Letters and Tips - Hands on: HC3 and Xacti camcorders
Do HDV Camcorders Require HDV Tape? Brian Peterson: Welcome back. I'm Brian Peterson, Editor in Chief. Charlie Fulton: And I'm Charlie Fulton, Associate Editor. Brian Peterson: And we're here with Tips and Letters. We only got a couple this time, because we're going to dig in some detail on one. And Charlie, why don't you just shoot this one, I know you’ve got some general questions, and we kind of lumped them in one? Charlie Fulton: Yeah. We had several readers and attendees of our workshops who recently purchased HDV camcorders. And they’re wondering if it’s necessary to buy any special kind of HDV tape? Brian Peterson: This, if you recall back in the early days, when we shifted over to DVD, of course, I think we were all surprised at the initial prices of what these tapes cost. And you know, you spend $1500, $2000, and in this case, of course, with HDV, you know, $10 000 is not out of the ball part. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: It seems like false economy if you’re starting out to cheap out on the tape, but most of us do. I mean, that’s human nature. Charlie Fulton: Oh yeah. Brian Peterson: I mean, we both shop at box stores that shall not be named, to find the cheapest prices. So, we understand, it’s human nature. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. But, I think the answer, we did a little bit of research on this, doesn’t matter to get HDV high quality tape, or can you just use you regular mini DV tape? Well, the answer is yes. The answer is also maybe, and sort of no. So, let’s dig into that. What we initially found, and this really has most to do with the way that the tape is encoded on, oh, wait, the signal is encoded onto tape. Using mpeg 2, you are using either a long got format, when there’s 15 frames essentially, lumped together, grouped together, group of pictures, or is it 6, for 720, it’s 6, and for 1080i, it’s 15. 15 frames, that’s half a second. So, if you have a little bit of dropout, now dropout can be any number of things. It can be dirt on the heads, it can be just the way the fair socks are laid down on the mylar tape itself- Charlie Fulton: Well, actually, these are metal particles tapes, not even using mylar any more. Brian Peterson: That’s true. I stand corrected. Like little metal thingies that stand up with the magnet underneath it. Charlie Fulton: Exactly. Brian Peterson: We all did this when we were kids. Charlie Fulton: It’s a little fuzzy, draw a moustache kind of guy. Brian Peterson: Yeah. So if you would have just one little bit of dropout, that can be a half second piece of glitch, which- Charlie Fulton: Yes. Brian Peterson: If you have a couple of those, and you’re shooting for a client, you know, you’re going to be wishing you spent extra $5 or $6 on the tape, probably. So, that’s, I think that’s the key difference. Do you see another difference, though, in the way the tape is structured and if that really makes a big difference? Charlie Fulton: Well, there are a number of companies who are promoting, like, Panasonic has a special kind of tape, so does Sony, but it’s T, okay. Some of them are advertised as being dual air, or having a special type of coding on the tape. It’s, I think, a little bit too early to decode whether this is all marketing, or whether there’s something to these tapes. Whether they’ll actually deliver a better signal, a more robust data stream that you can actually edit back, and not get a dropout and lose 15 frames, lose 16 frames… Brian Peterson: So, it really comes down to you are paying for a higher quality tape, and interesting, I’m not sure if they do this still, I would imagine they do because it’s a similar process. But, remember back in the old days when cassettes used to be, how many of us have cassettes stores in our closet? Charlie Fulton: Nah… Brian Peterson: Oh come on, I’ve seen a lot of heads going this way, all right, so I’m old, I still have cassettes. You used to be able to buy audio cassettes, and they were white, and they were called white box tape. Tape is done in wide, wide strips, and then it’s cut into smaller widths appropriate for, you know, either broadcast. And what happens, the higher quality tape happens to be toward the center because that’s where you have the least amount of irregularities in laying down the material, whether it’s metal oxide or metal particle tape. