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by nateo200, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    Location:
    NY State
    #1
    Why do we even use Tape and XDCAM Discs anymore? I don't get this AT ALL!!! I get old happens never die and that we have the stuff laying around but I sill don't get why we don't hook our cameras, computers with NLE software right into high speed flash media!!!! I can write at 95MB/s onto Sandisks high end flash drives as much as I want and it don't spin or get jammed from the weather!!! I don't understand why a Sont XDCAM HD throws data onto Professional Disc which while reusable seams dumb....

    I get the cost factor but that only seams present when you need to distribute the format....

    When AVCHD cameras first came out or maybe they weren't AVCHD, anyways I saw these camcorders that recorded video to full size DVD's and then smaller DVDs and I wondered why they could just record onto a hard drive or flash drive? Why waste disc formats on something your presumably going to need to edit...RED seams to have this idea down since there cameras have been based on a file based work flow since the start but why are people settling for non-file based work flows? I pop a SD card into my camera and record a full HD image at 100mbps then pop it into my computer and its there...can someone explain why Sony, Panasonic and some others are stuck on what looks like advanced Betacam workflow!?
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    #2
    With most items one factor is the age one was bought up with equipment and what was on the market.
    Over night people are not going to discard what system they have and manufactures of equipment still find a market for tape material.
    I agree with you regards the question "WHY".
    I still use tape for my major video productions as i had invested large sum of money and it still all works. I use SD card for my family home video movies or for scouting locations.
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    #3
    Tapes and XDCAM discs are are more reliable media for archiving. Broadcasters and studios will aways use media that is more robust whether it be expensive or not, in this case physical media is cheaper so for them its a win/win. The only downside is where to store it all, but they always find some space for a library in these places.

    Storing for archiving purposes on hard drives that could fail at any time is never a good idea, even if you have multiple copies something always gets lost.

    Having worked for a broadcaster I also have experienced a few occasions when a member of production who hasn't the first clue about file based workflows etc erases a hard drive or CF Card without actually transferring the data onto another medium, whole segment of a show lost in a blink of an eye.

    In years to come when all of the technophobes have been weeded out there may be more of a chance of an entirely file based through put but until then i wouldn't count on it.

    An phrase i have heard on this topic a few times as well is 'As lng as the History channel is on the air, there will always be tapes and physical media around', i'm paraphrasing of course! :)
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    yoak

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    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #4
    Many reasons why people use xdcam disks. It's cheap archival. If you shoot straight to cards, you have to empty them and reuse them. That means having asking multiple backups on hard drives all the time. Hard drives are not very good for long time storage, as they will fail even, or especially if not used for a long time.

    I only own cameras recording to different card formats. Sony's SxS cards, they cost $650 for 32gb card that holds about 2 hours of footage.
    For my RED camera it's different story, a 128GB card costs about $2000 and holds 1-2 hours or less depending on the compression rate etc I shoot at.

    So often on a production you would have to off load cards every night, to reuse them the next day. This takes time at the end of a long shooting day.


    With xdcam disks, you just put them on the shelf and grab new ones for the next day.

    Tape I haven't used professionally for the last 3 years


    Edit: anim8or posted while I wrote my reply. Cover some of the same things I can see
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    NY State
    #5
    Thanks for the reply's everyone! I mean I understand archival purposes, the lady I work for on and off used to be heavy into broadcast and is still sorta is. She's very tech savvy and started off in the Betacam era (resents it like most! haha) but now she uses a Sony HXR-NX5U (not sure of the specific model but I'm pretty sure its this one) and has 9 Sandisk 8GB Extreme's. First thing I asked was "Am I going to have to capture from tape?!?!" thankfully she turned the camera to the side and showed me the SD Card port! Anyways it was just convenient when I was done with the ~30 minute shoot with 3 cameras to load each of the SD cards into my laptop, drop them on my external drive (don't erase the SD cards yet!), and transcode.
    ----
    @Yoak, Can't RED Epic's or maybe its the Scarlet Idk, store to multiple different file based formats? Albeit at a restricted bit rate? I thought you could capture to high end CF cards just at REDCODE's higher compression ratio? But I've talked to just a few RED owners and while they say its a pain to buy the SSD's at first they say it "Just works better"...dont know what that means other than what I would assume is similar to SD cards.

