Please don't let MiniDV tapes go away

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by senseless, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I have 4 years worth of old HD and regular DV tapes that I haven't gotten around to editing yet. I can't imagine what I would have done if these were recorded on memory cards or the camera hard drive.

    I recently dropped my backup drive on the floor after purging my main drive, losing a year of edited movies. At least I still had the original footage on the tapes. I'm not great at archiving and backing up, but who is?

    Why this rush to abandon MiniDV tapes? Tape quality is better, they're very inexpensive and will serve as 25 year backups. Home made DVDS will start to break down in 5 years and how many drives have you crashed?
  2. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    Flat out no. Look at the Canon HF series stuff and the more pro series AVC-I or XDCam...

    But you lost the EDL. It doesn't matter if you still have the source footage, you lost the EDL.

    I clone all my drives to prevent a meltdown catastrophe. I've never had to recapture due to failure of an HDD.

    But what happens when your deck eats your tape or the tape just wears down? Each medium has its ups and downs....
  3. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    Uh, D5 and HDCAM SR.... what's your point?

    I like how you say each has their ups and downs, but you say "flat out no" to tape is better. Tape is still a very very necessary medium. Tapeless is very convenient to those that can keep the media online all the time on various drives. For shows that shoot 500-600 hours/season (like the one I work on), that would be impossible.
  4. Dejavu macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2008
    The price ratio of hard drives/storage is to the point that it is cheaper than MiniDV.

    One MiniDV holds ~ 13GB. A good quality tape will cost on average $3-$5.

    One 1TB SATA drive average price is $100.

    For the same amount of miniDV tapes: (1024/13) x $3 = $236 (or $394 @ $5 apiece).

    So the argument that miniDV tape is cheaper is false. Extra hidden costs include capturing time, which is real-time, and prone to drop-outs. Tape based storage is dead.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    No it's not. The most reliable way to archive footage is on tape. Either video tape or data tape. HDDs are unreliable for long term storage and they only way I'd attempt to use this is using mirrored storage.

    As bigbossbmb said, both mediums have their pros and cons and we are in a transitional phase, but it will be long time before solid state storage eclipses tape in every aspect.

  6. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Well said.

    This transitional phase is actually quite scary. New tapeless workflows are encouraging the use of mechanical hard drives for raw footage archival. What happens if you accidentally drop a hard drive in the field? Chances are, the head gets jerked out of its parked position and there goes all your data. In the same situation, a tape would survive.

    And this will continue to be the case until SSDs ship with acceptable performance and capacities at reasonable price points.
  7. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2005
    Face it who uses miniDV these days besides soccer moms? Seriously for every x number of minutes/hours you record on the tape you need to spend y number of minutes/hours "recording" to your PC/Mac to work on it, sure you can walk away let it do its thing but thats still time you could use to edit the footage. That being said HDD based camera's probably wont fall apart before their tape counterparts (unless you're clumsy and drop the camera).

    I wounder if RED uses miniDV.. oh wait no they dont.. sorry.

    Tis true till SSD drives come up to par in performance/price we wont really see a better medium then HDD's.
  8. P-Worm macrumors 68020


    Jul 16, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I do and so do many others. I'm a wedding videographer. For me, shooting 4-5 hours solid just doesn't work with non tape based. With a tape, to get another hour of shooting, all I need to do is pop in a new tape. With hard drive based, I need to load the footage onto a separate drive before continuing.

    Why does it always feel like the people that think tape is officially dead seem to be those that don't do a lot of professional work?

  9. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    I use tape too!

    For now it is a much more reliable/safe medium. It's a great backup to compliment a digital backup of raw unedited footage.

    I'm doing work for a museum archive department and we plan on using tapes for a long while yet.
  10. pigbat macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2005
    I definitely like tape but the clock is ticking on tape in consumer cameras. I was seriously thinking about an HV30 but I've decided to jump to a flash based instead. The future is now.
  11. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I like tape too! Esecially for the "soccer mom" stuff that I like to do, it's great to have projects that only take up a gigabyte instead of ten or twenty (because it was HD too).
  12. sl1200mk2 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2006
    I too like tapes as long term archival and another form of backup aside from my final DVD or disk based media. I do worry about my consumer level camera transport wearing out at some point and losing my ability to easily have access to that media without buying another camera, device or paying someone else.

