Back in the old days, when


Back in the old days, when all video editing was a linear adventure, “black striping” your tape was a requirement for doing insert editing. And I’m betting that anyone under thirty has little idea of what constitutes an insert edit. If you’re not going to do any insert editing you will never need to “black strip” a tape. Back in the day, we never striped tapes to shoot in the field. Seven seconds in front of our current record point, an erase head cleared the tape of any previous signals. But we always retensioned. (And by the way, when you FF or RW you stop the tape so it pulls back and doesn’t contact the heads while the tape is moving. So retensioning a tape has no impact on the heads. Now if you are scanning or reviewing the tape, you’re doing it wrong.)

Now about this “time code” thing. Digital recording doesn’t work in totally the same way as linear recording, even though the equipment is very similar. But just like analogue recording, all recordings start by backing up over an already recorded segment. When recording starts, the tape rolls forward to reach the correct speed for recording. While it rolls forward, it reads the signal it backed up over and the instant the recording starts erasing whatever was on the tape, the camcorder continues the time code it backed over. Using the normal consumer defaults when there is no time code, recording will start with zero time elapsed. So when you record your one minute of header (color bars or black) on your tape, your time code will start at zero and run to one minute. And every time you record more on the tape, the time code will be the relative time code from the beginning of the tape. So if you start your time code recording with one hour instead of zero seconds, the time code will be continuous from one hour through two hours.

So a tape that is not “black striped” will have exactly the same time code as a tape that has been “black striped.” Of course the striped tape is now a two pass tape and the deck it was recorded on has an hour less head life, for no reason whatsoever. However, if you’re sloppy with field reviews and start recording where the tape is blank, the time code will start over. Now in that case, the striped tape will not restart the time code since there is no blank area on the tape. Just the bit of black between the last shot & the new shot. Now if the camera operator properly cued the tape before shooting, it won’t happen.

So to wrap up and agree with other posters, you do not need to “black stripe” videotape (like you don’t need to “format” a DVD-RW) as the digital video recording process always erases anything else on the tape. Not striping the tape has nothing to do with maintaining continuous time code. It just adds wear to your recording heads & your videotape stock. But do retension your videotape by FF & RW from a stopped position. (By the way, all videotapes have always had a device to prevent tape spooling. Retensioning adjusts the tension of the tape on the spool after shipping has made rings of loose & packed areas. Which you can actually see through the tape window.)

Good luck with your future productions.

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