I do something similar (bu


I do something similar (but not exactly the same) as Endeavor. I send my clients an evaluation DVD, and let them know that if they want any changes made, to let me know within a certain time frame (usually 30 days). I let them know that as soon as I hear from them (or if I don’t hear from them in that time), I’ll send out the final copies. I’ll typically wait a week or so after I send out the final copies (just in case), and then I wipe them out, all of them.

One thing about me-I don’t like to reuse tapes. First of all, the smallest amount of money anyone is going to spend on my service is almost $1,000. For that price, I can afford to spend $20 on brand new tapes.

Additionally, when you reuse a tape that you haven’t taken the time to fully erase, you run a couple very real risks. The first, one I’ve experienced, is time code corruption. When you record the tape the first time, your camera imprints a timecode, along with a bunch of other information that you can’t see (ah the joy of digital recording). Anyway, when you record over a used tape that you haven’t erased, the smallest glitch can corrupt your new timecode, and throw your whole tape off. Nothing screams "Angry bride" (or worse, "lawsuit") like having to explain to them how you lost half your footage because you were trying to save a couple bucks (almost literally a couple) on using old tapes.

The other problem with reusing tapes is that you lose any chance of making money off that footage again. True story. I did a wedding for a fairly well-to-do couple last July. We delivered the tapes to them, and they loved it. About 6 months later, I got a call from the groom. He told me that he wanted to make a special gift video for his friends, who were the musical talent at the ceremony. He asked me if I could put together a video of them from their wedding footage. If I had reused those tapes, I wouldn’t have been able to, but because I archive my old tapes, I was able to make a great video, and at the same time, make almost another grand. That MORE THAN paid for the cost of all the tapes I buy. Plus, I’ve been able to sell some of my footage to TV shows like TLC’s "Wild Weddings". Most of these shows pay decent money for any spare footage you might have, but you’ve got to have the tapes to get the money.

Now, MiniDV isn’t a world class format for archiving, mind you. Given enough time, the quality will degrade. But if you keep it in a cool, dry place, well, I’ve got tapes that are 5 years old in my archives that are just fine.

I know you probably don’t want to have piles of tapes lying around, so there are other things you can do with them. For example, I’ll erase the older tapes, and use them for my own personal "hobby videography" or for projects that aren’t live, where we can repeat the scene again if there is an issue. I also donate some of my erased tapes to a local church that uses MiniDV tapes in their cameras. They love it because they’re good enough for what they need, and I love it because it clears out my old stock.

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