    With a 4 yr old camera I'm nearly at the point of retiring it while it's still in good working order and making the move to a flash based device. That way I can have the prior camera for all my archive media should I ever need to revisit it within a the reasonable amount of time in the future.

  13. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    People who say:


    Obviously never used it, and more than likely doesnt even shoot video at all. They just read about the logic of the argument, figure they can come out on top, and bam, you have a detractor, but not an actual user.

    Do what works for you, its all that matters anyway.

    Pleading for tapes to not disappear is like asking vacuum tubes to not disappear. Something better WILL replace it. Personally, i think thats still a decade or more off.
  14. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    i don't agree with the DVDs breaking down. I started transferring tapes for clients onto DVD 6 years ago and my DVD backups still work.

    There are 'archival gold' DVDs out there now, but i think they're a crock of crapola designed to get ppl to spend more.

    Myself, I like tape. Perhaps I don't understand the new HD and memory card camcorders, but I don't like how they compress the footage. I like having uncompressed footage to work with.

    And I'm still on digital8 :)

    When I transfer my own material, I plan to have a Raided system so it's backed up at least once.

  15. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
  16. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    I was going to re-edit some video shot back in '00 on hi8 then backed up on miniDV. The minDV tape jams up every few minutes (other tapes work fine). I'd go back to the original hi8, but my old camcorder isn't working.

    Having shot video since the early 90s I was unsure about "tapeless", however after using a couple HDD and flash based camcorders, I now MUCH prefer tapeless. At the consumer level, AVCHD is just as good, the files are easier to work with, and media is cheap. I can save my SDHC data to multiple DVDs for pennies and keep a live copy on a hard drive.

    Hard drives can fail, tapes can fail, DVDs can fail. Backup backup backup. Find the workflow that works for you and don't worry about it.
  17. ClassicBean macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2004
    I'm no pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I opted for a MiniDV HD device (Canon HV20) when deciding on a camcorder to shoot my home movies.

    I like the idea of having an actual tape backup in my possession in addition to what I capture on my external hard drive connected to my Mac. And in terms of fail rates, it was my understanding that hard drives are more prone to failing than tape.

    It was also my understanding that hard drive camcorders compress the footage while recording and it's fairly noticeable, at least at the consumer level.
  18. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    Your understanding is correct, the Hard Drive camcorders do compress the video. However, all digital camcorders compress the video.

    For instance, your HDV camcorder uses MPEG-2 at 25 Mbps.

    Canon's newest AVCHD camcorders (Flash and HDD) uses h264 at 24 Mbps.

    I've read where AVCHD @ ~17Mbps is comparable to HDV ... and it's only getting better. The problem with HDV is that fewer companies are offering newer models, so the format is not advancing as fast as AVCHD (not sure if they can do much to improve the video quality of the HDV format anyways). The bottom line is that companies are putting more resources in developing AVCHD cams and soon you won't be able to buy a new, consumer level HDV camcorder.

  19. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    hmmm, and the debate continues.

    Personally I have just bought an avchd camcorder (sd9) after previously using my girlfriends miniDV and my very old hi8 camcorders.

    As far as i can tell, the current benefits of avchd are very nice (battery life/size/importing etc), while the current downfalls such as quality and backing up are only becoming less important as the units get better and cheaper.

    We seem to be in the middle of a massive change in the way video is captured, so that tape is a falling format that is undergoing very little innovation, while avchd is becoming a much stronger format and will only continue to do so.

    Right now if i were to buy a camcorder for serious work, i'd probably get a mini dv one, however in a couple of years my guess is that most here will be recommending the latest sd or hard drive based unit from canon/pany/sony, just as a year and a half ago any request for camera info would be met by HV20 HV20 HV20!

    I bought a avhcd because in my price bracket, i couldn't get a mini dv camera that had dv-in and was hidef, so it was a bit of a non-starter. I figure ill use my hidef avchd camcorder for a couple of years and then buy into a much higher quality cam when the market has chosen its direction.

    just my opinion


    P.S. I think the biggest problem facing tape is that it remains the last bastion of old technology in the digital age, so that most amateurs would go avchd simply because its closer to the way most other digital tech works. As these amateurs grow up and buy more professional units, they will similarly go tapeless
  20. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    cant say ive seen these before, but I knew from research "back in the day before DL DVD burning was even possible" that masters of DVDs, like CDs, are made of Gold and/or glass.