    I guess I have no problem with file dumping onto my computer on one project multiple times...unless its impossible to do that but these days yourself or a DIT is hopefully going to have a laptop in case a DP or director wants to look at something in After effects quick or test a feature or something right?
    ----
    I mean I understand the archival reason totally....I have so many things on hard drives that get lost, I had someone break a hard drive with two serious projects on them (with only Standard Def. DVD copy's as backups), and after several losses I simply don't trust a spinning Hard Disc Drive for long term stuff. Its nice to know when things go FUBAR you have a copy on a disc somewhere containing everything you need! I've never used XDCAM disc's and have limited tape experience but my assumption of both is that they are still excellent for backup, I know most TV shows master and archive in HDCAM SR 4:4:4 for this reason. Even some question how long that will last and argue storage on film but those degrade quick if you go cheap and aren't a cheap solution (like $600 for 12minutes of 35mm is it?).
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    yoak

    Joined:
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    #6
    I only have the SSD unit on my EPIC, can't be bothered with CF card. Not even sure the EPIC can use them i know the RED ONE did. The SSD's are just so simple and reliable , albeit expensive. I do have a Panasonic af101 that records to SD cards, as it's avchd and only 4.2.0 color space and fast SD cards can handle that. They are still to expensive to use for archive though.
     
  7. nateo200, Sep 2, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012

    thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #7
    What would you say would be a reliable consumer level archival solution? Would high quality Blu-ray/DVD's like Sony's Accucore brand be good? Ive recently purchased a set of Sony Accucore BD25's and DVD's and they never have errors....they basically outperform other brands I've seen...Verbatim seams top notch too...I just know XDCAM discs are reliable and Blu-ray was touted as being a bit more durable than DVD.

    Side note: I wish 4:2:2 color space would be more readily available for prosumer level devices, granted most don't know but things like chroma key would benefit...I mean you have a RED so your all set, I'm assuming your a Director of Photography or something like that. Is 4:2:2 a big step up for color grading? Only worked on XDCAM422 footage once and I did a light color grade, colors seamed more crisp, but this was before I really knew as much as I do now..
     
  8. macrumors G4

    Joined:
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    USA
    #8
    What makes you even suspect that Blu-ray BD-R discs--high-quality or otherwise--might be useful as archival media?
     
  9. macrumors newbie

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    USA
    #9
    Well in my opinion, as compared to other tapless technologies XDCAM-HD format has the benefit of being an archival medium. There you can actually put someting in your shelf once shooting done and then you can use post-production techniques.
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    yoak

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    #10
    Yes, I'm a DoP.
    50bit 422 has been the holy grail in color space for broadcast , as the BBC has set that as a minimum requirement for HD broadcast material delivered to them. (there are exemption to this rule)
    It grades better than 420, as it holds up longer before artifacts starts to show.
    I don't think to will see it consumer cameras just yet. I think Canons 305 camera is the cheapest camera that has 422, it's a prosumer camera though

    I think Blu-Ray would be a good archive medium for a consumer.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #11
    I'm asking a question...not to mention I've read up on optical disc formats failing faster depending on brand...not that I ever considered them to be the holy grail of archiving...I usually put my stuff in multiple places and rotate locations and media on a regular basis...I know with film they take older films and re-print them to prevent them from becoming too damaged as well as scanning them with an Arri Scanner or whatever to store digitally...obviously if your work flow is already digital no need for an Arri Scanner.

    I know personally I use ProRes 422 for everything, I might use 444 if I include uncompressed still photos in RGB format but even then I think the different is not important...at least not for my own little projects I do. When you say 50bit that sounds insane....I know stuff is often edited at 10, 12, 14, or 16bit uncompressed RGB...am I confused here? I know for broadcast standards they don't like 4:2:0 stuff at all (House MD had to clear it with Fox before they shot on Canon DSLR's, only thing that got them by was the 50mbps of the codec, though that may not be noticeable really).

