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Analog CCTV Storage

There are at least six types of tapeless media in general use: Compact Flash, optical disc, Memory Stick, P2, SD and SxS (as well as solid-state drives and hard disks), all capable of recording a variety of formats - and further media and formats can be added via external recorders or add-on units, so that most cameras can record to at least two separate types of media at once. However, for anyone buying a camera, this flexibility means that the choice can be daunting.

No wonder so many still shoot on tape, even though there are so many good reasons for going tapeless.

"File based video has huge advantages," says Mike Thomas, sales director at UK dealer, Top Teks (pictured above with Panasonic P2, Canon CF card and Sony disc-based camcorders). The shots are logged for you; you can add metadata on any computer; there is instant access to each shot; and proxy versions for fast distribution over standard internet

"Best tape storage has been an amazing boon for me as a cameraman and editor," adds DP and editor, Michael Sanders. He loves the quality from his Sony PDW-800 and, for the price, from the EX3. "As an editor, having the material come in already in clips is wonderful and being able to ingest in faster than real time is great for news and some fast turn around corporates I do (we recently did a ten minute three camera shoot at 10am and uploaded a fully cut version two hours later). Reliability has been fine so far."

For anyone considering going tapeless and wondering how it will all work, Christina has an excellent guide to tapeless workflow (including such things as how to choose the right cards) on the Canon XF Notebook site (although it primarily deals with Canon's XF cameras, the workflow is relevant to all).

Sanders (pictured above hanging off the back of an insert car at the Ascari Race resort) is a fan of XDCAM HD disc. "I don't have a problem with solid state at all - I love it, especially if I'm editing and ingesting." But he does have a problem with adding to his costs by buying extra cards so a production can keep shooting without stopping while he can't charge extra for it.

He also dislikes "recording to a media which is too expensive to be able to keep forever and needs archiving. I have three projects that have been ongoing for three years and regularly need me to go back to the rushes." Using media that are so small they fit in a pocket and can easily get lost is a further problem. "That's why I love XDCAM HD – and the pictures look lovely."

Milan-based DoP, Prospero Bozzo (pictured below on location in Reggio Emilia for a Nat Geo documentary) has worked extensively in news, current affairs and documentaries and went tapeless in 2009 after checking with his clients and doing a lot of research. Some 60% of his business is with Italian broadcasters, who "mostly are still on tape," often Betacam SP ("believe or not…"), the rest with international clients, although "the internal market made the choice more crucial."

Because the international market is going tapeless to implement new, faster and more reliable workflows, "leaving tape seemed to be the best choice, but a new dilemma raised itself: disc or card?"

Once he had considered all the issues (speed, reliability, duration, re-recordability, price of support, ease of downloading and editing, workflow, archive and storage), he chose Sony's XDCAM disc format.

Reliability was a crucial, as the disc allows everyone to have something in their hands, avoiding the risks of lost files on crashing laptops or damaged cards. "Once you have downloaded the files, if there are any problems you can re-download them easily." You can re-record on the disc many times, certainly more than you could reliably on a tape. Read More

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