    Something "permanent" vs something liable to break down over time. Im sure the original glass/gold masters for any CD/DVD in the last 20 years is still just as good as the day it was made.

    MPEG2 is an end codec; worthless for easy editing

    h264 is a nice codec, that is so highly compressed you need a fairly recent machine to play it back at full speed, let alone edit it easily

    compression is compression. but more is more.

    DV is 5:1, MPEG2 is 8:1 at best, h264 is even worse
  21. rick3000 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2008
    West Coast
    I think this is very simple. If you are a casual consumer a HHD based camcorder makes sense, you record, edit, burn a DVD (and/or export to iTunes) and delete the footage.

    For prosumers/pros a HDD is too big of a risk. A tape is vastly more reliable because if you drop it your footage will not be corrupted/deleted/etc. Plus, many pro's want a permanent 25 year archive.

    But you have to replace the HDD every 5 or so years, because they go bad, and that means you spend $500 on HDD over 25 years vs. $236 for a 25 year tape archive. Now if SSD prices some down that may be a worthy alternative to tapes.

    It all depends on what you want.
  22. Dejavu macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2008
    Your math is wrong because hard drive ratio of storage/price doubles every 8-12 months. Every five years, you can copy to new drives costing much less.

    How do you intend to play back miniDV tapes in 25 years? There won't be any miniDV players, and even if you had a deck, there are no guarantees you could play it back since every manufacturer of camcorders, decks and tape have different tolerances. If you have any doubts, check out the playback incompatibilities of Canon miniDV products with other vendors.
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    It's not mishandling of the drives it's just the fact that HDDs are not designed for archival storage and have, in some cases, died while just sitting on the shelf. They are designed to be used, not to be dormant in a closet for years on end.

    A proper RED workflow utilizes data tapes for camera masters and 99.9999% of everything you've seen on TV has been mastered to some tape format.

    Because they lack enough practical experience to understand how the real world works and have gleaned just enough information off the 'net to think they are experts?

    Working on a RAID1 is good for redundancy, it's not good for a back up. For example, if you are working off a RAID1 and you accidently delete a file that file is gone for good. You could use RAID1 as a back up as long as you kept it separate from the media you were working with. For example, you capture to, and work from, some internal drives but back up the footage to a RAID1. Then you could unmount the RAID, keep one of the HDDs on hand in case you needed it and put the other HDD in a different physical location.

    Eventually, yes.

    Yeah, multiple copies on multiple mediums is the safest way to go. Everything will fail eventually and the goal is to have enough back ups that having them all fail at the same time is almost impossible. I've had optical media fail, I've had HDDs fail, I've had tapes w/errors on them. Although in terms of percentages tape has been by far the most reliable for me. I've literally worked with tens of thousands of tapes so far in my career and, off the top of my head, I can only think of maybe a dozen or two where a tape wasn't perfect and if you don't count a mechanical error (a deck or camera not playing back or recording properly) the number isn't even that high. Depending on the medium I think the rule of thumb is to migrate all your archives onto new media every 5-10 years if you are storing things digitally.

    Older HDD cameras that were SD and shot DVD-quality MPEG2 were much inferior in terms of quality to their MiniDV counterparts, but newer cameras that use AVCHD don't suffer the same quality inequality compared to their tape-based brothers.

    There are different flavors of MPEG2 (Sony's IMX and HDCAM formats are both intra-frame compressions based on MPEG2) and more compression doesn't necessarily mean a lower quality image. Avid DNxHD, RedCode, ProRes, and Cineform are all examples of compressed codecs that hold up as well as uncompressed codecs unless you are doing something like extreme VFX work where you literally need every single pixel you can get.

    As you pointed out though, a down side to more complex compression schemes is that they require more CPU power to handle them.


    EDIT: Man, what did we do before the "quote" feature? :D
  24. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."

    My question still, are DV tapes being discontinued???
  25. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Asked and answered.

    But, again. Eventually, someday yes. Anytime in the near future, no.


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