    Also you really think Blu-ray would be a good archive medium? I store and care for my discs very carefully and keep them out of extreme heat or cold and work my best to ensure they don't get bent even the slightest as I know thats a big deal that they stay flat...
     
  12. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #12
    Xdcam

    We used our last XDCAM Blue Disk back in November 2011.
    It was deemed dead the minute we bought into RED three years ago.
    We still used it due to the Sonys we have for other long formats.
    The XDCAM has joined the betaSP and SVHS deck graveyard in our studio.
    Basically a rack that rarely gets opened.
    Now its all SSD for us with the RED and soon my personal BMCC.
    Wow how times have changed.

    *Just to be clear, its ProRes4444 and not 444 right?
    I dont know why I read the three fours all over the net when its four fours.
    Crap now I sound confused :p
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    yoak

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    #13
    :eek: My bad. I'm the confused one here, I was tiered when I wrot the reply, I meant 50mbps, not bit

    ----------

    I think XDCam is far from dead in broadcast, it will be around for a long time. And I say that as a RED EPIC owner. Im often hired to shot on XDCam on different broadcast projects as they are the best cameras for certain formats, like documentaries, "reality" shows etc where you shoot a lot of footage and/or need a quick turnaround.
    I love my RED, but the storage requirements are driving me a bit mad. On a lproject this winter we came back with 7 TB of footage, just from the RED camera. Then it was 3 Canon C300 cameras, 5Ds and some sony EX-3 cameras as well. All the other cameras had producedv less GB combined
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    This is a wonderful debate which could run for ages. When it comes to the bread and butter brigade who make a living out of "What Is Best", they will keep up with the new technology and discard the old.
    But the average working man who cant afford to swoop and change will stick with what he has.
    I know people who use tape base camcorders and edit on Final Cut Pro 3 and are happy as long as it works and they cant afford to upgrade.
    At some stage a system has to come out which will be durable to let us archive video material which will outlast us.
     
  15. macrumors 68020

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    Jun 26, 2002
    #15
    Well it was dead in our workflow so not really stating its a dead media.
    If you are shooting with an Epic, cant you just lower the format for long form?
    I mean XDCAM from our Sony's were 1440x1080 and once AMA to DNxHD in Avid, it at least got somewhat smaller.
    Im pretty sure you can shoot basic HD res with the Epic.
    But then you might have the typical client that wants everything show at 5K but honestly needs DVD :p
    Been there and it aint pretty.
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #16
    Ok haha 50mbps makes more sense! But 7TB's is ALLOT to work with...I mean thats a fair amount of storage...even if storage is cheap, (people keep saying that too) its still allot...I think it would be cool if the RED's could shoot native ProRes like the Arri Alexa....but transcoding 5D, C300 and EX-3 footage probably yields a much lower bit rate and to a certain extent quality than the RED Epic....do you always shoot at 5k or 4k "just in case" or do you ever decide that its overkill for something that might not need it?

    Haha my bad its ProRes 4444...I just don't use it that much enough to remember it and I think of 4:4:4 HDCAM SR which confuses me. 4444 is ProRes 422HQ with an Alpha channel I believe thats the only difference

    Makes sense...I mean I just picked up less than 2 years ago so tapeless workflow is what I bought into and what I know...in a few years my SD cards might be obsolete and Ill be the one fending off the haters haha.

    Sometimes it best to not tell the client what the camera can do...I haven't worked for too many people but I find if you open your mouth about fancy crap they start micromanaging to make sure your using completely unnecessary and overkill resources....then they complain about how slow things are moving and no matter how much you explain how things work they never listen...I did a video for my friend and we shot 15 minutes of footage...he was mad because I only finished the video with 6 minutes because not everything you shoot is going to be usable! He wanted a 20 minute video :O that would have been tedious to watch let alone edit something that slow paced when the guys in the video moved maybe 200 meters :roll eyes: Glad the lady I work for was big into broadcast or I might get ridiculous requests for impossible things...
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    yoak

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #17
    The only way to shot 1080p with the EPIC is to use an external recorder. If you shoot 2k or 1k it crops the sensor so you can't get any wide shots. It's only usable for high speed over ranking really.
    A recorder will record the full frame over SDI.