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: When you start getting to the edge, you start getting more stretching, just because that’s the way the rollers work on this part of the machines. And that edge tape is what they use for the cheaper tape. So as you start getting to the edge, you start getting cheaper tape, and then higher amounts of dropout. So, maybe that’s a little bit more than you wanted to know, but, at least it gives you a sense of that there really is some reality. You want to get that premium center cut. Kind of like a piece of meat. Charlie Fulton: Yeah, yeah. Brian Peterson: We want that center cut. So, pay for some center cut tape, pay a little bit more for it, and we’ll try to fair out if it’s any myth, or it’s mostly reality as we go down the road on this. But it’s still pretty new, so is it worth buying quality tape? I’d say, right now, yeah. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. I would definitely not hesitate, especially if I had a really big production that is going to be on to make sure that I was going to have a tape that wouldn’t dropout on me. Brian Peterson: And again, we’re not getting paid to say this, but, be safe. Charlie Fulton: Right. Brian Peterson: All right, we have a letter here from Byron Louis, he has a photography studio, I don’t know where from. Where is 3337 area code? Charlie Fulton: Not here. Brian Peterson: Somewhere not here. Okay, we won’t locate Byron, he’s not here. He says, I’m a photographer, videographer, love your magazine. I also have a record label. And he wants to know, if he can burn a music CD that plays both music in a CD player, and audio/video in a computer or DVD player. You know, it’s Premiere Pro, he’s going with AfterEffects, some encore, he would love to get some tip. Charlie Fulton: Well, CD standards are pretty interesting. They’re a whole bunch of them that are called the rainbow specs, the rainbow books. That’s, the reason behind that is because of the first CD spec that was finalized in like, 1982, I think, by Sony and Philips, was colored red. So it was called the red book. That is compact disc digital audio, kind of CDs you have in your car, your home stereo, varied other places where you find a CD player. They will all play red book CDs. Later they included the yellow book, which is the CD-ROM, and then orange book, for recordable CD-R, CD-RW. Video CD is the white book. And then the blue book is enhanced CD, CD+G, CD+, they call them. So, what you would want to do is, I would think you want a regular CD digitalized audio track, and CD-ROM content for the video content that you want to include, audio, video. So, that would probably be a blue book type of CD. The problem with playing it in a DVD player is that a DVD player is expecting a DVD format signal, the video TS folder, all of that structure, VOB files, IFOBs, all of those information files that are necessary for DVD player to play video back. So, that would be a challenge. I don’t think there’s a way currently to record a disk that would have both regular red book audio that you play in a CD player and video that you play in a DVD player. But, you know, I’ve never tried to do this before, and I would say, just play around with your Nero for a while. You know, there’s a whole bunch of options, or Easy CD creator, or Toast, or whatever app you like, there’s so many to choose from. And you’ll probably find something, some good work around what would work for you, that you want to do with your project here. Brian Peterson: And as the newer players are coming out, they become more compatible with a whole myriad of different types and formats, Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: so it might not be surprising that tomorrow or the day after, there’ll be devices, you know, compatible with just about everything, at this point. Charlie Fulton: That’s a good point, Brian. Because, say, the first DVD players, they only played DVD, whereas the next generation added a jpeg playback, or they added mp3 playback. And I think some of them might even do a C, no, those are car stereos, actually. But there’s probably some that are very deep within the recesses of the Internet that we haven’t found yet, that will play AC or some of those others, kind of esoteric, formats that not everybody uses. Brian Peterson: So, give it a try, and look for some new equipment, maybe coming soon. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: All right. So I think we’re going to wrap it there. We’ve got a really cool video coming up. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: Another one of our contest winners. Jennifer and Andrew are going to give it a shot, and let you take a look at the winner. And most of these are, this is really neat, this is kind of the national exposition, really, of all these contest winners. So this is a really neat format. I think I like Get ready to be aghast. Charlie Fulton: Yeah. Brian Peterson: Anyway, see you next time.