Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Other Camcorders › Best Recording Format? › Hey guys, Rob and Crafters
Rob and Crafters have given you good info from the opposite ends of the spectrum. Tape is a proven and well established recording format and mini-dv & hdv tapes are crazy cheap. Solid state cards are becoming more reliable and do have benefits in time savings.
One important point Rob neglected to mention with solid-state cards is the dilemma of archiving footage. With tape, you may only use it once but after you’ve digitized the footage you have a permanent recording you can fall back on. With tapeless workflow the savings in time will be heavily offset by the increased costs of capturing and archiving footage. You’ll need to purchase external drives to store your footage (which you should do anyway for saving digitized footage) for archiving. DVD doesn’t hold enough and is incompatible with HD when you’ll inevitably will make the move to the format. P2 cards are a viable option but they only work with panasonic gear, unlike the SxS cards which work with Sony or now with certain pro JVC cameras.
Truthfully, if you are not doing this stuff professionally and have clientele and cashflow to justify the added expense of moving to a tapeless workflow don’t worry about it. Tape on the otherhand is far less compressed than solid-state cards and if you happen to get shots of that ‘Senator doing something naughty’, it’s easier to swap out a bland $3.50 mini-dv tape to slip to the authorities than to hork up a $2k or $800 SxS or other solid-state card.
Another option for tapeless workflow are portable harddrives. For the price of 1 so-called ‘inexpensive’ 32 or 64bit P2 card you can get an 80-100GB portable external drive. Focus Enhancements and many other companies make video specific portable harddrives which are compatible with most cameras made.
I’ve worked in both tape and tapeless workflows and both have their ad/disadvantages. One thing that is missing from the tapeless workflow is the ‘seeing of footage’ during the digitizing process. Part of cutting down the time of digitizing taped footage is actually looking at the shots beforehand. Personally, I don’t mind the extra time when it helps a shooter develop an eye for workable shots. Whether you digitize from tape or straight download from solid state, you’re still going to have to look at the footage to determine what works and what doesn’t. Solid-state just shaves some of the time off doing that. But if you don’t want your editor screaming at you for handing them a bunch of shots that won’t cut together, spending some time doing oldschool tape digitizing is worth it.