    I haven't shot tape in over 4 years now I think, I actually just threw away a lot of DVCAM tapes when I cleared out the basement. I think I ever will again

    Speaking of archive, I have a lot of HDV tapes on me shelf, and for some reason I can now only play them back on Canon cameras (it was shot on a canon).

    I tried a Sony, but no luck. I only have one small Canon HDV camare left and when that breaks it will be a lot more hassle to play them. I have digitized the most important ones, but it puts things into a perspective about how fast something becomes obsolete
     
  18. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

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    #18
    Lots of good discussion here but I think price and workflow have been glossed over too much. If you are doing a film-style shoot your shooting ratio is going to be relatively low, the conditions will be relatively controlled (i.e. easy to schedule card dumps, etc.,) and the turn around time is going to be relatively long.

    Where less expensive 'write once' media such as tape, XDCAM discs and eventually cards (once the price comes down significantly) still have advantages are in situations where you have a high shooting ratio, the conditions are less controlled and the turn around time is relatively short. Anything unscripted (reality TV, documentaries, event coverage, behind the scenes, etc.,) will benefit workflow-wise from utilizing 'write once' media and right now XDCAM discs can be had for about $1/gig which makes them much less expensive options then buying a similar amount of CF, P2 or SxS cards.

    I worked on a reality show a few years ago that generated 2500hrs of footage over a 10 day shoot and in 4 months all that footage had to be ingested and cut into 9 hour long episodes. It was on tape and I can't imagine trying to do the same thing with cards that have to be dumped then put back into circulation. Well, I can and it would be more labor intensive and costly.

    Another example would be shooting a time sensitive event on location and having to shuttle footage back to the office for editing and then upload/broadcast on a tight deadline. With tape or XDCAM discs you shoot, give the tape/disc to a runner who drives it back to the office, then pop in another tape/disc. With cards you shoot, find a time/place to whip out the laptop + external drive + card reader, copy the card to the drive, triple check the transfer was successful, then give the runner the external drive to take back to the office. Once at the office the drive contents are transfered again, tripple checked again, then the drive is given back to the runner to take back to the camera crew so they can dump their cards again later in the day. That's a much more labor intensive, complex workflow and each additional step is another possible point of failure.

    Once we have large, fast, inexpensive cards that you can afford to shoot on once and put on a shelf then that will be that for tape and discs as far as acquisition goes. Hopefully by that distribution/deliverables to networks will be tapeless as well. Of course someone will need to develop a way to do "punch in" correction on a digital file that does require re-exporting of the whole thing. I mean, with tape delivery if I need to fix an error I can just record over the bad section with a fix and I'm done. If I need to fix an error on a file I have to re-export the whole thing.


    ProRes 422HQ still uses chroma sub sampling where as 4444 does not (hence 4:2:2 vs 4:4:4).
     
  19. macrumors regular

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    May 11, 2009
    #19
    Prores 4444 is for Video with an Alpha channel, Prores 444 is without alpha.

    ----------

    Like others have said. I agree XDcam disc is far from dead, in fact if anything its actually taking over from card formats. Productions are starting to wake up to the fact that working on location with cards, often away from mains means you have to take a back up solution wherever you shoot and factor in the additional time and in some cases personnel - which costs money.

    Certainly the BBC has become much less hostile to disc than it was a few years ago. There was a dictate that everyone should shoot on cards on PMW500's but most owner ops' I know who do a lot of BBC work have bought PDW800's not 500's!
     
  20. macrumors 68020

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    Jun 26, 2002
    #20
    There is no such thing as ProRes 444 from my experience.

    Maybe read as 12bit 4:4:4 RGB(A).

    I know other codecs add that chroma number e.g. CineForm444, etc..

    Again this is from my experience not the final word.
     
  21. macrumors regular

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    May 11, 2009
    #21
    Thank you I stand corrected, 4444 deals with 444 material without the alpha.
     

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