It’s the end of a long 12 hour day of shooting. The producer yells,”Who has all of the tapes?” Dead silence. No response.
Suddenly, laughter erupts on set with claims of “Remember the good ol’ days?” and “Do people still use that tape stuff?”
Although the concept of tapeless video production was first introduced in 1995 by Ikegami and Avid, the technology needed further refining to become truly functional. Now, over ten years later, today’s production community is moving rapidly into the brave new world of cameras that record to all solid state mediums and tapeless recording systems such as hard drives, blue ray disks, or flash memory cards.
Some of the current choices of tapeless options—hard disc drive, optical disc and solid-state memory (among others)–are much like videotape’s early days, when a variety of tape formats kept buyers guessing. Until the industry standardized Betacam for broadcast and VHS for the consumer, choosing a tape format was an “educated” roll of the dice. All tapeless formats have their own different glowing virtues but most do offer some shared valuable traits; reusable recording media and data file transfer. The drives, discs, or cards can be reused over and over thousands of times. You simply download the content and reuse them with the camera again. Second, you can now copy and transfer that content faster than real time. No more waiting around for real time tape playback, because it is now a simple data file transfer instead. It also allows instant access in the field to check or review a shot. No more cueing a tape back and forth to find a shot and then hoping you don’t record over a section. If you don’t like a particular take, it can be deleted on the spot so you don’t waste drive space and also time logging it. Many of the features will make the production process more streamlined and efficient for everyone. This can mean saving time and money throughout the entire production from shooting to post production.
Before the tried and true world of videotape is written off completely, trusted solutions must be found for the archiving and storage of these new recording technologies. Gone are the days of just putting the field and master tapes “on the shelf”.
Someday we all hope to have an industry wide solution to this new recording technology. But until then, embrace the technology it represents, enjoy the new features and “Roll tape… digits”??